Boxing Beasts

by | Jun 4, 2017 | Sports | 15 comments

Beast mode!

My first official plot driven experience can only be described as “bad-ass.” After unintentionally reading two books in two months about characters who box, I knew I had to try out a boxing class at a local gym. It was no walk in the park, people. Two days later, I still feel like an arthritic old biddy from pushing my body to total exhaustion, but one look at the pictures from the class make me feel like a total boss! I’ll share more details about the class, but first, the books that inspired the experience:

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

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Super creepy cover, right?

For fans of psychological thrillers, My Sister Rosa follows Che Taylor’s unconventional family as they move from Thailand to New York so his parents can build a new business with wealthy friends. Che, a native Australian, narrates the story and immediately exposes his charming ten year-old sister, Rosa, for having no conscience. Because of their parents’ hands-off parenting approach, Che finds himself bargaining with Rosa to fight her selfish urges to hurt, steal and lie and battling his own love vs. hate for his young sister. Rosa’s callousness intensifies throughout the story, and Che’s attempts to build a simple, happy life for himself are ever-threatened by Rosa’s terrifying unpredictability. In order to relieve stress, Che regularly retreats to a neighborhood boxing gym where, for a few hours, he isn’t responsible for a mini-sociopath.

This book was horribly entertaining and nail-bitingly suspenseful. I literally had to put the book down at times because I was too uncomfortable to continue reading about Rosa’s manipulation. I thought I knew how the book would end, and I was so wrong. After Liar, this is the second book I’ve read by Ms. Larbalestier, and she is a master of the unstable, unreliable character. You can read more about my impression of My Sister Rosa (and any other books I read) by following me, Kelly Oliva, on Goodreads.

Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee

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If you are a Missouri resident like me, it’s helpful to know that Zeroboxer is on the 2017-18 Gateway Reader Award Nominee list, sponsored by the Missouri Association of School Librarians.  Learn more information about the Gateways and see the full list of nominees here and consider following @mog8way on Twitter.

Zeroboxer is set in space many years in the future when zeroboxing, a brutal sport where two competitors duke it out in a zero gravity cube, is gaining popularity. Carr “The Raptor” Luka, a young but wildly talented zeroboxer, was born on Earth, but now resides on Valtego, a moon-based community. His zeroboxing finesse catches the eye of the the sport’s commissioner, and Carr becomes the face of zeroboxing on both Earth and Valtego. Just as his fame and success are exploding, however, Carr learns a dangerous secret about himself that threatens to destroy him professionally and personally. He faces the ultimate ethical dilemma in whether to reveal what he knows, especially when doing so could spark further political unrest between Earth and Mars.

This book is a breeze to read, and I think is a natural recommendation for fans of last year’s Gateway Nominee, Red Rising by Pierce Brown. The audiobook narrator has a velvety voice, and I highly recommend listening to him tell Carr’s story.

My Boxing Experience

Unable to box in a zero gravity chamber, I decided to ask my friend Lauren to try a traditional boxing class. Lauren is willing to try any exercise adventure I throw at her, and she was eager to join me at Title Boxing Club in Cottleville, MO for Boxing 60, a 60-minute, leave it all on the floor workout including an outside warm up, 8 boxing rounds and total core torture!

Lauren and I arrived early in order to get “wrapped.” Callie, new to her job but absolutely delightful, taped my hands and told me I was the first person she’d had the chance to wrap. I was geeking out over the fact that this was a new experience for both of us!

Callie, wrapping my hands.

Next, we met our trainer, Carolyn, who is also relatively new to her training gig, but encouraging and helpful from the start. Lauren and I definitely laughed nervously when Carolyn said we would “die” during the workout, but we picked our boxing bags, stuffed our hands into the gigantic loaner gloves, and channeled our inner Che Taylor/ Carr Luka!

Me and Lauren, ready to “die!”

Interestingly, most of our fellow boxers were women, something I hadn’t expected. I was inspired by women of all sizes and ages beating the stuffing out of their bags. Even though I struggled to remember the punch combinations Carolyn threw at us, I just tried to keep moving throughout each round. Lauren and I both talked afterward about how funny it was that we looked forward to the “breaks” between combinations when Carolyn instructed us to alternate between burpees and push-ups.

Lauren and me, burning out our core muscles.

Lauren and I were so proud of ourselves for boxing like beasts, and I even purchased a two-week trial membership to return to try more classes. This experience made me fully realize how dedicated competitive boxers have to be in order to spar successfully. I would have to dedicate many, many more hours to developing my skills before actually sparring with a partner. I think I’ll just stick to punching a bag instead.

The people at Title Boxing Club could not have been more friendly and supportive of my first plot driven experience. My husband did a great job of taking pictures, too, and I can’t thank my dad enough for editing the pics for me. This blog is a true team effort!

Lauren, trainer Carolyn, and me post workout- still smiling!

I’m staying awake at night because of all of my excitement about my future plot driven adventures. The next one will be simple and sweet, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading,



  1. Desirée Spenst

    Wow – this actually looks like a lot of fun! What a great adventure to kick off your new blog. I’m going to add those books to my “must read” list now ?

    • kellyo

      Thanks, Des! So delighted you read my little blog post!

  2. Lauren F.

    I had so much fun doing this with you! Thank you for inviting me along, and anytime you want to go back to Title, I’m there!
    What an amazing post – I can’t wait to see your future posts, hear about your adventures, and read the books you recommend. You are an inspiration!!

    • kellyo

      Thanks, Lauren. I am SO grateful you wanted to share the experience! xo

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  4. Jaime

    Can’t wait to read the next installment. Do you recomend sharing this blog with teen readers or is this more for teachers and adults? My bookworm second cousin would love this!

    • kellyo

      I’d love for anyone to read my blog! I hope teens can get some great ideas about what to read and feel inspired by the books they read, but I also hope teachers, librarians, parents, etc. find it interesting, too. My overall goals with the blog are to get more people reading, stepping out of their comfort zones and spreading happiness. Thanks for asking!

  5. Boyd Mclaren

    Well now I know that you can officially knock my lights out.
    And I always knew that Lauren could, without even taking a boxing lesson.
    Nice post…. waiting for the next round…. hey is that a boxing term?

    • kellyo

      Dad. . .

  6. Carolyn Edwards

    You ladies were absolutely delightful (and you kicked some boxing butt!). I love your idea for this blog! I cannot wait to read these books and hear more about your future adventures! Hope to see you soon!

    • kellyo

      Thanks, Carolyn! You were an awesome trainer and helped make our experience so positive!

  7. Shelley Gerringer

    Kelly, I want to be you when I grow up. This blog is a phenomenal idea, and so well done. I can’t wait for the next installment!

    • kellyo

      Thanks, Shelley! I’m so happy you are reading it, and I’m having fun!

  8. Kellie T.

    I took your advice and read this book! It was fabulous! Thanks for sharing your experience! It sounds fun!

    • kellyo

      I’m so glad, Kelly! Did you read, My Sister Rosa or Zeroboxer?


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