After surviving 50 Shades of Grey, and after taking a break for a few days from Ana and Christian's tortured romance, I girded my loins and cracked open the second book of the trilogy, 50 Shades Darker.
For those of you intrigued by the words "butt plug" or "fisting," half of you will enjoy your lucky day, because one of those is kinda sorta featured in this book. As it is, the only fisting we ever see - ever come close to seeing - is that of Ana's or Christian's hands in the others' hair. And that happens a lot. Not as often as Ana or Christian gasping, or Christian setting his lips in a hard line, or Ana biting her lip, or Ana coming undone, or Christian frowning. In fact, Christian's frowning is such a "thing" that, when Ana frowns, another character observes that she's turning into Christian.
It's just ... WHERE THE HELL WAS THE EDITOR?
But I digress.
To dig too deeply into the spectacle that is 50 Shades of Grey is to approach Sisyphean frustration. Trust me, because I know of what I speak. I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering how it was that Christian Grey was 27 and a billionaire as I read the first book. I don't think we are meant to really ponder this stuff. I think we're supposed to strap on our dildos and have at it, as it were.
Okay, so. When we last left Christian and Ana, she had walked out on him, horrified at the depravity entailed in his life of BDSM. (Go ahead and Google THAT, people. I had to, so you might as well.) As with its muse, Twilight, we see our heroine descend into despair, but unlike Bella's months on end, Ana really only suffers for five days. Christian gets in touch with her, and it's game on, kids. Christian is prepared to let go of his need for dominance in his playroom, because all he really wants - all he really needs - is Ana. She has admitted that she loves him, but it takes Christian a little longer.
Now, before you start thinking that this is the end of the Red Room of Pain, let me tell you that it is not. Don't worry - Christian keeps the room, and Ana remains inexplicably drawn to it. So those butt plugs come in handy (no pun intended), although - SPOILER - Christian does point out that for the anally virgin, a finger is a better start. So Ana has something to look forward to, so to speak.
Back to the plot, such as it is. It turns out that one of Christian's former subs remains fixated on him, so she enters the story to muck up Christian and Ana's relationship. Also causing trouble is Ana's boss at the publishing house. He wants her, which pisses off Christian, who reacts as only Christian can. Meanwhile, Christian and Ana's romance progresses in fits and starts. She loves him, he really cares about her, can he say the "L" word, can they get past his need for control, why does he love her, why does she love him, can he overcome his tortured childhood, blah blah blah.
What you really want to know about are the sex scenes, right? RIGHT? I'm pretty sure you butt plug searching people aren't concerned about the dialogue.
In this book, they rock the headboard in an elevator, on a boat, in Christian's childhood room, in the shower (again - evidently they enjoy that spot), Ana's apartment bedroom, Christian's apartment bedroom, and - YESS! - the Red Room of Pain. Oh, and on top of a piano and a pool table. There may be more. Did the desk happen in this book, or the previous one? I think they wind up on Christian's desk in this one, too.
During one of the many times Ana challenges Christian, they are in the library, competing in a billiards game.
"You know, Anastasia, I could stand here and watch you leaning and stretching across this billiard table all day," he says appreciatively.
I flush. [SHE FLUSHES A LOT. That's another thing that is repetitive, and so again, I ask, WHERE THE HELL IS THE EDITOR? Oh - those are "shouty caps," according to Ana. Back to the program.] Thank heavens I am wearing my jeans. He smirks. [HE SMIRKS A LOT. So does she. Sometimes they smirk, bite lips and eye roll, all at the same time.] He's trying to put me off my game, the bastard. He pulls his cream sweater over his head, tosses it onto the back of a chair, and grins at me, as he saunters over to take his first shot.
He bends low over the table. My mouth goes dry. Oh, I see what he means. Christian in tight jeans and white T-shirt, bending, like that ... is something to behold. I quite lose my train of thought. He sinks four solids rapidly, then fouls by sinking the white.
Foreplay, Christian styles.
And now, for the butt plug seekers:
"What's this?" I hold up the silver bullet thing.
"Always hungry for information, Miss Steele. That's a butt plug," he says gently.
"Bought for you."
What? For me?
He nods slowly, his face now serious and wary.
I frown. [AGAIN - she always frowns. Or he frowns. They frown a LOT.] "You buy new, er ... toys ... for each submissive?"
"Some things. Yes."
So there you go. They come up again, so buy a copy and knock yourself out.
Is 50 Shades Darker good? Hell to the no, it is not good. But is it entertaining? Yes. Is it hot? Yes. Is it worth reading? Yes. If you can get past all of the awful writing, it's very enjoyable. I admit that I read it cover to cover, and I look forward to 50 Shades Freed. Do not, however, mistake an enjoyable read for something well written, because this is NOT well written. It's like literary crack. You know it's bad for you, and you feel dirty and low for enjoying it, but you can't stop.
I gave this 4 stars. Don't judge me.
If you want to know my thoughts on Fifty Shades Freed, check it: http://www.amazon.com/review/R16U7WCSXSQRJR/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
Published on cupcake's book cupboard. @VivaAmaRisata
on March 14, 2012
Someone please give this author a thesaurus and an editing team that cares. It's not just that the same actions are repeated over and over (and over... and over again), it's that the same words are used to describe them every time. It's like someone put 50 words in a bag, pulled them out and mashed them into a semblance of a sentence, then tossed them back in the bag and repeated the process to fill 300+ pages.
Inspired by another review I actually used my Kindle to count the ones that were most painful/annoying to read:
Lips bitten: 25
Eyes widened: 21
Eyes rolled: 51
"oh my": 45
F-bombs dropped: 173
Do the math! Lips are bitten and eyes are widened in every chapter. Someone gasps once every six pages. The main character "flushes" at least once every three pages.
Yes, the British author uses British colloquialisms that make no sense in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, the female protagonist is two dimensional and boring. Yes, her leading man is given a forced and contrived backstory in an unnecessary attempt to make sense of his kinkiness in a vanilla world. The sex scene was okay the first time I read it, but by the time it was recycled for the twelfth time or so it was just boring. And yes, in between the repetitions listed above the author inexplicably throws whatever was on her "word a day calendar" into character conversation where it sounds silly and awkward. But none of these things really destroy a good book quite like reading "I flush" for the hundredth time. Oh my!
Apologies to the fans out there. Imagine I'm writing this review with an "apologetic smirk."
on August 13, 2012
*******SPOILER ALERT********DON'T READ MY REVIEW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE PLOT***************
Let me state it flat out: THIS "BOOK" IS THE MOST HORRENDOUS WASTE OF PAPER AND INK [OR 1S AND 0S, IF YOU'RE READING THE KINDLE VERSION] AS HAS EVER BEEN FOISTED ON PUBLIC.
Now I want to know where I can go to regain the hours I wasted reading this drivel. If you like erotica that reads like a teenage girl's wet dream, then this crap is for you. It's shallow, silly, poorly written, unimaginative, boring and tedious.
It's so bad, that I found myself SKIPPING OVER THE SEX just to get to the end of the book.
Now when the sex parts of erotica are the least interesting parts of the book, you've got trouble my friends.
A quick summary:
Anastasia, who is never described by the author, is supposed to be smart, educated and, according to Christian Grey, "beautiful", "bewitching" and "captivating". My sense is that she's frumpy and boring. And she has no style whatsoever. She spent the entire first book in her roommate's clothes or Christian's tee shirts.
She's in love with Christian Grey--who is a character right out of the imagination of your average Twilight enthusiast: tall, gorgeous, cut, hung, a billionaire, fluent in French, flies helicopters and gliders, is an oenophile, art collector, and all around saver-of-the-world through his development and promotion of gadgets designed for people who have no money. How he's become a billionaire at the age of 27 is left a mystery. And he occasionally talks like a Brit, as when he says someone has been "taken to hospital".
Oh, and he's the son of a crack whore, adopted by fabulously wealthy Seattleites, but he was beaten and neglected as a child so he's a dominant (dom). Oh wait, he was a submissive, but now he's a dom. Or is he a sadist? Or does he like it plain vanilla?
This guy, who we are told repeatedly is "broken" to the point where he can only have relationships where he's dominating his partner through spanking, tie ups, gagging, blindfolding, etc., is nonetheless so captivated by mousy Ana that they spend the entire book having conventional sex about three times per day and it's ALWAYS MINDBLOWING SEX THAT LEAVES THEM "SHATTERED" AFTER ORGASMS THAT CAUSE THEM TO BREAK INTO A MILLION PIECES. And all with the requisite repeated references to moaning, groaning and bucking. And then they immediately do it again. Always two times per session--NO DEVIATION WHATSOEVER.
Now you might think that mindblowing sex would be fun to read about, but after you've heard our heroine say for the zillionth time "I want this man. Now!" or our hero say for the gazillionth time, "Fair point, well made, Miss Steele" followed by "I'm going to take you now", you will find yourself thumbing ahead to the part where they "find their release" and collapse on top of one another pretty quickly, just to get it over with.
Anyway, after mindblowing sex, great wine and the exchange of a bunch of teasing e-mails about what they are going to do to one another after they spend the day not working, they are confronted by Christian's lunatic ex-submissive in Ana's apartment, who Christian bathes after telling a pissed and suspicious Ana to go back to his apartment, but when he gets back there they "talk" for a minute about the fact that he's actually a sadist (not a dom) and then he pops the question even though during this conversation he's reverted to submissive mode, making Ana a little confused because she thought that was her role and she's not sure she's cut out to be a dom.
Our heroine, however, is not immediately sure whether she can marry this broken man, or whether the fact that they have mindblowing sex three times a day is enough for her to overlook the fact that he likes to sadisticly beat women who resemble his crack whore mother (like Ana, unfortunately).
So we have to slog through many more chapters of Ana wrestling with this issue, punctuated by Christian creepily and weirdly pseudo-stalking her, controlling who she interacts with to the point of obsessive jealousy, meeting with his shrink who assures her that she shouldn't be put off by the fact that he's twisted since he clearly has no problem pounding her a couple of times a day the plain ole vanilla way.
I'll not keep you in suspense: she says YES! She agrees to marry a guy she's known for a couple of weeks, and with whom she's had about ten minutes total of non-sex conversation, even though he once sadisticly beat her and has a roomful of torture stuff in their apartment. HER LOVE HAS CURED HIM!
I think it was the butt plug that finally convinced her.
on April 26, 2012
Anastasia Steele! Oh my God, was she awful! "I want you...I can't please you...I'll never leave you...I can't give you what you need...and on and on and ON!" Grow up! At one point in the book, she stated that she doesn't understand why Christian likes her. You and me both, sister! And then there's the sophomoric writing! It's soooo repetitive...repetitive...repetitive! But wait! Just when you think the same phrase is going to be used, YET AGAIN, the author throws in some arbitrary word that causes you to have to use your Kindle dictionary and doesn't fit in with any of the other elementary wording that takes place throughout the book. Who uses the word "avuncular" in everyday talk? Am I really supposed to believe that a word that advanced is coming from the same person who constantly refers to her female anatomy as "down there"? I'm rolling my eyes (which is quite ironic because that was a central theme in this book)! I haven't even finished the book but after the marriage proposal, I could take no more! I had to stop what I was doing just to write this review! And I probably won't finish the book because it will most likely be another 100 pages of "His eyes are gray...He looks impassive...I bit my lip...Gasp...Oh my...He finds his release...blah blah blah!"
on September 18, 2012
What can I say about E.L. James that doesn't involve phrases like, "utter embarrassment" or "probably shouldn't have a writing career"? If you read the first Fifty Shades book (and I'm so sorry if you did), you probably knew that it's based off of a piece of Twilight fanfiction. If you didn't, allow me to introduce you. You see, when the author runs out of prolific things to say, she often turns to some stock filler phrases to fill the void where actual content should be.
Out of a 350 page book...
"Oh my" is used 46 times
"Holy [noun]" is used 121 times
"Inner goddess" referenced 59 times
"Subconscious" referenced 58 times
She is guilted into eating somewhere around 43 times
Had enough? It gets worse.
"Mutter" is used 113 times
"Whisper" is used 251 times
AND THE WINNER...
"Murmur" is used a staggering 278 times, appearing on 79% of the book's pages.
To say this book is about BDSM would be like saying toddlers using plastic kitchen sets are about gastronomy. That is to say, it is a watered-down facsimile of the original, a mere ruse in the shadow of the real thing. Don't believe me? This is the infamous installment of the series where Patrick Bateman/Christian Grey says, "Lovers don't need safe word," and somehow E.L. James and her editors all thought that was a good idea.
The book picks up where the first left off and - woe is me - Anastasia is simply heartbroken without her creeptacular ex-boyfriend of approximately two weeks, Mr. Christian Grey. My heart is breaking, truly. They make it a whole three days before they simply cannot stay away from each other any longer and must be on each other RIGHT NOW. You see, that's the real tragedy of these books - just when the plot starts to go somewhere at least vaguely interesting, E.L. James slams on the brakes because whoa, we just went three pages without sexytime. Yes, mere minutes after Christian Grey weeps and confesses his torture about his abused childhood, boom, it's business time. Bow-chicka.
Oh, but what is this? Some mentally ill ex-girlfriend is stalking around with a gun, possibly threatening their lives! Danger! Don't worry, everyone, Christian Grey's inept security team that not only doesn't find her, but fails to prevent a guy from later tampering with Grey's helicopter and nearly killing him - and everyone is generally unconcerned with these minor slips. You want to call the cops? Psh, get your logic out of this book, why would they do something so sensible? By the time you get that far in the book, you're going to be rooting for the people with the guns just to put this series out of its misery.
Interestingly (and by interestingly, I mostly mean 'disturbingly'), Ana's track record of getting sexually assaulted by every new man not working for Christian Grey continues, and somehow nobody is fazed. She and Christian argue a lot, but mostly it's the same thing: "Boo hoo, don't leave me!" "I won't leave you! But I'm not good enough for you!" "No, you are good enough for me! Please don't leave!" Ad. Nauseum. And then they have sex, but that's assumed at this point. At one point, it's suggested they'll go to church because Ana prayed for Christian's safety and wouldn't you know it, he comes home safely. This bout of random religiosity seems oddly out of place in a book about whipping and handcuffs while breathing hot seafood into each other's faces after a fancy meal, but who's counting?
I probably could go into the plot more, but what does it matter? Take the same banal, one-dimensional paper doll characters and the same disturbing, abusive behavior from the first book and repackage it with a few barely-believable "twists", pepper in some sex scenes fraught with old-biddy 'oh my's and 'down there's, and you've got this horrifying piece of what I have fondly deemed "sh**erature".
on September 22, 2011
In this second book of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, the romance continues between Christian and Ana from Ana's point of view... and what a busy POV it is!
I have enjoyed this story since it was on the author's website, so it's no surprise I loved this book! The edits have indeed improved the story. "Darker" opens up with the couple apart, but soon Christian and Ana are re-negotiating their relationship.
As in the first book of this trilogy, some aspects of the writing are sophomoric, mainly in relation to periphery characters, but don't let that deter you (!) because there is brilliance here too. The relationship between Ana and Christian is just so good. Their frank and open communication is fantastic and their story is not only totally engaging, but downright addicting! Christian (aka, Fifty) is one of the most memorable, delicious characters I have ever read. His voice is unique and clear and mesmerizing, yet he is revealed entirely through Ana's experiences and perception of him (quite a talent, Ms. James!). For both Christian and Ana, everything they think they know about their lives gets tilted at odd angles and makes their growing relationship feel like a thrill ride. All the usual suspects return to keep the "action" going (with at least 3 different mini-plots), and, of course, there is the continuing fallout from Christian's severe childhood (and possible adolescent) trauma. Issues of independence, trust, acceptance, submission and, most importantly, unconditional love are all in play. Despite the intensity and conflict the tone remains witty and playful and romantic.
Readers complain about Ana a bit and, I must say, she took me out of my comfort zone at times. I think she's bolder than I would be in her constant questioning of Christian. But I tend not to like confrontation, so it's likely just me. But those who hate misunderstandings will appreciate that no stone goes unturned between these two '. It is refreshing to read about people who are completely guileless with one another. Ana can also come across a bit schizophrenic when her thinking swings from "I want this", to "I don't want this" to "do I want this"? However, this tension feels true to life. Her choices were not easy (too many shades of grey!). Overall, I really like Ana and I certainly enjoyed having a front row seat to her busy inner world. Those (very popular) inner characters may have been overused in this second book, but they are fabulous nonetheless.
Something interesting to note: The original story was published one chapter at a time for the subscriber's reading pleasure, so each chapter of this book feels like "a full experience". This format created highly eventful and revealing chapters for the books and the overall story feels "episodic" not unlike the structure of "Outlander" which I found unique and very readable.
I also noted Ms. James fleshed out several scenes with additional action and dialogue in this book during editing, which was great for me as an original reader. I thought she did a splendid job filling in some gaps and deepening the story. The author also summed up the day's events from time to time in this version. I didn't mind it, but it dragged the action down for me a bit. New readers will likely benefit from the summaries as I remember needing to summarize in my own head previously. The only quibble with this format is the repetition (Christian sets his "mouth in a hard line" about 10 times throughout the book; Ana wonders if it "will it always be like this" about 3 or 4 different things and she reminds us many times that she wants to know more about Christian), but it didn't pull me out of the story at all. In fanfiction, it doesn't feel repetitious when it takes 2 years to tell the story.
The sensuality is once again hot, hot, hot. It doesn't feel gratuitous to me, but there is a lot of it. The sexual experiences between Christian and Ana and their growing intimacy are central to the story in FSD and are gloriously full of the darkest and lightest shades of grey.
I can name a hundred heart-soaring, heart-rending and breathtaking moments in this book. There are many favorite scenes that I am already looking forward to re-reading (Portland to Seattle, anyone?). I am a fan, what can I say? Although British-isms still abound, there are typos, and a couple of the mini-plots are duds, I don't care. It's imperfect, but it's so very unique in its style, its structure and its content. I adore it and highly recommend it!
on April 14, 2012
Outwardly, a sexual sadist and a sadist may appear identical, until just before and immediately after the safeword is called. A sexual sadist will continue regardless of the safeword or will be completely and totally shocked when the safeword is called. He will have lost himself in his needs instead of in the needs of his submissive. A sadist on the other hand, will probably stop before the safeword is called because he pays that much attention to his submissive, that he is able to tell when she is about to cry out for the scene to end. If she does find the need to call out the safeword, the scene stops immediately and the sadist spends the next several minutes (sometimes hours) attending to the needs, desires and wants of the submissive. He goes over the scene verbally with her to ensure that both parties understand why there was a need for a safeword and why it was called. He does his very best to make sure that he never puts the submissive in that place again, after all his goal is her pleasure, not her pain.
Ms. James also seems to think that all submissives are weak, overly-dependent, child-like creatures who will break at the slightest bit of wind. She portrays this by having Mr. Grey confirm to Ana over and over again that she is much too strong to ever be his submissive. Ms. James goes so far as to have the only two submissives we meet in the book be extremely weak characters, one of whom attempts suicide and then is found stalking Mr. Grey and Ana. The brief conversations between Ana and Leila (the submissive in the books) show Leila to be a very fragile creature that is to be handled with extreme care because she is so emotionally unstable. The very fact that Mr. Grey would choose a character like Leila to be his submissive speaks volumes to me about what kind of a "dom" Mr. Grey was.
Another thing that royally pissed me off about the Mr. Grey character is his overwhelming jealousy. Someone in his position, with as much power and control as is needed to be the leader and CEO of so many different companies, would not be an easily jealous person. Jealousy is a sign of weakness and weak people don't run companies for long, they wind up getting eaten alive by people much stronger than they are.
At several points throughout the book we are told that Mr. Grey is more of an adolescent than a man, at least emotionally. Even his therapist tells Ana this at one point. I am appalled that Ana continued to date and eventually marry Mr. Grey after learning so much about him. Yes, she certainly has unconditional love for him, but in my honest opinion, her love shouldn't be unconditional. She is not his mother, she is not his sister, and she does not deserve to be walking on eggshells for the rest of her life worrying that Mr. Grey is going to lose his stuff over one thing or another.
There are so many red flags raised by Mr. Grey's character that I wound up resenting him and Ms. James' portrayal of BDSM. She has one messed up viewpoint on the whole scene if you ask me. Please understand, healthy BDSM relationships do not look anything like that of Mr. Grey and Miss Steele.
on May 16, 2012
As foretold in my previous review for book one, my worst fear has been confirmed: Ana and Christian continue to have sex, chapter by chapter. The first book was interesting enough. I wanted to get to know Christian a little bit better; he was like a mystery, and I love mystery solving. However, the second installment is a huge disappointment. Absolutely no plot whatsoever. The book drags on forever just to get to a point. It seems like there are only two characters in here, and they are Christian and Ana. Everyone else is obsolete. In fact, they barely have any roles in the "plot" except to serve as a break for the couple when they're not having sex. Yet, despite where they're at, they still manage to have sex. And Ana and Christian have only known each other about 3 weeks, and they've been having sex constantly. Get this: Ana was a virgin before she met Christian. I'm wondering how she's able to walk after all the sex she's been getting. I'm not even going to bother to read the third book. I wish I hadn't purchased the entire trilogy. I wish I had borrowed it from the library instead. Everything is redundant and boring. I never thought I would get bored reading about sex, but this book did it for me.
on April 12, 2012
I kept reading beyond the first one out of morbid curiosity, wondering if there was some large secret or bombshell that was going to be dropped. It was more of the same lip biting, blushing, inner goddess B.S. that I found in the first book....and it was more of the same phrases and terms. Dear lord, if anyone ever says to me, "laters, baby" I might just have to punch them in the face.
This book was simply an extension of the first..it takes place immediately after the first book ends. As the series went on (I have now read all three) it becomes increasingly implausible and annoying. The more I read the more I found myself screaming. I don't know who I want to scream at more--the author or the editor of these books. "Holy Crap!" "Jeez" lip biting, blushing, the demands to eat something got old long before the first book even ended...and they continue into the third book.
At the end of book two, I still don't know why these two like each other aside from a mutual sexual attraction. There is no depth to the characters that give the reader any insight to their personalities, other than Grey is a total dick with a lot of money, and she dropped her drawers to a guy that likes to dominate.
Are my reviews of these three books repetitive? Good..because so are the books.
on February 1, 2012
FIFTY SHADES DARKER by E L James.
This is graphic BDSM erotic romance. There is no paranormal. There are no vampires.
If you're considering my opinion on this book, please read my review of book 1, Fifty Shades of Grey. I didn't want to duplicate that review here, but it applies.
This is book 2 in a trilogy. You must read book 1 before this. Both books are longer than average. The first book had the couple meet and get to know each other. Book 1 ends with a conflict, and the couple is apart. This book starts with Ana grieving over their break up, and then they get back together. Most of this story is Ana questioning and worrying about how Christian feels.
This is an erotic story, filled with many lengthy sex scenes. There is bondage, spanking, sex toys, and one instance of rear door activity.
These stories were originally written on the fan fiction website under Twilight. The characters' names were Edward and Bella. The author changed the names to Christian and Ana for this ebook publication. I can see how Twilight fans loved being in that world and were eager for almost any story about Edward and Bella. In that sense this was probably very satisfying. But as an independent story, it didn't do much for me. About 2/3 the way through I was impatient for it to be over. I was not interested enough to read book 3 (Fifty Shades Freed). So I was delighted that another reviewer summarized the book 3 plot for me so I could know what happened without spending time to read it. If you are interested, see the second comment below. Several reviewers were unhappy with book 3.
There is a lot of angst and worry on Ana's part. She is jealous and feels insecure when Christian interacts with women from his past. She thinks he needs BDSM toys and sadism to enjoy sex. She believes they are incompatible, and that she will never be able to give him what he needs. He keeps saying no that's not true. Christian is jealous and takes action when other men are interested in Ana. For conflict, the author added a couple of characters doing threatening things. Those were ok, but they felt like add-ins rather than part of an overall plot plan. One of the draws of the book might be watching Christian spend lots of money living an expensive lifestyle.
Kindle count story length: 10,495 (1776 KB). Swearing language: strong, including religious swear words. Sexual language: strong. Number of sex scenes: 16, some very long. Setting: current day mostly Seattle, Washington. Copyright: 2011. Genre: erotic contemporary romance.