Circulating Now Celebrates 20 Years of Harry Potter!

Our fascination with magic knows no bounds. It grows and shapes our culture. We are muggles searching for the portal that can whisk us free of our mundane lives.

Circulating Now from NLM

By Erika Mills ~

J. K. Rowling published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the debut novel in the seven-book series that became a pop culture phenomenon, on June 26, 1997. Over the past two decades, the exploits of the boy wizard and his friends have spawned successful cinematic and theater adaptations, developed a devoted and enthusiastic global fandom, inspired admirers to create Harry Potter-themed art and media, instilled important moral lessons into a generation of young people now coming of age, and even added to the English lexicon! (See: “Muggle” in the Oxford English Dictionary.) The NLM History of Medicine Division celebrates the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter with special events onsite, as well as a five-post series in Circulating Now.

While the world reflects on 20 years of Harry Potter, we look back further in time—to the Renaissance—at the history that inspired some of the…

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Horned God?

via The Horned Helmet Of Henry VIII With Its Capricious Bearing



Henry at 29

Fascinating photographs and video about the helmet gifted to Henry VIII by Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I, in 1514 AD.



Just to put it into context, Henry was still young (only 23), still tied to Rome, still married to Catherine of Aragon, and still trying for sons and heirs.

Several horned gods thrive from pagan times. Most, like Cernunnos and Jupiter Ammon, are associated with fertility. It makes me wonder where and when Henry donned his helmet.

Thanks to Realm of History for this post and all the fascinating bits they unearth.


5 Queer Non-Fiction Books You Should Read

South Dublin Reads

As part of Pride Month, today we’re pointing out some new queer non-fiction that has caught our eye.

Oh, and today is Dublin Pride! A Happy Pride to one and all!

Queer City by Peter Ackroyd 
queer city.jpg
*** A Sunday Times Bestseller ***

In Queer City Peter Ackroyd looks at London in a whole new way – through the history and experiences of its gay population.

In Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanaria (‘wolf dens’ or public pleasure houses), fornices (brothels) and thermiae (hot baths). Then came the Emperor Constantine, with his bishops, monks and missionaries. And so began an endless loop of alternating permissiveness and censure.

Ackroyd takes us right into the hidden history of the city; from the notorious Normans to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early nineteenth century. He journeys through the coffee bars of sixties Soho to Gay Liberation, disco music and…

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Committing to the Mistake and Writing in the Age of That Guy

Some sage thoughts for another Monday morning…

The Green Study

canstockphoto15407070The hunger divide between writing meaningful stories and writing what I am capable of feels like a gaping maw now. A novel draft I wrote in 2012 seems limp and unedifying. Great novels come out of periods of strife and war and social upheaval. My little domestic drama on paper seems out of step.

I lay in bed last night rewriting my entire novel. It had power and endurance and spoke to the demographics and polarity in our nation – the great canyon between urban and rural, educated and uneducated. It could not be read without raising one’s fist and yelling, “Hell yeah!” It was deep, with a whiff of posterity and the flavor of critical acclaim.

Then I pulled up to my keyboard this morning. The Post-It on my monitor yelled at me: Tell the @#$! Story. I need that reminder these days when my ambition gets ahead of…

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Lycian & Mylinka: Becoming Heroes

UnknownMeet Lycian. Sad, gentle, purple-eyed Gailfen child. Orphan. Wolf clan.  A Wyrm, judged unfit to practice magic. A Mageling still unaware of his enormous power.

Meet Mylinka. Healer. Lavender-haired Visioncaster. Daughter of the Guardian. Once a princess; then a slave child, Mylinka is as stubborn as he is sweet; as fierce as he is fragile.

They meet in innocence, kiss, and are torn apart– thrust into a violent nightmare from which there seems no escape. And yet, the two remain entwined as if by an invisible thread. Is it love?

Lycian and Mylinka are children of a corrupt world, abused by men who lust for power and revel in pain. And so, this other world’s song, is not so distant from our own. As does all great fantasy, the author mirrors our misery in this dystopian world. Listen closely, and you can hear their cries beyond the humming of the spheres.

Things I Love About This Book


First and foremost, Sionnach Wintergreen’s writing. I find myself highlighting passages on my iPad so I can go back and reread them. Though the language appears seemingly effortless, I know what it takes to craft poetic prose.

The kiss on the beach is my favourite scene, but much too long to quote. And so: “She pulled off her remaining sandal, emptying the black sand from it. He watched, with a sense of tragedy, the black grains scatter in the wind.”

A brilliant crimson sun rose above his head, bathing the world in blood. Red sea, red rocks, red sky–everything from the beach in Malyndor, but altered, thin and weeping, drenched like a gauze bandage over a great wound, covering Malyndor like a cruel lie.

The Study of Magic:

Read and learn, all ye apprentices of the magical arts.

“If one can draw magic from another being, or an object like the Astralasphere, or from her surroundings, she can hold her own power in reserve. Mages drew magic from the Astralasphere, warmancers drew the innate magic of other beings–often by force, but magic can also be drawn from one’s surroundings. ‘Free’ energy is all around us–ambient magic. One only has to channel it.”

Fascinating creatures:

Gryphons, telepathic wolves, goblins, and my favourite, the beautiful xhanti who dances dressage.

The Kierighan coughed into one of his black-gloved hands. His xhanti champed its heavy bits. It moved sideways as if it were dancing. Mylinka thought she had never seen such a beautiful animal. The three horns on its otherwise clean wedge-shaped head were evenly spaced and in a neat row that followed its straight profile. Thick curly mane floated against a sleek and heavily muscled neck. Its pricked ears were perfectly shaped and tufted, and the silken fringe on its legs waved like black flags as it moved. Watching it filled her with an inexplicable joy. Riding it would be like being a feather on a breeze.

Tragedy Met with Hope

In what seems a doomed world, populated by monstrous men and women who crave only power, two children meet and form a bond, and from that meeting comes a moment of love, a moment of hope. Is this a message for our own time?

“Rhymer,” she vowed softly. “I’ll save us all.”

I read Book One and Book Two of the Astralasphere Series out of order, but it worked perfectly for me. I wanted to know the children who age and take their revenge. You can find my thoughts on Under the Shadow here. Now I wait for Book Three. And hope. And hope…that kiss will come again.

You can discover more about the characters and series firsthand by reading the author’s blog,



Eden Robinson and the Son of a Trickster


Eden Robinson

I met Eden Robinson in August 2010, when I attended a gathering of educators in Kamloops, B.C. I was working in Aboriginal Education at the time, and the English First Peoples 10-12 courses were coming available in our province. We gathered to search for understanding, share experiences, and explore ways to promote the courses in our communities.

English First Peoples 10-12

These are wonderful courses that feature authentic First Peoples texts and Principals of LearningFirst Peoples Principles-of-Learning-page-001 to fulfil the required secondary language course requirements. This means that a student can choose to experience First Peoples words and cultures, rather than the usual standbys in the book room like Lord of the Flies and Shakespeare. In communities where there is a significant Indigenous population, Elders enhance the experience, and the curriculum can be personalized and flexed into any number of learning experiences.

Monkey Beach

Eden Robinson joined the circle of provincial educators and spoke about her experiences. Her novel, Monkey Beach, is a recommended text for English First Peoples 12. I haven’t read it for a few years. It’s time for a reread and a review. It’s always good to know exactly where the risky bits are located, so in the Teacher Resource Guide, you’ll find the following page-numbered cautions:

throughout – underage smoking, profanity, fighting and violence

52 – drug use, violence
65 – violence (fight)
93 – underage drinking
108 – recalling experiences in a residential school
127-128 – verbal abuse
144 – disturbing imagery (describing a death)
156 – fighting
157 – joyriding
204 – drug use
210-211 – adultery, murder
220-221 – mockery and stereotypes of voodoo and witchcraft 230 – use of an Ouija board in a joking manner
251-251 – use of racial slurs and verbal abuse
255 – reference to abuse occurring in residential schools
258 – rape scene
272 – sexual content, disturbing imagery
286 – sexual content
293 – disturbing description of dead body
296 – drinking and drug use
365 – disturbing reference to an abortion
368-69 – disturbing imagery
369 – violence (murder)

MonkeyBeachAs always, Eden Robinson takes risks and opens windows. What do I love about this woman? She tells the truth.

She’s real.

Her characters are real.

And her delivery is real.

She’s also charming, witty, funny, and an amazing storyteller.

And she signed my copy of Monkey Beach with this:

Yowtz Wendy. May good spirits guide you.

Thank you, Eden Robinson. They do. And may good spirits continue to guide you too.

Son of a Trickster

Eden’s latest novel, Son of a Trickster, was released this year. You can read my review online at the Ottawa Review of Books.

son of a trickster





Want A Cult Following? Hide Secrets In Your Writing

This is an excellent post by Robert Wood of Standout Books. As I draft book three, I am definitely looking for ways to hide secrets! I’m not sure if I can manage codes and ciphers, but I love allusions, clues, and unanswered questions about characters. I also like the idea of focussing just on this throughout one of the final edits.

via Want A Cult Following? Hide Secrets In Your WritingI

Return of the Mummy: Re-Wrapping Unsavory Truths for a Globally Aware World

An excellent essay by KC REDDING-GONZALEZ, who reminds us to respect the dead and cultures not our own.

Zombie Salmon (the Horror Continues)

It’s not just about grave-robbing anymore…

Somehow, that is the potential problem that plagues the modern Mummy, still interpreted by Hollywood primarily…Instead we are obsessed with special effects, popular movie stars, and ancient curses we manage to make up ourselves. Always we decorate our interpretations of Mummy stories with elaborate bigotries and racist caricature.

Nowhere in the past have we treated the culture we are robbing to tell the Mummy’s tale with the respect it is due, nor in a way that enhances the story.

What a shame…For with the Mummy we stand among the most powerful subgenres in Horror – in the fertile ground of the Gothic Romance and the Ghost Story, amidst a magnificent example of marginalization of the Other: the grave-robbing of an antiquated culture for fun and profit, and the exotic dead laced with the desperation of revenge.

Somehow, with visions of pulp and action adventure…

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