Category Archives: Book Review

Start Prepping by Tim Young – Book Review

Start Prepping

Start Prepping: Get Prepared – For Life

by Tim Young – Book Review

Naturally, as a blogger within the survival and preparedness niche, I have a keen interest in all things related to it. This often means reading books related to the field and having read quite a few so far, I have seen all kinds (good, bad, and indifferent).

One of the things that I often struggle with when reading preparedness related books is the fact that some seem to be aimed toward the beginner or veteran but to a fault.

What I mean by this is that prepping books aimed at beginning preppers can be so simplified that you don’t get much out of them and vice versa, the book for the prepping veteran can be so advanced that if you don’t have an engineering degree, you won’t be able to accomplish any of the projects discussed.

Having said all of that, the latest book that I read, Start Prepping!: Get Prepared – For Life, the newest of several books from Tim Young of the website, It is a great book that I feel everyone can get something out of. I can honestly say that I was impressed as soon as I got through the introduction because it created buy-in on the part of the reader right away.

Instead of telling me why I should like the book, the introduction demonstrated to me why the information in the book is important to me and made me believe that prepping was indeed in my best interest.

Tim takes the time to educate his readers. I appreciate the fact that he spends time pointing out that preparedness is not an activity that only on the fringe lunatics participate in, almost everyone is a prepper! Tim outlines that you might be a prepper if you:

  • Carry a spare tire in your car.
  • Have a life insurance policy.
  • Ever practiced an emergency drill (fire, earthquake, etc.).
  • Take a diaper bag with you when you go out with a baby.

That last one really does drive home the fact that being prepared is not only a normal activity, it is one that we should all do. After all, if you have a baby that you are responsible for, you know that not every time you leave the house that the baby is going to need a bottle or pacifier…but you darn well better bring it because you know there is a chance you will need it and you want to be ready if you do. Why? Because it is really painful to navigate life with a crying baby and no way to calm them down.

So it can be said for navigating a natural disaster and not having water, food, a safe place to stay, and so on and so on. Yes, there are people on TV who are “preppers” that do outrageous things but that is for ratings and certainly does not reflect the prudence that people exercise when making sure that they have an option other than relying on the government or certain death when facing a disaster.

The guiding principle throughout Start Prepping! is that of the 10-Step Path to Preparedness which lays out 10 steps that can be combined together that will result in a very solid foundation for any prepper. From water storage to obtaining additional skills, Start Prepping! covers everything that the veteran or novice prepper needs to ensure their plan is complete.

A definite selling point for me is the fact that each chapter stands alone from the others. Because of the 10-Step approach, you can read the chapter on food storage and get a wealth of information on that specific topic that you can use without having to have read the chapter on water.

Another great thing that I liked about Start Prepping! is the fact that Tim does not just write a chapter about a subject and leave it at that. Integrated into each chapter there is a ‘Checkpoint’ or ‘Challenge’ where Tim has a couple of questions to ponder or points to help you take the information and move forward with it.

Start Prepping! is not only relevant, it is well put together. I told you that the introduction alone has me sold on reading the book but it is also so logical in how Tim put it together. I can tell that this is not the first book he has written, that much is true. I enjoyed that, while I can read the book out of order, if reading from the beginning the reader will gain a great understanding of why to prep, the threats that make prepping relevant (there are more than you would imagine), and the steps that every prepper should take to get prepared.

This book is great for new preppers or those who are thinking about getting into prepping. It would be a great gift for a friend or family member who you know is not prepared or needs a plan to help get them on the right track.

I probably need to make the best point of all…isn’t a few dollars spent on this book worth far more if the information in it results in you, your loved ones, and friends being the best prepared they can be for a disaster? It’s a great return on your investment and I am confident that you will not be disappointed with Start Prepping!.

Lastly, the listed resources that Tim has included with his book are so valuable that it is worth the price of admission without including the numerous tips, tricks, and pointers sprinkled throughout the book. Don’t miss the prepper challenges and lists at the end of the book!

There really is no way to outline how much help this book will help actually you in just a blog post, but I know that it will be worth your time and money.

You can view every title by Tim Young on Amazon or his website.

Urban Emergency Survival Plan – Review

Urban Emergency Survival Plan – Review

Urban Emergency Survival Plan is the latest book from Jim Cobb. In the book Jim covers the many aspects of urban survival, starting from assessing threats to making a plan and carrying out that plan. Don’t let the title fool you, while Urban Emergency Survival Plan is designed for the urban dweller, there is plenty of value for the non-urbanite as well.

Many of the areas in the book apply to rural survival just as well as the urban environment. After all, no matter where you go, food and water as well as shelter and security will be equally important in a survival situation. But with that said, urban areas carry several more areas of concern than other areas and Urban Emergency Survival Plan will help you in overcoming the challenges that come with being ready for an emergency in the city.

Urban Emergency Survival Plan

The first thing that struck me about the book is how easy to read it was. It is obvious to me that the book was written for a broad audience to understand the contents. I appreciate this about a preparedness book because it can actually serve the purpose of doing the most good for the greatest number of people. This is not always the case with books, even if they are supposed to be written to help people.

As I read through Urban Emergency Survival Plan, I also noticed how well thought out the content is. For example, you may be familiar with bug out bags and even the various reasons why you need one but have you ever given any thought to where is the best place to keep your bag? Jim covers this type of information and a whole lot more! From first aid to fire and pistols to procuring clean water, Urban Emergency Survival Plan has what you need. I could go on about the valuable information in the book but it might just be best for me to outline the chapters and highlight one of my favorites things about each chapter.

Chapter One – Urban Threats

The amount of effort spent on putting the book together is obvious by the extensive level of detail in the list of potential threats that may be faced by a person living in the city.

Chapter Two – Governmental Disaster Plans

Are you familiar with how the government may respond to a disaster in your area? You will be after you read this chapter.

Chapter Three – Making Emergency Plans

Do you have a plan for what you would do if you were stuck at work as the result of a disaster? Urban Emergency Survival Plan will give you the tools to make a plan in the event that you do end up stuck at work.

Chapter Four – Emergency Water

Jim covers not only how much water you should store, but how and where you should store it. There are also methods outlined on how to make water safe to drink.

Chapter Five – Food Storage

Food is expensive enough to make eating on a day to day basis a concern for many people. This further makes spending additional money on food for storage even more difficult. There are some practical strategies outlined for obtaining food affordably, not only for later but for the present as well.

Chapter Six – Sanitation, First Aid, and Shelter

Just because there is a disaster doesn’t mean that everything stops. You will need a plan to deal with bodily functions, injuries, and maintaining your shelter. It’s all here…including what the best alternative to a toilet is.

Chapter Seven – Security and Defense

There are some great pointers in this section. I was actually surprised at some of the things that Jim points out that I had not previously thought of. I also really appreciated the layered approach to security and defense that Jim lays out.

Chapter Eight – Bugging Out

Should you stay or should you go? That is the question that everyone is forced to contemplate in the wake of a disaster. Urban Emergency Survival Plan contains a number of criteria that should be considered when deciding whether to bug out or not.

After finishing the chapters that make up the bulk of the book, you will find a section of useful appendices that includes checklists for a:

  • Workplace Emergency Kit
  • Get-Home Bag
  • Vehicle Emergency Kit
  • Bug-Out Bag

These are very useful, especially for the person who is trying to put these kits together but is not sure where to start or if they are on the right path.

I also asked Jim a few questions about Urban Emergency Survival Plan and his books as well as survival in general. Here is what he had to say:

In the last three years you have written five books and have a sixth book scheduled to be released early next year, how do you manage to write books so quickly?

I’m very fortunate to have a day job that affords me a fair amount of free time each week.  In between assignments and such, I’ll work on writing or editing.  I also do some writing a few evenings each week but I try to keep that time free for family stuff.  Rarely ever do I work on writing during the weekends.  Plus, with these books I’ve always truly been writing what I know and what I’m passionate about, which helps make the writing go quicker.

Your latest book, Urban Emergency Survival Plan, is clearly focused on surviving an urban scenario. Would you rather face a survival scenario in an urban, suburban, or rural setting?

I’m a strong proponent of community-based survival planning.  I feel there is safety and strength in numbers.  However, it is sort of a balancing act because in any disaster scenario, once the immediate danger has passed, your biggest threat is likely to be other people.  Personally, I lean toward the suburban angle for the most part.  You’re far enough out from the city that you can avail yourself of natural resources, but you also have a community to work with and that can support you.

Of the choice to bug in or bug out, which is the most important to have a plan for in your opinion?

I firmly believe bugging out should be your last option, not your primary plan, for most disaster scenarios.  So, sheltering in place or bugging in would be the plan to work on first, in my opinion.  That said, you need to have a bug out plan as well, just in case.

A bug out bag (BOB) signifies that you will be going somewhere. If someone is not planning on bugging out, do you have any recommendations for how a kit should look for someone who is planning on staying in an urban area?

Every kit, whether we’re talking bushcraft survival, bug out bag, or get home bag, needs to be set up to satisfy as many of your basic survival needs as possible:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • First Aid
  • Security
  • Navigation
  • Communication

An urban survival kit really isn’t that much different from one you’d use out in the wilderness.  Snares would still be useful, as there is a surprising amount of game present in cities.  Water filtration and purification gear is extremely important, of course.  Shelter needs can often be met by buildings in the area, but there are safety concerns with ducking into an abandoned structure.  You might find yourself going from a bad situation to one far worse due to the structure falling apart or suddenly learning the abandoned home is actually occupied.

Any kit needs to be assembled in such a way as to take into account the person’s individual skill sets and experience, too.

What is the most challenging part of being a prepper?

As with most people I’d guess, time and money.  Never enough of either to get everything done.

Do you find that shows like Doomsday Preppers has made it even more difficult to be a prepper because of the extreme image that is portrayed?

Yes and no.  Shows like that have certainly increased the awareness of disaster planning, which is a great thing.  I’ve heard from many people who have said it was through watching one or another of those shows that they started thinking, What if?  On the other hand, though, most of those shows go out of their way to find and profile the most extreme representatives of the group, so to speak.  While most of the audience is intelligent enough to realize not all preppers are like the ones seen on TV, every once in a while you run into someone who really does think we spend all day every day cleaning our 10,000 firearm armory and praying for the day the black helicopters come to get us.

If you had to start prepping all over again, would you do anything differently?

I don’t know, maybe.  Given the choice, knowing what I know now, I might have pursued more of the self-reliance skill sets at an earlier age.  The thing is, even though I’ve been at this for thirty years or so, I’m still learning.  I don’t know everything, no one does.  So, even though there are things I wish I’d learned earlier, that’s not to say I can’t learn them now, y’know?

What advice would you give to a new prepper?

Take it slow, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed and burned out.  Try to do at least one thing every single day that will get you further down the path of disaster readiness but don’t try to do it all at once.

If you could have only five items with you at all times in the event that there were a disaster, what would they be?

Fully charged cell phone, knife, lighter, flashlight, handgun.

Besides your books, how can people follow your work?

My primary home online is Survival Weekly. There, we post articles, product reviews, book reviews, all that fun stuff.  My consulting business is found at Disaster Prep Consultants.



I really appreciate Jim for sending me a copy of Urban Emergency Survival Plan and for taking the time to answer these questions. The book is great and in my opinion, it would be a great addition to any prepper’s collection. It is full of valuable information. I also enjoyed getting to read Jim’s thoughts in response to the questions I sent him. It is always enjoyable for me to get to hear what other people’s thoughts are on survival and preparedness.

If you are interested in picking up a copy of Urban Emergency Survival Plan, you can find it on Amazon or through other book retailers.

Book Review: Forsaking Home by A. American

I just finished reading Forsaking Home, the fourth installment of the Survivalist Series by A. American. I really enjoyed the first three books in the series and was excited to see how things would work out for Morgan Carter and the rest of the gang. While I was not disappointed in the least, I was surprised how some of the events played out in Forsaking Home. It was not what I expected, although all of the loose ends from the previous three installments were tied together in this book which was a relief and a disappointment. I am glad to know how everything works out for Morgan and the cast of characters but I am bummed that things may have come to an end. I don’t know that this is the last book in the series or not. Things could be done for Morgan Carter but maybe Mr. American will let us know how the rebuilding of the United States goes eventually.

The first three installments of the Survivalist Series revealed the challenges that Morgan Carter faced after the collapse of the electrical grid across the United States. After a long journey, he finally made it back home to his family and made some great friends, and terrible enemies, along the way. Nothing could have prepared him for everything he has faced but between the relationships forged and the preparations that he did make, he is in much better shape than most. As the days continue on, Morgan, along with his friends and family, is forced to try harder and harder to provide the food, security, and hope that is necessary to continue to thrive. This is all on top of the DHS’ attempts to smother any resistence they get from those who do not want to conform to the government’s new rules of martial law, etc.

Forsaking Home takes us along as Morgan continues to try to keep his family and group alive and together in their newly established oasis by the river while Sarge and his self-titled band of misfits try to pull together an operation that will take down the DHS camp that is holding Jess and her friends captive (in the name of their own good of course). While things continue to be chaotic, there are many who wonder what the future holds and whether or not they will even survive to see. I think that compared to the previous three books there was perhaps a little less excitement overall but the story was still very captivating and I appreciated the realism in the behavior of the characters and the facts contained.

There were some great take away points that I highlighted as I was reading the book that I wanted to remember to share.

Point #1 – People will fight to the death for the food needed to survive (there may not be a greater truth).

Food is freedom. Control the food, control the people. While a lot of people don’t see it that way, if you think about our current situation, it really applies. How many people do you think have gone to the [DHS] camps because they are hungry?

Point #2 – The skills of the generations that came before us are what made their survival possible and their lives better. Knowing these skills could be the key to future survival if the grid did go down.

There’s decades of skills lost that would make our lives easier. The rush to make life easier, more convenient, overshadowed those skills, and we’re paying the price now.

Takeaway # 3 – The idea of preparing for the unknown is not crazy. Obviously the electrical grid has not collapsed but if it ever did (and it’s possible), it will be those who prepared who will survive.

You guys remember that show Doomsday Preppers? I used to watch that and laugh at those people. I thought they were all so crazy. But they were right. Everyone called them crazy, but they’re probably the best off out of any of us.

Among these points and the additional practical skills and knowledge that is shared in the book, one of the other things that I appreciated was the inclusion of a few characters that had used their bikes with trailers to travel and move their belongings after the majority of vehicles became useless. This is something that can be a useful tool for a prepper, not only as an alternate form of transportation but as a means of exercise and maintaining physical fitness for long term survival.

I truly enjoyed all four of the books in this series and can honestly say that I was anxiously awaiting the release of Forsaking Home. A. American continued to do a great job in the latest installment with the characters and the storyline. It is easy to relate to all of the characters and how they feel and function but there were definitely some that I almost feel like I had met before. As an example, Sarge and crew easily remind me of my time in the Army and several of the Soldiers who I worked with, not only in attitude but in the shenanigans department as well. For those who are interested in the Survival/Post-Apocalyptic Fiction genre or have thought about checking it out, the Survivalist Series by A. American would be well worth your time. Just make sure to order all the books at once because you will go through them quickly.

The Survivalist Series can be found through your local book retailer or online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Powell’s Books.

Interested in winning all four books in the Survivalist Series? All you have to do is leave a comment about this review and you will automatically be entered to win. Make sure to leave a good email address (it will only be seen by me) so that I can contact you if you are the winner. The winner will be selected using a random generator on July 15th, 2014.

Book Review: Sanctuary by G. Michael Hopf

Just when you thought Gordon Van Zandt had been through enough, he finds himself buried in a new heap of difficulty. Sanctuary follows G. Michael Hopf’s cast of characters through the next set of challenges they face as they fight hard to right wrongs and come back together in their ultimate destination, the Van Zandt family home in McCall, Idaho. If the first two books in the New World series revealed anything, it was that the post apocalyptic world is not an easy one and nothing is just given, it is earned.

I will tell you that just like The End and The Long Road, I was not disappointed with Sanctuary and found myself carrying it with me everywhere I went until I was done reading it. Not only is the story believable and engaging but Hopf’s character development has me fully engaged and anxious to see what will happen next to Gordon Van Zandt, his wife, daughter and friends, his brother Sebastian, President Conner, Colonel Barone, and Pablo (drug cartel magnate turned new world conqueror).

I definitely don’t want to give away too much so here is the official synopsis from G. Michael Hopf:

The journey down The Long Road proved to be more than they all could have imagined.

The country is now unrecognizable. The major cities are now controlled by gangs. Those lucky enough to have been prepared for such an event find themselves unprepared for guarding against the hordes of the wandering masses of survivors.

With the lack of a consistent and adequate governmental response many are now dying of starvation. What scattered remnants of government that is functional is having a tough time coordinating efforts and are themselves becoming victims of lawlessness and chaos.

Gordon Van Zandt, unable to confront his wife, Samantha following the loss of their son, Hunter, is on a mission to track down and kill the man who killed his son. This will take him places and into situations that he himself could not have predicted.

Samantha, Nelson and their group have reached Idaho but with no equipment to keep the roads open to complete the journey to McCall, they find themselves with no place to go.

Sebastian has safely delivered Annaliese and her family to their family compound in Utah, but his desire to find his brother will put him back on the road again.

Barone, now having fulfilled vengeance against a man he felt had wronged him, must keep his group of Marines together with purpose. His fledgling country is only being held together because of the false promises he keeps making the civilian leadership in Coos Bay. These lies will see the light of day and thrust him into making unconventional alliances.  With, Cruz, as his prisoner he has some leverage but will it be enough to stop President Connor.

President Connor is back in control of the federal government, but he is not the man he was before. Does he have what takes to confront all the threats and heal his wounded nation?

Pablo’s army has landed successfully in Southern California and after establishing a strong foothold he is expanding quickly across the southwest. His populist call to arms is helping recruit many to his ranks. His dreams of empire are unfolding with each day and each mile his army conquers.

The one common thread that they all have deep in their hearts is one of a place to call home, a safe place away from the horrors that have become the norm. They all have different paths and different ideas of what it means, but all are in search of a Sanctuary.

There were so many things about Sanctuary that I enjoyed that I could not possibly list them all, but I will list a few including the fact that once again the story is not predictable, the characters have human attributes, and because I am a veteran I always appreciate the fact that the military related portions of the book are accurate. Additionally, as someone who is concerned with being prepared for difficult times, I truly appreciate the fact that G. Michael Hopf is able to craft some potential survival scenarios into his storyline in a realistic manner.

There are plenty of different fiction survival novels on the market, and I have read plenty of them, but I find that Hopf’s New World series continue to find themselves at the top of my list because the story is so phenomenal. You can learn more about G. Michael Hopf on his website. To get your own copy of any of the books in the series, check with your local book retailer or find them online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indiebound, iBooks, or Penguin Books.

Interested in winning the three books in the New World series? All you have to do is leave a comment about this review and you will automatically be entered to win. Make sure to leave a good email address (it will only be seen by me) so that I can contact you if you are the winner. The winner will be selected using a random generator on July 15th, 2014.

Book Review: The End by G. Michael Hopf

EMP Animation Photo Credit:

Bang! Right out of the gate I was caught up in The End. Who would not be interested when contemplating what it would be like to have the United States completelty altered and have to rebuild after the government was severed at the head? It was a book that had me riveted and almost wanting to skip ahead to see what was going to happen. The ability of G. Michael Hopf to weave the many characters and experiences into one fluid story line was incredible in my opinion.

The story of Gordan Van Zandt and his family was not only interesting, but informational as well. The reader gets to experience a little bit about Sergeant Van Zandt, the Marine, and then go on to see how his experiences effect his family life and ultimately how it impacts his struggle to survive and support his family in the face of a catastrophic attack on the United States and their allies. Not only does life become a mad dash to secure the resources available for survival but the reader gets to witness the clashes and dilemmas that occur as civility goes by the wayside. There are many hard decisions to be made and the entire range of human emotion is explored as we see people ignorant to the fact that their phones will no longer work and why, anxiety as the realization of what happened sets in, sadness as Gordon realizes the innocence of his children, panic as patients die in the hospital ICU because of the lack of power and chaos as looters grab everything they can out of the grocery store. I found myself, once again, thinking about what I would do if society ground to a halt.
I have read some criticism about Hopf and his writing but I do not share these opinions. I took the book for what it was and found that it was an enjoyable story which explored a very scary possibility, one that we could find ourselves facing as a nation. Especially a nation that is not always appreciated for who we are and what we do.
As I read The End and the characters and their stories were revealed, I began to appreciate many things about this book including the fact that it was written from a position of authority and experience. As a fellow combat veteran, I realized that Hopf is probably sharing a little bit of his experience in combat as he wrote this book. I kept thinking back to my experiences and was almost haunted by the reality of the military and combat scenarios that were woven into The End. It is also apparent that there was a fair amount of research completed about Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and nuclear weapons completed as I felt that the story was quite factual regarding what could be expected following such an attack.
I truly cannot recommend this book enough if you are interested in the postapocalyptic genre, survival, preparedness, or even just contemplating what society would be like after such an attack.
If you are interested in reading about Gordon Van Zandt and his associates, the two books available in The New World Series can be purchased from Amazon and can be located by clicking on the following links:
Young Gordon Van Zandt valued duty and loyalty to country above all, so after 9/11, he dropped out of college and joined the Marine Corps. This idealism vanished one fateful day in a war-torn city in Iraq. Ten years later, he is still struggling with the ghosts of his past when a new reality is thrust upon him and his family: North America, Europe and the Far East have all suffered a devastating Super-EMP attack, which causes catastrophic damage to the nation’s power grid and essential infrastructures. Everything from cell phones to cars to computers cease to function, putting society at a standstill.
With civilization in chaos, Gordon must fight for the limited and fast dwindling resources. He knows survival requires action and cooperation with his neighbors, but as the days wear on, so does all sense of civility within his community—and so he must make some of the most difficult decisions of his life in order to ensure his family’s safety.
The End was just the beginning of the new world…Only six weeks have passed since a super-EMP attack devastated the United States, but already, life has changed dramatically. Most of America has become a wasteland filled with starving bands of people, mobs and gangs. Millions are dead and millions more are suffering, with no end in sight.
For Gordon, Samantha, Sebastian, Cruz and Barone, the turmoil and chaos they dealt with in the early weeks after the attack will seem trivial in comparison to the collapse of society that plays out before their eyes. Uncertainty abounds as they all travel different paths in search of a safe place to call home. The only thing that is definite is that The Long Road will take its toll on all of them.
If you would be interested in reading these books for free, I have great news! G. Michael Hopf has agreed as part of his TLC book tour stop here at The Prepared Ninja to giveaway a set of these two books to a lucky reader. Entering could not be any easier, just sign up to receive our email updates in the right sidebar and you are entered to win. If you already subscribe, you are already entered! On January 22, 2014 a lucky subscriber will be selected as the winner using a random number generator. Thanks to Mr. Hopf and TLC Book Tours for this great opportunity. Good luck!
About The Author

G. Michael Hopf is a combat veteran of the Marine Corps, a former bodyguard for the Saudi Royal family, entrepreneur, and best-selling author.

He has studied the threat of EMP for 6 years and how to best prepare in the event. He wrote The End  and The Long Road (Books 1 & 2 in The New World series)to illustrate the effects our nation would suffer if ever attacked by this type of weapon.

He and his family currently reside in San Diego, CA.

If you would be interested in learning more about G. Michael Hopf, please visit his website at He can also be followed on Facebook or on Twitter.