Yes, and Back Again
Thistledown Press / 21 January 2016

Yes, and Back Again by Sandy Marie Bonny Published by Thistledown Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $19.95 ISBN 978-1-77187-052-8 I didn’t know Yes, and Back Again was going to be that kind of book. I picked it up in the evening, intending to read only the first ten pages or so, then planned to devote the following day to it. Well, I finally put it down on page 110, and only because it was hours past my bedtime. This novel swept me up like the roaring South Saskatchewan River snatches debris off banks in the springtime. Saskatoon writer, artist, and educator Sandy Marie Bonny has crafted an ambitious story that melds history and the present, addresses cultures (specifically the Métis), and makes friends of wildly disparate people. There’s also a strong Tim Horton’s presence, text messaging, online police bulletins, and Facebook: talk about keeping it real. Bonny unrolls two parallel stories: one concerns a young high school math and Life Skills teacher, Neil, and his writer\researcher wife, Tanis. They’re tired but excited. They’ve just purchased an old home on Saskatoon’s west side (Avenue L), and their daily life includes making the former rental house livable (ie: removing the wheelchair…

Lake in the Clouds
Coteau Books / 21 January 2016

Lake in the Clouds: Shards of Excalibur Book 3 by Edward Willett Published by Coteau Books Review by Courtney Bates-Hardy $14.95 ISBN 9781550506167 Lake in the Clouds is the third installment in the Shards of Excalibur series. If you haven’t read the first two books, beware of spoilers. You’ll want to read the entire series for continuity. When we last left Ariane and Wally, they had just been separated by the evil Merlin-turned-computer-tycoon, Rex. Wally has been taken in by Rex’s smooth talk and lies about Ariane and her ever-growing power. Wally is about to discover that Rex isn’t as nice as he pretends to be. What does Rex have planned for Wally? Ariane is busy sorting through her anger with Wally for betraying her and giving the second shard to Rex. She doesn’t have a clear direction without Wally but she’s determined to find the third shard anyways. Rex finds that he is at a standstill when it comes to finding the third shard and is left with no other option but to reach out to Ariane. However, that doesn’t stop him from threatening her family along the way. Will Ariane be able to find the third shard and…

Bread to Share, Volume 2
Three West Two South Books / 21 January 2016

Bread to Share . . . Stories about Saskatchewan’s early Lutheran pastors and their wives”, Volume 2 by Lois Knudson Munholland Published by Three West Two South Books Review by Keith Foster $30.00 ISBN 978-0-9735234-2-3 In volume 2 of Bread to Share, Lois Knudson Munholland shares more experiences and hardships endured by Lutheran pastors and their wives, primarily across Saskatchewan, but also in other parts of Canada and the United States. A Lutheran pastor herself, Knudson Munholland spent decades compiling the material for her books. The pastors are listed alphabetically by surname. After relating the experiences of the ministers, Knudson Munholland devotes space to their wives, lists the names of their family members, and provides references. Her sources include personal interviews as well as local history books, supplemented by more than ninety-five black and white photos. Knudson Munholland explores the rigours of ministering to the needs of rural communities. Pastors would travel by wagon, sleigh, or on horseback as the need arose. One minister travelled by bicycle, with his wife riding on the crossbar. Those lucky enough to own a vehicle often had to travel on roads that were neither paved nor gravelled, and the gumbo soil brought its own…

Queen of the Godforsaken
Thistledown Press / 21 January 2016

Queen of the Godforsaken by Mix Hart Published by Thistledown Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $14.95 ISBN 978-1-77187-063-4 I took a plethora of notes while reading Mix Hart’s SK-based young adult novel, Queen of the Godforsaken, because there’s a lot going on across the 293 pages it encompasses. The fictional driver of this story, Lydia, is a veritable storm-cloud of teenage hormones – part girl who still plays with Barbies, part woman who feels responsible for her entire family’s welfare – and she might do or say just about anything. Feisty Lydia; her year-younger and equally sarcastic sister, Victoria (Lydia alternately considers Victoria her best and only friend and also gives her the moniker “Prissy Tits”); their pot-smoking and under-employed professor father; and their dangerously-depressed mother move from Vancouver to the paternal homestead on the Carlton Trail near Batoche, and the adjustment’s hard on everyone. First, there’s the weather. Hart ably details the brutal prairie winters, where eyelids have to be pried apart, snowstorms make prisons of homes, and even the family dog tries to avoid being outdoors. The physical cold parallels Lydia’s temperament as she navigates trials at home and school in nearby “Hicksville”. Lydia, the “ice queen,”…