Must Read Monday: Falling Man

Posted 28 September, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Must Read Monday: Falling ManFalling Man by Don DeLillo
Also by this author: Underworld
Published by Pan Macmillan on September 23rd 2011
Genres: Fiction, General
Pages: 260
Format: Audiobook
Falling Man begins on September 11, in the smoke and ash of the burning towers. In the days and the years following, we trace the aftermath of this global tremor in the private lives of a few reticulated individuals. Theirs are lives choreographed by loss, by grief and by the enormous force of history. From these intimate portraits, DeLillo shifts to an extrapolated vision: he charts the way the events have reconfigured our emotional landscape, our memory and our perception of the world.

I started Falling Man shortly after the 14th anniversary of 9/11. As a thirty-something American 9/11 was an event that affected me profoundly, perhaps shaped me in ways that I’m still not completely aware of. DeLillo’s Falling Man is brilliant and beautiful. It’s almost less a novel and more long form poetry.

The writing is gorgeous, the main characters are fully fleshed out and relatable. I anticipate a complaint that many readers may have is that there isn’t a whole lot of action. This is true, Falling Man is more of a character study than a plot driven novel, but I find these characters – an estranged husband and wife living in New York City when the towers fall to be fully fleshed out and completely believable and relatable to an extent. The horror, shock, and … to an extent PTSD that they experience in the days, months, and years after 9/11 is something that is familiar to many Americans.

Falling Man is both an everyman novel and a novel about what it means to belong and grieve, what it means to need religion to an extent that it is able to justify the killing of innocents, what it means to harbor unfair stereotypes and how sometimes it is impossible to rid ourselves of these unfair stereotypes.

I guess what I really want to say is that DeLillo is a genius and this slim novel is beautiful and beautifully written. People who need a lot of plot in their lives aren’t going to be a fan of this novel, but I can’t recommend Falling Man highly enough to those of us who love a good character study.

What about you, Reader? Whether you’re an American or international did 9/11 affect you profoundly? Are you a fan of character studies? 




Sunday Salon: Where She is Moody

Posted 27 September, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes


Time // 12:03 PM EDT

Feeling // Odd. This is often the word I use when I’m feeling a little depressed with no discernible reason – so maybe more accurately, I’m feeling a little depressed for no discernible reason.

Reading // My reading of words on paper or e-screens is still relatively stalled, but I’m making it through essay by essay on Accidental Saints, which is fabulous. I finished Falling Man on Audible, which was breathtaking (see review tomorrow), and I’m loving Franzen’s Freedom on CD, which I so generously received from Darlene at Lost in Literature. Also, before I go to bed I’m still working on ‘re-reading’ the last volume of King’s magnum opus The Dark Tower, also on Audible. So. Good.

Planning // On getting to Fates and Furies for an upcoming Socratic Salon discussion along with the thousand other books that I need to read.

The Move // Is pretty much completed… things are organized. Other than that, we need to paint the interior and a few walls knocked down and we’ll be set.

I’m going to stop this Sunday Salon before my mood gets too… moody. How’s your week, Readers?! 




Loving People Who Love Jesus: Nadia Bolz-Weber and Me

Posted 14 September, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors, musings

accidental saints collage

So I was fortunate enough to get to spend an evening with Nadia Bolz-Weber, and by ‘spend an evening’ I mean going to an already scheduled book reading that she was having here in Decatur. Let me tell you, this lady loves Jesus. Real hard. Most of the time this would be a turn-off for a gal like me. Don’t get me wrong. I make exceptions for people that I know in real life, but public figures who love Jesus usually get a mark in the ‘con’ side of a pro/con list I keep in my head about people.

But Rev. Bolz-Weber is way different. I found her talk to be charming and accessible; open and inclusive. I went with my friend who attends(ed) a Southern Baptist church and after listening to Rev. Bolz-Weber speak about how we’re all ‘accidental saints’ and the light of Christ shines upon even the worst of us, J. turned to me and was all, “That’s exactly how I feel, I want a church that accepts me for me.” For this atheist, that’s exactly the kind of public-figure Christian that I can get behind.

Of course she did some readings from her newly released book Accidental Saints, which I’ve started and (of course) is fabulous. She also did the most amazing raffle with the proceeds going to two excellent bookish charities. She ranted about the Hallmark-ization of Christmas, including her extreme dislike of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ and the mischaracterization that modern Christianity has made of the magi (“We’re not talking cute magicians that you hire for your kid’s birthday party, we’re not talking about Gob Bluth.”)

lighter fluid

Another point of her lecture that really hit me hard was her speaking about demons in the Bible and how real those demons may be today. No matter what we want to call them by, depression, mental illness, addiction, even this atheist must agree we have demons that inhabit the world today. I’m probably more sure in my feelings than she is that these ‘demons’ are due to neurological and social causes rather than actual supernatural beings, but despite this I was deeply touched and affected when she spoke of her depression. She named her depression Frances, and “…the only drug that bitch didn’t like was called Wellbutrin.” I too have experienced depression so deep it was tangible, self destructive tendencies so big they felt like possession. This openness and frankness is what I have loved about Rev. Bolz-Weber since I read Pastrix, she’s so real and honest. A lack of honesty is something that I often want to criticize in modern Christians (especially those I don’t know personally).

We are all deeply flawed and all we can do is to continue to love our neighbor, even the bad ones, to the best of our ability. To forgive, to strive harder to be good people and make the world a better place. Again, this is what I love about Rev. Bolz-Weber, is that even though I don’t embrace her theology (though I deeply, truly wish I could) I honestly and completely embrace her philosophy and admire her convictions.

Now for something fun. I totally fangirled out at the book signing portion of the night and was all “You probably don’t remember me, but I was that atheist who loved Pastrix so hard.” and… she claimed she totally did! I got a giant hug from this CrossFitted, Jesus-loving, ELCA pastor and I’m just going to show you how happy I was (and how possibly freaked out she was).

nadia bolz-weber and me


What about you, Reader? Felt fan-person-y recently? Have you read anything by Rev. Bolz-Weber? DO YOU LOVE HER? Keep your eyeballs peeled for a review of Accidental Saints, the Socratic Salon might even be tackling it. Obviously if I’ve mischaracterized anything she’s said the mistake is mine.




Sunday Salon: On Creativity

Posted 13 September, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes, musings


Time // 8:54 AM EDT

So I’ve been having an extremely crazy week at work. My direct supervisor retired suddenly adding thirty cases to my case load on the October trial calendar and god knows how many other cases that will come to me on bench (judge) trial calendars, that have been continued, and that will need motions argued, plea deals negotiated (easy), and all the other things that go with prosecutorial lawyering.

Additionally, we’re set to close on the new house Friday, movers come Saturday, The Girl starts (another) new school Monday, and I wrecked my car last Thursday – so repairs have to be done. (I’m getting to my manifesto soon, promise). So, needless to say, there’s a lot of stress.

But over the past few weeks, even before the boss retiring and getting in the car crash, I’ve been feeling a weird void. I think it’s been due to the lack of my creative output in the world, which sounds weird because I’m not particularly good at any creativity that I do. I’d also argue that criminal law work, perhaps any trial law work requires quite a bit of creativity, little ways to twist the case law to make it work in your favor instead of against you.


Legal creativity (despite me being better at that [arguably] than any other type of creative undertaking) is not the kind of creativity that I dreamed of being good at as a little girl. I wanted to be a musician, a writer… an artist… if you will. Though, I should clarify I never had any delusion of being a visual artist. Despite my real talents lying elsewhere I think I still need at least some proximity to art, music, and literature. That’s something that’s been missing in my life the past few weeks… or months. My reading has stagnated to audiobooks and just when I was ahead at work… thirty more cases coming up for trial in October.

Aside from missing out on my reading time, I’m missing out on my blogging time. I don’t think that I realized how much of an outlet for me that this blog has become. I still contend that I’m I reader, not a writer (see my NaNoWriMo posts), but at the same time apparently something happens to my psyche when I write my little reviews here. I’ve been neglecting that.

While I don’t see any semblance of work/life/art balance coming to my life anytime soon, it’s something that I know I need to work into my life as soon as I can.

What about you, Reader? Do you need proximity to beautiful and brilliant things in your life? Do you need to make art or do something creatively in one way or another?




Tuesday ‘Tube: A Booktube Review by Annasaurus Rex

Posted 7 September, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in guest post, Reading, Reviews

Tuesday ‘Tube: A Booktube Review by Annasaurus RexPounded in the Butt by My Own Butt by Chuck Tingle
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on April 29th 2015
Pages: 15
Format: eBook
Kirk is a scientific researcher on the leading edge of cloning technology, but his team has reached a standstill. In an effort to stabilize rapid clone growth, researchers have been taking DNA from various parts of their bodies and combining it with small amounts of animal DNA.

But when the scientists combine samples from Kirk’s butt, brain, and a hawk, the resulting effect is a handsome, living ass who immediately sweeps Kirk off of his feet over a candlelit dinner for two.

Kirk has finally found a lover that truly understands him at his very core… his own gay ass!

So personally, I haven’t taken getting on BookTube yet, but AnnaSaurus Rex was STUCK with this book. She told me, “April, I’ve been trying to review this for a month and… and… I can’t even.” So I suggested a BookTube video and here’s what we have! Enjoy!


Don’t hate because she couldn’t describe the intricacies of the butt, apparently Mr. Tingle didn’t do such a good job of thinking that part through.

Edit: I just realized this went live on Monday. C’est la vie. In three weeks it won’t matter.

Can this get any weirder, Reader? 




Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles… Continues!

Posted 31 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors, Reading, writers

So there are those of you out there that may remember when I started this delightful little project, of ironically narrating this simply dreadful piece of Harry Potter fanfic that was written by a fanatical mom who wanted her kids to be able to read Harry Potter but didn’t “want them turning into witches”.  How could I not ironically narrate something named Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles, complete with snarky remarks? If you’ve missed chapters 1 – 8 you can find them on my YouTube channel here.

I’ve done something a little different with the final chapters of this saga (yes, all the audio is in the can). I’ve drafted the old AnnaSaurus Rex into doing some sound engineering for me and things sound a bit different, though I assure you it’s still all me. If you’re caught up, enjoy chapter nine! If not… GET CAUGHT UP.



So, Reader, am I going to hell for this? I think it’s worth it.




Sunday Salon: John Oliver Edition

Posted 23 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in musings


Time // 11:12 AM EDT

Reading // Making progress on Mindhunter, I think that it might make a pretty good analytical post. But let’s not count our chickens.

Feeling // Meh. I’ve been feeling ick since Friday. I suspect it’s a combination of a stomach bug and general anxiety. I’m doing a lot of teeth grinding and feeling really edgy.

I dunno guys. I feel with a Sunday Salon I should have more to report. Something interesting and exciting, but the stuff going on isn’t necessarily things I can share in a public forum. We should be closing on a house next month which means minor renovations, finding a new school, and moving. Can you hear my teeth grinding? I’m struggling between a complete shutdown and drinking heavily, (kidding!) neither which are real options.

In the Meantime // John Oliver cracks me up and everyone should donate to Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption. Let’s amend the Constitution today and make him President tomorrow!


I’m going to go ahead and post this and see if anything groundbreaking comes to me throughout the day making me want to edit it.

How was your week, Reader?




Woeful Wednesday: The Son

Posted 19 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Woeful Wednesday: The SonThe Son by Jo Nesbo
Published by Random House Incorporated on 2014
Genres: Crime, Fiction, Hard-Boiled, International Mystery & Crime, Mystery & Detective, Thrillers
Pages: 401
Format: Audiobook
Sonny Lofthus is a strangely charismatic and complacent young man. Sonny's been in prison for a dozen years, nearly half his life. The inmates who seek out his uncanny abilities to soothe leave his cell feeling absolved. They don't know or care that Sonny has a serious heroin habit--or where or how he gets his uninterrupted supply of the drug. Or that he's serving time for other peoples' crimes.

Sonny took the first steps toward addiction when his father took his own life rather than face exposure as a corrupt cop. Now Sonny is the seemingly malleable center of a whole infrastructure of corruption: prison staff, police, lawyers, a desperate priest--all of them focused on keeping him high and in jail. And all of them under the thumb of the Twin, Oslo's crime overlord. As long as Sonny gets his dope, he's happy to play the criminal and the prison's in-house savior. But when he learns a stunning, long-hidden secret concerning his father, he makes a brilliantly executed escape from prison--and from the person he'd let himself become--and begins hunting down those responsible for the crimes against him . . . The darkly looming question is: Who will get to him first--the criminals or the cops?

So this book had the Scandinavian type presence that you feel in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Lots of violence, mysterious and deeply flawed main character, a hardboiled cop with serious secrets, etc. etc. It seems like Scandinavian crime drama is becoming a genre unto itself.

Part of my problem with this book definitely can be traced back to the narration. At first I thought that since I was listening to The Son using CDs instead of Audible, which I speed up to at least 1.25x normal speed, that maybe I just wasn’t used to how slowly normal narrators read. But since I’ve finished The Son, I’ve started listening to I Am Pilgrim, also an audio CD – and the narration speed is just fine. I rambled through all that to say that the narrator was reading waaaaayyyy too slowly. Since I listened to this in heavy traffic I found it frustrating.

But even discounting the irritating slowness of the narration, The Son had some additional problems for me as far as storyline went. Some of the so-called twists were visible from a mile away in dense fog. I mean cut me a break Nesbø, if you want to write a thriller – write a thriller.

The other issue with this book that the application of Sonny Lofthus as the Messiah is applied in the most heavy handed manner. I love symbolism and religious undertones, but Nesbø’s attempt to use Christ-like imagery and allegory was way too obvious to be of any interest.

I’m fascinated with Scandinavia and Oslo in particular, but The Son was a failure to launch for me. To be fair, I didn’t particularly care for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, so I’d probably recommend this book to fans of that series.

The old question, Reader, can the performance of an audio book affect your views on the novel and story as a whole? Anyone out there who adores Nesbø or The Son?




Automatic Authors: A Top Ten List

Posted 18 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors, memes, writers


It’s been a hot minute since I did a top ten list, y’all. Today we have authors who write books that I pick up without even reading the synopsis. So, in no particular order…

1. Stephen King. To quote my fellow Stephen King fangirl, Rory from Fourth Street Review briefly, “Obviously.”

2. Joe Hill. I mean, he’s a fantastic horror author in his own right and he’s Stephen King’s son. So, ‘obviously’ again.

3. Margaret Atwood. It doesn’t matter what genre or form this feminist Canadian powerhouse is writing in, I want that book.

4. John Irving. I’ve yet to find an author who does cradle to grave character studies as well and effectively as Irving. My love started with A Prayer for Owen Meany, but has since extended to many of his other novels as well.

5. J.K Rowling. Both Harry Potter related and adult novels. She kicks ass in both forms, I don’t care what anyone says about The Casual Vacancy. I own the Galbraith novels, I just haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

6. Anne Rice. With a caveat, only concerning her Vampire Chronicles books. All the Mayfair Witches, werewolves, and Christ just don’t do it for me. Lestat is where it’s at.

7. Roald Dahl. I know he’s dead, that doesn’t mean I don’t yearn for more of his writing.

8. Herman Koch. The deliciously twisty Dutch writer. I only know of two of his books (The Dinner and Summer House With Swimming Pool) that have been translated to English, but you can bet I’m on the lookout for more.

9. Gillian FlynnI will not be judged! Even if Gone Girl wasn’t your bag, she wrote two other delightfully dark novels that I thoroughly enjoyed. I want novel number four.

10. Nadia Bolz-Weber. Yes, I realize she’s Lutheran clergy. Yes. I realize I’m an atheist. But I love her work and I think that she’s doing some fabulous writing (and preaching) that the U.S. and the world desperately needs to hear. Faithful or not.

What about you, Reader? What are your top ten must buy authors?




Sunday Salon: #boutofbooks Edition: On a Monday

Posted 17 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, memes


Time // 7:14 PM EDT

Motivation // Hahahaha. So. I totally couldn’t rev myself up to write a post yesterday, so here we are now. I totally forgot about #boutofbooks starting. Though I’d like to think that I’m going to read this:

IMG_0010I’ll probably end up reading this:


A crate full of case files.

I’m not bitching. I’m enjoying the work and it’s good to be doing something useful, but I’m about to start feeling overwhelmed.

Because // We found a house. The inspection didn’t turn up anything too concerning, so we should be closing sometime next month. It’s closer to my work so maybe I’ll have more energy for all sorts of things… like reading, blogging,… family. Who knows.

It’s pretty much taking everything I have not to make a list of things I need to do here for my own edification. How was your week Reader? Plans for #boutofbooks?