A girl on the boys hockey team–what could go wrong? | A Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren [ARC]

41044784Holland has been playing hockey with her brothers and other boys as soon as she could skate. It was only natural for her to try out for the boys hockey team, so when she made it onto the boys varsity team, it felt like it was meant to be. Unfortunately, there are others in her small-town community that don’t feel that way. Some people say Holland took the place of a boy who deserves it. Some say that she thinks she’s too good to play for the girls team. Others say that she’s just going to be a distraction. Holland is determined to prove them all wrong, but when her captain Wes (Hot Sauce) wants to spend more time with her off the ice, Holland finds that sticking to her rules might not be so easy.

TL;DR – Main character has a HUGE chip on her shoulder and that make the overall story less enjoyable.

I always have a hard time when I feel like characters have too many “things”. I think authors do that to try to create an authentic and well-rounded character, but in reality I think she would just be over-scheduled and wouldn’t have time to be good at any of her things. That was the case for me with Holland. She plays varsity hockey, she’s on the school newspaper, AND she’s super into music and has a blog. I felt like the author just needed to pick two of those three extra-curriculars and focus on those. I think the story still could have been the same, pretty much.

Holland as a character was just okay for me. She was overly defensive about everything. Anytime someone said something remotely misogynistic, she would bite their heads off. For example, if someone were to say, “Good hustle, guys!” she might say, “What? Only guys can hustle? Just because you’re a boy means you’re better at hustling?” Literally. That is a reaction she would have. It was super off-putting. Obviously, I thought it was important to stand up for herself, but…let’s have a little common sense here. I just kept thinking about Jackie Robinson. As the first black player in the Major Leagues, it was important for him to keep his cool and not freak out at people every time they said something negative. I think this is (a small) part of why we remember him in such a positive light today. Holland? Not so much.

Secondary characters were okay. I liked Holland’s brothers but her parents were really non-characters. It seemed like there should have been a point in time where one of her parents (probably her dad) sat her down and just talked to her about hockey and being a girl on the team, etc. I also had an issue with her best friends Cora and Morgan. I liked them as characters, but there was absolutely no backstory as to how they became friends. With Holland spending so much time playing hockey, it didn’t seem like a natural friendship unless they grew up together? But that’s never explained.

As a love interest, Wes was decent. But I didn’t like that he would respect Holland’s wishes. Firstly, I thought her reasons for not wanting them to date/their relationship to be public were SUPER valid. But he just kept pushing and pushing. Secondly, even if her reasons weren’t valid, they’re still her wishes! If he really cares for her, he should respect that. Holland had no reason to apologize to him, in my opinion.

My last thing is just a couple of things that didn’t site quite right with me. First, wouldn’t the obvious solution to Holland and Wes’ problem be to just…wait until the season is over to date? Are your hormones that strong that you can’t wait a couple of months? But they never bring up this possibility. It’s either right now or never. Second, Holland is obsessed with Old Donnie’s letter to the editor because he claims she’ll be a distraction. But she completely ignores the fact that he’s essentially saying he wouldn’t care if something happens to her because she’s pretty much asking to be sexually assaulted (with the whole girl in the boy’s locker room thing). Like, what? How is that not the issue for her?

At the end of the day, I thought the premise for this book was pretty solid, but it needed both more and less. That’s not super helpful to say, but I thought it needed more developed relationships with secondary characters and just less…Holland.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Moderate

Note: I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Super read-alikes for Superbowl LII

I know this community is super into football, right? Wait, we’re not? Ah, just kidding of course. I’m actually not a HUGE fan myself, but I married someone who has three brothers and they all love sports of any kind. I have watched more sporting events with these guys in the last five years than I had my entire life previous. I would go so far as to say that I haven’t missed a major sporting event for the last five years. Baseball, football, basketball of course, but also golf, tennis, soccer, horse racing, etc. THESE GUYS LOVE SPORTS.

So my purpose with this post is to help make the Superbowl a little more accessible for those of us who will only be watching for the commercials and the half-time show.

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Here’s to you guys

The New England Patriots

The Patriots and Tom Brady are the obvious favorites of this Superbowl. They’ve been like eight times in the last 10 years. They’re a dominant dynasty. We all agree that these guys are good. Their defense isn’t great so they’ll mostly be counting on their #1 offense (led by Tom Brady of course) to outscore their opponent.

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If you like the Patriots, you might also like:

Cassandra Clare books

I think most readers and bloggers would say that they like these books. Cassandra Clare keeps coming back to the same world with new-ish stories and you can pretty much count on a new book coming out every year. These books have a consistency that could be perceived as either comforting or boring depending on the reader. I would say that the overall idea behind these books was pretty unique at the time and hasn’t been able to be adequately replicated by anyone since. The series is super mainstream these days after having both a movie AND a popular TV show made based on it.

This series is the Patriots. While there’s not a ton of depth throughout the series (defense), the fact that the series remains consistent and that a new book comes out so often means that nobody can forget that it exists (offense). I mean, the first book came out over ten years ago, but like Tom Brady, there’s still something really ageless about it.

The Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were a surprise this year. The last time they made it to the Superbowl was in 2004. They have a great new quarterback, Carson Wentz, but when he got injured at the beginning of December, there wasn’t much hope that the team would get this far. Luckily, they came up with a backup plan. Nick Foles had been the Eagles QB in the past, but was replaced by Wentz as the starter. He got a chance to come back and has helped the team to make it to the Superbowl. With their amazing defense, the Eagles hope to shut Tom Brady down.

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If you like the Eagles, you might also like:

unwind dystology

Neal Shusterman made a big splash a couple of years ago with National Book Award winner Challenger Deep¬†and there has been a moderate amount of buzz surrounding his recent Arc of a Scythe series. But did anyone remember that he has a four book series that came out before that? Shusterman’s Unwind series is a social commentary that was ahead of its time.

This series and Neal Shusterman are the Eagles. Shusterman’s had some really great recent stuff (Carson Wentz), but when it comes down to it, it’s the past (Nick Foles) that’s going to make an impact. Like the Eagles, the Unwind Dystology doesn’t necessarily have a “star player”, but it’s really effective as a “team”. On Goodreads, all four books have a significantly higher than 4-star rating (4.18, 4.25, 4.23, 4.48 respectively). Cassandra Clare’s books may be flashy and get a lot of publicity, but I think Neal Shusterman’s books deserve our respect as well.


So there’s my in-depth bookish analysis of the Superbowl. I hope football makes a little more sense now and that you feel inspired to read some of Neal Shusterman’s books (to be completely transparent, I haven’t actually read any of his books either, but I plan to).

What books would you say best represent these two teams? And are you going to be watching the Superbowl today?

And here:

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I know this is what you really came for

If I hear the term “swimcest” one more time… | Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally [ARC]

Coming Up for AirFor years, the only things that Maggie has thought about are swimming, school, and food. She doesn’t have time for boys if she wants to get into one of the top swimming colleges–she has to concentrate on shaving seconds off of her race times. After a disastrous college visit, however, Maggie begins to rethink her “no boys” policy. The last thing she wants is to get to college and be completely inexperienced in the boy department. But how is she supposed to make time for boys with her busy swimming schedule?

The premise of this story is so cringe to me. Our main character doesn’t want to go to college inexperienced, so she turns to her best guy friend to help her get some “experience”. I feel so awkward just typing that sentence. And they kept using this term “swimcest” to describe two people on the same swim team dating…so cringe. For the record, it’s not the worst thing in the world to go to college without having kissed someone–I would know. (P.S. I turned out fine. I’m even married now! Funny how that happens). That’s kind of my main issue with this book I guess… I feel like it promotes an incorrect message that everyone going into their freshman year¬†of college has had sex. This is so far from the truth! Do we really want teenage girls reading this book to feel defective if they haven’t had much experience with boys? Or feel pressured to get some kind of experience before college? That’s definitely NOT the message I’d want my daughters to receive. Every girl is on her own time table and that’s OKAY.

With all that in mind, I really think it’s about time that I cut this series loose. Looking at my Goodreads, I’ve realized that I haven’t given any of these books over three stars. Yikes. I think the only reason I keep reading these books is because I like finding the easter eggs–but that’s definitely not a good enough reason to keep reading.

But anyway, on to the actual book. I thought Maggie was completely immature in almost all of her interactions with other people. Perhaps I shouldn’t judge her so harshly since she’s only in high school, but I found myself rolling my eyes at her. A lot. Levi was a weird character who was nice enough, but didn’t have a ton of depth in my opinion. And then I guess there were other characters? But they were seriously so inconsequential that I can’t remember any of them.

The plot was completely predictable and had a ton of manufactured drama. That’s pretty much all I have to say about that.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book. I wouldn’t recommend this series. While I appreciate seeing female main characters in prominent sports roles, that doesn’t outweigh all of the negatives that have accumulated from each of the books throughout the years.

Overall Rating: 2
Language: Moderate
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Heavy

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Comeback Season by Jennifer E Smith (Kirkus Review Style)

So…funny story…I wrote a¬†review for The Comeback Season for a homework assignment before realizing that I had to review an adult book. So then I wrote a review for The Boys in the Boat (see yesterday’s post) and turned that in, but I’d already written this¬†review, so here it is anyway.

the-comeback-season-9781481448512_hrThe thing that Ryan and her father always had in common was the Cubs. Their love for the unlucky baseball team is what Ryan remembers¬†now as she thinks about her father on the fifth year anniversary of his death.¬†This book is about loss and dealing with trials while at the same time preparing to move on. As Ryan mourns her father, her mother is moving on with a new husband and a new baby. Ryan finds solace in a new friend, Nick, who also seems to love the Cubs as much as she does. As they grow closer, Ryan discovers that Nick hasn’t been 100% truthful with her. Together they learn something about luck and what it means to love a team not despite their losing streak, but because of their losing streak.¬†Throughout the book Smith does a wonderful job weaving the magical world of the Cubs and baseball into the narrative of two teenagers trying to figure out life. The ending will leave readers smiling through their tears.

HW Assignment: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (Kirkus Review Style)

51ri3drmqpl-_sx324_bo1204203200_1936 was a hard year for a lot of people, but in backwater Seattle something exciting was happening–the crew team from the University of Washington was preparing for the row of their lives at the Olympic Games in Berlin.¬†As the youngest team with the least experience, the UW crew team were the obvious underdogs but despite all of this, they were determined to beat the odds.

This book primarily focuses on the life of Joe Rantz–one of the boys to make it with that crew team to the 1936 Olympic Games. The reader is transported to 1930’s America where we’re given a view of how desperately Americans needed something to cheer for. The United States was still recovering from the first World War when the Great Depression hit and many people were having a hard time making ends meet. Joe Rantz was no exception. He only joined the crew team in order to help him pay for his schooling but it wasn’t long before he fell in love with the sport and the feeling of being out on the water. Despite¬†facing a trying childhood where he’d been abandoned¬†multiple times by his father and his family Joe¬†would need to learn¬†about love, life, and how to trust in his teammates. Joe and the other boys in his crew only had one chance to win. With everyone back home depending on them and war looming on the horizon, the boys in the boat would have to give this last race everything that they had and more.

Brown takes readers on an emotional journey as he weaves the backstories of those involved with descriptions of just how difficult rowing actually is. Even though the ending is already set in stone, given the circumstances leading up to the final race readers will doubt that the boys from Seattle will really be able to pull this off.