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John Gorham is the culinary genius behind restaurants Toro Bravo and Tasty n Sons, among others. He believes that a chef’s cuisine and style is influenced by travel, work and place, as well as the food he grew up with. His advice about cooking: Fall in love with food, go traveling and taste everything. His reading interests reflect this philosophy. Here are some of his favorite books:

A Year In Provence.  This book just makes you want to throw caution to the wind, and go travel and dine. A must-read for any chef or person in love with food and travel.

The Alchemist. Another book of adventure, but also of self-reflection.

Another Roadside Attraction. I read my first Tom Robbins book when I was about 21. I hadn't really fallen in love with reading until I found his books. I read the rest of his books in the next couple of months. But of all of his books, Another Roadside Attraction was always my favorite.

Tender At The Bone. This is the story of Ruth Reichl. This book came at a time in my life when I really looking inward to what kind of chef I was becoming. It inspired me to take some risks — I moved to Berkeley a few months after I read this book — and really focus on the food.  

Danzigers Travels : Beyond The Forbidden Frontiers.  An old friend of mine gave me this book in the mid 90s. It's a true story of a man that walks the Marco Polo trade route in the 80s. It was the first time I ever really got a feeling of what the Middle East must be like. It inspired my cooking as well as my view of the world. This is a hard book to find, but worth the search. (Note: This book is available through interlibrary loan.)

Are you moving out to a house in the country anytime soon? No? Me neither. And yet there's always that little 'what if' in the back of my mind. Find a nicely formed plot of land with swoops, curves, nooks and crannies, and build a small, self-sufficient house nestled into the hillside. Solar power, check. Gravity-fed water suppy, check. Composting toilet, uh, ...

Luckily those of us who make our living in the city can experience country-living vicariously through others. We can mentally inhabit the space that Dee Williams created in The Big Tiny (though even our ghosts might take up too much space in her tiny house); and now we can also enjoy the view from Evelyn Searle Hess's handbuilt house in the Coast Range in Building a Better Nest. Though the title might lead you to believe that you've picked up a how-to manual for building a sustainable house, the book is really a rumination on the meaning of home, how much is enough and the significance of community as we grow older. 

Hess and her husband aren't neophytes; they lived in a tent on their land for many years while dreaming of the home they'd build. Then, finally, when they were both in their 70s, they began. Yes! That's just one of the remarkable elements of this story, that reads more like an adventure than an instruction manual. And throughout there's Hess's calm and wondering voice thinking aloud about living more mindfully among the myriad creatures whose home she has invaded. I have a feeling she'll put out the welcome mat should you chose to inhabit her space for a while.

As with many pleasures,  like food, music, movies and books, we tend to find what we love and stick with that. When readers ask me for suggestions on what to read next, they usually know what they like and want to read more of it. But as with food, music, movies and other such pleasures, it never hurts to try reading something new. My something new is manga.
 
The most basic definition of manga is comics that are originally produced in Japan. Manga includes works in a wide range of genres. You can find manga translated into a variety of languages Manga reading direction examplebut they all retain the traditional reading direction of Japanese manga, which is that is you read from right to left. If you are used to reading from left to right, manga will take a little getting used to. But believe me when I say that when you find a series that sparks your interest, reading from right to left will come easily.
 
The following three titles have been my introduction to this popular comic medium, and each one has made me finally fall in love with manga. 
 
Wandering Son book jacketWandering Son by Takako Shimura is a series that is hard to miss. Among a sea of similarly sized paperback manga, Wandering Son is the rare hardcover series. The story centers around a fifth grader named Shuichi Nitori who has just transferred to a new school. During their first day of school Shimura meets Yoshino and the two become instantaneous best friends. And both Shimura and Yoshino are transgender. I really love Takako’s minimal and dreamy illustration style, and that this series focuses on the elements of curiosity and discovery that go along with gender identity and puberty.
 
Black Butler book jacketI admit that I was so excited and impatient to read Black Butler by Yana Toboso that I bought the first book. Set just outside of London during the Victorian era, this series revolves around a young noble, Ciel Phantomhive and his loyal butler Sebastian. Ciel is quite demanding and Sebastian is ever willing to oblige, to the point that it appears that Sebastian can do what no other human can. So, is Sebastian human? I love Toboso's  gothic and lush illustrations and the melding of historical fiction, mystery, and a bit of fantasy. 
 
Blue Exorcist book jacketIn Blue Exorcist by Kazue Katō you meet Rin Okumura and his twin brother Yukio. Rin and Yukio were both raised by Father Fujimoto, an exorcist. Rin has only ever known the world of his adoptive father, a world in which demons are to be fought and killed. But one day Rin finds out that both him and his brother are the sons of Satan, the most powerful demon. Rin being the stronger of the two brothers is the only one who has inherited demon powers. Determined to use his demon side for good Rin enrolls in the True Cross Academy, a school for exorcists in training. I’m a big fan of all things horror so this series immediately grabbed my attention. But I also love the dabs of comedy that are played out in the sibling rivalry between Rin and Yukio.
 
I am crazy in love with these series and excited to find more manga to dive into. If you have never tried manga I hope that I can convince you to give it a try. If you are already a manga fan, I'd love to hear about your favorite titles!
 
 

Baby, it’s hot outside. So what are you going to do? I’m going to cool down.  And that means ice cream. Something cold and delicious no?  What’s your favorite?  Are you a foodie?  I usually go for the nutty classics like pistachio or butter pecan. Jamoca almond fudge anyone?  But now after ice cream endeavors of the foodie kind I am quite taken with my husband's chipotle chocolate. And lately I have liked putting buttermilk lemon ice cream on chocolate cookies.

Next up I want to build an ice cream cake.  Are you with me?  

I judged a book by its cover.
The cover is fantastic—I mean look at it.

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It was screaming for me to pick it up and then, well that’s a coincidence, the author’s name is Ned Beauman. Could it be? Why yes. This is the son of Nicola Beauman, founder of Persephone Books Ltd.—and we all know how I feel about Persephone Books.

Ned, I congratulate you on the stunning representation of L.A.

"The whole city felt like an apartment for sale, which the estate agent had sprayed with perfume just prior to a viewing."

and the many other, equally unique sentences that I wanted to copy down and pin to my wall. However, I could have done without reading the whole of the book. 

Can someone please just put together a book of collected witticisms by Ned Beauman and call it good?

 


 

dog and jim butcher book

 

Thanks to a colleague's enthusiastic recommendation of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Filesmy summer reading is all set

However, all good things must come to an end(or at least until a new book in the series comes out…) and the hunt for the ever elusive "next book" begins.

 

 

 

If you are looking for your next book, check out a few of the many ways you can discover them through Multnomah County Library

Don't forget that you can always ask any of us on the My Librarian team for a personalized recommendation!

Take a look around! While you do that,  I'll be hunkered down with Stella and Chicago's best wizard for hire...

 

 

 

Sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender identity have been getting more attention in the news lately, with the Supreme Court decision about same-sex marriage and Caitlyn Jenner's public transition.

Confused? Curious? Concerned? All of the above? The library is a great place to learn more. Teen Health and Wellness has informative articles and also offers teens the opportunity to submit your own stories and videos.  

If you're in or close to Portland, the services of the Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center and TransActive Gender Center may be helpful.

No matter where you are, you can call, text, or chat YouthLine.

And the video below, LGBTQ: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities, is a good brief overview of these topics that includes stories from several youth.

 

Ah, the lost art of letter writing. I still find myself checking my mail hoping that there will actually be a personal letter mixed in with the credit card applications. But alas, I can’t recall the last time I received a real letter. When I want to immerse myself in the beauty of letter-writing, I shall open up Shaun Usher’s, Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of A Wider Audience

Letters of Note bookjacket

Shaun Usher loves letters (and lists too. His second book, Lists of Note includes such wonders as Michelangelo's illustrated shopping list and Marilyn Monroe’s New Year’s resolutions written when she was 29-years-old.).

But back to the pleasures of letters. Usher has collected 125 letters from far and wide and long ago to more recent times. Many of the letters are from well-known figures but some are from everyday folks. All of the letters have a short introduction to put them into historical context and a good share of them include a reproduction of the letter itself. The effort and creativity that went into these letters - a 13-year-old boy at a school for the blind wrote in Braille to President Eisenhower. The sadness - Virginia Woolf’s note to her husband before she committed suicide. Witty, funny, artistic ones. Beautiful, heartfelt, poignant letters. They’re all here.

If you’d like to peruse even more letters, take a look at Shaun Usher's website where he has posted a whopping 900 letters; they’re indexed in various ways so one could spend weeks reading all of them. Or take a look at some of these books that are chock full of letters. I, however, think I’ll go write a letter to a friend.

RoganGoshMcCarthyArtDark Horse Comics' The Best of Milligan & McCarthy is a gorgeous and (almost) exhaustive compendium, collecting the duo's legendary runs like "Paradax!," "Rogan Gosh," and the previously unavailable "Skin."  Both Milligan and McCarthy went on to forge distinctive careers, but the work collected in this collection is explosive, bewildering, and immediate - completely ignoring the careerist ambitions and institutional strictures both artists eventually had to confront and contend with . 

The comics are all over the place (sometimes head-wreckingly so) but they're always readily situated in the catastrophic top-spin of Thatcher-Reagan economic/social tachycardia.  McCarthy's artwork is typically hyper-active and color-saturated, pushing the physical boundaries of panel and page (the exception being the provisionally censored "Skin" - which is wrought in unique pastel colors by the always incredible Carol Swain). Milligan's writing winds a loose balance between non-linear and scabrous - taking very little seriously - but capable of surprising moments of tenderness and expansive vision.

Their work can definitely jolt - and possibly offend (especially "Skin" - which tells the sad angry, and brief tale of a thalidomide-deformed skinhead in the 1980s UK).  But it's heavily recommended for fans of politically-charged comics that explore the horizons and possibilities of graphic narrative and page art (see Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Sandman-era Neil Gaiman).

 

Hello, library blog reader! I’m typing this post to you from the air-conditioned confines of my carpeted library cube, quiet save for the [•hum•] of the computer and the sounds of other librarians at their other computers: [clickity-click], [clickity-click], and the occasional sniffle or private exclamation. 

Photo of Ross holding a copy of Horrorstor\\ Why am I typing this? \\ Sending this digital blog bottle out into the big Internet ocean? (That is an excellent question.) There is a type of book that I want you to know about. It doesn’t have an official name™, at least none that I know of, but I’ll call it the book as thing, or BAT*.

Most of the world’s books take their book-ness for granted. They line up their letters and words in comfortably normal columns on perfectly(1) numbered(2) pages(3), and you read them and say to yourself “Oh what a fine story.” But the BATs don’t conform to such literature societies' niceties. They chop up their sentences and paragraphs and strew them about, they dye their letters in garish colors, they go up-side down. They’re the punks and iconophiles of the book world, and they shout in your face:

- I AM MY OWN BOOK! -

Photo of Ross holding a copy of Ship of Theseus.And you, my dear computer-screen confidante, are forced to acknowledge:

I am this book’s reader.

Suddenly the act of reading has become a little more intimate, a little more personal. The walls between fictional world and your world have gotten a little more not-there. Creepy books become creepier. Weird books become weirder. Real books become real-er.

Where can you find a BAT in the wild? It's not easy. They might be hiding under the subject heading "experimental fiction" or "marginalia -- specimens." Helpful, I hope, will be a list that I have made for you called "Multcolib My Librarian Ross: The book, the thing," which will provide you with some specimens for your consideration.

Photo of portion of Ross's foot and The Familiar.When you’ve finished a BAT, you can close it up and put it back on your bookshelf, or back through the steel door of the library book drop. [•clank•] But unlike other books where the story is more tidily stored between the covers, it won’t be easily forgotten. Because this book isn't just a container for the story, it’s the story itself. It’s got your fingerprints all over it.

                                                                              ·°°≈≈≈≈≈≈

{*: Inspiration for this appellation - book as thing - should probably be credited to the wonderful, the amusing, The Thing The Book.}

≈≈≈≈≈≈°°·

Photo of Bob's dad in 1944In November of 1943, my Dad joined the US Navy at the age of 18. After basic training in San Diego and electrician training at Kansas University in Lawrence, he was assigned to service aboard an attack transport ship. He has often made light of this assignment, likening the captain and crew to that of the 1960s comedy McHale’s Navy. Sure, there were ships that experienced combat more directly. But just being in the South Pacific during those years left one under continuous threat of enemy attack. For instance, his ship once had to take evasive action to avoid hitting a mine; they fought off a kamikaze attack; and on April 1, 1945, his ship was one of the first ships in to debark troops for the final major battle of the war -- Okinawa. I’ve always been very proud of my Dad and his service to our country.Photo of Bob and his dad in 2015

So August marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Although it was thought that the war would only end with an all-out invasion of Japan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa ended up being the final fights with men against men; this was, of course, because of the atomic bombs being dropped on the cities of Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9.

Interested in reading about the closing days of the war? Here is a list of books on the two final battles and the catastrophic events that brought the war to a sudden end.

Take a bite of an apple. Chew, swallow, and then presto, it comes out the other end! But how does it happen? How do our bodies turn an apple into fuel that helps us play sports, breathe, walk, and talk? The digestive system is the body system responsible for this process. The basic process is well understood by scientists but new research is coming out all the time changing the way we understand the inner workings of our guts.

Image of the organs of the digestive systemThere are many resources on the Internet and through the library that can help you learn about the digestive system. Visit KidsHealth or TeensHealth to find information in English and Spanish for kids and teens including videos, articles, and puzzles to help you learn all about the digestive system and other health topics. Ask a Biologist lets you ask a real biologist science related questions. Ask a Biologist also has lots of great information about microbes and the role they play in our digestive systems.

The Multnomah County Library has science databases where you can search for topics, view videos and print pictures to help with school reports. Today's Science is a database that can help you answer questions like, "What is the latest research on the roll of bacteria in our guts?" or to ask more general questions such as, "how does the digestive system work?" For help using Today's Science, the library provides this useful handout.  If you need to look up basic facts about the digestive system, but can't use Wikipedia, try using World Book, an online encyclopedia. Here you will find information for elementary, middle and high schoolers, great for writing school reports.

When you use the library databases outside of the library, you will need to log in with a library card. Try using key words like: "Digestive System," and "Body Systems." Topics that might include the Digestive System are "Human Anatomy & Physiology," "Nutrition," and "Health."

Check out this video from KidsHealth about the Digestive System from KidsHealth:



If you want to explore this topic more, or if you have more questions about any of this, Ask a Librarian! We’ll be happy to talk more about it.
 

Christina Hammett and Troutdale: A Perfect Match

by Donna Childsvolunteer Christina Hammett

In the best relationships, each believes they got the better deal. That is clearly the case with Christina Hammett and Troutdale Library. Christina thinks the staff and patrons at Troutdale are terrific, and library staff has the highest praise for her artistic know-how, her shining attitude, and her unflagging readiness to help. 

Thanks to fond memories of participating in Summer Reading as a child, Christina began at Troutdale as a Summer Reading volunteer; now she is also a Branch Assistant and a Youth Program Assistant. She has really shone with youth programming, designing whimsically creative, interactive storyboards—often a couple a month--for the youth librarian to use in her storytime presentations. Because she is such a talented artist, the library has also asked her to make displays for other activities: Summer Reading, Lucky Day books, and the Lego group, for example. 

Christina studied journalism at Mount Hood Community College, where she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper; she has also been a sports reporter and photographer at the Gresham Outlook. However, with the decline in print journalism, plus the tight job market for new grads, Christina is now taking stock and trying to figure out what to do, whether to go back to school and what to study. Meanwhile she has a retail job and the Troutdale Library where she feels useful and connected to her community. She loves the people at the library, working with books, and interacting with people who read and talk about books. 

Every Wednesday, Christina goes through her 10-15 page list of holds requests. Like many volunteers, she finds this task a terrific way to discover new books she might not otherwise have known about. 

Christina may be unsure of her future path at the moment, but her intelligence, poise, creativity, and cheerful enthusiasm will make her an asset anywhere. Meanwhile, Troutdale benefits from her many talents.


A Few Facts About Christina

Home library: Troutdale Library

Currently reading: The works of Agatha Christie and A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

Most influential book: The Diary of Anne Frank

Favorite book from childhood: The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, and Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

A book that made you laugh or cry: The Green Mile by Stephen King

Favorite section of the library: Fiction and mystery

E-reader or paper? Paper

Favorite reading guilty pleasure: A Song of Ice and Fire (series) by George Martin and anything by Agatha Christie

Favorite place to read: My bed

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler book jacketAnyone who is a fan of Star Trek will be familiar with the phrase “Resistance is futile.”  It’s the Borg’s mantra that basically means you just need to give up and become assimilated.  Don’t even think about fighting against the mighty collective as it’s no use.  You’ll surrender in the end, become a cyborg and be worse off for the struggle.  I probably would have caved, but Knud Pedersen wouldn’t have given up without a fight.  When the Danish king and government decided to give in quietly to the Nazis rather than have their country become war-torn, Knud and some fellow Danish youth decided they needed to take some action.  They took their inspiration from the Norwegians who were fighting back and the British RAF pilots and formed a resistance club.  They stole weapons, sabotaged vehicles and did damage to Nazi-occupied buildings.  Most of them were just teenagers, but they showed an immense amount of courage in standing up to the Germans who were occupying their country during WWII.  Phillip Hoose tells their compelling true story in The boys who challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club.

For more true stories of resistance, check out this list.

The characters of fantasy novels are so often great warriors or mighty magic users (aside from the hobbits of course!) .  Special people marked for greatness.  Somebody Important! What about the rest of us?  How about a book about a miller's daughter in a humble colony village?  Or a teenage prostitute? 
 
A Turn of Light book jacketA Turn of Light by Julie E Czerneda is about Jenn, a miller's daughter in an isolated frontier community.  Jenn dreams of a wider world that she can never see and as her birthday marking adulthood approaches she is in many ways still a child. Though nearly an adult and with her father suggesting marriage, Jenn is still running off to pick flowers in the meadow and dodging her chores.  Jenn has always had an invisible protector that only spoke to her.  A careless wish of hers one day turns him into a man.Karen Memory book jacket
 
In Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear,  Karen Memery ("like 'memory' only spelt with an e"), a teenage "seamstress" at Madame Damnable's Hôtel Mon Cherie in Rapid City (reminiscent of a gold rush era Seattle) is making the best of things...  Her world is full of steam powered marvels that can do wondrous things and steam powered terrors as well.  Karen is well treated where she is and knows most girls in her trade have it much, much worse.  Sensible sort that she is, she is putting every coin she can aside as a girl can't "sew" forever.  Once she had a mother and father and a good life helping them gentle horses.  Then death claimed them both too soon.  She had no higher hope than setting aside enough silver to buy a little bit of land and a couple of promising horses to train and sell, but she can't turn aside when a badly brutalized girl is found near the establishment she works at.
 
And now I'm going back to lords and heroes with the new book by Stina Leicht: Cold Iron. I always enjoy finding a new author to try.  Maybe
it'll be great!

Spare Parts book jacketI like finding a book that is both engaging and makes me think. Spare Parts is one of those books. It is the story of four teens in a poor Phoenix high school who join the robotics club. Their teacher decides to challenge them to design an underwater robot for a NASA sponsored robotics competition. They overcome all sort of design challenges to end up winning.That would be a good story in itself; now throw in the fact that all four boys are undocumented. They are from Mexico and they live under constant threat of being deported. If they had been citizens, winning a major robotics competition would have led to scholarships and opportunities. For Oscar, Cristian, Luis and Lorenzo it led to struggling to get into college, deportation and dead end jobs.

Spare Parts; Four undocumented teenagers, one ugly robot and the battle for the American dream, by Joshua Davis will change the way you view the debate on immigration and show how people's lives can be negatively affected by government policies.

Were you popular? I don’t think I was popular. Actually I don’t know if I was mean or nice. I thought I was a social outcast until I saw the 30 Rock episode about Liz Lemon’s class reunion. Liz Lemon thinks she was a lonely nerd but she was a tyrant!  Oh she had a way with words that tormented her classmates. I felt haunted after seeing that episode. I know I said zingers like Liz Lemon, but I don’t know if anyone heard them. The last time I read one of my middle school or high school journals I tore it up and burned it. I felt pretty tortured by classmates and my mother. I definitely expressed that on the journal page.

When you read Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir you won’t be tempted to tear it up. No. Popular a Memoir : vintage wisdom for a modern geek is filled with good tips for teens who are working on popularity. And her writing isn’t full of angst -- it’s inspired! When Maya’s family was decluttering their house she discovered her father’s garage sale find: Betty Cornell’s Teen-age Popularity Guide . Betty has lots of tips on how to become popular. Maya was intrigued. And her mother, a documentarian, encouraged Maya to secretly take on the experiment of using Betty’s 60 plus year old tips on how to become popular. Could you wear pearls? Maya takes on wearing pearls, makeup, and sitting where no unpopular teen has sat before: the popular kid’s lunch table. Is it the experiment? Or the journey that enlightens Maya? You’ll have to read her most excellent memoir and find out.

Photo of The Nakeds by Lisa Glatt resting on a lawn chair with a summer cocktail

I hadn’t heard a thing about The Nakeds by Lisa Glatt when I saw it in the new fiction section of my library. The title made me smile and the collaged cover art drew me in closer.  Then a quick skim of the book jacket picked up the words: 1970s… Southern California… painfully honest...nudist camp, and I was sold.

But while 1970s California nudist camp was enough to pique my interest, this book is so much more. When the story opens, 6-year-old Hannah Teller’s parents are busy with the argument that will culminate in the end of their marriage. Hannah steps out of her home, determined to walk to school on her own and is struck by a hopelessly drunk teenage driver named Martin Kettle.  Sounds like a real downer right?

Bear with me. Yes, The Nakeds is a story of a broken girl, a broken marriage and a broken young addict but it’s funny- not quirky funny but unflinchingly honest and brave funny.  Plus it’s a story filled with so much human beauty and compassion that you want to hang around: Even as Hannah gets fitted for yet another cast by another doctor who probably can’t fix her. Even as Hannah’s dad goes ahead and becomes a Jew for Jesus, marrying the blonde Christian surfer girl he started an affair with back when Hannah’s mom was pregnant.  Even as (especially as) Hannah’s mom and her new stepdad expand their nudist camp weekends to include naked Fridays at home. And perhaps most difficult, as Martin Kettle stops and starts his life, paralyzed by denial and self loathing for what he did and failed to own up to.

So beat the crowds and spend a regret-free weekend with The Nakeds this summer. When you’re finished, check out this list for more intriguing new titles you may have missed.

I like things that defy pigeonholing. Sure, sometimes knowing what you're going to get is exactly what you need, but when you feel adventurous, have a look at these. 

Here book jacketHere, a graphic novel by Richard McGuire, is like no other I've encountered. From the book jacket: "Here is the story of a corner of a room and of the events that have occurred in that space over the course of hundreds of thousands of years." Each page is the same view of the same space, but the various tales that occurred there are woven in and out of each other via colorful windows. Several points in time may be shown on the same page, deftly comparing and contrasting each to each. (The little panels are dated with their year, thank goodness.) Touching, real, sad, joyous, mundane and fantastic are here combined as well as I've ever seen. (This would make an interesting flip-book! Time travel, bound.)

Reading this inspired me to share another favorite genre-buster from a few years ago, Bryan Talbot's Alice in Sunderland. So what is it? 'An Alice in Sunderland book jacketentertainment.' It is a history, a biography, a speculative reconstruction, a philosophical musing about a place and its people (including Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell). We enter Sunderland's Empire Theatre to be a part of the audience on a tour through time. Talbot's creation contains photographs, computer renderings, 'found' images and certainly lots of line art. This was my favorite book/graphic novel of the year when I discovered it, and it occurs to me that it is time to have a look again. Gotta go... it's reading time.

Have you ever wondered if the dead can talk to the living? Is there is a spirit world that we can communicate with, but can’t see?  

Portland author, Cat Winters wonders about it too. She is fascinated by the idea that the dead can come to the living to comfort or warn them. Both of her books take place at the turn-of-the-century and reflect the emotion of people reeling from the senseless slaughter and indiscriminate death caused by World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic. They were desperate for a word or a sign from dead or missing sons, husbands, fathers.

In The Shadow of Blackbirds, Mary Shelley Black is visited by a mysterious blackbird.  What does he want? Has her sweetheart been killed in the trenches? Set against the backdrop of seance and spirit photography, and illustrated with archival photographs of World War I, this gripping story takes you into the dark and dangerous world of spirit communication.

Cat Winter’s second book, The  Cure for Dreaming, tackles a different type of spirit -- the spirit of independent thinking. This type of spirit is alive in the main character, Olivia Mead.  It is the year 1900 in Portland, Oregon. When Olivia’s father realizes that she is growing into a strong-minded  young woman in favor of women’s suffrage, he decides to take extreme measures. He hires visiting hypnotist Henri Reverie  to make her think and act like a docile, obedient daughter. But Henri whispers a hidden command in her ear: ‘You will see people as they really are’. Now, what began as a known story veers off into the unknown. This book is filled with authentic local details and presents a fascinating look at the unquenchable spirit needed for to fight for change.

If you like historical mystery with a flash of courage to face the unknown, check out The Shadow of Blackbirds or The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters. Need some music to accompany your reading? The author has created playlists for her books on Spotify and Pinterest.

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