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Doreen M. Bleich / 5 May 2021

If you’re looking for a well-written Saskatchewan romance then Doreen M. Bleich’s latest novel may be the perfect summer read. Anna Johansson wants to quit her job at the bank in the hopes of becoming a full-time writer and is doing some freelance writing on the side. One of her stories – an article on internet dating for Thirty Something magazine – introduces her to Nathan Haines, a rodeo-loving farmer in Borden. Nathan is divorced (his childhood sweetheart decided that she was not cut out to be a farmer’s wife and headed to Calgary with an insurance salesman she met at work) and had a horrible experience with internet dating. Anna’s not looking for a relationship but agrees to meet for dinner in Saskatoon. To her surprise they get on really well and things begin to look promising. But then a well-kept secret from Anna’s past emerges and causes her to reevaluate everything. Anna’s parents, never particularly supportive to begin with, are completely against Anna’s relationship with Nathan and Anna can’t understand why. Finally, Anna’s very emotionally taut mother breaks down and reveals long-hidden family secrets. But what effect will this have on Nathan and Anna’s relationship? I love reading…

I will always love you…no matter what!

I will always love you…no matter what!Written by Lee Murray and Kori UpshallIllustrated by Emily JohnsonPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Michelle Shaw$14.95 ISBN 9781988783659 Children love asking questions and even a seemingly simple question can hide layers of emotion. This colorful soft-covered book is written by a grandmother and her granddaughter and is based on a true experience. A few years ago, four-year-old Kori was on a quest to find out how much her grandmother loved her. She kept asking her grandmother continually outlandish questions to try to find something – anything –that would make her grandmother stop loving her. The scenarios in the book are gloriously over-the-top. The little girl broke her grandmother’s mirror, for instance, by crashing a plane into it, and she broke her grandmother’s dishes by ripping off the table cloth while her grandmother was having tea with the queen. The book is beautifully and hilariously illustrated by Saskatoon-based visual artist Emily Johnson. I loved the fact that the little girl’s dog (apparently based on Kori’s real-life dog Bryson) also makes an appearance in each scenario…playing the piano and driving the plane. Johnson has captured lots of humorous moments like these that will…

Scenic Bridges
Landscape Art Publishing / 17 March 2021

Scenic Bridges: A Collection of Bridge Motifs by Fritz StehwienPublished by Landscape Art PublishingReview by Michelle Shaw$29.95 ISBN 9780991964987 Scenic Bridges, the latest release from the Fritz Stehwien Estate, is a delightful visual study of bridges around the world, in particular Saskatoon, and also reveals a gifted artist’s creative development and perspective through the years. Saskatoon is well-known as the City of Bridges (eight to date) and this beautiful hardcover book features a number of them. But it also goes beyond the city, featuring bridges near Borden and The Battlefords as well as bridges further afield including the Calgary Centre Street Bridge, and the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia, Ontario. Bridges are obviously something that continually fascinated Stehwien and he was known to sketch and paint wherever he went. Many of the bridges in the book are from his travels around the world, including Taiwan, Austria, Germany, France and Holland and span the years from the early 1940s to the 1980s. One of the things that struck me about this book is that Stehwien has captured specific brief moments in time that would otherwise have been forgotten. A number of his artworks, for example, show bridges in Europe during World…

Power Plays
Wood Dragon Books / 3 March 2021

Power Playsby Maureen UlrichPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Michelle Shaw$18.99 ISBN 9781989078273 In this first book in the Jessie Mac Hockey Series, we are introduced to fourteen-year-old Jessie McIntyre, the new girl at Estevan Junior High. In Saskatoon, at her old school, Jessie was part of a close group of friends. Now, not only does she not have any friends but one of the girls, Kim, a real bully, makes every day of Jessie’s life a nightmare. Things get even worse when Jessie somehow manages to get on the bad side of a group of older kids who have a really scary reputation. She can’t tell her parents. They think she’s the one being difficult. Jessie’s mom discovers that the local girls’ hockey team is in desperate need of players and signs her up, hoping to give her daughter a fresh start. But Jessie is a ringette player. She’s never played hockey before and she is horrified at what her mother has done. She’s also convinced that the other girls consider her a troublemaker and don’t want her on the team. But slowly Jessie begins to learn the game and fit in, and life starts looking up. Until her…

Time to Fly!
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 3 February 2021

Time to FlyWritten and Illustrated by Valerie WiebePublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Michelle Shaw$24.95 ISBN 9781988783642 This beautiful hardcover book invites children of all ages to dream, to explore and discover how they fit into the world around them. Author and illustrator Valerie Wiebe, who lives and works on a farm outside Langham, Saskatchewan, is a multitalented artist who has used her paintings as her inspiration for the text. While younger children will be captivated by the bright colors and the rhythmic language, I think the book will be especially inviting to slightly older children who will be able to engage with the pictures and allow their imaginations to explore the possibilities in each painting. The book has also been suggested as an excellent gift for anyone beginning a new venture, including graduation. I felt the drawings were almost like a blank canvas that gave my imagination freedom to dream and discover. Wiebe says the paintings in the book are intimate works that “require us to look close, to investigate the details, to observe the tiny figures.” She is clearly captivated by the Prairies. “Standing in the rural landscape in which I live, I find myself feeling both…

Cold Case North
University of Regina Press / 2 December 2020

Cold Case North: The Search for James Brady and Absolom Halkettby Michael Nest with Deanna Reder and Eric BellPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Michelle Shaw$24.95 ISBN 9780889777491 In 1967, Métis leader James Brady and Absolom Halkett, a Cree Band Councillor, vanished from their remote lakeside camp while prospecting in Saskatchewan. No trace of them was ever found and their disappearance became one of Northern Saskatchewan’s most enduring mysteries. The initial police investigation concluded that the men had got lost and died while trying to find their way out of the remote area. But rumors persisted for over 50 years. If they were indeed lost why was no trace of their bodies ever found, even though there was an extensive search at the time. Many people believed they were murdered, and their bodies disposed of, probably in the nearby lake which was very cold and deep. Various attempts were made over the years to discover what had happened, but none were successful. Deanna Reder, a Professor of English and Indigenous Studies at Simon Fraser University (SFU), grew up hearing the story of Brady and Halkett. Her uncle Frank, in particular, talked about his memories of the two men and…

Tunnels of Time
DriverWorks Ink / 2 December 2020

Tunnels of Time (Moose Jaw Time Travel Adventure #1)by Mary Harelkin BishopPublished by Emmbee Ink and DriverWorks InkReview by Michelle Shaw$15.95 ISBN 9781927570579 Andrea and her family are in Moose Jaw for a family wedding and the teenager is not happy. Not only is she missing a school trip, she has to spend the weekend with her family and be the junior bridesmaid at her cousin’s wedding which is really stressing her out. At the wedding rehearsal dinner which is held in the basement banquet room of a local restaurant, Andrea hears for the first time about the tunnels that run underneath the city of Moose Jaw. Well sort of. She’s not really listening. But later when they are shown one of the tunnels, Andrea gets separated from the rest of the group. She finds herself hurtling back in time to the 1920s when Moose Jaw was a completely different city full of gangsters, gambling and crime. She meets a frightening crime boss known as Ol’ Scarface, is forced into guiding dubious men through the tunnels and ends up having to hide from the gangsters and the police. Andrea wonders if she will ever see her family again. The first…

Burned-Out Healer, The
Wood Dragon Books / 8 October 2020

The Burned-Out Healer: A Path to Trauma Release and Reconnection to Selfby Jacquie BaloghPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReviewed by Michelle Shaw$19.99 ISBN 978-1-989078-23-5 In The Burned-Out Healer, Calgary-based hypnotherapist Jacquie Balogh shares her journey from burnout towards spiritual and physical harmony and provides a practical roadmap for others to recognize and address their own energetic exhaustion. Jacquie has been involved in healing for most of her life. Even as a child, she says, she had a special knack for reading people, for knowing things about them she had no realistic way of knowing. “I was able to see things around them such as auras and visitors from another realm. I was able to decipher what those things meant and help people along their journey by sharing this knowledge with them.” Jacquie naturally gravitated towards a career that would involve helping others and became a licensed practical nurse, which initially she thoroughly enjoyed. But after fifteen years she was disillusioned, she says, with a system that seemed to focus more on bureaucracy than healing. She decided to train in other avenues of healing such as reiki, tarot, mediumship and hypnotherapy, incorporating her knowledge into her own healing work. But even though…

Nature’s Broken Clocks
University of Regina Press / 13 August 2020

Nature’s Broken Clocksby Paul HuebenerPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Michelle Shaw$24.95 ISBN 9780889777125 For someone who has always regarded time as primarily linear or cyclical, Paul Huebener’s book Nature’s Broken Clocks is rather mind-bending. Weaving together science, history, narrative and the natural world, Huebener—described as one of the leading figures in the field of ecocritical time studies—challenges the reader’s perceptions of time, particularly within in the context of the environmental crisis. He discusses varying concepts of time, from the sun (humanity’s “original clock”) to the politics of time—and points out that even so-called natural time is a lot more complex than we might think. I was especially fascinated by the various examples of the natural world he used. From the grolar (global warming has caused grizzly bears to wake from hibernation earlier in the season and come into more frequent “friendly” contact with polar bears) to what ecologists call “mistiming”. This is “the process whereby warming causes animals to fall out of step with a critical food source, particularly at breeding times, when a failure to find enough food can lead to rapid population losses.” Canadian boreal ducks have been facing this exact dilemma. Yet Huebener notes that…

Aesthetics of Senescence, The

The Aesthetics of Senescence: Aging, Population and the Nineteenth-Century British Novelby Andrea CharisePublished by University of Regina PressReview by Michelle Shaw$34.95 9780889777064 Early on in the writing of this book, the author Andrea Charise, suggested developing a particular seminar for her advanced undergraduates. “Called ‘Reading Older Age’, its goal was to introduce students to representations of age and aging in a variety of literary genres,” in order to “better understand how such portrayals contribute to our perceptions of fleshly temporality.” At the start of the seminar, her students, all in their early twenties, described aging, not surprisingly, in terms of decline, “the naturalized assumption that old age is inextricably bound to illness, incapacity, lack and diminishment.” But as the semester progressed, with the students reading a variety of books ranging from Shakespeare’s King Lear to David Markson’s The Last Novel, she was intrigued to discover that her students began to perceive aging through a far more complex lens. In The Aesthetics of Senescence, which was shaped by her doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, Charise “explores how the invention of population in the early 19th century impacted broader cultural conceptualizations of older age.” She examines the works of a…