#FM16: The Climb 1.1 – Fort Worth Vaqueros

It’s been quite a while since I’ve created a blog post with work and all going on, so I figured it’s time for something different. I’ll admit to a love-hate relationship with Football Manager 2016. There’s something about it that can absolutely infuriate me at times, but I still like it in its own way and have many fond memories of early attempts at an ill-fated pentagon challenge in New Zealand, a couple of seasons with Oxford United on the road to the Championship where I dropped the save, and some ill-fated attempts to learn how my domestic MLS works.

It’s been a long time since I’ve even considered looking at the game, but I got tired of doing so much domestic winning with FC Dallas on FM15. I needed a brief break from it and a side save to rejuvenate myself before I get into it and attempt to finally take that CONCACAF Champions League trophy. But, that could be a series for another day if I decide to recap the seasons I’ve done so far and start them up again.

This series is going to be a journeyman save starting in America with a local amateur soccer team that I live 30 minutes from – the Fort Worth Vaqueros, founded in 2013.

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#BookReview: Leopard Moon

Leopard Moon (Moon, #1)Leopard Moon by Jeanette Battista

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this first entry to Jeanette Battista’s Moon trilogy, Kess is a young wereleopard of the Miami leopard clan. At the start of the story she’s been on the run for many months traveling across the country in constant fear of her life as she awaits her eighteenth birthday, adulthood, and legal independence. Her brother has a violent obsession with her and is intent on marrying his sister and having children with her, believing it will strengthen the weakening wereleopard clan, while justifying it in the way that ancient Egyptian pharaohs did, while asserting the family lines run back to and can be traced to the pharaohs.

On the run for her life, she finds herself in small town North Carolina, where she meets Cormac, a werewolf, and they fall in love, though neither of them initially know the other is a werecreature.

Meanwhile, this obsession with having an incestuous relationship with Kess goes on to the point where Sek challenged their father, the Miami clan patriarch, into a fight to the death according to old customs, in order to become the new authority of the clan and continue to fund and authorise this hunt for Kess. Before this fight, heir father had received a letter from Kess telling him she was fine and that she had her reasons (which she never explained to their father) to be alone, and their father acquiesced to her wishes, and had ordered Sek to stop hunting for her.

It’s a pretty typical young-adult supernatural romance, and nothing stands out in particular about it over the rest of the crowd in terms of plot, which is engaging enough and rife with suspense as we see Sekhmet’s thoughts and actions attempting to locate her, sappy run-of-the-mill romantic banter between Kess and Cormac, and humorous, sometimes serious, yet light-hearted dynamics between Cormac’s family members, who were suspicious of and worried about a foreign werecreature in their territory, but quickly warmed up to Kess’s presence, even going so far as to be willing to help keep her safe from her violent brother, who Kess ultimately fights, almost kills, but spares at the end of the novel.

Technically speaking, the book’s well written, with no glaring issues as far as structure and presentation go. As I mentioned above, it’s quite engaging, it’s got plenty of interesting themes and events within it, and it’s a book that was nice enough to read twice. At the end of the day though, I’m not so invested in the series and so interested in Kess and Cormac that I feel compelled to hurry out and read the rest of the trilogy to see how their relationship blossoms out and see how Sek will change as a person with regards to Kess’s escape and his near death.

If you like a strong, courageous female lead, and supernatural romance novels, then this book probably won’t disappoint. Leopard Moon is a stereotypical young-adult romance novel with enjoyable suspense and light-hearted romance.

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#BookReview: Seducing Summer

Seducing Summer (The Four Seasons #1)Seducing Summer by Serenity Woods

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Romances normally aren’t the type of book that interests me, they seem to be all over the charts for Amazon’s Kindle, and it’s hard not to find one in the list.

I almost went past it, but this one had a really intriguing description, so I decided to break my rule about guy-meets-girl romances and give it a shot.

Before I get into my impressions, here’s the description that the book was shipped with on Amazon’s Kindle section.

“Callie Summer, CEO of the Four Seasons lingerie business, is in shock. She’d expected her new PA to be a middle-aged frump, but Jean turns out to be Gene, and he’s neither middle-aged, nor anything like a frump. When the gorgeous Bond-lookalike insists he’ll be the perfect companion on her business trip around the country, Callie agrees to give him a trial. Having recently found her ex in bed with another woman, she’s not looking for love. But a little bit of private lusting never did anyone any harm.

“Once a military journalist with the New Zealand Army, Gene now runs his own security firm. Hired by Callie’s mother, Phoebe, to secretly protect her daughter after Phoebe receives death threats against her family, Gene finds his work cut out for him. Callie’s as delectable as she is infuriating, and his urge to seduce her fights with his duty to keep her safe.

“It’s not long before they give in to their passion, and the weather isn’t the only thing that turns hot and sultry as they travel further north. But Gene can’t keep his identity a secret from Callie forever. And when an attempt is finally made on her life, the truth threatens to break them apart.”

Though the title character Calinda Summers is based out of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, this book actually crossing the entire nation, as Calinda, known by her shortened name of “Callie” embarks on a tour of New Zealand from Dunedin to Christchurch, all the way up to Auckland.

At the start of the book, Callie (26) is looking for a new personal assistant to help keep her chaotic business life in check while her regular Becky is off for a three month maternity leave. Her friend and business partner Neve recommends Gene (32), who Callie mistakes prior to the meeting to be “Jean”, a woman.

Gene, as we learn quickly from his perspective during the story, is a former member of the New Zealand Army who’s formed his own private security firm. He is contacted by Phoebe Hawke, Callie’s mother, to protect her daughter and pose as her intern because a gangster that lawyer Hawke put away for a decade has gotten out and threatened her and her daughter’s life while going on a killing spree to punish everyone responsible for putting him away for six years (he got out early).

The two are attracted to each other from the beginning, and their interactions drip with sexual tension when Callie and Gene (posing as her PA, not as a protection agent) embark on her tour of the South and North Islands to sell managers of lingerie and clothing stores on carrying her and her 3 friends’ brand of lingerie and women’s wear.

The two travel from Dunedin to Christchurch, and then back to Wellington without a hitch embarking on a successful tour where only one store doesn’t actually take Callie’s products, and the sexual tension is finally broken in Christchurch, where they finally kiss before things proceed to outright sex a few nights later.

Meanwhile, the gangster has killed several people, and embarking on the North Island tour, Gene, as Phoebe’s client, has to balance his and Callie’s attraction to each other with his job to protect her and not disclose that he’s actually a hired bodyguard, as he fears that it will strain his relationship with her and force her to shove him aside, as she is dismissive to the threats against her mother and the risk it poses to her personally.

In Auckland, we finally learn the truth of the relationship between Phoebe and Gene, which had been on my mind for ages by this point. Why did the CEO of a security firm take a personal job instead of delegating it to someone he employs?

As it turns out, when Phoebe left her husband and was assaulted by him, the then-lieutenant Gene who was posted with her husband and Callie’s father, had helped her out afterwards, and she felt she could trust him and they had a preexisting relationship.

Phoebe has always carried the pretense that she was the reason the relationship broke so that Callie wouldn’t look down on her father, and with the threat to Callie increasing from indirect threats to direct threats via messages to Phoebe from the gangster’s associates, she instructs Gene to come clean about his duty as a personal protection agent and how he knows Phoebe.

Callie, ever astute like Sherlock Holmes, had already deduced that he was a bodyguard when she read his teeline shorthand notes and found a threat assessment taken, and she kept Gene around anyway, but didn’t tell him she was aware of what he was doing there.

In an exciting and climatic conclusion to the story, two accomplices of the gangster attempt to attack Gene and Callie in Auckland. By this point, Gene is openly working with and coordinating PPOs he employs with his company and has a few men and a woman with him because he doesn’t have to conceal his identity to Callie. In Auckland, as Gene and Julia disarm and subdue one enemy, a second turns a gun on Gene, and Callie — out of love for Gene — instinctively pushes him aside despite his wearing a bullet-proof vest and takes a bullet to the shoulder, rather than letting her lover and protector take the bullet he was positioning himself to take.

The story ends with her saying to Gene in the hospital afterwards how she loves him, and them a month later at an Easter event for her friends’ kids, where they declare their love and say that they want to be together.

I”m not going to lie, I thought I’d hate this book as a cliche erotica (most of which are horribly written), but while there’s plenty enough graphic sex to warrant notice to those who wouldn’t be interested in such material, it’s actually a very good book, and I’m impressed with it. It had its romantic aspects, but it also had this tense thriller perspective at times when we saw chapters from Gene’s perspective, along with plenty of witty-ish humor.

From what I can gather, there are four books, one apparently for each of the friends who founded “Four Seasons”, the lingerie company Callie was touring on behalf of. Do I like this one enough to buy the other ones? I’m not quite sure. Falling in love with a personal bodyguard was an interesting idea, and I’m not sure how the other three characters (who didn’t strike me as interesting in the story) will work out as far as interesting plots go… And, those are paid whereas I got this one only because it was free.

Still, it was a good romance book, and amazingly enough, despite not caring for romances much, I just might give it another read someday when I’m bored.

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#BookReview: Not Dead and Not for Sale

Not Dead and Not for SaleNot Dead and Not for Sale by Scott Weiland

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not Dead and Not For Sale, referred to by the late Weiland as his “Earthling Memoirs”, is Scott Weiland’s take on the events of his life growing up, forming the Stone Temple Pilots, and touring with supergroup Velvet Revolver, as well as the trials of his various relationships and his battle with drugs — something which sadly led to the end of his life in 2015.

It’s a decent memoir as far as memoirs go, and it’s nice to hear Weiland’s take on things, which he disclaimed as not necessarily being the absolute truth, but at least his truth and what he believes.

Scott Weiland has a style of writing that I really enjoyed and never fully appreciated until reading ND&NFS, and it was particularly interesting to have his insights into how the events of his life influenced the creation of classic STP songs.

I am slightly disappointed in the execution of the memoirs, though. He’s glossed over a lot of details to his life, only briefly touching on some things, sometimes omitting months or years of time, perhaps out of trouble admitting to mistakes of his life, of which he admits there are many.

The book itself actually isn’t that long of a read. Whereas you would have to sit down for a long while to read I Am Ozzy or Joe Perry’s Rocks: My Life in and Out of Aerosmith, two musical autobiographies that are very verbose and specific about the good and bad of the person’s life, you can read through Not Dead in a very short amount of time, as it only comes in around 200-someodd pages in length, with a lot of space on the pages dedicated to graphics, “torn” pages, and various little visual breaks, as well as a decent length end section that consists of his sketchbook, with drawings, newspaper clippings, handwritten comments, and so forth.

All of this stuff makes for nice touches to make this a little more unique than the average memoir, though there’s enough detail missing or hinted at but not truly touched on that at the end of the day I had something left to be desired from the reading of Not Dead and Not For Sale.

Still, it’s a very good read for a fan of STP, Velvet Revolver, or of Weiland’s solo albums.

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#BookReview: Terms of Service

Terms of ServiceTerms of Service by Emma Nichols

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Second book review for Romance Month, since I decided to broaden by reading horizons by doing months set around specific genres.

Hannah is out of a marriage she didn’t like, she’s struggling to get by while taking care of two pre-school age twins, and she decides to put an advert in the personals looking for a sugar daddy. Gavin is a well-off businessman and he takes in Hannah as a hobby for revenge after his wife slept with his lesbian sister and fell in love with her, and he’s intent on making her life miserable.

They make a contract where she’ll be his personal assistant, help out with his work and around the house, and he’ll provide board for her and her twin girls, Aurora (Rory) and Zoe. She brings out the best of him and he becomes a more sympathetic person, going so far as to allow her to redecorate the house, he comes onto good terms with Madge, his housekeeper with her there to make her feel like an equal, and he slowly but surely falls in love with her and they ultimately end up in a relationship and the kids grow to look at Gavin as a father figure.

His lawyer comes by and Hannah overhears the man ask about Gavin’s revenge plot, which he’s long since forgotten, and it shatters the relationship. She gives her 30 days notice for the termination of the contract and readies herself to move out. Gavin wins her heart back, they proclaim their love for each other, and he proposes marriage to her whilst leaving the family business to his sister to run, since he only did it out of loyalty to his late father, but she was the one who was actually interested in the business and happy to run it. Then, Gavin, Hannah, and her twins get ready for a life on the Carribean, presumably, as Gavin’s real passion is sailing and he wants to have a simpler life with his new fiancee and her kids.

Overall, this book was average in every way imaginable. The plot isn’t particularly original and you could see how it was going to end from almost the beginning. I didn’t skim pages or outright skip sections, but it was so boring and hard to read at times that it was very tempting, and the characters were so unoriginal and boring that I had to look up what Hannah’s name was so I could write this review, and she was the main character of the story!

If you like this kind of cliche story, you’ll probably like the book, but if you’re like me and you’re just grabbing free books of specific genres for the sake of reading but don’t have a strong feeling one way or the other about the book, then it’s probably one that you can not read and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.

Average execution of an average plot with nothing particularly interesting or redeeming about the plot or the characters, aside from the odd moment where the twins are adorable acting here and there, but as supporting characters they aren’t worth the read on their own.

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#FM15: To The Top! 4.7 – End

Welcome back to the blog, people. It’s time for what may possibly be the last regular update to the To The Top! series for the foreseeable future.

Truth be told, I’m burned up of it. I was enjoying the challenge of the save at first and I’m still curious how St. Ives Town will fare in the coming years with an announcement of administration looming ever closer as days tick on, but this series in its current format isn’t really working out for me.

I really enjoyed the creative writing for the first couple seasons, and I enjoyed the last month and a half or so of super productive blogging, but it’s too much of a strain to play the game and have such regularly scheduled posts, and I’ll get into this after the cut before moving on to what games I’ve played since the previous update.

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#SouthPark: The Stick of Truth

I’m back again with another game review post. Well, not a review, since I’ve not finished it and couldn’t tell you if it sucked or not, but it’s an overview and my impressions.

I love those old turn-based RPGs, and I have plenty of memories of playing Final Fantasy IV and Golden Sun on the old Gameboy systems. I also love South Park, so a couple of years ago, I was thrilled to find out that The Stick of Truth was being made, though with my owning so many games that I’ve not gotten around to playing them all. I haven’t really gotten around to this one until recently, and I really enjoy this one and want to share my impressions of it. And, I know South Park is a game that’s totally inappropriate for younger audiences and the workplace, but this post is safe for work, as are the screenshots that I took of my gameplay to supplement it.

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