Saskatchewan Writers Guild / 2 September 2021

apart: a year of pandemic poetry and proseEdited by Courtney Bates-Hardy and Dave MargoshesPublished by Saskatchewan Writers’ GuildReview by Toby A. Welch$24.95 ISBN 9780968845172 I have a hunch that as our lives return to a more normalized state, this book will become even more powerful. When Covid is a distant memory, the stories will take us back to this time filled with chaos and uncertainty. What a great permanent record! This book will not collect dust as time passes.  I have never recommended a book as good for every member of the human race but this one I do. Every one of us has been touched by Covid, directly or indirectly. We are all dealing with the effects that the virus brought into our world. Having a book that chronicles the anxiety and emotions of this period in our lives is invaluable.  apart is made up of both poetry and essays (and one awesome screenplay tossed in to mix things up.) Some are short and some are lengthy. One of the most powerful pieces is on page two, a poem by Mary Maxwell made up of four words repeated over and over again: Covid, Trump, News, and Fear. That poem…

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…

Arthur Slade / 6 November 2015

Modo: Ember’s End Written by Arthur Slade, Art by Christopher Steininger Review by Courtney Bates-Hardy $20.00 ISBN 978-0-9880139-0-2 Modo: Ember’s End is a graphic novel that follows the adventures of Modo, the main character from The Hunchback Assignments, a previously published four book series. However, you don’t need to have read the series to enjoy the graphic novel. It’s a standalone story set in the Old West, with a steampunk twist. Modo is hunchbacked with the unique ability to change his appearance for short amounts of time. His friend, and fellow British spy, Octavia, provides the comic relief as they make their way in Ember’s End. Upon their arrival, they are quickly deputized and pulled into a race to find a mystery device made by a former weapons inventor. Unfortunately, someone else is after it too. The mercenary Ogden Bull will stop at nothing to find it before they do. His assassin, a ninja with glowing eyes, is after them and their only help is a mysterious young woman with a clockwork heart. These characters will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. A middle school audience will really enjoy this story, although it has appeal for older audiences…

Wilf Perreault: In the Alley
Coteau Books / 2 June 2015

Wilf Perreault: In the Alley Edited by Timothy Long Published by Coteau Books and MacKenzie Art Gallery Review by Courtney Bates-Hardy $59.95 ISBN 978-1-550505955 Wilf Perreault: In the Alley is a stunning coffee table book. The book design itself is enough to tempt anyone into picking it up and buying it. A sizable book at 12” by 10”, it certainly does justice to Perreault’s beautiful and large-scale images, although it’s difficult to top seeing them in person. What the book offers is an engaging and insightful background on Perreault’s life, art, and the many ways he has touched others. In the Alley begins with an introduction by Timothy Long, the head curator at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. He gives a brief overview of Perreault’s childhood on a farm near the French-speaking villages of Henribourg and Albertville. The book, it should be noted, is appropriately presented in both French and English. Long moves from Perreault’s childhood to his time at the University of Saskatchewan and then as a teacher, all the while tracking Perreault’s growth as an artist and the connections he makes within the community. The most fascinating parts of Long’s introduction are the back stories he includes for some…

A Gift of the Prairie
LMLCC / 18 December 2014

A Gift of the Prairie: Writing from the Southern Shores of Last Mountain Lake Edited by Bernadette Wagner Published by Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre Review by Courtney Bates-Hardy $20.00 ISBN 978-0-9937215-0-2 A Gift of the Prairie combines all of the best things a poetry anthology can be: it’s short, focused, and includes a variety of work and writers. The anthology was the brain child of Bernadette Wagner, who served as the literary artist-in-residence at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre in Regina Beach, Saskatchewan. Wagner worked quite closely with the community and wanted to showcase their work, so she sent out a call for writing about the Last Mountain Lake area. According to her foreword, she wasn’t sure at first that there would be enough of a response from local writers to create the anthology. However, as she states, the community came together and soon offered up their memories and writings about the area. A Gift of the Prairie is a short and satisfying read at a slim 71 pages. It starts off strong, with four beautifully minimalist poems from Jillian Bell and ends on an equally strong note with poetry from Paul Wilson, whose most recent book of…

Twist of the Blade
Coteau Books / 11 December 2014

Twist of the Blade Published by Coteau Books Review by Courtney Bates-Hardy $14.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-599-3 Twist of the Blade is the second book in Edward Willett’s Shards of Excalibur series, a clever and modern adaptation of the legends of King Arthur. Ariane Forsythe has inherited the magical power of the Lady of the Lake, along with a quest: she must find the five broken pieces of the sword of Excalibur before the evil reincarnation of Merlin, Rex Major, gets his hands on it. If Rex Major gains control of Excalibur, he’ll have the power to wage war on Earth and the world of Faerie. With the help of her friend, Wally, Ariane has retrieved one piece of the sword, but now she must find the second piece quickly. She thinks it’s somewhere in France but she’ll have to find a way to get herself and Wally across the ocean first. Things get complicated as Wally begins to suspect that Ariane’s power is changing her. Ariane isn’t sure if she needs Wally anymore and begins pushing him away. Rex Major has a plan to get to the second shard and his power over technology is only helping him act upon it….