Book Review: Shortcomings


Adrian Tomine

Drawn & Quarterly

104 pages

Ben Tanaka is a your typical twenty something.  He lives with his girlfriend Miko in San Francisco and works as a manager in a move theater.  He is not quite content with his life though.  Miko is doing her best to keep their relationship alive, but Ben is having none of it. He puts no effort into his relationship, yet is suprised when Miko decides to move to New York for film school.

Although he was against her leaving, Ben is quite the playboy.  In fact, one of the issues in his relationship with Miko is the fact that he has an attraction to “white” girls, ie non Asians. He quickly tries to pick up a young girl who works in the same movie theater as he does.  When that doesn’t work, he moves onto a bisexual woman, who ends up dumping him to return to her ex girlfriend.  Eventually Ben realizes he misses Miko, so he follows her to New York . . .

My experience with graphic novels is extremely minimal, so I am still finding my ground and discovering what I enjoy.  I enjoyed Shortcomings immensly.  I am always amazed at how much can be conveyed through a short graphic novel, and this was no exception.  I was completely drawn into Ben’s life and his relationships.  I rooted for him but I also chastised him.  Like a lot of twenty something men, Ben had no idea of what he wanted and was not mature enough to give Miko the respect she deserved, even if he was unable to provide her with a loving relationship.

Shortcomings has only whetted my appetite for more graphic novels.  I would also be interested in reading more of Tomine.

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Avid Book Reader


The Zen Leaf

Jenny’s Books

I borrowed this book from my local library.

This book counts towards the GLBT challenge.

The Sunday Salon

I hope you all are having a great Sunday.  My husband and I were out late last night for my best friend’s birthday, so we slept in late this morning and have been taking it easy ever since.  The best kind of Sunday is a lazy one!

I have been woefully slow with my reading lately.  I suppose you could say I am in a reading funk.  I read only one book this entire week–The Color Purple, by Alice Walker.  There is a read-a-long going on for this book, so I went ahead and read it since I already owned it and had been meaning to read it anyway.  Other than that, I have read one chapter out of A Short History of Women, by Kate Walbert, and I have decided to forgoe this one indefinitely.  It is for my bookclub this coming Wednesday, but it appears that every single one of my fellow book club members hated it, so I decided to skip it.  I rarely ever do that, at least without giving the book a fighting chance, but I am just not in the mood for this particular book right now, and the fact that none of my friends liked it makes me leery.

So instead of reading A Short History of Women today, I am going to start Red Hook Road, by Ayelet Waldeman.  I think it sounds like just the type of story that will catch my attention and get me out of my funk.  I hope the rest of you get some reading in today too!

Book Review: Charity Girl

Charity Girl

Michael Lowenthal

Mariner Books

336 pages

Ok, so you know how sometimes I start off my reviews by saying that the description of the book really drew me in?  That was definitely the case with Charity Girl, by Michael Lowenthal.  The book is premised on the idea of “charity girls” during WWI.  A charity girl would be a gal who would have sex with the soldiers in order to boost morale, if you will.  However, when you have a lot of people having casual sex, STDs become a problem.  Syphilis is one of the major STDs going around left and right, and in order to keep the venereal diseases at bay, girls who are found to be suffering from them are quarantined against their will in group homes.  The viewpoint during this time is along the lines of protecting the poor, innocent soldiers who have to protect themselves from wild, trampy girls. Unfortunately for Freida Mintz, she gets caught up in all of this brouhaha. 

Freida is a factory girl living in Boston during the war.  Not yet 18, she has run away from home but is thrilled to be making it on her own.  She loves to go out dancing with her friend and although times are tough, she has a great outlook.  Then her life is turned upside down by a boy—Felix Morse.  Felix is a soldier and his father is a high rolling businessman.  Nonetheless, Felix and Freida fall in love, which, in turn, leads to the consummation of their relationship.  Not long after, Felix is discovered to have syphilis and what does he do but point the finger at Freida! This draws the attention of Ms Sprague of the Committee on Prevention of Social Evils Surrounding Military Camps.  Mrs Sprague is on a mission to keep the health and souls of the soldiers clean and she is after Freida.  Freida escapes by leaving for Fort Deven to find Felix, but she is apprehended before she sees him and admitted into a group home, where she and other girls her age are basically imprisoned.

Sounds too far fetched to be true, doesn’t it?  I would tend to agree.  I have no idea if this is something that really went on during WWI, but I have never heard of it, nor have I found any evidence to support it (not that I did any research—I just Googled it).  If it is true—it is shocking but not surprising. 

I really had a bone to pick with both Freida and Felix.  With Felix, it was hard to determine whether he was being genuine or a total creepster.  He always had a good excuse for the missteps he made and he would then make it up to Freida, only to make another mistake soon after.  Freida was reprehensible as well because she just kept making excuse after excuse for the way Felix was behaving.  I guess maybe I can see the first few times but come on—the guy played you.  By the end of the book, I was pretty much fed up with Freida.

Overall, I thought this was well executed historical fiction.  And let’s be honest, plotlines don’t get much more interesting than this!

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I borrowed this book from my local library.

Library Loot

It’s been awhile since I posted my library loot.  It is not for lack of trips, as I still go to the library as often as before, so I guess the reason would be laziness.  Anyway, I am super excited about my books this week, so I decided to post about them.

Book Review: How to Mellify a Corpse

How to Mellify a Corpse

Vicki Leon

Walker & Company

336 pages

I graduated college in December 2007.  Since that time, I have not missed all the homework that had to be done, including the relentless amount of papers assigned.  I do feel like I do miss all the learning though.  I feel like I don’t always choose the most worthwhile books to read, and “learning’ is not one of my top priorities when choosing what book to read next.  When How to Mellify a Corpse came onto my radar, I was a little unsure about but I figured I would give it a try.  I mean, I figured I would learn something!

How to Mellify a Corpse is a brief education on ancient history.  The nice thing about it is that Leon infuses some humor into the book to ensure that it is not too dry.  Sometimes the humor was a little off, but most of the time it made the subject matter a little easier to swallow, especially considering it wasn’t too “in your face”. Instead, the humor was a bit tongue in cheek.  When writing of ancient Rome, Leon muses

Nocturnal beauty treatments were just the noxious beginning. Onto clean faces, Greek and Rome women buffed quantities of white face powder.  The most popular–and deadly–was made of pure lead carbonate (toxic leftovers have been found at various archeological sites).  For exclusivity’s sake, fashion leaders among the Roman elite demanded an expensive powder made from the white excrement of crocodiles.  Or, if croc supplies ran low, just a dusting of arsenic.  White chalk and orris root also served as face powder and were safer, too, although most women took a pass, because, you know, they just didn’t cling that well.


Leon was also very adept at writing in a style that drew the reader in and made the subject matter easily comprhensible. Case in point, this excerpt on Pythagoras–

On many issues, he took unusual stands compared to other teachers.  He was for ethics in business, against abortion and suicide.  Conservative when it came to sexuality, Pythagoras insisted on minimal hanky-panky among his flock.  Coitus was for procreative purposes only; his advice was to take up a lyre or take a cold shower.  Despite his hard line on sex for other people, Pythagoras fell for a local teen named Theano and married her when he was fifty-six.  In short order, they began producing a houseful of young Pythagoreans. 

Overall, I am glad I gave this book a chance.  It definitely served its purpose in my mind, by giving me a dabbling of ancient history from all kinds of different cultures.  The downside was that it was a much slower read because it was not the type of book I am used to reading, but it was educational all the same and definitely a change of pace from what I usually read. 

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Devourer of Books

I received a copy of this book for review.

The Sunday Salon

Happy Sunday everyone!  You may have noticed (or perhaps not) that I didn’t post last Sunday.  I think that is the first time since I started this blog that I have missed a Sunday Salon.  Things have just been so busy and sometimes life gets in the way of blogging.  I am back though and raring to go!

It’s pretty rainy here right now and I am back in bed now watching TV and catching up on my blogging.  Hubby and I slept in today and that went to Waffle House before we had to take the four hour drive to drop my stepdaughter off.  Now I am just ready to relax the rest of the night.  Hopefully I will get to read a little more today–I would like to get some more of The Brothers Karamazov read because while I did have a head start on the read-a-long, I have now fallen behind!

Since my last TSS, I have read Imperfect Birds, by Anne Lamott, How to Mellify a Corpse, by Vicki Leon, Charity Girl, by Michael Lowenthal and Wildly Romantic, by Catherine Andronik.  Today I finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  I will admit that I didn’t want to read this one at all–it just didn’t speak to me.  I did finally give in though because I figured there must be a reason everyone is gushing over it.  I hate to say I think my gut reaction was right–this book was ok, but not great.  So I will admit to being a little disappointed.  I have now moved onto The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, for the read-a-long that is cohosted by Nicole over at Linus’s Blanket. 

I hope everyone enjoys the end of their weekend!