REVIEW: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life 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 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 binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; 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 threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

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Audiobook Info
Narrated By George Guidall
Length: 19 hrs and 43 mins

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Let me introduce you to my new favorite book. It’s called The Golem and the Jinni. It’s a debut novel that has won many awards (Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2013), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature (2014), James Tiptree Jr. Award Nominee (2013), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Debut Author, Best Fantasy (2013)). I usually don’t notice that kind of stuff but once I finished it I stopped my iphone (I was listening to it) and thought, “tell me this epic piece of work has won something for this quality of work.” No lie.

There are two main characters Ahmad and Chava. Let’s talk about Chava: She is the voice of reason in our story. She keeps Ahmad centered when he longs to be free of his shackles and responsibilities. At times she’s Debbie Downer but you never fault her for it. She’s a golem. She was created to be the way she is.

Ahmad on the other hand is our jinni of this tale. He’s made of fire and his personality is just as fiery. He’s quick to anger and storm out. But just like Chava, we don’t fault him for it because that’s just always what he’s been. Part of what he is was taken away from him so it’s only natural that he fight tooth and nails to get it back.

The supporting characters like Rabbi Avram Meyer, (the Rabbi that helps Chava when she gets to New York), Boutros Arbeely (the tinsmith that employees Ahmad), Maryam Faddoul (the coffee shop owner that cares about everyone), Mahmoud Saleh (the doctor come ice-cream vendor) all lend to this rich tale. I read critically, even though I don’t always mention it here, and when I’m reading a giant tale I catch myself wondering if characters are truly important to the story or are they just there for padding. (Blame The Count of Monte Cristo) I can’t think of one character in this novel that is just padding. All characters have some weight in the story and each one makes the story that much more rich.

The bad guys are sinister but don’t actually seem like they are an evil apart from all other evils. Helene Wrecker even made them human in a way most people wouldn’t.

Let’s talk about the audiobook now: George Guidall is now my new favorite narrator. I will see him out when I buy new audiobooks. I think I might have enjoyed the book more with his narration then I would have just reading it alone. The only reason for that is because of his rich accented English when he pronounces the different characters names. I would never figure out how to say Yehudah Schaalman on my own…

Final rating is definitely a 5/5. Why wouldn’t it be? The narration from the audiobook also gets a 5/5. It’s also getting fit into my favorite contemporary book.

Read this or listen to this. It’s necessary.

REVIEW: Hammered (The Iron Druid Chronicles #3) by Kevin Hearne

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.

One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plain of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.

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Kevin Hearne has done something really special with his Iron Druid books. Most books that I like have an engaging plot that make me flip through the pages at high velocity. Some other books have characters that are really great and thus make me enjoy the story. Some have both. Hammered as well as the other Iron Druid Chronicles books I’ve read have both but also have it in a different way than I ever could have expected.

The characters a funny like friends you don’t get to hang out enough with. The plot is engaging and I want to find out what happens but I also want to savor it. It’s just too good. I don’t know how book four can get any better than what I’ve already experienced with the first three books.

The dialog between the characters is probably the best part if I had to pick just one thing. Here are a few examples:

“Getting five men to simultaneously touch me and the root of a tree was vaguely akin to a game of homoerotic Twister, and I almost giggled – especially since their expressions practically broadcast that they were asking themselves, “Is this gay?” that would have lost me major testosterone points, though, so I firmly refocused my mind on the task and pulled us through to the Norse plane.”

and:

“Leif and I knew from experience how the male psyche works: If one weapon doesn’t work, switch to something else and try to shove it sideways through an orifice far too small to allow for comfortable entry.”

And don’t get me started on Oberon, Atticus’s Irish Wolfhound, he’s the best. I love how Atticus has to try not to smile while Oberon is constantly talking to him and making fun of others while only Atticus can hear.

I have an author crush on Kevin Hearne and I’m not afraid to deny it.

REVIEW: The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1) by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

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This book came out in 2010 and it took me this long to read it and I’ll be damned but it was an amazing book. From what I’ve heard, it’s the start of an amazing series. I didn’t have any reason for not reading it up until now, I just hadn’t picked it up. After getting The Eternity Cure for free from Netgalley. I decided that it was very necessary for me to read more from Julie Kagawa.

I’m kind of getting tired of the tried/tired and true YA tropes like love triangles and normal girl that is suddenly very special. Both of those components were in this novel but I swear this was different. I was enthralled at how much I cared about each character. In love triangles I also usually pick a side very quickly and honestly it’s usually the losing side but when I was done with book one I still hadn’t picked who I wanted to be the winner.

The characters were so awesome and I loved and hated most of them all at the same time. This is really great. You’ll see a review for book two up here really soon…maybe tomorrow. 😀