Thursday, September 27, 2018

Review: Dating the Enemy

Title: Dating the Enemy 
Author: Nicole Williams 
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary 
Publisher: Self-Published 
Publication Date: September 23, 2018 
Source: Bought

Ms. Romance, Hannah Arden, writes one of the top read relationship advice columns in the nation. Mr. Reality, Brooks North, writes the top read relationship advice column.
Ms. Romance believes in true love and soul mates. Mr. Reality believes love is a term humanity has assigned to the primal instinct to procreate. She believes in fate—he in chance. She knows there’s one right person for everyone—he knows there are multiple ones. The two writers couldn’t be more polarized on relationships. They’re professional rivals, and philosophical antagonists.
For eight years, their battles have been fought with words and ink. That changes when they apply for the same position at the World Times and find themselves face-to-face for the first time. Brooks isn’t the sour-faced, antiquity of a man Hannah pictured. And Hannah isn’t exactly the middle-aged shrew with cat hair on her housedress that Brooks imagined either.
In lieu of competing for the promotion traditional ways, the two writers are presented with playing the leading roles in a social experiment unlike any before. Can a person be tricked into falling in love? Can a relationship be crafted under the right string of circumstances? Hannah knows the answer. So does Brooks.
Agreeing to the terms, the two set out on a three-month dating experiment, live-streamed for the world to watch. All Hannah has to do to win is not fall in love with the narcissistic brute. All Brooks has to do is get the starry-eyed dreamer to fall in love with him. Both are so confident in their philosophies, they expect the challenge to be easy.
With the world watching, Brooks and Hannah will be forced to confront their beliefs and conclude, once and for all, who’s right. The answer is one neither of them saw coming. 

I feel like it's only fair to warn you guys right off the bat: this is going to be more rant than review. It is also going to be loaded full of spoilers because I have some thoughts.

Okay, I thought I was going to love this book. Enemies-to-lovers is my jam and I basically read all I can of that trope. While I don't think I've ever read another one of Nicole William's books, I had high hopes for Dating the Enemy because of all the hype and the premise. However, it just . . . did not work for me. At all. 

Let's go through what I did like: the cover is awesome, it definitely caught my eye and I feel like it reflects the tension of enemies-to-lovers really well. This was also a book that, despite the problems I had with it, kept me reading. I went through it pretty quickly (though, to be fair, I skimmed a decent bit toward the end) and I didn't DNF, so that's something. 

Yeah . . . that was pretty much all I was okay within this book. I feel really bad about not having more nice things to say about it but it just wasn't my cup of tea. So, onto the things that didn't work/the rant.

Ohhhhhh my gosh, you guys, I could not stand this contrived, weird social experiment/dating situation the two MCs were thrown into. It made zero sense to me. Basically, Brooks, aka "Mr. Reality" has to make Hannah fall in love with him and Hannah, aka "Ms. Romance" has to not fall in love with him proving . . . something? I don't know what the reasoning is behind this or how Hannah would win if she didn't fall in love. Wouldn't that disprove or weaken all her points about love? Like, if Hannah was supposed to be "Ms. Romance" and Brooks is "Mr. Reality", wouldn't it make more sense for Hannah to make Brooks fall in love with her and admit love is real instead of the other way around?? Hannah already believes in love so I'm confused as to what Brooks was trying to convince her of by making her fall in love with him. And isn't he kind of an ass for manipulating her emotions and feelings and making her fall in love with him when he doesn't believe in love and doesn't plan on returning those feelings (at least at first)?

Like, Hannah's whole schtick was proving that love lives and stuff but she spent three months not falling in love with a guy who was wooing her so like . . . what's the logic here? That makes no sense to me. It seemed like the author confused the main characters. What they each preached absolutely didn't coincide with their actions throughout the book. Brooks, the supposedly love-unbeliever, was totally romantic and wanted a relationship with Hannah. But Hannah, the "hopeful romantic" was SO RESISTANT to all the romance and was so wishy-washy and unable to own up to her feelings, even behind doors when she and Brooks were "real" and away from the cameras. 

Throughout the book, Brooks had to basically stage these dates to take Hannah on where they were filmed to a live audience and it was so cringy. I guess it was going for a like, The Bachelor vibe but it just didn't work for me. It felt weird that a newspaper would turn to TV to up its own popularity but, whatever, that's the least of my problems with this book. One of these dates he takes her on is to this dance club and when she gets there -- being filmed, keep in mind -- Brooks is dancing and flirting with another girl!! Like, what the actual hell, Brooks! What an asshole move! It's one thing to be a jerk in private but when literally hundreds of thousands of people are watching you disrespect the girl you actually asked on a date by flirting with another one . . . that's just gross. That whole situation made me so mad. Especially when Brooks was like "oh, are you jealous?! *winkwink*". Like, no, you ginormous douche, I'm pissed that you're embarrassing me and disrespecting me, especially in front of a live audience! 

It also felt like there was no gradual change in Brooks's feelings toward Hannah. Like, the first time they meet he's like "love doesn't exist!!!" and the next he's trying to take Hannah on "real dates" and wooing her and wanting a real relationship. Like, what convinced him he wanted love?? Hannah constantly rejecting him? 

Oh my gosh, I also got so tired of the constant conversations about whether love existed. I get that was a pretty significant theme in the book but it was just the same exact conversation every single chapter. It drove me insane and those conversations were where the most skimming took place. 

ALSO (sorry, I know this review is getting long but I GOTTA RANT), it felt like the author was trying to be super body positive and the MC Hannah described herself as a size 10 and not like the other super thin woman in the city but it just didn't work. Hannah made some somewhat negative comments about her own weight throughout the book (usually followed by Brooks being like "no way, you're crazy" or whatever) and she also constantly tore down women who were skinny. It was really obnoxious to read and I don't think the author achieved what she meant to do, which I'm sure was to be positive and inclusive of different body types. 

Okay, there was one last scene at the end that I have to talk about because it was so unbelievable and out of nowhere -- toward the end of the book, Brooks and Hannah are making out or whatever in her apartment and her friends just randomly show up (it's late at night BTW) wanting to watch the like, extended version of Pride and Prejudice so Hannah basically forces Brooks into her closet AND PROCEEDS TO WATCH THE FIRST DISC OF THE MOVIE WITH HER FRIENDS. WHILE BROOKS IS JUST STANDING LOCKED IN A CLOSET. 

Like, WTF??? First of all, why would her friend just show up in the middle of the night with no warning and expect to watch a several-hours-long movie? SECOND OF ALL, why didn't Hannah just tell them not tonight?! Wouldn't that make more sense than making your boyfriend stand in the closest for "a few hours"?! Who does that?? And apparently, Brooks wasn't even mad about it! He was just like "oh, now you own me *sexyeyes*". No way! If I was in that situation, I'd be fuming. She left him in a closet for a few hours while she watched a movie with her friends!! A movie they already watched hundreds of times! UGH. 

Honestly, I have several other things I could talk about that really bothered me but I'm going to cut myself off there. This book just . . . didn't make sense to me. Nothing really worked and I was left just feeling frustrates and confused about all the high ratings. That said, there are generally high ratings for this book so I'm not in the majority here. If this sounds like your cup of tea, give it a shot! I hope you like it more than I did. 

It was a circus, and Brooks and I had become the main attraction.

Two out of Five Teapots

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday #137

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine which spotlights highly anticipated upcoming releases.

Title: Outrun the Wind
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Publisher: Flux
Publication Dates: November 27, 2018

The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.
To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.
She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly. 

Why I'm waiting on Outrun the Wind this Wednesday: Greek mythology, LGBTQ+ rep, and strong female characters? Um, yes, what more could you ask for?! I'm so excited for this one -- I'm a total sucker for Greek mythology and I haven't read a book about it in a while! Plus, I've never really read a book about specifically about Artemis and her huntresses! I've always been fascinated by Artemis so hopefully we get lots of cool scenes and information about her.

Have you heard of Outrun the Wind? Are you excited about it? Ugh, I don't know how I'm going to wait two more months before I can read it. This is definitely one of those books that I'm going to have to go to the bookstore to get the day it releases!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Top Ten Books By My Favorite Authors I Haven't Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl in which we share out top ten lists relating to the bookish topic assigned that week.

This week's topic is...

Top Ten Books By My Favorite Authors I Haven't Read

Save the Date by Morgan Matson || The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas || Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo || Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan || The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

These are all the books I still need to read/want to read by my favorite authors! I actually have a ton of Rick Riordan books I need to catch up on -- I struggled with The Heroes of Olympus series because there just wasn't enough Percy and Annabeth for me (and there was far too much Jason). 

What books by your favorite authors have you yet to read? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Review: Not So Nice Guy

Title: Not So Nice Guy
Author: R.S. Grey 
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary 
Publisher: N/A
Publication Date: August 9, 2018 
Source: Bought

"Oh my god. Who is that?"
I get asked this question a lot.
"Oh him?" I reply. "That's just Ian."
Just Ian is the biggest understatement of the century.
Just the Mona Lisa. Just the Taj Mahal. Just Ian, with his boring ol' washboard abs and dime-a-dozen dimpled smile.
Just Ian is... just my best friend.
We're extremely close, stuck so deep inside a Jim-and-Pam-style friendzone everyone at works assumes we're a couple - that is until one day, word spreads through the teacher's lounge that he's single. Fair game. Suddenly, it's open season on Ian.
He should be reveling in all the newfound attention, but to our mutual surprise, the only attention he seems to want is mine.
He's turning our formerly innocent nightly chats into x-rated phone calls. Our playful banter sports a new, dangerous edge.
I want to assume he's playing a prank on me, just pushing my buttons like always - but when Ian lifts me onto the desk in my classroom and slides his hands up my skirt, he doesn't leave a lot of room for confusion.
I'm a little scared of things going south, of losing my best friend because I can't keep my hands to myself. So, I'm just going to back away and not return this earth-shattering kiss - oh who am I kidding?!
Goodbye Ian, ol' buddy, ol' pal!
Helloooo mister not so nice guy.

This was my first R.S. Grey book in a while. I've always been hit or miss with her writing and the last books I read of her's -- Anything You Can Do -- annoyed me so much that I pretty much swore off reading her stuff. However, when I heard the summary and the hype for Not So Nice Guy, I decided to throw caution to the wind and give her another shot. And man, am I happy I did! Not So Nice Guy was a happy surprise of a read and one that has reignited my interest in R.S. Grey's other books!

My two favorite romance tropes are enemies-to-lovers and friends-to-lovers -- I love the tension and the conflict these two scenarios create so I was so excited when I heard the summary of this one. We were sort of thrown into Sam and Ian's (the main characters) friendship from the start which can sometimes lead to some reader whiplash or make me feel like I'm missing something but that absolutely wasn't the case with this book! I felt so comfortable reading about Sam and Ian as friends -- I loved their routine and the humor they shared and their fun traditions. It all felt really natural and it was easy to fall into. Plus, it made it all the better so see their friendship heat up. Their relationship -- both friendship-wise and romantic-wise -- was so rewarding and it made me want to read more and more about them!

One thing I wasn't super thrilled about was the direction and the pacing of the plot. Once things got rolling . . . holy cow, did they roll fast! I sort of felt like I was a little cartoon character hanging onto the bumper of a car racing down the freeway. Things happened really quickly and it made me sort of . . . sad. Like, it felt like we were supposed to believe all these really big decisions they were making were the right decisions just because they knew each other as friends. And, I mean, they did, but it just felt a little fake. Like they were rushing because they didn't want to slow down and consider their options or talk things through. I don't know, I just wished we'd been able to see more development of their romantic relationship at a more reasonable pace. 

Even though things did move rather quickly, I still enjoyed reading Not So Nice Guy. It had some great funny moments, a swoon-worthy friends-to-lovers story, and a super sweet romance. This book had definitely won me over and I plan to read more by R.S. Grey soon! 

“One second, he’s my best friend, and the next he’s the not so nice guy, the man who handles me like he’s barely resisting the urge to devour me whole.” 

Four out of Five Teapots

Friday, September 21, 2018

Writing Update #2

Writing Updates is a feature on Wonderland's Reader in which I  update readers about my writing journey, share writing tips and tricks I've found helpful, link to cool writing videos or blog posts, and share the occasional snippet from my current work in progress!

Happy Friday, friends! How's this week been for you and your writing? For me, this week has been amazing -- though not exactly for writing. I only wrote about one thousand words this week but I had a lot of other really amazing things happen! After having a bit of a rough summer, I can already tell that fall is going to be an amazing season and I'm so excited to write more and move forward with a couple exciting opportunities that I've found out about!

But! This is a writing update so let's get to the writing -- I wrote 1,078 words this week! That's not a whole lot but I'm actually really happy with all the words and think that I'm moving in the right direction with this story and these characters. I'm still firmly in the first act of this story -- I haven't passed 5K yet so very early stages still. But the more I dive into the world and learn about the characters, the more excited I get to continue working on it!

This week, I also discovered a new writing strategy that is really working for me! I've always been a fan of word sprints -- a thing on twitter where you time your and try to get as many words written in a specific amount of time! I sometimes do this with some friends but I've decided to start doing it myself using an app called Forest. Basically, this is a productivity app that motivates you to stay off your phone while you work for a certain amount of time. You set a time you want to work for -- I usually pick 20 minutes -- and at the start of that time, a tree or a bush is planted in your digital forest! If you exit out of the app and start using your phone, the tree or bush dies. So, basically, not killing your digital plant motivates you to stay off your phone and focus on whatever task you're trying to complete. 

Woo, that was a long explanation. But I use this app for my writing routine now! I try to write for at least three twenty minute sprints and use the app to keep track of the time and to keep me off my phone. That's one of my biggest challenges when writing -- remaining focused on the task! It's a nice challenge and I'm a total plant lady -- even digital plants -- so not killing the trees and bushes I plant in the app has been a good incentive for staying on task. 

This week, I also watched a writing video by Booktuber, Katytastic! In it, she explains how she outlines her novels! As someone who has always been a pantser, it's interesting to me to see the way people plot and outline! I've decided to loosely follow her outline plan but still stay true to the pantser in me. So, I only (very, very vaguely) outlined the first act of my book. Once I've finished writing that, I'll outline the second act and so on. It's been working for me so far and I'm excited to see how it changes me writing! I'll post the video below so anyone who's interested can watch:

Now, I want to start setting writing goals for myself every week! I love having something to work toward and I think this will help me make sure I sit down to write every single day a week. So, I think this next week my goal will be to hit the 6K mark! That will mean writing about 4K words this week which is totally doable! 

Even though there hasn't been a whole lot of words written this week, it was still a really productive few days and has made me excited to go into this next week and meet the goals I've set for myself! Now, to wrap up this update, I'm going to share another song from my writing playlist!

Castle by Halsey

So, that's been my writing week! I'm really hopeful and excited about the weeks to come and I can't wait to see where this story and these characters lead me. I hope you all have had productive and exciting weeks. I'd love to hear from fellow writers about their writing strategies and routines and maybe even do some writing sprints together! If you're a writer, connect with me in the comments below!

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