If you are anything like me and you inexplicably live in what feels like the arctic tundra every February, you may be hoping to spend this Valentine’s Day weekend indoors. And there isn’t anything wrong with that, especially considering the amount of swoon-worthy books and movies at your disposal. If you live in Canada, this weekend is also known as Family Day weekend (in most provinces), meaning it’s a long weekend, so we have yet another day to either stay in and enjoy a fireplace and a novel, or possibly trek to a new restaurant for dinner and hang out with loved ones. Whatever your plans (or lack thereof) may be, here is a list of some of my favourite recent love-infested books and movies, plus some take-out options and restaurants for this frigid weekend in the bitter north.
Books, Movies, Music.
Favourite recent YA love story– The Promise of Amazing. Snuggle up with this amazing (pun intended) read (and check out my review here!) for some sigh-inducing sweetness. The author, Robin Constantine, actually has a new novel coming out this year, and I’m hoping it’ll be just as syrupy-sweet!
Favourite cry-my-eyes-out love story, novel and movie– The Fault in Our Stars … if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, get your Kleenex box ready and settle in. You’ve been warned.
Favourite romantic comedy (book)– Love, Rosie. The Irish author of P.S. I Love You did it again with this sweet book, compiled of notes over a number of years between two best friends. Also, I am so excited to see the movie, which has just been released on iTunes in North America.
Favourite sexy-time book series– The Fixed Trilogy. No thanks, 50 Shades of Grey! Fixed will definitely give you your fix. Check out my review here.
Order-in-Movie– Drinking Buddies. Unconventional relationships, real and improvised, this cast worked well together to create a realistic film about couples and guy-girl friendships in today’s day and age. Plus, any movie with Anna Kendrick always intrigues me.
The Anti-Valentine’s Book- The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. It’s a love story gone awry in Montreal, Quebec, but the protagonists’ relationship with her twin proves that family love conquers all.
Favourite romantic fantasy series– Bloodlines, by Richelle Mead. Sydney and Adrian’s relationship is so wrong, it’s completely right. The final book in the series came out just in time for the weekend of love!
Not new, but still good (movie)– You don’t want to cry this Valentine’s Day, do you? Settle in for a silly movie with the Tina Fey and Steve Carrel film, Date Night.
Love-filled TV Series Obsession– The Vampire Diaries. Recently obsessed (and I’ll admit: very late to the game!) this show has everything fantasy and romance lovers could ask for and it always leaves me wanting more.
Favourite “I don’t need a man!” and “girl power!” book– I Am That Girl. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: everyone should read this book!
Favourite can’t-stop-tapping-my-foot song– Shut up and Dance by Walk the Moon. You can shut your bedroom door and jump on the bed to this tune, or grab your partner or friend and swing them ‘round and ‘round. Either way, it’s the catchiest song I’ve heard in a while. Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JCLY0Rlx6Q
Fifty Shades of Grey (the movie) – Here’s the deal: I saw the movie. I read the books. What do I think? Well, here is my review:
You have to go into Fifty Shades of Grey with the expectations that it is what it is. If you are expecting something that isn’t based off a terribly written Twilight fanfiction-inspired series with a ridiculous premise and cheesy subtext, then you are going to be in for a painful (pun intended!) few hours. But if you go in with a small hope that lingers in the back of your mind, a hope that whispers maybe it’s marginally better than the book, then there’s a chance that you won’t be severely disappointed.
Pros: I thought both actors, Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, did a great job portraying the one dimensional Fifty Shades characters. The sex scenes were tastefully done, and the soundtrack was incredible.
Cons: I’m not going to mention anything about the storyline, the lip biting (Ian and I counted the number of Dakota Johnson lip bites… 19!) or the cheesy lines in this ‘con’ section, because these are all cons that are to be expected, based on the novel.
The opening scene could have been re-shot. The acting wasn’t the greatest in this scene and it really set the tone for the movie. The sex scenes were sometimes uncomfortable to watch and loud music often blared through the speakers whenever a sex scene took place, which wasn’t necessary and often took away from the scenes. I also didn’t love the overtly cheesy camera shots (a lot of the shots featured reflections in mirrors and windows), and the direction felt tacky at times.
Overall, of course I thought the movie was ridiculous, cheesy and lacked depth and inspired characters. But was I entertained? Absolutely.
Toronto Food and Drink
Best Anti-Valentine’s Day Drink– A Woman Scorned, at Bar Isabel. The name says it all.
Order-in Comfort Food Takeout– Great Burger Kitchen delivers. Just sayin’. I recommend the Veggie Inferno Burger wrapped in lettuce and the Montreal Poutine.
Restaurant Romance– Note: Spanish tapas are romantic. Looking forward to a special night out? Call way-in advance, or show up and sit at the bar. Regardless, Bar Isabel is always a safe bet. The grilled octopus, jamon croquetas with torta del casar and sobrassada, and basque cake with hot sherry cream are my constant go-to’s.
Patria is another great tapas option. I recommend the Patatas Bravas Con Huevos Fritos and the Selección De Embutidos.
Comfort Food at its finest– The Gabardine. All I will say is this: order the mac and cheese.
Cozy To-Do Activities– Looking to get out of the house but don’t want to have to dress up or spend a bunch of money? Snakes and Lattes, the board game café, is a great option. The variety of board games is unparalleled and the cozy environment will leave you forgetting to look at your watch.
If you are looking for a way to treat yourself, make yourself an appointment at the Miraj Hammam spa in the Shangri-La. The stream rooms are large and relaxing, and the Greek-inspired relaxation room will leave you refreshed.
Well, that’s it for me! I hope you all have a cozy, warm long weekend.
Happy Love-Weekend, everyone!