Sunday, March 28, 2021

Book Review: Elatsoe

In the last couple months, I made a wonderful discovery. Audiobooks! More specifically, I discovered Hoopla, an app available at my local library, which has a plethora of audiobooks. With work picking up again (I’m exhausted but enjoying it), audiobooks have been particularly nice.

My only warning, if you’re like me and want to read all the books at once, watch your number of checkouts. Hoopla only lets you use five checkouts a month.

That being said, Elatsoe was a delight to listen to! I’m particularly glad I listened to this one so that I could learn how to pronounce the name, eh-lat-SOE-ay. Though apparently the book contains illustrations, and I missed them!


Book: Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
Genre: Young Adult, fantasy, mystery, contemporary
My rating: 4.5/5 stars
Mini description: ghosts versus vampires


The dog doesn’t die in the end because the dog is already dead. Kirby is Ely’s ghost dog, whom she brought back after he died of old age. I’m not going to lie, I want a ghost dog, or even a ghost beardie! I’ve lost pets over the years, and it would be a delight to see them again, even if I couldn’t pet them.

Yet there are still limitations in this fantasy world. Animals may make great ghost companions, but human ghosts, as the story often reminds us, are terrible things. And the vampire curse, as it’s called, may have its advantages for the young but grows more difficult with age.

I particularly liked the way the story wove Native American mythology, particular Lipan Apache, with what is to me, familiar fantasy elements. The cultural aspects were also quite fascinating, and I appreciated reading about a perspective I don’t normally hear from.

Then there were the mystery elements to the story. Early on, readers get the who in the who-done-it. It’s the why that kept me guessing, and I hadn’t figured it out by the big reveal.

I also enjoyed the way the narrative contained stories within the main story. They weren’t just flashbacks but stories within themselves. I was incredibly pleased with the book as a whole.

In all, I gave Elatsoe 4.5/5 stars for an excellent narrative and characters. I only wish it were a little longer. I’d recommend the book to anybody interested in creative contemporary fantasy. I look forward to reading more of Darcie Little Badger’s work.


Interested in the book? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these fantasy novels: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow.


Let’s chat! Have you read Elatsoe yet, or has it made it to your TBR? What are some of your favorite contemporary fantasies?




Similar book reviews: The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Fawkes, and The Snow Child

Sunday, March 21, 2021

"Would You Rather?" Writer Tag

I enjoy coming up with absurd scenarios. Here’s one—pick a fictional character. Got them? Good, now imagine you’re stuck in an elevator with them for 5 or more hours. How dead are you? I usually pick ridiculous characters like Loki, so I’d probably be dead.

The following questions are some would you rather scenarios from the generic to the ridiculous. Enjoy!


Would you rather be outlining or writing?

Writing. I don’t really like outlining because I inevitably over-world build and then don’t include all the exciting details. And for whatever reason, outlining never feels like real work because, even though I’m a plotter, it doesn’t seem like I make any measurable progress. There’s no real moment when you have to stop, which drives me crazy.


Would you rather be writing or editing?

Editing. Or rewriting. I don’t really like working on my rough draft because I’m consciously aware of how terrible it is while I’m writing it! I’m such a perfectionist. I prefer rewriting where I can go back and change everything or editing where I can really make that sentence shine, even though I sometimes reach that point where I’ve stared at a word long enough that it no longer looks correct.

See my informal Twitter poll. I was surprised (and yet not?) that so many people choose screaming.


Would you rather meet the antagonist or the protagonist of your current WIP?

My YA novel doesn’t technically have an antagonist, so my sci-fi novel it is! In that story, I’d rather meet my protagonist, Cory. Definitely protagonist. It would be nice to meet somebody who’s also staring out in their career journey as a linguist/investigator instead of somebody who would probably arrange my kidnapping. No, thank you.


Would you rather have a movie based off your book or write a book based off a movie?

Movie based off my book. Even though they have a reputation for being terrible, I still find the idea appealing, and it just grows an audience! That and I like the idea of originality and coming up with my own stories. There’s something about movie to book adaptations that I don’t care for, even though I haven’t quite figured out what it is yet.


If you became a super rich author, would you prefer to have your own private island or castle?

I’m going to go with castle. While I enjoy the beach, especially tropical ones, I’m more in love with the idea of secret passageways, creaky floorboards, and the howl of the wind on a cool autumn night. Even if it was just a ruined castle where I could camp out and have a wild garden, that would be awesome.


Last but not least, pick one of your fictional characters. Would they rather be stuck in the middle of a bank robbery or onboard a sinking ship?

Hmm, I’m going to go with Haebinna, the profiler from my sci-fi novel. The space colonies don’t really have cash in a system where most currency is digital, but imagining a similar scenario, Haebinna would probably go with the bank robbery. She deals with criminals at her job anyway. She’d probably psychoanalyze the robbers while coming up with a plan to stop them. Somebody would definitely get shot.


There you have it! Just a few fun scenarios. As for my fellow bloggers reading this, I tag you! Feel free to borrow the questions and add some of your own if you’d like to participate in a “Would You Rather” Writer’s Edition post. Happy writing!

Let’s chat! Readers, would you rather have lunch with one of your favorite authors or one of your favorite characters? Bloggers, for those who don’t want to write an entire post, feel free to answer any of the questions in the comments.




Similar posts: “Never Have I Ever” Writer Tag, Confessions of a Bookworm Tag, and The Bookish Q&A Tag

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Recommended Reading: Novels in Verse

As some of you may know, I recently attended WriteOnCon, an online writing conference, where I attended a wonderful session by Megan E. Freeman on writing novels in verse. For a while now, I’ve been in love with the style, as is evident from my previous post, 7 Reasons I Enjoy Novels in Verse, and I would like to some day write one of my own.

For now, though, I thought I’d share some of the ones I enjoyed in hopes of convincing more readers to fangirl/fanboy along with me. My recommendations are by no means extensive, and some readers may argue that some novels might have been better in prose rather than verse, but I enjoyed them for their form.

The following books are organized by authors’ last names.

1.   Audacity by Melanie Crowder (young adult; see book review)

You will lose,
I say
if you try to strike
on your own without us.
[...] It is only by standing together
—men and women—
that we can ever hope
to outlast them.

Personally, I find it easier to learn about historical events when I can connect with the people and their stories. This book focuses on the story of Clara Lemlich, who fought for women’s rights in the workplace. I may be making the book sound dull, but the story is far from it.

2.   Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu (middle grade)

A story about American citizens set in a foreign country? Yes, please! Though I’m not Japanese and haven’t been to Asia just yet, I could still relate to the characters, especially when it comes to the difficulty of time zones. Not to mention the story is also historical fiction set during 2001—wait, did I just call something that happened in my lifetime “historical?” Please excuse me while I have an existential crisis.

3.   Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton (MG; see book review)

“On this clear and moonless night,
Mama and I wrap up in our winter clothes
and go outside to watch and listen.
The trees beyond our backyard form a torn-paper line
between the snow and this sky
filled with stars.”

Of all the novels in verse I’ve read, this one is one of the most memorable. A delightful story about Mimi, a young girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut and moves with her family to a new town. Not to mention the gorgeous imagery, which is one of the many reasons I love poetry.


4.   Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (MG)

“Would be simpler
if English
and life
were logical.”

When I see people recommend novels in verse, I tend to see this one recommended all the time. Not to mention, it’s a Newbery Honor Winner, so of course it gets a lot of attention. But it’s sooo good, so I won’t complain. The story focuses on Há, a young immigrant who moves to America from Vietnam with her family, and how she struggles to learn how to adjust to a new country and the complexities of the English language.


5.   Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough (YA)

This book was probably the most intense, so much so that I almost didn’t finish it, but it was ultimately worth the read, at least for me. The story focuses on a poetic interpretation of the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, a historic Italian painter, whose work often emphasizes empowering women. I learned a lot about history, injustice, and overcoming.


6.   Saving Red by Sonya Sones (YA)

This book was the first novel in verse I ever read, and it got me hooked on the style. After all, what’s not to like about the way stories combine with imagery? You can’t have purple prose if it’s not in prose. When I first started reading novels in verse, I found I also liked the style because the chapters were so short, and before I knew it, I’d finished more than I might have if the chapters had been long.


This April, I plan on reading a novel in verse a day (during weekdays only because let’s face it, work is hard). I gave up social media for lent, but after Easter, you can follow me on Instagram to see exactly what I’m reading.

Here are just some of the novels in verse on my To-Be-Read list:

  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  • Bull by David Elliot
  • Alone by Megan E. Freeman (top of the list!)
  • Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes
  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
  • Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhá Lai


Let’s chat! Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? When’s the last time you read a novel in verse? Have any favorites?




Similar posts: Self-Publishing Poetry: A Glimpse into the Making of Dandelion Symphony, 7 Things I Learned from Writing Poetry, and 7 Reasons I Enjoy Novels in Verse

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Poem: Snow Day

My current home lies where the robins migrate for winter, so we don’t get a lot of snow. For a while, I was afraid that I wouldn’t get to see any in person before the season ended.

Then it came.

Of course, I was delighted, and enjoyed several walks throughout the day between reading and feeding my new bearded dragon, Xephyr “Peaches.” He can’t replace Thorin, but Xeph is adorable in his own way. He’s a little acrobat who wants to climb up everything.

I also got a chance to reflect in solitude on my first walk. Which was quite the contrast from my time living in England, when my family was a channel and half a continent away. During my one snow day in Nottingham, I went outside and watched with longing as families walked together. Now, five years later, with family closer by not always present, I don’t mind walking by myself. In fact, I quite enjoy it.


Snow Day

the way sound reverberates
in canyon

between patches
of blue and gray

covering a thousand
stretching branches

crystals beneath
a dozen robins

past the deer prints
on the road

wind until I pull
my scarf back up

back into the
numbing warmth inside

back from hunching
over a book

icicles hang
and shatter on the ground




Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? Did you get snow this winter? Do you prefer walking with people or by yourself?


Similar poems: Ode to Winter, The First Snow, and Weird Winter Weather