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text 2017-05-14 20:56
Classics That You Should Read

For those who love to read, there is nothing more difficult than someone asking you to put together a list of your favourite books. After all, no two lists will ever be the same and how can anyone possibly choose, it’s like asking which of your children you love the most…

Similarly, those who love to read fully understand how expensive books can be, particularly in this difficult economic climate. Therefore, I decided to put together a few of my favourite classics, some of which are out of copyright and can be online for free. For out of copyright books, I have added a link where the book can be found for free.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Written by English writer Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre is a classic novel which has been hailed as one of the greatest pieces of English fiction. Set against the backdrop of the magnificent Yorkshire Moors, this story follows the coming of age of a plucky young governess who faces a number of great adversaries to find happiness in the arms of her first love.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence

First published privately in Italy in 1928 and later the subject of an obscenity trial in the UK. Lady Chatterley's Lover gained notoriety due to its hugely erotic content. Based in Nottinghamshire where DH Lawrence grew up, the story focuses on a young married woman who becomes disenchanted with her upper class husband. When an injury from the war leaves him unable to connect physically and emotionally with Lady Chatterley, she seeks sexual fulfilment in the arms of Oliver Mellor’s, the gamekeeper.

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

Renowned for its warmth and humour, To Kill a Mocking Bird is loosely based on Harper Lee’s observations of friends and family, but carries an important message about the realities of racism in the 1930’s. A classic piece of American literature, To Kill a Mockingbird is widely taught in schools all over the world and addresses themes of rape, racial inequality, courage and compassion. If you haven’t read this book, it’s one to put on your list of ‘must reads’ immediately!

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

Not everyone’s favourite book, but a book that has earned its place in history. Fifty Shades of Grey tells the story of Anastasia Steel and the ‘emotionally damaged’ billionaire Christian Grey. After a chance meeting, a story of all consuming love begins to unfold. What makes this story stand out, are the BDSM themes and erotic scenes weaved throughout the tale. The book may not have been well received by critics. However, what followed was a sexual revolution that rocked the twenty first century. Sales of sex toys rocketed, BDSM practices which were previously criminalised were normalised and a new age of sexual freedom began.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

HYPERLINK "http://www.literatureproject.com/little-woLittle Women is a timeless tale of four American sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Following their lives from childhood to adulthood, Little Women has been a difficult book to define. Some describe the book as a romance novel, others claim that it is a children’s book. However, for those who have read it, the ongoing themes in this book work together to create an incredible piece of fiction that simply begs to be read.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

With over 20 million copies sold, Pride and Prejudice has certainly earned its crown as one of the most popular novels in English Literature. Using good, solid British humour, Pride and Prejudice tells the tale of the Bennet family – the overbearing Mrs Bennet, the long suffering Mr Bennet and their five daughters. Due to the laws of the land at the time, if Mr Bennet passes away the inheritance cannot be passed onto his own children and falls into the hands of a distant relative. With the pressure on to find a suitable marriage, the arrival of a handsome stranger causes rather a few trials and tribulations for the Bennet family.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Believing that he was a failure and his The Great Gatsby forgotten, F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940 with sales of just 20,000 copies. However, due to the glitz, glamour and sheer escapism of this 1920’s tale, The Great Gatsby saw a revival during World War 2 and fast became one of the greatest classics in American history. The story follows characters from a fictional town called West Egg. Featuring millionaires, shady business connections, unrivalled glamour and scandal, The Great Gatsby worked hard to earn the title of one of America’s best loved novels.

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review 2015-07-10 22:02
Grey by E.L. James
Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian - E.L. James

I set out to read this novel for one main reason. Because as I realized this was actually going to be a real thing, I saw it going one of two ways. Either James would've acknowledged the criticism of Christian's character and, since she'd already written the first story, try to explain/justify his actions. Or, she simply didn't give a shit about the legitimate criticism and decided to continue milking the cash cow. After finishing it, I now have my answer.

The criticism was lost on deaf ears. Or ignorant, if you will.

There are many elements and details that together makes this book unhealthy, both in regards to plot and for the people reading it. Due to this, I'll divide this review (that will be quite long, I believe).

Part One: Writing
This is the easy, non disturbing part. Okay, it's disturbing considering how awful it is, but that most people knew from the previous books. It's not like James could change the dialogue into something less stilted. No, the dialogue is still in need of a few rounds of editing. However, if we disregard the dialogues - okay, I won't do that completely - it's bad.

Clear, embarrassed eyes meet mine and halt me in my tracks. They are the most extraordinary color, powder blue, and guileless, and for one awful moment, I think she can see right through me and I’m left…exposed.

If I have to explain why this awkward writing makes me want to gauge my eyes out, than this book is perfect for you.

For all her maladroitness, she has a beautiful neckline, one that I'd like to kiss from the bottom of her ear right down to her shoulder.

Another detail about the writing... For the majority of the time, it's simplistic to a fault. Until someone realized there are these things called thesauruses, and suddenly words that is a clear break from the rest pops in there, crushing the tone and rhythm. Disorientating, I'd call it.

I trace my fingers around her ass and insert one into her vagina.

I don't know why nobody told James that words like vagina, penis, and vulva (and more) should never be used in sexual situations. They are clinical, which, unless you're into that kink, is about as sexy as a visit to a gynecologist.

Her words travel directly to my dick, passing "Go" on the way.
This calls for - what did she call them? SHOUTY CAPITALS.

I laughed for about ten minutes at this alone.

I have never slept with a woman. I've fucked many, but to wake up beside an alluring young woman is a new and stimulating experience. My cock agrees.

This takes the prize, though. Christian's cock is like a separate creature. It twitches, stirs, agrees, and whatnot half the time. Hell, one time, Ana addresses it. Someone is taking men think with their dicks way to literal.

In conclusion, James' writing did not improve.

Part Two: BDSM

Fair warning, if anyone as much as breathes "you don't get BDSM" my way, here's my response.

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Grey is not an accurate portrayal of a BDSM relationship. If you argue that it is, then you're insulting those who actually live this lifestyle.

First of all. The contract. And before you get your panties in a bunch, I'm not talking about the fact that despite that Ana never signed it, she did consent, so this is not about rape or any of that. I'm talking about this fact.

"Would you like another drink? It's making you brave, and I need to know how you feel about pain."

I am talking about the fact that Christian intentionally makes Ana drink when they are discussing it. He claims it's to make her braver, to make her face herself, or whatever bullshit he feeds her. Even if it's true that she speaks more freely when inebriated,Christian, a supposedly seasoned Dom, should know better than to give her alcohol while discussing something this important. Look at it this way: Ana is determined to do whatever (or close to) it takes to keep Christian as a partner - notice the usage of the word partner, not Dom. This combined with the state alcohol puts her in - we've already early in the novel established that Ana isn't used to drinking at gets drunk fast - is enough to make her trivialize her own health (physical and mental) and agree to actions that she normally wouldn't. In short: she might very well agree to sexual activities that she would never do otherwise.Given that Christian is aware of Ana's inexperience, this is beyond irresponsible on his part. It is dangerous. Most importantly, this is not BDSM. It is not healthy, in the least.

Second, BDSM is between two consenting and enthusiastic partners. Ana is not the last. She states (many times) that she is doing the activities Christian proposes simply for a chance to be his lover (although fuck knows why). BDSM relies heavily on consent, trust, and communication. All which can be dubious in this one. Communication is about zero, and consent is sometimes questionable. I am not claiming Christian ignores Ana safewording. That's no my concern, and I don't intend to take that debate. However, Christian has an phrase that is used repeatedly.

that's not a "no"

This quote is seen quite some times. For some reason, it's still, 2015(!), necessary to point out that not a "no" isn't a "yes" either. I can't stress this enough, because clearly Christian's understanding of no is fucked up to hell. Let's take a look.

"And if I break on of the rules?"
"Then I'll punish you."
"But won't you need my permission?"
"Yes, I will."
"And if I say no?"
"If you say no, you'll say no. I'll have to find a way to persuade you."

Clearly, no isn't no. No to Christian is a word that means he'll need to find another way to manipulate her into saying yes.Hello, rape culture! And manipulate her is something Christian does repeatedly. He's, as said, aware of her wishes. Still, he uses her wish to coerce her into his kinks (spanking and more). Even if she doesn't really want to. This is not BDSM, this is manipulation. It is not two enthusiastic partners.

The last thing on this part.

"Maybe that's why she and Kavanagh are friends; she's content to be in the background and let Katherine take center stage.
Hmm... a natural submissive.

Here's the thing. If you're shy and awkward and likes to stay in the back, that does not mean you're a submissive. You can be, but that does not mean you're a "natural submissive". You can be a cursing, loud, impolite, brazen bitch and still be a submissive. Basic line, all submissives aren't the same. To claim this is once again to defend stereotypes that can be harmful.

Part Three: Christian
He's a stalker. Quite possibly a psychopath too. But mostly a stalker. Creep on the highest level.

Let me expand on this. Christian reads like a serial killer in the making. He's one of those you see in horror movies when the killer plays with his victims before performing the murder. Stalking them, taunting them, teasing them. That's Christian. He reads exactly like that. After his first meeting with Ana, he is obsessed. The minute she walks out of his office, he demands a background check on her (an extensive one at that, too). For the coming days he is obsessed with her. He ignores his company/work, makes adjustments in his life so he can follow her and find out details about her life. At one point, he even admits to himself that he's showing stalker tendencies.He even considers consulting his therapist for a fleeting moment right before he goes on to make excuses for his behavior. He jokes the tendencies away, or trivializes them in attempts to justify them.

Anyway, continuing. In most of their early interactions, he finds it amusing to tease her and torment here. (Which can be understandable given his sexual preferences.) However, the writing isn't good enough to show the difference between light teasing and him being a stalker and A-level creep.

Apart from the stalking, he's a terrible person. And I mean that if we disregard the obvious. He's sexist, misogyinc, and probably a bit homophobic.

What the hell happened to Mr. Love 'Em and Leave 'Em? Kavanagh must be good in the sack.

Katherine Kavanagh is Ana's best friend. THe Mr. Love and Leave is his brother, Elliot. As you probably understand, he's the type that has tenfold of women for a night or two. However, Katherine is able to keep him coming back. That, of course, according to Christian, means she has magic lady bits. He's so fucking disrespecting here it sickens me. But there's more.

Kavanagh has an internship at the Seattle Times, no doubt set up for her by her father.

Now, Katherine was valedictorian. It's stated (or implied) that she's a bright young lady that likes to take charge. A personality that would most likely make her able to land her own internship.But no. Because, again according to Christian, no woman is able to manage a single thing on her own. Misogynistic, that's what he is.

So the last part. The homosexual/gay theme in this book is... complicated. When Ana asks him in the interview at the beginning of the book if he is gay, he has an internal fit. Overreacting, that's an understatement. While I agree it's a ridiculous question (you're sexuality is your own and no one's business unless you decide so), his reaction is awful. He makes it sound as if him being gay would be the end of the world, which in itself is quite offensive.

However, it becomes hilarious when his double standards kicks in. Remember the background check I mentioned? Yeah, that one states that Ana's sexuality is unknown as well as her relationship status. Grey's immediate wonders if she might be gay. (A thought that he keeps for a while.) It gets even better when Ana admits to being a virgin. Christian goes from is she gay to how come no guy has banged her yet. So yeah, complicated, mixed messages, and a tad offensive.

Part Four: Ana

I feel sorry for Ana. Her inner goddess was one of the worst characters in fiction since a long time, but I felt sorry for Ana in this book. James did nothing to put Ana in a good light here. In fact, I thought Ana's personality was bland in FSoG, but in this one, it is nonexistent. A balloon has more personality than her. Unfortunately, this creates a new problem. There's no understanding what connects her and Christian.Christian's perspective gave no insight on this (apart from his weird obsession that is more serial killer than potential boyfriend). The lack of personality in Ana's character increases the creep factor in Christian's as there's really no reason for him to be interested in her.

Part Five: Copy Paste

For a few moments I considered rereading FSoG simultaneously to this one, but decided against it. It's clear most of the scenes are more or less exactly the same with no to little additions. Basically, this really is a retell of the first book. By doing this, James missed the opportunity to humanize Christian.She does not expand on his childhood (traumatic as it was) apart from a few strange written dreams that did little to expand on his character. As his internal monologue consists mostly of Ana's looks and how to make her agree to his kinks, there's not much to his character either (except for establishing his status as around the clock creep). Neither is the relationship to Elena (the woman who introduced him to the BDSM lifestyle at the age of fifteen, make of that what you will). The one scene she is in is over in about five pages, adding nothing to the dynamics of their relationship. So James truly missed out on the chance to deepen this story in any way by taking the easy way out and mostly recycle the scenes from the first book.

Epilogue or whatever

In conclusion, Grey is awful. It, once again, described BDSM in an offensive - yes, deal with it - way. It reinforces the stigma that is already surrounding this lifestyle. Not only that, it reinforces rape culture. Remember that rape is something that (statistically) happens to 1 in 5 women in America, and that the most vulnerable are women in their early twenties. (Sounds like Ana.) And don't anyone tell me this is only fiction while at the same time claiming some other book changed your life.

Grey is unhealthy. There's no other way to put it, and I'm not going to. It is not romantic, not harmless, and not just fiction. It's dangerous for, especially, young people that will be told this is romantic by people who disregard the troublesome elements in this story.

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text 2015-07-10 14:52
Reading progress update: I've read 86%.
Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian - E.L. James

Reading progress: 38%


Christian is weirdly obsessed with the expression that's not a "no". Very disturbing, given the contexts it is used in. They are almost purely sexual or intentionally sexual. Because that's not a "no" is also, quite clearly, not a "yes" either. Disturbing, indeed. 



Reading progress: 43%

"Would you like another drink? It's making you brave, and I need to know how you feel about pain."


While they are discussing her limits - which is a major deal - he is deliberately getting her inebriated. Regardless if she easier speaks the truth tipsy, he should know better than to force/manipulate her this way. There's a big chance she might not only be more honest, but ready to tangent her truth as she's so keen to keeping him. Alcohol might very well make her less cautious and only think about ways to keep him, even if it means putting her own concerns at bay. 



Reading progress: 45%

I trace my fingers around her ass and insert one into her vagina.

I don't know about you guys, but the term "vagina" is not sexy. It's clinical. Much the same way with penis and vulva.  (James' favorite terms it seems when in sexual situations.)


Reading progress: 49%

She's regarding me with a tender smile. Her face is no longer blotchy and puff; she looks radiant. My cock agrees, and stiffens in greeting.

Seriously, his cock is hilarious. It stiffens and twitches all the time. James is taking men think with their dicks way too serious.


Reading update: 54%

It's between control freak and stalker. I chuckle to myself. I'm just running. It's a free country.


Christian several times jokes away his stalker tendencies. That, or excuses them. Unhealthy, yes. Romantic, no. 


Reading update: 59%

What the hell happened to Mr. Love 'Em and Leave 'Em? Kavanagh must be good in the sack.


Kavanagh has an internship at the Seattle Times, no doubt set up for her by her father.


First of all, sexist. Second, sexist and misogynistic. Katherine (Kavanagh) was valedictorian of her class and clearly a bright young woman, yet Christian (who knows this) assumes her father did it for her, not that she managed to do anything on her own. Remember that this is Ana's best friend for whom Christian has no respect. 


Reading update: 76%

"But at what personal cost? I'm tied up in knots here."
"I like you tied up in knots."
"That's not what I meant!" She dashes her hand through the water, soaking me.
"Did you just splash me?"

Whenever Ana brings up her concerns, Christian jokes them away. An effective way to disregard her feelings, manipulating her to bend to his will without actually forcing her. Unhealthy, still yes. Also terrible and questionable portrayal of BDSM.


Reading update: 86%

I pour her a little more Sancerre. I don't want either of us to drink too much if we're going to play.

I'm not personally in the BDSM lifestyle, but pretty much everyone I know (personally and not) that are, has said the same thing: don't play if you've had anything to drink. Kind of like driving.

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text 2015-07-10 08:01
Reading progress update: I've read 28%.
Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian - E.L. James

Reading progress: 1%

Clear, embarrassed eyes meet mine and halt me in my tracks. They are the most extraordinary color, powder blue, and guileless, and for one awful moment, I think she can see right through me and I’m left…exposed.


And I had almost forgotten what a terrible writer E.L. James is.



Reading progress: 2%


The first thing Christian does after Ana leaves his office (after the interview) is call Welch to get a background check on Ana. 


photo giphy_zpsnbpublwf.gif



Reading progress: 3%

"Have you worked here long?" Of course, I already know the answer. Unlike some people, I do my research.


And unlike some people, you end up in jail for stalking.



Reading progress: 5%

Maybe that's why she and Kavanagh are friends; she's content to be in the background and let Katherine take center stage.
Hmm... a natural submissive.

I believe someone needs to have a discussion with James about how not all submissive have the same personality. That, and the fact that just because you're shy, clumsy and/or awkward, it doesn't mean you're a "natural submissive". 


So no, this one doesn't put the BDSM culture/lifestyle in any better (or accurate) light than the original three books.


Reading progress: 6%

You guys know about the coffee shop/cyclist accident? The one where a cyclist nearly runs Ana over and Christian "saves" her. Then he goes on saying how she should stay away from him, that he's not good for her, etc.? 


Seeing this from Christian's POV is... upsetting. Here's the deal: While they're in the coffee shop, he's determined to make her his submissive. Ready to go all in there. He's set on continuing. Now comes the fun/upsetting part. Because Ana says she is into literature and mentions Brontë, Austen, and Hardy as favorites, Christian immediately assumes she's into romance because all of those books have romantic heroes in them. So, according to Christian, you are what you read. Yup, he judges people based on the books he reads. Therefor, he tells her to stay away. Because of what she reads. 


Reading progress: 10%

I have never slept with a woman. I've fucked many, but to wake up beside an alluring young woman is a new and stimulating experience. My cock agrees.


photo giphy_zpsodxhknim.gif



(In all seriousness, his cock is a creature of its own. The one action it is capable of: twitching. So now I'm imaging him walking down the street with a noticeable twitching in his pants.)


Reading progress: 13%

For all her maladroitness, she has a beautiful neckline, one that I'd like to kiss from the bottom of her ear right down to her shoulder.

I just love how the writing is so simplistic and then BAM! thesaurus, right there!


Reading progress: 28%

But as I stare at the screen, my fingers hovering over the keys, I can't think of what to say.

How could she dismiss me so easily?

Her first fuck.

Get it together, Grey. What are your options? Maybe I should pay her a visit, just to make sure it's not a "no". Maybe I can persuade her otherwise. 


I have a few terms Christian needs to research: Rape culture, consent, and how about hell no.



Some general thoughts:


Christian is acting like a serial killer in the making. He becomes obsessed with Ana the moment he sees her. Add in that in the first four or five meetings, he constantly have the urge to mess with her or make her uncomfortable, or play with her. Imagine creepy serial killer that visits their victims for a while before performing the deed. That's Christian. His interest is never genuine, even if James tries to establish that. Which brings us to the next cliché.


From the start, Ana is different. Christian thinks that her touching him (which is a huge fucking deal) might not be that bad. This is during their first sexual encounter. He also considers her his after their first time, as well as him being hers. James attempts to make it be more between them than there is (because it's painfully obvious apart from those lame attempts that there is absolutely nothing that would draw these two people to each other).


Remember where Ana asks Grey if he's gay? Believe me, you do not what his internal monologue on that one. But it's hilarious, what with his double standards. He's outraged when she asks, but when he realizes she has no boyfriend, he plays with the thought that she might be gay (a thought that continues on for a while). However, when he realizes she doesn't have a boyfriend and is a *gasp* virgin, he makes a U-turn and wonder how in the hell no guy has already banged her.


(Sorry for long post, but I think it's easier to bulk it up than do individual status updates, because that would clog your feeds even worse.)

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text 2015-07-09 13:43
Reading progress update: I've read 0%.
Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian - E.L. James



Yup, this is happening.




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