I just gotta try some of these recipes
and a QUILTBAG of stars in my heart for this one.
I read this book for two reasons. The first being I've been promising myself I'd read this author for ages now and the timing has been such that when her books came out I was busy with something else and then I'd squirrel off to something else so when I saw this one on Net Galley it was Fate telling me to get my act together because it's time and the second reason this one's not M/M so I knew it was a step outside of my comfort zone and I do like to make myself take that step from time to time.
What I didn't expect was that I was going to fall head over heels in love with this story. There was just so much about it that for me was special. So what I'm going to do is tell you my least favorite part and get that out of the way so I can babble on about the awesomeness that was the rest of this story...
Truthfully for me the sex wasn't great and I'm not even going to try and analyze why, probably because it was two girls and that's not my thing so pfft whatever, it wasn't the most important part of this book for me and in a way I probably would have found it weird if there was none because hello? Two healthy, sexually active women attracted to each other and not sex? That I would have found weird and disconcerting and while it's not my thing to me the sex scenes were still well done and interestingly enough the romance between Tina and Joe worked for me big time. Seriously, when they were together and when they kissed...well, damn I got butterflies in my stomach right along with them. It was sweet and passionate and the feelz were all over the place and that's what matters to me that I can make that connection to the relationship, that I can feel it coming off the page at me. It doesn't have to be the sex that does it.
Now comes the hard part because I really, really want to share with you how much I love this book and what an awesome reading experience it was for me. You see ironically the author used things that for me have personal meaning. So yes, I have little doubt that this book resonated with me more than it might with other readers and I'm ok with that because we're all different and how we respond to things, and in this case it's a book, is directly impacted by those differences.
First off Roller Derby, how awesome is that. One of my favorite childhood memories is watching Roller Derby with my dad on Saturday afternoons. I came from a family of 7 children so one-on-one time was premium at our house and I was the youngest and yes, I was daddy's little girl but still time was limited with that many mouths to feed. My brothers got the cars and hockey games but I got Saturday afternoons and Roller Derby. Reading this story made it Saturday afternoon for me.
One of my absolute most favorite parts of this book was Tina. In a world that's constantly trying to label and categorize people to be what it thinks they should be rather than supporting and encouraging people to be who they feel they should be, Tina to me was the epitome of courageous and I'm not even going to try and use my words here, I'm simply going to borrow from Ralph Waldo Emerson to explain this...
To be yourself in a world that is
constantly trying to make you something
else is the greatest accomplishment
and to me this is what Tina did, not only for herself but others as she gave them the faith and encouragement they needed to keep trying. Most of us have a Tina in our lives whether we realize it or not. Someone who struggles on a daily basis just to be themselves and have the world accept them as they are meant to be. I know I marvel at my personal Tina every day. At their courage and strength and at the love they give to a world that maybe doesn't always deserve it but needs it.
I was pretty taken with the cast of secondary characters in this book and want to know more about all of them and happily I can at least find out more about Ben & Dave (Double Up) and Eddie & Wish (Rough Road) because they're all waiting on my e-reader for me. I don't normally read a series out of order but because of a time constraints this time I had to and truthfully I don't feel like I was shortchanged for having skipped the first two books for now because there is no doubt that I will go back to read those books.
The first 70% of 'Roller Girl' was a solid 4 star read it was around there though, that this story took a serious leap for me and I was grabbing the tissues and trying to read through the sobfest because stopping was not an option. Not while Tina and Joe were shattering my heart and then I ached as I watched them try to through things...yep, I basically cried for the last 30% of this book and still there seem to be a few tears left over but hey, it's Saturday afternoon and I get to watch the derby with my dad...just me and him.
My review of this book may not be as unbiased as others that I've written, but that's only because of all the ways it touched me personally with its awesome characters and it's subject matter. Does this mean I'm a fan of f/f books probably not, I think it just means I've become a big fan of an awesome writer and the wonderful stories that she has to share with the world.
An ARC of Roller Girl was graciously provided by the publisher through Net Galley
Roller derby has numerous enthusiastic followers and leagues around the world; so a novel based on the sport will draw from these groups as well as reaching into general-interest audiences. While the plot and characters of Roller Babes: 1950s Women of Roller Derby are based on real people and events, Patten takes the process a step further with a saga that adds fictional embellishments to real events and protagonists to heighten drama and explore the derby world.
Tim Patten is himself a former professional roller derby champion, so he's in the perfect position to craft a story that explores these early skaters and their achievements using more than a researcher's familiarity. His background lends insight, authenticity, and direction to the novel, which honors these early players by examining their lives and the social and sports conditions under which they played.
As Lottie and others feel their skills, passions, and interests alienate them from peers of both sexes ("The boys wanted Lottie out of their games for good. She felt her pulse in her throat. As the only girl, she had never fit in. Even among other girls, Lottie stood out from the crowd, and not in a good way: gawky, rough-and tumble, forever uncomfortable among the little ladies in their pretty dresses and beautifully curled hair. Lottie’s hair was choppy. She was an oddball."), they come to find in roller derby a new venture more accepting of who they are.
The alienation of 'tomboys' in sports in the 1950s is well documented through character experiences ("The stickball game officially broke up. Lottie’s teammates turned their attention elsewhere and once again, the girl who never felt like she fit in found herself alone, a cavity hollowed out inside her chest."), while roller marathons, the habit of staging accidental collisions between marathon couples in competition to up the ante and audience, and the evolution of American Roller Derby antics to supplement skating prowess provides a powerful account of the major figures of the sport and how entertainment and competition intersected to draw large audiences.
From skaters in professional and physical battles to the difference between showmanship and dangerous emotional confrontations, Patten delves into the darker side of roller derby as well as its evolutionary process and juxtaposes character motivations and experiences with insights on roller derby's appeal and rationales and the development of the contact sport.
The result is a powerful historical sports novel combining elements not usually gathered under a fictional cover to blend a thought-provoking survey of the history of women in derby with a very personal perspective of its pros, cons, and special challenges.
Roller derby evolved from early risk-takers and sports revolutionaries. There's no better way to learn about this history than through a lively, teeth-gritting read of close encounters on the skating track.
I love Sports Romance. I just love a hero or heroine who is really really good at something.
I love capable heroines who aren't afraid to punch someone in the face.
I use to be a competive speed skater.
Thus, I love Roller Derby and if I can get it in a Romance Novel--Joy is Mine!
Here are some Romances with Roller Derby! My lists are never in any particular order.
1. The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston
Growing up on the tough Philly streets, Gwen O'Neill knows how to fend for herself. But what is she supposed to do with a nice, suburban Jersey boy who has a tendency to turn into a massive Grizzly? Despite his menacing growl and four-inch claws, Gwen finds Lachlan "Lock" MacRyrie cute and really sweet. He actually watches out for her, and unlike the rest of her out-of-control family, manages not to morbidly embarrass her. Too bad cats don't believe in forever.
At nearly seven feet tall, Lock is used to people responding to him in two ways: screaming or running away. Gwen--half lioness, half tigress, all kick-ass--does neither. She's sexy beyond belief and smart as hell, but she's so busy protecting her family and friends that she's forgetting about her own safety. Lock probably shouldn't get involved, but he can't simply walk away. Not when Gwen means absolutely everything to him.
2. Falling Hard by Megan Sparks
When Annie moves from London to a small town in the midwest, she struggles to fit in. She gets off to a bad start when she makes an enemy of her school's queen bee, Kelsey. But she discovers a new passion, the exciting sport of roller derby, and makes friends with the cool and quirky girls on her team, the Liberty Belles. She also meets Jesse, the friendly boy who works at the roller rink, and Tyler, a cute, all-American sports star.
3. Found by You by Victoria H. Smith
He’s noticed by everyone…
He’s captain of our college’s basketball team. I swear to God I’ve already seen him in a Nike ad, and he’s one of the top picks when he goes pro following our spring graduation.
His life is on display for the world. Both his accomplishments and demons there for judgment.
I’m a girl who likes to play roller derby from, of all places, Wisconsin. My own demons better concealed. And one day…
He notices me.
Found by You is a new adult contemporary romance.
4. Love and Skate: Books 1-5, The Complete Series by Lila Felix
On the rink she’s tough, she’s a leader, she’s fast and she’s the epitome of a rebellious girl. But Nellie’s been hurt, only once, but it was enough to make her look at life through different eyes and off the rink she’s a timid girl who loves with no pretenses.
A long time ago Owen Black was betrayed by the girl he thought he loved and the guy he called his best friend. The anguish set off a domino effect of negativity in his life and he never has fully recovered. He meets Nellie Forrester and thinks he can let it go for her.
But how can you love someone when the wounds from your past are still wide open?
5. The Derby Girl by Tamara Morgan
Roller derby girl Gretchen "Honey Badger" Badgerton lives in the moment, no apologies. Like every woman in Pleasant Park with a pulse, she finds Dr. Jared Fine irresistible, but she's taken by surprise when her unattainable new neighbor asks her out.
On paper, Jared is the perfect man: gorgeous, wealthy and charitable. But his golden image is just that, and opening an upstate practice is a welcome chance to start a new life. When Gretchen stops to help him with a flat tire, he's intrigued by her feisty attitude—and her sexy body art. There's something refreshing about being with a take-charge woman who doesn't expect him to be anything but himself.
Though Gretchen is hesitant to shatter Jared's "bad girl" illusion of her, she has to face facts: she's fallen for the good doctor. She's used to putting everyone else's needs before hers, but as their relationship heats up, can she handle having someone take care of her for a change?
6. Derby Girl by Shauna Cross
n this exciting collection of paranormal tales, best-selling authors Stephenie Meyer (Twilight), Kim Harrison (Once Dead, Twice Shy), Meg Cabot (How to Be Popular), Lauren Myracle (ttyl), and Michele Jaffe (Bad Kitty) take prom mishaps to a whole new level—a truly hellish level. Wardrobe malfunctions and two left feet don't hold a candle to discovering your date is the Grim Reaper—and he isn't here to tell you how hot you look.
From angels fighting demons to a twisted take on getting what you wish for, these five stories will entertain better than any DJ in a bad tux can. No corsage or limo rental necessary. Just good, creepy fun.
10. Demon Derby by Carrie Harris
Casey kicked cancer’s ass. Now a demon wants to kick hers. . . .
Casey hates being known as the girl who survived cancer. She wants people to treat her like her old self, fearless and strong. And after a creepy encounter with a crazy guy in an alley, Casey is all about reclaiming her power.
So when she has a chance to try out for the Apocalypsies roller derby team, she jumps on it. Being a derby girl would prove that she doesn’t need anybody’s pity. It doesn’t hurt that Michael, the team manager, is almost unnaturally hot. Which makes sense when Casey finds out that he’s not human.
Michael’s got a secret: he trains demon hunters. That crazy guy in the alley? Demon. And the fact that Casey went head to head with evil and lived makes her a threat to demonkind. Casey thought she’d already fought and won the battle of her lifetime. But it’s only beginning. . . .
Did I miss one? Let me know!
Vote on my Goodreads list: Jam: Roller Derby in Romance Novels
Pushing Send is a yung adult novel with some very deep and intense situations, especially appropriate in this day and age.
Hadley's life has be turned upside down yet again as she and her family have moved again to a small town in New York. Her father lost his job after an accident and now her father has addiction issues. This leaves her nother as the sole breadwinner, overworked and continually making excuses for Hadley's father. All of this has meant that Hadley has not only had to grow up fast, but it has really damaged her ability to trust others. As a result, she just tries to fly under the radar and keep to herself. But being the new girl in a small school, it is hard to remain anonymous for too long. Soon after she moves, she meets Lana, her neighbor and soon her best friend. She also meets her older stepbrother Paxton, with whom she becomes friends as well.
It was at this point that I thought this was going to be the typical love story between a somewhat geeky, socially awkward girl and the gorgeous jock, but there is so much to the story. Pax likes Hadley and thinks she's a good influence on his sometimes tumultuous little sister. Their friendships are unexpected, as Hadley could not be more different. Lana and Paxton are well off and have had a lot of advantages in life, whereas Hadley and her family are struggling, financially and emotionally.
Things go better than Hadley expected for awhile, until something happens that ruins everything. It is at this point that everything goes into a horrific doward spiral for her and it becomes almost overwhelming. Just about everything that could go wrong does.
There are some important plot lines in this book, particularly appropriate for our time. It highlights the downside of such a digital age and how it can ruin lives. It shows how quick people are to assume the worst, to judge. There is also an important theme of mental illness and how much that can go unnoticed in teenagers. There are also themes of love and forgiveness, compassion and understanding. These plot lines and themes are well considered and important to the time.
However, there were times when it almost felt like various parts of the book were written for different demographics. It was something that was very noticeable to me, even as I enjoyed the overall story. It was only when I was preparing to write this review that I realized that this was written my a middle-school girl and her mother, which explains those variations. It also explained the massive fangirling going on throughout the book, although that was appropriate to the age of the main character. But if you haven't read the series fangirled (The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, The Fault in Our Stars, etc.),, you will find spoilers to those novels.
The only other thing that gave me pause was the time jumping. The book takes place over roughly 2 years and there were several moments when the time jumped forward. While I think the jumping was necessary for the story, I wish there was some kind of indication from the beginning like an italicized six months later or some such thing so as to eliminate confusion.
All in all this was a good story that touched on some important issues, even with the couple of things that jumped out at me. I am hoping that there will be a sequel because I want to know more!