“My Brother’s Destroyer” by Clayton Lindemuth


Clayton Lindemuth
Hardgrave Enterprises (2013)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (07/17)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘My Brother’s Destroyer’ by Clayton Lindemuth on Blogcritics.

“My Brother’s Destroyer” by Clayton Lindemuth is a thrilling story with intense, horrific drama, displaying the ultimate depths of pure evil, and the lengths one man will go to for vengeance.

As the result of an incident with his brother early in life, Baer Creighton acquired the uncanny ability to detect when people are lying – his eyes see red and he experiences physical pain. This uncharacteristic attribute, combined with his lack of faith in the general goodness of people, finds Baer spending most of his time at his home in the woods, focusing on distilling his highly sought after moonshine.  His only companion is Fred, his pit bull.

Fred is stolen one night and forced to fight in an illegal fight circle, sponsored by Joe Stipe, the local thug, and attended by some of the more prominent citizens of Gleason County, including the police chief, the pastor, and Baer’s own brother, Larry. When Fred is left for dead, Baer knows he is on his own if the issue is going to be set straight.  Things get out of control fast as tensions on both sides escalate, and Baer, in a seemingly hopeless situation, must reflect on some painful memories from the past, in order to carry out his need for retribution.

Fascinating story!  This tale was gripping from the very start with the author’s enthralling writing style pulling readers into the drama on the first page.  There are no fillers in this story – I found every word impactful and necessary to move the plot along at a swift pace, filling me with unsettling, yet somehow satisfying tension and anxiety, as I eagerly tried to get into Baer’s head. Written in authentic dialect, the tone is unique and impressive, a multi-dimensional experience transporting readers directly into each scene.

The characters are genuine and full of depth, with real struggles. With no tip-toeing around issues or personalities, they will compete for your emotions.  Good or evil – love them or hate them, these characters will pull at your heart and imprint your mind. Strong feelings and emotions about every single one of them will ensue – guaranteed.

I highly recommend “My Brother’s Destroyer” by Clayton Lindemuth.  His distinct writing style, with a unique blend of humor, sarcasm and darkness, will appeal to readers of thrilling suspense and horror and those that love a strong-willed protagonist on a mission.  Loved this story!

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“The Bone War of McCurtain County” by Russell Ferrell


Russell Ferrell
Rabelais Publishing (2017)
ISBN 9780983355151
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (7/17)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘The Bone War of McCurtain County’ by Russell Ferrell on Blogcritics.

“The Bone War of McCurtain County” by Russell Ferrell is a true story about two backwoods naturalists who discovered a world-class dinosaur specimen in the 1980s.  The story is not only a very informative read, it also provides significant facts on dinosaur bones and how this book came into being. Ferrell provides a very detailed prologue on how he came to meet Cephis Hall, and why he chose to write about the history and the people of Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Cephis Hall and Sid Love were born naturalists who loved to explore and increase their knowledge of crystals and fossils. On the journey with these two down-to-earth men, readers will experience many emotions as they discover one of the biggest finds of dinosaur bones in history, and their fight with those who want to take this history away from them. Typically, many large corporations ignore those “little people” until they find that they have something of value.

I found the background on the term “hillbilly” to be very interesting and how, like today, there is a particular class of people who think they are better than everyone else. Through Ferrell’s descriptions, readers will see that these “hillbillies” were family-oriented, dedicated, honest and God-fearing people. They worked hard for what little they had, often having to relocate thousands of miles just to feed their families.

The author does an excellent job of presenting historical facts, portraying in full-color Hall and Love, and describing corporate America’s need to control everything. It was inspiring to read how these two men held tight to their beliefs and work ethics, and went head-to-head with large corporations to save what was rightfully theirs. The only downside to this read is that the extensive historical background sometimes detracted from the two heroes of the story and the challenges they experienced. That said however, I do believe the history was absolutely relevant to the story.

“The Bone War of McCurtain County” by Russell Ferrell is a creative, engaging, and informative read. Ferrell’s writing is well researched, and readers will feel his great passion for Hall and Love as he tells their story and honors their place in history.

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“Veronica and the Volcano” by Geoffrey Cook


Geoffrey Cook
Violet Moon LLC (2017)
ISBN 9780692892008
Reviewed by Paola Belloso (age 9) for Reader Views (07/17)

In “Veronica and the Volcano” by Geoffrey Cook, you will enjoy a handful of experiences that will blow your imagination as you go through their journey to “Mount Mystery.”

Veronica is a normal ten-year-old girl who lives with her mom, dad, and sister Elyse, in a volcano close to Crater Lake. I liked that she has brown hair, like mine. She loves to wear pearls every day, even to bed, because her middle name is Pearl. She has a good friend named Maddy.

It was her mom’s birthday and Veronica wanted to get her some volcano pearls. She went to the only jewelry store around and an old man helped her. I thought he was a weird and scary person and a little funny in the things he said. No luck with him in having the pearls, but he did tell Veronica where she might be able to find them.

Meet Veronica and her parents and Lucky and Maddy, as they go through this exciting adventure, and discover with them all the surprises they found and the fun they had.

I loved “Veronica and the Volcano” very much. I liked all the fun things they do to live in a volcano.  They had so many exciting adventures – Babeltown, Minnehaha, the pirates, and so much more.  It was fun to learn new things about the earth with Veronica and the rest as they searched for the pearls. Join them and discover if they found what they were looking for.

I recommend this book to kids my age. I think that girls will really love this story, but anyone that loves volcanoes will also enjoy it. “Veronica and the Volcano” is a story full of everything – family, friendship, courage, and exciting adventures.  And the illustrations are great!

A note from mom:

“Veronica and the Volcano” by Geoffrey Cook is an excellent story that Paola could not stop reading. Her imagination was always active. I found the glossary on scientific terms very informative, and I personally loved the fact that the author wrote it based on the stories he told his girls on their 25 minute ride to school.

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“The Seasons of a Giant” by Pamela Hartley


Pamela Hartley
CreateSpace (2017)
ISBN 9781542385831
Reviewed by Marten Weldon (age 12) for Reader Views (7/17)

“The Seasons of a Giant” by Pamela Hartley is a book about 13-year-old Izzy, who chased a Giant she thought was eating her family’s cows. She followed him into the siloport and was teleported into the land of the Giants. Her people, the Groundlings, thought all the Giants were blood-thirsty pillagers and child-gobblers, so she was terrified when she realized what had occurred. Would she be eaten like all the other children that disappeared before her? Would she ever get home?

My favorite character was the Temperate Giant Boone. Boone admitted to stealing cows and belongings from the Groundlings, but his reasons for doing so were not at all what the Groundlings thought. He didn’t always know how the stolen items should be used. For example, he used a toilet bowl as a mixing bowl for chocolate brownies and other food! Boone always wanted to do right, so it was a good thing that he was the first Giant that Izzy met. Not all Giants were like Boone!

While Izzy was trying to figure out how to get home, her parents alerted the government about her kidnapping. Unfortunately, they alerted the wrong people. Dynamite-loving Colonel Fletcher was deathly afraid of Giants and far more concerned about making sure that no more Giants could get to their world than he was about saving one little girl.

This book had a pretty strong message, “Never give up, never give in!” Izzy was pretty tough but also scared, so she frequently had to remind herself to not give up or give in.

Parts of the book were a hard to read because the Giants’ speech pattern was a little confusing, but overall, “The Seasons of a Giant” by Pamela Hartley was a fun, entertaining read that I would recommend to people who like fantasy. I think this book would be best for kids aged about eight to twelve years old.

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Interview with George R. Hopkins, Author of “Unholy Retribution”


Berlin WallUnholy Retribution

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

Article first published as Interview: George R. Hopkins, Author of ‘Unholy Retribution’ on Blogcritics.

George Hopkins graduated from Iona College with a B. A. in English. After serving in the Marine Corps Reserves as a sergeant, he went on to obtain a Master’s degree in English literature from City College of New York. He wrote a number of human interest stories for the Staten Island Advance and began writing his first novel, Blood Brothers, after a challenge at a dinner party. Blood Brotherswon a Drago Literary Book Award. His second novel, Collateral Consequences, won a 2009 Premier Book Award for Mystery/Thriller/Suspense. His third novel, Letters from the Dead, won a Reader’s View award and was a finalist in the 2013 International Readers’ Favorite Awards for Mystery/Thriller. He has also been awarded recognition for his poetry, television production, and community service.

Each of his six Mystery/Thrillers, Blood Brothers,  Collateral ConsequencesLetters from the Dead,  Random Acts of MaliceUnholy Retribution, and Chasing the Devil’s Breath, center around two crime fighting brothers, Tom Cavanaugh, a NYC homicide detective, and his brother, Jack Bennis, a Jesuit priest and former Black Ops officer.

Welcome George, and thank you for being with us today! Why don’t you start by telling our readers a bit about yourself?

Like the rest of us, I am, as Tennyson’s Ulysses says, “a part of all that I have met.” I feel I have been blessed by my experiences as a husband, a father of four, a grandfather of ten, a teacher, a Marine, a student and an observer of human nature. Somehow my experiences have given me a positive attitude toward life and, at times, a wry sense of humor.

I have to confess, writing doesn’t necessarily come easy to me. At one time, I used to tell people how Tom Clancy supposedly once said, how easy it is to write a novel. “All you have to do is write one page a night and at the end of 365 days you will have a book.”

That may be true, but experience has taught me, however, that’s not the whole truth. As Amy Joy said, “Anyone who says writing is easy isn’t doing it right.”

George Orwell was a bit more graphic when he said, “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

Personally, I think Orwell might have been exaggerating a bit. I tend to agree more with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s view that writers are a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person. The truth is, sometimes I think there are multiple people running around inside my head. All writers, but crime writers in particular, I feel, may seem to live normal lives while at the same time inhabiting inside their heads a violent and peculiar alternative reality. It’s almost like a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.

For me, that alternative reality is my two major characters, a hard-nosed, conservative homicide detective and his older brother, a Jesuit priest and former Special Forces officer.

As I have gotten older, I am not the lean, mean Marine, I once pretended to be. Now I feel more and more like Tennyson’s Ulysses.

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,–
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

In my writing, beneath the mysteries and adventures, I try to capture the conflicts of mind, body, and spirit that we all face in our daily lives.

What is Unholy Retribution about?

Unholy Retribution is about revenge. It focuses on the brutal acts of revenge and the motives behind the acts themselves. It illustrates how revenge can come in many forms, UnholyRetributionfor many different reasons. But Unholy Retribution is also about love and loyalty and how both anger and love can distort our perceptions.  When Fr. Jack Bennis is accused of heinous murders, his brother, Tom Cavanagh, a NYC homicide detective, tries to help him but must fight forces resulting from the actions of his own past.

Religious prejudice and issues with law enforcement consume the headlines in today’s world–perhaps they always will.  What inspired you to write about these current world issues?

The disturbing graphic pictures of ISIS beheadings of journalists, aid workers, Christians, and even children somehow made me think back to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and the quote, “If you prick, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?” What if someone decided to retaliate for wrongs he or she perceived? What if the evidence pointed toward a Catholic priest? Would the priest be capable of carrying out brutal murders of apparently innocent Muslims? What if the priest had previous military training in clandestine operations? What if the lead detective on the investigation blamed the priest’s brother for her own sister’s death? Is justice really blind or can private, suppressed prejudices lead to tragic ends? The inspiration for Unholy Retribution came from world news headlines and stories about ISIS cruelties and clerical misconduct and from my own imagination.

What message do you hope to convey about these issues to readers?

I hope people would see the end does not justify the means and that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth ultimately hurts all parties. Characters in Unholy Retribution are motivated by past experiences. They let their anger and thirst for revenge blind them. Innocent people are hurt by the desire for revenge. Too many people in today’s society, it seems to me, have lost their balance and react violently and irrationally to perceived wrongs. You read about it all the time. A driver fails to signal a lane change and the other driver goes out of his way to cut him off the road or, even worse, to kill the other driver. Unholy Retribution is about how vigilante justice, smoldering prejudices, perceived injustices, and hatred lead to disaster.

Tell us about some of the most interesting bits of information you uncovered while doing the research for Unholy Retribution.

Every time I sit down to write, I regard it as a potential learning experience. I knew there were incidents of radical Muslim attacks on innocent Americans, but I did not know there were so many and in virtually every state in the Union. I was astonished to read some of the attacks, but I also learned that anti-Muslim hate crimes have risen substantially.  We seem to have become a society at war with itself. The characters in Unholy Retribution voice opinions voiced often in private by many people. The heightened rhetoric after 9/11 has exposed an alarming trend in which Muslims are constantly and consistently cast as somehow un-American because of their faith.

I enjoy doing my research. As preparation for this book, I studied and walked through the streets of Belfast. I learned much about the murals in Belfast and Northern Ireland which reflect the past and present political and religious divisions of the country. Some of the murals in the Irish republican areas commemorate the “conflict” or “the troubles.” A large portrait of Bobby Sands on the side wall of Sinn Féin‘s Falls Road office remains in my memory along with depictions of the Ballymurphy Massacre and the portraits of fallen members of the IRA. In the loyalist sections of the city, tributes to the Ulster Defense Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force commemorate their deceased members. As the city tries to ease the tensions of the past, the still lingering divisions in the city had a sobering effect on me.

Can you give us a little background information about the protagonists in the series?

Unholy Retribution is the fifth story I have written about the two brothers, Jack Bennis and Tom Cavanaugh. Jack Bennis was born as a result of his mother being raped by Devlin Cavanaugh who was sentenced to jail for the rape and attempted murder of another woman. Jack’s mother married Michael Bennis who raised Jack as his own child. When Devlin Cavanaugh was released from prison, he killed Michael Bennis and married Margaret Bennis. He was an abusive husband and father who was killed in a fire. Young Jack Bennis joined the Army and became a member of an elite, secret group of assassins. He was shot and severely wounded after one of their missions was compromised. He and two of his men were left for dead. Somehow he managed to survive the jungles of South America. In the process he met a Jesuit missionary and he abandoned his military career to become a priest.

His brother, Tom Cavanaugh, became a New York City hard-nosed homicide detective. In the first book in the series, they are united under some unusual circumstances.  Unholy Retribution begins with Fr. Bennis recuperating in the hospital from a gunshot wound received while saying Mass. Cavanaugh tries to come to the aid of his brother, but his own checkered past has created enemies for him, one of whom is the lead detective on the murder investigation who holds Cavanaugh responsible for the death of her sister. Detective Adrianna Perez sees the conviction of Fr. Bennis as a form of retribution for the way Cavanaugh treated her sister.

How has your own relationship with the brothers evolved over the course of the series?

It is interesting to me to see how the brothers have evolved. They have grown closer while maintaining their individual, at times, stubborn attitudes. They look at things through different eyes and frequently disagree with each other. Cavanaugh tries to keep Bennis out of the police investigations, but Bennis always manages to involve himself. They are both persistent and determined, but Cavanaugh tends to charge into things full speed. He will break the rules if it means getting the job done. Bennis is more of a thinker and a planner. As a priest, his “rules” may come from a higher authority, but, as he frequently says, he has “feet of clay.” His actions and reactions are often influenced by emotions which he struggles with. They both, however, will do anything to help the other, but it is never an easy ride.

You have a dedicated fan base that eagerly awaits each new adventure involving the Cavanaugh brothers.  What are your future plans for the series?

The brothers will rise again. All my novels have required a great deal of research. The sequel to Unholy Retribution is Chasing the Devil’s Breath. It involves both brothers in a drug war in Colombia. In the future, I am playing around with a particularly grisly murder based very loosely on an actual occurrence. It will bring both brothers back to Staten Island where they will be forced to team up once again. The usual characters will be there while Bennis struggles with his vocation to the priesthood and Cavanaugh struggles with the responsibilities of being a husband and a father.

How does your muse move you and what does he/she contribute to your process?

My muse is the world around me. It may come in a news story, a partial conversation overheard in a supermarket, a little known fact in a book, an article on the internet, or anywhere. As Tennyson wrote, “Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough / Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades / Forever and forever when I move.” Right now, I have the fledglings of a new story in my mind. As I continue to feed it and nourish it with questions and research, hopefully it will grow and “some work of noble note, may yet be done.”

What do you love most about being a writer?

I enjoy the freedom to create stories to entertain and hopefully teach. I enjoy the control I have to develop characters who take on a life of their own. I enjoy the gift of imagination.  I enjoy the thrill of the adventure of writing. I name some of the characters after friends of mine.  My neighbors and friends have turned up in my books as teachers, secretaries, forensic scientists, police officers, doctors, archeology students, judges, psychologists, mob bosses, bartenders, bouncers, drug addicts, pilots, tourists, priests, and even prostitutes. Our good friend’s 93 year old aunt wanted to be in one of my books. When I asked her what she wanted to be, she said, “A prostitute.” And she is in the next book in the series, Chasing the Devil’s Breath.

I have been fortunate that those who read my books seem to like them. I have resigned myself to the fact I’m not going to get rich writing, but, in perhaps a masochistic way, writing is fun for me and gives me a voice to be heard.

What authors inspire your own work as a writer?

I enjoy a good story. A number of authors inspire my own work as a writer, including Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Ann Cleeves, Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Agatha Christie, O. Henry, Edgar Allan Poe and, strange as it may seem, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck and James Joyce among others.

As a reader, I’m always a bit sad when a good story ends. How do you feel when you finish writing one of your novels?

I feel a bit ambivalent when I finish writing one of my novels. On one hand, I am relieved that it’s over. The burden has been lifted. But on the other hand, I am apprehensive. How will readers react to the novel? How will I market my novel? What will happen to my characters next?

Does the writing and the process get easier or harder with each new book?  How have you grown as an author?

It doesn’t get any easier for me. The more I learn, the better my writing gets. With each book, I have grown a bit, both as a writer and a person. My characters are fuller, more developed, more complicated.  They reveal themselves through their actions and their words.  I am able to create more suspense and tension. I realize now so many more ways to develop my story and engage my readers.  For me, writing is a continual learning process. As with most things, the more one practices, the better one becomes.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I enjoy my family. We are fortunate most of our grandchildren live relatively close by and we have the opportunity to see them often and watch them grow. I also feebly attempt to play a game I believe must have been practiced by witches in Salem. It entails beating the ground with a stick and muttering curses, not loud, but deep. I believe they call the game “golf.”

Where can readers connect with you on social media to learn more about Unholy Retribution and your other books?

My website is www.george-hopkins.com and www.amazon.com/author/georgehopkins
Facebook – George R. Hopkins
Twitter – George Hopkins @George Romano
Goodreads – George Hopkins
Email addresses – greh322531@aol.com and hopkins109@aol.com.

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

William Earnest Henley wrote a poem called “Invictus.”  The concluding lines of the poem are, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” I believe it is important for all of us, whether we are writers or not, to “fight the good fight,” and not give up. Writing can be frustrating, but it is important to be persistent. Jack London was rejected 600 before he sold his first story. The traditional market for writers may be cold and cruel at times, but if you believe in yourself and enjoy what you are doing, keep at it. I welcome your feedback as I continue to try to improve. There are many different ways to excellence and maybe you can help me on my journey. Please feel free to contact me and I will get back to you. Thank you.

Read review of Unholy Retribution
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“Beneath the Bridge” by Jason L. Henderson


Jason L. Henderson
iUniverse (2016)
ISBN 9781491798256
Reviewed by Anna Riley for Reader Views (07/17)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘Beneath the Bridge’ by Jason L. Henderson on Blogcritics.

“Beneath the Bridge” by Jason L. Henderson, is a fast paced, suspenseful drama that centers around a young girl named Elle Jensen.

When I first began to read this story I was a bit confused because it started with a girl named Kayla, who was looking forward to Halloween, and going on a date.  We learned while bouncing around in Kayla’s thoughts that she very much missed her aunt, and was also grounded, so she had to be on good behavior to go on her date.  When her best friend calls, Kayla’s thoughts are interrupted and she is whisked away into a mystery and a farewell. Turns out her best friend is none other than Elle Jensen, who is about to go on the run with her father to get away from her psychotic, junkie boyfriend.

That’s when the author’s main-focus comes into view, as readers follow Elle and the people around her on an intriguing journey. We then watch her friendships form and bloom along this adventure. I believe that the author’s main purpose was to show how teens interact, and relationships bloom, all the while telling a scary story.

I believe Henderson did a very good job at writing a story that had several different characters, interweaving their stories with one girl to bring them all back together. I liked the fact that as I was reading thinking the story is going to follow one path, it quickly goes another.

I can’t say I have experienced being in Elle’s shoes as the new kid at school. I attended school in the same place as my friends from kindergarten to high school.  College was a little different. I didn’t know any one, and you don’t see many of the same people throughout your semesters there. It’s scary/exciting because you can rewrite your persona each term.  Thankfully my ex-boyfriends were never as psychotic and deadly as Elle’s ex-boyfriend Jimmy. I couldn’t imagine the fear of constantly looking over your shoulder.

The only issue that occurred to me while reading is that while Elle and Jake were the main characters, it sometimes felt like Elle was a secondary character, as everyone else seemed to have a stronger voice than her.  Other than that, I thought it was a great read!

I think this book is best suited for teens and adults. Due to language, and some graphic violence depictions, it is not a good read for kids. I recommend “Beneath the Bridge” by Jason L. Henderson to all that enjoy an exciting suspenseful story full of horror, drama, and twists.  It will not disappoint!

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“Dregs Island” by Dr. Bon Blossman and Zakk Myer


Dr. Bon Blossman and Zakk Myer
CreateSpace (2017)
ISBN 9780996524834
Reviewed by Evan Weldon (age 15) for Reader Views (7/17)

“Dregs Island” by Dr. Bon Blossman and Zakk Myer is about seventeen-year-old Alex Cardin who, while driving home one day, witnesses a fatal hit and run. Trying to be a Good Samaritan, Alex immediately calls the police with the license plate of the offending car. You can imagine his shock when he is the one arrested. The year is 2032, six years after President Gray’s Prison Reform act which allows for expedited trials and alters the prison system so that all felons are deported to prison islands. Alex Cardin quickly finds himself an innocent victim of the Prison Reform Act. His trial for the hit and run proceeds without time to even find a lawyer. False witness testimony is presented against him and he suddenly finds himself guilty of murder, sentenced to life imprisonment on Dregs Island.  Deposited on Dregs Island, Alex finds himself struggling to survive in its harsh environment of toxic animals and violent inhabitants. Will Alex be able to find allies and survive against those who wish to harm him? Read and find out!

My favorite character is Mia. When Alex is first stranded on the island, Mia quickly picks him out as innocent.  That is, imprisoned without cause, and attempts to assist him however possible.  She is one of the most believable characters and provides insight into the how the island works.

If you enjoy a good dystopia, this is the book for you. From a corrupted justice system and government, to brutal punishment methods, this book portrays a perfectly dismal future.  The characters are all original and very dynamic, often because they are psychotic! However, it sometimes feels like Alex Cardin is adapting too quickly. Alex goes from being a kid on a dangerous island to a powerful player in the island’s politics in only a few weeks.  These rapidly changing characters sometimes made book confusing and unbelievable, but did not take away from the entertainment.

All said, “Dregs Island” by Dr. Bon Blossman and Zakk Myer was a very enjoyable read and I hope to see more books in this series!

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