Posts by: April @ The Steadfast Reader


Dear Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori:

Posted 22 January, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in musings

An Open Letter to Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori penned by Annasaurus Rex, edited by me.

To Whom it May Concern:

I would like to express my extreme concern about the running of Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori. Not only is there a severe lack of communication between teachers and parents, but student welfare does not seem to be a priority. Additionally, it appears the administration lets the staff run wild, making decisions willy-nilly with no cohesive rules or regulations to govern their actions.

First there is the issue of communication. My daughter, The Girl, was asked to leave school and there was virtually no warning or reasoning. The weak reason given was that she was disruptive in class. Putting aside the fact that my mother observed The Girl in class and found she was no more disruptive than a normal pre-Kindergarten child, the fact that I received only two phone calls, a single note, and a meeting request before the request to leave strikes me as bizarre. With something as serious as this, surely there should be more of a process in place.

Also, I am baffled by the lack of involvement of the administration at Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori. Teachers are allowed to kick students out of school, making decisions that influence revenue without any oversight? Putting aside that odd business model, it seems out of line with the school’s principles that a child would be rejected without even attempting a solution involving the parents. I suppose I am especially astounded because this decision appears to have been arrived at with little to no thought at all. It was treated as a mere trifle, like deciding to wear a green shirt instead of a red one. However, it was my child’s education and mental well-being that was dismissed so easily. These actions show a major lack of concern about student welfare, which is especially concerning for an early education program. These are formative years for the children at Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori and it seems their welfare is a low priority for the teachers and administration alike.

Why was there no warning about the request that my daughter not return? Is that any way to run a school? Is there no process in place for children exhibiting unacceptable behaviors? Even criminals are given three strikes with ample warnings. Perhaps I could have become more involved if I was given a real warning about the escalation of The Girl’s status within the classroom. However, I was given no reason to believe she was about to be asked to leave, or that her behavior was anything other than normal, therefore I could do nothing to help the situation. Was the teacher willfully withholding information, hope to have The Girl leave the school? Given the circumstances that does not seem like an illogical leap. The fact that a seasoned teacher is willing to dump a student this quickly with no thought is alarming to say the least.

The fact that a Montessori school doesn’t bother to find the source of an unwanted behavior and work with parents and child to improve the situation is disturbing, especially considering the amount of money being spent. What exactly were we paying for? Overpriced day care? A bit of casual thought and observation show an obvious reason behind The Girl’s disruptive behavior – she was bored. Her teacher only let her do the same five activities day in and day out. Now, imagine you are a five year old, one who loves to learn as my daughter does, and I think you can understand why she was frustrated and unhappy. Why, then, is the solution to kick her out of school? This can only have damaging psychological effects, teaching her that school is a place where she will be rejected and dismissed easily. Is this what your school teaches children? I thought the Montessori way was to instill a lifetime love of learning. Your school has done exactly the opposite of that.

I have no delusions that The Girl is a perfect child, but I do know her. The levels of frustration she reached while attending Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori was unprecedented, as was her behavior in the days surrounding her being asked to leave. She can be willful and resistant to certain responsibilities just like a normal pre-Kindergarten aged child. She does not have abnormal behavioral issues, and the fact that her teacher suggested she does tells me she is a bully who wants to shift blame onto those who cannot defend themselves. The fact that she brought up that The Girl was admitted to the school due to a “favor” multiple times tells me she may have a personal vendetta against my daughter. This is petty, sad and unacceptable in any adult, but especially in an early education teacher.

Overall, I am happy The Girl will no longer be exposed to the toxic environment of that classroom, but it is worrisome that her teacher continues to have dozens of children under her care. She will surely have to find another child to pick on now that mine is now safely removed from her reach. I look forward to working in partnership with a school that appreciates children and values their education and well-being. Your school has failed in all areas and I count my family lucky that we are no longer contributing to a rotten institution.

Regards,

April

 

 

 

 

So, this has been taking up my time, dear Reader, how’ve you been? Also, while it would be a delight to name names on what school this is, I cannot do so publicly at this point because in the bylaws you sign when you enroll your child there you must agree not to gossip or spread negativity about Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori. Weird. Unless this has happened before.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

6 Comments/ : , , , , ,

Divider

That Obligatory ‘How My Reading Year Went’ Post

Posted 2 January, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in musings

‘Tis the season! I don’t do my ‘best of’ list until June… because you’re all sick to death of best of’s… plus it gives me some more time to read some 2015 titles… win win for everyone. However, it is time for the obligatory post on how my reading year went. So without further ado, let’s discuss our wins and losses.

Goodreads

After the epic failure of 2014, I kept my goals simple and only participated in my own self imposed Goodreads challenge, which I almost didn’t make… but did! (Thanks to Joe Hill’s graphic novel series Locke & Key, which is amazing and you should read, like, yesterday.)

  • Goal set 1 January 2015: 105 books. I can’t find a page goal that I set.
    • Actually read: 109 books, 38,690 pages

reading goal

So let’s break it down a little more!

Source

source of books

Oooo. Girl. Nothing to be proud of here.

  • 21 galleys (19.3%)
  • 4 purchased from a brick and mortar new bookstore (3.7%)
  • 9 received as gifts (8.3%)
  • SIXTY SEVEN (67) purchased through Amazon (61.5%)
  • 8 checked out from the library (7.4%)

Page count breakdown

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 11.57.01 PM

Enough said, I think. I like books that are about in the 350 page range.

Nationality of Author

author books

Yeahhhh… it’s pretty apparent I read primarily US and UK authors. I put in a special category for Australian authors because I felt like I was reading a lot of Aussie Lit…. I guess not…

Gender of Authors

author gender

So this year I read more men than women, which is unusual for me… the ‘MF’ category is for things like anthologies which have both men and women writing in them.

How I Read

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 12.05.06 AM

I will not be ashamed!!! I love my Kindle and I will not lie. This is perhaps a new record for me in the number of audiobooks that I’ve listened to in a year, but I’ve done a lot of commuting… and my job is mentally demanding, so sometimes instead of reading with my eyes before I go to sleep, reading with my ears is easier.

  • 23 galley books (mostly e-Galleys)… (21.1%)
  • 10 paperbacks (9.2%)
  • 11 hardcovers (10%)
  • 42 e-Books (not including e-Galleys) (38.5%)
  • 23 audiobooks (21.1%)

et cetera

I only read eight books towards my 1001 Books project. One book at a time I suppose…

I contributed and helped to found the fabulous Socratic Salon. I kept up with the best four goddamned book bloggers that I know… (Catherine, Jennifer, Monika, and Shannon), I got a little out of the game after I got a job… but no one holds that against me… I think. One of my best good friends from college, Heather, got into the book blogging sphere (though I’ve sucked at getting to her site and commenting and supporting her …. but…. yeahhhhh #NoExcuse)

But… overall… it’s been a good bookish year!

How was your bookish reading year, Reader? Have I alienated you by not coming by your blog enough? By not blogging on my own enough? Help me try to improve myself! I love each and every one of you that takes the time to read this little ongoing project of mine. 2+ years in the making, I can hardly believe it. Tell me about you!

I love you all!

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

18 Comments/ : , , , ,

Divider

Wicked Wednesday: Slade House

Posted 23 December, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Wicked Wednesday: Slade HouseSlade House by David Mitchell
Published by Hachette UK on October 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, General, Horror, Literary, Occult & Supernatural, Science Fiction
Pages: 240
Goodreads
four-stars

Born out of the short story David Mitchell published on Twitter in 2014 and inhabiting the same universe as his latest bestselling novel The Bone Clocks, this is the perfect book to curl up with on a dark and stormy night. Turn down Slade Alley - narrow, dank and easy to miss, even when you're looking for it. Find the small black iron door set into the right-hand wall. No handle, no keyhole, but at your touch it swings open. Enter the sunlit garden of an old house that doesn't quite make sense; too grand for the shabby neighbourhood, too large for the space it occupies.A stranger greets you by name and invites you inside. At first, you won't want to leave. Later, you'll find that you can't.This unnerving, taut and intricately woven tale by one of our most original and bewitching writers begins in 1979 and reaches its turbulent conclusion around Hallowe'en, 2015. Because every nine years, on the last Saturday of October, a 'guest' is summoned to Slade House. But why has that person been chosen, by whom and for what purpose? The answers lie waiting in the long attic, at the top of the stairs...

As stated in the synopsis Slade House takes place in the same universe as Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks and I picked it up for precisely the same reason, Slade House has been chosen on the Tournament of Books 2016 long list. (The Bone Clocks was a short list pick for 2015).

It’s worth noting however, that it wasn’t until at least halfway through the book that I realized we were hanging out with some of Holly Sykes good friends. Slade House is written in Mitchell’s unique style, a series of vignettes that at first are seemingly unrelated, until finally the picture comes into a very sharp focus.

Not as long as The Bone Clocks or as esoteric as Cloud Atlas, I think this is a great pick for people just starting to dabble in Mitchell’s work. Slade House gives a great sampling of some of Mitchell’s greatest strengths, his character development (even in a remarkably short period of time), his ability to develop exceedingly creepy and uneasy environments, and just the general beauty of his words.

I’m also intrigued by the synopsis that Slade House was born out of short story on Twitter. I want to know more about that!

Highly recommended to David Mitchell fans, haunted house lovers, and those that love creepy atmospheric novels.

Other Reviewers Thoughts…

Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books

Karen at One More Page

Read More Books

What do you think, Reader? Appropriate review for the day before Christmas Eve? Have you read Slade House? Any other Mitchell?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

1 Comment/ : , , , , , , ,

Divider

YA Wednesday: Vivian Apple at the End of the World

Posted 16 December, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

YA Wednesday: Vivian Apple at the End of the WorldVivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Christian, Dystopian, General, Religious, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Goodreads
four-stars

Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth.

Vivian Apple at the End of the World is a little bit different than your average YA dystopia novel. First of all, it packs some very interesting political and social commentary into a pretty readable package. Second, it takes on one of my favorite topics, the issue of the giant American mega-churches. Third… well, third it’s just good reading fun.

This novel addresses the very scary, unprecedented relation between corporate power in America and the manipulation of its citizens.

But one shouldn’t dismiss this novel for just atheists or agnostics, it (admittedly towards the end) clarifies the position that not all Believers should be lumped together.

But let me tell you this: you can’t go through life distinguishing the Believers from the Non-Believers and divvying up your love and trust accordingly. It’s more complicated than that, Viv, and you know it.

But I think that the subtext of not lumping people together goes further than religion though. Vivian Apple tackles parentage and to a lesser extent, race.

I read the first of this series? trilogy? because it’s on the Tournament of Books long list, but it was good enough that I might seek out the second Vivian Apple novel in the series to see where it goes.

What do you think, Reader? I know a lot of us are tired of YA dystopia, but does this sound like a new spin on an old genre?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

9 Comments/ : , , , , ,

Divider

Must Read Monday: Look Who’s Back

Posted 14 December, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Must Read Monday: Look Who’s BackLook Who's Back by Timur Vermes
Published by MacLehose Press on April 3rd 2014
Genres: Germany, Literary, Satire, Social Issues
Pages: 352
five-stars

Berlin, Summer 2011. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of open ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman.

People certainly recognise him, albeit as a flawless impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable happens, and the ranting Hitler goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own T.V. show, and people begin to listen. But the Führer has another programme with even greater ambition – to set the country he finds a shambles back to rights.

Guys, stick with me. I know you’ve just read the synopsis for Look Who’s Back and are thinking, ‘What in the ever-loving hell…’. Let us begin at… the beginning. I didn’t know this little gem of a book existed until The Morning News put out their longlist for the 2016 Tournament of Books. I read the synopsis there and became really intrigued and Oh. Em. Gee… you guys.

Look Who’s Back might be the best satire that I’ve seen since Catch-22… and I mean that since Catch-22 was published. After reading the first quarter of the book I started to describe it to a co-worker, he asked me if it was a treacly  book about Hitler learning how wrong he was about his views. I can assure you mein Reader, it is not. Vermes packs so much punch into a relatively short book. Since it was originally published in German, one can assume that Look Who’s Back was intended as a commentary on modern Germany, but let me assure you, the commentary fits just as well for modern America and probably modern western culture.

I found it especially astute and chilling in the wake of Donald Trump’s seemingly never-ending successes within the national polls… and some of the commentary he’s made. As chilling and on point as the satire is, the book is also hysterical in its execution (as all good satire should be). The use of the first person narrative (from Hitler’s point of view) is often a source of giggles, this device, oft used in many a tale about displaced time travelers, seems all the more potent because… well… it’s Hitler.

There is very little world building (how did Hitler just wake up in a field in 2011? Why not the rest of his retinue? Why doesn’t he remember his suicide?) and as much as a fan of world building that I am – I think it was a stroke of genius for Vermes to omit that and have Hitler himself gloss over it – for more important matters.

I don’t believe that any blogs that I read on the regular have reviewed this book. In fact it wasn’t even in Creative Whim’s Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin. Regardless. I found a much more eloquent review over at 1streading’s blog.

This should change now. I know it sounds a little off, maybe a little distasteful, but just trust me on this one.

Readers! Who has read this one? Has anyone read it in the original German? Do I sound insane? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

10 Comments/ : , , , , , , , , , ,

Divider

Sunday Salon: After Hours Edition

Posted 13 December, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings

sundaysalon-200-pixshark

Time // 10:38 PM EST

Reading //  EVERYTHING! Honestly, I’ve been reading like a crazy person the last week or so and it’s absolutely magnificent. I finished two Tournament of Book long list titles, the entirety of Joe Hill’s amazing graphic novel Locke and Key, an ARC, maybe two… In short, I probably have about ten books I need to review but I don’t want to stop reading long enough to write a review post. It feels goooood. On the other hand, I need to crack down next week at…

Work // Last week of court for the year for me. Tons to do tomorrow and the rest of this week so I guess I’m really going to have to crack down on myself. Made myself write a review of a delightful book that ended up on the Tournament of Books 2016 long list. It should go live in about an hour. Speaking of…

Tournament of Books!!! // Obviously I’m thrilled the long list has been released, just as obviously there’s no way I can read the entire long list. Take a look, what interests you? Personally I think Mort(e) sounds just weird enough to be amazing. We’ll see.

I think I’m going back to the books, Reader. I’m about a quarter of the way through David Mitchell’s newest Slade House. (I know, late to the party.) What are you reading?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

0 Comments/ : , ,

Divider

Monday Monsters: The Fifth House of the Heart

Posted 7 December, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Monday Monsters: The Fifth House of the HeartThe Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp
Published by Simon and Schuster on July 28th 2015
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Occult & Supernatural
Pages: 400
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang, a vainglorious and well-established antiques dealer, has made a fortune over many years by globetrotting for the finest lost objects in the world. Only Sax knows the true secret to his success: at certain points of his life, he’s killed vampires for their priceless hoards of treasure. But now Sax’s past actions are quite literally coming back to haunt him, and the lives of those he holds most dear are in mortal danger. To counter this unnatural threat, and with the blessing of the Holy Roman Church, a cowardly but cunning Sax must travel across Europe in pursuit of incalculable evil—and immeasurable wealth—with a ragtag team of mercenaries and vampire killers to hunt a terrifying, ageless monster…one who is hunting Sax in turn.

With his novel The Fifth House of the Heart, Tripp makes a return to the classic vampire novels of the past, Dracula and ‘Salem’s Lot come to mind immediately. He doesn’t dress his vampires up in a bunch of finery and pretty words the way Anne Rice does, instead they are the classic monsters that have gone by the wayside in the wake of vampires that are more complex (Anne Rice) or who veer so far from vampire mythology that they are hardly recognizable as vampires (The Twilight series).

I love vampire books (certain YA novels excepted) and The Fifth House of the Heart, was a pretty decent read, but by no means was it a book that is likely to make it into the cannon of vampire literature. It’s largely a book about hunting animals – like I said, the personality that Tripp endows to his vampires is very little. Then again, Dracula didn’t have a whole lot of personality and no one argues on the brilliance of Dracula. Geeks of Doom love this book and wrote a very favorable review.

I agree with their assessment of Sax, our main vampire hunting ‘hero’. He’s vain and largely unscrupulous. He cares for nothing in the world but his antiques and his niece, Emily. He’s also super-homosexual. My guess is that Tripp is trying for some sort of juxtaposition against the Roman Catholic Church (which takes a large presence in this book) and the ability for a homosexual to do heroic deeds, even when he doesn’t mean to. I could be way off. I know that That’s What She Read was really bothered by Tripp’s constant allusions and outright mentions of Sax’s homosexuality. I think the very fact that Tripp fails to be PC about Sax’s sexuality upholds my idea of a juxtaposition between Sax and the Church (which he is constantly feeling at odds with, despite an uneasy alliance).

Overall, this book gets the rating of ‘you could do worse on a plane if you love vampire novels’. It’s good, but not great.

Has anyone read this one, Reader? What did you think about the constant reminder of Sax’s homosexuality? Did you feel like it was an old fashioned horror novels? Do you like old fashioned horror novels?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

0 Comments/ : , , ,

Divider

Sunday Salon : December Edition

Posted 6 December, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

sundaysalon-200-pixshark

Time // 3:37 EST

Working // On Christmasing the house for The Girl. Personally, Christmas is one of my least favorite holidays, but you know… it’s for the kids, etc. Yesterday we put of the tree and today I put up the sixteen foot Darth Vader in the yard. It. Is. Fabulous. See: Instagram. Child for scale.

Reading //  Like a fiend! Fates and Furies really was a slump buster, and currently I’m four books behind in my Goodreads challenge, but I’m busting my hump to get to my goal of 105 before the year ends.

Attending // The local Bar Association’s Christmas party next Friday. Networking… it’s the best worst. But I have a pretty green dress to wear, so there’s that.

Thinking // …of lots of things, but my desire to get back to the books seems to have driven what I was going to say out of my mind.

Looking Forward // The hubs 50th birthday is at the end of the month so I’ve planned a trip to New York City to celebrate. We have some tickets to Hamilton, which I’m super psyched about and we’ll be there for New Year’s Eve, with a hotel that overlooks Time’s Square. So we can check that off the bucket list. Note: We have no intention of going IN TO Time’s Square on NYE, just to overlook it from the roof of our hotel which is offering an open bar from 9 pm – 2 am.

What plans do you have for the holidays, Reader? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

11 Comments/ : , , , , , , , ,

Divider

#AMonthofFaves : December First – Books

Posted 1 December, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes, musings

Going to go ahead and start these posts with no promise of finishing them. A Month of favorite books (and bookish things)!

Number of books read this year (so far)  88 of the 105 that I’ve challenged myself to, today that puts me eight books behind schedule so I need some fast, quick, amazing reads. Suggestions?

Genres? Honestly, I haven’t been great at the tracking this year so I have to go off of Goodreads. It tells me that most of my books fall into the ‘other’ category, with literary fiction and horror falling close behind.

Et cetera …  I’m going to tell you without looking that the majority what I read were eBooks that I purchased myself. Though towards the end of this year I’ve taken a shine to audio, probably because my job leaves me so mentally exhausted I can hardly do anything else.

What about you, Reader? How’s your year of reading going? Join me at Estella’s Revenge for #AMonthofFaves!

April @ The Steadfast Reader

12 Comments/ :

Divider