Romance Science Fiction

Read Darker Space

Read Darker Space (Dark Space, #2)

Brady Garrett is back on Earth. He’s living with his pa…

Sequel to Dark Space.

I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I would not have guessed the ending. Looking forward to reading the next book.

Art and Design Places

Read Uncommon Places

Read Stephen Shore: Uncommon Places

“Uncommon Places: The Complete Works” presented a definitive collection of the landmark series, and in the span of a decade has become a contemporary classic.

Beautiful photos of ugly places. The color and lighting are lovely. He lends a loving eye to the peeling storefront, the kitschy motel decor, the empty intersections crisscrossed with wires. It doesn’t feel like he is mocking the people or places he photographs, but accepts them for what they are. Some of the images are hard to separate from retroness, especially ones featuring a lot of old cars, but some of the places are as familiar today as they were fifty years ago. I’m always confused and enticed by the story of abandoned places and buildings. So much of the West still feels empty and worn down.

I’m not sold on the name Uncommon Places except as counterpoint: to me these places feel very commonplace, anyplace, everyplace. Americana in all its consumerist, sprawling, dingy glory and decay.

At least some of the collection is viewable on his website.


Read Come As You Are

Read Come as You Are

Researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop a “pink pill” for women to function like Viagra does for men. So where is it? Well, for reasons this book makes crystal clear, that pill will never exist—but as a result of the research that’s gone into it, scientists in the last few years have learned more about how women’s sexuality works than we ever thought possible, and Come as You Are explains it all.

The first lesson in this essential, transformative book by Dr. Emily Nagoski is that every woman has her own unique sexuality, like a fingerprint, and that women vary more than men in our anatomy, our sexual response mechanisms, and the way our bodies respond to the sexual world. So we never need to judge ourselves based on others’ experiences. Because women vary, and that’s normal.

Second lesson: sex happens in a context. And all the complications of everyday life influence the context surrounding a woman’s arousal, desire, and orgasm.

Cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines tells us that the most important factor for women in creating and sustaining a fulfilling sex life, is not what you do in bed or how you do it, but how you feel about it. Which means that stress, mood, trust, and body image are not peripheral factors in a woman’s sexual wellbeing; they are central to it. Once you understand these factors, and how to influence them, you can create for yourself better sex and more profound pleasure than you ever thought possible.

Learned lots of interesting things, especially in the first section. I didn’t love the examples of real people. The last chapter has a clear connection to her next book Burnout, here emphasizing completing the cycle of emotions rather than stress.


Read The Story Grid

Read The Story Grid

The Story Grid is a tool developed by editor Shawn Coyne to analyze stories and provide helpful editorial comments. It’s like a CT Scan that takes a photo of the global story and tells the editor or writer what is working, what is not, and what must be done to make what works better and fix what’s not. The Story Grid breaks down the component parts of stories to identify the problems. And finding the problems in a story is almost as difficult as the writing of the story itself (maybe even more difficult.)
The Story Grid is a tool with many applications:
1. It will tell a writer if a Story “works” or “doesn’t work.”
2. It pinpoints story problems but does not emotionally abuse the writer, revealing exactly where a Story (not the person creating the Story…the Story) has failed.
3. It will tell the writer the specific work necessary to fix that Story’s problems.
4. It is a tool to re-envision and resuscitate a seemingly irredeemable pile of paper stuck in an attic drawer.
5. It is a tool that can inspire an original creation.

Ironically, this dreadfully needed an editor — concepts were poorly explained, and the chapters were not organized in a way that I found helpful.

I did get one good takeaway from it: thinking of each part of the story in terms of inciting incident through climax. I also liked framing the crisis as a question. There are some other ideas on the verge of helpful but not quite sufficiently explained for me to use them.

The last hundred pages is a breakdown of Silence of the Lambs, which I flipped through but didn’t read because I found the movie pretty disturbing.


Read In the Middle of Somewhere

Read In the Middle of Somewhere (Middle of Somewhere, #1)

Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

I enjoyed this though it was pretty angsty, with lots of self-doubt on both leads’ parts, and violent histories. Good meet-cute. I liked the best friend Ginger. I read the POV character as much younger than he was, early-twenties rather than the thirties I think he’s supposed to be, he was pretty lacking in self-confidence and whiny (though understandable based on his history). Sex scenes are pretty graphic, and maybe too many? Pretty long but it didn’t drag — though not a ton was happening in the story, mainly emotionally. I didn’t expect the way it ended but it worked.

I’ll skip the next book because I’m not interested in a lead who verbally and physically abused his younger brother (the lead in this book).

I might read the third one, which was set up in this book, though I’m a little iffy on the age difference.


Read Status Update

Read Status Update (#gaymers, #1)

Adrian Gottlieb is winning at life. He’s a successful video game designer with everything a man could ask for, including a warm comfy ride to Denver and a date for his sister’s wedding. But he finds himself in need of a total reboot when he’s left stranded at a snowy campground in Utah. Holiday plans? Epic fail.

That is until Noah Walters offers him shelter for the night and a reluctant cross-country ride. Nothing about the ultraconservative geoarchaeologist should attract Adrian, but once he discovers Noah’s hidden love for video games, the two connect on a new level. Soon, a quiet but undeniable chemistry sparks.

Something doesn’t add up, though. As the miles accumulate and time runs out, Noah must face the most difficult choice of his life. Meanwhile, Adrian must decide whether he’s ready to level up. Is their relationship status worth fighting for, or has this game ended before it’s even begun?

This was cute.

I read the third book in this series in 2019 and couldn’t tell you anything about it, maybe I should re-read it?


Re-read Dearest Rogue

Read Dearest Rogue (Maiden Lane, #8) by Elizabeth Hoyt


Lady Phoebe Batten is pretty, vivacious, and yearning for a social life befitting the sister of a powerful duke. But because she is almost completely blind, her overprotective brother insists that she have an armed bodyguard by her side at all times—the very irritating Captain Trevillion.


Captain James Trevillion is proud, brooding, and cursed with a leg injury from his service in the King’s dragoons. Yet he can still shoot and ride like the devil, so watching over the distracting Lady Phoebe should be no problem at all—until she’s targeted by kidnappers.


Caught in a deadly web of deceit, James must risk life and limb to save his charge from the lowest of cads—one who would force Lady Phoebe into a loveless marriage. But while they’re confined to close quarters for her safekeeping, Phoebe begins to see the tender man beneath the soldier’s hard exterior…and the possibility of a life—and love—she never imagined possible.

Re-read Duke of Midnight recently, which made me want to re-read this too. I really like the hero and heroine’s relationship and how it progresses. The heroine is frustrated with her situation, but quickly learns to separate him from his role as her guard and see him for himself. Her anger at feeling caged in is legitimate… but considering she faces four attempted (two successful) kidnappings maybe her brother has a point with the guard? 🤔 Love how the hero basically snaps and gives in mid-book. The villain’s explanation is nonsensical and pretty bleah given he’s a hero of a future book.

Last read in 2021.

Science Fiction

Watched Chappie

Watched Chappie from

In the near future, crime is patrolled by a mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.

I was not expecting that ending! I liked it though.

They did such a good job with Chappie’s rabbit ears. Between the ears and the “eyebrows” and “mouth” he’s very expressive.

Hugh Jackman was almost unrecognizable to me with the mullet 😂 He made a good dumb bad guy.

Romance Science Fiction

Read Ice Planet Barbarians

Read Ice Planet Barbarians (Ice Planet Barbarians, #1)

You’d think being abducted by aliens would be the worst thing that could happen to me. And you’d be wrong. Because now, the aliens are having ship trouble, and they’ve left their cargo of human women – including me – on an ice planet.

And the only native inhabitant I’ve met? He’s big, horned, blue, and really, really has a thing for me…

Now that I’m writing sci-fi romance, I knew I’d need to read Ice Planet Barbarians, even though what I’m writing is basically space opera centered on a relationship versus alien mates (a large part of the SFR sub-genre so far). It’s *the* SFR book right now, reaching the top 5 books sold on Amazon in June. Like, up there with James Patterson. For a self published book, that’s incredible, let alone a self-pubbed book about sexy first contact.

Its popularity has spawned lots of knockoffs in the six years since it originally came out. Turns out I read one of them in December, which was basically a reskin except for the climax.

They’re each pretty short (~200 pages on Kindle) so I cranked through four in one night. It’s a masterclass in compelling the reader to be interested in the next book, seeding curiosity about the next couple that will be featured. I didn’t plan to read four in a row, but I was drawn to continue.