Sunday, February 28, 2021

Book Review: Ahab

 “‘… have you ever stopped to think that perhaps these noble intentions I see in other are truly there, they just need to be drawn out? Would we all not be better versions of ourselves if others held us to higher standards?’”


Wow. Just wow. I enjoyed this story way more than I expected!

A long, long time ago in a country far, far away, I read the source book, Melville’s Moby-Dick. Can I just say that I enjoyed this retelling for different reasons? While Moby-Dick focusses on whaling in the 19th century and the impact it had on society, the economy, and nature as a whole, Ahab explores the potential future of the 26th century after a devastating war between humankind and sentient machines (the whales, or MICs as their called).


Book: Ahab by E.B. Dawson
Genre: Sci-fi, space opera, retelling
My rating: 4/5 stars
Mini description: whales in space, space whales!

Told from both the perspective of Ahab and his first mate James Starbuck, Ahab was a delightfully complex story. I particularly enjoyed the dual perspective and the juxtaposition of Ahab’s stubbornness and determination next to Starbuck’s idealism and loyalty. Though not as nearly as long as its source book, I found the book to be the perfect length. And the font size was legible!

I particularly liked how Dawson incorporates sailing with space travel. While the former is tried and true, the latter is relatively new, so there’s no saying what exactly it will look like in the future.

Even though the story takes place in the 26th century, it’s reminiscent of the 1800’s, which is both interesting and frustrating. From a story-telling standpoint, I though the details of the society were really cool, but from a woman’s perspective, a society that doesn’t advocate women’s rights is super frustrating, even if some of the characters stand up for them.

Another element I liked about the book is how it’s not so straightforward with its answers. The ending actually left me wondering if that was all, yet the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

So I actually feel kinda bad for giving the book 4 stars instead of 5, and the only reason for that is because some parts of the story felt unnecessary. At one point, Ishmael shows up, which I found to be really cool how Dawson worked him in, until he’s never mentioned again. Was the only purpose of the chapter for the brief cameo? Plot-wise, his appearance doesn’t make much sense.

In all, I gave Ahab 4/5 stars for excellent character development and story telling albeit some unnecessary plot points. I would recommend the book to those who have and have not read Moby-Dick and are interesting in space opera. I look forward to reading more of Dawson’s work.


Interested in the book? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these classic retellings: The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen (Turandot, Italian opera), The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (Les Miserables, French classic), The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (The Snow Maiden, Russian fairytale).


Let’s chat! Have you read Ahab yet, or has it made it to your TBR? Have you read the original Moby-Dick? What are some of your favorite classic retellings?




Similar book reviews: The Court of Miracles, Strange Waters, and The Beast of Talesend

Sunday, February 21, 2021

5 Concepts I Want More of in Young Adult Fiction

Ah, young adult fiction, that wonderful category that’s not quite a genre but has plenty of stories that practically anybody should find something they like. For me, it tends to be bittersweet contemporaries and well-developed fantasy and sci-fi stories. A couple years ago, I wrote a post about why I like the category, but today I’m going to talk about some aspects I want to see more of!

Though I no longer fit into the bookish young adult category (13-18 year old’s), I read a lot of YA fiction. That being said, I still have some opinions, and to make sure I wasn’t completely crazy, I talked with some young adults to see what they thought as well.


1) Novels with Art

*cough* pictures *cough*

Sure, we’ve got graphic novels, which are amazing. Then there’s some stellar cover designs, awesome maps that usually accompany fantasy, and even books with art that readers can buy separately. But I want to see more novels featuring art within the chapters themselves. Let’s be honest, I don’t really set aside money to buy art as well as books, so can we just put it inside the books? Please?


A few examples:

  • How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (arguably middle grade)


2) More Friendships

“Building up a friendship throughout an entire book instead of romance. Friendships can exist too.” –my sister, 17

Yes! Friendship is such a wonderful thing. It’s kind of frustrating how middle grade has more emphasis on friendship than young adult does.


A few examples:

  • A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole
  • The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock


3) Military Brats

As a kid, I loved travel stories and the tropes with the new kid, so more often than not, I found myself leaning toward fantasy because it’s one of those genres where the characters are constantly on the move. When it comes to military stories, most of them focus on the grownups, the military personnel and their spouses, which is cool, but they have kids too!

I never really found any stories that told what it was like to be a military brat until I was out of college, and even then, it’s only been the one:

  • Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles

4) Contemporaries set outside America

Last year, I wrote a blog post on a bookish trip across the US, and I had a brilliant idea to write a post about books in Europe and… found very little. I mean, sure, I’ve amassed three books so far, and I have more to read yet, but there are so many books set in America.

When books aren’t set in the states, they tend to be historical fiction or fantasy. Yes, one of my own WIPs is a contemporary fantasy set in Germany, but I really struggle with writing realistic fiction. I want to read more realistic fiction though. There’s so much more to this world than just the States!


Just a few I’ve read so far (only one by an American author):

  • Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles (Germany and Spain. Can I list the same book twice? Eh, why not.)
  • The Boy Who Steals Houses by C. G. Drews (Australia)
  • A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Ōima (Japan)


5) And More!

“It would be great to see more strictly good characters and strictly bad characters instead of having a majority be gray characters.” –Zoë

I’m glad I’m not the only one. While I enjoy well-developed characters, sometimes, it can be confusing who to root for when everybody is morally gray. I like admirable characters!


“[I] would like to see more the villain’s POV more. Because it’s nice to have both sides of the story.” –Anonymous

Ooooh, yes! I think the Renegades trilogy does this really well, delving into the villain’s POV, so that you start wondering who’s supposed to be the protagonist/antagonist. I know this point seems to contrast the previous one, but who’s to say we can’t have more of both?




Let’s chat! What are some concepts you want to see more of in YA? Have any recommendations for the above categories?


Similar posts: 6 YA Novels that Changed My Perspective, 7 Reasons I Enjoy YA Novels, and Recommended Reading: Military Brat Edition

Sunday, February 14, 2021

5 Reasons to Attend WriteOnCon

I had a whole post written and planned for this week until I remembered WriteOnCon is next weekend! What is WriteOnCon exactly? I’m glad you asked. It’s a three-day, online writing conference that’s super affordable. The baseline entry is $10, but I like the Full Admission at $15 for the Q&A sessions and the workshops.

Here are just a few reasons why I’m going.


1) It’s all online.

Which is, of course, perfect right now! When I was living in Europe, WriteOnCon was basically the only writing conference I could attend. Now that everything in person is closed for the time being, it’s still the only writing conference I can attend. I enjoy it nonetheless.


2) It’s focused on YA/MG/children’s fiction.

I love writing YA. For the longest time, it was my primary target audience, and I have only recently branched out into adult fiction. But I’m still writing YA and have several new ideas in the works, so of course I want to learn even more about it!


3) You can find your niche.

There are many overlapping sessions, which can make it difficult to decide which sessions to attend, but it can also make it easier to find your niche. You don’t have to attend all the sessions and can instead pick the ones you like.

Just starting out on your latest WIP by outlining your novel and developing your characters? They’ve got sessions for that!

Writing your first draft? Yes, that too.

Rewriting? Yep.

Querying? You bet!


4) You can meet people.

Authors, agents, fellow writers, you name it! Each year I attend WriteOnCon, I’ve met new critique partners through the site’s Critique Partner Match, one of whom has even turned into a pen pal (hi, Alicia!).

In some Q&A sessions with authors, I’ve even added more books to my TBR.

Note: they have live feedback sessions for query letters. If you want yours considered, you have to submit three days in advance. So, if you like one agent who will be reviewing queries on Friday, you have to submit by Tuesday.

5) It’s inspirational!

I always come away from a conference itching to write. Last year, I sent out a bunch more queries. This year, I’m hoping to have more energy to do more rewrites.

Hope to “see” you there! 

Let’s chat! Are you going to WriteOnCon this year? What writing conferences do you recommend?




Similar posts3 Types of Writers You Should Know7 Facts about Critique Partners, and Why Writers Should Study Their Craft

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Poem: Do Not Dissect This Poem

The other day my sister told me she didn’t like poetry. *gasp* When she explained that she had to analyze a bunch of poems for school, and she said she’d make an exception for sonnets, I started to understand. Poems aren’t meant to be torn apart. When I look at a poem, I don’t think, “My, what consonance!” Whatever that means. Rather, I may think, “Wow, that was pretty.” Or even, “Huh, I never thought about it that way before.”

Poems are meant to be experienced, felt. The following poem is my response to schools sucking the joy out of words in what I hope is the spirit of The Dead Poet Society.

Here’s to the students struggling with senioritis.

Here’s for you, sis’.

Do Not Dissect This Poem

if you would, simply set aside the rhyme—
feel the rhythm, this ever-beating pulse.
Close your eyes and imagine the springtime
fresh with morning rain…

Can you hear it?
Listen closely.

the ever-thrumming heart
of a runner as his feet pound this earth,
the ever-expanding-depressing
chest of the bull that croons,
the ever-silent pad
of her toes
on the floor

ba-Dum ba-Dum ba-DUM
Shout! it out
Stomp your rhythm
Clap your song

remember the days you laughed,
the mornings you cried
the places you came from,
look to where you will go and see

hear me ask
Don’t dissect this poem, if you would
simply let it squeal
let it sing
let it be


Let’s chat! Without disassembling my lines, what did you think of the poem? What’s your take on poetry as a whole? Do you prefer form poetry or free verse?

Similar poems: Writing a Poem, Pronunciation, and The To-Be-Read List