Monday, June 19, 2017

My April Reading: Stars, Minds and Robbers

My April reading is introduced to you by Valkopentu The Smol.

  • Estanislao Bachrach “The Agile Mind: How Your Brain Makes Creativity Happen” [Argentina]
  • Takako Shimura “Wandering Son Vol. 7” [Japan]
  • Karuho Shiina “Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Vol. 1-5” [Japan]
  • Kameron Hurley “The Stars Are Legion” [USA]
  • Nalo Hopkinson “Midnight Robber” [Jamaica, Canada]

The Agile Mind
“The Agile Mind is about the most precious mental talent we have: the ability to imagine things which have never existed and to create new ideas. This book demystifies the preconceptions we often have about how our brains function to show how creativity really works, and how we can make it work even better.
We used to think that creativity diminished through the lifespan, but we now know this is not the case. The brain can regenerate and continue learning until the last days of our lives. We can all become more creative if we use the right methods and techniques to stimulate our brains and broaden our minds.
Join us on a fun and amazing journey into the deepest reaches of your brain and discover an incredible range of tips and tools to be more creative and happier in all parts of your life.”

It's a good book but it didn't have that much new information for me, because I've read a lot on the topics of creativity and how brains work before. I expected more tips on increasing one's creativity but the exercises there were pretty basic. (I can recommend Jurgen Wolff's Creativity Now for more… well, creativity, though.)

Wandering Son Vol. 7
“Shimura Takako's groundbreaking, critically acclaimed, and beloved Wandering Son continues to explore gender identity among its cast of middle school students in our 7th volume.”

Enjoying this series volume after volume. The kids are growing up and are getting closer and closer to puberty, which for trans folks can be especially stressful. I hope they will be happy and it will go smoothly!

Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You
“Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine… for a horror movie. With striking similarities to a haunting movie character – jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor – she's mistakenly called Sadako by those around her. But behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Too shy to fit in, all she wants to do is make some friends. But when the most popular boy in class befriends her, she's sure to make more than just that – she's about to make some enemies too!”

I'm enjoying this series a lot! Sawako is so naive it's cute. Slowly she befriends people and learns about interpersonal relationships. Everything is new to her – going out to eat ramen with friends, giving gifts, smiling at people. =D There's a bit of romance but it's very slow-burning, since Sawako isn't exactly sure what to do with her budding feelings. =D But I don't mind. The manga isn't just about Sawako and the boy she likes but also about their friends who are pretty fun people to read about.

The Stars Are Legion
“Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars. For generations, a war for control of the Legion has been waged, with no clear resolution. As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.
Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation - the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan's new family is not the only one desperate to gain control of the prized ship. Zan finds that she must choose sides in a genocidal campaign that will take her from the edges of the Legion's gravity well to the very belly of the world.”

This was badass, fast-paced, and gross in that special Kameron Hurley way. Organic spaceships are cool in any shape for me, but the ones in The Stars Are Legion are just above your usual organic tech – they are whole ecosystems, huge worlds, where humans are just one of their many parts. I liked how the story unfolded, little by little, memories and levels of the worlds. There are only women in this book, so that means all relationships are queer by default without it being a big deal.

Also, I drew Das Muni, my favourite Legion character, check my drawing here. ^u^

Midnight Robber
"Midnight Robber" is a coming-of-age story starring Tan-Tan, a young girl who lives on a Caribbean-colonized planet named Toussaint. Beloved by both parents, Tan-Tan becomes the focus of a custody battle between the two. Her father, a local mayor, kidnaps her through a "dimension shift" to another planet: New Half Way Tree, where creatures from Caribbean folk tales are real. As Tan-Tan matures, her adventures become mythologized in local folklore until she takes on the aspect of the "Midnight Robber", a traditional sort of Robin Hood character from the Trinidad Carnival. The novel will take on the issues of colonized peoples, child abuse, and displaced persons trying to find new ways of life in a strange land.”

I wouldn't have picked it up if I knew what this book was really about. Midnight Robber isn't just a story of a girl who becomes a legend. It's also a story of a child raped by her father. This went on for years and she got pregnant twice during that time. There are many gross details, so I can't say I enjoyed reading this book. :( I did enjoy the worldbuilding – New Half-Way Tree is an interesting planet with sentient non-humanoids and other curious lifeforms. 

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