Category Archives: Book Reviews

Scarlet: This sure isn’t your typical Little Red Riding Hood retelling (My thoughts on book #2 in The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer)

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Now that I’ve finished reading and reviewing Emma Chase’s Legal Briefs series (Overruled, Sustained, Appealed), I’ve decided to read and review the rest of the Lunar Chronicles basically back-to-back-to-back. Admittedly, I originally thought about doing that when I read and reviewed Cinder back in January, but I ultimately decided to hold off on doing that since I wanted to do the same thing with the Legal Briefs series; that being said, here are my thoughts on Scarlet.

 

Right off the bat, I have to admit that while I loved Scarlet, this book ended up being very different from the way I was expecting it to be. I was really expecting the titular Scarlet Benoit to be featured in this book front and center with her being the protagonist of the book, and Wolf basically being the co-lead character of the book. However, this book ultimately ended up feeling like more of an ensemble piece than anything else. That definitely really took me by surprise as I was reading it.

 

While I’ve always thought that three of the most important tasks that the first book in a series is supposed to accomplish is to introduce the main characters, introduce the premise of the series, as well as establish the status quo for the series; I feel like this book did a much better job of establishing what I can expect from the Lunar Chronicles as a whole. Sure, Cinder did a great job of introducing the characters Cinder, Kai and Queen Levana, as well as various aspects of the series such as how the characters are dealing with the threat of the letumosis plague; but as I said, I was originally expecting each book in the series to focus primarily on a different character, with the characters from the previous books being featured in a rather reduced capacity. However, Scarlet really ended up coming across as an ensemble novel that focused on a variety of characters instead of focusing primarily on Scarlet, along with Wolf.

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Sustained: Emma Chase did it! She topped Tangled! (My thoughts on Book #2 of the Legal Briefs series by Emma Chase)

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If you’ve read my review for Overruled, you’ll know that I said that I thought that it might be very difficult, if not impossible, for Emma Chase to top Tangled when it comes to deciding which of her books is my favorite and how I would rank each of them. The reason I’m bringing this up is because I’m very excited to say that Emma Chase did it. She completely topped Tangled with Sustained, and I definitely think that Sustained is her best book yet. That being said, I’ll admit that perhaps I’m being a bit premature in saying that Sustained is Emma Chase’s book yet since I haven’t read Appealed at this point in time. However, if I had to say which of her books is my favorite at the moment, it would definitely be Sustained; that being said, I’m totally open to the possibility that I’ll end up thinking that she topped herself yet again once I read Appealed.

 

Based on Overruled and Sustained alone, I have to say that I definitely think that the Legal Briefs series is even better than the Tangled series. As much as I love the Tangled series, it’s not without its flaws, and I feel like the quality of the writing for the Tangled series as a whole definitely had its share of ups and downs. Emma Chase’s writing for the Legal Briefs series on the other hand is definitely a lot stronger and better than even her best writing for the Tangled series was, in my opinion. Things that I felt could have been handled better in Twisted and Tied in particular are handled a lot better in the Legal Briefs series.

 

For starters, I’m really glad that she switched back and forth between Stanton and Sofia’s points of view throughout Overruled instead of writing most of the book from one character’s point of view and then suddenly switching to a different character’s point of view towards the very end of the book for the epilogue like she did with Twisted. Plus, as I said in my review for Overruled, I thought that Stanton’s dislike of JD was much more understandable and easier to sympathize with than Drew’s dislike of Billy was after Tangled. If you ask me, the resolution of Stanton’s issues with JD was also handled a lot better than Drew’s hatred towards Billy was resolved in Tied.

 

When it comes to Sustained, there really is a lot to love about this book, and it’s honestly kind of hard for me to know where to start when it comes to talking about what I love about this book. For starters, one thing that I’ve always felt that Emma Chase really excels at when it comes to her books is being able to pretty much instantly get the readers interested and invested in the story right off the bat. Whenever I’ve read one of her books, I’ve always been able to get invested in the story within the first few paragraphs, if not the first few sentences of the book, and that was definitely the case with this book. It’s definitely a good thing that Chase’s books aren’t the kind of books where the reader has to power through approximately 50 or more pages before the story finally starts to get interesting, especially considering the fact that her books are all less than 300 pages long. That’s something I’ve really come to appreciate about Chase’s books since in addition to all of the books that I’ve reviewed in roughly the past three to four months, possibly longer than that, I’ve also been reading the book The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert so I can review it as well. I’m currently seventy pages into the book, and I’m just now finally starting to get into the book.

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Nothing says “romance” quite like two people pretending to be engaged to each other (My thoughts on Big Rock by Lauren Blakely)

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At the risk of starting this review on a bit of a tangent, I have to say that my overall experience with reading the book Big Rock by Lauren Blakely was radically different from my experience with reading Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling’s Career of Evil. What made my experience with reading Big Rock so different from my experience with reading Career of Evil is the fact that as I talked about in my review for Career of Evil, I started out absolutely loving the book and thinking that it was perhaps the best book yet in the Cormoran Strike series, only to eventually become very frustrated with the book at times the more I read it, and eventually I came to the conclusion that it’s my least favorite book in the series. When it comes to Big Rock on the other hand, I instantly fell in love with the book as soon as I started reading it, and I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end. I actually loved Big Rock so much that I ended up listening to the entire audiobook version of the book in less than a day. I just couldn’t bring myself to stop listening to it until I finished the book.

 

That being said, as much as I loved Big Rock, it’s definitely far from perfect, if you ask me. As far as I’m concerned, this book’s single greatest flaw is that it definitely felt rather cliché and lacking in originality in a lot of ways. The entire time I was reading this book, I kept thinking that Lauren Blakely isn’t really offering anybody anything truly new with this book. As I was reading Big Rock, I kept thinking that this book is very similar to a lot romantic comedies that I’ve watched over the years, namely Just Friends and The Proposal, as well as numerous romance novels that I’ve read over the years, namely Emma Chase’s Tangled series and the first book in her Legal Briefs series, Overruled.

 

For the record, I love both of those movies, and I’m a huge fan of Emma Chase’s books, so it’s not like this book was reminding me of movies and books that I don’t like. This book actually reminded me of a lot of different things that I really love, which definitely made Big Rock a real feel good book for me personally. I simply feel like I do need to acknowledge that this book is rather cliché in some ways. That being said, I imagine that it’s probably very challenging for writers to write books that are a part the romance genre, since the romance genre as a whole is definitely a genre that’s full of clichés that numerous writers use for their books. It’s also a genre that in my opinion is rather lacking in originality when it comes to the premise of the majority of the romance novels that are currently out there, which is why I can’t entirely fault Lauren Blakely for Big Rock being rather cliché in some ways.

 

Speaking of Emma Chase’s books, one of the main things that convinced me to buy the audiobook version of Big Rock and read it is the fact that it’s narrated by Sebastian York, who narrated the audiobook versions of Tangled, the epilogue of Twisted, Tied, and the short stories “Holy Frigging Matrimony” and “It’s a Wonderful Tangled Christmas Carol”. He also narrated the second book in Emma Chase’s Legal Briefs series, Sustained, which is the next book I’ll be reviewing.

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Career of Evil: We’re three books into the series, and Cormoran Strike is STILL down on his luck (Book #3 in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling)

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I’d like to start off this review by saying that I’ve definitely been putting off reading and reviewing Career of Evil for quite a while, not because I didn’t like The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm, I loved both of those books. The reason I’ve been putting off reading Career of Evil is because I found Paula Hawkins’ book The Girl on the Train to be a rather challenging book to review. When I review something, I really like to talk about it in great detail, but since that book is a mystery novel, I was really unsure of how to approach writing a review for it, and it’s definitely the same thing with this book. Books in the mystery genre are definitely one kind of book that I don’t think a person should have a ton of details about the overall plot of the book and especially the end of the book ruined for them before they read it. I’m really going to try and find the right balance between discussing my thoughts on this book, while hopefully not giving too much away in case anybody who reads this review hasn’t read Career of Evil yet; that being said, here are my thoughts on Career of Evil.

 

When it comes to Career of Evil, my overall reading experience with the book was definitely very weird. The reason I say that is because I started out absolutely loving the book and thinking that it had potential to be the best book yet in the Cormoran Strike series, only to have my thoughts on the book to take a turn for the worse the further into the book that I got. I’ll start this review off on a positive note and say that I love that Robin was so personally affected by the case they were trying to solve in this book, which involved an unknown person sending Robin a woman’s leg in the mail, and Strike and Robin trying to figure out whose leg it was and who sent it.

 

Maybe this will sound weird to some people, but reading Career of Evil really made me think a lot about the TV show Desperate Housewives and how the season mysteries were the most interesting when at least one, if not all of the women, were involved with the mystery in some way. In my opinion, the show definitely suffered in season two due to the fact that the whole mystery with Betty Applewhite was so completely splintered off from the show’s core housewives for the most part, but I digress.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I loved The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm, and neither Strike and Robin were all that connected on a personal level to the cases in those books. However, having Robin be so connected to the case they were trying to solve in this book really contributed a lot to my enjoyment of the book. It also gave Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling the chance to really continue to develop Robin as a character even more in this book. Robin definitely has a very sad past when it comes to the fact that it was revealed that Robin was raped when she was in college, which subsequently led to her developing a case of agoraphobia and leaving college. That whole reveal definitely helped me to understand Robin as a character even more than I did before. I also found Strike’s reaction to this reveal and how it impacted their relationship throughout the book rather compelling, especially in terms of the drama that it caused between them.

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Cinder: Get ready to see the story of Cinderella like you’ve never seen it before (My thoughts on book #1 of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)

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Let me start off this review by saying that much like Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Cinder is a book that I’ve wanted to read for a very long time. Thankfully, it didn’t completely disappoint me like Divergent did. I’d even say that Cinder actually exceeded my expectations. That being said, I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t aware of the fact that Cinder is the first book in a series called The Lunar Chronicles until very recently when I saw reviews for the third book in the series, Cress, and a review for the fifth and final book in the series, Winter, on one of my favorite book review channels on YouTube, Bookables. With that said, here are my thoughts on Cinder.

 

One of the reasons why I’ve always wanted to read Cinder is because I’ve always been a huge fan of retellings or “reimaginings” of fairy tales. I love the movie Hoodwinked, but admittedly I still need to see Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil. I’m also a huge fan of the TV shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm. Much like those examples of fairytale retellings, Cinder is an awesome new take on the story of Cinderella. Another reason why I love this book so much is because I’m also a fan of science fiction books, TV shows, and movies. This story definitely contains some elements of science fiction given the fact that the character Cinder is a cyborg and people apparently live on the moon in the Lunar Chronicles world.

 

Linh Cinder, who’s usually simply referred to as “Cinder” in the book, is a very fun and likable character. I love how she really has a tendency to be sarcastic. At the same time, she’s definitely a character that has a lot of heart and compassion for others, despite the fact that her stepmother, Linh Adri, and her stepsister, Linh Pearl, are both quite mean to her. Cinder clearly cares a lot about her other stepsister, Linh Peony, who was also a great character. I was definitely very sad about the fact that Peony died after she contracted the letumosis plague.

 

The interaction between Cinder and Dr. Erland as they worked together throughout the book to try and find a cure for the letumosis plague was a lot of fun to read, and one of my favorite aspects of the book. I’m really hoping that Dr. Erland will be featured in the other books in The Lunar Chronicles series in some capacity. The fact that the citizens of New Bejing were dealing with the threat of a plague definitely added a really interesting element to the story and created some very compelling drama in the story as well, with Peony and Prince Kai’s father, Emperor Rikan, sadly both dying from the plague.

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Entwined with You: Oh, for the love of God! Do Eva and Gideon ever stop having sex? (My thoughts on Book #3 in the Crossfire book series by Sylvia Day)

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Let me start off by saying that I really went back and forth on trying to decide when I would read and review Sylvia Day’s Entwined with You since it was a book that I was very interested in reviewing given the fact that I had already reviewed Bared to You and Reflected in You, I really enjoyed them, and my reviews for both of those books have gotten a lot of page views. Plus, it has been somewhat of a goal of mine to review both this book and the fourth book in the Crossfire series, Captivated by You, by the time the fifth and final book in the series, One with You, is released on April 5th. That’s definitely going to be coming up before we know it, so I decided to go ahead and listen to the audiobook version of Entwined with You this past weekend; that being said, here are my thoughts on the book.

 

Right off the bat, I have to say that while my feelings about Reflected in You were definitely mixed, my feelings regarding Entwined with You are very, very, very mixed. One of the things that bothered me the most about Reflected in You is the fact that there was so much drama and angst going on between Eva and Gideon in that book, and the story itself was rather lacking when it came to there being truly happy and romantic moments between them, which really made me question whether or not I should actually be rooting for Eva and Gideon’s relationship to work out. Fortunately, I feel like Sylvia Day did a somewhat better job of including, or least trying to include, enough moments between Eva and Gideon in Entwined with You that showed me why I should root for them as a couple.

 

While I do think that Sylvia Day does a better job of showing why the reader should be rooting for Eva and Gideon in this book, reading this book makes me think that Day’s idea of including lots of happy moments between Eva and Gideon in the books is to have them have lots and lots and lots of sex with each other, all the time. Reading this book made me feel like when Day was writing this book, she must have thought about the expression “sex sells”, and decided to cram as many sex scenes into this book as she possibly could, and just went completely super duper ultra mega overboard with how much sex is featured in this book. I get that the Crossfire series is considered erotica, but I still think there needs to be an actual plot and some subplots as well in erotic novels. Sure, there were definitely quite a few sex scenes in Bared to You and Reflected in You, but there were still plenty of clearly defined plots and subplots in those books.

 

When it comes to Entwined with You, I feel like there are so many sex scenes in this book that it kind of feels like the concept of having a clearly defined plot for the book was sacrificed as a result of there being so much sex in this book. I’m kind of tempted to make jokes about how trying to describe the overall plot of this book is a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack, but I think that would be a bit of an exaggeration. If I had to say what the plot of this book is about, I’d say that this book mainly focuses on Eva and Gideon trying to move past what happened in Reflected in You, with Gideon killing Nathan so he wouldn’t be able to hurt Eva again. However, their entire plan for how they would gradually publicly get back together seemed awfully convoluted to me.

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Overruled: Good news, Everybody! Emma Chase is back with a new book series, and I couldn’t be happier. :) (My thoughts on Book #1 in The Legal Briefs series by Emma Chase)

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Right off the bat, I have to say that I really wish that I had read Overruled a lot sooner. I got it on Amazon as soon as it was released back in April of 2015, but I didn’t read it until now. That being said, I loved this book so much that I ended up listening to the entire audiobook version of Overruled in less than a day when I read it this past Tuesday. I immediately got sucked into the story, and I quickly became determined to finish the book before I went to bed that night. I’ve seen a number of people who do book reviews on YouTube describe various books as being “book crack” before, and I’d definitely say that this book was definitely “book crack” for me. A line that I’ve used in the past to describe my enjoyment of various books is, “This book is more addictive than cigarettes”, and this is definitely a book that I would use that description to describe what I thought of it.

 

Emma Chase has definitely become one of my favorite authors, and one of the main reasons why she has become one of my favorite authors is due to the fact that a lot of her books are written at least partially, if not entirely, from the guy’s point of view. That’s one of the reasons why I say Chase’s writing has often felt really fresh to me. Writing romance novels from the guy’s point of view isn’t something that I saw writers doing with romance novels until I discovered Emma Chase’s Tangled series. I’ve been a huge fan of romance novels for years, but there’s no denying that it’s a genre that’s full of clichés and is rather lacking in originality. By writing a lot of her books from the guy’s point of view, I feel like Chase is really offering people something new.

 

Being a guy, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I don’t fit the target audience for romance novels, but I still love them. I’ve always been a real sucker for romance novels and movies that are romantic comedies, because I’ve definitely always been a bit of a hopeless romantic. However, when it comes to Emma Chase’s books and the fact that she has written quite a few books from the guy’s point of view, it really makes it easier for me personally to relate the protagonists of her books compared to a lot of the protagonists of other romance novels out there. Plus, I feel like she really does a great job of capturing the way men think with her writing.

 

When it comes to the overall writing for the book, I love this book almost as much as I loved Tangled, which is definitely my favorite book in the Tangled series. If you’d like to read my review for Tangled, you can read that here. That being said, despite the fact that I didn’t like this book quite as much as I loved Tangled, I’m not sure that I would call Tangled “book crack” for me personally. I didn’t get so sucked into it that I decided to devote almost an entire day pretty much just to reading Tangled like I did with this book; that being said, there’s probably always going to be a special place in my heart for Tangled.

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Divergent: I finally read this book, but did it live up to my expectations? Well… (My thoughts on book #1 in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth)

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Let me start off by saying that the Divergent book series is a book series that I’ve really wanted to read and was really excited about for quite a while. I went into reading Divergent full of excitement and anticipation. Unfortunately, I ended up being very disappointed by this book.

 

One of the biggest problems that this book suffers from is a serious lack of world building. As I was reading this book, I kept waiting and hoping for Roth to provide some backstory for what happened that prompted their society to develop the social structure that they have with the five different factions: Abnegation (The Selfless), Dauntless (The Brave), Erudite (The Intelligent), Amity (The Peaceful), and Candor (The Honest). Also, how was it decided what the core values of each faction would be? There are some vague comments throughout the book about a war that happened at some point in the past, but it’s never fully explored or explained.

 

As I said in my reviews for Abigail Barnette’s books First Time (Ian’s Story) and First Time (Penny’s Story), it really bothered me that Barnette didn’t really provide a truly good explanation for why Penny had been waiting to lose her virginity in “Ian’s Story”. The explanation for that part of Penny’s backstory that was given in “Penny’s Story” ended up being very stupid and rather vague, which led to it also being incredibly frustrating and disappointing. I mention that only because much like the lack of a good backstory and explanation for something that played a huge role in the story hurt both versions of First Time, the lack of world building, backstory and depth behind each of the five factions really hurts Divergent as a whole.

 

Unfortunately for Divergent, the writing suffers a lot more due to its lack of backstory and world building since the book’s biggest flaws have to do with the key aspects of the story rather than being things that would be easier to forgive when it comes to any weaknesses that a story may have. Personally, I think the existence of good world building and thoroughly establishing backstory is especially important in books involving elements of fantasy or societies that are very different from the society we live in today. If an author neglects to give their characters and the plot a good and well written backstory, then the book really faces an uphill battle when it comes to being able to impress and entertain people, in my opinion.

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Thankfully, sometimes curiosity doesn’t kill the cat (Follow-up on “The Wonder Garden” and my thoughts on “Afterglow” by Lauren Acampora)

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Before I get into my review of the third short story in The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora, which is “Afterglow”, I want to address a mistake that made in my review for the second story in the book (The Wonder Garden). Someone left a comment in the comment section of that review, saying that I had misunderstood the story when it came to the part about Noah saying that he was adopted. For some reason, I originally didn’t realize that Noah had been lying when he told Nayana that he was adopted. Admittedly, I was pretty bored for most of the story, so by the time that I got to the end of the story, I was definitely having an extremely difficult time paying attention to the story. I’m really sorry for getting that part of the story all mixed up and confused when I talked about it in my review. I usually try to be careful about making sure that I get the details of a book or TV show right when I review them, so I feel really bad about making that mistake.

 

That being said, I went back and read “The Wonder Garden” again before I read “Afterglow”. While I’m very sorry for the mistake that I made in my review, I still stand by everything else that I said, as well as the score that I gave the story (5 out of 10) though. I still think that the story is all over the place and very unfocused. When I read it the second time, I still couldn’t tell what exactly Lauren Acampora was trying to do with that story. I feel like she wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted the story to truly be about. Having read it twice, if I had to guess what the point of the story is, it’s to show that Rosalie is determined to overcome whatever adversity life throws at her and stand tall in the end, but I could be wrong about that. I have to admit that when I was reading the story again after reviewing it back in June, I found myself thinking that Rosalie was rather annoying and sanctimonious throughout the whole story; with that said, here are my thoughts on “Afterglow”.

 

Right off the bat, I have to say that I absolutely loved “Afterglow”. The story was definitely a huge improvement over “The Wonder Garden”, and I’d go as far as saying that I liked it even more than I liked the first story in the book, “Ground Fault”, and I really loved that story. I should probably mention that I recently bought the audiobook version of The Wonder Garden on iTunes, which wasn’t available back when I originally discovered this book, so I bought copy of the actual book at that point. Now that I have the audiobook version of The Wonder Garden, I decided to just go ahead and start listening to it from the beginning rather than skipping over “Ground Fault”. I’m really glad that I didn’t skip over listening to it, because I loved “Ground Fault” even more than I did when I read it the first time months ago, but I digress.

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Fifty Shades of Grey: If you haven’t already figured out that this book was a originally a Twilight fan fic, this chapter should convince you (My thoughts on Chapter 3)

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Let me start off by saying that I’ve really been meaning to get back to doing blog posts on each chapter of Fifty Shades of Grey, but I’ve clearly been putting that off for quite a while since I posted my commentary on chapter two way back in March of 2015. This is due to several reasons. For starters, I don’t want to buy the audiobook version of the book, and it’s really become a challenge for me to discipline myself enough to sit down not just read this book, but any book for that matter. That’s pretty much the whole reason why I’ve really gotten into audiobooks these days. Listening to audiobooks allows me to “read” books while I do jobs around the house, run errands, which also involves me having to ride the city bus and walk a lot since I don’t drive, etc. Plus, I’ve never been a very fast reader to begin with, and listening to audiobooks enables me to “read” books relatively quickly. Anyway, I pretty much spontaneously decided to read chapter three of Fifty Shades of Grey and write a blog post on it since I had the day off from work this past Sunday, which hasn’t happened in quite a while; that being said, here are my thoughts on chapter three of Fifty Shades of Grey.

 

Right off the bat, I have to say that I was waiting until I read this chapter and was ready to comment on it to discuss the fact that Ana blushes at the drop of a hat. I always thought that it was a really ridiculous quirk for Ana to have. It doesn’t really add anything worthwhile to the story or anything interesting to Ana as a character and the book as a whole. It’s a very well known fact that Fifty Shades of Grey originally started out as a Twilight fan fic, but as I said in my review of Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephenie Meyer, I haven’t read the Twilight series in years; so I didn’t remember anything about it being established that Bella had a tendency to blush a lot. That originally led me to believe that E.L. James had added the whole thing with Ana having the tendency to blush at the drop of a hat in an attempt to “make the character her own” when she decided to take her Twilight fan fic (Master of the Universe) and retool it as the Fifty Shades trilogy. However, after reading Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, which is a gender swap of Twilight, it’s clear to me now that James didn’t add the whole thing about Ana having the tendency to blush a lot when she retooled “Master of the Universe” as Fifty Shades of Grey. I think it’s pretty safe to say that James got the whole idea for Ana’s tendency to constantly blush from Twilight, too. I say this because it turns out that I had forgotten that Bella blushes a lot in Twilight, and Beau, the male equivalent of Bella in Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, blushes quite a bit, too.

 

The difference between how James handles it in this book versus how Stephenie Meyer handled it in the Twilight books is that James takes it to the absolute extreme. Stephenie Meyer may be a rather mediocre writer, but at least she didn’t overdo it when it comes to how she portrayed Bella/Beau having that particular quirk. When it comes to how E.L. James handles Ana’s tendency to blush at the drop of a hat, it’s just beyond ridiculous and way too over the top. Kate reacts to seeing Ana blush in this chapter in a way that’s absolutely ridiculous, because her reaction makes it seem like Ana blushing is a rare occurrence, rather than being something that she does practically every five seconds.

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