Category: blogging


Bout of Books 11: Where I Express My Goals and Intentions

Posted 18 August, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

Bout of Books

Bout of Books 11, y’all. I’m afraid that real life might get in the way of my second Bout of Books so I’m keeping my goals vague. Because that’s how I roll, y’all. 


Final Totals:
Here are the books I’ve completed this week: (5 books)

  • The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw 
  • Steal the North
  • Les Miserables : Manga Edition : SuNeko Lee
  • Faulkner and Friends
  • Orfeo 

Total Pages: 1397 (362 which were manga.) 

    My Goals

    • Finish American Gods that I’m reading along with Allison @ The Book Wheel

    Books to Read

    • Les Miserables : Manga Edition : SuNeko Lee
    • The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw : I’ve already started this one, it’s not going to end well.
    • Steal the North
    • Wednesdaymeter
    • et. al.


    Updates

    Monday:
    Books Read Today:
      Completed:
    Steal the North
      In-Progress:
    The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw ~15 pages

    American Gods ~25 pages
    Challenge:
    🙁
    Total Books Read: 1
    Total Pages Read Monday: 376


    Tuesday:
    Books Read Today:
      Completed:
    The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw 

      In-Progress:
    American Gods 

    The Idiot (audio) ~ 2 hours
    Challenge:
    🙁
    Total Books Read: 2
    Total Pages Read Tuesday: 162

    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    Wicked Wednesday: Shovel Ready

    Posted 11 June, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, Reviews

    Wicked Wednesday: Shovel ReadyShovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh
    Published by Crown/Archetype on January 14th 2014
    Genres: Dystopian, Fiction, General, Hard-Boiled, Mystery & Detective, Thrillers
    Pages: 240
    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.

    The futuristic hardboiled noir that Lauren Beukes calls “sharp as a paper-cut” about a garbage man turned kill-for-hire. Spademan used to be a garbage man.  That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self. Now he’s a hitman. In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to “tap in” to a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets.  When his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, he must navigate between these two worlds—the wasteland reality and the slick fantasy—to finish his job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground.

    This is a weird blend of genres and writing style. It works out okay though. It reminds me of a little bit of Chuck Palahniuk with less interesting subject matter. 

    Stop. I have to be honest here. I’m having some difficulty writing this review because I did receive this book from the Blogging for Books program, which I joined in a knee-jerk reaction before combing through all of the copious fine print. I could write a post on this but Michelle at A Reader’s Respite has already done it quite eloquently. So for sure, go read that. This should not be held against the book. Now I’m going to try to start again with this review. (Another detour: Crown has responded and is attempting to make good. Who knows where we’ll be when this post actually goes live.) 

    Okay. So an interesting crime-noir piece, a little bit of a futuristic twist (with the technology to ‘tap in’ to virtual reality for some reason it reminded me of Life After Sleep) and the writing style reminded me of the wonderful Chuck P. it’s a little quirky, a little weird, and a whole lot of dark. 

    Shovel Ready touches on themes that I think still haunt America from 9/11. It does this by creating a world where a dirty bomb has basically turned Manhattan into a barren wasteland. There were times when I wanted to shake Spademan, our unlikely hero, and tell him to get out of himself – but overall he was tragic but generally likable, despite his questionable methods of making a living. 

    This is supposed to be the first in a series and I’ll be interested in seeing where Sternbergh takes it. I’d recommend this to people who like the crime-noir genre as a whole, but probably not those that are looking for a more dystopian feel in fiction – as the world-building is a little underdeveloped.

    So, Reader. Read any good crime fiction lately? How ’bout them folks at Crown Publishing?

     

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    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    Armchair BEA: Wilkommen

    Posted 26 May, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

     
    So, it’s that time of year when the Book Expo America is getting ready to kick off, so I thought I’d participate remotely with the other bloggers who just couldn’t make it to New York City.
     

    Please tell us a little bit about yourself

    I’m April, I’ve been book blogging for less than a year, though I’ve been internet journalling and ‘blogging’ for as long as there have been such capabilities on the internet. I currently blog from Atlanta, GA.

    Describe your blog in just one sentence. 
    Weird. It definitely gets weird up in here sometimes.
    What’s your favorite book so far this year? 
    The Word Exchange by: Alena Graedon, hands down.

    What does your favorite/ideal reading space look like?
    My bed, with eternally clean sheets.

    Share your favorite book or reading related quote. 
    “When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.” — Erasmus

    What book would you love to see as a movie? 
    I’d like to stop making books into movies. Seriously.
     
     
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    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    Slumpy McSlumperson

    Posted 23 April, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings


    Guys, I’m bored. I’m in a slump. It’s a slump of epic proportions. It’s Tuesday night and I currently have no posts in the queue. I have about six drafts, but nothing that I can pick myself up out of my slump to fully edit and do justice to. 

    “…and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth…” A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin

    So that’s a little dramatic, but I’ve always had a flair for drama.
    I don’t think that my depression has returned, though some of my feelings sound like a commercial for Abilify (loss of interest in everyday activities, irritability, irrational anger…), for the most part I don’t feel depressed – I feel bored. I feel irate. I feel like Stan in this very vulgar, yet amusing South Park episode. Yep, this clip pretty much sums up how I’m feeling. (NSFW in that ‘shit’ is used multiple times in this clip.)

    I’m still enjoying your blogs. If I seem absent in your comments section, it’s because I can’t find anything to write that doesn’t seem like shit. (It’s definitely not because your blogs are shit.)

    I’m still reading books – but everything feels disappointing. Nothing has arrested me and grabbed my attention and made me want to shout from the rooftops lately. I guess it’s kind of the nature of the beast – we have the best of times and the worst of times and the key is to keep slogging through it. So I guess I’m just gonna push on through. Thanks for sticking with me. 

    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    March Roundup & Finishing Bloggiesta

    Posted 31 March, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

    I had a great month for reading. I read twelve books. Unfortunately I’ve only written reviews for six. C’est la vie, one thing at a time, right?

    *These two links won’t be live until Saturday and Friday, respectively.

    Despite that I’ve only written reviews for six of the books that I read, I’ve had a great month with the blog too. I really did work my fingers to the bone with some of the more technical and design stuff during Bloggiesta. I have to give a shoutout to Joy at Joy’s Book Blog for helping me come up with a tagline. I never would have come up with something so creative and fun on my own. What do you guys think about the new header?

    The Bloggiesta mini-challenge that I hosted turned out to be a great experience, I learned so much from those that took the time to comment, I really appreciate it guys! I can’t believe I made it to all four Twitter chats! To see my massive to do list that I managed to make some headway on during Bloggiesta click here: Spring Bloggiesta Goals.

    I also fit in two guest posts with Becca at Lost in Books for her Women’s Lit Event. I wrote a review on an excellent biography of Elizabeth I and a discussion post on Criticisms of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale that make no sense. Jennifer at The Relentless Reader was nice enough to let me do a more biographical post on Margaret Atwood while she was on vacation.

    How was your March, Reader?

    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Creating an Attractive Page

    Posted 26 March, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

    Happy Bloggiesta, children! I’m excited to be participating by giving my unadulterated open opinon and things to consider when designing your blog and deciding what to put on your page. Now obviously ‘attractive’ is an extremely subjective term but I just want to give you a few things to think about as well as the general thoughts of other much more wildly successful bloggers that participated in a highly scientific survey I did. 

    It goes without saying that content is king, but sometimes a poorly thought out website can drive people away from that amazing content. 

    You can look around here and see that I obviously prefer a very minimalist style. This is not to say that there are not many blogs that eschew minimalism (to a certain extent) that are gorgeous and highly readable. Search your feelings. What is absolutely necessary? What is just kind of fun and for your own edification?

    • Who is this blog for? You? Your readers? Publishers?

    The answer to this question can have a lot of bearing in what you do with your blog design. 

    For the love of all things holy, if you currently have auto-play anything on your site (music or video) go and take it down right now. I’ll wait. Are we cool? Okay.

    Let’s start with things to think about no matter who your reader is or what kind of posts you generally write.

    There have been some extremely useful past Bloggiesta Mini-Challenges on decluttering and cleaning up your sidebars. A cluttered or overfull sidebar can really make your blog appear unprofessional and difficult to navigate. Additionally, I’m generally a fan of only one sidebar, having one on each side can detract from your posts, which should feature the majority of your awesome content. So ask yourself:

    • What is really important to me?
    • What do my readers care about?
    • What am I trying to feature?
    Do you really need all seventeen buttons from the reading challenges you’re participating in on the sidebar? Maybe consider creating a separate page for things that – it’s a great way to still give love to those bloggers hosting all those amazing challenges without sacrificing a sexy streamlined look on your own page. 

    Now here are a few things that are non-negotiably indispensable:  
    • Social media buttons and how to contact you. 
      • If possible, matching buttons make for a more professional look.
    • Blog archive.
    • Search bar.
    • Tags.
    All of these serve the purpose of allowing the reader to find the content that they want as quickly as possible or figuring out how to contact you as easily as possible. Everything else is subjective to you and your blog based on the answers to the questions above.

    Less is more. 


    Not only will too much sidebar clutter make your page more difficult to navigate it can also cause your page to load slower. For this reason I also want you to think long and hard on if you actually need those animated graphics and ads. That NaNoWriMo badge over there? Its days are numbered. Stick with the important stuff.

    Which brings me to…


    Ads can range anywhere from background noise to flat out obnoxious. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use ads on your site – but I entreat you to think about a few things:

    • Do you really need the money?
    • How intrusive are the ads?
    • Are you actually making any money?
    A simple banner somewhere on your page is probably not going to turn off most people, in rare cases it can even make a site look more professional, but once ads start to get intrusive – especially if they pop-up, cover your content, and are hard to figure out how to get rid of – they’re probably doing more harm than good. 

    Unless you’re making mad bucks from those kinds of ads get rid of them.

    Additionally, we’re back to the loading time issue. If you have a lot of flashy graphic ads, you may drive readers away before your site is ever loaded.

    So, there are some things you need to think about when it comes to the template that you use for general text-heavy posts. 

    Font
    I know we all like pretty fonts and cursive – but let’s face it bloggers… ain’t nobody got time to try and wade through a post written in hard to read font. We all want our blogs to be unique and beautiful snowflakes but honestly, you’re better sticking with the classics when it comes to font styles. I have a fondness for Georgia but Times, Arial, and Helvetica are all appropriate choices. Since I know you’re all bright and shiny individuals I’ll leave you with this rule of thumb:
    • Would you use this font when writing something to turn into a boss or a professor?

    If the answer is ‘no’, then it’s probably not a good choice for the body of your posts.

    Size Matters

    For the bulk of your blog post, your font size should be at least 15px. Smaller and larger font sizes for effect are fine – in small doses. The same rule of thumb in choosing your font should be applied to the size as well. 

    Color

    The wrong colors can cause the readability of your posts to tank faster than you can say… something that’s fast to say. I prefer a simple black font on a white background, leave the colors to your wallpaper behind the posts! But, there are other ways. As long as there is plenty of contrast between the background and the text, you’re going to be fine but if your writing using yellow on white or purple on black… your readers are gonna have a bad time.  (And worse, may not come back!) 

    This is something you need to think about when it comes to the color of your links as well, both before and after clicking.



    During my very scientific survey Shannon from River City Reading said, “My kingdom for a single scroll!” There are a lot of cool looking layouts out there – but you have to ask yourself: 

    • What am I trying to do here?
    For a book blog, which is by necessity largely text based, simplicity is key. If you run a blog with a lot of photography maybe little snippets of each posts in rows of three will work for you, but I like to see the whole post. This is your content! Your bread and butter! Put it allll out there, baby! 


    When I started blogging I didn’t even know CAPTCHA was a thing keeping my audience from interacting with me. Turn it off. There are few things more upsetting than writing an awesome comment and then losing it to mistyped CAPTCHA. Comments are like crack to bloggers – so make it easier to get crack comments.

    Whether or not you choose to moderate your comments before they publish is a personal decision. I’m a small blog, I’ve had maybe… five instances of spam, so I don’t moderate. 


    Personally, I prefer when other blogs don’t moderate and I like to be able to edit my comment after I leave it. (Because I’m always making a jerk of myself, somehow.) Disqus allows this, there may be other plug-ins and toggles that do as well. (Full disclosure: I’m a slave to Disqus.)

    Really, the moral of the story? 

    KEEP IT SIMPLE. 

    Your content is what is going to sell your site, an attractive and easy to navigate site will help that greatly. A hard to read, cumbersome, long loading monstrosity? It may not matter how great your content is if people can’t read it or find it.

    Do a little blogging soul searching. Figure out what you want from your blog, make changes, come back and tell us about it! (I promise, there’s no CAPTCHA here.) 

    Don’t forget your mobile site! You want that sucker to be just as sexy and streamlined as your full site, maybe more so!

    Alternatively, what are your absolute turn-offs on a blog?







    P.S. A little knowledge of HTML/CSS can go a LONG way in making your blog more professional. If you’re interested in the basics I’d suggest learning for free at Code Academy. It’s actually kind of fun.

    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    Mini-Bloggiesta Wrap Up Post

    Posted 27 January, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

    Another mini-Bloggiesta has come and gone. How did it go, children? I did some housekeeping things that I’ve been meaning to get to forever and I’ve had some surprises. Let’s lay it out.

    Things I did that I planned to do:

    • I FIXED THE FOLLOW BUTTONS! See how they mostly match now? (Feedly and Bloglovin’ excepted.) I kind of want them to be a bit smaller and I have a smaller size, but I’m willing to live with them like this for now.
    • I’ve pondered the happiness that a button would bring me. I’ve decided not to create one for the moment. I also had some tips on how to create my own when I deem in necessary.
    • Wrote two Top Ten Tuesday posts!
    • Wrote one long neglected review of a book that the author courted me to read.
    • Set up the business Pinterest account for the blog.
    • Put up the 1M Page Perpetual Reading Challenge into the sidebar and then took it down, I just don’t think I want the extra clutter.
    • Started the review index. I still need to get all the author’s names in place.
    • Made it to the TwitterChat!!
    Things I did that I didn’t plan to do:
    • Ended up writing a little Mini-Challenge on an easier method (on Blogger) of compiling a review index. See it here, perhaps it will be useful to you.
    • Rejuvenated my blogging slump a little bit by writing a snarky little post that went live today. Just hoping it wasn’t too snarky, I don’t want to alienate people.
    • Made a few graphics. Fiddled around with a few different photo/graphics platforms.
    • Backed up the blog! (Started to) Set up an alternative blogsite on WordPress in case Blogger ever decides to turn against me. I didn’t do the full setup because I could not find the privacy controls.
    I’m going to call it a success! I hope everyone else was equally productive! See you this spring!

    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    Bloggiesta: “Easier” Review Indexing

    Posted 26 January, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging



    So it all started with 8 Simple Ways to Boost Your Traffic by Allison at The Book Wheel. Somehow, some way, of which I’ve spent the past two hours (unsuccessfully) trying to find the source, I found this piece of code, it is not my own and I have no idea where I got it from.

    <script src=”http://trickiezone.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/sitemaptable.js”></p>
    <p>
    </script><br />
    <script src=”YOUR ROOT WEBSITE HERE/feeds/posts/default?max-results=9999&amp;alt=json-in-script&amp;callback=loadtoc”></p>
    <p>
    </script>

    Unfortunately, I’ve only been successful in making this work on Blogger, if someone smarter and more technical than me (see: the entire Internet) successfully makes it work on a WordPress blog, please, let us know!

    So, here’s how to use it to your advantage when you’re trying to create review indexes. 

    On Blogger, create a new Page. Call it whatever you want, make sure that it’s hidden, just for aesthetics sake. Make sure that you cut and paste this code into the HTML section of your new page. Where I’ve highlighted above cut and paste the main page to your website. For example, mine is:  http://thesteadfastreader.blogspot.com 

    Save, publish, and click on ‘View’.

    I checked this out with another blog that I wrote long ago and it works (at least with Blogger) no matter what site name you put into the root website part. 

    Bonus!
    Notice that some posts have ‘New!!’ next to them, this happens automatically, though I’m not sure how long the ‘New!!’ stays next to the post title for.

    Voila! 

    Here’s what (some of) mine looks like: 

    1. Classic Fail: ‘Les Miserables’
    2. Feminist Friday: ‘Surfacing’
    3. Femme Friday: ‘A Town Like Alice’ – New !!
    1. Advance Review: ‘Astonish Me’ – New !!
    2. Advance Review: ‘The Fifth Beatle’
    1. Tragicomedy Tuesday: ‘In One Person’
    1. Advance Review: ‘The Fifth Beatle’
    2. Sacrilege Saturday: ‘Papal Bull: An Ex-Catholic Calls Out the Catholic Church’
    3. Tragicomedy Tuesday: ‘In One Person’

    Edit: If at first the script doesn’t work, try to install the labels widget by Blogger on your sidebar.

    Problems I Have Not Overcome
    It only will list your posts based on what you’ve tagged them under. Since I put quite a few different tags on each post, there were quite a few duplicates. Notice how ‘Tragicomedy Tuesday: ‘In One Person’ shows up twice. (The highlighting is mine.) 

    Also, the posts are queued up under whatever the title of your post is, so if you’re like me and you don’t just put the title of the book into the post, you may have a lot of deleting and alphabetizing to do. Since I only have about 100 posts, this was not unsurmountable for me. Plus the ‘New!!’ feature may be helpful as well.

    Good luck. Godspeed.

    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    Mini-Bloggiesta: January 25 – 26

    Posted 22 January, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

    It’s that time again, children! I’m late to the party on outlining some goals for the mini-Bloggiesta, but always better late than never, right? So. Here we go.

    • Fix the damn follow buttons, they all need to be the same style. That means finding a set that I like that has Goodreads. Maybe ruminate on spending a little money on having some designed if I absolutely can’t find anything else out there. (I’m frustrated here, can you tell?)
    • Add Instagram to the follow button.
    • Add a link and/or button to my Google Maps ‘Reading Takes Me Here 2014’.
    • Make my own button or ponder the happiness that hiring someone else to do it for me will bring.
    • Write at least two ‘Top Ten Tuesday’ posts.
    • Catch up with comments left here that I haven’t responded to.
    • Write fast reviews on Goodreads of everything that I’ve finished recently. 
    • Perhaps write a couple full reviews for the blog, especially for ARCs that were personally sent by publisher/author.
    • Add 1M page reading challenge to sidebar.
    • Create a review index. (Is there an easy, automatic way to compile the initial list?)
    • Set up a Pinterest account for the blog.
    • Complete a Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge
    • Remember to participate in the Bloggiesta chat on Saturday @ 2100 EST.
    This might be overshooting a bit, but if I get around to half of this list and remember the chat, I’ll be satisfied. In the words of Jerry Maguire, “WHO’S COMING WITH ME?”

    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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