The Deal Book Review

Buy at Amazon

Review:

The whole time I was reading The Deal, I was thinking that the style of writing seemed familiar, and when I finished, I finally realized that it’s because Elle Kennedy is also the co-author (with Sarina Bowen) of Him, which I read and reviewed last summer. D’oh! Even the same sport.

The Deal uses the same alternating point of view as Him, and follows Hannah Wells, a music major, and Garrett Graham, a star college hockey player.

I enjoyed Him, but I liked The Deal more. As I’ve mentioned, I imprinted on The Cutting Edge at a rather impressionable age, so I adore a good bickering couple, and Garrett and Hannah’s bickering was lots of fun to read and never descended into mushiness after they got together. I also have to say that I ended up really liking Garrett. He comes off initially as a bit of a cocky, arrogant douchebag, but proves himself to be a real sweetheart and much more respectful of women than he seemed at first.

I am not a big fan of rape as a backstory (or abuse either, for that matter), but I thought it was handled okay in The Deal and it didn’t have me rolling my eyes or anything. I just wish it wasn’t such a common trope in New Adult romances.

Overall, a pretty enjoyable read.

My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

Him Book Review

Buy at Amazon

Review:

Him, by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy, is a cute and mostly fluffy m/m romance about two long-time friends, one gay and one straight, who meet again four years after an ill-advised drunken hookup nearly destroyed their friendship.

Him has great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, which is what attracted my attention in the first place, but I found it enjoyable but not particularly memorable. Probably I should have guessed as much before buying it. It is a Friends To Lovers story, which I enjoy in both m/m and m/f, but it’s also modern (I generally prefer historicals and sff), plus the main characters are both star hockey players, a sport about which I know even less than most. There was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t for me. However, clearly lots of other people adored it (including, I was interested to note, a bunch of people who claimed it was their first m/m ever), so if you like modern and/or sports romances, give it a shot.

Bonus points for it not being a gay-for-you scenario (Jamie does realize he’s bisexual and can be turned on by guys other than Wes) and for switching.

My rating:3 Stars (3 / 5)

The Cutting Edge Movie Review

Buy at Amazon

Review:

Toepick!

Geez, I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this one yet. The Cutting Edge has been one of my favorite movies for pretty much as long as I can remember. Like, to the point that I can remember being very confused about what the fiance’s “foreplay” line meant, because for whatever reason, my normally strict parents let us watch this movie in elementary school despite the sexual references. (It was rated before the PG/PG-13 split, so it’s rated PG but should really be PG-13.)

The story focuses on Doug, a star hockey player who has to give up his career after an injury and turns to pairs figure skating instead, in the process getting paired with rich, spoiled Kate, who is determined to add Olympic gold to her collection of medals after a disastrous first Olympics with another partner.

Due to the aforementioned parental strictness, this was one of the first romantic comedies I ever saw (possibly even THE first), and I think I must have imprinted on it hard, because Doug and Kate are one of the ur-bickering couples in my mind and I adore a good bickering couple to this day. The script is great, the chemistry is great, and although I’m not a huge fan of sports movies in general, I loved this one because it was about figure skating. Most of the actual skating for the film was done by Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, a Canadian pairs team known for their spectacular stunts, which the film takes full advantage of.

A classic.

My rating:4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

[Read more…]

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India Movie Review

Buy at Amazon

Review:

I’ve seen a few Westernized Indian movies, like Bride and Prejudice and Monsoon Wedding, but Lagaan was my first experience with a real Bollywood film. I think it was a pretty lucky first choice.

The main plot of Lagaan revolves around a poor farming village in 19th century India, which is stricken by a horrific drought and unable to pay the taxes (lagaan) it owes to the British Raj. The hero, Bhuvan (Aamir Khan), makes a bet with the arrogant and cruel officer in charge of collecting the tax that if the villagers can beat the British in a game of cricket, their debt will be forgiven. But if they lose, their tax will be increased by three times.

What follows is good old-fashioned, feel-good fun. Although I’m not much of a sports fan and know almost nothing about cricket, I found it easy to get swept up in the film’s story, and it rarely lagged despite clocking in at nearly 4 hours of running time.

You always hear about Bollywood’s fantastic music and dance numbers, and several of the dances in Lagaan blew me away with how good they were. My favorite was Radha Kaise Na Jale:

Since there’s no subtitles in this copy of the clip, here’s what’s going on: Gauri (Gracy Singh) is in love with Bhuvan but fears he is falling in love with a British woman who has taken pity on the villagers and is coaching them at cricket. During a religious celebration in their village, Bhuvan and Gauri re-enact a ceremonial dance for the villagers (and the British woman) about a goddess (Radha) jealous of her flirtatious lover (Krishna), while Krishna tries to reassure her that his heart belongs only to her. Of course, there’s a double meaning in every line and gesture.

Great film! I highly recommend it.

Buy at Amazon

My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

[Read more…]

Friday Night Lights Season 2 Review

Buy at Amazon

Review:

After a practically perfect season one, Friday Night Lights fell apart in its second season. Like most other shows in 2007-2008, it had a shortened, 15 episode season thanks to the Writer’s Strike that gave many shows a weak year.

On top of the problems with pacing faced by most other shows affected by the strike, the FNL writers also made some mystifyingly dumb story choices, most notably the disastrous murder subplot. (In fairness to the writers, some of these poor story choices were reportedly the result of Executive Meddling.) Other storylines from season one were dropped completely. Waverly? Who’s that?

Disappointed, I gave up about halfway into the season and haven’t watched the show again since, although I’m told that the later seasons were closer in quality to the first season than the second, and they are on my to watch list.

Friday Night Lights Season One Review

Review:

Buy at Amazon

I grew up in one of the most football-crazy states in the nation, and as a non-fan, got so sick of hearing about it all the time that I almost didn’t give this show a chance just from sheer dislike of the sport. However, it got such good reviews from critics and several (more football tolerant) friends that I eventually gave in and ended up really enjoying it.

Friday Night Lights paints one of the most realistic portraits of life in a football-crazy small town America that I’ve seen on screen, both for the team, their coaches and fans, and those like myself who are indifferent or even resentful of the sport’s prominence.

The acting is excellent, especially Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as the team’s coach and his wife, who has to juggle her role as “Mrs. Coach” with her duties to students both on the team and off as the school’s guidance counselor. The show doesn’t flinch from exploring human pain, failure, and weakness in many different guises, but at the same time, its central characters (especially Coach and Mrs. Coach) are essentially good and moral human beings in a way that inspires the best of human nature not only in many of the other characters, but also in the audience. In a time when dark, grim narratives are common on television, Friday Night Lights is fundamentally uplifting. And there’s something to be said for shows like that.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

My rating:4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

[Read more…]

Bend It Like Beckham Movie Review

Buy at Amazon

Review:

Bend It Like Beckham became a pretty much instant feel-good classic when it was released and remains funny and charming more than 10 years later. It’s a great girl power film as well.

My rating:4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

[Read more…]