‘Fifty Shades Darker’ Review

Fifty Darker

I’m going to start this review with a direct quote from the book:

“Wouldn’t you rather have a cup of tea?”

The answer to that is, of course, yes. Yes I would much rather have sat and drunk a thousand cups of tea than go through the mental torture that this book has inflicted upon me, but alas, I didn’t.

If you weren’t around over the summer months, or if you have a memory like a sieve, then you might not know that I put myself through the burning, soul destroying mental torturefest challenge of reading the hottest book in the world at that time, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. You can find my write up of that experience right here: Click at your own peril – includes Fifty Shades content!  Seven months on, I felt like I was ready to take the icy plunge into the cool steel gaze of multi billionaire CEO, philanthropist and deviant, Christian Grey.


Picking up 3 days after the absolutely nail biting climax of the last book where main character and instantly irritating shrew, Ana, stormed out on Christian after deciding he was too weird for her, we get to see how Ana completely fails to deal with her recent break up. Like any cliche, Ana stops eating and starves herself, forcing herself through the motions at her new job, which she never seems to do any real work at but we’ll get to that later. Ana spends a lot of the first chapter moping about how much she misses Christian, even though she was the one who stormed out and left him. EL James, the horror architect author also keeps swapping the way she spells “gray” flipping between a and e throughout the book. I feel like a proofread was needed here.

Anyway, in true doormat form, Ana sees she has an email from Christian, asking her if she wanted to go to her friend Jose’s art show with him. You know Jose? That character that suddenly disappeared halfway through the first book? No? Don’t worry he flits in and out of this one too! Anyway, Ana accepts and spends the next 4 pages or there about worrying about seeing Christian. Quite frankly, what are you doing Ana? You’ve been broken up for like 4 days, this is not healthy. Grow up and get some common sense.

Skipping through vast swathes of this book. Ana and Christian get back together, they email a lot when Ana should be working (seriously, she does nothing other than email her boyfriend ALL day! How has she not been fired?), Christian buys her extravagant gifts and the most pointless sub plot of his crazy ex-submissive coming after Ana and him gets introduced. Honestly I don’t think there’s been a more forced strand to a story in a long while, possibly ever in fact!

After a few chapters about a charity ball, which pass in relative obscurity we end up with Christian going top-notch super crazy and asking Ana to marry him (yes I’m skipping a lot. you would too if you had to write about it.). Obviously, she says she needs time to think as she’s only known him for 5 weeks and he is nuttier than rat crap at a pistachio factory. He then goes super mental and becomes a submissive, asking her if that’s what she wants and the whole book takes a turn for the odd.

Anyway, skipping forward again, we get treated to the absolute JOY that is the return of “the tenacious Katherine Kavanagh” possibly the worst supporting character in a novel ever. If only she had been written out permanently. On the bright side though, Jose returns for a few chapters before disappearing into obscurity once again.

There’s a helicopter crash, a lot of crying and a birthday party and then we find out that Ana was being cruel by not giving Christian’s proposal a real answer because she gave him a present that he wasn’t allowed to open until his birthday, which turned out to be a keyring with a big YES in flashing lights on it. Talk about torturing a guy!

Anyway, the book ends with Christian giving Ana a truly romantic proposal, then we get a small epilogue section featuring Ana’s old boss, who Christian violently assaulted with no repercussions whatsoever and who caused the helicopter crash, contemplating murder again and foreshadowing the next book. So you know it’s going to be a light-hearted finish to the trilogy!

In summary, it’s more of the same but at least James is trying to give Christian some depth, which he needs as Ana has so little. I felt that the book picked up a bit in the second half, after we got rid of the boring, crazy ex sub-plot. That said, I wouldn’t hurry to read it again. In fact, I doubt I’ll ever think about reading it again.

I’ll probably get around to reading the last book at some point, I’ve come this far so it seems silly not to. I wouldn’t hold your breath and expect it any time soon though…

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to read something mentally stimulating, not mentally crushing.


Roaming Rome Day 2 – Ancient Rome and Adventuring Alone!

This is the second part of my Roman Adventure travel diary and as such it picks up right where we left off last time. If you haven’t had a chance to read the first one, you can do so here: Day 1. Go ahead, we’ll be here when you get back.

Sunday morning rolled around far too quickly for my liking and after getting ready we were down in the breakfast room, ready to fill our bellies and start our day: one of the busiest on the schedule. Before I go on I’d just like to take a moment to say that everyday of the trip, the breakfast buffet was absolutely delicious! Pastries, croissants, cereal, toast, coffee, tea, yoghurt, you had the whole lot to choose from and it was all fantastic. Getting back to the point, we made sure to swipe a few rolls and some prosciutto and cheese to make ourselves a quick lunch as we still hadn’t been able to find a shop that was open past 14:30 on a Saturday – that’s the trouble with visiting a Roman Catholic country!

After our breakfast crimes had been committed we were hopping onto the metro and heading off in the direction of the Colosseum, our first destination. On the way, we decided to try and find some form of shop as we had realised that we had no water for the day. Stumbling upon a small kiosk shop just opening up we were lucky enough to grab a few bottles to last us the day and headed back to the Colosseum to go and pick up our tickets.

In true Italian organisational form, you have to turn up an hour before your pre-booked tour in order to pick up your tickets in enough time. Luckily, this gave us a chance to wander around the Colosseum and take all the pictures that we wanted, removing the need to have to “Snap and Run” during the tour. My first thought, and one that continued throughout the whole day was “Oh my goodness this place is absolutely huge!”. It’s shocking to think that the Romans managed to build this before mechanisation, in an age before the smartphone and twitter, and blogging. Just look at what we could do if we got rid of all of our distracting technology!

The Colosseum is absolutely huge!

The Colosseum is absolutely huge!

There were also exhibits of sculptures and artefacts found in and around or relating to the history of the Colosseum on display on the upper floors. Again, it was absolutely astounding to see what a single civilization could achieve, albeit over a large period of time!

In time, our tour rolled around and we were treated to a lovely potted history of the Colosseum with some interesting facts being conveyed to us, such as the historically innaccurate repairs made to a section of the seating by Mussolini during the fascist regime. All in all, it was a breathtaking experience and if you’re ever in Rome, this has got to be on the top of your to do list! No exceptions!

Gladiator carvings adorn the doorways

Gladiator carvings adorn the doorways

After stopping for lunch, we headed to the Palatine, one of the Seven Hills of Rome and previously a key area of Roman culture. Adjoining the Palatine area, the Roman Forum looms tall, along with the Arch of Septimus Severus, emperor of Africa and the old Roman senate house. All of this is absolutely huge, and there’s plenty to see, including the grave of Julius Ceaser, just a short stroll away from the area that he was murdered and betrayed.

If all of the history in the forum area isn’t enough for you, you can do as my sister and I did and wander up into the Palatine area which includes the temple of Romulus, Augustus’ house and the House of the Vestal Virgins. You could easily spend all afternoon pottering about this place, admiring the stonework and the vision that went into creating such a civilisation. I know a lot of people rave about the ancient Egyptians but I think the Romans are definitely my favourite ancient civilisation!

Unfortunately, despite witnessing firsthand the splendours of Ancient Rome, today was the day that the trip started to take a turn for the worse, with my sister succumbing to intense pain in her tooth and gum, which began to swell up quite badly. This prompted our late afternoon to be spent walking to a 24/7 pharmacy in search of some strong painkillers and possibly some antibiotics. Again, unfortunately, my sister suffered so badly that she didn’t even want to face walking to the metro line and then to the pharmacy so after taking her back to the hotel and much convincing her, I set off alone into the centre of Rome armed only with a few translated phrases and a pocketful of “emergency euros” (Yes, we are THAT prepared).

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m not particularly adventurous. I was never a climber of trees and I’ve never felt the urge to travel to exotic and far flung reaches of the earth just to see what they’re like. I’m quite content to sit at home with a good meal and a good book and a nice cup of tea. In fact, the best way to sum this up is with this quote from The Hobbit:

…No use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

Fast forward just under an hour and I strolled happily into the hotel with a bag containing some strong painkillers, and the recommendation that if it gets any worse we should go back and talk to the pharmacist again.

I felt a lot more confident in myself after this solo jaunt. I had successfully navigated a completely alien city and by the time I was hopping on the tram to come back to the hotel I was moving about the place like I’d been there for years, not just about a day! In that moment, Rome felt more like home to me than London ever has, I suddenly realised that I loved everything about the place and, even though I am a country boy at heart, I could quite happily start a life living in that city.

The rest of the night passed pretty quickly with us popping to the ristorante across the road and getting to indulge in my all time favourite pasta dish: lasagne. All I can say is phew! Do those Italians know how to cook or what!?

After a tiring and surprising day, it was time to flop back into bed, hoping that Ali’s tooth would feel better by morning and wondering what tomorrow would bring with our next action packed day trip looming!

But you’ll have to wait until next time for that, I’m afraid…

‘The Last Angel’ by Sarah PJ White – Review


‘The Last Angel’ is a novel by the mum of a friend of mine so you may be forgiven for thinking that I am going to be biased in reviewing this book. I wold like to put it out there right now that this is NOT the case and anything that I write is from an unbiased point of view, based upon the book itself. Smashing, let’s begin.

Set in the quaint little town of Thatcham (although I sense this is a stylised version of the town, bearing the same name and geographical location) The Last Angel tells the story of Crystal Meadows, a seemingly ordinary girl who has just had the absolute joy of turning 21. Except, Crystal isn’t just an ordinary girl. She’s an Angel. In fact, she’s the Last Angel, the only remnant of a purge ordered by The Others, an overarching power of creation and control that become the faceless main antagonist of the story.

Crystal is the product of a relationship between her mother Izzy, a healah and her father Samuel, a flyah. These roles are part of the caste system of enlightened human beings on earth that have been made aware of their powers by The Others, so that they can perform tasks for them when necessary. The third full blood cast, the digahs form the ‘grunt’ troop of The Others and serve as the main weapon of this faceless enemy. I know, it’s a lot to get your head around in a short time but White paces the story well to prevent too much confusion, with Crystal learning as we do exactly what is going on in her world.

As the story progresses, we meet a host of supporting characters including my favourite character in the story, Nathan – a flyah friend of Izzy and Samuel, who for some reason I can’t picture as anyone other than Woody Harrelson as Haymitch in the Hunger Games films. Frank, the religious zealot father of best friend Emily is also introduced and becomes a key foil to the best laid plans of Crystal and co. with White clearly setting him up for greater things in the second book. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t connect with the character of Frank, finding it hard to believe that anybody that devoted their life so wholly to following the word of God could be quite as despicable and loathsome as he is. That being said, I still managed to picture him as Nicholas Cage in ‘Kick Ass’ but creepier.

As the story plots on, Crystal becomes more aware of her abilities and learns to control hem, after being entrusted with The Account – the true story of creation. It was prophesied that an Angel would set into motion the enlightenment of the world and the downfall of The Others and, with her being the only one left, it appears that Crystal has become the one to fulfil the prophecy. We also see Crystal begin a relationship with her boss, Tony the American, who I believe is quite an underdeveloped character, but I get the feeling that we haven’t seen the last of him and I have my suspicions that he may have a darker agenda than just dating Crystal; we will have to wait for the second book and see.

Overall, The Last Angel is an entertaining read, I was able to skip through it at a comfortable pace in just three evenings, with no feeling that the story was dragging or being filled with pointless padding, just to up the page count. My disappointment with the book came with the spelling and grammar mistakes in the book, with it having more than I would have liked to have seen, but as I’m sure those of you that read my posts before I have a chance to go back through them and triple check will know, I have no leg to stand on about this. Other than that tiny gripe, I thoroughly enjoyed myself with The Last Angel and if anybody Is looking for an affordable Ebook then I would recommend you go and grab yourself a copy before the second part of trilogy is released and you have to pay catch up!

Overall Rating:

Overall, I give The Last Angel eight happy llamas, out of ten. It’s a good book, well written and nicely paced. Well deserved!

8 of these bad boys go to Sarah PJ White and her book ‘The Last Angel’

Roaming Rome Day 1 – Hotel Hassle and Landmark Locating

Currently, I am sat on a plane, flying back from Rome. I have just spent a fantastic five days in Italy’s capital city and I thought that I would write up my trip in my own little travel diary. Don’t worry though, these wont be the only posts that I put up, I’ll milk this for all it’s worth space them out over a couple of weeks, with some of the other ideas that I’ve had. For once I seem to have a fair bit to blog about!

So a while back my sister asked me if I would like to go on a five day, four night trip to Rome as she had found an amazing deal online and it was, in all honestly, pretty damn cheap for what it was. I agreed and soon enough the day rolled around and we were waking up at the ungodly hour of 3am to make it to Heathrow for our flight. After breezing through check in and enjoying a travellers breakfast at Heathrow Costa we were on the plane and off to Italy.

Arriving at Fiumicino Airport we quickly realised that it may have been a good idea to learn at least some Italian, as we struggled our way through buying a ticket for the direct train from the airport into the central station in Rome, though we managed in the end (albeit after sitting and watching a few groups of people first) before we knew it we were disembarking at Termini, smack bang in the centre of the city. After finding a kiosk with an assistant that spoke English we had bought our weeks metro and tram travel card and descended into the murky underworld of the Roman Metro. Actually, that’s being unfair; the Metro in Rome is exactly like the London Underground – except it’s clean (I know, novel right!). Disembarking further north at Ottaviano we managed to find a bus that would take us up to our hotel, passing ‘Stadio Olimpico’ on the way.

After managing to walk right past our hotel the first time we tried we spotted it and finally pushed open the main doors and walk through into the hotel lobby only to be greeted by what can only be described as DIY SOS: Hardcore Edition an ongoing refurbishment. After chatting to the receptionist we were told that our booking had been moved to another hotel in the chain, despite us previously being told twice that we were indeed staying at Hotel Number 1. We asked the receptionist for directions and instead of being helpful, she merely suggested we go and find a taxi outside. Needless to say, she has earned herself a place in that oh so special of hells, reserved for murderers, paedophiles and those that don’t clear their own tables at Fast Food Restaurants. I hope she enjoys it down there where Mick Hucknall and The Cheeky Girls are on repeat 24/7 and the only shows on TV are The Only Way Is Essex and Toddlers and Tiaras. Good grief, that’s a fearsome place.

Cue montage of worried wandering around Rome until we finally chanced upon a kind pair of security guards at a massive electronics and hardware store who very kindly ordered us a taxi, because apparently you have to be some kind of wizard to find a cab in Rome. Anyway, much later we ended up at our NEW Hotel, hot, grumpy and footsore but finally able to relax. At least we had somewhere to sleep for the night AND we were MUCH closer to the centre of town, only a ten minute wander from Piazza del Popolo.

After a very hectic and stressful morning we decided to grab a map and head out into the city to explore and try to find a few of the famous landmarks we had heard about. Hopping off the metro at Barberini, we decided to go and find the Trevi Fountain and although we set off in the fit direction we somehow managed to end up walking straight past it until we found ourselves at The Spanish Steps instead. Instantly I was overwhelmed at how busy it was, a Saturday afternoon of sightseeing in Rome may not have been the most ideal of plans in hindsight.

Busy times at the Spanish Steps

Busy times at the Spanish Steps

Climbing the steps we decided to saunter back and find the Trevi Fountain and after a brief pause on the Steps to take some pictures of the crowded, bustling shopping streets we were accosted by what seemed to be the entirety of Rome’s gypsy community, all trying to push a rose into our hands to then charge you money for. Quite honestly I have never seen such ruthless harassment on the street before and it was quite an experience with more than a few of them having to be told to back off numerous times before they finally got the message.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Eventually we made it to the Trevi Fountain and it was absolutely beautiful. I think it will go down on record as my favourite fountain, the sculptures adorning it were carved so masterfully, it really was as good as everyone had told me, and of course we both threw the customary coin backwards over our shoulder into the water to ensure that we would one day return to Rome. It was in front of this fountain that we tried our first true Italian delicacy, Gelato. All I can say is it was FANTASTICO!

The Italians really know how to do food!

The Italians really know how to do food!

"Angels and Demons" fans will recognise this landmark...

“Angels and Demons” fans will recognise this landmark…

After the Trevi Fountain we visited many other Roman landmarks including Trajans Column, the temple of Hadrian, Piazza Navone which hosts the absolutely fantastic Fountain of the Four Rivers sculpted by Bernini which, if you are a Dan Brown fan you will remember being on the Path of Illumination (No, I didn’t really get the Da Vinci Code either, but boy does Brown write one hell of a book! Plus, Angels and Demons was much easier to understand!). We also managed to make out first visit to the Pantheon, though we were unable to go inside as it was being used for a holy mass, it is after all a fully functioning church.

After a busy and tiring day we wanted nothing more than to eat some gorgeously fattening food and head back to the hotel so we ducked into the McDonalds (I know, it seems like a crime going to Italy and then going to a McDonalds but bear with me on this one) which just so happened to be the oldest and fanciest in Italy, boasting a separate McCafe and having some Italian options on the menu, such as a focaccia bread based burger.

After a busy night we managed to find our way back to the hotel where we proceeded to collapse into bed and by half 9 we were both asleep, absolutely shattered after our first day in Rome, but eager for our next busy day in the Capital…

Anti Valentines Day

Well doesn’t this just suck? Valentines day, that stupid, pointless corporate sell out of a holiday designed solely to shift greetings cards and over priced heart shaped chocolates. Happy singles awareness day everybody!

As if the fact that the streets are lined with shops frantically pushing fake roses and teddy bears holding out hearts with little cutesy messages on them wasn’t bad enough, the radio stations will be playing those insipid love songs all day! Could it get any worse?

Well, cheer up my lonely, bitter pal because I’m here with 5 Anti Valentines songs that celebrate the crappy side of love. Shall we get right into it?

Up first are the Kings of anti love songs Bowling For Soup. They have so many break up songs from guy perspectives that always give you a bit of a chuckle. It’s what you need around this time! Here is the rather aptly named Not A Love Song

Have you ever been in that situation where you really, desperately like someone but they don’t seem to have a single ounce of care for your your feelings? Who am I kidding, we’ve all been there! Here’s Patent Pending with a song about it!

Anybody out there ever been dumped on Valentines Day? If so, you might want to check in with Good Charlotte and take part in their Broken Hearts Parade!

If you have, unfortunately been the victim of a cruel, cruel cheater at some point, I hope you’ll find solidarity with this next song from The Dollyrots. It’s all about those people that ruined your life and left you.

To all of you out there have been through enough and have decided you’re too hard to be hurt any more, there’s a song for you too. It’s a ska tune so it’s a pretty catchy too!

Well there we go! I hope you enjoyed the Anti Valentines music!
If for some reason you’re one of this people that like to celebrate valentines day then you can check out the alternative happy valentines songs right here: Valentines Day Songs

Bonus song:
I couldn’t not put this in for all of our poor fellows in the Friendzone. I’m sure that everybody has at some point been stuck there, through no fault of their own. Here’s another bowling for sop song about what you have to do in that situation.

Valentines Day

Well well well, it’s that time of year again! February 14th is upon us and it is well and truly Valentines Day! Whether you’re in a relationship or not, anybody can embrace the spirit of the day and spread some love around (although let’s make sure it is only love we’re spreading around, as a rather creepy email from the NHS decided to remind me).

In the spirit of the day, I’ve decided to share a few songs that could be called “Valentines Songs” if that we’re a thing. These won’t be your classic love songs and I promise I won’t put ANY Barry Manilow or Neil Diamond in and definitely no Adele. Bloggers honour.

Kicking us off, here’s a cracker from Patent Pending! Not all relationships are the standard Mills and Boon, happily ever after, perfect match scenario. Some are hard work and others are downright dysfunctional. This song really captures the element of being in love with a crazy person – a feeling I know all too well…

Next up we move on to a lovely little ditty about how, sometimes it’s true that opposites attract. This ones just charming, considering their song with Valentine in the title is about killing your crushes boyfriend. Maybe I’ll use that one next year…

Not all Valentines Day stories are about those already in a relationship. What if you’re using the day to take your shot and ask out the girl (or guy we’re all modern here) that you’ve been secretly crushing on for a while? I mean, you’ll be a huge cliché but hey! Here’s A Rocket To The Moon with a song about it.

Robbie Williams has a lot of love songs. The man writes them by the truckload. With that in mind, I really like this one which sums up why a relationship just works!

And finally, you know that feeling you get when you develop a crush on someone and you can’t stop thinking about them and talking about them and then all of a sudden your friends are getting annoyed with you and rolling their eyes every time you open your mouth because they know that its going to be “so and so said this” and “so and so looked at me today”. We’ve all been on both sides of this situation and we know it can’t be helped really, so why don’t we embrace it with this little Bowling For Soup number.

Well there you have it, five not so stereotypical love songs for you this Valentines Day. Whether you’re committed and in a healthy relationship or you’re chasing after that dream girl or guy I hope you have a smashing Valentines Day!

Oh and don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, bitter single people! Check out the SECOND part of my Valentines Day song blog for your songs, right here: Anti Valentines Songs

Bonus song:
I couldn’t leave without giving some final advice to those of you that might use today as a chance to go ahead and ask out that person that you’ve been friends with for ages. Here’s the Suburban Legends! Good luck!

Stop Doing That…At the Bar!


Pub, club or trendy urban bar, it doesn’t matter where you go for your tipple, the end result will always be the same. I find it staggering that we Brits, a nation that love lines and queues and the etiquette associated with them will let all of our logic and good sense fly out of the windows in two scenarios. Bus stops, but we really don’t have time to get into that area right now, and bars.

Bars just seem to be filled to the rafters with people swanning about, doing their best to annoy me. I’m almost certain that they know that they’re doing it and its some kind of cosmic test of my character which I have to pass in order to live a full and happy life (Think Galadriel refusing to take the One Ring in The Fellowship of the Ring) but on the off chance that this isn’t the case, I thought I would take it upon myself to set some ground rules…

STOP: Staring
We’ve all been there, waiting at the bar in whichever establishment you choose to frequent, when you get the nagging feeling that something’s not right. Someone is staring at you. I’m not talking just maintaining a look at the back of my head because I’m in front of you staring, I mean full on laser bean vision staring, targeted directly at me. I don’t fully understand why this happens, but it seems to be the case with most places that I go. Guys, it’s especially creepy if your doing it to a girl because yo fancy her. Lets face it, what you think is your best Brad Pitt smouldering sexy look actually resembles something more akin to a plumber standing in a room with the worst blocked toilet ever. Not attractive at all…

STOP: Pushing
Whoever thought that the best way to remedy the brief few minute wait to be served was to plow forwards like a rugby player eight steps away from the line is, quite frankly, one of the biggest morons in the world. Lets just think this through for a second. We are at a bar, in a pub, trying to buy a drink, which comes in an open topped vessel and is very wet. Brilliant. Lets add some massive instability into the scenario and let the good times roll! I paid almost triple what that coke is worth for the privilege of having it in a pint glass with a lemon wedge, I would like it to go in my mouth, not down my shirt.

STOP: Queue jumping
This ones for all of you ladies out there. There may not be a defined queue at a bar. Sadly, the lack of queuing protocol exhibited at all establishments with a bar is one of my biggest bugbears in life – guess I’ll have to wait until I become the Supreme Overlord of the World to fix that but that’s another story for another time. Having no defined queue makes it all too easy for people to exploit the natural order of service and jump the “queue” to be served first. The sad thing is it happens a lot more with women, because yo think you can get away with it.
Up you swagger with your make up and your womanly charms and straight to Barman you go. Sadly the flirty wink and demeanour will get his attention and he will, unfortunately, serve you before me even though I’ve been waiting here for a good 15 minutes. This is not okay, there’s a mutually agreed code at the bar that you’ve now come in and broken. Personally, I’m all for gender equality so if I ever happen to be in this situation I will tap you on the shoulder and tell you to wait your turn. It’s only fair…

STOP: Eavesdropping
This one is just a matter of good manners. Stop listening in to other people’s conversations when you’re stood nearby them. If you really want to carrying, at least stop doing it so obviously! And actually…

STOP: Having personal conversations
If you’re having a conversation that you don’t want to run the risk of being overheard then wait until you’ve got your drinks and are back at your table, don’t spew it out in a crowd of strangers. Come on guys, a little bit of common sense is all I’m asking for.

Doubtless, the moment that I hit publish, I’ll think of a million more things to add but hey ho. Is there anything that you can think of that annoys you about waiting at bars? Leave a comment!