Rue Des Rosiersby Rhea TregebovPublished by Coteau BooksReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$24.95 ISBN 9-781550-506990 Rue Des Rosiers by Vancouverite Rhea Tregebov is not just an exemplary novel, it’s also an important book that examines anti-Semitism and empathetically puts faces on the victims and aggressors, and my hope is that the novel receives the major attention it warrants. In this richly-layered story, multi-genre author Tregebov introdu...

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The Literary History of Saskatchewan: Volume 3 – Advancesedited by David Carpenter and Kelly-Anne RiessPublished by Coteau BooksReview by Keith Foster$29.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-954-0 The Literary History of Saskatchewan: Volume 3 – Advances is Coteau Books’ third and final volume analyzing Saskatchewan’s proud literary tradition. Compiling and assessing a literary history of the province isn’t easy, especially when that history...

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Murder at the St. Aliceby Becky CitraPublished by Coteau BooksReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$14.95 ISBN 9-781550-509625 Do you know a teen who would enjoy British Columbia-based historical fiction and a mystery in the same book? Then the novel Murder at the St. Alice by prolific YA writer Becky Citra is worth a look. BC’s Citra has written more than twenty books, including her well-received The Griffin of Darkwood, and a time travel series. I...

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Rescue in the Rockiesby Rita FeutlPublished by Coteau Books (UPDATE JULY 2021: Rescue in the Rockies has been re-released by NeWest Press)Review by Shelley A. Leedahl$12.95 ISBN 9-781550-509489 I’m both surprised and saddened that until reading A Rescue in the Rockies, I was unfamiliar with Edmonton writer Rita Feutl’s titles for children and young adults. Surprised, because this is a writer at the top of her game, and saddened, becau...

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Baggageby Wendy PhillipsPublished by Coteau BooksReviewed by Ben Charles$14.95 ISBN 9781550509700 Baggage, written by Wendy Phillips and published by Coteau Books is a fantastic teen read that covers dark themes with the seriousness that fits the subject matter and a narrative device that is relevant to young readers. The story is set in British Columbia and begins at the Vancouver airport as a young, unidentified foreign boy is found near Intern...

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Trial by Winterby Anne PattonPublished by Coteau BooksReview by Michelle Shaw$10.95 ISBN 9781550509786 I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in a sod house in Saskatchewan during a winter blizzard. Now, thanks to Anne Patton, I have an inkling. Trial by Winter is the third and final story in Anne Patton’s Barr Colony Adventure Series. It’s 1903 and the Bolton family have built a sod house on their land in the North-West Territo...

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Wide Openby D. M. DitsonPublished by Coteau BooksReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$24.95 ISBN 9-781550-509663 Sure it’s a cliché, but I had a hard time putting this book down. Welcome to the literary world, D.M. Ditson, with your intimate, hard-hitting, and honest portrayal of matters that are not easy to share. First book? Could have fooled me. Sexual abuse, Fundamentalist Christianity, mental health issues, black-out drinking, and a dysfuncti...

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Death by Dinosaur by Jacqueline Guest Published by Coteau Books Review by Amanda Zimmerman $14.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-943-4 Jacqueline Guest, bestselling author of Belle of Batoche, masterfully weaves her knowledge of Drumheller AB into a mystery sure to keep young readers wondering to the very last chapter. Sam Stellar, a fourteen year old spy enthusiast, and her tech loving friend Paige, are looking forward to spending their summer at th...

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Sedley by Chelsea Coupal Published by Coteau Books Review by Ben Charles ISBN 9781550509410 $17.95 Sedley, written by Chelsea Coupal, is a delightful and insightful reflection of life in small-town Saskatchewan that had me smiling from the first page to the last. This collection of poems that Coupal has so masterfully penned is a wonderful commentary of the author’s life and experiences growing up in the town of Sedley, SK, a small village loca...

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breathing at dusk by Beth Goobie Published by Coteau Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $17.95 ISBN 9-781550-509151 Beth Goobie, poet and fiction writer, is her own hard act to follow. With twenty-five books – including the Governor General-nominated young adult novel Mission Impossible – preceding her latest title, readers have come to expect work that sets the bar high in terms of both content and technique. In breathing at dusk, Go...

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Girl from Dream City, The

The Girl from Dream City: A Literary Lifeby Linda LeithPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Michelle Shaw$21.95 ISBN 9780889777859 One of the joys of reviewing books is that I’m constantly discovering fascinating lives and original stories. Linda Leith is new to me, but her book is so interesting that she quickly drew me into her narrative. The Girl from Dream City is a small book, yet it manages to combine numerous aspects of Leith’s life, as well as the context of the broader literary world in which she lives and writes. First and foremost, the book is a memoir of sorts, from Leith’s early years growing up in Northern Ireland and England, with an emotionally unpredictable and volatile father, to her later years as a writer and publisher in Montreal. Leith’s early life was peripatetic and complicated. Her family was ...

Mechanic’s Wife, The

Millenium Marketing / 28 July 2021
The Mechanic’s Wifeby Marion MutalaPublished by Millennium MarketingReview by Toby A. Welch$14.95 ISBN 9781777371302 The cover of The Mechanic’s Wife is what initially drew me in. Illustrated by Olha Tkachenko, it is a vibrant illustration of two women with an older model blue GTO between them. Things get even better once you crack the book open. We immediately delve into the life of DD, a Ukrainian detective based in Saskatoon. Her backstory is fully fleshed out in a way that makes it impossible to do anything but continue reading. The meat of this book is the story of Dwayne and Marianne. Married almost two decades, one of them isn’t thrilled with the life they have built together. Let’s just say some things happen, bringing DD, the leading criminal investigator in Canada at the time of the story, and Raunchy, her associate,...

Gather

Gather: Richard Van Camp on the Joy of Storytellingby Richard Van CampPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Keith Foster$19.95 ISBN 9780889777002 In his latest book, Gather: Richard Van Camp on the Joy of Storytelling, Richard Van Camp offers sound advice on the fine art of storytelling. He shares his insights on how and where to best gather stories and shows how to tell those stories to best advantage. He also shares examples of fine storytelling from his own collection. Some of his advice is plain common sense, like showing respect for your listeners. After all, if there were no listeners, the speaker would have no reason to be there. Perhaps his most important tip is to listen to the storytellers – observe their mannerisms, how they raise or lower their voices, and especially when and where they pause. Although Gather is g...

I Can’t Clean My Room!

All Write Here Publishing / 22 June 2021
I can’t clean my room!Written and illustrated by Jessica WilliamsPublished by All Write Here PublishingReview by Michelle ShawISBN 9781777739300 $11.99 In this whimsical book, Saskatchewan author and illustrator Jessica Williams relates the tale of a little girl with a wild imagination. And, even though this is clearly a children’s book, as the mother of a teenager whose room is also more than a little chaotic, I find it very relatable. The story is a familiar one. Josephine’s father enters his daughter’s room at bedtime to find a big mess. He can’t understand it and asks his daughter specific questions about the state of her room and her toys. But Josephine has a perfectly logical reason (to her mind at least) for each of her father’s dismayed observations. She can’t pick her books up for instance because “the fairies wil...

How’s Peanut?

How’s Peanut?by Brenda Redman, Illustrated by Wendy NordellPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Michelle ShawISBN 9781988783666 $14.95 Trying to explain complex concepts to children can be tricky. Explaining things in simple terms that they can understand and relate to can help to make the process a lot easier. In this fun children’s book author Brenda Redman has done just that. When Brenda’s daughter told her she was pregnant, she was ecstatic. The baby was nicknamed “Peanut”, and Brenda excitedly received regular updates from her daughter about how the baby was growing. After “Peanut” was born, Brenda was inspired to write a children’s story which her children encouraged her to publish. And so, How’s Peanut? was born. The book tells the story of a grandmother-to-be regularly getting updates from her d...

Power of a Paintbrush, The

Landscape Art Publishing / 18 June 2021
The Power of a Paintbrush: The Story of an Escape from the Prison Camp Stalag XXA after World War IIby Chantal Stehwien and Barbara StehwienPublished by Landscape Art PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$29.95 ISBN 9-780991-964963 I was familiar with the moving story of German-born artist, pacifist, and prisoner-of-war survivor Fritz Stehwien via the book Fritz Stehwien: A Retrospective. That earlier, softcover title included black and white and colour images of the prolific artist’s work, including landscapes, portraits, and still-lifes. Now Stehwien’s family has collaborated again to release a hardcover that celebrates the man (1914-2008), his art, and his story. The Power of a Paintbrush: The Story of an Escape from the Prison Camp Stalag XXA after World War II, revisits how Stehwien “relied on his artistry to survive [a] devas...

Beaver, Bison, Horse

Beaver, Bison, Horse: The Traditional Knowledge and Ecology of the Northern Great Plainsby R. Grace MorganPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Elena Bentley$34.95 ISBN 9780889777880 The gratitude, kindness, and respect with which James Daschuk and Cristina Eisenberg write the foreword and afterword to Beaver, Bison, Horse: The Traditional Knowledge and Ecology of the Northern Great Plains reveals just how deeply influential Dr. R. Grace Morgan’s research has been, and continues to be, on the study of Plains ecology. Central to Dr. Morgan’s book is her insistence on the importance of acknowledging Indigenous ways of knowing the land—a view not widely shared by the scientific community at the time she was conducting her field research. According to Eisenberg, Indigenous “oral histories have only recently been allowed to ...

Backyard Bird Feeding

Nature Saskatchewan / 16 June 2021
Backyard Bird Feeding: A Saskatchewan Guide: A Complete Guide to Year-round Bird Feeding in SaskatchewanWritten by Trevor Herriot and Myrna PearmanPublished by Nature SaskatchewanReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$19.95 ISBN 9-780921-104353 It’s apropos that a Blue Jay graces the cover of Backyard Bird Feeding: A Saskatchewan Guide: A Complete Guide to Year-round Bird Feeding in Saskatchewan. The Blue Jay is my home province’s provincial bird, and Blue Jay is also the name of Nature Saskatchewan’s quarterly publication. And did you know that these handsome birds also have such incredible memories, they hide seeds and nuts in trees or in the ground and return later to enjoy them? I can’t even remember where I left my glasses a minute ago. The seven chapters in this photograph-full softcover provide a compendium of information for those w...

Blue Fire

Shadowpaw Press / 2 June 2021
Blue Fireby E.C. BlakePublished by Shadowpaw PressReview by Marlin Legare$C24.95 ISBN 9781989398197 Blue Fire by E.C. Blake is a Young Adult fantasy adventure that is not only sure to impress the young literature fans in your household but also a fun read for all ages. Published by ShadowPaw Press, Blue Fire follows the escapes of Petra, a young Priest-Apprentice; Amelinn, a Free-Folk youth and dancer; and Jin, a young scholar of the Nightkin people. The factions of these teenagers in Blake’s impressively crafted world have been at odds for centuries over a divine battle of warring gods known as the War of the Twelve Gods, a great battle that took place in the land of Nevyana in which twelve gods fought for glory and territory. Only three of these gods survived: Vekrin, Errica, and Ell. These gods agreed to cease interference in the liv...

Way of the Gardener, The

The Way of the Gardener: Lost in the Weeds along the Camino de Santiagoby Lyndon PennerPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$25.95 ISBN 9-780889-778061 I’ve long wanted to experience “The Camino”. The Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) is a weeks-long, thousand-year-old, on-foot pilgrimage that often begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, crosses the Pyrenees, and continues across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, where the disciple St. James’ remains are entombed in the cathedral named for him. Many people undertake the arduous expedition for religious reasons, while others wish to physically challenge themselves, enjoy the Basque-country landscape, or learn more about themselves and humanity. Camino Francés, described above, is the 800-kilometre route writer and environmentalis...

Featured Reviews

Girl from Dream City, The

The Girl from Dream City: A Literary Lifeby Linda LeithPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Michelle Shaw$21.95 ISBN 9780889777859 One of the joys of reviewing books is that I’m constantly discovering fascinating lives and original stories. Linda Leith is new to me, but her book is so interesting that she quickly drew me into her narrative. The Girl from Dream City is a small book, yet it manages to combine numerous aspect...

Mechanic’s Wife, The
Millenium Marketing / 28 July 2021

The Mechanic’s Wifeby Marion MutalaPublished by Millennium MarketingReview by Toby A. Welch$14.95 ISBN 9781777371302 The cover of The Mechanic’s Wife is what initially drew me in. Illustrated by Olha Tkachenko, it is a vibrant illustration of two women with an older model blue GTO between them. Things get even better once you crack the book open. We immediately delve into the life of DD, a Ukrainian detective based in Saskatoon....

Gather

Gather: Richard Van Camp on the Joy of Storytellingby Richard Van CampPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Keith Foster$19.95 ISBN 9780889777002 In his latest book, Gather: Richard Van Camp on the Joy of Storytelling, Richard Van Camp offers sound advice on the fine art of storytelling. He shares his insights on how and where to best gather stories and shows how to tell those stories to best advantage. He also shares example...

I Can’t Clean My Room!
All Write Here Publishing / 22 June 2021

I can’t clean my room!Written and illustrated by Jessica WilliamsPublished by All Write Here PublishingReview by Michelle ShawISBN 9781777739300 $11.99 In this whimsical book, Saskatchewan author and illustrator Jessica Williams relates the tale of a little girl with a wild imagination. And, even though this is clearly a children’s book, as the mother of a teenager whose room is also more than a little chaotic, I find it very relata...

How’s Peanut?

How’s Peanut?by Brenda Redman, Illustrated by Wendy NordellPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Michelle ShawISBN 9781988783666 $14.95 Trying to explain complex concepts to children can be tricky. Explaining things in simple terms that they can understand and relate to can help to make the process a lot easier. In this fun children’s book author Brenda Redman has done just that. When Brenda’s daughter told her sh...

Power of a Paintbrush, The
Landscape Art Publishing / 18 June 2021

The Power of a Paintbrush: The Story of an Escape from the Prison Camp Stalag XXA after World War IIby Chantal Stehwien and Barbara StehwienPublished by Landscape Art PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$29.95 ISBN 9-780991-964963 I was familiar with the moving story of German-born artist, pacifist, and prisoner-of-war survivor Fritz Stehwien via the book Fritz Stehwien: A Retrospective. That earlier, softcover title included black an...

Beaver, Bison, Horse

Beaver, Bison, Horse: The Traditional Knowledge and Ecology of the Northern Great Plainsby R. Grace MorganPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Elena Bentley$34.95 ISBN 9780889777880 The gratitude, kindness, and respect with which James Daschuk and Cristina Eisenberg write the foreword and afterword to Beaver, Bison, Horse: The Traditional Knowledge and Ecology of the Northern Great Plains reveals just how deeply influential ...

Backyard Bird Feeding
Nature Saskatchewan / 16 June 2021

Backyard Bird Feeding: A Saskatchewan Guide: A Complete Guide to Year-round Bird Feeding in SaskatchewanWritten by Trevor Herriot and Myrna PearmanPublished by Nature SaskatchewanReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$19.95 ISBN 9-780921-104353 It’s apropos that a Blue Jay graces the cover of Backyard Bird Feeding: A Saskatchewan Guide: A Complete Guide to Year-round Bird Feeding in Saskatchewan. The Blue Jay is my home province’s provincial ...

Blue Fire
Shadowpaw Press / 2 June 2021

Blue Fireby E.C. BlakePublished by Shadowpaw PressReview by Marlin Legare$C24.95 ISBN 9781989398197 Blue Fire by E.C. Blake is a Young Adult fantasy adventure that is not only sure to impress the young literature fans in your household but also a fun read for all ages. Published by ShadowPaw Press, Blue Fire follows the escapes of Petra, a young Priest-Apprentice; Amelinn, a Free-Folk youth and dancer; and Jin, a young scholar of the Ni...

Way of the Gardener, The

The Way of the Gardener: Lost in the Weeds along the Camino de Santiagoby Lyndon PennerPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$25.95 ISBN 9-780889-778061 I’ve long wanted to experience “The Camino”. The Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) is a weeks-long, thousand-year-old, on-foot pilgrimage that often begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, crosses the Pyrenees, and continues across norther...