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review 2020-06-14 00:38
Inheritances sellable and not
The Telling - Ursula K. Le Guin

I don't know what it is with Ursula Le Guin, but every one of her books, whatever the rate I end up giving the whole, have at least one instance where she emotionally wreaks me, and it's always exquisite. It's like looking at the page and feel like telling her "Damn, that's one beautiful dagger you are stabbing me with"*

I feel like pointing it out just because in this case, since it happens to clear my 3stars Le Guin base bar with ease to nestle by World is Forest, Forgiveness, and Left Hand. Maybe even like a caveat. Just so I can qualify that I'm biased and it's all emotionally stabbed city here.

And what stabs ME particularly, beyond the punctual sad, is the theme. While at first sight the theme seems to be religion and spirituality vs technologic advance or consumerism, what it's actually about is culture and all the infinite components that make it, and all the ways introducing an outsider element, even with the best intentions, can fuck it up enough for it to devour itself, or at least severely up-heave and endanger, what it's about is balance, and fanaticism, and dogmatic corruption. The Telling is the passing of cultural information. In it's basis, it's words, stories, oral and written, and funnily enough, when it comes down to it, science and religion are part of it, right along with dances, meals, music, rites, customs, history.

That is my interpretation for this book. As a person that loves books, and myths, and folklore, that seats to watch movies and series as a bonding activity with my family, that cleans while blasting music, that was taught religion formally even if never practiced, that learnt my regional dances from my grandmother and uncles, to cook from my grandfather, to love reading from my mother, and science from my father, this is like a love letter received, and like a verbalization of all that strange juggling or balancing act one does inside with all the pieces that make home/root/culture and seem incongruous, or even like they'd require alternate suspense of disbelief and double-though. Culture is a mess, and it's incongruous, and unfathomably vast, and it's made of big and little pieces that sometimes contradict, and it does never really make sense. But it's the ground you stand upon; to try to erase it is to loose your step. And its life-blood is the word.

*(and if you get internet in heaven, I hope you get this... from my catholic raised, agnostic leaning towards atheism ass... which is a bad joke that only makes sense in theme)

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review 2020-04-18 21:33
Luxurious package takes some unpacking
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - Angela Carter

Do I dare call this full of symbolism, and therefore feel the need to scratch under the surface of these tales? Then again, is there any fairy tale worth it's salt that is not so.

Lets start saying that the way this is written is incredibly sensual. I was surprised because I was sure the first tale (The Bloddy Chamber), would turn up into a hardcore purple prose BDSM. It does not become explicit, but the erotic charge and the tug of war between desire for freedom and sexual or base hungers, innocence and a curiousity for corruption, is heavy and all encompassing on that one and several others in this collection (The Tiger's Bride, The Erl-king).

Puss in Boots was hilarious in all it's terribleness. Not one character in it can be called good, our narrator least of all, and yet. Lots of laughing OMG, no!


The Snow Child was... How do you pack it that fast? It takes infinitely more to unpack.

All of them are incredibly evocative. Also disturbing. Oh, and they screw with your mind with the POVs and tenses too.


I'm a still quite discombobulated by much of this, and I'm pretty certain I don't get even most  of what this is conveying, but frankly, at some point I started researching some fairy-tale stuff for background, and found out there are whole freaking books essaying on the meanings of this collection, so I reckon I'm good enough just keeping it floating on the back-burners of my mind.

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review 2020-03-26 04:56
Time travelling tales
The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate - Ted Chiang

Very 1001 Nights style with a matrioshka element. Revisits a bit the determinism theme of "Story of your life", but the final message is somewhat kinder.

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review 2019-12-16 11:53
REVIEW BY MERISSA - Tricked Into It (War Of The Myth #3) by Miranda Grant
Tricked Into It (War Of The Myth #3) - Miranda Grant

@MirandaCGrant, #Paranormal, #Romance, 4 out of 5 (very good)


Tricked Into It is the third book in the War of the Myth series, and we get Charlie and Jack's story. Charlie is a human being held captive by Sebastian, her son, Tony, being used to ensure her compliance. Jack is Jack, the ultimate trickster with a secret and a heart of gold, even though he hides it well.

I found this to be extremely well-written, with Charlie's emotions when rescued being spot on. As a mum, I would have tried anything to get back to my child, which is just what Charlie did. Jack does what he can, bending the rules where possible, to help her. He is fighting a losing battle with the 'thing' inside him, and now finding Charlie, he feels like he is losing it.

As always, the characters are brilliant. I did take some time to reconnect with them as it has been a while since the first two books came out. This just meant that I got to learn their witticisms and quirks all over again, which is not a bad thing in my book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story AND the epilogue. If I had anything 'bad' to say it would be that it finished all too quickly for my liking. It certainly left me with questions unanswered! Definitely recommended by me.

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *

Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

Source: archaeolibrarian.wixsite.com/website/single-post/2019/12/12/Tricked-Into-It-War-Of-The-Myth-3-by-Miranda-Grant
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review 2019-10-07 20:55
Gender Mosaic
Gender Mosaic: Beyond the Myth of the Male and Female Brain - Luba Vikhanski,Daphna Joel

[I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

That was pretty much preaching to the choir here, so I’ll admit my bias from the beginning—I’m absolutely not convinced, science or no science, that gender has very legitimate foundations, and that your genitals determine how you behave, what you like, who you are, and so on. It doesn’t make sense to me that so many people insist putting everybody in a tidy little “man OR woman” box (and when you stand out of the box, you’d think it threatens the very foundations of -their- identity, which makes me think that there’s something fishy here anyway). So, I was definitely interested in reading more about this concept of gender mosaic, and… well, -this-, on the other hand, makes sense to me.

“Gender Mosaic” explores the binary perception of gender, how people in general tend to ascribe this behaviour as “masculine” and that behaviour as “feminine”, but also how we’re actually very, very seldom made of only masculine or only feminine traits. Most people have a bit of both, but due to the importance placed on gender (re: the little boxes I mentioned), what is seen as “deviations from the perceived norm” is usually also seen as something to stamp out, to hide, to reject (another of these things that make no sense to me: what does it matter that a little boy likes playing with dolls? What’s so frightening about it? That this kid will become a good father later?). Our genitals are part of our biology, sure, but they’re not the only factor that plays a part in how our brains develop: it’s not only about hormones, it’s also about external influences, social ones, stress, etc. Especially stress: this isn’t something I would have researched in relation to gender, not at first sight, and yet, in hindsight, studies that focus on this don’t look out of place.

Which begs the question: what truly affects us? Does a man behave “like a man “because he was born with a penis, or because external (social) pressures exerted on him since birth have affected him? If “boys don’t cry”, is it because they can’t (beats me why they have tear ducts, then), or because they are repeatedly told almost since birth that “real men don’t cry” (and shunned accordingly if they dare cry)? Are girls naturally better at cooking because they have a vagina, or because they’ve been traditionally stuck into staying at home and cooking? Are such differences between genders valid, or are they here in the first place because social expectations have increased them? And what of people whose traits don't lean enough towards one gender—too often, they're dismissed and conflated into the gender other people think is theirs, and this is harmful. A mosaic is a much healthier approach to this, to understanding what makes us human first and foremost.

Having a look at the various studies referenced throughout the book, I don’t think I’m an exception in leaning towards the latter explanations rather than the former ones. Said studies are also quoted in understandable, laypeople terms, and I found their relevance easy to grasp. Finally, I liked that “Gender Mosaic” discusses the scientific side, but also goes further in exploring what it means from a societal point of view: how we raise children, especially, and how so many pervasive behaviours that look “innocent” are actually deeply biased.

While I enjoyed these aspects, though, I’d also have liked seeing more clarity in terms of actual differences. “Men are like this and women are like that” arguments are all too easily used to claim that “men are superior to women” or “women make better parents”. However, science has also shown that there are physiological differences (not necessarily in brains—for instance, the way symptoms announcing impending cardiac arrest aren’t exactly the same in women as in men, causing too many of the former to be misdiagnosed, just like “male” is still too often used as the default template for “human” in many medical studies). It’s not that “Gender Mosaic” doesn’t mention it at all, but I found the line a little blurred here. For me, the problem is with gender (= the social & formative aspect, what it imposes on human beings, how it shapes them through peer pressure), which doesn’t mean that sex (the biological/genetical aspect) should be downplayed. I think the book wasn’t too clear on that, or perhaps went a little too quickly about it, and as a result, it would be easy to misunderstand it in parts.

This said, when it comes to genders, behaviours perceived as associated to genders—then, yes, my own perception of it, my own experience, definitely point me towards “this is indeed blurry, because we’re not made of all or nothing, and that blurriness is expected”.

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