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  • Jen Harper 3:00 pm on 2015/06/24 Permalink
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    Haven’t read Fifty Shades? 4 Reasons to Start with Grey 

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    You don’t have to fake it with us: We know there are those of you out there who haven’t read the Fifty Shades trilogy yet. And with all the hype surrounding bestselling author EL James’s newest book, Grey, perhaps you’re thinking it’s too late for you to jump on the Fifty Shades of Grey bondage bandwagon. Never fear—there’s plenty of room in Christian Grey’s playroom for everyone (just don’t touch anything). We’ve got four good reasons you might want to read the dark and brooding Christian’s side of the story before getting Anastasia Steele’s perspective in the Fifty Shades trilogy.   

    You want the male perspective right up front.
    With a large female audience, many romance and erotica novels tend to stick with the woman’s point of view. But maybe you’re ready to mix it up and hear about sex, love, and flogging from the man’s perspective. And quite unlike the naive, virginal Anastasia Steele’s insights, Christian Grey’s brooding, domineering, S&M–loving mind is both dark and enlightening all at once, as you learn how tortured and insecure he really is.

    You’re more black and white—you don’t deal well with shades of gray.
    Christian is almost a total mystery in Fifty Shades of Grey. Why exactly is he so taken with this Anastasia girl? What does he even do to have made all this money? How did he know where Ana worked and when to find her there? And what’s with the no-touching-his-chest deal? Imagine all these questions and a million more, and you’re beginning to see what it’s like to 1) read Fifty Shades as told by Anastasia and 2) possibly be Anastasia herself. Seriously, how does she deal with all the not-knowing?

    You’re a bit of a contrarian.
    You like to eat your dessert first, drink coffee before bed, and wear your sunglasses at night. So why wouldn’t you start with the last-released book in a series? The good news about Grey is that you really don’t have to have read any of the Fifty Shades books to understand the story and its characters.

    You’re still mourning the loss of Midnight Sun, Stephanie Meyer’s never-completed version of Twilight from Edward Cullen’s point of view. It’s no secret the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fan fiction with Christian as a take on vampire Edward Cullen and Anastasia as a version of Bella Swan. And, as any good Twilight fan knows, Meyer had plans to release a Twilight companion novel—the first book in the series as told from Edward’s perspective. However, in 2008 a partial draft of the book, entitled Midnight Sun, was illegally leaked on the Internet. As a result, Meyer didn’t feel she could continue with the book, breaking Twi-hearts around the world. So while we may never get more insight into the mind of Edward, we can at least get to know his fanfic alter ego a bit better in Grey.

  • Jen Harper 4:00 pm on 2015/06/23 Permalink
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    4 Reasons You Can’t Miss Grey 

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    It’s been days since EL James’s latest novel, Grey, hit shelves on June 18, and you haven’t devoured it yet??? Perhaps you just enjoy the anticipation of making yourself wait to read it, or maybe you need a little push in the right direction (with a flogger, perchance?).

    Fans have been begging James for this book—a retelling of Fifty Shades of Grey from Christian Grey’s point of view—ever since the release of the first volume in the bestselling Fifty Shades trilogy, which was told from Anastasia Steele’s perspective. And James has definitely delivered. Check out our list of reasons why you can’t miss Christian’s side of the story.

    It’s the ultimate summer indulgence.
    Summer is a time for relaxing in the sun, feeling the sand between your toes, watching blockbuster popcorn flicks at the theater, and reading crowd-pleasing books for pleasure. Books like James’ are called popular fiction for a reason, and she’s giving the people exactly what they want. Have you ever tried to read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment while lounging next to a pool? It’s a stellar piece of literature, but difficult to absorb when the temps are up and the winter clothes are packed away. Now, throw Grey into your beach bag, and follow Christian into the Red Room of Pain. We promise it won’t hurt a bit.

    Everyone else is doing it.
    Yes, we know what your mother always said: “If everyone else was jumping off a bridge, would you?” No, Mom. And we don’t think reading Grey is gateway behavior to bridge jumping. But can millions of people be wrong? The first three books in the series—Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed—have sold 125 million copies, the movie adaptation made $94.4 million in its first weekend alone, and Grey has shot quickly to the top spot on Barnes & Noble’s bestsellers list. So whether you’re reading it because you think it’s fun, sexy, silly, intriguing, or outstanding, you’re in good company while quickly turning its pages.

    EL James wrote this book for you, the fans.
    Grey’s dedication page reads, “This book is dedicated to those readers who asked…and asked…and asked for this. Thank you for all you’ve done for me. You rock my world every day.” This book was a labor of love for the millions of readers who’ve become immersed in Christian and Anastasia’s world and wanted more. So graciously accept your gift and get to reading already.

    Finally, some answers about Christian.
    Dark, moody, alluring, domineering, intimidating—all of these words can be used to describe Christian, but above all else, he’s mysterious. What is he thinking when Miss Anastasia Steele stumbles into his office for the first time? What is it about her that draws him in? What makes him tick? How exactly has Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. made Christian a billionaire? How does he always know where to find Ana? What’s the deal with his dark past? Why is it that his interests are so singular? We can’t promise you’ll get all the dirt on Christian in Grey, but you will at least start to understand the inner workings of this complicated man, and what makes Anastasia so appealing to him.

    Have you read Grey yet?

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 6:08 pm on 2015/06/18 Permalink
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    EL James’s New Novel, Grey, Reveals the Truth About Christian 

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    Although it was just a few weeks ago that EL James announced her newest novel, Grey, would hit stores on June 18, fans have been clamoring for this book—a retelling of the story from Christian’s point of view—ever since finishing the first volume of the bestselling Fifty Shades trilogy.

    A dark, brooding, and maddeningly complex Byronic hero, Christian Grey is the sort of character whose inner workings deserve a closer look. Today, readers get to see what’s been going on behind that controlled and somewhat menacing façade. We tore through Grey as soon as we got our hands on it this morning, and we’ve discovered some surprising twists—and the answer to a few burning questions. Here are five of the most fascinating things we learned about Christian, now that we’ve finally heard his side of the story.

    His life was empty when Ana stumbled into it.
    When we first meet Christian in Grey, he’s suffering from ennui. He fills his days with work, personal-training sessions, and golf (which, amusingly, he appears to loathe). He may be a billionaire, but his wealth and status aren’t making him happy. When Ana tumbles into his office with her dowdy clothes and reserved, skeptical attitude, she’s a breath of fresh air, a welcome reprieve from the bland business associates, gold-digging opportunists, and other sycophants Christian is surrounded by in his day-to-day life. Ana’s meek response to Christian’s intimidating presence initially arouses his interest, but it’s her quick wit and the spark of a challenge he sees in her eyes that really ignites his obsession with her.

    He’s actually pretty thoughtful.
    If you’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey, you know that soon after their first meeting, Christian rescues Ana from a Portland bar after she passes out drunk, and she awakens in his hotel room with a fresh change of clothes waiting for her. It’s fascinating to revisit this scene from Christian’s point of view, because you get a glimpse of the thought behind some of the more considerate gestures he makes toward her. Ana didn’t think much about how Christian managed to get the clothes to her. We now know that they showed up because Christian sent a polite late-night email to his faithful assistant, requesting that he pick up items like: “Blouse: Blue. Pretty. Size 4” and “Converse: Black Size 7.” We also see Christian leaving orange juice and Advil on the nightstand after realizing that Ana is going to wake up with a wicked hangover. A small gesture, but nonetheless a thoughtful one.

    He and Ana have more in common than you might think.
    As confident and self-possessed as Christian is in the arena of business (and also pleasure), beneath the surface, he doubts himself—particularly where his relationship with Ana is concerned. Early in the novel, when Christian shows up at the hardware store where Ana works, he is a mass of conflicting desires and insecurities. Fifty Shades of Grey fans will be amazed to learn that during that scene, while Christian is asking Ana to show him where the cable ties are, he’s thinking things like, “Is she laughing at me?” and “I could just ask her out for dinner. Like on a date? Would she accept?” After reading that scene from his point of view, you’ll see his character in a completely different light—and their romance will make even more sense to you. Christian and Ana get along so well because deep down, they aren’t all that different; they each yearn for love and acceptance on their own terms, and each one wants it desperately from the other.

    He’s not all business, but he is at least some business.
    One common refrain of Fifty Shades detractors was, “How is Christian such a successful businessman? We never actually see him doing any deals!” While we personally were not disappointed by the lack of (unsexy) business dealings in the original novels, since Fifty Shades of Grey is not a legal thriller, Grey does lay this criticism to rest by showing that Christian Grey is, in fact, quite focused on the day-to-day running of his enormous empire. Even while fanatically pursuing a relationship with Ana, he schedules a lot of meetings, takes a lot of calls, and constantly checks his work email. He also drinks some beer, watches some sports, and does some mountain-biking. It’s a little strange getting a closer look at the somewhat ordinary man behind the myth, but it’s a good strange.

    He is troubled by his past.
    No spoilers, but let’s just say that as much as he wants to pretend he’s left his traumatic early childhood behind, he hasn’t. Not by a long shot.

    There’s a lot more to Christian Grey than meets the eye, far beyond what we’ve divulged here. More than a simple retelling, this is a completely different story—one that just might make you fall in love with its protagonist.

    Pick up Grey at your local Barnes & Noble, or download it instantly on your NOOK or NOOK Reading App!

  • Ceridwen Christensen 3:00 pm on 2015/06/18 Permalink
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    7 Scenes We Can’t Wait to Read from Christian’s Perspective in Grey 

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    One of the things responsible for E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey becoming the cultural phenomenon that it did—other than the obvious ones, cough cough—is the voice of Miss Anastasia Steele. She’s so inexperienced and innocent that every encounter she has with the growly and demanding Christian Grey makes her giddy; even hand-holding leaves her heart fluttering (and other activities, forget about it). Christian Grey, though, he’s no dewy ingénue, and undoubtedly his take on the events of Fifty Shades of Grey are liable to be very different. Which means we’re in luck, because Grey, which describes the events of Fifty Shades from Christian’s perspective, is going to be released on the fictional billionaire’s birthday, June 18. It’s going to be fascinating to see some of the exchanges between Ana and Christian filtered through his tortured, Byronic perspective. Here are 7 scenes we’re particularly looking forward to reading:

    The Interview
    From the moment Ana spills clumsily (yet sexily!) into Christian’s office, to the time he ushers her back out the door with a stern admonishment to drive carefully, the opening parlay between Christian and Ana sets the dynamic for the way their relationship unfolds throughout the book. In Fifty Shades of Grey, we all knew Ana was winging it, reading questions given to her by roommate Kate Kavanaugh, but Grey doesn’t until midway through the interview. Then he flips the script on Ana and interviews her. He’s so opaque throughout the interview, filtered through Ana’s naiveté, that we can’t quite tell the exact moment she catches his interest.

    Hardware Shopping
    When Grey turns up in Clayton’s Hardware, where Ana works, he claims he was “in the area,” which sounds like a pretty feeble excuse to me (and, later, to Kate). This is all early still, so we’re curious what rationale Christian comes up with to convince himself to look up where Ana works, and then travel from Seattle to Portland so he can just drop by all casual on purpose. Plus, his shopping cart reads a little serial killery. Was he buying those cable ties and rope to pique Ana’s curiosity, or did he have a more specific use in mind? Oh myyyyy.

    Out to the Bar
    It’s been a while since Christian’s hair-holding days in college (if indeed he ever hair-held, which we find somewhat unlikely), so his ministrations to the drunken Ana might have been a new experience for Christian. Does this unsettle him in any way? He and his brother Eliot get to the bar to rescue a wayward Ana awfully fast, so unlike with the hardware store scene, he really must have been in the area. What were he and Eliot doing in the middle of Portland in the middle of the night? We really hope they were at Voodoo Donuts.

    First Times for Everyone
    People weren’t generally reading Fifty Shades of Grey for the articles, if you catch our drift, and we can’t deny we’re looking forward to witnessing a few intimate encounters from Christian’s point of view. Their initial consummation is certainly not his first time in the sack, like it is the virginal Ana’s, but it’s still a first for him: he’s never really had “vanilla sex” before. Since first times are first times, we’d love to know exactly what he thinks about getting down a little less, let’s say, theatrically.

    The Play Room Doesn’t Have an Xbox
    The first time Christian introduces Ana to the Red Room, where he practices his BDSM, is a fairly serious moment of vulnerability for him, since he’s not sure how she’s going to react. We can’t wait to get a peek behind the scenes to see what he’s thinking during this big reveal.

    Dinner with the ‘Rents
    Ana is, of course, nervous about meeting Christian’s parents, but it’s got to be that much more nerve-wracking for him, since there have got to be a lot of family dynamics that Ana simply isn’t aware of. Also, the pressure is also on Christian to be a boyfriend, not a dom, something he has explicitly said he does not want. Finally, we’d really like to know what he’s thinking when he tries to sneak a hand up Ana’s skirt at the dinner table. Dude, your folks are right there!

    That Last Encounter
    You know the one we mean. We shouldn’t detail things too closely, but of course we want to see the emotional climax of the book. Ana’s emotional reaction in this scene is powerful, and Christian’s is likely to be just as intense, though for very, very different reasons.

    What scene are you looking forward to reading in EL James’s Grey?

  • BN Editors 4:00 pm on 2015/06/17 Permalink
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    4 Reasons E.L. James is a Goddess for Writing Grey 

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    E.L. James’s stunning announcement hit us like a thunderbolt earlier this month: She’s written a new book! And not just any new book, but a retelling of the astronomically popular story of Fifty Shades of Grey, from the point of view of that charismatic, enigmatic billionaire, Christian Grey. And it’s coming out later this very month. While this announcement is exciting for many reasons, here are the four E.L. James is a total goddess for giving us Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told By Christian.

    James appreciates her fans so much she wrote something specifically for them
    She even dedicated Grey to “those readers who asked…and asked…and asked…and asked for this.” There’s something wonderful about an author who goes the extra mile for her fans (who, after all, are largely responsible for her enormous success). Most authors thank their fans and appreciate them, of course, but don’t necessarily take their wishes into account. James is like a rock star playing an encore for her diehard fans—and to our delight, it’s a variation on one of her greatest hits, because she knows that’s the one we want to enjoy over and over.

    She understands books can be crowd pleasers, too
    For a country that has made seven Fast & Furious movies into huge blockbusters, we can be awfully high-minded about our options when it comes to reading material. So, people loved the Fifty Shades novels (many, many people!). They found them sexy, or fun, or silly, or intriguing, or some other combination of enjoyable qualities. All of those things are okay! You can enjoy reading a story because it’s fun and it speaks to you, moves you, or gives you a much-needed escape for awhile. It’s called reading for pleasure, and it can be the best. James understands that, and she’s happy to give us more of what we love, regardless of why we love it.

    She’s in it for the love
    Since selling 100 million copies of her trilogy worldwide, it’s safe to say James is doing all right. Were she so inclined, she could probably retire to a tropical island, rest on her laurels, and never publish another word. So it’s clear that—like other prolific, bestselling authors who continue to write even after achieving astronomical commercial success (J.K. Rowling and Stephen King both come to mind)—James has written another novel because writing is what she loves to do. The fact that Grey was written because James is in love with the characters and the storyline she has created (as she noted in the announcement about it on her website, “It’s been a great pleasure to return to my happy place—writing, being with Christian and Ana in their universe…”) makes us all the more excited to read it.

    She’s not making us wait
    How delightful that James made the announcement her new book would be dropping less than three weeks before it’ll be in our hot little hands. No months of teasing and dropping hints; no making us pre-order and then sit around waiting for half a year. Nope, we’re going to have a brand, spanking (!) new book to read this month. We’ve been waiting for what seems like forever for Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (out July 14!), and J.K. Rowling just announced that Career of Evil, the third novel in the Cormoran Strike series she writes as Robert Galbraith, will be available this October. We’re used to waiting around for our favorite authors’ next books to come out—so when one of them offers us relatively instant gratification, it’s all the sweeter.

    Are you going to read Grey?

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