Saturday, April 27, 2013

50 Shades of Confusing

Yup, you read that title right folks, I'm going to be reviewing, you guessed it, the infamous 50 Shades of Grey.
Now, I know this book has been read and reviewed to death, but I picked it up recently (why oh why do I do these things to myself?) and I thought I'd put my 2¢ in. And well, here goes:


Fifty Shades of Grey
by E. L. James

As you might have guessed from the title of this post, I have very mixed feelings about this book. I'll admit that I picked it up because I was excited/eager to see just how terrible it was. And the first few chapter were indeed terrible. I decided that I was going to take notes, chapter by chapter and then analyze them later.
I made it to chapter 8.
Don't get me wrong, I read the whole thing, but I just couldn't get through 26 chapters of writing out: "Ana gasped again, does she have some sort of respiratory disorder?"

Maybe I should start at the beginning though?



Synopsis:
50 Shades of Grey is about a young girl named Ana Steele who meets and falls inexplicably in love with a rich (read: gazillionaire) single man named Christian Grey. Ana is not only a virgin, she has never been in a relationship before; she's never even been kissed. Christian meanwhile, is heavily into BDSM (as a dom) and wants Ana to enter into a 3 month commitment to be his full submissive, obeying him in every way. He makes it very clear to her that it is his way or the high-way. If Ana wants to have any kind of relationship with this sexy and intriguing man whom she's starting to fall for it has to be on his terms, and she has to sign a contract to do so.


At it's heart, 50 Shades claims to be a romance (and is apparently a "GoodReads Choice Awards Finalist for Best Romance"), and to a certain extent, I suppose it is. Ana & Christian certainly spend enough time dancing around each other, somehow being both coy and oblivious at the same time. So to me at least, that says 'crappy romance novel'.

But are we here to talk about the romance? No, we're here to talk about the sex, and I have to admit, it's HOT. Yes, I used caps-lock for that, it's HOT. Seriously. Despite that fact that the book as a whole is terribly written (more on that later) and the fact that the sex is deliriously implausible (ie. despite being a virgin and having admittedly rough-sex their first time, Ana has multiple orgasms from penetration alone), it's still pretty damn hot. It was enough to get me off (with the help of my ever-trusty Ina 2) several times throughout the course of the book. The last handful of scenes though felt somewhat repetitive  There are only so many times I can read "He flexes his hips, and I gasp, leaning forward..." before it gets a little old.

That actually brings me to the first thing that I strongly disliked about the book. But since I have several, let's go through the list one by one.

Point #1:
The book is repetitive as hell. Ana is constantly gasping, Christian's eyes are described as "smoldering grey" more times than I can count and every other phrase is either "Holy crap" or "Holy shit". Now, I don't mind swearing. I can drop F-Bombs with the worst of 'em, but be a little creative, please! And it's not just the swearing. Most of the dialogue in the book (and the descriptions, and Ana's inner-monologue, and pretty much everything else) is just as repetitive.

Point #2:
Christian is a big time stalker, and everyone seems to think it's sweet and romantic. He buys Ana a phone and a laptop so that he can be in constant contact with her and flies 2,500 miles to see her against her wishes. If one of my friends had a partner who was treating her like this, I'd advise her to get a restraining order. It's really not sweet or romantic, it's creepy and unsettling.

Point #3:
Ana is constantly gasping, squeaking and blushing at the slightest provocation. I can see that this is supposed to be cute and maybe even sexy, but I just find it really annoying. "Gasp, his hand brushed against mine!"*, "He looked at me! (blushing)"*

  • A subset of Point #3: Ana is a complete virgin when she and Christian meet, and she's completely "innocent" as well. To the point where she's never heard the term "vanilla sex" before. Apparently because of this, the things that seem to turn her on seem very strange to me. There's a part in the book where she gets turned on from using Christian's toothbrush because "it would be like having him in my mouth... I feel so naughty. It's such a thrill."

Point #4:
Ana lets absolutely everyone in her life boss her around. She flat out admits that she can't stand it when her roommate Kate tells her what to do, or tries to run her life. But not once does she stand up for herself and say "You know, I'm an adult and I can actually think for myself, thank you very much." This is yet another of her traits that is probably supposed to be endearing, but actually just ends up being bothersome.


I really wanted to say something about the BDSM aspect of the novel, but I just really don't feel qualified to. I am not in any way involved with that "scene", and therefore am not very knowledgeable about it. I'll admit to enjoying a little light bondage now and again, but I really don't get the appeal of a DOM/sub relationship. 
But even from my uninitiated perspective, I can see that the novel portrays a BDSM lifestyle in very mixed ways. 
To Christian, it's just a part of who he is. He is very accepting of that part of his personality; he is comfortable with what he wants out of a partner and is very adept at explaining it to new partners. He does not at all appear to be ashamed of his dominant tendencies.
Ana is a very different story. For most of the book she views Christian alternately as a saint and a monster. She doesn't understand why physically hurting a consenting partner would give him pleasure. She goes so far as to speculate that his "perversions" as she calls them, stem from childhood abuse. She claims that he is not normal, and goes so far as to call him a "fucked-up son of a bitch". 
I can see that this would send very mixed messages to readers wondering what BDSM is all about, and that's one of the things that really bothers me about this book.

Despite those points, and the fact that both the writing style and the two main characters bugged the shit out of me, I couldn't put this book down. I don't know what it was, (maybe the narrative sucked me in?) but I sat down and read this thing in about three sittings. That's fairly unusual for me, as I tend to take my time with novels. 

Like I said, the sex scenes were hot, and the main story line was actually pretty promising. Girl meets boy, girl falls in love but boy has baggage that she must over-come! It's not a bad story line, even though it's been used many times before. It was really just the execution that I found pretty lacking. 

Overall, I'm still not sure what I thought of this book (hence, the title of the post). Would I recommend this book to others? Uhhh... Meh. I was curious about 50 Shades, so I picked it up and read it. Now I know what it's about. If you want to do the same, you're more than welcome to it. I understand that's not exactly a glowing recommendation, but it's not intended to be. I didn't love this book, and thus I can't really tell people that they should run out and buy it. On the other hand, I didn't hate it either. So I'm not going to tell people to skip it. You're all adults (I hope), and are therefore allowed to make your own choices about reading material. 
If you do decide that you'd like to pick up a copy, you can get one from your local amazon.com, your local bookstore (support small businesses!) or even over at edenfantasys.


I feel a little bad about all this though. 
I'm a reviewer, and I'm supposed to give people helpful information so that they can decide if they want to spend hard earned money on a product. But in this case, I'm ambivalent. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is. Didn't love it, didn't hate it. "Meh" just about sums up my feelings on this one.

On the other hand, I'm probably not going to be picking up the next two books anytime soon. Take from that what you will.




Okay, that's it for now. Come back later for more (less ambivalent?) reviews and a "special" post about the month of May!


Laters baby.


*These are not direct quotes, but rather examples drawn from many, many instances of similar lines in the book.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Long-Awaited Luna Beads Review

Before we start into this review, I need to clarify some terminology. I am going to be reviewing LELO's Luna Beads. Because LELO calls them beads, I am going to call them beads. This is because I want to be cool and hip, and also because the word "balls" makes me giggle like a 10 year old boy.

Luna Bead Pleasure System by LELO
(Every Woman's Fitness Essential!)

When I first started planning out this review, I decided that I wanted to keep a mini-journal detailing my experiences with the Luna Beads every day that I wore them. Then I would somehow compile those random thoughts and entries into one comprehensive and hopefully coherent review. So organized!
Well, I wasn't exactly as organized as I had hoped to be, but I did journal about my experiences with the Luna Beads, and I'm going to share those experiences here with you nice folks.

But first, some basics:

Like all of LELO's products, the Luna Beads come in a gorgeous and sturdy box that can easily be used for storage, even if discreetness is a concern for you.
The beads (all four of them) are made out of plastic, which is a non-porous, phthalates free material. The set also includes a silicone harness that is used to holster the beads when wearing more than one at a time.

Beads in their original packaging 
I've been cleaning my set by taking whichever beads I used out of the harness and washing the whole thing down with soap and water. You could also use an antibacterial toy cleaner or spray.
LELO claims that the plastic beads have undergone a process called "ultrasonic welding" and therefore they can be boiled to be 100% clean. However, I've heard that a few people had their beads open up slightly after boiling, so this isn't a cleaning method that I will be attempting myself.

How about some stats?

The main feature of the Luna Bead Pleasure System (and its main selling point) is that it comes with 2 sets of beads. The pink set is supposedly for beginners, and the blue set for those already (or soon to be) used to kegel exercises.
Each bead comes with a little weight inside of it that rattles around when you shake them up. When worn, these beads not only add weight (and therefore increase the amount of exercise you're getting in) but they add an interesting vibrating sensation as well. And (at least in my experience) you can really feel the vibrations too! I mean, these aren't earth-shattering orgasm inducing type vibrations, but they are noticeable and I quite enjoy the sensation. 

See the little weight? Isn't it cute?
The pink beads weigh about 28 grams each, and the blue beads weigh ~37 grams a piece. That's 1oz and 1.3oz respectively. The point here is that you can start out with a single pink bead, and work your way up to using both blue beads at a time to strengthen your PC muscles.
The beads themselves are on the small side, about 1.25" a piece (but when both are inserted into the girdle the whole contraption totals in at about 3.5").

~ 3.5"
Speaking of the girdle/harness, let me just quickly mention that I do have one tinney little pet-peeve in regard to these beads. They don't fit in the stupid harness the way I want them to! Okay, maybe that's not exactly fair, but it bothers me. The beads themselves have grooves to show you how they are supposed to line up with the harness, but try as I might, I cannot get them to line up 100%. While this really doesn't matter at all for the functionality of the set, it bothers my perfectionism. 

The grooves, they bother me...
Other than that little flaw (which, granted, is my own issue), I'm very satisfied with the beads. Even though I have a set of kegel exercisers (hi SmartBalls!) that I like to think I'm pretty experienced with, I still started off with the single pink bead. It was a bit of a novel experience for me, having only ever used a double-ball set before. And I have to admit that I quite liked it. The single bead was small enough to make insertion a breeze (even without lube), but large enough and heavy enough to be noticeable

At least, it was at first. I wore the single pink bead for several days in a row, and for most of that time I remembered to do my kegels. After a few days however the single bead wasn't really making itself as known, and I switched to 2 pink beads. Again, I was immediately aware of their presence but not in a bad or uncomfortable way. (*a note: the harness did pinch slightly the first few times I wore it. After a bit I realized this was because I wasn't inserting the harness and beads quite far enough. Once they were far enough in, the pinching sensation went away and has not returned*)

After a few days of wearing both pink beads, I switched to a single blue bead and I noticed a difference right away. You wouldn't think that a difference of just 0.3oz would really be that noticeable  but it was. I found myself working a lot harder to keep the bead where it was supposed to be, and subsequently, I got a lot more kegels in per day when wearing the blue bead. Also, maybe it's because the weight is heavier, but I can feel more of that vibration sensation I was talking about when using the blue beads vs. the pink beads.

Very recently I switched to wearing both blue beads, and I'm still loving the way they work. I'm actually remembering to do my kegels! (at least, when I can remember to wear the beads in the first place) Out of all of the beads/combinations, I think that the 2 blue beads are my favorite. Even sitting here typing up this review (which isn't exactly strenuous physical activity) I can feel them rolling around slightly, reminding me that they're there and that I'm supposed to be exercising.

A Summary?

LELO's Luna Beads are a great system for builing up your kegel routine. They provide different weights that can be mixed and matched to suit any level of intensity. A beginner to kegels? Use the pink bead. More advanced? Go straight to 2 blues beads (do not pass GO, do not collect $200).

Like all of LELO's products, the Luna Beads are made out of easy to clean, body safe materials and come with a 1 year warranty.

I would recommend this set to anyone out there who's looking to get into kegel exercises. Because of the variety of the weights they're great for establishing a routine. Even if you're a more advanced kegeler, this can still be a great set for you. I thought I had the whole kegel thing down, until I tried the blue beads. Seriously people, I'm fighting gravity just sitting here!

Want to get a set of your own? You can always pick them up straight from LELO, or you can get them from edenfantasies (you can even use my affiliate link if you'd like). 
The beads retail for about $42.00 US, which is admittedly  a bit pricey. But I'm of the opinion that you don't really want to skimp on sex toys or exercise equipment, and this item just happens to be both!

Happy kegeling! (that's a word, right?)


*Bonus*

Here's a list of some things I did with my Luna Beads In:

Went to a job interview
Got hired for a new job (see above)
Went shopping
Hung out with friends
Watched movies
Exercised (at home and at the gym)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

First Fleshlight

You guuuuuys! Guess what finally came in the mail today!

My very first Fleshlight! The Jenna Haze Lotus (from the Fleshlight Girls line).


Or, rather, my fiance's very first Fleshlight. It took months and months of pleading and begging, but he finally agreed to let me buy him his very first sex toy!

It's not fair, I told him. I've got so very many toys, and you don't have any. He pleaded that he didn't need any. Poor thing. That's what I thought too, before I started buying ALL THE DILDOS.

Anyway, now it's here and it's his and there's nothing he can do about it. I hope that at some point in the future he and I will be able to collaborate on a review of the Jenna Haze Lotus. So keep your fingers crossed, and stay tuned for more coming soon!

(Like my Luna Beads review, which will be up very very soon, I promise!)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I'm Affiliated!

Over the last few weeks some of you might have noticed some changes taking place here at the blog. If so, you're very observant, good for you (no, you can't have a cookie, I ate them all...).

One of those changes is a little banner over at the side of the blog (indirection). It looks like a banner, it smells like a banner, it even tastes like a banner! But what it actually is.... is an affiliate link! Yes, that's right, an affiliate link! And it features the Fun Factory LayaSpot (review coming soon!)

But what is an affiliate link you ask? Good question, you're very smart (but seriously, no cookies, stop asking)! The link allows you to buy products from edenfantasys (toys, lubes, lingerie  whatever your dirty little heart desires), and it allows me to get a small kick-back from that sale.

Full disclosure:  this is a way for me to make some sweet sweet $$$ off of this blog.

But don't worry, you don't have to pay $0.01 extra on your purchase, and in fact, you don't have to purchase anything at all if you don't want to. I won't be hurt, I promise (I'll just be over here in the corner sulking...). On the other hand, if you do feel like buying one of the products I've featured in a review (or anything else, for that matter), I would appreciate it if you'd like to use my affiliate link, because I'll get a small kick-back. And we're talking really small here folks, about 20%. So if you're buying I Love Female Orgasm (which I highly recommend ) for $15.99, I'll get a kick-back of somewhere around $3.20.
In case you can't tell, I'm not really in this blogging business for the money. Sure an extra 3 bucks here and there would be nice, but I'm not going to starve without it, and I don't want any of you to feel pressured to make a purchase.
I just wanted to let you guys know that it's an option, and if you feel so inclined as to use it, that's great. If not? That's totally fine too. I love you folks anyway.

Seriously, big kisses!

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