War and Peace in the Workplace
Wood Dragon Books / 10 February 2019

War and Peace in the Workplace: Diversity, Conflict, Understanding, Reconciliationby Jeanne MartinsonPublished by Wood Dragon Books Reviewed by Ben Charles$21.99 ISBN 9780968537022 War & Peace in the Workplace: Diversity, Conflict, Understanding, Reconciliation is written by Saskatchewan-native Jeanne Martinson, a renowned speaker, author, and management trainer. Published by Wood Dragon Books and distributed by Martrain Corporation and Personal Development, this national bestseller is designed as a guide for employers, organizations, managers, or those interested in navigating their work places in a more positive manner. The content of this book pertains to many of the challenges that the average Canadian faces in the workplace. These include: diversity/bias, toxic people and environments, harassment, conflict, and much more. Similar to one of Martinson’s other bestsellers, From Away: Immigration to Effective Workplace Integration, this book begins with an in-depth analysis of what diversity is, and how it may affect communities such as the average Canadian workplace. The most interesting portion of this chapter, in my opinion, is Martinson’s analysis of the factors that shape a human being’s “us vs. them” mentality, and how easy it is for us to distort information to cater to our biases. If you have interest in human behaviour or psychology,…

From Away
Wood Dragon Books / 5 February 2019

From Away: Immigration To Effective Workplace Integration by Jeanne Martinson Published by Wood Dragons Books Reviewed by Ben Charles $21.99 ISBN 9780995334212 From Away: Immigration To Effective Workplace Integration, written by Jeanne Martinson and published by Wood Dragons Books, can be best described as a concise yet effective tool for employers and managers to navigate an increasingly diverse team. For better or for worse, Canada’s economy is significantly driven by a workforce that is largely comprised of immigrant employees and entrepreneurs. Although this increased manpower reduces stress on employers and the economy, it also presents unique challenges, misunderstandings, language barriers, and cultural differences that may be difficult for an average Canadian to understand. A gesture or saying that may be completely innocent to us may also be highly offensive through the lens of another culture, or vice versa. Martinson’s book is a fantastic place to begin as a Canadian who may not understand all of the intricacies, values, and mannerisms that various cultures from around the globe maintain. The book creates a useful framework for the reader to begin with by a brief introduction, statistical figures of Canada’s immigration history, and a crash course on the modality of Western culture….

Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education
University of Regina Press / 10 January 2019

Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education by Marc Spooner and James McNinch Published by University of Regina Press Reviewed by Ben Charles $34.95 ISBN: 9780889775367 Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education, edited and introduced by Marc Spooner and James McNinch and published by University of Regina Press is a highly astute evaluation of the current academic paradigm found within modern universities and educational institutions. Spooner and McNinch, both brilliant academics in their own rights, draw from an all-star cast of academics to review the historical and socioeconomic factors that have led to the neoliberal and corporate interest serving audit culture that can be observed in our post-secondary institutions today. In the true fashion of academic literature, the thoughts and ideas that Spooner and McNinch present are supported by a nearly maddening amount of research, scholars, and peer-reviewed literature from a wide variety of sources. These sources used to support their arguments are also drawn from a range of interdisciplinary scholars and institutions, a detail that I found impressive as it was evident that this literature was written with great care in ensuring that bias was not included. The end result of this is an objective, yet shrewd and scathing critique of the…

More Things Change, The
Benchmark Press / 9 January 2019

The More Things Change: A Case Study to Introduce Information Technology Ethics by Donna Lindskog Published by Benchmark Press Reviewed by Ben Charles $20.00 ISBN 9781927352373 The More Things Change: A Case Study to Introduce Information Technology Ethics, written by Donna Lindskog is a thought provoking exercise in technology ethics that manages to also be an entertaining experience along the way. The story follows Carol McIsaac, a brand new employee of MTS, working as a programmer analyst. Set in 1979, Carol and her friends, Jeremey and Susan, traverse the new world of technology using keypunch machines to write code. Although the technology used throughout this story is archaic by today’s standards, the ethical dilemmas found within are very much relevant to today’s professional and technological climates. The issues that Carol faces include plagiarism, fraud, sexual harassment, racism, basic incompetence, and a plethora of other debatable ethical dilemmas. The book also provides a detailed appendix of all the information that an IT enthusiast needs in order to act ethically and responsibly in a professional setting. This includes a Code of Ethics, generously provided by the Canadian Association of Information Technology Professionals (CIPS). In our world of net neutrality, Russian bots, micro-transactions,…

Steeps of Time, The
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 6 December 2018

The Steeps of Time: Poems & Paintings by Victor Carl Friesen Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Reviewed by Ben Charles $25.00 ISBN 9781988783222 The Steeps of Time: Poems & Paintings is the latest publication from legendary Saskatchewan poet Victor Carl Friesen and his fourth collection of poems and accompanying paintings, both of which produce warm, nostalgic, and detailed recollections of the beautiful nature found in Saskatchewan and of life on the farm. Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing, this riveting collection of fifty-five poems is separated into two portions that each illustrate different themes in the author’s life. The first section, titled “A Burgeoning”, is comprised mainly of descriptive, traditional poetry that, as mentioned, describes natural phenomenon and rural life in Saskatchewan. The latter section, titled “The World Illuminated”, is far more abstract and delves into the emotions, opinions, and outlooks on life of the author. In both segments Friesen showcases his uncanny descriptive abilities that immediately transport the reader to the bountiful natural beauty found in Saskatchewan. While reading such poems as “A Leaf in the Wind” or “Spring’s Regalia”, I was reminded of times being out in the fields while hiking or hunting, appreciating the beauty of…

Lena’s Story
DriverWorks Ink / 7 November 2018

Lena’s Story: The D-Day Landings by Patricia Sinclair Published by DriverWorks Ink Reviewed by Ben Charles $12.95 ISBN 9781927570463 Lena’s Story: The D-Day Landings, written by Patricia Sinclair, illustrated by Wendi Nordell, and published by DriverWorks Ink is a fantastic work of historical literature for young readers that is both beautifully crafted and exceptionally informative. The book cleverly educates the reader about the D-Day landings and World War II through a narrative of a young girl speaking with an elderly neighbor named Lena, who is about to move away. Like many real Canadians, the young girl in this story learns about the battle of D-Day and the history of World War II from elderly people in the community that either fought directly in the war or were alive during that time period. As I am writing this, Remembrance Day is approaching, and I cannot help but be reminded through this story that World War II and all of its horrors really did not happen a long time ago. Lena tells the girl, and through a frame narrative, the reader, about what she remembers of that fateful day, June 5th, 1944; as Lena learns about the battle so does the reader….

Spoon Asylum, The
Thistledown Press / 19 October 2018

The Spoon Asylum by Caroline Misner Published by Thistledown Press Reviewed by Ben Charles $15.95 ISBN 9781771871556 The Spoon Asylum, written by Caroline Misner and published by Thistledown Press is a fun and thoughtful piece of historical fiction that lets the reader laugh, while also reflecting on the ugly parts of Canada’s past that modern Canadians do not like to think about. Set in the 1930s at the peak of the Great Depression in the small Ontario town of Davisville, The Spoon Asylum follows the story of young Haven Cattrell, a precocious seventeen year old boy who is struggling find his identity and is hungry to prove his worth as a man to his family and to the world. While working as a farmhand on his grandmother’s farm, Haven comes across a vagrant who is looking for work in exchange for some food and shelter. Although the man is met with downright hostility by his grandmother, Haven cannot help but be enthralled by the man, and even more so by his harmonica and the sweet music that he plays through it. This exchange with the mysterious vagrant inspires Haven to go into town in search of work, himself. Perhaps this…

Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind, The
Thistledown Press / 24 August 2018

The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind: Stories by Vanessa Farnsworth Published by Thistledown Press Review by Ben Charles $19.95 ISBN: 9781771871570 The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind, a collection of short stories written by Vanessa Farnsworth and published by Thistledown Press, is a riveting adventure of both the zany and the ordinary shown through the lens of interesting and realistic female protagonists. In our age of insipid, lazy, and cliché literature and filmography I found it truly refreshing to live the experiences of women with actual depth and character that extend further than either hopeless romantics who just need a man or vapid arm candy. Farnsworth crafts her characters with such care and insight that it was impossible for me to not to crack smiles as I read these misadventures. In each story I found myself relating with her characters, laughing with them or at them, and sincerely resonating with their emotions and struggles. I do acknowledge that from reading this as a male I may not have the correct perspective to fully appreciate this work, but did gain valuable insight from it that I hope readers of all genders can also reap. After reading stories such as “The Canoe”…

Sedley
Coteau Books / 10 August 2018

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 located forty kilometres South-East of Regina, SK. When people think of life in small-town Saskatchewan they usually conjure images of tractors consuming the entire highway, dusty farmyards, abandoned movie theatres, and the antics of the characters from Corner Gas. While some of these themes are present, Coupal also captures the magic, beauty, tragedy, and inexplicable weirdness that come with growing up in rural Saskatchewan. As I was born and raised in a small village in Saskatchewan myself, I could not help but feel nostalgic and chuckle as I read such poems as, “The Drive Home”, or “Party”. Coupal’s eerily accurate descriptions of remedies to teenage boredom reminded me of my own young misadventures getting in trouble at parties, driving aimlessly on the grid roads, talking smack about…