Categories
Romance

Read Convergence

Read Convergence (Intersolar Union #1)

Olivia Loxley was a behaviorist with the Los Angeles Police Department. Until her specialty in profiling the human mind becomes of unique interest to Commander Atarian, that is.

When she wakes up in a cell on an alien spacecraft, she gathers her strength for a confrontation that never materializes. Instead, the man asks for her help in the largest raid he’s ever overseen: a pleasure cruiser christened the Paramour, which has been siphoning humans into galactic sex trafficking for months. But in order for his mission to go off without a hitch, he needs to impersonate a connoisseur of human flesh.

The real question is, will either of them be able to keep up professional boundaries? Or will they bow to their primal instincts?

Enjoyed this, will read the next book. The author did a great job with *alien* alien species, and deftly showed how the heroine adapted to being around aliens and thinking of them as people. The side characters are fun and have distinct personalities. I liked how they all immediately recognized her intelligence and skill and happily accepted her help, although they coulda helped her out with a little more info sometimes.

The opening setup was tough, I didn’t love that he abducted her even with noble intent, especially knowing that she wouldn’t be able to return. He did come to regret it and apologize, and she came to grips with it in a way that fit. It seems like he probably should have gotten in more trouble? (Ah, I see that the followup novella addresses this.)

The author really draws out the sexual tension. I understood why he didn’t just talk to her, but also, just talk to her dude.

Minor quibble that the ending drama wasn’t explained well / kinda came out of nowhere, but I presume it will be addressed as the books proceed.

Categories
Comics History

Read We Hereby Refuse

Read WE HEREBY REFUSE: Japanese American Resistance to Warti…

Three voices. Three acts of defiance. One mass injustice.

The story of camp as you’ve never seen it before. Japanese Americans complied when evicted from their homes in World War II — but many refused to submit to imprisonment in American concentration camps without a fight.

In this groundbreaking graphic novel, meet:

— JIM AKUTSU, the inspiration for John Okada’s No-No Boy, who refuses to be drafted from the camp at Minidoka when classified as a non-citizen, an enemy alien;

— HIROSHI KASHIWAGI, who resists government pressure to sign a loyalty oath at Tule Lake, but yields to family pressure to renounce his U.S. citizenship; and

— MITSUYE ENDO, a reluctant recruit to a lawsuit contesting her imprisonment, who refuses a chance to leave the camp at Topaz so that her case could reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Based upon painstaking research, We Hereby Refuse presents an original vision of America’s past with disturbing links to the American present.

Overall this was an effective and moving history. It was interesting to trace the path of three different forms of resistance. This expands on what I learned in Takei’s They Called Us Enemy.

Jim Akutsu’s story was the most fleshed out, followed by Hiroshi Kashiwagi’s. His could have used a bit more clarity, and I would have liked more on Mitsuye Endo.

Two artists use significantly different art styles to illustrate the stories. Though the art in Kashiwagi’s segment looked rough and sketchy, I did like it for the tone. I’m not sure it was complementary to the more traditional art style for the other two segments. Perhaps a third art style might have pulled the distinctive styles together better?

Categories
Fantasy

Read For the Wolf

Read For the Wolf (Wilderwood, #1)

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

Gnarly ending, but fitting. Parts felt YAish, probably because the heroine and her sister are twenty and blindingly dumb sometimes. I had to roll my eyes at the sister a lot — for someone trained to be queen, she is pretty oblivious. The magic system is cool and creepy and very bloody. I like the way the forest itself gets an arc. It’s a good Beauty and the beast retelling, though a weird choice to put so much weight in story on the red cloak, and to put it on the cover, so you expect it to be riding hood 🤷‍♀️

Categories
Getting Shit Done Writing

Read The 12 Week Year for Writers

Read The 12 Week Year for Writers

In this book we show writers how to use the 12 Week Year system to help them increase their productivity dramatically. The 12WY for Writers system, based on the principles of the 12 Week Year and honed over many years of helping students learn to write more effectively, is a strategic operating system for writers. The system helps writers answer the most fundamental and big picture questions: What is my vision for the future? What are my writing goals? What are the best strategies and tactics to achieve those goals? How can I manage my writing process to ensure that I stay focused, productive, and on track?

While the examples primarily draw from academia, the structure is also applicable to fiction writing. This book won’t help you figure out the steps of your writing project, but does seem very helpful for *accomplishing* the steps. I have some quibbles about his emphasis on grit, but agree with his overall philosophy of time >> writing and planning >> better, easier, faster writing.

I am excited to try out this approach in conjunction with Sarra Cannon’s Plan Your Writing Schedule workshop on YouTube, which starts by going through your calendar and identifying all the days you *can’t* write so you know exactly how many days are even available to you.

Categories
House

Read Jungalow

Read Jungalow

From Justina Blakeney, the ultimate guide to designing wildly creative interiors that are free-spirited, layered, and deeply personal Jus…

I dug a lot of her example rooms. I especially liked the first section of the book where she created mashups of two cultures. It also resonated with her sharing her family heritage and personal feeling of being mixed culture being an important part of her. The pattern and materials section was usefully presented. The DIY section was quite short and didn’t add much, I would have dropped that and expanded the first section or dug into color more. I appreciated the variety of plant metaphors they used throughout 😉

Succulents spill out of drawers in a tall chest of drawers
I love the casual spillover of plants though wonder if that’s a nightmare to water – and also makes the rest of the drawers harder to use

 

A bureau is decorated with white varied patterns, a light yellow wall and gold framed mirror behind
This gold toned vignette feels so warm and fun without being overwhelming

 

Pink bedroom with hot pink walls and lamp, patterned pink headboard, pink art, and a pretty calathea with pink stripes
😍 I love love love this pink immersion – my office wall is a similar hot pink and I’ve contrasted against it but this is spectacular
Pale pink walls and copper scalloped tile bathroom with scallops extending over the vanity as a backdrop
I really like the scallops as a backdrop on the vanity, adding an elegant feminine detailing against the dusky pink – I like the sheen of the dark copper with the pink
Categories
Science Fiction

Re-watched Dune

Watched Dune: Part One from m.imdb.com

A noble family becomes embroiled in a war for control over the galaxy's most valuable asset while its heir becomes troubled by visions of a dark future.

Previously watched:

July 2022

October 2021

 

Visual storytelling / world building just fantastic. Very artsy for an action movie. He uses the hauntingly large spaces to good psychological effect — nowhere for the characters to hide.

What is Leto’s bull? Being honorable and going to Arrakis even though he knows it’s a trap? Thinking he can do anything better than the bad guys when he’s still a colonizer? That he still doesn’t listen to his sense of danger (or doesn’t have enough of one), just in a different way than his father? I also don’t get his last line.

Good night, the volume on this is terrible for home audiences. We were constantly cranking it to hear the story, then lowering it for dramatically overwhelming music. They needed another mix for streaming than studio audiences.

Categories
Humor Romance Science Fiction

Read Krash

Read Krash (Dakonian Alien Mail Order Brides, #7)

When a dating agency claims to match Earth women with extraterrestrials, fraud investigator Cyan Blue goes undercover as a client to expo…

A funny premise to this novella. Love the skeptic assuming everyone is just really good at cosplay when they’re all aliens 😂

Had to roll my eyes at a line that has the skeptical heroine who debunks supernatural claims trashing on atheists. Um, really? Doesn’t believe in anything else without evidence but believes in God? 🙄 That’s the author going for a cheap laugh.

The misunderstanding at the end was a bit contrived. I also thought her affections towards him built too quickly, but that is common in novellas 🤷‍♀️

I kept waiting for her name, Cyan Blue, to be revealed as her undercover name, but it was real? 🤔 A beta reader should have called that out.

Categories
Art and Design House

Read Modern Americana

Read Modern Americana

Do-it-yourself décor inspired by iconic patterns, classic fabrics, sentimental items, and the Americana style.Designer Max Humphrey celebrates the elements of modern Americana and shows how they can drive personal decorating styles in traditional country settings, contemporary urban lofts, and everything in between. Humphrey gives readers confidence to create their own stylish digs with unique flair using things they collect, buy, inherit, or dumpster-dive for.

Photos and personal anecdotes highlight collectibles and DIY-ables from Max’s design and styling portfolio—such as bandana wallpaper, botanical prints, bunk beds, clocks, old maps, gingham and plaid everything, Pendleton blankets, camp vibes, and vintage signs. The book features casual and thrifted as well as custom and high-end furnishings and includes design elements from a range of Humphrey’s interior design projects from East to West coasts.

This was focused on the pictures, which are what I came for 😉 Brief introductory paragraphs and short captions offered the perfect amount of text to call my attention to the highlighted item in the photo spread. The page design was attractive and varied to complement the style of the photo or design element — my one quibble is that I found it a little confusing when the title for a double-page spread was on the right-hand page instead of the left.

I liked the way this was organized, by material type or design element (e.g. fabrics, collections, tile). It covered a lot of ground so there were only two to four pictures for each specific example (e.g. denim, canvas, within fabrics). That seemed fine since elements were also scattered throughout the designs pictured throughout the rest of the book, so you could see those elements in use in more examples.

The designs broadly felt very complementary, clearly designed and styled by the same person. Just a couple examples that felt slightly more on the modern side than the americana side, but that seems fair given the title 😉

Categories
Romance

Re-read A Lot Like Adios

Read A Lot Like Adiós (Primas of Power, #2)

Hi Mich. It’s Gabe.

After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.

It’s been a long time.

Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him.

I’ve missed you.

Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface, and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again?

Still great on second read! She did an excellent job highlighting their emotions throughout, and how it changed their perspective. I related to their difficulties with their attitudes about work.

The action is maybe a little light, but the character arc and relationship work was so well done I didn’t mind that they didn’t actually do a whole lot. The sex scenes do heavy lifting on relationship building and characterization, are important to the story. The condom buying scene is hilariously cringe.

Appreciate that they are a non-traditional couple in that they don’t want kids, and don’t actually want to get married, but still find a way to be together that works for them.

Also that cover art 😍

Categories
Romance

Re-read The Soulmate Equation

Read The Soulmate Equation

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before her daughter was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get ‘to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Second read.

The heroine’s stubborn insistence on being a dishtowel in all situations except one that might make her happy is verrrry frustrating. Her willingness to subsume herself for her daughter grated — at the beginning she says she’s going to give up on finding a partner till her daughter is eighteen, eleven years in the future 😳 Like why hasn’t anyone talked to her about not making her daughter solely responsible for making her happy, there’s a recipe for some future trauma — she was so scarred by her mother not caring for her that she’s overcompensated to the point she has almost no life besides her kid.

Some of the scenes with the kid dragged, detracting from the romance. I imagine for single moms reading it might better match their experience of fitting a partner into an existing relationship between parent and kid 🤷‍♀️

It’s interesting to see Christina Lauren’s shift as a writer from hot impulsive people in their twenties to middle-aged single mom and business focused dude — a shift I would guess matches their own life path, even if it doesn’t resonate with me.

See also: first read in 2021