“Unholy Retribution” by George R. Hopkins

UnholyRetributionUNHOLY RETRIBUTION

George R. Hopkins
CreateSpace Publishing (2015)
ISBN 9781519231802
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (5/17)

Once again, fans of the series by George Hopkins involving the brothers Cavanaugh and Father Bennis are in for a thrill ride of ups and downs and harrowing twists, in “Unholy Retribution.”

When Father Bennis is shot while presiding over mass, he ends up in the hospital with a dead man’s head and a bloody knife in his bed. Someone is out to make a statement, and it involves Father Bennis. Detective Adriana Perez, a feisty somewhat overly aggressive individual, firmly believes all clues lead to Father Bennis, yet at the same time she harbors extreme hatred for his brother, who might have caused her sister’s death. Regardless of what clues police have, or what thoughts or attempts at discovery the brothers have, more and more innocent Muslims are killed and decapitated.

Everyone seems to convene at the local pub, O’Malley’s, where they all share their opinions about “who done it.” Finn McCool, the bartender, is more vocal than most and seems to enjoy riling others up about the topic. Eventually, Father Bennis gets curious as to why no one can find information about McCool and decides on his own to take a trip to Ireland to see what he can find out.

As more evidence comes in, Detective Perez and Cavanaugh call a truce and explore new information about McCool.

Not having read the series in order, I felt quite at home with the characters and action. From Hopkins, the previously well-laid foundation of the description of the main characters made it feel like I was home again. His plot is powerful and pulls you in from the first page. He provides you with just enough information to give you a sense he knows what he is talking about and sets you up as the “armchair” detective. I liked that the words and action flowed smoothly, and just when you think you have the case solved – “bam” he’s gotcha going in another direction.

One character that evoked strong emotions from me was Detective Perez. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to smack her and say, “Get over it!” I think that when an author can get you to react in that way, he/she has done a great job of writing. Again, you can tell Hopkins has done his work, and I liked the fact that he had law enforcement admitting that they often make mistakes.

I highly recommend “Unholy Retribution” by George Hopkins to anyone who wants to be drawn into a world of fast action, romance, and thrills.

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“Chasing the Devil’s Breath” by George R. Hopkins

ChasingTheDevilsBreathCHASING THE DEVIL’S BREATH

George R. Hopkins
CreateSpace Publishing (2017)
ISBN 9781543033182
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (5/17)

George R. Hopkins’ suspense/thriller, “Chasing the Devil’s Breath” is a fast-paced, can’t-put-down read that incorporates everything a reader could want: murder, mystery, mayhem, and romance.

Fans find Tom Cavanaugh, a retired New York detective starting his first day as a private investigator. His first case involves looking for a missing person with one stipulation, “no police involvement.” In another part of the world, his special ops officer brother turned Jesuit Priest, is also doing his search on an individual who is manufacturing Devils Breath, a unique drug that leaves its victims in a zombie-like state with no free will.

Both brothers end up in Mompox, Columbia where their lives are in danger and people dying right and left. Numerous new characters evolve that seem to have a past relationship with the brothers, one of which includes Maria, who is in love with Father Bennis. The character I most felt a fondness for was Chico, a street-smart young boy who saves everyone’s lives more than once. He is careful to watch out for the brothers and warn them of any danger.

Hopkins story is very intriguing, riveting, and spellbinding. His ability to transition between Staten Island and Mompox is smooth, and you will never miss a beat. Even though there are numerous characters, from the vivid descriptions, conversations, and colorful scenarios, you will come to love or hate some of them. He provides great vocabulary and humor to differentiate between the personalities of the two brothers.

The topic of synthetic drugs and the harm they can do fits quite well with current events today. I found the plot to be original in that it is more descriptive and in-depth than most suspense/thrillers where you can almost guess the ending.

Interestingly enough the author has no background in law enforcement; his work is in the academic world and serving in the Marine Corps. However, you can tell he has done his research as it shows in his ability to describe the legal process, and how law enforcement works. I think his time in the Marine Corps gave us the vivid and colorful description of jungles.

I highly recommend, “Chasing the Devil’s Breath” by George R. Hopkins, which is just one of a series. It is easy to read and understand, and very entertaining.

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“Rogue Wolf” by Robin Mason

RogueWolfROGUE WOLF

Robin Mason
Tricklewood Press (2017)
ISBN 9780994837165
Reviewed by Evan Weldon (age 15) for Reader Views (05/17)

“Rogue Wolf” by Robin Mason is a book about seventh-grader Jackson and his friend Sarah. All is well in the magical glen that grants Jackson and Sarah the ability to speak with animals, until a pack of eleven wolves arrive. Jackson and Sarah know that such a large wolf pack will quickly deplete the glen’s herds of elk and deer. In order to preserve the magic of the glen, they must find a way to make the pack leave. However, Rogue, the leader of the pack, does not seem to care that he might jeopardize the glen and his pack’s own food supply, even when Jackson and Sarah bring these concerns before him. Jackson is now in a difficult position. Jackson is sympathetic to the pack’s need for territory and is loath to bring the news of a wolf pack to the authorities, knowing they will hunt and kill the wolves, but he is also faced with the possibility that the wolf pack will destroy the glen he’s come to love. How will Jackson and Sarah resolve this conundrum? Read and find out!

My favorite character is Jackson. Faced with difficult situations, Jackson always strives to find the best solution. It’s interesting to watch him develop throughout the series, going from staying indoors as much as possible to finding every excuse to visit the glen. Even during Rogue Wolf, one sees Jackson grow and mature. All the characters in Rogue Wolf are interesting and distinct. Robin Mason does a good job of developing each character individually, never overwhelming the reader with an excess of names.

However, Rogue Wolf and the series at large are not only great reads; each book addresses important environmental issues that are faced today. It is refreshing to see an author who can tell an interesting and engaging story while still conveying a vital message about the importance of environmental conservation.

I would suggest this book for all audiences. Although talking animals may seem cliché at first, the author does a fantastic job of making it new and original by tying the ability to a certain area. The animals all have fun personalities that make the book a joy to read. The plot is ever evolving as more and more threats come to light, which keeps the book interesting. Overall, “Rogue Wolf” by Robin Mason is an entrancing and enjoyable book that will draw you in and never let you out.

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“Sorrows & Songs, One Lifetime – Many Lives” by Janice Wood Wetzel

SorrowsAndSongsSORROWS & SONGS, ONE LIFETIME – MANY LIVES

Janice Wood Wetzel
Fullarton Press (2015)
ASINB019CXL9S2
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (05/17)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘Sorrows & Songs, One Lifetime – Many Lives’ by Janice Wood Wetzel on Blogcritics.

As a fan of memoirs I was impressed with “Sorrows & Songs, One Lifetime – Many Lives” by Janice Wood Wetzel, not just because of her life, but also because of how she chose to share it with readers like me. She starts in the early 1930s when she was a little girl and takes the reader through the journey of a woman through the 20th century and into the 21st Century. Her heart wrenching, and even traumatizing experiences contrast with her strong will, infinite courage, and amazing accomplishments. Yet, her vulnerability is what will get the reader. From a difficult childhood under alcoholic parents, being a depression patient who undergoes electroshock treatments, to the search of self-identity and love, Janice opens her life for all women, inviting them to peek inside and get inspired by this vignette style memoir.

Wetzel’s voice comes across loud and clear through her candid narrative prose within each vignette. The words flow almost like a melody, each one giving the reader a punch line…a message. Her writing style and choice of formatting is very clever and effective. I found myself not only learning from her experiences, but also relating and enjoying each one as standalone stories as much as parts of a whole book. As a woman traveling my own journey, I appreciate the candidness and could relate to many of the things she had to face during such evolving times for women. I just wish the format was a little more entertaining in order to hook younger crowds into such an amazing and inspiring journey.

“Sorrows & Songs, One Lifetime – Many Lives” by Janice Wood Wetzel should definitely be read by women in all stages of their lives, and those men who are wise enough to learn more about what it is like to be a woman.

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“Ahe’ey” by Jamie Le Fay

aheeyAHE’EY

Jamie Le Fay
Jamie Le Fay (2017)
ISBN 9780646969183
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (05/17)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘Ahe’ey’ by Jamie Le Fay on Blogcritics.

“Ahe’ey” by Jamie Le Fay is the complete collection of ten episodes or stories that take place in and beyond the fantasy world of Ahe’ey, spanning from the 1800s to present day.

Morgan is a strong, independent, influential woman who is making a difference in the lives of women all over the world. When she’s around Gabriel however, it’s a battle for self-control as the man leaves her weak in the knees! As political opposition threatens to shut down Morgan’s agenda at any cost, the two take refuge in the world of Ahe’ey, a place where women are in charge. But, this outwardly perfect world may not be as idyllic as it first seems.

There is a lot going on in this story and it is considerably impressive how the author interweaves the world of fantasy, dragons, and fairy tale qualities with modern day issues such as racism, gender equality, and political unrest. The story feels new and fresh – unique in the fantasy genre for certain, if one can even contain it to a single genre.

What I enjoyed most about “Ahe’ey” is the writing style. At over 600 pages, I was prepared to settle in for the long haul, but the natural flow of the storyline kept me engrossed throughout the entire read. Though I’m sure Le Fay put a considerable amount of time and effort into this work, the result is seamless and fluid from the perspective of the reader, a clear distinction of her talent. The ease and effortless movement through the story left me wanting more – I truly did not want it to end.

The characters are full of life, multi-dimensional and believable, commanding the reader to connect with and invest in the outcome of their plights. Women will fall for Gabriel, an enchanting, sensitive male and the very definition of a prince. Gabriel, of royal blood, is depicted in a much different light than the “common” male characters – Fay provides an excellent demonstration of role reversal at its finest with the men of Ahe’ey. It was the women however, that influenced me the most. I found each character to represent a certain trait in myself. For instance, Morgan represented all of my contradictions, Sky reminded me of my stubborn side, Sage was my calm, patient, and levelheaded self, and Quinn struck a chord with my determined self. The women of Ahe’ey absolutely stirred some heavy inward reflection.

“Ahe’ey” by Jamie Le Fay is very high on my list of reading recommendations. The story is unique, inspiring, and very well written. It will hold great appeal to fans of fantasy, adventure, and romance, as well as those interested in women’s issues and politics.

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“Whack, Whack, Whack, Goes the Tail!” by Mark Rouillard

WhackWhackWhackGoesTheTailWHACK, WHACK, WHACK, GOES THE TAIL!

Mark Rouillard
Fire Monkey Publishing, LLC (2017)
ISBN “Whack, Whack, Whack, Goes the Tail!” by Mark Rouillard
Reviewed by Willow Cramer (age 7) for Reader Views Kids (5/17)

“Whack, Whack, Whack, Goes the Tail!” by Mark Rouillard is about a dog named Jack who really loves his family. He decides that there are lots of things to do with his family. One of the things he decides to do is to protect his mom by whacking a stranger who is putting stuff in their house on the butt.

I really liked that the family loved their dog Jack, and that he really loved him them. He showed his love by waking Johnny up, standing still for a portrait, and trying to protect his mom.

I also liked the art because it’s so funny. The family is taking a nice picture on the front cover, but on the back, you see the kids go flying because Jack accidently whacked them with his tail. I really liked throughout the book that Jack would whack someone and things would go flying (like when he whacked Johnny and the dog food went flying on his head).

I did not like that whenever Jack messed things up the family had to clean up his mess (the entire house)! This makes me think of when we have friends over and they mess up my brother’s room and he has to clean up his room (while whining the whole time). So, I understand if people get frustrated.

What I learned from this book is do not get a dog because it will mess everything up and I’ll have to clean up after it. It might get fur balls all over my bed and my brother’s bed! I’d rather have a fish who won’t mess everything up.

I would recommend “Whack, Whack, Whack Goes the Tail!” by Mark Rouillard to other little girls my age because it is a really great story and I think other kids would like it too because it is so funny.

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Interview with Pat Frayne, Author of “Topaz and the Green Fairies”

INTERVIEW WITH PAT FRAYNE


Pat Frayne
CreateSpace (2015)
ISBN 9781518621154
Reviewed by Faryal Jabbar (age 15) for Reader Views (2/17)

Article first published as Interview: Pat Frayne, Author of ‘Topaz and the Green Fairies’ on Blogcritics.

Award-winning children’s author Pat Frayne is the creator of Topaz the Conjure Cat books. These fast-paced adventure fantasies about Topaz, a large cat descended from a breed endowed with unique magical abilities, will thrill children of all ages. Topaz lives in a magical kingdom, a world filled with wonder and peril, inhabited by fairies, elves, and other mystical beings.

Frayne’s grandchildren have been her biggest creative inspiration. Her books are enjoyed by parents, grandparents, and children alike. Retired from a long career in nursing, Frayne devotes herself to her passion for writing and creating new adventures for Topaz and his companions.

Her love of nature and the many hours spent hiking the Grand Canyon have had a powerful influence on her writing. A native of Pennsylvania, Frayne now lives in a small town in Arizona with her husband, Ron. Besides writing, her favorite pastimes are long walks, and spying on the local wildlife.

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Sheri:  Welcome, Pat! Thank you for being with us today. Why don’t you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Pat:  Hi, Sheri. You are welcome, and thank you for giving me this opportunity to share. I grew up in Philadelphia, and after graduating from Overbrook High School, I entered Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia School of Nursing. From the age of nine I always knew I wanted to be a registered nurse, so for me this was a dream come true. Shortly after graduation I married a young man I’d been engaged to for two years. He had been discharged from the Marine Corps a few weeks before. Naturally, nursing and family became my focus. This left little time for anything else. It wasn’t until the end of my nursing career that I began to write. Had it not been for my grandchildren, Sam and Cait I may not have begun to write at all. They could make up a story on the spur of the moment. That was the spark that set off my imagination. Now that I’ve retired from nursing, writing has become my full-time passion.

Sheri:  What is Topaz and The Green Fairies about?

Pat:  Topaz and The Green Fairies is an uplifting tale about the courage and survival of a young Green Fairy who’s searching for help to save his folk from their eroding, storm-ravaged island in the great Slewnecky River. After a heroic journey of unimaginable, life-threatening challenges, he finally reaches his destination, the Land of Knownotten. But it’s not what he expected.

When Topaz, a Yellow Conjure Cat, and the new King of Knownotten encounter this Green Fairy in the forest, their relationship is off to a rough start. However, they soon become friends.

The king and some of his pals are more than willing to help rescue the Green Fairies. But for the plan to work, the Green Fairy is asked to agree to do something he fears more than anything else in the world. Accompanied by Topaz and his ward, Daisy, a young fawn, the Green Fairy finds the overland road back to his home on Cottersdamp Island even more treacherous than his journey up river to Knownotten Kingdom.

Meantime, conditions on the island worsen as major mudslides begin to take their toll.

Sheri:  What exactly is a Yellow Conjure Cat?

Pat:  I was hoping you’d ask. A Yellow Conjure Cat is a large, lean, muscular cat about the size of a cougar. They’re usually a buttery yellow with pale orange stripes and intense luminous eyes. These cats are born with a unique power that allows them to do extraordinary things. However, the use of that power must be taught, and teaching these skills must start at an early age. Young conjure cats begin training when their Elder decides they are ready. Before this training can begin, a conjure cat must pledge to abide by The Laws Of The Code. The first law states that under no circumstances must a conjure cat use his power for evil.

Sheri:  How many other books are there in the Topaz the Conjure Cat series?

Pat:  There are two other books before Topaz and the Green Fairies, and each tale is a complete book. This allows readers to begin with any book in the series. The first book is Topaz and the Evil Wizard; the second book is called Topaz and the Plum-Gista Stone. Both of these books have been recently revised as our hero Topaz has evolved. He’s grown in size from his original forty pounds.

Sheri: What was your inspiration for writing the series?

Pat:  As I mentioned earlier, my grandchildren lit the spark for my imagination. Once that happened, Topaz and the Kingdom of Knownotten took on a life of their own. This world and the characters that inhabit it became an alternate reality. After the first story, I knew these characters – what they thought, what they felt, and how they’d react in any given situation. The original story came easily. It was finished within a matter of days. This story was written for Sam and Cait for Christmas. I wrote the second story for my granddaughter’s birthday. The beginning of this tale was a bit of a struggle. Cait unwittingly helped me overcome the block by sending me a two-page letter. The first page had been typed on her mom’s computer.

It read:

Title: Topaz and the wizard 2 (typed in large dark letters)

“Wake up Topaz wake up yelled daisy. Daisy was a young white fawn. When Topaz awoke he silently ate his breakfast, for his owner King Kittle had passed away. Then Bumper came in and broke the silence Topaz he yelled Ollie has been stuck in a tree and cant get down you have to help him. So Topaz followed Bumper when Topaz got their he soon saw ollie he yelled up to Ollie are you okay Ollie replied: I need help I cant get down.” (sic)

The second page was written with a fine point, purple marker:

“Dear Nannies, I’m not sure what to say next so I want you to finish it for me.” (big hand-drawn heart) “Caitlin”

I have copied her letter just as it was written. Cait was eight and a half at the time, and she knew I was going to write a story just for her. Bumper and Ollie were characters from the first story. Bumper is a raccoon and Ollie is a great horned Owl. Their names changed to Dooly and Otis when the stories were revised two years later. Daisy, however, was a completely new character. Ollie’s dilemma was a bit of a stumbling block for me. I now had to come up with a credible reason why a great horned owl would be stuck in a tree. A day later I had the answer.

After that, the writing seemed to flow.

However, at this point I didn’t know I was going to publish. My sole purpose for writing the stories was to entertain my grandchildren. My daughter had other ideas. She began to encourage me to publish. When I didn’t, she called a subsidiary publisher and gave them my phone number. I did publish the first book through them. However, once I decided to create a series, I made contact with a good formatter and began to publish through CreateSpace. Once I’d published the first two books, it was only natural that I should write a third.

Sheri:  What was your biggest challenge in writing the series?

Pat: In the third book Topaz began to evolve. He needed to be about the size of a cougar if I intended him to accomplish what the story demanded. I struggled with what to do about this until I finally decided to start from the beginning again and revise the first two books.

Sheri:  What is the best part about being an author of children’s books?

Pat:  I enjoy writing the kind of children’s books I liked to listen to my mom read to me when I was a youngster. Reviews from readers are another bonus I did not expect. While reading through my reviews on Goodreads back in March, I came across one that made my heart glow. Here are the first two sentences: “I thoroughly enjoyed reading Topaz & The Green Fairies with my young niece. She has a cat and insisted on renaming him Topaz!” (sic)

Sheri:  Is there a lesson in each of your books?

Pat:  If there is a lesson, it was never intentional. These books were written for the enjoyment of the reader. However, as with all of the Topaz the Conjure Cat Books, there is a strong emphasis on the value of friendship, loyalty, and courage.

Sheri:  What is it you hope young readers take away from your stories?

Pat:  I hope readers will enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them. And I hope it will encourage them to read other books for the simple pleasure of reading.

Sheri: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, about writing, or about life in general?

Pat:  The best advice I’ve ever received about writing or life, in general, is this: “You have to work at it every day.” The other thing I learned is “You must have heart.” Heart equals passion. An author must feel passionate about writing in order to succeed.

Sheri: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Pat:  My advice to aspiring authors is this: First, write every day; keep your passion alive. Second, learn how to market. That begins with branding yourself on social media and making useful connections with others. Third, build a website. Write articles that pertain to your genre and your writing. Do this on a regular basis. Most importantly, remember to brand yourself; get your name in the public eye. One way to do this is to include your name in the link to your website.

Sheri: What do you like to do in your free time?

Pat:  I enjoy long walks. And I love to observe the local wildlife. It’s not uncommon to see a herd of javelina or a coyote walking down the road in front of my house or through parts of my yard. We see lots of roadrunners; deer sometimes come to visit. They like my neighbor’s rose buds. Once in a while tarantulas, snakes, and scorpions show up. I don’t mind as long as they don’t hang out in the garage too long. I like to read, too, mostly fantasy and mystery. At the moment I’m reading a series by Peter Tremayne. He writes historical mysteries about a fictional female lawyer, and her partner Brother Eadulf. They lived in Ireland during the seventh century.

Sheri:  So, what’s next? Will Topaz continue to take young readers on his exciting adventures?

Pat: Yes! I’m thinking about a new story. Nothing is on the computer yet. But, I plan to start soon.

Sheri:  Do you have a website or blog where readers can learn more about you and your works?

Pat:  I sure do. The address is www.patfrayne.com. There’s a page for each of the Topaz books and there’s a blog as well. You can also reach my Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads pages from my website or send me an email if you prefer. You can do this by clicking on the icon on my website. I’d love to hear from you.

Sheri:  Where can readers purchase Topaz and The Green Fairies and your other books?

Pat:  All of my books are on Amazon, and there’s a buy button for each book on my website that will take readers directly to the Amazon page.

Sheri:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers today?

Pat:  Yes. It’s an honor to be here and to have this opportunity to tell all of you a little about myself and about Topaz and the magical kingdom he lives in. I hope you and your children will enjoy these tales for years to come. Before signing off, I’d like to mention how much I enjoy reading reviews from children. If there’s a new Topaz adventure you’d like me to write about, please take the time to email. I’m never too busy to answer.

Sheri:  Pat, thank you so much for spending some time with me today! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know more about you and your books and look forward to see you have in store for readers next!

Read Review of Topaz and the Green Fairies

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