intense sensations

Archive for the ‘Tepid’ Category

Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3)Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I should be elated. Nora didn’t like the third book in the trilogy at all. But getting her to talk about it was really hard. All she’d say was that the main characters got married and lived happily ever after. (Oh no! I hope I haven’t just spoiled it for you. But there’s a clever twist! Read on.)

“What didn’t you like about it?” I asked Nora.

“I really started to hate the woman, Ana.”


“She’s just so feeble. And the sex isn’t arousing any more.”

“But isn’t that what happens in marriage?”

“I don’t know. It’s supposed to be a happy ending. Actually at the end it kind of goes back to the beginning and you get to see things from his point of view, which I thought was quite clever.”

“I see. So you get depths?”

“Not really. You’ll have to read it yourself, I suppose.”

What a forbidding thought!

I dipped into it with grim circumspection. It was a lot worse than I expected. The dialogue was so flat it depressed me. The limp sentences had no forward motion, weighed down by one hackneyed phrase after another.

Paraphrasing loosely from the chapter called MEET FIFTY SHADES…

As I stared into my dreary electronic screen, an unfamiliar ennui seeped into my consciousness. My mood became as flat and grey as the Mr. Grey in my Kindle. The heavy minutes blended together with no distinction, and even the prospect of seeing a fresh-faced virgin get fucked again and again in more and more painful ways failed to provide any kind of diversion.

The leaden sentences of my review popped unbidden into my empty thoughts. I was aware that I’d sound like a sulky teen but I didn’t give a fuck.

How can this woman be called a writer? Oh Christ! Surely she can do better than this? What a fucking dull book. Not one iota of originality. It’s disappointing.

Don’t bother with this. You can supply your own characters, your own sex scenes, your own plot. Definitely supply your own ending. It’s bound to be more imaginative than the book’s.

Farewell My ConcubineFarewell My Concubine by Lilian Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a poignant, short novella that lasts just over 3 hours in the unabridged version I listened to.

The bare bones of the story form a very potent plot but the narrative is somewhat dry. Since it spans over 50 years and the lives of the main characters are set against the turbulent political changes in China in that period, from the Japanese invasion, through the rise of Mao Zedong to the end of British colonial rule in Hong Kong, it is hard for the author to squeeze in the telling personal details that touch your heart.

Consequently, I was not drawn into the drama of the characters’ lives; their emotions were at one remove.

You only have to glance at the stills from the movie to see how much more powerful it is. It has more colour, more life, more emotion. The actors’ faces make you want to cry.

The narrator of the audio book is a famous Hollywood actress, Nancy Kwan, but her pronunciation of the Chinese names was so mangled and so inconsistent that I sometimes wasn’t sure who she was talking about. Never mind. The real Chinese diaspora has only just started. Give it a few more years and everybody in the world will be speaking fluent Mandarin, even our lovely friends from Hong Kong.

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1)Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the first of a popular series but I didn’t like this book at all and won’t be reading any more. The author writes very breezily and she is plainly out to have fun with a hackneyed genre but I couldn’t even like the book on its own terms.

The author would probably say I’m a snob and a dilettante who has her head up her own ass. I admit I have delicate sensibilities. There’s nothing I abhor more than a lazy imagination.

The main character in the book is called Wrath. He’s a vampire. A pretty important vampire and a nasty piece of work to boot. When asked to do a favour for a friend he refuses.

“If it had been anyone else, Wrath would have used his favorite pair of words: fuck and off. As far as he was concerned, there were only two good positions for a human. A female on her back. And a male facedown and not breathing.”

You don’t have to read much more to realise this book is going to offer few delights. There are so many ways to ravish a woman. There are so many ways to kill a man. A vampire who can only think of one in each category is a bit wet behind the ears I would say.

No, no. I like it darker than this. Darker, dirtier and more ingenious. I’ve met vampires who could crush the grapes of Wrath.

Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits

PleasuredPleasured by Philip Hensher

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There has been a lot of fuss about the Booker prize in the UK recently, which is meant to recognise the best literary books being written today. Some commentators were astonished that some of the best literary novelists were not even on the shortlist. I decided to buy the books of some of these unfortunate but brilliant authors who were overlooked by this year’s judges. Philip Hensher is one of them, though this is an older book of his, from 1998.

I chose this novel, Pleasured, after reading many reviews on Amazon. In the end I chose it because it was set in Berlin just before the fall of the Wall. I have a number of books set in Berlin. It is a city that interests me a lot. So I decided that even if the novel is no good, I will at least get something of interest from it.

The novel is no good.

But I am getting something of interest from it because of the Berlin setting.

Rather than say any more about the book, which I’m only half-way through, I’d like to say something about the endorsements plastered all over it.

“Hensher’s finest novel to date, at once literary and cinematic, intimate and epic.”

Translation: His other books are even worse than this. The characters are living in a city where something momentous happens but they are too dull and self-obsessed for it to have much of an impact on them.

“A sublimely structured and sophisticated novel…”

Translation: Not much happens but the few things that do happen are strangely jumbled up.

“A novel whose ambitious scale is matched only by the steely elegance of its author’s control…”

Translation: The author is hoping that by setting his novel at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, it will somehow acquire the importance of that event. He doesn’t seem to have anything important to say about it, though.

“Pleasured will be seen as a stepping stone in the development of an important new voice in British fiction.”

Translation: Surely he could do better than this.

“Hensher’s most ambitious novel to date, it is also his most satisfying.”

Translation: He’s trying hard but he’s not much competition for me, I’m glad to say.

“Hensher has clearly set out to write the defining novel of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. He may well have succeeded.”

Translation: This is a really lame book that doesn’t live up to expectations.

“Hensher is acute in his perception of how history is compounded of rumour, truth and lies.”

Translation: I can’t find anything good to say about the writing so I’ll say something about the publishing industry instead.

“An engrossing read … Perhaps the greatest achievement of this highly original and accomplished novel is the skill with which the themes of evasion and loss – and the prospect of recovery – are related to the looming presence of the Wall.”

Translation: My own novel has just been published and I’m hoping for a good review in The Spectator where Philip Hensher is the chief reviewer.

Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits

Illegal Action (Liz Carlyle, #3)Illegal Action by Stella Rimington
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

We are promised authenticity with this book and we probably get it. Being a spy is probably as dull and pedestrian as this.

This is Stella’s third spy novel so you’d think she’d have hit her stride by now but she seems content with an unambitious amble. She has no doubt used her experience as Head of M15 to good effect, but she doesn’t seem to have used her qualification as a graduate in English literature.

The book has no pace. The dialogue doesn’t crackle. There is no tension.

Having just compared London’s literati to the KGB following her stint as chairman of the Booker prize judges, you’d think she’d know how to stitch together a good plot.

Instead we get uninspired chick lit espionage in which some of the most exciting moments are discovering how Liz Carlyle likes her cocoa.

Liz got up and after a search in the kitchen cupboards, unearthed a packet of cocoa that was just in date, so she heated some milk on the old electric stove, then sat down again with her mug. It could be interesting, she supposed, to spend time with a man who literally could buy anything he desired, but she couldn’t say her heart was in it.

No, quite. Like Liz Carlyle, Stella Rimington’s heart simply isn’t in it.

View all my reviews
Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits

EcstasyEcstasy by Bella Andre
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Every so often I download a batch of free ebooks from Amazon and trawl through them looking for some good writing. Normally I dismiss them after just a few sentences.

This one surprised me because it was literate and fluent. I read it very fast and I was quite entertained. I did a little research on the author and it turns out she is doing very well. This ebook will now cost you a dollar or two, so she is obviously working hard at the marketing.

The book was more or less error-free but the prose is a little loose. For example:

His enjoyment, he thought ruefully, may have sprung from his intense desire to see Candace wrapped in the silks, velvets and satins he purchased.

Or, more to the point, his even more intense desire to unwrap her.

He tried to shake the image of Candace naked with her legs spread wide open before him, begging for him to ram his cock inside her. He needed to focus on the task at hand.

Yeah, shake that image, Charlie boy!

This is a romance in which the man and the woman are both writers of soft porn. Now, when I read a novel I want to escape from the mundane real world that is my daily grind! This is just a small niggle. The characters are not very interesting or credible, even though Ms. Andre is writing about what she knows, but she is a capable author who is raising the standard for self-published romance novels. This is better than some Harlequin novels I’ve read anyway, although that’s not saying very much.

Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits

Enchanted: Erotic Bedtime Stories For WomenEnchanted: Erotic Bedtime Stories For Women by Nancy Madore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I couldn’t decide whether to give this two stars or three.

The stories were not bad. But they didn’t turn me on. If an erotic story doesn’t turn me on, it should at least be interesting.

Is it asking too much to want some sensual language as well?

View all my reviews

Books by Vanessa Wu

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