September Wrap Up

Hey all! First of all, I am so sorry for my disappearance this month! I was absolutely planning to keep writing posts but then…school. School also extremely decreased how much I read this month, which means this wrap up is going to be MUCH shorter than normal, but here we go.

Amazon.com: She Who Became the Sun: 9781250621801: Parker-Chan, Shelley:  Books
Where We Used to Roam: Bishop, Jenn: 9781534457294: Amazon.com: Books
Amazon.com: The Prince of los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood: 9780062313775:  Blanco, Richard: Books
  • She Who Became the Sun by Shelly Parker-Chan. I mean…what am I supposed to say? This book has been hyped and then the hype has been hyped and then that hype has been hyped, too (okay maybe I’m over exaggerating a little bit) and I was finally able to read it! And it IS good! I honestly had no idea where it was going and it felt slow at first but I really enjoyed it!
  • Where We Used to Roam by Jenn Bishop. Picked this one up on a whim during a weekend because it was lying around at my house, and it was pretty good! I liked the way it dealt with addiction and drugs in a way that middle grade readers could read it, however, I found the summary to be super misleading and it made the pacing feel super off to me.
  • The Prince of Los Cocuyos by Richard Blanco. Summer reading that I read right before school started–it was an interesting memoir, but I honestly don’t have much to say about it. All the chapters were separate stories about Blanco’s life, but the ending was super abrupt and kind of made me shocked. Not like anything super bad happened, I just…didn’t expect it to end like that.
Fast Pitch by Nic Stone: 9781984893017 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books
Amazon.com: Flash Fire: The Extraordinaries, Book Two eBook : Klune, TJ:  Kindle Store
Amazon.com: In the Same Boat: 9781338726633: Green, Holly: Books
  • Fast Pitch by Nic Stone. I have played softball for I don’t even know how long and yet this is the first book with a main plot featuring softball that I have EVER read. We need more softball books!!! (I say as I write a book about baseball). I absolutely loved this book, it was a super fast and fun read that as well as featuring softball, also taught us some history about black baseball!
  • Flash Fire by TJ Klune. Book one was much better. Honestly, despite the fact that for the entire time in book one I was rooting for the characters to get together, I think I liked the slow burn better than the relationship. I mean, the relationship was great, but maybe it was just the sense of book one being better overall.
  • In the Same Boat by Holly Green. I am astonished and impressed by the author’s ability to keep my attention through the entire book when the whole thing is just canoeing down a river. I don’t even like canoeing. But a LOT happens in a 265 mile canoe race, turns out. This book was so good I almost wanted to try it myself, despite the aforementioned statement of disliking canoeing (there are actually a LOT of reasons that I’d hate that).

Despite my not posting at ALL, I was in fact still reading all of your posts! There was a lot of great posts this month, and here’s a few of my favorite.

My first thoughts when writing this section was just, ‘lol I did none’ but in my much more sophisticated blog (can’t you tell how sophisticated it is) I will say, ‘Unfortunately, this month I was unable to write any blog posts’.

September goals:

  • School first! ✅
  • Choose sleep over anything you want to do. (remember, you have to wake up really early again!!!)✅
  • Stop thinking about what you want to do in the far, far future. It’s affecting what you want to do now.
  • Try to improve your softball skills!✅
  • Get back into violin some more✅

All in all, honestly, not bad. School did start this month and I have been doing a pretty good job of staying on top of my work, if I may say so myself. And I’ve continued to have a good sleep schedule, which is pretty impressive for someone at my school (and honestly just anyone who’s in high school). As for the third goal, I don’t think I improved much on that but I guess I’ll keep working on it. Softball…haha well I didn’t do well in the single game I had, but I did make some tweaks to my swing and I think I did improve my power, if only I were able to improve my timing. And having orchestra in school really did allow me to play more violin! I’m still not practicing much but I’m playing.

October goals:

  • Stay on top of school
  • Try to write something you want to write. Don’t think of everything else. Just what you would find enjoyable to write.
  • Don’t make your entire life revolve around baseball
  • Please try to do some exercises if you actually want to go anywhere in softball.
  • In your free time, just do what you feel like (with some boundaries obviously; just don’t force yourself to do anything).
  • As I’ve already said several times, school started, for me! It’s been…interesting, I mean it’s school. You all know what school is like. It’s nice to have a routine but also I have no free time which is less nice and I’m not super enjoying some of my classes (but I am enjoying two of my classes and the teachers of those classes are very nice (possibly a big part of why I’m enjoying them…))
  • Fall ball started for me, but we’ve only played one game because it keeps raining the day before the games which means that the field gets all muddy. Still, it’s good to play softball again, even if I did totally terribly on my first game.
  • I’ve gotten to see a lot more of my friends again now that school has started, and a bunch of people who I’m friendly with but not close enough to talk to over covid and it’s so nice to talk to everyone again! I forgot how good school is at that. How do adults ever stay in touch with anyone they don’t have a torture system keeping them close (joking, I understand that school is important, sometimes it just needs to be dialed back a little).

I would also like to let everyone know that I have no idea when I’ll be able to publish my next post. It could be tomorrow (extremely doubtful) or it could be my October wrap up. Maybe it won’t even be that. School has just been so time consuming and blogging just isn’t something that I feel like doing even when I’m not doing school, so I’ll write something when I have time and feel like it, and I don’t know when that will be.

How was your month? Has school been a pain for you? I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to in all the time that I’ve been gone! As always, stay safe and keep on reading!

Sports in Books: A List

This is post 2/2! I published my first post of this extremely short series a few days ago, and that was a discussion of sports in books. You can find that post here. In this post, I’ll be sharing some books I know that are about sports. These are books that revolve around sports or at least have sports as a large plot in them. All of these books are either queer or center around female characters (or both). I’ve read almost all of them, but not one of them, because it’s not out yet, so please forgive me if it’s not as much about sports as I think it is! (the summary is giving very very very strong clues that it is about sports, however).

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

This is actually an adult book and so for me at least I found it really slow but it’s a great story about a girl’s field hockey team in Massachusetts in 1989. There’s a bit of a paranormal theme going on it, so it’s not a realistic fiction book, but it’s nonetheless very enjoyable. I loved the way it chronicled the entire team, and yet I was able to keep track of the characters, and I loved the way that the girls were super close and super loyal to each other.

Michigan Vs. The Boys by Carrie Allen

Anyone who’s been following my blog for about a month knows how much I love this book. It’s a story about a girl who, when the girl’s hockey team at her school gets cut, tries out for the boy’s hockey team. Michigan is such a strong character, she goes through so many things, and yet she just keeps going, because hockey is the sport she loves. This book is so empowering for anyone who’s been told they can’t do something because of their gender and I hope it inspires girls to continue with sports AND to speak out when they’ve been wronged for years to come.

A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner

This book literally changed my life.
A High Five for Glenn Burke is about a sixth grader, Silas, who loves playing baseball. Silas also does a school report on Glenn Burke, the major league baseball player who invented the high five–and Burke was also the first openly gay MLB player. It’s Silas’s way of beginning to admit the truth about himself to others.
This book is absolutely amazing. First of all, Glenn Burke definitely deserves more attention and I’m glad that this book can teach people about him. But also, this is just a middle grade book that is SO well written, with such a great story and a great character. This book means more to me than I could say, it’s an extremely special book to me, and I would 100% recommend it to anyone looking for a book about sports.

Fence by CS Pacat

The Fence series is several volumes of graphic novels about, well, fencers. It follows the main character, Nicholas’s journey of getting onto his boarding school’s team, his (possibly one-sided) rivalry with his roommate Seiji, and the entire fencing team! Also, basically everyone is casually queer. It’s really nice to see a book about fencing because it’s not a sport you see as much as others, and for those who don’t know I actually fenced two years ago (the school year before the pandemic). I wasn’t very good at it, but it was still fun and I learned a lot about the sport.

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

My original draft of this post said that I hadn’t read this book but I quickly remedied it and this book is AMAZING. It’s about a trans boy who’s just moved to a new school and gets on the soccer team and it’s so sweet. I love the team dynamic in this book so if that’s something you enjoy, pick this up!!! It’s also very good to see trans kids in sports because that’s not something that there are books on very often.

Icebreaker by AL Graziadei

Long story short, I kinda flipped out when I learned this book exists.
It’s not actually out yet, and I haven’t read it either, but seriously, it sounds so good. It’s about two boys fighting for the top draft spot in the NHL draft but then they fall in love. I’m really excited because this is a book that it’s queer and deals with PROFESSIONAL sports, which I’m really interested to see how it goes.

Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

I read this book pretty recently, and it’s a fun graphic novel about a college hockey team. The characters are really fun and it’s just an overall fun, easy book. There’s a great relationship between all the people on the team and you can tell that the author did a lot of research on college hockey, given all the little hockey lingo and the Haus, and everything else.

It was absolutely not my intention but four of these books are about some form of hockey and why are hockey books more often than anything else? (or maybe they’re just more POPULAR)

Have you read any of these books? What are some other books that you’ve read that follow sports? What did you think of this post? Please, let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!
Thank you so much for stopping by, and as always, stay safe and keep on reading!

Sports in Books: A Discussion

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!

Interview with Carrie Allen, Author of Michigan Vs. The Boys

Hey, everyone! Today I am extremely excited to be hosting an interview with Carrie Allen, the author of Michigan Vs. The Boys. I read Michigan Vs. The Boys in May and I loved it! It was amazing to see another book with girls in sports because there are so few and the book overall was super inspiring!
Here’s a little bit about the book:

Michigan Vs. The Boys | Carrie Allen

Published October 1st, 2019

304 Pages | ebook

Content Warnings: bullying, attempted sexual assault, use of date rape drugs

Michigan Manning’s whole life is hockey. This is her team’s year, she knows it. But budget cuts at her school are keeping the girl’s hockey team away from the ice. Her team won’t be playing this year.
Determined to play hockey no matter what it takes, Michigan tries out for the boy’s hockey team. Even though the boys are just about the opposite of thrilled to have a girl on their team, Michigan is determined to play hockey, through whatever they throw at her. After all, this is the year that colleges are taking note.
But one ‘prank’ on Michigan crosses the line to assault and she has to decide whether she wants to risk hockey in order to speak up.

All summaries are my own unless otherwise stated. Parts of the summary may be borrowed from goodreads.

When did you first decide you wanted to be an author?

I started writing in elementary school– my first books were written on binder paper, trimmed and stapled to resemble “real” books. I always had an urge to write, and to read, but high school English classes chased me away to the sciences. After college and grad school, I had trouble finding books I connected with, and I hadn’t written in years. Until one day, I was traveling with the collegiate volleyball team I worked with, and we’re all lounging on the nasty airport floor waiting for a flight. Our outside hitter said, “Carrie, you HAVE to read this!” and passed me a copy of a book with a pair of hands holding a red apple on the front. And wow—there was suddenly this whole shelf of books that I hadn’t been reading because I was supposed to be A Grown Up. Then, when I semi-retired from sports medicine to stay home with my first baby (who is about to turn ten!) I binged the Hunger Games trilogy. As soon as I finished the last page of Mockingjay, I turned back to the first page of Hunger Games and binged the whole series again. As soon as I finished it the second time, I started writing my first manuscript (the first of a terrible, terrible dystopian trilogy that we will not discuss further.)

What inspired you to write Michigan Vs. The Boys? How did you first come up with the idea?

Michigan Vs. The Boys is actually my second hockey manuscript. The first was about a girl who spent her whole childhood playing on a boys’ hockey team, and when she’s invited to a USAH development camp, she has to transition to playing on a girls’ team. It was super fun to write, but as soon as I finished it, I knew I had to write the harder story—for the girls who didn’t get to have my MC’s positive experiences. I love hockey and I want my sport to be the best it can be, on and off the ice. In writing Michigan, I wanted to support the athletes while shining a light on the work that still needs to be done.

What are some things that you hoped to accomplish by releasing Michigan Vs. into the world?
Why do you think that it is important that there be more books like yours published?

My first goal with Michigan was to support the athletes like Michigan, because I’ve been there. I’ve been the only girl in the room or on the ice, and I’ve faced things I shouldn’t have had to. Every girl in hockey has; most girls in sports have. But I also saw a need for books like Michigan—the gatekeepers in publishing haven’t let a lot of sports-centered books through. There are so many real life Michigans, and I want them to see themselves represented on the bookshelves, to have their stories told. 

But I also wrote Michigan for the readers who don’t follow sports, readers who don’t think they like sports. I can’t blame them—mainstream sports media isn’t really my jam either. Women receive only 4% of sport media coverage. Four percent! You really have to work to find the sports that I follow, which means there are so many amazing athletes whose stories we never get to hear! Not only that, but women in sports and YA fiction have a lot more in common than readers might realize—starting with the fact that many women in sports ARE young adults! I know YA readers would love these athletes if they could gain more access to them.

What did you learn while writing Michigan Vs. the Boys? How did you grow by writing it?

Michigan was actually an easy book to write– don’t hate me for it, because I’ve had my share of not-easy manuscripts! Because I spent twenty years playing, coaching, reffing, and covering hockey as a Certified Athletic Trainer, I didn’t have to research much. I kept a USA Hockey rulebook nearby to double check facts as needed, and luckily one of my best friends grew up in the U.P. and was able to help me with the setting. 

I grew by writing Michigan because it was brutal to put her through the trials that I did. Those were both some of the hardest and easiest scenes to write. They’d flow easily from me, but leave me emotionally wrecked. I just kept picturing the lone girl at so many rinks across the country and thinking, “I’m doing this for you!”

What sorts of books would you like to see published in the future (plots, rep, etc.)?

Oh, wow, we need more sports books like you wouldn’t believe! We need joyful books and books about the problems in sports and books about team dynamics and individual athletes and non-traditional sports and trans athletes and queer athletes and racism in sports and body positivity and toxic femininity and sports journalists and non-American sport settings and Paralympic athletes and recreational athletes and Olympic athletes and everything in between! It never ceases to amaze me that approximately half of all high school students are athletes, but YA sports books take up only a teeny tiny sliver of the bookshelves. Sports are so much more than a sixty-minute game or seven innings or one hundred meters, and I’d love for YA readers to be able to connect to the athletes and experience the whole story.

What is one or more things that helped keep you going when you were stuck with writing this book? This can be a specific food, a pet, family member, hobby, etc.

My number one way to get unstuck is to walk the dog—literally. I actually thanked my dog Ivy in Michigan’s acknowledgements, because our early morning rambles were how I fixed all of Michigan’s sticky spots! Now I take my cattle dog mix, Torrey, for walks or runs to mull over ideas I want to explore or to imagine my characters. Dogs are awesome– they never look at you weird when you’re dictating out-of-breath notes about imaginary people while hoofing it up a hill.

There’s a scene in Michigan vs. The Boys where Mich goes for a run and she’s feeling isolated and lonely, so to push herself, she pictures her former teammates running with their teams, or Jack training in the pool by himself. She feels less lonely knowing that somewhere out there, someone else is training, too. I feel that a lot when I’m writing. Somewhere out there is an athlete who needs my book, and that gets me working.But also, tea and peanut butter M&Ms 😊

And finally, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Write for you first. Write your passion, write the book you want to read. I’ve written probably twenty novels and short stories. Even if I’m incredibly lucky, I’ll still only get to share a small percentage of my work with the world. But each one of those stories has meant something to me, and that’s what gets me working on the next one.

The other advice is to find your people. It is scary and hard to make friends in the book world, but it’s also much easier to create when you’ve got people who believe in you. And critiquing for friends is the best way to learn to write and revise. Publishing is a team sport!

I loved conducting this interview with Carrie. She was a delight to talk to and I think that all her answers are so thoughtful and amazing. As most of you probably know, I play softball so books with girls in sports are really inspiring to me and I definitely agree that we need more! The book community is a lot better because of Carrie’s book and I hope that more authors or aspiring authors will find her book and decide to write one of their own sports books.

What’d you think of this interview? Have you read Michigan Vs. The Boys by Carrie Allen? Do you play any sports?
As always, thank you so much for stopping by to read–it means the world! Please, stay safe and keep on reading!