the bean trees

A few weeks ago I read my second Barbara Kingsolver book, The Bean Trees. (I read The Poisonwood Bible maybe five years ago.) From Goodreads:

Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a 3-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.

This was a really cute book. It reminded me of Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts in tone and shades of The Round House by Louise Erdrich. Taylor is sassy and smart, but some of her talking points were a bit heavy handed, like, I couldn’t tell if this is a book with a specific message Kingsolver was trying to get across or not. The other characters, while entertaining, were kind of just caricatures—I didn’t feel like they were multifaceted, whole people. I’m not sure I perceived a real connection between Taylor and Turtle, and I would have liked to see the end turn out differently than it did.

All that said, The Bean Trees is a cute book. It’s pretty short, with a real down-home Southwestern vibe to it. Kingsolver’s writing style was raw here (it’s her first book, after all) but there is a lot of lyricism that you can see will develop. It was interesting how although there are serious themes such as domestic violence, single parenthood, immigration here, it is still ultimately an uplifting, “light” read. There is a sequel, Pigs in Heaven, but I’m not so compelled to continue. The Bean Trees works well as a stand-alone.

The Bean Trees
 is my fourth of twelve books read for the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge.

Read from June 23 to July 7, 2014.

something wicked this way comes

My friend Anthony and I were at a library book sale last summer, saw two copies of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes for a dollar, and decided to have ourselves a little readalong. One year later, Anthony is preparing to move to Canada and we finally decided to get on it! From Goodreads:

A masterpiece of modern Gothic literature, Something Wicked This Way Comes is the memorable story of two boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, and the evil that grips their small Midwestern town with the arrival of a “dark carnival” one Autumn midnight. How these two innocents, both age 13, save the souls of the town (as well as their own), makes for compelling reading on timeless themes. What would youdo if your secret wishes could be granted by the mysterious ringmaster Mr. Dark? Bradbury excels in revealing the dark side that exists in us all, teaching us ultimately to celebrate the shadows rather than fear them. In many ways, this is a companion piece to his joyful, nostalgia-drenchedDandelion Wine, in which Bradbury presented us with one perfect summer as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old. In Something Wicked This Way Comes, he deftly explores the fearsome delights of one perfectly terrifying, unforgettable autumn.

lt’s , featuring the most ridiculous hashtag ever! We had a lot of fun on Twitter and then a great discussion last week after we were both finished. I’ll let the tweets speak for themselves:

Final consensus: It was a fun, action-packed story, but I thought I might have been more into it back when I was around 13 years old (of course, I was reading Orwell’s 1984 then… so maybe not so much) and Anthony would recommend The Martian Chronicles to someone new to Bradbury instead. I had only read his Fahrenheit 451 before this, so I couldn’t really say, but I liked 451 better. According to my copy, there is a 1983 film version of Something Wicked; I watched the preview on IMDB and GOOD LORD that music is terrible. But I bet the story translates to film very well. Fun times! Thanks, Anthony!

Read from June 30 to July 5, 2014.

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Has it almost been a week already since my last post?? I can’t believe it! Well, we got back from our Wisconsin trip and was home just a few days before I drove Nick to Mizzou for the composers festival there this week. Then, when I got back to Kansas City, Fringe Festival started! It’s been a busy weekend and will be a busy week. I’ve seen five Fringe shows already and plan to see/review a lot more through the week! I’ll have a list of all my reviews up here on July 30 with’s all-Fringe issue.

I did finally finish a few books in the last week (although I’ve been awful about posting reviews here—behind again! Working on it). Anthony and I discussed Something Wicked This Way Comes over Wisconsin brats, I finished reading Driven by Donald Driver (Packers WR 1999–2013), and also Our Divided Political Heart by E.J. Dionne, Jr. on audiobook (finally!). Nick and I listened to Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars on audiobook during our trip to Wisconsin. I have a ton of catching up to do on posts, it seems!

A couple of days ago I started reading Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry (on my TBR Pile Challenge). Coincidentally, I learned from Allison at The Book Wheel that Gentry just passed away a couple days ago. It’s a really tough book to put down—true crime fascinates me—I’m just sort of wishing I had picked a different time to start this one, what with the Fringe coverage taking up most of my time this week. Oh well, I’m just happy to be down to one book for now.

What are you reading this week?

top ten tuesday: favorite tv shows

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a fun way to get yourself thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

July 15: Top ten TV shows

Jumping in here real late tonight! Just got back from my Wisconsin vacation last night and playing major catch-up today. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday departs from all things bookish and takes a look at our favorite movies, TV shows, or whatever! These are my favorite newer/current shows, that I’ve been able to watch over and over again. In no particular order:

  1. The Sopranos
  2. The Simpsons
  3. Breaking Bad
  4. Futurama
  5. South Park
  6. House of Cards (US Netflix)
  7. Mad Men
  8. True Blood
  9. The Walking Dead
  10. The Colbert Report

Honorable mentions: Orange is the New BlackThe Rachel Maddow ShowLaw and Order: SVUMetalocalypseThe Office (both UK and US), DerekSex and the City, American Horror Story

Oldies but goodies: My So-Called LifeLost

top ten tuesday: book blogger confessions

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a fun way to get yourself thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

July 8: Top ten book blogger confessions

We all have dirty little secrets, I suppose…!

1. I actually like to see the movie version…
… AFTER I read the book, naturally. It doesn’t really bother me or screw up my previous reading experience. Of course, if I accidentally already saw the movie before I knew it was a book first, I end up with pretty much zero desire to read the book, no matter how great it’s supposed to be.

2. I have a post schedule but I can just barely keep to it.
It’s just a list in the notes app on my iPad. I am constantly futzing with it because I either take longer or quicker with a book than I expect to, things come up and I don’t have time to post, or I just flat-out change my mind and decide against posting whatever I had down for that day.

3. I get afraid of falling into meme- and review-only posts ruts.
I hope I’m not boring anyone! But on the other hand…

4. …I blog first and foremost for myself, just for the fun of it.
Yep, I don’t really pay too close attention to stats and the numbers game. Readers and followers are a wonderful and welcome bonus! I get a little ping of joy whenever I see that I have a comment, and try my best to respond to all of them.

5. Speaking of comments, I’m not awesome about commenting on other blogs.
I try and I want to, but I get distracted or I only have a minute to peruse quick before I have to do something else. And I’ve been largely off the computer on the weekends lately (which, confession, while I’m at it: has been AMAZING! You should all try it).

6. I feel like I’m a year behind other book bloggers…
I wish I could keep up with all the latest books that are out. I went on a bit of a retail therapy bender last year and I have a good handful of 2013 releases I still have to read.

7. …but I’m not really interested in ARCs or galleys much.
Once in a blue moon I’ll win an ARC in a giveaway contest online, which is awesome, but then I end up feeling pressure to readitrightnowandpostimmediatelyomg!!! and I just can’t commit to that kind of schedule.

8. I sign up for annual challenges knowing full well I’ll fail.
TBR Pile Challenge and Eclectic Reader. Failed last year, already know I’ll fail this year. It’s a good way to cull through old books though, right? If you can’t even be bothered with it in a challenge after a YEAR, maybe it’s time to release into the universe?

9. I don’t particularly like e-reading, but I keep buying ebooks.
Damn you, daily deal! $1.99! I could do a whole challenge on my ebook collection alone.

10. I’m not sure I’d read as much if I didn’t have the blog.
I never thought about it much before blogging—how many books I read in a year, what I was reading, what was new out there, got excited about discussing what I was reading. Once I started the blog it became really fun to “compete” against myself, to read more than I did last year, see how to diversify my reading, try new formats (ebook, audio), etc. I make a lot of time to read, and I wonder if I would do that if I didn’t have this space to track and share.

So how about it, I can’t be alone here, right? Bueller?

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Finished The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, this morning! It was just the right book for me right after such heavy reads (Wave and We Need to Talk About Kevin). Review coming later this week! Over the holiday weekend I also finished Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury for the readalong with my friend Anthony. We’ll meet up this week and discuss it at some point, after which I’ll put up a review post here. Stay tuned!

So, that leaves me with the audiobook for Our Divided Political Heart by E.J. Dionne. Like I said before, I haven’t been in the car much lately, and that’s what works best for me to really get into listening to audiobooks, especially long trips. But I am still really interested in this and the times I’ve been able to squeeze in some listening I’ve enjoyed it. I borrowed a digital copy from the library and renewed it today, and since I’m halfway through already I’m hoping to be able to finish it by/on Wednesday this week.

On Thursday I’m heading up to Wisconsin for the annual family reunion weekend, and we picked up two audiobooks for the trip:

The Good Rat by Jimmy Breslin
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Not sure we’ll get through both (not enough hours in the car!) but I always think it’s good to have a couple choices on the road.

What are you reading this week?

kcm interview: beau bledsoe

This week on I interviewed Ensemble Ibérica‘s artistic director Beau Bledsoe in the latest installment of our Movers, Shakers, and Stalwarts series, in which we feature important figures in the arts community. Beau has been studying, playing, and presenting the music of the Iberian Peninsula for years now, and is a driving force behind Kansas City’s experience of this music. And he’s an awesome guitarist! Ensemble Ibérica has a couple shows this month and I hope to get to the one on July 23.

beau bledsoe

Read the full interview at Movers, Shakers, Stalwarts: Beau Bledsoe

[Photo credit: Jeff Evrard]

top ten tuesday: classics to read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a fun way to get yourself thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

July 1: Top ten Classics I want to read

This is a GREAT challenge list for me (no, really!). If you read this blog you’ll know I’m not a big fan of the Classics, not necessarily because I don’t want to read them but because I just can’t seem to buckle down and actually do it, not when there are all sorts of shiny new books coming at me every year! But really I feel like I have no valid excuse or reason not to read Classics, especially these that I’ve been curious about for years. In no particular order:


The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess


Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Honorable MentionsThe Feminine Mystique (Friedan), Slaughterhouse-Five (Vonnegut), The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck), The Metamorphosis (Kafka), As I Lay Dying (Faulkner),
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Joyce), Walden (Thoreau), Invisible Man (Ellison).

What are your favorite Classics? What Classics do you want to read?

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It’s the last day of June, which means we are officially halfway through the year! I plan to do a half-way point post this week to recap what I’ve read so far in 2014. Stay tuned!

I’m still working on The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, which I started last Monday. I thought I’d finish it pretty quickly but ended up busier last week than I expected to be (work during the day, activities each night) so I’m still stuck only about a quarter of the way in. It’s good, though! I’m having a more trouble with Our Divided Political Heart by E.J. Dionne, though, which I also started on audio last week. Audio works best for me in the car, and I haven’t been in the car for long enough to really get into it lately (and won’t this coming week, either). I am interested in the subject and I want to read it, but maybe the timing is bad for audio for me right now. Well, who knows, maybe I can squeeze in an hour here or there this week. ALSO, today, I’m starting Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. My friend Anthony and I bought matching copies at a library sale last summer and neither of us had gotten around to it yet. With his impending move to Canada in a couple months we finally decided now’s the time to have our little readalong! We’re nerds and have made up the following ridiculous Twitter hashtag for it: #anthonyandkristinreadsomethingwickedthisway comesbyraybradburysummer2014 (subject to change!)

We aim be done by the end of the week, and hopefully have time to get together to discuss it. Have you read Something Wicked This Way Comes? The only other Bradbury I’ve read is Fahrenheit 451 (in 2009).

What are you reading this week?