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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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Angkor Away

Paul is a graphic designer with a history that has included organising events on the London rave scene and supplying recreational drugs across the capital. Disillusioned by the way the scene has been taken over by organised crime, he turns his back on it and, after a few years working for a prestigious design company, he leaves the UK to travel the world, picking up the odd bit of legal and illegal work on the way. After meeting some gifted Thai chemists, Paul sets up a lab in Northern Thailand producing high-quality LSD. When his new business comes to the attention of the local crime lord/army general he has to leave Thailand quickly and relocates to Cambodia where his friend has a bar. There he meets Aya and falls in love. But through Aye he meets her brother Chamreun, a former air force colonel who is now involved in the Cambodian drugs trade and who knows far more about Paul's life than he should. It's not long till Paul is pulled back into the world of drug trafficking against his wishes and is involved with the biggest drugs cartel in the region. But when things turn sour, Paul finds himself in a frantic hunt across South East Asia as they look for answers. But when they find them in a bloody climax, the answers are not at all what Paul had expected.

Angkor Away (International Intrigue)
By Steven W. Palmer
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN #978-1514300367
Price $9.99 (Paperback)
Price $3.00 (Kindle)
246 Pages
Rating 3-Stars

Paul Johnston has settled in Cambodia and Thailand where he operates his drug distribution. Until a local general makes him an offer he can’t refuse –turn over all his contacts and leave Phnom Penh, and leave the drug business to him. All is well and good until he falls in love with Aya and meets her brother, Chamreum, who knows more about him than he does. Colonel Hoen Chamreun wants to be a part of the big drug trade also, and makes a suggestion to Paul. It all sounds like a workable plan, and he returns to Phnom Penh to meet with the general, this time making a counter offer that interest the general, and a deal is made. Unfortunately, a life in drugs doesn’t promise a happy ending, and when Aya is killed in a home burglary, the evidence leads back to the general and his people. Now Paul and Colonel Chamreum must retaliate.

Unfortunately, the novel wasn’t of much interest. Most of it was like a travel guide, and the drug plot was even less of a highlight for me. None of the characters, with the exception of Chamreum, held little promise. Paul Johnston, who narrates the story, was the least likable character in the story. The only thing the story had going for it was the location. Usually, Cambodia and Thailand people and the nightlife on the strips are enough to hold most readers, but this story had trouble keeping my attention, and the book was easy to put down while I did other things. Not something an author wants the reader to do.

Tom Johnson


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Cliff Lords

After losing his entire family, Biko lives on a solo path. On a cold night, he encounters what he recalls to be a dream only to wake up in a house that he's never been in before. He meets a woman with deadly eyes and a man who can disappear. After learning that Biko is a powerful lord, he is granted the task to lead a group of newcomers in a war that threatens to end life on Earth. As time gets shorter, Biko is tested to abandon his selfish ways and save the world with a team that will forever be known as The Cliff Lords. Enter the safe as each lord discovers their weapon that will unleash their true powers as they hurry to overcome negativity in order to win the many battles that threaten to corrupt their existence. Who are these lords? How did they come to be? Are they strong enough to protect mankind? Find out and follow the story of magic and mind control.

Cliff Lords: Weapons of Disaster (Superhero Fiction)
By SLF Entertainment
Independent Publishing Platform
Price Free (Kindle)
41 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

“A Neat Story”

Biko is sleeping in an abandoned house when he’s awakened mysteriously. Running from the room he encounters a man in the shadows, then he wakes again in another house and meets a mysterious woman with dangerous dark eyes. She takes him to meet an even stranger man who can disappear at will. He learns that he has been selected by a Head Lord to join the Cliff Lords in their fight to save the world. He begins training, and soon learns his super powers, then more are brought and he must train them. Something is coming against the world and human race, and they don’t have much time to prepare for the battle.

This was a neat story, though short, and we just barely touch the surface of the situation, and when it ends, we don’t know any more than we did at first. This superhero team is about to face a powerful enemy that might be stronger than they are. But what, we don’t know, and that’s a shame. We should have been given at least a quick look at what’s coming. My biggest complaint, however, is the lack of good descriptive narrative. We just see the basics of the characters, not enough to even picture them clearly. Hopefully, the author will go into more detail in description. This started out as a comic book proposal, but became a superhero prose story instead. Granted, the art would have provided most of the description, but without art the author should have dug deeper into each character. Highly recommended for comic book superhero fans.

Tom Johnson


Sunday, February 10, 2019


When four US and Canadian forward air controllers were taken hostage by an Islamic terrorist organization during a blistering seesaw battle in Iraq, CANUS-ETF (Canada United States Expeditionary Targeting Force) knew they had to act fast. A hundred million dollars was demanded and everyone knew there was no way the ransom would be paid.
The best chance for rescue was to deploy a small team of elite combat rescuers. American Navy Seal Captain Jonathan Rogers was chosen to head the mission. His Canadian counterpart was twenty-six-year-old Rayna Tan, the first woman to ever lead a Special Forces operation in the Middle East. She had proven herself as a warrior leader but this mission had exceptional potential perils.

Recruited (Thriller)
By Wesley Robert Lowe
Independent Publishing Platform
Price Free (Kindle)
97 Pages
Rating 3-Stars

Rayna Tan, born in China, adopted by Harry and Vivien Chang of Honk Kong, then moved to the US and Canada, having dual citizenship. Rayne is highly educated, a black belt in Judo, Wushu, and Tae-Kwan-do, joins the Canadian Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2), where she rises to the rank of captain, and leader of an assault team. Her counterpart in the SEALS is captain Jonathan Rogers, who sacrifices his life to save others. When her boyfriend, Tanner, is gunned down by a drug gang just when she accepts his marriage proposal, she tries to disappear, but finds the gang can easily find her. She contacts Jonathan’s father, one of the guiding members of Fidelitas, an assassin group better trained than the Navy SEALS and Army Special Forces, where she goes through vigorous training before going after the Pablo Escobar drug cartel in South America.

This was a short story, prequel to the series mainly to introduce Rayna Tan and the other main players in the future series. With all her training, she seemed more like a green trainee than a professional soldier when she’s placed in training with Fidelitas, and I had a hard time visualizing her as Chinese. The author doesn’t capture that oriental mystique in Rayna Tan, and it makes her appear just as another Caucasian heroine. Recruited doesn’t give much promise for the future series unless the author can retool his main character enough to make her real to the reader.

Tom Johnson


Friday, February 8, 2019

The Kortelisy Escape

Caught in a Three Strikes law that sends him to prison for life, Nate Larson negotiates with prosecutors for an early release in exchange for testifying against his brother in an upcoming trial. As part of the deal, he demands custody of his fourteen-year-old granddaughter, Grace, who's survived a string of disastrous foster homes.
Nate studied close-up magic during his time in prison. He's good, and despite her wariness Grace joins him for a touring magic show of New England. Nate's actual plan: to spend a few pleasant months with his granddaughter then run alone to Canada in hopes of undermining the case against his brother, who's been falsely accused of trafficking. Pressure comes from that direction, too, from the actual traffickers who have hijacked the family's legitimate, though secretive, connections to Eastern Europe and the Ukrainian village of Kortelisy.
Facing certain violence unless he runs, distraught at the prospect of wounding Grace unless he stays, Nate must thread a dangerous needle. And Grace, learning to perform some magic herself, must grow up in a hurry if she's to save the only person she has ever trusted.
The Kortelisy Escape is a moving, unlikely love story narrated in alternating chapters by Grace and Nate Larson. It's also a coming-of-age story enriched by mounting tension and large questions concerning magic, loyalty and wonder. It's a book for young and old, intergenerational book clubs especially.

The Kortelisy Escape (Suspense)
By Leonard Rosen
Permanent Press
ISBN # 978-1579625429
Price $29.95 (Hardback)
304 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“The Best Book I’ve Read In A Decade”

Nate Larson, in prison on a three-strike law, has a deal for the prosecution – his freedom for helping them convict his brother, Dima Larson on tax evasion charges. Plus, he wants his 14-year-old granddaughter, Grace put in his custody instead of the state system where she’s been for ten years in one home after another. But Nate has secret plans. As a magician he plans his greatest escape. He has it all worked out, a magic tour that will end near the Canadian border before he is to testify against his brother. He plans to run before testifying against his brother, leaving his granddaughter behind as he disappears.

But things don’t go quite as planned. For one thing he loves his brother, and that gentleman is suffering from Alzheimer’s, while a Russian mobster is running things - a mobster that will kill Nate if he doesn’t run. Plus, he has also become too attached to Grace to leave her.

The Kortelisy Escape is a magic trick requiring a helper to escape from or he could die. It is also a story told about a young Ukraine woman who escapes a bad situation. She’s pregnant by a soldier and is about to commit suicide when a farmer and his wife rescue her. She is accepted into their family as a daughter and she gives birth to a son, Nate Larson. Then one day the approaching army kills everyone at the farm except for Nate and their real son, Dima who are away. Nate and his adopted brother are sent to America, where the older boy becomes a grocer and when he can he returns to the Ukraine to rescue young women, bringing them to America to work in his store until they learn English and find better jobs. The state believes he is operating a white slavery market, but can’t prove it, that’s why they’re trying to get him on tax fraud.

This was a beautiful story. Not only is it a coming of age story, it has everything else: a strong plot, great characters, a love story about a grandfather and granddaughter coming to terms with each other, and about love for your family. The Russian mobster who might kill Nate, or the state authorities that might send him back to prison. He must figure out an escape that is foolproof. Will Nate be able to pull off the Kortelisy Escape at the end, or will he have to die to free his brother, leaving Grace to go back into Foster Care? This novel just proves that authors can still write great stories. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson