what I read in March

What better way to get back into the swing of blogging than a monthly recap of the books I’ve read?


It’ll be a short recap, actually, because the majority of books read in March belong to the Amelia Peabody series of cozy mysteries. Written by Elizabeth Peters, these books deal with an archeologist family, headed by matriarch Amelia Peabody, and surrounded by a cast of characters that make for highly enjoyable reading. If you like cozy mysteries at all, go read this series–it’s better than most. (Cozy mysteries can be both delightful and terrible, and these are definitely the former.) They go very well with dissertation writing–after a day of teasing out complex problems, it was very nice to spend a couple hours in twentieth century Egypt with Amelia and co.

1. Lord of the Silent (Elizabeth Peters)
2. Children of the Storm (Elizabeth Peters)
3. Guardian of the Horizon (Elizabeth Peters)
4. The Serpent on the Crown (Elizabeth Peters)
5. Tomb of the Golden Bird (Elizabeth Peters)

And then, for the more literary part of my month), I also read

6. Shakespeare Saved My Life (Laura Bates). Bates is a Shakespeare scholar that found herself teaching Shakespeare to inmates in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison. I really wanted to like this book, and there were parts that were really interesting, but overall, I felt like Bates was trying too hard and I wanted to throw the book across the room after the third time she very earnestly told us how incredibly insightful these prisoners were. If you’re interested in Shakespeare in prison, I recommend a podcast from This American Life (Act V): I feel like it did a better job of showcasing the complexity that surrounds the rehabilitation of serious offenders.

7. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (Maria Semple). Architect turned neurotic stay-at-home-mom wreaks havoc on her life, and everyone else’s.
It took me a very long time to get around to reading this book. I really liked 3/4 of this book, and I’m recommending it based on that. The characters are eccentric but believable, and the use of correspondence to tell most of the story is clever and well-executed. The ending is a bit blah, but that could just be me.

8. Death at Wentwater Court (Carola Dunn). I listened to this one through Overdrive, mostly while walking the dog. Short, enjoyable cozy mystery set in 1920s England.

9. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck). I was hooked on half of the book, cheering for the family, until Lotus was brought on the scene and I wanted to shake some sense into Wang Lung. Want to read something that will make your blood boil? The way women are treated in this book should qualify. (Also, this was a book club read. During the meeting, the lone guy present told us that this was the book that made him realize the importance of family planning and birth control. All the women in attendance just looked at him, because yes, thanks for catching on.)

There were two books I didn’t finish this month (rare for me!): Allure of Deceit (Susan Froetschel) and The Rosie Effect (Graehem Simsion). Allure tried too hard for my liking: part murder mystery, part psychological thriller, part exposé, I felt like it didn’t deliver on any of the fronts and stopped reading it halfway through. And although I really, really liked The Rosie Project, the second installment felt too formulaic and frankly too unbelievable for me to want to continue. I felt like the author sat down, brainstormed a list of challenges that could happen to someone on the spectrum, and then proceeded to throw them at his character all at once. If you’ve read and liked The Rosie Effect, let me know if I should reconsider and see it through.


just so you know

A friend of mine (hi, Lotte!) is doing a 50-book-challenge this year (meaning she’s going to read 50 books in 2010). She’s determined to not only read them, but also review them on this blog.

I usually aim at something like 100 books a year (but not all of them are new reads! I love rereading books and will often go through entire familiar series one after another). I’ve been keeping track for years, and I’ve decided to share my list with the world. You’re welcome, I’m sure y’all can’t wait to see with what I occupy my time.

Because I like everything to be neat and structured (don’t laugh. You know how some people say they’re actually a skinny person trapped in a fat person’s body? Well, I’m a neat girl trapped in a messy girl’s body) I’ve divided my list into three categories: new reads, rereads, and audiobooks. You can see my progression on the sidebar to the right…and above I’ve added a page to keep track of the list as a whole, adding months as the year goes by.

Oh, and be sure to leave me a comment or email me if you want to see a review of a particular book! Because here at EAT.SLEEP.READ.LOVE., we aim to please.

love…and zombies

On one of my last days of work, a colleague and I decided to hold an "audiobook day", in which we’d sit next to each other and listen to the same audiobook. I downloaded one in preparation from a lovely LJ community and we spent close to eight hours engrossed in the story, and totally zoned out to all the other people in the room. I think all our other colleagues found that very annoying, by the way…

The book that held us spellbound was "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by Seth Grahame-Smith (and Jane Austen, of course). I picked it because the girl I was listening to it with is an English major and I figured she’d know the original Pride and Prejudice and get some enjoyment out of the Zombie twist. It was great. The story is pretty much the same, since the characters are all the same and most of the lines are the same. Mrs. Bennet is still embarrassingly shallow and flaky, Mr. Bennet still spends most of his time in the library, Mr. Collins still marries Lizzie’s friend instead of her, Lydia and Mr. Wickham still end up together, Jane and Mr. Bingley are still in love, etc etc. But the twist is that there is a strange plague in England that makes zombies out of people unless they are beheaded after death. These zombies go around the country killing people (quite gruesomely, in fact, they split open skulls and eat brains). Luckily, Elizabeth and her sisters are trained in the deadly arts. The zombies are interjected into the story every so often, for example, instead of music lessons, Lizzie and her sisters will be at their afternoon sparring lesson in the dojo. And Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth do not only spar verbally, but she sends him flying into the mantlepiece one afternoon. One zombie invasion (I think it was during one of the balls) leads Mr. Bennet to cry out, "Girls, the pentagram of death!" much in the manner of a football coach calling positions before the start of each play.

I don’t want to give away much of the zombie part of the story, there were so many twists and turns that had us going, "wait, what just happened?". It was done very well, we’d be all focused on the romantic part of the story and forget it was an adaptation and then all of a sudden muskets and daggers and high kicks would come roaring in.

Plus, you gotta love the cover.