Daily Archives: May 28, 2008

Strangers in Paradise – Review

I feel as if I am the last person to read Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore. My best friend Carmen gifted me this graphic novel a couple of years ago. She’s been my underground railroad of literature, since my entire family, boyfriend and other best friend started enforcing a book buying ban. Carmen would smuggle me books on holidays, birthdays and graduations. Its a fun little loop hole that I looked forward to every time. Family and friends have since given up trying to prevent me from acquiring books so long as I get rid of some to make room for the new additions.

Well, onto the review.
Katchoo, an independent, intelligent and pretty girl, in love with her roommate Francine, was living a pretty typical life, until quiet yet brooding David enters the scene at an Art Museum one day. In a graphic novel filled with love polygons, this book does not cease to entertain. Being a graphic novel, the writing is sharp, hilarious and wonderfully matched with descriptive illustrations. We are taken into Katchoo’s world, and are brought into her vulnerabilities, her strengths and her courage. Set in a blur of money embezzlement and crime bosses; Katchoo, Francine and David live in a typical world, filled with typical emotions of heartbreak and the tight bonds of friendship.

This is a pretty short review, I’m not sure what else to say. If you haven’t read it yet, then I don’t know what you are waiting for, if you like comic books and graphic novels that is. Its a fun read, the characters and storyline are well developed and the storyline progresses at a steady pace. There wasn’t a dull moment, but then again, I was trapped in an airplane for 3 hours, so this read was a pleasant way to pass the time.

Find this book at your local library

Strangers in Paradise
by Terry Moore
ISBN 1892597268
344 pages

Bookstores

One of my favorite things to look up when I travel is used bookstores. These bookstores are what give a city its individual flavor, encapture its originality and gives a sneak preview of what locals read, as opposed to mass market appeals of chain bookstores like Barnes & Nobel and Borders.

I try to avoid B&N and Borders as much as possible, opting for local Mom & Pop bookstores that, in my opinion, tend to put more thought and care into the presentation of the bookstore and the overall atmosphere.

I haven’t traveled to many places, but I have come across a few notable Used Bookstores that I think require at least poking your head through the door, if not actually purchasing a few books.

In no particular order:
After-Words Books
23 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL
(312) 464-1110

This place is comfy, a little hole in the wall bookstore that is about 3 blocks off the Magnificent Mile, and can be easily missed…Don’t miss it!!

They had a great selection of materials, cleverly named sections (Spring Training for sports books, Sandstorms for books on the Middle East). The staff is friendly, its a two-story building, with a reading area downstairs complete with sink and 4 computers for internet access. Prices are moderate, but there is a special rack for autographed books and advanced reading copies.

Eliot Bay Book Company
101 S Main St, Seattle, WA
(206) 624-6600

I’m pretty sure this has been my favorite bookstore to date. Its a few blocks away from the Waterfront in Seattle’s downtown Financial District. It feels old and rickety due to the wooden interior, but its in very stable condition. The books are unique and range from various topics and prices. There is a strong selections of zine’s and the staff recommendations are some of the best books I have read. They also host author readings, from local and well known authors.

Seattle Mystery? Bookshop
117 Cherry St, Seattle, WA
(206) 587-5737

Now, this bookstore was really hidden and tucked away in a lonely little street also in downtown Seattle. This bookstore caught my eye, just by the sign hanging outside the door. Seattle Mystery? Bookshop. The entire bookstore is all mystery books. I’m not a big mystery reader, but I do appreciate that there is a huge population of mystery readers out there in the world. I even picked up 3 complimentary bookmarks that have quotes, which are taken from some of the worst written mystery books out there. Hilarious quotes.

Recycle Bookstore
1066 The Alameda, San Jose, CA
(408 ) 286-6275

This is a good local, for me, bookstore that I like to frequent. Its a pretty large bookstore, with really good staff recommendations as well as a friendly in-house kitty that comes across your way every once in a while. Great selection, great prices, great location as well. Its walking distance from Peets and Starbucks (which are also right across the street from each other).

and…

I should mention Powell’s bookstore, but its so well known, that I don’t want to say too much about it. There are 3 Powell cousin used bookstores in Chicago, but I only went to one on Lincoln St. Even though they had a good selection and it was in a two story building, the bottom floor was so crammed with books, that I almost passed out from lack of air to breath.

I’ll try to add more to list as I go along. I’m always glad to take recommendations also.

Laughing Without an Accent – Review

Firoozeh’s follow-up to her freshman bestseller Funny in Farsi, is not quite as funny. Laughing Without an Accent is a more mature book, filled with stories of Firoozeh’s adulthood, instead of her childhood.

If read this book expecting it to be as funny as her first book, you’ll be disappointed. If you read this book trying to understand how a Persian woman, married to a French man is trying to raise their children and live in a diverse population, then you’ll be satisfied. A few of her stories get repetitive, especially when you see the same exact sentence in 2 or more chapters. But, even the repetitions add a different spin and fill in some gaps to a previously told story. One chapter I loved included a monkey jumping on Firoozeh’s balcony when she was five years old, and also a lesson to be learned from the story about experimenting with new foods in different countries.

Its not laugh out loud writing, its more shake your head and wonder. Mostly at the people around Firoozeh, racist teachers and difficult Iranian governments.

The book is a quick read, but with a good chunk of political and social commentary. It will probably hit home for a lot of Persian-Americans, and other Middle East cultures, since many of the cultural, filial sentiments are the same (ie. Middle Easterns love to feed people. Its our number one hobby in my opinion). It is also a more toned down way for other cultures to read and learn that not all Middle Eastern people are terrorists. There is a large number out there are hard-working, good, decent human beings.

Find this book at your local library

Laughing Without an Accent
by: Firoozeh Dumas
ISBN 9780345499561
226 pages