Hell and Back: Longmire Mysteries, Book 18 by Craig Johnson – #Audiobook Review – #westernfiction

Hell and Back by Craig Johnson

#1 New Release in Western Fiction  

Book Blurb:

A new novel in the beloved New York Times bestselling Longmire series.

Picking up where Daughter of the Morning Star left off, the next Longmire novel finds the sheriff digging further into the mysteries of the wandering without—a mythical all-knowing spiritual being that devours souls.

Walt thinks he might find the answers he’s looking for among the ruins of an old Native American boarding school—an institution designed to strip Native children of their heritage. He has been haunted by the image of the Fort Pratt Industrial Indian Training School ever since he first saw a faded postcard picturing a hundred boys in uniform, in front of a large, ominous building—a postcard that was given to him by Jimmy Lane, the father of Jeanie One Moon.

After Walt’s initial investigation into Jeanie’s disappearance yielded no satisfying conclusions, Walt has to confront the fact that he may be dealing with an adversary unlike any he has ever faced before.

My Review:

Yikes, this novel takes us to La-La Land, full on mystic, supernatural, spiritual heritage. It’s the continuation of Daughter of the Morning Star, Book 17 that I read in October of ’21. This narrative is a huge departure from any previous in the series, including the last in which he was introduced to the Wandering Without (a Cheyenne spirit).

The intro to the book discloses he will delve heavily in the “Indian Training School,” the Native American boarding school at Fort Pratt where young boys were taken to strip the children of their heritage. The history is horrific and still weighs heavily on the hearts of their people.

Hell and Back by Craig JohnsonIn Book 18, Walt wakes lying in the snow, slowly becoming aware he experienced a traumatic accident. It is the first of several different times, this one being when the school was full of boys. In a type of dream-like state, he visits his own early period, now believing he can see his deceased wife. A separate time period includes Henry Standing Bear and Vic on a search for him.

As he navigates the historical period of the school where he decides he must battle an evil spirit, the storyline takes on an ethereal quality, atmospherics, the boys struggling with their school administrators.

Enter Ground Hog Day. He’s moving around, experiencing exchanges with different characters, but each time he sees them it’s 8:17 pm…and doomed to rinse and repeat but he’s gradually becoming weaker (is he dying?)—and Vic and Henry keep searching for him.

“ …he rested the butt of an 1873 Winchester, the rifle that you could load on Sunday, shoot all week long.”

I’m a die-hard Longmire fan series (loved the Netflix series!), most especially the audiobooks with George Guidall narrating, putting himself in the shoes of Henry Standing Bear, firing off glib philosophical spikes. This one though was pretty wild, definitely had my head swirling. It was weird and unique. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea but you can’t say it isn’t gripping.

I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Western Fiction, Native American Literature
Publisher: Recorded Books
ASIN: B0B1QRSRN2
Listening Length: 9 hrs 39 mins
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: September 6, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Hell and Back [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 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

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Audiobooks

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!

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] 

Add to Goodreads

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

Happy Thursday!

The Highwayman (Book 11.5 of the Walt Longmire series) by Craig Johnson – An #Audiobook Review – #westernfiction – #throwbackthursday

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Audiobook-The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

Book Blurb:

Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear embark on their latest adventure in this novella set in the world of Craig Johnson’s New York Times best-selling Longmire series – the basis for the hit drama Longmire, now on Netflix.

When Wyoming highway patrolman Rosey Wayman is transferred to the beautiful and imposing landscape of the Wind River Canyon, an area the troopers refer to as no-man’s-land because of the lack of radio communication, she starts receiving “officer needs assistance” calls. The problem? They’re coming from Bobby Womack, a legendary Arapaho patrolman who met a fiery death in the canyon almost a half-century ago.

With an investigation that spans this world and the next, Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear take on a case that pits them against a legend: The Highwayman. 

My Review:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record—have you tried one of the Craig Johnson, Walt Longmire series of books yet? I continue to go through the vast audiobook collection of the Longmire series at my local library and stumbled on this novella length audiobook released back in 2016. Gees, I love these books!

I introduced my readers to our binge of the series when I compared the TV Netflix version with the Longmire books by Craig Johnson here. AND, I was delighted to hear beautifully executed audiobooks of the series by narrator George Guidall. OMG—he does such a wonderful baritone of narration—his inflection, tone, and pace perfect!

The Highwayman by Craig JohnsonCraig Johnson has an exquisite way with words—his descriptions conjuring the visual, the scent of the scene, the chill or heat of the air, and the tension of the characters. The characters? Wonderful! Longmire has had enough time and experience under his badge to handle just about any scenario you can throw at him. The dialogue, particularly between he and Standing Bear (Henry) of the Cheyenne Nation, full of respect, honor, emotion. Their banter can argue philosophical or devolve into the humorous. Dialogue is so natural—you can hear the affection—it’s genuine.

In this short but well-packed and plotted narrative, there is a call from Rosie, a newly transferred Wyoming HP who is receiving radio calls at the same time of night from Bobby Womack. Can’t be, however, as he is an Arapaho patrolman who died in a fiery collision 50 years ago in the Wind River Tunnel. Others have investigated but no one—NO ONE—is picking up Bobby Womack besides Rosie.

I love the folklore of the local Arapaho, Shoshone, and Cherokee and the delightful dip into the paranormal. If Womack is a ghost come back to Rosie—what is he trying to tell her? The conclusion calms the waters, but not before it was one heckava level five ride over the rapids.

Absolutely riveting, page-turning, spellbinding storytelling. You don’t have to read the first eleven to enjoy this short read. You’ll love the characters, the setting, the pace. Don’t like western fiction? What about literary fiction level fleshed dynamic characters and prose that’ll keep the light burning late? Don’t let the genre labels fool you. Trust me.

Rosepoint recommended
Book Details:

Genre: Western Fiction, Mysteries, Ghost Suspense, Ghost Mysteries
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B01EM8BSRY
 Print Length: 190 pages
Listening Length: 3 hrs 43 mins
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Highwayman [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Craig Johnson - authorThe Author: Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve Walt Longmire mystery novels, which are the basis for Longmire, the hit Netflix original drama. The Cold Dish won Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs. Death Without Company, the Wyoming Historical Association’s Book of the Year, won France’s Le Prix 813, and Another Man’s Moccasins was the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award Winner and the Mountains & Plains Book of the Year. The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Junkyard Dogs won The Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick. Hell Is Empty, selected by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of the Year, was a New York Times best seller, as was As the Crow Flies, which won the Rocky for the best crime novel typifying the western United States. A Serpent’s Tooth opened as a New York Times bestseller as did Any Other Name and Wait for Signs, Johnson’s collection of short stories. Spirit of Steamboat was selected by the State Library as the inaugural One Book Wyoming and included visits to sixty-three libraries. Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

George Guidall - audiobook narratorThe Narrator: Widely recognized as the world’s most acclaimed and most prolific narrator of audiobooks, George Guidall has brought a consistent artistry to his readings, delighting listeners for over 20 years. His narrations of classics like Crime and PunishmentFrankensteinThe IliadDon Quixote, and Les Miserables, along with many popular best sellers, have set a standard for excellence recognized throughout the audiobook industry.  His recordings have garnered uniformly excellent reviews from AudiofileKliattLibrary JournalPublisher’s WeeklyThe New York Times, and a variety of national newspapers and magazines.   He has also received  several Audie Awards—the industry’s equivalent of an Oscar— and holds the record for receiving the most Earphone Awards for excellence in narration given by Audiofile Magazine which has named him one of the original “Golden Voices” in the audiobook industry. He has been  honored by the Audio Publishers Association with a life-time achievement award for his record of more than 1,300 unabridged narrations.

Along with his award-winning work as an audiobook narrator, Guidall has also enjoyed a career in the theatre, including starring roles on Broadway, an Obie award for best performance Off-Broadway, and has shared the stage at the New York Shakespeare Festival with Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, and Meryl Streep. In addition to TV dramas such as Law & Order, he has appeared on most of the daytime television series.

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