moonytoast's reviews
187 reviews

Queering Anarchism: Addressing and Undressing Power and Desire, by J. Rogue, Deric Shannon, C.B. Daring, Abbey Volcano

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challenging informative

4.0

full disclosure: i bought this because i found it in a bookstore around the time that broey deschanel uploaded a youtube video analyzing the original series of Sex and the City and i saw that there's a chapter in this book also dedicated to an analysis of the series. have i ever watched Sex and the City? no. but trust that i will always EAT UP leftist/anarchist analyses of random tv shows i have never watched in my life!

i think this is one of those nonfiction books that you happen to stumble upon at just the right moment for it to have a maximal impact. in the past few years, it's become increasingly clear about how much the State has failed everyday americans and marginalized communities. in the past month, we've seen the biggest push against numerous civil rights and protections from the U.S. Supreme Court in decades, when multiple of these justices were placed on the court by a president who lost the popular vote. and the list goes on... to the point that this book feels more relevant now than in 2012 when it was first published.

as most works of collected essays from multiple authors go, some essays can be just hit or miss. here's some of the standout chapters from this book (in my opinion):
  • de-essentializing anarchist feminism: lessons from the transfeminism movement
  • harm reduction as pleasure activism
  • tearing down the walls: queerness, anarchism, and the prison industrial complex
  • queer-cripping anarchism: intersections and reflections on anarchism, queerness, and disability
Bringing Down the Duke, by Evie Dunmore

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emotional funny lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.5

minus one star for the number of times biological essentialism shows its face in describing certain neutral things as particularly "masculine/male" or "feminine/male"... here are the most egregious examples in my opinion:

  • "a less discerning male eye"
  • "the singular male intent"
  • "feminine apprehension"
  • "her every feminine instinct"*

*I highlighted this quote and literally wrote in my notes "what does that even mean?????"

i understand that this isn't necessarily an uncommon language pattern in heterosexual historical romances, but it's a weird experience to see this in a story that is so explicitly about women's suffrage and trying to push back against the historical constraints women faced. evie dunmore does a great job of creating a really compelling narrative and romance for these characters, but it's hard for me to ignore the way that the biological essentialism seems completely anathema to the nature of the story. it feels like an oversight by an editor.

all that being said....... i did really enjoy this book! i think it's a testament to dunmore's writing that i still continued to be pulled in by these characters and their romance despite my gripes. i was really out here CACKLING at how straight up Obsessed montgomery is with annabelle to the point that i was so excited to see him lose his mind when he saw that painting of her as helen of troy. if you're a fan of rooting for a man's downfall (not derogatory) as he becomes the romantic lead, then this is for you.

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All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

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adventurous challenging mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Loveable characters? Yes

4.25

i absolutely ADORE murderbot i need to read the follow up novellas IMMEDIATELY

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The Girl from the Sea, by Molly Knox Ostertag

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hopeful lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Loveable characters? Yes

3.25

pretty basic but very sweet sapphic romance between a girl and a selkie 

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The Roughest Draft, by Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka

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medium-paced
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.25

i think some of y’all were lying when you said you enjoyed this better than Beach Read…….

now i want to come out of the gate with the fact that i do not think this book is bad and i enjoyed some parts of this story! the writing style is decent and i think the tension between the characters is compelling, but speaking of the characters... well, they're a bit bland. there's not much going on for these characters personality-wise besides their occupation and fervent need to write. katrina and nathan seem to only exist for two things: (1) writing, and (2) each other.

i'm a sucker for forced promixity and a Messy Contentious Past, but this just didn't really deliver on the second part. the ultimate reveal about the reason they split up as writing partners is SO DUMB.... truly astronomical levels of inane self-sabotage and unnecessary miscommunication. like part of me gets that katrina is scared of being happy and actually having a relationship with nathan, which they both know that they want—but then she convinces herself that what he wants isn't the real her, but a supposed "perfect fiction" of their potential relationship. GIRL WHERE DID YOU PULL THAT IDEA FROM????? AT WHAT POINT DID NATHAN EVER GIVE OFF THAT VIBE TO YOU??? and nathan you're not off the hook either! maybe this would have been solved easier if you didn't have to write your big love confession from the perspective of a whole SELF-INSERT fictional character

also at some point you really get tired of all the writing analogies this book throws at you

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A Lady for a Duke, by Alexis Hall

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emotional lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.25

coming at this book from the perspective of someone who has basically read little to no historical romance (outside of my appreciation of jane austen's works) is interesting, but this has made me feel compelled to read not just alexis hall's backlist but also more queer historical romance novels!

i absolutely fell in love with the characters of viola and gracewood. i think hall did a great job of building out their prior friendship and also their own respective traumas. their chemistry upon reconnecting is so intimate and has the kind of easy kinship that i really love to see in romance stories, but it's also distinctly different from the dynamic viola and gracewood had before the war. friends to lovers tends to be a hit or miss trope for me, but this really sold me on it because there's still a significant journey that these characters go through before they actually reach the lovers part of the trope.

the side characters were also a fun time! louise and badger eavesdropping on viola and gracewood by hiding behind a plant and then interrupting their conversation, miranda going to a costume party dressed as frankenstein's monster.... i love them your honor!!!!!

the last 100 pages kinda went on a wild journey and i definitely knew something was going to happen, but wow. my brain was just like: OMG we're getting a swordfight in a brothel between viola and amberglass??????? OKAY IDK WHAT'S GOING ON BUT I'M HERE FOR IT! i blame my general lack of experience with historical romance and also the fact i am currently hopped up on medication for the worst sinus infection i've ever had in my life, but i was not prepared for that.

overall this is definitely primed to become a favorite comfort read of mine so i might eventually change this to five stars upon a re-read, but it's still absolutely lovely the first time around!

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Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid

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emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

2.75

“we are all migrants through time.”

maybe would’ve rated this higher if there weren’t sentences verging on seven or more lines long…. if it would necessitate a block quote, it shouldn’t be a single sentence! trust me, this is coming from a resident long sentence girlie who constantly got feedback about how long my sentences were in my essays for high school. 

all in all though, this was a nice read and an interesting examination of how magical realism could impact our world’s sociopolitical climate and policies (i.e. nativism and immigration politics).

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The Empress of Salt and Fortune, by Nghi Vo

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emotional lighthearted reflective medium-paced
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.0

short but very lovely, a great bite-sized fantasy story about the big and small moments of history and the winding journey of a once-exiled empress from the north to becoming the sole monarch 

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Authority, by Jeff VanderMeer

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adventurous dark mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.5

while i do still enjoy this series so far, i think this particular book suffers from immediately following up annihilation, which was significantly shorter and, in my opinion, much better paced. this unfolds very slowly in comparison and — even though the story was still engaging overall and the writing style retains its tone — makes it a less enjoyable experience as it begins to feel like the narrative is lagging.

all that being said: i think the dynamic between control and the biologist was really interesting as the story played out and i liked where authority picked up from its predecessor by revealing that "versions" of the expedition members (including the biologist) have returned to the outside world, throwing the reader off given the ending of annihilation. there's an understanding of the fact that this is not the same biologist we knew and experienced in the first book, but we as the reader don't fully understand how much they remember and understand what happened in area x. that element as well as the revelation of certain things about the psychologist on the previous expedition were intriguing. 

***this rating may change once i have officially finished this series

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Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer

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adventurous challenging dark tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

in conclusion: what the actual fuck???????

ok i'm officially hooked by this brilliantly crafted story and the unnerving, preternatural mystery of Area X and all the weird stuff with the Tower. i don't read a lot of sci-fi/horror or books that have a "mystery box"-esque plot, but this has singlehandedly won me over to the point i feel the intense urge to immediately read all of jeff vandermeer's backlist of fiction books

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