Considering this book is essentially Twilight for grown-ups (lose the vampires, add lots of sex), I expected to like it a lot more than I did.
...moreConsidering this book is essentially Twilight for grown-ups (lose the vampires, add lots of sex), I expected to like it a lot more than I did.
A little background on E.L. James and this book: she started off writing Twilight fan fiction. Fifty Shades of Grey, as stated above, is very much a rewrite of Twilight where James changed the character names, changed a few geographical and circumstantial details, and moved the story from the paranormal romance genre into straight, contemporary romance. Fifty Shades retains the same male/female dynamic where Christian Grey/Edward is overly controlling, protective, demanding, and threatening while Anastasia Steele/Bella is naive, head-over-heels in love, and ready to form her entire identity around her new-found man.
Fifty Shades offers several annoyances right off the bat. First, I dislike the first person present point of view. It is awkward to read someone telling me they're doing something as they're doing it, as opposed to something they did in the past. I know this point of view has gained some recent popularity, but I'm just not a fan. Definitely took me a few chapters to adjust. Second was the almost scene-by-scene similarity to Twilight, and the nearly carbon copies of Twilight's characters in Fifty Shades. At the beginning of the book, the purpose/function of the scenes and character interactions were almost exactly parallel to Twilight. I would have liked to see E.L. James take the story to a more original place and give the characters some real personalities! Later annoyances included repeated use of the same phrases--"Oh my!" being the most frequent and irritating of them. And Anastasia referring to her nether region as "down there." Uhm...this is a book for adults, right?
Despite all these little irritations, I still expected to enjoy the book. Yet I found myself putting off reading it. When I did read it, I was annoyed at the sheer frequency of sex scenes and the poor literary timing of those scenes (although I applaud E.L. James for her creativity in that arena; Fifty Shades is definitely kinky!). For some well-written sex scenes (in all-around well-written books) check out The Valley of Horses)--okay, this is the second in the series so you'll have to check out The Clan of the Cave Bear first, which is also fabulous. During the moments between sex scenes, I found myself growing bored and wondering when they were going to get down to business again. There was altogether not enough plot to sustain this novel to the end.
I must say that I was quite satisfied with the end, though, and almost happy to just leave it at that and not read on through the rest of the trilogy. Even if I do weaken and pick up Fifty Shades Darker (even the book title makes me gag), it will certainly not be for many many months, and it will definitely be a copy from the library.(less)
The novellas in Three the Hard Way were a little hit and mostly miss for me. In all three stories, the writing was excellent -- not what I was necessa...moreThe novellas in Three the Hard Way were a little hit and mostly miss for me. In all three stories, the writing was excellent -- not what I was necessarily expecting from erotica -- a genre that I have not dabbled in before.
But the narrative of Tsaurah Litzky's The Motion of the Ocean felt completely fragmented. Each chapter could have been about a completely different character, if the names hadn't been the same. It didn't feel like a cohesive story, just a collection of hardly-related short stories all mashed together into an uncomfortable semblance of a novella.
Greg Boyd's The Widow was the gem of the bunch. He superbly melds two stories together: an erotic short story written by Mandy Millhouse--an unassuming but unfulfilled housewife; and the story of Mandy's husband after he discovers the first pages of her story unclaimed on the printer and begins reading along in secret, wondering what it means that the husband in her very autobiographical short story is killed off in the first few pages by an unexpected heart attack. The stories sing in harmony and really give you the unique feeling that you are glimpsing the secret and private lives of others' most intimate thoughts and moments.
William Harrison's A Shadow of a Man had some interesting elements and good characters. But the ending was a big let-down not only to the novella but for the collection.
The taste levels, too, were questionable for me and a slight turn-off to dabbling in this genre again. I'd rather stick to books like Kushiel's Dart, The Valley of Horses, and Outlander, which deliver strong emotion and character sympathy along with a good dose of romance.(less)
The second installment in Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries series, Living Dead in Dallas follows Sookie on her travels to assist the Dallas vampir...moreThe second installment in Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries series, Living Dead in Dallas follows Sookie on her travels to assist the Dallas vampires in locating a missing one of their own. Harris’s prose style could be described as gritty or just crude. She has no qualms against using words like butt and boobs. I find that her tendency to not pull punches on crude words and thoughts used frequently in reality, but not usually in literature, helps to illustrate the unsophisticated southern town and Sookie’s intelligent but unrefined perspective.
The TV series, True Blood, succeeded in every instance where Harris, in her novel, fails. For instance, take the scene where Sookie Stackhouse meets Barry the hotel bellhop and discovers that he, too, is a telepath. In True Blood (Season 2, Episode 4: Shake and Fingerpop, I believe), Sookie discovers Barry’s ability through an amusing conversation where they both read each other’s thoughts and respond in kind with thoughts of their own, resulting in an inadvertent telepathic exchange. In contrast, here is how Harris does it in the book: “To my startled delight, I realized (after a quick rummage in Barry’s head) that he was a telepath, like me!” Wow, ever heard of show don’t tell?
Despite my tendency to not hold Harris’s crude prose style against her, I must say that she relies far too much on the word ‘to be’ – as in WAS. She doesn’t care much for making her verbs exciting or active. Take this paragraph, for example: “The light over the door was on, so I could tell the house was of beige brick with white trim. The light, too, was for my benefit; any vampire could see far better than the sharpest-eyed human. Isabel led the way to the front door, which was framed in graduating arches of brick. There was a tasteful wreath of grapevines and dried flowers on the door, which almost disguised the peephole. This was clever mainstreaming. I realized there was nothing apparent in this house’s appearance to indicate that it was any different from any of the other oversized houses we’d passed, no outward indication that within lived vampires.”
On the whole, I found this second Sookie Stackhouse novel pretty disappointing, and don't much look forward to reading the next. (Which I won't do, anyway, until some time next year after season three of True Blood has aired.)(less)
This was my first foray into Space Opera Sci-Fi Romance, and "Gabriel's Ghost" was quite enjoyable--very well worth the read. Like space pirates, mind...moreThis was my first foray into Space Opera Sci-Fi Romance, and "Gabriel's Ghost" was quite enjoyable--very well worth the read. Like space pirates, mind-melding aliens, galactic government conspiracies, with a lot of tension-filled romance thrown into the mix? Yah! One of the only drawbacks for me was Sinclair's tendency toward fluffy love scenes described through flowing colors and floods of feeling. She also failed to express the profundity of the social stigma against mind-talents, which is crucial to the romantic plot. This failure made Chaz, the lovely heroine's, constant relationship doubts slightly unbelievable and annoying. Who, really, is that perpetually confused about her feelings? I understood, intellectually, the extreme phobia against mind-talents within the culture, but Sinclair failed to make me feel it the way her characters do.(less)
Kushiel's Scion is the first book in Carey's second Kushiel trilogy, continuing the saga with the adventures and coming of age of Phedre and Joscelin'...moreKushiel's Scion is the first book in Carey's second Kushiel trilogy, continuing the saga with the adventures and coming of age of Phedre and Joscelin's foster-son Imriel no Montreve de la Courcel. The first few hundred pages are similar to those in Kushiel's Dart-- where we watch Phedre grow up in the midst of the Night Court in the City of Elua. Only, in Imriel's case, he grows up under the shadow of his traitorous parentage, splitting his time between the peaceful countryside of Montreve and the scheming court in the City of Elua.
In the second half of this book, Imriel travels to Tiberium as a kind of "coming of age" journey. I found little of Imriel's time in Tiberium intriguing or tension-filled, and struggled with a lack of inspiration to read on. This entire book is essentially a set up for the rest of the trilogy. It's a little bit of a slog in itself, but sets up a lot of very high potential conflicts for the next two books.(less)