Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review: The Unholy by Heather Graham

Title: The Unholy (Krewe of Hunters)
Author: Heather Graham
Publisher: Mira
Release Date: 06/26/2012
ISBN: 0778313492

I'll admit that I've been disappointed with the Krewe of Hunters series as of late. It's not that they're particularly bad as much as they've just been too similar to one another, which makes it hard to really see each one as an individual piece. Graham tries to break out of that mold slightly in this volume and while she does succeed in making it more unique than the previous novel (The Unseen), it still feels like it could have been slightly fresher.

A Hollywood shrine hides unholy deeds.   

The 1940s: Hard-boiled detectives and femmes fatale are box-office gold. In one iconic scene, set in a deserted museum, the private eye arrives too late, and the buxom beauty is throttled by an ominous Egyptian priest. 

Now: The Black Box Cinema immortalizes Hollywood's Golden Age in its gallery of film noir tributes. But the mannequin of that Egyptian priest is hardly lifeless. He walks-and a young starlet dies a terrifying death. 

Movie mogul Eddie Archer's son is charged with the grisly murder. Eddie calls agent Sean Cameron, who specializes in...irregular investigations. As part of an FBI paranormal forensics team, Cameron knows that nightmares aren't limited to the silver screen. 

 Working with special-effects artist Madison Darvil-who has her own otherworldly gifts-Cameron delves into the malevolent force animating more than one movie monster....

There were things that I liked as well as disliked about this book. I loved the idea of setting the book during a movie remake and bringing in elements from the golden age of Hollywood, as that was a time period when secrets were readily covered up by production companies and gossip could run even hotter than it does now. The book starts off nicely and sets the scene well, with the character of Madison having just enough introduction to make her sparkle. The addition of Bogie as the ghost did make me raise an eyebrow since it seemed like he was there more to up the "old Hollywood" feel, but it's done decently enough to where it doesn't really matter. I can't help but wish that perhaps it'd been a non-famous ghost that Graham had made up herself, as that would've allowed her to do more with the character.

The pacing is decently done for the most of the book, but unfortunately where it comes apart is in the ending. I felt like the ending was just too rushed and was sort of just tacked on, with not enough buildup to give it a nice punch. I can't entirely explain it without being spoilerish, but it felt both predictable and "huh?" at the same time, as the whodunit had me flipping through the book to remind myself of the characters. It's good that it was someone I wasn't predicting, but I would've liked a bit more buildup.

Overall this wasn't bad and it's better than some of the other books in the KoH series, but this just sort of seems to suggest to me that perhaps it's time to finish up this series so Graham can focus on other projects. This is pretty much the same idea as the first four set of books for the original KoH, just with different characters, and I admit that I'd much rather see books that focus on the pre-existing couples than continually introduce umpteen new crews just to have new couplings. After a while it just becomes too overly familiar, and this is what ultimately does this book in: we've seen this before. It's good in that way that all of Graham's novels have that "sit on the beach and drink a cool beverage" sense of fun, but it's just a little too familiar and  some fans might just find themselves longing for something slightly different.

3 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Bad Literature Bingo: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Hi all! I decided that for this holiday weekend, I'm going to introduce something a little new. It's called Bad Literature Bingo, and I thought I'd use the first two books of the Fifty Shades trilogy for this edition.

Basically, the rules are to find which of the following tropes are used in the book(s) you're reading. This particular one is a little oriented towards Fifty Shades and UF in general, but most of the more overused tropes tend to cross genres fairly easy.

Warning: some spoilers will be discussed.

So here's the card: 

You have the basics here, such as stereotypes, wangst... the works, so to speak.

Here's how Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker measure up:

Is there wangst? Oh yeah. Tons of it. Ana wangsts about how she's not pretty enough for Christian ("I'm not special..."), Christian wangsts about his past (which leads into "the woobie"), and so on. There's obvious gratuitous sex, but there's also some IKEA erotica going on. Some of the sex scenes are pretty un-erotic, to be honest. A lot of what this book checked off were things like cliches, unrealistic flaws, and of course the title drop.

What really got me were the unsympathetic characters and at times, the stereotyping of characters. You get the stereotypically gay side characters, the "silent-yet-deadly" security guard, and the "she's so evil" ex. Other than sleeping with an emotionally unstable 15 year old and introducing him to BDSD (which I admit is pretty sleazy), the ex actually acts fairly nice to Ana. She goes out of her way to try to talk to Ana in the hopes of explaining the relationship and at times, looks to be genuinely happy that Christian is dating her. Then we have her do a complete 180 and go crazy because Ana and Christian are getting married.

As you can see, the first two books got bingo. Twice. If I'd replaced "strawmen arguments" with "babies ever after", I'd have enough to get a third bingo, as book 3 does end with babies. (Haven't read it, but I've flipped through to the end of the series in the hopes that someone gets bitten by a chipmunk and dies of rabies. No such luck.)

So yeah... If I'd been playing this in a casino, I'd have won something. Guess what I win? The right to read book three. Great.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey: Semi-live blog

Hi all! I had to take a hiatus from the live blogging so I could finish studying for finals. And then I lost my copy, but it's now found and I've got the rest of my reactions for you!

Chapter 19: In which our heroine realizes she has to meet the parents without her drawers on and that she’ll be meating Christian in the boathouse. Also without her drawers on.
  • “My inner goddess sighs with relief. I reach the conclusion that she rarely uses her brain to think but another vital part of her anatomy, and at the moment, it’s a rather exposed part.”
  • “He has light stubble over his chin, and my fingers itch to scratch it and feel it against my face, against my breast… between my thighs.”
    • For some reason I saw this as Ana reading one of those “touch and feel” books.

 Chapter 20: In which our heroine floats Christian’s boat and later he paddles her pontoon.

  •   “His tongue and my tongue twist and turn together, consuming each other. He tastes divine.”
    •  That… sounds painful. 
  •   “This man, whom I thought of as a romantic hero, a brave shining white knight – or the dark knight, as he said.”
    •  So Christian is Batman. Oh wait, that’s Christian Bale. 
  •  “Inside me! I gasp, and all the muscles deep in my belly clench. My inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils.”
    • Here we go again, Ana’s IBS must be acting up.

Chapter 21: In which our heroine has desk sex, meets Mr. Hyde, and of course gets the job.

It’s only after having rather enthusiastic sex on Christian’s desk that Ana remembers that the housekeeper is in the other room and that she probably heard all of it, especially since I don’t remember Ana closing the door.

  •  And of course Christian has to force her to eat.
  • The interviewer is “Jack Hyde”. Of course he is. I’m going to guess that he’ll be the Jacob of the piece.

  Chapter 22: In which our heroine flies on a plane, sends some emails, eats an actual meal, and generally loses the attention of many readers.

  • Confession time: how many of you readers skimmed this chapter when you realized that there wasn’t going to be any sex scenes in here to laugh at?

Chapter 23: In which our heroine has lots of sex on her period and we get to see the erotic removal of a tampon. (I shit you not.)

  •  “He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string – what?! – and gently takes my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet. Holy fuck.’”
    • I think that those last two words sums up what many readers were thinking. I could’ve lived a long time without including a tampon in a sex scene.
  • They have sex several times, but I should mention that all of this occurs on the second day of Ana’s period, which for some is the heaviest day. Just imagine a sex scene moving from the countertop to the bathtub and eventually to the two of them snuggling in bed. I’m going to assume that she reinserted a new tampon at this point, at least for the sake of the poor imaginary housecleaners that will have to remove the bedsheets later on.

Chapter 24: In which our heroine has a nightmare about food, our dynamic duo go gliding, and they almost have sex in an IHOP.

  • “I glance up at him, and he’s staring at me in that way that tightens all the muscles in my belly and takes my breath away, his eyes dark and smoldering.”

Chapter 25: In which our lovers do the horizontal mambo. Again. And Ana begins to realize that their relationship might not last in its current state.

  •  “Anticipation runs bubbling like soda through my veins.”

Chapter 26: In which we finally come to the end of Fifty Shades and the end of Ana’s relationship with Christian… for now…

  • Basically Ana comes to the realization that while Christian is going to try, he’s not going to try hard enough to actually make a fulfilling relationship possible at this state. The two split and we’re left with Ana sobbing on the floor of her apartment, all alone.

So there you have it, folks. I'll try to sum up my opinion of everything for the review!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Manga Review: Ore Tama (My Balls) by Shigemitsu Harada

Title: Ore Tama
Author: Shigemitsu Harada
Volumes: 1-6
Available Through: MangaFox

Yes, I swear to you that there's a manga called "My Balls", otherwise known as "that manga that will probably never see the light of day on US shores". I know, I know... it's actually a worse title than "Boarding House of Hunks", but there's something about the titles with the terrible names that just calls to me. As the title suggests, this is a "naughty" manga, so if you're not over 18 then you probably shouldn't be reading this. (I know, I know... I've got to say it.)

The plot follows Kohta, a 19 year old that's pretty much a loser in life in general. He has no girlfriend, a semi-terrible job, and he's a virgin. To make matters worse, he doesn't think his cute female coworker is into him and he just discovered that the world is going to end at the end of July, with the only way to save everyone is to keep from "getting off". Because a major demon is sealed in his balls. Yeah, you heard that right. The world will come to an end when he reaches his. Preventing this is difficult but proves near impossible for Kohta when a lesser demon (Elyse) arrives and announces that she's there to release the demon inside.

OK. First off, I'm going to say that there's a certain squick factor in that you have a main female character that looks like she's about 14 years old at most. The manga waves this off with a "but she's a demon, not human, is far older than she looks, she'll get her adult form when she goes to the next level of demonhood, etc". They have plenty of excuses for this and some of them do sort of work plot-wise, but it doesn't help the fact that this is a very young looking character put through several sexual situations. Some readers won't see any problem, some will read on despite this, and others will refrain from the manga entirely because of this. I'm not here to tell you to be one way or another, just making sure that you're aware of this before reading.

Anywho, for what's ultimately a way for our hapless lead male to get put in several sexual situations over and over again and fulfilling various popular fetishes, this actually doesn't have that terrible of a plot. There's something sort of funny about a demon being sealed into a guy's genitalia and although the plot is wafer thin in areas, Harada just sort of runs with everything. He doesn't bother trying to make excuses for anything in the manga and he doesn't try to play any of this up to be anything other than what it is, which is part of what made me continue reading. On the other hand, he doesn't just trot out various scenarios without at least trying to work some sort of story into the chapter, which is what keeps it from being utterly hopeless.

Overall though, this isn't bad but it's not the best thing I've ever read manga-wise. It's the type of thing that you do want to finish, but you probably wouldn't want to spend an overwhelming amount of money on, if any at all. Maybe some of this is due to the youthful appearance of Elyse or perhaps because I'm not really the target audience. There's some funny stuff in here and as long as you're willing to overlook some of these things, it's not a bad ride while it lasts.

3 out of 5 stars

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review: The Legacy by John Coyne

Title: The Legacy
Author: John Coyne
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: 04/01/1979
ISBN: 0425041832

I stumbled across this little gem at my local used book store and despite having finals and a Heather Graham book to finish, I couldn't help but start flipping through it and finish it. It's a pretty fast read, so I don't feel overwhelmingly guilty at doing so. The book is unfortunately out of print, but you can still find used copies through the regular online vendors and (obviously) used book stores.

The story follows two Americans, Maggie and Peter, as they set out to England to take a job redecorating a prestigious office building. Once they get there, they discover that not only does the office not require their services, nobody remembers hiring them and the person responsible for sending them a job offer and plane tickets has been called away and is unreachable. (Remember that this is set in the 70s, before cell phones became a norm or a necessity.) While traversing the countryside and waiting to hear back from their employer, the pair are involved in an accident with a British gentleman that ends up bringing them back to his manor house... where it soon becomes apparent that the accident was no accident and that Maggie was brought to England to fulfill an ancient legacy that might cost her not only her life, but her soul as well...

To start off, don't expect Dante from this book. (I'm guessing that most of you aren't, just from looking at the cover.) This book is pretty much the epitome of the pulp horror novel of the 70s and 80s that graced the bookshelves of many stores and sparked the horror love of many a reader. It's also a movie adaptation of a Sam Elliott movie by the same name, which also starred his lovely wife Katharine Ross. (It also features a rather lovely scene of Elliott's derriere, which I'm sure was much to the delight of many a theater patron.)

The characters are somewhat thin at times and unfortunately the most interesting characters, five other guests with ties to the owner of the manor house, are introduced and later used as the inevitable horror movie cannon fodder. They're introduced enough to really give you a good idea of their personalities, but I can't help but want to have seen more of them. This is actually something that you get with a lot of books that are adapted from movies- they tend to sometimes only show as much as you see on the screen.

Legacy's plot is the real gem here, as it's incredibly hard to mess up the idea of a sinister legacy and murders in the beautiful English countryside. Just like the idea of a graveyard by the Louisiana Bayou, the foggy English manor house is a staple of horror books and novels that brings up an immediate atmosphere. Coyne makes the most of this with the short amount of pages that are within the book.

The bottom line here is that if you're a fan of older horror books, this is an absolute must read. It's a fun and semi-campy read with a great ending. It really makes me want to watch the Elliott movie, and not so I can watch him get naked. (Although I admit that it doesn't deter me from the movie either...)

4 out of 5 stars

Authors behaving badly: Laurell K Hamilton

Yes, that's right folks. Laurell K Hamilton is at it again. While most of her actions have been more subtly inserted into her books, many of you might remember the now infamous "Dear Negative Reader" letter that she sent out years ago (and has since become a trope), when she pretty much said that her writing might not be for everyone and that they should go elsewhere. Now that in itself doesn't sound too bad until you realize that she was saying that her writing might be "too much" for her previous fans and that the should find "books that don’t push you past that comfortable envelope of the mundane. If you want to be comforted, don’t read my books. They aren’t comfortable books." Yep, she pretty much said that her ex-fans were just incapable of seeing the depth in Anita's constant need to feed what is about the equivalent of a magical drug or STD, as some have put it. I've always said that if Hamilton had just apologized for any disappointment and said that this was just where she was going right now, things weren't going to change, and that hopefully they'll stick with her a little longer, then it would've been different. But hey, woulda coulda shoulda.

This actually wouldn't be so bad except that over the years there's been little barbs here and there thrown into her book, where anyone who doesn't drink the Anita/Merry Kool-Aid have been depicted extremely negatively or are summarily dismissed as "jealous" for expressing concern that a formerly active necromancer and marshall has started having sudden and extreme life changes that previously she'd never wanted and has also lessened her participation in things that she would've previously jumped into. But then again, this is all indirect and while it's a little irritating, it's also pretty funny and for the most part, harmless. There hadn't been a blunt and direct comment about the readers since the DNR letter.

Until now.

Recently Hamilton published Beauty, a deleted scene from her upcoming book Kiss the Dead, in the ebook market. It's about $3 for 33 pages of work, something that many authors would have otherwise published on their websites for free in the hopes of whipping up a frenzy for their next work. Armstrong herself has published entire novellas in the past, and considering that those novellas were later published and sold quite well, it's safe to say that sometimes giving a little free milk now actually can make people buy the cow later. There's been some pretty negative reviews for the excerpt, many of which express frustration over the pricing for Beauty as well as for what they saw as a rather bland sex scene. I will admit that some of my friends and I enjoy poking fun at the Ed Wood-esque antics of Anita, but overall there's no real spite in it and we'll call ourselves out if we see that we're going extremely over the line with the commentary. There are some things that are out of bounds, after all.

None of this would really be news, as even the more die-hard fans of Hamilton know to expect the typical spate of negative reviews. What made this an "authors behaving badly" moment is that one of Hamilton's twitter followers tweeted the following to her:

"Im gonna take a stab in the dark & guess the negativity is mainly coming from the involuntarily celibate ;) "

Now again, this is not really news. Anyone who has ever expressed a negative opinion of the novels has probably been hit up with the old "you're probably just not getting any". Heck, people who have expressed negative opinions over anything with sex in it has probably heard this thrown at them at some point in time. It's an old, old attack that is met more with eye-rolling and sighing than any real indignation. Even the fans usually give a snort when they read someone posting this, as it rarely does any true damage to us haterade drinkers.

The only difference in this scenario is that as LKH Lashouts has reported, this was retweeted by Hamilton to her 33,0000+ followers and was followed up with this:

"I admit I wonder how much sexual frustration is behind the hateful comments."

Yep. That's right. Hamilton replied by implying that some of the negative reviews out there was due to sexual frustration, further implying that if they were getting laid (or taking things "to hand") then they'd like her book. This, coupled with Hamilton earlier stating that people there some of the negativity was due to people getting jealous because their books weren't selling, had quite an effect on some readers.

Author L.M. Pruitt weighed in on this whole fiasco, pretty much saying what most of us were thinking when we read Hamilton's very public expression of frustration:


Seriously, I can't put it much better or more bluntly than that. Authors are entitled to get angry when they hear that people don't like their work. Even when you churn out two novels a year or more, those books are your "babies" and it hurts to hear people call them ugly. But you don't do your ranting or venting where people can see it. Do it in private where you can call the negative readers every nasty thing that pops into your head while drinking a nice bottle of wine that you bought with the money people paid for your book. Then let it go and again, don't bring it up in public.
I also want to add that Pruitt is no stranger to negative reviews herself, but never has she ever (in my knowledge, anyway) responded negatively to them. She's just thanked them for their time and moved on. That, my friends, is how you respond to negative reviews and how you can still get them to speak well of you even though they didn't get bowled over by your work.
Jennifer Armintrout also commented on Pruitt's blog, stating that "I think you can tell a lot about a person by the way they respond to criticism. That's all I'm going to say."
Seriously Laurell... stop doing this. Stop taking swipes at the general public. As a former die-hard and someone who really wants to like your works again one day, please stop making it hard for me to keep that incredibly small spark of hope alive. I want to believe that one day we'll get sex scenes that aren't "tab a into slot b, repeat" and that we'll get better plot, and I know that deep down you're trying to get there. It's just that for every step forward you seem to be taking, you do something that turns your readers off and alienates the ones on the fences even further.
I've watched your sales grow, but I've also watched them drop as well and I know that you can't continue on with stuff like this. I know that you're a NYT bestseller, but the higher you go the harder you'll hit if you do end up falling and the harder it will be for you to climb back up. Please stop doing this to yourself.

But is it right? Florida County Pulls Fifty Shades of Grey From Shelves

I was just perusing the Library Journal and saw the above title. I know that some libraries have been threatening to pull Fifty Shades, but most of the ones I'd heard about had been school libraries, which is understandable. (It is erotica, after all.)

But a public library? Florida County stated that the erotic book was "pornography" and that it "didn't meet their selection criteria". As someone who has not only volunteered in a library before, but spends a good deal of time perusing the shelves, I have to call a certain level of BS on this one.

First we have the whole argument of whether FSOG is pornography due to it being an erotic novel. To be honest, this is an often debated topic when it comes to erotica and something that you'll get a different opinion on depending on who you talk to. In my opinion it falls just shy of being pornography because while there are some pretty graphic sex scenes, the book was not written just to "get your rocks off". While it's not the best written story out there, James does actually put a plot to her Edward/Bella scenes and there's more pages without sex on them than there are pages with sex. Erotica is written to titillate while pornographic novels are purely written for you to be read one-handed and put down immediately afterwards. The difference here is that erotica readers generally tend to keep reading even after the sex scene is done. What makes this such a hard point to argue though, is that personal opinion weighs heavily on this and there's also the problem of having many novels and short stories sold under the banner of "erotica" that actually are written to be more of the "one handed" sort. I could probably argue this point back and forth all night, but there's actually other reasons I have a problem with this being pulled.

To be incredibly blunt, I doubt FSOG is the worst book in their libraries as far as sexual graphicness goes. Ever heard of Zane? If not, then all I have to say is that she's one of the most popular African-American writers out there and that all of her books have at least one scorchingly hot sex scene in them, if not several. She writes scenes that are so steamy and overly graphic that they make FSOG's sex scenes look like they're comprised of two uber-conservative religious people having sex with all of their clothes on and the lights out. Yet the Florida libraries have not pulled Zane's books and many of their libraries offer Zane books to their patrons. (See here, here, and here for just a few libraries that have them.) Well, when they're in stock, anyway. My pointing this out isn't to say "hey, pull these too", but to show that there's been far more graphic books put out in their libraries and that not only are they popular, but that having them on the shelves is not gonig to make the library go up in flames.  I'm not even going to bother trying to see if they have the older erotic works by authors such as the Marquis de Sade. Most libraries do have them, albeit usually in a compendium. Then of course you have the romance novels and anyone who has ever read your typical bodice ripper can vouch that there's a lot of heaving naked bosoms and throbbing members around every corner. (And then there's the westerns such as Dirk Fletcher's Spur, which also contains graphic sex scenes.)

Now some people could argue that it's offensive and I could counter that with arguments along the lines of freedom of speech, don't ban books, blah blah blah. No, what I'm going to counter with is that this is NOT the most offensive book out there. (Unless you're jokingly saying that it's offensive because it's so badly written, upon which I'll just say that you haven't hit the local authors section at your library yet.) For claims of offensiveness, I give you Piers Anthony's Firefly, which is readily available in at least one of the libraries. (See here.) What makes this so offensive? Well... let me just say that part of this stems from not only the incredibly, INCREDIBLY graphic depictions of pedophilia contained within the book (you actually get a sex scene between a 40-something year old guy and a five year old girl) but also from an afterword from the author which states that not only did he have a convicted pedophile write one of the sex scenes for the boko, but also tried to say that a doctor giving a kid a shot and a checkup is worse than a kid getting molested by an uncle (and not knowing that it was a bad scenario). Yeah. There's a reason it's out of print. Check out this article if you want to see some of what's in the book.

If I had the time, I could probably pull some mainstream and seemingly innocent titles that are in the libraries and are less extreme than these examples as well, but I think that'd be overkill at this point.

So I guess my point is that the library really only seems to want to enforce these policies when it's a popular book that's in the media and it's hypocritical for them to pull certain books stating it "doesn't meet policies" when there's at least a hundred other books that clearly violate the same premises. At this point I kind of want to ask why they even want to pull the book. Are they afraid that some teenager is going to read it? If so, then have an age requirement on it. It's not like the library doesn't have that sort of thing set up. I know that as a kid I had to ask my parents to rent some books for me that I wouldn't have been able to get with my juvenile card. I know that the LJ article makes these same points, but I just wanted to put my own two cents in.

Why pull it, especially if there are a lot of readers who want it? You could argue that it's erotica and that underage kids would get their hands on it, but you could also argue that this would get a lot more people back in the library and increasing the libraries' circulation in general. As Harry Potter showed us, once you get people started on something they're likely to keep doing it. Pulling a popular title for reasons that don't match up with previous actions (and are considered to be old fashioned by many) will only reinforce the ideas that libraries are out of date and out of touch with their communities. As someone who is looking to go into the library field, I know that this is still a prevalent stereotype despite the actions of many to fight against it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Semi-live blog reading of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Hi all! I'm writing here to say that I'm going to try to do the same thing with Fifty Shades of Grey that I did with A Shore Thing.  I'm going to be tweeting and trying to blog my reactions to the book as I read it. I will warn you, it's finals season so I might take a break for studying.

I have to admit that I've been curious about it, and how couldn't I? It's not just a fanfiction turned NYT bestseller, but it's a TWILIGHT EROTIC fanfiction. How can you really resist the urge to see thinly veiled depictions of Bella and Edward indulge in poorly written sex scenes? (Easily, but that's besides the point.) Where else can you flip through a book and randomly fall onto a page where our hero and heroine are discussing whether or not fisting will be part of their daily routine? (If you don't know what this is, please Google with caution!)

As evidenced by the remark above, this will not be censored and I will have to mention some sexual things in order to review and comment on the book. Please proceed with caution if you are easily offended by sexual gymnastics, anything BDSM related, or just by poor writing or blogging.

So it goes...

  • The book opens with Bella Anastasia being persuaded by her bestest friend ever to interview Edward Christian Grey, mega-zillionaire. But... isn't Ana a literature student? I'm not really sure that a lit student would really have the training needed to conduct a successful interview with an incredibly rich and powerful person. Isn't there anyone else in her friend's program that would be better suited? 
  • Oh, and Christian has "Grey House" written on the doors to his skyscraper, but it's OK because it's "discreet". Yeah. (Not that there's anything wrong with having this written on a building, but I'm more picking that it's called "discreet", being written above the doors of a huge building.
  • I just realized that if you put the names "Grey" and "Steele" together, you get "Steele-Grey". 
  • And of course there's a lot of stammering going on. If this were a movie, I'd imagine that Ana would have gnawed her lower lip off by now. 
  • Page 11: The first mention of beautiful, but not the first mention of how hot Christian is. 
  • ‎(facepalms) OK, so I just read that Grey rarely gives out interviews. And he's big and powerful. And *why* exactly did Kate insist on sending an untrained friend in her place? Oh, that's right. To give us a reason for the two to meet so that Christian can show Ana his "fifty shades".
  • And despite sounding like a dip, Christian decides to show her around. 
  • Oh look, it only took 23 pages for us to have a guy fall all over Ana, who could care less.
  • Line of the minute: "His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel... or something."
  • Next line of the minute: ‎"I gasp involuntarily as I feel it all the way down to somewhere dark and unexplored, deep in my belly."
  • So we've had chapters 1 & 2, which comprise of our dynamic duo meeting, Ana eating, and the two finally re-meeting at Ana's construction store job. (Considering how clumsy she is, you'd think they wouldn't have trusted her with sharp objects.) Now for chapter three. So far there's plenty of bad lines, but no sex.
  • "I am restless that night, tossing and turning, dreaming of smoky gray eyes, coveralls, long legs, long fingers, and dark, dark unexplored places."
  • Yay, more scenes of Ana stammering and thinking to herself about how hawt Christian is. Well, this was a Twific originally, so I can't be too surprised. 
  • Nothing brings people closer together like someone almost getting hit by a swift cyclist.
  • Chapter 4: in which our heroine tells us that she's too much of a skinny, ugly freak to attract any guys. Seriously.
    • "And that night, I dream of gray eyes and leafy patterns in milk, and I'm running through dark places with eerie strip lighting, and I don't know if I'm running towards something or away from it... it's just not clear." (You're telling me?)
    • Ana has just drunk dialed Christian. He arrives just in time to keep Ana from the unwanted advances of a friend.
    • Christian Grey's monogram is CTG. What can the middle initial stand for? I'm guessing Tito. Who wouldn't want to be named after the dad of the Jackson Five?
  • Chapter 5: In which our heroine wakes up after drinking so much that she puked and passed out, yet has no real hangover to speak of. And has a sexy encounter in an elevator.
  • Chapter 6: In which Ana gets a ride (no, not that type, not yet anyway), signs a confidentiality agreement, and discovers that Christian doesn't "make love". He fucks... hard.
  • Chapter 7: In which our heroine explores our hero's S&M playroom, loses her cherry, and goes over a contract for complete domination.
    • I guess the new "third date" rule is that you can now take your potential lover to your "red room of pain" and go over an extensive slave/dom document that allows the dom to do whatever they want. Just getting laid is for wimps.
    • Chapter 8: In which our heroine finally gets a good hard dicking and we get some of the most memorable lines of the book.
      • ‎"The muscles inside the deepest, darkest part of me clench in the most delicious fashion."
      • ‎"Two orgasms... coming apart at the seasms, like the spin cycle on a washing machine, wow.
      • Chapter 9:In which our heroine learns the fine art of soaping and we are re-told that Christian is a big boy.
        • ‎"I want you to become well acquainted, on first name terms if you will, with my favorite and most cherished part of my body. I'm very attached to this." Very attached, indeed.
          • How big is this tub? Despite the fact that both of them (I presume) are still sitting in this tub, Grey is so big that his erection is "above the water line".
        • ‎"My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves."
        • "He's my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle."
        • So Anna's gotten her some popsicle and is now getting tied up with what I can only assume is the tie from the cover of the novel.
        • And Christian loves her smell. If you thought dirty things, then your head is in the right place. Apparently, so is Christian's.
        • Chapter 10: In which our heroine meets the mom, does some really boring stuff, and does something really rare: eats something. Other than a Christian-Grey-flavored popsicle.
          • OK, this chapter really hammers something in here, and it's not Ana. No, it's that Ana's pretty much an anorexic. She rarely eats. If I were doing a drinking game based on the amount of times Ana eats enough to count as a meal, I'd never get drunk.
            • I think I'd have taken all of two drinks by now.
          • Here's something I raised an eyebrow at. We're told that Christian had his first sexual encounter at 15 with a friend of his mom's. It's BDSM sex and Christian gives no signs that the sex was anything other than consensual, but Ana immediately considers it sexual abuse. (Not that I'd be hard pressed to argue with her, but I'd have like to have seen her muse over it and have the two talk about it for a while.)
          • (Upon talking about the term "vanilla sex".) "I thought it was chocolate fudge brownie sex that we had, with a cherry on the top."
            • BTW, if anyone's curious, vanilla sex is ordinary sex with no S&M elements involved therein
        • Chapter 11: In which we learn the details of The Contract.
          • In a nutshell, this pretty much states that while Ana is free to back out of the contract at any time, she can set limits, have a safeword, and that it'll only be for set periods, she's ultimately owned by Christian. Now I need to emphasize that stuff  like this is actually pretty normal for relationships like this, although I'm not sure at the whole "making it into a formal paper contract" part.
          • We also get a section for food and self-maintenance, which to be honest... Ana needs. She doesn't eat
          • There's also discussion over what the limits will be. Fisting is brought up. (If you're not aware of what this is, be aware that Google searching this will have a steep learning curve.)
          • "The only man I've ever been attracted to, and he comes with a bloody contract, a flogger, and a whole world of issues." (Ana Steele, putting it mildly.)
          • Awww... Christian gave Ana a Mac. (This will either be terribly sweet or be the worst gift ever, depending on what your feelings are for Apple products.)
        • Chapter 12: In which Ana goes running, tries joking (and fails), and sets some limits.
          • And gets laid.
        • Chapter 13:  In which our heroine has yet another guy fall all over her, natch.
          • "It slips down my throat, all sea water, salt, the sharp tang of citris, and fleshiness... ooh."
            • Now the first time I had oysters, it wasn't anything like this. It was less fleshiness and more along the lines of "oh, they didn't clean all of the sand out of this thing".
        • Chapter 14: In which our heroine has a wet dream involving a whip, graduates from college, and learns something new about Christian.
          • "I didn't know I could dream sex. Was it something I ate?"
          • "Unbidden, I recall my dream from this morning, and the muscles in my belly do the delectable clench thing."
            • Is it just me, or does it seem like most of Ana's muscle clenching seem more like she really needs to poo?
        • Chapter 15: In which Ana goes over her limits and gets a (cue Bob Barker voice) BRAND! NEW! CAR!
          • Unsurprisingly, she says no to the anal/vaginal fisting.
          • "I'll agree to the fisting, but I'd really like to claim your ass, Anastasia. But we'll wait for that. Besides, it's not really something we can dive into."
            • No, if you could dive into it then she'd probably have no issues with the fisting.
          • "Obediently, I turn, and my heart is thumping, desire instantly replacing unease, coursing through my blood and settling dark and yearning, low, low in my belly."
            • I'm not sure whether I want to hand her a bottle of Pepto Bismol or a glow in the dark dildo so that we'll stop getting descriptions of "dark places" and "dark yearnings".
          • "My inner goddess looks like someone snatched her ice cream."
            • It just struck me that for this inner goddess to be so well defined and for Ana to reference her so much, this might be considered a split personality.
        • Chapter Sixteen: In which our heroine gets a spanking and our author references the book title.
          • Ah, pillow talk... when you really get to know all about your partner, their quirks, their dreams, and in Christian's case, when your sex partner will be getting her period.
          • "My insides practically contort with potent, needy, liquid, desire. He gazes at me, waiting, eyes blazing."
            • If I had a dollar for every comma in that sentence, I'd be able to buy her some medicine for the liquid contorting in Ana's insides.
        • Chapter Seventeen: In which something inside of our heroine clenches and unclenches (again), she realizes that spanking can be done for debasement (um, you did google BDSM, right Ana?), and gets on Christian's whirly bird. (His helicopter, I mean.)
          • "Everything deep in my body uncurls and then clenches in delicious anticipation. The feeling is exquisite."
            • Seriously, I'm beginning to think that Ana either has the trots or an overly large tapeworm.
          • Ana emails Christian, saying that she felt humiliated by the spanking, to which he replies that it was meant to humiliate and debase her. 
            • While this is sort of something that she could've easily found by googling, is anyone a little irritated that Ana has to Google everything rather than sit down and talk things through with Christian? You'd think he'd enjoy being able to train someone from the start.
            • Or that at the very least, she'd have gone to her local Barnes & Nobles to find a "how to" book about BDSM? Or maybe gone into one of the internet forums out there and posted anonymously? Christian said that she couldn't discuss anything about him, but I imagine that if she did it anonymously, that could skirt around that rule.
          • "Butterflies flood my belly - as well as a darker, carnal, captivating ache as I try to imagine what he will do to me ..."
            • Gotcha. It's tapeworms. They have a pill for that, you know. 
          • "My inner goddess has her pom-poms in hand - she's in cheerleading mode."
            • And there's her split personality again.
          • We get a lovely description of bodily clenching again, which is just as good since now Christian has a gynecologist coming in to scope out Ana's naughty bits and put her on birth control. 
            • Ahh... romance!
        • Chapter Eighteen: In which our heroine gets gynecologically spelunked and then well... just spelunked.
          • I can't help but imagine how uncomfortable of a situation it must have been for a gyn doctor to see someone at their own home without any sort of stirrups to help their vision. 
            • Although despite his claims that he doesn't like any sort of gynecological products in his sex play, Christian strikes me as the type of guy to own a butt funnel
          • We get a long and extended scene of Christian whipping Ana with a leather crop, which is supposed to be sexy but only serves to remind me of how the book is beating the plot to death with the repeated usage of the word "clench" and descriptions of how hawt and sezzy Christian is.