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Kushiel's Avatar - Jacqueline Carey

[livejournal.com profile] metonymy warned me that the third volume in this trilogy got dark, and crikey, yes, it does. It has the decency to get dark in the middle third and then lighten itself up again when our intrepid heroes (now a trio after picking up an adolescent boy) venture into Africa and also end up exploring the history of the equivalent of the lost Jewish tribes who know the name of God. I'm sure I could have a whale of a time thinking about the theology of it all, not least Carey's actually very strong writing about the experience of being led by the divine into places you really don't want to go - that was an unexpectedly strong element of this book, after the politics of the previous volume, that I thought she worked out exceptionally well. However, I'm reading this lot primarily for my own entertainment, so I'll say that while there was a very deliberate attempt to make the reader extremely uncomfortable, it was set in a plot-appropriate place, and the rest of the book deliberately allowed space for the characters to find closure and healing from that experience. Which is important too.

Yes, I'll be moving onto the second trilogy. I really do enjoy Carey's writing - it's sophisticated enough to demand attention, it moves along at a good pace, and the dialogue occasionally allows itself to be ridiculously tongue in cheek and light-hearted to balance out some of the other material. All of which are generally good things.

Redefining Girly - Melissa Atkins Wardy

I noticed this book first in the book reviews section of Bitch and figured it looked interesting. It is. It's one woman's description of how she found her own experience with her daughter being totally shaped and moulded by forces that she really didn't like, didn't expect and didn't quite know how to deal with - so while there was plenty of academic stuff out there, here is an attempt to provide some practical solutions and guidance. The set phrases of things you might say and house rules you might employ were particularly good in this regard, and actually a lot of them would work for dealing with boys as well as girls.

One issue others might find with this book is that it's very much set in the American context, and while we have a Princess Problem in the UK, it's not half as bad as the one in the US, or of some of the other gender expectations that get played out - at least, I've not heard anyone talking about primary school teachers segregating activities by presented gender, but maybe I'm just not talking to the right people. The US focus doesn't bother me, not least because I've had a bit of experience of living in that culture so it doesn't feel alien; others may object more.

Atkins Wardy, incidentally, is the founder of Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies, from whence the book has sprung, so if you want to get a feel for the sort of thing discussed, that's where to go.

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