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Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

By E. L. James. Fifty Shades #1. Grade: F

Before I start the review, I’d like to clarify why on earth I even thought to read this one. A month ago I saw the name of the book in the Bestsellers’ list on Flipkart. As usual, I judged the book by its cover and didn’t read the blurb. I presumed that it was a self help book about being successful at business or something. E L James, I thought, was some top-notch businessman. After checking Barnes and Nobles a few days later, I saw all the three books of the Fifty Shades trilogy on the number one, two and three of the Bestsellers’ list. I thought the business man has penned down his entire life’s experiences in the three books. I downloaded a Kindle copy of the book.

I am a self-help lover. I wanted to read it as soon as my exams ended. When they ended, I was searching Goodreads lists of High School Romance and suddenly I saw, a list said ‘Best Erotic Romance Fiction’ and guess what? Fifty Shades trilogy again topped the list. The curiosity of what could make an Erotica a bestseller killed me and I started reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind – until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time. 

The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her – 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 adoptive family – Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.

Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?

The book starts when Anastasia Steele does her sick friend, Kate, a favour by going to interview a hotshot businessman Christian Grey for the college paper. He finds her intriguing and she in turn finds him very charming and handsome. Almost immediately, Ana falls in love with Christian Grey.

There’s nothing good about the book that is to be discussed. This book was a torture to go through. I didn’t read it all. I couldn’t. After I read about twenty percent of the book, I wanted to puke. Then and there, I deleted the file from my computer. And for two whole days after that, whenever I thought about the last page I read, I literally felt like gagging.

Just as I started the book, I found the dialogue formation awkward. I had never read dialogues so poorly written. Next, what I realised was that the author was very, very repetitive. The vocabulary of the author seemed too limited. But over a few pages, when the vocabulary had developed, repetition had taken other forms. I detested the author’s writing style. It’s juvenile and not even average.

The characters are poorly developed. Many scenes have directly been taken from the Twilight books. The author should be charged with serious plagiarism. I had my first WTF moment when I was reading about all those rules and a bit later on when Ana lost her virginity. This was so not at all romantic or sensual. It was dirty. Absolutely filthy!

The author has shown her filthy mind by promoting BDSM in the book. But what is worse is that she doesn’t even know how to write filth! When Ana tells Christian that she’s a virgin, he says that they need to “fix it up”. Fix it up? As if being a virgin was a disorder! There are many gross things shown in the book that no-one doing the BDSM can even imagine.

The contract thingy that James has done, is absolute shit! She’s shown as if it was not BDSM but some underworld activity.

Anastasia was a foolish, stupid, idiotic, dumb, nonsense and dung-headed girl. She has no sense of decision or anything at all. The only thing that she has is her maddening inner goddess that drives the reader crazy after every other paragraph. James is so damn repetitive!

Christian is an ass! He’s possessive, proud, arrogant.. ah, he is a psycho. I hated him like anything. He’s got brain damage apparently, that James has forgotten to mention in the book.

It torments me to even think about it. The last thing I’d want to say is that don’t, don’t even think of reading this. It is neither worth time, nor money. If you like Romance or even Erotica, go figure out something else. This is absolute waste of everything!

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Review: Only You

By Cynthia Victor. Grade: F

Flashback to 1966 and Westerfield, N.Y., a depressed town not far from Albany. Ben and Carlin are two smart kids from the projects, antagonists at first, who grow up to be lovers.
But the course of true love never runs smooth, especially if your families are dysfunctional and your parents’ dreams haven’t come true. When Ben’s sister Natasha discovers that their mother and Carlin’s dad are having an affair, she plays a prank that kills one and cripples the other. Ben and Carlin each blame the other’s parent and split up.
He goes on to become a surgeon, working his way through school playing poker; she wins a scholarship to Harvard, then becomes a police detective, called Cambridge by the other cops. He’s very handsome and has lovers.
She’s very successful and lives with a philandering British fashion photographer. Natasha becomes a supermodel and marries a world-famous film director. Everyone lives in New York City. Ben and Carlin come together again, only to be separated when Natasha murders the villain, another Westerfield alumnus, who has been blackmailing her into sordid, dehumanizing sex.

This novel’s two protagonists, Carlin and Ben, have been competing and quarreling since the third grade. Save for a brief hiatus during the pair’s high school days, the misunderstandings, fights, and arguments continue over the course of 34 years. As teenagers they fall into each others arms. Is it love or hormones? The truce is shattered when an accident kills Ben’s mother and cripples Carlin’s father. Unfortunately, the peripheral characters in this novel are far more interesting than the star-crossed lovers. The bad guys are delightfully and totally wicked, and the good guys are as pure as the driven snow.

The constant scrapping between Carlin and Ben grows tedious, especially since the reader knows from the outset that they will end up together. This is an acceptable purchase for collections needing mushy romance books with a modicum of steamy sex. The plot resolves sadly, then happily. Ben and Carlin, true survivors, travel upstate for a family funeral, reunite, and vow undying devotion. Victor examines the ways that parents help or hurt their children’s futures; filial loyalty and disappointment make up the truest parts of her narrative, but the bulk of it is fairly lifeless. Unnecessary fights just to increase the novel’s length, stupid fights over stupider reasons, unending disgusting sex…I could bitch about this book forever.

It is one of those books which would depress you if you start believing in it. Ben and Carlin come together, vow to stay together forever, than just a little misunderstanding would drive them apart and make them hate each other until they seem each other again, years and years later. There were times when I wished that one more twist, and I would probably burst into tears because it was just that silly.

If I ever had to point at the worst book I have ever read, the award would go to this book.

Credit for summary: Kirkus Reviews.

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Review: Almost Perfect

By Susan Mallery. #2 in Fool’s Gold Series. Grade: F

I’d heard good things about this author, and thought I’d try one of her books out. I like books with kids – they add a twist – and picked Almost Perfect.
I am still recovering from the horror.

Back in high school, Liz Sutton was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Then she’d stolen the heart of the most popular boy in town, and their secret romance helped her through the worst of times. Until Ethan Hendrix betrayed her and everything they’d ever meant to each other. Devastated and pregnant, Liz left Fool’s Gold, California forever, she thought,

Now Liz must return to town and face the man who doesn’t know of their son’s existence. And this time she won’t have the option of making a quick getaway. Ethan and Liz can’t deny their passionate attraction, even after all these years. But will their desire be enough to spark a second chance at love?

When Liz was eighteen years old, she was secretly dating Ethan who was back from college for the summer. That lasted till Ethan denied their relationship in company of his friends, saying that she wasn’t worth his time. Liz packed her bags and left… and then found out that she was pregnant. She came back to inform Ethan, but he was in bed with someone else.

Now, the first two paragraphs are enough to inform you what a crappy hero the male protagonist is going to be. This is one of the most common, obvious and boring plots romance authors can use. Bringing one of the main characters back to their hometown which they’d vowed never to do and there they meet their high school fling. The fling had gone bad, but of course, they’d carried a torch, and now, everything ends in happily ever after.
The last book I’d read along the same lines was Ms. Lorraine Heath’s Hard Loving Man. But compared to this, that was a treasure chest. And teenage hormones are always a bad excuse for being a jerk.

Liz’s comfortable existence is thrown into turmoil when she receives an email from the fourteen-year-old niece she never knew she had. Her estranged brother, Roy, is in prison, and his wife has walked out on his two daughters, leaving them to fend for themselves. Melissa and Abby have run out of money and are desperate to find some way of staying together. They don’t want to end up in the foster care system and run the risk of being separated. Acting on instinct, Liz packs her bags, collects Tyler from school, and heads to Fool’s Gold to look after the girls.

When Liz arrives, she’s appalled at the conditions the girls have been living in and furious at the people of the town who have once again failed to notice children in need. To add to her bad mood, she receives a disconcertingly cheery welcome from Ethan Hendrix, the man who supposedly wrote to her six years previously telling her he wanted nothing to do with her or their son. It transpires that the letter was forged by Ethan’s late wife, and he knew nothing of Ethan’s existence until Liz rolled back into town.

Ethan is livid to discover that Liz had his child and never bothered to inform him. He’s lost eleven years with Tyler, and he’s determined to make up for lost time. However, Liz never named him on Tyler’s birth certificate, so Ethan requires her cooperation if he’s to establish a relationship with his son. He wants Tyler to stay in Fool’s Gold, but it will take some persuasion for Liz to agree.

Juggling her nieces’ situation with the hostility of Ethan, his family, and most of Fool’s Gold’s residents, Liz is not having a good summer. She can’t wait to sell her brother’s house and move back to San Francisco. Unfortunately for her, life is not destined to be that simple. In desperation, Ethan has her served with a court order demanding shared custody of Tyler. When the judge orders her to remain in Fool’s Gold until she and Ethan can work out a plan for custody, Liz is obliged to prolong her stay in the town she hates and which she is convinced hates her. However, things are rarely as they seem. Over the course of the summer, Liz is forced to confront her past, and Ethan comes to realise he was far from blameless in his dealings with Liz all those years ago.

The hero was a jerk. It was predictable that Liz would move to Fool’s Gold. But Ethan didn’t deserve her. It seemed that Liz was doing all the compromising. All the parts of people stopping Liz on the street and berating her for how she supposedly treated Ethan were not only unbelievable but sounded really just stupid.

Ethan is also weak. He runs to his mom to whine about everything and he treats Liz horribly throughout most of the book, and he probably says “I’m sorry” throughout most of his dialogue, but yet the reader is supposed to be sympathetic to this guy. I wished Liz would’ve dumped Ethan for somebody else. Not only did he deny his love for Liz when he was in college to his buddies, he also told his own mother that he didn’t care about Liz when he was an adult. He does nothing to endear himself to her afterwards.

I didn’t feel the chemistry between Ethan and Liz. It was really hard to believe they still loved each other after so many years. Perhaps if they hadn’t fallen into bed again so quickly, if they had spent more time getting to know the new Liz and Ethan, it would have been more believable. I mean, the situation is complicated and they’re not really feeling lovey dovey towards each other, but they’ll still succumb to lust? Plain disgusting.

They are responsible adults…parents, and the sleazy affair…uh-oh. Jeez. I left the book mid-way.

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Review: Owl Island

By Randy Sue Coburn. Grade: F

One of the worst books I have read in a long, long time. I could barely finish it. Maybe it was my mood during the book, or maybe it was the book itself. I strongly suspect the latter.

This is about the life of Phoebe Allen as told in the present and of her past life with her first lover, the charismatic Whit Traynor. He and his new wife have bought a home on Owl Island where Phoebe and her daughter have lived for the past twenty-plus years. Phoebe, now forty, and Whit, in his sixties, have not spoken since their quarrel and parting and Phoebe is apprehensive as to their inevitable meeting on the island.
Phoebe’s daughter Laurienne and her boyfriend Cliff take us into the world of computer programers. Phoebe we see both as a lovesick teenager and, in maturity, a net-maker for fishing vessels. Phoebe’s neighbor Ivan is a potter who shows us the world of fine art and how artists manage to get their work shown. Lastly, the world of movie making and script writing is what Whit does and Phoebe did with him. Even Whits’ new wife Jasmine, who could easily become a two-dimensional character isn’t as she takes us into the world of astrology and intuition.

The owner and manager of a business that weaves nets for the local fisherman, Phoebe has been busy raising her daughter Laurienne – now in her early twenties – and creating a comfortable and secure life for herself and for her daughter after the untimely death of her musician husband Mitchell in a car accident several years ago.

As the novel opens, Phoebe is preparing for a barbecue, but little does she know how this event will change everything, even threatening to tear apart the very fabric of her quiet and insular world. At the barbecue she learns that the wealthy, maverick independent film director Whitney Traynor, along with his glamorous new trophy wife, has just bought a luxury home right up the road.

This writer makes it somewhat more difficult to get through the book easily. I found the book boring and crude with the same sex thrill and cuss words. What is so good about a man getting it off with a woman not his wife. I must be the only person who feels this way because the internet is littered with praise for this book.

It also keeps jumping back in time and takes awhile to get to the point throughout the story. I did finish reading it, but sometimes wanted to just toss it down. The first half of the book was overly descriptive and very broken up, going back and forth from the past to the present. I was about two-thirds through the book before I could read more than a few pages before being totally bored and shutting off my light and falling asleep.

Once Laurienne is more in the picture, things get more interesting, but Whit is totally predictable from the beginning, and then the story is wrapped up in just a few pages, as if someone were in a hurry to close up the book. I might read another of her books, but I might not. Good description is always lovely to have in a book, but I felt she WAY overdid it. I kept skimming half and whole pages thinking, “When is she going to get to the point?”

It kept mentioning some famous stripper lady named Mimi that people made a movie about, and the author kept referencing her like we were supposed to know who she was. I sure didn’t.

It is an okay book if you’re into slow books and can tolerate adultery and unnecessary cuss language. The story barely picks up pace and the characters are not very nice. Thats why: F.

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Review: He Loves Lucy

By Susan Donovan. Grade: F

Waste of paper and ink! I am not someone who often leaves book half-read but I put this one down after fifty pages.

Marketing exec Lucy Cunningham is thrilled when her firm lands The Palm Club account. The campaign concept for Miami’s hottest fitness club was Lucy’s idea: take one fitness-challenged woman, put her in front of TV cameras, and into the hands of the club’s top personal trainer, Theo Redmond. And there’s a big cash reward for each pound shed. It seems like a brilliant idea-until Lucy gets picked to be the guinea pig. It’s obvious she needs to drop the pounds, but the idea of letting it all hang out in front of some Malibu Ken jock has her choking on her Milk Duds before she even begins!

After one meeting, Theo knows Lucy will be his toughest client and one of the most unforgettable women he’ll ever meet. Smart-mouthed and stubborn, it’s clear she isn’t fond of marching to anyone’s drumbeat but her own. But she shocks Theo by rising to the challenge like a pro. And he finds his heart in jeopardy long before Lucy starts to slim down and turn heads.

As Lucy sweats her way into a whole new life, things start to heat up between her and Theo. But trust doesn’t come easy for either of them. They’ve both been burned by romance in the past. Now Lucy and Theo are about to discover that appearances can be deceiving-and in the end, true love lies somewhere between pizza and Pilates…

I couldn’t finish this book. I don’t know why. Maybe it was my mood during the couple of days I wasted on this. I was looking for something new, something different, something good, but it was just another book in the list of Turn-the-last-page-and-forget-’em.

I liked the beginning. Lucy’s first impression of Theo is not a good one and leaves her nicknaming him “Trainer Ken”. Other’s call him “Theo-dorable”. But there is so much more to Theo than the stereo-typical dumb jock persona. He is a drop-out med school student, struggling to raise his 16-year-old brother, Buddy, after their parent’s death. (Buddy has Down’s Syndrome. Theo coaches him in the Special Olympics in addition to his job as a personal trainer.) If Theo can help Lucy achieve her weight-loss goal, he plans to take his share of the winnings and re-enroll in medical school.
I learned that Theo was much deeper than he appeared but for some reason, I just didn’t buy into him. He was really the perfect man. Maybe too perfect?

Even though I found Theo’s description over the top and too fancy for my taste, he seemed like an okay man. But what I couldn’t tolerate was the weight issue. Theo has no interest whatsoever in Lucy until she starts dropping weight. Hello, Superficial much? And the hero’s best friend, one of the main secondary character says, “As soon as she drops twenty more pounds, I am asking her out.”

Well, I could have slammed the stupid book shut right there and then. I am not exactly living in the fifteenth century and do like good visuals, but how the whole story was centered around her weight…that didn’t sit too well with me. The irony is the dedication, “To every woman who has had problems with her weight.” Or something like that. I don’t remember exactly.

And yes, Lucy’s big hang-up, also a point of conflict between her and Theo. Lucy suffered public humiliation back in her college days because of her weight. Lucy held onto that and couldn’t get over it, which didn’t quite jive with me. She was supposed to be a smart, sassy character who didn’t care what people thought of her. She had a witty comeback for every smart ass comment thrown her direction. Yet she hangs onto a nasty joke that happened almost 11 years prior? The result was that Lucy blew hot and cold with Theo. Annoying as hell! I couldn’t relate to her hanging on to a past incident that colored her life for a decade! Shit happens, deal with it and move on already!

If you want a real treat with book that deals with the same topic, then go for Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me. That one is NOT to be missed, and Ms Donovan could sure use the tips.

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