McKayla

  •  Brandon Sanderson

    Whenever people find out I study English and work at the Provo Library, they immediately ask me what books I recommend. My immediate response is, “Any book by Brandon Sanderson.”

    It would be an understatement to say that I’m an avid fan. When I first read his books, I thought, “Boy, this is what a novel should be.” Then I discovered the man is from Utah, publishes about a book a year, has several different series, and nearly all of these books connect. That’s right, Sanderson has created a universe called “The Cosmere” and several of his book series take place within this universe.

    Take a breath with me; it’s a lot to take in. I remember when I first discovered this, the subtle connection between the books, and I was already several books in. I had to go back and reread all the books (not to mention many internet searches to find out what people much smarter than me already put together).I’m here to do the hard work for you. After my considerable time in the worlds of Brandon Sanderson, I have come up with an order for my friends to read the books. My purpose today is to share that list with you and to highlight an amazing author’s career.

    One last tip, keep a lookout for the name “Hoid.” You may see him pop up here or there.

    11.30 MistbornMISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2006)

    This is the first Sanderson book I read. In this society, a God-like tyrant, the Lord Ruler has set up society where there are two social classes: Skaa and Nobles. A group of thieves, the leader of which, Kelsier, has a personal vendetta against the Lord Ruler, plans to overthrow the government. The story is a trilogy with a great magic system and great stakes. It can be on the heavier side for those just getting into Sanderson. If you feel this way, go ahead and read the next one (Elantris) first and save this one for second.

     

    11.30 ElantrisELANTRIS
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2005)

    Elantris is the first book Sanderson wrote. Many say for this fact alone it should then be the first to read. There is an argument for this, but I put it second just because I feel this one is easier to get into after the introduction of Mistborn. Once some people in this world would be taken by the Shaod (as it is called in the book) and become like gods. That is before the events of the Reod, when this blessing became a curse. Now those taken by the Shaod are thrown into the city of Elantris, where the cursed people will live for all eternity.

     

    11.30 WarbreakerWARBREAKER
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2009)

    Some people have the tendency to skip this one because it isn’t as popular as some of the others like Mistborn or Way of Kings. I beg of you, don’t skip this book if you are fascinated by the connective quality of the books. This one is important for some of those mind-blowing Sanderson moments. Warbreaker is mostly about two sisters, princesses who come from a land where color isn’t widely used. You see, color is part of the source of the magic, along with that which they call “breath.”

    Note: Hoid’s name won’t be mentioned in this book. If you pay attention and perhaps search Wikipedia a little, you’ll be able to find out where he is.

     

    11.30 Way of KingsWAY OF KINGS
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2010)

    This is the one where things really seem to start colliding. In this monstrous novel (1007 pages, see why I had you warmed up of the ones half that size?) Sanderson gives us a world currently in a ten year war, following the assassination of King Gavilar. This book is Sanderson’s pinnacle of world building, as he builds amazing magic systems, multiple political systems, and several character viewpoints. Not to mention that Hoid character I told you about makes a special, and much longer, appearance. This is the first of three, but Sanderson plans to write ten total of this series. 

     

    Ultimately Sanderson has many more books to read, even in the Cosmere, but I hope you will find this a great beginning guide to your new book obsession.

  • Book Blind Date

    We have all been there: caught by the intrigue, longing for the the possibility for love. Or just the next good read. After an excursion out to the bookshop, you carry the small stack of books you decided to buy and stand in line for the cashier. Your eyes wander, naturally still looking, and they notice a stand of what appears to be books entirely wrapped in brown butcher paper.  A piece of twine warps around the edges and makes a perfect bow on the fronts. In black marker, bullet points are listed, telling you three random details about the book hidden underneath. All you must do is go up to the counter, purchase the mystery, and start your next adventure.

    But do those kinds of dates ever really work out?

    Personally, I have never been able to commit to a blind date with a book.  It’s always seemed like a lot of commitment for a book I don’t even know. Right?

    That’s why our blind date with a book series is going to work a bit differently. If you find that you are interested in one of the fabulous mystery books below, click the link and it’ll take you start to its catalog page. There you can come face to face with the book you’ve chosen and truly decide if it is the one that you have been longing for. All the intrigue with none of the worries.

    Now, I hope you and your book have good time! 

    BLIND DATE #1

    • Murder mystery
    • First-person narrator
    • Quick read
    • Just wait until the end…

    BLIND DATE #2

    • Time travel
    • Female protagonist
    • Fast paced with plenty of action and danger
    • And who is that stranger anyway?

    BLIND DATE #3

    • Nonfiction
    • Underdogs
    • Redefining Success
    • What if our weaknesses give us an advantage?

    BLIND DATE # 4

    • Regency romance
    • Utah author
    • Difficult mothers
    • Childhood friends.
    • Will they find love?

    So, which did you choose?

    6.7 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd#1: THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD
    By Agatha Christie
    (1926)

     

    6.7 Lightning#2: LIGHTNING
    By Dean R. Koontz
    (1988)

     

    6.7 David and Goliath#3: DAVID AND GOLIATH
    By Malcolm Gladwell
    (2015)

     

    6.7 Blackmoore#4: BLACKMOORE
    By Julianne Donaldson
    (2015)

     
     

    Still looking for literary love? Check out round 2 here.

  • Book Blind Date

    Hello my fellow readers! This is book-dating guru McKayla back for another Blind Date with a Book! If you missed the first in this series, I suggest checking it out as well! After all, you never know when you’ll find love.

    That’s why I’m here.

    It works like this: I’ll use some-what vague identifiers for four books below. If there’s one that intrigues you, all you need to do is scroll down, click on the catalogue link, and reserve your next date. Make sure you plan a quiet night; you’ll want to invest sometime.

    Blind Date #1

    • Middle Eastern
    • Fantasy
    • Female protagonist
    • Switching view-points
    • Political intrigue

    BLIND DATE #2

    • Time travel
    • A history buff’s dream
    • Movie adaptation
    • Successful, well-known author 

    BLIND DATE #3

    • A classic you’ve heard of but maybe never read 
    • Several movie adaptations 
    • Origin of one of the most famous lines in history 
    • Lots of dueling. What more could you want?

    BLIND DATE #4

    • A collection of essay revolving around a single topic
    • Wide range in writing styles
    • Touching and vulnerable anecdotes
    • Variety of topics ranging from relationships to reality television to disease

    7.26 City of Brass#1: THE CITY OF BRASS
    By S. A. Chakraborty
    (2017)

     

    7.26 Timeline#2: TIMELINE
    By Michael Crichton
    (1999)

     

    7.26 The Three Musketeers#3: THE THREE MUSKETEERS
    By Alexander Dumas
    (1844)

     

    7.26 The Empathy Exams#4: THE EMPATHY EXAMS: ESSAYS
    By Leslie Jamison
    (2014)

     
  • Poetry

    How are you enjoying National Poetry Writing Month? If you're participating in #NaPoWriMo, it can be hard to decide what to write about, but we're here to help! Here are a few prompts to get you started this week.

    Day 8: Idioms and proverbs are fun because when someone unfamiliar with one asks us, “What does that mean?” we don’t know always how to respond. We just know, right? Find an idiom or proverb you love (or one that you don’t get) and write a poem around it.

    Day 9: Use these random words and write a poem: coil, useless, hulking, wistful, space.

    Day 10: Let’s try syllable work and create a Cinquain poem. The Cinquain is five lines long. The first line is comprised of 2 syllables, 4 in the second line, 6 in the third, 8 in the fourth, and 2 in the fifth. 

    Day 11: Write a poem relying on the senses of smell, taste, hearing, touch. Do not use sight at all in the poem but rather create an image with the other four senses. 

    Day 12: Find five things in your house that start with the same letter. Write a poem where they all appear.

    Day 13: Write a poem where your first initial is the first letter of each line in the first stanza, your middle initial is the first letter of each in the second stanza  (if you don’t have one, you get one less stanza!), and your last initial is the first letter of the last stanza. For extra credit, create a final line where you have a word starting with each letter to finish off.

    Day 14: Let’s practice repetition! Pick a letter in the alphabet and try to repeat the letter again and again in your poem.

    For more poetic inspiration, be sure to check out last week's post, and be on the lookout for more ideas the next two weeks. 

  • Poetry

    You're halfway done with NaPoWriMo! Hopefully the muses are still inspiring you, but we're also here to help. Why not check out a collection of poems like this anthology? Struggling with meter and rhythm? Maybe listening to poetry like the ones in this collection will be just the cure you need.

    Day 15: Halfway there! Today, pick two of the poems you’ve already written and try to combine them in some way. This could be taking the style of one and the theme of another or perhaps creating a metaphor that recognizes two ideas you have thought about.

    Day 16: Write about a time you had to say goodbye, whether to a person, to an ideal, or to a time of life.

    Day 17: Find a random piece of prose online. This could range from blog posts (you could take this one for instance) or a page from a story. Print it out and practice blackout poetry, which is where you blackout all the words except the ones you want to use to create a poem.

    Day 18: Embody one of your favorite book characters and how they would react to a situation in your life.

    Day 19: Go to an art exhibit (like perhaps one in The Attic at your local library), listen to a movie score, or participate in some form of art that isn’t literary. Write a poem inspired by that piece of art. 

    Day 20: Everyone has that weird pet peeve. Today, write a poem about yours.

    Day 21: Think about food. Eat some food. Write about food. 

    If you missed them, don't forget to check out the prompts from the first and second weeks of April, and be sure to watch for next week's edition!

  • Poetry

    Well, poets, you've nearly finished! With just nine days to go in NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month), here are a few prompts to guide you:

    Day 22: Take a favorite quote of yours (or at least a part of one) and make it the first and last line of the poem. Try to make the quote mean something different with each use.

    Day 23: Make a concrete poem or a visual poem where the poem visually looks like what its describing (for instance, George Herbert’s poem “The Altar” was built to look like an alter) 

    Day 24: Poetry. Math. Poetry and Math. Write a poem about math. Whether that makes something in math a metaphor for life or you find a poetry form that is mathematical (like Fibonacci Poetry), let’s try to be inspired by math today.

    Day 25: Look at the last photo you took on your phone. Give yourself only two minutes to write a poem that is inspired by that photo.

    Day 26: Write a poem where the title has a completely different tone or context than the actual content of the poem. (Example: The title “Summer Fun” and then the poem is about winter) 

    Day 27: Write a prose poem about a Greek myth that interests you. 

    Day 28: Who do you look up to? Write a poem that is also a letter to an important person in your life.

    Day 29: Write a poem that is only 10 words long.

    Day 30: Think about poetry and yourself as a poet. Address your reader and discuss what poetry means to you. 

    How did #NaPoWriMo go for you? Please share your creations with us!

  • Poetry

    Poetry. I understand that the mere word instils fear into the hearts of some. But I think there is a kind of poetry for everyone. So, this month I wish to celebrate the art of poetry. 

    As I believe that there is poetry for everyone to enjoy, I also think everyone should dabble in the writing of poetry. As part of National Poetry Month, there is a challenge to write a poem every day. I am going to participate in this challenge and encourage all of you to do the same!

    I have written 30 days worth of prompts so you don’t need to have any fear or crisis with lack of ideas. Also, hopefully these challenges are diverse enough that they give you practice in many different styles of poetry. As you work to complete this challenge, I encourage you not to worry about how “good” your poems are. Just write for the sake of creating something that only you could have written. If there’s one that you like or see potential in, come back to it later and make it something even more beautiful. If there’s one that makes your stomach cringe, just try again the next day. Ultimately this is about practice, not perfection.

    If you don’t like my prompts (or would like more) please visit napowrimo.net. They will be posting daily prompts throughout April.

    Day 1: April Fools Day! Write a nonsense poem, which is basically poetry that has no meaning and is whimsical and focused mainly on rhyme. (A great nonsense poet is Dr. Seuss)

    Day 2: Find a book (perhaps at your local library) and turn to page 35, pick a sentence, and write a poem with that sentence as inspiration.

    Day 3: Write an elegy or an ode to an odd object found around the house. (For example, I once wrote an ode to all the bobby-pins I’ve lost over the years)

    Day 4: What’s your least favorite kind of weather? Ok, now write a poem glorifying it with beautiful language. 

    Day 5: Take a drive or search online for a house that is unique. Whether it is cute or creepy, large or small, write a poem about that house and why it struck you. 

    Day 6: Did you know Dictionary.com has a word of the day? Look up the one for today and somehow integrate that word into your poem.

    Day 7: Love poems seem to all be the same these days. Take the idea of love (in any of its forms) and compare it to an unusual object. Start your poem with: “Love is” and insert your own word or phrase. (For example: “Love is a Lucky Charms cereal box”)  

    We'll share another week's worth of prompts next Monday. In the meantime, feel free to share your poetric creations with us!

  • Sullivan

    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.

    1.18 Theft of SwordsTHEFT OF SWORDS: BOOK ONE OF THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS
    By Michael J. Sullivan
    (2011)

    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.

     

    1.18 The Crown TowerTHE CROWN TOWER: BOOK ONE OF THE RIYRIA CHRONICLES
    By Michael J. Sullivan
    (2013)

    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.

     

    1.18 Age of MythAGE OF MYTH: BOOK ONE OF THE LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE
    By Michael J. Sullivan
    (2017)

    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.