Cover Image: Blue Fire

Blue Fire

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Member Reviews

This book was so good! I want to see more from this author in the future!! I couldn't put this book down. What a page turner!!!
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

3.7 stars


Blue Stars is the second book in the Victoria Emerson series. The world is trying to rebuild after nuclear war and EMPs have taken out all technology. Victoria was an US Congresswoman who declined to go into the government shelter when they wouldn’t let her sons come with her. The Emerson family plus two army officers end up helping a small town in West Virginia rebuild.

I love end of the world, dystopian books and was happy to read the two books back to back. The story is mainly about Victoria and her sons but also covers the remaining government in hiding (my least favorite part).
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I love post apocalyptic books, however, there is always a formula to them. 
1. ALL of the power, grid, electric is out....due to an EMP or Nucear war
2. Rogue army/special forces decide that they KNOW best and will take from whoever
3.  A young child will have diabetes and need insulin but there won't be any around
4. a safe haven is rumored to exist and good folks are trying to rebuild the community

This book does NOT deviate from the formula. The only surprise to me was the mention of the bunker for the United States government. HOWEVER, that story line is NOT flushed out and you wonder why did the author even include it.
Is this book part of a series? Is this a stand alone novel? No clue from the author of what was going on.

Overall, I liked Vicky the 'mayor', but every other single character was taken from a hundred other post apocalyptic books.

Nothing new here.
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I have never read any John Gilstrap work until Blue Fire came across my NetGalley.com feed and I immediately jumped on the opportunity. Blue Fire has a post-apocalyptic vibe while it also draws on the consistent ability of the government to screw things up. With the political back and forth seen in the news every day, this shows the aftermath of bad decisions and how they can affect the people that they represent.

One of the main locations in this adventure is Ortho, West Virginia, where former congresswoman Victoria Emerson has taken refuge. After choosing not to hide away in a bunker with the rest of the surviving branches of the federal government, Victoria has become the pseudo mayor of this shanty town. She also requires all capable members of this community to be fully committed to serving, not a hard bargain if you ask me. After the bombs have dropped all over America in Gilstrap’s first, Crimson Phoenix, we start to see the lawlessness. An unfortunate meeting occurs as a neighboring town comes to speak with Victoria and a gun fight ends the chat and riles up the tension. For those that are stuck in the wilderness and unsettled areas surrounding these dangerous towns, they must make their own safety or become just another body in the ground. 

As Victoria and Ortho continue to be receptive to random people walking into town, the inhabitants of the government facility are trying to determine what is happening outside the safety of their bunker. In a brave mission, one of the people attempts to go out to record the findings and meets an untimely demise. Emerson is seemingly keeping herself inundated with a broad list of keep busy items to not focus on the fact that her husband was overseas when the war started, and her oldest son was at military school which is now not standing. 

Gilstrap does an amazing job of bringing together another modern-day Red Dawn while showing that humanity can have a chance at survival with the right people involved. Though no one is immune in the aftermath of the nuclear war that was unleashed all over earth, the bloody and fierce battle between neighboring towns continue as people are literally fighting for their lives. A harsh reality and unnerving emotion highlight the hellish landscape in which few survive but maybe staying alive isn’t surviving.
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Another thrilling (and still terrifying) thrill ride!  This book is action-packed and made my anxiety skyrocket several times.  This story is so well written that I was completely wrapped up and didn’t want to put it down.  I’ve also decided I do NOT want to survive the initial attack; the things the survivors have to go through is not for the faint of heart.  The main characters are likeable (despite the bleak setting) and Victoria Emerson is the perfect person to rebuild society. Highly recommended for those who want non-stop action.
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Thank you NetGalley for making this book available. There has been an attack all over the world and it is unknown who has survived. Imagine that happening and then what do you do? Can you get your mind around having to organize and start a whole new working order in the area where you are or do you go someplace else and try to organize and learn to live with what you have. Do you have enough people willing to work together to fight off marauders trying to take what you have left. Victoria has gotten the town of Ortho in West Virginia working together and helping those who come and really want help and to do their part. Really gives you something to think about in this day and age with all we have that an EMP could take out.
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I sat down last night thinking I'd read some of this book and then head to bed, finishing it up today. Instead, I sat down to read and just kept going because I had to know what happened next. Here I am several hours later with no sleep but having finished the book and I'm already impatient for the next in the series!
<i>Crimson Phoenix</i> was a book about a world confronted with the horrific aftermath of nuclear war and it managed to be hopeful. <i>Blue Fire</i> continues in that vein. Victoria Emerson and the community of Ortho build on their successes from the last book but of course dangers remain. Adam Emerson is still separated from his family and has been branded a killer by the rumor-mill. A new threat has arisen in a neighboring town and it's clear that it's only a matter of time before those bad neighbors will come to Ortho. The remnants of the federal government - Congress - continue to demonstrate their ineptitude and irrelevance. But through it all it's clear that the people who figure out how to work together, how to share responsibility and function as a community, will be the ones to survive and thrive. Ortho isn't a success because they take from other people; it's a success because the people there (mostly) have chosen to work together for everyone's benefit. Outsiders envy that success but the truth is their choices are what keep them from having it themselves. It's a timely message woven into a can't-put-it-down page-turner.
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Blue Fire is the second book in the Victoria Emerson Series by John Gilstrap.  It is definitely beneficial reading book one Crimson Phoenix before Blue Fire so that as a reader you fully understand what is happening in this series. I would consider this a post-apocalyptical story.

Blue Fire starts several weeks after Hell Day which is the reference to the day that an eight hour nuclear war occurred.  Victoria is trying to bring some semblance of order to the town of Ortho, West Virginia while trying to raise two sons who have had to become men well before their youth is over.

There’s plenty of tension, suspense and page turning happenings that will keep the reader completely engaged.  The books also pose interesting questions as to what would happen if everything went back to the most rudimentary of what you are used to. It’s also amazing how fast chaos can occur and how the lines of right and wrong and survival can blur.

I highly recommend anything that John Gilstrap writes.  His books make you think and will have you reading late into the evening.

Thank you to #netgalley and #kensingtonbooks for allowing me to read the ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Blue Fire by John Gilstrap
Victoria Emmerson #2

Apocalyptic dystopian world book two reminded me that human beings are really just animals…some animals are much nicer than others and so are some humans. In book one the world changed drastically. Some people ended up in a bunker set up by the government, some ended up dying almost immediately, and some ended up doing their best to survive. Some humans became opportunists and predators, some became the prey, and some worked together to try to stay safe and create communities that would sustain and survive. This book continues the tale of the Emmerson family with snippets about how those in the bunker are faring…and it kept my interest from first page to last. 

What I liked: 
* Returning to Ortho to see how Victoria Emmerson, two of her sons, and the rest of the community were doing
* Finding out how Adam Emmerson and his partner, Emma, were doing
* Thinking about what it would be like to be in the shoes of various people in the story
* Wondering what I could contribute to a group trying to survive…which work detail I would be able to assist (there would probably be more than one)
* Watching how the group in Ortho began to create a sense of community and how capitalism came into play
* The real feel and believability of the story
* Thinking about why some would prefer to work together while others would feel the opposite
* Comparing this story to those of the same genre that I read decades ago…the first few books written by Wyndham were in my father’s library and made a huge impact
* That even those who were “good” sometimes had to do “bad” things
* Thinking about how government, community, laws and such would change 
* Considering what skills would be essential in a world so changed
* Thinking about the impact such a situation would have on people – all ages and societal levels of people
* Thinking about what would and would not have “value” in a world changed so much
* The plot, writing, character development, and continuation of the story
* Wondering how many books there will be in the series – there is at least one more – White Smoke – have to wait a year for it to be published, though.

What I didn’t like: 
* Exactly who and what I was meant not to like
* Knowing I have to wait a year to read what happens next

Did I enjoy this book? Yes
Would I read more in this series? Definitely! 

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC – This is my honest review. 

5 Stars
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The second book in this series, Blue Fire delves into the life of former legislator Victoria Emerson as she tries to bring together like minded people who survived 'Hell Day'.  With her youngest sons and her 'team' who collected her and stayed with her after she refused to be separated from her children, she has become the 'leader' of a town in West Virginia and is trying to rebuild some semblance of civilization.  As she works through these problems, we see love coming into the equation, and people who were thought lost, return.  A literal battle for supremacy takes place.  Which side will win?  Is there really any winner when there is a world war?  

This book was a bit frightening.  As we look at the world RIGHT NOW, the ability of nations striking nations and obliterating our way of living is all too true.  Mr. Gilstrap has taken our fears and given them a voice.  What if the unthinkable happened?  What if we had to learn to live off the land again?  What if there were bad people trying to take what we've worked for?  What if money means nothing?  Do we have any skills that we can barter?  

How long might YOU last if the world as we know it goes away in the blink of an eye?

Great read.  Unsettling?  Yes.  Does this book make you think?  Absolutely.
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Blue Fire is Book 2 in the new Victoria Emerson series from John Gilstrap.

"They call it Hell Day - the day the bombs fell and society reverted to a time of no technology. Victoria Emerson has been made leader of Ortho because of her organizational and prepper skills. The community has returned to a much calmer normal - less chaos and violence - neighbor helping neighbor. But some renegade National Guard troops want what the town of ortho has. And they're willing to kill to get it."

There are a couple of storylines here. One is the Guard troops against the townspeople of Ortho. You know that conflict is going to end in a big battle. The other is what's going on in the bunker housing the members of Congress, HOR and the President. Gilstrap paints a dire picture about the ineffectiveness of people without survival skills. You see what happens when people are determined to get their way.
Gilstrap has some subtle commentary on immigration. Makes you think.
Gilstrap does a great job with the realities of what happens when Nuclear War happens. There's also some great action scenes in this story.

Based on the events in the Politicians' bunker it looks like there should be at least one more book.

Fans of apocolyptic stories should really enjoy this one.
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ARC Book Review – I was thoroughly thrilled to receive both an ARC trade paperback copy and an electronic eBook copy of Author John Gilstrap’s “Blue Fire,” the second book in the Victoria Emerson thriller series. Blue Fire is a shocking, disturbing at times, suspenseful, and exhilarating read! It is a post-apocalyptic, political thriller with plenty of action and tons of intrigue. The story was riveting, fast-paced, action-oriented, and scary to think about. Somehow, Gilstrap has managed to make this post-apocalyptic scenario a very interesting series so far for these two books. “Crimson Phoenix,” the first book dealt with the political dealings of Congress that was whisked away to a top-secret bunker facility in West Virginia to continue running the government in the case of war. This second book deals much more with the trials outside the blast-safe government complex and about Ortho, West Virginia, and the surrounding communities, where Victoria Emerson, the former congresswoman, is trying to survive with two of her three sons, by establishing law and order in the rural town. The story also deals with her third and oldest son who is trying to survive with his girlfriend out in the wilderness and trying to meet up with the rest of the family. Blue Fire is exactly what one would expect from a well-written post-apocalyptic thriller with lots of concern over how to survive and how to protect one’s family, but it is also so much more than that. It raises a lot of questions about justice, cooperation, leadership, desperation, political infighting, and having to deal with the loss of all the electronics, electricity, basic sanitation, running water, food, and communications that we rely upon today. The characters are extremely well developed and as always Gilstrap’s storytelling is amazing. The book is very entertaining and impossible to put down. The story is not finished though, and it is going to be very interesting to find out what is going to happen next in this fascinating series. I commend John Gilstrap for writing and telling a very thought provoking look at how fast society changes when total chaos and lawlessness enter the picture. I’m really looking forward to book three of this well-written and exciting series.
Thank you to Kensington Books and John Gilstrap for the paperback and digital ARC of Blue Fire via NetGalley. This is my honest review and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for February 22, 2022.
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Ortho. West Virginia became an unlikely haven when the word went upside down but now it's under threat from outsiders,  Vicky Emerson resigned from Congress and brought  two of her sons here- and she's been leading the community, which is doing its best to survive without electronics or any of the other modern conveniences we take for granted.  The arrival of a group of well armed Maryland National Guard, which wants Ortho's food and other resources, leads to confrontation.  This pings back and forth between Ortho, Vicky's missing son Adam and his partner Emma, and the defunct powerbrokers.  THere's good world building and the characters are fairly well fleshed out.  Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.  A fast paced read for fans of dystopia.
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Blue Fire is book 2 of the Victoria Emerson series.  This story picks up after the nuclear war as the government attempts to rebuild.  A solid post-apocalyptic plot and quick read.  

Thank you NetGalley, Kensington Books, and John Gilstrap for the electronic ARC.  
Expected publish date: February 22nd 2022
#BlueFire #NetGalley
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Blue Fire by John Gilstrap is shocking, disturbing at times, suspenseful, and definitely pulse accelerating. I’ve seen it classified as post-apocalyptic, political thriller, and action thriller among others. Those are all fitting classifications to me.

Victoria (Vicky) Emerson was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the state of West Virginia when the nuclear war was imminent. When she couldn’t take her sons into the bunker for Congress, she resigned and she, her two youngest sons (Caleb and Luke), and her escorts, Major Joseph McCrea and First Sergeant Paul Copley end up in Ortho, West Virginia after much of the world is in chaos and an electromagnetic pulse has wiped out all electronics and technology. With Victoria as the de-facto leader of the town, they are trying to provide housing for refugees that are starting to inundate the town. Living off the land is necessary. Food, clothing, shelter are needed. Medicines are in short supply. The town has established rules for those that want to stay and there is a type of frontier justice that can be brutal for criminals. When a cry of “Blue Fire”, the code phrase for imminent danger is raised, the town must protect itself. Who will survive? Will the town successfully defend itself or be overrun or surrender?

Vicky’s goal of protecting and providing for her family and the town is clear. She certainly isn’t perfect and that adds realism to the story. The secondary characters have varying degrees of depth, but readers can see growth in Caleb and Luke. We also get insights into other characters as the points of view occasionally shift to Vicky’s third son, Adam, to the Congressional bunker, and to the antagonists.

This book is exactly what one would expect from a well-written post-apocalyptic thriller with lots of concern over how to survive and protect one’s family, but it is so much more than that. It raises a lot of questions about justice, cooperation, leadership, desperation, political infighting, having to deal with the loss of all of the electronics we rely upon today, and much more. The loss of electricity, basic sanitation, running water, and communications present problems that most have not faced in their lifetimes. Who will show courage, leadership, spirit, and ingenuity and who will let their fear, greed, and self-interest guide their actions?

The author brought a strong sense of time and place to the events in the book. I felt as though I had been transplanted to West Virginia and was living through the events. Additionally, the triggers for this book felt all too real. My one quibble with the book is that while the point of view changed (which was fine), the time went back forth between days. I felt it would have been a smoother read if it was told sequentially and varied by point of view.

Overall, this book was riveting, fast-paced, action-oriented, and scary to think about. Would we have the skills to rebuild and survive if this actually happened? This is the second book that I have read by this author and the second in this series. I recommend that the series be read in order for best understanding of the characters, their backgrounds, and the events that have occurred. I can’t wait to find out what is next for Ortho, its residents, and the world. I also want to read Gilstrap’s Jonathan Grave series. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine.

Kensington Books and John Gilstrap provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for February 22, 2022. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine.
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Unfortunately I gave up. The first book in this series didn't grab me and I didn't realize this was a sequel.I didn't connect with any of the characters and that doesn't work with me.
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Lots of tension and lots of action in this second book of the Victoria Emerson series. I can't wait for the next one.  This book picked up where the first one left off and you would really benefit from reading the first book before this one in order to fully understand what is happening.  

The world as we know it has ended.  A global nuclear attack has occurred and the people left are in chaos.  Victoria Emerson, a former congresswoman, and two of her three sons have ended up in a town called Ortho and Victoria, with her organizational skills, has provided some leadership and structure to the town as people try to rebuild without electricity and technology.  There is a steady influx of new people to the town and then some boats arrive with a group of National Guardsmen who intend to steal the town and its resources for themselves.  

Victoria Emerson is a courageous leader and has great survivor skills.  Her two sons are having to grow up fast in this new world and I find their bravery admirable.  This is a fascinating series and it is very thought provoking to look at how fast society changes to total chaos and lawlessness.  

Thanks to Kensington Books through Netgalley for an advance copy.  This book will be published on  February 22, 2022.
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A great storyline! Blue Fire is the first book I have read by this author and I was intrigued with the synopsis. Well, I'm glad I read the book as it's well written. 

Highly recommend this book!!
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In case of a serious disaster, who should be in charge and what rules would apply? Blue Fire by John Gilstrap is the scond book in the series about Victoria Emerson and her struggles after a nuclear war. The first book was great and this is just as good. In this one they deal more with how to rebuild a functioning society and what rules they should live by. Is there a difference in an individuals value? How do you deal with crime and what is a crime? To what length should you go to defend yourself and yours? The author has as usual done a good job with the characters and the setting he also poses some interesting problems for people to deal with. I find the book interesting and frightening at the same time. He takes on a lot of the "what ifs" that can occur in extreme situations. I highly recommend this series and thank @KensingtonBooks and @netgalley for giving me this advance copy and @johngilstrap7558 for writing this great adventure.
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I think this is a very cool dystopian universe that Gilstrap has created. It leaves a massive amount of very interesting directions for him to take the series in.

Overall, it was a solid, if not evenly paced thriller. I read through it quickly, but did not feel any ratcheting up of tension. The ending was also rather abrupt. I would have expected that battle alone to occupy the last quarter or third of the book. There was a lot of build up to that moment, then it was over in a matter of paragraphs.

Looking forward to the next installment.
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