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!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Review: My American Duchess

Title: My American Duchess 
Author: Eloisa James 
Genre: Adult, Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 26, 2016 
Source: Bought

The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford - an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fianc├ęs.
But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.
The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear: All is fair in love and war.

I've been really feeling historical romances lately! Normally, I'm not a huge fan because I feel like they all tend to be very similar (or, at least, more similar in my view that contemporary romances are to each other) but the past few weeks . . . I don't know, they have just had the perfect mix of what I've wanted in my romance books! I especially love reading them when they feature strong female characters and My American Duchess has just that!

Merry was probably my favorite part of this book. I loved her, even if she did sometimes frustrate me. She was very level-headed and strong -- it was refreshing to see her holding her ground and staying true to what she wanted. I also really appreciated that, despite the societal backlash, she wasn't afraid of embracing her American-ness (though I wish it wasn't mentioned as often as it was -- it was a bit overboard) and always stayed true to who she was. In general, she was an amazing lead and I loved reading about her journey toward fully embracing herself as well as her journey with Trent! 

Trent was lovely. He was definitely the typical arrogant Duke so often found in historical romances but he held a certain charm that endeared me to him. I liked how respectful he was and how he also fully accepted Merry, despite what his peers thought or said about her. They had a lot of really sweet and cute moments that, while not necessarily crucial to the plot, made me root for them and want to keep reading. They made a nice couple and I enjoyed seeing them slowly grow from acquaintances, to friends, to more.   

One of the problems with this book (and so many other historical romances) is the insta-love. Like, I get couples back then didn't get to know each other as intimately as we do now but I'm not a fan of how Trent had one conversation with Merry and then knew that he *had to* marry her. At that point, I just didn't feel the connection between them and it seemed a bit far-fetched that he could feel so passionately after about five minutes. But I get this is kind of a staple in historical romances (at least the ones I've read) so I tried not to let it bother me too much!

This was my first Eloisa James novel and I enjoyed it a lot. I plan to read more of her books soon and more historical romances in general! This book definitely left a smile on my face so if you have any recommendations for other books to read by Eloisa James, let me know in the comments!

“She was everything he'd ever wanted in a woman, and nothing he'd ever thought to find in a lady.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday #136

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

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely 
Author: Brigid Kemmerer 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's 
Publication Date: January 29, 2019 

Fall in love, break the curse.
It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. 

Why I'm waiting on A Curse So Dark and Lonely this Wednesday: Ohhh my goodness, this sounds so good. I'm a total sucker for retellings and this one sounds so dark and atmospheric and lovely. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney Princess movies and I'm always eager to see how people reshape it in retellings! I'm looking forward to picking this one up ASAP!

What is your favorite sort of retelling? I've been so excited to see all the unique and interesting retellings coming out recently -- seriously, I never get tired of them. If you have any suggestions for retellings, let me know in the comments below! 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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