reading recap: august 2015

monthly recap imageI had a great month of reading, a couple of perfect summer reads, a couple of re-reads, some action-adventure, some darkness, some hope.

august recap

I enjoyed all of these books, and they were so varied in tone and subject matter it’s hard to pick a favorite. Maybe I’ll say An Untamed State by a hair. America: The Audiobook and Rob Delaney‘s memoir were perfect for our road trip a few weeks ago. We Are Water was an indulgent family drama for me, and The Long Walk and Jurassic Park were great for high summer. I hardly ever re-read but this month I had two: the Delaney and Jurassic Park.

The Long Walk was my 50th book read in 2015! I didn’t exactly expect to hit that milestone this early, we still have a quarter of the year to go. My 50 Book Pledge shelf says I’m on pace for 75 total in 2015. I have a couple chunksters in the queue so I likely won’t make it more than maybe 60… we’ll see! I’d be happy with any number, really :)

What did you read in August? What are you looking forward to next?

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 been almost a week already since my last “what I’m reading” post? I can’t believe it. Classes started at the university where I’m on staff and my husband was prepping for his month-long artist residency all last week (he left yesterday), so we’ve been pretty swamped. I finished up Stephen King’s The Long Walk and I meant to get a couple of review posts done… coming soon!

DSC04243Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf just came through at the library for me, so that’ll be by next read. After that, I’ll probably start City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg and maybe Black Mass by Dick Lehr and Gerard K. O’Neill. I’ve had Black Mass on my wish list for a long time—I love true crime non-fiction, especially in the mafia/gangsters realm—and now that I see the movie is coming out in a few weeks I figure I better finally get to it!

What are you reading this week?

it’s tuesday! what are you reading?

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

Yes, it’s Tuesday! I kept feeling like yesterday was Tuesday, and today was Wednesday. I must just be excited about going to the Royals game tomorrow :) Anyway, yesterday I shared my Bout of Books 14 wrap-up post. I would have liked to accomplish more but at least I was able to finish one book and participate in some challenges and half a Twitter chat.

So yes, last week I finished An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. I was really hooked but it wasn’t quite the earth-shaking, life-changing stunner I was expecting (stupid hype!!). Still, it was really, really good and will probably rank up there with one of the best books I read this year. Review coming soon!

I was going to start City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg… I have an ARC and since it’s being released in October (and it’s 900-some pages) I thought I better get going on it. I fully admit to being intimidated by the page count and hesitant to dive in because of that. But, my husband asked me to read Stephen King’s The Long Walk before he leaves next week for a month-long residency in Washington (state) so we can talk about it—he read it earlier this year and I love it when he wants to “book club” with me!

What are you reading this week?

bout of books 14 wrap-up

Here are my results from the Bout of Books 14 readathon:


Day 1: Monday, August 17
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay: read 22 pages (pgs. 56–78)

Day 2: Tuesday, August 18
Set up trip audiobook review blog post draft
An Untamed State: read 41 pages (pgs. 78–119)
Book Scavenger Hunt (Challenge 2):

Day 3: Wednesday, August 19
Published blog post: my KCM top ten
An Untamed State: read 28 pages (pgs. 119–147)

Day 4: Thursday, August 20
Published blog post: madison audiobooks

Day 5: Friday, August 21
An Untamed State: read 46 pages (pgs. 147–193)

Day 6: Saturday, August 22
An Untamed State: read 137 pages (pgs. 193–330)
Participated in half of the Twitter chat
Book Road Trip (Challenge 6):

Day 7: Sunday, August 23
An Untamed State: read 37 pages (pgs. 330–367), finished!
What to read next? (Challenge 7):

311 pages read
1 book finished
2 blog posts published
3 challenges completed

madison audiobooks

My husband and I just got back from six wonderful days in Wisconsin, visiting family and having a ton of fun! Of course I forgot my camera, so there are no pictures. We listened to two audiobooks on the road, one new to me and one I read on paper last year. Both of these were absolutely perfect for the car.

On the way up we heard The Daily Show crew read America: The Audiobook. Sigh, I miss Jon Stewart already. Although America is slightly out of date now (released in 2004), it was still a fun and funny look at our political history. I loved how it was a group effort, with not only Stewart narrating but also Stephen Colbert, Ed Helms, Samantha Bee, and more. The only bummer was that it was abridged, which I generally try to avoid, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything here. [Listened to audiobook on August 11, 2015.]

During our drive home we listened to Rob Delaney’s Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. I loved it as much as I loved it last year when I read it on hardcover (my review), but I enjoyed it even more hearing Delaney narrate. He’s just the best! I hope to have a chance to watch his new show Catastrophe soon, too. [Listened to audiobook on August 16, 2015.]

my top picks 2014–15

KCMetropolis.orgIt’s that time again! I was worried I’d have trouble putting together my list, but it turns out despite having another kind of crap year personally, I did end up seeing some fantastic concerts. Here is my top picks list on (in chronological order):

Rag Swing Bop! by Paul Mesner Puppets at the Gem Theater as part of the American Jazz Museum’s annual Charlie Parker Celebration. A great, fun way for young Kansas Citians to learn about important parts of our city’s history. (August 2014)

• Buddy Guy on the Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College. I loved seeing Buddy last fall as much as I loved seeing him live 15 years ago—he hasn’t lost his edge one bit! (September 2014)

• Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott on the Harriman-Jewell Series. I’d never seen Yo-Yo Ma play live before, and it was a thrilling experience. (October 2014)

San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas,on the Harriman-Jewell Series. Its performance of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center was simply breathtaking. (November 2014)

• Hozier at Liberty Hall in Lawrence. I hadn’t been to a rock concert in a long time, and Hozier lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Click here for my blog post. (February 2015)

• The Book of Mormon, presented by Theater League/Broadway Across America, at the Music Hall. My husband and I were having a really bad week when we went to see this, but Mormon let us just enjoy a bit of raunchy, ridiculous humor for an evening and forget about our troubles. (February 2015)

• Jonathan Harvey’s String Trio and Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies, performed by newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. Harvey’s String Trio was exactly the kind of complex new music I love hearing, and Kenn Kumpf from Chicago was intense and mesmerizing as the insane George III in the rarely performed Eight Songs. (April 2015)

• Ensemble Ibérica on the Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College. Led by Beau Bledsoe, Ensemble Ibérica took its enraptured audience on a tour of Mexican regions through captivating, authentic traditional music. (May 2015)

• Musical sweethearts Victor and Penny performed a work-in-progress on Central Standard Theatre Kansas City‘s The Invasion series, but they are just so genuine and talented they captured my heart. I’m looking forward to seeking out more of their shows in the future. (July 2015)

• Emerging bluegrass duo The Matchsellers had a killer set on the Kansas City Fringe Festival, with a great mix of old standards and idiomatic new originals. I’m going to keep my eye out for these two around town as well (July 2015).

Read my list of top picks with more thoughts and direct links to individual reviews at Editor’s Picks 2014–15 season: Kristin

bout of books 14

It’s time for the summer Bout of Books!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week-long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17 and runs through Sunday, August 23 in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books  blog.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++—The Bout of Books team

I can’t believe I almost forgot to sign up for this one! I’m on the road to Wisconsin right now but looking forward to diving back into books next week during Bout of Books, the last week of summer break here! I love how this readathon is low key and low pressure. The only goal I have is to either finish or at least get a significant amount read of the two books I’m working on. I’ll do my best to participate in a few challenges and at least one Twitter chat, too.

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 Monday once again, and I’m (once again) heading up to Wisconsin this week! This time it’s to celebrate the birthdays of my mom and my little niece (her first). I’m hoping to get to Devil’s Lake, Vitense putt putt, a beer at Weary Traveler, Jazz at Five, Cash Box Kings at the Terrace, and a bunch of other fun south-central Wisconsin stuff I haven’t had a chance to do in years. Should be a great trip!

DSC04243I’ve downloaded a couple of audiobooks (Mother. Wife. Sister. … by Rob DelaneyAmerica (The Book) by Jon Stewart (miss you already)) for the drive, but I was a little befuddled by what to read on paper next. I did start The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan, but I’m not sure I want to bring that out of town (library book). So to round out that non-fiction, I chose to start An Untamed State by Roxane Gay as well over the weekend. So far I’m completely hooked… I’ll bring it along up north but figure I likely won’t have much time to read it!

What are you reading this week?

jurassic park

Hold on to your butts… I just re-read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton! From Goodreads:

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now, one of mankind’s most thrilling fantasies has come true. Creatures extinct for eons now roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.

Until something goes wrong…

Thanks to the new Jurassic World movie coming out this summer, I was inspired to find my old copy at my parents’ house during a recent visit and give it a reread. When the original 1993 Jurassic Park film was released, my mother wouldn’t let me see it until I had read the book. Fair enough, but then she actually ended up reading the whole thing to me on a road trip from Wisconsin to Quebec and back! And then after the movie came out, maybe a year or so later, I decided to read it again and I distinctly remember being in the “little bedroom” at my grandparents’ house in Green Bay, which was at the front of the house on the first floor. I remember the compys making an impact on me—I read and imagined compys getting in through the window and biting my toes. Reading Jurassic Park again just now transported me back to those times; I love how books do that!

Anyway, there was a lot that had stuck with me (like Grant having a beard, the compys being more prominent in the book, the lengthy science-y scenes, and some deaths) but a lot that felt fresh again. The first quarter of the book is a lot of build up, but once the action starts it really takes off—thrilling and tough to put down! Some scenes were so exciting and suspenseful (the river, hatchery, and raptor nest, to name a few) I wonder why they weren’t included in the film. It was great to come across dialogue that made it to the film verbatim.

Of course, it’s impossible not to compare. As far as the characters go, they are all so much better in the film. Grant comes off as smarter in the movie than the book, if you can believe it (everyone kinda does…) Malcolm on film is iconic and has an appropriate attitude shift when the [ahem] hits the fan; Malcolm on paper is all snotty arrogance and an unfazed “just as I predicted” to every terrifying event right to the very end. The kids! They were THE WORST in the book. I remembered they were flipped for the movie (so that Lex is the older computer “hacker” and Tim is the younger sib), but I forgot how relentlessly annoying they both are in the book. Lex, ugh. I so badly wanted a raptor (or anything) to bite her. Jurassic Park is an awesome film for girls to watch—you get to see Ellie be a kick-ass brilliant feminist just as intelligent, strong, and vital to the story as the men and Lex basically saves the day at the end with her computer smarts.

I’m glad I went back and read the book again. It was perfect for summer, a lot of fun action and adventure, and brought back great memories. Because the world building and story is so incredible and memorable, I can overlook the characters being less than stellar in the book, especially when I have their endearing, fleshed-out film portrayals to enjoy.

Read from July 28 to August 2, 2015.

i am malala

I had this I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai on hold at my library for a while and it came through this past week. From Goodreads:

Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren’t allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn’t go to school. Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school. No one expected her to survive. Now she is an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

I’m sorry to say I didn’t know about Malala until after she was shot by a member of the Taliban in Pakistan. I honestly had no idea about her activist efforts for education and girls rights before the shooting, and she is even more inspiring now to me. Somehow I feel like this could be the first of several books about (or by) Malala to come in the future.

The copy that I borrowed was the young readers edition, and so, as an adult, the writing was simplistic and sometimes repetitive, but I think that might be a positive attribute for this edition—it read in Malala’s voice and she is quite an endearing “normal” teenager. This edition glosses over Pakistan’s history and the uprising of terrorism there (“One day, a man announced on the radio…” etc.) but there is a helpful timeline in the appendix. If you want more history and analysis, I’m sure there are plenty of other books on the subject; I’ve even seen online that the “adult” version of I Am Malala delves more deeply into history, and her father’s work and background.

Anyway, Malala is a charming, bright, wise-beyond-her-years person and I look forward to following her career in human rights. This is a perfect, important book for young teens around the world to read.

Read from July 28 to August 2, 2015.