Category Archives: Sci Fi & Fantasy

A Review of From a Killer’s Mind by Jason Helford

From a Killer’s Mind

by Jason Helford

From a Killer’s Mind was a very hard book for me to read. It was just too intense! I don’t really want to spend time inside a sadistic serial killer’s mind. Mr. Helford puts you right there, with all the horrific, and terrible thoughts and desires that are living inside of John’s sick, twisted mind. You relive his childhood abuse, and every page brings some new horror. There just is no relief.

If you can take such a vividly lifelike horror story and not have nightmares, and you want to feel the insanity of a totally crazed killer, then this is the book for you. Mr. Helford will grab your mind and twist it, pushing it to new depths of depravity and ugliness. He won’t let up.

Everything was perfect about this book. The writing was tight and convincing. John was portrayed as a completely horrible person. His life was a nightmare. Way too much of a nightmare for me. I could only read this book by day. So how do I rate this? If this is your kind of book, I bet that you will rate it a 5, but I could barely stand to finish it. So I guess I will compromise and come to a middle ground.

I’m going to rate From a Killer’s Mind 4 Stars out of 5. If this book sound like something you might like, you probably will eat it up.

I received this book from the author.

Book Description

From a Killers Mind - CoverThe prologue is a vignette that brings the reader into the tone and setting of the novel, giving a foreshadowing of the events that will unfold.  It starts with newlyweds on a happy day, looking at a prospective home, but ends in tragedy due to an evil resonance attached to the house.  This leads the reader to the beginning of John’s story.

John has been a successful serial killer for his entire adult life, committed to his craft without detection or disruption.  He’s spent years refining his process and meticulously planning out each kill, honing his abilities to horrible heights.  At the start of the novel, the reader is introduced to John going about the routine of his particular method of selection and abduction.  The plans are well-rehearsed, but his dark life is abruptly disrupted as something even darker wells out from deep within him.  What starts out as one dissociative lapse–a blackout on the road–turns into a series of uncontrollable blackouts, unraveling his carefully wrought control.  John tries to re-center his mind through meditation–a technique he taught himself as a young man, to quiet his chaotic thoughts–but while John is deep within himself, he finds unfamiliar dark voices, voices not his own.  They claw past his defenses and force themselves into John’s reality, manifesting from out of the depths of his subconscious.  John’s scarred psyche had manifested as grotesque physical representations, torturing his fragile mind and bringing his buried past terrors back to life.  Through a series of unbidden flashbacks to the abuses and defining moments of John’s past, and through his interactions with these manifestations representing his weaknesses and fears, the reader glimpses what set him on the path to being such a prolific killer.

The book is written with an emotional honesty that lays bare the killer’s soul for all readers to see, while also delivering a good scare.

Book Details

File Size: 451 KB
Print Length: 242 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled 
X-Ray: Not Enabled 
Word Wise: Not Enabled
Lending: Enabled

About the Author

Jason Helford is a first time author, having recently published his debut novel, From a Killer’s Mind, in July of 2013.  He’s a devoted husband and father, an avid comic book collector and an enthusiastic craft beer drinker.  Prizing originality and creativity more than anything else, his favorite authors are Hunter S. Thompson, Chuck Palahniuk, Ray Bradbury, Terry Brooks, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Robert Asprin and Albert Camus.  Please don’t be offended if you are an author and your name wasn’t mentioned, he probably likes you, too.  He lives in Maryland with his wife, Bella, his daughter, Maddie, and his goofy dog, Sunset.

A Review of The Genome: A Novel by Sergei Lukyanenko

The Genome: A Novel

by Sergei Lukyanenko

I loved this book! When I first started reading it, I was blown away. I kept saying to my wife, “I love it.” The universe that Mr. Lukyanenko built was very believable. It was logical and convincing. He didn’t lay out pages upon pages of scientific facts to support his ideas. He just told the story and you believed it. When a novel is set in a future that is part of the story and doesn’t rely on extending technology and science, then it doesn’t become dated. This book was written in Russian in 1999, but feels like it was written this year.

What makes this book work so well is the convincing way that Mr. Lukyanenko introduces his initial two characters. You believe that master-pilot Alex Romanov really was injured and had just gotten out of the hospital. When he meets Kim and helps her, everything starts to gel. You understand what a spesh is. You learn how different types have different characteristics and abilities. How they become honed for a particular job. Then you just can’t wait to see where this story is going.

Mr. Lukyanenko then proceeds to flesh out your knowledge of his universe by introducing the other members of the crew. Alex gets a job as captain of a small starship and has to hire a crew. As he interviews candidates, you learn more about customs. The universe works.

The Genome was a fairly lengthy book, but felt much shorter. It starts out as a great, timeless sci-fi book, and along the way some philosophical questions come out. How can people be deprived of the ability to love, just to be a specialist, just to be able to perform their jobs. Is that right and necessary? You start thinking that maybe this is going to be a real thoughtful book.

And then, there is a murder on board the ship. One of the non-human passengers is killed and brutally butchered. This changes the story from a normal adventure story to a murder mystery. This is the only part of the book that is a bit of a stretch. This is where you have to suspend disbelieve and go along with the author and let him tell his story. It works, but does seem a little silly at times.

I am so impressed by this book. I don’t know who translated it, but they did a marvelous job. Even though you can get some idea that it was written in Russian, it works very well for an American reader, The sentence structure is natural, and never feels awkward.

I give The Genome 4 1/2 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! It is nearly a 5, but some things just were just a little bit off. Don’t let that stop you though, it is a great science fiction book. No fantasy, Not dystopian. A rarity, a story to be embraced by all science fiction fans.

I received a digital review copy from and the publisher, Open Road Media.

Book Description

The Genome by Sergei LukyanenkoA science fiction thriller by the author of Night Watch, the hit novel that inspired two major motion pictures

Five months after the horrific accident that left him near death and worried that he’d never fly again, master-pilot Alex Romanov lands a new job: captaining the sleek passenger vessel Mirror. Alex is a spesh—a human who has been genetically modified to perform particular tasks. As a captain and pilot, Alex has a genetic imperative to care for passengers and crew—no matter what the cost.

His first mission aboard Mirror is to ferry two representatives of the alien race Zzygou on a tour of human worlds. His task will not be an easy one, for aboard the craft are several speshes who have reason to hate the Others. Dark pasts, deadly secrets, and a stolen gel-crystal worth more than Alex’s entire ship combine to challenge him at every turn. And as the tension escalates, it becomes apparent that greater forces are at work to bring the captain’s world crashing down.

Book Details

Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (December 2, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1497643961
ISBN-13: 978-1497643963
Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 4.4 x 1.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Author

Sergei Lukyanenko was born in Kazakhstan, then a republic of the Soviet Union. In 1985 he entered the Alma-Ata Medical University, where he began to write science fiction and publish his first books. Though Lukyanenko completed his medical course, he realized that he would never be a doctor. In 1997 he moved to Moscow, and since then has published prolifically. Many of his works have become bestsellers and have won science fiction awards. Night Watch and Day Watch were released as films in 2004 and 2006, respectively. Lukyanenko’s writing has been translated into more than twenty languages and continues to be hugely popular.

The Book Description and Details are from Amazon. The Genome

A Review of Upgraded by Neil Clarke (ed.)


by Neil Clarke (ed.)

This collection of original stories was a Kickstarter Project. Like any short story collection, some stories will hit home more than others. Two or three of the stories were quite good, and I only skipped one. Most of the time I jump to the next story more than that, so that is a good thing. I enjoyed reading this book. I like short stories, because you can read most of them in a half hour or so. I used this book to fill in gaps, and it worked well for that.

The concept of the book was intriguing, but too many of the stories seemed similar. It was an easy read, but didn’t really move me. Nothing bad to say, but it wasn’t great either.

I give Upgraded 3 Stars out of 5. You may be more into this than I was.

I received a review copy of Upgraded. In return, I am giving an honest review.


Book Description

Better . . . Stronger . . . Faster . . . The doctors rebuilt Hugo Award-winning editor Neil Clarke and made him a cyborg. Now he has assembled this anthology of twenty-six original cyborg stories by Greg Egan, Madeline Ashby, Elizabeth Bear, Peter Watts, Ken Liu, Robert Reed, Yoon Ha Lee, and more!

Introduction by Neil Clarke
Come From Away by Madeline Ashby
No Place to Dream, but a Place to Die by Elizabeth Bear
Married by Helena Bell
A Cold Heart by Tobias S. Buckell
Honeycomb Girls by Erin Cashier
What I’ve Seen With Your Eyes by Jason K. Chapman
Wizard, Cabalist, Ascendant by Seth Dickinson
Seventh Sight by Greg Egan
Negative Space by Amanda Forrest
Mercury in Retrograde by Erin Hoffman
Tongtong’s Summer by Xia Jia
God Decay by Rich Larson
Always the Harvest by Yoon Ha Lee
The Regular by Ken Liu
Coastlines of the Stars by Alex Dally MacFarlane
Fusion by Greg Mellor
Memories and Wire by Mari Ness
Oil of Angles by Chen Qiufan
The Sarcophagus by Robert Reed
Synecdoche Oracles by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Tender by Rachel Swirsky
The Cumulative Effects of Light Over Time by E. Catherine Tobler
Small Medicine by Genevieve Valentine
Collateral by Peter Watts
Taking the Ghost by A.C. Wise
Musée de l’Âme Seule by E. Lily Yu
About the Authors
About the Editor
Cover art by Julie Dillon

Book Details

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Wyrm Publishing (September 23, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1890464309
ISBN-13: 978-1890464301
Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces

About the Editor

Neil Clarke is the Editor-in-Chief and publisher of Clarkesworld Magazine. His work at Clarkesworld has resulted in countless hours of enjoyment, three Hugo Awards for Best Semiprozine and four World Fantasy Award nominations. He’s a current and three-time Hugo Nominee for Best Editor (Short Form). In 2012, Neil suffered a near-fatal “widow-maker” heart attack which led to the installation of a defibrillator and a new life as a cyborg. Inspired by these events, he took on his first non-Clarkesworld editing project, Upgraded, an all-original anthology of cyborg stories scheduled for publication this September. He currently lives in NJ with his wife and two sons.

The Book Description and Details are from Amazon. Upgraded





A Review of End of Days by Robert Gleason

End of Days (Paperback) by Robert GleasonEnd of Days (Paperback)
by Robert Gleason

This book is not an easy read. There are a lot of things that will make you want to quit. I was about a third of the way though and I was thinking, “What the heck is going on? Am I going to keep reading or should I just give up now?” Why did I feel this way? Let me tell you.

This is a thick, large size paperback, with small type. I needed real good light to be able to read it easily. The kindle version with adjustable font size would be a great option.

The action takes place all over the globe, and is told from many different characters points of view, and some of those characters aren’t even human. There is a large, intelligent rat, a computer in an orbiting space station, and a whole bunch of sentient nuclear devices, bombs, cruise missiles, etc. These bombs and missiles are talking and telling you what is going on. The computer is an advanced AI device, and won’t talk to anyone. And a talking rat! Well that really made me wonder about this book.

Many of the human characters don’t feel real at all. They are caricatures. Their mission is to tell Mr. Gleason’s story of the future. And they do, sometimes it’s more like a sermon or a documentary instead of a novel. Mr. Gleason wants to warn us about the impending Armageddon. He is using this piece of just-about-fiction to drum it into our thick skulls.

OK, so you don’t give up. You make it to the halfway point. Now the book begins to jell. You get used to the weird, non-human characters. You begin to get in the flow of the book, and then it’s OK. Once you make it over the hump you can start to enjoy reading End of Days. The rest of the book is an exciting, fairly straight forward apocalyptic novel. Like any good near-future science fiction novel, most of the science has a ring of truth to it. The nuclear destruction of the planet and most of the human race isn’t a pleasant idea to have to think about, but Mr. Gleason’s hypothesis seems to be based in fact.

Mr. Gleason is a very skilled writer. He can really craft a sentence. I really did like the way he wrote. But this book is more than just a novel. This is a platform to warn us, maybe to make us get involved, to do something so that this novel, End of Days, isn’t what our future holds for us, and our children and grandchildren.

Should you read this book? I don’t know. If you can put in the work, plow through the weird style, and then digest what Mr. Gleason is saying, you will get something out of it. Not an easy read, but it ended up being worth the work to me. I give End of Days 4 Stars out of 5, and a Thumbs Up.

I received a copy of this book for free from Forge Books.


Book Description
Release date: May 6, 2014

Lydia Lozen Magruder—the great-granddaughter of a female Apache war-shaman—has seen visions of the End since childhood. She has constructed a massive ranch-fortress in the American Southwest, stocked with everything necessary to rebuild civilization.

Now her visions are coming true. John Stone, once a baseball star and now a famous gonzo journalist, stumbled across a plan to blast humanity back to the Stone Age. Then he vanished. Lydia’s only hope of tracking him down lies with her stubborn, globe-trotting daughter Kate, Stone’s former lover.

Meanwhile, a Russian general obsessed with nuclear Armageddon has also disappeared…as have eight or more of his Russian subs, armed with nuclear-tipped missiles.
In Robert Gleason’s End of Days, the world is armed for self-destruction. Who will survive?


From the authors website
A small terrorist organization enlists its best and brightest to sneak into the nuclear storage facilities of the world’s great powers and smuggle out ample nuclear-bomb fuel for their mission. Then, the terrorists cobble together a crude nuke capable of wreaking staggering devastation, Hiroshima- or Nagasaki-style. Then, the terrorists nuke the great powers, framing other great powers for the crime. In retaliation, the great powers start nuking one another. In a flash, the small terrorist organization has orchestrated a global nuclear Armageddon.

Sounds like horror fiction? In fact, it’s an extremely plausible likelihood, according to noted editor, author, and the world’s foremost expert on nuclear terrorism, Robert Gleason. In his resoundingly acclaimed new novel, END OF DAYS (Forge Books; September 20, 2011; $24.99 Hardcover; ISBN: 978-0-7653-2992-9), Robert Gleason brings this horrific scenario masterfully, chillingly, and, above all, believably to life. Inspired by a prediction futurist Herman Kahn made 50 years ago, this gripping work of fiction is backed by Gleason’s rigorous research—nearly 30 years’ worth of probing the alarming lack of security at nuclear storage facilities in the U.S. and other countries; the shocking availability of nuclear bomb-fuel and bomb-building technology for sale, by governments and on the black market; and the ease of making crude but frighteningly effective nuclear bombs.

Gripping and harrowing, END OF DAYS weaves an intricate, action-packed plot around the very real possibility of nuclear apocalypse. It begins in Mecca with Kate Magruder, intrepid reporter. She has come to cover a revolutionary pilgrimage: Russian’s minister of defense, Vladimir Malokov, nicknamed “Mad Vlad” for his wild and ruthless antics, has abruptly converted to Islam. But Kate’s real reason for following the flock is much more complicated. Her former field partner and ex-lover, John Stone, MLB star turned maverick journalist, may also be in Mecca—hot on the trail of loose nukes. As Stone demonstrated in a disturbing video message, virtually anyone can stroll into any one of the Soviet Union’s many ill-secured nuclear storage facilities, scoop up handfuls of bomb-grade plutonium, and, with the help of a hunk of cannon (easily bought or, almost as easily, stolen), whip up a working model of the Hiroshima “gun-barrel bomb.” Apparently, a lot of potent nuclear material has gone missing and, if Stone’s hunches prove right, have fallen into the hands of Mad Vlad—or someone even more dangerous.

To add aggravation to Kate’s anxiety, her mother, Lydia Lozen (L.L.) Magruder, still a force to reckon with at age eighty-one, is increasingly tormented by her visions. The great-granddaughter of an Apache shaman, L.L. has seen glimpses of darkness since childhood. But now, her dreams of the End of Time come in horrific detail, with bombs that actually speak to her. From her private oasis and impenetrable fortress in the Sonoran Desert, L.L. masterfully runs her global media empire. Yet, as Kate begins to fear, her mother and her ex-lover share a sense of foreboding much too powerful and plausible not to be taken seriously. Kate also has unsettling inklings of her own about President Ali al-Haddad of Dar-al-Suhl, a small country near Turkey with a bellyful of oil. Studying his picture, taken on his recent goodwill visit to Moscow, Kate can’t shake the feeling that something about Ali and the two women photographed with him, identified as his sisters, seems…frightening. Driven by a huge cast of fully drawn characters, END OF DAYS is filled with hard facts about real-world nuclear security risks and vivid depictions of the probable fallout. Along the way, Gleason compels readers to consider:
Formidable nuclear weapons like the Black Stealth Crow, “a creature of inconceivable cunning, elusive as smoke, invisible as night,” designed to evade infrared detectors, change shade in a flash, and hide in plain sight;
The catastrophic impact of a nuclear terrorist strike on Beijing…or on New York City’s lower east side, decimating Wall Street;
Hellfire on earth—ignited by nuking the Yellowstone caldera, a gigantic, super-volcanic crater. Such a blast would wreak the unspeakable—a hurricane of blazing embers, a cyclone of infernal ashes, and mountains of debris—across most of the U.S. and southern Canada.

Packed with shocking twists and earth-shattering possibilities, END OF DAYS is, in the words of New York Times bestselling author Douglas Preston, “terrifying, outrageous, eerily prescient” and, to quote New York Times bestselling author Whitley Strieber, “unforgettable.” Grounded in meticulous research, END OF DAYS is also a chilling cautionary tale of what ultimately will happen if our current state of lax nuclear security and unchecked nuclear proliferation persists.


Product Details

Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Forge Books; Reprint edition (May 6, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765377160
ISBN-13: 978-0765377166
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds


About the Author

ROBERT GLEASON has dedicated nearly 30 years to researching the threat of nuclear terrorism and the possibility of nuclear annihilation. He was recently featured in the History Channel special “Prophets of Doom.” He has also had an extremely long and exceptionally successful career as an acquisitions editor in New York publishing. Stephen King, Robert Heinlein, Nancy Friday, Harold Robbins, Father Andrew Greeley, Joy Fielding, Margaret Truman, Jack Anderson, Whitley Strieber, Ed McBain, Ice-T, Reggie Jackson, and Former Secretaries of Defense Casper Weinberger and William Cohen are among the hundreds of notables and bestselling authors that Gleason has signed up and edited.

He has worked for Simon & Schuster-Pocket Books, Playboy Press and for the last 28 years at Tor/Forge Books, where he is executive editor. He has published more than a dozen novels on his own and coauthored several, most recently, Apocalypse 2012. In 1995 New York City named a day after Robert Gleason for the work he’d done for prison literacy—which included editing and publishing a sizable number of inmates and ex-offenders—and which has included speaking in many, many prisons. He had a starring role in the History Channel’s two-hour special, PROPHETS OF DOOM.
Robert Gleason was born in Michigan City, Indiana. He has an AB in English literature from Indiana University, a master’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin and he attended the Sorbonne, all of which were financed by seven hellish years in the Gary steel mills. He has worked in New York book publishing as an acquisitions editor pretty much forever. When he began, he says, he and his colleagues “chiseled books on the walls of caves.” He lives in New York City.


The book description is from Amazon.  End of Days (Paperback)

A Review of Ready Player One (Audiobook) by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton

Ready Player One (Audiobook)Ready Player One (Audiobook)
by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton

If you know who Wil Wheaton is, don’t read Ready Player One. Go out and get the audiobook! Wil Wheaton is Parzival (The avatar for Wade Watts in the OASIS). He brings this first person narrative to life. This book is a real geekfest. All the 70s and 80s music, movies, TV shows, and video-games, that are featured throughout the book hit home as massive connections. Space Invaders, D&D, Zork, MUDs, Pacman, Defender, Trash 80, Atari, Video Arcades, Rush, John Hughes, do all of these bring back fond memories? If so then this book will knock your socks off, but Wil Wheaton will incinerate those socks right off your toes. All of the geekness that was the secret pleasures of a whole generation is part of this book at every turn.

Ready Player One has all the elements of a classic adventure book aimed at a young adult audience, but then adds so much stuff that their parents will connect to, that the parents will probably like the book better than their kids. There is the competition that is the book’s main storyline, with side issues of overcrowding, destroying the environment, living inside a video game and never going outside, relationships between people who never meet except inside the game and more. Mr. Cline has written a wonderful first novel. He grabs you and won’t let go. He mastered the first person style and really makes you feel like you are Parzival.

This is a great book and even a better audiobook. I give them both 5 Stars out of 5 and I give Wil Wheaton’s performance TWO Huge Thumbs Up! This is one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library.

Oh and one more thing, a special thanks to Sheila (Book Journey) for the great review of this audiobook Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Her review was the reason I got the audiobook. Thanks again Sheila.


Book Description
Release date: August 16, 2011

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?


Product Details

Audio CD: 11 pages
Publisher: Random House Audio, Unabridged edition (October 8, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307913147
ISBN-13: 978-0307913142
Product Dimensions: 6 x 5.1 x 1.7 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces

About the Author

ERNEST CLINE has worked as a short-order cook, fish gutter, plasma donor, elitist video store clerk, and tech support drone. His primary occupation, however, has always been geeking out, and he eventually threw aside those other promising career paths to express his love of pop culture fulltime as a spoken word artist and screenwriter. His 2009 film Fanboys, much to his surprise, became a cult phenomenon. These days Ernie lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. READY PLAYER ONE is his first novel.

About the Reader

Richard William “Wil” Wheaton III (born July 29, 1972) is an American actor, blogger and writer, known for his portrayals of Wesley Crusher on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, Gordie Lachance in the film Stand by Me, Joey Trotta in Toy Soldiers, and for his recurring role as a fictionalized version of himself on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

The book description is from Amazon. Ready Player One (Audiobook)

A Review of DemonWars: First Heroes by R. A. Salvatore

Demonwars_FCDemonWars: First Heroes: The Highwayman and The Ancient (Saga of the First King)
by R. A. Salvatore

DemonWars: First Heroes was a pleasant surprise. I had heard a lot of positive buzz about Mr. Salvatore, but hadn’t read much by him. When I opened this large volume, I knew that I would be spending quite a few days in this world, so I hoped that it would be worth it. Well, just let me tell you, I was completely pulled into the story and characters in the first book, The Highwayman. After I was finished, I had to put it aside for a week or so. (I had to read a couple other books on my list). Then when I came back to read The Ancient, I was surprised by how Mr. Salvatore expanded his world. He had concentrated most of the action in The Highwayman around Bransen Garibond (He is the Highwayman). In The Ancient, he brought in other locations and Peoples. The first book was quite straight forward. The plot was lineal, you could tell where you were at, and knew that it would finish up in this one book, not be one of those dreaded serial novels. With the second book, I thought, “Oh no. This book has way too many things going on. It will never come to a satisfying ending in just this one book. It’s way too big.” But I was wrong. Mr. Salvatore is a master. He brought it all together. What a great finale! I will have to put the next book in this series, The Dame, on my “Books to Read” list.

This volume was a great introduction to the writing of R. A. Salvatore. The two books allow you to really get to know what a great storyteller he is. This is a fantasy, and it does have heroes and villains, and swords and magic, but it doesn’t feel like a typical Sword & Sorcery book. The humans have flaws and aren’t all good or all bad. They have concerns and problems. They aren’t the superheroes that only fight for good, nor the super-villains that want to destroy everything. And you can see that there is something else going on, a world view of the competing religious philosophies, you know that sometime in the future, they will come together, in some way, and this makes you want to read more in this series. Mr. Salvatore really draws you in to this world.

I really enjoyed this multi-book volume. I give DemonWars: First Heroes 4 1/2 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up. This is a great introduction to the fabulous storytelling of R. A. Salvatore. His writing really does live up to all the buzz. If you have any interest in fantasy, and haven’t read these books, I strongly recommend that you pick up this volume. You won’t be disappointed.

I received this paperback book for free from TOR Books.

Book Description
Release date: February 18, 2014

Collected together for the first time, Demonwars: First Heroes is the exciting start to New York Times–bestselling author R. A. Salvatore’s Saga of the First Kings series!
In The Highwayman, Salvatore takes his readers back to his signature world of Corona many years before the DemonWars, introducing a fascinating new hero. The roads are unsafe to travel; goblins and bloodthirsty Powries search out human prey. Two religions struggle fiercely for control. Only the Highwayman travels freely, his sword casting aside both Powries and soldiers. The people need a savior, but is the Highwayman on a mission of mercy…or vengeance?
In The Ancient, Bransen Garibond is tricked into journeying across the Gulf of Corona to the wild lands of Vanguard, where he is pressed into service in a desperate war. If Branson fails, all who live on the lake will perish, and all of northern Honce will fall under the shadow of the merciless and vengeful Samhaists.

Product Details

Series: Saga of the First King
Paperback: 608 pages
Publisher: TOR Books (February 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765376164
ISBN-13: 978-0765376169
Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds

About the Author

R. A. Salvatore is one of fantasy’s most popular authors, with his books frequently appearing on the New York Times bestseller list and more than 10 million copies of his books sold. He lives in Massachusetts.

The book description is from Amazon.  DemonWars: First Heroes: The Highwayman and The Ancient

Winners of DemonWars: First Kings from TOR Books

Demonwars_FCThe contest is over! Here are the 2 lucky winners of DemonWars: First Kings by R. A. Salvatore.

Christina O.
Heather N.

I have already sent in your names to

Desirae May Friesen
Publicity Assistant | Tor & Forge Books

A Big thanks to Desirae May Friesen and TOR Books, and to all the people who sent in their entries.


A Review of The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian
by Andy Weir

Once you start The Martian, you may as well give up on that plan you had to get something done today, because you won’t want to put it down. You will just want to keep reading until you finish it. Luckily it’s only 384 pages long, so you can do something else tomorrow.

Mr. Weir uses a diary type format to tell Mark Watney’s story. He is the Martian in the title. Watney is an astronaut who is left behind, when his crew-mates have to evacuate Mars. The rest of the members of the Mars mission think that he is dead. He writes in his logbook, thinking that one of the future Mars missions will find it. He is a botanist and an engineer, so he decides that since he is still alive, he may as well figure out what he can do to stay alive long enough to get some research done and write it down. The events that unfold on earth, as they discover that Mark Watney isn’t dead, are told in a standard narrative style. The combination works very well. Mr. Weir has written a uniquely styled, first novel, that grabs you and doesn’t let go.

This is science fiction, but only because it is set in the near future and there are manned missions to Mars. Once you accept that, everything else is a survival, adventure story. This has a lot of science in it, but it all feels like its real, present day, factual science and engineering. You will like The Martian even if you don’t like science fiction.

I loved this book. I give The Martian 5 Stars out of 5, and Two Big Thumbs Up! If you saw Gravity, and liked it, you will like this book. It has a very similar feel. This book feels like a perfect movie, just waiting to be adapted for the big screen.

Book Description
Release date: February 11, 2014

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Product Details

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Crown (February 11, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804139024
ISBN-13: 978-0804139021
Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

About the Author

ANDY WEIR was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel. Check out his Facebook page. Andy Weir | Facebook

The book description is from Amazon.  The Martian

Welcome to my first book giveaway! DemonWars: First Heroes by R. A. Salvatore

DemonWars: First Heroes by R. A. Salvatore

DemonWars: First Heroes by R. A. Salvatore

Tor Books is releasing a new special edition of the first two titles in R. A. Salvatore’s Saga of the First King series: DemonWars: First Heroes (A Tor Paperback; $11.99; On-sale: April 2, 2014). Well known for his popular Forgotten Realms character Drizzt the Drow Elf, Salvatore has created his own realm in the DemonWars Saga, expanded by the Saga of the First Kings.

In The Highwayman, Salvatore takes his readers back to his signature world of Corona many years before the DemonWars, introducing a fascinating new hero. The roads are unsafe to travel; goblins and bloodthirsty Powries search out human prey. Two religions struggle fiercely for control. Only the Highwayman travels freely, his sword casting aside both Powries and soldiers. The people need a savior, but is the Highwayman on a mission of mercy…or vengeance?

In The Ancient, Bransen Garibond is tricked into journeying across the Gulf of Corona to the wild lands of Vanguard, where he is pressed into service in a desperate war. If Branson fails, all who live on the lake will perish, and all of northern Honce will fall under the shadow of the merciless and vengeful Samhaists.

Publishers Weekly calls The Highwayman a “swift-moving tale of sword and sorcery” and declares, “Fans of Salvatore’s unadorned approach and broad caricatures of archetypal figures should be pleased with this carnival of treachery and medieval feudalism.” A can’t miss collection for Salvatore fans, this special omnibus reprint is also the perfect introduction to the entertaining realms of the DemonWars.

Contest Details

There will be two winners of DemonWars: First Heroes. They will be randomly selected on March 18, 2014.
This contest starts today March 3, 2014, and will close at Midnight EDT, March 17, 2014. I will email the winners, and post the winners here on March 18th.

If you would like to be one of the lucky winners, just follow these easy steps.
1.     Send an email to contests at mackela dot com.
2.    Use DemonWars as the subject.
3.    Include your mailing address. (So TOR books can send you a copy of DemonWars)

This contest is only open for readers in North America.

Please only one entry per person. I will be putting your email addresses in a box and my wife will be drawing out the winners, so I will know if you have multiple entries.
Once the contest is over, I will be deleting all the emails that you send (including the mailing addresses).

A special thanks to Desirae May Friesen (Publicity Assistant | Tor & Forge Books) for providing the books for this giveaway!

Here is the link to  DemonWars: First Heroes: The Highwayman and The Ancient (Saga of the First King) on Amazon, if you want more information about the book.

Two copies of DemonWars: First Heroes to giveaway. Starts next Monday

My CopyI’m so excited to be able to give 2 of my readers a copy of this book, DemonWars: First Heroes by R. A. Salvatore. I got my copy yesterday! It was sitting on the porch when I went out. I hope that you can get one too.

It contains 2 books, The Highwayman and The Ancient. It’s a BIG book, 607 pages. I’m excited to start reading it.