Book Review: The Iron Web by Larken Rose

This is yet another book that I cannot recall how I ever came across… I had never heard of the title, nor the author but I did buy it myself, so I must have heard about it from some other blogger, or maybe someone dropped the name in a comment on a blog or social media or whathaveyou…. Who ever it was that turned me on to this book – THANK YOU!

Now, this book is a work of fiction but WOW! The picture it paints of our country and the “what if’s” it draws out of you while reading, it seems highly plausible that such an action could in fact transpire right here on our very shores.

Without giving too much away (the hardest part of a book review!), the story starts with a passenger airplane being shot out of the sky over Arizona. The responsibility for which is laid at the feet of a domestic terrorist organization, “The Iron Web”.

A lone survivor of the crash is rescued by some folks in an isolated community, that just happens to be under seige by the FBI due to the shooting of an officer over a search warrant situation earlier in said community.

I will say unabashedly that I really, really enjoyed this book. It’s the first novel I’ve read that comes from I guess what you’d call a political dissident mindset, that doesn’t try to shove some crazy dogma down your throat or meander off into cringe territory with crazy religious or racial diatribes. What it did do, and I thought it did so masterfully, was put forth a compelling argument for the lack of necessity of an all encompassing, behemoth government entity. There was a touch of Ayn Rand to it, without getting so “in the weeds” as she was fond of doing. If you’ve read Atlas Shrugged, you know what I mean. (And if you haven’t read it, you SHOULD.)

This novel was certainly not the best written thing I’ve ever read, and there were some parts that were a bit predictable and frankly, corny. That being said, it was a compelling story, a relatively believable story and it makes you think!

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing this book as required reading for High School English classes. It’s not often you find a book that is fun to read, but also an eye opener.

On the one hand, I feel like I should give this book away, with the caveat that it be passed on to someone else afterwards as I think everyone should read this book. On the other hand, I’ll likely want to read it again!

All in all, if you like a little action and intrigue, mixed in with political shenanigans and topped off with some general civics and a dash of philosophy, I think you’ll like The Iron Web. I know I did!

Thanks for stopping by!

A little bit of this and that…

I realized yesterday that time has flown by since my last post and once again I’d dropped the ball.

Nothing all that noteworthy has happened in the last couple weeks, just life rushing at us at 100 mph.

We got back from our trip to Pismo, and I was feeling on top of the world. Rested, recharged and ready to get back to the real world, with many “to-do’s” to do, plans to make and goals to achieve.

It was all well and good ’til that Thursday night when a call came in from the fire alarm monitoring company- a water flow alarm went off just before 9pm…which means *something caused water to move in the fire sprinkler system. Never, and I mean NEVER a good call to get.

So basically, from Thursday August 25th, through last Thursday, September 1st things were a bit over the top tense. And I’ll leave it at that.

Cast iron + direct contact with the earth = trouble.

While this was going on, the Mrs. and our girl were both getting started for “back to school”, with their classrooms being occupied by the varmints as of last Monday, August 29th.

So, I’ve been a little preoccupied lately, and the blog took a back seat…

Despite the drag of life, I did manage to do a few fun things.

I finished another book – “A Great Reckoning” by Louise Penny. This was a random recommendation from Amazon actually. I’d never heard of the writer, who turns out is quite prolific, but the book was good. It was your typical ‘whodunnit’ detective novel, with a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and some very memorable characters. Not earth shattering or life changing in any way, though certainly a fun read nonetheless that didn’t take any real commitment to finish. She kept it compelling enough that I found myself WANTING to read it, to discover how it all went down. Perfect lite fare for a vacation/beach/lazy Sunday escape.

I also went on a treasure hunt and dug out a bunch of old cassettes containing a bunch of my earliest music we recorded back in the day. My old music partner moved back to the area some time ago, and we thought it would be fun to “digitize” these so we could listen to our oldies but goodies from days of yore. Hopefully more to come on this in the not too distant future.

Lost gems from the 1980’s and 90’s!

And last but not least, my daughter and I hit the Caravan Lounge in downtown San Jose last Saturday night.

The Caravan has been a dive bar since at least the mid 80’s, and I hadn’t step foot in the place since maybe ’92 at the latest but they didn’t have bands playing there back then. Some time later it became a somewhat legendary spot in the South Bay for punk bands and the more underground scene, which I’d kind of outgrown by then, so I never had gone there strictly for music until the last weekend.

Things didn’t pan out as planned unfortunately… the band we went (and I really WANTED) to see – the Wet Bandits, we didn’t see. The flyer for the show listed the Wet Bandits and nobody else, with a start time of 9pm. We got there at 9pm and found there was in fact an opening band, whose name I forget. Anyhow, the opening act didn’t START their set until 10:15, which was a drag. Then on top of that they were just boring, frankly. We figured they’d do a 30 minute set since they started so late, but at the 32 minute mark,the guitarist sat out and we were “treated” to a drum and bass duo jamming God knows what… At that point I called it a night. Don’t get me wrong, I love trios, and I can absolutely get down with some drum and bass jams, but these guys needed more time in the garage before they put themselves in front of a crowd. Bush League stuff, at best.

The bright side was getting to hang with my kid, just the two of us. It doesn’t happen all that often, so I really appreciate it when it does!

Yesterday was just a boring day of laundry and chores and super fun stuff like that. The Mrs. is a bit under the weather (back to school = cooties galore) so she’s lying low trying to recuperate before going back to classes this week. Me? No rest for the wicked…Working on the “holiday” per usual, massive deadline looming in a week. And I’m on-call for Jury Duty this week. Yay.

Oh, and did I mention we’re in the midst of a heat wave? It’s been in the high 90’s for the last 3 days. Supposed to be 103 today. Hotter tomorrow. Good times.

Thanks for stopping by!

Book Review: The Man of Legends by Kenneth Johnson

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember exactly how I came across this book.  It may have been a freebie from Amazon Prime…  Anyhow, I had never read anything from Mr. Johnson in the past, so I had no idea what to expect.  It was a Kindle read, which is not my preferred method, but I’m glad I picked this one!

The story is convoluted to say the least.  It bounces back between a great number of characters, some minor some major but everyone has a piece of the action.

The main character, who goes by many names, has been around a long, long time. Without giving away the story, I can’t really say too much, but I will say the “man of legend” has seen more than anyone can imagine and has had a hand in many things that have shaped the modern era.

He’s being pursued by the Catholic church, a highly ambitious investigative reporter and an old, long lost friend simultaneously, which leads to quite the thrill ride.

The book is a nice mash up of spy novel, historic novel, supernatural and religious imagery and just straight up suspense.

All in all, it was a good yarn. Is it gonna displace anything currently in my Top 10? No, not at all. But I’m glad I read it, it was certainly entertaining and it kept me coming back for more. Nothing worse than a book you have to force yourself to finish!

Book Review: Noir by Christopher Moore

Full disclosure, I am a HUGE fan of Christopher Moore. In fact, I’d say he’s one of two of my all-time favorite authors. I’ve read about a dozen of his previous novels, and while some are better than others, I’ve enjoyed each and every one of them. A lot.

Noir was published in 2019, and I’ve had it sitting on my shelf almost since then. (I went through a phase where I just couldn’t seem to read fiction…I think the Plague messed with my mind too much and I couldn’t ever “let go of reality” enough to engage in fiction, but I digress.)

I took Noir with me on our recent getaway, and I’m glad I did! When I laughed out loud on the plane, roughly two paragraphs into the PROLOGUE, I knew I was in for a treat.

It is a difficult story to describe, taking place in San Francisco, circa 1947… You’ve got waitresses and bartenders, a deadly Black Mamba snake, G-men, “Moonmen”, generals, gangsters, a crooked cop, some crazy SF Chinatown adventures, and a trip to the infamous Bohemian Grove. And then some, with a splash of razzmatazz!

True to form, Moore’s tale is wildly outlandish, action packed and positively hilarious. I laughed so much reading this book, I knew I couldn’t read it before bed without waking the Mrs.!

If you like fiction, LOVE to laugh, and don’t object to non-politically correct language, I can recommend this book with the highest regard. If you don’t love to laugh, what’s wrong with you?

But seriously, Christopher Moore is a lunatic in the best possible way with an amazing imagination and a terrific way with words. Get this book, or frankly just about anything else written by him, and buckle in – its always a great ride with Mr. Moore!

Christopher Moore; the man, the myth, the lunatic!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review: Cannibal Reign by Thomas Koloniar.

Ok, first off, I would never and I do mean NEVER have picked this book up, simply due to it’s title.  It’s got to be one of the dumbest book titles ever and frankly doesn’t really give you an idea of what the book is about.  It sure as hell wasn’t what I was expecting, I’ll tell you that!  I picked it up based solely on a recommendation from James Dakin, AKA Bison Prepper, one of my favorite non-fiction writers.

The book was written in 2012, the first novel by Thomas Koloniar. And while there are indeed cannibals in the book, they are really a small part of the overall story.  Basically,  you’ve got an “extinction level” event, with of course SOME survivors, and the story focuses on the lead up to the event and the first year or so of the aftermath.

Without giving too much away, the story revolves around an enormous asteroid colliding with the Earth. It leaves a new scar in the earth’s crust, dwarfing the Grand Canyon and what isn’t crushed is either engulfed in flame or covered in ash. Pretty much everywhere. Bad news for our protagonists.

Overall I liked the book. There were a few cliches and unrealistic elements, as in ALL post-apocalyptic fiction, but it hooked me right away and kept me engrossed til the end. My biggest beef was the sheer number of characters – it made it a little hard to keep track of who was who, especially with the lack of character development.

But, also like all good post-apocalyptic fiction, it made you think about the “what ifs”. I feel like a pretty well prepared person, but should an event like this one ever come to pass…well, I’ve had a good run and I’ll be sure to save the last cartridge for myself, if you know what I’m saying. I’ve no interest in a diet of “long pork”, thank you very much!

So with that, I’d have to say it was a good read and I’d recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in post-apocalyptic fiction. Thanks for the recommendation Mr. Dakin, I really enjoyed this one!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review: Zombie Bake-Off by Stephen Graham Jones

Okay, first of all I must admit that I’m not exactly “into” zombie stuff.  But then again I’ve had some fun within the genre.  The movie Zombieland a few years back was fantastic  and I did watch some of the first season of the Walking Dead, so I don’t find the subject matter without merit.  This is however, my first zombie novel.

This book was gift from the Mrs.  She’s not exactly into the genre either ( tho she does love shooting zombies in the Left 4 Dead games with our daughter!), she picked this up after reading a recommendation of the author,  (whom neither of us had heard of) not this particular book, but she chose this title, because OF the title!  I mean seriously,  how can you NOT be intrigued by the idea of a zombie bake-off?

It was a quick read and although I cannot say it was well-written, I will say I did enjoy it.  For what it was.  There were several moments that literally made me burst out laughing, and that isn’t something you find in a lot of novels, especially in horror. 

Sadly, (SPOILER ALERT!) the premise wasn’t actually about zombies HAVING a bake-off, but actually about zombies (an infected rag-tag group of professional wrestlers no less!) over-running a convention center that was hosting a cooking exposition.

If that isn’t one of the weirdest  premises for a novel, I don’t know what is!

The book was pretty short, tho I can’t recall the exact page count…maybe 250?  This short length works for what was essentially an extended length short story.  There was virtually no character development, though there was certainly no shortage of “characters”, if you know what I mean.  The action scenes were plentiful but those were the areas where the writing kind of fell flat.  I get it though,  describing an ultra violent, gory encounter with pro-wrestler zombies I’m sure is easier said than done.  There was a lot of gore, so this is definitely not a book for the squeamish.  But like I said, it’s also laugh out loud funny at times.  It’s a great, fun read for a rainy weekend or a day at the beach, but just know it is essentially cheap thrills with no substance.  If you go into it with those lowered expectations,  you’ll probably enjoy it.  Then again, if you have high expectations for a zombie novel…well, you might want to call your doctor because something is wrong with you.

I sincerely doubt this book will get a second reading by me, but it will get passed on to the family and friends that might get kick out of it.  That being said, I will absolutely read more from this author.  If I recall, this book was published in 2012(?) so he’s had a lot of time to hone his craft since this one came out.

So there you have it.  If you like outbursts of laughter with your gore, give Zombie Bake-Off  a spin, you’ll probably like it!

Thanks for reading!

Book(s) Review: A. American’s “Going Home” The Survivalist series.

Full disclosure,  I have a personal connection to the birth of the first book in what eventually turned into a 10 volume saga.  Way back when, circa 2010-2012 (?) I was a regular reader on and stumbled across a post in the  Books section by a forum member that was posting up anywhere from a few pages to a chapter at a time of a novel idea he was working on.  He’d never written a book before and was soliciting feed back from the forum members along the way.  As it turned out, it was a pretty compelling story and his thread caught fire.  I found myself going back daily to check for updates as I was fully sucked in.  This went on for months and as I recall, he mentioned that his book was going to get published, so he had to stop with the updates and I never found out how it ended.

Several years later “Going Home” showed up in an Amazon recommendation email and I put it on my book wishlist and promptly forgot about it until mid-2021 when I was purging my Amazon lists.  By the time I ordered the book it had been close to 10 years since reading it bit by bit in the forum thread, and frankly I didn’t remember anything about it other than enjoying the story at the time.

Within the first 3 pages of Going Home I was fully engrossed, little bits and pieces triggered memories of the original draft and I devoured the book in just a few days.

The Survivalist Series

I will freely admit, I am a sucker for post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels and I have read stacks of stories in those genres.  The one that started it all for me back in the 1980’s was The Stand by Stephen King, though that one is equal parts horror/fantasy, just set in a post-apocalyptic USA.  But over the years I have read many,  many books of this type and while I really enjoy them in general, they ALL seem to have some sort of really absurd, over the top element that diminishes the tale.  The Survivalist Series is no exception BUT, there is more realism than in most stories along these lines.

The series starts with the protagonist, Morgan, several hundred miles from home on a work assignment when the USA is hit with (presumably) an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse), rendering all automobiles,  machinery and power generation dead, suddenly and with no warning.  Morgan, being a “prepper” immediately realizes what’s happened and decides he needs to start walking home to his wife and three daughters before the masses realize what’s happened and things start to unravel.

Morgan doesn’t get very far before he’s set upon by a serious young lady, Jess, who insists Morgan allow her to tag along on his walk, since they’re headed the same direction.  Before long, the duo meet up with a third, a gentle giant of a man named Thad, and the trio set off to find their way home, back to their families.

As one might imagine,  their journey is rife with dangerous encounters as the thin veneer of civilization is quickly ripped away.  This, in my humble opinion, is where the author shines.  He has a knack for imagining and realistically conveying how quickly and unpredictably situations can spiral out of control. 

There is no shortage of action in the series, especially in the first few novels.  And thankfully there isn’t an overabundance of political ideology being shoveled down the reader’s throat (another all too common irritation in post-apoc/prepper fiction).

The thing I liked most about the series is that it really opened up the thought process for me.  Putting yourself in their scenario, thinking of how you’d make out, is something I find myself doing with a compelling story of “the unknown”.  And this series brought up a bunch of things that I (as a serious and committed practioner of the preparedness arts) never really considered. 

I don’t want to really say too much in particular about the story or the other characters,  so as to not spoil the read.  But I will say that I have no regrets reading the series, in fact I really enjoyed it, warts and all.

As for the gripes, there are a few, though minor. First, after the first few, the installments are pretty short for novels. And they were a bit pricey (paperback versions). I think the series could’ve been condensed to 5 parts instead of 10, not to shorten the story, but to have larger “installments”. And as I mentioned earlier, there were some very unrealistic parts that kinda made me roll my eyes and just gloss over, but after all it was to increase the action, so let’s just call it entertainment and leave it at that. And lastly, and this is REALLY nit-picking, there were some pretty obvious editing errors, like misspelling and punctuation errors. Not a big deal, certainly didn’t take away from the story, but I know some folks get really hung up and turned off by that kind of thing.

Overall, I’d recommend the series to anyone that likes post-apocalyptic stories. If that’s not a genre you’re really into, I’d still recommend the first book of the series. If you’re a “prepper”, give it a go. It will open your eyes to scenarios you never thought of and help you identify gaps in your own preparations. If you’re turned off by swearing, violence, pro-gun ideology or think that the Government is ALWAYS the “good guys”, you’re going to want to pass on this series. I don’t know that I’ll ever read the whole series again, but I’m not in any hurry to drop it off at the used book store either.

There was a rumor going round on the same forum a few years back that the story was being made into a TV show, but I don’t know what, if anything, ever happened with that. If it ever comes to fruition, I’ll be sure to check it out, it could be fun.

So there you have it, my first book(s) review!! A. American, I’ll give you 9 thumbs-up out of 10. Well done sir!

Thanks for reading!

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Be a Survivalist who is a “Jack of all Trades”, master of some (preferably the life saving and life protecting arts).

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The Boring Old Man

The ramblings of an old weirdo about whatever crosses my mind...