Kultiby Mariana Zapata Published 20 Mar 2015
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“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.
4 Slooooooow Strong Stars
So not gonna lie, I went into this book completely blind.
I didn't read any other reviews on this before starting (which is typical for me).
Shit, I didn't even read the blurb (which is NOT typical for me).
All I know is that I was "packing" my kindle for my recent vacation and this book was kind of like that random extra bottle of full size conditioner you throw in your suitcase right before heading out the door, because you just know that little bullshit travel size is just NOT going to be enough.
All I knew when I one-clicked this is that I had read another book by this author - Under Locke - and I really enjoyed it.
So, like I said, I said fuck it and I went in blind.
And I'm glad I did, because otherwise I might have thrown this on the back burner, because Jesus F. Christ, this thing was LOOOOOOOONG.
But this was worth it.
I REALLY enjoyed this book.
As a formerly serious athlete myself with a SUPER tight relationship with my own father, I related to Sal in spades.
Also, a benefit to the length of Zapata's stories (I went back and re-read parts of Under Locke, which I then remembered was also quite lengthy) is that you really get to know the characters after spending so much time with them and you really feel their connection.
The whole older male coach/younger female coachee dynamic.
I DIG it.
I am a SUCKER for it.
Me love it long time, every time.
My only complaint with this book is that it takes forever for anything to happen between these two outside of friendship.
For serious though.
I don't always need things to move fast or for their to be tons of steam, but I was starting to wonder if these two were ever going to get anywhere.
Also, I REALLY wish this had had a more in depth epilogue.
I felt a little cheated.
But anyways, long story not so short, if you are someone who typically likes things to move a little faster and needs a little more snap with your crackle, this might be a little too slow moving for you.
Otherwise, I say give this thing a go.
Just make sure you know it might take a year off your life to finish this.
I am a VERY fast reader and I think I noticed a gray hair on my head after finally finishing this thing.
A well known fact about me: I can't play sports. I am the least athletic person you'll ever meet. I hated gym class with a passion. I also have an irrational fear of balls. Don't laugh, it's a real condition. It's called sfairesphobia. In elementary school, I'd been forced to play volleyball. And it went something like this
Working out has never been my strong suit. Basically the only thing I can do is-
That is the extent of my exercise.
However, I know a thing or two about sports. My mom was always very athletic. My family has always been huge football fans. Croats take football very seriously. A little too seriously if you ask me. There's an old Croatian saying, 'Football is the single most important parallel thing in the world.' Yeah, we're a little obsessed. I think I learned a thing or two about the game.
I most definitely don't look like that during matches. I find football very delightful, ok?
There's something about the game. Nothing brings people together like football. So when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it.
Reiner Kulti. Er ist so scharf - as my German friend would say. He's handsome, he's incredibly talented, and he's deeply troubled. All very swoon-worthy qualities.
I imagined him as Gerard Piqué. You see, I know who Gerard Piqué is! But my goal is not to try to show off my vast football knowledge; being modest is all about not showing off.
Sal. I loved her. She's crazy awesome. She's quirky, strong-willed and unpretentious. Sal is a tomboy but she's also a woman. A girl can be tough and feminine at the same time.
It took me forever to read Kulti. Somehow it took longer than I expected because I got sidetracked a few times. This book is long but worth it. So worth it.
”He was my coach. And I was his friend. Or something like that.”
Truth be told, I’m not a huge soccer fan but I played sports in my early years so reading about a professional female player is a total win for me. This sports theme book is centered around a full soccer season taking our heroine and her new coach through a slow building friendship to more.
Sal, our heroine is a professional soccer player who finds out that her team’s new assistant coach will be none other than Reiner Kulti. Kulti is a world famous retired German soccer star who Sal had been obsessed with as a young girl. Reiner Kulti was well written in his broody, rude clipped tone. I loved their interactions and rejoiced in the friendship and dreamed of their friendship heading into more.
”That was my first time using a lawn mower.'
I fucking knew it!! I didn't say that of course, instead I stuck with a very grown up, 'Oh really?”
Reiner was slow to reveal himself but his appreciation for Sal’s talent and the woman she is was worth the wait as the two come to the end of the season with strong feelings for one another.
”Hug me back,” the accented voice demanded from above.”
Overall, the writing, delivery and the humor were all very well done. The banter, those nicknames and Sal’s dad were also so very enjoyable. At times yes I have to admit the story was slow going for me but I held out hope that there was more behind this hot German superstar. In the end, he more than delivered in the love department and in the bedroom!
"You are my best friend, my love, my playmate and my teammate. You'll have a team with me wherever we are, with whatever we're playing."
5" Million" Stars!!!
I am fine.
I am okay.
Jesus!! This is epic, you guys! Epic!!!
I have been having shitty luck with books lately. Even if I like something I don't love it. I only see flaws. How the story is dragging...or how the ridiculous amount of fillers are getting on my nerves...the stupid, cliched plot twists...blah..blah..blah...It's like I am cursed or something...
In the midst of chaos, I found this little gem.
I am a big reader like you all. And sometimes reading takes up all of my time so I don't have time for real life people. Like my husband (who I love very much). So we fight a lot over my book love. Can you believe that I haven't had a book fight with him in like months??!!! I mean, no book was holding me captive enough to not give time to my husband.
But yesterday night, we fought, people!!! We fought over this book. After a long ass time. I can't even...
It could possibly have been one of the best moments of my life!
Anyway, enough gushing...Let's move on with the review.
So this is a story of Sal, a 27 year old soccer player who has admired Kulti ever since she was a kid. However, she has gotten over her crush now since she has grown up and so she doesn't get affected when Kulti is chosen to be their assistant coach. Not much, anyway. It takes a little bit of pep talk and lot of thoughts about Kulti "pooping" and doing other normal human activities for Sal to gather enough courage to talk to to him the first time.
However, as you can guess, Kulti is an asshole and a bit robotic. He isn't at all like the passionate player Sal has been seeing on TV. So of course, that makes her curious at the same time it makes her inner fangirl die a little.
From then on we see...Kulti and Sal become best buddies slowly but steadily. Until Sal realizes she loves him.
This is a very character driven story so that makes it kind of heavy on characterization (Duh!) and hence long and for some people, slow. For me, it wasn't long enough. I enjoyed every single moment of this. I was sad that it ended. I even loved a couple cheesy scenes towards the end. Because let's face it, this author made me (a cynical bitch) care for her characters and I can forgive a little cheesiness.
I loved Sal,
I loved Kulti.
I loved Sal's dad.
I loved Sal's friends and her coach.
I even loved Kulti's friends.
Yikes! Can we get more of them??!!! I am going into a withdrawal or something.
Anyway, if you haven't read this and you are in a book funk...Then you MUST read this one. Trust me on this!
Okay, so if you do decide to trust me and end up hating it...Don't hit me too much! Remember, I love you all!!
This book goes straight to the shelf with my favorite books because it combines three of the things that I value most in life:
2. TRUE LOVE and
First of all, I love football. Or soccer, as it is called on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I think that it is the bestest sport that has been created on the face of Earth.
And you may think that I will tell you now a heartbreaking story about my childhood, how I used to go to the stadium and watch my favorite team kick ass every Sunday. The truth is that I went to watch my first football game when I was much much older. And it was unbelievable great! You see, my father believed that girls are not supposed to go and watch football matches. So, thank God for television…
On the other hand, although I was thirsty to watch my favorite team or the national team doing great in Europe, I had one disappointment after the other. Obviously Greece could not play good football internationally. I should have loved basketball more… Oh, well…
And not let me start about women’s football.
UEFA Euro 2004. Greece is the European Champion against all odds. Thank you, thank you, thank you Otto Rehhagel. Otto was the best coach my national team ever had.
So you may understand now why I adore and respect German football coaches – even Reiner Kulti, in our case, who (let’s face it) he may have been an excellent footballer…
He ran, and ran, and ran and by some miracle avoided every opposing player that went after him. He scored the most beautiful, ruthless goal in the top right corner of the net. The ball seemed to sail through the air with a one-way ticket to the record books.
My dad screamed. Eric yelled. The freaking stadium and the announcers lost it. This guy who had never played on such a platform had done what no one expected of him.
…but he was not a good enough coach. I am sure Sal Casillas, the best footballer in Pipers, can tell you all about it.
Sal and Kulti (aka Taco and German Chocolate Cake) will firstly be trainee and trainer, then friend and best friend and then the miracle will happen.
“This is what matters. You are my gift, my second chance, and I will cherish you and your dream. I will protect both of you.
I’ve been waiting, and I will keep on waiting until the time is right. You are my equal, my partner, my teammate, my best friend. I’ve done so many stupid things that you’ve made me regret—things I hope you will forgive me for and look beyond— but this, waiting a little longer for the love of my life, I can do.”
Between angst, family moments, hard training, commitment and passion, bad choices, careers that are ready to fly or to be destroyed; Kulti will manage to squeeze his life into Sal’s life. Not that Sal was not ready to love him. She was in love with him since before she knew what love it.
But of course whatever was meant to be, it will always find a way.
“Every single thing that has ever happened in my life has led me here, Sal. Destiny is a ladder, a series of steps that takes you where you’re supposed to go. I am the man that I am, and I have done the things that I’ve done, to get me to you.”
I don’t think I want to say much about the story. I only want to emphasize that it is a sloooow-burn romance as most of Mariana Zapata’s books.
I never thought I would find a guy that talks less that Aiden Graves (The Wall of Winnipeg and Me) actually.
Anyway, enjoy the book!!!
***5 German chocolate cake stars!!***
First Read 6/15
Re read 12/15
Re read 12/17
Re read 1/19