Cover Image: Kinfolk


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After listening to Kinfolk, I immediately went looking to see what else Sean Dietrich has written. He has excellent voice in this story and his writing made me feel like I was right there, in Parke, Southern Alabama with Jeremiah Lewis Taylor, his cousin and sidekick Benny and Minnie, a 15 YO waitress with no family. Jeremiah, better known as Nub was not a good husband, father or grandfather. He was a drinker, brawler and ne'er to well. When he meets Minnie, something inside him changes. They become friends and he realized that Minnie has an amazing voice, one that could easily make a go at the Grand Ole Opry. Minnie has been bullied because her father is in prison, and she is gangly and looks different. When one of the bullies begins paying attention to her, she ends up pregnant. She is placed into a home for unwed mothers, and Nub applies to be her guardian. Never did he plan on changing, but Minnie brings something into his life and slowly, he becomes the man he always could have been.

All I can say is WOW. This is a powerful story about found family, forgiveness, new beginnings and the resiliency of man. Nub was such a great character. Although his actions definitely harmed himself, he did not do anything to harm others. Even when he ended up in a brawl, he didn't start it, only protected himself or someone else. Minnie is a wonderful character as well. She was basically alone after the death of her mother and was taken advantage of by the town bully. The 1970s in Southern Alabama were different, it was very much "the good old boys club". Men ran the town, the economy and often the law and the privileged, the sports stars, the sons could get away with just about anything. Nub was threatened, his house burgled and set afire and more, but nothing was done. The secondary characters, his friend Benny, his daughter Emily and others were well fleshed out and played important roles in the book. Emily had me tearing up more than once, the daughter that was basically abandoned by her father, but never gave up trying to have a relationship with him. Kinfolk is a well written, gritty, at times dark, at times humorous book that pulled me in and kept me gripped from start to finish. The narration was done by the author himself. He has an amazing voice and gave this book an added level of enjoyment. He knew just where to add emphasis and expression. I highly recommend this book, and if you are one who listens to audiobooks, then listen to this one, you won't be disappointed. I highly recommend Kinfolk.

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Heartwarming historical fiction with a good story and narrator to boot. Satisfying and intriguing this is a touching story of family and second chances.

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Kinfolk by Sean Dietrich was read by the author. I often find this to be a mixed bag because an author knows the pronunciation of the names s/he is using and the voices that s/he imagined when writing the book, but may not be a proficient narrator. That was not the case in this instant. The author had a slow, southern drawl that was perfect for the setting of this story. The story is primarily about “Nub,” a man in his sixties who was divorced and estranged from his daughter due to his alcoholism, and Minnie, a fifteen year old Waffle House line cook. Minnie had been dealt a hand of bad luck. Her father was in prison as a convicted murderer and her mother died. Nub and Minnie’s paths crossed in a shared hospital room, and both of their lives were changed for the better. This is a story of found family, second chances, country music, and the power of love and forgiveness. It took me a while to really engage with this audiobook. The author followed the storylines of Nub, his daughter Emily, Minnie, and Minnie’s father and there was quite a lot of world-building that was done to really set the scene for the story. I stuck with it because the writing was good and the characters were interesting and I was sure that when the author pulled it all together it would all make sense. It turned out that I was absolutely right and the resulting story is one that will stick with me for a long time. He described the hardships of living in a small town in impoverished circumstances, struggling with impact of PTSD from fighting a war, growing up as a child of an alcoholic, or finding one’s parent after a suicide. The intersection of these characters’ lives result in the opportunity to make amends for past mistakes or find hope when it seemed all hope was lost. It is a story that leaves the reader with a feeling of well-being when a number of seemingly hopeless circumstances are altered for the better. I fell in love with these characters and if you are a lover of historical fiction, you may too. I am voluntarily leaving this honest review after listening to an advanced complementary copy of this audiobook thanks to Netgalley and Harper Muse.

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I loved this story. There may be a life lived the wrong way, but there is always time for good change, forgiveness, and hope.

Many thanks to Net Galley and Harper Muse for an audio copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you Harper Muse for allowing me to read and review Kinfolk on NetGalley.

Published: 11/14/23

Narrator: Sean Dietrich (Author)

Stars: 5

Impressive. This is why I read. I could have devoured this in one sitting. However, I forced myself to savor the story. Books that I enjoy to this degree are few and too far in between. I postponed writing this to hold the finality at bay. Press send and the book becomes a memory. I wanted it to go on.

I truly dislike authors narrating their work. And, almost passed on Kinfolk for that reason. The synopsis and Cover drew me to request what I now know is a beautiful story.

Dietrich wrote exactly how I know small towns to work. I'm not giving examples, so as not to spoil. I am not a writer or narrator, I'm a proud reader. I never had to ask where did you grow up? Where did you get your info? Every situation, every character, business and traditions I didn't have to question -- they were spot on. I understand small towns. Convicts, murders, and well Minnie no, but I could relate in a parallel world.

I look forward to exploring more of the author's work.

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Kinfolk was my first book by this author, "Sean of the South," who has been writing for quite a while, and I've just been looking other directions. I'm on to him now, and will pick up more of his work, and give a listen to his podcast under his moniker (above-given "s of s").

I listened to this one, and wished I'd also had an e-book, which I'll gather up soon. The story wrapped me in straightway, with Nub finding Minnie, and needs must when the devil drives. . .putting them directly in each other's path, two oddballs for sure. Mix in the Grand Old Opry, and a baby named Bun, and you have a family forming itself right in your read! Are there problems? of course, but Nub and Minnie are up to the challenges. A sweet Southern read.

*A sincere thank you to Sean Dietrich, Harper Muse, and NetGalley for an ARC to read and independently review.* #Kinfolk #NetGalley

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I really enjoyed this book, including the author and the narrator. Such a sweet story about a southern group of friends turned family facing the world together. Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Muse for a copy of this audiobook for an honest review.

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Many people make excuses for their behavior and their mistakes. Not "Nub" Taylor. He owns them. He knows he's made a mess of his life, and while he wishes he hadn't, he can't see a way to turn things around. It doesn't help that just about everyone in town and those around him remind him of all his past mistakes. Something stirs in "Nub" when he sees a young girl being bullied by some teenage boys and he feels drawn to stand up for her, to protect her, and to even provide some joy in her life, showing the reader that there just might be some hope for "Nub" Taylor. This book was hard to read initially, because the characters are all dealing with hard things. However, Dietrich's beautiful storytelling of life in the South, with his cast of memorable characters who all have some degree of trouble themselves, gives the reader so much to pull for as the story unfolds. Not only did I find myself rooting for most of the individuals in the story which Dietrich developed so well, but I could relate to many of them as people I know or those I meet in my community. This book was a great reminder that life is hard, we need to give each other grace, and we always have hope. Well done, Sean Dietrich!

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A historical Southern fiction about Nub, the town drunk, whom everyone has given up on including his family. He meets a 14 year old pregnant girl and become a light in her storm.
I listened to this on audio and I loved the narrators voice. I found this very inspiring. No matter how far gone one is they can still be a savior for someone else. People who have the most heartache in life can be the most empathetic. They understand the struggle. Meeting Minnie and helping her made Nub and better person. She saved him as much a he saved her. Great store telling. I will definitely read more of Sean Dietrich's publications.
Thanks to Net Galley and Harper Muse publications for allowing me to ready the ARC.

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I read Sean Dietrich’s blog everyday and really enjoy his writing. This book was totally enjoyable and I loved that it was narrated by the author. A really good story about love, friendship and second chances.

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This is not my typical genre of book. But every now and then I like just a no thrills fiction book, especially if the setting is in the south. I love that Sean narrated his own book. I don't think anyone could have done a better job. It felt like I was listening to a neighbor telling a real good story. If you are a true southerner , then I highly recommend this book to you!

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Kinfolk, is a beautiful must read!

I absolutely loved this book. The audiobook is next level.

A story of love, forgiveness, hope, and family that have you on edge for what's next.

I fell in love with the characters. It's a book with all the feels and characters that pull at your heartstrings. It is totally a favorite of 2023 and will be on the list of favs and highly recommended reading.

It is totally a book hangover worthy read.

Sean Deitrich did an outstanding job with the audio narration.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ALC of "Kinfolk" by Sean Dietrich. I wasn't familiar with the author but was intrigued by the description. I loved the narration and was pleased to learn it was narrated by the author. Nub is a character with flaws and also an underlying sweet and generous spirit. He never gives up-on others or himself and continues to lived his flawed life in the best possible way. What a wonderful story with rich character development and believeable storylines. Well-done!

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A blend of southern, family, literary fiction that pulls at your heart strings. I don’t know how I haven’t heard of or come across this author before, but I absolutely fell in love with this writing. (And the audiobook solidified that love for me).

The main characters we follow-Nub, Minnie, Benny and Emily- are the most beautifully tragic quartet. They are beyond flawed but balance that with being realistic, honest and heartwarming. Their individual character development throughout the novel pulls at your heartstrings and makes you feel like you are apart of their family of misfits.

Each character tackles different themes (and not give them away) and their point of view on them which is enlightening.

There are so many great things to say about this book and I highly highly recommend!

Thank you #netgalley for the ARC of #Kinfolk !

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This is my first novel by Sean Dietrich and it won't be my last.
He is known for his storytelling of the American south and he tells it extremely well.
This is a story of hope, love and forgiveness set in 1970's Southern Alabama.
I love that the author narrates his own novel!

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Muse for an arc of this audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

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In a Nutshell: A heartwarming Southern historical fiction. Loved the characters, the plot, and most of all, the writing. How have I not read anything by Sean Dietrich before?!?! Much recommended! Check the triggers though.

Story Synopsis:
1972. Sixty-two-year-old Nub Taylor is known for all the wrong things in his small rural hometown in southern Alabama. He does menial blue-collar jobs, drinks and smokes too much, doesn’t go to church, and lives his life without any sense of responsibility, and is close only to his cousin Benny. To be fair, he does feel remorse about being estranged from his daughter Emily, but it seems too late to salvage that relationship.
When fifteen-year-old Waffle House waitress Minnie enters Nub’s life in an unexpected manner, he finally feels like he has a purpose. But unknown to them both, this new bond will soon be in danger from an unexpected source.
The story comes to us from the third person points of view of Nub, Minnie, and Emily.

Bookish Yays:
💖 The central characters: Nub, Minnie, Benny, and Emily. Such a disparate quartet, and yet, each so convincing, realistic, flawed, and heartwarming. The author handles character development in the most satisfactory manner. Rarely would you see me rooting for an alcoholic character, but Nub is just hug-worthy!
💖 I loved how the characters aren’t stereotypical despite having characteristics that could have made them clichéd. Their personality traits are, in many ways, contrary to the image their physical traits would generate in our minds.
💖 The prologue is stunning! As I have mentioned myriad times before, I love prologues that create a firm foundation for the main story rather than simply regurgitating a scene from towards the end of the book. This is how prologues should be used in fiction!
💖 The story tackles quite a few themes, all of which are handled well. Not going into details as many of the themes are spoilers.
💖 Music has a very important presence in the story. As a music lover, I found these elements a pleasure. Learning about ‘Grand Ole Opry’ was delightful!
💖 Without getting into spoilers, Emily’s pov offers us an interesting insight into fear, stress, acceptance, and hope in case of a medical emergency. Her track becomes a tad too simplistic at times, but it fits the tone of the book.
💖 The historical references are brilliant. Though I am not a savvy as a US reader would be about US history, I still relished the insights offered by the writing without its getting judgemental or political.
💖 The writing is stunning. Everything is so vividly described that I had no trouble picturing the characters as well as the setting. I relished the author’s prowess with words. His metaphors were especially apt. If this had not been an audiobook, I would have highlighted quite a few quotes.
💖 There is enough of witty banter in the conversations, especially when Nub is involved. I actually laughed aloud multiple times while listening to the book.
💖 The title is perfect for this story about found family. After all, who are your kinfolk? If a blood connection necessary? Is blood really thicker than water? Can there be any hope for reparation in a dysfunctional family? ‘Kinfolk’ represents the central theme excellently.
💖 There are Christian elements in the story, but the plot never gets preachy. I also enjoyed the humorous comments about the judgemental attitude of some religious people – so true! (Note: This isn't Christian fiction in the 'clean' sense as some of the triggers don't fit with the genre.)
💖 The author’s note: the icing on the cake! Loved the personal insight!

Bookish Nays:
💔 I would have liked some more detailing in Sug’s arc. His was the weakest track in the book. On a related note, the mafia-style thuggery felt somewhat out of place in the narrative. I didn’t buy how the bad guys went after you-know-who-if-you-read-the-book instead of their main target. That part was silly and unconvincing.
💔 The climax went a teeny-weeny bit over the top in its action and was too perfect in its finish.
💔 It is odd how Emily’s son has barely any role to play in the narrative. Given that his mom, grandmom, and granddad have so many interactions, his being missing from every key interaction is tough to accept.

🎧 The Audiobook Experience:
The audiobook, clocking at 9 hrs 44 min, is narrated by the author himself. I am usually not a fan of authors narrating their own books, as many of them don’t enunciate the books properly. But there was no need to worry this time. I hadn’t known that the author is a known podcaster, popular as ‘Sean of the South’.
It took me a while to get used to the gruff voice of Sean Dietrich, but once my ears were attuned to his tone, I enjoyed his narration to a great extent. In many ways, he is the perfect choice to read this book aloud. He intonates well, he provides the right emotions, he doesn’t go overboard trying to make each character sound distinct, and best of all, he even sings the few tunes in the book! (This might not work for all listeners, but I like it when narrators sing the verses instead of merely reading them poetically.)
That said, I would recommend this audiobook only to experienced audiobook listeners. As readers, you might have seen how a single chapter sometimes comes from the close third-person perspective of various characters. In audios, this gets tricky to keep track of, especially if there isn’t a sufficiently long pause before the switchover between characters. In ‘Kinfolk’, there’s hardly any pause before the narration jumps characters, so things get a bit confusing at times. (I was listening at just 1.25x. The problem might have been even worse for those who zoom through audiobooks at 2x and above.)
If you think you might get muddled up hopping across the characters without warning, stick to actual reading. This is a narration issue and not a writing issue.

All in all, a strong positive experience for me despite the presence of some intense content and some farfetched scenes. I loved the handling of the characters and the premise in this story about getting second chances at life and family. I would love to read more by this talented author.
Strongly recommended to historical fiction fans, literary fiction readers, and Southern fiction lovers. Do check out the triggers online as there are quite a few. Despite the strong triggers, the overall effect is still feel-good.

4.5 stars. (I ought to have rounded this to 4 for the audio version, but I loved the story and the main characters too much to turn the rating dial downwards.)

My thanks to Harper Muse and NetGalley for the ALC of “Kinfolk”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the audiobook.

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Not only was it a wonderful story, I loved the narration by the author. So many of the colloquialisms and turns of phrase, remind me of my father who passed and loved the Opry. I enjoyed this book a lot.

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Mixed feelings on this, as it picked up steam as it went and ended in a satisfying way (although maybe a little too tidy?). I liked the small town southern setting and the writing, which felt authentic and easily transports the reader to time and place.

The audio narration was a bit hard to follow at times - the transition between POVs was probably much easier to navigate in a physical book. Some additional/longer pauses or subtitles would really help the audio. I felt like we were missing some of Sug’s story in particular. I struggled to connect to the characters and but was finally able to dig in around the last 25% or so.

Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I absolutely loved this book. I could listen to this narrator all day. The characters were my favorite type of character - not all good or all bad.

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Update: I'm upgrading this to 5 stars. I haven't stopped thinking about this book and these characters. This book is even better than Demon Copperhead and deserves to have a huge audience!

I just finished listening to Kinfolk written and narrated by Sean Dietrich.
I give this book 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

This is a fictional memoir of Jeremiah "Nub" Taylor, set in 1972 in small town Alabama. When we met Nub, he's a middle-aged drunk, without much self-worth and a huge chip on his shoulder. He's divorced, and he is at odds with his adult daughter, Emily. He seems quite accident prone, but much of that seems to correlate to his drinking.

He ends up sharing a hospital room with Minnie Bass, a very large and tall teenager. He runs into her over and over. He sees her being bullied by another kid and steps in to help. He discovers she's the chef at the local Waffle House. They form a friendship, and when her mother dies and Minnie is sent to an orphanage, Nub decides to take her into his home. To do that, he has become sober first. He does it because she needs him. She's not only homeless she's also pregnant at 15 years old.

There is a bit more of a plot. Minnie thinks her father is long dead, but he has just gotten out of jail. Some mobsters are after him and his daughter. This provides a bit more action. Also, Minnie is naturally talented with singing ability, so we see this develop with support.

Great character development and natural dialogue. Narration was very well done by the author.

The end was well-written up until the very end when the great exit was spoiled! That part was too hard to swallow, and the book would have been better without that reversal.

Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Muse for providing me with this audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

Trigger warnings - alcoholism, car accidents, bullying, cancer, fire, shooter in public area, gunshots

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