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For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler crowd, the feeling only grows stronger. But then she reconnects with Oliver, the sweet and sensitive college guy she had a near hookup with last year. Oliver is intense and attractive, and she’s sure he’s totally out of her league. But as she discovers that maybe intensity isn’t always a good thing, it’s yet another relationship she feels is spiraling out of her control. It’ll take a new role on the school newspaper and a new job at her mom’s tattoo shop for Kellie to realize that defining herself both outside and within her family is what can finally allow her to feel permanent, just like a tattoo.


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For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler crowd, the feeling only grows stronger. But then she reconnects with Oliver, the sweet and sensitive college guy she had a near hookup with last year. Oliver is intense and attractive, and she’s sure he’s totally out of her league. But as she discovers that maybe intensity isn’t always a good thing, it’s yet another relationship she feels is spiraling out of her control. It’ll take a new role on the school newspaper and a new job at her mom’s tattoo shop for Kellie to realize that defining herself both outside and within her family is what can finally allow her to feel permanent, just like a tattoo.

30 review for Ink Is Thicker Than Water

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads Thank you Entangled Teen for sending me this copy. No compensation was given or taken to alter this review. Sure, Ink Is Thicker Than Water was a decent read, but I failed to connect with it in pratically everyway. First glaring reason; I don’t really remember much of the happenings in the book already. Yikes. Talk about an insignificant read. Kellie has always felt the one in the middle. Lost in the crowd, completely unnoticed and nothing special. Her large, See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads Thank you Entangled Teen for sending me this copy. No compensation was given or taken to alter this review. Sure, Ink Is Thicker Than Water was a decent read, but I failed to connect with it in pratically everyway. First glaring reason; I don’t really remember much of the happenings in the book already. Yikes. Talk about an insignificant read. Kellie has always felt the one in the middle. Lost in the crowd, completely unnoticed and nothing special. Her large, complicated family consists of an adopted overachiever sister, younger half-brother, and hippie mother and tattooist step-father. Soon this feeling expands once her adopted sister meets up with her real mother and her best friend climbs up the school hierarchy without her. I really wanted to sympathise for Kellie. I sometimes got the feeling of being forgotten a few years back when my sister had problems with her speech, my parents basically flooded over her. Unfortunately, Kellie’s character lacked depth and reason. Her illogical and blocked up thoughts were main issues for me; I couldn’t feel her emotions at all–if there were any. Another niggle I had towards Ink Is Thicker Than Water was the romance. Despite the fact that you almost had sex with a guy a few months ago, it does not mean you can just pick up from there and make out with him pretty much every second you see him. I wanted a romantic build up, not just a girl seeing a guy (who also happens to be her sister’s boyfriend’s brother) who she nearly hooked up with months ago to only when see him again, just start making out and crap like that. I felt disconnected and found the romance rather irrational and meaningless. But have to admit, their conversations were quite interesting! My last complaint is the writing. It wasn’t bad, but I found the amount of times ‘I feel like a jerk but…’ used a lot by Kellie which also contributed to why I wasn’t a huge fan of Kellie. The writing was too simplistic and had far too much telling instead of showing. The narrator is constantly filling us in with information; necessary and unnecessary information throughout the novel. It was rather disconcerting. Like I missed a whole novel before this one and the author was trying to fill me in. All in all, Ink Is Thicker Than Water was a disappointing read though did promote true identity quite well. Also, that ending let me down quite a lot. A little too abrupt.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jasprit

    Amy Spalding gave me exactly what I needed in Ink is thicker than Water. I had become a really fussy reader lately so found myself struggling through some mediocre books. But with the Ink is thicker than Water I found myself completely taken in and over 3/4’s of the way through just in a few hours. Kellie was an easy person to get behind, she found herself in many difficult situations and with no one person she could talk to. It was like fate was against her and slowly one by one every person she Amy Spalding gave me exactly what I needed in Ink is thicker than Water. I had become a really fussy reader lately so found myself struggling through some mediocre books. But with the Ink is thicker than Water I found myself completely taken in and over 3/4’s of the way through just in a few hours. Kellie was an easy person to get behind, she found herself in many difficult situations and with no one person she could talk to. It was like fate was against her and slowly one by one every person she cared about or could confide in was snatched away from her. I felt for her more, because it was done in such a brutal way with no explanation at all. Take for example her friendship with Kaitlin, they’d known each other since they were 8 years old, yes they had their differences, (you should see how me and my best friend disagree upon on such trivial things). But it felt like after one party, Kaitlin didn’t know Kellie any more, she basically turned into an overnight snob. Bitchiness aside, Kaitlin had always been Kellie’s person to go to and it was a difficult blow to just be dropped like that. But I appreciated that Kellie had the opportunity to make other friends on the school paper, she wasn’t as close with them as she had been with Kaitlin, but still had someone she could hang with. Then there was Kellie’s relationship with her sister Sara, in a lot of respects their relationship reminded me of Wren and Cath in Fangirl. Both stories have focused on sisters drifting apart in such a spectacular way. I have two sisters who I have ups and downs with, but for me sibling relationships don’t seem to be touched upon that much in YA books, but let me just say Spalding has definitely written one of the best ones around in Ink is thicker than Water. Spalding hones in so well on the complexities and intricacies of their relationship. And I didn’t feel like an outsider at all, because we got to know Sara a bit before chaos ensues, I could actually experience everything Kellie was going through when Sara started isolating herself. Books which actually make you feel as if you’re an integral part of the story are my favourites and Spalding fantastically made me feel a part of it by giving us so much detail into what was happening with each of Kellie’s relationships; all people that mattered to her the most. Whilst Kaitlin and Sara weren’t my two favourite people, I liked how Spalding explored the many layers of these relationships. There were a lot of relationships that Kellie was having a tough time with, but I adored the one that emerged between her and Oliver. Instead of completely throwing us in the deep end, I liked how we were given titbits into their story. It definitely allowed me to appreciate Oliver’s character more and his relationship with Kellie. In my eyes Oliver was a sweetheart, I’m glad that Kellie finally gave him a chance, as he definitely ended up being an important rock that was there when things were falling apart. I know Kellie sometimes could feel a little confused by what was going on with Oliver, but to be honest I didn’t see the issue. Oliver very early on won me over, he was sweet, considerate and always wanted to spend time with Kellie, some may say he was intense, but compared to the other goofs loitering about I wouldn’t want to say no to spending time with Oliver any day. There were truly some wonderful characters that Spalding brought into this novel, If I actually stop and think how many people played such an integral role to this story and Kellie’s life, I couldn’t praise Spalding enough for the variety of characters that she gave us. There’s nothing more that annoys me when characters sound alike, this however I’m grateful for was not the case in this book at all. The secondary characters (I’m not even sure I would call them that) were all so unique, that they each brought something exciting to the story. They were also so different, that they could quite easily change the mood and direction of the story. I appreciated this a lot, as one minute I could find myself tumbling into a hole of despair with Kellie and the next I’d find myself in a dreamy daze with Oliver. These characters certainly reinforced just how important friendships and relationships with people you least expect to be with could be. Ink is thicker than Water was a refreshing read which couldn’t have come at a better moment for me. Spalding weaves an intricate plot, which is written with poise and purpose. There were some relationships which Spalding left open, and not all neatly wrapped up, even though I was itching to find out what happened, I liked how Spalding allows us to make our own conclusions. Also I find books which do this tend to leave me thinking about the story more in the days and weeks after I finished the last page. In Ink is thicker than Water Spalding has left her mark proving that she is one heck of a talented author. Ink is thicker than Water is definitely one book not to be missed out this year.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Trish Doller

    I blurbed this book: Amy Spalding has a knack for capturing the messiness of family in a way that feels as familiar and comforting as a pair of perfectly worn jeans or favorite pair of flip flops. With Ink Is Thicker than Water, Spalding depicts a blended family with compassion, humor, love, and pitch-perfect authenticity.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hallie

    This just wasn't - it. Admittedly, I've been sick since last Wednesday, things have either had an odd spike of badness or gotten worse, and what I was reading kept not being it (until this morning's post). There's a lot I actually did love here, but it always seemed to be buried somehow in stuff that detracted. Like the theme of adolescence being a time when maybe people want to change, want to reevaluate who they are and want to be. Good theme, right? But by the end I felt it had bludgeoned me This just wasn't - it. Admittedly, I've been sick since last Wednesday, things have either had an odd spike of badness or gotten worse, and what I was reading kept not being it (until this morning's post). There's a lot I actually did love here, but it always seemed to be buried somehow in stuff that detracted. Like the theme of adolescence being a time when maybe people want to change, want to reevaluate who they are and want to be. Good theme, right? But by the end I felt it had bludgeoned me so painfully into submission that I was a bad person for not believing it was the ONLY theme! The ONLY way teens (or adults! Or wait, no, maybe not adults!) could be! Which is clearly not the most subtle of writing, as I started out so much on story's side. Minor irritants like character seem to count for nothing - if a teen is experiencing the need to shed his/her skin like a snake, doesn't matter how they act while doing it. (view spoiler)[ Kellie's losing it and saying mean things to her mother was entirely credible, but her decision to just bail on her, Russell AND the little brother and stay bailed because she wasn't -- ready to make up? wanted to bring Sara back to the fold, so until then, let them all suffer?? -- I don't know. Just not great. Added to Sara's quite vicious behaviour in taking up with her biological mother, and then Kaitlyn's equally cruelty in dumping Kellie and *laughing* at her, followed by "I just kind of needed to renegotiate how we were besties forever, so we're cool, right?" irked me. And Oliver, of course has done the changing, so worrying about the way he became very intense, very quickly, which was his OLD behaviour, isn't okay. (hide spoiler)] The only adult who apparently delayed her supposed-to-happen-in-high-school metamorphosis is Kellie's mother, and Kellie pretty much suggests that she was a very late grower. Same with Kellie's slow-growing, in one way, relationship with Oliver, which was by turns disturbing and unutterably boring. You're making out? Cool. You go to his dorm room and make out? Good for you. You're making out again? YOU DON"T NEED TO REPORT IT EVERY TIME. Ditto with her irritating inability to tell Oliver that she's a virgin and talk to him about when/if she'll want to have sex with him. Nothing could make my curmudgeonly old lady come out more than that, especially as she's 16 and he's in college (not a freshman, either). He's "shown" to be nice by repeatedly saying "You can talk to me, Kellie", but as she doesn't often take him up on it (can you guess what she does instead??), it seems a bit cardboard cutout of respectful boyfriend rather than a relationship I could buy in any way. I did like the move that took place from the beginning of the book, where Kellie had been trying so hard to be bad-ass or cynical or something that she wouldn't get involved in any school stuff, to her increasing interest in the school newspaper. She doesn't seem to get a mass of personality infusion from it though, and the articles (which we get to read) aren't funny enough to work at all. Finally, when the big resolution happens and we see how there was a skewed perspective in the way the two sisters each saw the other, it was good in theory but not very strong in execution. (view spoiler)[Sara says that Kellie is so much more interesting (to their mother) than she is, and that everyone likes her, she has tons of friends, and my reaction was, "Unh?" Her mother's very, very supportive of both of them, but doesn't seem to be more interested in Kellie. She isn't artistic, she isn't very good at the talking about emotions and stuff her mother insists on, and she has one friend, who's just dumped her. In fact, quite a bit is made of the fact that she doesn't have many friends, and nobody else to whom she can talk except Kaitlyn. She makes friends through working on the newspaper, in a rather tentative way, but Sara hasn't been around to see that, so this thing about "you have masses of friends" becomes equivalent of authorial telling vs what we've actually seen. (hide spoiler)] Obviously, with all the carping and three stars, there must have been something that worked, and there was: Kellie's family. Her mother and Russell are just wonderful, and I loved that they were very unique individuals, and kind of counterculture but not in a heavy-handed way. Also, rather late in the day, Oliver's brother (and Sara's bf, as it happens) turns into a pretty interesting character too, if a secondary one. I liked the way he called Kellie on something for which she definitely needed calling. I might have been less wildly cranky had I been in a better mood, or a better mood for this, but it would never have been a real win, sadly.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Keertana

    Amy Spalding tore down any preconceived notions I may have had about the content of her novels with her debut, The Reece Malcolm List, which stunned me with its honest voice, unexpected depth, and realistic portrayal of family. With Ink is Thicker Than Water, Spalding weaves an even more complex family dynamic with yet another narrator whose voice is spot-on. It isn't nearly as much fun as her debut is, full of its musical cast, but its messages are just as - if not more - important. Kellie Brook Amy Spalding tore down any preconceived notions I may have had about the content of her novels with her debut, The Reece Malcolm List, which stunned me with its honest voice, unexpected depth, and realistic portrayal of family. With Ink is Thicker Than Water, Spalding weaves an even more complex family dynamic with yet another narrator whose voice is spot-on. It isn't nearly as much fun as her debut is, full of its musical cast, but its messages are just as - if not more - important. Kellie Brooks has never had a nuclear family or, for that matter, a normal life. Sarah, her older sister who has both beauty and brains, is adopted and her hippie mother and step-dad own a tattoo parlor. When Sarah turns eighteen, however, Kellie's "normal" begins to change. Not only is her sister meeting with her biological parents, discovering just how crazy her adopted family really is, but Kellie's best friend has abandoned her for a popular crowd and her father's disappointment weighs her down like lead. Moreover, Kellie is experiencing her own kind of change, complete with a college boyfriend and a new spot as a writer for the school newspaper. As Kellie navigates the turbulent waters that is her life, she'll soon realize that "normal" isn't what society dictates, but rather what you make of it yourself. Ink is Thicker Than Water is a messy story, often with too many story arcs, but Spalding gives each ample attention. Whether it be Kellie's complicated relationship with Oliver, which is realistically drawn with these two setting boundaries and finding the courage to discuss their relationship or Kellie's relationship with her sister as the two must re-learn how to become a family when both are undergoing drastic changes in their lives, Spalding keeps her characters flawed, but her resolutions realistic. Moreover, I particularly love that Kellie discovers that it is okay to change. As a junior newly joining the school newspaper, previously underachiever Kellie finds that she harbors passions and ambitions and actual dreams for the future and, moreover, that she no longer wants to be the girl she always was; she wants to be someone different. For me, witnessing Kellie, alongside her sister and mother slowly uncover new truths about themselves and the lives they lead was a shockingly well-written growth arc. Additionally, a family with tattooists and adopted siblings isn't common, but Spalding writes them in such a friendly, relate-able manner that it is impossible not to see them as the new "normal" as well. With her sophomore novel, Spalding re-defines what it is to be normal, such an integral theme as teenagers rarely think their lives are going as planned or are as normal as they should be. With Spalding's story being pushed out into the void, however, there is no doubt in my mind that this is one tale that will connect with every reader, regardless of age and, moreover, regardless of family. You can read this review and more on my blog Ivy Book Bindings.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Aw, this is really super. I LOVED the way the family dynamics played out--it was completely realistic and I think that aspect will be really relatable for a lot of readers. I would have adored Amy's books when I was a teenager. The smarts and humor just work for me, and I wish I'd had that sort of book when I was a teenager a million years ago.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    I received an ARC through NetGalley. I absolutely adored this author's debut novel earlier this year, which set my expectations quite high for Ink is Thicker Than Water. Unfortunately, it didn't measure up. My rating feels unfairly low, but three stars doesn't feel right either. I didn't think this book was bad, or not for me, or anything like that. In fact, I found it really cute in places and refreshing as a whole, but it bored me like no other! I honestly cannot believe how boring it was. I li I received an ARC through NetGalley. I absolutely adored this author's debut novel earlier this year, which set my expectations quite high for Ink is Thicker Than Water. Unfortunately, it didn't measure up. My rating feels unfairly low, but three stars doesn't feel right either. I didn't think this book was bad, or not for me, or anything like that. In fact, I found it really cute in places and refreshing as a whole, but it bored me like no other! I honestly cannot believe how boring it was. I liked that it was about more everyday teen problems and there was no big, overly dramatic drama for the sake of drama. But oh my goodness. It didn't hold my attention for more than two or three chapters at a time, so it took me forever to finish! The worst part about Ink is Thicker Than Water was that is was most unmemorable to me. I seriously forgot almost everything that I read whenever I set it down. It was like starting over every time I picked it back up. Luckily, there is no major plot, so it's not like I actually needed to remember all of Kellie's everyday activities and interactions to move forward. I guess this means nothing was happening, and that's mostly true. The story is mainly about Kellie trying to figure out where she fits in the world and in her family. Plus there's some family issues, best friend problems, and an awkward budding romance. It was all missing an essential spark for me though. Maybe the problems were too normal? It was also lacking the fun that The Reece Malcolm List was radiating. Of course there were things that I liked about Ink is Thicker Than Water. I loved the unique family dynamics. Kellie lives with her mother, step-father, adopted older sister, and younger half-brother. Her dad and his (secret) girlfriend are also around at times, making up a quite unconventional, but loving family. Kellie's mom is big on family time, not having secrets, and letting everyone be themselves. This is all well and good, but we really only get to know Kellie and her mother. Her sister plays a huge role in the story, but she felt like just a name on paper since she spends most of the book avoiding her family. The romance had me really conflicted. Kellie is dating a college boy named Oliver, whom she had met several months prior. Their meeting is actually really unique and interesting, and I was hoping it would make their romance awkward but adorable. Well, it's definitely awkward, but nowhere near adorable. Oliver says about 10 words whenever they're together, most of which was taken up by "You can talk to me." It's great that he's willing to listen to Kellie's problems, but that's really all we get to know about him. At least until the end, when his huge secret that makes him less than perfect comes out. It's an interesting secret, but doesn't make up for lack of personality. I did really like how sex was portrayed in Ink is Thicker Than Water for the most part. Kellie is very confident in herself and is able to tell Oliver that she's not ready when things start to heat up. I just wish she didn't have to say it every single time we see them together. There are discussions of gynecologist visits, birth control, and condoms which I think is important. Kellie also talks to her mom about it, so again great family! Ink is Thicker Than Water also focused a lot on Kellie's crumbling relationship with her sister once she meets her biological mother, her best friend ditching her to become popular, and finding her place on the school newspaper staff. However, none of these plot threads really held my attention at all. There were just kind of there, giving Kellie something to do. The ending was really cute and cheesy though, and I liked it. It also made me start plotting another tattoo to add to my long list of tattoos to get done. Read more of my reviews at Pinkindle Reads & Reviews.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Ricketts (Donnie Darko Girl)

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl. INK IS THICKER THAN WATER was such a pleasure to read! Kellie is the kind of character who not only reminds me of myself when I was in high school but will also stick with me for a long time to come. She has a fresh unique voice and is a master at throwing out witty barbs - nothing that ever hurts anyone but will make them laugh in a feel good kind of way. It's as though she doesn't I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl. INK IS THICKER THAN WATER was such a pleasure to read! Kellie is the kind of character who not only reminds me of myself when I was in high school but will also stick with me for a long time to come. She has a fresh unique voice and is a master at throwing out witty barbs - nothing that ever hurts anyone but will make them laugh in a feel good kind of way. It's as though she doesn't have to try to be funny; she just is. She listens to the 60's, and one of her all-time favorite songs is "Bus Stop" by The Hollies, which is a song I swear by. That's one of the songs from back then that I've made all of my friends listen to whether they wanted to or not. ;) So our shared love of music from that decade really endeared her to me even more. The story is so well done - I really felt like I was back in high school again. Kellie and her best friend, Kaitlyn, begin growing apart, which can happen often during those years. It was painful to read because I can identify with how much it hurts and how much you wish you could stop it from happening but you know there isn't anything you can do. Once it happens, it happens. You can't force a friendship, especially when two people begin growing and changing into new people. What Kellie and Kaitlyn once shared that cemented their friendship eventually became lost in the shuffle when they each began walking a new path. That path just didn't happen to be beside each other anymore. Thank god for Kellie's mom, stepdad, and cute little brother! Kellie's biological father is an ass. He outright favors Kellie's sister, Sara, because she gets all A's and has several colleges courting her already. The morning he told Kellie he wanted to take Sara out to breakfast alone to talk about college with her made me so angry! I wished I could've been there to tell him off. Kellie's dad's behavior can be common for a parent of a teen unfortunately, which is another reason this story is so real. I'm glad Kellie lives with her mom and stepdad who seemed to be much more loving and supportive of who she is. Kellie's dad didn't accept his daughter for who she is - he was too busy being disappointed that she wasn't who he wanted her to be. As a parent, I think that's just plain wrong. Kellie and Sara seem to be pretty close, which was surprising to me because I expected an overachiever like Sara to treat Kellie horribly. They had more of a positive relationship than most sisters I know, but that relationship became strained when Sara begins forming a relationship with her biological mother. Sara explained things to her mother differently than how they really are, and Kellie was quick to defend their family. Kellie knows their parents are unusual compared to most parents, but she doesn't feel like anything about them needs to be hidden from Sara's biological mother. I loved how Kellie jumped to their defense but hoped Kellie and Sara would repair their relationship and become close again. I liked Oliver but also had a strange feeling something was off about him. I thought at times he could be a little too intense, especially when they about had sex the first time they met. As much as I identified with Kellie and as much as it pains me to say this, I'm a parent myself (I feel so flippin' old sometimes!) and can see potential fallout from choices young characters in the YA genre make. I didn't want Kellie to wrap herself up in their relationship so much that she lost herself, but isn't that something what often happens to us at that age? I know I lost myself for a while in a relationship because everything was so new and exciting that nothing else mattered for a while. You know, hormones raging and all that. When you're first in a relationship, that person can turn out to be someone completely different than who you thought they were, as in this case with Kellie and Oliver. Everything about INK IS THICKER THAN WATER is organically told, and I loved seeing Kellie's story unfold. Within her family, friends, boyfriend, and just the world in general, she was finding herself gradually changing with new interests and new friends coming into her life. Nothing about this story is over the top or forced, and I really appreciated reading a story like this that seemed so real. It's as though I know these characters. The writing is fantastic with the way the author had the characters interacting and changing subtly over the course of the novel. I was happy with the ending. With the way this story is told, it just wouldn't be satisfying if everything had been completely tied up by the end, and I'm okay with that. I'm definitely recommending this to every reader I know!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    I'll write this review when I'm a little more motivated to talk about it, but honestly - I can't right now. And there are reasons for that.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ellis

    I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Ink is Thicker Than Water impressed me with its realism. There are so many details that make the story all the more relatable. I instantly took to the characters and their interactions with one another. This is a novel that gets high school right. Kellie's voice is memorable. Her family is amazing. Her little brother is adorable. The supporting cast are characters in their own right. Most importantly, Kellie's relationships ar I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Ink is Thicker Than Water impressed me with its realism. There are so many details that make the story all the more relatable. I instantly took to the characters and their interactions with one another. This is a novel that gets high school right. Kellie's voice is memorable. Her family is amazing. Her little brother is adorable. The supporting cast are characters in their own right. Most importantly, Kellie's relationships aren't just there to dress up the story. They help her learn who she is and wants to be as a person. She doesn't have it all figured out yet, but that's okay. The important thing is that she cares and isn't ashamed to admit it. What made Kellie such a stand-out character for me is her voice. She strikes that perfect balance between casual and witty. She is effortlessly snarky. It never comes across as trying too hard. She can verb with the best of them. In the first chapter, she is "best-friending". If Kellie were real, I would follow her on Twitter and probably insta-favourite all her tweets. I wanted to hug her when her best friend - the one she was so supportive of in chapter 1 - decided to drop her for no reason. I was just as annoyed as she was every time her father mentioned how much better of a student her sister is. When Oliver sent her a Facebook relationship request after only a few dates, both of us were freaking out. Even when she was making mistakes - and I objectively knew they were mistakes - I didn't mind because man, this is Kellie and she is awesome. However, whether you'll like this novel might depend on how much you like these characters. I can see them getting annoying after a while. It just never happened to me, because I was so immersed in the story. The ending bordered on cheesy. I did like how not everything was neatly resolved. There is the possibility that things will turn out fine for Kellie, but at the moment, she is glad with where she stands. The romance is intense and definitely not standard, but I appreciated that Kellie's relationship with Oliver wasn't idealised. There was a major attraction between them, but it was also shown that people aren't always who you thought they would be. Read the full review on The Random Transliterator.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brandy Painter

    Earlier this year I bought The Reece Malcolm List on the excellent recommendation of several people and was thoroughly enamored with Amy Spalding's writing style. I was excited to discover she would have a second book coming out this year, Ink is Thicker Than Water, and when it showed up on NetGalley I couldn't request it fast enough. I am happy to say that it is another truly wonderful read. It is just so lovely to find an author who can write stories that are real, entertaining, and full of he Earlier this year I bought The Reece Malcolm List on the excellent recommendation of several people and was thoroughly enamored with Amy Spalding's writing style. I was excited to discover she would have a second book coming out this year, Ink is Thicker Than Water, and when it showed up on NetGalley I couldn't request it fast enough. I am happy to say that it is another truly wonderful read. It is just so lovely to find an author who can write stories that are real, entertaining, and full of heart all at the same time. This is Kellie's story, but it is also the story of her whole family and that is probably my favorite thing about Spalding's books so far. They show a greater whole, and I love the way she treats family. Kellie has a lot going on in her life. Many of the relationships that have sustained her and fulfilled her are changing in scary ways and she doesn't know how to cope with it. She often compares herself unfavorably to the people around her and I appreciate how that was done. Kellie's voice is real in a way few authors can get right, vulnerable and confident in turns just as any girl really is. Kellie's relationship and interactions with her family are by far the best thing about this novel for me, and really the heart of what it is about. Spalding portrays the messy chaos and vulnerability that come with loving and living with people we sometimes don't like or agree with. An outsider would say Kellie has a "good" family and she does. Yet all families are messy because there is no other way for a group of individuals so closely tied through history, squabbles, disasters, and triumph to be. Our family sees us at our worst, and that is demonstrated in a very authentic way through Kellie's story. Kellie's relationships with every member of her family and how they affect her and she affects them are integral in the telling of this story. The relationship with her sister was fascinating for me as a reader, and sometimes horribly uncomfortable. I suddenly felt like I was seeing my relationship with my own sister through her perspective. Some of Kellie and Sara's conversations could have come from us when we were in high school (me being Sara) and I sort of felt the need to call and apologize. Then there was Kellie's romance with Oliver, which I love is not the focal point of the story but still an important part. In many ways he is Kellie's coping mechanism through all of this, and yet I still can't help but root for them.They have a great dynamic and I like that he has plenty of issues of his own, but is also learning to deal with them. I also appreciate the frank and realistic way Spalding dealt with their choices regarding their sexual relationship. Yay for girls having agency, boys respecting that, and couples talking. What I really like about this is that it took them time to get to the point where all three of those were in complete working order. They are still young and learning , but I love how they were trying to do it all right. This is a book that is not heavy on plot. It is about character and relationships most of all. I love books like this, especially when they do it with realism but also humor and hope. I have to add that I adored to the core of my being the character of Adelaide, Kellie's new friend. Her email address is a reference to Guys and Dolls, which makes her awesome in and of itself, but she gives great advice too even if she is a little strange and intense. Amy Spalding has earned a place as an auto-buy author for me now. I will gladly trust her and read anything she has to offer in the future. I received an e-galley form the publisher, Entangled Teen, via NetGalley. Ink is Thicker Than Water is available for purchase on December 3.

  12. 5 out of 5

    nick (the infinite limits of love)

    Ink is Thicker Than Water is a book that embodies everything that I want in a solid YA contemporary novel. Going into the book, I honestly can't say I had much expectations, especially since I had read mixed reviews, but Ink is Thicker Than Water ended up surprising me so much by how good it was and I'm glad I took my chance with it. The main character in the book, Kellie, was wonderful in every sense of the word. She basically represents every other normal girl out there with her being average a Ink is Thicker Than Water is a book that embodies everything that I want in a solid YA contemporary novel. Going into the book, I honestly can't say I had much expectations, especially since I had read mixed reviews, but Ink is Thicker Than Water ended up surprising me so much by how good it was and I'm glad I took my chance with it. The main character in the book, Kellie, was wonderful in every sense of the word. She basically represents every other normal girl out there with her being average at almost everything. That was a quality that made her easy to connect with on many levels. In addition, she was sweet, respected others and cared so much for her friends and family. Kellie was endearing because of those very qualities. What I loved even more about Ink is Thicker Than Water was the diverse and gorgeous secondary characters. I can't say that I loved each and everyone of them, but they were undoubtedly well-fleshed out and realistically portrayed. Ink is Thicker Than Water narrates the journey of Kellie through issues that I assume many teenagers might go through. The two main themes tackled were threads of friendship breaking due to changes in personalities and a close relative slowly edging away from one's life. I personally thought Amy Spalding tackled both these two topics well. I loved that she gave equal attention to both. We watch how Kellie and her best friend, Kaitlyn slowly start to drift apart because Kaitlyn begins to grow as a person and how this affects Kellie. Although Kellie does feel disappointed and upset, she did not wallow in self-pity and tried to make friends elsewhere. She was the kind of girl who was ready to move on and I loved that about her. Sara, Kellie's adoptive sister, also starts to drift away from her and her family because she reconnects with her birth mother and watching the grief and insecurities that Kellie went through made me really feel for her. I admit that at times, I felt like Sara was being a bit of a bitch just abandoning her adoptive family like that, but I did understand where she was coming from. As you probably guessed, Ink is Thicker Than Water was heavy on the family aspect and I can't express how much I loved it. Kellie's family was not at all perfect, but which family ever is? I just adored how into the lives of her daughter Kellie's mom was and that we got to know her well throughout the book as well. We also get a bit of a romance, which never caused the plot to stray away from its path and remained on the sidelines. Oliver was a cute guy and he had his really sweet moments, but I'll admit that at times I felt like he was a bit too much. I can't really pinpoint what it was about him, but I'm guessing it's what the author wanted. Kellie was smart when it came to their relationship though and knew when she had to make the right decisions. Ink is Thicker Than Water was a fabulous YA contemporary novel and watching Kellie grow throughout the novel was a thrill. I highly recommend this title.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Ink is Thicker than Water by Amy Spalding is set in Webster Groves, St Louis. Sixteen year old Kellie Brooks is convinced that never being excited about anything is the way to go, that is until she joins the school newspaper and starts seeing Oliver. She feels out-shined by her older and adopted sister, Sara; yet she holds nothing against her, but does feel slighted by her biological father’s reaction. She adores her younger brother Finn and can’t wait to start working at the tattoo shop owned b Ink is Thicker than Water by Amy Spalding is set in Webster Groves, St Louis. Sixteen year old Kellie Brooks is convinced that never being excited about anything is the way to go, that is until she joins the school newspaper and starts seeing Oliver. She feels out-shined by her older and adopted sister, Sara; yet she holds nothing against her, but does feel slighted by her biological father’s reaction. She adores her younger brother Finn and can’t wait to start working at the tattoo shop owned by her mother and step-father, Russell. I read and loved Amy Spalding’s debut novel, The Reece Malcolm List, and after reading this it's clear that Amy is skilled at writing about families and friends. She can write a quirky main character, but not one who is trying to be different on purpose. Kellie isn’t interested in sneaking into bars or the latest fashion but her best friend, Kaitlyn, is suddenly changing and she and Kellie start to drift apart. Luckily for Kellie there are some awesome kids at her unconventional high school, ones that will help her with her newspaper column and bring her vanilla hot chocolates (yum!) On the family front I have to say it makes for such a nice change to have parents present throughout the entire story and not just one pair, three individuals! Kellie regularly visits her biological dad and lives with her mother and step-father. Her mother is pretty relaxed and so loving. Russel was such a positive example of a step-father who loves his step-kids as much as if they were his own. The book touches on mental illness with an event from Oliver’s past being revealed to Kellie via his brother, and her new friend Annabelle also contributes to this topic. It was handled well showing that you don’t have to overreact to someone’s past and that people can change. A couple of other positives: Kellie spends a good amount of time deciding if she is ready to have sex with Oliver, there is talk of contraception, and there’s no pressure on his end. Also, there is plenty of communication between the characters in this bok. Kellie is lucky to have two parents who are always there to talk with, even if she doesn’t enjoy talking about sex with her mum. Kellie sometimes finds it hard to talk to Sara, but their willingness to help each other out was admirable. On a personal note, I loved the many, many vegan references due to Russell being a vegan. Sure, Kellie doesn’t always appreciate the vegan bacon, brunch, or donuts; but I am ready to move to this town and have Russell adopt me. Overall this was such a sweet, funny, heart-warming read. Kellie’s narration was captivating, I loved her family, and her life was enjoyable to read about. Thank you to the lovely people at Entangled for my Netgalley copy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joy (joyous reads)

    Quick Story: Mediocre teen Kellie Brooks has no illusions as to where she stands in her lot in life. She's content going through her high school tenure with average grades, using very little effort to apply herself. She leaves the brilliance and overachieving to her older sister. One upheaval after another disturbs her unassuming existence, however. First, her sister found her biological mother, which led her to realize exactly how she fits (or doesn't) with her adopted family. Then the boy-man sh Quick Story: Mediocre teen Kellie Brooks has no illusions as to where she stands in her lot in life. She's content going through her high school tenure with average grades, using very little effort to apply herself. She leaves the brilliance and overachieving to her older sister. One upheaval after another disturbs her unassuming existence, however. First, her sister found her biological mother, which led her to realize exactly how she fits (or doesn't) with her adopted family. Then the boy-man she almost had sex with comes strolling back in her life with a few secrets of his own. She's losing her best friend, and her world is changing fast. My Thoughts: So this is your typical contemporary romance novel where the heroine is about to discover herself and her place in the world. Her family is bit queer and pleasantly so. I love the tattoo artist step dad who knows his place in everybody's lives. I love the hippie mom who's not at all loopy but very much involved in her kids' lives. I love the family dynamics, which sadly is about the only thing memorable about this novel. Kellie Brooks is pretty flat, to be honest. She's got very little personality to speak of, as are the rest of the characters in this book. It was either that or that I just didn't find it in me to reach them at a level where I could summon some semblance of empathy. I don't know what happened to her supposedly best friend or their falling out. She was in her life until she decided she's becoming too cool for her own good. In which case, I surmised that she's a lousy excuse for a friend if being cool meant more to her than the years that they've spent being friends. Her sister was unlikeable as well. She's a little self-absorbed who thinks that she's also way too good for Kellie and the family that loved her from day one. I would talk about Oliver but I'd probably end up ranting so I'm going to leave this review right here. Over all, it's a fast read but nothing really earth-shattering or even mildly remarkable. If you're looking for an easy read with the usual elements of a contemporary fiction in this genre, then you'll probably enjoy this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    First of all, the title is so great. I love it. Another thing I love: the way there isn't a real rising action-climax-falling action structure to this book. Things happen throughout the course of the book, and Kellie responds to them, and she makes mistakes, and people respond to those. Her mistakes aren't huge ones, though. She has a great family, but not a perfect one, and her parents actually parent. Normal, relatable, messy things happen. Everything is fabulously ordinary. Ink is Thicker Than First of all, the title is so great. I love it. Another thing I love: the way there isn't a real rising action-climax-falling action structure to this book. Things happen throughout the course of the book, and Kellie responds to them, and she makes mistakes, and people respond to those. Her mistakes aren't huge ones, though. She has a great family, but not a perfect one, and her parents actually parent. Normal, relatable, messy things happen. Everything is fabulously ordinary. Ink is Thicker Than Water really does feel like a chronicle of everyday life. I really like Kellie, and her school and her friends, and her acceptance of the newspaper job, and how her choices related to who she was and how she viewed herself. I like that Kellie asks for help and listens to her friends, and I especially like Adelaide's advice. Interestingly - and this is a fault of mine, not of the book - I kept waiting for the book to build up to a dramatic climactic moment, and it never did. This makes it all the more like everyday life, but unusual with regard to my expectations of novel structure - which means, as great and relatable as the novel is, it never became an immersive reading experience. Also, some of the characterization feels a bit sloppy. Sara's decision, for example, to drop her old life to such an extent feels completely out-of-character. Kellie not following up on the hints people drop about Oliver until the very end of the book feels out-of-character, too. Kaitlyn's back-and-forth friendship feels weak, and not in a believable way. Overall, though, I really enjoyed Ink is Thicker Than Water. There should be more YA like it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ashley - Book Labyrinth

    I adored The Reece Malcolm List, Amy Spalding’s first book, and I am happy to say that I loved Ink is Thicker Than Water just as much. I found the book to be so lovely, mainly because I loved the main character, Kellie, and related to her. Kellie is at the point in high school where she has to start figuring out her future. She’s been making personal changes in her life, figuring out what she likes and who she wants to be. Throughout the book Kellie has to deal with a new relationship, friendship I adored The Reece Malcolm List, Amy Spalding’s first book, and I am happy to say that I loved Ink is Thicker Than Water just as much. I found the book to be so lovely, mainly because I loved the main character, Kellie, and related to her. Kellie is at the point in high school where she has to start figuring out her future. She’s been making personal changes in her life, figuring out what she likes and who she wants to be. Throughout the book Kellie has to deal with a new relationship, friendship problems, and her sister disappearing from her life. In some books bringing so many issues together would make the story seem too busy, but Amy Spalding brings multiple issues together beautifully. Beyond Kellie, I also loved her big blended family, especially her mom and stepdad who are tattoo artists. Amy Spalding can write nuanced characters like no one’s business. Kellie’s dad and her sister are characters who you really dislike at times, but you can also empathize with them in a way that even Kellie can’t. Kellie’s love interest is also complicated: a lovely guy, but a character whose secrets may be troubling. I liked how he wasn’t the cookie cutter perfect guy. Basically, if you like contemporary YA books about family and friendship, about navigating relationships of all kinds while at one of the most confusing times of life?--Definitely be sure to pick up Ink is Thicker Than Water. I adored every aspect of it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Amy Spalding is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary YA writers. She knows what a teen story is, and she is able to tell it with not just heart, but with a hearty dose of humor. She never talks down to teen readers and the respect she has for teenagers is obvious. This is a story about what a family looks like, how one fits into a family, what a friendship looks like, how one fits into a friendship, what a romantic relationship looks like, how one fits into a romantic relationship, a Amy Spalding is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary YA writers. She knows what a teen story is, and she is able to tell it with not just heart, but with a hearty dose of humor. She never talks down to teen readers and the respect she has for teenagers is obvious. This is a story about what a family looks like, how one fits into a family, what a friendship looks like, how one fits into a friendship, what a romantic relationship looks like, how one fits into a romantic relationship, and maybe most importantly, it's a book about what it looks like and feels like and is like to figure out who YOU are in the midst of all of those. If you liked Reece Malcolm List, you'll love this. It's perfect for fans of Sara Zarr and Siobhan Vivian. Longer review to come!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dahlia

    Can't do it. Which drives me crazy because I *love* the way Amy Spalding writes family, both in her debut and here. But a large portion of this book is also the romance, and every single one of the scenes between the MC and LI feels exactly the same to me, with no growth, no forward movement, no chemistry, and no personality. I read 2/3 of the book and it's clearly just not for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie

    Yes. Yes! I've waited so long to read this! This is such a sweet, light book that explores a bunch of wonderful, necessary things. And it does so from a place that is beautifully unique: Kellie, our girl, has divorced parents, a step-parent, an adopted sibling, a half sibling, a lawyer dad, and (more excitingly) a tattoo artist mom. They are an awesome family. They go through a lot here, but the ultimate point is that they're a fantastic one. The family's weird blendedness feels really fresh to m Yes. Yes! I've waited so long to read this! This is such a sweet, light book that explores a bunch of wonderful, necessary things. And it does so from a place that is beautifully unique: Kellie, our girl, has divorced parents, a step-parent, an adopted sibling, a half sibling, a lawyer dad, and (more excitingly) a tattoo artist mom. They are an awesome family. They go through a lot here, but the ultimate point is that they're a fantastic one. The family's weird blendedness feels really fresh to me. You see a lot of YA authors trying to come up with families that are quirky and lovable, but somehow they never also seem like real families and people, and everybody here does. Everybody in it matters. And I'd pretty much love to meet all of them. But it's not just cute, the family oddballness. The edges show. In particular, after Kellie's older sister meets her birth mother (noted on the flap copy, part of the main premise), there is a reckoning over the family weirdness. Are they too weird? Weird enough to leave? Now that her sister has something else to compare herself to, Kellie is scared. This new element will rightly rebalance their family, but Kellie did not quite realize before that anything was out of balance. Does biology actually make you fit into your family? Does it give you disadvantages? Why don't you ever feel 100% belonging? The way this part of the story goes is wrenching to me. It gets so much sadder before it gets better, and I believe every move everyone makes. It is a terrible thing when your family's status quo is thrown off the rails. No one knows the right thing to do, and inaction can be as hurtful as fighting is. In the book, a lot of this develops quietly, through absences rather than big crazy motions. It's numbing and sad, and even though Kellie's desire to put everything back how it was is selfish, we understand what she is trying to mean. The story lands because these feelings are built and upheld thematically in every single plot thread. Most of what Kellie actually goes through in this book has little to do with her sister, even though that story is incredibly interesting. As it is a YA book, the main plot has to do with a boy, and I find this is actually a sly move for a lot of reasons. First, Kellie's experiences as a too-average girl are not the ones about whom this story ought to be written. While her sister, offscreen, is discovering her identity in a breathtaking and terrifying way, it is Kellie's quite familiar parallel journey to self-discovery that we follow. But the presence of that other story expresses the weight of everything that Kellie is navigating herself. Also, the boyfriend situation here is complicated. Nothing about it is easy. It's really nice, but (although she indulges in some escapism) none of it is the answer Kellie needs. The boy is not the solution to her identity crisis, and romantic affection is not the solution to her fear of her family losing its essence. It's just one more thing lurching her life into big territory it's never been. Kellie falls for a cool guy and navigates issues with sex and boundaries on her own, and what's really great about it is that it not only maneuvers these issues beautifully, but Kellie's feelings for Oliver always bring us back to her feelings about the rest of her life. Because her life is bigger than him, always. This is such an important way for a romance to be written! In addition, there's a story about a best-friendship going askew, and while that kind of thing can pop up all the time in YA for all sorts of reasons, it really lands here thanks to every other thing in Kellie's life also having gone askew, in exactly the way that it does. Somehow, each of these things makes her confront the same problems in herself, and getting over that is the real key. Like the author's previous book, quite a lot of this one has to do with learning self-esteem. Which sounds nice and trite, but again I just like the way it's done here immensely. Kellie has realistic hangups about her self-confidence — the sort that have developed as a reflex to be blasé and noncommittal, to seal off vulnerability — and we watch how the events here finally make her experience a little wake-up call that makes her braver, and closer to grown-up. This is really great, because this is how people actually do change, by finally noticing a thing that shows up everywhere you look, and starts to look wrong. Big changes in life really do develop on a theme. Helpfully, this is also how good books are made. Anyway, the only thing I really ought to have written in this review is that ***THIS BOOK HAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE ENDINGS EVER***. Ever. I love the ending so much! It kicks ass and is perfect in every way, and it makes me so happy and ugh and it makes me cry and laugh and I want to smack something. WHY ARE YOU SO GOOD. This ending seems so effortless, I feel so sorry for other books. And such a great title, too. This is a sentimental round-up, surely: I really care personally about every one of this book's themes, and I like this author a lot. Even though I happen to take it really seriously, this book has a very breezy and silly narrative style that somehow guides you through these things. It works on me. I'm super glad.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Les

    WARNING SPOILERS, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! Positives about the story: 1) Several good plot lines. 2) Lots of interpersonal and family drama. 3) I like the "bad guys" to live up to their billing and both Kaitlyn and Sara acted like true mega-bitches towards Kellie. 4) Not every issue had a Disney happy ending. Negatives: 1) Kellie was a bit of a whiny twit. On one hand she's dating a college guy, but she's also having an emotional meltdown because Kaitlyn doesn't want to be her BFF anymore (mostly becau WARNING SPOILERS, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! Positives about the story: 1) Several good plot lines. 2) Lots of interpersonal and family drama. 3) I like the "bad guys" to live up to their billing and both Kaitlyn and Sara acted like true mega-bitches towards Kellie. 4) Not every issue had a Disney happy ending. Negatives: 1) Kellie was a bit of a whiny twit. On one hand she's dating a college guy, but she's also having an emotional meltdown because Kaitlyn doesn't want to be her BFF anymore (mostly because she now wants to be popular and go to parties whereas Kellie acted like they were still in 7th grade). And her "I'm so useless and everyone else in my family is so perfect" routine got old. 2) The whole reapproachment with Kaitlyn just didn't feel realistic. Kaitlyn made it clear she no longer wanted anything to do with Kellie (i.e. snubbing her, laughing at her, returning her stuff, telling her to her face they are no longer friends, etc.). It seemed pretty clear to me but Kellie kept sniveling after her. Then all of a sudden at the end of the story Kaitlyn shows back up and they're singing Kumbaya together (although to her credit Kellie did say she wasn't sure where she really wanted her relationship with her to go from there). 3) I just don't like statutory rape stories in general (in a lot of states an 18-19 year old sleeping with a 16 year old could go to jail and wind up on the sex offender registry, even if she consents). There's a certain "ick" factor about a college guy dating a high school junior (especially when she's the younger sister of his younger brother's girlfriend). Your mileage may vary. Neutral: 1) Her mom seemed a little laid back about her 16 year old daughter having a sexual relationship with a college student, but it was consistent with her character. Her only real response was to want Kellie to see her GYN and get on birth control. So I guess Oliver was safe from the statutory rape issue, unless he did something to really hurt Kellie. Then mom could have crucified him. 2) Kellie really agonized over whether she was ready for sex or not with Oliver, especially given the way she bolted away the first time. They kissed a lot (she tells you so multiple times almost every time they're together). She also says they "made out" but doesn't say what that involved. We didn't need all the gory details but it might have helped to have a little idea of what they were doing. If they were jumping straight from kissing and mild groping to full intercourse, then her hang up makes more sense. But if she was already on an intimate basis with his penis then she could have been a little less spazzed out about taking the next step. Not a big deal; she just waffled so much on whether she was ready for sex it would have been interesting to know how far she was comfortable going with him. Overall: Better than I expected, not a simple piece of YA fluff.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vanya D.

    NOTE: I received the eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Amy Spalding is a really talented writer. It was obvious from her first published work I read - The Reece Malcolm List. Her characters were lively, and her writing realistic. It's the same with Ink is Thicker Than Water. Here we're introduced to Kellie Brooks, a girl of creative mind, who always feels like she's the odd one in her family, even though it's her sister, Sara who's the adopted one. Kellie's Dad is never satisf NOTE: I received the eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Amy Spalding is a really talented writer. It was obvious from her first published work I read - The Reece Malcolm List. Her characters were lively, and her writing realistic. It's the same with Ink is Thicker Than Water. Here we're introduced to Kellie Brooks, a girl of creative mind, who always feels like she's the odd one in her family, even though it's her sister, Sara who's the adopted one. Kellie's Dad is never satisfied by anything she accomplishes, and her Mom and step-dad are just too cheerfully supportive to be taken seriously. The only one who's always appreciated, is Sara. But then things change. Because Sara suddenly has two pairs of parents and no one can tell which ones she wants to belong with. In Ink, the ordeal with Sara is the eye opener to Kellie's life. Until then, even though she didn't feel normal, at least she had a family and a close friend to count on. Her life was okay, even though she hadn't quite figured out in what direction it was pointed. She was happy, and that's what mattered. Afterwards it seemed that her world had keeled over, threatening to just go upside down forever. For a while she thought that having a relationship with this sweet and charming, but also super intense, college boy Oliver would probably fix things for her. They hung out, made out and even brought it to a different level altogether. Kellie had a lot to deal with for a teenager. The loss of the close relationship she had with her sister, the loss of her best friend who went hanging out with the school mean girls, her Mom was beginning to fall apart at the seams... Then a truth she learned about Oliver's past came at her out of the blue, and she decided to take matters in her own hands. She just had to deal with life and she had a plan exactly how to do it. It involved growing up and putting on her big girl panties. It involved thinking like an adult, but not a stuck up one. It involved figuring out what's truly important, what's to be a constant in her life. Ink was a coming of age book, where change was required by the circumstances. On the surface, it seemed to be a light read, but really it had a much deeper concept. Underneath all the layers of disappointments and undesired developments, there was the maturation of a girl who was beginning to learn a few things about the world. Mainly, that not everything is what it seems. People change, relationships change, but if you're willing, you can usually make it work. And you can usually make it stick. Just like the ink of a tattoo. In conclusion I want to wrap it up saying that Ink was amazing in every sense of the word. And it definitely had a teen voice. Not a dumb one, where you wonder what on earth the person is thinking. But a realistically believable one. And I liked it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amy at bookgoonie

    I walked away from INK IS THICKER THAN WATER utterly refreshed. It felt like I had a window into a family. A family with dysfunction and expectations nipping on the fringes of love they shared. Just a family trying to figure it out all the same. This is Kellie’s coming of age story. I instantly liked her. She is smart, witty and loves her family. Her story is complex, because each obstacle comes with good and bad. When her BFF wants to start hanging with the “in” crowd, she starts filling her tim I walked away from INK IS THICKER THAN WATER utterly refreshed. It felt like I had a window into a family. A family with dysfunction and expectations nipping on the fringes of love they shared. Just a family trying to figure it out all the same. This is Kellie’s coming of age story. I instantly liked her. She is smart, witty and loves her family. Her story is complex, because each obstacle comes with good and bad. When her BFF wants to start hanging with the “in” crowd, she starts filling her time with the school newspaper and making new friends. When her sister becomes absent, she pushes her relationship with her dad. Though she is a solidly grounded person, she is feeling the pulls and tugs of those in her life. And I think this book may have been as much for the 40 year old mom as its YA audience. Kellie’s mom did the corporate career thing. But as time moved on, she wasn’t happy. The career and the marriage didn’t fit anymore. Then she walked into a tattoo parlor, she awoke. Her physical change sparked the possibility of a new happier self. I don’t know what life was like before and I am not one for divorce, but sometimes the pieces just don’t fit. You don’t have to suffer. The kids shouldn’t hear the parents that should be setting examples of healthy relationship fighting and unhappy. So in this case, the transformation was refreshing. Her new job, new husband and addition to the family fits. And you can feel the love between the siblings and the parents. The only expectation is to be a member of the family and accountable to each other. “If I went to accounting school, mom would think it was cool. Mom thinks the fact that I breathe oxygen and let out carbon dioxide is–” ”Oh, yeah, tough break in life having a mom who thinks like that.” I am probably not quite that zen about what I expect my kid to do and accomplish. She sets an amazing example of loving and happy for her two daughters. She also treats them like adults. She has the hard conversations and isn’t disillusioned about what they face. Parents, and especially good parents, are increasingly missing from YA books. It was nice to see parents trying to get it right for the love of their kids. Tattoos play an important turning point in the book. And as someone who got their one and only tattoo at the age of 35, I understand. My decision was based in the idea that I remember who I am and live each day and have every interaction be one that brought me no regrets. I’ll be sure to check out more from of AMY SPALDING in the future.

  23. 4 out of 5

    tonya.

    With her second novel in a year (busy girl!), Amy Spalding delivers on the expectations she set with her debut, The Reece Malcolm List–which, you might recall, I adored. In Ink is Thicker than Water, Spalding succeeds again in creating teenage characters that feel honest and authentic. They sound like teenagers, they think like teenagers, and their problems are those that real teenagers have to navigate in their daily lives. There’s something infinitely relatable about her character that I find n With her second novel in a year (busy girl!), Amy Spalding delivers on the expectations she set with her debut, The Reece Malcolm List–which, you might recall, I adored. In Ink is Thicker than Water, Spalding succeeds again in creating teenage characters that feel honest and authentic. They sound like teenagers, they think like teenagers, and their problems are those that real teenagers have to navigate in their daily lives. There’s something infinitely relatable about her character that I find nostalgic; her books remind me what it like to be a teenager. I appreciated that the central conflict focused on Kellie’s family dynamics. While Kellie’s family is anything but the usual–straight-laced lawyerly dad whose approval she can never quite earn, hippie tattoo-shop-owning mother and stepfather, beautiful brainiac adopted sister–their problems are. Her sister, her confidante and parter, growing up and finding an identity outside of her role in their family. While the details may be unique to fiction, the feelings are the same that any teenager goes through–trying to find your balance while your foundation and sense of self shifts. The growth Kellie shows throughout the story is so well-written. As she, and almost everyone around her, discovers new facets to themselves, they become richer, fuller versions of themselves in a way that is fluid and natural and right. Ink is much less romance-driven than Reece–or maybe it’s just that the romance is quieter and more realistic than swoontastic–but it fit the story perfectly. Oliver was adorable and weird. (Perfect for the adorable and weird Kellie.) There were no grand gestures, and no overblown drama. Just real, awkward, messy teenage romance. And I loved–LOVEDDDD–the way the topic of Kellie’s virginity was handled. It was so honest. No trite afterschool special language. No candles and rose petals. Just real life. And it was perfect. Spalding has a natural and honest voice, and isn’t afraid to tackle the big issues on small scales that make up the life of a teenager so interesting. I’d recommend her to fans of Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, and Sarah Dessen.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Summer

    Realistic and honest, yet hopeful, and heartwarming, too. I love romance as much as the next person, still I also very much appreciate when an author is able to craft a story that has sparks, but offers more as well. Most girls lives (hopefully) don’t just revolve around a cute guy; Ink is Thicker than Water struck an ideal balance of family, romance and friendship, it felt like an actual life. Our heroine, Kellie, is sixteen, neither super popular, nor nerdy, a little bit cool, a little bit cute Realistic and honest, yet hopeful, and heartwarming, too. I love romance as much as the next person, still I also very much appreciate when an author is able to craft a story that has sparks, but offers more as well. Most girls lives (hopefully) don’t just revolve around a cute guy; Ink is Thicker than Water struck an ideal balance of family, romance and friendship, it felt like an actual life. Our heroine, Kellie, is sixteen, neither super popular, nor nerdy, a little bit cool, a little bit cute with tendencies like her love of the oldies station and hot chocolate. She's imperfect and therefore, perfectly relatable in her longing for someone to talk to and aversion to change. Right off, you get an impending sense of doom for Kellie’s relationship with best friend Kaitlyn, it’s heartbreaking, and truthful, and while Kellie’s dealing with that, her older sister (and other best friend) is dealing with meeting her birth parents, a process that rocks their entirely family. I loved how Kellie adored her little brother, relied on her sister, respected her step dad, tried so hard with her dad, and liked being around her tattoo artist mom. You don’t see enough familial connections and how important they are, in young adult books. You do find a lot of obsessive love in YA, which I admittedly enjoy, but here it was turned on its head, here, it wasn’t presented as an entirely dreamy, ultimate fantasy thing to have a guy quickly declaring his love, it was how I think it would probably feel in reality, it left Kellie just a little bit uncomfortable. Again, there was something so great about how honest this novel was willing to be, yet at the same time, the obsessive guy, Oliver, didn’t suffer for it, he wasn’t made out to be one-dimensional psycho, he was complicated, and endearing, and striving to keep himself on an even keel. I ended up loving Oliver and wanting the best for him, just as I did everyone in this book, no matter how major or minor, there were no stock characters here, everyone had a heart and a brain and they used them in refreshingly different ways. So glad I had the opportunity to read this one. I won this through a Goodreads giveaway.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nikki S

    I just think this book wasn't for me. DNF at about 20%. More of my reviews can be found here at my blog: Take Me Away... Originally when I saw this, I wasn't really enticed to read it. But then when I started seeing reviews for it pop up, and I decided I wanted to read it. But unfortunately, it just didn't work for me. I could only get through the beginning before I couldn't continue. One problem I had with this was the writing style. For it to be a YA book, it seemed as if it were like a middl I just think this book wasn't for me. DNF at about 20%. More of my reviews can be found here at my blog: Take Me Away... Originally when I saw this, I wasn't really enticed to read it. But then when I started seeing reviews for it pop up, and I decided I wanted to read it. But unfortunately, it just didn't work for me. I could only get through the beginning before I couldn't continue. One problem I had with this was the writing style. For it to be a YA book, it seemed as if it were like a middle grade. Yeah some of the content was YA, but the writing style just seemed so young. Also, I thought her thinking was a little young minded as well. For example, not wanting people to know you're friends with someone because you don't want to be seen as a geek? Omg that's petty. Even when I was in school people thought being smart or in a "dorky after school club" was something cool that could keep you out of trouble. Another thing I didn't like was the book itself. Disclaimer, I get it, its an e-ARC, but the "fl" and "fi" were missing out of it and sometimes I had to stop my reading flow and figure out what the word was because it wasn't one that I could automatically guess. With me having to keep stopping I wasn't exactly a fan of the way the story flowed. And for this reason, I just couldn't connect to it. In the end I DNF'ed this around 20%. After seeing the god reviews for it I wanted to see it get better, but it just didn't. I couldn't finish it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Estelle

    THIS BOOK. I was a huge fan of The Reese Malcolm List, and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to check this out. It has so many things I love in books -- eclectic families, school newspapers, and really dynamic sibling relationships. Two things I enjoyed in particular: - Growing pains Kellie is experienced with her best friend. Kaitlyn decides she wants to hang out with other people and doesn't know what she and Kellie have in common anymore and this is totally painful and comes out of nowhere THIS BOOK. I was a huge fan of The Reese Malcolm List, and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to check this out. It has so many things I love in books -- eclectic families, school newspapers, and really dynamic sibling relationships. Two things I enjoyed in particular: - Growing pains Kellie is experienced with her best friend. Kaitlyn decides she wants to hang out with other people and doesn't know what she and Kellie have in common anymore and this is totally painful and comes out of nowhere for Kellie. I thought this part was done so well. It was painful but this kind of stuff (unfortunately) happens all the time. - Kellie's nervousness about having sex. Why aren't we talking about this more? A cute boy likes her, and she is sort of panicking over the whole thing and has no idea who to talk to about it. She has a lot of trouble being honest with Oliver in the first place, and who can blame her? This is heavy stuff to talk about. Really enjoyed Kellie's thought process here because I think it's def something we are too embarrassed to bring up sometimes. (Most of the time?) Spalding once again provides readers with an authentic YA book. My only qualm was that it ended a bit too soon, but otherwise, it was heartfelt, it was difficult, and it was real. Bonus: She has such a snappy way of writing, and I love that nothing drags. Looking forward to her April 2015 book for sure.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Isamlq

    3.5 Ink Is Thicker Than Water…. So, Amy Spalding, I think I love you. Too strong? Too desperate? The thing is this second book totally merits this new found devotion of mine. The way things play out in this one: it’s not just about her: It’s family again, it’s new connections, and then it’s choice. And it’s eventually all sorts of complications that stem from one, or two, or all of those. First, here we have issues of family: family that one has been born into, as well as family that’s been made g 3.5 Ink Is Thicker Than Water…. So, Amy Spalding, I think I love you. Too strong? Too desperate? The thing is this second book totally merits this new found devotion of mine. The way things play out in this one: it’s not just about her: It’s family again, it’s new connections, and then it’s choice. And it’s eventually all sorts of complications that stem from one, or two, or all of those. First, here we have issues of family: family that one has been born into, as well as family that’s been made given choice after choice. But mainly I like how here’s no SLOW realization on her part that not everything is about her… the simple fact is she’s so aware of others and their baggage… but there’s negative to that same thing as well… the way she’s so good at coming in second… she was too good at being good, I felt… still, that’s not such a big thing to complain about, is it? Another remarkable is the exploration on who she was as opposed to considerations on who she could become as well as who she was becoming. In fact it is that BECOMING for her and for so many people in this that pulled me in further. It’s that none of them are static here: not her, not her best friend, and neither her sister. So that change is palpable here and the effects of that ripple out so obviously, too. It’s the changes here that make it clear there are connections between and among them to begin with. And I JUST LOVED both aspects as presented here.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

    NOTE: An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition. This book is outstanding. I was craving some snappy dialogue, and Kellie Brooks is a terrific character with a vibrant inner voice. She has a unique family composition, and that makes life challenging - but Kellie loves her family and will fight NOTE: An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition. This book is outstanding. I was craving some snappy dialogue, and Kellie Brooks is a terrific character with a vibrant inner voice. She has a unique family composition, and that makes life challenging - but Kellie loves her family and will fight to keep everyone together. I appreciated the way that Spalding explored sibling and parent relationships throughout the book. It was realistic, and messy, just the way it should be. There is also an awesome sex positive tone in this book. Kellie is figuring out how much physical intimacy she is comfortable with in a relationship, and she works through this in a mature way with support from some very smart people. She also learns how to see a potential partner and accept his faults, and have him accept hers. Again, this was just so beautiful in the way that it echoed real life. In the beginning of a new relationship, it can be a real shock when you realize that your partner has some crappy qualities. Kellie learns this and manages to keep her cool and work through it. Full review forthcoming on www.slatebreakers.com.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marian

    Ink is Thicker Than Water was a totally different book than I imagined it to be. And I loved every second of it. Kellie, our main character, has a lot going on in her life. Her family is going through some drama, her best friend is finding new interests, and an old fling has suddenly resurfaced. That's a lot for one girl to handle! Something that really caught my attention in this story was the details. I loved the representation of Kellie's family. They're different, they're quirky, but their lo Ink is Thicker Than Water was a totally different book than I imagined it to be. And I loved every second of it. Kellie, our main character, has a lot going on in her life. Her family is going through some drama, her best friend is finding new interests, and an old fling has suddenly resurfaced. That's a lot for one girl to handle! Something that really caught my attention in this story was the details. I loved the representation of Kellie's family. They're different, they're quirky, but their love is always present. They were really fun to read about. I also liked reading about Kellie's interest in her mom's tattoo parlor. That is not a topic that a lot of YA books dive into and so it was cool to get some details about that. The side plot with Oliver was intriguing, but it didn't really grab my attention as much as other parts of the story. I gave this book 4 stars and would definitely recommend it to my best friend! Or any fellow YA lovers, for that matter.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stacee

    I'm not sure how I feel about this book. Most of the time, I did enjoy Kellie's inner monologue, but I was quickly annoyed every time she said she was "fine". I should have counted, but it felt like it happened a million times. For the most part, I liked the family dynamic [Finn is adorable]. It did seem like there was a lot of build up to what was going on with Oliver, only to have the reveal and then the ending. And don't get me started on the ending....I definitely would have liked a little b I'm not sure how I feel about this book. Most of the time, I did enjoy Kellie's inner monologue, but I was quickly annoyed every time she said she was "fine". I should have counted, but it felt like it happened a million times. For the most part, I liked the family dynamic [Finn is adorable]. It did seem like there was a lot of build up to what was going on with Oliver, only to have the reveal and then the ending. And don't get me started on the ending....I definitely would have liked a little bit more. It felt really abrupt. Overall, the plot kept me interested enough to keep reading. I just always feel like I'm missing something when I read one of Amy's books. **Thanks to Entangled publishing and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review.**

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