Review: The 10,000-Year Explosion by Gregory Cochran & Henry Harpending

Posted on October 21st, 2012

Overall, good read. They provide a compelling argument for why human evolution has continued throughout the past several thousand years, and identifies some of the selective pressures that continue to act on us today.

In addition, this book includes an extensive resource list for additional reading and data that supports their conclusions.

While I personally would have liked a little more meat in the identification of specific genes responsible for changes in human DNA, or the selection pressures the authors believe will shape humanity’s future, this book is an accessible resource for armchair scientists.

Full disclosure: where did I obtain this book?

Purchased myself

To buy this yourself from Amazon, click on the image below!

Please note that I make a small percentage of the sales resulting from this link, but this did not influence my review.

Review: The Secret Underground – Natalie Bahm

Posted on October 12th, 2012

What a fun read!

Intense, suspenseful novel for middle grade readers–and adults will enjoy it too! I had so much fun with this book, and didn’t want to put it down, even for dinner!

What did I like? The mystery and suspense introduced by the tunnels, and the wonderful characterization of the main character, Ally, and her female friends. The Gauze Men made wonderful villains, and I loved the conflict surrounding the bank robberies, keeping secrets from parents, and early relationships.

My only issue is that many of the boy characters were difficult to remember–many of them, with the exception of Paul, Eric, and Jake, were pretty interchangeable. I would have liked to see more identifiable characteristics early on. That said, by the second two-thirds of the book, I completely hooked.

Can’t wait to read another book by Ms. Bahm. Well done!

Full disclosure: where did I obtain this book?

Purchased myself

To buy this yourself from Amazon, click on the image below!

Please note that I make a small percentage of the sales resulting from this link, but this did not influence my review.

Spyder by David Fingerman

Posted on November 5th, 2011

Bottom line:

This book is hard to classify, but tantalizingly good.  Great read for mature readers–describes sex scenes, drug usage, and violence.


A streetwise thug named Spyder struggles to overcome his drug addiction, while the world around him keeps trying to drag him back in.


o Lots of plot twists that keep you guessing throughout the story
o As a drug addict, Spyder’s an unlikely protagonist.  I found myself sympathizing with him because he took a hard view on all other addicts–thinking they were weaker/whinier than him.  Spyder had an outlook on life that I could respect, even as I disagreed with his choices.
o Eye-opening revelation for me on the difficulty of breaking out of the addiction cycle.  Excellent consideration on how hard it is to change one’s base character.
o Spyder grows throughout the story, but also suffers relapses as events trigger instinctive reactions.
o Spyder’s voice remains true to the character throughout the story.  There was definitely a feeling of “here’s the way I am, whether you like it or not” that made me respect and enjoy the character.


o Very few. I disagreed with some of Spyder’s decisions, but that’s because those weren’t the choices *I* would make–it was my own bias that got in the way.  For his character, they were justifiable, even when the decisions led him to dangerous consequences.  And that part I liked: his bad decisions had realistic consequences for him.

I’d recommend this book to mature audiences who enjoy suspense, plot twists, dark humor, and unlikely heroes.

Full disclosure: where did I obtain this book?

Purchased myself

Purchase link

Bad Radio – Review

Posted on September 11th, 2011

Taking a break from posting about my own novel today to talk about another book that deserves some attention.  Bad Radio by Michael Langlois is a contemporary fantasy novel that gets a full five stars from me for enjoyability and thrills.  Read more below!

Bottom line:

Fast and compelling read for any fan of contemporary fantasy. Great elements of a thriller thrown into every chapter.


Abe Griffin obtains eternal youth during a secret mission in World War II.  Now, sixty years later, an old enemy returns to kill Abe’s surviving squad members and reclaim the relics obtained during that secret mission.


o Loved the bait bags.  They’re the perfect enemy.
o While Abe is immortal, he’s not impervious to pain.  Several times throughout the book, his weaknesses are shown.
o Virtually every chapter ends on a cliffhanger.  Each one is well done.
o Good use of foreshadowing and slowly revealing layers of truth throughout the story.
o Overall, very smooth writing style, and plot points flow smoothly from one to the next.


o Very few. Only a few places of confusion, caused in part because I was reading too fast, wanting to find out what happened next.  This book definitely kept me up late a few nights.
o There were a couple of points that were over-explained or hit just a little too hard (<spoiler>Abe not wanting Anne to get hurt.</spoiler>)  However, this didn’t take away too much from the overall story.

Full disclosure:

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  When the paperback becomes available, I plan to purchase a copy.

Press Release for The Caldarian Conflict

Posted on September 1st, 2011

Wanted to share my latest press release with all of you: My novel is now available!

For Immediate Release:

Just in time for International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19), author Mike Kalmbach has released his debut fantasy novel, “The Caldarian Conflict” (ISBN:978-1466246812).

This isn’t your typical pirate novel. Of course, there’s plenty of swashbuckling adventure as a corrupt military deals death to enraged pirates using questionable methods. However, this story follows Brother Mendell,a monk caught in the crossfire as he seeks justice for an unfairly executed prisoner.

No one is safe as Admiral Cain and his ruthless assistant Krell struggle to maintain complete secrecy over their plan. Their goal isn’t merely to rid Caldaria of pirates; they have much loftier ambitions. Anyone with too much knowledge must die.

Mendell struggles to unravel the mystery before he, too, becomes a casualty of”The Caldarian Conflict”.

“I wrote a book I’d enjoy reading,” says Kalmbach. “Full of plot twists, complex characters, and a protagonist who sees the world differently from most people.”

Reviewer Danielle Allen agrees. “Telling the story from the perspective of a monk gives the reader a unique viewpoint of the moral dilemmas that Mendell faces and a fresh angle on pirate novels in general…Characters’ motivations and plot twists are slowly revealed throughout the novel, always keeping the reader engaged. The novel ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and I’ll be eagerly awaiting the sequel!”

“The Caldarian Conflict” is available at,,, and other channels.

About the author:

Mike Kalmbach lives in southeast Minnesota and has a Master of Science degree in software engineering from the University of Minnesota. Moonlighting as a freelance editor, he has edited numerous full-length manuscripts as well as countless shorter works. He also leads the Rochester MN Writing Group and is a founding member of the Rochester Writers Collaborative.


Mike Kalmbach
Email: [email protected]
Book cover and author images available by request.



Nice Girls Don’t Bite

Posted on May 28th, 2011

Nice Girls Don’t Bite by Joan Sween


4/5 stars


Bottom line:

Great read for anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries with a humorous Transylvania twist.


Erleen and Louise, two Minnesota antiques dealers, return from hunting antiques in Transylvania to discover that they have been transformed into vampires. As if that’s not bad enough, the two women soon find themselves in the middle of a bank robbery, kidnapping, and murder. Will they figure out what the leader of an international drug ring wants in time to save their friends?


  • Loved the premise of two middle-aged women becoming vampires, but vowing to maintain their Minnesota-niceness.
  • Humorous asides were plentiful but not distracting
  • Fast, easy, entertaining read.
  • Explored and played with several vampire stereotypes.


  • Some formatting issues in my version. For the most part, these did not affect readability. Alerted the author to these issues.
  • SPOILER: The exact circumstances behind the dealers becoming vampires were never revealed. While the reader doesn’t need to know this, I was interested in a little more detail about what happened.

Full disclosure:

I know this author personally, and strove to keep any personal attachments from this review.