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Book jacket: The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin GoOut of the blue Tristan, a young and aimless American, receives notice from a London solicitor's office that he could stand to inherit an unspeakably large fortune that has been left unclaimed for nearly eighty years. He has only to provide evidence that he is the great grandson of one Imogen Soames-Andersson; a name he's never heard before. Oh and Tristan has only two months before the trust expires and the fortune is turned over to charity.

So begins The Steady Running of the Hour, a debut novel by Justin Go that's part historical romance, part pulse-racing scavenger hunt. This is a book for fans of multi-layered historical fiction, whirlwind European travel, genealogy, and mysteries that reveal clues that only lead to more mysteries, until uncovering the story becomes the only thing that matters.

Just be warned that when you are forced to put Go's book down momentarily: to wash dishes, put on pants, or otherwise keep up appearances as a functioning member of society, you too may find yourself walking around in a daydreamy fog, contemplating clues written on brittle letters left behind in isolated Swedish barns.

Agatha Christie was queen of my reading list when I was in junior high school, and when I ran out of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot books, I started consuming other English mysteries of their ilk. It turns out that what I mostly liked was a sub-genre of mystery called "the cozy", and I read truly frightening numbers of them during the summers from the age of 12 until about 18.

Barry Trott notes in Read On…Crime Fiction that "In a cozy mystery, most of the deaths occur offstage, and even when death makes a visit, there is a distinct lack of violence. The same applies to sex…Although the action may be mellow, the characters and the humor in cozies keep the reader entertained and coming back for more." Favorite authors of mine included Dorothy Sayers, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Catherine Aird, Elizabeth Daly, Margery Allingham and Robert Barnard. In later years, I discovered and enjoyed M.C. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth books and Rhys Bowen's Constable Evans series.

Mostly these days I prefer British police procedural series with complex characters and relationships that change and develop from book to book; however, the brooding inspectors and their personal problems have been a bit too heavy for me this year, so I was pleased to read a new book in the cozy arena titled Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet. It was perfect - it had all of the elements that I love in a good cozy: dysfunctional English families, lots of suspects, murders that were not too graphically described and, best of all, a country house setting!

When the eldest son and heir apparent to the Beauclerk-Fisk family fortune is bumped off in the wine cellar and it looks like the murder is an inside job, family secrets begin rising to the surface and nobody is exempt from suspicion. Will the rest of the family get out alive?

Check out the following websites for more on the Cozy Mystery:

The Cozy Library 

Cozy Mystery List

And here's a source for long lists of authors and cozies by theme, courtesy of cozymystery.com.

I am the product of a English teacher/homemaker mom and a history professor dad.  Dig deeper into the family dirt and you’ll find coal miners, farmers and engineers.  My paternal grandmother even served as a Chief Yeoman in World War I. I have relatives on both sides of the family who have done the genealogy, so I know my familial history back a number of generations.  My roots are in England, the Netherlands and the Midwest. It’s no wonder I’m an Anglophile and a Green Bay Packers fan!

The People in the Photo book jacketThe women in The People in the Photo and The Sea House are not so fortunate.  They can’t even get a grip on who their mothers were, let alone their grandmothers. In The People in the Photo by Helene Gestern, Parisian archivist Helene Hivert doesn’t know much about her mother except that she died when she was four.  For years she didn’t even know how her mother died because nobody would talk about it, and her father would get very upset when Helene asked.  Years later as an adult, Helene finds a newspaper clipping with a photo of her mother and two men on a tennis court and decides to find out who those men were. What follows is a series of letters between Helene and Stephane, the son of one of those men.  Peeling the layers of family mysteries was fascinating and if I hadn’t had to go to work, I would have finished this novel in a day.The Sea House book jacket

In The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford, Ruth similarly knows little about her mother.  Her mother also died when she was young, but not before she had told Ruth stories about her grandmother’s grandmother: She “was a seal woman.  She cast off her seal skin, fell in love with a fisherman, had his child and then she left them.  Sooner or later, seal people always go back to the sea.”  Well Ruth goes back, not to the sea, but to an island in the Outer Hebrides where her mother said she had grown up and buys a house, and soon she is deep in investigating secrets involving a dead child who just might have some Selkie (seal people) blood in her.  I loved the way the book shuttled back and forth between the 1860s occupant’s story and that of Ruth, the present day owner. I definitely want to get to the Hebrides one day, even though, as far as I know, I have no Selkies in my ancestral pool.

If you love books about family secrets, you’ll enjoy these two titles.

Attention middle and high school educators: are you looking for good, new books to use in the classroom? Watch these videosin which librarians from the Multnomah County Library School Corps introduce recently-published titles to use in the curriculum. We've broken them down by subject for convenience in viewing. Feel free to share the videos with other educators, too! Here’s the complete list of titles from this workshop.

If you missed our in-person summer educator workshops, the reading lists are now available in the library catalog!

Gotta Read This: New Books to Connect with Your Curriculum for Grades K-5Learn about new books you might integrate into your language arts, social studies, math, science and art curriculum.

Novel-Ties: New Fiction for Literature CirclesDo you lead book discussion groups or literature circles for students? Here's a list of hot, new, discussable fiction for grades 4-8.

Happy reading!

E-reader popularity has been rapidly increasing over the past few years, which brings the question to mind: are e-readers the technology of the future? I believe that they are. 
 
I understand many people's hesitation to utilize e-reader technology, but comparatively, the pros of e-readers outweigh the cons. Since I'm trying to acknowledge my opposition's reasoning, let's delve into the cons. A common issue is that it can be hard to learn to use an e-reader.This is a problem that won't last long. Many Multnomah County libraries offer hands-on classes on how to use and operate various kinds of e-readers, and as if that isn't enough, the website has a page filled with information to help you better understand your e-reader
 
Many people are opposed to e-readers for cost reasons, but each wave of new e-readers tends to be less costly than the last. Surprisingly, there are many e-readers that market for less than $100, such as the Kindle Keyboard, Nook Touch, Kobo Wi-Fi, Skytex Primer, as well as numerous others. Another factor is the comparative cost of books. E-books cost less in the long run than paper books, due to the fact that they have no printing fees. To give you a better understanding of the pricing differences, in this New York Times #1 Besteller, the hardcover edition is listed as $16.79, while the kindle edition is listed as only $12.95 (and may be discounted further by the time you read this).
 
I've spent all this time trying to convince you that e-readers are vastly superior to books, yet I still see a place for books in the future. I think that books will retain the market of the anti-technological; the people still clinging to the old traditions and ways (which is a surprisingly large accumulation). Even when e-readers are the status quo (just a prediction of mine), books are all but extinct, and e-reader sales continuously grow while book sales decrease, I believe that those anti-technologicals will continue to cherish books. I think that they will hold onto them as 70s and 80s children hold onto records, as mementos of the past.
 
Additional resources:
 
 

I've read a lot of novels set in Europe during World War II. Hasn't every reader of historical fiction? It's the just war—the only war in recent memory where there was a clear line between the good and the bad guys, which makes it very useful for literature. But of course, it's not really that simple. Recently I read Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, and it gave a thoughtful and moving look at what it would have been like to be on the wrong side of that war.

We meet Werner as a young orphan in a bleak mining town in Germany. Germany is already turning into a war machine, one fueled by the coal mines that Werner and all the boys in the orphanage are going to be sent down into when they get old enough. But Werner is a bit of a prodigy. He has the ability to fix radios everyone else has given up on, and when his talent catches the right person's attention, he's given a chance to escape from the mines. He takes this chance, getting a place at a national school that, with the use of shocking brutality, is molding the future leadership of the Third Reich. 

Marie-Laure is a blind girl living in Paris with her father. She's a great character, extraordinarily brave, and indeed, she needs to be brave as she flees Paris, loses her father, and gets involved with the French Resistance.

The narrative alternates between these two characters and they do not meet until very close to the end of both the war and the book. The writing is lovely, and the book is full of interesting and well-developed characters.

Sometimes I look around at the books in the library where I work and despair-- the whole world of literature is darkness, except for those books I've inhabited for a while and made my own, and there are so many I'll never get to. If you enjoy fiction set during World War II, this list contains other good books that you may not want to leave in the dark.

 

 

Finding science information can be a challenge.  When you want to find research to use in your work, study, or in your daily life -- or when you are just hungry to satisfy your curiosity about science that’s in the news or on your mind -- it can be difficult to know where to start.

One way to get your footing is to ask yourself, “How would scientists communicate about the question I’m exploring?”

Scientists communicate in lots of ways, so I’ve split them into two big categories: the way scientists communicate amongst themselves, and the way they communicate with the rest of us.  In this post, we’ll talk about the first category:   

The way scientists talk to each other

“editing a paper,” by Flickr user Nic McPheeAt minimum, scientists communicate with colleagues in their field by publishing reports or analyses of their work.  A report of this type might appear as an academic paper published in a journal or read at a conference.  Generally speaking, formal communication of this sort goes through a peer-review process -- which means that experts and respected colleagues evaluate the paper and give feedback before it is published.  

Scientists might also engage in peer-to-peer debate about hot issues of the day -- for example, in person at professional meetings, or in the letters section of a widely-read journal.  

Here are some ways to find this type of "by scientists, for scientists" information:

Now you should have a good start finding research, data, and information that scientists share with each other.  Next time, I’ll share some resources you can use to find science information that is published specifically for laypersons -- that’s us non-scientists!

 


In the meantime, don’t forget that librarians are always happy to help you with your questions and research needs -- whether they’re science-related or not!  So ask the librarian on duty the next time you’re at the library, or call or email us anytime.


 

It is that time of year when students don backpacks and grab lunch boxes, jump on buses, and synchronize their schedules to the sound of a bell. Fall signifies a return to the halls of learning, to homework, and studying textbooks.

But what about those of us beyond our backpack years, who consider our formal education complete but still have a thirst for knowledge? What are we, the lifelong learners and the constantly curious to do now that school is in session?

Here is a list of some top adult learning resources available freely online.  They are especially geared toward adult lifelong learners who are looking to explore new fields of knowledge, satisfy curiosity, and continue learning many years after the backpack has been permantly hung up.

  • Open Culture is an online collection of high-quality cultural and education media including language learning, movies, audio books, e-books, MOOCs*, and language learning resources. Take a course in Computer Science, watch Oscar winning films, or learn Italian.
  • Learn Free (or Aprende Libre in Spanish) is a self-paced and comprehensive website geared toward adults learning a new technology, improving English literacy, learning math and money basics, and increasing job skills. A popular course is Facebook 101 perfect for understanding Facebook's privacy settings and policies.
  • TechBoomers is a free educational website that teaches older adults about websites that may improve their life and tech know-how.  There are a lot of tutorials here that you will not find any where else.  The great think is you do not have to have any gray hair to use it, just a desire to learn.
  •  Khan Academy is a not-for-profit with the mission to provide a free online world-class education for anyone anywhere.  It requires that you create an account and then from there you have access to a wide range of subjects including math, science, and computing.  I like this resource because it tracks your progress and allows you to earn digital badges for your hard work. 
  • Academic Earth is a collection of free online college courses from well known universities like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT.  I've been enjoying the TL;DR** video illustrating through illustration summaries of classic works, including Fahrenheit 451
  • Coursera also offers free online college level courses. You choose which courses to sign up for then learn on your own time.  Coursework includes short video lectures, quizes, peer graded assignments, connecting with other students and teachers, and recognition for your achievements. Courses range from Child Nutrition and Cooking to the History of Rock, from Scientific Computing to Exploratory Data Analysis.  

Most importantly your Multnomah County Library has a wealth of online learning resources freely available with your library card.  

You can learn a new language with Mango Connect, listen to political folk songs or medieval music from Music Online from Alexander Street Press, or study for a test and improve job skills with the LearningExpress Library.  Take a look at the library's online research page for many more choices. There are almost unlimited ways to continue learning and developing valuable new skills with your library card! 

Are you making an inquiry into a new subject, doing dedicated research, or just curious about something you heard about? Contact a librarian today and we will be happy to help you continue your search.

Do you have a favorite online resource to recommend?  Let us know in the comments.

 

*MOOC is an acronym for “massive open online course” an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web.   

**TL;DR is an acronym for "too long; didn't read" indicating the video is a summary of the novel.

The Great Library Card Adventure is a library card campaign for K-5 classrooms in Multnomah County, presented by the Multnomah County Library School Corps. We want every student, faculty and staff member in the county to have a Multnomah County Library card. A library card is the key to the fullest use of Multnomah County Library's information resources.

Dates:  October 1 through December 12, 2014

To sign up: Complete this form by September 19. Your school will then receive a packet of informational materials.

Send completed library card applications toMultnomah County Library School Corps, 205 NE Russell, Portland, OR 97212

Applications can also be labeled "School Corps" and dropped off at any Multnomah County Library location. Remember that library card applications must be signed on the back by the student and parent before they are submitted.

Prizes:

For students who are getting a library card for the first time:

  • 2 free game admissions and 60 nickels or 2 fee movie admissions and 1 small popcorn from Wunderland

For teachers/classrooms:

  • All teachers receive a $5 coupon for the Title Wave bookstore when they send in library card applications.
  • All classrooms with 100% of the students signed up for library cards will receive a $5 gift certificate to Collage and will be entered in a drawing to win one of three collections of age-appropriate fiction and non-fiction books for their classroom.

The Great Library Card Adventure is made possible in part by The Library Foundation.

Logo for Wunderland Cinema & Nickel Games

Margaret MeadI have vivid memories of rummaging about in my mom’s stockings drawer when I was a kid and finding two books - one was on boys' development (my brother was in his difficult puberty years) and the other was Margaret Mead’s, Coming of Age in Samoa. I didn’t quite understand why my mom had hidden this book away and it didn’t look enticing enough to read so I left it and spent a lot of time reading about how boys develop. I wish now I had read a bit of Coming of Age in Samoa to see just how ahead of its time it was.

Euphoria bookjacket

My memory of finding Margaret Mead’s groundbreaking book came back to me as I was reading Lily King’s latest book, Euphoria. Euphoria takes as its starting point an event in the life of Margaret Mead and spins off into a tale that takes you into the world of anthropologists exploring the world of New Guinea in the 1930's. It’s the story of three anthropologists: Nell Stone, modeled after Margaret Mead, her husband Fen, and Andrew Bankson, a troubled, suicidal man who is saved by his relationship with Nell and Fen. It’s a tale of passion, imagination, memory. It makes you think about how objective any of us can be when viewing the world. And you'll be blown away by the amazing writing: 

Do you have a favorite part of all this? she asked. . .

It’s that moment about two months in, when you think you’ve finally got a handle on this place. Suddenly it feels within your grasp. It’s a delusion--you’ve only been there eight weeks--and it’s followed by the complete despair of ever understanding anything. But at that moment the place feels entirely yours. It’s the briefest, purest euphoria.

Bloody hell. I laughed.

You don’t get that?

Christ, no. A good day for me is when no little boy steals my underwear, pokes it through with sticks, and brings it back stuffed with rats.

If you’re looking for a book filled with wonderful imagery, a fascinating story, an exotic setting, and interesting characters, then Euphoria’s a book for you.

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