There are a lot of sports going on right now. Essentially, there are always a lot of sports going on at the professional level, at least where I live in the USA. There’s hockey and basketball in the winter, and then baseball starts in the spring and goes through October, and football heads through fall and into winter (my knowledge on sports other than baseball is rather lacking). And that’s just men’s sports, there’s even more if you count in women’s (which, unfortunately, people rarely do). Right now, the Olympics are happening, meaning that EVEN MORE sports are happening, these ones world-wide. The Olympics these year have several new sports join the mix, including rock climbing, and are seeing the return of a few old ones, like baseball and softball (!!!!!).
Because of all these sports, I wanted to write a discussion post about them, and their place in books. Let’s begin!
Sports are practically a story themselves. This is a team, or just a person, who goes out there, plays this game with certain rules that are specific to that sport. They win, or they lose (or in some cases, tie), they might get injured or they might lead their team to this great, unassuming victory. After that game, they have a road trip to the next one, or they’re attempting school on top of this sport, or they play professionally and they do…whatever professional sports players do after a game. And sports have so many elements of a great story. There’s suspense, there’s stakes, there’s people working together (in some sports), there’s thrilling comebacks or heartbreaking losses. So why aren’t sports in books more often?
The main reason I think that this is the case is just because there are so many rules, and this mostly goes for sports books focused on professional sports. In professional sports, you have all the rules of a regular game of sports, the way to play the game is the same, and more often than not you have to explain this to a reader, but you also have things like trading players, and how many different teams there are, and standings and the farm system and the draft and the trade deadline (literally all my knowledge of this stuff comes from baseball so I’m simply assuming that other professional sports have these things). Professional sports come with a whole lot of numbers, a lot of which people just don’t understand, and so therefore it can be hard to write a book about them that allows someone who doesn’t know what those numbers mean to read it.
But what about high school sports and rec leagues? You’re able to eliminate basically all those numbers, as statistics just aren’t kept track of as much in the lower levels. But I think that these level sports are just harder to write an interesting story about. And I know, I literally just said that sports are basically perfect for stories. But unless you’re giving a play by play of a game, in which case you might want to consider having a sports blog instead of writing a book, or even become a radio broadcaster, there’s a lot of empty space in that book. You can’t just write, “I went to baseball practice, I went home, I went to sleep, I went to school, I went to baseball practice,’ etc. To be able to write a story that really hooks people, you need to write different things happening in each of those baseball practices, each baseball game that is played, and you need to do it in a way that people who are not sports fans can actually understand.
But here’s the thing–it is possible to write a book about sports, and these books are important to have out there. First of all, they can show people that people like them can play sports, and can do well in sports. In professional sports, there are so few out queer people (especially and mostly in men’s professional sports) and for a young queer kid to read a book with someone who is queer and playing sports can be really inspiring. Also, books with girls in sports are incredibly important. Did you know that by the age of 14, twice as many girls drop out of sports as boys? That’s a fact that I learned from an ad from the Olympics so thank you, ad. Women’s sports also get so much less media coverage than men’s do–women’s sports get only 6% of all sports media coverage, so it’s harder for girls to see themselves in sports. That’s why we need to have books about these things, to show girls that they CAN play sports, that there ARE other women who play sports.
Sports are a part of a lot of people’s everyday life, so why shouldn’t they be a part of books? There’s a lot to unpack in sports, there are so many stories out there that haven’t been written. In my opinion, this is an entire genre that we’ve only really skimmed the surface. People love sports, and people love books, so why aren’t there more sports books?
There are a lot of sports out there. Like, a lot. Some of which I’d never heard of until the Olympics (dressage, anyone?). Some that I still don’t know of. There are sports that aren’t popular here in the US but are really popular other places. I mean–I recently read a book about the sport of muggle quidditch of all things! (And it was super queer). So why don’t we show the world about those sports, show the world that girls play sports, that queer people play sports. Sports are such an amazing way to connect with other people, to find common interests, to have fun and find something you’re passionate about. We should show that to people in books, because there are so many more sports and people in sports than books talk about.
I’ve decided that this post will be one of two, and the next one will be a series of recommendations about sports in books!
What did you think about this post? Do you play or like any sports? Do you agree with me about this, or do you have different opinions? Please, talk to me in the comments! As always, thank you so much for stopping by, and stay safe and keep on reading!
Don’t let that title fool you! I’m not giving you any spoilers in this post (well, aside from spoilers on how to avoid spoilers–if you don’t want to know how to avoid spoilers in books, turn back now!!!) Anyways, hey everyone I’m back again because after not posting for 1.5 weeks I’m now posting a whole bunch! Once again, I’m here with a discussion post that April @Booked Till Midnight and I collaborated on (you can find our discussion post on retellings here and here!). We’ll each post half the discussion on our blogs, just like last time, and I’m super excited to share this post that we’ve put together all about spoilers! You do not necessarily have to read both parts of the post in order to understand either one but please head on over and check out April’s post anyways because over there you’ll find even more ideas about spoilers! You can find her post here. Let’s jump right into it!
How do you avoid spoilers?
Phoenix: Well, as we will talk about/have talked about (go check out April’s post for more details!), you can avoid goodreads summaries.
April: Ugh Goodreads summaries are the bane of my existence. Not to be dramatic or anything.
Phoenix: Some other things that you can do are avoid talking to people who are obsessed with the book (and I’m sure they will be EXTREMELY annoyed about that), and DEFINITELY don’t tell people what part you’re at, unless you want the ‘oooh, are you at this part? (proceeds to give a spoiler because you are not, in fact, at that part yet)’
Be careful with the reviews you read before you read the book. Sometimes, it can be good to read reviews to see some different opinions on the book before you start it, but there are times when review writers can leave spoilers that they don’t mean to, or that they don’t realize are spoilers.
April: *shutters* Reading that entire spoiler-minefield of a paragraph hurt my heart a little bit. The flashbacks to the gut-wrenching spoilers I have seen *shutters again*
Twitter is where I have been spoiled the most. I mean bookish social media in general is always dicey, especially when it comes to a popular book, but Twitter especially has been far to spoil-y to me in the past. Most recently with Rule of Wolves. I literally don’t know why or how, but people were posting spoilers before the book even released. Like, what?!?! I was in the middle of my Grishaverse read, cause the show and everything, and the absolute pain— y’all I can even. It hurt my very being. Spoiler warnings are your friends, kindly use them.
Will getting spoiled cause you to not read a book?
I will almost certainly still read a book even if I’ve been spoiled for it (once I finish groveling in the painto my soul). If anything, it makes me more curious because now I know this thing–how can I walk away from this book now? Of course, this does not mean that I WANT to be spoiled for a book. Also, if I’m spoiled for a book I have no intention of reading, I won’t pick it up. As long as my will to finish the book is greater than the soul-crushing nature of the spoilers, I’m a go.
What are the effects of spoilers?
If I am spoiled for a book, I will probably spend most of the book looking towards that thing. This sometimes hurts my enjoyment of the rest of the book, given that I’m searching for this part and might not pay as much attention to the other parts of the book. Spoilers give expectations, for the lack of a better word, that definitely affect enjoyment of the book. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. I will say that if you sit on the edge of your seat the entire time waiting, waiting, building up hope, dreams, and expectations the chances of letdown of HIGH. Also, procrastination. I will probably put off reading the book a bit longer too just because I know things and that element of surprise of hold the phone, WHAT?? is gone.
What else counts as a spoiler?
Lists are my best friend. May I present to you Two More Things That Are Spoilers, But I Don’t Know Where To Include Them So Here Is a List…
Death will always be a spoiler for me.
Knowledge of painful endings will always be a spoiler for me
I also think that little hints about things that the MC figures out throughout the book are spoilers. Sometimes I see them in goodreads synopses and THAT is something that really annoys me. My best example would have to be in Not Your Sidekick, a superhero story. In the summary, it says something (in spoilers below) that isn’t actually acknowledged until about 200 pages in the book and it’s a really big hint.
The thing it says:
the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby.
And that’s it for this post! If you need another reminder: please go check out April’s half of this post to read even more on spoilers. What’d you think of this post? What do you think are and aren’t spoilers? Please, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you! As always, stay safe and keep on reading!
Hey everyone! As you might recall, if you’ve been around my blog a bit, I did a discussion post last month (it was actually a collaboration with April @Booked Till Midnight!). I had a whole lot of fun writing that post and so I decided to write another discussion! Unfortunately I decided to procrastinate on writing this post until just about the last minute and now I’m tired and rushing and this post is nowhere near as good as that other one (which you can find here). Sooooo I’m super sorry about that and hopefully you still enjoy the topic. I promise that the post coming next week will be better. It’ll be one of my famous* wrap-ups so, yeah, there’s that to look forwards to if you enjoy those anyways (and I’m sorry if you don’t?) *This is self-proclaimed fame. I honestly feel like my crazy wrap ups are the thing I’m most known for at this point (but especially my absurdly long January wrap-up). This is a really interesting topic that I’m sort of conflicted on, and I’m wondering what all of you think. I really hope you enjoy since I’ve been thinking about this for a while and can’t wait to hear your own opinions on this topic!
In YA books, teens or people in their young twenties are almost always the main characters, the heros of the story. They’re books that really show how young people can be strong, can be the heros, in a world where oftentimes it’s older people who take the helm, from parents to government officials, etc. But how well do authors, who are oftentimes adults themselves, portray teens? Where is it okay that they make the character act a little older/younger than they are and where is it just weird? What books write teens well and what don’t? (I know people have addressed the wordpress editor font weirdness before but for some reason it just changed for me and I do not like this times new roman font size twelve or whatever) I just want to start off by saying that all opinions are my own and not everyone might agree with me!
First of all, I wanted to discuss younger teens in YA books, maybe teens who are thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years old, ages that I don’t see portrayed that often in YA. I, personally, don’t enjoy how books portray characters these ages a lot of times and I’m going to cite a book that is loved by a LOT of people for this: Eliza and her Monsters. In Eliza and her Monsters, the main character, Eliza, is 17/18 years old. Now, in this book she has two online friends who she talks with a lot, one of whom is 14/15 years. And throughout the book, Eliza and her other friend who I believe is a little older than her (honestly, I’m shocked I remember even this much, I read this in September and info from books slips through my brain like water through fingers.) constantly talk about how young this character is and just make her seem a lot younger than 3 years. Guys, fourteen year olds aren’t actually that young. At all. I promise. They’re teenagers, they act like teenagers, three years isn’t that big an age gap at all. Also, I listened to the audiobook for part of this (it’s a terrible book to listen to on audiobook because there are some pictures) and whenever Eliza was talking to this 14 year old, Em, Em’s voice was so high like she’s a first grader not a fourteen year old. This isn’t the only instance when this happens in books, it’s just the one I remember most (because Em’s voice was so high and it was in my ears aaack) but the verdict: I believe that younger teens are portrayed as much younger as they are in real life in YA books and I’d love to see some more books with characters who are on the younger age range of the teen-spectrum (not sure if that’s a thing but sure, I just made it up). Oftentimes, teens these ages are the main characters in middle grade books or supporting characters in YA and I think we need more main characters these ages. What do you think?
Next up: Do authors write teens in books too old, sometimes? Well, in my opinion, yes there are definitely times when teens are written much too old (looking at you, Six of Crows). These are seventeen or eighteen year olds who act like they’re nearly thirty. Does this dampen the enjoyment of reading? It depends what you read for. If you’re reading these books specifically to find characters your age who act like you but who do these super heroic things, yeah, it might. If you spend the entire book telling yourself ‘a teen couldn’t do that. This is super unrealistic,’ and contemplating how un-teen-like this entire thing is, then that will definitely not be a fun read. But I’ve found, at least in my case, that it’s possible to enjoy a book even if the teens aren’t realistic. I pay more attention to the plot than I do to the characters, most of the time and that means that even if these eighteen year olds are acting like thirty year olds, they’re still doing awesome things to help the plot forwards so I still enjoy the book. How does the way characters act affect your enjoyment of a book?
What makes a good teenage protagonist in a YA book? Well, I think this varies depending on the genre of the book. If you’re reading a YA realistic fiction/contemporary, you probably want a relatable protagonist. Contemporary/realistic fiction is about growing up, learning new things, so the protagonist you’re reading should be relatable. Someone who you can connect with. If not relatable, at least realistic. You want real problems, real emotions, not some sort of barbie-doll plastic mold of a teenager. (disclaimer: I don’t read many realistic fiction/contemporary books and I also do not analyze the characters a whole bunch so I’m sorry that that part was super short)
In a fantasy or adventure or basically anything that isn’t a realistic fiction book, I think that it’s a little different. Of course, you want a teenager who acts like a teenager, once again a thirty year old-acting teen is prooooobably not the best character, but I feel like there’s also certain ways you want a teen to act. You know, you don’t want a damsel-in-distress teen (unless it’s the beginning of the book and they get an arc) because you don’t want to read about other people helping the protagonist. They’re the protagonist, you want to read about them doing their own things! Usually, in a book you’re looking for a strong, determined, loyal* character who can hold their own and who is the star of the story, not some sort of side character while the action is taking place somewhere else. *this is something I see in a lot of characters in books but obviously not all of them. Keep reading, more on this below.
But then, there’s a type of character we haven’t talked about. A type of character that a lot of people seem to love (I actually don’t fit into that category, something I’ve discovered recently). Morally grey characters are not really your typical YA protagonists. Why? Here’s the thing. There’s one trait that sets them apart from characters I discussed above: loyalty. Oh, also things like a moral compass…okay there are several things. Man, that sentence sounded dramatic and now I have to go add things to it. Anyways. People love these ruthless, grey characters because they’re different. I think. I’m not one of these people so maybe I shouldn’t be speaking on this. But I had to add this in here! So onwards I go. Morally grey characters are different and oftentimes these really strong characters who are willing to do anything to get what they want which can be an admirable trait. And they can just be plain, downright fun. Gosh, I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore.
Well, that’s a wrap on this post! Again, sorry for the content, it definitely wasn’t up to my usual level of chaos over here on my blog and wow maybe I should stop apologizing and actually just write something I’m proud of but nope I’ve been busy (and yet if you asked me to name a single thing I did this week I’d probably sit there staring at you (or my computer screen) blankly.).
Just a reminder to everyone that there is one week left to enter the giveaway for ‘A Bite of Revenge’ by Setayesh Kazempoor. Check out my post where I interviewed Setayesh, and then head on over to enter the giveaway! You can also find the giveaway here and the goodreads page for this book here.
What do you think of this post? Do you agree with me or have some different opinions? What sorts of things do you enjoy seeing in your protagonists? As always, thank you so much for stopping by–it means the world! Everyone, please, stay safe and keep on reading!
So if I am correct, this is the first discussion post I’ve ever done!* Discussion posts were the highest voted on the poll I gave my blog readers in my January wrap-up to see which posts they wanted me to do more of and I’m really excited for this! I’ve always found discussion posts really interesting because they’re topics that spark, well, discussion (yeah, whoever came up with this name is GENIUS). *Funny thing is, I was actually incorrect, I found, as I was looking through old posts. Waaay back when this blog was first getting started, I did a discussion-esque post on writer’s block, found here.
Anyways, I thought I’d write my first discussion post on retellings and for this post I’m working with April @Booked Till Midnight. April and I have decided to cut this post up so you’ll find half the post right here and the other half over on her blog, here. You do not need to read her post to understand this one (nor do you have to read mine to understand hers) but definitely check it out for more of our opinions on retellings!
So first of all:
What is a retelling?
If you’ve already read April’s post, this is a bit of a repeat but don’t worry, the rest of the questions will be different! We just wanted to get this out of the way for our first-time readers. You’d think between the two of us, that we could come up with a semidecent definition for a retelling. But no. No such luck. Turns about writing definitions is an art form neither of us have mastered. Even good ole Google let us down! (google’s definition is ‘tell (a story) again or differently’) So here’s ours:
A retelling is a story in which an original story, usually a fairytale, classic, or legend, is taken and written again with a twist. Certain elements are changed in order to create a fresh perspective. Some of these elements could be setting, maybe a few minor plot points, character names and personalities, etc
Why do we enjoy retellings?
The general consensus seems to be the creativity and imagination that comes along with retellings. All books require some part of creativity, but the expansion or twist on a preexisting world is always super interesting to explore. Beyond that, we also have other reasons of our own.
P: I think that I enjoy retellings so much because these are stories that a lot of people know already, they’re classics in literature. But it’s just so interesting to read an author’s spin on things. I feel like retellings are just one giant ‘what if’. What if Snow White was set in a city in modern times? What if The Little Mermaid actually took place in space? The what if question is really the question people need to answer in order to come up with an idea for a retelling.
Another reason I enjoy retellings is I find that oftentimes they make the original story better, almost. Of course nothing will ever replace a classic in lots of people’s eyes but there are so many ways that a retelling can make it better. Most classics in Western literature are written by white, non-LGBTQIAP+ men. They’re interesting stories but, as you’ve probably noticed, not the most diverse. And in fairytales, there’s usually a similar ending: the prince saves the helpless princess, they get married and live happily ever after (there are, of course, exceptions). Retellings allow someone to write a story in a more diverse way. It’s a way to re imagine that fairytale ending and twist it into something else.
A: I would wholeheartedly agree with what Phoenix just said. Exploring the “what if” is a totally different brand of creativity that never fails to dazzle me. I would also agree that retellings can be better than the original (*looks at every Romeo and Juliet retelling ever*), especially when they are able to chop somewhat questionable elements and add much needed diversity.
Retellings definitely hold a special place in my bookshelf shaped heart, but ultimately I love retellings for the same reason I love reading any book. I love immersing myself in all of the worlds (read: escapism). I also love the air of familiarity that they bring while still keeping me wondering what the twist will be. Books are constantly brimming with creativity and originality, but I think that retellings really allow those elements to shine because there is something to compare it to.
Speaking of creativity and originality… (a moment of appreciation for that oh so smooth transition)
Do retellings lack originality?
Well, we both have that same short answer of no. Retellings are just the opposite of this–they’re absolutely original! The very definition of a retelling makes it unique. If everything was the same nothing is being retold, it wouldn’t be worthy of it’s own book.
That giant ‘what-if’ question really makes it original. Maybe Cinderella lived with her evil stepsisters/mother and had to slave away for them before the ball in the fairytale but what if all of this was based in the future? The awesomeness of retellings is that the author gets to tell the tale the way that they imagined and that makes retellings SO original.
And yes, there are going to be some similarities to the original (it’s kinda to be expected— it’s in the definition and everything), but retellings require a different kind of originality. There is still room for other elements of originality like worldbuilding, characters, relationships +++, even while sticking within the limits of what a retelling is. The originality comes from the spin the author choses.
Follow up: Can plot twists still be pulled off?
Plot twists can be tricky, especially when based on an already famous tale, but they can totally be pulled off.
With the retelling’s spin on the original take, it’s sometimes hard to guess what the plot twist even is! Maybe Cinderella loses her shoe at the ball, but in Cinder she loses her whole foot (sorry for the spoilers, everyone). And in those times when you know something is going to happen, it can build excitement and anticipation. You know the moment is coming because of the original tale, but in the retelling it happens in a completely different way than you expected!
Another way that plot twists can be pulled off is if there is multiple plotlines as well as the fairytale! While the plotline revolving around the fairytale might be slightly more predictable, the other plotlines are a total wildcard.
These Violent Delights is most certainly a Romeo and Juliet retelling, but at the same time everyone is trying to figure out what’s up with this monster and these bugs and THAT makes for some amazing plot twists.
The last way that plot twists can be pulled off (that I’m thinking of right now–there are surely more!) is if the pacing of the retelling is different from the pacing of the original story. Maybe there’s something that’s just glossed over in the real tale but the author goes into greater detail there. Or maybe the story is only half the tale and is continued in the next book, and since you didn’t know that the things that happen at certain times really surprise you because…wow I thought something else was going on.
Cinderella is Dead is a really good example of this. It takes the original Cinderella tale and uses it as a base for a dystopian society set 200 years later. Cinderella is undoubtedly there (the story is sacred text), but since Cinderella is Dead is a futuristic continuation it still manages to take you by surprise.
What retellings do we want to see more of?
I’ll tell you what we don’t need more of— Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast.
Cinderella is probably the most common retelling I can think of. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Cinderella retelling, but there are so many more stories out there that can be told!!! Explore the great beyond of fairy tales!! Or classics!!! Or legends!!!
As for Beauty and the Beast, the whole kidnapping does not seem like the best way to start a relationship. It particularly irks me in fantasy Beauty and the Beast retellings, but is not so bad with the contemporary ones. The contemporary B&B retellings are typically a forced proximity situation, but the Beast is never beastly enough. Normally they are an arrogant chihuahua. You really can’t win. At least I haven’t found one yet 😦
(P: I actually haven’t read many B&B retellings but I’m taking April’s word for it)
A: I’d absolutely love to see more King Arthur retellings. The only ones I know of are Legendborn by Tracy Deonn and Once & Future by AR Capetta and Cori McCarthy. They both have been on my radar for a while, the trick is tackling all the other books on my tbr that stand between me and them #bookwormstruggles. As a general rule of thumb, more retellings of legends are a yes.
P: I’d love to see more little mermaid retellings. I find the story of the Little Mermaid pretty fascinating because the ending is not happy, as well as the fact that the Little Mermaid actually sorta does something. She saves the prince, first of all, which NEVER happens in fairy tales, and she also has very real risks which I like.
I’d also like to see retellings of fairy tales that we don’t hear very much about–maybe a retelling of the princess and the frog or something like that. Other than that, I’d love more Shakespeare retellings since I really dislike reading Shakespeare but I love seeing twists on his stories
A: I second all of that!!! Basically ME WANT MORE RETELLINGS
Below, I’m sharing a few retellings that I’ve loved! Unfortunately, my mind has abandoned me and I can barely think of any, so I apologize if this section is a bit sparse. Or just, like, full of really popular books because I can’t think of anything else. Go check out April’s post since I’m pretty sure she has a lot of more interesting recommendations.
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. This is the single Little Mermaid retelling that I have read and I reall enjoyed it! Because of my brain, which is terrible at remembering books, I don’t much remember what was happening in here but I do like the twist of the mermaids actually being sirens and trying to kill the prince at first.
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. I’m sure that most of you have heard of this book. Hey, I warned you above that most of these books would be popular books. But this is the single B&B retelling that I’ve read and while I agree with April that kidnapping is most certainly NOT a good way to start a relationship I did like how awesome Harper was (yes, bask in my amazing descriptive skills in which I use the word awesome to describe someone).
Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim. So, I actually don’t know anything about the original tale for this book. Well, I guess if I’ve read this book I know something about it. But this is a retelling of the Count of Monte Christo and it’s super unique in that way!
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. You’ve probably heard of this one since it’s been all over ever since it came out several months ago–and before that even. I’d highly recommend reading this while reading Romeo and Juliet (that is, if you have to read R&J–don’t suffer if you don’t have to) because it’s super fun to see how the books are similar and different.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Honestly, I feel a little weird putting this on here since this might be the most well known retelling out there. I know a lot of people have problems with it and it’s definitely not the most original retelling (Yes, I did just say original. retelling) but I, personally did still enjoy it.
Classic/fairytale inspired books
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. Well, I wouldn’t call it a retelling but it’s like…if King Arthur’s round table and all the processes for knights, etc. took place in modern day. Sorry, I described that super badly. But it’s a super good story with really intricate storytelling…just get ready for some major info dumps
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron is such an amazing idea for a book, it’s amazingly original. And I did really enjoy most of this book, however I felt that there were some parts that went pretty slowly and there was a lot of sitting around planning what to do next.
Legend by Marie Lu. So, I’m not entirely sure if I should put this on here but you know what? I did. You’re probably wondering what the heck it’s doing here for and supposedly the author got the idea for the book while she was listening to Les Miserables–and if you know Les Mis and you’ve read this book, you can sort of see the similarities.
Well, that’s it for this post! Please, check out April’s post here, where we discuss retellings even more–we’ll cover things like what makes a compelling retelling, what makes a retelling less good and, my personal favorite, where does ‘retelling’ end and ‘inspiration’ start. I hope that all of you had fun with this post! What do you think about retellings? Do you think that retellings lack originality? What sorts of retellings do you want to see more of? What are some retellings that you love? Thanks again for stopping by, everyone, and as always, stay safe and keep reading!