Thursday 2 August 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L James


Setting: Seattle

At 21, college student Anastasia Steele has never held hands with anyone let alone had sex. So when she meets attractive and rich CEO Christian Grey her shock at his unusual erotic ways leads to a relationship she never dreamt of entering. While Ana slowly understands the world that Christian lives in, she is torn between giving into her desires or finding what is right for her.


Perhaps Fifty Shades of Grey is not suitable for someone my age but these days it seems everyone is reading it, regardless of how old they are. E.L James originally wrote her novel as a fan-fiction based on Twilight. A few chapters in and you can see the resemblance. Most parts of the novel are exact mirrors of events Stephanie Meyer plays out, minus the erotic scenes.

There's not much positive that comes out of this book. Not from my perspective anyways. I'm not a literary genius but I've read enough to know what's good and what's bad. Overused words and phrases, frustrating terms (double crap ..) and strange expressions, James' writing could do with some improvements. It becomes a distraction from actually reading the novel itself - so much that the plot is lost.

The characters resemble those of Meyer's Twilight series. It becomes easy to pick out the parallel characters between each. It's either you like them or you don't. Personally, I feel no connection to any characters. Maybe only a slight likeness for the minor roles. Both Ana and Christian are characters I grew to dislike.

Fifty Shades of Grey is centred around the erotic activities between Ana and Christian. I understand that James targets an older audience but even then, the idea behind the sexual relationship they have is truly shocking. As a young lady of the 21st Century, the fight for equality between both genders is at a crucial turning point. While it has not been achieved yet, but there is more awareness towards the issue. Yet, here we have a novel on the dominating stance a man wants to have over a woman. Even worse, the woman succumbs to it. What's more, he is attractive, wealthy and powerful - the perfect catch despite his 'condition'. It seems just a little degrading, that somehow ones morality cannot preside over the shallow desires of many.

Only towards the end of the novel did I really find it heading somewhere. So far, there was never really a solid plot. All it was was just sex in every kind and every way. Perhaps it has a more promising field in the second novel.

E.L James' Fifty Shades of Grey is definitely a page turner despite its flaws. It's entertaining and very different, outselling even J.K Rowling. It just didn't fit my liking, maybe it will yours.

Monday 30 July 2012

Forgotten - Cat Patrick


London Lane lives with a condition. Since she was young, London could never remember her past, memories from even days before. Instead she remembers the future. She remembers what she'll wear the next day, how she and her best friend will eventually patch things up and the years to come. So when she meets new-to-school Luke her inability to see him in her future means she has to choose - to forget him or keep trying - and even then things start to take a turn on her once "normal" life.


The idea of living through a whole day only to never remember it again is very intriguing. Patrick has created a most fascinating plot, which follows through right till the end. It was so easy to get caught up in the mystery that had yet to be discovered. You'll keep reading to find answers. Answers to questions of why she became like so, how it happened and what is going to be the outcome. I'm going to tell you now all those are answered. Satisfaction is mostly guaranteed.

While Forgotten is based on romance, underneath lies the values of family, friendship and cherishing every moment of your life. This becomes the most relatable aspect of the novel. That even though you may hit obstacles at some point, in the end if you push through, everything will be work out. Between Luke and London, it is hard not to smile at their sweetness. It's not overwhelming where it becomes unbearable, which I like about Patrick - her ability to keep it realistic.

The single twist in the novel comes as a shock. It's unexpected. Floating through the novel cheerfully did not prepare me for what was revealed. It becomes a mini-thriller that builds up to the answers, differentiating it from the many young adult, romance novels. Perhaps this is what makes it so much more interesting.

If there was just one little thing to pick on, that would be the ending. It didn't ruin the entire novel. It just felt a little abrupt but can be quickly overlooked. Forgotten is an easy read, not too lengthy. It's enjoyable - a must for romantics and light readers.

Monday 23 July 2012

Dead Lovely - Helen Fitzgerald


Setting: Glasgow

Krissie returns to Glasgow only to find out she is pregnant. Her best friend, Sarah, has tried for her entire married life to get pregnant. With Sarah envying Krissie and Krissie unable to cope with single motherhood, the friends quickly descend towards disaster. After a camping trip goes horribly wrong it seems like nothing can be done to patch their shredded friendship. Especially if it involves betrayal and murder.


It's hard to believe Dead Lovely is Fitzgerald's debut novel. Not so much because it is spectacular and now one of my favourites. It's more of the plot that gets me. The novel started out really well. It was captivating, an exciting read that had me hooked. That lasted until half way. The camping trip was the obvious pivotal point. However, it also became the moment in which the entire novel became completely out of whack. In my opinion at least. Fitzgerald's writing was still engrossing, no doubt. The parts that touched on romance and their friendship were lighthearted and enjoyable. Except the novel slowly turned from one of many lessons to a horrifying murder mystery with gruesome scenes that dragged me out of reality. Further into the novel and the plot spun 360 degrees leaving me trying to fully understand everything that was happening. Only at the end did I entirely grasp the reason behind all the plans and introduction of characters. Fitzgerald tied off all loose ends very well.

It was engaging. I must commend Fitzgerald for still keeping my attention even if I was beginning to become disturbed. However, the humourous start is not enough for me to consider re-reading it. It was just all too much. Shock after shock, the novel became overwhelming. In a way Fitzgerald achieved what she wanted - the reactions towards the gory recounts that happen. Perhaps at this age it is not suited for me but Dead Lovely has no appeal. It is enjoyable for those who crave a thriller but also the more mellow side of a romance.

Sunday 22 July 2012

I Kill & I Am God - Giorgio Faletti

I Kill Review:

I Am God Review:

*Note: Just to correct myself, I Kill is not Faletti's debut novel. It is an exceptional read, really quite the thrill.

Beyond the Break - Sandra Hall


Setting: Sydney, 1950 and 1980

Journalist, Steph, returns to Australia after the suicidal of her best friend Annie. Both her and Annie shared a childhood together on the beaches of Coogee, Sydney before they ventured for their own aspirations. Beyond the Break recounts the events of their teenage years as a way of Steph attempting to determine the reasons to Annie's death.


Sandra Hall depicts both the 50's and 60's realistically. As a teenager of the 21st Century, the thought of those two eras can sometimes be a bore. Yet, Hall paints the images of Coogee's beaches and Sydney's developing city to be a maze of adventure and excitement. It is effortless to ease into the summer that Hall introduces and then get caught up in the fast-paced moments that occur when Steph is older.

Beyond the Break addresses the issues all too familiar to us. Family, friendship, love and everything else that is tied to that. Rivalries that occur between best friends that become a threesome. Teenage crushes blooming from just one look and a hurried kiss. The difficulty of communication between mother and daughter. It hits close to home, more so to the female gender. It is this that makes Hall's novel a success. The aspects that are so relatable, which engages your own response.

Except there are parts in the novel, which can be quite confusing. Parts that are skimmed over too hurriedly so that it's either 1) Hall had difficulty elaborating or 2) it was unnecessary to the entire plot. I back the latter.

You can get a lot out of the novel if you're willing. It's an easy read even with the length. I drifted right through to the end and picked up the conclusion, even if it was a little vague. Beyond the Break leaves us with real, solid feelings that is satisfying. It was enjoyable and a definite to relax the mind from intense thrillers or sappy romances.

Saturday 21 July 2012

Top Five:

Quick top five favourites (in no particular order)

  • Harry Potter Series - J.K Rowling

  • The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

  • The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory

  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green

  • Scatterheart - Lili Wilkinson

Friday 20 July 2012

The Shifting Fog - Kate Morton


Setting: England, 1924 and 1999.

Grace Bradley, 98, must revisit her teen years as lady-in-waiting to Hannah Hartford. More specifically, her memories recall those moments before the tragedy that turns sisters Hannah and Emmeline from each other. Grace realises she must rid herself from the memories that she has tried to ignore and so, begins to record these events for her grandson Marcus.


The fact that The Shifting Fog was set in a war period lost some of its appeal. That was before the end of the novel. By then, Grace's loyalties, Hannah's modern views and Emmeline's wild ways had me right in their palm.

Morton's ability to produce a captivating novel must be applauded. While the plot was creative and at times surprising, it was the characters that made the novel. Each of the characters had certain elements that made them real. Real and relatable. The setting didn't stop the fact that Hannah desired adventure, much like some of us. Or that Emmeline was a hopeless romantic. Even Grace, at her old age, could really touch a chord of sympathy from me. Her stories gave smiles and heartache, from the past and in the present.

At some point the novel is predictable and at others, a little dull. Fair enough, a novel of 400+ pages is bound to be. Yet, the ending - the answer to the tragedy - is worth the wait. Morton flows through the events without ever giving away the ending. There is no knowing what really happened and that is the satisfaction that comes out from reading The Shifting Fog. A novel of mystery, romance and a chilling twist - The Shifting Fog is an enjoyable read, worth the time.