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My Dad Was In The Yakuza And All I Got Was This Lousy Death Threat

There's the regular kind of family secrets, and then there's the kind that involves the Japanese mafia.

My Dad Was In The Yakuza And All I Got Was This Lousy Death Threat

BOOK REPORT for Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

Cover Story: Photoshop Tutorial
BFF Charm: Nay
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Underdeveloped
Bonus Factors: Diversity, Yakuza
Relationship Status: Flirtation

Cover Story: Photoshop Tutorials

I'm pretty sure this artwork is exactly what I saw on my computer screen after completing the beginner tutorials in Photoshop. You've got the smudge tool, the emboss tool, and everyone's favorite, the splatter brush. Come on, guys. At least get to the intermediate level before you call it a day.

The Deal:

Claire never really knew her father, since he died when she was a child, but after she discovers a cryptic note in his old journal, she realizes that she really didn't know him. With the help of her brothers and three best friends, she attempts to unravel the mystery of his true identity by pulling on a myriad of threads, from her stepfather's secret relationship with her dad to his time as a judge and all the way to the Japanese yakuza. It's a murky web of family history and unpaid debts, and the only thing clear is that someone out there will do whatever it takes to stop Claire from uncovering the truth.

BFF Charm: Nay

Let's be honest, I don't think Claire would want to be besties with me either. She's one of those gals who only seems to hang with dudes, because she doesn't "get" girls, and while I know there's plenty of females out there who are more comfortable being around guys, statements like this didn't endear me to her:

"I know I'm completely illiterate when it comes to female friendships and the associated social interactions, but that's something I don't think I'll ever understand. The bathroom doesn't seem like a fun place to kick back and gossip."

But it IS fun, Claire! I promise! Because there's no boys allowed. And also, lip gloss.

I admire her Nancy Drew attitude, to be sure, and she's tenacious as hell, but her "just one of the guys" routine got old, especially when it made her infuriatingly oblivious to the intentions of her best friend, Forrest. Forget a BFF charm-- the only thing I want to give her is the bill for a bottle of Advil, because her cluelessness (not to mention her lack of common sense when it came to Highly Dangerous Situations) made me headdesk way too many times.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

As I just mentioned, Claire's neighbor and longtime pal Forrest is totally in love with her in a way that is painfully obvious to everyone (including the reader) except, of course, to Claire. Sincere, considerate and easy on the eyes, he's a good, albeit slightly boring, guy, and he treats her with the utmost respect. If his feelings had been better concealed, their chemistry might have burned brighter, but since I could see their coupledom from miles away, most of the romantic excitement was lost on me.

Talky Talk: Underdeveloped

Valynne E. Maetani is a debut novelist, and while I sensed potential in this book, it could have used a few more rounds of editing to tighten the pacing and flesh out the characters. And to get rid of lines like this:

Pain lit across my body like the wildfires that demolish the Wasatch Mountains on hot desert days.

Claire's voice never felt fully formed, and the dialogue fell flat, resulting in a thriller without compelling stakes.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

It's refreshing to read a novel about a Japanese-American girl exploring her background, and the touches of culture were an enriching addition to the story.

Bonus Factor: Yakuza

I didn't know much about the Japanese mafia before I read this book, but I quickly learned that it is fascinating-- which is why I asked Valynne to write a post about it.

Casting Call:

Ayame Gouriki as Claire

Mitchell Hope as Forrest

Relationship Status: Flirtation

The intriguing premise of this novel immediately caught my eye-- it wasn't just like every other book in the room. While never boring, our interaction didn't thrill me as much as I expected, and I had no trouble pulling myself away when our conversation ended.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Tu Books. I received neither cocktails nor money in exchange for this review. Ink and Ashes is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).