Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey/Darker/Freed by El James

Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades FreedRarely due I delve into the world of mainstream literature and if I were to tip my toe in, it would definitely not be in a book of controversy, but here I found myself with three books with the famous grey covers, complete.

If you are not familiar with the plot, which is unlikely, then let me share the basics with you. Anastasia, virgin, soft-spoken and timid, meets a handsome millionaire (Christian) who intimidates her. He turns out to have a dark past which he deals with by controlling everything in his day to day life. This includes sex.

He is a dominant and likes it rough. Within the walls of his bachelor apartment he has a room under lock and key that contain whips, canes, handcuffs and ‘butt-plugs’ among other things. He asks Anastasia (Ana) to sign a contract to agree to be his submissive.

That is pretty much as far most people read before declaring the book smut, raging about the casual use of language and lack of morals. But before we just assume, judge and give a verdict, let me continue.

She disagrees and leaves. He realises that he’s messed up and courts her. During this time, she takes on a job with a dodgy boss who makes a pass at her. She retaliates. Her best friend falls in love with Christians brother and have their own relationship in the background. Christian’s bodyguard, who has a daughter, has his own relationship with the house-maid. Meanwhile Christians younger sister takes a liking to Ana’s friend’s brother.

Then there is the sub-plot of Christians own past with his first dominant, his mother’s friend. The reasons for his controlling problem, which stems from his ‘crack-whore’ mom and her pimp. The relationship between him and his therapist and the character change of Ana, the main character, in becoming a more headstrong woman. There is also Christians ex-submissive who makes a come-back when she goes off the rails a bit.

Meanwhile, Ana’s boss goes crazy when he gets fired, due to Ana and because Christian bought the company. He retaliates by sabotaging Christian’s helicopter and then goes into stalker mode.

Between all of this are a few sex scenes.

The book is an easy read and it flows. Yes, there is sex – it’s a book of smut after all, but it does have a story line. I did not despise the book and toss it in the bin because it didn’t live up to Jane Austen’s level of literature.  But I didn’t parade down the halls telling everyone to read it either. It’s a book. It’s ok. There is more to it then sex, but the plot is also a bit scattered and all over the place. There is no real major storyline throughout, other than Ana and Christians relationship.

Would I recommend it? It’s not all bondage like everyone is saying. It’s also not the normal type of book I would read and I’m surprised to see it in the best-selling section. It’s been a while since a ‘romantic’ book has made it this far. I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you are curious, looking for something a bit different, then I would say go for it. I read it and I’m not scarred. Not the best think I’ve picked up, but definitely not the worst either.

Its difficult to judge, because it appears everyone has an opinion on it – the more stronger opinions seem to be coming from people who haven’t read past page 200. I’ve read all three and I can say I really don’t have an opinion at all.

Sometimes within the cloud of hype is not anything spectacular.

I think E. L. James did a really good job, taking into consideration this is the first real book she wrote (as far as her bio reads) and also taking into consideration it was originally self-published. I’m impressed and feel inspired that a self-published book has made it global. I also give her a fair-amount of respect for being able to be so raw on paper as well. I wouldn’t be able to write in so much detail as her on errrr… certain topics.

NANO 2012

I’ve been so busy with gardening, renovating and being colourful, that I find at the end of the day, my creative juice pot is dry with all the planning and ‘doing.’ My solution was, if I can’t write about anything ‘new’ in the form of stories, then write about what I am ‘doing’ and where my creativity is at this point (or should I say where my creativity is being used). This has resulted in my new blog – My Mother’s Footsteps.

However, that doesn’t mean I want to give up the dream of writing or the hobby of writing, which is closer to the truth. It was therefore a wonderful discovery of deliciousness that I got the email to inform me that National Novel Writing Month was just a mere 30 (or now 27) days away. What a fantastic opportunity to get back in it and redirect some of those juices into writing new stories.

So, with my 2012 badge now in my margins, let me welcome all of you to NANO 2012. Hopefully I shall be seeing you (and hopefully will be reading more of me) in the next month.

Slotheria

Disclaimer: This story started out as a bit of an exercise -dash- joke. Within a few sentences (or paragraphs) you should be able to recognise the storyline as a ‘popular’ book/movie that has recently come to an end (well, we can only hope it has).

But the main reason for ‘re-written’ the tale is to emerge a new type of hero, that isn’t sparkly. A new type of hero that doesn’t lead a normal life, until one day they are exposed to radioactive material and can climb on walls. My goal here is to emerge not an instant out-of-the-bottle superhero, but a culture of a generation of sub-beings. As this is a blog I can only reveal some much of a story in a post, so you are going to have to come with me down the rabbit hole.

I like to think that my ‘creation’ is something that one wouldn’t expect.

Tinka hated started at a new school. Since her parents divorce when she was small she always had lived with her mother. But now that her mom had remarried, they had to relocate and she thought it would be best if Tinka lived with her father till they had settled. Tinka wished someone had asked her opinion on the matter.

The rain drizzled outside her window as she unpacked her suitcase. It always seemed wet the small town her dad lived in. He didn’t have too much to say when she arrived, but she could tell that he needed the company. Judging from the take-away containers that filled the kitchen bin, it seemed he needed a woman’s touch in the house. She heard voices coming from the drive away and looked outside the window.

Her dad was chatting to some guy who was standing there with his son. The son looked up and caught Tinka looking down on them. Her dad noticed and shouted at her to come down.

“Tinka is going to be staying with me for a bit” she heard her dad say as she walked out the front door.

“Tinka, this is my pal Norman. He stays down the road,” he said.

Tinka shook hands with the man.

“This is my son Benjamin,” Norman said, gesturing to his son.

“Hi,” he said.

Tinka answered back. The boy had dark hair, but his eyes were what intrigued Tinka. There a pale shade of blue, verging on white and they didn’t seem to miss a thing. Tinka felt his eyes piercing her. He could feel them stretching and searching her mind.  Just as they felt like they were going to grab something important, some memory, from deep within her soul.

“We should be off, shouldn’t we Benjamin” said Norman, whacking Benjamin on his back. The action jerked the boy, causing the trance to break. Tinka smiled politely, but was happy for the interruption. Benjamin nodded and the two got back in their truck.

“Benjamin is a good kid,” her dad said.

“There is something strange about him,” she replied abstractly.

“I mean he seems nice enough, but those eyes,” she quickly said.

“Oh, yes, all the Harpies have them. You’ll notice in Norman they have gone darker over the years, not as intense. Right,” Tinka’s dad said, clapping his hands, “what do you say to some supper? I’ve got about 10 restaurants on  speed dail.”

Tinka smiled.

She approached the school slowly. She was a bit early, but she wanted to time it right so that she would sort out her paperwork and make it to class before it had started. Hopefully the teacher won’t notice a new face and start the class as normal. She wasn’t in luck.

By the time she got her schedule and everything from reception the bell had already sounded. She took a deep breathe as she opened the door to English. The teacher, Mrs Cheyn, paused as she walked in. She gave a quick nod and tried to dash to the first available seat.

“Not so quick” said Mrs Cheyn, brushing her red hair with the back of her hand. “Who, may I ask are you?”

Tinka gave Mrs Cheyn her papers.

“Tinka,” she said, then quickly turned around and attempted a second time to make a dash for the empty chair.

“A, a, a” Mrs Cheyn tutted. She perched herself on the edge of her desk and gestured for Tinka to stand in front of the class.

“Why are you here?”

“I’ve moved in with my dad.”

“Who is your dad?”

“Jacob Stevens. He works at the mechanics in town.”

“What are your interests?”

Tinka clinched her jaw. She hated that question. Kids judge and they judge quick. One wrong interest and she would be shunned by them.

“I don’t know, I’m new to the town, so not sure what you guys have got going on here,” she looked around. Nobody seemed to be snickering, she was safe.

“Alright, you may sit down,” said Mrs Cheyn. Tinka quickly grabbed the empty chair. As she did so, she felt  someone at the back watching her. She turned in her chair to look. There were a two girls chatting and a guy in the back row. She looked at the guy. He appeared to be sleeping, with his head on his arms. She couldn’t be sure, but it felt like it was him looking at her. As she watched him, his  green eyes opened quickly, under his floppy dark hair and looked directly at her. She quickly turned around.

“Now, who can tell me what they were really talking about during the pig scene,” said Mrs Cheyn.

Tinka sat on the logs during break. The classes didn’t really allow much time to talk to anybody and although she felt a lot of people staring and commenting about her, no one had approached her. She wasn’t really expecting them to. It was an odd time to switch schools. Everybody already knew everyone and had formed groups. Trying to get friends was going to be difficult. But she wasn’t too worried. eventually somebody would have to come and talk to her, even if it was purely just out of curiosity.

As she opened her lunch, she noticed a blue flower was growing right by her foot. She was sure it wasn’t there when she had sat down. She looked at it. It was in full bloom, the colour was incredible vivid and provided some type of happiness in an otherwise overcast grey day. It rained  lot she noticed. Most of the time it was just foggy or drizzle. In the afternoon it cleared up, but there was always moisture to the air.

She stoked the petals with her fingertips. She felt someone watching as she did so and looked up. The same strange boy was lying on his back on a low branch a few feet away. He seemed to be sleeping again. His leg hanged off the branch casually and was gently swinging, indicating that he might be awake.

She returned her attention back to her lunch.

“Hey” she heard a girl’s voice say. She looked up and saw a short girl approach her. She had long dark hair, tied up in a pony tail. She sat on one of the logs near Tinka.

“I’m Taryn, we have art together,” she said with a smile. Tinka smiled back.

“How you finding the school so far?” she asked.

“Alright,” Tinka responded.

“Yea, we are pretty average,” replied Taryn, reading between the lines. “People are friendly once they open up. But getting them to open up is a different story.”

“Hey Taryn,” another girl said, approaching. “Hey, you’re the new girl.”

“Yea, that’s me.”

“I’m Kirsty, Taryn’s best friend.”

Tinka managed to hide her rolling eyes. Girls, she thought, are so possessive sometimes.

“I have art with Tinka,” said Taryn.

“Oh. Did you take the bus to school, Tinka? I didn’t see you this morning,” said Kirsty.

“No, my dad dropped me off this morning. But I should be taking the bus home.”

“I take the bus, you can come and sit with us. The boys can be a bit harsh to newbies.”

“Thanks, might take you up on that offer,” said Tinka.

“That’s a pretty flower,” said Taryn, pointing to the blue flower by Tinka’s feet.

“Yea, I just noticed it after I sat down.”

“After you sat down? You mean it wasn’t there beforehand?” said Kirsty.

“Well, it probably was there, I just only noticed it afterwards.”

Kirsty and Taryn looked at each other. They then looked at the guy that was still lying on the low branch.

“You should stay away from him,” said Kirsty, gesturing to the boy. “Strange things happen when he’s around.”

“Strange things? Like?”

“Like noticing flower after you’ve sat down,” said Taryn.

“He seems alright. I’ve only seen him sleeping though.”

“Yea, he dozes a lot. His whole family sleeps.”

“His whole family?”

“Well, there’s five of them in the school. His brothers and sisters are about, probably lazing just like him. His name is Tommy, then there is Shane and Greg the the two girls, Jess and Diane,” said Kirsty.

“They don’t talk much,” said Taryn. “Best that way.”

The bell went and Kirsty and Taryn got up and walked towards their next class. Tinka got up, but hovered at the back looking at the tree. Tommy swung his legs over and he slowly got up. Tinka noticed that he’s arms were surprising long and they gripped the tree with ease. His green eyes shot at her under his dark hair as he jumped off the branch. He kept his gaze on her as he walked past towards class. Tinka quickly ran after Kirsty and Taryn.

As Tinka got on the bus after school, she hesitated at the front. Looking down the aisle, all she saw was a swarm of unfamiliar faces. It had been a rough day. Taryn and Kirsty waved for her to join them about two thirds to the back. She smiled and made her way over the feet, legs and back clogging the aisle. Taryn and Kirsty were sitting on the left, which were only two sitters. But the seats in front of them was clear, so Tinka sat down, placing her bag next to her to try and avoid anybody from sitting there.

A hush slowly came over the bus as Tommy got on. His tall langley body made no work of getting through the cluttered aisle. The three sitter to the right of Tinka’s seat was empty and he made his way there. He sat down  and stretched out to prevent anyone from sitting next to him, but it wasn’t necessary. Nobody was planning to.

Two other boys, with the same dark hair as Tommy got on the bus with two blonde girls. Taryn leaned forward.

“That’s the rest of them. The one in front is Shane, then the guy at the back is Greg and … well I can never tell the difference between Diana and Jess.”

The four sat in seats in front of Tommy.

Soon the bus engine started and the hubble of conversation resumed. Tommy watched Tinka and after about ten minutes he slid over to the aisle side of the seats.

“You’re new,” he said in a husky tone.

“Yea,” she responded.

He nodded and then slide back towards the window. Taryn and Kirsty watched him in silence. Taryn then leaned forward to talk to Tinka.

“You into any sports or things?” she asked.

“I’m pretty good at gymnastics, but I’m not sure if I want to get involved. Thinking I’ll just take it as it comes this year,” she replied.

“Yea, we don’t really have gymnastics, do we Kirsty.”

Kirsty stopped looking at Tommy and turned around to the girls.

“Huh?” she said.

Taryn giggled.

“Kirsty has a bit of thing for Tommy,” she said.

“No I don’t,” she said. “I’m just curious, I mean, aren’t you?” she said. “They are a good looking bunch.”

Two guys behind Kirsty and Taryn started talking to them and Tinka slouched back in her chair. She was exhausted.

“Are you going to come?” asked Taryn.

“What?” said Tinka, turning around again.

Kirsty rolled her eyes. “She doesn’t know she’s new,” she said matter of fact to the others. “At the beginning of every year, guys gather at the border of the forest for a party. Kind of beginning of school party. It’s very chilled. There will be beer, of course, a couple of fires, some music. Everybody goes.”

“Oh. Um… sure, when is it?”

“On friday, at about six people started gathering.”

“Oh, yea, sounds good,” she said.

Tinka eventually started recognising some of the places they were passing and saw her bus stop.

“Yea, so I’ll see you guys tomorrow,” she said.

“Oh yea, see ya.”

As Tinka got off the bus, Tommy got off as well. The other four of Tommy;s family watched him. As he got off, he turned and shrugged at them. Nobody said anything.

Tinka shifted her backpack and made for the road towards her house. Tommy jogged up next to her and gave her half a smile.

“You going?” he asked.

“Are you?” she asked.

He smiled. “Maybe. It’s at our neck of the forest, so we sometimes make an apperance.”

“Your neck of the forest? Is there a ‘neck’ that isn’t yours?” she asked.

Tommy laughed.

“You’re new,” he said, with a smile.

“Yea, we established that on the bus,” she responded.

“Cheeky are we,” he said.

She smiled.

“So why is everyone scared of you?” she asked.

His eyebrows caved a bit.

“It’s a long story,” he said, “our family has a bit of a reputation. It happens when you have several generations in one place. Small towns tend to have a lot of history.”

“Sounds like you have a history the scary and spooky kind,” Tinka said.

Tommy laughed. “Oh yea? Do share,” he said.

“Well, there was a flower growing by foot and the girls thought you had something to do with it,” she said.

Tommy smiled. “And what makes you think I didn’t,” he said.

“Well, that’s impossible,” she replied. Tommy stopped walking. Tinka stopped as well and looked to where he was looking. In the driveway of her house was a truck.

“Oh,” she said, “probably just the Harpies. They are friends with my dad.”

“Yea,” said Tommy. “Umm, well I’ll see you around at school then and if not, then Friday.”

“Yea, see ya,” she replied.

Tommy quickly turned around and walked off. Tinka carried on walking to her house. She turned to see if she could still spot Tommy but he was gone.

Just Imagine …

Arnold cupped his gloved hands for Steve to use it as a foot hold. The wind pulled up, shaking the branches above. Arnold glanced his eyes down the street and at the other houses.

“Hurry up, the security companies patrol will arrive any moment,” he whispered as Steve grunted. Steve grasped the top of the wall and with a gentle swoop of a cat he swung his legs. He was over. Arnold took a few steps back. He got a bit of speed and placed his hands on top of the wall. With the speed and momentum, he launched himself over. They both crouched in the dark shadows of the bushes, listening to the night sounds and for any sign of life within the house.

“You would think she would clean,” Steve muttered, gesturing towards the paved area around the house. It seemed the woman living there had done some pruning, but instead of neat piles, the branches were all touching each other, forming a circle around the house. The lights in the house were off, but the garden was lit up. This wasn’t going to be as easy as they thought.

Arnold took a step in the bed of flowers, his foot crunching on dried leaves as he did so. A bird that was tweeting in one of the trees, obviously confused with the outside lights fluttered off. Arnold stayed still.

“Did that curtain move?” he whispered. Steve looked and shrugged. While crouching, they made their way to the side of the house, where a sliding door was. Steve moved first, carefully stepping over the pruned branches, encircling the house. Once over, Arnold saw him shiver. Steve glanced over his shoulder to look up at the roof. He then signalled for Arnold to come over. Arnold made his way over the branches. It was definitely colder on the other side of the pruned branches.

They crawled along the wall to the sliding door. Steve got down on his knee and started fiddling with the lock with his tools. Arnold kept watch. He heard a creak from the roof and looked up. He thought he saw a shadow move. Perhaps it was a cloud or something. Something grunted.

They both stopped. They looked at each other. There was no dog. They knew that for certain. Their ears strained to try and hear for any noises above the pumping of their hearts. But all that engulfed them was silence. Arnold nodded to Steve and Steve continued working on the lock.

There was another low grunt, this time followed by a blowing out of breath, like a bull about to stampeded. Arnold touched Steve’s shoulder to make him stop, but then the familiar noise of the lock click reached his ears. With a smile, Steve pulled the sliding door open. Steve got up and Arnold knelt down. It was his turn. Arnold started working on the security gate.

Steve stood uncomfortable next to the wall. He looked down at the pavement. The trees shadows danced against the outside lights. A larger shadow started to appear. It came up over the roof shadow. Hearing heavy breathing, Steve slowly turned his head to look at the roof, but there was nothing there except the starry sky above with the full moon shining.  He nudged Arnold and told him to hurry up.

Arnold got up and pulled the security gate open. They both snuck into the house, Steve closing the sliding door behind him. Whatever caused the shadow, he didn’t want it to follow him. Arnold walked up to the bookcase. There was an ornamental box, with two dragons curled around it. Next to it was a stick of wood, polished and worn down to the pure white center. It had little notches in it, with intricate designs. On either end of the stick was a crystal, encrusted with silver.

Arnold gestured for Steve to come to his side.

“What you make of this?”

Steve shrugged, “Don’t reckon it’s worth much.”

“Yea, but what is it?”

They both looked at it. Arnold picked it up slowly. A shadow seemed to sweep over the house and a chill crept up on the them. Arnold quickly put it back down.

“A wand of sorts?” whispered Steve.

Suddenly a movement shot by their feet. They both jumped to the side. Steve pulled out his knife. They crouched ready for attack. Little scratching noises reached their ears. Then a large thump noise, of someone stomping their foot on the carpet. Arnold and Steve backed up with the wall behind them. The curtains moved. Steve and Arnold tried to peer to see what was in the room with them. Arnold reached in his pocket and pulled out a handful of pet treats. He threw them on the carpet.

“Probably a cat,” he whispered to Steve. Steve didn’t look convinced.

The scratching noise came back. Arnold made clicky noises and slowly approached the place where the scratching nose came from. As he got closer, another thump erupted from the other side of the room. Steve felt something run passed his legs.

He swore in surprise and jumped back, knocking into the book case. Arnold turned quickly and said “shhh!”

Steve fumbled with his free hand and grabbed his cellphone. He put the display on full light and shone it into the dark room. The glow of two eyes staring back at him appeared from under the side table.

“What the hell is that?” he said, loudly. Arnold slowly backed up towards Steven.

“It’s no bloody cat …” he said. They heard another thump from the corner, and Steve turned to shine his cellphone in the direction. Two more eyes stared at him from the shadows. Both of the men slowly backed into the sliding door. Steve pulled it open. Once outside, they quickly pulled it shut and pulled the security gate closed.

They quickly walked into the lit-up garden, thankful for light, when they heard two thuds from the direction of the roof. Dust and bits of grit fell from the thud and landed on them. They slowly looked up to see a giant gargoyle looking down at them. The gargoyle was a hard grey stone, with giant paws. Two horns protrude from his smooth head. His ears went flat and he opened his mouth, showing his sharp teeth and fangs. He roared like a dinosaur and grunted at the two men.

Steve and Arnold’s stood with fear. They were unable to move and just stared at the huge gargoyle that was perched on the roof. Arnold was the first to get his brain going and he quickly turned and made a run for it. Steve noticed and followed. The gargoyle flapped his bulky bat wings, and took flight. It flew down and grabbed Steve and Arnold by their shirts. They screamed and shouted, bursting into terrified tears, but the gargoyle ignored them and flew into the dark skies. Steve looked behind to the house and saw that on the roof were a handful of heft gargoyles and dragons, all keeping watch of the house.

Amber turned the lounge lights on. Her two bunnies dashed under the table.

“Hello Fern, hello Clover,” she said, walking onto the carpet.

“I heard a noise, what’s going on, is there a cat?” she asked them. She knelt down and Clover hopped over to her and allowed Amber to scratch her nose. Amber felt a chill and looked up. The security gate was blowing in the wind.

“Didn’t I lock that?” she said. She got up and fetched the keys. She pulled the sliding door open and tutted to herself about forgetting to lock both doors. As she turned she saw her wand on the bookcase. She smiled at herself, remembering earlier in the evening. She was sleeping alone and thought she would attempt an enchantment to keep herself, visualising gargoyles and dragons on the roof. Not that such things existed, her logical mind told her. But just imagine if they did, she thought and she returned back to bed.