CHECK, PLEASE! BOOK 2 : STICKS & SCONES by Ngozi Ukazu

Eric Bittle is heading into his junior year at Samwell University, and not only does he have new teammates―he has a brand new boyfriend! Bitty and Jack must navigate their new, secret, long-distance relationship, and decide how to reveal their relationship to friends and teammates. And on top of that, Bitty’s time at Samwell is quickly coming to an end…It’s two full hockey seasons packed with big wins and high stakes!

A collection of the second half of the mega-popular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: Sticks and Scones is the last in a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life. 


Title : Check, Please! Book Two : Sticks & Scones
Author : Ngozi Ukazu
Series : Check, Please! (book two/volumes three & four)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 352
Genre : YA LGBTQIA+ sports graphic novel
Publisher : First Second
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

I’m not sure how I managed to be oblivious to the fact that this was the final installment but.. I was. And I’m so sad about it.

But nonetheless this was such a sweet, wonderful, way to end this series made up of pure wholesome hockey fun. Even though we had some much bigger moments overall, I still think I liked book one a little more. This one did definitely feel a bit more real, though, as in with real stakes and real coming outs, among other things, and I loved it for that serious foundation.

I really don’t have a lot to say. This is soft, pure, laugh out loud delight, with baking, romance, coming of age and also coming into into your own. Also.. hockey. You should definitely read it.

CHECK, PLEASE! BOOK 1 : #HOCKEY by Ngozi Ukazu

Helloooo, Internet Land. Bitty here!

Y’all… I might not be ready for this. I may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking. And then, there is Jack—our very attractive but moody captain.

A collection of the first half of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.


Title : Check, Please! Book One : #Hockey
Author : Ngozi Ukazu
Series : Check, Please! (book one/volumes one & two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 288
Genre : YA LGBTQIA+ sports graphic novel
Publisher : First Second
Release Date : September 18, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 5 star review

This rating isn’t much of a surprise for me, and maybe not for those who follow me on GR, as this was a reread and I already gushed about this back in 2018. I had initially read this via the author’s website, as it was (is?) being posted as a webcomic, but decided to reread this one as I prepare to read the most recent bundle/release now that my library has it.

And okay am I as gushy the second time around? Maybe not quite. But this is still the sweetest, purest, funniest, most adorable, graphic novel.. ever. This is everything hockey, everything pure and soft, but also very realistic, and watching Bitty become more of himself as he starts college, as he bakes, belts out Beyoncé, and maybe harbors a bit of a crush? Just a delight. The whole cast is, really.

If you want a fun feel good experience, look no further.

GOALIE INTERFERENCE by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

It’s goalie vs. goalie in this brand-new enemies-to-lovers hockey romance from Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn… 

Ryu Mori has had a stellar season as goalie for the Atlanta Venom. So when he’s called into management’s office, he’s expecting to hear he’s the new starting goalie for the team, not that some new guy—an incredibly hot, annoyingly bratty rookie—is here to compete for his spot.

Not everyone gets to play in the best league in the world. Emmitt Armstrong knows that, and he’s not about to waste the opportunity after grinding his way from the bottom to the top. If the Venom is looking for a meek, mild-mannered pushover, they’ve got the wrong guy.

Ryu doesn’t want to admit the other goalie’s smart mouth turns him on. Beating Armstrong at practice feels good, sure, but there are other, more fun ways to shut his rival up.

In this league, it’s winner takes all. But there’s more to life than winning, and if Emmitt and Ryu can get past their egos and competitive natures, they might just discover they work better as partners than they ever imagined possible.


Title : Goalie Interference
Author : Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn
Series : Hat Trick (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : m/m sports romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 30, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

The premise around book two in the Hat Trick trilogy is competing goalies. Not from opposing teams but the same team. One, the more established regular for the Venom, who we met in book one, and two, a recent trade from the minor league. These two are total opposites in personality but share some surprising similarities, not just limited to being minorities in a predominantly white-populated sport. 

People write erotic stories about you two, bro.”
What? Where? Why?
Enemies to lovers, man. It’s a Thing.”

I’m a total sucker for hate, or enemies, to love (particularly in m/m) and the banter and push and pull and aggression between these two in the early stages of the getting-to-know-you phase was great. Stone cold Ryu facing off with hot-shot cocky Emmitt was a joy. Particularly when offset by all the personas on the team around them. I really am a sucker for the team ensemble dynamic. 

This is the last thing I wanted.”
Your romantic declarations need some serious work.

Their relationship becomes one, after agreeing to no-strings, but is put to the test as they approach playoff season when it might come down to a real competition between them, as opposed to the tandem-playing they had settled into in the regular season. This conflict was one the least contrived I’ve experienced and felt very real, and genuine, and I loved how they still tried to keep things civil, despite heartbreak, near the climax. Oh, and the final moments? Delightful.

Fucking score some goddamn goals or you’re walking back to Atlanta.”
Wow. I haven’t had a coach threaten to make me walk since Timbits hockey.”

This was a lot of good fun, and I’m so happy it didn’t flounder along the way despite the less than solid start, and while I didn’t love it as much as book one, I’m still so very keen for the final book in this series. Also, I forever love books set in this sport by authors who clearly know and love the game. It always comes through and I always appreciate it. This definitely cured me of my slump and I’m ever so grateful.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. ** 

YOU COULD MAKE A LIFE by Taylor Fitzpatrick

The first thing Dan says to him is, “we’re in the NHL!”, because that’s how he’s been greeting anyone wearing a jersey, and Marc Lapointe, ‘the future of the franchise’, is wearing Dan’s colours.

“I think you’re my new best friend,” Dan says, his excitement beating out common sense, social filters, the need to play it cool.

“It is nice to meet you, new best friend,” Marc says, his mouth twitching.

In hindsight, Dan probably falls in love with him in that moment, Marc laughing at him and with him all at once, but it takes a little while to figure that out.


Title : You Could Make a Life
Author : Taylor Fitzpatrick
Format : eBook (scribd)
Page Count : 202
Genre : LGBTQIA+ contemporary sports romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : December 20, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

It’s so hard not to compare this to the author’s more recent work (why, oh why, did I read this so soon after? who stole my chill?) which was similar but so different. And yet this was still so good. Just not one the same level, in so many ways, that THROWN OFF THE ICE was.

First of all, the angst is way lower in decibel. There is no age gap. And this one didn’t make me cry. But it was still sexy, funny, ridiculous, and had even more hockey than my first experience with Fitzpatrick’s writing did. I’ve said it for other authors and I’ll say it again : nothing makes me love a hockey romance more than when it is obvious the author is a true blue fan. This author definitely is.

Oh my god. There is totally a Quebec Secret Society, you lied to me!
We are not a cult. We are a province.”

Overall, if I had to recommend a reading order, even though I’m not sure they exist in the same universe (unless they do? I know she has other shorts and stories, seemingly all hockey based), I would recommend people start here. It’s lighter on all topics, really, with less blunt force on both the emotional impact as well as lighter on the sexy times, too. It sort’ve follows a more traditional path, one many LGBTQIA+ sports romance readers will be familiar with, but with more depth, if that makes sense.

He said you gave him a blowjob in Juniors and that it was terrible. [..]. Do not worry, I told him you are much improved at it now.”
Marc, don’t talk about my blowjob skills on the ice.”
Why is it always me that hears this shit?

The one (only?) major downfall to YOU COULD MAKE A LIFE is the beginning isn’t as solid as the latter half. It felt a little more surface level, and I’m not sure I liked some of the early angst conflict, and how quickly it resolved, that whole transition read weird to me, and even in hindsight I’m not sure about it all, but the last 60% was great, strong, fun, and just emotional enough that you are invested when things aren’t going right.

You are the Brangelina of hockey.”
I don’t want to be the Brangelina of hockey.”
You are years too late for that, bud. You guys have a following. If you ever broke up you would make girls cry.”
I don’t want to break up. Or make girls cry.”

So much of Dan was different than Mike, so much of Marc different from Liam, but you can see feel the author’s touch, her style, even after just one book. I love that. I’m glad this was different but still distinctive, with familiar tropes that are still made fun.

Dan’s always been a Leafs fan — his Toronto citizenship would have probably been revoked if he wasn’t one. <– hahah as a non-Leaf fan Torontonian, this killed me.

Even though I definitely dove into this too soon, and already kind of regret it, I’m so excited to have an author like this on my radar. If you’re into queer romance, or hockey romances, and love when they intersect, you absolutely need to be watching, and reading, this author.

THROWN OFF THE ICE by Taylor Fitzpatrick

Mike knew he was making a mistake when he let the rookie climb into bed with him. He just didn’t know it’d be a mistake that would follow him for the rest of his life.


Title : Thrown Off The Ice
Author : Taylor Fitzpatrick
Format : eBook (scribd)
Page Count : 224
Genre : LGBTQIA+ sports contemporary romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : December 13, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 5 star review

No one grows up dreaming of being an enforcer.

What’s this, another m/m hockey romance that gets five stars from me? Am I becoming predictable? Well, no. Because nothing about this book was expected.

Why can’t I just stay with you?
Because I’m not a fucking lunatic. And I would become one if I had to deal with you all the fucking time.”
I’m here all the time anyway.”
And I’m already one day away from killing you.”

Starting with that summary : short and to the point, right? Sure, but no. But it does set up a certain expectation. The same one I had when I decided to fit in a “novella”-ish length story for the end of my night, not wanting to pick up something full length, something I thought would be happy times, or sexy uncomplicated hockey times, and, hahahahaha. I probably should’ve known better considering the two GR buddies who had both recently read it, and also rated it five stars, love the stuff that hurts.

Mike can’t help but want to shake some of that innocence out of him, knows he’s awful because all he wants to do is get Fitzgerald on a bed and make him fucking cry.

And wow did this hurt.

You remind me of that guy from Twilight.
You read Twilight, Tom?
Don’t need to, know all I have to. Old sulky dude obsessed with a teenager and being angsty about it. Sound about right?

As I write this review I have tears drying on my face and a twisted stomach left over from crying as long as I did. Probably some snot smeared around, too, let’s be real. Because for all that the age gap shenanigans between the effervescent rookie and the grumpy, reluctant, veteran enforcer, that made me laugh; for all the non-relationship and romantic angst, and push and pull that hurts, that you ache over; you won’t be prepared for where this story goes. And even if you see it coming, I challenge you to not be made a mess by it.

I’m not tiny. I’m concentrated.”
That’s what they’re calling it now?

This is a book I will absolutely read again, to hell with the heartache, and that is why it gets full stars from me. It’s sexy as hell, it’s funny, and I loved these frustrating and ridiculous characters. The only thing almost as devastating as parts of this book is knowing this author only has one other book in her backlist. Am I going to be reading it sooner rather than later anyway? Yes.