“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.
Wow. just wow. I read the Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata and I really liked the author’s brand of slow burn. It totally worked for me so I wanted more and so I read Kulti, which I liked even more.
Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
I’ve been following this book series since Written in Red first came out and wowed everyone with its unique brand of urban fantasy. Re-reading each book in the series has always been a pleasure. I make no exception for Marked in Flesh, the fourth book in the series.
Here, we see our favorite blood prophet, Meg Corbyn grow into herself and discover things about telling prophecy without having to use the razor. And the story gets bigger. It’s not just about Meg and her little world in the courtyard anymore. The conflict between humans and the Others is growing. One mistake can cause the entire thing to collapse. Other parts of Thaisia are also awakening to the dangers posed by these conflicts. We also get to see some of the Elders who are even more otherly than the Courtyard Others. Let me just say that huge changes happen in this book.
Meg and Simon’s romantic relationship is progressing ever so slowly. But whatever progress they have is so sweet and endearing. The Meg and Simon moments are always my favorite parts to read. They’re like little treasures scattered here and there to quietly surprise with its emotional depth.
The real strength of these books are the characters. I could read about Meg receiving deliveries or about Simon hunting meat all day. Similar to the previous books in the series, the plot pace is a bit slow, which allows for introspection and character growth. There were some parts that did bore me, but the tension picks up and the big things that happen in this book are not to be missed.
When I finished the book, I immediately went back to re-read my favorite parts.
Rating: 4 Stars
Dark Ascension by M.L. Brennan is the fourth book in the Generation V series. I loved reading the previous books in the series. Fortitude Scott is the youngest vampire of the Scott family, who rules all the paranormal creatures in the area. He is the most human like of all 3 vampire siblings of the Scott family. He is capable of empathy and compassion unlike his centuries-old vampire siblings, Prudence and Chivalry, who have a limited supply of humanity.
Now that Fort’s mother the great vampire Madeline is weakening and dying, Fort will have to figure out a way to get along with his siblings and transition into a full vampire. The whole paranormal community is also abuzz about the change that is to come once the old vampire ruler is dead.
This book was a bit low key compared to the first three books in the series, Fort had to settle some issues among the other paranormal creatures living in the city. The problem is that Fort, Chivalry and Prudence can’t seem to get along or agree on anything. Prudence is always up for the most violent approach, while Fort wants to settle everything the peaceful way.
The thing I love most about this book is how we see Fort grow into himself. He becomes a full vampire and still manages to hold on to his humanity. His relationship with were-fox Suzume is one of the best bestfriends to lovers relationships in YA/NA paranormal lit. I like how Suzume is always her foxy self, playing tricks here and there.
Overall, the this feels kind of like a long version of an epilogue where the characters find ways to settle and go on with their lives. It’s not like the usual episodic mystery novel that we’ve seen from previous books. It’s more like a feel-good episode of your favorite family show. Still, the world-building, humor and endearing characters are well worth the read. I look forward to future books in the series.
Rating: 3 Stars
A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows is the second book in the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab. The first book, A Darker Shade of Magic, was very unique and fast paced. Kell is an Antari, which means that he has the ability to travel between different worlds. In the book, there are different versions of the same world, which are separated by a veil of sorts. Kell lives in Red London and occasionally travels to the magic-less Gray London and the slightly corrupted White London. There used to be a Black London too, but it got too corrupted by dark magic and the city is said to be dead.
A Gathering of Shadows continues the story in the first book. Unlike the previous book that was full of action, intrigue and adventure, this book was a more like a preparation for the future epic battle to come. It also focuses on the aftermath of the first book, and how the characters adjust to the changes in their lives.
Here we see Kell face the consequences of his actions in the first book. I can’t really go into detail without being spoilery about the first book. But this book delves deeper into the relationship between Kell and his brother, Prince Rhy. The bromance was really impressive. In the meantime, Lilah is having a blast going sailing and joining pirates and such. She learns about how magic works and develops new skills of her own.
To add some spice to story, Red London is holding a tournament for magic wielders. It’s an important event to maintain the peace and healthy rivalry between nations. It’s also a way for certain characters to challenge themselves and get into fights. I just love love tournaments. No fantasy series is complete without having its own tournament episode, and this does indeed deliver.
The ending is a medium-level cliffhanger that left me wanting for more. I eagerly anticipate the next book in this series.
Rating: 4 Stars
I’ve always been paranoid when it comes to my eyesight. I love reading so much and I never ever want to get blurry eyesight to the point that I wouldn’t be able to function properly without eyeglasses or contact lenses.
I spend at least 4 hours of leisure reading per day in addition to the time I use computers and mobile devices. I only have a few hours to rest my eyes from all the activity.
I noticed that my eyes were getting tired more often. I was more sensitive to light and I began researching ways to lessen eye strain when using laptops and reading. I tried blinking more often and just closing my eyes to rest for 5 minutes from time to time. But it wasn’t enough. My eyes still got tired and strained after an hour of using my laptop.
So here are some of the ways to lessen eye strain and take care of your eyes if you’re paranoid about blurry eyes like me:
Position of light with respect to you
Lighting is very important when it comes to reading. Sometimes reading a paper book in a bright, well lit room gives us the best reading experience.
However, when using computers, laptops or any mobile devices, too much light and glare can hurt your eyes. Mostly, overhead lights or light sources positioned behind you (like windows) are not recommended because it causes more glare or light to reflect on your computer screen. The ideal thing is to position the light sources to come from the side, or to use some indirect lighting techniques. A useful technique for finding out if your lights are positioned wrong is to cup your hands over your eyes, kind of like wearing a visor. If your eyes are immediately relieved, then there’s something wrong with your lighting and you should change positions.
Dry eyes – not good
Sometimes, we marathon readers read for long hours and with intense focus and we forget to blink or drink water. You’ll know if your eyes are too dry when they start tearing because this will be your brain’s way of helping your eyes get moisture.
To prevent dry eyes, blink a lot more than you normally do and drink water to hydrate. If your eyes are too dry, use eye drops maybe 3-5 times daily. It took some time for me to get the knack for eye dropping with perfect aim.
If you visit your local optical shop, you’ll notice that protective digital lenses are getting popular. These are computer glasses that will block the blue light that comes from most digital screens like laptops, iphones, etc. After using these I noticed that I could work on the computer for longer hours without getting tired.I use Eyezen blue light filter glasses which can be made to cater to people with normal eyesight or those who are already using prescription glasses. My doctor recommended these when we found out that I had astigmatism and needed correctional lenses.
Another pair of digital lenses I have used is Energeyes. There are non-prescription, blue light filter lenses that I used before I switched to Eye zen. Energeyes was effective in lessening my eye strain.
Give your eyes a break from time to time. I do this by closing my eyes for 5 minutes straight or spending a few seconds looking underneath the table where its darker. Others recommend focusing your eyesight on far points, or something other than the digital screens every few minutes.
Myths and Sage advice
I also take care of my eyes by following sage advice from old wise people like my grandmother – eat lots of carrots and don’t wash your eyes when they’re tired. According to my grandmother, the not washing thing applies to everything related to your body, as in don’t wash anything when you’re tired. You can’t take a shower after going to the gym. Rest for a reasonable amount of time before getting yourself wet. Whenever I read a really engrossing, un-put-downable book, I do not wash my face (and get my eyes wet) right after the long reading session. Somehow, this advice made sense to my very young mind and I followed it religiously because I love reading and I love having good eyesight.
Now according to various sources in the internet, the don’t wet your eyes rule is a myth. Washing your face when your eyes are tired can help relieve eye strain. So I guess it’s your choice on which sage advice you want to follow and believe. My grandmother’s advice has been programmed into my mind for so long that it just feels wrong to not follow it.
There are probably a lot of people around here who must love reading as much as I do. If you want to be able to use computers, read books and do exciting stuff with your eyes when you’re 80, then now is a good time as any to start doing little things that will give our eyes the best chance for long term perfect vision.
Captive Prince Trilogy by C. S. Pacat
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, M/M
Okay everyone, the Captive Prince trilogy is the one and only M/M book that I have ever read and I loved it so much so you have to read it too. It’s set in a fantasy world with two warring Kingdoms. Damianos, the prince of Akielos is betrayed by someone close to him. He is turned into a slave and sent to the enemy kingdom (Vere) to become their slave. Since this is a book, Damen becomes a slave to Prince Laurent of Vere, whose brother Damen killed in battle. Laurent has sworn to have his revenge on Prince Damianos for killing his brother. So the enslaved Damen has to hide his identity from everyone, because once they find out that he’s actually a prince from another kingdom, he’s dead.
Since both kingdoms are at war and there are lots of internal politics going on, we see a lot, as in A LOT of political intrigue and such. My favorite kind of thing. Laurent is a brilliant strategist and tactician. He’s so fierce and smart. He can flay people just by speaking. Damen is a great war hero. He’s the one who fights well, and he’s a good leader on the battlefield. Each has his own strengths, and together they learn to outsmart their enemies and take back what is rightfully theirs.
There is so much going on in these books. The first book, Captive Prince, is all about Damen getting betrayed and enslaved. It is a dark book that contains a lot of violence and suffering on Damen’s part. In the second book, Prince’s Gambit, we see Damen and Laurent slowly get to know each other. This is where they start to help each other, form a strong bond, and develop complicated feelings for each other. Of course, at some point in the trilogy, the secret of Damen’s real identity will come out which promises all sorts of tension and drama. The third and final book, Kings Rising, was a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. It was a perfect blend of warfare, romance and political intrigue.
Rating: 5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Truthwitch is about two girls, who have some special abilities that may be prophesied to do who knows what. The two girls are Safi and Iseult. Safi has a truthwitchery gift, she can tell when people are lying. Her ability is so rare that it is almost unheard of. Iseult is Safi’s BFF and threadsister, which means that they have a stronger than average friendship bond. Iseult can sort of feel people’s emotions from the “threads” that come out of them.
One day, chaos ensues when Safi and Iseult have a heist gone wrong and have to hide. Then people suddenly find out that Safi is a truthwitch, and everybody wants Safi so they have to go on the run. Prince Merik, a guy from a poorer kingdom is contracted to help Safi escape in exchange for a trade contract for his country. It gets difficult because everyone else is after Safi, and they have a bloodwitch, who can track people through blood scent, on their trail.
This book was a lot of fun. It was a bit hard to get into at first. We don’t have a clear picture of the plot and the characters’ motivations. There are a lot of unanswered questions, which I do not know if they will be explained later or are simply oversights. Some slight inconsistencies in logic, like how people found out about Safi’s powers and stuff like that. It implies that there might have been a lot more things going on outside of the main characters’ points of view. I also liked that the action was non-stop. I really loved the fantasy world that Susan Dennard built. I wanted to see Safi use her powers some more.
I also feel that this book was not well concluded enough. There were just too many unanswered questions, and just a hint of a prophecy that might be important. I need the shocking revelations and I want to see what kind of path the characters are going to take. It seemed that at the end, only temporary decisions were made and some ambiguous goals were declared. Nevertheless, it’s a good start to a YA fantasy series, and I would definitely read the next book when it comes out.
Rating: 3 Stars
Genre: Modern Romance
Nick Sebring has revenge issues. An evil gangster caused the death of his ex-girlfriend, and he wants to take that gangster down. So he woos the gangster’s daughter, Olivia Shade, with the hopes that he’ll get her to trust him and reveal the family secrets. But since this is a Kristen Ashley novel, he falls in love with his enemy’s daughter instead.
I must say that I have followed this author ever since I first discovered the Fantasyland series, and really liked it. You see, when you first experience reading a Kristen Ashley novel, it’s like being a dog from the mountains that suddenly gets its first city experience. Her writing style is light and fun. The heroines are full of nutty personality. And no matter how lengthy and stretched out the story is, you just can’t look away and keep asking for more. Her books are like never ending Happily Ever Afters that you binge read on all the time. That being said, it is unfortunate that this book is the book that makes me want to not read another Kristen Ashley book.
Instead of the usual can-i-please-have-more reaction, I just felt sick of it in the I-can’t-eat-my-favorite-food-anymore way. I’ve read all the other books by this author. And the writing is always superb. But I just did not find anything different or interesting in this book. It is like every other book that she has written. The plot seems like all the other plots she has written. The hero and heroine are just similar to her other characters, except with different names. Nothing makes these characters different. The book is good in the way that a novel by Kristen Ashley is good. It has her unique style and all. But it’s definitely not her best work, and it’s too similar to her past work that I should have just re-read her past work instead.
Rating: 2 Stars 😦