April 29, 2012

I want an Avalon Archer of my own

Two years ago, Scarlet awoke in the forest alone, afraid, and without her memory. Lost and confused, her life was a mystery until she met a boy with a familiar voice named Gabriel Archer. Intrigued by his voice, Scarlet immerses herself in Gabriel's life only to stumble upon a secret he's kept hidden from her: His brother. Once Scarlet meets Tristan Archer her life becomes even more muddled. While she's instinctively drawn to Gabriel, she's impossibly drawn to Tristan--and confused out of her mind. Why does Gabriel seem so familiar? Why is she so attracted to Tristan? And why are both brothers convinced she's been cursed to die? Scarlet doesn't have the answers...but the Archer brothers do.

Anew from the lovely Chelsea Fine is one of those reads that I really didn't hear much about. There were some mutterings on Twitter and I had seen the book cover here and there, but not a huge upheaval like some other books. The story blurb sounded interested to me so I when I won Anew from Blaire Kensley I was super stoked!

First off, I know when dealing with books published independently, or out of smaller firms, you can run into more errors in the printing. Well, at least that's what I have noticed. Errors happen, then we get over it, but I saw a LOT of errors in Anew and it became sort of distracting. Lots of places where there were extra words, a couple places where there was a (,,,) instead of a (...), and then I thought I had a mild stroke before I realized my copy had two Chapter 50s.

Now that I got that off my chest, I adored Anew. The story behind the Archer bothers and Scarlet was really interesting. I still don't think Miss Chelsea has given all the juicy details there. But that's what I like! Give me something to think about until the next installment comes around! Not that Tristan Archer doesn't fill that void or anything...oi...more on that later.

The POV was interesting too! We get inside each of the characters heads throughout Anew. For anyone who knows me, I looooove me some boy POV.

The triangle between Gabe, Tristan and Scarlet is AWESOME! I kind of had an idea of where it was going, but was still pleased. Talk about sticky and juicy and complicated! It makes my inner drama queen giggle with glee. Let me just say that if you enjoy triangles like the super awesome Jem, Tessa, and Will triangle, you will enjoy this one. Anew's triangle is sort of a "lite" version, but still...yum.

Miss Chelsea's characters... Okay, let me start with Scarlet. This chick has been through a lot. She wakes up in a forest in the middle of nowhere and literally has to rebuild some semblance of a life. No friends, no family, no background, no memory, nada! With the help of a cooky, but lovable, best friend and a guardian whom I think has some major secrets of her own, Scarlet finds a small family to love. Scarlet is believable, if sort of timid still. I get the feeling she has an inner bad-ass tucked away, but I will just have to wait and see.

Gabriel is the super sweet, always trying to do the right thing, bring you flowers on your birthday sort of guy. He is hot, caring, and will love you forever...literally. He is super patient with Scarlet and does his damndest to make sure she is okay.

Tristan... Boy oh boy do I lust -- I mean LOVE me some Tristan. He is hot, sure, but Tristan has that extra bit of something that just makes you wanna get crazy. Where Gabe is sweetly hot, Tristan is dangerously hot. He will do what it takes to save Scarlet, even if it may not turn out so well for him. He has that 'all in' mentality that makes you think he's either certifiably insane, or beyond caring.

All through Anew, Miss Chelsea is building us up to something. Once we find out how Scarlet ended up the way she is, the wheels start turning and you start begging for more. The pace of Anew is steady and does not drag on nor does it carry you off too quickly. I also really liked the subtlety of the romance. For the most part, Anew is very sweetly romantic, with nothing too scorching. BUT! Then Miss Chelsea will throw in a line that gets your heart rate up. Here, let me give you an example. Nothing too spoilery...and quite possibly my favorite line in the book.

From my man Tristan's POV:
"'Um....' She bit her bottom lip and every nerve in his body wanted to go over and bite it right along with her."

So now you need to go out and get Anew so you can reread this line over and over until you have the thing memorized....like I do. *grin* Seriously had to fan myself. But Miss Chelsea does this throughout the whole book. Something normal something normal something normal BAM! super hot line! Something normal something normal. Love it.

Definitely looking forward to Awry this summer...yum.

Did Anew rock my world? A solid 6.5 baby.

April 21, 2012

Why YA?

Ultimately I came across this article through Shera over at Book Whispers. She introduced me to Joel Stein. I know there has been some...okay...LOTS of buzz over his article regarding adults reading YA. I also know that I am far from the first person to say something about it. As much as I hate to admit it, Mr. Stein got me thinking...

Why do I read YA? Why do I LOVE to read YA? 

Stein is right. There's loads of lit out there geared toward adults like me. So why do I find myself gravitating toward a 'lower reading level?' 

Hi. My name is Deena, and I am a voracious reader of young adult novels, despite being thirty...mumble something grumble...years old.

There. I said it. It's out in the open. Am I ashamed of being way (and I mean waaaayyy) past my formidable teen years and reading tales staring teens? Nope. Not in the least.


This is what has been bouncing around my head like a pinball machine on crack. The easy answer? Because I like it. Love it even.

Definition of pastime: An activity that occupies one's spare time pleasantly. (ref)

Some synonyms: entertainment, leisure, hobby, relaxation, recreation, distraction, amusement, diversion. (ref)

Yes, I read YA as a pastime, a hobby. I do it because I enjoy it. It makes me happy. I was not aware I should approach my reading material as if I were preparing my thesis.

Do I feel less educated because I read a 'tween' book? No. Do I feel like my IQ dropped because, as Stein puts it, KidLit "doesn't have the depth of language and character as literature written for people who have stopped physically growing?" Absolutely not.

I have read "big girl" books and enjoyed them, but I love the potency of YA the most. Anyone who writes for a YA audience knows there is immense competition there. Not just because there are oodles of authors (and more new authors every day), but because the teen audience is a hard one to grab. Traditionally, teens don't have the attention span for a lengthy novel that takes its time getting to the point. You have to open with a kick to the sternum, grab with a right hook, and keep the them reading with as many groin kicks, uppercuts, and elbows to the solar plexus as possible. There's no time for dilly-dally in YA Lit.

YA, especially the upper teen side, is also full of 'first time' experiences. Everything is 'more' from the perspective of a teen because they've never been through it. I liken YA reads to baby rattlesnakes. Did I just lose you? Here, let me explain. A baby rattlesnake doesn't know how much venom to release that first strike so they often give it their all. Teen experiences are much like this.

That first love was all consuming when it began and soul crushing when it ended because their 'all' was given. That first time behind the wheel of a car often had more acceleration than necessary. That first kiss, that first time sneaking out of the house, that first game after making the team or cheer squad, and that first final passed were all so much bigger and powerful because they were a 'first' and, quite possibly, an all encompassing and dramatic event.

As adults, we dim down experiences because we've 'been there/ done that.' I find adult novels to be sort of the same way. The experiences are somewhat dulled down with familiarity. It doesn't make them less engaging, really, but they don't have that punch I like. Not like YA.

The characters in YA are not any less complex than adult novels either. I would venture to say they are more complex because they are written in worlds of 'firsts.' They might not be stressing over extra marital affairs, or unpaid bills, or an abusive spouse, but they have issues and stresses that are just as powerful in their world. And because there's no previous experience to base their feelings on, it is that much more powerful to read.

Maybe I am re-living life vicariously through YA novels. Who cares? With the hum-drum of regular life, sometimes we need that moment to relive, or remember, what it was like to take on something new and scary. It gets the adrenaline pumping and reboots the brain. We may even be able to take that 'jump with both feet' attitude and apply it to our very grown up lives. 

Am I offended by Mr. Stein's lack of respect for adults who read YA? That if he were to see me with Hunger Games in my lap, he would think less of me? No. Actually, I feel sorry for the man. He has obviously given up on his inner-child. He has cast aside that which allows us to create, to dream, to inspire: an imagination.

Now I may never get engaged in front of Cinderella's castle, but I will bounce on my toes in line for Space Mountain. I may not be a huge Justin Bieber fan, but I will crank up the volume when One Direction comes on the radio. Stein says this behavior is embarrassing. Personally, I think it's more embarrassing to be so obtuse, narrow-minded, and one dimensional.

Yes, I am an adult. I have a full-time job in the 'big girl' world that demands me to be professional and precise. I have a mortgage to pay, a small son to raise, and I have paid off my car. I have a degree and half hour commute. I have read Dan Brown, David Baldacci, Robin Cook, and Danielle Steel. But I fell in love with Jeri Smith-Ready, Becca Fitzpatrick, Cassandra Clare, and Jennifer Armentrout.

I am an adult and I love YA Lit. I love its passion, its power, its vigor and 'roooaaarrrr...I shall overcome' sort of essence. If Stein thinks this makes me less of an adult, he is entitled to his opinion. It will not make me second guess my next book purchase. If Mr. Stein sat next to me on my next flight to NYC for the SCBWI Conference, and curled a disgusted lip at the latest Mortal Instruments installment in my hand, I would proudly flip him the bird and tell him to "suck it" in the most adult manner possible.

April 15, 2012

Fun with Avatars

When I got up this morning, I totally had the intention of working on my latest WIP. I didn't have the opportunity ALL week to work on it and was going through a slight withdrawal. My creative juices were dammed up inside threatening to overwhelm me. It got so bad, I became slightly aggravated with everyone around me. It was weird, like a freak writers PMS thing.

The Kiddo is in the midst of potty training so this morning kind of got shot all to hell for writing. I couldn't 'get in the zone' watching the clock, timing Kiddo's trips to the potty so we avoided a mess. So after he went down for his nap I figured, "this is it!" Yeah, no. It didn't happen. Why? 'Cause I found this website...

But it all works out! I spent all afternoon working on my characters. I tell ya, it was a freakin' BLAST!!! I highly recommend this to anyone who would like to get a semi-visual on the characters in their head. You know what they look like. You write about them, have done the character sheets, maybe some interviews, and you have this picture in your head. With this trick website I was able to sort of 'flesh out' my characters more. 

Now, it's not exact, but it comes pretty darned close. I would have liked more options with hair and colors, but it was still a lot of fun. Since I had so much fun, I thought I would share!

These kids here are the main characters from my WIP Fiáin , Bree and Kennon...

And my new WIP (tentatively titled Gifted) is centered around these cats here, Moira, Finlay and Devlin...
Moira, Devlin and Finlay

The best part of this character journey is really seeing your characters. Playing on FaceYourManga was too much fun and I will definitely keep this in mind the next time I feel like 'fleshing out.' It was a great exercise in making those voices in my head just a little more real...

Happy Writing!

April 14, 2012

A SHINE-ing conclusion

In this dramatic conclusion to the Shade trilogy, Aura and Zachary’s relationship sizzles as the secrets of the Shift are revealed.
Life can change in an instant, and no one understands that better than Aura. It’s been almost a year since her boyfriend tragically died. She’s finally letting go of Logan’s violet-hued ghost, but not her search to uncover the truth about her past.
As the first in a generation that can see ghosts, Aura is convinced she has a connection to the Shift. She’s trusted Zachary, ever patient and ever by her side, with all that she knows. But when the government threatens his life in an attempt to learn Aura’s secrets, she will stop at nothing to protect herself and the one she loves…even if that means betraying her own heart.

Okay, since Shine does not officially come out until May Uno, I will not be giving away too much here. I love surprises and refuse to blow it for those who have not had the pleasure to read Shine yet.

Those of you who have read the Shade Trilogy, from the uber lovely and infinitely talented Miss Jeri Smith-Ready, already know the master-crafter she is with story-telling. Shine is no exception. Since it had been eons after reading Shift--- Okay, so maybe not that long, but sure felt like it. Have been impatiently waiting for this book for sooo long... Anyway, I felt like I had just finished reading Shift. Like no time had passed. Shine picks up right were we left off. Well, kinda.

If any of you follow Jeri you will have read the Chapter 1 tease she released not too long ago. You know how the story starts, and instantly hated Jeri for such an awfully wonderful tease! If you have NOT read the Chapter 1 teaser, which if you want you can read here, I will simply say this: Jeri will leave you with a gaping mouth, cinched heart, and an endless stream of "no-no-no-no-no-NO!"

As for the rest of Shine, you will have to be this side of out-of-your-mind crazy to not read this final installment. And by that I do mean my side of crazy, the not right, borderline unhinged kind of crazy. *giggles*

No seriously, this was a great read and I am glad overjoyed ecstatic -- dammit I can't find a strong enough adjective to describe how happy I am to have received this advanced copy! Miss Jeri, once again, takes us on a wild ride of laughs, tears, giggles, blushes, fear, sadness, and heart wrenching decisions. But she does so in such a way you keep begging for more. You laugh with Aura, you cry with Aura, and you want to jump into the pages, push up your sleeves, and seriously box some baddies with Aura when she gets to being frisky. And we all know Aura can get some serious frisky on!

Shine will leave you breathless in more ways than one. Sure, there are some really steamy scenes with, my other husband, Zachary. How could there NOT be? Come ON! But there are so many wonderful moments of 'almost' you cannot sit still. Whether Zach and Aura almost get caught, or almost die, or almost catch the bad guy, or almost save the day, you are left with no other option than to flip to the next page!

Miss Jeri's characters are so real you feel like you could really befriend them. Aura is eternally this feisty Italian chick who will seriously kick your butt even if she doesn't know how; she will freakin' find a way. Her heart is ten times bigger than you expect and she grows in Shine in such a way that you can't help but adore her.

Of course, we also have Zachary. Oh how I love me some Hottie Scottie.... But we see a side of Zach in Shine that we have not before. In previous books he acted as the pillar of strength for Aura as she dealt with some major stuff. In Shine the tides shift and it is he who needs the pillar. It makes Zach so much more enjoyable to read and you fall in love with him all over again.

Shine is truly action packed and will keep you guessing down to the last pages. The love that Aura and Zachary have for each other is something we all probably strive to achieve. It is pure, it is all-encompassing, and it is truly romantic and soulful. Shine is filled with the characters we have come to love (or hate, but in the good literary way), mysteries, resolutions, good guys, bad guys, feisty Baltimore-ians, even feistier Scots, and everything else you could ever want from a novel.

As with any closing book, be it trilogy or series, there is a sense of loss because you know this is it. But I am damned glad I made the journey. Miss Jeri is a wonderful author and an even more wonderful person. I adore her writing and the love she has for her characters as well as her fans. She is truly a diamond in the literary rough. The Shade Trilogy is one of my favorites and I will continue to suggest Miss Jeri's books to other readers. Shine was, quite possibly, the most perfect conclusion to an awesome set.

Did Shine rock my world? Beyond words - I have to say the entire series is off-- the-- charts!

April 11, 2012

In My Mailbox #1: SHINE by Jeri Smith-Ready

Okay, so I realize these In My Mailbox deals are generally done on Mondays. This week has been jammed with work stress, doggie health stress, and potty training toddler stress, so I am just now getting there. My bad...

Monday afternoon I found a heavy-duty envelope crammed into my puny mailbox. Seriously, I think my mail lady shoved it in with her foot. After a lot of tugging, pulling, and a few naughty words, the blasted thing finally came out to reveal a return address of none other than Simon & Schuster. I think I wet myself. What could Simon & Schuster be sending ME? I'm nobody!

I tore the package open like a it contained a lifetime supply of red wine and chocolate, but only if I opened it in 2.3 seconds!

This is what I found...

But, this doesn't come out till May...? And then it hit me... HOLY CRAP I RECEIVED MY FIRST ADVANCED COPY!!!!!

Some time ago, Miss Jeri posted a form on her blog where you could request an advanced copy from the Pubber. I figured, 'what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks.' Sure, I do some blogging, but I am nowhere as hard core as some of you fab bloggers. It was a shot in the dark, but who cared?! I knew I had the puppy on pre-order anyway.

Then it happened. I got mail from a big time publisher! For ME! An official copy of a fab book before you can get it in stores! This may be old news for some of y'all, but I am happier than a pig in--- um...heh...well I'm just so darned happy! I feel like an official blogger and it feels pretty good.

April 08, 2012

A Belated Lucky 7

I am sooooo incredibly late with this and for that I apologize. Well, wait. Are there time frames for this sort of thing? Expiration dates? Sell by dates? Or do we just wing it? I'm going to go with 'wing it' because that's how I roll.

The lovely and talented Miss Issy C tagged me on a Lucky 7 post a couple weeks ago, but I had been in a blogger, reader, writer abyss for the last month or so and failed to see it. Yikes! My bad, chica! I heart you!


For those not in the know, this puppy has a few rules. Five to be exact. And they are...

#1 Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP/Babykins

#2 Go to line #7

#3 Copy down the next 7 lines AS THEY ARE WRITTEN. In other words, no cheating, no fluffing, no grabbing the closest Englsh Lit major to help refine, primp, polish or craft into the most magnificent work of art.

#4 Tag 7 other writers

#5 Let them know (ahem...Carli. *wink*)

Well, truth be known I, just like Miss Issy, have two WIPs. Which one to choose... I have no freakin' clue so I will toss the dice out the window, along with the eenie-meenie-miny-moe, and share both. Holy hell... Slightly cra-cra? Yup, that tis me.

The first is my complete (yet going through serious revisions) MS currently titled Fiáin (Fee-OWE-in). In this scene Bree and Kennon are talking over meeting up for photo workshop extra credit after Kennon had dropped a Hiroshima sized bomb on her, figuratively.

“Give me a call. I don’t work Wednesday or Thursday. If you’re free we can meet up then.” My heart banged around at the thought.

“Bollocks! I forgot my bag.” Lucy ran back into the studio.

“Unless you’re scared to hang out with Catwoman here.” Seriously, Bree? Crap, I was an idiot on steroids.

“Depends.” Kennon’s eyes gleamed with his smirk. “Will you be wearing the skin-tight leather getup?”

“You’ll just have to call and find out.” I tuned on my heel and walked to my truck.

Next we have my current obsession WIP, tentatively titled Gifted. It's far from finished, but we are getting there. In this scene Devlin and Moira are talking about how everyone is reacting to Devlin's sudden appearance.

“And you’re not?”

Her far-from-ladylike snort almost made me crack, but I couldn't reign in the grin. The incredulous look on her face was freakin' priceless, despite not being able to see her eyes behind the dark glasses. 

“Oh God no!” Moira pushed away from the table. “Pop would say I’m the reckless one. That I don’t think before I act.” 

"What would you say?” 

She thought for a minute, hand on her hip. “I would say I just don’t do limitations.”

So there you have it folks! Yeeesh, now I may go vomit. Nerves abound! So now I have to TAG another 7. Unfortunately, I am not super close with many blogger/writers so y'all will just have to deal with the few that I don't think will get super mad at me for tagging. *grins sheepishly*

Miss Blaire Kensley who I know has some goodies under her belt that she is working on.

Miss Raine Thomas because she has the Estilorian Series that is uber awesome and I know she has to have something saucy under wraps.

Miss Alisha M. Klepheke who I have had the astounding pleasure to read some of her goodies and it's way awesome!


April 07, 2012

Pure--ly Awesomesauce

There is need. And then there is Fate-
Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn't exactly awesome-especially when Alexandria's "other half" is everywhere she goes. Seth's in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom-so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do-and sacrifice-for her.
When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies-lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon - and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn't blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude - or killing her.
When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.

Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer... May I call you 'Jen,' 'cause I really need you to be my friend. Yes, you are that awesome. And I totally didn't mean for that to sort of rhyme. Heh.

Okay, enough oozing my cheesiest desires... If you have not read Half-Blood, then quite honestly you might be a loser. No, seriously! The Covenant Series is that cool....so far. Pure is the second installment to the series by the lovely and talented Jennifer Armentrout. If you have not jumped on the Half-Blood Legion train, please do yourself a favor and go Dauntless STAT!

Pure pretty much picks up where Half-Blood left off. The world is going to crap and no one is safe. Half-Bloods can be turned to Daimons, the Council is so not happy with Alex, and Aiden is wonderful and confusing and frustrating and -- and -- wow.  And then there is Seth...the First Apollyon.

School is back in session and Alex is pulling double -- no wait -- triple duty with her training. Not only is she subjected to the day-to-day training in class, but she is handed back and forth between the hotness that is known as Aiden and her egotistical 'other half,' Seth. The frosty stares still follow her around campus and Alex obsessively tries to keep the multiple Daimon tags hidden.

Just when Alex thought life couldn't suck more, there are Daimon's on campus. Students are getting attacked and nobody has any clue who it might be, accept that it appears to be a Daimon Half-Blood. The school is put on lock-down until further notice, and this really cramps Alex's life. To add insult to injury, her life is on countdown until not only her 18th birthday (also her Apollyon Awakening Day), but also the Council hearing where she is to divulge what went down with her mom (aka now deceased Daimon) in Tennessee! Aiden is growing distant while Seth is wiggling his way into her feelings, and her bedroom.

Pure is just the non-stop awesomeness you have come to expect from the fab Miss A. Alex is one feisty chick that continues to kick some major bootay. She also deals with some incredible loss in Pure that will wrench your heart horribly. But I'm getting ahead of myself. This happens after Miss A digs your heart out with a dull spoon and feeds it to an angry nest of piranha. Trust me, read Pure and you will know what I am talking about. Sorry, no spoilers. *grin* I suck, yeah, I know.

Aiden is awesome in that quietly hostile way. His heated glares are equal parts menace and heart palpitating. His fierce loyalty to 'doing the right thing' will frustrate you to no end, but make you love him more. But he will also surprise you with how reckless he can be, despite him throwing this character -- um -- trait? flaw? he claims Alex to have.

And boy will Seth surprise you as well. Sure, he has an ego the size of Montana, a groupie following equaling that of the Greatful Dead, an incessant flirty nature you don't know if you should take seriously or not, and a fuse that puts Alex's minuscule wick to shame. But we see there might just be more to the First Apollyon than that, and it is mighty HAWT!

As I said, the story is just non-stop. The action is awesome and you get sucked into the fight scenes with ease. The passions are heartfelt, wonderful, frustrating, and ooooh nelly are they steamy. Good GAWD! Get me a fan someone! Or ice, or just a super cold shower for cripes sake!

Jennifer Armentrout has quickly found her way into my Fantabulous Four authors. Her voice is such a pleasure to read. It's equal parts humor and snark and totally jives with her characters. The plots are exciting and keep you guessing, the conflicts are horribly huge and complicated, and Miss A doesn't seem afraid to take chances with her characters. This is awesome and why she is ranked up there with Cassandra Clare, Jeri Smith-Ready, and Myra McEntire in my Fantabulous Four. Miss A will make you laugh, make you cry (sometimes the uber snotty kind), and make you pump your fist in the air with unbound glee.

Did Pure rock my world? Still does baby! A fatty 9 on the Richter scale!

April 02, 2012

Fifty Shades of...Meh

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

When I first heard what Fifty Shades of Grey was about I told myself I would not read it. I really had no desire to read a "Twilight for soccer moms" book complete with the...um...intimacy that Twilight lacked. So of course I caved. There was so much discussion over this book I became intrigued. Is it 'Romance' or is it 'Porn?' Is it too graphic in nature or an impossible love story? In the end it was the controversial talk over this book by E.L. James that made me read it. I needed to know what all the fuss was over!

Curiosity kills the cat once again.

Okay, so I am not a huge romance novel follower. I have read a couple and it's really more than enough. I don't need all the seedy (yet swoon inspiring) details. That's why I read YA. *grin* Reading 50 Shades further solidified my love for YA. I am not a fan of 50 Shades. *GASP!* I know! A woman that is not in love with this book! Egads what is our species coming to? Perhaps my X chromosome is not X-y enough. Or perhaps I don't have enough estrogen pumping in my blood. Or perhaps I am just not soccer mom-y enough. Who knows? Maybe, it just comes down to the fact I would like more from my plot and characters than what 50 Shades had to offer.

First, let's talk story. This is where I can see the Twilight reference: ridiculously hot, impossibly wealthy and deliciously conflicted stud of a guy falls head over heels for generally likable, yet infuriatingly naive, mousy wall flower. Okay, check! Now I am not Twilight bashing (huge fan here...like HUGE), but I don't see the similarities other than this tid-bit. And despite this all-too-familiar plot line there really is no story, other than the sex. And that just doesn't do it for me. Granted the shmexy stuff was pretty freakin' hot and I often had to look over my shoulder to ensure nobody saw what I was reading while I fanned my face. Woooo nelly! But I need more than a nice flush to keep me interested in the story. Maybe this is just an erotica thing...

Characters: oh boy we could have done better here. Let's talk Anastasia (Ana). I don't like her. She is way too naive to be believable for me. She is sort of dull, has no life, no real interests (other than books = shocker), and is kind of --- flat. Ana is supposed to be a nearly 22 year old college grad, but is often written in a voice much more immature. This was not so good on my brain. I had to keep reminding myself that Ana was a grown woman and NOT a sixteen year old girl. Then she switches back to Literary guru co-ed with an extensive vocab only to fall back on the sixteen year old again. I found it to be quite irritating and I almost put the book down. One day I actually turned to the friend who had lent me the book and asked, "does Ana get any better?"

But then there is Christian Grey. He is really the reason I kept reading. This man, though the epitome of impossibilities, is a delish character. He is beautiful, closed off, broken, conflicted, powerful, but yet has a softer side that peeks out from behind the multitude of walls around him from time to time. Christian is hypnotic. I loved this guy. When he admitted to being "fifty shades of f----- up" I swear I fist pumped the air. This is what I want! Layered characters! YES! Sorry...let me collect myself again... *grin* This wonderfully broken man was the reason I flipped page after page. I needed to see if he would finally cave and admit to his feelings.

I did see one little flaw in Christian, however. I know.. GROOOAAANN! Despite my love of this character, I found that he often seemed to be written like a woman. I understand that E.L James is a woman, but Christian's voice didn't seem natural at times. It was like listening to what a woman 'thinks' a man 'should' sound like, if that makes sense. Granted, this is erotica so it's 'a woman's fantasy,' but dammit I want my men to be MEN.

I would also like to know why is it the mousy, understated girl is always surrounded by the beautiful people and stalked by the hot guys, but she remains clueless to life. Take Kate, Ana's roommate. She is hot, blond, perfect, and generally everything Ana thinks she, herself, is not. Then there is Jose, Ana's guy-friend who also has an insane crush on her. Jose is tall, dark and super hot too. He has the hots for Ana, but she is not interested. Then we meet Kate's brother who also is perfection on legs and happens to be very friendly with our lead gal. All this just bothers me. Can I get some variety? Please?

The pace was good, the dialogue seemed to flow overall, but the ending sucked. I know this is a trilogy and that as an author you need to leave something open for the next book, but there has to be closure of some kind. Maybe I missed it, but there didn't seem to be any closure in 50 Shades. It was all build-up to something important only to not get there at all. Truthfully, I was left sort of cheated. I am not sure I will pick up the next book. Maybe I will, if just to see if Christian comes around. Or I may just get the highlights from someone who has already read it.