Still Midnight by Denise Mina – Book Review

Still Midnight by Denise Mina
Published by Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books, an imprint of Hachette

It is an unprofessional kidnapping. A teenage girl gets her hand blown off, an old man – the wrong man – is taken. Do the kidnappers even have the right house in the quiet Glasgow suburb? At first it seems quite possible to Detective Inspector Alex Morrow that this whole thing is a mistake, although that doesn’t exactly help get the elderly hostage back. This is a case that gets to Morrow, this family disrupted in the area where she grew up. In order to solve it, Morrow has to revisit some of the people from her past and, in doing so, perhaps put her entire job at risk.

Still Midnight has one of those openings that leaves you going, “huh, what now?” The first 30 pages or so are a bit slow for exactly that reason, as the reader tries to figure out exactly what is going on. Once everything becomes clear, though, Still Midnight becomes an exceptionally engaging book. First, there is the mystery; clearly there is something happening that is not quite what it seems. In addition, Morrow herself is a fascinating character. She is sick with loss and a need to prove herself while also hiding her past.

I ended up really loving Still Midnight, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, The Wasp Season. If you’ve read Still Midnight, we are discussing it on June 11th, 2013 on Nicole’s blog.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher.

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BOOK CLUB – The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Welcome to BOOK CLUB, which I run with co-conspirator Nicole from Linus’s Blanket. Today we will be chatting about The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, from Harper Books. For those of you reading this post, please remember that this discussion may contain spoilers.

Here is the synopsis of the book I wrote for my review:

A golem and a jinni walk into New York City at the turn of the century. Okay, well, the Jinni doesn’t actually walk, he arrives in a copper flask that has held oil for longer than anyone can remember. The Golem, though, she walks. She walks right off the ship that carried her from Europe and right along the bottom of the harbor. Oh, and also this isn’t a joke, but Helene Wecker’s lovely and magical story about late 19th century immigration, identity, and just a little magic.

I may be updating this post with new questions and ideas over the course of the day.

Here we go…

  • First off, what were your general impressions of the book?
  • Is this a book you would have read had you not been reading it for a book club?
  • What did you think about the relationships between Chava and Rabbi Meyer/Ahmad and Arbeely?
  • Why do you think Wecker chose to write about mystical creatures immigrating to the United States (if not exactly willingly) at the turn of the century? Do you think she achieved her goal?
  • Any other questions? Anything else you want to discuss?

Copies of The Golem and the Jinni were provided by Harper Books in order to facilitate this discussion.

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The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker – Book Review

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Published by Harper Books, an imprint of HarperCollins

A golem and a jinni walk into New York City at the turn of the century. Okay, well, the Jinni doesn’t actually walk, he arrives in a copper flask that has held oil for longer than anyone can remember. The Golem, though, she walks. She walks right off the ship that carried her from Europe and right along the bottom of the harbor. Oh, and also this isn’t a joke, but Helene Wecker’s lovely and magical story about late 19th century immigration, identity, and just a little magic.

YOU GUYS. SO GOOD.

Really, I found everything about The Golem and the Jinni just fabulous. Both the Golem and the Jinni were astoundingly realistic, especially considering they are mythical creatures. What is particularly well done with their characterization is the fact that their concerns are at the same time unique to a golem (or a jinni), but also contain threads that would make their problems easy to relate to for we non-magical beings. Wecker’s turn-of-the-century Jewish and Syrian immigrant communities are also vividly drawn and compelling, making The Golem and the Jinni a real treat for lovers of historical fiction.

The Golem and the Jinni is one of the very rare books that I wish was longer, so that I might continue to dwell within its pages. Very highly recommended.

Source: Publisher.
Learn more about The Golem and the Jinni on the publisher’s website

 

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BOOK CLUB Reads Alex Morrow

This summer, BOOK CLUB is going serial. We’ll be reading Denise Mina’s Alex Morrow books, a mystery series set in Scotland – tartan noir.

Here are the dates and times of discussion. Titles lead to Indiebound where you can read the descriptions:

Still Midnight – June 11th – Linus’s Blanket

The End of the Wasp Season – July 9th – Devourer of Books (here!)

Gods and Beasts – August 13th – Linus’s Blanket

Twitter chat: TBD

We have ten copies of Still Midnight to give away today, courtesy of Hachette Book Group. All three books are already out so copies can be purchased or obtained through your local library. Winners of the second book will be drawn first from among those who participate in the first book discussion (whether they won the first book or obtained it on their own). If more than 10 people participate, the winners will be drawn randomly; if fewer than 10 people participate, we may hold a giveaway for the remaining copies.

In order to enter for the first book, readers with a US mailing address can fill out the form below by noon Eastern on Monday, May 20th.

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BOOK CLUB Giveaway – The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

the golem and the jinniThis year we’ve been changing up BOOK CLUB. Gone are the rigid dates, where we announce books on the X Tuesday of the month, discuss them on the Y Tuesday, alternating whose blog the discussion happens on. Instead, Nicole and I will be co-hosting BOOK CLUBs as we find books that we are just dying to discuss with everyone. The next book in our semi-new format is going to be Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni from Harper Books. Here is the publisher’s description:

An immigrant tale that combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, Helene Wecker’s dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master-the husband who commissioned her-dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

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. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free-an unbreakable band of iron around his wrist binds him to the physical world.

Overwhelmed by the incessant longing and fears of the humans around her, the cautious and tentative Chava-imbued with extraordinary physical strength-fears losing control and inflicting harm. Baptized by the tinsmith who makes him his apprentice, the handsome and capricious Ahmad-an entity of inquisitive intelligence and carefree pleasure-chafes at monotony and human dullness. Like their immigrant neighbors, the Golem and the Jinni struggle to make their way in this strange new place while masking the supernatural origins that could destroy them.

5256159881 7ba9c432e6 m picturePart of the new book club will include reaching out to more readers. We are now giving away books with the understanding with publishers that there will be a readerly discussion. If you are a blogger and review the book, great! If you are not a blogger, but review the book on LibraryThing or GoodReads, or talk it up on Twitter, wonderful! All we really want, though, is for you to commit to come and discuss it with us.

We will be discussing The Golem and the Jinni on my blog on Tuesday, May 21st. If you would like to be entered to win one of our ten copies (US mailing addresses only, please), please fill out the form below by 11:59 pm Eastern on Monday, April 29th. Your address WILL be required to win (but will not be used by us for anything but getting your book to you) because we want to get these books to you with quick turn around.

The Golem and the Jinni is available for sale now, so even if you don’t win the book from us, we’d love for you to buy a copy or grab it from the library and join us to discuss it.

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