Candy Man by Amy Lane

Candy Man by Amy Lane
Stars: 5/5

Length: 136 pages
Adam Macias has been thrown a few curve balls in his life, but losing his VA grant because his car broke down and he missed a class was the one that struck him out. One relative away from homelessness, he's taking the bus to Sacramento, where his cousin has offered a house-sitting job and a new start. He has one goal, and that's to get his life back on track. Friends, pets, lovers? Need not apply.

Finn Stewart takes one look at Adam as he's applying to Candy Heaven and decides he's much too fascinating to leave alone. Finn is bright and shiny—and has never been hurt. Adam is wary of his attention from the very beginning—Finn is dangerous to every sort of peace Adam is forging, and Adam may just be too damaged to let him in at all.

But Finn is tenacious, and Adam's new boss, Darrin, doesn't take bullshit for an answer. Adam is going to have to ask himself which is harder—letting Finn in or living without him? With the holidays approaching it seems like an easy question, but Adam knows from experience that life is seldom simple, and the world seldom cooperates with hope, faith, or the plans of cats and men.

Short, with just enough tart to truly make you appreciate the sweet.

This feels like classic Amy Lane, with a sugary-sweet story covering a tart little treat. While this tale is more sweet than sour, it has moments where it digs deep into the sour spots of the soul.

Some parts of the story felt a tad unrealistic and magical (mostly Finn’s unerring devotion), but I can chalk that up to an Amy Lane Christmas story--but other readers may take issue with that.

Speaking of magic...I love Darrin. It could be argued that he’s completely unrealistic, completely improbable, but that’s what makes the story work. His is a magical candy shop, like Willy Wonka’s. I loved his Pixy Stix foretelling and I loved how sweet he was. I don’t know if I want his story or if I want him to remain a mystery.

Overall I found this completely satisfying for the holiday season fix that some of us readers get, and I can see myself returning to it in future years.


Racing for the Sun by Amy Lane

Racing for the Sun by Amy Lane
Stars: 3/5

Length: 260 pages
"I'll do anything."

Staff Sergeant Jasper "Ace" Atchison takes one look at Private Sonny Daye and knows that every word on paper about him is pure, unadulterated bullshit. But Sonny is desperate, and although Ace isn't going to take him up on his offer of "anything," that doesn't mean he isn't tempted.

Instead, Ace takes Sonny under his wing, protecting him when they're in the service and making plans with him when they get out. Together, they're going to own a garage and build race cars and make their fortune hurtling faster than light across the desert. Together, they're going to rewrite the past, make Sonny Daye a whole and happy person, and put the ghosts in Ace's heart to rest.

But not even Sonny can build a car fast enough to escape the ghosts of the past. When Sonny's ghosts drive them down and run their plans off the road, Ace finds out exactly what he's made of. Maybe Sonny was the one to promise Ace anything, but there is nothing under the sun Ace won't do to keep Sonny safe from harm.

Warning: Due to circumstances, I took an eight-month hiatus from reading this book, which may alter my perspective on it.

While there are some elements of this book that are great, my disconnect from the characters kept me from really getting involved in the story.

From the beginning I had troubles really getting into this story. The story itself is fine, the writing is fine, but the characters didn’t grab me by the heartstrings and demand I hear their story. They are good, deep, sweet characters, but for some reason I just didn’t connect. this of course made the book more difficult to get through (although the hiatus was for personal reasons, not because of the book). I think my main struggles are based around the main vehicle of the story (racing, the army), both of which left me lukewarm.

When I picked up the book again, I was a little lost and I probably should have just reread the darn thing, but I was so close to crossing it off my to-do list that I just read it through. I think it was worth it. And in true Amy Lane style, she kept me up way past my bedtime reading.

Even though I didn’t really click with the characters, and even after a hiatus, I still felt invested enough in the characters that I was turning the pages faster and faster, wondering how much sleep I really needed to function.

This story touches upon some serious issues (coming out, family, prostitution, human trafficking [sorta], the army, racing, betting, cultural differences, class differences, and probably a few others I missed). There are also some elements of it that seem a little far-fetched (mainly in the end), but that I’m willing to suspend my disbelief about because it’s fiction.


Sherlock's Gay Best Father A'oro

Sherlock, season 3 - (3 episodes) After two years' absence, "deceased" Sherlock Holmes emerges from hiding and asks Watson to help him stop a terrorist plot that is threatening London. The twosome also tangle with a blackmailer and track a killer who's infiltrated Watson's wedding.

(buy) While I enjoyed the third installation of Sherlock, I’m not sure if I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the previous season. I would say it continues with their standard build mixed with humor, so viewers of the first two seasons will be pleased with this, but people unfamiliar with the series should probably start at the beginning.

G.B.F. - When shy Tanner is outed as a school's only openly gay student, popular girls Fawcett, Caprice and 'Shley engage in an epic catfight to acquire him as their "Gay Best Friend." Tanner soon finds himself torn between popularity and old friendships.

(rent) This is a cute high school comedy that really looks at friendships, stereotypes, and the masks people wear. It was amusing, but never really grabbed my attention. It had great one-liners and dialogue, but in some ways it dragged, which is weird since it wasn’t that long of a film. I would definitely say this is worth a watch, as it avoids some stereotypical high school movie tropes while playing with others.

Easy A - Ambitious student Olive decides to boost her popularity by pretending to be the school slut. As the swirling rumor mill increases both her notoriety and her finances, Olive enjoys her newfound status but eventually must decide if it's all worth it.

(rent/buy) I’m sorry I waited so long to watch this movie. But really, the description (and what I’d heard about the movie) left little desire for me to see it. It didn’t seem interesting or particularly deep. However, after seeing a million GIFs of interest float by, I decided to give it a shot.

And I’m glad I did. This film had a lovely mix of humor, classic high school flick, depth, and wit. Some of the characters were flat, but most had at least various elements that made them fallible and realistic. While much of the underlying message will be “no shit” for older audiences, I still think it’s worth hearing--and seeing.

La Corda d’Oro - (26 episodes) Hino goes to a school that specialises in music and has two streams: the normal stream and the music stream, where the music students are regarded as the more elite. She was running late for her class one day when she saw a tiny fairy, who seemed really excited that she could see it. The next day, the entrants in the music competition, who are decided by the school, are announced. Hino's name appears on the list - except she doesn't play an instrument.

(rent) This is just kind of a mellow high school show. It may not be for everyone (especially as it’s subtitled only), but I found it oddly enjoyable. It’s one of those shows you don’t watch for plot or excitement or any of that, but just to let the story unfold. For all the romantic tension, there’s no real resolution. And the underlying theme gets beaten over the head a bit much (especially in the last episode). This is mostly a character study, although even in that it’s mostly just how Hina transformed everyone in the show for the better. But it had pretty boys and classical music (and it pans away to the same few shots for every musical number rather than animating the instrument playing.

In the Name of… - Running toward God but away from his sexuality, Adam became a priest at age 21. Now the head of a rural parish, he's still tormented by desire. When Father Adam attempts to help troubled teen Lukasz, long-suppressed feelings begin to surface.

(meh) I really couldn’t get into this movie. It had potential, even with what I felt was an under-developed plot, but too much was vaguely hinted out, left undeveloped, or just not really looked at. I’m not sure if better understanding of the culture that movie takes place in (Poland, I believe), would clarify things, but generally I was lukewarm about everything. The acting wasn’t bad, probably the highlight of the film, and there were moments I felt for the characters and their struggles, but generally my confusion over what was happening and how people felt was too deep to let me connect at all to anything here.


A Big Movie in Eden, Tokyo. Don't Cry.

Big Eden - Successful but lonely New York artist Henry Hart (Arye Gross) returns to Big Eden to care for his ailing grandfather and winds up confronting his unrequited passion for his high school best friend and his feelings about being gay in a small town. As Henry works though his emotions, the townspeople quietly conspire to help him along, until Henry realizes new possibilities for both friendship and romance. Eric Schweig and Louise Fletcher also star.

(rent) This is either a bad movie or a fantastic one. It’s very much RomCom, coming out, small town (that is VERY understanding). In all those ways, it’s kinda of over-the-top cheesy. Which may disgust some people. But if you like cheese, even in a cheesy way (if that makes sense), then this may be up your alley. I found it cute and slightly cringe-worthy. The acting, camera work, etc, are all good, but sometimes things happen and I don’t know if they were cute or not. It’s definitely not a completely realistic story, but it’s kind of adorable and sweet, so I forgave it.

Boys Don’t Cry - Based on actual events, director Kimberly Peirce's powerful, often harrowing drama stars Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena, a transgender person searching for love and acceptance in a small Midwestern town.

(rent) This is a dark, heavy piece that has lots of points that brings awareness to trans issues and the dangers of “passing” as a trans person. I think I would have enjoyed this piece more if it wasn’t based on actual events, as I have a feeling the thing that bothered me the most--a person making god-awful stupid decisions--was pulled from the actual events of Tina’s life. That said, while this is a powerful film, it will probably only sit comfortably on a few people’s shelves: Those who like heavier, darker, edgier movies.

We Need to Talk About Kevin - Eva's relationship with her son, Kevin, has been difficult from the beginning. When the 15-year-old boy's cruel streak erupts into violence, Eva wonders how much blame she deserves for his actions.

(rent) I was kind of mediocre on this one. It draws out the pivotal plot slowly, which isn’t bad, and it does lots of telling in flashback, which again isn’t bad, but together they left me lukewarm. It didn’t help that I felt little to no sympathy for Eva. I think it’s an interesting psychological piece that explores an individual’s and a community’s reaction to a traumatic event perpetrated by one man, but I can’t really recommend it.

The Lego Movie - After being mistaken for the LEGO Master Builder, ordinary mini-guy Emmet is swept up in an urgent quest to thwart the evil plans of Lord Business. Emmet's adventures include daunting challenges and hilarious missteps in this computer-animated epic.

(rent/buy) Everyone had nothing but good things to say about this movie, and while I found it enjoyable and rather funny at parts, I wasn’t particularly moved by it. The creative animation style definitely won points, and the plot and deeper meanings were all stellar, but it felt a touch overdone/preachy, probably because it wasn’t particularly subtle about making its points. I have a feeling most people would enjoy watching this and some will fall in love, but it just wasn’t for me.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 - (11 episodes) In 2012, Mirai, a middle school freshman girl, goes to Tokyo’s artificial Odaiba Island for a robot exhibition with her brother Yuuki at the start of summer vacation. A powerful tremor registering 8.0 on the JMA scale emanates from an ocean trench and the landscape of Tokyo changes in seconds. With the help of a motorcycle delivery woman named Mari who they meet on Odaiba, Mirai and Yuuki strive to head back to their Setagaya home in western Tokyo.

(rent) This is, as expected, a fairly dark series, but it’s not really dreary or depressing, for the most part, although it has very heavy moments, especially toward the end. However, I would definitely recommend this to almost all viewers, one as an educational element, one as just a powerful reminder of people being the worst they can and the best they can.

One of the nice things about this anime is that it isn’t heavy with cultural references or jokes that the basic viewer won’t get. While some elements may seem odd to the unfamiliar, for the most part people will follow along and still be touched by the story. That said, it still won’t be for everyone, so I’d still recommend watching it before buying it.


How to Find and Train Your X-Men

Geography Club - Looking for a haven from the social hell of high school, the teens in this dramedy form a social club they know no one else will join. Here, it doesn't matter that Min and Terese are more than just friends, or that the quarterback is seeing a guy

(rent/buy) This is a cute film that watches like a YA novel. Not only does it have a heart-warming message, it has a slightly unexpected ending, a multicultural cast, and some twists on characters you wouldn’t expect. This is a piece I’d probably enjoy more in book form, but I’m a reader at heart. The strong cast of actors, good dialogue, and witty lines make this definitely worth a watch.

X-men: Days of Future Past - The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

(rent/buy) Although there are some issues with timelines, the character development and storyline are fantastic and highly enjoyable. Seeing the relationship differences between Magneto and Xavier as young individuals and having come together again in a challenging world, is an interesting study of both character development and a look at the actors and their different approaches to the characters. Definitely worth a watch for a fan of the series, although like all X-men films, don’t look too closely at the plot as compared to the comics.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 - Five years have passed since Hiccup and Toothless united the dragons and Vikings of Berk. Now, they spend their time charting the island's unmapped territories. During one of their adventures, the pair discover a secret cave that houses hundreds of wild dragons. Hiccup and Toothless then find themselves at the center of a battle to protect Berk from a power-hungry warrior named Drago.

(buy) I was tentative going into this movie because I enjoyed the first one so much. There was no way it could hold up to the original. And in many ways, it didn’t. But it also doesn’t try to. It goes it’s own way and by doing so, holds its own. I think the best part isn’t the story (although it’s enjoyable), but the behavior and information we see in the dragons. Toothless is just as adorable and loyal as ever, and the bond between him and Hiccup is lovely and precious. Definitely worth seeing.

8: The Mormon Proposition - Filmmaker and ex-Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints member Reed Cowan examines that church's nationwide efforts to prevent the legalization of gay marriage -- including California's Proposition 8, which was passed by voters in 2008. Confidential church documents, statements by high-ranking church officials and other sources detail 30 years of efforts to turn back gay rights, particularly by the Mormon-sponsored National Organization for Marriage.

(rent) I didn’t know much about the Prop 8 issue aside from the general news, so hearing the details and numbers related to what happened was eye-opening and horrifying. This was educational, with enough of a personal factor to reach the heart of viewers. This was educational, but a bit of a downer--though there is a positive light that things have advanced since this documentary was made.

The Butch Factor - Director Christopher Hines paints an intimate portrait of contemporary gay culture by asking pointed questions and studying the diverse lifestyles of its members, with the resulting film offering a fresh look at masculinity and homosexuality. Interviewing gay men ranging from rugby players to rodeo stars, Hines also talks to historians, psychologists and sociologists to help identify the similarities in the way gay men view themselves.

(rent) Whether or not you agree with everything this documentary says, it’s worth a watch. I found it to be fairly well-rounded, portraying bother the stereotypical “masculine” and “feminine” gays and their take on the stereotypes in the culture. I felt many deep, meaningful ideas were shared without showing one type as being the better one. I also greatly approved that a transman was able to get a say in this, which is a unique perspective in this topic. This documentary was well put together, and while at points it felt like it dragged (and some people were just saying the same thing as a previous person), each speaker brought something new to the table, so I was never really bored or disinterested.


Reviews: Howling at Dinner While Coming Out

Howl - James Franco steps into the shoes of famed Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in this star-studded biopic centered around Ginsberg's poem "Howl" and the widely publicized obscenity trial that followed its publication in 1957.

(rent/buy) I knew nothing about Allen Ginsberg going into this movie, so it was very educational. It was also well balanced between educational and entertainment. It wasn’t a documentary, but the film is grounded in reality. I would definitely say this is worth a watch, as not only do you learn about the poet, but about important decisions the court made in regards to literature.

Ristorante Paradiso - (11 episodes) Ristorante Paradiso follows the protagonist, Nicoletta, as she comes to Rome from the Italian countryside and becomes an apprentice in Casetta dell'Orso, a restaurant owned by her mother Olga's new husband, Lorenzo, and meets its colorful staff.

(rent/buy) This laid-back anime is a nice watch, although if you’re looking for action, go elsewhere. It’s very much like a slice of life series, where we learn about the different characters in the restaurant, their history, and the growth of the lead character. There are some dark moments, but nothing too heavy (or that is too heavy for too long). Generally a nice, gentle story.

Also, if you’re looking for homosexual subtext, there isn’t much. It’s all very heteronormative, although there are a few hints and open-ended events. This isn’t a bad thing, but I do like some handsome men who want to woo other men. But generally this series was so laid back and focused on other things (even when romance was the focus) that it wasn’t bothersome.

Coming Out Stories - In this Logo reality series, gay men and lesbians go through the process of coming out to their families, friends and neighbors. Each episode features the story of one individual and the challenges and thrills of his or her coming-out story.

(rent) This is probably not a series to watch all in one sitting. Much like most reality TV, the drama is amped up (although considering the setting, not that much). There were eight (I believe) episodes, and while each brought different unique qualities, many of the same feelings/issues were raised. These were of course valid, but watching them all in one night made them feel repetitive.

I didn’t really take much from watching this show, although your mileage may vary. What I found most interesting was the look at how culture and LGBT issues cross, such as in the individuals who were Korean, Jamaican, or Filipino. Mainly it made me think of my own quirky coming out. Also, many of the individuals felt pushed to tell a family member because that family member was ill and probably going to die soon. It obviously amped up the drama for the story, and it definitely pushes the idea that we all run out of time, but mostly it showed me (or stressed to me) that we are all on borrowed time, so live happily. After all, if they can’t accept you, that’s their loss.

Save Me - When young gay man Mark (Chad Allen) hits rock bottom, the well-intentioned Gayle (Judith Light) and her husband, Ted (Stephen Lang), welcome him to Genesis House, a Christian haven for men like Mark to seek shelter and get on the right path -- the straight path. But problems arise when Mark's mentor, Scott (Robert Gant), becomes too intimate, prompting Gayle and Ted to face some uncomfortable realities about love, salvation and human sexuality.

(rent/buy) I think what I really loved about this movie was that it didn’t use a horrible, evil place for Genesis House. Instead, Gayle and Ted run a house for helping. The people there can leave at any time. They want to be there. Of course some feel obligated, and there’s some issues, mainly with family making people attend, but generally they are a nice house that brings people to God rather than forcing or brainwashing.

The relationship between Mark and Scott is lovely and for the most part not physical, which I think is a perfect balance for how Mark begins the movie. The lack of physicality allows their closeness and love to really blossom, which is my other favorite part. Although I didn’t necessarily feel chemistry between the two men, I definitely felt a depth of caring that seemed to go beyond basic chemistry--aka, love. It was lovely and sweet, although some moments were very hard-hitting, relating to drugs and suicide attempts.

A Time to Leave - At the height of his career, a gay fashion photographer suddenly faces terminal cancer in this French drama helmed by Francois Ozon. When Romain (Melvil Poupaud) learns he has little time left to live, he decides to tell only his beloved grandmother of his condition, pushing away everyone else in his life -- his parents, his sister, even his lover. Refusing chemotherapy, he struggles to accept his fate and make the most of his precious last days.

(rent) I didn’t even remember adding this to my queue, so I was surprised I had something so potentially depressing on my list. In many ways, this film wasn’t as sad as I was expecting. Yes, it had elements of melancholy, but it was more introspective than drag you in the dirt depressing. By the end, I felt accepting of the main character’s demise, as I think the viewer is meant to be. This is something worth watching, but I think only fans of artsy films will truly enjoy it.


Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair by Amy Lane

Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair, a Granby Knitting Novel by Amy Lane
Stars: 5/5

Length: 244
After three years of waiting for “rabbit” Jeremy to commit to a life in Granby—and a life together—Aiden Rhodes was appalled when Jeremy sustained a nearly fatal beating to keep a friend out of harm's way. How could Aiden’s bunny put himself in danger like that?

Aiden needs to get over himself, because Jeremy has a long road to recovery, and he's going to need Aiden's promise of love every step of the way. Jeremy has new scars on his face and body to deal with, and his heart can’t afford any more wounds.

When their friend’s baby needs some special care, the two men find common ground to firm up their shaky union. With Aiden’s support and his boss’s inspiration, Jeremy comes up with a plan to make sure Ariadne's little blackbird comes into this world with everything she needs. While Jeremy grows into his new role as protector, Aiden needs to ease back on his protectiveness over his once-timid lover. Aiden may be a wolf in student's clothing and Jeremy may be a rabbit of a man, but that doesn’t mean they can’t walk the wilds of Granby together.

A fitting conclusion to the Granby Knitting series (or at least the story of these men).

I’m sure there are things about this novel that I didn’t like. Most likely the pieces all falling together too nicely and something of that sort.

But I really can’t say that here. Because these characters, this town, has been building up and coming together for three prior books. And this one doesn’t rush to get to the happy ending these men, especially Jeremy, deserve. Instead we’re led through Jeremy’s difficult recovery, Aiden’s challenges, and the struggles of life, love, and misconceptions.

Jeremy has to deal with his new face, his new life, and all the changes that are being thrown at him. He’s used to running scared, but he’s promised Aiden he won’t. He’s got a lot of work to do to keep that promise.

Aiden needs to come to terms with what he did to protect the love of his life, and he has to be the man that Jeremy needs. While Aiden has always been the “older” of the two, for the first time we get to see things from his perspective and see that he doesn’t always feel as grown up as he is (which is something we can all relate to, I think).

Much of this story is like being wrapped in a heavy blanket: warm, comforting, and protecting the delicate hearts within. But as the final tale for these men who surround themselves with knitting, it is the perfect conclusion, leaving the reader just as warmed as after having finished the first of these Granby men’s stories.


This Boy Drove an Orange Slope

A Clockwork Orange - Against a bleak futuristic landscape, young sociopath Alex DeLarge spends his time stealing, raping and beating innocent people in nihilistic orgies of violence, all in an attempt to get his nightly kicks.

(rent) This is a very weird moving. It’s obviously making a ton of commentary on society, etc, and it’s definitely dark and deep (and sometimes squicky). I’m glad I’ve seen it just because it’s so well-known and part of culture, but I can’t really say I enjoyed it. On the other hand, I’m not sure this is a movie that’s meant to be enjoyed. More studied and analyzed than anything.

Kids on the Slope - (12 episodes) The story of Kids on the Slope really starts rolling when the classical piano-trained Kaoru encounters Sentaro and falls head-over-heels in love with jazz.

(rent/buy) This show was sold to me with the description, “Stupendously, nonstop gay...oh, and jazz.” And considering all the characters in it are supposedly heterosexual, it’s pretty nonstop gay. The bond between the two male leads could be argued as best friends, but it goes beyond that. The relationships are horribly high school sometimes (uh, in a good way), and they suffer from the human condition of being unable to communicate, but this is a great show with fun music, a good plot, and an ending that left me giggling and repeating, “so gay” without being stated as gay.

Star Driver - (26 episodes) Takuto, The "Galactic Pretty Boy," finds himself dragged into opposition with the "Glittering Crux Brigade," a mysterious group that intends to take possession of the island's Cybodies for their own purposes as well as break the seals of the island's four Shrine Maidens, whose powers prevent the Cybodies from functioning outside of Zero Time.

(rent/buy) If I were to read this show’s description anywhere, I probably wouldn’t watch it. Giant robots? High school romance? Ugh. But this show is more than it appears. There are some high-school-hijinks moments, but for the most part the characters (especially the main three) are very mature and responsible. The robot battle scenes are a necessary evil, but generally they don’t last too long. What really sold this show to me was the ending, which felt kind incomplete, but gave a subtle answer to the question of the love triangle. Who is she going to pick? Who says she has to…

This Boy Can Fight Aliens! - (30 min OVA)When aliens suddenly invade the world, Earth seems to be fighting a losing battle until Arikawa accidentally discovers a young man, Kakashi, who has the power to defeat the attackers. Unfortunately, Kakashi has also lost his memory, and with it the knowledge of how to actually use his power. Moving Kakashi in with himself and his commander, Arikawa accidentally starts a strange triangle of emotions and relationships. A triangle that threatens the fate of the planet as Kakashi begins to question his own motivations.

(rent) This is definitely one to watch before buying, as the art styles are very different (either to save money or for artistic reasons...or both), and the story is disjointed and a little confusing. Some things are never really made clear. Some questions are never answered. While there is some resolution, and the development of the relationship is not given much focus, there is also a lot left unsaid and open, which I felt depleted the quality of the story being told. In some ways the artistic style seemed to take center stage, filling time that could have better been used to develop plot.

This Boy Caught a Merman - (30 min OVA) Shima has always strove to be an excellent obedient child to his parents and to others, but in the process he could never be himself. Because of this he has always felt lonely, even with all the people who say they love him. When the picture of his recently deceased grandfather falls into the ocean, Shima nearly drowns jumping in after it. He is quickly saved by a mysterious man.

(rent/buy) This short piece won’t be for everyone, but I found it exceptionally cute and sweet. It has some depth, but isn’t too heavy, really, and it looks at some of the problems of a human/nonhuman relationship. For how short it is, it covers a lot of ground and doesn’t feel like it shorts you any.


Movie Reviews: Shut up, I'm Frozen

Shut Up and Kiss Me - Actor, fitness coach and pinup guy Ronnie Kerr draws on all facets of his far-flung career for this charming autobiographical tale about 35-year-old Ben (Kerr), who finally meets Mr. Right (Scott Gabelein) -- and then discovers how much they don't have in common. Director Devin Hamilton touches on monogamy and other related lifestyle issues in this playful comedy about relationship building in the contemporary world.

(rent) I’m really not sure how I feel about this movie. As the description says, it deals with monogamy...or not. It doesn’t really just touch on the topic either. It’s a central theme as these two men get together and struggle to have a relationship. The plot, acting, etc, were all okay. Not great, but not the worst I’ve seen. For me, watching this movie wasn’t so much a theatrical experience as a philosophical one. How would I handle if I was in a relationship with someone who wasn’t monogamous (and was upfront about it)? It gave me something to ponder, even if I couldn’t particularly recommend this for a viewing.

The Three Musketeers - (2011) The original three musketeers are past their prime and working menial jobs in Paris when their friend D'Artagnan rallies them to defend the nation. To do so, they must undermine Cardinal Richelieu's plot to have himself crowned France's next king.

(rent) Okay, this isn’t as good as the 1993 version, but it also took a very different path, which was sometimes hard to believe, but overall it worked. It uses more the general concept of the three musketeers and the plot rather than focusing on historical reality. It has some laugh-out-loud moments and some fun plot twists, etc. I found some of the action sequences to be a little far-fetched, and the last scene made me roll my eyes, but generally is was an okay psuedo-historical action flick.

White Frog - Nick, who has Asperger's syndrome, struggles to carry on after the death of his brother Chaz. Their parents have their own problems coping with the loss, but Chaz's best friend takes Nick under his wing.

(buy) This movie was pretty fantastic for many, many reasons. Some of the resolution felt a little too easy, but not enough to turn me off it. The characters are wonderfully three dimensional, the story is a slow reveal (that the viewer can guess, but it still is explored in such a way that it makes the reveal all the more important. This has several lessons, but it teaches through showing, not lecturing. I’d recommend this to just about everyone.

The Crow - Exactly one year after young rock guitarist Eric Draven and his fiancée are brutally killed by a ruthless gang of criminals, Draven -- watched over by a hypnotic crow -- returns from the grave to exact revenge.

(rent) I somehow grew up in the nineties and never saw this movie. My friends, who are huge fans, insisted on showing it to me, and despite the hype (and keeping in mind the year it was made), I enjoyed it. It’s very grunge, and the violence/gang gets almost silly in parts, but it never crosses that line and in fact seems to recognize it’s extremeness.

Despite the dark topic and horrible people that make up the majority of the cast, there are a few golden individuals that leave you with a sense of hope for the future. For a dark, death-ridden movie, it was handled with a balanced hand, making it as hopeful as it is a warning. While it didn’t grab me, I was definitely interested the entire time and enjoyed watching everything play out. If you’re like me and somehow missed this, it’s definitely worth a watch...maybe on Devil’s Night?

Frozen - After her kingdom is doomed to suffer from eternal winter, intrepid Anna goes on a quest to find her reclusive sister, the Snow Queen, and break the curse. Along the way, Anna teams with eccentric mountaineer Kristoff and his comic reindeer, Sven.

(rent/buy) I come from a very different place for this movie, as I’d heard all the fuss before watching it. Still, it was a very enjoyable movie. Not completely what I look for in a film to own, but I can definitely see why it’s so beloved. It has two strong female leads, a goofy, lovable (but still strong) male companion, a fun twist, and enough humor to keep things from getting dark. I think my biggest issue was that the ice queen could also form material out of thin air. But her magic is never really explained...so yeah.


Luke (Sylvan #2) by Jan Irving

Luke (Sylvan #2) by Jan Irving

Stars: 1.5/5

Length: 100 pages


Wandering cowboy Luke Walker is at the end of his rope after his girlfriend abandons their newborn daughter. A terrified new father, he's grateful to meet Dr. Morgan Gallagher. Morgan recognizes that he and Luke could help each other: Luke can rebuild Morgan's property and land so Morgan can have the horses he wants, and Morgan can provide the younger man with a safe place to raise his daughter. In theory, it should work out perfectly, except that Morgan is instantly attracted to Luke-a straight man-and sharing the same cabin and caring for the baby is a more intimate arrangement than he'd imagined.


A sweet story without much substance or conflict.


I think the biggest weakness in this book is the lack of conflict. While there is some internal struggle and growth, generally everything falls into place neatly. Too neatly. The baby's momma shows up, but doesn't cause any trouble, the exboyfriend-ish has no hard feelings, and there's no negative ramifications for the gay cowboys.

The biggest conflict was the baby's fever and the guys getting over themselves, and even that didn't seem like such a big problem since the supposedly straight dude hopped right over that hurdle.

There was nothing I hated about this book, but there's very little I remember about it either. Parts of it were cute, and it would work as a series of vignettes, but as a novel it didn’t hold up.

I may have enjoyed this story more if I’d read the first of the Sylvan series, but since the characters in that didn’t play too major of a role, I didn’t feel lost.