Juliana's Reviews > Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
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Apr 23, 12

bookshelves: 0-own-as-an-ebook, romantica, romantica-contemporary, 5-plus-stars, 5-stars, 4-to-5-stars, favorite-books-of-all-time, best-romance-books, best-romance-heroes-ever, best-romance-heroines-ever, 0-wishlist-buy-in-dead-tree-form, 0-reviewed, 2011-aug-reads, 2011-reads, contemporary-romance, 2011-reads-my-favorites-of-the-year, challenge-2011-wllk-august-all-a, cr-a-little-on-the-naughty-side, cr-class-difference, cr-delicious-hero, cr-hero-businessman, cr-hero-famous, cr-hero-mid-to-late-20s, cr-hero-recluse-loner-mysterious, cr-hero-rough-haunted-tortured, cr-hero-very-bad-boy, cr-hero-abuse-trauma-rape, cr-heroine-bookish-smart, cr-heroine-good-girl, cr-heroine-not-confident, cr-heroine-poor-background, cr-heroine-somewhat-wallflower, cr-heroine-shy-quiet-wallflower, cr-instant-attraction, cr-sizzling-chemistry, cr-sad-or-emotional, 2011-reads-my-supremes-of-the-year, challenge-2011-wllk-aug-spell-out, challenge-2011-2012-nbrc-women-type, challenge-2011-nbrc-all-about-you, all-time-best-romance-heroes-ever, cr-hero-super-alpha, cr-heroine-early-to-mid-20s, cr-opposites-enemies-attract
Recommended for: everyone and their mother ... hmm, that last part could end up being awkward
Read from August 16 to 17, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Post Script on May 8, 2012
This book has exploded since I first read it and it seems to be one that is either loved or hated. I'm actually very thankful that I read it before any of my GR friends or anyone I knew, because I feel like if I read it now, after hearing all the hype, it would probably disappoint.

People have very strong reactions to Fifty Shades and just to put in my two cents: you read different books for different reasons. In my opinion!!! ...: Was this book a great piece of literature? No. Were these characters ones whom you could write grad school theses about? No. But you know what? I loved the romance, I loved the chemistry, and I enjoyed myself tremendously while reading it - it had me grinning ridiculously for hours. That's what I wanted from this book, and that's what I got, so for me, that was enough.

Post Post Script on October 9, 2012
I greatly appreciate all those who have defended my review in the comments section - especially those who completely disagreed with my opinion of the book. For those making hateful comments: you don't like the book, people who did are apparently driving you crazy, so my advice: stop reading all the positive reviews!! Age-old rule: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Sincerely, Juliana

* Actual Review Begins Here *

5+ stars. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I still feel somewhat under the spell of this book. I'm so ... beguiled by it ;-) (book allusion). It was honestly an amazing read - and one which I meant to just skim a few sample pages of, but ended up buying and then staying up the entire night to finish. I wasn't even sure I wanted to write a review, because it seemed too difficult to put into words everything that moved me about this story and to try to do it justice.

This ended up feeling like one of the best and most authentic romances I have read. In some ways, I feel conflicted like Anastasia when I say that: my instinct is to say that can't be, because of what their relationship revolves around / how it's constructed ... but somehow it can be and it's true. Anastasia, Christian, and their relationship are all so honestly and openly written and shown to us that there is no other way for me to feel. Even though its counterintuitive, I can't help but feel that their relationship is one of the most beautiful, complex, and emotional ones I've read in the romance genre.

It's one of those books that makes me want to go back to the last few 4-5 star books I read and knock down their ratings half a star, because when put on the same scale they don't compare. I had a ridiculously foolish grin on my face throughout the entire thing, both because I was on one of those this-romance-is-unbelievably-fantastic highs and the book had some surprisingly good humor. I had a pleasant feeling of anticipation as I read, but I was also extremely nervous, because real BDSM sub/dom books are not my thing, and so while I was falling increasingly in love with Ana and Christian with every new page I read, I was also terrified that I was going to be jarringly yanked out of it all and the whole experience ruined for me by some kinky and needlessly over-the-top BDSM scene. Thankfully, that never happened, and it remained an amazing read right up until the very end.

{ Not What I Expected }
I'm not normally a BDSM book reader, but this was so, so, SO much more than just that. I don't think that I have read one that is so beautifully and (seemingly) authentic. I write seemingly because I have no personal experience, so no idea, but to me it read that way. It was not done as a space apart in the book where the writer could insert random hot sex scenes. Instead, it's woven throughout, showing us how it impacts and affects both characters. Ana and Christian remain Ana and Christian in those scenes, in the sense that it doesn't feel like out-of-character gratuitous sex scenes are at every random turn just to satisfy some quota. I'm not even sure I want to categorize this book as erotica, because that seems so limiting. (There was hot - intense - chemistry, don't get me wrong, and I definitely had some turn-the-AC-up moments).

{ Loved our Heroine: Anastasia / Ana (21) }
Anastasia was one of the best heroines, because she felt so real and her reactions each and every time were so normal! Not over-the-top for effect, but not understated because the author wants to be able to put lots of sex scenes. She's a virgin, has no experience with men, and didn't know anything about BDSM, so of course she's going to be questioning this and unsure of whether it's "right" or it's "wrong" or if she even feels comfortable doing it. She also is very attracted - and eventually in love - with Christian and wants to be in a relationship with him. Ana feels a connection to him that she has never felt with any other person and she wants him in her life; he makes her happy. Her attempts to balance these two forces is wonderfully depicted and I could easily imagine myself reacting in those exact same ways, thinking those exact same things, and feeling those exact same conflicts.

Ana is strong - she's somewhat shy and quiet, but like all real people, you cannot fit her into only one category: she may seem reserved and quiet, but she can also stand up for herself and really knows her own mind - she is not the ideal sub Christian first thinks she might be. Ana examines her motivations and feelings when she's confused or unsure - not only about what she should do, but about what she wants to do and what Christian wants from her. The story is told in first-person, which is sometimes iffy for me, but it worked well here; Ana's tone as narrator is smart, self-aware, and immensely likable.

{ Adored our Hero: Christian (27) }
Christian is one of the best heroes. He's intense and dark and I know some people still see him as mysterious and the dark force in all this, but I actually found him to be so accessible. There are still things we need to know about his history, obviously - I have some guesses, but don't know anything for sure. Nonetheless, he also felt like the most authentic BDSM dom I could ever read because he's not just that - he's a man who has that part of himself incorporated into his life, personality, and mannerisms, so that it's integral to his character, even when we see him around other characters who don't know about this part of his life.

Christian is possessive, a little stalkerish, domineering (no duh), authoritarian, elusive, mercurial - all of those things and more. He is also one of the most tender, tortured, and sensitive heroes I've ever read. His despair and his need for Ana is his life are like living, breathing things and they jump off the page. He also has a deep understanding about himself and his desires, though he discovers and faces new things through Ana's questions and confrontations. He needs to dominate and control his partner, but he also needs Ana, so he is willing to compromise and not only tries to give her that "more," but ends up wanting it himself as well.

{ An Unbelievable Connection and Relationship }
From the first page of their encounter, the chemistry between Anastasia and Christian was off the charts. It was one of the things that convinced me to buy the book after reading the sample - it was so intense. Their connection throughout feels so strong and despite the fact that they're coming from such different places, you can see the constant back and forth of them trying to fit together, trying to understand what the other wants, what they themselves want, etc. The dialogue, the emails, the EVERYTHING between them is a m a z i n g !!! I had such a ridiculous grin on my face for most the entire book. This goes back to my first point, but I was just so amazed by how realistic their relationship seemed, despite the BDSM sub/dom factor, which to me seems so foreign. It was complex, difficult, lovely, distressing, uplifting, intense, hopeful.

{ This Book Felt So Honest }
And I mean this in multiple ways: the main characters, their relationship, and the subject matter. Reading this book feels like an intimate act, because Ana and Christian are truly laid bare for us; yes, there are still things about his past we don't know, but who they are, their essentials, are revealed to us. Their relationship is so honest, and I mean this in two ways: within the book and how the reader sees it. Within the book, I so, SO loved that they both try to be open with one another about their feelings and their doubts, that we see them trying to work through this relationship and feel each other out, figure out what this is between them. Loved, loved, LOVED it! Also, for the reader how their connection is shown, both in terms of man-woman and sub/dom felt very, very honest. It wasn't porn-like or gratuitous or kinky for kink's sake - it was built off of who these two people are and how they connect with and need one another.

{ Overall Fantastic }
Surprisingly funny and sweet! Fantastic secondary characters. No evil guy or superfluous subplot - the obstacles are within themselves and their relationship and that is more than enough; anything else would have ruined the book and taken away from their story. Subtle but sizzling chemistry and sexual tension. Complex characters. Etc, etc.

{ Ending of the Book / Series } (no spoilers)
*Important to know that Ana and Christian's story does not end here.*
The ending is jarring, though I had ruined it for myself by having already read the next book's summary ( Fifty Shades Darker , due out September 15). I think the buildup should definitely have been extended, because it did feel pretty out of the blue to me.

As little a thing as it is, the fact that the end says "End of Part One" and this isn't viewed as Book 1 and the next as Book 2, really made a difference to me. Gives more of a sense of continuity and makes this feel like an intermission. I love where the book / series titles come from, lol (Christian's remark to Ana that he's "fifty shades of f*cked-up"). Note: All together, there will be three books.

For those interested but unsure, Google has a relatively long sample section you can read to get a sense of whether you'll like the book or not: http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=wR7...

(Written August 17, 2011)

My review for Fifty Shades Darker
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Reading Progress

08/17/2011 page 218
61.0% "Wow, have been wearing a ridiculous grin (in between hot flashes) since I started this book. It's so good. Wow. It's one of those great reads where you feel like the past few 4-5 stars need to be downgraded, because compared to this they don't measure up. Thing is, this is not usually my type of book - it goes farther than I normally like to ... So I almost want to stop now. What if I don't like what happens next??" 2 comments

Comments (showing 1-50 of 463) (463 new)


Nikki Ooh Juliana I am intrigued!


Juliana O. M. G. It was AMAZING! Didn't go to sleep at all, stayed up all night reading it. Wow. Wow. Wow. Will review later, but is one of the best romances I've read this year, if not ever. Must read!!! And this is only part 1!!! Great, because that means there's more, but ugh, because we have to wait! (Now I'll be afraid that I've hyped it up too much and you'll be invariably disappointed).


message 3: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen I had never seen this book before and I just read the blurb. Um, I am already sold!


message 4: by Audrey (new) - added it

Audrey I eagerly await your review!


Anna (Bobs Her Hair) Oooooooo...this looks good!


Juliana Nikki, Jen, Audrey, Anna: I don't even remember how I stumbled across it last night, since most of my GR friends haven't read it, but wow, what a find. I'm always afraid of hyping up a book too much when I absolutely love it, because it can then so easily be disappointing, so I'm trying to retain my urge to gush and exclaim ... That attempt was clearly not made in my review, which is nothing short of glowing, but I couldn't help myself. I was so moved by this story.


message 7: by Anna (Bobs Her Hair) (last edited Aug 17, 2011 12:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anna (Bobs Her Hair) Wow! Amazing review! I just bought this book based on your updates and now I can't wait to read it.


message 8: by Juliana (last edited Aug 17, 2011 12:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Juliana Anna wrote: "Wow! Amazing review! I just bought this book based on your updates and now I can't wait to read it."

*bites nails* P R E S S U R E !

;-) Really hope you love it as much as I did!! Was definitely a hidden gem.


message 9: by Jan (new)

Jan I think I'm intrigued, but I also think I'll wait for the three books to be out. If I like it, I'll probably hate the waiting.


Juliana @Jan: Sound strategy, IMO. What I'm nervous about is whether the next two books will be able to live up to this first one. I really, really hope they do!


message 11: by Audrey (new) - added it

Audrey Hrmmm, I'll have to think about this one. I'm not really an erotica reader, and I don't know how I'd take to the BDSM. Also, I hate to admit it, but I have a gag reflex when it comes to Twilight and all things associated therewith. :/ I will marinate on this one, but thanks for the excellent review!


message 12: by Jane (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jane Stewart Thank you for sending me the rec. I definitely want to read it. But I'm worried about the cliffhanger ending. I don't like those. I noticed book 2 is coming out Sep 15. So I’ve got this on my calendar to see how you and others feel about the ending of 2 and when bk 3 will be out. I will then decide if I’m brave enough to do 1 and 2 and wait for 3. From your review I think I’ll go ahead and do it in Sept. Thanks so much. Keep up all the good work!


Juliana Audrey wrote: "Hrmmm, I'll have to think about this one. I'm not really an erotica reader, and I don't know how I'd take to the BDSM. Also, I hate to admit it, but I have a gag reflex when it comes to Twilight an..."

This one is not the Twilight one - that's Gabriel's Inferno that has some tie to Twilight fanfiction (don't really know what that is). And incidentally, didn't really like that book.

I myself am not really a BDSM reader, but here, everything else beat out any of usual reservation on that front. Maybe read the sample? The Google sample is several pages long: http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=wR7... - gives a good sense of the story style.


Juliana Jane wrote: "Thank you for sending me the rec. I definitely want to read it. But I'm worried about the cliffhanger ending. I don't like those. I noticed book 2 is coming out Sep 15. So I’ve got this on my ..."

Cliffhanger ending was annoying! It's technically not a cliffhanger, because there's a solution that's reached, but then that solution is reconsidered in book 2. Anyway, hope you like it if/when you read it. Was such a good read; I can't stop gushing but I was caught off guard by how much I enjoyed it.


message 15: by Audrey (new) - added it

Audrey Thanks, Juliana - good call on the sample!


message 16: by Juliana (last edited Aug 17, 2011 01:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Juliana Audrey wrote: "Thanks, Juliana - good call on the sample!"

Great! Let me know what you think. That's what ended up sucking me in, because I was doubtful I would like it since it's categorized as a BDSM book. When I read the sample though, I knew I had to read the rest.


message 17: by AH (new) - added it

AH This was a twi fanfic, but nothing at all like twilight. I can't wait to read the finished product.


message 18: by Audrey (new) - added it

Audrey hehe...I also am terrible when it comes to part 1/2/3 type books, so I will keep this one on my radar until they're all out.


Juliana AH wrote: "This was a twi fanfic, but nothing at all like twilight. I can't wait to read the finished product."

Oh, it is as well? So what does that even mean exactly? A GR friend noted that on my Gabriel's Inferno review, because I remarked how my rating was low while the book's average rating was super high.


Juliana Audrey wrote: "hehe...I also am terrible when it comes to part 1/2/3 type books, so I will keep this one on my radar until they're all out."

I admire your self-control!!


message 21: by AH (new) - added it

AH Juliana wrote: "AH wrote: "This was a twi fanfic, but nothing at all like twilight. I can't wait to read the finished product."

Oh, it is as well? So what does that even mean exactly? A GR friend noted that on my..."


It was called Master of the Universe, but it was called Fifty Shades after a while. If you've never read a BSDM book, it is a pretty good start into that kind of fiction. It was really well done and there was a huge following of it. Nothing like Twilight at all.


Emily May Thanks for the recommendation and fantastic review! I really want to read this but it seems almost impossible to get it in the UK :(


message 23: by Juliana (last edited Aug 17, 2011 01:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Juliana Emily wrote: "Thanks for the recommendation and fantastic review! I really want to read this but it seems almost impossible to get it in the UK :("

Sorry! So annoying that they don't do releases at the same time. She seems to respond to readers' comments, so maybe you can ask her if there is a planned UK release and for when?

E.L. James and there's her personal website: http://www.eljamesauthor.com/contact


message 24: by Juliana (last edited Aug 17, 2011 02:00PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Juliana AH wrote: "It was called Master of the Universe, but it was called Fifty Shades after a while. If you've never read a BSDM book, it is a pretty good start into that kind of fiction. It was really well done and there was a huge following of it. Nothing like Twilight at all."

I had read in reviews that the book title had changed or they'd read a different copy, so that makes sense now. And 100% agree about this being a good intro to this sub-sub-genre(?).

LOL - no pun intended ;-)


Nikki Awesome review, Juliana, I am definitely adding to my TBR because it sounds like it really impacted you. No pressure though, we have mostly similar taste so I'm sure I'll love it!


message 26: by Juliana (last edited Aug 17, 2011 05:13PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Juliana @Nikki: Thanks! You're one of my most compatible GR friends, so hopefully you'll love it as much as I did ;-). It really did move me and I'm still somewhat amazed by my reaction; caught me completely off guard. Is it available in AU yet?


Anna (Bobs Her Hair) For those in the UK or other countries, you might be able to purchase the book/ebook at The Writers Coffee Shop Publishing House http://www.thewriterscoffeeshop.com/p...

And Juliana...no pressure. LOL I read other reviews before downloading. The price was decent too, although the dead-tree version seemed astronomical.


message 28: by Juliana (last edited Aug 17, 2011 04:27PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Juliana Anna wrote: "And Juliana...no pressure. LOL I read other reviews before downloading. The price was decent too, although the dead-tree version seemed astronomical."

Phew ;-)

I saw that too! Was really shocked. I added my name to the PBSwap list and don't mind waiting since I have my eBook version for now. From Google it was only available in PDF and it drove me nuts because I can't read that well on the eReader. What seller did you buy it from? The Writer's Coffee Shop?


message 29: by Jill (new) - rated it 1 star

Jill Juliana, this started out as Twilight fanfic as did Gabriel's Inferno. I started this one (again because of the high ratings) but so far haven't been able to finish.

We are opposites in rating these two! If I manage to finish this it'll be low - maybe...*winces*... 1 or 2 stars.


Anna (Bobs Her Hair) Yes, I purchased it at TWCS in ePub format. It was also available in PDF and Kindle.


message 31: by Juliana (last edited Aug 17, 2011 05:11PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Juliana Jill wrote: "We are opposites in rating these two! If I manage to finish this it'll be low - maybe...*winces*... 1 or 2 stars."

That is so funny! Although it makes sense - after finishing this, my first thought was how completely opposite it was from Gabriel's Inferno, which I had just finished. That's what makes the world go round :-)

I'm curious, what did you not like about this book?


Juliana Anna wrote: "Yes, I purchased it at TWCS in ePub format. It was also available in PDF and Kindle."

Darn! They sell it in ePub? I only thought to look there after I'd already bought it through Google and then figured what was the point - I would just be tempted to checkout again and what a waste of money.


message 33: by Jill (new) - rated it 1 star

Jill Juliana wrote: "Jill wrote: "We are opposites in rating these two! If I manage to finish this it'll be low - maybe...*winces*... 1 or 2 stars."

That is so funny! Although it makes sense - after finishing this, my..."


Okay, what I didn't like (and bear in mind I haven't finished) -

1) I don't usually read erotica/bdsm etc but I'll read anything if it's well-written

2) This wasn't well-written imo

3) The heroine (especially) I found kinda stupid

4) And I know this has nothing to do with the actual story. BUT $9.99 is way too much for this. Most established, popular authors are "only" $7.99. To me that just smacked of a rip-off. *Make as much money now while I can before my popularity plummets*

Are we still friends, Juliana?? LOL!


Denise Great review! Thanks for the rec for this book, I am going to try to get to it soon!


Juliana Jill wrote: "Are we still friends, Juliana?? LOL!"

No, I'm officially un-GR-friending you. :-P ... Just Kidding!!

I'm sorry you're not enjoying it. I didn't notice / pay attention to the writing so I guess it didn't bother me. And I love the heroine!! That is especially funny though, because the main thing I didn't like about GI was that book's heroine. We're mirroring one another.

I got it for $7.99 through Google eBooks - is the $9.99 the Cafe site price? Probably would have paid the extra $2 to get it in ePUB format though, because cannot read the PDF on my eReader.


Juliana @Denise: Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy it :-).


message 37: by Anna (Bobs Her Hair) (last edited Aug 17, 2011 07:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anna (Bobs Her Hair) It was $7.99 at The Writer's Coffee Shop in epub, pdf, and kindle. :o)

Since this appears to be E.L. James first book and it doesn't appear to be printed by a huge publishing company, this may explain the elevated price.


message 38: by Jill (new) - rated it 1 star

Jill It's $9.99 at Amazon.

You know I'm always amazed when two people can enjoy the same books or authors and then read something that has them at either end of the ratings spectrum!

I may try to finish this but won't be soon as I've got others to read at the moment.

Thanks for not un-friending me!


Nikki Hey gals, I got it for $7.99 from TWCS thanks to Anna's recommendation. And I checked Amazon and it is available to AU peeps (but of course Jill knows that). I'm very interested to see my own reaction as my tastes tend to mirror both Juliana's and Jill's.

I'm adding to my (verrrry long) "up next" pile!


message 40: by Jill (new) - rated it 1 star

Jill @ Nikki, you'll also have to read Gabriel's Inferno. So think about adding that one too!


Juliana If you read both, Nikki, I'm very interested to see what you think about them since all three of us (you, me, and Jill) have similar tastes. Maybe to tie it all, you'll either love or hate both (for your sake, hope the former!).


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Ok Juliana, I'm about to start this one because of your review. :)


Juliana Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalking wrote: "Ok Juliana, I'm about to start this one because of your review. :)"

Ahhh! Pressure!! *fingers crossed*


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Juliana wrote: "Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalking wrote: "Ok Juliana, I'm about to start this one because of your review. :)"

Ahhh! Pressure!! *fingers crossed*"


LOL! No pressure!


message 45: by Catherine (last edited Aug 26, 2011 05:06PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Catherine Thanks for the rec, Juliana!

In some ways, I feel conflicted like Anastasia when I say that, because my instinct is to say that can't be because of what their relationship revolves around / how it's constructed ... but somehow it can be and it's true

I am the same. I don't know how this is going to resolve, because I can't see either person being completely contented by giving up what makes them happy. I'll be curious to see how they reconcile it all.

while I was falling increasingly in love with Ana and Christian with every new page I read, I was also terrified that I was going to be jarringly yanked out of it all and the whole experience ruined for me by some kinky and needlessly over-the-top BDSM scene

I was exactly like that. Even with your reassurances I was horribly nervous. I became uncomfortable a few times, but it never crossed the line for me, thank goodness.

She's sometimes unsure - not only about what she should do, but about what she wants to do and what Christian wants from her.

I think this uncertainty in her was very needed for this story. It really helped the reader ease into the situation and figure out their limits as well.

He also has a deep understanding about himself and his desires, though he discovers and faces new things through Ana's questions and confrontations. He needs to dominate and control his partner, but he also needs Ana, so he is willing to compromise and not only tries to give her that "more," but ends up wanting it himself as well.

I loved watching him discover this. *sigh*


Juliana I'm so relieved that there were parts of it you loved. I think most everyone was a fan of the romantic relationship part and of Christian (*double sigh*!!!).

I'm also really interested to see where the author takes this and how Ana and Christian will resolve their differences. So anxious to read the next one! The release date isn't too far off, but still!

All the back and forth since I read the book has made me want to go back and read my favorite Christian passages and emails over again ... definitely one of my all-time favorite heroes!


Catherine I can see why you would want to reread. They had a very lovely intensity between them.


Lucie "a heart so wild" Great review Juliana...I've write this down to be my TBR book...^^


message 49: by AH (new) - added it

AH Catherine wrote: "I can see why you would want to reread. They had a very lovely intensity between them."

I reread the original a few times, lol.


Catherine AH wrote: "Catherine wrote: "I can see why you would want to reread. They had a very lovely intensity between them."

I reread the original a few times, lol."


I don't blame you. I'm tempted to, myself. I love when an author can deliver intensity.


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