Amnesia Project, The
Wood Dragon Books / 24 January 2024

The Amnesia Projectby Payton ToddPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$19.99 ISBN 9781990863264 Keeping journals and writing poetry are common practices among teens, and I commend them for documenting their lives, even if no one else ever sees the writing. Some of our most exciting and/or trying experiences may occur during adolescence, and writing’s good therapy. What’s highly uncommon, however, is for a teenaged writer to have a book published, and for that book to be a 302-paged, young adult sci-fi novel with a large cast of well-developed characters, a complex and dynamic plot, and a satisfying conclusion. Enter Payton Todd and The Amnesia Project. At age fifteen, the avid writer and student from Wood Mountain, SK won the Wood Dragon Books’ Young Author Competition. After working with publisher Jeanne Martinson on successive edits, the attractive, action-filled novel was released. In an interview with moosejawtoday.com, Martinson said “Wood Dragon worked around Payton’s school schedule, and she lives on a [cattle] ranch, too, so she has a lot of chores and obligations. We’re really proud of this book …” The futuristic novel centres around seventeen-year-old Kole Danvers, who finds himself assigned a new name and position—Beta 9X—at the Pacific…

Three Heirs, The
Wood Dragon Books / 9 November 2023

The Three Heirsby Monique DesrosiersPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Toby A. Welch$26.99 ISBN 9781990863219 Over a year ago I read an amazing book by Monique Desrosiers, The Cartwright Men Marry. I devoured the book and wanted more from Desrosiers. I was disappointed to find that the book I had just finished was her first novel; there were no others in her repertoire to enjoy. I was bummed but such is life. But recently I learned about The Three Heirs – Monique Desrosiers finally published her second novel! My universe tilted back into alignment. I couldn’t wait to dive back into a world created by Desrosiers’ imagination.  This is the story of a woman who dies and brings three strangers together for the reading of her will. None of them know the recently deceased Delilah but they are all connected. What takes place leading up to the will reveal as well as the fallout afterward will keep you rapidly turning the pages.  The Three Heirs will be a hit with readers of period fiction. The book starts in the 1860s before flashing back to the 1790s and then covers the seven decades in between. Desrosiers clearly researched those decades as she does a great job of making…

Rise Above
Wood Dragon Books / 30 August 2023

Rise Above: Surviving Depressing and Living a Better Lifeby John MelnickPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Toby A. Welch$19.99 ISBN 9781990863110 I truly feel that someone who hasn’t been touched by depression wouldn’t have been able to write this book with as much heart as John Melnick. He has struggled with the mental illness for decades and that experience comes through in every page of Rise Above. In 2002, in the depths of a severe clinical depression, Melnick swam into a fast-flowing river to end the pain in his life. Thankfully his desire to live prevailed. He shares his story and enlightens the rest of us about depression, a devastating mental illness.  Melnick shares openly about the family dynamics he has lived with all his life, relationships that may or may not have contributed to his depression. I found those details fascinating and appreciated how forthcoming he was; that helped clarify his experiences.  One chapter shares the point of view of Melnick’s wife and another of Melnick’s niece. They cover what the ladies went through when Melnick tried to commit suicide and their perspective on things. Depression doesn’t just affect the person afflicted with it; it touches everyone in that person’s life. Hearing from…

Sacred Geometry for the Soul, Volume 1
Wood Dragon Books / 9 March 2023

Sacred Geometry for the Soul: Volume 1by Ann ChatfieldPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Toby A. Welch$39.99 ISBN 9781990863066 What a beautiful book – every page is a feast for the eyes! For those who think this may be a book about math, it’s actually more about mandalas. Sacred geometry is the practice of attaching sacred meanings to certain geometric shapes and their architectural proportions. It has its foundation in nature and the mathematical principles at play there. The circle, for example, typically plays a huge role in sacred geometry.  In case that isn’t clear, Chatfield explains in this book that sacred geometry is an ancient science that explores and explains the energy patterns that create and unify all things in our universe and beyond. To truly cover the depth of this topic, it would take a lot more space than this review provides. Diving into the book, once you get past Chatfield’s story, she covers numerous topics: her explanation of the Akashic Records; descriptions of the symbols, crystals, and numbers used in her mandalas; the meanings and energy of colours; the seven basic chakras; and how to use mandalas for meditation. The rest of the book displays 63 mandalas…

Frozen Fury
Wood Dragon Books / 1 November 2022

Frozen Fury: Agricultural Crops and Hail Damageby Malcolm BucholtzPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Toby A. Welch$19.95 ISBN 9781989078853 Frozen Fury is a “resource for farm operators, agricultural students, and hail adjustors.” Even though I am none of those things, I found this non-fiction book to be informative and fascinating. Anyone with even a remote interest in agriculture as well as the effects of hail on that industry will find this book valuable.  A few interesting tidbits I learned while reading Frozen Fury: – India is the largest mustard grower in the world, followed by Canada – Sunflower originated in northern Mexico and was used as a diuretic and an expectorant – Corn is one of the most difficult crops to hail adjust – If crops are treated with micronutrients after hail damage, they recover faster and better As this book is thorough and contains a great deal of information, I found it a huge help that Bucholtz included a brief summary in bullet points at the end of each chapter. That kept my confusion at bay and helped cement everything I’d just learned.  And I learned a heck of a lot reading Frozen Fury. I had no clue that…

Mind the Gap
Wood Dragon Books / 22 June 2022

Mind the Gap: Navigating Your Leadership Journeyby Doug Forsdick, Keri Schwebius, and Heather ThomsonPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Toby A. Welch$19.99 ISBN 9781989078846 Like the title spells out, Mind the Gap covers how to become a more effective leader, but it is much more than that. It is geared towards leadership in the workplace, but those not interested in career leadership advice will also get valuable information from the pages. Additionally, employees will find the information helpful as they contemplate workplace situations. This book is divided into four areas of leadership: ‘focus on you’, ‘plot the course and steer the way’, ‘maneuver within your organization’, and ‘continue the journey’. We read about the differences between managers and leaders, the role your values play in leadership, how to have difficult conversations, and many other aspects of leadership. Each chapter ends with Reflection Questions, a list of questions to get you thinking about your own leadership journey and how you want to grow. They are powerful questions that can lead to hours of contemplation. My favourite chapter is #20: “Getting Sh*t Done.” It shares how to create a system to help you accomplish what needs to get done. It also touches…

Finding Izzy
Wood Dragon Books / 22 June 2022

Finding Izzyby Sheryl DohertyPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Toby A. Welch$18.99 ISBN 9781989078662 Finding Izzy is a dense book, almost 300 pages with a small font. But that is a great thing for the readers – it gives the author enough space to flesh out an engrossing story that pulls you in from page one.  Speaking of page one, that is where the action begins. In the opening scene, the main character, Izzy, wakes up in a hospital with no idea who she is. She sees a news story on TV about missing Indigenous women and is convinced she is one of them. She shares her theory with the two police officers who are trying to figure out who she is; they aren’t convinced she’s right. Once discharged from the hospital, Izzy is taken to a temporary emergency home in North Vancouver as Family Services believes she is under 18. From there the story takes off as police try to identify her through dental implants, fingerprints, and distinguishing marks.  Although this is a work of fiction, it is fascinating to ride along with the main character on her journey with amnesia. Doherty does a superb job of dropping us…

Shoot Out
Wood Dragon Books / 25 May 2022

Shoot Out (Jessie Mac Hockey Series)by Maureen UlrichPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$18.99 ISBN 9-781989-078648 In 2009 I reviewed Maureen Ulrich’s YA novel Power Plays—the first title in her Jessie Mac Hockey Series—and all these years later it’s been a pleasure to read her fourth and final book in this action-packed series. As with the earlier books, Shoot Out concerns hockey: 14-year-old protagonist Courtney’s debut with a U15 boys’ team (Moose) in Estevan, and her 19-year-old sister Jessie’s second season with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Women’s team in Saskatoon. Ulrich’s successfully “passes” the spotlight back and forth between these two athletic characters: the siblings’ narratives alternate throughout this adeptly-written novel. Interestingly, Ulrich’s melded real-life Huskie hockey players and experiences–based on the schedule and statistics of the 2013-2014 women’s team, for which her daughter played—with fictional ones, and it’s a win-win. There’s plenty to admire, from the crisp writing to the personal growth of the McIntyre girls, who have much more to navigate than hockey ice. Romance simmers on the back burner for both gals, and there are mercurial friendships, family dynamics, educational upsets, and injuries to attend to. The major conflicts, however, are how young Courtney…

Stroke of Grace, A
Wood Dragon Books / 25 May 2022

A Stroke of Grace: A Guide to Understanding and Living With an Acquired Brain Injuryby Julianne HeagyPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Toby A. Welch$19.99 ISBN 9781989078891 This powerful book is a must-add for your to-read list! In a nutshell, Assiniboia-based writer Julianne Heagy suffered a life-changing stroke on her 31st wedding anniversary. This compelling read shares her story. Heagy doesn’t sugarcoat anything in this memoir; she includes all the grisly details.  I appreciate how this book is broken up chronologically. Heagy had her stroke on May 21, 2019, and A Stroke of Grace details one month per chapter. Once Heagy passes the one year anniversary of her stroke, the chapters morph into approximately yearly quarters. This layout allows for a seamless flow of the book with no distracting timeline jumping. While taking us on her journey, Heagy uses a friendly, casual tone with her words; it suits this story perfectly. Aesthetically speaking, this is a beautiful book. The image drawn on the cover carries throughout the book, softening the words. The font the creators picked was an excellent choice, pleasing to read and soft. The size of the font is bigger than you usually find in books although it…

Poetry and Lyrics of Jay Semko, The
Wood Dragon Books / 25 March 2022

The Poetry & Lyrics of Jay Semkoby Jay SemkoPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$19.99 ISBN 9-781989-078631 “She ain’t pretty she just looks that way.” If you’re a Canadian of a certain age, there’s a good chance you’ll recognize that lyric from the song “She Ain’t Pretty” by The Northern Pikes, a Saskatchewan-based band that rose to popularity in the 1980s and still records. The Pikes’ bassist and a vocalist, Jay Semko, also penned many of the band’s songs, and now he’s released a book that’s “a mixture of song lyrics and ‘stand alone’ poems written over a 25-year period”. The Poetry & Lyrics of Jay Semko begins with the artist’s abbreviated autobiography. Jay Semko was bullied as a grade-accelerated child in rural Saskatchewan; became passionate about learning guitar and writing songs in his teens; and enjoyed career success both with The Northern Pikes and as a solo artist (ten albums plus music composition for film and television). We also meet the Jay Semko who is “a recovering addict … living with Bipolar Disorder”. Sharing his experience “helps [him] immensely, and is crucial to [his] own personal recovery”. “Write what you know” is a common literary adage and…