March Book Selection for It’s A Likely Story Book Club

Mar 1 2017

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My friend, Korie, a librarian here in my little Oregon town, has been reading books for months now with one theme in mind — not a white protagonist. Children’s books. YA. Fiction. Nonfiction. She realized a while back how very white her reading list was and made a commitment to change that, both for her personal reading pleasure and also so she can better recommend books that feature people of color to our library patrons and customers. Korie’s the one who recommended An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir in January, my favorite book club book so far — and she recommended the book we selected for March, below, which I’m VERY excited to read. If you’re interested in following Korie while she curates books with leading characters of color, you can look at the hashtag #notawhiteprotagonist on Facebook which has a few of her selections listed or, even better if you’re looking for her comprehensive Not A White Protagonist list, follow her on Litsy where her handle is BookInMyHands.

A Likely Story Book Club
Announcing: March’s Book Selection!

Akata Witch
by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one’s place in the world.

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?

……….

READ BELOW for our review of last month’s book, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

But FIRST, I wanted to be sure you know we still have spaces available for the March 9-12 retreat at the Oregon Coast!
If you’re in the Pacific Northwest (or willing to come on over next week ;)), I would LOVE to hang out with you there.
AND, if you’re a teacher or minister, be sure to ask about discounts.

……….

And here’s our review of February’s book, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty:

On a scale of 1-5, 1 being “UGH, I would rather stab myself in the eye than read another book like this,” and 5 being “I am currently buying 57 copies to give to all my friends,” our Facebook group collectively rated Big Little Lies a 3.8

My rating was 3.5. a 3.5. This was my first Liane Moriarty book. I LOVED her author voice and the way she develops characters with small but telling details. I loved the way she makes characters multi-dimensional — Madeline, for example, who cares about SO MANY superficial things, never met a battle she didn’t want to fight, is kind and unkind at turns, AND is a deeply loyal friend with such relateable feelings about her ex, his wife, and her daughter’s desire to move out. I liked the pacing. It kept my interest. I liked the little “reveals” along the way. However, I am not typically a murder-mystery or suspense reader. I produce plenty of anxiety in my regular life not to need any more in my entertainment life. So, while this was clearly a fictional, escapist type of book, it’s not my favorite way to escape. Personal preference is the only reason I’m not giving this one a 4… she’s clearly a gifted author, and it was a great story.

Comments from our Facebook book club:

Sarah B Arsee wrote: “The heaviness of the abuse subplot really changed this from an escapist book to one inducing way too much anxiety. I think I would rate it a 3-4. 3 because I didn’t enjoy reading it like I wanted to, I was hoping for more escape. 4 because it was really well written and she nailed the myriad of characters. So I guess that means 3.5 from me.”

Terry FischerWolfe wrote: I really enjoyed this book as a fun quick read. I would give it a 4. I loved the depth of the characters, the fast pace and the humor. I also don’t normally care for murder mysteries, but this one didn’t feel like one. It really felt like a light beach read to me, even though the subjects were pretty heavy.”

Karrie Johnson wrote: I give it a 4. I enjoy whodunits and it kept me on my edge of my seat wanting me to finish quickly. It also threw in a couple of surprises. Also made me get connected to the character, made me happy to see them happy sad/worried for them when they are distraught. I also think it raised great awareness on abuse.”

Louisa Davidson wrote: “I would give it 4-. I thought the dV plot line was really well done and I kept thinking about it afterwards. But I agree that that does not make for a relaxing or escapist read.”

January Book Selection for It’s a Likely Story Book Club

Jan 7 2017

Waving in the dark, friends. And in the light. It’s 12:52am at home and 9:47am where I’m typing this from the Brussels airport, ready to board my flight to Uganda in a few minutes. Light and dark, chasing each other across the world, and I feel like I have a foot in both at the moment.

I’ll try … try, try, try … to write periodically while there. We’ll see how the internet holds up. I’m eager to meet our refugee momrades and to sit with them in the dark, in the name of all of us, and in the name of Love. To hold hands. To live in the mud. To see magic there. Stay tuned, friends. I’m holding you close in my heart while I’m there.

In the meantime, I’m late (because OF COURSE I AM) in telling you our January “A Likely Story” Book Club selection. This one comes suggested to us by one of my favorite librarians, Korie Buerkle, who has, for several months now, been reading books with protaganists who are not white. The book below is an epic YA fantasy, and is the first book of a series, only two of which have been written to date. I must say, I’m about a third of the way through it and am enamored already.

Enjoy, friends.

And see you on the flip side.

 

 

 

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A Likely Story Book Club
Announcing: January’s Book Selection!

An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

“Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.”

And here’s a review of The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore, our December book club book.

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On a scale of 1-5 (1 being the worst, most heinous book in the history of the world, and 5 being I WILL FORCE EVERYONE I KNOW TO READ THIS) we rated The Stupidest Angel a 3.1. You’ll note the rating scale is a little harsh. It’s, like, practically impossible for anyone to rate a 5. Like that annoying college professor who thought awarding me an A+ meant I actually had to EXCEED expectations for my specific work according to the parameters set out in the syllabus instead of to do just fine and be generally smart as a person which was the system I preferred. So I guess I feel the need to point out a 3.1 is a solid C grade for this book, which is a C, and, as I told my college daughter when she brought home her first semester grades, C’s GET DEGREES! GOOD JOB, BABY!

Comments from our Facebook book club group:

Terry FischerWolfe: I loved it. It reminded me of another of my favorite authors, Tom Robbins. Quirky books have always been a favorite of mine. I give it a solid 4.

Alissa Cowan Norman: I loved it. My husband was entertained when I picked it back up after a couple days and said “Gotta see if the zombies eat everyone now…”. The language didn’t bother me at all, and I already recommended it to my MIL, so… I give it a 4.

Diane Bognar: I read maybe half of it and then returned it to the library. Couldn’t get into it at all. The part I read would be rated a 1.5.

Sarah Kessler: I read it and really enjoyed the writing style! That said, I would give it a 3.5 for the language and some of the content which I just felt was unnecessarily vulgar. Highly entertaining tho and very funny 😊

 

December Book Selection for A Likely Story Book Club

Dec 1 2016

Hi All!

It’s time to reveal the December book club selection for A Likely Story Book Club, the book club for escapist fiction fans.

Now, yes, I know we technically haven’t reviewed November’s book — or October’s book — but we’re going to forgive me for that because I’m still figuring out how this whole book club thing works, and also, I’m unreliable, which, if you’ve read anything here EVER, you already knew, so it’s kind of your fault if you had other expectations.

I’m going to try a new thing this month and post the review for last month (and maybe the month before… we’ll see how it goes) at the bottom of this post. So each new month’s book announcement will include the book review from the prior month, OK? OK. It’s a plan. Also, if you ever want to participate in the ongoing book discussions, feel free to join our book club page on the Facebook. All the cool kids are doing it.

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A Likely Story Book Club
Announcing: December’s Book Selection!img_2487

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
by Christopher Moore

‘Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit.

But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he’s not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn’t run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead.

But hold on! There’s an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It’s none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel’s not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say “Kris Kringle,” he’s botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen.

Move over, Charles Dickens — it’s Christopher Moore time.

Unlike the other books in our escapist fiction club, I’ve actually read this book. Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Jesus’ Childhood Pal is one of my all-time favorites; it’s very weird, it’s sacrilegious in all the best ways, it’s funny, and it somehow strangely honors Jesus’ example to us. The Stupidest Angel is what it advertises itself to be; an oddly heartwarming tale of murder and mayhem at Christmas. While Lamb remains my favorite of Moore’s books, The Stupidest Angel is an easy holiday read written in the bizarre tradition of the weird greats like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, and, honestly, I thought we could all use something weirdly wonderful.

Enjoy!

Love,

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November’s Book Review

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill

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OVERALL RATING: Using a rating scale of 1 to 5 — 1 being “this book is drivel; save yourself the time” and 5 being “this is one of my favorite books EVER, and I plan to read everything this author writes” — we rated A Girl Who Drank the Moon a collective 3.5. Cornelia Spoor rated this a 4: “4 despite the ways in which it was predictable – by the time I finished it, I was seeing it more as circularity than predictability. I would recommend it but I’m not sure *who* I’d recommend it to: my best thoughts are either a really avid young reader of any age who can manage a book of this length, and my brother & sister-in-law who are totally unembarrassed by crossing age categories in their reading. I think they’d love the poetic-ness and fairy tale-ness of it.”

thegirlwhodrankthemoonSUMMARY: Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own . . .

DISCUSSION: In our A Likely Story Book Club Facebook group, we discussed the themes of adoption, spiritual context (which I didn’t expect in this book!), and the two characters who are the “Sorrow Eater” and the “Sorrow Avoider.”

I wrote, “The Girl Who Drank the Moon… discussion question #4. About the Sorrow Eater and Sorrow Avoider. Oh my gosh. This part of the book still has my brain wheels spinning, mostly because I am SUCH a Sorrow Avoider, you guys. I mean, I understand sorrow is part of life, and I even accept that I have to deal with it, but I’m not good AT ALL at that dealing. I do All the Things to Avoid Sorrow. I won’t read sad things for entertainment, no drama shows, no drama movies, no sad articles unless I plan to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I overeat. I read vampire smut. I grind my teeth. Honestly, I sometimes feel like my whole life has been an exercise in Trying to Avoid Sorrow.

“So, obviously, a book with a main character, Xan, who can’t remember why she has to avoid sorrow and the place where sorrow grows, and who is so bent on avoiding that sorrow that she never, ever questions where the babies in the woods are coming from or why they’re there, is compelling to me. And then the Sorrow Eater, who buries her own sorrow deep in her heart and covers it with hardness and keeps covering it until she literally has to eat sorrow to survive is awful and fascinating to me.”

And I love this reminder by Carmen McAlister, which I’m going to leave you with because it’s the Very Best Reminder to me today and maybe to some of you, too…

“I appreciated that the opposite of sorrow wasn’t presented as joy, but HOPE. That’s more like pre-joy. Just imagining the possibility of joy some day is enough to thwart the sorrow eater.”

Pre-joy. I’ll take it, friends. I’ll totally take it. Hope on…

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A Likely Story Book Club: October 2016 Book Selection

Oct 3 2016

ALikelyStory

Announcing: October’s Book Selection!

I’m excited about this one!

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Leviathan
by Scott Westerfeld

Described as a young adult, steampunk, alternative history adventure, Leviathan reimagines WWII from the perspective of teenage Prince Aleksandar Ferdinand of Prussia.

It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.

I read Scott Westerfeld’s dystopian Uglies series and enjoyed it quite a bit even though dystopian novels aren’t my usual go-to genre. I found Westerfeld’s world building excellent and his pacing and characterization appealing. When Leviathan, also by Westerfeld, came highly recommended by one of my favorite librarians who loves fantasy and YA novels as much as me, I was sold. I’m also new to steampunk novels, having only recently read (and loved) Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas novels, a much more steamy romance take on the genre, so reading steampunk as YA intrigued me.

If you’d like to join the public Facebook group for A Likely Story Book Club, click here. You can read about the genesis of A Likely Story Book Club here. And you can also always join us on Facebook here, where we often wave to each other in the dark.

Sending love… and the hope for a little escape for us all,

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A Likely Story Book Club Review: The Golem and The Jinni

Oct 2 2016

 Likely Story Book Club Review:
The Golem and the Jinni
by Helene Wecker

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Last month, we started our very own book club. A Likely Story is for those of us who revel in escapist fiction and long for more stories built in brilliant worlds with strong and flawed heroes and heroines; Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Legends, Mythologies, and Tall Tales of every type.

Our debut pick for A Likely Story was The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker.

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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 and soul mates with 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.

Here is our joint review, compiled from our Likely Story Book Club discussion on Facebook:

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A Likely Story Book Club Review:
The Golem and the Jinni
by Helene Wecker

OVERVIEW:

“Well written, compelling, fantasy/historical fiction encompassing themes including the nature and value of free will, lust for power/fear of death, and loyalty to family and community told via the astonishing tale of a golem and a Jinni who find themselves and each other in late 19th century New York city.” Barbara Safee Stouter

“It’s a love story. It is not a romance. I loved the setting. I loved how the big questions were asked. Religion plays a big part in their stories. Good read.” Tina Sedor Bounds

THOUGHTS ON THE RELIGIOUS AND FAITH ASPECTS OF THE NOVEL:

“It is very unusual to read about Jews in a story where the story isn’t Jewish/ about some aspect of Judaism (Naomi Ragen’s books for example) unless the slant is antisemitic in nature which this book isn’t. It deals with the mystical aspect of Judaism (Kabbalah) which is also very unusual and a golemn at that. In Judaism the study of mysticism is very strictly regulated. Only men over the age of 40 are allowed to study it and they are not allowed to discuss their studies in public. Naturally there are lots of people who study it regardless of the rules but still it is not well known literature. The depiction of the Jews and the Jewish neighbourhood as well as the immigrants was spot on. I am pretty sure that the same was for Arab cultures described. Life is sacred to Jews. The Torah very clearly states the rules for how we should behave towards fellow people as well as animals – all based on respecting one another. So the Rabbi’s attitude towards the Golemn is not surprising. I think the strangest part for me was the fantastic elements of the Golemn and the Jinni set against the backdrop of Jews and Arabs which has a very real feel for me (I live in Israel). Bottom line I think is that it is weird to read a book about Jews that isn’t in any way about Judaism or the Holocaust.” Mandi Levitan

“I saw the two main characters as representing two different responses to faith, which I would define for these purposes as a dynamic friendship with God. The Golem represented religion – acting out of obligation or guilt, lacking the ability to engage freely in relationship. The Jinn represented hedonism – whatever makes me feel good is the right thing to do. Both of them were unable to engage in fulfilling relationships with humans (in the Golem’s case, her creator) because of their natures. I think they both made efforts to temper their natures (don’t we all?), and succeeded to some degree, but it’s pretty clear throughout the book that the only friendship either of them truly values is their friendship with each other (except the Rabbi – I think he represents grace). Authenticity and trust are huge elements in this – if our true nature creates fear and animosity in others, we’ll hide as much as possible. And if we believe that God is innately against us, we’ll behave like the Golem, trying to follow all the rules to get God to like is, or like the Jinn, rejecting all the rules because who cares about the opinion of such a judgmental God?” Heidi Funkhouser Farr

 

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OVERALL RATING: Using a rating scale of 1 to 5 — 1 being “this book is drivel; save yourself the time” and 5 being “this is one of my favorite books EVER, and I plan to read everything this author writes” — we rated The Golem and the Jinni a collective 3.7. No one rated this book below a 3, but there was quite a bit of variety in the 3-5 ratings among the Facebook group.

“4. Solid, engaging, character-driven, immense world building, and I loved the way all the loose ends tied in together by the end. 5 is a bar not even my favorite series meet (Harry Potter and Paksennarrion: I haven’t read everything by either JK Rowling or Elizabeth Moon) but I couldn’t stop turning pages and the characters were sooooo human. (Even when they weren’t.)” Kyla Nannery Galbraith

“3. I was able to get into the story and enjoyed it. And, I won’t need to read it again.” Tabitha Bird Weaver

“5++ I’m planning to read it again while waiting for the next book. Took me a while to figure out where the plot was going but I found the characters so gripping I just wanted to keep reading.” Cornelia Spoor

“I may have to re-read it in the not too distant future! I read fast because I wanted to see what happened next!” Corrie Mantell Kolbe

MY THOUGHTS:

The Golem and the Jinni was, truly, an original and unique story. Speaking for myself and not the rest of the book group, I will say it was a slow start for me. I tend to be pulled in by books that are high on action and adventure, driven by dialogue, and built in beautiful, imaginative worlds. The Golem and the Jinni was, instead, very much about internal and intrinsic motivation, set ostensibly in New York but really in the characters’ minds, and I was surprised that the novel was nearly half done when the two main characters finally meet, which says more about the way the publishers chose to market the book than perhaps about the book itself. It was interesting, for sure, but not my usual foray into escapist literature. I was fully engaged in the story after the first 8-10 chapters, though, and enchanted by the way Helene Wecker feathers the characters’ stories and timelines together, asking age-old questions about faith, community, and nature vs. nurture. She set herself a tall task writing nonhuman characters and managed to keep them both other-than-human and compellingly sympathetic throughout the book. Overall, a very strong debut novel for Wecker.

OCTOBER BOOK COMING SOON!

October’s book will be entirely different from The Golem and the Jinni. My goal is to hit a variety of escapist fiction genres. The Golem and the Jinni was both fantasy and historical fiction. Our October book is a young adult steampunk, alternate history novel. In other words, October’s book is coming soon… TOMORROW, in fact, on October 3rd. Stay tuned!

 

Announcing: A Likely Story – The Book Club for Escapist Fiction Fans

Sep 3 2016

Announcing: A Likely Story
The Book Club for Escapist Fiction Fans

ALikelyStory

Friends, sometimes the Real World sucks, and right now is a Particularly Sucky time in U.S. and world history. I mean, seriously. I read the news. I see the stories. I do what I can, and then I feel helpless and tired when I can’t do more. This is something I need to work on; understanding there are Hard Things and then releasing the Hard Things so I can still Embrace Joy. Both/And, friends. I need to learn — probably a lesson I’ll be learning forever — that Light and Dark chase each other constantly across the sky and in our hearts, and we live much of our lives in the Dusk and the Dawn when we can’t separate them from each other.

But, I dunno… sometimes I just need a break, man. Like, I need a way to rest. And to live in spaces where Good triumphs over Evil. And where the journey may be long and fraught but Love wins in the end, you know? I need to remember that grace and gratitude rise like the phoenix from grime and grit and love will wend its way around and through and out of loss.

And I wish I could do those things by reading inspired and triumphant literature. The kind of books Oprah recommends! But, OMG, guys. OMG. As soon as I read that someone’s debut novel is “triumphant,” I’m all, “Nope. No. Uh uh. No way,” ’cause “triumphant” is totally code for dark and tragic and sad and thoughtful, and I know in my heart they are going to make me fall in love with a character and then KILL her, and I can’t. Cannot EVEN. I cannot live in a Real World where real things happen like people I love dying and live through it again in my books which are also Very, Very Real.

So I read other books.

And I LOVE them.

I dive into their worlds, and I live there for a while instead of here. I lay down my concerns and pick up my fictional friends’. I help carry their burdens, and they help me carry mine, and it feels like a fair trade because we each carry the magical, miraculous power to help the other live her life — my fictional friend by easing my heart and soul and reminding me what it means to be flawed and fabulous and weak and still strong, and me by bringing her to life whenever I open her pages.

In case there are others out there like me who like to fall down the rabbit hole into wild, weird and wonderful worlds, I’m starting this book club. A Likely Story is for those of us who revel in escapist fiction and long for more stories built in brilliant worlds with strong and flawed heroes and heroines; Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Legends, Mythologies, and Tall Tales of every type.

At the beginning of each month, I’ll share that month’s book selection for those of you who’d like to join me. Books will be curated along with me by several friends who are as in love with these genres as I am, including two librarians and a bookstore manager who devour every magical YA book that exists. Our goals will be to find fantastical tales that:

  1. are well-written. There’s nothing worse than reading a series and wanting to take a red pen to it.
  2. have unique, detailed, well-crafted worlds that capture the imagination.
  3. are plot- and character-driven stories that make us want to read far, far later in the night than is reasonable for mothers who are supposed to be responsible for the children come morning.
  4. champion strong women and strong men working together. I cannot stand – cannot stand – books that make men the heroes at the expense of women or vice versa.

AND we’ve picked our book for September!

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The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Now, this is Ms. Wecker’s debut novel, and it’s probably even triumphant, but fortunately none of the reviews use that word so we don’t have to avoid it. Whew! Instead, reviews describe The Golem and the Jinni as enchanting, intriguing and highly original. SOLD!

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 and soul mates with 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.

If you’d like to join the public Facebook group for A Likely Story Book Club, click here! (You can also always join me on Facebook here, where we often wave to each other in the dark.)

Sending love… and the hope for a little escape for us all,

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