Child of Dragons
Serimuse Books / 20 April 2017

Child of Dragons by Regine Haensel Published by Serimuse Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $14.95 ISBN 9-780993-903212 Saskatoon writer Regine Haensel recently released Child of Dragons, Book Two in her fantasy series, The Leather Book Tales. This ambitious publication follows her 2014 novel Queen of Fire, which was nominated for a High Plains Book Award. In the new novel we journey with restless sixteen-year-old Rowan as she searches for two missing children, is romantically pursued by two young men, and benefits from the protection of a foreign soldier with a penchant for making cryptic statements, like “There is no end to a circle … and when you stand at the centre you can see it whole” and “The moon rises in the evening, until it does not.” There are numerous interesting characters in this hard-to-put-down tale, and the author does a splendid job of making each distinct and memorable with her keen gifts for dialogue and physical description. The book’s opening image depicts a small caravan of horse riders, oxen and wagons crossing a “dun-coloured land” near Aquila, City of Eagles, to Vatnborg, a city on a lake. Like all good writers, Haensel quickly moves from scenery to scene,…

Queen of Fire
Serimuse Books / 26 April 2016

Queen of Fire: Book One of the Leather Book Tales by Regine Haensel Published by Serimuse Books Review by Allison Kydd $14.95 ISBN 978-1495909511 The first part of a trilogy, Queen of Fire is a fantasy novel suited to a young adult or even juvenile audience. Not that the tale is simple and straightforward. There are actually dozens of people to sort out and an assortment of special, even magical, powers. I am reminded of my sons playing Dungeons and Dragons. They spent so much time designing their characters and their characters’ special gifts, but little on the game itself. Or perhaps that was the game, to imagine the possibilities. In this instance, special gifts may return in later novels. The main action of this novel begins with fifteen-year-old Rowan, who lives with her mother, a healer and herbalist, in an isolated cabin on the edge of a forest. Rowan is a typical teenager, longing to test boundaries and resenting the one she loves the most, as her mother represents rules and limitations. All too soon, the girl really is on her own and must discover wits, powers and endurance and find guidance among strangers. She also discovers something her…

The Other Place
Serimuse Books / 18 September 2015

The Other Place by Regine Haensel Published by Serimuse Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $12.00 ISBN 978-603-8919-58-3 Regine Haensel’s first collection of stories, The Other Place, is so easy to read, one need only invest a few hours, yet the compelling linked stories and their credible protagonist – Greta, a young German immigrant – remain with the reader in the way one can still feel the warmth after a good friend has been to visit. Firstly, the book is physically enjoyable to read. The double-spaced lines are literally easy to see, and the paper used is noticeably whiter than in most books, so the black print stands out. This is rare and especially welcome. The attractive cover features multi-coloured circles (slightly reminiscent of a Spirograph design) against a lime green background, and offers no clue – not a bad thing! – as to what’s inside: nine stories about introspective Greta’s often difficult assimilation into a small prairie community. In her words, she “Wanted to get good at forgetting sad things.” I believe Saskatoon-based Haensel has drawn deeply from her own personal experience, as a quick internet search reveals that she was born in Germany and moved to Canada in…

Shade and Sorceress
Coteau Books / 24 December 2014

Shade and Sorceress by Catherine Egan Published by Coteau Books Review by Regine Haensel $12.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-514-6 The Mancers, ancient scholars, magicians and mystical protectors, have come looking for Eliza Tok. Long ago, the Mancers separated the One World, Tian Di, into two, for the protection of humans. Eliza’s world is Di Shang, and the other world is Tian Xia. The Mancers want to bring Eliza to their Citadel to begin teaching her to become a sorceress like her dead mother, and help guard the Crossings between the worlds. But Eliza shows no signs of magical abilities and all she wants is to go home to her father and her friend Nell. There are others looking for Eliza, spies of the Xia Sorceress. She is the most terrible, ruthless and evil being in the worlds. The Mancers, with the help of Eliza`s mother, imprisoned the Xia Sorceress years ago in the Arctic of Di Shang. Finally, after what seems to be a fruitless time of study, the Mancers put Eliza to a test. They give her Shang Sorceress clothing and a staff, and send her to battle a hound of the Crossing. And “something deep inside her, deeper than a…

Boy
Hagios Press / 7 November 2014

Boy by Victor Enns Published Hagios Press Review by Regine Haensel $17.95 ISBN 978-1-926710-14-3 I first met Victor Enns when he was Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, work which he did extremely well. With Boy, his fourth book of poetry, he shows more of his varied abilities, and tells us: “The Gretna yard is still the place I dream from” It is often a childhood place that holds us captive, helping to define our adult selves. Though Enns was born in Winnipeg, he grew up in Gretna, Manitoba. Currently, he works as Publishing and Arts Consultant for Manitoba Culture, Heritage, and Tourism. Enns attended the University of Manitoba, and was a founding board member of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. The book contains haunting, humourous, and singing poems, some with a twist at the end that makes us see the world differently. It begins with the experiences of a toddler connecting with his mother, and progresses into the early teen years of peer friendship in the city of Winnipeg. We find the interconnections of family life with the singular experiences of one boy growing up. But these poems do more than merely evoke an idyllic prairie childhood. It is…

Dementia Prevention Naturally
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 23 September 2014

Dementia Prevention Naturally: Evidence-Based Strategies to Enrich Cognition by Felix Veloso M.D. with Roxanne Veloso-Tang and Joanne Veloso Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Regine Haensel $18.88 ISBN 978-1-927756-11-9 We are all getting older. “If you live long enough,” writes Dr. Felix Veloso, “you will either develop dementia or care for a loved one with the mind-robbing curse.” Felix Veloso, M.D., F.R.C.P. (C), F.A.A.N. is a Saskatchewan neurologist who has been practicing for over forty years. He is a professor of clinical medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. His book, Dementia Prevention Naturally, does not claim to diagnose, cure or treat any disease; rather it suggests strategies that can help keep us cognitively healthy. The book gives definitions and information about various memory impairments, such as Age-Associated Memory Impairment, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and disease driven dementias. Statistics, information from patient case studies, as well as data from reports and research studies are provided. Also useful are the notes at the back of the book, as well as a glossary and index. The reader is taken through some of the tests, evaluation methods, and criteria to…

113 Boathouse Hill

113 Boathouse Hill by Joyce Olesen Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Regine Haensel $17.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-26-3 “The land breathes life – of the ancient times when the first tipis stood over those stone rings, of the days when five children romped over the hills and fields, and of a time when those children, now grown to middle and older age, came home again.” So writes Joyce Olesen in the last chapter of her memoir. It is a wonderful journey she takes us on, with evocative writing that brings the 1950’s of a farm family to life for the reader. Olesen was born and grew up in southwest Saskatchewan, and has lived in various parts of Canada, including British Columbia, New Brunswick and Alberta. For the last forty-two years Swift Current has been her home. She is a member of the Prairie Quills writers’ group. The book takes us all the way back to Norway in the late 1800’s, where Olesen’s paternal grandfather and grandmother were born. “…I touched the big rock near her old home and thought about her as a young woman …” We follow the young people to the United States, and in 1915, to…

Recipes I Stole From My Mum
Lisa Lambert / 20 August 2014

Recipes I Stole from My Mum by Lisa Lambert Published by Lisa Lambert Review by Regine Haensel $19.95 ISBN 978-0-9917434-0-7 Recently my book club discussed favourite cookbooks that we used regularly. If I’d had this one at the time, I’d have taken it along. Lisa Lambert is a trustee with the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Board of Education. She grew up in Saskatoon, cooking and baking with her mother. Lambert has also collected inspirational quotes over many years, and combined this with recipes that have endured in her family, to create Recipes I Stole from My Mum. The author has updated her book with a new introduction that honours her mother, Marilyn Wilchuck, and her two grandmothers. The book definitely has a family feel, with the sorts of recipes that get handed down through the years. The book is divided into sections: Appetizers & Beverages, Breads & Muffins, Cakes & Cookies, Desserts, Main Courses, Salads and Soups, Squares, and Vegetables. From a soup made with fresh mushrooms, to Shrimp Scampi, and Macaroni and Cheese Casserole ,these recipes run the gamut from elegant to hearty comfort foods. Ethnic delights such as Spaghetti Bolognese, Greek Ribs, and Doche rub shoulders with old…

Jonah’s Daughter
Benchmark Press / 24 May 2013

Jonah’s Daughter by M.C. Conacher Published by Benchmark Press Review by Regine Haensel $16.95 ISBN 978-1-927352-02-1              Jonah’s Daughter is M.C. Conacher’s third published book, and is dedicated to the twelve other nurses who graduated with her from nurses’ training in Prince Albert in 1950.      The novel tells the story of Sedelia Lawson, “fifth and last child of Jonah and Margaret Lawson,” born during the Depression.  There are many details about family life in rural Saskatchewan in the 1940’s and 50’s, and about Sedelia’s brothers and sisters. The major part of the book deals with Sedelia’s training as a nurse at the Protestant Hospital in Prince Albert.  A happy, go-lucky girl, Sedelia likes the training and the work.  She goes out with young men in her spare time and enjoys life.      One evening, a planned date goes wrong for Sedelia, so on a whim she agrees to go to a gospel church with a couple of other nurses in training.  Marie and Dorothy are not Sedelia’s best friends by any stretch of the imagination.  Both of them plan to become missionaries, which Sedelia finds hard to comprehend.  However, Sedelia is mesmerized by the speaker…

To The Edge of the Sea
Thistledown Press / 30 April 2013

To The Edge of the Sea by Anne McDonald Published by Thistledown Press Review by Regine Haensel ISBN 9781897235850 $19.95 Anne McDonald has been writing for many years, with publications in magazines such as “Descant” and broadcasts on CBC radio. In To The Edge of the Sea, her first book, she takes us on a journey into Canada’s past, the time of Confederation, the formation of a country. Her themes include connection, loss, risk, and hope. We meet John Alexander Macdonald, future first prime minister of Canada, who walks a metaphorical tightrope as he attempts to balance the wishes of the disparate regions. Young fisherman Alex leaves his home and family on Prince Edward Island, and boards a ship to follow the circus because he is fascinated by the tightrope walkers. Alex’s older brother Reggie is left behind, but finds his own way to leave the fishing life by joining the Tenant Leaguers, in order to improve the lot of tenant farmers. Mercy Coles, twenty-six years old, encounters John A. Macdonald at a social event, then follows, with other supporters, to Quebec City. At a dinner, “All of them laughed at McGee’s story of how the tightrope walker Farini had…