graphic novel, LGBT, YA Contemporary Fiction, YA romance

My Review: Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey (Check, Please! #1-2): by Ngozi Ukazu

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Publish Date: September 18th 2018
Number of Pages: 288 Pages
Publisher: First Second
Genre(s): Graphic Novel, Sports, LGBT, YA

Total Star Rating: 4.35 Stars

Okay, so if you love hilarious, heartwarming, coming of age story with college male athletes who love to party, and a gay little figure skater who loves to bake and joins the team, this graphic novel is totally for you!

Before this story literally fell into my hands, I never really read graphic novels before. Not that I ever had anything against them, they were just something that I never really looked into, plus they seemed like something that Marvel took over for the most part. This book just so happened to fall into my hands one day while at work in the bookstore, and I was immediately drawn towards the artwork, the blurb on the back, and I thought it would be great material to not only enjoy, but to get some possible inspiration towards my own story that I’m working on, which also takes place on a college campus.

After some resarch from my ever curious, erudite Ravenclaw mind, Check, Please turned out to have started out as a webcomic on the author’s Tumblr and/or Twitter accounts, and it gained so much popularity with it’s growing fandom, that she eventually turned to Kickstarter to be able to make printed copies of it to send to interested parties. It eventually went on to become the most funded webcomic to ever be put up on the site, making an astounding $74,000 when her goal was only $15,000.

I’m so sad to say that before I stumbled upon the book that I’d never even heard of the franchise, and thats because it turned out to be one of my favorite stories that I’ve read in recent memory! Its got sports, it’s got friendship, it’s got brotherhood, it’s got it’s laughs and tears, romance, hot male athletes, witty and hilarious banter, sexual tension, and it’s such a great story to get behind. It’s got some extremely relatable themes like coming out, collegiate stress, overcoming fears, friendship, growing up, athletes, and eventually graduation. I’m only sad that I have to wait until Spring of 2020 in order to read Vol. 2 (at least a printed copy of it, which I want to hold off on anything until the physical copy comes out, I know the third and fourth years are available to read online).

What It’s About:

Eric “Bitty” Bittle, a vlogger and baker, enrolls as a new freshman at Samwell University, a private college over in Massachusetts. He’s a former figure skating champion, but is actually at Samwell to play on the boy’s Hockey team, who all begin to warm up to through his cheery demeanor, his excellent baking skills, and overall kindness and compassion.

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Eric Bittle, image courtesy of

Four other characters meet Bittle and become a big part of his overall story; there’s his teammates Shitty, Ransom and Holster, Jack, and Lardo.

B. “Shitty” Knight is a typical cocky, chill, go with the flow kind of guy who is actually pretty intelligent, but wants to keep it on the down low. Despite being a junior who’s actually double majoring in Political Science and Sexuality, Women and Gender studies, he is very much what some people may consider to be a “stereotypical” hockey bro, at least by appearance and first impressions.

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Shitty, image courtesy of

Adam “Ransom” Birkholtz and Justin “Holster” Oluransi are the dynamic duo; they’re not an actual gay couple, but they might as well be. Both are each other’s best friend, they play off of each other and are always there for a good laugh, or get into “deep” philosophical debates like whether flow actually helps a hockey player’s performance or not, how nicknames are created and earned, the perfect shape of Jack’s ass (which has its own parody twitter account), and plenty of other hilarious and random qualms that come up. They are total bro’s, but lovable bro’s in a beautiful bromance.

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Holster and Ransom, image courtesy of

Larissa “Lardo” Duan is the snarky and moody female team manager. She is an art major in her sophomore year, based off her sculpture and painting work done that’s referenced, and though she doesn’t always say much, she usually knows what needs to be said. Initially best friends with Shitty since they’re from the same hometown, she also befriends Bitty and gets closer to him.

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Lardo, image courtesy of

Finally, we have Jack Zimmerman. Considered by most as a “prodigy” with his dad being a hockey legend, Jack always felt the pressure coming from all sides, and it’s led to issues with stress and anxiety and other things down the road. A junior at the beginning of the story who’s a History Major, he’s incredibly driven, brooding, moody during the preseason and is a natural born leader with a no nonsense attitude. He initially dislikes Bitty, but grows to like him over the course of the two years that they are teammates. Jack even begins to tease Bitty about his mannerisms and his obsession with Twitter and baking, and they develop a fun dynamic because Bitty reminds him to take joy in the little things in life.

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Jack Zimmerman, image courtesy of

As the story develops, you discover that Bitty learns to come to terms with his sexuality when he discovers that he has a major crush on Jack. No one else really knows, and he’d prefer to keep it that way. This first volume covers Bitty’s freshman and sophomore years at Samwell University, while the second volume (releasing Spring 2020) will of course feature the last two years, and hopefully/most likely feature some characters that graduated and moved away in this first part.

What I Liked:

  1. The Characters! Honestly, it’s the characters and their whole group dynamic that steals your heart in this story. They’re just such a fun group of people to read about, and you feel like you’re immersed within their inner circle. They say funny and stupid things, and actually do funny and stupid things too; the author absolutely nails the banter and the camaraderie amongst the teammates. Her characters were surprisingly so fleshed out and dynamic, and it was so great to see how they grew as time went on. Yes, to some, they’re just the typical alpha jocks on campus, and sure, sometimes they say things that may seem problematic or stupid, but I can appreciate the fact that the author nailed their authenticity to a T, and still made them likeable all the same. With that said, I suppose there are some slight trigger warnings for some readers: there’s underage drinking, panic attacks, hazing, and the misogynistic guy talk about hooking up with girls, and frankly other sexual content. Personally, I didn’t mind any of it as I thought it added to the authenticity of the characters and who they are (boys who are athletes in college), but I could see others not be too keen on it.
  2. The Slow-Burn Romance! Yes, there is a romance, and oh….it is so agonizingly drawn out, much like someone who is a giant wuss and makes tearing off a bandaid an absolutely horrendous experience. It’s fun to see it slowly develop, but also so satisfying when it finally goes somewhere. There’s plenty in between to keep you interested at least! You can’t help but love Bitty and want him to get everything he wants in the world; he is the literal definition of a human cinnamon roll!
  3. The Author! the author took her time studying the sport of Hockey for three months at Yale back when she was writing a screenplay that was similar to Check, Please, but much darker in tone. afterwards, she wanted something lighter, more fun and uplifting, when she witnessed the friendship amongst the athletes and their own group dynamic, and so Check, Please was created. Also, she unintentionally became a huge fan of the sport after all the research she did for her works of fiction, which is awesome! She went above and beyond because she wanted it to be authentic, realistic and show that she knew what she was talking about. Any writer, author, etc should do the same sort of thing in order to make their work stronger. I also just love that from what I’ve heard, she’s just as much a part of the fandom while also being the main contributor of it all. She literally just sits and draws little three-part comics, sketches, character’s, you name it. She does her own fanart for her own comic, which just sounds adorable. It’s awesome to hear about a creator who loves her work so much, that she’s also such a huge fan as well!
  4. The Artwork! The artwork is done in such a beautiful, fun way, and the panels are smartly done in a seamless way that easily moves you within the story the next box. It’s simple and cartoony, but effective and enjoyable all at the same time.
  5. Bitty! I mean, he’s a short, gay little baker who was a figure skater who joins the hockey team. Imagine Spongebob Squarepants making it into the Salty Splatoon. He’s also from the south and says “Y’all,” “Bless your heart,” “Girl, Please” and uses people’s full names like an angry mother whenever he needs to make a point. So, he’s a gay little southern baker who’s on the hockey team, and he’s officially too pure for this world.

What I Didn’t Like:

Nothing…I didn’t dislike anything…it was all so so so so perfect….I am WAY too excited for Spring 2020 for it to release! I don’t even care, I’m rolling up in my 2004 Mercury Sable at Barnes & Noble and paying full price like:

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Oh my lord…What can I say? This story is a treat. A delicious, sweet, cavity inducing treat that most fans of LGBT!, sports, M/M romance and college story lovers will immensely enjoy. It’s mainly character driven, so it’s a little on the slower side towards the middle, but like I said, the author has created a truly amazing dynamic with her characters with their unique personalities, their banter and conversations, and how they develop for not only themselves, but for you, the reader. They truly may shock you at some points when you think you have them all figured out.

It’s funny, its heartfelt, its deep, and it’s another great coming of age story for anyone to enjoy! If you couldn’t guess, I am currently in countdown mode for the release of vol. 2 in the spring of 2020, and refuse to read what happens before then on the internet, because who doesn’t like the long, drawn out torture of waiting for the next book in a series to come out a year later?

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Editorial Articles, Writing/Articles

What Annoys Me (Or Just Completely Pisses Me Off)

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The title is pretty self explanatory, but I thought I’d switch things up and write something that’s not what I normally put on here. It’s more about myself and not about books or reviews for once, and it was kind of fun/therapeutic/etc to make an extensive list about the annoyances I face everyday. It’s supposed to be funny, it’s supposed to be serious, it’s supposed to be relatable.

Please Note: This list will be ongoing, and I will add more as it come to mind, and is in no particular order.

  • Social Media posts where people have an image of them “Sleeping”…yeah, it’s totally not posed, its totally not pretentious and fake AF, and I only imagine you had someone wait for you to actually fall asleep (which is creepy, but not likely)
  • Warm Toilet Seats…I mean, someone else’s ass has been on that same seat maybe not even five minutes earlier, so the imagery that our bare asses are embracing each other, physically touching each other and that fills me with disgust, regret and unpleasantness.
  • People Who Request Sleeves on Iced Beverages…Does it stop the condensation? Maybe, but it also doesn’t stop me from thinking your pretentious.
  • Slow Traffic…Bitch, just fucking keep driving. Do you need to be pressing on the brakes when two cars could fit between you and the car ahead when you’re going only 10 mph?
  • Screaming Kids…Working at a Waterpark within an Amusement Park (Namedrop: Valleyfair Family Amusement Park) basically ruined me for kids, so they can all just STFU. This also brings me to my next point…
  • Parent’s Who Do Nothing About Their Screaming Kids…Be a parent, you chose to have kids, either get them to shut up in a public place or go away. Don’t just ignore them and keep having them throw a tantrum over something, nor should you ignore the much deserving glares me and others are throwing at you.
  • Free Food Complainers…Complaining for the sake of getting the meal for free, when an issue is so small or after eating most of it just so you can get free coupons looks so trashy, cheap, obnoxious, and yes…the whole staff is judging you because they are currently venting about you and your awfulness in the back to help them get through the rest of their night. Hope you enjoy looking like gutter trash while scarfing down that free food.
  • Entitlement…Spoiled brats who act like everyone owes them something just piss me off!
  • Racism…We are all human beings underneath; we bleed the same blood, our genes are all the same (to a degree), can we please focus less on our differences? (Yes, I am fully aware I am writing this as a white male in this world, I see my privilege).
  • Politics…What a freakin’ mess that’s turned out to be, especially in recent years. Just a bunch of greed, corruption, and cover-ups to hide what’s really going on, and divide us as a country because we can’t even be Facebook friends with people based off their political views.
  • Not Putting New Toilet Paper in the Holder…You leave it on the counter, you place it right above the holder, I don’t know…I’m just surprised that it must take so much effort for some people to just replace the tube with a new one. I”m pretty sure you can even do it while sitting on your porcelain throne.
  • People Who Don’t Flush…Again, minimal effort to the point that you can still be seated and still be able to do it, and not have the room smell terrible afterwards.
  • Other WWE Fans…seriously, some of the most irrational, fickle, selfish, disrespectful, entitled group of people (not all of them) who will find a way to complain about everything; its to the point that I swear, some of them just keep watching to bash it online. If you hate it so much or complain about it so much, stop watching it. Stop giving Vince money and find something else to watch.
  • When Technology Breaks Down For No Reason…Is nothing built to last, anymore?
  • Searching For Jobs…I can only take rejection so much in one week, and who likes not even hearing back from job recruiters? No One, so don’t ghost. I felt bad doing it once, and I won’t do it ever again.
  • Traffic Lights…I have the worst luck with stop lights, like they know whenever I’m coming and they immediately go yellow then red.
  • When People Talk about their BM’s…Why would anyone want to know anything about that? I bet not even Doctors care to hear about it unless you’re dying.
  • Internet Trolls…sad, pathetic, cowardly, bored, ugly people who really need to find a better passion in life other than tearing people who they wish to be down. Plus, try saying any of that in person and not behind the safety and anonymity of your keyboard in the small basement you live in.
  • Onlyfans…Most of the people on their have their “exclusive” content all over the internet anyways, it’s not like we haven’t already seen it, and for those that charge $24.99 a month to look at your junk?…good luck with that. Not trying to shame sex workers, but seriously, if people want to subscribe, it’ll cost a fortune to even sign up for a handful on profiles.
  • When Every Radio Channel Was on Commercial At the Same Time…Notice I said was; because fuck using the radio anymore. Plus, who likes listening to the same 8 songs on repeat anyways?
  • Being Taken for Granted or Brushed Aside…People tell me that I’m a teddy bear, and they’re right…the one that you abandoned and left on a shelf or in the back of the closet to collect dust and be forgotten about. Do that shit to me and your done. Out of my life. I’m worth more than that.
  • Farting…It smells bad, sounds bad…I get it, better in than out Shrek always says, but do it when no one else is around.
  • Excessive Burping…Similar to the last one, it’s just coming out the other end.
  • Rude Customers…the bane of any retail worker’s life. Check yourself: we are all people and not a human piece of tissue paper that you use to collect your old wad of gum to throw away, have some class, chill the fuck out, and realize that we as employees are never going out of our way to make your life harder on purpose, and sorry if you’re having a bad day for whatever reason, but don’t take it out on us. We are just a stranger trying to get through the day too. This one might even be a separate article, because honestly, people are the absolute worst in how they treat Retail Workers…The customer is NOT always right, screw whoever made that to be. Read between the lines everytime we smile through our teeth and wish you a happy day after you’re a complete dick to us.
  • Musical Episodes of TV Shows…I’ve watched the ones on Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, literally ALL of Glee, and I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re just random, totally cringeworthy, and I usually question if it’s actually them singing or not.
  • Older Generations Always Struggling on their Smartphones…Google it, look it up, and get with the times, please.
  • Crappy Photos on Social Media…This one sounds pretentious of me, but after taking courses on Photography, it’s just annoying to me now. Also, when I make an effort to take a good photo of someone for their timeline, but I only get half-assed results in return.
  • Fidget Spinners…What a useless fad.
  • How I Overthink Everything…Fuck anxiety.
  • How I Dwell On So Much From Years Ago…Like I said, fuck anxiety. It’s a real bitch.
  • How Bitter I am about High School and 90% of My Graduating Class…Yes I am salty about it, because so many people made me feel insignificant, unimportant, a background character shoved to the back on the stage, hell, behind the curtains. Don’t expect me to go to any reunions.
  • When People Don’t Knock Before Entering a Bathroom…How have people not been raised to not do this? Would you want someone to walk in on you while your sitting on the toilet? Can we just try and avoid this awkward situation at all costs?
  • When People Don’t Move the Mouse on the Projection Screen For A Video…It leaves the bar and menu up and ruins the experience. I partially blame my friend Elijah for this one, because once he pointed it out, I was no longer able to ignore it.
  • For Retail: When People Wait Outside the Front Door of the Store Before Open… The Store (at least the one I work at) is open for 12 hours out the day…Get a life.
  • Cheesy Work Orientation Videos…Are they purposefully made to torture us? They want us to want to work for them, right?
  • When Celebs are Younger Than Me…How Dare they be more successful than me but not have been on this planet as long as I have. IT’S NOT FAIR
  • Worrying About Money/Finances…I hate adulting.
  • Retail: When People swipe their card before I’m even done scanning all their items into the register…Umm, impatient much?!
  • Retail: People Talking on their Bluetooth while walking through the store…You seriously look like a prick, and not to stereotype, but it’s always men in business attire. I hope they’re not trying to impress us all…they definitely aren’t. They’re still better than screaming kids though…
  • Retail: When People Bug constantly about Discounts, Coupons, or Marking Something Down…At a Used Book Store…The merch is already so much cheaper, if you’re still worried about the cost of something, maybe you shouldn’t be out shopping or spending money then?
  • Retail: When Customers Feel the Need to Tell Us Their Life Stories…Honestly, I usually don’t care, and this now annoys me because I once had to suffer a retired man and their story of them trying to justify why they’re homophobic or transphobic because they were picked on as a kid and became traumatized at even being associated with gay people…and I just don’t want to hear it anymore…Find some friends to talk to about that shit with, but good luck with that in these times.
  • People Who Don’t Read or Watch Stuff Because It’s Popular…Excuse me while I attempt to imitate Gene Wilder in that meme of him and how he’s sarcastically congratulating you on your individuality, you’re smarter and better than everyone and not just a douchey hipster…Just because there’s a bandwagon following, doesn’t mean its not good or not worth checking out…Get over yourself.
  • Over-Powerful Social Media Influencers…So, a lot of you have been asking, and yes…they’re annoying, and once social media dies, what are they going to do with their lives?
  • People Who Always Cancel or Never Show Up…Make a fucking commitment, or at least be proactive and try to reschedule on a specific date and time.
  • People Who Chew With Their Mouths Open…Close that shit up.
  • Drunk People When I’m Sober…Being the one sober person amongst drunk people sucks…it’s funny for only about the first five minutes.
  • Unibrows…I mean, do people actually not care that there’s a fucking caterpillar growing above their face?
  • When People Take Forever to Answer Back to a Message…Us millennials have our phones on them all the time, so how does this even happen? Either I’m actually boring AF, our the other person is a dick who can still post on Social Media but leave me on “read…”
  • MN Drivers…Minnesota Nice is out the fucking window, along with my patience, when it comes to how terrible a lot of drivers are up here in Minnesota. I can’t even consider it road rage anymore, it’s just how I normally drive at this point.
  • Insurance Companies…We pay a huge amount every month when we don’t need it, then have it raised after we actually use it? For the thing that it’s there for? What a scam…To bad it’s required.
  • How I Get When I Feel Like I’m never Enough, Sought After, or Desired…It’s been my whole life, and what about me is so unlikeable? What do people see about me that immediately turns them off from me and writes me off as someone not worth their time or respect? It’s happened too many times that I can just ignore it and try to tell myself that my worth is not determined by others…We all want to be loved.
  • People Who Make Everything About Themselves…Can we talk about my issues for once, Karen?
  • How Millennials Are Terrible At Keeping In Touch…Myself included, but we have so many ways to communicate right at our fingertips, tons of apps, smartphones, Facetime, Skype, etc. but we still can’t keep in touch with people and we suck at communicating to each other.
  • Trigger Society…It seems a lot of people go out of there way to find something to be angry about and have it “canceled”. Just don’t watch it, read it, go to it, whatever, why do you have to ruin for the people that enjoy it? It feels like a giant witch hunt half the time. Also, if a celeb apologizes for something they tweeted 11 years ago—aka doing the very thing people ask to do—LET IT GO, and stop holding it against them. Also, people need to get all the facts straight before jumping to conclusions, demonizing someone and trashing them all over the internet.
  • How Expensive The World Is…How do they expect us to live? Plus, we’re sometimes paying 5x more what something is actually worth from it’s cost of production, but I get it…It’s just business and simple economics.
  • Networking At Social Events…I’m an introvert and I hate/suck at small talk, it’s usually so cringeworthy and about the weather and I always feel so stupid afterwards…
  • Retail: When People are Extra Pushy about coupons…especially when it’s only 5 or 10% off. You’re not actually saving all that much unless its at least 25% in my opinion.
  • “The Walking Dead”…I gave the show multiple shots to draw me in, and I just can’t get past the second season. I just can’t get myself to care enough to keep going!
  • Camping…I’m talking the roughing it in a tent with no toilet or running water. Sorry not sorry, I’m a city boy who needs modern technological advances in order to survive. Get at me!
  • Chili…I’ve just never gotten into this food choice, but I can say I’ve tried it and can defs knock it!
  • Sweet Potatoes…Please refer to “Chili” directly above…
  • Amazon…the worst part of capitalism in our society today…I worked at one of the warehouses and can say it’s a nightmare and people are massively underpaid for the richest man in the world…also, how is it okay to be so rich that you DON’T have to pay for taxes?! If anyone agrees with that set up, you’re a part of the problem! Also, hate how psycho people get about that Prime next day delivery.
  • Frosting…And this is coming from someone who has a massive sweet tooth…I’m talking about the typical frosting you find on store-bought cupcakes or regular cake that tastes anything but natural. It’s sickly sweet, and there’s always WAY too much of it.
  • Politics…worth mentioning again.
  • Large Crowds…I’m claustrophobic, and people tend to suck in general.
  • Reality TV Shows…I’m not about to support someone “finding love” on The Bachelor or anything close to Jersey Shore and will wait for their 15 minutes to end already.
  • More to come as time goes on!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell