My father and I have a special kind of two person book club. The two of us read the same books (usually ones that he’ll find for me) and then we nerd out about them together. One day when we were searching for a new fantasy novel, he came across an author who was advertising the fact that his books are all the fun of fantasy without any of the explicit stuff. We jumped on board, and thank goodness we did.
If you have heard of Michael J. Sullivan, I wouldn’t be surprised. His latest series THE LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE has become a hit, especially in the fantasy community. If you haven’t heard of him, then stick around, because you are about to meet your new favorite author.
Sullivan has written a full series and is in the middle of two more, all of which are set in the same magical world called Elan. The feeling of the novels is very Tolkienesque, fit with elves, dwarves, and wizards, but also with his own great twists. He weaves his story with myths, legends, and religions that are unique to the world in which he’s built.
Best of all, he writes all of the books in a series before publishing them, a two-fold gift. For one, the intriguing threads he creates are perfectly weaved throughout, from beginning to end. And secondly, this way we don’t have to sit around, staring at his Goodreads profile and waiting for him to give us some kind of sign for when the next book is coming out (looking at you, Patrick Rothfuss).
One of my favorite things about Sullivan is how approachable he is. At the beginning of every book, he includes an author’s note, asking for you to shoot him an email with feedback. On top of this, his Goodreads profile is extremely active. At one time I emailed him a question for an assignment in my English class and he replied within the day. This is truly a career author who not only writes well, but looks out for his fans.
Below I’m going to highlight the first books in each of the Sullivan’s series. Although Sullivan promises that each series is spoiler-free for the others, I suggest reading each series in order of publication, as I’ve lain out.
The first book in the RIYRIA REVELATIONS is actually made up of two books in one, which he published himself originally: The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. When Sullivan’s books were picked up by a publisher, they decided to publish them two at a time. The story follows the unlikely pair of Hadrian, a master swordsman with a huge conscience, and Royce, an amoral thief. While on a job, the rogues end up being framed for the murder of the king and get thrown into an ancient conspiracy. I highly suggest you read this series before the other two, as it is a brilliant introduction to the world of Elan.
Since Theft of Swords takes place 12 years after their first encounter, Sullivan takes this series, THE RIYRIA CHRONICLES, as a chance to show us how the unlikely duo came to be. Although the two men hate each other when they first meet, a common ally hires them to steal from The Crown Tower, an impenetrable fortress. This feat cannot be done without the skills of both, so the hope is they don’t kill each other before the job’s done. This series can be read before The Riyria Revelations, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I’m not too prideful to admit that I nearly cried at the end because of how much I had already grown to love the two.
This most-recent series, The Legends of The First Empire, takes place about 3,000 years before the events of Royce and Hadrian. The basic premise of this story is that everything you learned about the religions and myths in his other series isn’t necessarily accurate. Sullivan takes the phrase “history is written by the winners” with the wonder of an epic fantasy writer. In an age where men worship the Fhrey as gods, a man named Raithe finds himself a God Killer, and sets into motion the beginning of either human annihilation or the dawn of a new age.
It may surprise you to hear that despite my great interest and enthusiasm for graphic novels and comics, I actually haven’t read very many yet! But like many good things – ice cream, cozy blankets, mountains, label makers – you don’t need to have tried them all to know how wonderful a medium it is. But, because I’m so in love with graphic novels, I want to read more of them. Come New Year’s, as I pondered my 2019 reading goals (the only New Year’s resolution I bother to make), I had a thought. A bold, possibly (probably) crazy thought.
What if I read every graphic novel in the library?
So I did the math. And realized just how many graphic novels we have at the library.
I realized this really was a crazy idea. Unless…
Parameters! Yes! Setting some guidelines wouldn’t hurt; sure, it might change the idea a bit, but realistic goals are good goals.After a few minutes, my crazy idea evolved into a legend of a goal. Drumroll, please:
Yes, I cut back on my original idea by focusing on just the Graphic Novel section in the adult collection of the library. It may seem like a lot, excluding books found in the Juvenile Comics, Young Adult Comics, and Overdrive collections. But with approximately 805 titles (and counting) in the Graphic Novel section alone, I’d say I have my work cut out for me. And to ensure success, I decided to share my goal with you, dear readers! It begins! Stay tuned for updates on my progress or decent into madness, whatever the case may be.
Have you made any reading goals for 2019? Do you think I’m going to lose my mind attempting mine? Comment and let us know
I have always loved alphabet books. My grandparents had a Sesame Street book where Grover forms his body into each letter of the alphabet. I remember trying to shape myself into the letters by watching how Grover did it. ABC books span from beginner to advanced. The library has alphabet books about every subject you can imagine. When you read you begin with ABC, when you write it seems as though you do too. When I think of ABC books, though, I generally think of picture books that I read to children to help them develop their early literacy skills. Reading is fun, of course, but reading to a child also helps them gain the skills necessary to be ready to read.
We currently have an alphabet book section in our Hot Topics area of the Children’s Department. Early literacy is important at the library and ABC books are an important element of early literacy. They are also just plain fun to read. The reader feels a sense of completion when the author’s subject utilizes every letter of the alphabet (even if I secretly come to “x” in every book wondering, what creative word the author was able to stretch to fit their subject). Here are some of my favorites:
This is my favorite ABC book of all time. The rhyming is classic Dr. Seuss. It makes reading fun and enjoyable for the caregiver and the child. I ended up memorizing some parts because we read it so many times. It includes a lot of alliteration helping children hear the beginning sounds of the letters over and over again.
This Caldecott Honor book is another classic I remember being read while I was in elementary school. The character in the book goes to the market and the pages are items from the market designed as a person for each letter of the alphabet. The illustrations are incredibly detailed and imaginative.
Children need to be exposed to different foods sometimes before they are willing to try them. This is a perfect book with different fruits and vegetables for every letter of the alphabet!
Silly books make for the best books to read aloud to children. Bad Kitty is pretty particular about the food she eats. When the food runs out and there is no time to go to the grocery store, bad kitty gets pretty upset and does a mean thing for every letter of the alphabet. When a trip to the grocery store happens, there is a list including a type of food for each letter of the alphabet, crazy concoctions you will have never heard of that Bad Kitty absolutely loves. She is so happy she does one thing for every letter of the alphabet to make up for the bad behavior.
Children have a fascination with garbage trucks. They are pretty interesting if you think about it. When my kids were really little we would run like the wind when we heard the garbage truck coming. They loved watching it pick up the big dumpster and empty the trash into the incredible truck. Of course, this has been a favorite of ours to read together. It mentions a type of trash for each letter of the alphabet.
This past year I have been reading a lot of self-improvement books. I don’t know if it is because I’ve finally been converted to reading nonfiction books or because I’m in my 40’s and totally frustrated with my life, but I’m ready for a change. I also realized that my life will not change unless I figure out new ways of doing things and what better way to do that than to read books by experts. I have read some amazing books this year. The little nuggets of information I’ve learned and started to use in my life are beginning to make a difference. If you are ready to make some changes in your life, here are some of my favorite self-help books that you can find at the Provo City Library:
This book is a game-changer for my life. The author talks specifically about setting goals and why most of us never finish them. One of the things that really resonated with me was when the he said that the most important day of any goal is "the day after perfect". It's what we choose to do the day after we don't get our exercise in, or eat the doughnut, or lose the receipt we needed for our budget. Will we do what the majority of people do and quit because we weren’t perfect or will we find a way to readjust and keep going. I listened to this on Libby and highly recommend it. The author narrates this book in a personable and engaging way. He also added some "bonus" material not found in the printed book.
We tend to think that we will be happy once we find success in life. Shawn Achor is a positive psychology researcher at Harvard and he believes it is the other way around. Happiness actually fuels success. When we are positive our brains are better able to cope with life and can become more productive. Don’t worry if you are not a naturally positive person. He shows, through research and example, ways that we can begin to train our brains to look for the positive first. It can be as simple as writing down three good things that happened to you every day for 21 days. This book is targeted for business readers, but his seven principles can apply to everyone seeking more happiness in life. His suggestions are simple but profound.
Rachel Hollis has built a social media business on the premise of uplifting and inspiring women. In this book she talks about the lies that we tell ourselves and let ourselves believe. Things like: I'm not good enough, I'll start tomorrow, I'm not a good mom, or I will never get past this. These and other lies are all things that Rachel believed in her own life. She examines each one and talks about the things she did to overcome the lie. Each chapter addresses a different lie and at the end of the chapter she summarizes three specific things that helped her. The main point of her book is that each of us is ultimately responsible for who we become and how happy we are. It is empowering to have Rachel say, and to finally start to realize, that I have control of my life. We don't need to wait for the right house, the right job, or the right amount of money to be happy. We need to take control of what happens next and we are capable of becoming so much more than we are right now.
I probably shouldn’t have enjoyed reading this book as much as I did. The author admits that she is not naturally organized or clean. For me, this was a breath of fresh air. Most house cleaning/organizing books are written by people who have a natural talent for being clean. They can’t understand why some of us hold on to things for so long, or live with clutter. The author has written this book for the housekeeping-impaired. I connected to her observations and suggestions and she has a really humorous and engaging way of writing. One of my favorite suggestions was to change my house to fit my behaviors instead of trying to change the behaviors I have had for years. Sometimes we don’t realize our problem areas could be changed with a couple simple adjustments to the house to accommodate our natural tendancies.