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BOOK REVIEW: Kulti by Mariana Zapata

BOOK REVIEW: Kulti by Mariana ZapataKulti by Mariana Zapata
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

“Trust me, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face a time or five.”

When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to.

It didn't take a week for 27-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she'd seen in the international soccer icon - why she'd ever had his posters on her wall or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.

Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man who hadn't known she'd existed. So she isn't prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team's season: a quiet, reclusive shadow of the explosive, passionate man he'd once been.

KultiKulti by Mariana Zapata
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Someone who didn’t know me at all could only love me if I was half myself.


And this, ladies and Gents, is how you obliterate a reading slump. Sure, I struggled hard the first five percent. My eyes wouldn’t focus. My mind was on how I wasn’t feeling well enough and should be relaxing, watching television, and not forcing my eyes to focus on my tiny phone screen. And the utter exhaustion. Can we create an Olympic category where we get a medal for being able to read while pregnant and caring for a rambunctious two year old all day? I vote yes.

“You know your reputation is just what everyone else thinks of you, your character is what you really are.”


But, as with all my darling Mariana Zapata books, it happened. It was even simpler than normal, I’ll tell you. All it took for my ass to come back to the land of the living? This passage. This one RIGHT. HERE.

…I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder.
Those amber-moss eyes that I’d seen from across my bedroom walls for thousands of days in my childhood, were on me. On. Me. Not looking through me, not over me. But directly on me.


Yeah. My ovaries were gone. OH! And have I mentioned that reading a book that makes you want to throw up butterflies while pregnant essentially makes you ill? Like…that much emotion and that many feels paired with a wiggling fetus? GTFO. I almost died of spontaneous combustion. Twice.

That’s not to say I’m unbiased when it comes to the queen of the slowest of slow burns. I’m a sucker. I’ve always said-it doesn’t have to be new material. It just has to be done WELL. Let’s face it-MZ has a pattern…and I dig TF out of it. Yeah, to some it may be repetitive. But the fact remains that no matter my mood, this woman somehow brings me out of the depths of hell almost every single time I pick up her stories. I wasn’t reading-haven’t read since April, for instance. I tried to re-read my all time favorites. Zilch. I tried a couple new books I was super ecstatic to read. Nada. Then I decided to just give in and read the last sports romance my woman had available…and guess who’s on a steady reading schedule again? And I owe that to this girl who just followed her dreams, quit her job to write, and just….made magic happen. I hope, if she ever were to read this, she’d feel to the depths of her soul the gratitude I feel for her making NA/Adult Contemporary relevant at all to me. I love her and I’ll read whatever she writes. Loyal fan forever and always, always and forever.



Moving on from that, though, it begs to be said that I wasn’t going to read this. Yeah. I know. One of my favorite by MZ EVER, and I almost said no to it. There were so many reasons, honestly, but by far away the largest one was that I played soccer. So, okay, I’m 100% that bitch that physically cannot stand reading about something they know everything about and it being butchered all to hell. I played soccer since I was 6 so…yes. I was apprehensive. Thing was, I was good, too. I didn’t just play to play, I did it all and experienced heavy travel and played for some of the best teams my humble state had to offer.

But that’s why, again, MZ is my lady. What I love most about her books is this: Simplicity. She makes you feel like you’re going through the whole spectrum of your MCs’ lives, yet she only touches on the actual sports in the most pivotal moments that give the most impact, add the most heart, and doesn’t ever take away from all the character development she worked so hard to create. And you can never say she overdoes, undersells, or makes anything too OTT with the sports scenes. They just…embellish. And it’s just the cherry on top of the cake of absolute perfection. I swear. I never once felt like she didn’t know what she was talking about…and that is beauty in and of itself.

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When one door closes, another one opens. I might just have to do a little breaking and entering to get the right one for me.


And then, the other reason I was unsure whether to read this? A friend told me Kulti was an old grump and a total a-hole, nothing like Ivan or Aiden and not worth my time. *scoffs* well. Friend. If you’re reading this, I suppose you didn’t know me at all lol. Because if by old grump you meant Sexy AF Broody Protective Coach With a Hard On For The Girl Who Was in Love With Him As A Child then YES, he is a moody old sod. But hardly. I mean. Yum. I mean….Did you even READ the softball scenes? The tender moments of friendship? The protectiveness? The jelly feels? The way he clearly, CLEARLY wanted her to succeed? I just… I get the ‘he’s overly barky towards her when he need not be that way’ but have you ever had a coach that knows you can succeed and be even better? They are a lot like this….I hate to tell people who doubt that but, yes, it is possible to have a quiet brooding coach that only speaks in yell-and every single one of them I got was my absolute favorite and I never forgot them. Ya know why? I respected them and they respected me. Of course, I sure as hell hope none of them sported a boner for me. That’s only cool in my books because lol Yeah. Fantasy, amirite?

“This isn’t meant to be funny. Why are you smiling?”
“Because.”
“What?”
I rolled my lips over my teeth and gave him an even look. “I watched this one game where your teammate, Keller, got tackled and had four of his vertebrae dislocated. The camera zoomed in on you, and you were retying your cleats or something. I don’t know why I just remembered that. Two of my favorite things about you were that you never gave a single shit what happened to anyone else on the field, and that you never missed games unless you couldn’t walk. It’s impressive, really. It makes me feel really special that you care about me.”
“I care about things,” he argued.
“Oh? Like what?”
“Winning.”
I bit my lip to keep from laughing. “Okay.”
“My fish.”
His fish. Jesus Christ.



There are so many moments that I can’t possibly name them all, and I don’t want to. But I think it needs to be said that this book was so strong to me not because it was a typical MZ, but it almost felt ATYPTICAL. I loved their relationship. The taunting.
The being on the same level of play-athletically able to push one another and therefore further development and the story. The name calling. The friendship. Their activities together. And, of course, the slow burn. Maybe the slowest yet-and I loved every little bit of it. And, this is a pivotal moment-This is the first time I’m battling within myself to keep Kulti away from my number one spot of MZ books-which forever and always belongs to my wall of Winnipeg, Aiden…but it’s hard. I really am doing my best to fight my mind about why Aiden still reigns supreme…but I’m losing the battle to myself. And isn’t that just the worst problem to have? Two epic stories that can’t be topped by one another. What a humdinger of a predicament. But I’d battle myself every day if I could, because it means I fell just as hard in love with another of her books. Again. Huge problem. Hate it. #not.

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BOOK REVIEW: Luna and the Lie by Mariana Zapata

BOOK REVIEW: Luna and the Lie by Mariana ZapataLuna and the Lie by Mariana Zapata
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads






Synopsis:

The problem with secrets is that they’re too easy to keep collecting.

Luna Allen has done some things she would rather no one ever know about. She also knows that, if she could go back in time, she wouldn’t change a single thing.

With three sisters she loves, a job she (mostly) adores, and a family built up of friends she’s made over the years, Luna figures everything has worked out the way it was supposed to.

But when one of those secrets involves the man who signs her paycheck, she can’t find it in her to regret it. Despite the fact that he’s not the friendliest man in the world. Or the most patient.

Sometimes there are things you’re better off keeping to yourself.

Looking back on it though, there had been no way for me to know then how much Lucas Ripley would haunt me in the future. I’d had no idea as I had walked into that room to introduce myself what he would end up owing me.

Alright y’all, I have a lot of thoughts on this. In a happy holiday surprise, we were gifted a new Mariana Zapata novel. Of course I was elated to get started and dive back into another one of her novels. I LOVED the other two of hers I have read (“The Wall of Winnipeg and Me” and “From Lukov With Love”), and even though this one was diverting away from the sports theme, I was still ready to fall deep.

Let me preface this whole review by stating this was a solid four-star review. I generally really enjoyed the first 80%. It’s the final 20% where I started to have some issues, but we’ll get there.

First, let’s talk about the main characters. Luna Allen, our main girl of the story, is working in a car repair shop in Houston. She is good at her job, loved by her co-workers and has a special father-figure in Mr. Cooper, who gave her the job when she was just 17 and new to the city. Mr. Cooper is a lovely character and I enjoyed every interaction he had with Luna the entire book. It was so sweet and pure, and the love these two had went so deep. He and his wife were there for her (and her sisters) when she didn’t have anyone else. As you learn, her family life back in San Antonio was incredibly terrible and left Luna with a lot of scars.

The heart is more resilient than anyone ever gave it credit for, and I liked to think mine was a bad bish.

And then there’s Rip. The new, second boss at the Luna’s work. He’s prickly and standoffish, but Luna goes out of her way to be nice to him. I bet you can see where this is going…

As the story continues, Luna and Rip get to know each other much better. Rip is there to help Luna when she’s at her most vulnerable and they both begin to open up to each other and learn about their dark pasts.

And more tears just came right out of my eyes with each thing said into my ear, spilling over my fingers and wrists, down my arms as I stood there, letting my boss, a man who barely talked to me on a good day, hug me and tell me I wasn’t a sad, pathetic person who deserved to feel so small.

Coming in at 580 pages, and well, being a Mariana Zapata book, you generally know how this is going to go. It’s a slow-burn, in every sense of the phrase, and things move forward and backward as these two figure out what they are feeling and reconcile it with everything else in their lives. And even with such a large page count, I never felt like it was dragging or found myself getting bored. I enjoy the slow pace, as that to me is incredibly realistic and thoughtful. I love the small moments that are sprinkled in their daily lives as much as the grand giant moments that pop up when the time is right.

”You kill me, girl,” he murmured in the roughest voice I’d ever heard. “I swear to God, you’re a fucking puzzle I thought was all in the box, but every damn day I find a piece or two hidden all over the place.”

So if you’re still with me, you’re probably wondering, well if you liked it so much Cassie, what went wrong?

First, while I know this was a romance and not a mystery thriller, if you’re even paying the smallest of attention, you will generally figure out the “reveals” near the end. Like, it was incredibly obvious. Not really a big deal, but to sit through 500 pages of Luna not figuring it out, when I feel it’s been made clear in the first 100, was a tad annoying. I would have loved to see a bit more creativity here if the “lie” was going to be kept like a big secret for so long.

But the biggest problem I had was with Rip and his actions near the end. Let me just say, so I’m very clear, I have no problem at all with characters who are jealous over their love interests. It’s realistic and I think it can definitely add some needed drama or tension into the story. However, I find some of Rip’s jealousy and actions due to this jealousy to be a problem and honestly, a very unhealthy way of showing his dedication to Luna.

I’m about to get specific, so click for spoilers:

View Spoiler »

If you are still with me, thank you so much for reading all of this! I don’t normally write such lengthy reviews, but I just had a lot of thoughts and feelings on this one. (*insert Mean Girls feelings gif here*)

Overall, it was another good book from Zapata. I don’t think she’s capable of writing a bad book, even if I haven’t gotten to some of her older novels. However, for reasons mentioned above, I hope you’ll understand why I felt this missed the mark. I truly hope her next book keeps all of the wonderful things she does, but avoids some of the negative behaviors and actions I truly found problematic.

“You gave me these pieces of you I know you haven’t given to anybody else, and they’re mine. You can’t take ‘em back. I need them more than you do, you hear me?”

BOOK REVIEW: Under Locke by Mariana Zapata

BOOK REVIEW: Under Locke by Mariana ZapataUnder Locke by Mariana Zapata
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads






Synopsis:

After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly... even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude, impatient and doesn’t know how to tell time.

And the last thing they ever expected was each other.

But it was either the strip club or the tattoo shop.

… she should have chosen the strip club.

He squeezed me to him, tight. “But you don’t gotta worry about anything. There’s only a few things I’ve ever given a shit about. Everything else… is seasonal, as Ma would say.” He pressed his mouth to my temple, whispering, “Then there’s you.”

That moment when you know an author has changed your life forever….it’s this one. This moment. Yes-I have posted only two other reviews previously for said author, but like with your love life-if you know, you know. And here? It’s unmistakable to me that Mariana Zapata was someone I was destined to find right when I needed a push for happiness in my life.

When exactly I’d started looking forward to spending time with him, I had no idea. When I started eating up those little smiles at Pins and those little secrets we shared… I have no idea either. But I had. I’d grown to accept the fact that I had a massive attraction to someone who might not be capable of liking me in return.

We can’t choose who/what we love (I mean… we can, but c’mon) or why we love it-sometimes something or someone just falls into your lap and it’s meant to be. And the emotions that are invoked when I pick up a Zapata book can’t be faked nor embellished. Nothing about these books are perfect-in fact, I’d even venture to say that my stuck up ass would have lifted my nose in the air not even two years ago and refused to finish this story because of some of the editing errors-few though as there are. But they’re perfect for ME, right now, here and in this moment. And I refuse to believe these characters wouldn’t have stolen my heart, anyway.

“Babe, I’ve handpicked everythin’ and everyone in here. I know what I want and I get what I want,” he breathed. “And I keep what’s mine.”

I won’t make this as long as my other Zapata reviews because, well, if you’ve heard me gush about one of her men, you’ve heard me gush about all of them, really. Her books tend to have the same formulas, the same macho-ness, the same heroine psycho-babble inside their minds….but, somehow, they always seem to touch me in different ways. How in the world do you explain that? But, I will say this: This is by far the most different MZ to date.

“What do you think?”
“Jaywalking?” I laughed.
“No.” I turned my head to look at him over my shoulder. “Indecent exposure?”
All he did was stare at me for the longest moment in history in response. When I snickered, he blinked, one side of his mouth tipping up just barely.
“I don’t think I’ve ever let anybody gimme as much grief as you do.”

The guy was a bit grittier, the story not a sports romance, and the end result a little different. Yes, there were a LOT of similarities-wonderful friends, hilarious banter, devoted man, amazing storyline, hate-to-love, but that’s, for me, where the similarities ended. For one, the guy in this book was a lot, hmm, gruffer. He wasn’t frills and flowers-he was a tattoo shop owner and a member of a motorcycle club. He didn’t conform to what I’m accustomed to, and I dug it-I dug it hard. And, MZ is the QUEEN of slow-burn, yes? Well, the MC’s get together MUCH earlier in this story so we have a lot more couple time-which I just plain adored. And this story-line, while not completely dastardly, had a more menacing undertone. So, ya know, just a smidgen (and I do mean SMIDGEN) of peril to dash on an already beautifully concocted sundae of feels.

His laugh was hard. “Honey, you and me, we’re more than just friends.”
And… I was dead. I had to be.
Dex scrubbed his fingers over his lips again, his glare violent. “Look at you. I never stood a fuckin’ chance.”

And, as always, my favorite parts included both jealousy of the MC (yaaassss Zapata), the slow burn, and the NEED to protect the heroine at all costs. So, naturally, what I always love in most any book-it just is always done so well, here. Now….like with any book, I’ll be candid-There was more here I could see people having a problem with than her other works. And it’s hard for me to say what those things are because they just plain don’t bother me. The only tic that lightly bothered me was Dex’s southern lilt. It was an adjustment for me, because I’m super picky with speech in stories. But, other than that, what might bother people include, but are not limited to, the virgin heroine storyline, the motorcycle=bad boy trope, the more ‘aggressive’ nature of Dex (fists first, questions later (SOMETIMES)), the possessive feel he has for Iris even when they aren’t together-NONE of this bothers me, and, frankly, tons of books have guys that get jelly and are possessive of the girl they adore, but I suppose, on top of everything else, this might be harder for others to swallow. Just my honest opinion, there. See? I can be rational and unbiased for the sake of others.

I finally had it though. Only one of us could be a moody shit, and that would be me.

And, finally, I just plain adored the sex scenes in this one. Yeah, I know, weird of me to say-but in every MZ you know there is at least ONE explosive scene we all wait for at the end….but I felt these sex scenes were, by far, the most well-written and the most addicting. Perhaps it has to do with the timing in the other stories where we wait so long that we are extremely picky, but I just know that this one was my favorite, so far, of the three. And, I’ll be honest, I just LOVE the bad boy/virgin trope. SORRY NOT SORRY.

I was swallowed whole by emotion. By this terrifying thing that had to be love because it hurt as much as it soothed.

Once again I have gushed myself into oblivion, but I did it with no frills and I think this is what this book needed and deserved. It wasn’t a cutesy sports romance like the others (they were far from cutesy but what else could I explain them as?), and it needed more subtle reviewing. I adored this book, like all the others, and I cannot wait to order my signed copy. I hope everyone continues to give this amazingly raw and honest author rave reviews-because she deserves all the hype. All of it.

*****

When you’re having a bad week and nothing else makes you happy-You’ll always have Zapata…

Nothing makes me happier or relaxes me more. Or, at least, that’s how I feel :)))

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BOOK REVIEW: From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

BOOK REVIEW: From Lukov with Love by Mariana ZapataFrom Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads






Synopsis:

If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.

 

The most I’d ever seen out of him was a smile or two around his family, specifically Karina.
But that was it.
I hadn’t even known he knew how to laugh….
Unless he was doing something shitty, like taking people’s souls and stuff.

There are very few things in life I love as much as I love the books my favorite authors write. Even fewer still are the moments where I can’t even finish a page because I can’t seem to find the breath to support the amount of air in my lungs it takes to supply hosting a mass amount of butterflies inhabiting my stomach, throat, and chest cavities. I don’t do the dance where I can’t move on to another book very often…but this author, in the span of two months, has managed to do just that-make it impossible to read anything for a week or more after-with two novels I think I’ll take with me to my grave.

Me and Ivan?
Partnering? There was no way. No chance.
They had to be full of shit.
…right?

That’s right, bury me with my preciouses, because I can’t live without them now! Okay, sorry to get creepy, but, again, I’m very creepy. You should know this. How do you not know this? And, upon further inspection with a friend, it’s come to my attention that I am one picky starts with a ‘b’ and ends with an ‘itch’. See? My girl Zapata taught me that little trick. She has become my new favorite terrible influence.

You are who you are in life, and you either live that time trying to bend yourself to make other people happy, or… you don’t.
And I sure as hell had better things to do with my time.

I find it so hard, at the moment, to just zero in on one thing to talk about, because my brain is just flooded with all the epicness that was this novel (and I even have gone so far as to flood some Winnipeg moments in at the same time-Brain=FRIED). How do you compartmentalize what you love so deeply that it all makes you happy at the same time? How can I possibly communicate the cuteness that comes with this novel? I can’t. I really and truly can’t. So, I guess I won’t. I suppose I’ll just get on with what makes these books so special.

Figure skating had always made me feel invincible. But more than anything, back then, it had made me feel amazing. I hadn’t known it was possible to feel like you could fly.

The characters. Without the characters, I don’t think I’d give a darn about these books. And that’s the beauty of Mariana Zapata-her books are 100% character driven, and you care so deeply for Ivan and Jasmine, Aiden and Vanessa, that every little thing that happens to them rips and tears at your soul, makes you a puppet to their emotions, twisting and pulling at each and every hardship, failure, or triumph. These characters aren’t just characters, they’re YOU. They’re your BEST FRIENDS and soul mates and whatever you want them to be. You care THAT much about them. Or, at least, I did.

Ivan Lukov and Jasmine Santos have been enemies for years. From the moment they crossed paths (close enough, anyway) they’ve hated one another. And, come on, we all know it’s not as simple as that. But each and every interaction between the two had me cracking up silently (I lie-I guffawed long into the night, causing many looks from my husband wondering as to why I looked like a deranged loon) all night long. I’m not kidding-every time I picked this up, there wasn’t a scene that wasn’t hilarious.

Neither one of us said a word, but our eyes met.
And I mouthed you suck.
And he whispered back with his pale pink mouth, you suck more.
There was another sigh, but it sounded even more resigned. “My eyes work. I can read your lips. Both of them.”

And, if you’ve ever read a book by Zapata, you know that there is a hell of a lot of internal monologue (dialogue?). I JUST LOVE THIS. I don’t always in other books, but I do when it’s this author. She just knows how to tug on my heartstrings, how to reach my inner self-whether it’s for failures, triumphs, encouragement, or any little thing, she touches me in ways I can’t explain. Is it perfect? No. Far from it-but it should say something that I am not sitting here dissecting every little mistake, oversight, or overall imperfection, and instead singing the praises of this woman’s hard work. ‘Cuz writing books THIS LONG…and making me care?? That’s HARD to do. And she has THOUSANDS of fans who tend to agree with me-so yeah. Think on that.

Was I dying?
Was this what having you heart broken felt like? Because if it was, I was sure fucking glad I’d never fallen in love before because goddamn. My God.
It felt like my organs were rotting away.

Talent. Raw talent. And heart. You can’t fake this-it’s authentic and real and it reaches you in ways fancy words can’t. And with each new admission these two characters share, I became more and more enraptured, bound, and obsessed. It’s like crack. Truly, this is the definition of book crack.

Not because his last name was the same last name as one of my favorite people in the world, but because his first name reminded me of Satan. I was pretty sure his parents had adopted him straight out of Hell.

Alas, I keep repeating myself, so I will wrap this up with some fangirling (wait, isn’t that what I’ve been doing, you ask? YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LEAST I CAN DO (hehe Cruel Prince shoutout WOOT WOOT).

Jealousy I had no right to feel, but couldn’t exactly ignore, pierced right through my sternum, and I hated it. I fucking hated it.

Ivan is the most decorated figure skater of all time, and Jasmine is…not. She skates at his family’s complex and has worked her ass off for years-all for nothing. These two are at each other’s throats every time they pass. And….I JUST LOVE IT. The things they say are absolutely horrible, but they give it as good as they get. He crosses lines that tear your heart out, and she misunderstands sooo many different things, guarding her heart against the guy that has been nothing but nasty to her since they met.

“You really want to wait around here for someone to come get you?” he asked, raising his eyebrows again.
He had me there.
But I also didn’t want to get into the car with him, so….
“Get in, loser.”
And that had me blinking. “Did you just quote—”

But when we start to see the change in Ivan, when he begins to defend her, when he starts to help her out, when the barbs get less sting and more affection…you just cannot-I repeat, CANNOT-defend your heart. You want Jasmine to open up, to see that he’s trying to be her friend-but how can she? After everything he’s done and said, she can’t give in that easily. And, she can’t forget, their contract is just for a year, just until his other partner comes back. She can’t let her heart get invested. But she’ll give it her all, her everything.

But I wanted to win. I wanted this. I’d always wanted it. I’d bled for it, cried for it, bruised for it, had broken bones, had concussions, pulled just about every muscle in my body, never made friends, never went to a single school anything, never loved anyone, ignored my family, all for this.

The obsession is real, yet, I don’t want to start gushing about Ivan like I thought I would-is that weird? I find I just want to bottle him up, keep his best moments to myself-maybe this is a more mature me but…I feel like I want y’all to find out for yourself, almost. It’s the oddest feeling. I mean, because, there’s really no way to express how I truly feel through just words (I’m not an author, after all), and I don’t want to hype it up [more than I already have] and ruin it for others. So, yeah. I’ll leave it, I guess.

Sometimes it’s easy to take something so essential to your existence for granted.

Or maybe I’m just tired. Who the HELL knows? Either way, I’ll leave you with my positive thoughts. Zapata’s men never want their girl to play the damsel in distress– they always want them to be more, to take care of themselves and to not let their weaknesses show-because they know how strong their girls are….it’s precious. But then, always always, always…they are the first to save them. To catch them before they fall. They are their biggest supporters, fans, friends, and teammates-they are their not-so-white-knights in shining armor. They don’t want them to lose themselves in their doubts or weaknesses, but they only want what’s best for them-it’s the most precious thing. They are their princesses in distress…and I can’t even.

And I love everything animal this woman creates…just lol. That’s all. So. Hope I didn’t ruin too much, say too much (or too little?). When I read books I love more than words can express, I find the reviews are 50 times harder to write. I really don’t know what else to say except…I love this author. I’ve now officially stalked all the things and have ordered two signed copies of her books, and I still have my unsigned Winnipeg copy I’d never part with, so I have three books [or I will]-with one that I already owned ha. If that’s not obsession…I really don’t know what is.

**SPOILER Quotes** MY FAVS EVER but do NOT read if you want don’t want moments ruined (and believe me-you wait far too long in these books to let this stuff be spoiled!

View Spoiler »

**********
Me, after these two Zapata books:

Sad…but true. I’m the equivalent of a shaking chihuahua with all the feels I can’t begin to handle.

This author. This author slays me. No book-NOT ONE BOOK-has made me want to stay up so late it’s almost morning in years…yet, between this book and TWOW, I have stayed up until 4 in the morning countless times to immerse myself in everything Ivan, Aiden, and Mariana Zapata. I love you, Mariana-I LOVE YOU. There is no way to come back from this obsession-no way. And I don’t want to. Not at all. This woman is my spirit animal….and these two books (Winnipeg and Lukov) are in a serious death match with one another over who will be my #1 2018 read….because it’s all them, baby. ALLL THEM. ALLLL THE FEELS. ALL OF THEM.

And two new amazing book boyfriends I would stand in front of and take a bullet for so early in the year?? COME ON NOW. I. Can’t. EVEN.

Review to Come.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

BOOK REVIEW: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana ZapataThe Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata
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Synopsis:

Vanessa Mazur knows she's doing the right thing. She shouldn't feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she's beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn't find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He's asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

 

 With the covers pulled up to his chin, he looked too damn cute.
I hated it.
Why? Why him?
Of all the people in the world I could have chosen to think the world of, it had to be this one.

It’s been a long time since a book has made me look forward to bedtime-every night. It’s been an even longer time since I’ve had a book that consumes my every waking thought throughout the day. It’s been so long since I’ve woken up with a smile on my face, even after I’ve read long into the night. And I can’t REMEMBER the last time I’ve read a book so slow…only because I wanted to drag it out as long as I could. And frankly…this book was LONG.

I was going to murder his ass.
One day.
One day long after I quit, so no one would suspect me.

Staying up until 3 in the morning, prolonging each and every scene just to maintain that intense and high level of giddiness not found often anymore in books I love…this book was an anomaly. This book owned my heart. This book touched my soul. This book possessed me so wholly that I walked around everywhere with a smile on my face and a skip in my step-literally-just because I was so excited I got to read more of it.

I’d barely unplugged the vacuum and turned around to put everything back when I sucked in a breath and let out the girliest, most pathetic squeak in the universe. It wasn’t “ahh” or “eep”. It just sounded, well, I’m not sure what it sounded like, but I would never take credit for it.
Aiden stood there, not even two feet away, literally cloaked in the darkness of the hallway like a damn serial killer.

I truly can’t remember the last time I’ve genuinely thought about a book when every moment of my life is so busy. I’d be working out, and then I’d think OH! Winnipeg tonight, YES! I’d be typing something at work and then I’d be all-I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL BED TONIGHT-Aiden! Eeps! I’d pick up my phone randomly and text my friends (I think I picked on about 4 ish people as my fangirl victims) emojis, bitmojis, explanations as to why I loved this book so much in all caps…and, honestly, people really should know this about me. It’s a hazard that comes with my friendship. I’m a pusher -I PUSH PEOPLE.

Like a drug pusher??

HELL YES IM A BOOK DRUG PUSHER, OKAY?! Leave me alone!!!! (I really think it’s worth noting that I literally had that typed, those Mean Girl quotes, before I even looked up the exact wording…that’s skillz people. Or, you know, delusion). I just want to swim around with this floaty sensation I feel, this weightlessness of finding a book that makes me feel alive again (See GIF in pre-review-I STILL feel like that).

“What the hell, Aid? I’ve tried calling you a dozen times,” Trevor’s slightly higher tone started.
What did our household smart-ass respond with? “I know. I have caller ID.”

I have loved so many books already this year. I really have. I’ve already claimed some top favs. But none have even slightly compared to how I felt when reading this:

Answer? I don’t even know why. This became an absolute top favorite INSTANTLY. What book could possibly follow this one? Yes, Magnus is my love child and he has been my favorite finale this year… but it’s been so long since a book has made me laugh and giggle and swoon and just, I don’t know, forget. Nothing else mattered this past week while I was reading this. It made me so happy that I literally, and I do mean literally, drug it out so it would last longer so I wouldn’t have to face the reality that my favorite book this year is over already-and now nothing will compare for the rest of the year-or at least, most likely, months (okay, I’m likely being dramatic here).

Best quote ever-

“You’ve got this,” he repeated with more conviction. “You can do this.”
Now or never right? “I’ve got this.”
He made a light noise, a tender one. View Spoiler »

If I had read this years ago I’d have probably not liked it half as much as I did now. I don’t know what it was, if I’m being honest. Was it the time of my life? Was it because it was just something that fell into my lap? Or was it because I needed something so desperately to grab onto, to buoy me, to help me realize that real life can be addicting, too?

He was lucky I had a tiny, itty, bitty crush on him; otherwise, he would have gotten the shank years ago.

Fantasy is my favorite. ABSOLUTELY. But who doesn’t love a contemporary every now and again?? Who? If it’s done well, isn’t it just so fun and refreshing? Well. I love contemporary-but they are so hard to find. At least the addicting kinds are. And this book-it was so ordinary. Like-I kid you not-days and days go by where they hang out in his nook? His kitchen? I mean not all at once but…you get it: Life is life, and, well, they’re living it.

The problem with some people was that they didn’t understand the principle of things. The other thing with people was that some guys didn’t understand when to let shit go, so they kept pushing and pushing and pushing until you just said “fuck it.” That was exactly what Aiden did to me then.

And I loved the CRAP out of it. The simple touches we take for granted were electrifying. The moments they shared were catalysts to one of the most dramatic breathing escapades, for the last 30% of the book, I’ve fallen victim to. I kid you not, the last chunk of this book took me 2-3 days because I read it so slow and had such trouble computing the butterflies that choked my air passageways.

lmao. Austin Powers FTW.

And, if I’m being honest, that was probably an astute observation of what I truly looked like. My mind? Blown. But that doesn’t mean this story didn’t have its flaws. It did-a lot actually.

I bent down to unzip my suitcase and took all the clothing out to wash later when The Wall of Asswipe wasn’t hanging around.

There was repetitive phrasing (hate it), a trope I’ve never liked (can’t stand it), some human actions that happen on a cycle, and, shockingly, quite a few grammatical errors (ooohhhhh it gratessss) I couldn’t miss. Yes, I’m a nazi. Yes, I have tons of rules. But I have rules in place because I CARE. I care about ME. Team. Of. ME. I’m my biggest supporter-I love to read, but my time is limited. So If I start a new book, I better be sure it’s one I want to put time into. Case in point-I adored Everless and Cruel prince…but it took me a month to do those reviews. I JUST finished Winnipeg….and WTH am I laying here doing already??? Writing a review. ON MY PHONE, no less??? (It is approximately 2 am on a work night).

“Are you shaking?” he asked in a strange tone.
“Only a little bit.” I scooted an inch closer, soaking in the heat his body was throwing off.
Aiden sighed like I was torturing him while all I’d done was mind my own business in bed. “You’re fine.”

Aiden is the Wall of Winnipeg, the best defensive player in the NFO, and Vanessa is his assistant (And BOY is she over it). You can read the synopsis, I don’t need to break it down for you. All you need to know is this: Aiden begs her to come back (not how you’d think)…but with a new arrangement. The relationship these two share is just…SO CUTE. And I just loved how he didn’t care what ANYONE thought…except those he holds dear in his quiet, brooding heart.

What Aiden was saying didn’t add up with the man across from me. The one who rarely raised his voice in anger, hardly ever cursed, rarely fought with any of his opponents much less his teammates. Aiden was a low-level charge—determined, focused, disciplined.
And I knew way too well what it was like to be unimportant.
I wasn’t going to cry.

And the way she was always on his side, always there for him, even when he didn’t deserve it-ugh. So much love. I loved how he made things right, how he defended her to a fault. How he became the one person she could rely on, even when she never thought he’d ever give her the time of day. He slowly crept into my heart, making it swell larger (hmmm. Questionable word choice, unfortunately) with each moment that he opened his heart a little more and more. And I also just adore that he always cared for Vanessa in his weird way-even though he never showed it.

But Aiden wasn’t smiles and coyness. He didn’t know or care that he was unforgettable. He had a confidence that went deeper than that of a man who liked what he saw in the mirror; Aiden valued the skills he’d developed through hard work. He believed in every inch of himself. He cared about what he could do and pushed himself to be better than he was the day before, not any of the external crap so many other people valued so much.

And, not to mention, when he found his voice (Wow, it took a while) their banter just cracked me up. When he flirted with her? My heart literally stopped. I kid you not. And, I’ve thought about it over and over and over again…and I *THINK* my favorite part might just be the basketball game….but I have 100 different parts I keep going over in my head (Christmas morning, the elevator, Canada, the marathon, etc. etc. etc.). And her and Zac’s relationship-lmao. Wow. So so cute and so funny. I can’t even.

There was only so much cranky little bitch you can handle in a day, even if it was called for.

That’s right. I am fangirling. I am rejoicing. I am praising the beauties that be (Zapata-oh Zapata, you slay me. You have a forever fan) for the existence of this novel. No, there’s nothing new…but the feelings? Those are new. And really…what else do I need? Even after listing all the flaws I saw, I just can’t find it in my heart to continue with the negatives. I know it’s not perfect. OBVIOUSLY. Everyone that will pick this up can find flaws-even all of us who love it. It’s inevitable. But I just don’t care. I DO. NOT. CARE. And why should I? It helped me to escape the harsh reality that is life sometimes, and it even FELT realistic and close to real life to boot. So, again, I ask: What else do you need?

Oh, I’d heard him. Loud and clear. That was why I wanted to kill him.
Which basically showed how amazing the human mind was; how you could care about someone but want to slit his or her throat at the same time.

The answer is nothing…in case you were wondering 😉.

***************

This book was everything I never knew I wanted. IT. IS. MY. LIFE.

How I feel-

And THAT’s not even enough to show how I feel.

I literally wrote the review last night at TWO AM after I finished because I just could NOT wait to put my feels down onto a review, the likes of which hasn’t happened in YEARS.

Coincidentally, however, I won’t be posting it until tomorrow or Monday. Or Tuesday. Who knows.

Either way. I LOVE THIS DAMN BOOK.

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