My Blog

Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at fadingshadows40@gmail.com

Friday, May 24, 2019

Primordia: In Search of The Lost World

Ben Cartwright, former soldier, home to mourn the loss of his father stumbles upon cryptic letters from the past between the author, Arthur Conan Doyle and his great, great grandfather who vanished while exploring the Amazon jungle in 1908. 
Amazingly, these letters lead Ben to believe that his ancestor’s expedition was the basis for Doyle’s fantastical tale of a lost world inhabited by long extinct creatures. As Ben digs some more he finds clues to the whereabouts of a lost notebook that might contain a map to a place that is home to creatures that would rewrite everything known about history, biology and evolution. 
But other parties now know about the notebook, and will do anything to obtain it. For Ben and his friends, it becomes a race against time and against ruthless rivals. 
In the remotest corners of Venezuela, along winding river trails known only to lost tribes, and through near impenetrable jungle, Ben and his novice team find a forbidden place more terrifying and dangerous than anything they could ever have imagined.


Primordia: In Search of The Lost World (SF)
By Greig Beck
Severed Press
ISBN #978-1925711479
Price $12.78 (Paperback)
Price $4.99 (Kindle)
246 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

Ben Cartwright is out of the Army now, and back home, but still looking for some excitement. Discovering that his namesake, Benjamin Cartwright, in 1908 had went in search of the lost world, sending his notes and maps to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in England. Doyle had written the fiction novel from those notes, and the actual lost world just might be real. Discussing it with his old friends, they decide to look for the fabled lost world themselves. However, they need the notes and maps entrusted to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The first hundred pages or so reminded me of the Hardy Boys solving puzzles, as they search for the hidden notes and maps; there is another group also after them, and the maps end up in the wrong hands. But that’s okay, Ben’s team has the notes, and the last hundred pages take them to the plateau. Here’s where things get scary. A comet called Primordia passes close to Earth’s orbit every ten years, and during its passing one plateau becomes a time portal, returning the mountain top millions of years in the past. It’s this plateau they have found and climbed a chimney to the top, where they discover dinosaurs and giant snakes. It doesn’t take long for everyone to be eaten, except for Ben Cartwright and his girlfriend, Emma Wilson. Just as a giant 70-foot snake is about to eat them, Emma falls over the edge of a cliff and escapes into a cave. Ben is running from the monster snake when the comet leaves Earth’s orbit once again. Emma makes it to civilization and vows to return to the plateau in ten years to save Ben.

The yarn was fun, and being based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World made it unique. There weren’t many dinosaurs, but we do see a few. Mostly, giant snakes eat everyone, since they are the major predator on the mountaintop. Personally, I don’t like reading a book that doesn’t end, as this one is left open for part two. I would love to know what happens in the sequel, but a little afraid it will begin like Nancy Drew before we get to the meat of the book. After all, Emma must wait another ten years when the comet makes its next pass by Earth to attempt a rescue. Will Ben survive that long? And is it just a coincidence that the comet is named Primordia? Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson
Author of JUR: A STORY OF PRE-DAWN EARTH

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Post Facto

When Clara Sue Buchanan gave up big-city journalism to buy her Southern hometown newspaper, she was determined to ferret out the truth in whatever story that came along. What came were high school football games, the locals' catch of the day, and family reunions. Until a string of paranormal sightings turns the monotony upside down. Then millions of dollars in federal funds are on the horizon, but they threaten to ignite a blood feud. A dog is the victim of a ritualistic killing. A drug stash shows up in the truck of a dead prison guard. Things are getting a lot more interesting. Especially when a mysterious trunk appears from an era past, promising to rip open a decades-old case of unexpected death and tragic suicide. Suddenly, all of Clara Sue's big-city reporter skills are in play as she tries to crack the code of small-town corruption, venality, and wanton murder. Before she's the next victim.


Post Facto (Mystery)
By Darryl Wimberley
The Permanent Press www.thepermanentpress.com
ISBN #978-1579625559
Price $19.46 (Hardback)
Price $9.99 (Kindle)
248 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

Clara Sue Buchanan, a big city reporter, has returned to her home in Florida. She takes over the local newspaper, and a local mystery. The Lambs, a local family is trying to cheat Butch out of his inheritance. Butch is a little slow witted and might lose everything without help. Clara teams with her cousin, the local sheriff to investigate strange cases that seem supernatural. What’s going on, and could she end up the next victim?

The publisher sent me a copy of the book for an honest review. This was a fun story, and a slight play on the big city cop retiring to Florida to become involved in a murder case. But this time it’s a journalist and she’s female. But everything else is in place. It is a neat plot, and has good characterization, so is already ahead of those retired cops moving to Florida plots, and well worth the read. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson
Author of INVITATION TO MURDER

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Henchmen

Join a small organization of lovable bad guys: a super villain and her henchmen. Eve, the seven-foot-tall, bulletproof blonde is their leader. Frank and Jean are a couple that can get into any computer or building unseen. Jacob is a rough-around-the-edges biker type that has a deep and abiding love of guns and explosives. And Steven? Well, he’s really good at manipulating people and pretty handy to have around in a fight. As supervillainy goes, they’re just starting out. They don’t have much of a secret base. They don’t have matching uniforms. Not a one of them owns a single pair of tights.
A chance encounter at a sushi bar has led them to a young woman with a terrifying secret she doesn’t even know she possesses. The Yakuza wants to use her to put pressure on a missing father. No one’s entirely certain exactly what the secret is, but it smells like a weapon and it might be just the sort of thing to help topple a nation.
They’re done pulling small jobs. Now they’re aiming for the top – because why bother robbing jewelry stores when you can topple governments? 
Yakuza gang fights. 
Incursions into high-security, top-secret government buildings. 
Picking fake fights with losers in bars. 
A psycho ex-coworker who has some strange friends. 
And a well-dressed older gentleman who haunts dreams. 
It’s all in a day’s work for Steven…one of the world’s most dedicated and dangerous… HENCHMEN


Henchmen (Super Villain Prose)
By Eric Lahti
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN #978-0682341049
Price $8.05 (Paperback)
Price $2.99 (Kindle)
198 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

“A Fun Romp”

A small group of villains led by a seven foot tall woman named Eve sets out to destroy congress. The yarn is narrated by Steve. The rest of the team consist of two gay men named Frank and Jean, plus a motorcycle rider named Jacob, and a new girl named Jessica Hayha, who’s father Delano Hayha worked for a secret government. The team goes in search of her father, which leads them a secret government facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They encounter men who are mere flickers of shadow aiding government agents. Penetrating a secret building they encounter a man long held prisoner by agents, called The Dreamer. As his name implies, he is a god of dreams, and our government wants to use him as a weapon. 

This was a fun romp, though the plot needed help, and we could have learned more about the main team members. We’re told a little about each, but they still come across as paper tigers, not real people. My main gripe, however, is with Amazon’s pricing. I prefer paperback editions, but trying to order the eight-dollar paperback, Amazon added another six dollars postage, and two dollars tax, making the paperback $16.00. I went with the $2.99 Kindle edition and ended up paying $3.24 when tax was added. Not appreciated at all. What you see is not what you pay.

Tom Johnson
Author of THE MAN IN THE BLACK FEDORA

Monday, April 29, 2019

Al Clark

Al Clark wakes inside a coffin-like box, in a place he does not remember.  Amnesia leaves him with nothing to draw on. Without clues to explain his situation. Even his name has been wiped from his mind.
His new moniker comes from a faded placard outside the door of the small compartment containing the metal box where he woke. The sign is old, and hard to make out, but it looks like Al...Clark.
At forty-something, Al is beginning a new life.  A brand new life without the benefit of experience to guide him.
It is the beginning of a quest that will take him to places he could not imagine, manage feats he would not have thought possible, and teach him the value of true friendship.


Al Clark (SF Adventure)
Book One
By Jonathan G. Meyer
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN #978-1720011910
Price $11.95 (Paperback)
Price $3.99 (Kindle)
286 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“Character Driven SF”

Waking up on a spaceship orbiting a planet, a man remembers nothing of his past. A faded placard appears to read “Al Clark”, so that’s all he has to go by. Roaming the giant ship he finds a young boy named Chris, who has only been awake for a while. Eventually, they discover other bodies in stasis and begin reviving them, Out of 1000 passenger only a little over 800 have survived. Below the ship is the planet Avalon, their destination. They arrived ten years previous, so something went wrong and the awakening never happened on schedule. Now the process begins of moving the survivors to Avalon and starting their human race over. It looks like a peaceful planet, and they meet another race of human-like friendly people. But their valley isn’t peaceful. Dinosaurs still rule this planet, and they will have to prove mightier or be destroyed.

The story is character driven, and the reader feels for them, and follows their conquest of the terror, and the discovery of who they really are. The author knows how to pull the reader into the story. A great story that could have appeared in the classic science fiction period of the 1950s. Highly recommended.  

Tom Johnson
Author of WORLDS OF TOMORROW

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Fangs and Claws

Fangs and Claws (Horror)
By Cameron Joseph
Independent Publishing Platform
ASIN # B076YNXH9G
63 Pages
Price $0.00
Rating 4-Stars


Ballard Stone buys a large area of land that has a tract of forest with trees that reach up to the heavens. He sends his nephews, Seath and Duncan to the forest as workers. He has already sent in his crew boss and foreman. The boys take their girlfriends along for the adventure, but there is already someone else in the woods: Raven Shadow, a witch, and her companion, a huge half man, half beast, over seven foot tall, with a sabertooth cat head, and fierce claws. Raven is determined that Ballard Stone will not have his way.

A fun read, but perhaps would have been better read around a creepy campfire on a dark night. The book, even short, would have benefited from an editor, or at least a proofreader. Reminded me of some slasher/sex teenager movies from the 1970s and ‘80s. The language, slashing, and sex could have been cleaned up to give us a great yarn with witches and monsters. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson
Author of Carnival of Death

Friday, April 12, 2019

Writers of The Future

Let your imagination run wild.
If you’re ready to travel to a universe of mystery, sacrifice, and suspense, where the laws of physics are optional, book your journey here.
On this odyssey of enchantment, enlightenment, and endless possibility, you will meet a murderer who’s out to save mankind, a cyborg who robs the dead to rescue the living, and a lost boy who holds the key to peace. Discover visions of the world, of mankind, and of the future that are sure to open your eyes.
Every illustration will touch you.
Every word will move you.
Every idea will take you by surprise.
Just imagine.
Bonus: Learn how to write or improve your craft with tips from award-winning and bestselling author and editor Mike Resnick and New York Times bestselling author L. Ron Hubbard. Internationally renowned artist, Rob Prior, shares tips of the trade for aspiring illustrators.
“It’s one of the forces that keep science fiction alive.”Orson Scott Card
The 35th collection of winners of the Writers and Illustrators of the Future competition features expertly crafted stories and art, spanning the gamut from hard core sci-fi to epic fantasy. 12 stories so fresh and new, they're 5–10 years ahead of the curve—the future is literally here and now.
Each year, the Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contests’ blue-ribbon judges search the world to discover and introduce to you the very best new talent in sci-fi and fantasy.
Created by L. Ron Hubbard, whose commitment to help new writers and artists gave rise to the annual Writers of the Future anthologies—a launching pad for writers and artists who are sure to command our attention for decades to come.
The 24 award-winning sci-fi and fantasy authors and illustrators are accompanied by New York Times bestselling authors L. Ron Hubbard, Rebecca Moesta, Mike Resnick, Dean Wesley Smith, and world-class artists Rob Prior and Echo Chernik and edited by David Farland.


Writers of The Future Vol 35 (SF Anthology)
Various Authors & Artists
Galaxy Press www.galaxypresss.com
ISBN #978-1619866041
Price $11.72 (Paperback)
Price $9.49 (Kindle)
428 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“The Annual L. Ron Hubbard Contest Winners”

Volume 35 continues the annual winners in the SF short story contests presented by the Galaxy Press L. Ron Hubbard folks, and this year is just as fascinating as previous years. Featuring this year’s 12 best international tales, as well as illustrated by the best international illustrators. Includes three short stories by professional authors L. Ron Hubbard, Dean Wesley Smith, and Rebecca Moesta. With essays on writing and illustrating by L. Ron Hubbard, Mike Resnick, and Rob Prior.

The winning stories this year are Untrained Luck by Elise Stephens, and illustrated by Aliya Chen; The First Warden by Kai Wolden, and illustrated by Alexander Gustafson; The Damned Voyage by John Haas, and illustrated by Allen Morris; Thanatos Drive by Andrew Dykstal, and illustrated by Qianjiao Ma; A Harvest of Astronauts by Kyle Kirrin, and illustrated by Sam Kemp; Super Duper Moongirl And The Amazing Moon Dawdler by Wulf Moon, and illustrated by Alice Wang; Are You The Life Of The Party? by Mica Scotti kole, and illustrated by Josh Pemberton; Release From Service by Rustin Lovewell, and illustrated by Emerson Rabbitt; Dark Equations Of The Heart by David Cleden, and illustrated by Vytautas Vasiliauskas; An Itch by Christopher Baker, and illustrated by Jennifer Ober; Dirt Road Magic by Carrie Callahan, and illustrated by Yingying Jiang; A Certain Slant Of Light by Preston Dennett, and illustrated by Christine Rhee.

L. Ron Hubbard wrote The Idealist, which was illustrated by Brian C. Hailes, Plus, he also wrote Tomorrow’s Miracles. Dean Wesley Smith wrote Lost Robot, inspired by Bob Eggleton’s One of Our Robots Is Missing, used as the cover of this issue. Rebecca Moesta wrote The Yellow Submarine, which was illustrated by David Furnal. Mike Resnick wrote Tips For Embryonic Pros, and David Forland wrote the Introduction. The illustrations appear in both color at the front of the book, as well as b&w with the stories.

Only the best stories and illustrations were selected for this anthology, and each is rated in the overall final 5-Stars for their unique and exciting tales, in visual and words. I enjoyed the whole book, so will not pick any favorites. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Author of BEHIND THE MASK

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Armageddon Virus

The Armageddon Virus is the third installment to his action-packed, thriller series. Travis Weld and Chesney Barrett’s tandem is taken to a whole new level where Chesney tries to stop the alleged illegal transaction involving a potentially deadly virus. Let’s take a walk to memory lane – viruses were one of the major causes of death of our ancestors. A single virus can damage an entire community; if there’s no known cure. Weld in a pursuit of terrorists, intercepted a phone message from an anonymous sender trying to sell a deadly virus to a weapon dealer. This leaves them with an intense pursuit of who this person is and what this deadly virus being sold is. Chesney, who has become Weld’s first contact in missions like this, found herself leading towards a virology research company. As she tries to explore virology in this industry; she has noted wary deaths, and met various virologists. During her stay, her keen self found out about the long time feud going on inside the premises, which she purported to be the key in resolving the case. The closer she gets to the answers, the closer she is to danger. Imagine a single virus that can endanger not only one or two lives, but millions. Find out if this tandem can stop destruction to mankind or will they succumb to this virus.


The Armageddon Virus (Thriller)
By Robert W. Gallant
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN #978-0578208114
Price $11.99 (Paperback)
Price $3.99 (Kindle)
322 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

“A Page Turner”

Travis Weld brings Chesney Barrett in on another case, this time involving the illegal sale of a deadly virus. Weld commands a team of special agents who track down and kill terrorists and drug dealers.  His motto is no criminal walks away alive. A few years in the past there was a hotel in Houston, Texas that experienced a mysterious virus that left 27 people dead out of over 400 who were at the hotel. The low death rate did not send any signals up, but it was investigated. Weld hears coded messages coming through an illegal weapons dealer that a deadly Armageddon virus is for sale, and when two of the investigators of the hotel virus are murdered, he wants someone to infiltrate the bio lab that handled the investigation. Giving Chesney Barrett a cover story as a newspaper reporter, she’s sent to interview the virologists at the bio lab in Texas. With Virologists, Dr. Martin Giles, they uncover a mysterious person wearing a coat in an elevator that may have been the origin of the virus, and this leads them to Kentucky and mines that have been shut down, and talk of a mysterious ghost who is righting wrongs. The virus is biding its time, preparing to become the dreaded Doomsday virus, which will eventually kill the other 400 people from the hotel and everyone they have come into contact with.

This is the third novel by the author that follows Chesney Barrett and Travis Weld in a topnotch page-turner. Using a similar plot to Jericho’s Trumpet, only this time a deadly virus instead of nuclear bombs, both novels were exciting page-turners. This is also a 5-star read, except for problems with the text. A proofreader would have helped. There weren’t too many wrong words, but a few that could have been corrected. My main problem was multiple voices in the same paragraph. Some of this looked like formatting problems, but others appeared intentional. For such a great read, the author should have insured no problem with the text and formatting. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Author of AN INVITATION TO DEATH