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review 2017-03-14 04:07
THE MYSTICS OF MILE END BY SIGAL SAMUEL
The Mystics of Mile End - Sigal Samuel

THE MYSTICS OF MILE END

Sigal Samuel

Paperback; 320 pages

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 13, 2015)

  • ISBN-10: 0062412175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062412171
  • also on Kindle

 

It took a while to "get into" this book. Set in Montreal, Canada in a Jewish neighborhood, the story follows a widowed father with his 2 children as the each deal with what being Jewish means to them.

 

Even with my slow start, I found myself liking the characters more and more. Sigal Samuel's writing style flows well as she tells first the son's story, then the father, and finally bringing everything and everyone together in the daughter's section. Even the neighbors and friends are developed well. A lot of questions, some answers, and an intimate look at each of the major characters as they look for the meaning in their lives.

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review 2016-09-18 17:34
Vigilante Season by Peter Kirby - My Thoughts
Vigilante Season - Peter Kirby

I enjoyed this second of the Luc Vanier crime novels.  While I don't love Luc Vanier in the way that I love Armand Gamache, I do appreciate and enjoy his darker and grittier tales.  

 

Set in Montreal once again, this time focussing on the Hochelaga district, Peter Kirby gets the atmosphere and locale pretty much bang on.  And this time, there's quite a bit of despair and darkness swirling around our hero, with the seemingly-hopeless case and the problems in his own personal life.  To be honest, while I don't mind gritty and rough, I could have done with a little less doom and gloom. Mind you, there is a dark side to many things Quebecois and Montrealais, so... I guess it makes sense.  *LOL*

 

So, all in all, a good read and one I can recommend if you like gritty police procedurals. 

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review 2016-06-16 00:18
Somebody's Daughter: Inside an International Prostitution Ring - Phonse Jessome

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

 

                Recently there has been much debate about what the correct response to prostitution should be.  Should sex work be made legal?  Should the buying of intercourse be outlawed but not the selling?  A total ban perhaps?

 

                I don’t know.  My opinion changes and changes.  And damn, I don’t know.

 

                One thing that practically everyone can agree on, at least I hope so, is that underage prostitution needs to end.  Though detailing a case from the mid-1990s, Jessome’s Somebody’s Daughter is a good example of way this should be so.  

 

                Jessome’s book details the investigation into a prostitution/trafficking ring that funneled girls from Nova Scotia and other areas into Montreal and Toronto.  The ring was controlled largely by men from the Halifax area.  Jessome is mostly concerned with following the outcome of the investigation as well as the struggles of some of the young girls to leave prostitution behind.  He also chronicles how the young girls became prostitutes and what their lives were like while in “The Game”.

 

                While Jessome does present a brief outline of the rise of prostitution in the area, and hints at the vast amount of money that can be earned, the focus is primary on the more personal stories.  This is hardly surprising because personal stories have an impact that raw statics do not have.  I did find myself wishing at times that I had better grasp of the finical situation.  How much in raw numbers did the various women in each “stable “bring in, for instance.  That aside, Jessome’s writing is gripping.  He does not make the young girls into hapless and passive victims.  The ones that he chooses to follow come from varying circumstances, so you are not hearing the same stories over and over again.

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review 2015-12-31 15:14
Honour on Trial: The Shafia Murders and the Culture of Honour Killings - Paul Schliesmann

I remember hearing about this case when it first happened and then the US media would mention it but not really focus on it.

Schliesmann's writing is good and gripping. You can easily see why he won awards for his reporting of the case. What stops this from being more than three stars for me is two reasons -

1. It is interesting that in a book about how men see women and honor that Schliesmann does mention, more than once, how the daughters and wife who were murdered were beautiful. He's right - they are beautiful. But then when he mentions the mother (also the wife) who helped with the murders, he points out that she wasn't that good looking (why she isn't as beautiful as her daughters and co-wife, she isn't ugly. She also gave birth to like 10 children, so maybe that has something to do with it). Why does either one matter? He doesn't talk about the men in terms of their looks. It felt a little strange.

2. At the end of the book I wanted something more. There is a nod, a single chapter, where Schliesmann ties the story into community and societal failures as well as other honor killings in North America. This chapter could have been longer, more detailed, more something. Was any change made in how things are run in Montreal so that more children couldn't fall though the cracks? How about immigration reforms?

Still, I am glad I read the book and it is well worth reading.

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text 2015-11-10 05:46
Montreal impressions #5

Day 5, Oct 19

 

My last day in Montreal, I mostly walked around. Saw a couple interesting street art objects. The statue of a computer guy was sitting in front of a small office in an historical building on one of the busiest avenues of the city.

 

The next statue was in front of an office high-rise. Seen from different angles, it presents different views of humanity. In front are the upstanding citizens, but close to the back, are the riff-raff, the poor, and the evil. A rather startling statue, inviting some heavy pondering.

 

 

Besides visiting churches and museums and admiring public art, I did some limited shopping too – impossible not to when you’re on vacation in a French-speaking city. Bookstores were my natural destination. There were many of them in the old city, more than I expected from all the grim news about bookstores closing down everywhere. In each store, maybe 2% of books were in English, the rest were all French. Obviously French bookstores are doing fine in Montreal. A morsel for your thoughts, folks. I heard in France bookstores are thriving too.

Strangely, I didn’t read much while on this trip. I had my Kindle with me but whatever I started from my Kindle collection wasn’t very interesting. I started and DNFed at least 3 books. The best of them was The Book of Dragons by Edith Nesbit, a collection of children’s short tales about dragons. I read a couple of stories. They were OK, but I’m not sure I will continue.

 

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