Summer Book Crush – 50+ Books, 50+ Authors, All 99 Cents!

Hot sun, hot sand, cool drinks, dark tans. Ahhhh. But your summer won’t be complete until you land a new BOOK BOYFRIEND, right? Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered!

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SUMMER BOOK CRUSH offers 50+ titles in many genres. This means 50+ chances to (fictitiously) fall in love. And the best part? Each of these gems is only 99¢, but for a limited time only. The SUMMER BOOK CRUSH event starts on June 26th and ends (yes, even the best things in life end at some point) on June 28th. So don’t wait up! Mingle with our BOOK BOYFRIENDS and invite all your friends to participate too. There are plenty of BOOK BOYS to share!

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Find your summer’s fling between the pages of a book. And don’t stop on one – after all we have many BOOK BOYFRIENDS for you to mingle with.

Who’s your Football Sweetheart crush?  Is it Bobby?  Scott?  Coach McWilliams?  Or Eric?

* HAPPY READING * HAPPY SUMMER *

To purchase for the Kindle, click here.

To purchase for the Nook, click here.

Who doesn’t love buying a book for under $1?  Be sure to take advantage of the lower price while it lasts!

*****

High School Football can be MURDER

Aimee Freeman is looking forward to the start of her senior year. She knows her best friend Ella has been keeping secrets from her all summer long, but with football season right around the corner, the student trainer decides not to worry about it—they’ll have plenty of time to catch up on the field.

Then Ella goes missing, and Aimee realizes those secrets might be the key to finding her. As the case unfolds, Aimee discovers more than one person may have wanted to harm Ella. Was it Ella’s current boyfriend, a social outcast the entire city seems intent on blaming for her disappearance? Or her ex-boyfriend, the beloved star quarterback who has harassed Ella since their breakup? The list of potential suspects continues to grow after Aimee reads Ella’s journal, but she must first break her best friend’s secret code to reveal their identities.

Unbeknownst to Aimee, her investigation has not gone unnoticed. Ella’s abductor is watching and waiting. Will he decide Aimee needs to be silenced—making her the next target?

*****

And remember, Amazon makes it easy to give as a gift!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – The Supernatural and Hemlock Grove

We’re doing something a tad different today here at The Ooo Factor… we have our first Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday guest blogger!

Everyone, meet Jenn Alexinas.

Hi, Jenn!
Hi, Jenn!

Jenn, everyone.

I met Jenn at the “Corporate America” company where I worked for ten years.  At first, our relationship was strictly virtual with the occasional phone call.  Then, in 2008, we both relocated to the DFW area for the company.   Without going into too much detail, we knew even before we met in person that we would be lifelong friends.  We both studied English; we both have fair skin and a variation of red hair; we both found ourselves in unique long-term relationships; we both have senses of humor, mine somewhat sarcastic and hers a bit less sarcastic (but she gets me); and somehow, with my being from Texas and her from Ohio, we both have similar values and hobbies, even if I did have to pull her into the world of football.

Anyway, I’ve had a lot on my plate lately, and instead of reblogging an older post today, I asked Jenn to step in.  She loves to write, and is darn good at it, and she has watched a show I do not have access to… a show I’ve been dying to watch—Netflix’s original series, Hemlock Grove.

So now, I hand the keyboard over to Jenn…

*****

Hemlock Grove is Netflix’s newest original series, which, like its predecessor, House of Cards, premiered with all episodes available to watch at once—lending itself easily to a marathon-style-all-in-one-sitting- viewing binge.   I watched the first episode, and immediately found myself intrigued.

If you can get past a few small things, Hemlock Grove is worth a watch.  I’ll admit…the show is not for everyone.  Fans of the standard horror genre might get impatient.  Those who are partial to the ubiquitous supernatural love story might be irked by the lack of melodrama.  Someone who appreciates good acting might turn it off after the first twenty minutes.  And everyone else might just find themselves… confused.  I will say this, though… anyone who feels desensitized to the blood and gore in today’s films and TV shows, and who thinks it impossible to be taken aback by any program’s purported “shock value” may have finally met their match.  At least, I think I did… I mean, I can’t think of the last time I actually breathlessly told a co-worker about how cool a werewolf transformation scene could be.

Looks painful… or maybe he’s just angry?

The story starts with the death of a high school cheerleader in a small industrial steel town. This was a gruesome death, and we aren’t sure if the culprit is human, animal, monster, or something else entirely. However, we quickly learn that while this murder (and subsequent murders) drives the action in the coming episodes, it isn’t really what the story is focused on… if you can claim there is a focus.  We mostly learn all about the town of Hemlock Grove and its denizens, who run the supernatural gamut from gypsies, werewolves, and telepaths, to mad scientists, monsters, and maybe even angels with the ability to impregnate human teenage girls.  Yeah.  There’s a lot going on in this town.

There are some aspects of the show that I really enjoyed.  I’ve gotta say the opening credit sequence is perfectly dark and creepy, with titillating hints of mythology and mysticism.  The aforementioned werewolf transformation scene is just really cool, and extremely graphic in that hope-you-didn’t-just-eat kind of way.  There is certainly some eye candy for the ladies (Landon Liboiron as Peter Rumancek and Bill Skarsgard as Roman Godfrey).  And for the men, there is Famke Janssen, whose sex appeal is enough to make you (almost) overlook her horrendous attempt at a British accent.   My favorite character in the whole show is Shelley (played by Nicole Boivin in close-ups and Michael Andraea in long shots), the “Frankenstein’s Monster” type of creature who is the result of some type of reanimation experiment that is only referred to in two flashback conversations held outdoors in the middle of raucous thunderstorms.  I found the adolescent Shelley, with her disfigured face, bandaged hands and 8 foot frame and inability to utter sounds other than grunts, the only truly likeable character in the series.

Yay!! Eye candy alert… a new Skarsgard!!

In our house, we strategically watched one episode per night, and more than once, that episode left my boyfriend and I looking at each other, open-mouthed, wondering what in the heck just happened.  Sometimes that was because the final scene of the show was so shocking, and other times it was because we really honestly, had no idea what the heck actually had just happened.  As the series progressed, we found ourselves starting each episode with full attention, and then drifting off doing other things, leaving it on in the background.

In keeping with Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday’s tradition, I need to rate this show, and I am awarding it the JFTV rating.  Just like that plate of nachos piled up high with gooey cheese and all the toppings, it’s kind of a mess, really fun to get through, and leaves you knowing you’ll probably go back for seconds, even though you shouldn’t.

*****

Thank you SO MUCH for taking the reins this week, Jenn.  You are welcome back anytime.  I mean it.

And I still want to watch Hemlock Grove…

What do you think?  Have you seen Hemlock Grove?  If not, do you plan to?  We’d (Jenn and I) would love to hear from you!

PS.  Readers, please convince Jenn to come back again sometime… she doesn’t currently blog and I’ve been trying to get her to do a guest post for what feels like forever.

And she may kill me for doing this (it’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission, right?), but you can follow Jenn on Twitter here.

And remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss today’s review, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

Ready for a Twisted New ABC Family Murder Mystery?

I’ve not kept the fact that I love ABC Family’s teen mysteries a secret.  Heck, I’ve only blogged about Pretty Little Liars at least five times.  The ongoing questions have me hooked: Who killed Alison? Who is leading the “A” team? How do they have so much dirt on Aria, Hanna, Spencer, and Emily? Why do they continue to torture these girls—what could they have possibly done to deserve this?

One can only assume that the “A” team is composed of primarily teens (Mona and Toby for example) and young adults (I’m convinced Melissa is in on it as well), so how is it that they know the deep-dark secrets of the girls’ families too?  No one is safe on this show; not the teens, not the parents, and I love it!

With every episode of Pretty Little Liars, the questions keep coming.  And every once in a while, we get answers… but not many before the show breaks for hiatus.  I hate the mid-season hiatuses.  I can’t stand waiting for the new episodes to return.  However, I do appreciate ABC Family’s seasonal run—they split each season up, usually airing new episodes in the winter and in the summer, instead of the traditional September through May like the major networks.  And more times than not, we can expect a new one-hour special, usually around Halloween, that keeps with the story and introduces more mysteries to us.

And because I enjoy Pretty Little Liars as much as I do, I decided to give The Lying Game a try last year when it premiered.  While this teen drama didn’t start out as a murder mystery, we have seen a few dead bodies since…

I can’t say I like The Lying Game as much as I do PLL, evident by the fact I’ve only blogged about it twice.  However, similar to PLL, The Lying Game is riddled with questions:  Who is the twins’ biological mother?  Who is the twins’ biological father?  Why were they split up at birth?  And who split them up?  How could Sutton have turned out so nasty (she really is a Queen B) in such a loving household, and Emma so sweet when she was bounced from one horrible foster family to another?

One by one, most of TLG‘s secrets have been answered; and as they’ve been revealed, I have literally found myself with goose bumps (while some have sadly been predictable).  But don’t be fooled; once a truth is uncovered, another mystery begins…

So, it’s because of the allure and success of these two teen programs that I plan to watch ABC Family’s newest mystery starting tonight—Twisted.

Twisted follows Danny Desai (Avan Jogia, from the popular Nickelodeon series, Victorious), a troubled teen recently released from juvenile detention after serving five years for his aunt’s murder.  Looking for redemption, Danny immediately reconnects with two of his best girl friends from his past—Jo (Maddie Hasson, from The Finder) and Lacey (Kylie Bunbury).

Since Danny’s conviction, Jo has had trouble moving on and is considered by many to be a social outcast, while Lacey has left her past behind… for popularity and a new boyfriend.  Bringing this group back together doesn’t go as smoothly for Danny as he had hoped, especially after a classmate is found murdered and he becomes the prime suspect—again.

This new series also stars: Denise Richards (mostly recognized for her tumultuous marriage to Charlie Sheen, but also from her seductive and messed up role in Wild Things) as Karen, Danny’s mother—the former socialite, whose social status hasn’t quite recovered since her son’s arrest; Sam Robards (Gossip Girl) as Kyle, Jo’s father and the town’s sheriff; Grey Damon (Friday Night Lights and The Nine Lives of Chloe King) as Archie, Lacey’s new boyfriend; Kathy Najimy (Veronica’s Closet) as Mrs. Fink; and Kimberly Quinn (Terriers) as Jo’s mother.

Twisted premieres tonight (June 11th) on ABC Family.

Are you an ABC Family fan?  Do you plan to check out the new teen mystery, Twisted?  I’d love to hear from you!      

Football Sweetheart Cares – Doing What We Can for Oklahoma

After tornadoes swept across North Texas last Wednesday, I decided to donate all of last weekend’s Football Sweetheart proceeds to the American Red Cross to help where I could.  And while I would have much preferred the devastation end there, unfortunately Mother Nature had more in store for the southern states this week.

American Red Cross

Now, it’s time to give what we can to Oklahoma and those affected by the horrendous storms Monday night.

By now, most everyone has heard about the EF5 tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, devastating the small town.  Winds blowing in excess of 200 MPH destroyed everything in its seventeen mile path.  Children were trapped in elementary schools.  Neighborhoods once lined with beautiful homes and landscaped yards now resemble debris-covered terrain.  The photos and images seen across the internet and television are absolutely heartbreaking.

Oklahoma is known as “Tornado Alley” but that does not make what happened any easier to understand or accept.  Hundreds, if not thousands of people are displaced and in need of something right now.  Anything.  Everything.  They need our help.

So this weekend, starting today (Friday, May 24th) through Memorial Day (Monday, May 27th), I’ve decided to donate all of the Football Sweetheart proceeds to the American Red Cross.

All proceeds from every Football Sweetheart e-book purchased, whether via Amazon or Barnes & Noble, will go to the American Red Cross to help with the recovery process in all the areas affected by the severe spring storms.

Please keep all those affected in your thoughts and let’s hope Mother Nature is kind to us the rest of this storm season.

Football Sweetheart Cares – Helping Those Affected by the Severe Spring Storms

I spent most of Wednesday evening glued to the television… I know, many of you are thinking that’s not unusual for me.  But it was.  North Texas, specifically the DFW area, was preparing for our first visit from Mother Nature’s severe spring storms.

Spring storms in Texas are brutal.  And last year, certain areas saw complete devastation and are still recovering.

We were lucky in my neck of the woods Wednesday night… nothing but strong winds and heavy rain.  I’m not even sure we saw any hail.

But the southern counties of DFW weren’t so lucky.  A neighborhood in Granbury, Texas was leveled.  Almost 97 of the 110 homes in the subdivision were damaged, some destroyed completely.  Cleburne, Texas experienced a tornado that was reportedly one-mile wide.  Both storms have since been classified as an EF4 and EF3 respectively, with Granbury incurring winds of up to 200 MPH.  Overall, North Texas saw sixteen tornadoes Wednesday night and sustained extensive damage with hundreds injured.

Once again, severe spring storms devastate North Texas.  And my heart is with all those affected.

And sadly, hundreds, if not thousands of people are displaced and in need of something right now.

I want to do my part to help.  So this weekend, starting today (Friday, May 17th) through Monday (May 20th), I’ve decided to donate all of the Football Sweetheart proceeds to the American Red Cross.

American Red CrossAll proceeds from every Football Sweetheart e-book purchased, whether via Amazon or Barnes & Noble, will go to the American Red Cross to help with the recovery process in all the areas affected by the severe spring storms.

Please keep all those affected in your thoughts and let’s hope Mother Nature is kind to us the rest of this storm season.

Red Dawn (2012) – Wolverines!

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the coming-of-age action film, Red Dawn.

Usually, I include Catie’s summary that applies to both films.  But this time, I tweaked it just a bit:

With North Korea and Russia invading the United States, a group of Washington State high school students turned refugees slowly organize themselves into an effective guerilla force. 

It may be hard to believe, but I didn’t actually request to cover the remake this month.  Since I had already seen both films, I let Catie choose which one she wanted to review before turning in any requests.  And with her decision to cover the original, I returned to Redbox for a copy of the remake.

Before I dive into the 2012 film, let’s talk about the 1984 version.  I can remember my older brother LOVING this film in the ‘80s.  I watched it on occasion with him, but being that I was quite a bit younger at the time, the movie didn’t resonate as much with me as it did him.  However, now as an adult, I believe the original Red Dawn will forever be a classic.

Heck, just look at the cast: Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, Powers Boothe, and Harry Dean Stanton (to just name a few).  Every single one of these actors and actresses are still known today, something that can’t be said for most ‘80s Hollywood stars.  But casting aside, the film stands firm on its own merits… and my fifteen year old, soon to be sixteen year old, nephew has watched this “old” flick a few times himself and enjoys it just as much as his dad did back in the day.  This alone speaks to the power of Red Dawn.

So is it even possible for the remake to hold up?

Like many others out there, I was appalled by the news that Hollywood was remaking Red Dawn.  I mean, seriously… are there any original thoughts left as far as films are concerned today?

Regardless of how I felt, I knew at the time that I would have to at least check it out.  And then I heard who was cast (THOR, people!) and saw the trailer, both of which piqued my interest.

THOR! I mean, Jed…

Granted, besides Chris Hemsworth (that’s Thor for those who don’t already know), not many of the actors and actresses were “big” stars.  But I did find it interesting that Connor Cruise (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s son) was making his acting debut in this film… plus, we had just recently seen Adrianne Palicki in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, so it’s not like we didn’t “know” any of the other cast members.  And once we started watching the remake, we recognized others: Josh Hutcherson (Peeta, The Hunger Games), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Sam and Dean Winchester’s dad from Supernatural), Isabel Lucas (Alice, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Edwin Hodge (Kai, from the hopeful NCIS: Red Team), and a few others.

But what about the story?

The 2012 remake kept the general idea behind Red Dawn’s storyline; I mean, didn’t they have to?    However, they did change enough of the individual facets to help it stand on its own… different location, different character details (i.e. Jed is a Marine in the remake instead of “just a regular guy”), different bad guys, and a few different twists with the plotline that you won’t expect—sorry for being so cryptic, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

But most importantly, the 2012 film will more than likely affect today’s generation like its predecessor did…  even if the children of the ‘80s disagree… and I feel this is important.

Bottom line, the 2012 remake did not disappoint this Red Dawn (1984) fan at all and I think everyone should at least give it a chance.

Wolverines!!

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Red Dawn?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

Spring’s Must Read New and Recent Releases

Spring is here!  Heck, summer is almost here in Texas already!  And with the warm weather comes one of my favorite pastimes… grabbing a book and heading out to the pool for a little R&R.

So today, I’ve decided to share six new and recent releases that are must reads on my bookshelf.  If you’re looking for the next bestseller in the young adult, mystery, suspense, fantasy, thriller, and historical romance genres, check these out and help support six fabOoolous authors!

*****

Forever Road by Catie Rhodes

Seeing ghosts is rough, but owing a ghost a favor flat out sucks.

My name’s Peri Jean Mace, and I’ve seen ghosts ever since I can remember. Don’t get too excited. Seeing across the veil branded me as a loony during my growing up years, and I learned to keep my yap shut about it.

Now I’m not sure I can anymore.

See, my cousin up and got herself killed the very same day I promised her a favor.  Now she’s back in spirit form and determined to make me pay. If I don’t solve her murder, she’s going to haunt me forever. Talk about the debt collector from hell.

That’s not my only problem. An obnoxiously hot cop wants to arrest my best friend for the murder.  My bigmouthed archenemy holds a clue to the killer’s identity. And there’s this mean—and ugly—woman who wants to beat me up.

None of this can turn out good.

*****

Two weeks before junior year, Darcy hops a plane to Orlando for a little R&R with her best friend Dylan and his family. Fresh off the heels of solving three murders in Valley, you’d think she’d sit back and enjoy the vacation capital of the world…maybe if you’re a noun. Darcy Walker, however, is nothing but verb.

Before her feet hit the Orlando soil, she’s meddling in the disappearance of a five-year-old boy who vanished six months earlier.

With authorities still no closer to solving the case, Darcy is shanghaied by her impulsivity and runs headlong into that proverbial burning building, convinced she can bring him home.

She travels down a road that not only follows this missing child but branches off into the corrupt and sinister world of mob activity when she tampers in a case on which Dylan’s detective grandfather is working.

After a near disastrous midnight meeting in a warehouse and a date with a mechanical bull, Darcy realizes she might’ve bitten off more than she can chew. Add the boiling flirtationship with her best friend and the appearance of his romantic rival, and she is in over her head.

Will she survive a life of flirting with death too easily? Or will her flirtationship with Dylan become the actual death of her instead?

For a girl with a habit of finding dead bodies, No Brainer gives Darcy Walker more of the same…surprising twists and turns…and running for her life.

*****

Getting pregnant as a teenager and being coerced into giving her baby up for adoption left a festering scar on Jaymee Ballard’s life. Trapped by poverty and without many allies, Jaymee nearly gives up hope of getting her daughter back after her best friend is murdered. Now, four years later, a wealthy woman with legal connections hires her as a housekeeper, and Jaymee gathers the courage to seek her help. But Jaymee’s last chance ends up in a puddle of blood in one of the historic antebellum mansions in Roselea, Mississippi.

I just murdered your wife…again.

An unsigned letter consisting of six horrifying words turns Nick Samuels stagnant life upside down. Stuck in emotional purgatory since his wife’s unsolved murder four years ago, Nick is about to self-destruct. The arrival of the letter claiming credit for his wife’s murder and boasting of a new kill sends Nick to Roselea, where his and Jaymee’s worlds collide.

Jaymee and Nick realize exposing the truth about her daughter’s adoption is the only way to solve the murders. Up against years of deception, they rush to identify the killer before the evidence–and Jaymee’s daughter–are lost.

But the truth doesn’t always set the guilt-ridden free. Sometimes, it destroys them.

*****

When her kingdom’s former enemy suspects their princess is a budding dreamwalker, Lexa is drafted out of retirement and sent to Teltania to train the twelve-year-old girl. But hidden agendas complicate her mission, and Lexa doesn’t know whom to trust. Meanwhile, her own dreamwalking powers are waning when she needs them most. Can Lexa decipher the mysteries at every turn, or will the dreamscape claim yet another dreamwalker?

*****

Paris Love Match a Novel by Nigel Blackwell

Getting a taxi in Paris can be hell.

Piers Chapman expected a boring business trip to Paris.
What he didn’t expect was to fight over a cab with a beautiful girl.

After a bad meeting, Sidney Roux just wanted to hail a cab, go home, and have a glass of wine.
She didn’t expect to fight over a cab with some pompous British tourist.

Neither of them expected another man to jump in their cab.
Or to be involved in a gun fight.
Or a car chase through the streets of Paris.
Or for the man to die.
But they’re thrust together when the mob demands they return what the dead man stole.

Will Piers and Sidney work together?
Will they find what he had stolen?
Will they stay alive?
And will they do the last thing they expected?
Will they fall in love?

*****

Gold. Massacres. Soldiers. Indians. Can Charlotte survive life on the trail or will the wildness of the west tear her family apart?

With Sanderson’s job as an Indian Agent beckoning from California, Charlotte must leave behind her life in Arkansas to follow the man she loves, and whose child she is carrying, in search of a place they can call home.

From Quanah Parker to Wyatt Earp, Charlotte and Sanderson rub shoulders with some of the American West’s most notable characters as they stumble into Government conspiracies, endure a hard pregnancy, and survive nature’s fury — all while struggling to remember what truly makes a home is love.

*****

Don’t these books sound fabOoolous!!  I’ve met all of these authors, either in person or online in writing communities, and I can’t wait to read their latest releases.  I hope you do too!

Have you read any of these books?  If so, please share your thoughts…  Do you have any other new releases that you think the rest of us should read or that you can’t wait to crack open?  I’d love to hear from you!

And, remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle and Nook!  Reviewers agree that FS is perfect for teens and adults alike and keeps everyone guessing until the very end!

FootballSweetheart_Digital

Here are some of the most recent reviews…

five stars

“This was a great YA book. There was mystery, murder, chaos and football. This book kept me in guessing mode throughout the whole book down to the very end. I definitely recommend this to everyone. I can’t wait for the second book.” ~Jlaselle

five stars

“I must admit, I am not much of a reader. However, when I heard about Football Sweetheart, I had to check it out. As soon as I began reading, my phone was glued to my hand during any free time. The story grabbed my attention from the start and I looked forward to having a break so I could get back to it. It was entertaining and very easy to read. It brought back a lot of high school memories for me and I thoroughly enjoyed every bit. I can’t wait for the next book to come out.” ~MJ22

four stars

“Such a great book! I can’t wait for more from this series. Just when I thought I had part of it figured out something would happen and I’d be back to square one.” ~Baferg

four stars

“Tiffany White’s novel is snapshot of the religion of West Texas football. She blends her unique perspective as a football trainer with murder, mystery, and suspense. Laced with female teen culture, this novel will appeal to those who enjoyed the Nancy Drew mysteries.” ~S. Mullins

Football Sweetheart Cares – Doing What We Can for Those in Boston and West

The events this week have reminded me of what really matters.  My heart is with all, from Boston, Massachusetts, all the way to West, Texas just outside DFW.

Regardless of what or who caused these events, the tragedy still occurred and there are hundreds, if not thousands of people displaced and in need of something.

I want to do my part to help.  So this weekend, starting today (Thursday, April 18th) through Monday (Monday, April 22nd), I’ve decided to donate all of the Football Sweetheart proceeds to the American Red Cross and to the Salvation Army.

All proceeds from every Football Sweetheart e-book purchased, whether via Amazon or Barnes & Noble, will go to these two charities to help with the recovery process in both Boston and West.

Please keep all those affected in your thoughts and let’s hope the devastation ends here.

American Red CrossSalvation Army

High School Movie Showdown – The Footballers

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love high school football.  Growing up in West Texas, I lived the real Friday night lights.  Everyone in the community either plays, cheers, or supports the local teams.  It was this atmosphere that gave me the idea for my Football Sweetheart series.  I took two things I loved—high school football and mysteries—and twisted them into stories of my own.

But enough about that.  Today’s post is the second installment of the High School Movie Showdown, and we’re featuring two of my favorite high school football movies—Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights.

First up, Varsity Blues

Varsity Blues follows a group of high school football players in the fictional town of West Canaan, Texas.  Anybody who’s anybody plays their part for the team.  Training begins at a very early age—girls perfect their toe-touches as soon as they can jump, and boys practice tossing the pigskin through a tire hanging from a tree as soon as they can stand.

Everything comes crashing down around the boys in West Canaan when the star quarterback (Lance Harbor, played by Paul Walker from the Fast and the Furious franchise) injures his knee during a game and his good friend and backup (Jonathan “Mox” Moxon, played by James Van Der Beek from Dawson’s Creek) is thrown onto the field and thrust into the spotlight.

James Van Der Beek (Jonathan “Mox” Moxon) and Paul Walker (Lance Harbor)

Varsity Blues isn’t just about football, but more about teens finding their way in spite of what they have been conditioned to do.  This film is about as realistic as it gets when talking about high school football in West Texas, without actually claiming to be inspired by actual events: the coach’s win-at-all-costs attitude; the quarterback’s celebrity (everyone remembers the whipped cream bikini, right?); the realization that great moments are oftentimes the most painful; and the understanding that character is built by going against the norm.

Oh, and the ending can make even the toughest man cry.

Next up, Friday Night Lights

Two things come to mind when people outside the state of Texas think about West Texas—high school football and oil.  So, if everyone outside the state knows about the teenage pigskin programs, what do the people inside the state think?

Football is life.  Win at all costs.

By now, everyone has heard of Friday Night Lights—whether it is the book by H.G. Bissinger published in 1990, the motion picture produced by Brian Grazer in 2004, or the television series starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton that aired from 2006 until 2011.

But today we’re focusing on the film. 

Friday Night Lights follows Coach Gary Gaines (Hollywood great, Billy Bob Thornton) and his Odessa Permian football team.  Everything seems to be right on schedule and the boys are well on their way to accomplishing their one goal—win the Texas state championship.  That is until their star running back tears ligaments in his knee.

Coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) MUST win to save his job…

Coach Gaines is immediately under fire in the media and around town; a head football coach’s job is never safe in West Texas without wins.  And when a star player goes down, people panic.

And his players?  They’re faced with a mound of obstacles—a coach that pushes them too far, parents living vicariously through their teenage lives, and the societal pressures of the Odessa community.

The team pushes through and the season ends with a three-way tie in the district between Permian, their arch-rival Midland Lee Rebels, and Abilene Cooper.  With a flip of a coin, Permian and Lee move on (yes, they really flipped coins in the ’80s to break a three-way tie in conference when determining playoff spots).   And of course, Permian rolls through the playoffs and meets a Dallas team (Carter High School) in the state championship.

But you have to watch the movie to find out what happens next….

The Permian Panthers…

So, when paired up side-by-side, which of these films would win—Varsity Blues or Friday Night Lights?

Look, like I said earlier, I grew up in West Texas.  I served my football team as an athletic trainer and have first-hand knowledge what it’s like “behind the scenes” on the practice field, in the locker room, and on the sidelines.

These movies take me back—whether I’m watching Friday Night Lights and remembering the rivalry games between Midland Lee and Odessa Permian that I, myself attended since childhood; or I’m watching Varsity Blues and vividly recalling the blood, sweat, and tears I felt with the players on my team as they struggled to maintain greatness and take it to the next level.

Bottom line: Both films are fantastic and portray what high school football is really like in West Texas.  I truly believe that both movies will achieve cult classic status and live on through their fans year after year.

But which one would win in a head to head battle?  The fictional West Canaan High Coyotes, or the loosely accurate portrayals of the real Odessa High School Permian Panthers?

I say Varsity  Blues.

Regardless of how many times I have watched this movie, I still bawl my eyes out at the end of this film.  Yes, it’s fictional; but man, does it bring back memories of my senior year and our final football game.

Yes, Mox… you are the winner!!

Oh, and the music rocks!  Collective Soul, Loudmouth, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Third Eye Blind, and Van Halen are just a few of the artists featured on the soundtrack.  Even though these artists and their featured songs are popular in their own right, I still can’t hear one of these tunes without thinking of Varsity Blues.

How about you?  Varsity Blues or Friday Night Lights?  Leave your pick in the comments… I’d love to hear from you!

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