Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni
In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava 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, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends who share a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker's debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.


Helene Wecker's gorgeous writing, careful research, and clear passion for folklore and literature make this an enchanting, intriguing read.   She does a wonderful job of presenting supernatural creatures of folklore as main characters without making anyone into an idealized character.  Everyone in the story is refreshingly human, with merits, faults, worries, and humor.  The backdrop of turn-of-the-century Manhattan is beautifully rendered, and even those unfamiliar with the setting will not be lost.  The author embraces many cultures and sources of folklore and folds them together in a way that is both honest and refreshing.  This book is reminiscent of the tales of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Scheherazade, with a twist of Jane Addams thrown in for good measure.  An absolute "must read."

Spoilers:  This reads at times like a young adult book, but the ghastly conditions of New York City tenement houses in 1899 are described in some detail.  There are scenes of married and premarital sex, prostitution, murder, death from wasting illness, and use of both alcohol and drugs.   It also deals with concepts of faith, religion, apostasy, reincarnation, and eternal damnation - although not in a preachy way.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Scattered Links - Release Day Tour

Release Day Tour: Scattered Links is a novel that pulls its characters from the gutters and, in the end, celebrates the tenacity of the human spirit. Thirteen-year-old Oksana lives on the streets of Russia with her pregnant mama and abusive aunt—both prostitutes. When Mama swells into labor, Oksana makes a decision to save herself from abandonment, a decision that torments her forever. When her plan fails and her aunt dumps her in an orphanage, she never has the chance to say goodbye to her mama or tell her the secret that haunts her. Scattered Links is a story of family and the consequences that come from never learning how to love, of a girl’s inability to bond with her adopted family and the frustrations that follow. How can a child understand the mechanics of forming a healthy relationship when she never had a mother who answered her cries, held her when she was frightened, fed her when she was hungry, or loved her unconditionally? Only when the child meets a rescued abused horse, and recognizes the pain in his eyes, does she begin to trust again.


Scattered Links, (initially titled Love is Just a Word), was the winner of the 2013 Aspiring Writers Competition, sponsored by Write on Con and The Reading Room. Scattered Links was intended to show a glimpse into the life of a child with RAD, reactive attachment disorder, so prevalent in children who never had unconditional love in infancy. This novel was inspired by Michelle’s journey to Russia to adopt her orphan daughter. Upon seeing the neglect of orphanage children and learning of the effects of RAD in post-institutionalized children, Michelle researched this disorder, committed to giving her daughter the best chance at a healthy life. Sadly, many parents can’t cope with the behavior from kids with RAD and re-home their children like pets.

Buy on Kindle | Paperback


About the author:

Michelle grew up in the burbs of Detroit with five brothers. No sisters. Each time her mom brought the boy bundle home from the hospital Michelle cried, certain her mom liked boys better than girls. But when her brothers pitched in with the cooking, cleaning, and babysitting—without drama, Michelle discovered having brothers wasn’t so bad. They even taught her how to take direct criticism without flinching, which might come in handy with book reviews. Michelle blogs at Random Writing Rants where she teaches and encourages writers how to get published.

Follow Michelle:

Blog link: Random Writing Rants Teaching adults and teens how to get published   Website link: Facebook link: Twitter link: @MWeidenbenner1 Goodreads link: