Tag: Sports

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: The Hot Shot (Game On #4) by Kristen Callihan

BOOK REVIEW: The Hot Shot (Game On #4) by Kristen CallihanThe Hot Shot (Game On #4)
by Kristen Callihan
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads






Synopsis:

First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…
What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.
No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.

I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.

Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.

Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?

A hum pulses in my bones, and his expression becomes intent, his focus never wavering from mine. In that instant, I know him. I know him. I feel like I’ve known him my whole existence, like I’ve been waiting for him to return from wherever he’s been.

What in the ever living hell. This book knocked me on my ass in the best way possible. If you’ve ever looked at my shelves, you would see that I’ve read a decent amount of NA and I have a not-so-secret love for ones that are centered on a sport/athletes. I wouldn’t say that I’m incredibly athletic myself or that I’ve dated any hardcore athletes but I’ve always loved watching sports. So yeah, basically I can’t keep away from a good sports series. I actually had read the second book in this series quite a while ago and just thought it was meh so I didn’t come back until I started seeing some really good reviews on this one—and thank goodness I did.

James’s voice turns droll. “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that expression on your face.” 
“What expression?”
 I wait for James’s reply. 
“Besotted.” 
“Besotted? Have you been reading historicals again?”
 

For some reason, whatever didn’t work for me in book two, worked for me in this one. Chess was great, Finn was a fucking babe. The dialog was hilarious but also realistic. Like it got to be to 80% and I started to get nervous because nothing had popped up that I didn’t like! How crazy is that?! Especially in NA. Even the small bit of drama at the end (Chess leaving for NYC to do a shoot and them “taking time to think”) wasn’t a big deal. I mean I thought it was honestly realistic of them to do. He’s an NFL player about to make playoffs, she was a photographer doing a dream gig. Even though they *had* been friends and then moved into together for a chunk of time, I don’t think that kind of thing should ever be taken lightly. 

“You had someone decorate this place, didn’t you?” 
“Realtor recommended a decorator friend of hers.”
 Ah, Jessica and Janet. Nice women. Chess narrows her eyes, and I suddenly feel caught out. 
“You slept with her, didn’t you?” 
How the hell? 
Show no weakness. I give her an easy smile. “The realtor or the designer?” 
“Oh, God, both of them?” 

Jesus, is she a mind reader? “Not at the same time.” She scoffs like I’ve chumped her Cheerios. 
“For fuck’s sake.”

Basically this is in my top five favorite NAs of all time. The chemistry between Chess and Finn was so palpable and real and the writing had my heart in my throat in numerous occasions. I am such a sucker for the “fate” of meeting your one person that I couldn’t help but swoon every time they brought it up. *Happy sigh* What a great read. If you are even remotely interested in sports romance, I would HIGHLY recommend ♥

It isn’t a fluke, the way my pulse kicks up whenever I see her, because it does it again. All my senses attune themselves to her as if she’s my True North.

BOOK REVIEW: The Risk (Briar U #2) by Elle Kennedy

BOOK REVIEW: The Risk (Briar U #2) by Elle KennedyThe Risk (Briar U #2)
by Elle Kennedy
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads






Synopsis:

Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take.

This was everything I wanted it to be AND MORE. Guys. At this point I could literally read Elle Kennedy’s grocery list and probably fall in love with it. She is the queen of hilarious banter and steam and I am all here for it. I had been so bummed when The Chase fell a little short for me last year so when I found out this was going to be Brenna and Connelly’s book, I was ecstatic. Enemies to lovers and a fake relationship? What could be better?!?!?!!!??!? Really, not much.

I loved Brenna and Jake’s relationship from the very beginning. They are both have such alpha personalities that I knew their clashes were going to be deliciously fun.

”You traumatized her for life with your filthy sex fantasies,” he informs me before digging into his pie.
“Sorry, Daddy.”
He snickers mid-bite, a few crumbs flying out of his mouth. He picks up his napkin. “You’re not allowed to call me that in public.” Mischief dances in his green eyes. “Save it for later.”

Basically these two are constantly at each other’s throats because Brenna’s dad is the coach of Briar. Connelly is the captain of Harvard’s team and is rivals with Briar. While they can’t deny they find each other attractive, they spend the first bit at each other’s throats for obvious reasons. Then, as Brenna is trying (and sadly failing) to land an internship at HockeyNet, she learns that her douchey/ misogynistic would-be boss basically is in love with Connelly and his hockey talent. She decides to try to up her game and lets it “slip” that she and this rival of hers are dating. Girls gotta do what a girls gotta do to get ahead, especially in the world of sports where they are constantly being overlooked. Connelly agrees to go along with this charade but only if he can snag a real date for every fake one they have.

Muahaha how great is that?! Their freaking chemistry was off the charts the entire time. Like I said, there was great banter, as always, and the writing was just so addicting.

I think what I really like about Kennedy’s books is that there is always that kernel of realism. Let’s face it, romance novels usually push the bounds of what is true and believable. Not every guy out there is going to be a 6’4” hockey god with an eight pack AND a great personality. No, but then she’ll add that certain relatable thing (Summer’s learning disability, Brenna’s View Spoiler », Garrett’s abusive dad, etc. They are real and true things that people have experienced and can relate to. It adds to the depth of the story and makes it just a little more than a hot piece of NA trash (and when I say trash I mean trash in the sense that I would still gobble it up in one sitting lol).

I just love them, okay?! These books are the reason that I have an unhealthy obsession with sports romances. ALSO, can we just talk about how I hope book three is about Hunter???????????!?!!!!??!?! I can’t freaking wait. Once again, I HIGHLY recommend this book and this author.

Huge thanks to Elle Kennedy Inc. for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!♥

BOOK REVIEW: The Chase (Briar U #1) by Elle Kennedy

BOOK REVIEW: The Chase (Briar U #1) by Elle KennedyThe Chase (Briar U #1)
by Elle Kennedy
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads






Synopsis:

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother.

And that his best friend has a crush on me.

And that I just moved in with them.

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing?

He knows where to find me.

I’m gone for this girl. So gone.

Imagine my surprise as I was browsing GR the other day and saw that one of my friends had started reading this book. I’m not even kidding, the last time I looked it up (I would check pretty often, honestly) it didn’t even have a date for when it was going to be published. I went and bought it IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!!!!!!! You see, ever since I stumbled upon The Deal a few years ago, Elle Kennedy has been my #1 favorite and go-to author when it comes to NA/sports/romance books. I can’t fathom why more people haven’t read these books… I watch her upcoming due dates like a freaking hawk, waiting to snatch up the newest book as soon as it hits the shelf. I finished this thing as soon as my busy work and four-month-old baby schedule would allow.

“Is he a good kisser? What’s our penis situation like? Did he go down on you? Did you sleep with him? Why did you do this? Is he annoying in bed? Do you regret it? Is he—” 

First things first, I was really excited when I found out that this book was going to be about Summer. Her older brother, Dean, is the star of the third book in Kennedy’s other series based around Briarwood, called The Score (which was my second favorite of the four) and was friggen hilarious. I just knew that this book wouldn’t disappoint, and for the most part it didn’t! Summer’s character was a refreshing one. Her family may be filthy rich but you can tell that everyone in her family is a hard worker and doesn’t just coast by because they can. She is a great friend, has girl power written all over her, and even has ADHD which is a pretty major part of this book (which isn’t very common!). Even though she is clearly very intelligent, she has problems writing and has struggled all throughout school. Throughout this book you can see how this really has a serious impact on her sense of self-worth and it makes her incredibly self-conscious at different times.

And I’m still debating it when Fitz enters my bedroom without knocking and levels me with two husky words. “Don’t go.”

Luckily for her, her male counterpart in this book, Fitz, helps her to see that her learning disability doesn’t make her any less of a person and that she shouldn’t be ashamed just because she can’t write an essay. Colin Fitzgerald isn’t perfect either. The guy is incapable of sharing his emotions for about 70% of the book and BOY did it frustrate me until you find out why that is. I was actually pretty interested in seeing what his character was going to be like. He is mentioned all throughout the other series as he is on the hockey team with Garrett, Logan, Dean, and Tuck but for some reason I had this completely different perception of who he was (basically that he was just this quiet nerd- and I say that lovingly- because all we really hear about him is that he’s a great gamer).  It was great getting to know him though and I think he was the perfect pairing to Summer because of his level headedness and how he built her up when she was feeling low about her learning disability and stuck up for her when she was being insulted. 

“Nieces and nephews plural? How many kids you planning on having?” 
“A lot!”
“You’re not allowed to get pregnant until you’re at least thirty. I’m not ready to be an uncle.” 
“Oh my God. Life isn’t always about you!”
 They stand there bickering as if I’m not bent in half on the marble floor, gasping for air. 
“I’m not having kids with you,” I wheeze at Summer. “I don’t want to be part of your insane family.” 
“Oh hush, sweetie. It’s too late. I’ve become attached.”

Hm let’s see, what else did I like about this book? Well, probably my favorite thing was the bromance (girlmance?) between Summer and Coach Jensen’s daughter, Brenna. Good lord she was hilarious and tough and I CAN’T WAIT for her book. I swear she better end up with Connelly—how steamy would that book be?! I also loved the humor and pop culture references in this book (all her books). They make reading them all so enjoyable. Football players who watch project runway, Summer likening one of her professors to Gilderoy Lockhart, and numerous others. 

Kennedy’s books are also great because they feature real, important things. This one in particular was full of them; learning disabilities, comments on rape culture (and how horrible/real it can be in college), body shaming, abuse in its many forms, and on and on. It’s not just all frivolous smut (though let’s be real, she write the best smutty scenes out there in my opinion lol) like some NA.

For the first time ever, I truly feel like I’m living life instead of hiding in the shadows.

Basically I am so happy to be in the sphere of people again and I seriously can’t wait for Brenna’s book. The only thing that had me a little unsatisfied was that this was a *serious* slow burn. Like the reader is basically left hanging until about 70%. Even though that is super sexy sometimes, in this book I started to become disconnected to the characters and started to get really pissed off with Fitz until he explained himself to Summer. Even then though I felt like I needed a little more from the both of them together and I ended up feeling super bummed for Hunter. I really hope he gets his own book, too! Despite all that though I HIGHLY recommend this book and her other series set at Briarwood if you love or even like sports centered NA.

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