Review: Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, Book 1) by E.L. James

fifty shadesDisclaimer: I read parts of the story as a fanfic called Master of the Universe. It was okay, but nothing special. Still when a fanfic becomes a mainstream published novel I expect the flaws to be fixed and the glaring irregularities to be corrected. I expect someone to say to the author, “Hey you, what were you thinking, this makes no sense” or… “There is no way on the face of this planet a guy like your hero would ever say or do….” So the fact that I didn’t see any of that irks me and my review reflects that. If you loved these books stop now. Here is what I hated:

It relied heavily on readers already knowing the dynamic and personality and characteristics of the Twilight characters, especially Edward and Bella. If you hadn’t read Twilight and fallen for the romantic pair’s unique story, going into the BDSM relationship of this book is going to send up red flags. Allow me to explain in detail…

Ana is a novice when it comes to men, dating, sex, and submission. So if you didn’t know Ana and Christian were fated for each other and that it was true love, you would tell this girl to run as far and as fast in the other direction as possible.

Who would want to be with a guy that says to you, “I love hurting you and I need to hurt you to be turned on around you?” When you (and I am really speaking for Ana here, not someone into BDSM) wants Christian to want her in a vanilla relationship? There are some screws loose. All the sex scenes read like sex for sex sake and not as a spicy hot romance story. Lots of telling about feelings, and little showing.

Then there was inner monologue hoo-hah that had me cringe in the fanfic that managed to make it to the final draft. Did anybody read all that inner goddess crap and actually like it? Seriously—it’s crap, trying to be cute. Ana has multiple personality disorder and is oft times schizophrenic. That’s not sexy.

After the inner monologue, comes the real dialogue. Can we say, awful? Not to mention quite painful to read sometimes. Christian Grey’s “Laters, Baby” comes to mind right away. Shoot me now. There is no way this guy would say that because he is a stoic, uptight, always-in-control billionaire making 100K an hour. So no, I don’t buy it—the poor grammar, or the stupid nickname. He’d call her something else or leave it at just plain old Anastasia.

That’s just a few of the reasons I don’t like this story. Have you read it? What do you think?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

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Buy: Fifty Shades Trilogy Bundle: Fifty Shades of Grey; Fifty Shades Darker; Fifty Shades Freed

Review: Defining Twilight by Brian Leaf, M.A.


I’ve said before about how romance novels will improve your vocabulary and that they were responsible for my high SAT scores. Now it’s time to show how that’s possible…

Brian Leaf is brilliant. He takes Twilight and pulls from it the words most likely to be seen on a standardized test. The book is very simple to use and was so engaging some middle school girls that I know took turns quizzing each other from it for hours purely for fun. Think about that. If that isn’t an endorsement right there I don’t know what is.

There are 40 groups of vocab words – 8 words in each group. That’s 320 words (directly from Twilight) plus synonyms, antonyms, and word parts for a staggering 600 words. Each word is isolated in the text so students can look it up in context. A glossary is provided in the back of the book as well as after each page of words.

Brian Leaf has obviously read Twilight and writes engagingly in his explanations pulling from the novel to enlighten readers. The book teaches how to find synonyms, make analogies, fill in sentences, and figure out meaning from word parts. Each section and quiz builds on itself for repetition and memorization purposes. After every five groups there’s a quiz for practice.

I love the group titles: Tousled Hair, Enigmatic Answers, His Topaz Eyes, and Vampire Etiquette. You can picture where they come from in the novel.

If literacy parts of an exam scare you to pieces, nothing makes learning more fun and less scary than a sparkly vampire or two.

Rating: 5 Stars

Buy: Defining Twilight: Vocabulary Workbook for Unlocking the SAT, ACT, GED, and SSAT

Why Jacob Black and Bella Swan Would Never Work as a Romantic Couple

The whole idea of Teams is ridiculous. Readers of the series know how it ends and the folly of picking Teams is apparent. There was never any question Bella would wind up with Edward. Sure, you could pick Team Jacob for his hot body and delicious muscles, but picking Team Jacob because he and Bella make sense is ludicrous and here are 5 reasons why: (spoilers ahead)

1.     Jacob is a werewolf.

It’s not so much that he’s a werewolf, so much as what being a werewolf in Stephenie Meyer’s world implies. At least with Edward, Bella had a chance to become immortal too and eventually this chance is realized. With Jacob she’d grow old and he wouldn’t even start to age until he could go long periods of time without shifting. If Bella hated the thought with Edward, there’s no way she’d stand for it with Jacob, especially when Jacob can’t change her into a werewolf too.

2.     Jacob would imprint.

Another downside to the Jacob and Bella relationship is that eventually, like the rest of his furry brothers, Jacob would imprint. It might not be right away, he might have to wait for her to be born as with the case of Renesmee. But we’re assuming Bella doesn’t stay with Edward so the example should be Quil and Claire. That’d leave Bella alone… Jacobless and Edwardless, which would never work.

3.     Jacob is too pushy.

Edward has his faults, but Jacob’s pushiness makes Bella extremely uncomfortable. She can’t handle it and she doesn’t like it. If a fist in the face doesn’t bring home these facts to Jacob, he’s clearly clueless and will continue in said pushy behavior (as he does in Eclipse manipulating a kiss at the end of the novel) until he ultimately pushed Bella too far and eventually away.

4.     Jacob is beyond reckless.

He’s not worried about his life and safety and takes unnecessary risks. It might be thrilling at first, but over the long haul it’s not what Bella’s looking for. If you look at his behavior at the end of Eclipse you can see where his foolishness gets him – critically hurt and even then he doesn’t take it seriously. Bella would be constantly looking out for him in a manner similar to how she looks after her parents. She needs someone like Edward who’s willing to tone down his wildness and to act like an adult.

5.     Jacob doesn’t get it.

Love means something else to him than it does to Bella and he simply doesn’t get it. He’s in the middle of puppy love, not adult love when it comes to his feelings for Bella. Why else would he run off and face down a hoard of Newborns instead of staying with Bella when she clearly doesn’t want him to go?

Conclusion: It’s as clear as the snout on a werewolf’s face that Bella and Jacob never had a shot of everlasting and true love.

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Dear Robert Pattinson

If you dropped in on LRP’s Facebook Fan Page at the end of May, you might remember how I talked about sending Robert Pattinson fan mail – you know to put a crown on my geekiness and fangirl behavior. I haven’t heard back, but I suspect that’s because his people must field thousands a day at a minimum. I promised to share and so here it is:

Dear Robert,

How does one start a letter to someone they’ve never met, probably never will, and is certain said letter will be read by someone other than the person to whom it is addressed? I haven’t the foggiest idea. I suppose one would have to then decide if it was worth writing in the first place and then figure out what one expected from such an endeavor. Of course, a lovely signed photograph would not go unwelcome. On the other hand, if by chance you do in fact read this letter, infinitesimal though said chance may be, it would be wise to start an actual conversation, n’est pas? I could go the route of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail and start such a letter by pretending we were already in the middle of a discussion. Do you like bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils?

All joking aside, I am a fan of your work. In Harry Potter, when you were relatively unknown, I thought you were the cutest actor next to Sean Biggerstaff (I can think of several jokes for that last name). He played Oliver Wood (and again it’s too easy, they must have cast him on purpose for that alone), the Gryffindor Quidditch captain. I was happy to find another guy to crush on in the series – it’s too weird to think of Daniel or Rupert in that way as I’m your age, give or take a few months, and we saw them grow up from age 11. I’m glad you joined another book series franchise; you make the perfect Edward Cullen — I said so even when fans weren’t sure you could pull it off way back in the pre-production stage of the first Twilight film, before the whole thing exploded and gained a mass following.

Speaking of said following, I have always wanted to ask you what you thought of the fame that surrounds you. For the MTV Twitter interview (which frankly didn’t include hardly any Twitter based questions) I asked them to relay the following, “What would you ask or say to Paul McCartney, if you met him?” I think Beatlemania is the only thing that can compare to the mania that follows you when you step outside or show up anywhere. Would you ask him about music? Maybe to play a jam session with you? Or would you swap fan stories (especially about girls) – and would they be ones you both classified horror stories or not? I want to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

Here’s hoping your career will take you even farther and to the success of all your current and future projects both in film and out.

Very Best,

So what do you think and submit your opinion to the poll!

Will Robert show up on my doorstep declaring passionate love for me because of this letter?

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Why I Joined Author Yahoo Groups


by Susan Sigler, guest blogger

Some time ago, Keira asked me if I would share my interest in Yahoo groups with LRP readers. At the time, I promised to add it onto my to-do list. Which by the way, if stretched would circle the earth four times, know what I mean?

There are several reasons I love Yahoo groups, main reason being it matches my interests. Which happen to be my love of reading, a commitment to follow new projects by favorite authors, and to keep up to date on publisher news.

Here’s a list of some groups I belong to: BiancaDArcNews, ciarcullen, Deanna_Jewel_Readers, devynquinn, genashowalter, JLWilsonNewsletter, moirarogers, roxanneserotica, Terry_Spear_News, and theromancestudio.

You can find a group to match almost any hobby or interest. If you enjoy crafting, or you’re a sci-fi movie buff there’s a group for you. Are you a Harry Potter fan? there’s a group for you. Did you like the movie Twilight? there’s a Twilight chat group.

Want to hear more? Keep reading!

  • When an author’s writing their latest novel, he/she may choose to add unedited chapters for your reading pleasure. You’ll read the novel as it unfolds.
  • Members are entered in monthly giveaways, with reader’s choice to the winner.
  • You’ll be the first to know about author blog tours, giveaways, and new releases.
  • There’s the option of emailing or chatting with the author.
  • You can email or chat with other group members who share your interests.
  • Every now and then, author attaches files with free reads, or showcases new cover art of upcoming release.
  • Yahoo let’s you add and remove groups to update your changing needs. Very similar to updating your blogroll list.
  • My groups are listed alphabetically, showing new posted messages, the “number” of posted messages, or if there’s no new activity.
  • Did your favorite author buy a new house? Get a new car, go to Hawaii on vacation, you’ll know.
  • It’s fun!

LRP readers do you belong to any Yahoo groups? Share your Yahoo grouproll with us.

Review: First Love Cookie Club by Lori Wilde

The First Love Cookie Club: Is a club for women who all married their first loves. This year they focus their attentions on Sarah Collier and Travis Walker because although they never dated they’re 100% sure they’re each other’s soul mates due to Sarah’s brave announcement at Travis’ wedding years back. It doesn’t hurt that Sarah is also Travis’ little girl’s favorite author. Must be destiny with that much coincidence!

Favorite Scene: I’ve got to be a nut because my favorite moment in the whole book is learning Sarah’s kismet cookie dream and its subsequent fallout at Travis’ wedding to his now ex-wife. My heart just broke for that fifteen year old girl.

I also thought it was sweet when Jazzy, Travis’ daughter, secretly put kismet cookies under Sarah’s and Travis’ pillows in hopes of bringing them together.

Meet the Heroine: She’s a published author who’s afraid her first novel is a one hit wonder. The extreme success of the Magic Christmas Cookie has left her paralyzed to write more. She’s on her last deadline extension when a request from a sick girl brings her back to Twilight, the home of the worst experience in her life… total abject public humiliation at Travis Walker’s wedding. That day combined with the loss of her Gram, her distant relationship with her parents, and a jerk from college has closed Sarah off from love. She hasn’t risked her heart in so long that the small town friendships and romantic couples surprise her at every turn.

Meet the Hero: Travis Walker was the bad boy in his youth. He ran wild trying to cope with his mother’s death and his father’s withdrawal. Getting his girlfriend pregnant and marrying her in a shotgun wedding was the best thing that ever happened to him. It made him grow up. His daughter is the pride and joy of his life. He’s devoted himself to her and trying to find a way to make her well. And while his wife couldn’t handle Jazzy’s illness and walked away from them, Travis’ heart isn’t closed off.

Recommendation: If you’re a fan of the Ugly Duckling turned Swan theme, love small town romances, holiday romances with miracles.

Do not read: If you don’t do well with kids being sick. The little girl in this book suffers from severe asthma and it lands her in the hospital regularly.

Spoiler: The girl in the story almost dies, and I was actually worried she would despite this being a romance novel which should be happy endings with rainbows and unicorns.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The First Love Cookie Club

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The Twilight Between Two Forces


by Monica Fairview guest blogger and author of The Other Mr. Darcy

Conflict is the bread and butter of romance. Of course, those of you who don’t like butter will probably object, so I’ll say it another way: conflict between a hero and a heroine are like a spark to kindle. Without one or the other, there’s no fire.

Having said that, I can’t say I’m a fan of plots where two people quarrel all the way through the story except in bed, and then, in the last chapter, they realize that their differences aren’t that important, or that one of them was missing some crucial information that he/she needed to resolve their differences. I don’t really think this is about romance. It’s more about two desperate people who’ll take what they can get. You can almost predict their future.

To me conflict has to be about opposition. There is something about the human psyche that hardwires us to deal in opposites, even if we can do this in many different ways. If we look at the ancient Chinese concept of yin and yang, it’s based on opposition: darkness and light, hardness and softness, hot and cold, positive and negative. But the relationship between yin and yang is always moving. It’s not a static, fixed thing. Just as daylight dissolves into twilight, which is neither light nor darkness, but both, so, too, do relationships, which aren’t simple oppositions, but are interactive, revolving situations that bring about change and growth.

That, to me, is how conflict in a real romance works. You bring together two people who initially don’t like each other, who are so different that you can’t imagine they could have anything in common, and you allow them to interact, to play the yin and yang game, pulling, pushing, dissolving, standing fast, until one day they find themselves changed. They’ve found that middle ground, and they can now dance around it. When they reach this state, a state one which belongs to neither one nor the other, then they can experience love.

other mr. darcy coverWhen I started out writing The Other Mr. Darcy, I knew right away that my characters would not like each other from the first second they met. We already know what Caroline Bingley is like because Jane Austen told us. She is snobbish, given to gossiping and making snide comments, and, as a social climber, she is very much a champion of social rules and all that is proper. The other Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, doesn’t need to climb. He’s a Darcy, with all that this implies, and he can afford to be casual about both his wealth and position. Plus, as an American, his ideas of what is important are very different from those of Miss Bingley, who has had her ideas fed to her ready-made at finishing school. She is Miss Rigid, he is Mr. Floppy. There’s no way on earth this is going to work. And of course they’re going to clash. It’s going to be a huge clash, too. And as long as they simply stay in those positions, they will continue to clash for infinity. And they’ll have to, because they’re stuck.

But it’s a romance, and a romance is different from a Tom and Jerry cartoon where cat and mouse are condemned to that permanent state of enmity. Here is where the yin and yang principle comes into effect. In The Other Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy tries to convince Caroline to set aside her scruples and discover freedom. She tries to convince him that his concept of freedom is false because it doesn’t work in a social context. Slowly, without them noticing it, they both change. He’s no longer Mr. Floppy, go where the wind blows you. She’s no longer Miss Rigid, her ideas carved in stone. They’re both something else, both transformed into some new thing that is a new combination of both. Call it the middle ground. Call it an opening up to each other. Call it love.

Conflict is an essential ingredient in a romance, but only if it is capable of bringing about transformation and change. Otherwise, conflict by any other name is simply a fight.

The Other Mr. Darcy—in stores October 2009!

Did you know that Mr. Darcy had an American cousin?!

In this highly original Pride and Prejudice sequel by British author Monica Fairview, Caroline Bingley is our heroine. Caroline is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet— that is, until she meets his charming and sympathetic American cousin…

Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find the beautiful Caroline weeping at his cousin’s wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it’s nearly love at first sight. But these British can be so haughty and off-putting. How can he let the young lady, who was understandably mortified to be discovered in such a vulnerable moment, know how much he feels for and sympathizes with her?

Buy: The Other Mr. Darcy

Monica Fairview

About the Author

As a literature professor, Monica Fairview enjoyed teaching students to love reading. But after years of postponing the urge, she finally realized what she really wanted was to write books herself. She lived in Illinois, Los Angeles, Seattle, Texas, Colorado, Oregon and Boston as a student and professor, and now lives in London. To find out more, please visit

The 5 Hottest Actors Under 35

(Ordered by Birth Month then Day then Year)

1. Tom Welling

April 26, 1977 (age 33)
Clark Kent – Smallville TV Series

2. Robert Pattinson

May 13, 1986 (age 24)
Edward Cullen – Twilight Saga

3. Daniel Radcliffe

July 23, 1989 (age 21)
Harry Potter – Harry Potter Saga

4. Matt Bomer

October 11, 1977 (age 32)
Neal Caffrey – White Collar TV Series

5. Zac Efron

October 18, 1987 (age 22)
Troy Bolton – High School Musical Trilogy

Things they share in common? Besides my love for them? Dark hair, light eyes, and super fine everything else. Here’s a towel to wipe your drool.

Showtime: Who is hottest?

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