Spirit Sight
Wood Dragon Books / 6 January 2021

Spirit Sight: Last of the Gifted, Book Oneby Marie PowellPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$18.99   ISBN 9-781989-078280 I’m grateful that Regina writer Marie Powell provided a map (Wales, 1282), glossary, and character list with her galloping new young adult fantasy, Spirit Sight: Last of the Gifted, Book One, because as one who doesn’t naturally gravitate toward the oft complex fantasy genre, these guideposts were helpful. Powell’s a veteran writer – see her complete library of books at mariepowell.ca – with more than forty books published, and she’s clearly not lacking one iota in inspiration. She explains that this particular novel series – the characters return in Last of the Gifted: Water Sight, Book Two – was inspired by her “adventures in castle-hopping across North Wales to explore her family roots” in 2006. The amount of research required to write a book of this complexity is impressive, and the writing’s made even more interesting as Powell fused fact and fiction: she based the story on the real-life Welsh prince, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (d. 1282), his French wife Elinor – who was held captive by England’s King Edward for three years – and the fictional characters of supernaturally-gifted…

If It Wasn’t For the Money
Wood Dragon Books / 6 January 2021

If It Wasn’t for the Money: A Sam Anderson Mysteryby J.A. MartinePublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$19.99   ISBN 9-781989-078341 If It Wasn’t for the Money: A Sam Anderson Mystery, by Saskatchewan author J.A. Martine – aka business writer Jeanne Martinson – is a rather delectable novel, in more ways than one. The story concerns twin sisters who’d inherited “bloody millions,” their down-on-their-financial-luck husbands, the adventurous magazine writer Sam Anderson (who possesses an interesting, lottery-related back story), and an initially clownish retired Regina cop, all of whom we meet on an Alaska-bound cruise ship. Smooth sailing? Oh no … this is a mystery, after all.  The characters are well-drawn – especially Sam, who leads photography workshops on the ship and rappels down a rockface for a travel story – and plausible, and as the author employs multiple points of view, readers are able to enter into each of the major character’s concerned minds.  Martine explains that the lavish fictional ship, the “Sea Wanderer,” is an amalgamation of Alaskan cruise ships she’s obviously had experience with, as I could easily imagine “the grand lobby with its elegant multi-level staircase,” the “[buzzing] excitement of the first-time passengers,” and the…

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…

Fully Half Committed
Wood Dragon Books / 22 September 2020

Fully Half Committed: Conversation Starters for Romantic Relationshipsby Barbara Morrison and Ed RislingPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$19.99 ISBN 9-781989-078167 If you’ve been single and searching for a healthy new connection over the last decade or so, you’ll know that the dating and relationship landscape has changed significantly, in large part due to the popularity of online dating. With a few key strokes, finding “another fish” at the first sign of conflict or boredom is a mighty temptation for some, and short-term relationships are the new norm. Tragically, our throw-away society’s come to include people. But what about actually working on a relationship and allowing it to evolve? And why are people less likely to commit, fully and completely, today? Professional couples’ therapists Barbara Morrison and Ed Risling address these topics and examine relationship issues like communication, curiosity, awareness, and libido differences in their book Fully Half Committed: Conversation Starters for Romantic Relationships. With sixty years of combined counselling experience, the pair – who met as students – have collaborated on “writing a book about the reoccurring themes” they see in their practices, and each short chapter addresses an issue. There are also numerous examples of how…

My Dearest Dido
Wood Dragon Books / 7 February 2020

My Dearest Dido: The Holodomor Storyby Marion MutalaPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Keith Foster$19.99              ISBN 978-1-989078-20-4 Marion Mutala’s My Dearest Dido: The Holodomor Story is a passionate account of the Great Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933, known as the Holodomor. Based on actual events and documented eyewitness accounts, this story consists of correspondence between two fictional characters – Hanusia Hrabowa in Saskatoon and her grandfather, Dido Bohdan, in Hafford, SK, supplemented by Hanusia’s personal diary. As a class assignment to write about the Holodomor, Hanusia does her research using a primary source – her grandfather, or Dido, who survived the famine. Sixteen-year-old Hanusia starts writing to Dido, requesting his assistance, beginning each letter with “My Dearest Dido.”  Readers may find it odd that Hanusia chose to write letters when any sixteen-year-old would almost instinctively reach for her cell phone. But discussing such a sensitive subject over the phone would have been too difficult. Corresponding by letter would enable Dido to reread the contents, dwell upon Hanusia’s request, and gather his thoughts. Dido is reluctant at first – the memories are just too painful. As he starts to  open up, he becomes severely ill from…

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….

Change Management Lessons from Downton Abbey
Wood Dragon Books / 9 January 2019

Change Management Lessons from Downton Abbey By Jeanne Martinson and Laurelie Martinson Published by Wood Dragon Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $22.00 ISBN 9-781989-078013 Writers Jeanne Martinson and Laurelie Martinson have leveraged their interests in management communications, leadership, the popular British TV series “Downton Abbey,” and writing to inform business and organization leaders in the nonfiction title Change Management Lessons from Downtown Abbey. This latest volume is one of a series of “Downton Abbey”-inspired books the pair have collaborated on; they believe the show “provided lessons that can be applied to our world today,” and they cite specific examples from the series to introduce how contemporary workplace challenges – specifically change – can be effectively managed. The cast on “Downton Abbey” (show circa WW1) had much societal change to contend with, including the incorporation of the first basic technologies, like telephones. How did they cope, and what can we learn from their experiences? Recognizing that change can be difficult for organizations, Laurelie Martinson – a communications and behavior specialist who consults with leaders and introduces change management tools – brought her 25 years of experience in helping facilitate change to the page. Jeanne Martinson is a professional speaker who’s…

Leadership Lessons from Downtown Abbey
Wood Dragon Books / 6 December 2018

Leadership Lessons from Downton Abbey By Jeanne Martinson and Laurelie Martinson Review by Michelle Shaw Wood Dragon Books $22 ISBN 9780995334281 Whether you’re an avid Downton Abbey fan or not, Leadership Lessons from Downton Abbey is a great introduction to the world of leadership and management and offers a handy overview of key leadership principles and management strategies. Regina-based sisters Jeanne and Laurelie Martinson, both recognized leaders in their fields, use characters and situations from the hit British TV series Downton Abbey to illustrate leadership principles and management strategies. “British estates, as characterized by Downton Abbey, represent one of the largest business models of their time,” the authors point out. “Their structure influenced what would become our traditional, hierarchical, business model with executive, senior and middle layers of management.“ The authors present a compelling Organizational Structure at the beginning of the book divided into Executive Management (Lord and Lady Grantham, Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary Crawley); Senior Management (Mr Carson, Mrs Hughes, Mrs Patmore, Dr Clarkson and Mr Branson) and Middle Management. It’s fascinating to see the familiar characters in the context of an organization. The authors are quick to point out however that Leadership Lessons from Downton Abbey is…