Book to Movie: Fifty Shades of Grey

Some things are embarrassing to admit.

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Reading Fifty Shades of Grey was, for me. I bought it at one point because everyone else was reading it. A while after I got it, a friend of mine began raving about the whole trilogy and ‘how awesome’ it was. She couldn’t stop talking. She wasn’t the most literary person I know, but I have to admit it did pique my interest. I picked it up in secret and began reading it. I also wanted to read it before it became a movie. However, the fact that it was a spinoff of Twilight fan fiction didn’t help matters. I’m not 12, and Bella and Edward don’t fascinate it me as much.

It was quite a quick read. It was summer, and the baby used to sleep a lot more during those days (sigh). There’s a picture of me with a glass of frappe in hand, lying on the couch in our garden in my nightdress, reading the book. I enjoyed it that much.

I thought it was a great fairy tale. A modern Beauty and the Beast, maybe. Poor, not especially beautiful college graduate meets a multimillionaire. Even though she doesn’t do anything fascinating, he falls for her. All she does it be herself. She isn’t impressed with his many riches and perks, but just his pretty face, his major hotness and his very mysterious air. However, there’s a catch. He’s into kinky stuff. Very kinky stuff. He’s not looking for a girlfriend. Oh no. He’s looking for someone who will succumb to his every desire and sign a weird contract. He only wants a sex partner (shock).

There are tons of little things you can say about each and every thing Grey does. Lots of criticisms about the believability of this plot line. But that’s not what this reads like. It’s actually quite sweet at times. I especially love all the bits leading up to their first kiss. The photo shoot. The coffee shop. The elevator scene. I know everyone will remember the elevator scene. It might be the best bit in the book. I loved that he kept dazzling her parents and they just couldn’t see he was actually pretty messed up inside.

I have a confession to make. I actually cried once while reading this book. It was the bit after she goes home after they do kinky stuff and feels guilty about enjoying herself. I felt so sorry for her. What are the chances of a girl like that finding a sadist (was the the technically correct word? I don’t even know. I don’t really care)? I actually had tears in my eyes. I also felt really bad about the ending, but knew it wouldn’t be the end of them. I was right. Duh.

Of course, there are things that bugged me, and I’m sure it bugged a lot of people. The mention of how rich Grey is on every freaking page. Okay, we get it. He’s so rich he has a helicopter. He’s so rich he earns, what, 100.000 dollars a minute (I think?). He’s so rich he has this huge apartment. He’s so rich he’ll buy the company you work for just so your boss will have to answer to him. He’s so rich he’ll dazzle you with beautiful clothes that cost your yearly wage (and he’s so smart he’ll know your size just by looking at you). Also, not only he’s so rich but he’s also very handsome. The waitresses actually stammer when they see him. He’s so handsome he actually did it with an old lady when he was a teenager (yuck).

While we’re on that subject, the Mrs. Robinson bit also didn’t sit well with me. It actually made a lot of sense, he explains it, says that she helped him through a rough time. He says she saved him from himself. She hurt him during sex (or whatever they do when they are together) so he wouldn’t hurt himself. But Anastasia just doesn’t get it. She talks about it consistently through the book, and also the second book.  She’s quite thick at times.

The overuse of ‘Laters, babe’? I know I’m not alone in this. The first one was funny alright, but not the subsequent fifty times (funny, I just said fifty). Also the way he keeps ‘You have to eat, Ana.’ Gawd. I cringed every time I read it. He force-feeds her through the whole book. Just let her be, man. Not everyone can read so much and maintain a gorgeous body like you can.

Oh, the sex scenes. People kept saying it was trash because they had unconventional sex. I wasn’t a major fan, but I didn’t think it was worthy of skipping. They were tastefully done for what it is. I don’t even remember them anymore. However, I agree that they are way too much. Way too often. Every 10 pages there’s explicit content. It gets tiring after a while. If you took out the sex scenes, the book would be 150 pages. I can say the same thing about the flirting. They flirt all the time. The energy kids have nowadays.

I gave the book 4 stars. Because I think it deserved it for what it was- a Twilight fan fiction twist off. I wouldn’t read it again, and I wouldn’t buy it and gift it to friends and family, but it was quite enjoyable. So I was ecstatic when the trailer came out. The trailer looked good. Anastasia looked perfect for the role, and Grey looked alright. I do think I’d prefer Ryan Gosling. I read somewhere that Charlie Hunnam was cast and actually started filming, but had to quit due to scheduling conflicts. That’s quite a bummer. I’ve really liked him in Nicholas Nickleby (I just Googled him, and he has to lose the beard, like, today). But Jamie Dornan looked alright. He was in some TV series I wanted a couple of episodes of, Once Upon a Time, and I kind of remember him.

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I couldn’t go see it right away. My 16-year-old cousin did. There were tales of groups of middle-aged women going to see it in the afternoons. The whole theater sighing at key moments. Actual clapping when we see Grey for the first time. At the same time, there was all this talk about it being a horrible movie. It actually got 4.1 stars from IMDB, 1.2 stars lower than Are You Here, the worst movie I’ve seen in 2015 (or this millennium). So I saw it with quite low expectations.

I can see why people dislike it. The main reason, in my opinion, is that the trailer is amazing. You go into it thinking they have done an amazing job transferring the greatness (really, that’s the best word I can come up with?) of the book to the movie. But it doesn’t really work. All the things that bugged me about the book, like the way Grey is rich or the girl is way too naive etc, are multiplied in the movie. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, and all the scenes I remember are from the trailer. And that’s saying something with all the sex scenes that are supposed to be ‘shocking’. However, I don’t think it’s as bad as people crack it up to be. I believe the reason people really dislike it is because the perfect Grey and Anastasia they have pictured in their heads are not the ones they see on the screen. That might be said about a lot of book to movie adaptations, like Harry Potter. But in a story that has so much to do with chemistry, the casting becomes very important. I read somewhere that Clark Gable didn’t want to star as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind because he said people loved Rhett Butler and he might not meet expectations. In that case, Clark Gable was amazing as Rhett Butler (I’m cheating, I haven’t read the book, but the movie was great). I think Jamie Dornan can say that same thing. Grey was such an unbelievable character that you just don’t buy it when you see him in the flesh.

I don’t really rate movies, but I guess I’d give it something like 5 stars.

I have a footnote to make here. I have read the second book a while later, Fifty Shades Darker. I know second books in trilogies are supposed to be weak, but this was weaker than weak. Also, I heard it’s being made into a movie. I guess the producers got what they wanted, even if it wasn’t many stars in IMDB.

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The New Fan of Fangirl

Yes! I have read the first book of 2016.

Actually, I have read the first half of the book in 2015, so I don’t really know if it counts. So I didn’t include in my challenge. But I have finished it in 2016, so it is officially my first book of the year.

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The book is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. It was published in 2013 and I’ve been hearing about it a lot since then. It’s a new adult book, which basically means that the protagonist goes to college.

The plot is quite simple. Cath, an introvert dreamer, starts college with her twin sister, Wren. Wren is looking forward to the experience. However, Cath is quite nervous and just has one thing in mind: writing her fan fiction for Simon Snow. Simon Snow is Harry Potter in an alternate universe. Their plots of basically the same- magicians, magic, Voldemort-ilke nemesis, Dumbledore-like headmaster. Her fan fiction, Carry on, Simon, is quite famous among Simon Snow fans everywhere. You can think of it as a gay romance between Harry and Ron, if Ron was an evil vampire. She isn’t looking to make any friends, but her roommate, Reagan and her boyfriend, Levi, slowly get under her skin and change her life.

Though it looks like a classic girl-starts-college-meets-people-aand-falls-in-love book, it actually has some deeper themes. Lots of them, really. Fandom, a writer’s creative process, twins, manic depression, abandonment, independence, anxiety, learning disorders (because I think that’s what it is), friendship, being a freshman, and college life in general. It is realistic, as much as a cute fluffy book like this can be.

I quite liked the book. I loved the first half, and I stopped reading it for a while because I didn’t want it to finish. I picked it up later. I didn’t like the second half as much. I thought some things were not properly concluded. For example, how did Cath end ‘Carry On, Simon‘? I can’t help thinking she didn’t provide an answer to this question because she actually wrote a spin-off.

The characters were awesome. Cath, though annoying to others around her, was really fun to read about. You could basically see her growing throughout the book. I can say the exact same thing about Wren. Levi, of course, basically shines. I also adored Reagan. All the characters were perfectly constructed and came alive. It painted a good picture of college life in the States. At least I think so. I haven’t actually been to college in the States, but it sounded believable.

I gave this book 4 stars, because I think the second half wasn’t as good as the first. And because I’m really stingy with my stars. It also made me want to continue rereading Harry Potter. I think this really calls for a sequel, maybe with Wren as the protagonist. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll write a fan fiction about that. Or not.

 

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Reading Goals for 2016

I love setting goals and resolutions. I don’t necessarily keep all of them, but I like setting them nonetheless. Same with reading. I always set my yearly goal. I am never overly ambitious, so I always keep my goals. Last year my goal was 30 books, I thought I wouldn’t have that much time to read with the baby and all. However, I managed to get 52 books read. This year, I’m going to be bit more specific about my goals. Here they are.

1) The Number of Books: I have set my goal to 40 books. I know I can do better than 30, but I’m not ambitious enough for 50. It turns out babies demand even more of your time as they grow older.

2) The Reading Challenge: I decided to do a reading challenge. I browsed the internet for a little bit, but I couldn’t find one that I really liked. I didn’t want a challenge that would require me to buy a ton of new books. So I decided that simplicity is the best: I’m doing an Alphabet Reading Challenge this year.

This challenge basically means that you get to read a book whose title starts with each letter of the alphabet. I was quite sure I had plenty to choose from just from my own library. I was right. I planned a little bit and set up a shelf on Goodreads. I might change some according to my cravings at that particular moment.

3) Nonfiction Books: I love myself a good nonfiction book. I decided I’m going to read 10 of them this year. I have a couple that I’ve been eyeing, including Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England by Lesley Adkins and Roy A. Adkinds and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.

4) Big Books: I’m kind of scared of big books. I tend to avoid them. I always tell myself ‘I’ll just squeeze this short book before I read something longer’, but I rarely get there. My goal this year is to read 5 books that are 500 pages or more. What I’m planning at the moment are The Far Pavillions by M.M. Kaye, SPQR by Mary Beard and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

These are the four goals I have for 2016. I hope I can keep them, but I won’t be overly sad if I can’t.

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Top Movies of 2015

I like watching movies as much as the next guy. I’m not a movie buff, and I’m not one who analyzes movies from various angles. I either enjoy a movie or I don’t. I don’t like independent movies, long movies, European movies or movies where nothing happens. I like a nice, entertaining Hollywood movie starring beautiful people. So my movie lists may not be the most surprising or the most intellectual. Oh well.

I have watched a sum of 95 movies this year (I only include movies I have not watched before). An all time record. I have identified my top movies, which are as follows:

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The Judge

Ah, The Judge. I was quite scared going into this, because it looked long, dark and intimidating. It was all these things, but excellent. It’s about a lawyer called Hank Palmer who visits his childhood home. His father, a prominent judge, is soon a murder suspect. Both Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall are wonderful. I don’t really think any movie with Robert Downey Jr. could be bad, anyways. This is the best thing I watched this year, goes right to my favorites.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service

This was a blast. Wonderful, action packed movie. It’s about a spy organization set in London, and a totally gruesome global threat. Much like James Bond, but better. Colin Firth and Michael Caine, both who take movies from good to excellent, are amazing. Full of surprises. Also, hilarious.

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The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, who cracks the Germans’ code during World War II. It’s excellent, heartbreaking, and of course, Benedict Cumberbatch is out of this world. A must watch.

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Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

This isn’t a movie, but it is still something I watched in 2015. It’s a documentary based on the book of the same name by Lawrance Wright. As the name clearly shows, it’s all about Scientology. It talks about the founder, L. Ron Hubbard, the current leader, David Miscavige, and of course, Tom Cruise. There are lots of eyewitness accounts. It’s haunting. I couldn’t stop thinking or talking about it. You won’t be able to, either. A must watch.

All in all, it was a pretty great year. I haven’t seen Spectre, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Martian, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay – Part 2, The Intern, Macbeth, and a whole lot of other movies which I know I’d love. But it’s quite difficult – I actually haven’t been to a movie theater since April. So there are a whole bunch of new movies I haven’t seen. They’ll probably be on my top movies of 2016, lagging slowly behind.

 

 

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Best Books of 2015

As I have mentioned in my previous post about reading in 2015, it wasn’t the best reading year. The best moments I had, related to reading of course, (the best moment ever was having my daughter, which wasn’t in the least comparable to reading) was rereading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I have talked more about this previously.

Still, it wasn’t  a year of reading bad books. I have read quite a few good ones. Today, I’ll talk about my top books. They didn’t make it to my Favorites shelf on Goodreads, unfortunately, but they were the best of the lot I read in 2015. They all got 5 stars on Goodreads from me. I’ll say a few words about each, and might talk about them more later, in another post.

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Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I have read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins the year before. I enjoyed it, as far as young adults books go. I tend to dislike young adult books more often than not (though I keep reading them), but that one was really good. I didn’t rush to read the other books she wrote, though.

I started reading this on a long car ride to Istanbul. I was hooked. It’s about a girl named Lola, who loves wearing costumes. She has two gay fathers, and a rocker boyfriend. One day, the family who used to live next door moves back in. She’s devastated because Cricket (the name though) has done something before he moved out the last time and she’s not really over that yet.

This is a really entertaining read, with vibrant characters. I enjoyed it more than Anna and the French Kiss, even though popular opinion is to the contrary. I also think this would make a good gift, since it’s really easy to love.

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How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer

This is the only short story collection I read in 2015. It was highly recommended by Mercedes, from Mercy’s Bookish Musings in YouTube. I decided to give it a read as well.

This collection includes 9 stories that all star young girls of varying ages. They are all very different, and it deals with a wide variety of serious issues including drug use, obesity, cancer, bullying and death. I think it is a very powerful and beautifully written book. It’s not for everyone, but I think most people would think it’s pretty good.

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I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I am by no means alone when I say this is a wonderful book. It is about a girl Cassandra who lives in an old castle with her eccentric family on the brink of poverty. One day their new landlords drop by to change their lives forever.

This is a beloved book of many, so I think it suffices to say that I think it’s worth the hype. Lovable and quirky characters, beautiful writing, quite decent plot. Really enjoyable to read. I think this would also make a safe gift.

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A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk

The latest book by Orhan Pamuk, also considered one of his most approachable, is about a boza seller called Mevlut who witnesses the changes in the city of Istanbul through four decades. It seems like a simple story about the life and loves of a street vendor, but it’s actually the story of Istanbul as it changes through the years.

This is the only book I have read by Orhan Pamuk. I have included the picture of the Turkish version, which is the one I read. It is translated to English now. I don’t know how good the translation is, but since he’s a Nobel Prize winner, I’d think it would be well done. I happen to think it’s excellent, though a lot of people beg to differ. It’s quite an easy read, unlike the other works by the same author.

I’ll probably do separate reviews for these books at some point. They all warrant their own blog posts with in-depth discussion. But for now, here are the other books I gave 5 stars to on Goodreads. Here they are:

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: Franky, I was embarrassed to include this in my top books. But I found it fascinating, young adult at its best. It’s about a girl called Lara Jean who writes love letters to her crushes as closure, and one day they get sent out. It’s very well written, and Lara Jean is such a sweet character, though you can’t help getting annoyed with her at some points. You’ll love the love interest. It’s quite surprising, which is something quite rare in young adult books. I can’t wait to read the sequel, and I hate that it left on a cliffhanger.
  • Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson: I do love a good road trip book. This is such. Amy has recently lost her father and she’s also moving across the country. Her mother arranges for a family friend’s son, Roger, to drive with her. It’s really entertaining, like most road trip books are. I don’t think it’s as good as Saving June by Hannah Harrington but I quite enjoyed it.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg: I really like books that are set in the South. It is told by Evelyn, who’s in a nursing home. She talks about the people who run the Whistle Stop Cafe, and people who are somehow tied there. The plot is thick, and there are secrets abound. It’s very good. I’ve seen the movie years ago, and I remember liking that as well.
  • City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments 3) by Cassandra Clare: I loved how things got solved. This was written as the conclusion, however things somehow continued on to three more books. It reads like a final book of a trilogy, and a very well written one. I like this world by Cassandra Clare, the Shadowhunters and their Voldemort-like bad guy, Valentine. I think the TV series is coming this month, so I really have to hurry up and finish the whole series.

This is it for my 2015 favorite reads. An honorable mention goes to Cross Stitch (Outlander 1) by Diana Gabaldon. I really enjoyed it, but I had to give it 4 stars because it was so thick.

 

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Reading in 2015

I looked at my 2015 list in Goodreads and it turns out I have read a total of 52 books this year. I think that’s really good, since I had a lot less time to read this year. Here are some stats:

  • 11 of them were in Turkish. (2 of these were translations)
  • 7 of them were nonfiction. (3 of these were baby related)
  • 10 of them were young adult.
  • 3 of them were rereads. I decided to read the Harry Potter Series and watch the movies afterwards. I’m also rereading the Princess Diaries which I have never finished anyways.
  • 11 of them were part of a series.
  • 3 of them were kids-lit. Or middle grade. I never know what to call these, since I rarely read these.
  • I have finished one series- Divergent by Veronica Roth.
  • 8 of them I found really dismal.

I have to say this wasn’t the best reading year for me. I enjoyed some of them quite a lot, and I will write about them soon, but none of them were what I’d call ‘the best book I ever read’. I have now seen that I have read so little nonfiction. I love nonfiction. I don’t know why I haven’t read much.

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I think the best part of my year was rereading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was so enjoyable, like coming home again. Visiting somewhere you love. Seeing people you’ve missed. It was the best reading experience of 2015, by far. I’m so glad I decided to reread the series. It’s been years since I read them. I never reread them, since I’m not a big rereader, but now I see why people keep reading these. I’ve missed Dumbledore immensely. He’s my favorite character, in any book I’ve read so far. I think he might be perfection. What’s interesting is that I started reading it, and on the same day, I found out about the illustrated version. It had come out on that day. I didn’t get it yet. I don’t know if they’ll continue on doing the whole series, but if they do, I’d love to buy them as a set for my daughter, Selin. However, I’d prefer if she read a non-illustrated version first, just use her imagination first.

Anyway. That’s all I read in 2015. I’ll do more in depth blog posts about my favorites, the ones that I really enjoyed and the ones I really didn’t.

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Revamping the Blog

I have always thought of myself as a decent writer. Not of books or something substantial like that, but I can put words together to make sentences or even paragraphs. But it turns out I’m a horrible blog writer. Since it seems like I write a blog post a year. And it turns out I skipped last year, so the last entry dates back 2 years. Wow. I was fairly busy for the last year, being pregnant and having a baby and all, but still, I could take half an hour a year to write my annual blog entry. But oh well. No use of crying over that now.

This year, when I was making my resolutions (to be kept, for sure) I wanted to include the blog as well. I thought to myself: ‘What do I like?’ or more like, ‘What can I talk about?’. I like watching YouTube videos and reading blog posts about 1) Books 2) Cooking 3) Makeup. I guess I can try talking about these subjects. I’m not a very imaginative cook, I like following recipes exactly, so this blog is not fated to be the food blog of the year. But we’ll see how it goes. I will try writing more about any subject that interests me.

 

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