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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
Purchase on: Amazon
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Add to: Goodreads

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.

View all my reviews

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
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.

Review:

My mom had always warned me that some people would always be eager to believe the worst. That was the unfortunate and shit truth. But I knew who I was and what I did. I couldn’t find it in me to regret it. At least most of the time. Maybe life would have been a lot easier if I’d had my sister’s sweetness or my mom’s personality, but I didn’t and I never would. 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.

THIS BOOK. *incoherent mumbling* INSTANT TOP FIVE FAVORITE ROMANCE OF ALL TIME YOU GUYS, NO JOKE. I feel like I should apologize in advance for the number of lengthy quotes that will be in this review but if we’re being honest, I had WAY more highlighted and these were the ones I felt like I couldn’t live without. If you don’t end up wanting to read this book solely based on the quotes themselves…..then you must not have a heart, lol. But really.

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. For this love that was greater than just about everything and anything I had ever known. For this sport that had given me the confidence to know I could get up after every fall I’d ever take.

I don’t even know where to begin here. I feel like this entire review is just going to be word vomit and fangirling and I am entirely alright with that so without further ado, I’ll dive right in. 

This book is about Jasmine Santos. Jasmine is a figure skater with hardcore determination. When we first start the book she’s in a bit of a slump. Her partner of three years ditched her without saying anything and because of her smartass/hardass mouth, she’s inherited the stigma of being hard to work with. Enter Ivan Lukov. Long-time enemy of Jasmine, total babe, world-champion pairs skater, and brother of Jasmine’s only friend (other than her family). It turns out that this tool of a guy (lol he’s really not tho) and his trainer want Jasmine to be the new half of his pair’s team and she’s just desperate enough for a win to agree.

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.

This was my first book written by Zapata so I really didn’t know what to expect going in other than seeing that it had a good rating already. What I did not expect was to fall so deep in love with these characters and their story that I would be fully immersed for a solid two days.

I’ll start with Jasmine since this book is about her. Right off the bat I loved her. She is so tough and BA and her inner monologues seemed to be pretty similar to my own sometimes (I’m a bit of a potty mouth so if you don’t like strong language, parts of this book might not be fun). You can tell she is SO passionate about figure skating and about her family and all of the sacrifices that she has made/ they have made for her throughout the years. Sometimes she can almost be too stubborn but I never got sick of it. For me, she was too real, too honest to ever dislike. Watching her go through the transformation that she did from cover to cover was incredible. I was so happy for her by the end when she realized that if she was going to win, it was going to be because she finally, truly believed in herself. Ugh what great character development.

“Is that a French bulldog?” We were already on the road and heading toward the nearest major freeway when Ivan nodded, his eyes on the rearview mirror. 
“Yes. The diva in the back is Lacey. She’s in time-out. I should’ve left her at home, but she can’t be in the car with anyone else other than Russ, and today’s his day for a ride.”

WHICH BRINGS ME TO IVAN LUKOV. Guys. He is….so good. The verbal sparring that went on between him and Jasmine was HILARIOUS. Oh man I was dying so many times laughing because of the horrible crap they said to each other..and his nickname for her. Lol, sigh. Really though, I also loved watching his journey, or at least the journey of Jasmine (and us as readers through her perspective) actually discovering who Ivan was as a person. He seems like such a stuck up, pretty boy at first until more of Jasmine’s walls get broken down and we see glimpse of this other Ivan. One that takes care of people when they’re sick and has five rescue pets that he treats like children (omg that part made die it was so cute). He is basically everything and to top it all off, is also the reason that Jasmine is able to have faith in herself—because he has an unwavering faith in her. It’s beautiful.

And after a beat, then five, I said, “We’ll win.” 
His gaze went even more intense as he said, with no hesitation, “You’re goddamn right we will.” He pressed his mouth, so quick, so hard against me, I didn’t have a chance to react until he pulled back an inch and said, hoarsely, his fingers threading through the damp hair right above the nape of my neck, “I’ll drag you back on the ice if I have to, Jasmine. I swear on my life.” Something about his words made me shake on the inside. Maybe it was the conviction. Maybe it was the anger. The passion. The reality that he wasn’t leaving me any room to not do what he said. Mostly though, it was something else completely. I loved him. I loved this man so much that losing him was going to break my cold, dead heart into so many pieces I was just going to have to stick them in the same box I kept my dreams and carry it around with me forever.

My other favorite part of this book was the Santos family. I come from a really close family myself and always love to read about other families that have close and hilarious dynamics such as this one. They all loved each other so much and meant so much to one another. I just about sobbed when Jasmine and Ivan were talking about how every family member has a specific favorite white Jasmine love them all equally, the good and the bad parts. I’m having a daughter (my first baby) mid-April and while the thought of being a mom is kind of scary, I know as long as I do my best to make sure that she knows that she is always loved and supported like Jasmine’s mom did with all of her children, then I know that I’ll be doing something right.

This was my partner. This was more than my partner. He was my other half. And the only thing I could do to thank him for this gift he’d given me, this knowledge that he thought I was invincible, was to make sure we won. I’d give him the thing he had wanted me for in the first place. I’d give him my fucking all.

So here it is. I honestly could probably go on to fangirl about this for another few thousand words but I hope you don’t need more to convince you. ESPECIALLY SINCE THE OLYMPICS ARE COMING UP. It’s relevant and just a damn good book. I honestly can’t wait to reread it again someday.

 
 

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