Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

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One of the best books I have read in a long time. Weir’s “The Martian” is classic hard science fiction and that makes it that much better. Everything in the book is realistic and could be happening within a few years if NASA were given the resources. The best thing I can compare this book to are the early Allen Steele such as “Orbital Decay” and “Rude Astronauts” Essentially the book is the story of an astronaut whop gets stranded on Mars due to an accident when his initial mission gets aborted due to Martian weather.  It is that simple but the wealth of detail provided in the book about … Read more…

The Ugly Duckling by Iris Johansen

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The Ugly Duckling by Iris Johannsen Nell Calder’s life was forever changed the night she and her family were attacked by a madman. Plain looking and overweight, nobody really noticed Nell and she blended into the background, but no more. After an attack left her family dead and face broken and unrecognizable, a world renowned plastic surgeon takes on the challenge of transforming the ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. And she is pissed. Her attacker is determined to finish what he started, but he doesn’t know what Nell looks like. Hell-bent on taking him down, Nell trains hard and transforms from a shy weakling into a trained assassin. She won’t stop until … Read more…

Book Review: Future Crimes by Marc Goodman

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Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman is one of those non-fiction books that is both scary and reassuring at the same time. I picked this up mainly because I have a slight IT background and I try to stay abreast of what is going in the world of digital insecurity; only an idiot thinks that something online is secure. I knew the connected world was unsecure and full of risk, I did not fully appreciate just how unsecure and full of risk it was until reading this book. The book itself is 392 pages of text divided into … Read more…

Book Review: Tin God by Stacy Green

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I should have know when I saw the spelling of the main character’s first name that this wasn’t going to be a great book. Who spells a name Jaymee? I’ve always been a fan of the traditional spelling of a name, not this “my kid is special and so is the spelling of their name” crap that has been going on for the last decade. But, I digress. The story wasn’t horrible, just fairly predictable. Jaymee is broke and living in a trailer park while working at a diner. She’s saving up so she can afford a lawyer to get back the daughter she was coerced into giving up for adoption … Read more…

Book Review: 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores the Changing Face of War in the 21st Century by Andrew F. Krepinevich

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In line with my present interest in current affairs because I find world events so interesting right now what with ISIS in Syria and Libya, Russians in Ukraine, Afghanistan continuing to be a failed war, Nigeria falling apart, America’s seeming inability to restrain spending, and the Eurozone falling into infighting about sovereign debt and austerity, I picked up this book because I thought it might have some interesting insights. In that, 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores the Changing Face of War in the 21st Century by Andrew F. Krepinevich does not disappoint. The book does not presume to predict the future but it does examine seven possible and … Read more…

Book Review: Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen

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Imaginary Things is the story of Anna Jennings and her son, Davey. She got pregnant while still in high school and the father turned out to be unstable and he is not in their lives. Now, at 22, she has just lost her job and she’s forced to move in with her grandparents in a small town near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Strange things begin to happen as soon as they start settling in to their new life. Davey has an imaginary dinosaur friend, but Anna can see it. She had an imaginary friend for many years, but has forgotten much of her childhood. A friend from her past moves back into town to … Read more…

Book Review: Operation Enduring Unity Books Two & Three

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own]

In March of last year I reviewed Power Games: Operation Enduring Unity I by Richard Peters, a fellow veteran.  That book was outstanding but left the tale unfinished as first books in trilogies are wont to do.  Recently he got in touch with me again and offered me the chance to read and review the last two books in the trilogy and I eagerly jumped at it because of how great book I was.

The two books are Shock and Awe: Operation Enduring Unity II and The Surge: Operation Enduring Unity III.  Both take the story of the disintegration of the United States into a second Civil War a little further.  Book two tells the tale of the middle of the war while book three tells the conclusion of the war.

Book two begins four months after the events described in the first book and the Two main sides have solidified into two competing governments the secessionist United Republic of America (URA) with a capitol in Sacramento, CA, the USA, and Texas and Oklahoma declaring armed neutrality in the conflict.  It is essentially a military stalemate as defection has caused the loyalties of many USA units to be questioned and newness has affected the combat efficiency of the URA forces.

The reader gets the idea that the USA is led by a usurper president who refuses to leave office and is lying when he claims that a new election will see him step down voluntarily while the URA is led by a principled constitutional originalist that just wants to see the constitution respected.  Three are hints in this book that that is not the case.

The main story of book two surrounds a USA attack on Denver and then a USA counterattack.  The book ends with Texas/Oklahoma neutrality on the fence but an essential stalemate after some murthering great battles on the central plains.  The events that lead to this ending are the meat and bones of this book and you will have to read the book for more details.

Book three begins almost immediately after the ending of book two.

Spoiler Alert!!!

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Book Review: SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth by Steve Snyder

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruthis the story of the author’s Father in World War II as a B-17 bomber pilot and his ordeals after being shot down over the Franco-Belgian border in February 1944. The book itself is 335 pages of text with an extensive sources list and index.  The text is divided into 40, mostly short, topical chapters. The narrative describes the journey of the author’s father to … Read more…

Book Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

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I’m a fan of Richelle Mead and I’ve read the entire Vampire Academy Series. It’s about two main characters, Rose and Lissa. Rose is a dhampir, half human/half vampire and Lissa is a Moroi, a magic wielding vampire. The series tells the story of the struggles and heartbreak they go through trying to keep Lissa alive as she is the last Dragomir, the last Moroi of her line. Her new series, Bloodlines, starts shortly after the VA series ends and tells the story of Alchemist, Sydney Sage, who makes a few appearances througout the VA series. Sydney is sent on a “babysitting” assignment at a human high school to ensure … Read more…

Book Review: Waterloo: Book One of the Great Battles Series by Alan Forrest

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Waterloo: Book One of the Great Battles Series by Alan Forrest is not your typical military history. Therefore it is a good thing that the author admits in the preface that he is not a military historian because it shows. If you expect a book called Great Battles to be about the itself then prepare to be disappointed because this book is not so much about Waterloo as its aftermath./ First the book itself. It is 180 pages of text divided into 9 roughly thematic chapters including an introduction and postscript. There is a list of figures, list of maps, notes, bibliography and an index. This is not a campaign … Read more…

The Battle of Berlin – 16 April – 2 May, 1945

Brandenburger Tor in einer Trümmerlandschaft am Ende des Zweiten Weltkrieges (Mai 1945).

Throughout 1944 the German armies on the Eastern Front had been pushed westward across Poland and into Germany proper.  During the winter of 1944-1945 the front had stabilized roughly along the river Oder and inside historically German territory.  In front of Berlin three Russian Fronts (1st & 2nd Byelorussian plus 21st Ukrainian) faced two greatly understrength German Army Groups (Army Group Vistula & Army Group Center).  A Russian Front and German Army Group are roughly synonymous units within the army structure although at this point in the war German Army Groups were pretty much army groups in name only often being the size of reinforced Corps or even divisions due … Read more…

Book Review: Flash Points-The Emerging Crisis in Europe by George Friedman

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Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe by George Friedman is another insightful book by the founder of STRATFOR. This book examines contemporary Europe and details the strengths and (mostly) fragilities of the present order in Europe.  The book itself is 258 pages of text divided into 3 parts and 16 chapters. There is no bibliography or index which I found to be disappointing. The first part of the book deals with describing Europe, Europe’s rise to world domination and the way in which Europe has fragmented since the Enlightenment. Friedman essentially blames Enlightenment thought and the triple themes of secularism, mercantilism, and science as the ultimate cause of the European self-destruction … Read more…

Book Review: The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman

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The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman is a very interesting book. Not least because the author does something that very few academics or political scientists are willing to do; he attempts to predict the future. Of course he lays out several caveats about accuracy but the fact that such a distinguished thinker as Friedman is willing to go out on a limb is remarkable in itself. The book itself is 254 pages of text and unfortunately it does not include a bibliography or index. It is broken down into chronological chapters that start from the present and work the way forward to 2100. … Read more…

The Problem with Elite Units? Or is there a Problem?

I was thinking about this the other day while watching The Pacific on DVD. The Pacific is a pretty good series although I found Band of Brothers to be better based on pure entertainment value. What made me think about elite units was a short piece in one of the episodes where they show a picture of what to me looked like some Marine Raiders. That got to me to thinking about Rangers, Green Berets, SAS/SBS, Commandos, UDT, Spetznaz, and other historical elites and whether they represented a good investment for the militaries that create them. My gut reaction is that in general they are not although there is a role for such … Read more…

Book Review: The Funny Thing About War by Al Campo

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] The Funny Thing About War by Al Campo is part fictional War story and part autobiography. It is the story of a young, 22 year old man called to duty in the Navy and then sent to Southeast Asia as a crewman on a Destroyer conducting fire missions up and down the coast of North and South Vietnam. The book itself is 413 pages of text separated into eleven chapters. Because it is ostensibly a work of fiction there is … Read more…