From Moose to Moccasins
Kakwa Publishing / 13 January 2015

From Moose to Moccasins: A Step-by-Step Guide to Traditional Hide-Tanning by Jeff Coleclough Published by Kakwa Publishing Review by Keith Foster $17.50 ISBN 978-0-9781555-5-1 For those interested in traditional hide-tanning, From Moose to Moccasins: A Step-by-Step Guide to Traditional Hide-Tanning is the place to start. Jeff Coleclough’s 37-page, coil-bound manual is geared to a very specific audience – those who want to try their hand at turning a raw moose hide into a smoke-tanned piece of leather – and first-timers will likely be very happy this book exists. Sometimes all a person needs to start is knowing where to start, then how to keep going. Unlike instructions in so many owners’ manuals, Coleclough’s step-by step guide to tanning is easy to understand and follow. He takes readers through the stages of framing, fleshing, scraping and de-hairing, greasing, braining, softening, and smoking the hide. Since one step requires mashing the brains of the animal, this aspect may not appeal to those with weak stomachs. Coleclough recommends starting with quality materials, and moose hide as one of the best for making moccasins. “The grain is tighter, the leather wears like iron, and the thickness is excellent for cushioning the feet on rough…

Sweet Life
Coteau Books / 9 January 2015

Sweet Life by Linda Biasotto Published by Coteau Books Review by Alison Slowski $18.95 ISBN 9781550505788 Twisted and perplexing, Linda Biasotto’s short stories in Sweet Life convey all the sadness and mystery of the human condition. With stories about grief and loss, sibling rivalry, marriage, as well as resentment and anger toward tyrannical parents and spouses, Biasotto’s stories cover all the bases of life, and with a bit of dark humour as well. She creates stories the reader has no problem slipping into, to be introduced to another new character at every turn of the page and relating to that character’s struggle with ease. Touching on strange aspects of the personality of each new protagonist that the reader meets in every story, Biasotto introduces the reader to just enough questions to arouse speculation and suspicion. While one or two stories have some parallel plot threads, each story in Biasotto’s first grand collection is unique; a sign of masterful storytelling. In the short story “Sweet Life”, we meet a teenaged boy, Jude Allan, struggling to get away from family home life problems. He realizes he’s not as tough as he thinks he is when his best friend suddenly becomes ill. Jude…

Afghanistan Confessions
Hagios Press / 8 January 2015

Afghanistan Confessions by Victor Enns Published by Hagios Press Review by Justin Dittrick ISBN 978-1-926710-32-7 $17.95 Victor Enns’ collection, Afghanistan Confessions, is voice poetry that draws on the violence, chaos, death, and wholesale desecrations that mark the dimensions of war as experienced by soldiers on the ground. Written in the confessional mode, the poems emanate affective energy, and are compulsively readable. It is poetry for readers who wish to probe the unlapsing dominion war wields over those who pursue it, over those who must grow more or less accustomed to its atrocities and its ugly realities. It unapologetically presents mind and perception under the influence of war’s effects, beyond the domestic domain of ideological argument, as one of its speakers declares, “[t]his is my third tour, and I still want more/heat, dust, challenge and blood”. This collection’s presentation of war, its glimpses of sublime transfiguration, is endorsed in an afterword by Neil Maclean, a veteran of Bosnia and Afghanistan, which lends this sympathetic and intriguing collection even greater credibility. It is honest, unflinching, and fully alive as an account of 21st Century war, a subject matter to which the poetic of voice seems especially suited under Enns’ pen. The collection…

Gina’s Wheels
DriverWorks Ink / 7 January 2015

Gina’s Wheels by Mary Harelkin Bishop Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $13.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-12-8 I lived in Saskatoon for seventeen years, and during my frequent runs along the Meewasin Valley Trail, I would sometimes encounter a pleasant and energetic woman in a wheelchair. I recognized her to be Colette Bourgonje – one of Canada’s most accomplished Paralympic athletes – and I’m so pleased that the accomplished Saskatoon writer, Mary Harelkin Bishop, has penned an inspiring picture book celebrating both Bourgonje’s positive energy and achievement and the compassionate nature of a young child. Gina’s Wheels is based on a true story as experienced through a curious “real-life” girl named Maeve, whose mother co-taught with Bourgonje in a Saskatoon school. Impressed by Colette in the classroom, at three Maeve began using her own stroller like a wheelchair to “[explore] the world in a different way”. Harelkin Bishop – whose name many will recognize from her highly successful Tunnels of Moose Jaw Adventure Series – learned about Maeve when she was doing research for her biography, Moving Forward: The Journey of Paralympian Colette Bourgonje. Sometimes stories come about as if delivered on a plate, and kudos to the author…