Friday, 9 December 2016

Review: Kulti by Mariana Zapata

Kulti by Mariana Zapata 
Publication Date: March 20th 2015. 
My rating: 5 stars. 


“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 twenty-seven-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 that 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. Nothing could have prepared her for the man she got to know. Or the murderous urges he brought out in her. “Sal, please don’t make me visit you in jail. Orange isn’t your color.” This was going to be the longest season of her life.

I was a huge fan of Zapata’s The Wall of Winnipeg and me when I read it a few months ago, she worked the hate to love trope to well and created such a great and unbelievable relationship between the characters, that when Kulti properly hit my radar a few weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to read it. It was a mammoth 570 pages long, so I was looking forward to slowly savouring this book. But of course this didn’t happen; I managed to avoid all of my family for two days just so I could devour this epic book. 

Sal is a fantastic soccer player; she’d wanted to be a football ever since watching her idol Kulti make a name for himself. Things are going well for Sal, so she never expected that Reiner Kulti would become one of her coaches. Sal’s sure she’s over her crush, but she really didn’t expect such a tough time with him. At first he seems nothing like the guy she grew up adoring, he’s aloof and doesn’t pay a bit of attention to the team he’s meant to be working with and then when he treats Sal’s father the way he does, she’s had enough, who the heck does Kulti think he is? 

To be honest I was super intrigued by Kulti, why would such a big football legend come to coach the Houston Pipers? No one’s heard from him since he retired two years ago, but now he’s going to have such a pivotal role in Sal’s next season. Even though Kulti gave an earlier impression of being an aloof, egoistical guy, that didn’t want anything to do with anyone on the team and just seemed stuck in his own world, I really couldn’t wait to get to know the guy more. As soon as I found out he was German though, I was a goner, (Irish or German men are my biggest downfall, and I can’t even form a coherent sentence when they start talking). Also I knew there had to be more to this closed off guy, and Zapata really let us get to know him in the best possible way. The relationship between Sal and Kulti was such a slow burn one, but done so well, I loved the slow build up of Kulti slowly allowing us to get to know his character, my gosh I was a complete sucker in the first few pages, but as the story progressed I absolutely fell in love with Kulti. Where did the caring, protective guy emerge from? I wanted to give the big guy a hug or even a kiss! What Zapata also worked well on was the age gap between Kulti and Sal, there was a 13 year age difference and with Kulti being Sal’s idol for a long time, this story could have really fallen apart. But Zapata truly made the relationship between Kulti and Sal a believable one, so much that when the age gap was bought up a few times later on, it didn’t seem like a big deal to me at all. Both Kulti and Sal were mature individuals who were happy with who they were and knew what they wanted from their lives. On top of that the slow build up of the chemistry between them was something I loved watching. Their interactions were ones I extremely looked forward to, as they had me laughing out loud, swooning and at times making me want to punch someone. It really did take a long time for both to realise each other’s feelings for one another, it was apparent to me as a reader that something so wonderful could come out of them being together, but with the position Kulti was in (as Sal’s coach) and with Sal not expecting anything in return, I could accept why it took so long for both of them to get their acts together. 

The brilliant romance aside, Zapata also worked really well on another aspect I love in real life; sports. There are only a handful of books that I’ve read which have featured sport as a central theme and has actually worked well for me. Zapata in my eyes did a great job with the focus on the sport aspect, there was so much always going on, training, making sure they made the team, and going as far as they could as a team. Zapata was not only able to bring the Pipers story to the forefront, but dealt with other underlying issues a sports person would have to deal with really well; competitiveness, bitchiness within a team and how difficult it can be to keep your private life private. With so much going a non sports fan would still be able to enjoy this book. 

I also enjoyed how family played a central part to this book, Sal’s family were supportive of what she was doing in their own ways, but Sal’s dad was one of my favourites. He was always there for Sal whenever she needed him and couldn’t be more of a proud father. I also loved how he was always around Kulti, being a fan of him since the very beginning; it was funny seeing his inner-fan come out in full force. 

Overall Kulti was an absolutely fantastic read; it’s one of those underrated books in my eyes that everyone needs to read. The build up of the romance is one of the best ones I have seen in a long time and the characters ones that you can’t help but fall for. I really can’t recommend this book enough!




Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


This week I'm eagerly waiting on...


The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: April 25th 2017. 


Summer for Sasha and Ray means the sprawling old house on Long Island. Since they were children, they’ve shared almost everything—reading the same books, running down the same sandy footpaths to the beach, eating peaches from the same market, laughing around the same sun-soaked dining table. Even sleeping in the same bed, on the very same worn cotton sheets. But they’ve never met. Sasha’s dad was once married to Ray’s mom, and together they had three daughters: Emma, the perfectionist; Mattie, the beauty; and Quinn, the favorite. But the marriage crumbled and the bitterness lingered. Now there are two new families—and neither one will give up the beach house that holds the memories, happy and sad, of summers past. The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control…or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.

The last book I read by Ann Brashares was My Name is Memory and it was a book I absolutely loved (I'm probably the only one amongst my friends that did), so I'm thoroughly excited to be getting a contemporary read from her. Also I'm a huge fan of Summer reads set away at Beach Houses, it makes me long to have my own, one that I can go to and hide away at over the Summer. I also do love my books that deal with family relationships well and with any hint of a romance I'm completely sold. I think The Whole Thing Together will have everything I love in a book and I will eagerly be anticipating its release! Also how pretty is that cover? The subtle, natural covers I always find myself gravitating towards. 

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?


Friday, 2 December 2016

Monthly Recap: November




Hi everyone, I'm so glad its finally December, we have our Christmas tree up and I only have a few more Christmas presents to shop for and I just have two weeks of work left and then the Christmas break to look forward to. I've really been feeling the workload lately, I've actually eased back from the gym too and taken a fitbit break. But with Christmas around the corner, I can imagine things getting busy again. Christmas is probably one of the holidays where our family goes all out, we probably do more baking than we do at Vaisakhi or Diwali, so if you don't hear from me around Christmas it'll most likely be because I'm in a food coma!

What I've been up to.

Jasprit:

November was my birthday month, so of course it involved lots of eating with family and friends, I got some great gifts from Allie and Rashika, <3 these ladies and giftcards so I can buy more books!




(You can see more of my photos on my Instagram profile here)


Allie and I went on another food binge, I was all prepared for all the food, well I thought I was prepared, I did quite well at the first few places, but then when we hit the Mae Deli I was a goner! I also had the best hot chocolate at Sourced Market, it was a Dark Rich flavour by Hans Sloane, I'm not typically a dark chocolate fan, but this one was my absolute favourite! And London was of course looking super pretty with the Christmas decorations out in full force! 



I also got to meet up with the lovely Keertana, we both started blogging around the same time, and it feels like we've been great friends ever since, so I was so excited about meeting her in real life. We went and ate at a Michelin star restaurant, visited a few bookstores and ended the day at Laduree with Chocolate Chaud (hot chocolate) and dessert. 

 



Reading

Jasprit:

Number of books read: 20! I haven't read this many books since January and now I'm only 9 books from meeting my goal.



Best read of last month: 

(Click on Book for Goodreads link). 


  
I read four 5 star reads last month, and I honestly can't choose between them and they all affected me differently on an emotional level. The Opportunist and Thief just crushed my poor little heart, but the romance was done so well! November 9 I actually ended up reading on November 9 (what are the chances), my train was delayed on my way back from meeting Allie, so I got through quite a chunk of it, and normally books by Hoover don't work for me, but I ended up loving the heck out of this one. And Kulti, my gosh this had such wickedly slow burn romance and the main love interest definitely made it to my top ten fictional crushes of all time. 



Fictional crush of the month: Don't make me choose! This has to be such a close call between Caleb from Tarryn Fisher's Love Me with Lies series and Reiner Kulti from Kulti (I'm a complete sucker for a German, hence I'm holding Kulti in such high regards!). But Caleb seriously despite some of the messed up things that he did and had to go through, his love for Olivia was one of the best ones. I need a Caleb in my life! 

 Books I'm looking forward to reading next month. 
(Click on Book for Goodreads link). 


Jasprit:



I got the first three books in the Beautiful Bastard series for a really good deal this week, the reviews have been a mixed for the first book, but I'm hoping that I'll enjoy it. I also received my first book for Christmas The Hating Game! I wanted to buy this book ages ago, but held back for as long as possible, but I can't wait to get stuck in. 

How was your November?

Monday, 28 November 2016

Review: After the Kiss (Sex, Love & Stiletto #1) by Lauren Layne

After the Kiss (Sex, Love & Stiletto #1) by Lauren Layne 
Publisher: Ebury Digital
Publication Date: 28th September 2014
My rating: 4 stars. 


The star columnist of Stiletto magazine will do anything for a story. Anything . . . except fall in love. Julie Greene loves flings, steamy first dates, sizzling first kisses, and - every now and then - that first sexy romp between the sheets. But when Julie gets assigned the hardest story of her career - a first-person account of the shift between dating and "I do" she'll need a man brave enough to give a total commitment-phobe a chance at more. Mitchell Forbes, a devastatingly hot workaholic who tends to stay in relationships for far too long, is the perfect subject for Julie's "research." But what Julie doesn't know is that Mitchell is looking to cut loose and that Julie, notorious for avoiding love, is exactly the type of no-strings fling he's looking for...

One of my all time favourite tropes is when two characters are forced in to a situation together and they end up falling for one another. In After the Kiss Julie is known for quick flings, never taking time to settle and actually forming a meaningful relationship and Mitchell is the setting type of guy, he’s just come out of a long term relationship, but to prove to his friend that he can do a quick fling and get rid of a person after a few dates, he’s challenged to take on Julie. Both Julie and Mitchell go into their tasks with their own agenda’s, but they so didn’t expect leaving with much more than they bargained for.

Both Julie and Mitchell were difficult characters to like at first, Julie was the type just to quickly go for a relationship, I think because she hadn’t really been in love, or actually spent long enough in a relationship to fall in love, she was just used to appear crass and abrupt. And my gosh when I first met Mitchell I thought he was a complete bore, okay I perked up when I heard he liked reading, but the way he came across all prim and proper and working on Wall Street, I thought the chemistry between Mitchell and Julie would be a complete snooze fest, but never has Lauren Layne led me astray, of course she was able to weave her magic and actually make me fall for Mitchell (did I ever mention that Mitchell/Mitch has always been a bit of a soft spot when it comes to hot characters names?) and actually develop Julie’s and Mitchell’s relationship into something realistic and meaningful. You have to remember the time they spent happens over days and a few weeks even, but the way Layne built up their time together and the way they got to know each other? It was done wonderfully, I was left wanting more. I wanted them to finally come clean with each other about why they’d got together in the first place, as I knew it would lead to heartbreak in the end and they had come so far, through going to a night club instead of having movie night, runs through Central Park and dealing with bitchy ex girlfriends, their relationship was actually becoming that and their feelings for one another were clearly apparent.

I’m not going to say how After the Kiss ends, but there is a lot of heartbreak and growing up along the way. I was super impressed with how far these two characters came by the end of this book. After the First Kiss was another hit by Lauren Layne for me, thank you Nick for recommending it, I’m hoping this series will fill the void left after finishing The Wedding Bells series and to be honest I can feel a binge reading coming on!


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Review: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

November 9 by Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: November 2015.
My rating: 5 Stars. 


This is a love story between a guy (me) and a girl (Fallon). I think. Can it even be considered a love story if it doesn’t end with love? Mysteries end when the mystery is solved. Biographies end when the life story has been told. Love stories should end with love, right? Maybe I’m wrong, then. Maybe this isn’t a love story. If you ask me…I’d say this might even be considered a tragedy. Whatever it is—however it ends—I promised I would tell it. So without further ado. Once upon a time…I met a girl. THE girl.

Colleen Hoover’s books have been a real miss for me, I’m really gutted about this, as so many of my friends have adored her books and I really wanted to find that one which I would fall in love with. I’m glad that any stubbornness paid off and I didn’t give up on Hoover’s books as November 9 is my favourite yet! 

If you don’t know me by now, I’m a huge fan of second chance romances, romances which take place over a few years and the love growing stronger as they get to know one another. The set up between Ben and Fallon was an unusual one, their chance meeting and Ben pretending to be Fallon’s boyfriend in front of her dad bought them together. And soon before they realise, fake-relationships aside, there is actually something deep and meaningful between them underneath, but Fallon’s flying out to New York in a few hours and then what? Fallon and Ben decide to meet every year on November 9 at the same place, they’ll have no other contact with each other until that point, and if they are really meant to be, their relationship should be able to withstand the five years that Fallon wants to wait to take the relationship further. I for one didn’t think this relationship could last at all, they didn’t have each other’s numbers, they’d blocked each other on social media and really they’d only known each other for a few hours. But you know what they say, time makes the heart grow fonder, and honestly true words couldn’t have been spoken. I loved watching the development of Ben and Fallon’s relationship, some could say it was insta-love, as they fell for each other so quickly, but Hoover really made the relationship work well with only the yearly meet ups. The way the relationship developed was done beautifully, there was a lot of heartache along the way, but their feelings or one another never wavered. 

I really liked Ben as our romantic interest he wasn’t the typical alpha male character, but a real sweetheart. I loved how he wore his heart of the line and how he was feeling was always apparent on his face, he wasn’t afraid to truly put himself out there and that’s what I loved about him. I adored his passion for writing, how he became obsessed with reading books that did romances well and then trying to be that sort of character for Fallon in real life. The bookish references throughout was a favourite of mine, we had Ben taking the mick of romantic declarations in books such as characters claiming “I own you” and running to show their last minute feelings to their love interest at the airport. It was fun to read, as it’s done so often in the books we read, but seeing Ben and Fallon discuss it was refreshingly funny. Ben not only was a swoon worthy crush, but also a funny guy too! I adored how he helped Fallon gain the confidence back with homework he gave her, but his genuine feelings towards her also made that possible in a massive way. I know there was a lot of miscommunication and truths held back along the way, but despite these, they never made me think that what Ben and Fallon had wasn’t worth fighting for. 

Hoover did an absolutely wonderful job with November 9, the romance was achy, raw and beautifully done and characters were ones you could easily relate to, they were witty, determined and hugely loveable, that it made them that more memorable. November 9 I can safely say is one of my favourite reads of the year, the romance that Hoover writes will easily make its way to your heart with you never wanting it to let you go.







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