Blogs

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?  

International breastfeeding symbolWhen I came back to work six months after having my daughter, as a breastfeeding mama, the first thing I had to figure out was how to pump at work. Where would I do it? When would I do it? I pictured a cluttered janitor’s closet or a bathroom (places I have both pumped in a pinch, by the way!). Luckily my workplace is very accommodating toward breastfeeding moms, and I was able to use a discreet office during my pumping times. In fact, at one time there were three women from one department all actively pumping, and there are five of us who are currently still nursing! Wow!

 

But not all new moms are so lucky to have such workplace support. Even though it is Oregon and federal law for a workplace “to provide a break time and space requirement for breastfeeding mothers,” some workplaces may be reluctant to accommodate, or not accommodate at all. In fact, before working at MCL, one of our mamas told a story about being forced to pump away from her workplace because her employer misinterpreted the law, and refused to provide her a space at work. So she literally had to go down the street to a cold, empty building with her own heat source in tow where she fought to keep the lights on. Yikes.

 

If this situation sounds familiar (and hopefully it doesn’t), the important thing to know is requesting a safe, discreet place to pump during your work day is within your rights. If your employer is giving you the run around, you can report them to the Bureau of Labor and Industries, as well as request help to receive a workplace accommodation. It is also within your rights to breastfeed anywhere in public (that includes the library!). So never fear, the law is on your side!

 

My baby is now a two-year-old (sniff), and I love the special bond we have been able to cultivate through breastfeeding. But I couldn’t have done it alone. There are some great organizations out there that support breastfeeding families like KellyMom and La Leche League. Interested in joining a group? The local chapter of La Leche League, La Leche League of Oregon, has meetups and support groups by neighborhood. And if you are looking for some additional breastfeeding resources, be sure to check out what the library has to offer.

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...

 

 

 

Did Aztecs practice human sacrifice? Yes, and so did the Incan and Mayan people. These three Mesoamerican cultures all practiced different forms of human sacrifice for religious reasons.

The Aztec religion included the belief that the sun god, Huitzilopochtli, needed human blood so that the sun would continue its journey in the sky. Both volunteers and prisoners of war found themselves sacrificed for the god.Aztec ceremonial knife

Both the Aztec and Mayan played a ball game that differed a little between the cultures but was a religious ritual for both. And for both the Aztec and Mayan, you didn't want to lose--losers lost a lot more than just the game. Learn about the game at http://chichenitzaruins.org/mayan-ball-game/

Incan priests practiced divination, a ritual to answer questions or to tell the future. Incan divination involved offerings of food and drink to the gods, but also animals and people. The young members of society were valued as sacrifices, which happened in sacred places high in the mountains, closer to the sky gods. One young woman who died hundreds of years ago was found in 1995. She was named Juanita and also is known as the Ice Maiden Mummy.

You can find out more about sacrifices and the ties to religion by going to Student Resources in Context or UXL Encyclopedia of Mythology. Search for "inca mythology," "aztec mythology," or "maya mythology" to learn about the gods, myths and ceremonies. You'll need your Multnomah County Library card if you are outside the library.

Need help finding more information?  Ask a librarian!

 

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.

Chinese staff波特兰华人服务中心将于八月二十二日举行一年一度的亜裔社区义诊活动,你会到场吗?穆鲁玛郡图书馆将会在场参与,提供有关促进身心健康的资源及书籍,並有华语职员为大家解答有关图书馆各类活动的资料。欢迎各位到图书馆的摊位与我们見面,让我们为你介绍最热门的健康食疗、运动新书及影带。亜裔社区义诊活动在8/22 上午十一时至下午四时于3430 SE Powell 街华人服务中心举行。

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).

 

World War Two posterSecond World War- Spitfire - cut out viewAt the end of the Great War (as World War One was called at the time), people thought that such a large-scale conflict could never happen again.  Treaties were signed, the League of Nations was formed, new countries were created and Germany was heavily punished for its part in the war.  These measures did nothing to prevent a war from erupting twenty years later and, in fact, caused resentment in Germany that led to new German aggression.  In 1939, another conflict began in Europe that became World War Two.

For summary information and timelines, check out these two websites:
The History Place provides a timeline of World War II events. Many of the events have links to more detailed information and photographs. In its WWII section, BBC Education online explores secret service, presents radio reports the days before Britain declared war and sound clip memories of evacuees, and various photos from the war. The BBC also features a site for primary school students about children’s experiences during the war.  For a visually interesting site, see The Imperial War Museum’s page on WWII. It includes short essays, photos and film clips on everything from “How Alan Turing Cracked the Enigma Code” and “How Radar Changed The Second World War” to “11 Amazing Home Front Posters from the Second World War”.

For primary sources, take a look at Yale University’s World War II documents. This site provides the text of major documents including armistice agreements, Nuremberg War Crimes Trial sources, German and Japanese surrender documents, and more. The University of Washington also has links to primary sources from WWII and the era including photos of ration cards and posters, diaries, films and a WWII image bank with photos from the Netherlands, and much more.

photo of raising the flag on Iwo JimaFor resources about the involvement of the United States in the war, check out some of these sites:
A People at War highlights the contributions of thousands of Americans, both military and civilian, who served their country during WWII. The Pictures of World War II site from the National Archives includes about 200 photographs divided into a wide variety of categories; everything from "Japan Attacks" to "Rest & Relaxation". The National Archives website also includes links to World War II records including sections on America on the Homefront, Japanese American Internment and Relocation Records, and photographs of African Americans during World War II.  The National WWII Museum has a great collection of images and oral history interviews.  The U.S. Navy has a website devoted to WWII including information on Pacific battles, Pearl Harbor and the invasion of Normandy. PBS and Ken Burns created a televsion series entitled The War that is "the story of the Second World War through personal accounts of a handful of men and women from four American towns." You'll find lots of information from the series and links to other media and sources on this website

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.}

≈≈≈≈≈≈°°·

Multnomah County Library's Lucky Day service includes books for kids, teens and adults.  Lucky Day copies are available for spontaneous use and are not subject to hold queues.  Nobody can place holds on these items; it's first come, first served.  That means you might not have to wait at all for the most popular new titles!  You never know what you might find at your neighborhood library - it just might be your Lucky Day!

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.

What was that book we read for the Capitol Hill Library Pageturners book group two years ago?  I want to recommend it to someone but can't remember the title. 

Capitol Hill Library Pageturners, 2013 - 2014

 

September: The Great Divergence: America's growing inequality crisis and what we can do about it, by Timothy Noah

 

October: The Secrets of Mary Bowser, by Lois Leveen

 

November: The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt

 

December: The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt

 

January: Radioactive : Marie & Pierre Curie, a tale of love & fallout, by Lauren Redniss

 

February: My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor

 

March: Last Night I Sang to the Monster, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

 

April: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan

 

May: When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice, by Terry Tempest Williams

 

June: The Crying Tree, by Naseem Rakha

 

July: The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley

 

August: The Tiger's Wife, by Téa Obreht

Capitol Hill Library Pageturners, 2012 - 2013

 

September: Waxwings, by Jonatan Raban

 

October: We're with Nobody Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics, by Alan Huffman

 

November: State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

 

December: The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery

 

January: Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and A Vast Ocean of A Million Stories, by Simon Winchester

 

February: Ten Little Indians: Stories, by Sherman Alexie

 

March: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson

 

April: If on A Winter's Night A Traveler, by Italo Calvino

 

May: Food, Inc., How Industrial Food Is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-- and What You Can Do About It

 

June: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, by Paul Torday

 

July: Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky

 

August: Spiderweb, by Penelope Lively

Capitol Hill Library Quarterly Classics, 2013 - 2014

 

October: Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes

 

January: American Pastoral, by Philip Roth

 

April: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

July: Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

Capitol Hill Library Quarterly Classics, 2012 - 2013

 

October: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by Simon Armitage

 

January: The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

 

April: Medea, by Euripedes

 

July: Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf

Capitol Hill Library Pageturners, 2011 - 2012

 

September: Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, by Daniel Okrent

 

October: Mink River, by Brian Doyle

 

November: March, by Geraldine Brooks

 

December: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot

 

January: The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman

 

February: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow

 

March: Palace Walk, by Najīb Maḥfūẓ

 

April: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach

 

May: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

 

June: Death With Interruptions, by José Saramago

 

July: Bretz's Flood: The Remarkable Story of A Rebel Geologist and the World's Greatest Flood, by  John Robert Soennichsen

 

August: Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, by Tony Kushner

Capitol Hill Library Pageturners, 2010 - 2012

 

September: Lean on Pete, by Willy Vlautin

 

October: The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey

 

November: The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century, by  Edward Dolnick

 

December: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer

 

January: River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard

 

February: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, by Wes Moore

 

March: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

 

April: Moby Dick, Or, The Whale, by Herman Melville

 

May: The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction, by Tim O'Brien

 

June: The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

 

July: Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City, by Greg Grandin

 

August: Arthur & George, by Julian Barnes

 

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 Grolier Online, a science 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.
 

Here are summer delights recommended by a few of my favorite people. No names,  just a few salient traits. Click on the list to find the associated character trait!

You may not be able to tell a book by its cover, but can you match a reader with her/his favorite book of Summer 2015?

Guess away, which is whose favorite? Sorry, the winner only gets bragging rights. Hint: All pics below are Avatars, chosen by me.

Willy Wonka asks if you write poetryIf you are trying to teach others about writing poetry, how should they get a start? Will they set out to rhyme? Will they rely on imagery?  Will they make a list of words they have to use? Will they use magnetic poetry as a tool? Will they be offended if their funny poem doesn't make anyone laugh?

If you can make the time, there are several poetry-building tools for your perusal. For example, Read Write Think is a top-notch resource for accessible activities. One of their most popular games is Word Mover-- a bit like using magnetic poetry, with the capability of resetting a word bank and including our own vocabulary. Other options include ReadWorks' lesson on rhythm for 1st grade and LearnZillion's learning-to-read poetry post for 3rd grade. For reluctant readers, try the PBS Haiku game or the Fun/Games page on the Shel Silverstein websiteFor specific lesson plans, try using Poetry Archive or the National Education Association

And if students don't finish writing their poems, there is always the Paul Valery quote, "A poem is never finished, only abandoned."

 

 

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!

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