For all the fantasy its eponymous title suggests, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker feels more grounded in history than most historical fiction. The experiences of immigrant life in 1890s New York come alive with exquisite detail, and the intricately interwoven plights of the largely Syrian and Jewish cast of characters—both mystical and human alike—make the reader hard-pressed to set this one aside. A must-read for those who like intelligent historical fiction with a twist. –Raela Schoenherr
Excelsior Bay Books
36 Water St., Excelsior
Raela Schoenherr is a fiction acquisitions editor at a Minnesota
publishing company and enjoys reading whenever and however possible. She
also loves to talk books and writing on Twitter at @raelaschoenherr.
Summer equals barbecues and great wine. Pair the Terraces Zinfandel ($24.99), one of the best from Napa Valley and usually produced in smaller batches, with spicy sauces. It has a more full-bodied flavor than other zinfandels, and is a little darker in color. With grilled or barbecued chicken, try Delas Saint-Esprit Côtes du Rhône ($12). From the Rhone region of France, it’s a unique red blend of syrah and grenache, with a deep color and multi-faceted flavor. —John Farrell III
12900 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka
John Farrell III is the vice president of sales and merchandising for Haskell’s. His family business has been locally owned and operated since 1934.
Listen to Smoke + Mirrors and an epiphany will hit: Imagine Dragons are just … OK. The 2012 massive single “Radioactive” propelled the band to stratospheric popularity, and while they spend every minute of this sophomore record chasing that past glory, they never catch it. The schizophrenic stylistic choices never allow Smoke + Mirrors to coalesce into anything but a loose collection of vanilla songwriting and gigantic, overly emotional choruses. There’s a baseline amount of enjoyment to be had, but instead of dragons, imagine original music instead. –Alex Skjong
Find the album at:
Barnes & Noble
13131 Ridgedale Dr.
Alex Skjong has written for a number of publications in the Twin Cities, Chicago and Atlanta. He is a music lover first and an unreasonably tall human being second.