Category: blogging


Friday Musings: A Return to Paper

Posted 30 December, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, books and publishing, Reading

I’ve been using a Kindle since the first generation was released in 2007, when it was going for $400. I was stationed in Europe and my parents bought it for me for Christmas that year. I loved it instantly, though being overseas I was unable to use the bitchin’ WhisperNet feature which was disappointing. Since then I’ve owned a few of the other models including the PaperWhite and I currently use the Voyage. I’ve bought Kindles for my husband, my mother, friends, and my sister. I have been a huge proponent of eReaders from the very beginning.

Lately, however, my enthusiasm for my Kindle has waned. I actually bought a couple of dead tree novels (not graphic novels or coffee table books) for the first time in years. I’ve been working my way (slowly) through the books that I picked up at BEA. I’m not sure what exactly has changed after nine years of steady reading on a Kindle. The conveniences of the Kindle are unparalleled, all the books on a tiny device, the backlight on certain models allowing me to read long after my husband has turned out the light, etc.

What has prompted this return to paper? I can’t exactly say. Maybe it’s the insidious creep of technology into all facets of our lives all the time. Maybe it’s the constant staring at screens all day, every day – sometimes even in court. Maybe it’s just simply nostalgia for a simpler time that is unlikely to come again. Whatever it is, it’s sent me into a renaissance of paper books. I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday looking forward to the Tournament of Books 2017 and I bought five…  five hard cover books. They’re more expensive, more bulky, and less convenient than my Kindle but I think I’m going to ride this train while it lasts.

What about you, Reader? I know there are those out there who have never taken to eReaders, is there anyone else who used to love them but now has a craving for paper books again?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: On a Tuesday

Posted 27 December, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings

sunday salon books

Hello dear Readers, all four of you left out there. We’re reaching the end of the year which is always a time for reflection and plans. It’s a time to look back and see what we’ve done poorly and try to figure out how to be better in the coming year. While I can’t say that 2016 as a whole has been terrible for me, the past few months have been trying. This year my reading and blogging have both taken a serious hit. Some of this is because of working more, which is going well for the most part, some of this is because my anxiety and depression have been threatening to overwhelm me the past few months and I’m a little at a loss of what to do about that.

When I say I’m at a loss, I mean I’m at a loss of easy things to do about my depression and anxiety. Ignoring them and hoping they go away hasn’t been overly successful. It’s time to start (re)cultivating healthy habits and figuring out what’s going to work to make me a better person. I see two clear things I can do in front of me. One is a return to mental health self-care instead of ignoring my feelings and hoping they go away. I’m going to have to face some issues that I’ve had pent up for some time and work through them instead of continuing to let them fester. The second is a return to my running. I’m setting a goal to run the Disney marathon in January of 2018. A year is more than enough time to train for a marathon, especially since I’m not setting any time goal for myself. I just want to finish.

I’m hoping that through these two things, more plans and positive changes will make themselves apparent and I can work on strengthening my marriage, being a better mother, and perhaps figuring out what it is I want to do when I grow up and how to get there.

But what was good?

2016 wasn’t a complete wash for me. Good things happened and good things continue to happen. I’ve been at my current job for about eighteen months now, and I have to say my coworkers are fucking phenomenal people. It’s not much of a stretch to say that more or less, most of us are pretty much family to each other, and I’ll tell you ladies and gentleman – that ain’t nothing. Every time I start to feel frustrated or bored with the work, I remember what exceptional and meaningful relationships I’ve forged over the past year and a half. I am ridiculously grateful for that.

Speaking of relationships. 2016 allowed me to go to BEA and meet with some of the truly exceptional men and women that make up this community. While The Socratic Salon has lapsed and the five of us have moved on and gotten busy elsewhere, getting to meet Catherine, Marisa, Shannon (again), and many others was one of the highlights of my year. As always, I can’t not mention the beautiful and talented Monika and Jennifer, our chatting has been sporadic lately, but it’s so good to have friendships you can just pick up where you left off.

Since we’re on the topic of bloggers and blogging I think it’s time for me to make a decision on what to do around here. My reading has been low this year, I hope to address that in another post, and my writing has fallen off as well. I’m not going to set any hard fast rules for what’s going to happen here, but I do think that a certain element of my self care is going to be writing more, sometimes even when I don’t feel like it. I don’t know if that means reviews, or talking about my running (boring, I know), or what – but I have decided to renew the domain and host (largely due to the pep talk I got from Catherine)

Aside: As I was writing this I just found out Carrie Fisher died. Seriously 2016, what the fuck?

Anyway. Life is fleeting and this is all there is. Let’s look forward and decide to be better together. Shall we? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Where Does the Time Go?

Posted 7 August, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

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Time // 8:15 PM EDT

Howdy, ho friendly readers! The past couple weeks have been a blur, things are busy at work and at home. Two weeks ago I second-chaired a particularly nasty trial against a particularly nasty defense attorney. Last week I had usual court things to do as well as prepping for a trial that will likely go sometime next week. The week after that I leave for Europe for two weeks, when I come back I’ll have to hit the ground running again because I’ll be up for jury trials again.

I went to see a regional production of Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights on Friday and it was surprisingly excellent. I was extremely pleased and can definitely recommend The Aurora Theatre in Gwinnett County.

At home, The Girl starts kindergarten tomorrow so there have been the usual school prepping for her with handwringing from The Husband (Dad) and Grandmother. I’m sure she’ll be fine.

Around the blog, I’ve created a login for Katie who will start making posts as she feels the need, so get ready  for a new voice, y’all! I’ll wait for her to get up and running before I say more.

How was your week, Reader?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Hello July

Posted 3 July, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, memes, musings

sunday salon books

With June gone and July beginning in earnest I’m feeling the pressure of my Goodreads challenge weighing down upon me. I’m fifteen books behind schedule and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to pull out of this nosedive before the end of the year. I guess next year I’ll have to plan for job stress and family things.

I only managed to make it through four books last month and I’m hoping that I’ll do better in July. I’m working on Ben Winters’ Underground Airlines which is a thoughtful speculative fiction title due out on Tuesday. I’m also listening to Cronin’s The City of Mirrors which is the final book in The Passage trilogy.

In meteorological news, it’s so hot. I grew up in the south and have been back in Georgia for about three years now, but I never get over how damn hot it gets. We just got back from the pool. I hate the sun. I hate being tan. I hate burning more than all that. DESPITE all that I’m thinking that this summer I should take up swimming – because it’s aerobic and it keeps me cooler than running does in the 98+ degree heat. Still thinking the thoughts, trying to make a decision.

My best good friend (who also happens to be my trial assistant) came to the pool today with her boyfriend. I think that we’re about to embark on an evening of board games, booze, and fun. She has a DC Comics Deck Building Game that I suspect will be an excellent time as well as a Japanese board game that I haven’t played yet, but I am looking forward to.

Anyway. That’s my weekend thus far, Readers. What about you? Read anything worth reading? Done anything worth doing? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Local Election

Posted 22 May, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, memes, musings

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Time // 12:26 P.M. EDT

Feeling //  Exhausted. So exhausted. The local Judge’s election is on Tuesday and the mudslinging has been epic. All of my non-work friends (and my husband) are exceedingly bored with me because at this point the election is all consuming and leading me to be extra snippy and just generally boring. Just keep swimming, April.

just keep swimming

Reading //  Just finished the upcoming Blake Crouch novel. Review forthcoming. Also working on the new George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo, it’s very Faulkner-eqsue. Read: Fabulous. There are so many books from BEA waiting for me, this keeps me excited. I’m hoping to get some regular reviews going here again.

Living //  With the windows open! I feel like I need to start running again – partially because the stress of this election has me off the charts. I know that the endorphins from running would definitely help me more than stalking election sites on Facebook, but… effort.

Blogging // Yes, I saw all the BEA brou-ha-ha on Twitter this past week. I agree with most bloggers that it’s rather dated and boring. Let me be clear on my position. The sentiment that I largely agree with is this:

Publishers owe me nothing. In return, I owe publishers nothing. I have no problem with book bloggers that are able to monetize their blogs, as long as they are upfront about the monetization. That doesn’t necessarily make their opinions on books more or less valid than mine. Please stop telling me that I don’t know my worth. I know my worth. The thing is that the worth of me writing book reviews (or writing in general) is less than what I’m willing to accept to give this up as a hobby. Taking money for my blog turns this into a job. I have a job that I love, I don’t need another one – therefore – it’s not worth it to me to seek out paying opportunities to review. If this means that publishers don’t send me ARCs or I can’t attend BEA because I’m not actually a part of the industry – that’s okay. I guess what I’m trying to say to authors, bloggers, and Twitterers who try to say that if I’m not charging for my reviews I’m just another cog in the machine, is this:

election

There’s so much more going on in my head, Reader but, you guessed it! It’s mostly regarding this local election that bores everyone but those involved. Someone send me an easy way to Zen.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Recovering from BEA

Posted 15 May, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, memes, musings

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So I got home from BEA yesterday night. It was a whirlwind good time and I’m really pleased with how it went. I got to hang out with some amazing women (at the very least I must mention Catherine from Gilmore Guide to Books, Shannon from River City Reading, and Marisa from The Daily Dosage – though there were many, many more).  Additionally, I picked up a ridiculous amount of books and now shouldn’t have a shortage for reading or reviewing for quite a time. I’m hoping to start writing reviews again or at least some discussion posts. Let’s see if we can’t get this blog rolling again, shall we?

I was really impressed with many of the publishers at BEA and how polite and helpful most of the publicists were despite what had to be long days on their feet. Hachette had an exceptionally organized booth and it was amazingly easy to access the ARCs that I was interested in.

Chicago is such an excellent city, I definitely ate all the things, though oddly that did not include Chicago style pizza, which I do love.

Tomorrow, I must return to work. It’s a probation day no less, which is usually the most unpleasant of court days. The local judge’s election that is giving me so much heartburn will be over in nine days which is not nearly soon enough.

Hm, I thought I had more to say on this, Reader. C’est la vie. How was your week?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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BEA 16: Books Off the Beaten Path

Posted 11 May, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, books and publishing, musings, Reading, Topics

BEA 16: Books off the Beaten Path

Just like most literary fiction bloggers going to BEA this go around of course I’m looking forward to and hoping to get my grubby little paws on the new Ann Patchett and George Saunders. As a apocalypse, horror, vampire blogger of course I’m looking forward to the thrilling conclusion of the Justin Cronin trilogy. The beach blogger in me admittedly might like to see what new thing Charlaine Harris will be pimping. But since I’m a little bit of an off the beaten path blogger I thought I might share some not-so-mainstream books that I’m hoping to encounter this year at BEA.

John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History by: Leon Wildes (ABA Publishing)

“For the first time, noted New York immigration attorney Leon Wildes tells the incredible story of this landmark case – John Lennon vs. The U.S.A. — that set up a battle of wills between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and President Richard Nixon. Although Wildes did not even know who John Lennon and Yoko Ono were when he was originally retained by them, he developed a close relationship with them both during the eventual five-year period while he represented them and thereafter. This is their incredible story.”

Truffle Boy: My Unexpected Journey Through the Exotic Food Underground by: Ian Purkayastha (Hachette)

“A self-described oddball kid from Arkansas, Ian Purkayastha found his true calling when he learned to forage mushrooms and tasted his first truffle. An instant passion for the delicacy sparked an improbable yet remarkable journey to New York to become the leading truffle importer in America in the dynamic and sometimes shady world of the exotic food trade. Today, at age 23, Ian has built a multi-million dollar specialty foods company with clients as renowned as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and David Chang. As “farm-to-table” becomes “forest-to-table,” Truffle Boy provides a unique view into the world of luxury sourcing, while delivering a coming of age story that will charm foodies and business readers alike.”

Mischling by: Affinity Konar (Hachette)

“It’s 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.

As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele’s Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.”

Tacky Goblin by: T. Sean Steele (Consortium)

“An aimless twenty-something struggles to make sense of reality after he moves to Los Angeles to live with his older sister. His legs are rotting, his apartment is haunted, and he’s in charge of taking care of a human baby that might actually be a dog. On top of it all, he has trouble making friends. Tacky Goblin blunders through particularly strange but familiar misadventures to remind us that, ultimately, learning to take care of yourself is hard.”

The Motion of Puppets by: Keith Donohue (MacMillan)

“In the Old City of Québec, Kay Harper falls in love with a puppet in the window of the Quatre Mains, a toy shop that is never open. She is spending her summer working as an acrobat with the cirque while her husband, Theo, is translating a biography of the pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Late one night, Kay fears someone is following her home. Surprised to see that the lights of the toy shop are on and the door is open, she takes shelter inside.

The next morning Theo wakes up to discover his wife is missing. Under police suspicion and frantic at her disappearance, he obsessively searches the streets of the Old City. Meanwhile, Kay has been transformed into a puppet, and is now a prisoner of the back room of the Quatre Mains, trapped with an odd assemblage of puppets from all over the world who can only come alive between the hours of midnight and dawn. The only way she can return to the human world is if Theo can find her and recognize her in her new form. So begins the dual odyssey of Keith Donohue’s The Motion of Puppets: of a husband determined to find his wife, and of a woman trapped in a magical world where her life is not her own.”

The Last Days of Night by: Graham Moore (Random House)

“New York, 1888. The miracle of electric light is in its infancy, and a young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?

The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society—the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing Paul is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal—private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown attorney shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it? In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.”

So, those are some of the books off the beaten path I’ll be looking for at BEA, Reader. Any other suggestions? What are you looking forward to this fall?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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BEA16: Hopes and Dreams

Posted 9 May, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, books and publishing, Reading, Topics

BEA16 Hopes and Dreams

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I’ve been consistently sick for about three weeks and because of that pretty consistently hopped up on cough syrup while at home.

Work has been an unholy nightmare of the best kind. There’s a contested judge’s election that is turning into nasty politics, inter-office drama, and the usual suspects. We finished up jury trials in April and don’t have jury trials again until mid-June. I’ll admit that I’m feeling a little antsy and would like some intellectual stimulation to break things up. After trials in June I won’t have jury trials until September. I’m going to need some good reading.

BEA is near. I’ve finally started looking into where I need to be when to get the most out of it. More or less I have to admit that really what I’m most excited about is getting to hang out with Catherine (Gilmore Guide to Books) and Shannon (River City Reading). There do look to be some interesting titles being dropped and I’m hoping to find some titles that will amaze and excite me so maybe I can start reviewing a few books here and there again.

Okay, Reader. What have you been up to? Roll call for those of us going to BEA! 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Working Edition

Posted 28 February, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings

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Time // 12:20 PM EDT

Or it could be named: “It’s Sunday so why not work, edition.” Just got off the phone with a victim who said to me,”I can’t believe your working today.” Yeah. Well. At least I’m working from home. Then I took a phone call from a defense lawyer. The fun never ends.

Hubs is refinishing the doors to the fireplace so it looks less eighties-fabulous. We’ll see how that turns out.

Reading // my way through the Tournament of Books Shortlist. Let’s look at how it’s going. Watch your Instagram.

Tournament of Books 2016 Short-List

  • The New World by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz – review
  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty – Currently in DNF status. Trying to revive.
  • Bats of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson – Read
  • The Turner House by Angela Flournoy – review
  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff – review
  • Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf – review
  • Ban en Banlieue by Bhanu Kapil – I’m worried about the availability of this one.
  • The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli – Owned and on the list to read.
  • The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra – Read
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen – Read
  • The Whites by Richard Price – review
  • Oreo by Fran Ross – Semi-DNFed
  • The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard – Read
  • The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak – review
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – review

Play-In Round

  • Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving – Just bought the audio, let’s face it… I was going to read this anyway.
  • A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler – Zero interest. Might read it if it actually gets in.

I’m pretty amped at my progress, but also a little disappointed with the selections this year. I haven’t found nearly as many that have blown me away the way they did last year.

I also started The Man in the High Castle after finishing the first season on Amazon Prime. The series appears to be only related to the book in the loosest sense. We’ll see.

Ruffled Feathers // yesterday with my coloring post. I didn’t mean to and in retrospect I wrote it because I really felt alone in not getting the coloring fad. Now I know I’m not. 🙂 Still, good for the colorists! Just not for me.

Edit // Oh! I almost forgot! We went to the circus yesterday (husband’s idea). We all know that among my causes animals and the environment rank pretty low on things that concern me, but I had to stop and think about the absolute hubris of man, of (hu)man(s) in the 21st century that we train wild and majestic animals like tigers and elephants to entertain us by doing parlor tricks. It’s disconcerting to me. Perhaps I think too much. The dogs, horses, and camels don’t bother me… why not? My only guess is that they’re domesticated. I knew there was something else I wanted to put out there. Okay, more working.

I thought I had more to say, but I have a pile of cases that have to be reviewed before arraignment on Wednesday not to mention motions to prepare for tomorrow. What are you doing with your Sunday, Reader?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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It’s Monday… Tournament of Books 2016 is ON!

Posted 25 January, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, books and publishing, Reading

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I don’t often participate in the ‘It’s Monday…’ posts, but it’s the most wonderful time of the year! I have the Tournament of Books 2016 short-list in hand and am readying myself for battle. Unfortunately all the books I decided to read from the long-list failed to make the cut, but I enjoyed most of them heartily so really there’s nothing to complain about.

So let’s take a look at the work ahead of us:

Tournament of Books 2016 Short-List

  • The New World by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz – review
  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty – Currently in DNF status. Will be revived.
  • Bats of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson – Read
  • The Turner House by Angela Flournoy – review
  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff – review
  • Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf – review
  • Ban en Banlieue by Bhanu Kapil – I’m worried about the availability of this one.
  • The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli – Owned and on the list to read.
  • The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra – Read
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen – Read
  • The Whites by Richard Price – review
  • Oreo by Fran Ross – Probably the next one I’ll read.
  • The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard – Read
  • The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak – review
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – review

Play-In Round

  • Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving – Just bought the audio, let’s face it… I was going to read this anyway.
  • A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler – Zero interest. Might read it if it actually gets in.

Updated 28 February 16

Taking Stock…

Out of the fifteen definite books I’ve read three, I own twelve, plus the John Irving in the play-in round. To make any of it count I need to get to reading! A little sad that Look Who’s Back from the long-list didn’t make it but, c’est la vie, this gives me more books to read! I also may still review Mort(e) from the long-list because, man, that book was weird.

Anyway, Reader… are you taking part in the fun? What books from the Tournament of Books 2016 short list look like they appeal to you? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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