Like the Mimosa

Like the Mimosa by Eusebio L. Koh Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Reviewed by Cindy Dean-Morrison $16.95 CDN ISBN 978-1-894431-22-4 Like the Mimosa by Filipino-Canadian author Eusebio L. Koh promises an exotic experience. It does not fail. Koh immediately transports the reader into his beloved Filipino world using brilliant descriptions, memorable characters, occasional Filipino words, and humour. He shares intimate truths via stories, poems and essays. In the short story section we are immediately pulled in by “Soap” which deals with the Japanese occupation of the Philippines at the start of WW II. Koh begins, “In times of war, life is as fragile as it gets.” One might expect dark events after that introduction, but Koh tells the story from a precocious boy’s viewpoint who has a great sense of humour and humanity. All the stories read as colourful history, studies in family dynamics, and explorations of cultural mores. Koh writes exquisitely crafted cinquains, sonnets, and free verse poems. He explores love, nature, war, faith and Saskatchewan prairie spirit. Perhaps common poetic themes, but Koh is anything but common in his approach. In fact, the poems are often surprising. Love, for example, is reflected in the poem “Theorems.” “Theorems…

Shadow Boxing
Coteau Books / 23 March 2010

Shadow Boxing by Sherie Posesorski Published by Coteau Books Reviewed by Shanna Mann $12.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-406-4 Meet Alice Levitt. She’s a 16-year-old “high functioning depressive” who lives with her egotistical criminal lawyer father. Alice deals with her beloved mother’s death and her disgust of her distant father by working compulsively –she has an A+ average and two part-time jobs. To calm the screams inside her head, Alice cuts herself. Her only lifeline is her cousin, Chloe, who takes care of her infected cuts and begs her to stop. But Chloe can’t help Alice much when she already has so many problems of her own. In fact, her main value to Alice is to give Alice someone to care for and think about so she won’t have to examine her own questionable behavior. Like the shadow boxes of the title, Alice’s world is starkly compartmentalized and monochromatic. When events are narrated by Alice, there is a palpable sense of the rage and futility she struggles ceaselessly against. The monocular focus on details like the bag people on the streets, the smell of local Yiddish take-out blended with the acrid stench of the tobacconist’s, and the irrelevant histories of local landmarks demonstrate…

My Sweet Curiosity
Thistledown Press / 16 March 2010

My Sweet Curiosity by Amanda Hale Published by Thistledown Press Review by Karen Lawson $19.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-61-4 Amanda Hale’s third novel is a complex work that combines many different elements and themes. She has taken a variety of threads and woven them into an intricate tapestry that will keep the reader wanting more with every page. My Sweet Curiosity contains several plots and is set not only in different countries but also spans many centuries. The author incorporates historical facts from the sixteenth century with a contemporary story line to create a fast moving saga that contains few boundaries. The main characters of this novel live in present day Toronto. Talya is a young, energetic, medical student. Dai Ling is a talented cello player. Destiny brings them together and their lives become intertwined. Both young women are the daughters of immigrant parents. This complicates their relationship and adds another layer to the story. Both characters are struggling with their own personal issues and coming to terms with who they are and what their purpose in life is. Talya becomes obsessed not only with Dai Ling, but with a book of anatomical drawings compiled by a doctor by the name of…

Songcatcher

Songcatcher by Aline Perret-Vallée Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Sharon Adam $16.95 ISBN 978-894431-32-3 Songcatcher falls in a new genre that combines autobiography with poetry and essay. It is the story of an ordinary woman who enjoys her life and shares with her audience the blessings gathered over eight decades. A Saskatchewan girl, Aline tells us her story in a very entertaining and enjoyable format. She begins with her mother’s family and the story of how they ended up in Duck Lake, where Aline’s mother meets her future husband and they begin their own family. The author shares the respect and joy her home-life provided in times that were hard on the prairies. We glimpse the farm life of a young girl and her brothers and sisters. Aline shares stories and poems of her school years and of leaving home in 1949 to become a nun at the Novitiate in St. Hyacinth, Quebec. She then begins a teaching career that sees her move to various locales, including Prince Albert, Spiritwood, The Pas, Laurier, Debden and Swift Current, ending in Wadena. We learn of a love story that begins in Prince Albert and eventually ends happily with Aline leaving her…

The Smiling Mask

The Smiling Mask: Truths About Postpartum Depression and Parenthood by Carla O’Reilly, Elita Paterson, Tania Bird, and Peggy Collins Published by Purpose to Prosperity Publishing Review by Marie Powell Mendenhall Price: $ 24.95 CDN ISBN: 978-0-9781341-3-6 The Smiling Mask uses the stories of three women who suffered from postpartum depression (PPD) to create awareness of the issues surrounding this disease. The book begins with forwards written by mental health experts such as Sally Elliott, perinatal nurse/counselor at Regina YMCA. In the preface, clinical psychologist Marlene Harper identifies some of the controversies and complexities surrounding PPD. Harper identifies degrees of severity in psychiatric symptoms. Postpartum blues, for example, are mild, including mood swings and confusion lasting up to about 10 days. Postpartum depression is similar to clinical depression and may last up to a year. Postpartum psychosis is a severe, rapid mental illness, usually requiring hospitalization. Harper also discusses potential treatment, including medications and counseling. In the next three chapters, authors Carla O’Reilly, Elita Paterson, and Tania Bird give an earnest and heart-felt account of their journey through PPD. They discuss the “smiling mask” they used to try and hide their illness, and the difficulty of setting it aside to discuss…

%d bloggers like this: