Tag: top ten tuesday

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?


April @ The Steadfast Reader



Top Ten Books I’d Recommend to Religious and Social Conservatives

Posted 5 August, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

I know it’s rude to discuss religion and politics… but that’s just what we’re going to do today! These are my top ten picks that I would recommend to religious and social conservatives if they would be willing to read them with an open mind. Enjoy! Links go to my reviews unless noted otherwise.

  1. Pastrix by: Nadia Bolz-Weber – a beautiful spiritual memoir. Bolz-Weber is an ordained Lutheran pastor, but she’s a bit unorthodox and totally amazing. Hot topics: Religion, LGBT, Feminism
  2. Never Pray Again by: Aric Clark, et. al. – Written by three pastors, this book is a call to action for theists and atheists alike. They call for action to be more Christlike, through charity, understanding, and love. They call for you to get out of church and do something. Hot topics: Religion
  3. The Answer to Bad Religion is Not No Religion by: Martin Thielen – a book that is targeted towards progressive Christians, I think that conservative Christians could get a lot from this book if they read it with an open mind. Hot topics: Religion
  4. Atheists in America edited by: Melanie E. Brewster – A collection of essays from atheists around America. I recommend this to theists and non-theists alike. It’s a fantastic and empathetic portrayal of American atheists. We’re all around you, you just don’t know it. We’re not interested in eating your babies, either. Hot topics: Religion, atheism, LGBT
  5. God and the Gay Christian by: Matthew Vines (Monika @ A Lovely Bookshelf’s review) – I haven’t read this one yet, but I trust Monika. This book is written, surprisingly, from a conservative Christian viewpoint. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Hot topics: Religion, LGBT
  6. A Queer and Pleasant Danger by: Kate Bornstein – Another memoir, Kate Bornstein was born a nice Jewish boy, who then joined The Church of Scientology – left, transitioned to a woman and now considers herself a gender outlaw. It’s compelling and heart-wrenching all at the same time. Hot topics: LGBT, religion, gender politics
  7. Cinderella Ate My Daughter by: Peggy Orenstein – a ‘feminism-lite’ parenting book. Good thoughts to think about whether you are raising a girl or not. Hot topics: Feminism, parenting, princess-culture
  8. How to Build a Girl by: Caitlin Moran (this is the latest of my read along posts -the previous posts are linked at the top, but there are spoilers. Clicking the title will take you to the Goodreads synopsis.) A coming of age novel that frankly explores female sexuality, masturbation, poverty, and growing up a girl. It’s fabulous. Hot topics: Feminism, sexuality, classism, poverty, welfare.
  9. Requiem For a Dream by: Hubert Selby, Jr. – a classic novel that expertly explores the horrors and havoc drug addiction and mental illness can wreak. I hope it can help people better understand and feel empathy for such people, instead of complete disgust. Hot topics: Addiction, mental health.
  10. Guns (Essay) by: Stephen King – a brilliant essay written by Stephen King in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. There is something for everyone on all sides of the American gun debate. Hot topic: Gun control
So there you have it, Readers! Sex, drugs, religion and politics all in one post. What can you recommend to get me out of my comfort zone?

April @ The Steadfast Reader



If… Then: Top Ten

Posted 29 April, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes

As always, brought to you by: The Broke and the Bookish
So this week it was an if, then topic. I definitely couldn’t pull out one program or non-bookish entertainment to tie to ten different books, so as usual I broke the rules and went more in the angle of pairings. I have three ‘If you liked… then you should read…’ and three ‘Just because you liked… doesn’t mean you should necessarily expect the same from …’

So, let’s get to it.

1. If you liked Resident Evil, then you should read The Walking Dead. Obvious reasons: zombies. The Walking Dead, despite being a graphic novel still touches on important themes on the nature of being human.

2. If you liked Frozen, then you should read Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. They’re both re-tellings of Hans Christian Andersen and I think Ophelia does it better, although it’s definitely darker.

3. If you like demon possession movies, then you should read Come Closer.

On the flip side, there are some places where you should keep your expectations separate:

1. Just because you loved Wicked: The Musical does not mean that you will love Wicked the Book. The musical – while fabulous – is Disney-fied and leaves out much of the darker themes found in the book. Personally, I love both.

2.  Speaking of Disney, just because you loved any Disney movie based on a fairy tale does not mean that you will love the original fairy tale. (You should definitely review them before reading to children – they’re scary!)

3. Just because you love the blog Hands Free Mama does not mean that you need to read the book. See my review. (The same is true of Jolie Kerr’s column Ask a Clean Person and her book My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag.)

What about you, Reader? What If… Then suggestions do you have? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader



Top Ten Strong Female Characters

Posted 22 April, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes

As always, brought to you by: The Broke and the Bookish

Strong female characters are ridiculously hard to find. There does seem to be some emergence of strong females in newer YA literature, which is a good thing. But even women seem to have difficulty writing women. Why is that? Regardless, there are strong female protagonists (and in some cases, antagonists) to be found in books. You just have to know where to look

  1. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter 1 – 7): Did you really expect anyone else to be at the top of this list? Smart, not afraid to be smart, adventurous, and loyal – Hermione is everything I want to see in YA heroine.
  2. Hester Eastman (A Prayer for Owen Meany): Hester is outraged and bitter at being treated differently from her two older brothers, relegated to public school and the state university instead of fancy private schools and colleges in California, she is pissed. But Hester is strong, rebellious, and takes charge of her own life.
  3. Lily Bart (The House of Mirth): Lily has to take care of herself. The family money is dwindling and she needs a husband now. Lily does what she has to do, but she never compromises her integrity.
  4. Cersei Lannister: (A Song of Ice and Fire*): A lot of people don’t like Cersei, she has some questionable sexual practices and partners and a lot of people think she’s a cold hearted bitch – but in reality she’s a strong a capable woman who makes the hard decisions on protecting her family and (for a time) ruling the realm.
  5. Meg Murray (A Wrinkle in Time): Sure Meg is awkward and not entirely sure of herself socially, but when she has to tessaract to a distant planet to save her father, Meg hangs in there with the best of them. She loves math and science too.
  6. Edna Pontellier (The Awakening): Set (and written) late in the nineteenth century, Edna was a revolutionary character for her time. She is middle aged in a comfortable marriage, but when she travels to Grand Isle, youthful dreams and yearning are re-awakened and she can no longer hide her desires to get more from life.
  7. Elphaba (Wicked): It’s not easy being green, but Elphaba doesn’t pull her punches. She knows right from wrong and is never afraid to stand up for the little guy. She also takes ownership of her actions and makes other female characters around her better. (I’m looking at you Galinda.)
  8. Emily Ruff (Lexicon): Emily comes across as a loose cannon, but she’s smart, capable and will do what it takes to protect those that she loves.
  9. Kirby Mazrachi (The Shining Girls): Kirby was almost brutally murdered. Now, years later, she wants to find the would be killer and bring him to justice. She works doggedly on the case as an intern at The Chicago Sun-Times. She’s smart, determined, and will get shit done. Plus, her name is Kirby.
  10. Tess Durbeyfield (Tess of the d’Urbervilles): Tess is another character that is willing to work her fingers to the bone to do what is right. She’s not so great at standing up for herself, but she never takes the easy way out and is admirable in the sacrifices she is willing to make for those she loves. (Even if they don’t deserve her love.)
*Daenerys and Catherine Stark are also strong women written into this series. But I always feel that Cersei never gets enough love.

April @ The Steadfast Reader



Top Ten Unique Books

Posted 8 April, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

As always, brought to you by: The Broke and the Bookish
So, I know that graphics and prettiness is preferable, but I just don’t have it in me today, Readers. Rest assured, I’m confident that these book have enough charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent to stand on their own without flashy graphics. So, in no particular order – my most unique reads.
  1. Solomon the Peacemaker by: Hunter Welles – This book was the unsung hero of last year. It was published by a small press (Cowcatcher) but that didn’t make the narrative any less amazing. It’s told through a police interrogation of a terrorism suspect – with all the police questions redacted. It’s fabulous.
  2. Catch-22 by: Joseph Heller – Just because it’s a classic doesn’t mean that it can’t be unique. This book has tons of quirk, a billion characters, biting satire, and social commentary about the military industrial complex that may be even more relevant today. 
  3. American Gods by: Neil Gaiman – The premise! Every god that is believed in on a continent (or is it a country?) comes alive specifically based on the beliefs of that population (so Jesus of the middle east may be different than Jesus of North America). A chunkster, but very excellent.
  4. The Road by: Cormac McCarthy – This book is unapologetically, unflinchingly depressing. A lot of apocalyptic novels will pull punches with silly things like, I don’t know… hope. Not The Road, it goes the whoooolllleee way down Depression Boulevard.
  5. Autobiography of a Geisha by: Sayo Masuda – Memoir of a Geisha brought the idea to the thoughts of international readers, but as with most novels concerning these things the ‘memoir’ was highly romanticized. Autobiography of a Geisha is an authentic look into the decidedly less glamorous life of a hot springs geisha.
  6. Sleepless by: Charlie Huston – Lots of apocalypse novels out there, but this is the only one I know of where the end of the world is heralded by a disease that literally does not let you sleep until you die.
  7. The President’s Vampire by: Christopher Farnsworth – There are a lot of vampire novels on the market right now, I get that, but Christopher Farnsworth does a delightful thing with the genre by binding a vampire to protect all the U.S. presidents through a blood oath. Also, doomsday monsters in every novel. (So far there are three, novels, that is.) 
  8. Going Bovine by: Libba Bray – I’m still not sure what’s going on in this bizarre YA novel about a kid who comes down with mad-cow disease and then proceeds to (…in the vernacular…) trip balls.
  9. Invitation to the Game by: Monica Hughes – Published in 1991, I’m convinced this is one of the early middle grade dystopian novels. Kids finish school and are either assigned jobs… or not. This novel tells the story of a group of friends that are not assigned jobs and the invitation to a virtual reality game that they seek…
  10. Les Miserables by: Victor Hugo – Unique in that I loathe this book, (yeah, go ahead, judge me.) but I love all the film and stage adaptations. 
What about you, Reader? What’s the most unique book you’ve ever read?

April @ The Steadfast Reader



Top Ten Gateway Books

Posted 1 April, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

As always, brought to you by: The Broke and the Bookish

So the Top Ten this week is ‘gateway’ books. Books that brought you to reading, that brought you into a genre you never thought you’d like – basically books that lead to other books. Here’s what I have!

1. A Wrinkle in Time by: Madeline L’Engle – This book holds up for adults. It was great as a kid and it’s still great. I probably read this book once a year for at least seven years when I was a kid.

2. Matilda by: Roald Dahl – Some people might disagree with me, but the best part about Roald Dahl books is that they’re all just so damned dark. I’ve re-read Matilda as an adult and it holds up. I never tire of the revenge Matilda takes on her parents, the sweetness of Miss Honey, and the horror that is Mrs. Trunchbull.

3. The Little House Books by: Laura Ingalls Wilder – I know I’ve been bitching about re-reading these books to my daughter (Little House in the Big Woods, to be exact). But I did read the crap out of them during my own childhood I loved them. They certainly influenced my love of reading, even if I can’t tell you how.

4. The Babysitters Club Series by: Ann M. Martin – Another set of childhood favorites that I will never ever revisit – because I’m sure to hate them now, but I was always chomping at the bit to get at the next installment of these while I was growing up.

5. Fear Street Series by: R.L. Stine – I guess it’s not all that surprising that I eventually made the leap to Stephen King. I read these books religiously – I was obviously born with a love of horror. I think I was a little too old when the Goosebumps series started, because I always thought they were super lame next to Fear Street.

6. Cujo by: Stephen King – This was my gateway book out of middle grade literature (since YA wasn’t really a thing when I was growing up) into the world of adult books. I read Cujo when I was eleven and never visited Sweet Valley High, Fear Street, or my friends at The Babysitters Club again.

7. A Prayer for Owen Meany by: John Irving – This book led me into a love of character studies. This was the first John Irving book that I picked up and it also led me to a love of Irving.

8. 1984 by: George Orwell – The penultimate classic dystopia. This book (paired with Brave New World) started my love of dystopias. If you’re going to write a dystopia, you better have read these two.

9. And Tango Makes Three by: Justin Richardson – This book showed me the importance of introducing children to social issues at a young age. And Tango Makes Three shows me that there’s no reason not to start early.

10. The Handmaid’s Tale by: Margaret Atwood – This was the first banned book that I read, that I was aware had been banned from the school. Oh, the places I’ve been since there.

What about you, Reader? What are your ‘gateway’ books?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Top Ten Beach Reads

Posted 11 March, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

As always, brought to you by: The Broke and the Bookish

This week The Broke and the Bookish asked for our top ten picks in a genre of our choice. As George R.R. Martin always says, “Summer is coming.” (Surely, f’real, it’s coming right?) I think the beginning of March is a great time to start thinking about your beach reads. Alternatively, these books can also be used when snowbound or while stuck on an airplane. Really, these are just fluffy, enjoyable books  that may or may not have real ‘substance’. Enjoy! 

Image Map

Mouse over for names and authors, click for reviews and descriptions! 

What about you, Reader? What are your favorite polar vortex reads? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader



Top Ten Popular Authors I Have Never Read

Posted 4 March, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

As always, brought to you by: The Broke and the Bookish

So for this week I Googled popular authors (because how do I know what I don’t know?) and found this list of bestselling fiction authors on Wikipedia. I have to tell you that I’m pretty impressed with myself. I’ve also altered the assignment (like always) to include authors who’s books I have never finished.

1. Stephanie Meyer – Low hanging fruit, I know. I just couldn’t finish Twilight the writing was too awful and Bella was too annoying.
2. Tom Clancy – Cold war thrillers really just aren’t my thing.
3. Danielle Steele – ‘eh… 
4. Nicholas Sparks – Remember how we talked about my lack of swooning? My lack of book-radar for swoony books? Is it a surprise I’ve never read any Nicholas Sparks?
5. Orson Scott Card – I know. Ender’s Game and all that… I’ve tried, but I just couldn’t get into it.
6. Jonathan Franzen – Who? Oh… all the awards and a part of Oprah’s Book Club? He’s probably on the TBR somewhere. For some reason I want to confuse him with James Franco. 
7. Salaman Rushdie – The man is on the list but The Satanic Verses intimidate me. Heavy heavy literature. Though, every time I see an interview with him I feel a little in love with him. He seems like an awesome guy.
8. John Green – Another author on the TBR list. I’ll get to The Fault in Our Stars, one day.

9. Norah Roberts – ‘eh… again.
10. Ann Coulter – Because I’m working on my blood pressure.

April @ The Steadfast Reader



Top Ten REWIND! Let’s do Characters.

Posted 25 February, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

As always, brought to you by: The Broke and the Bookish
So, I love characters. What’s a book without decent characters? This is a general statement for fiction, but it can sometimes apply in non-fiction as well. In no specific order.

1. Owen Meany. (A Prayer for Owen Meany): He is probably my all time favorite character from … always. He’s funny, tragic, smart, and oh-so tiny. Also, totally unforgettable. Runners up in this book are John and Hester. I could probably populate this entire list with characters from this book.

2. Elizabeth I. (The Life of Elizabeth I): This book is non-fiction. So this is an instance where I love Elizabeth I as a person. She was a badass feminist! She got stuff done that no one else could. What a great lady!

3. Elphaba. (Wicked): I’m talking the book, I love the musical too but it’s just so Disney-fied that a lot of the deeper elements explored in the novel get left out. In the book she’s a dreadfully tragic character who develops very strong opinons and acts on them. Glinda doesn’t stand a chance.

4. Roland. (The Dark Tower Series): Here’s a character that is beat down, kicked around, loses some fingers and just keeps going. Susannah, Eddie, Jake, and Oy are great – but Roland is the central figure that keeps the ka-tet together. 

5. Solomon the Peacemaker. (Solomon the Peacemaker): I know this is less a character and more a piece of technology, but it’s so absolutely central in the novel that it makes the rest of the characters who they are.

6. Krystal Weedon. (The Casual Vacancy): Another tragic character. She’s young, confused, and her mother’s a heroin addict leaving Krystal as the sole caretaker for her younger brother. Bad things happen to her, a lot.

7. Lestat. (The Vampire Chronicles): Sometimes you love to hate him, more often I love to love him. Cocky, egocentric, magnificent. He’s probably at his best in Memnoch the Devil.

8. Matilda. (Matilda): What bookworm doesn’t love Matilda? She represents all that is magical and wonderful about books. Is three too young to read The Girl some Roald Dahl?

9. Marion Cole. (A Widow for One Year): Another John Irving book that could populate this entire list, but I love Marion. She’s flawed and makes some largely questionable decisions both in her personal life and as a mother but Eddie’s enduring love for her (not to mention putting up with Ted’s shit for as long as she did) makes her ultimately likable to me. This is an example of the absence of a character almost being a character in itself.

10. The Night Circus. (The Night Circus): Okay, again, not technically a character but the atmosphere of the Night Circus is so well developed and permeates the entire novel that it is almost a character. 

What about you, Reader? Who are your all time favorite, unforgettable characters?

April @ The Steadfast Reader



Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Reader/Blogger

Posted 18 February, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

As always, brought to you by: The Broke and the Bookish

1. Community. Clearly this is the best thing ever about being a book blogger. No matter what your preferred genre, no matter what weird niche you inhabit, there are other people out there who are just as excited as you are about it. That’s a beautiful thing.

2. Snobbery. I’m a snob who hates to be out-snobbed. Since I’m not independently wealthy it is often easy for some people to out-snob me in the food/travel/wine/gadgets front. But books? Nawp. Mere mortals* generally don’t stand a chance.

*As opposed to other readers, who I don’t feel the need to out-snob, I just feel the love of fellowship.

3. Intellectual outlet. I’m a woman being held prisoner in her own home by a three-year old. (Read: I’m a stay at home mom and I don’t want to be.*) Book blogging and reading both give me intellectual outlets for all of my many years of education which is slowly wilting in the pressure-cooker of the life which I’m living.

*Before you freak out and never read my blog again or leave me a nasty comment, I love The Girl and stay at home parents enjoy MUCH crazy respect from me. It’s just not ever been what I really wanted to do.

4. Sanity. See ‘Intellectual outlet’. Without being a reader I definitely would have lost my mind by now.

5. Travel. I love to travel, it’s why living in Europe for three years was so ideal to me. So much to see and everything’s SO close. (…and RyanAir, nothing like it stateside? amiright?) But now, I’m in Georgia. Books keep me in the world.

6. Humility. I know this seems to be in direct conflict with ‘Snobbery’, but this is as a blogger. There’s so much great content out there. Besides, I always need shots of humility.

7. Statistics. Page counts, books read, years published, etc. etc. It all fills me with such a sense of purpose!

8. Passion. Reading gives me pleasure and fills me with passion. Blogging helps me share that with others.

9. Reading Lists. This goes back to statistics. I just love ticking books off of different must-read lists.

10. Community. Because really. That’s the best.

What about you, Readers? What do you love the best?

April @ The Steadfast Reader