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Posts Tagged ‘book recommendations’

My current thesis research is somewhat tedious and boring. I have to identify the minerals and rock fragments in a bunch of sandstones and while I DO have to pay attention to what I’m doing, I’ve been doing this so long now that it’s somewhat mechanical. I also have to do this quickly.

So I HAVE to listen to things to keep me occupied. Music doesn’t quite cut it – it’s too easy to let myself get distracted. Podcasts are great, too, though I prefer audio dramas, of which there are very few quality productions – all of which I am now caught up on – and I haven’t been given any recommendations that I’ve liked.

Enter audiobooks – my new favorite thing. But in my new dalliance into audiobook listening, I have also found that there are good books, and there are good audiobook readers. But finding where these two spheres cross is a difficult task.

The first audiobook I listened to was Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files book, Storm Front, read by James Marsters – the platinum-blonde vampire from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He did an excellent job, and I’ll be starting his reading of the second Dresden Files book in a few days.

I was in the middle of the second Sirantha Jax book by Ann Aguirre, and I was so wrapped up in the story I managed to get my hands on the audiobook so I could continue it while I worked. Unfortunately, the reader of that series grated on my nerves. Her attempt at using different voices for different characters went too far to be taken seriously and entered the realm of cheesiness, and she was a bit nasal-y to begin with. Needless to say, it was difficult to listen to, because it went wildly against what I would have imagined on my own.

Another problem with audiobooks is that they’re expensive. I’m limited by whatever my public library has available (Audible costs more than I’m willing to pay every month). So, I’ve taken to Twitter to beg my audiobook-fiend friends for recommendations.

One of my friends recommended Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody series, which begins with Crocodile on the Sandbank. The library gave me the version read by Susan O’Mally, though the internet tells me there’s another version read by Barbara Rosenblat, which has good reviews. I’ve also checked out the second book, The Curse of the Pharaohs, which is also read by Susan O’Mally. I’ll say right now – I absolutely loved it. So much that I just finished it today, and I’m devoting this week’s blog post to it.

crocodile-on-the-sandbank

Amelia Peabody is a Victorian era spinster, but she owns it in a similar manner to Miss Fisher, of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. It also helps that she’s fabulously wealthy, intelligent, and curious about the world, especially ancient Egypt. In this, her first adventure into the mysterious, she travels to Egypt and meets young Evelyn Barton-Forbes. Evelyn is running from a scandal, as well as two potential suitors, and Amelia takes her under her wing. The two women get along splendidly, and Amelia didn’t want to travel on her own.

They spend days wandering down (up?) the Nile in search of ancient Egyptian ruins, and stumble upon their acquaintances, Radcliffe and Walter Emerson, at their own archeological dig. Radcliffe, the elder, has become seriously ill, and the curious Miss Peabody makes herself at home bringing him back to health and helping with his research.

Suddenly, the group finds themselves haunted by what appears to be the new mummy they uncover in a tomb. Not long after, one of Evelyn’s suitors appears, and they all begin to unravel the mystery of the wandering mummy, because it can’t possibly be a real mummy, can it?

There is plenty of mystery, romantic love triangles, witty banter, and snark from all of the characters. Each one has a unique and lively personality, and I love every single one of them. I will admit I found the mystery itself somewhat predictable, but there were enough twists to throw me off plenty of times. Honestly, though, it was the characters and their interactions that kept me interested in the story.

Amelia is a feisty feminist of the Victorian era. She needs no man to make her happy, and appears resigned to die a spinster, though it doesn’t seem to bother her. She wants to explore the world and learn, and she’s starting with Egypt. She has a particular interest in archaeology, and wants to dig in the sand like any man. If I was a rich heiress, I’d probably end up just like her.

Evelyn is a sweetheart, and loyal to a fault to those she loves. She also happens to be a fantastic artist, and demonstrates intelligence that lets her follow in the footsteps of Amelia. She’s not the flimsy damsel in distress of many Victorian era novels (though of course, this was written in the 70s). I could almost see her as a younger, more artistic version of Amelia. Their characters interact much the way that sisters would, and it works well in the story.

Radcliffe Emerson is a more modern man of the Victorian era, though he tries to disguise it with sexist jokes. These soon stop, as he slowly realizes that Amelia is not like most women. He’s witty and snarky, but has an intelligence to match Amelia’s, and an admirable devotion to his archeological work. He’s the best kind of nerd, and sexy to boot.

Evelyen’s various suitors are less interesting. Walter Emerson is adorable and the most likeable. Lucas is a jerk and a character I enjoyed hating for most of the novel. Then there’s the other foreign guy who is just plain annoying, but in a way that is not frustrating to read. They’re good for the story though.

My favorite part of the novel was the way Emerson and Miss Peabody danced around each other. They infuriate one another, but at the same time they both clearly admire each other. Their relationship grows and evolves naturally and it was really fun to listen to.

I cannot wait to see what adventures these characters will run into next. I only hope the snarky, witty banter between Amelia and Radcliffe continues. I normally have to be in the right mood for mystery novels, but these characters are engaging enough that I don’t need to be in the right mood for Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson.

Happy reading!

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Welcome to part 2 of my discussion on body language! If you missed part one, it is here, and if you missed the original post that inspired me to write about this, written by my friend Morgan, it is here. You will probably want to read these first or you might get a little confused, as I will be referencing both of them.

So, diving right into more about why Body Language is an ignored art.

One of my coworkers made a valid point about how body language can be deceiving. For example, if you are a naturally nervous person, you can look unapproachable even when you want to be approached, or, rather, wouldn’t mind being approached. And, I suppose, the opposite can also be true.

But in Morgan’s case, her body language illustrated that she didn’t want to be approached, and she did indeed not want to be approached. At least, not in the manner she was that night at the bus stop. When we discussed this, she speculated that it’s far more likely that rather than not picking up on it, he just didn’t care or saw it as a challenge.

Then there was the guy who approached my friend and I in a coffee shop. I closed up with my body language, and he didn’t pick up on it at all. He just kept talking to us. (Although he probably had some other issues because he didn’t even slow down when we told him we weren’t available.)

This is why body language has become an ignored art.

Morgan also informed me that on youtube, there are pick-up artist training videos that have whole sections on how, when girls are giving “closed-off” body language, a guy should do all these things to try to change it rather than just leaving them alone.

So here’s a radical idea: Guys, when you are thinking about trying to pick up a girl – don’t just get advice from other guys, try getting some advice from girls. Nothing like the source to find out what REALLY works.

Another side to the body language issue is that some people find it very difficult to read body language. As one of my coworkers put it, there are a lot of people who are not as well socialized who just want to make friends but have no idea what to look for.

Luckily, we live in a world with the internet, and countless people have written blog posts and articles about this very topic. If you don’t have people to talk to about reading body language, try searching the internet for resources. I did a search just now and there are LOADS of them. My post from last week included, as well as Morgan’s post from last month.

So, no more excuses. Start paying attention to body language, and if you don’t know what to look for, look it up on the internet. Also, use your words. And for the love of gods, don’t be generic when you want to start a conversation with a girl you don’t know, and think before you speak.

We have a lot of social media in our lives these days. I don’t think it’s entirely to blame for the communication gaps I’ve been talking about these last two weeks, but it is definitely a factor in all this. Another thing to keep in mind.

Alright, I’m keeping this one much shorter than last week’s, but feel free to keep the discussion going in the comments!

Listening to: Frank Turner – everything he’s ever done. Thank you Spotify.

Currently Reading: Succubus Shadows – the 5th book in Richelle Mead’s Georgina Kincaid series. It is just as excellent as the ones before it. I will be very sad when I read the end of book 6 and the story is finally over. My favorite part about this book so far is all the backstory we’ve been getting on Georgina. she’s almost 2,000 years old – and she has many stories to tell.

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