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review 2019-03-14 22:38
The Book of Etta
The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere 2) - Meg Elison

With as much as I loved The Book of the Unnamed Midwife I had high expectations coming into this book - some of them were met and some of them weren't.


I quite enjoyed getting to see this world 100 years farther down the timeline, and getting to see the town the Midwife helped establish. Seeing how the ripples of the first book shaped this new world, at least in a small corner of it. It was also interesting seeing how different towns evolved to face the new paradigm in different ways. The world building in this book is top notch.


Much like the first book, this story focuses a lot of attention on sex and gender, which is one of the things I enjoy about the series. Our hero is Etta/Eddy, an individual struggling to more fully understand themselves and their own gender. I appreciated seeing a gender fluid character walk through this world - it brings up a lot of interesting questions. There are also some trans people represented in the narrative, which was also interesting.


My one issue is that it is implied Etta/Eddy's fluidity is a result of trauma, and at times it even reads a bit like Dissociative Disorder, which is not an accurate representation if Elison was attempting to describe the experience of being genderqueer (at least for most folks). Gender identity isn't something born out of a trauma response, and I found it troubling the book kept pointing in that direction. I'd like o give Elison the benefit of the doubt, but it did put my hackles up.


All in all this book was an interesting addition to the series, and I plan to read the third book when it hit shelves next month. I appreciate Elison's world building, and her focus on issues of sex and gender in the apocalypse. (Especially after reading another book *cough cough The Power cough* which handled the subject so poorly.)

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review 2019-03-08 03:36
Red, White, & Royal Blue
Red, White & Royal Blue - Casey McQuiston

Every once in a while my coworkers get so excited about a book they convince me to read it, even if it’s outside my usual wheelhouse. This was one of those occasions. I'm not a big romance reader, but I do have a soft spot for stories the feature queer relationships, and I am a total nerd when it comes to politics, so I figured I'd give this one a whirl. I was not disappointed. In fact, I found this one hard to put down.


The romance in this one manages to be both steamy and also very sweet. McQuiston is excellent at character development - Alex and Henry are multi-faceted, engaging, and have great chemistry (a must for a romance). As an added bonus many of the side characters were also fleshed out and interesting, and some of my favorite moments happened in the quiet moments between characters just talking. (This book also actually made me laugh out loud a couple times, which is a rare thing for me.) Of course no romance is complete without some Bad Things happening, and when they did my heart ached. That's how I knew I had grown to love these complex, imaginary people.


If romance is the plot of the story then politics are the setting, and McQuiston was up to this task as well. The politics are engaging, and point toward the current political landscape in interesting and occasionally gut wrenching ways. And the wind-up to the big election at the end had me anxiously turning pages. I wanted to spend more time in this alternate universe. Reading McQuiston's afterward only made me love the book and its politics even more.


Unapologetically sweet, steamy, political, and queer, this romance indeed had me falling in love. If queer love stories are your thing, if you're a fan of the "I Fell in Love with a Prince" trope, or if you like books with a dash of politics mixed in with the sweetness and snark, give this one a shot. I’m looking forward to meeting McQuiston this May!

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review 2019-02-07 23:10
This Way to the Sugar
This Way to the Sugar - Hieu Nguyen

This collection focuses primarily on Nguyen's experiences as both a gay man and also as the survivor of childhood molestation, and how those elements intersect with one another. There are also some stunning pieces in here on race and family. Overall the collection paints a deeply personal and revealing portrait of the author, formed from a place of raw honesty. It is a beautiful confessional. I had only intended to read a few poems at a time, but I ended up reading the entire collection in one sitting. Compelling, with a strong emotional core, the language Nguyen sculpts is interesting, fresh, and lyrical. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

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review 2019-01-24 02:41
Accelerants - Lena Wilson

I wanted to love this, but in the end it was a mixed bag for me. I really enjoyed the representation and the characters. The relationships felt authentic, and I was invested in the bonds formed over the course of the book. However, I didn't particularly care for the ending (that's probably a taste thing), and this novella suffered from the common problem many novellas have: it felt like the beginning of a longer story rather than a full and complete story of its own. I would happily read more from this author, but this particular offering felt like it wasn't quite finished.

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review 2019-01-23 23:33
Bestiary: Poems
Bestiary: Poems - Donika Kelly

Kelly's first poetry collection is a triumph. Her language is sensuous, raw, and honest - simultaneously spare and lyrical. Bursting with animal imagery the collection takes wing and glides. Her poems resonate with longing and vulnerability, and never shy away from dark truths. Unapologetically black, queer, and feminine this volume packs a hell of a punch.

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