Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James

Day Three of Three Days of Grey!

Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James was a satisfying end to a wonderful and delectable series. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I recommend it to anyone who wants to read a love story with realistic (and sometimes seductively fantastical) elements.

When unworldly student Ana Steele first encountered the driven, damaged young entrepreneur Christian Grey it sparked a sensual affair that changed both their lives irrevocably. Shocked, intrigued, and ultimately repelled by Christian’s singular sexual tastes, Ana demanded a deeper commitment; determined to keep her, Christian agreed.

Now, together, they have more – love, passion, intimacy, and a world of infinite possibilities. But Ana always knew that loving her Fifty Shades would not be easy, and being together poses challenges neither of them ever anticipated. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own integrity, identity or independence; Christian must somehow overcome his compulsion to control, and lay to rest the horrors that blighted his past and haunt his present.

Just when it seems that together their love can conquer any obstacle, misfortune, malice and fate combine to make Ana’s worst nightmares come true. Alone and desperate, she must face down the poisoned legacy of Christian’s past.

Seductive, shocking, sad and funny, Fifty Shades Freed is the compelling final volume in the Fifty Shades trilogy.

This series initially grabs you with its shock value and steamy sex scenes, but the romance — the true romance going on under all the stuff on the surface — seizes your heart. Readers fall in love with Christian Grey just as Ana does and we all learn to accept him — all fifty shades. It’s not only character development and relationship building, but the reader gets to witness a transformation from lovers to true love. It’s magical. I loved how nothing was sugar-coated; James gets down to the nitty gritty without hesitation, and I love her for it.

I loved the arguments between Anna and Christian. They were both in the right — and the wrong — and their relationship grew because of it. It’s such a wonderful example of how a relationship naturally matures. I love how neither of them change. It’s a sacred truth that no one can truly change someone. I like that James holds true to that.

 There was a bit of skimping when it came to sex scenes in this one. There was a lot more action outside the bedroom. It drove the book to high and low points rather quickly, and satisfied the reader every step of the way. Don’t worry; there were still enough steamy and kinky scenes to meet the expectations for readers of the Fifty Shades series. Her scene skipping is neccessary to keep up the pace of the book, plus I love how she didn’t fall into the redundant sex scene trap. It’s refreshing for erotic fiction.

 I don’t know what to think about the ending. It wrapped up rather nicely with closure and all. However, I was depressed afterwards, it wasn’t because it was sad — it was far from it. Without giving anything away, the ending is a testament to how life goes on. I’m not a huge fan of romances that end with responsibility and “housewifery”.  I don’t know, maybe I’m just sad the series is over. What am I going to do without Fifty Shades in my life!?!

 Readers will not be disappointed. James leaves the reader fulfilled, complete with an epilogue that quells the need for that Christian Grey fix.

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Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James

It’s Day Two of Three Days of Grey!

WARNING: This book is meant for readers 18 and older. This book includes ADULT content.

After devouring the first book, I HAD to read the second as soon as possible. Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James is a fitting and progressive sequel.

Anastasia Steele has left Christian Grey. She isn’t what he needs and she had to leave him. Unfortunately, she is lost and miserable without him. When Christian proposes another contract, she can’t help but rekindle the flame. Will Ana get burned?

I am in love with this series. The first book was a little too much but I’m all the more grateful for it now since it contrasts nicely with the second book. Fifty Shades Darker? It should be called Fifty Shades Lighter! There was still kinky sex but it was more hot than repulsive. Christian and Ana’s relationship really evolves in this book. They grow to love each other and that love translates to the bedroom, or in this case the red room of pain. 😉 I love how complicated their relationship is. Even though there are redeeming moments of love, it’s not a complete happily ever after; Christian doesn’t completely change his ways. This makes it more believable and leaves room for character development.

There were so many surprising moments! My absolute favorite is the moment that Christian thinks Ana is going to leave him again. I watched in wide-eyed wonder at such a raw, real moment. It blew me away. I was shocked at the many breakthroughs in Christian. It was endearing and made me fall in love with him, all the more. Ana and Christian really are perfect for each other. I am so impressed by James. She is an amazing writer. For a book that contains a lot of sex, it never got old. Each time it was different and the story progressed because of it, unlike the romance novels that include meaningless sex sessions. James’ uncanny ability to create such a complicated character as Christian, and then continue to play out his struggle through his habits in order to be with Ana, is absolutely astounding. I am a huge fan!

 I was a little surprised to see where the plot went. I got half-way through the book and it seemed like there was climax after climax (no pun intended! haha), and I thought what else could possibly happen!?! Yet James kept building up the plot for another event to take the reader by surprise. I am thoroughly intrigued to see where she’s going to take the third book, Fifty Shades Freed.  

 The book wrapped up with a small happy-ever-after that made me just want to smile and sigh, yet the ominous twist at the end left me eager to read the next book. This is one of the most progressive sequels I’ve ever read; it really transformed the series for me. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Wondering what all the 50 Shades talk is about?

Welcome to Three Days of Grey! My personal celebration of all things Christian Grey. Needless to say, I loved the series, and for the next three days, I’ll review each book in the 50 Shades trilogy. Day one is all about the first novel, Fifty Shades of Grey.

WARNING: This book is meant for readers 18 and older. This book includes ADULT content.

I’m not sure how to start this review. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James was a fascinating, heart-wrenching, disturbing yet moving novel. I am speechless.

 I jumped on the Fifty Shades bandwagon along with millions of other women across the globe; I mean who doesn’t want to read a book that is so controversial that people want it banned? (Note to people who want to ban books: People will only want to read it more!) In fact, I’m sure the whirlwind of controversy is what has made Fifty Shades of Grey a New York Times bestselling novel, and it fully deserves to be there. However, I may not have picked it up if there wasn’t such a buzz.

 When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
 
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

 I am not going to lie, this book is extremely erotic. It starts out all innocent in the first 100 pages and then BAM! Things get crazy and very steamy. At times the sex scenes surpassed my ability to comprehend and I was left shaken, completely disturbed. I’ve read my fair share of trashy romance novels that include a variety of dirty and lewd sex scenes, but Fifty Shades takes the cake. I think it’s because it was so real, so in the moment. Most romance novels can be too cheesy or too cliché with the expected script of orgasms and moaning in the right places. Fifty Shades is set-apart. Not only is the content BDSM but I had NO idea what was going to happen, so I was left clinging to every word in expectant fear. Just as there is a fine line between pleasure and pain, there is a fine line between foreplay and abuse. At times if was very difficult for me to swallow. However, I firmly respect E. L James’ fervent imagination and solid, descriptive writing style. She made is seem totally believable even though it was about a shocking, alternative lifestyle.

 Regardless of my prudish nature, my own inner goddess reared her head throughout the novel. The relationship between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey was fascinating and delicious. What a guilty pleasure!  I loved it; it was like watching a real relationship grow. In fact the interaction between them was the best part of the book. Christian was mysterious yet endearing and Ana was self-sacrificing yet stubborn. The witty banter between them made me laugh out loud, and the email format was really neat. The book had impeccable pacing and a surprising conglomeration of word usage. It was like a wordsmith’s wet dream.The writing was all vivid imagery and raw emotions. I even loved the play on Grey v. Gray. Nice touch, James.  

 Overall, it was an amazing, well-crafted book. For a woman who started off writing Twilight Fan fiction, this book is bloody brilliant. The ending is a bit of a cliff-hanger, so I will be visiting my local bookstore tonight to pick up the sequel Fifty Shades Darker.

 I recommend this book to those who think they can handle it. If you have never read a piece of erotic fiction, do NOT start with this one. Like I said earlier, it’s almost too extreme for me; however, it’s unlike any other erotic fiction I’ve ever read. There is just so much substance with this book. It’s a story of self-discovery and real emotions between two people falling in love. This is bound to be a favorite.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

35 GIRLS. 1 CROWN. THE COMPETITION OF A LIFETIME.
 
What a pleasant surprise! The Selection by Kiera Cass was awesome. The cover is beautiful and from the moment I heard about it, I had to read it. As an avid fan of The Bachelor/Bachelorette on ABC, I couldn’t pass up a book that had a competition for love, with a twist of course—there is a crown involved.

 For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

 Kiera Cass executed a love triangle perfectly! America, as well as the reader, falls in love with each guy individually without interference from the other, so when they finally come together they are almost equal. I usually know  immediately which guy I want to “win,” but Cass got me so hooked on both Aspen and Maxon that I can’t decide. This is the first time that that has ever happened! I usually root for the underdog, so I never get it right. (I’m Team Jacob AND Team Gale.) Regardless, I know people, myself included, who are getting tired of the love triangle thing but this one is well worth it.

 Even though the plot isn’t necessarily original, everything that happens is. I went back and forth between shocked and amazed at each interaction America has with each boy. Nothing I expected to happen, happened. It was refreshing and exciting to read. America speaks her mind and it makes her a very likable and relatable character. At one point, America speaks up for her lower caste and holds her head high among the spoiled and  rich, going as far as teaching Prince Maxon lessons about the reality of the living in a lower social status. I was rooting for her the whole way! By the way, I absolutely love the name choices in this book.

 There was one point in the book where — and I HATE to say it — it reminded me of the Hunger Games.  Not that there is death and killing, but there is an interview portion on TV for the country to see the candidates for the selection. The interviewer reminded me of Caesar, and the crowd interactions as well as the expectations of the girls echoed the same feel as the interviews in the Hunger Games, without the killing of course. (I hate when people compare things to Hunger Games, it’s almost insulting, but this is a very specific moment that reminded me of, not so much the book, but what made Hunger Games amazing.) I loved the interview element and Cass did it very well.

 My biggest issue with this book? It’s book one of a series so we all have to wait to see who wins! UGH! Initially, I was excited for a standalone novel with closure in the end, but even though it’s irritating, at least there will be more Maxon and Aspen to devour. Like this:

 “I’m not so stupid as to believe that you’ve completely forgotten about your former boyfriend. I know you think there are others here more suited for me and this life, and I wouldn’t want you to rush into trying to be happy with any of this. I just…I just want to know if it’s possible…”

 The next book doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s expected to be released in spring 2013. I will be eagerly awaiting the sequel. There is also talk about a TV show in the works on the CW. They’ve already shot the pilot, it’ll depend on whether or not it gets chosen to be aired next season. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but I’ll most certainly be checking it out if it does get aired.

Releases and Recommendations

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day books get released.

When I stumbled acrossed Iced by Karen Marie Moning, I almost fainted. I am a HUGE fan of KMM’s Fever Series (and don’t forget about her Highlander series!). KMM created absolute magic in her Fever series: the characters were memorable, her version of Dublin was vivid and magical, and did I mention the sexual tension? KMM crafted such amazing tension between Mac and Jericho with (I think) one of the best payoffs. It was totally intoxicating and exciting, and I was literally depressed for days after the series ended. So, I’m super excited for this new series based in the same world but following Mac’s ex-best friend, Dani O’Malley. This is going to be good, people. Dani was such a headstrong character in the Fever series, I can’t wait for KMM to reveal all that Dani has to offer to readers. Iced will be released on October 30, 2012. I’m so pumped!

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning comes the first book in her hotly anticipated new urban paranormal trilogy, set in the world of her blockbuster Fever series.The year is 1 AWC—After the Wall Crash. The Fae are free and hunting us. It’s a war zone out there, and no two days are alike. I’m Dani O’Malley, the chaos-filled streets of Dublin are my home, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules—and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. Possessing rare talents and the all-powerful Sword of Light, Dani is more than equipped for the task. In fact, she’s one of the rare humans who can defend themselves against the Unseelie. But now, amid the pandemonium, her greatest gifts have turned into serious liabilities.

Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux.

When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks—and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance.

Dodging bullets, fangs, and fists, Dani must strike treacherous bargains and make desperate alliances to save her beloved Dublin—before everything and everyone in it gets iced.

Starters by Lissa Price

I was pleasantly surprised by Starters by Lissa Price, but I thought it could be better. The cover is really striking, though, and I did enjoy reading it.
 
A disease has wiped out a majority of the population, only the vaccinated survive leaving the really young and really old. Callie Woodland is left with only her little brother, Tyler, when her parents die; without grandparents to claim them, Callie and Tyler must live off the dangerous streets. Callie wants to make a better life for them so she resorts to renting her body at Prime Destinations. Senior Citizens “rent” out the bodies of young teens to enjoy youth again — partying, dancing, drinking, etc. After Callie decides to rent out her body for a large sum of money (enough to get them off the streets forever), Callie is shocked to find that her renter doesn’t want to party, she wants to kill.
 
This novel was really exciting to read. The concept was neat and plausible. Children and senior citizens are the first to be vaccinated, so it makes sense that they would be the most likely to survive. The disease is described as a spore (I literally had to look it up.), which again is plausible and shows that Lissa Price did a lot of research for her novel. I was impressed by Price but she didn’t completely blow me away.
 
I was initially pulled into the book, engrossed in the world Callie lives in but every once in a while the writing would be inconsistent and I felt like I was “dropped” out of the world Price created. It was like I became aware that I was reading, and where usually it reads like a visual movie in my head,  the words stuck out too much it took me out of my trance, so to speak. I didn’t like the inconsistency; it was distracting.  Hopefully, Price will perfect her writing style in the next book.
 
I loved that Callie was so devoted to her little brother, Tyler. She loved him so much she rented her body to a stranger. Can you imagine? Letting someone else use your body? It gives me the creeps, yet I can understand why she did it. The streets in Callie’s world are not forgiving and I, too, would have done whatever it took to get out.
 
Once Callie’s neurochip malfunctions and she finds herself in the rich, lavish world of her renter, the story really takes off. I enjoyed her investigation once she figures out her renter’s plot for murder. I especially enjoyed her relationship with the Senator’s son, Blake. It was the perfect amount of romance to be realistic. There was even a hint of a potential love triangle between Blake and Michael, the boy she lives on the streets with that’s taking care of her little brother while she’s being rented. I thought Price squashed potential story lines too quickly, or maybe she didn’t want a love triangle? Either way, both guys had feelings for Callie.
 
There are a lot of strange twists in this novel. It’s not the kind you “don’t expect,” but it’s so strange no one could see it coming. For example, Blake doesn’t end up being who he says he is; I kind of hated Price for awhile once that was revealed. Also, I thought there were strange references to fairytales like Cinderella or Wizard of Oz out of the blue. It left me puzzled. Was it a coincidence? Or was it supposed to mean something?
 
There was a lot of build up for the next book towards the end, however, it took away from the closure of this book. The ending seemed rushed but left a lot open for the next installment. The one thing that really made me mad was Callie’s disinterest in helping unclaimed minors like her in the end. She’s given some good luck, it disappointed me she didn’t share it. The second book, Enders, comes out December 12, 2012. It’ll be interesting to see where she goes with everything, especially the relationship between her and Blake.

Releases and Recommendations

Happy Tuesday! The day that books are released!

I can’t wait to read Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor.  What a great cover! The first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, was a breath-taking, original, gripping novel and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Will Karou forgive? I hope so! It’ll be released on Tuesday, November 6, 2012

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed “Daughter of Smoke and Bone,” Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was declared a “must read” by Entertainment Weekly, was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon.com, and The New York Times called it “a breath-catching romantic fantasy.”