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review 2014-05-18 23:32
Not great, but not bad
From a Whisper to a Scream - Charles de ... From a Whisper to a Scream - Charles de Lint

Charles de Lint has been one of those writers that I have been lukewarm about.  I’m not sure why, but there it is.  I can say that the odds of my picking this book up at a reminder sale would have been close to non-existent if it hadn’t been for two Goodreads friends and their absolute, but critical, love for de Lint.  He owes them drinks, dinner, a free book, an autograph. 

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review 2014-05-16 16:41
Like Montreal? Good history.
Marguerite Bourgeoys and the Congregation of Notre Dame, 1665-1700 - Patricia Simpson

I love Montreal.  It reminds me of Philly.  Old and New.  Weird and wacky.  As a bonus, it’s in Canada so you can find books, you can’t find in the United States.

                My favorite place in Montreal (at least from the stand point of a non-resident who has been several times) is Notre-Dame de Bon Secours.  Now, I know as a tourist, you are told to go to the big Notre Dame.  Don’t get me wrong – that’s beautiful.  Wonderful ceiling.  But there is something about Notre –Dame de Bon Secours.  Perhaps because it in its simplicity, it is more religious.  It is more about faith than being impressive.

                Or it could simply be because the founder was a woman who stood out from her times.

                This is the second volume in what is, basically, a two volume biography of Marguerite Bourjeoys.  It concerns her later years and ends with her death in 1700. 

                If you don’t know anything about Bourjeoys, let me point out a few things.  She was born in Troyes, France. She, basically, became a nun, even though she didn’t join an order. She traveled to Montreal where she was to be a teacher, though that did not happen for several years.  She founded an order whose main focus is teaching.  She traveled back and forth to France from Montreal – by herself, something women really didn’t do.  In fact, her order was uncloistered and its members would travel to teach – religion, housekeeping, reading, writing, and other skills.

                Simpson’s prose is elegant and easy to read.  She also places Bourjeoys in the context of her times.  Therefore the Sister Tardy episode (a sister of the order claimed to have visions stating that Bourjeoys was not religious) is place in relation to massacre that occurred four months before. 

                Both books are biographies, so if you are not religious but interest in history, you can read them without being treated as a convert in the making.  If you are religious, Simpson includes much about the history of religion in Montreal. 


Visit the church and museum when you go to Montreal.




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review 2014-05-03 22:09
Fun, if not great
The Rebellion Mysteries: Turncoat, Solemn Vows, Vital Secrets - Don Gutteridge

This volume is apparently the first three books in the series.  The first three books cover the span of roughly a year and take place in the area of Toronto just prior the Upper and Lower Canadian Rebellions.  The central character is Marc, a soldier who finds himself tasked with solving mysteries.

                Of the three books in this volume, the first “Turncoat” is the strongest, and the last “Vital Secrets” is the weakest. 

                “Turncoat” is a good strong entry.  The solution to the mystery is believable and the female characters, including the love interest, are well drawn.  Marc is likable.  “Solemn Vows”, the second installment, continues this trend, though I would have like to see more development in terms of Marc and Beth’s relationship before the declaration of love.  “Vital Secrets” makes Marc a man of too many skills, which I found to be a bit of a turn off.

                However, the books are entertaining to read and would make a good television series.  I will look for the others in the series.


(If you like Murdoch Mysteries, you should like this).

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review 2014-04-15 01:26
No ice cream here
A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation - Catherine Allgor

Dolley Madison is my favorite first lady.  I’m sorry Michelle, but she is.  The whole story of her marriage to Madison, her saving of the Washington Portrait.  The fact that she reminds of the Unsinkable Molly Brown as played by Debbie Reynolds (Look, I don’t know why, she just does).

                This book looks at the influence of Dolley Madison on the not only the role of the First Lady but on politics, the argument being that the role of women in the political system has been vastly overlooked.

                It’s true that there is some repetition of phrases that goes beyond the “repeat key ideas” rule, but it is a pleasant read that moves along at a quick place.

                While Dolley’s role in the rescue of key items from Washington DC is detailed, the focus is on Dolley’s influence in terms of greasing the wheels of politics.  This includes how and with what she decorated the White House, what she wore and so on.

                In other words, the intense gaze that lasers in on Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton, just to name two, didn’t start recently. 

                Depressing, but true.

                And Dolley stayed in Gray’s Ferry.  I doubt she would recognize it now.

                It should be noted that the Madisons’ as slave owners is not whitewashed.  In fact, Allegor’s harshest criticism of Dolley appears here, and it is done in the terms of history and Dolley’s character.

                This book is an ideal read in addition to the work of Cokie Roberts.

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review 2014-03-29 18:38
One of those nice freebies
Cartier's Ring - Pearson Moore

This kindle freebie was quite a pleasant surprise.  The story is about the founding, discovery, exploration, first contact, first nations of Canada, in particular Quebec.  The central character is Myeerah, though there is a large supporting class – all of whom are different so the reader does not get confused.

                The focus is primarily on the First Nations.  I’m not an expert, but it does seem as if effort and research were made to make the First Nation tribes portrayed as realistically as possible.  Myeerah sees herself as a member of one tribe, but another wants her back.  

                It is part romance story, and all the characters are neatly flawed.  The only criticism is that the pacing seems a bit off in terms of high points and denouncements.  They are built up to, but their placement in the book makes the novel seem slightly longer than should be.

                However, it is a good book.

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