The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel by Helene Wecker – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker - banner

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 

Book Blurb:

Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, 2014

Helene Wecker’s dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true natures. Surrounding them is a community of immigrants: the coffeehouse owner Maryam Faddoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh, a damaged man cursed by tragedy; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew, Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish men; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the enigmatic Joseph Schall, a dangerous man driven by ferocious ambition and esoteric wisdom.

Meeting by chance, the two creatures become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Marvelous and compulsively listenable, The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of folk mythology, historical fiction, and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

My Review:

Okay, don’t say it.

            This one is definitely not my usual genre. But there’s a reason for that.

I went hunting for audiobooks in which George Guidall narrates. He is one of my very favorite narrators and another reason I listen to so many Longmire audiobooks (written by Craig Johnson). This one caught my eye and oh my gosh! What an amazing journey!

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene WeckerMiddle Eastern fiction woven beautifully with historical fantasy—so much to learn—so fascinating. A major atmospheric classic in fairy tale proportions. And the names, the language, the insight into Jewish culture, literature—all very smoothly rolled off Guidall’s tongue like a man reciting romantic poets, bathing the reader softly in the moment, caressing the ears.

This is a book to be read leisurely, digested, and enjoyed. The pace is languid through introduction of main characters and into backstories, explanations of the who and why. The backstories provide a greater understanding of present-day activities, the protagonist’s issues, proclivities, limitations, and each their separate and not necessarily complementary powers.

The author also examines the lengths at which each, both golem (Chava) and jinni (Ahmad) (supernatural beings) had to go to manifest normal human characteristics—the toll that extracted from each—and the extreme relief each must have felt when they were finally able to expose themselves to the other.

Take the time. It’s worth it. The characters, both main and support, are amazing. Easy to become invested, engaged. Arbeely, the Rabbi, Maryam Faddoul, empathetic. Michael Levy, poor guy—and Dr Saleh (Ice Cream Saleh), poor guy–sympathetic.

It’s an immersive fantasy brought to life with characters that create an enchanting tale of the ancient arts and magic.

The last 15-20% of the book brings the whole tale into one giant wizardy conclusion that has your head spinning with visions. All but one issue satisfying. BUT.

[Spoiler ahead]

I hate what happens to Michael and is the only reason I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this as a 5+ star narrative. Surely there is an alternative! His only fault is his innocence. He loved the golem and I felt would have accepted her, knowing her powers, albeit some unfortunate. ARGH!

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker[Note: You may be interested to know that the author has produced a sophomore release called The Hidden Palace: A Novel of the Golem and the Jinni. Declared “well worth the wait,” it was released June 8, 2021 and was also narrated by George Guidall.]

Book Details:

Genre: Historic Middle Eastern Fiction, Jewish Literature, Jewish Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy
Publisher:  HarperAudio
ASIN: B00BU8DV2K
Listening Length: 19 hrs 42 mins
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link(s): The Golem and the Jinni [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Helene Wecker - authorThe Author: Helene Wecker’s first novel, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, was awarded the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, the VCU Cabell Award for First Novel, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize, and was nominated for a Nebula Award and a World Fantasy Award. A sequel, THE HIDDEN PALACE: A TALE OF THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, will be published in June 2021. A Midwest native, she holds a B.A. in English from Carleton College and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in literary journals such as Joyland and Catamaran, as well as the fantasy anthology The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and children.

George Guidall - audiobook narratorThe Narrator: George Guidall is a prolific audiobook narrator and theatre actor. As of November 2014, he had recorded over 1,270 audiobooks, which was believed to be the record at the time. Wikipedia

 

 

©2022 V Williams V Williams

happy thursday!

December Rosepoint Reviews Recap—Hello January 2022!

We had a lovely quiet Christmas day the CE and I, enjoying a small lobster tail and baked potato for dinner. (I’m well and truly tired of turkey and ham! Thinking we’ll do a repeat for New Year’s eve.) We stopped going out years ago (for NYE) and with the Covid continuing to mutate, snow and ice, no problem enjoying our cozy home and TV. That large screen provides front row seats to watch the ball drop in New York and the fireworks over Lake Michigan from Chicago. Works for us!

December always brings extra shopping and home time with decorating and packing, trips to the post office, and food planning and prep. Still, we managed fifteen book reviews for December, most from NetGalley, three audiobooks from my lovely local library. That CE is a reading machine!

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney Last to Know by Brandy Heineman Fletcher and the Blue Star by John Drake Elinor by Shanno McNear Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty Targeted by Stephen Hunter The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan  The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain Rohm Around the Dial by Micheal Maxwell Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea City of the Dead by Jonathan Kellerman

The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly Jane Darrowfield and the Mad Woman Next Door by Barbara Ross Deception Most Deadly by Genevieve Essig Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney (audiobook)
Fletcher and the Blue Star by John Drake (a CE review)
Last to Know by Brandy Heineman (a CE review)
Elinor by Shanno McNear (a CE review)
Targeted by Stephen Hunter (a CE review)
The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain
Rohm Around the Dial by Micheal Maxwell (a CE review)
Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty (audiobook)
Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea (a CE review)
The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan
The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly (a CE review)
Jane Darrowfield and the Mad Woman Next Door by Barbara Ross
City of the Dead by Jonathan Kellerman (a CE review)
A Deception Most Deadly by Genevieve Essig
Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain (audiobook)

Good News! My reading challenges have all been updated! I made and exceeded all of my goals. You can check out the challenges page by clicking the Reading Challenges page. Thinking I’ll bump everything up except the Goodreads Challenge next year.

I’m currently at 408 NetGalley reviews and updated my widget graphic to 400. I’m holding pretty steady at 96-97% feedback ratio and try not to get too crazy with looking for new books, but with so many new books being uploaded for the new year, it’s tough. I’ll update the sidebar graphic again at 420. How are you doing with your challenges?

Then, more good news! Perhaps you remember that in February 2020 I’d found and tried attending two local book clubs meeting in the afternoon, the Third Monday Book Club and Fiction Addiction, the latter of which made more sense. In my area. Closer. But just starting and stopped immediately due to the first Covid shutdown.

Well, the library is trying again having reinvented the book club and now calling it As the Page Turns Book Club AND it will be online. Strictly a digital bookclub and they picked The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller for the first selection. (Yes, it’s an Amazon #1 best seller in classic American literature, published August 2012.)

Also, the moderator issued instructions for receiving the ebook through Freading. Whaaa?? (Are you familiar with this digital book download library?) Try as I might, that was simply going to be a no-go and I gave up in frustration. So I jumped into my handy-dandy and ever available Overdrive (also Libby). Sure enough, the book was listed in both ebook and audiobook formats (on a wait list). Guess which one I chose?! Hmmm, well, this will be interesting. Wish me luck!

Have you read any of the books listed above? Encouraged to look into one you missed? I hope so!

Thank you for joining my community if you are new and thank you again to my established followers.

©2021 V Williams

My Twelve Favorite Books of 2021 – Month by Month

My Twelve Book Picks of 2021

So many great books this year, always a major challenge to whittle them down to ten. 

Therefore, I thought I’d try for one favorite per month. The CE tends to be generous, so I schooled him again on his favs.

Many five-star rated books and new authors competing with favorites. As always, a wide range of genres covers fiction in categories from action adventures and cozy mysteries to family drama, historical, suspense, and thrillers as well as several non-fiction biographical books in both ebooks and audiobooks.

Listed by month this time, thinking next year I’m going to note my No. 1 pick in the monthly recaps, hopefully making a year-end wrap-up easier. Links on titles and pics are to my full review that will also provide sale info.

Dead Cat, Run by Annabelle LewisJanDead Cat, Run by Annabelle Lewis – Such a pleasant surprise, this book. Mythology, yes, but still the ancient oft-repeated story of good versus evil. Each of the characters are powerful, engaging, emotive. “I’ll see you again, my friend, in the next life. And then, heed my words, dead cat. Run.”

The Wise Ass by Tom McCaffreytFebThe Wise Ass by Tom McCaffreyThis tale covers all the bases: humor, family, love, suspense, thriller, and the supernatural—somehow interwoven in a natural, almost believable way. Well-plotted, well-paced, and highly entertaining. The pulse-pounding climax alone is worth the price of the book, but don’t skip the rest, it’s just way too much fun. “Sorry, Sir! The Irish are fighting amongst themselves and the Lions refuse to come out.”

Search for Her by Rick MofinaMarSearch for Her by Rick Mofina – Rick Mofina begins a tale of a frantic search and a number of plot twists. As you read his tale you feel fairly certain that you know who the culprit is. This narrative would be a very good read for anyone studying criminal justice. [A CE review.]

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle CosimanoAprFinlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano – [Audiobook] Is a mystery, contract killer supposed to be funny? Yes! This one’s a hoot! I really liked Nick and Julian—great, possible romantic interests—and Vero is a keeper…Loved the backfires of the plans, the twists, the dialogue, and the way the narrator delivered the well-paced plot.

Key West Dead by Mark NolanMayKey West Dead by Mark Nolan – Mark Nolan builds a great deal of tension in this narrative. Note: This is Book 6 of the Jake Wolfe series and how many have we read? ALL OF THEM. The duo of Jake and Cody are engaging, intelligent, fast, cunning, and capable, but tender and hot at the same time! [A CE review.]

Dog Eat Dog by David RosenfeltJunDog Eat Dog by David Rosenfelt – Rosenfelt has created an attorney who, having the benefit of a substantial inheritance, has quit, or tried to several times. (He runs a dog rescue called the Tara Foundation. He loves dogs.) Andy’s self-deprecating sense [of humor] bounces between that and confirmation of his brilliance. I always love it when they get to the courtroom—there are teachable moments, intelligent and full of fancy footwork, maneuvering, not to mention some memorable acting scenes.

The Perfect Ending by Rob KaufmanJulThe Perfect Ending by Rob Kaufman – This storyline fires the imagination from the get-go. It’s dark, delightfully deceiving, and emotionally wringing. The author tweaks his main character with just a slight amount of humor and moral justification. It’s so wrong. Twisted mystery, suspense. I released more than one audible groan…omg. This one is a must read!

The Harp and the Rose by Jean GraingerAugThe Harp and the Rose by Jean Grainger – Amazing how the author develops characters sure to mirror those of the time, fleshing them out, making them real, sympathetic. The stories are heart felt, she is passionate about her Irish history and the love of her home in Cork shines through the prose. The novel is compelling, strongly engaging, and hard to put down as the pace never waivers.

Gamblers Fools and Fate by Michael ReisigSepGamblers, Fools, and Fate by Michael Reisig – I’ve read most of Reisig’s novels and enjoyed each and every one. The characters are richly drawn, infused with charm and wit while the dialogue is fresh and natural in the wild adventures you’ve come to expect in a Reisig novel. As always, a delightful escapade, one that fills my head with sights and sounds, heart-pounding exploits, the intelligence of animals, and the themes of love and life.

Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig JohnsonOctDaughter of the Morning Star by Craig Johnson – Okay, a couple things: In most Longmire novels, there is a lot of Native American involvement, the Bear usually featured prominently, and the author tends to include a lot of info about reservation life as well as supernatural or mystical stories handed down through the families by the separate tribes as to their beliefs, spiritually driven. And this one is no different. [Audiobook]

Under Pressure by Sara DriscollNovUnder Pressure by Sara Driscoll – There is more than one theme here, the bond between the handler and their canine, the amazing intelligence of a service K9, and that a family can be comprised not just of blood relatives but those closely bonded by circumstance. The novel is an easy one to fly through—you don’t want to put it down!

The Last House on the Street by Diane ChamberlainDecThe Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain – The 1965 accounts are electric, pervasive, and lead the frank, mind-blowing plot. The descriptions of the window-dominated house clashes wildly with the dark, invasive moss-covered forest surrounding it. Gradually, the two main characters stories merge, peeling away minute reveals, building tension, heartbreak, fear. The storytelling is immersive, impactful, tragic. It’s a tough read…“I wasn’t just moving from one town to another. I was moving from one world to another…”

No, not all the monthly favorites were five stars but still resonated and many five-star reads didn’t make the list—though as with every bookblogger—I tend to read my favorite authors and demure making them favorites all the time. Just know that in addition to those listed above, you can’t go wrong with an Amanda Hughes (Bold Women Series), Margaret Mizushima (Timber Creek K-9 Series), or Nevada Barr  (Anna Pigeon Series) or standalones.

Do any of these grab your interest? Read it already? Disagree with my review? I’d love to know and welcome your comments.

©2021 V Williams

Christmas bough

Coming Soon – My reviews for these Exciting Books currently on the #TBR

#comingsoon - my December reads

So many great books on tap this month, I singled out just six to highlight upcoming books on my #TBR.

While there doesn’t appear to be Christmas books on this list, you may still find just the book you are looking for (including two audiobooks) in this wide variety of genres. I’m including a short (in most cases, excerpt) blurb and the cover links will take you to the Amazon listing. Check them out!

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Apples Never Fall by Liane MoriartyDomestic Thrillers, Suspense, Family Life Fiction

Listening Length: 18 hrs 3 mins

Released: September 14, 2021

From Liane Moriarty, the number one New York Times best-selling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, comes Apples Never Fall, an audiobook that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest.

The Delaney family love one another dearly – it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other….

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company

I finished this audiobook a week ago. I can understand why this was a (final) nominee for Mystery and Thriller in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2021. My review on Thursday, Dec. 16.

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The Great Witch of Brittany: A Novel by Louisa Morgan

The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa MorganHistorical Fantasy, Magical Realism, Women’s Fantasy Fiction

Print Length: 446 pages

To be Released: February 15, 2022

Return to the world of A Secret History of Witches with the bewitching tale of Ursule Orchière and her discovery of magical abilities that will not only change the course of her life but every generation that comes after her. 

Brittany, 1762

There hasn’t been a witch born in the Orchière clan for generations. According to the elders, that line is dead, leaving the clan vulnerable to the whims of superstitious villagers and the prejudices of fearmongering bishops.

A tale of magic and fate, triumph and heartbreak, and the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters unfolds in the late 1700s in this spellbinding novel from master storyteller, Louisa Morgan.

The author weaves a hypnotic tale of the arts in the seventeenth century. I greatly enjoyed A Secret History of Witches and in April, 2020, The Age of Witches, and I’m excited to jump into her new book to be released early next year—currently on pre-order. My review scheduled for Dec 19.

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Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door (A Jane Darrowfield Mystery Book 2) by Barbara Ross

Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door by Barbara RossCozy Craft & Hobby Mysteries, Amateur Sleuth Mysteries

Print Length: 250 pages

To be Released: December 28, 2021

Jane Darrowfield is using her retirement years to work as a professional busybody, with most of her business coming from her West Cambridge, Massachusetts, community. This time her client is right next door . . .
Megan, who’s purchased the house next to Jane’s, needs some help from her snooping neighbor. Megan’s been having blackouts, hearing voices—and feeling like someone’s following her. Are these symptoms of an illness—or signs that she’s in danger?

I enjoy the author’s Maine Clambake Mystery series including this year Shucked Apart, and Professional Busybody Book 1 of this new series in an audiobook. Enjoyable, easy, fun, and fast reading. My review scheduled for Dec 24.

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Targeted (Bob Lee Swagger Novel Book 12) by Stephen Hunter

Targeted by Stephen HunterAssassination Thrillers, Political Thrillers & Suspense

Print Length: 384 pages

To be Released: January 18, 2022

After his successful takedown of a dangerous terrorist, Bob Lee Swagger learns that no good deed goes unpunished. Summoned to court by the United States Congress, Swagger is accused of reckless endangerment by a hardheaded anti-gun congresswoman. But what begins as political posturing soon turns deadly when the auditorium where the committee is being held is attacked…

A CE review scheduled for tomorrow, Dec 10.

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The Last House on the Street: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain

The Last House on the Street by Diane ChamberlainWomen’s Historical Fiction, Mothers & Children Fiction, Family Life Fiction

Print Length: 346 pages

To be Released: January 11, 2022

A community’s past sins rise to the surface in New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain’s The Last House on the Street when two women, a generation apart, find themselves bound by tragedy and an unsolved, decades-old mystery.

Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth–no matter what that truth may bring to light–in Diane Chamberlain’s riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice.

My review scheduled for Dec 12

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The American Agent: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear

The American Agent by Jacqueline WinspearWorld War II Historical Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries, Women Sleuth Mysteries

Listening Length: 11 hrs 2 mins

Beloved heroine Maisie Dobbs, “one of the great fictional heroines” (Parade), investigates the mysterious murder of an American war correspondent in London during the Blitz in a pause-resisting tale of love and war, terror and survival.

When Catherine Saxon, an American correspondent reporting on the war in Europe, is found murdered in her London digs, news of her death is concealed by British authorities. Serving as a linchpin between Scotland Yard and the Secret Service, Robert MacFarlane pays a visit to Maisie Dobbs, seeking her help. He is accompanied by an agent from the US Department of Justice – Mark Scott, the American who helped Maisie get out of Hitler’s Munich in 1938. MacFarlane asks Maisie to work with Scott to uncover the truth about Saxon’s death.

Fresh from a raving review of the audiobook by a blogger buddy, I discovered a copy in my wonderful, well-stocked local library. My review on Dec 30.

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See any here that you’ve either read or will want to read? Winners all, NYTimes bestselling authors several, favorite authors, and stories you don’t want to miss. I can highly recommend both audiobooks mentioned above and I know Ms. Morgan’s book will have my head swimming in fantasy soon. I can’t wait.

©2021 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Autumn reading time

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Biographies & Memoirs 

Book Blurb:

2018 GRAMMY Award for Best Spoken Word Album

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

PEOPLE magazine Best Book of Fall 2016

New York Times Best-seller 

Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, featuring Carrie Fisher, is scheduled for release on December 15, 2017. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds debuted on HBO in January 2017.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved – plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford. 

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time – and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience. 

My Review:

If ever a book is best read by the author, this one is it. I must admit that I wasn’t an overly enthusiastic fan of Ms. Fisher, feeling she rode her parents’ coat tails (Debbie Reynolds and [gasp] Eddie Fisher) to stardom.

Carrie, born October 21, 1956, discovered an old diary she’d kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie. She was struck by co-star Harrison Ford. Carrie at the time being nineteen years of age admitted all those years later that she was still gaga over him. But this is not a tell-all about her very brief (three months) affair with the fastly rising-to-stardom co-star.

If that’s what you are here to read, or listen to, then you’ll be disappointed. What Fisher relates in her own witty, sarcastic, and often humorous recollections of those years regarding pre and post 1977 Star Wars is the immense impact it would have on the rest of her life. Not just a successful starring part, but the beginning of a sci-fi phenomenon of globe capacity with unforgettable characters whose names are still familiar. Forget Luke, we were all over Han Solo.

The ugly and the beautiful.

Carrie can wax poetic and, indeed, a sizeable portion of this book is her daughter’s (Billie Lourd) reading of the poems she penned in the diary, along with all her observations.

“After all is said and done, I was playing for keeps and he was playing for fun.”

“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”

 

Carrie was bi-polar, angst ridden, and prone to abuse both drugs and alcohol. The audiobook gives the listener the impression of having a private conversation with her, extremely animated, totally open and honest, a one-on-one veritable hoot for most of the narrative. No matter the memory she related, the audiobook voice is audacious and often self-deprecating. And of course, she does discuss that iconic hairdo. (Link to sound clip on image below.)

Excerpt of The Princess Diarist read by Carrie Fisher
April 14, 1977 – Princess Leia Organa (CARRIE FISHER) – (Credit Image: © Imago via ZUMA Press)

This wasn’t her first book, however. She wrote voraciously and produced a number of other books, including two additional memoirs. Actually, her death at age 60 in December 2016 reflected the loss of a serious talent. No one can forget either the death of her mother the following day.

A thoroughly enjoyable audiobook that you must listen to for the full flavor in which it was written. Enthusiastically recommended. Then why not five stars, you wonder? (Glad you asked) The poems read by Lourd may have, in my opinion, extended for just a tad too long (for me at least, anxious to get back to Carrie’s chronicle).

Book Details:

Genre: Bipolar Disorder, Humor Essays, Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B01AAXYD54
Listening Length: 5 hrs 10 mins
Narrator: Carrie FisherBillie Lourd
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Princess Diarist [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Carrie Fisher - author, actress, playwrightThe Author: Carrie Fisher was an American actress, screenwriter and author, most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. Fisher was the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. She had one daughter, Billie Lourd (b. 1992). [Goodreads]

Her final film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, was released on December 15, 2017 and is dedicated to her.

The Narrator: Billie Lourd was born July 17, 1992, in Los Angeles, California, the only child of actress Carrie Fisher and talent agent Bryan Lourd. Lourd is also the only grandchild of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. [Wikipedia]

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Sound clip attribute: Sound Cloud-Penguin Audio

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

TV Netflix Series Firefly Lane vs #Audiobook Fly Away by Kristen Hannah and Susan Ericksen (Narrator) – Family Life Fiction – #TBT

Netflix series Firefly Lane vs Audiobook Fly Away Book 2 of the Firefly Lane series

 

Somewhere in my travels through buddy blogs or Netflix ads, I noticed the novel Firefire Lane and that the book had been picked up for a Netflix original series. I must admit to loving the challenge of listening to the audiobook and then making a mild comparison to the Netflix version. In the past I’ve noticed a radical departure from the original books (not quite so much with Longmire, but seriously rewritten in the Virgin River series).

The storyline by Kristen Hannah in Firefly Lane (Book 1) is about Kate Mularkey, who in the summer of 1974 meets Tully Hart. Kate is in the eighth grade and a doomed bottom feeder whereas Tully is “the coolest girl in the world.” But Tully lives a tenuous life with an addicted and aging flower child and she quickly assimilates into Kate’s family. The ensuing well-paced narrative chronicles the friendship, the bond between the girls through thirty years and several life changes.

Netflix Series

Firefly Lane follows Tully played by Katherine Heigl and Kate played by Sarah Chalke through their coming of age, young adulthood, and the rise of each in their chosen life path. They are BFFs, supporting each other through both the good times and bad into their 40s.

There are ten episodes in Season 1 with Season 2 promised some time in 2022. The actors, both the youths and adults, do an incredible job of selling their characters.

Katherine Heigl - actressKatherine Marie Heigl (born November 24, 1978) is an American actress, producer and former fashion model. She started her career as a child model. Heigl and her husband of 13 years — the singer Josh Kelley — have a 4-year-old son together, Joshua Bishop Kelley, Jr. They adopted their daughter Nancy Leigh, 12, from South Korea in 2009 and Adalaide, 8, who is Black, in 2012. [Wikipedia] She may best be known for her role in Grey’s Anatomy.

Sarah Chalke - actressSarah Louise Christine Chalke born August 27, 1976) is a Canadian actress and model. She is known for portraying Elliot Reid on the NBC/ABC comedy series Scrubs. Chalke is engaged to lawyer Jamie Afifi. The couple have a son, Charlie Rhodes, and a daughter, Frances. Her son was diagnosed at age two with Kawasaki disease. [Wikipedia]

My Thoughts

I love finally having female buddy films that women can identify with, enjoy. Of course, Thelma and Louise made some waves when it came out, but I don’t remember seeing a number of similar cinema offerings after. A League of Their Own? (“There’s no crying in baseball.”) First Wives Club? Not sure this isn’t apples and oranges and you no doubt can cite better or more current examples.

In this case, the often bawdy Netflix theme offers adult entertainment from violence and drug abuse to nudity and sex scenes. If that’s not offensive, then behind the restricted content comes the beautiful story of a powerful friendship that manages to survive jealousy, anger, triumphs, and betrayals. Life is a struggle, but the friendship and connection prevails.

Really, if you haven’t discovered this one yet, I recommend the series. Engaging, well-developed and portrayed characters. So far, a “feel good” series, although I understand that changes. 5 stars

Audiobook (Blurb)

The number one New York Times best-selling author returns to the characters in Firefly Lane in her next blockbuster novel, Fly Away. Once, a long time ago, I walked down a night-darkened road called Firefly Lane, all alone, on the worst night of my life, and I found a kindred spirit. That was our beginning. More than 30 years ago. TullyandKate. You and me against the world. Best friends forever. 

But stories end, don’t they? You lose the people you love and you have to find a way to go on…Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate – to be there for Kate’s children – but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people. Sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan is devastated by her mother’s death. Her father, Johnny, strives to hold the family together, but even with his best efforts, Marah becomes unreachable in her grief. Nothing and no one seems to matter to her…until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world. 

Dorothy Hart – the woman who once called herself Cloud – is at the center of Tully’s tragic past. She repeatedly abandoned her daughter, Tully, as a child, but now she comes back, drawn to her daughter’s side at a time when Tully is most alone. At long last, Dorothy must face her darkest fear: Only by revealing the ugly secrets of her past can she hope to become the mother her daughter needs. 

A single, tragic choice and a middle-of-the-night phone call will bring these women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way, and they will need each one another – and maybe a miracle – to transform their lives. 

An emotionally complex, heart-wrenching novel about love, motherhood, loss, and new beginnings, Fly Away reminds us that where there is life, there is hope, and where there is love, there is forgiveness. 

Told with her trademark powerful storytelling and illuminating prose, Kristin Hannah reveals why she is one of the most beloved writers of our day. Includes a Reading Group Guide Read by Kristin Hannah  

My Thoughts

[Spoiler alert—Book 2 revelations]

Well, damn, try as I might, could NOT get the first book, Firefly Lane, which would have thoroughly supplied the background that Fly Away appears lacking. After a friendship spanning thirty years, Kate dies.

Fly Away by Kristen HannahThere has been a rift between the two, but Tully drops her very successful daytime TV show to spend the rest of the time she and Kate have left together. Tully promises Kate she will be there for her children. The problem, of course, is that Tully has devoted her life to attaining stardom on television. She never marries, doesn’t have children. Has no clue how to play devoted aunt to Kate’s twin boys and sixteen year old Marah.

What follows is a sub-plot involving Marah and her attempt to turn on, tune in, drop out. And there is an intense story in which the reader (or listener) gets the full low down on Dorothy Hart (Cloud—Tully’s flower child mother). Her story is heart-breaking and familiar to many of the older generation.

And finally, Tully’s failed attempt at reconciliation with her world, the cost and the redemption and ultimately a conclusion that somewhat settles the heart.

The narrative is long-toothed on retrospection, coulda, woulda, shouldas. A review of the highlights of the thirty years—the good and the bad. The romances, their families. Overall, I felt it rather morose, sad, not an audiobook to read with depression or happy for that matter—it’ll bring yah down. (And here again, I did not care for the narrator). Really, a rather unfortunate wrap-up for what is otherwise a celebration of a relationship few are privileged to experience. 2 stars

Overall Impression

Sometimes I discover I prefer the (audio)book, sometimes it’s the Netflix version. The Netflix version is usually a compromise of adult material, softened somewhat, or not. Character events are switched, or a major plot-twisting event occurs—not as originally written but what works best for the TV version. In this particular instance, the character that stuck out for me the most from the book that Netflix nailed is Dorothy (Cloud), who eventually looks at least ten years older than her real age. The story of Tully is tragic, really, and although obvious in the Netflix version, concentrates on the stark reality of her childhood and the life-long battle that forges in the Tully character.

I’m all over Netflix Firefly Lane Season 1, but if Season 2 follows Fly Away, I’m out.  

Book Details

Fly Away: Book 2 of the Firefly Lane series
Genre: Family Life Fiction, Friendship Fiction, Women’s Sagas
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B000V77082
Listening Length: 16 hrs 4 mins
Narrator:  Susan Ericksen
Audible Release: April 23, 2013
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Fly Away Book 2 [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Kristin Hannah - authorThe Author: Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. It was also named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week. In 2018, The Great Alone became an instant New York Times #1 bestseller and was named the Best Historical Novel of the Year by Goodreads.

The Four Winds was published in February of 2021 and immediately hit #1 on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Indie bookstore’s bestseller lists. Additionally, it was selected as a book club pick by the both Today Show and The Book Of the Month club.

The Nightingale is currently in production at Tri Star, with Dakota and Elle Fanning set to star. Tri Star has also optioned The Great Alone and it is in development. Firefly Lane, her novel about two best friends, was the #1 Netflix show around the world, in the week it came out. The popular tv show stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke and Season Two is currently being filmed.

http://www.kristinhannah.com

©V Williams V Williams

Daughter of the Morning Star: Longmire Mysteries Book 17 by Craig Johnson – #Audiobook Review – #westerns

Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig Johnson

#1 Best Seller in Westerns

Book Blurb:

When Lolo Long’s niece, Jaya, begins receiving death threats, Tribal Police Chief Long calls on Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire along with Henry Standing Bear as lethal backup. Jaya Longshot Long is the phenom of the Lame Deer Lady Stars High School basketball team and is following in the steps of her older sister, who disappeared a year previously, a victim of the scourge of missing Native Woman in Indian Country. Lolo hopes that having Longmire involved might draw some public attention to the girl’s plight, but with this maneuver, she also inadvertently places the good sheriff in a one-on-one with the deadliest adversary he has ever faced in both this world and the next. 

My Review:

Well, forgive me, but I do so enjoy a Walt Longmire novel and deemed it long enough since the last I’d read and reviewed (Land of Wolves) that I could post his newest release.

This one, however, seemed a bit of a departure from his usual and I missed a few of my favorite well-developed support characters.

Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig JohnsonWalt Longmire, Sheriff of (fictional) Absaroka County, Wyoming has been contacted by Tribal Police Chief Lolo Long to investigate death threats that Jaya is receiving. Jaya is a high school senior well on her way to a real basketball career track via scholarship. She’s that good and she is being recruited. The problem is that she fails to be a real leader or a team player.

An additional wrinkle is that she is following in her older sister’s footsteps, who was also threatened and then disappeared. Sure that the two are connected, Walt brings along Henry Standing Bear to provide liaison and support with the tribal community. He also takes Dog and no one will mess with Dog.

ARGH! Well, potty mouth or no, I do miss Vic Moretti (his under-sheriff), and to a lesser degree his daughter, Cady.

Okay, a couple things: In most Longmire novels, there is a lot of Native American involvement (it’s Montana after all), the Bear usually featured prominently, and the author tends to include a lot of info about reservation life as well as supernatural or mystical stories handed down through the families by the separate tribes as to their beliefs, spiritually driven. And this one no different. Fascinating this.

Also, he loves to give equal time to the (historical) stories, allowing for the POV of both sides—native and non-native. In this one, he divulges the still currently deplorable stats on acts against Native American women (and girls), noting numbers of violence or disappearances far exceed those of female averages for the same crimes off the reservation.

This book takes on disproportional story time issuing play-by-plays of the basketball games with Jaya, the obstinate athletic teen, and the struggle to remain in the play-offs leading to championships.

While most of the Longmire books could be read as standalones, there have been a few recent examples of a thread brought forward and I wonder if that is what is occurring here as there are unresolved mysteries, questions to be answered at the conclusion.

I’m a die-hard fan (loved the Netflix series!), and most especially the audiobooks as George Guidall does a bang-up job of narrating, putting himself in the shoes of Henry Standing Bear and firing off glib philosophical spikes at Longmire, holding his own beautifully (love the dialogue between the two). But this one fell just a little bit short for me this time. No bother. I’m looking forward to Book 18.

Book Details:

Genre: Western Fiction, Police Procedural Mysteries
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B091QCLR89
Listening Length: 8 hrs 25 mins
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Daughter of the Morning Star [Amazon] 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Craig Johnson - authorThe Author: Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Longmire mysteries, the basis for the hit Netflix original series Longmire. He is the recipient of the Western Writers of America Spur Award for fiction, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for fiction, the Nouvel Observateur Prix du Roman Noir, and the Prix SNCF du Polar. His novella Spirit of Steamboat was the first One Book Wyoming selection. He lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population 25.

George Guidall - narratorThe Narrator: George Guidall is a prolific audiobook narrator and theatre actor. As of November 2014, he had recorded over 1,270 audiobooks, which was believed to be the record at the time. Wikipedia

©2021 V Williams

V Williams

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