The Blood Flag
By: James W. Huston
Read by: Peter Ganim
Runtime: 11.3 Hours
Release date: 11.10.2015
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
I would recommend that you have had some exposure to the early 20th century history to be able to get the most out of this book. I have read William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich which helped me understand a lot of the “whats” and “whys” in the book. The book revolves around the search for the most holy relic to the Nazi culture, the Blood Flag (Blutfahne) which holds the blood from the first Nazi “Martyrs” who died during the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler treated it like a holy relic. It disappeared shortly before the war ended.
Kyle Morrissey specializes in international terrorism for the FBI. He experiences a moment of unreality when days after attending the D-Day Ceremony at Normandy, he and his family are caught in a Nazi march in Germany. He questions how the evil the greatest generation fought and beat can still be in existence. As he researches modern Nazi-ism, he becomes obsessed, leading him to cooperate with the FBI agent in charge of tracking Neo-Nazis. Before too long Kyle finds himself looking for the Blood Flag as a way to gain admission to the top Neo-Nazi group in the world.
I enjoyed the history in the story. I thought the characters, especially Kyle and Jedidiah were interesting but never fully fleshed out. During the incident that starts Kyle’s obsession, he is accompanied by his wife and children. They promptly vanish except for one or two mentions for the rest of the book. He drops his own work in International Terrorism to pursue his Nazi obsession and the FBI does not reign him in. Jedidiah’s backstory is never truly explored. He was a virulent Neo-Nazi and now he is a confidential informant for the FBI. I never really got a good handle on his conversion. The German officers in the equivalent of the FBI remained a question on whether they sympathized with the Neo-Nazis or not.
To be clear, I enjoyed the book. I listened at every opportunity I had for the last few days. It certainly held my attention. But it ended somewhat abruptly and I was left with a lot of unanswered questions (see paragraph above).
Peter Ganim did a nice job as a narrator. He handled all the accents, American (both Southern and more non descript) German, and Russian well. Mr. Ganim did a nice job with the few females when they made appearances. His pacing with consistent with the action. The production values were excellent. I would definitely listen to another book narrated by Peter Ganim and will read another by James W. Huston. I just wish he had made The Blood Flag a little longer so my questions were answered.
Story (Plot) 4
Production Quality 5
Attention Holding 5
This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Jukebox dot com.
At Least He's Not on Fire is a collection by Chris Philbrook. If his name is familiar you have probably come across someone gushing about one of his series. If his name is not familiar, slap yourself on the back of the head and pick up one of his books or audiobooks now. You are missing something great. This book contains three original stories and three excerpts from his different series. The title, oh yes, the title refers to an philosophical life view the main character of Adrian's Undead Diary adopts after surviving the first few days of a zombie apocalypse.
The first original story is “All In”, about thirty minutes in length. (Please note, times are approximate because although I tried to watch the time stamp I was too caught up in the stories to get exact time. Hence the “about” length.) The main character finds himself playing poker with the devil. First thing he asks Satan is, “Ever been to Georgia?”. It just gets better and better from there and is not predictable at all. Hellhole is about 27 minutes in length. It is very original and horrifying. If there is a sinkhole in my neighborhood, my hair will finish going white overnight. Hellhole is seriously terrifying. The Vampire of Menlo Park, about 38 minutes in length, poses the question, “What if Thomas Edison was a vampire?”. The answer is creative and could easily be expanded to an entire book.
The first of the three excerpts is from Dark Recollections: Book One of Adrian's Undead Diary, about 52 minutes in length. If you haven’t read AUD (as it is abbreviated), this is the perfect opportunity to check it out. When I reviewed the full book on Amazon I said it is one of the best zombie genre I have ever encountered. Since I love the apocalypse genre, that is saying a lot. Try this first chapter and you will, like me, willingly jump into Adrian’s world. Excellent series and an excellent introduction to it.
The next excerpt is Tesser: A Dragon Among Us A Novel of the Reemergence, about 52 minutes in length. After listening to this except, I cannot wait for the Audible production that has just been announced. It was a wonderful first chapter. Imagine a dragon. Now make him cooler than any other dragon ever, including Smaug. Now give him intelligence and so very neat abilities that other dragons have not had in literature. Also throw in a magician’s apprentice, who just quit his full time job as an accountant to concentrate on his magic. Oh yeah, it is set in modern times. I have got to have this book. My son, who did a presentation on dragons in literature for one of his college classes, will probably fight me for who gets it first.
The final except is The Wrath of the Orphans: Book One of The Kinless Trilogy. This is the longest segment at roughly 2 ½ hours long. Chris Philbrook creates another universe, Elmoryn, where the story takes place. I was very impressed with how well he fleshed out his universe for the Adrian series but this one is even more breathtaking. Elmoryn has war and magic and horror and characters that immediately get your attention. By the end of the except I cared about Malwynn and his twin sister Umaryn, the main characters. The Wrath of the Orphans is the first book of a planned trilogy. Book 2 is already out and book 3 is hopefully joining it soon.
James Foster, who narrated all of Adrian’s Undead Diary, narrates At Least He’s not on Fire. As with AUD, he does a fantastic job. For example “All In” the devil and the main character have distinct voices. Foster’s accents in Tesser are spot on as usual. Foster is a finalist in three different categories for the 2015 SOVAS VoiceArts Awards. His narrations always take the author’s written word that one step further to pull you into their reality. The production values are prefect.
I tend not to be a big fan of anthologies because they can be uneven or have only one gem among a box of “meh” pieces. This one though is all gem quality. As evidenced by my inability to get correct times on the different segments, I was drawn in and enthralled. Warning to my family, this year you will be charged in Chris Philbrook titles for me doing your taxes.
"This audiobook was provided by Audiobook Reviewer at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review
My original Unhappy Endings review many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.
Unhappy Endings edited by Chris Philbrook is a collection of sixteen short stories (one story has four parts) which all take place in the universe of Adrian’s Undead Diary (AUD) series created by Mr. Philbrook. If you haven’t read the series I strongly suggest you do before reading Unhappy Endings. Several of the stories have direct enough references to AUD that they contain subtle spoilers within. There is a forward where the author explains how this collection came into being. I purchased Unhappy Endings because I have enjoyed Mr. Philbrook’s other titles so much.
The story with four parts, Eddie Smith, is written by Chris Philbrook, author of AUD. The other authors include Christopher MacDonald, Steve Gonzales, Joe Tremblay, Lee Smallwood, Tracy Wilson, Sherry Knight, Shane Hershey, Alan MacRaffen, Josh Green, Dennis Pekkala, A. Ben Carpenter, Wendie Haegle, Rob Roche, J. C. Fiske, and Krista Blasevick Pullin
In the Arms of the Dead by Christopher McDonald is just creepy, really creepy. I cannot shake the visual of Alan walking along smiling with Emily trailing after him. Rose by Wendi Haegle reminded me of Stephen King. It was very easy for me to see Rose inhabiting one of Mr. King’s stories. Amy’s Daycare by Sherry Knight just plain broke my heart. This is one that you have to read the AUD series before the full impact of the story hits home. All the stories are good and all involve some aspect of the zombie apocalypse. The best way to describe it is the lens the reader saw events through in AUD, is widened significantly in this collection. We meet characters who while not directly intersecting with Adrian’s story still affect events in the larger universe.
James Foster does an excellent job narrating the audiobook. He narrated all eight of the AUD audiobooks so this is familiar territory for him. He brings emotion and lack of emotion, which frankly can be scarier, to the character’s voices. Mr. Foster has no problem with any voice, male, female, adult or child. His voice is always clear and his volume remains consistent. The production values are great.
I hope Mr. Philbrook considers another collection like this one. There are still so many untold stories from the AUD universe. Having the different authors participate gives the collection a different feel. It is a new perspective on the familiar universe but with new stories and characters. I really enjoyed it.
Story (Plot) 5
Production Quality 5
Attention Holding 5
Raising Hell: A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Novella
Written by: John G. Hartness
Narrated by: James Foster
Length: 2 hrs and 38 mins
Publisher: Falstaff Books
“Summary from Audible: Straight out of the pages of the legendary vampire novel Dracula comes a demon hunter for the modern world. Mina Murray and Jonathan Harker had a son. They named him Quincy. His guardian angel calls him Q. Dracula calls him nephew. Demons call him The Reaper.”
When I came across this title, I knew I had to get it. The description really appealed to me. I enjoyed Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and thought this would be similar. I was right, it is similar to Butcher’s series but I was also wrong. I didn’t like it, I loved it. The only thing I didn’t like was it’s length. It is a novella and runs just over two and a half hours. I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want it to end.
There are so many things I loved about this story. Quincy Harker, the main character, has more attitude than a high school full of teenagers and a mouth that would put the Navy to shame. He is irreverent. When he tries to explain to a man that his daughter is dead, the father continues to grasp for some hope that his daughter can be saved, prompting Quincy to remark, “sometimes I think we should have left hope locked in Pandora’s box. It causes as much trouble as it fixes.” That says so much about the character, someone who has seen and lived through too many terrible things. Quincy also has a great sense of humor. He gives someone, “my most charming smile which I’ve been told reminds people of Anthony Hopkins from Silence of the Lambs.” You have to love a guy who states that a nasty frat boy is in “dire need of defenestration.”
The story just flew. It was fast paced from the first minute and never really slowed down. James Foster did an excellent job narrating it. He conveyed all the attitude Quincy dished out while also making his uncle as chillingly terrify as one expects. Mr. Foster did a wonderful job with all the side characters also. I especially enjoyed his Reinfeld. The production values were excellent.
There are two other Quincy Harker novellas on Amazon. I am hoping the author has Mr. Foster narrate them. I would snap them up.
Story (Plot) 5
Production Quality 5
Attention Holding 5
"This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher through audiobook blast dot com at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review."
V Wars: Blood and Fire is the sequel to V Wars: A Chronicle of the Vampire Wars. Blood and Fire, like its prequel, is written by several authors, James A. Moore, Joe McKinney,Jonathan Maberry, Kevin J. Anderson, Larry Correia, Scott Sigler, Weston Ochse, and Yvonne Navarro. Each author is responsible for writing one or more of the fifteen different stories that make up the whole. I read the series out of order, reading the first, third and then this the second. The second book bridges gap between first and third. It fills in where the different types of vamps come from and introduces some of the new characters, like The Hippo.
The events in Blood and Fire take place one year after the dormant DNA activates turning some humans into vampires. A truce has been in effect for several months concluding what is called the Vampire War. As the book begins, the truce goes up in flames and the second Vampire War begins. As with the first book, my favorite thread was by Yvonne Navarro. I really enjoy the character she created in Moonie. I would love to see Moonie have a book of her own. The character of The Hippo is wonderful. He is also in the third book but this book does a wonderful job of introducing him and explaining his behavior (and he have some behavior that needs explaining).
The book chronicles events through different viewpoints, the vampires and people. Some of the characters are simply trying to survive while others are driving events towards a cataclysm. They vary from soldiers (both vampire and human), a reporter, a consultant whose expertise is vampires and folklore and others who are trying to keep out of harm’s way. Not all vampires are evil and not all humans are good. I think that is one of the strengths of this series, the large grey areas where one expects only black and white.
The narration by Gabrielle de Cuir, Jamye Grant, Richard Gilliland, Roxanne Hernandez, Stephen Hoye, Arthur Morey, and Stefan Rudnicki is very good. I had no problems with any section or characterisations. The production values were excellent.
I am fortunate that my local library system subscribes to hoopla service which gives patrons access to digital content. I checked V Wars: Blood and Fire out from hoopla, streaming it on my tablet and downloading it onto my smart phone.
I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars overall: Plot 4, Performance 5, Production 5, and Attention holding 4.
V Wars: Night Terrors:
New Stories of the Vampire Wars
Edited by Jonathan Maberry
Read by: various narrators
Runtime: 15.6 Hours
Release date: 10.6.2015
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
V Wars: Night Terrors, the third book in the V Wars series, was released in October 2015. It probably is not totally necessary to read the first two in the series before Night Terrors but it would help. I did read V Wars first and now Night Terrors. I did not realize I was missing the third book, Blood and Fire so I did get a little confused on one point. Like the original Night Terrors is written by several authors, Lucas Mangum, Jonathan Maberry, Jeremy Robinson, John Everson, Larry Correia, and Tim Waggoner. Each author is responsible for writing one or more of the fifteen different stories that make up the whole.
The premise of the V Wars books is that a piece of dormant human DNA somehow become activated creating vampires and werewolfs. The first book dealt with the original event and its immediate aftermath. V Wars: Night Terrors takes place at least eighteen months or more after the original event. A war has broken out between the “beats” (normal humans) and the “bloods” (vampires). It is not that simple though. It is not just human vs. inhuman. Some humans work with vampires and some vampires with humans. Some are trying to eradicate the others while some are trying to find a way to coexist.
I did enjoy Night Terrors but not as much as the original V Wars. One reason was there was more sex. I thought it was unnecessary for moving the story forward. It just seemed to be gratuitous, like the nudity in Game of Thrones. The other problem I had was the types of vampires. In V Wars, there are vampires, period. There are the beginnings of an introduction to specialization within the species but in Night Terrors it explodes. There were so many different types of vampires with different abilities and exotic names I could not keep them straight. At all. Just mentioning what type of vampire one was did not tell me if it was sun sensitive, extra strong or drank life essence instead of blood. It was just too much to keep track of for me.
I did enjoy what I perceived as social commentary. In one story, “A Day in the Life” part 9, the action centers around the man who produces vampire reality shows. His biggest hit follows female vampires who live in the Hamptons. They discuss whether to have their fangs gold tipped and if chinchilla blood really the best. Think of Real Housewives of wherever gone horribly wrong and you get the idea. He also produced shows that were vampire on vampire violence, even an Amish Vampire, which he admitted was totally scripted.
The production values were perfect. The narration was excellent. I think Stefan Rudnicki sounds like the author Benjamin Percy and had to check the credits to see who it was narrating. Gabrielle de Cuir and
Stephen Hoye were fantastic. Jamye Meri Grant was great. The only problem I had was Sunil Malhotra. He has a lovely voice but at times he spoke too softly. I would need to back up, raise the volume and then lower the volume after that particular passage. Overall it was an excellent audiobook. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars overall: Plot 4, Performance 5, Production 5, and Attention holding 4.
"This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review”