I know, I’ve been reviewing some pretty hard to read stuff, lately. Almost no romance. Honestly, I just couldn’t get into it. Unless a friend wrote it, I mostly ignored it in favor of books on social justice, books on repairing the country, hopeful books, and organizing/planning/action tomes. Today, I’m reviewing Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and … Read more…
Today is a GREAT day for me. It’s AURLGASM day!! I know that I haven’t done one in a while, but too many people (I’m looking at you, Danielle) still haven’t listened to ANY audiobooks. Well, you know how I feel about that… That’s like, hour 14. Get to it. To me, audiobooks are as … Read more…
Today is a NEW DAY! A NEW SERIES! *I’m getting to the point with series, where I’ll need to figure out how to code a drop-down menu.
And happy birthday, JGL. You have NO IDEA who I am, but judging by your lack of aging, YOU, SIR, are a singing vampire!
Isn’t it just SPLENDID!?
Ok, so, I’ve been reading a fuckton of historical literature. (As in literature from antiquity, not the latest rom-com starring Chairman Mao and his brief, but horrent affair with his pet llama, Sunny.) On top of that, I’ve read my normal span of novels–mostly romance–and I’m ten shades of sick of reading lapdog heroines. They’re not even heroines at this point. They’re creepy crappy Stepford political wives who just smile blithely as they listen to the press tell them how their husband was caught choking a hooker in a Motel 6 while dressed like one of those plural wives from Colorado City.
Because of this, I’ve been revisiting my favorite boss ladies. So much so, I’ve decided to give them their own series. These women take no shit, give no fucks, make up their own mind, and generally kick ass.
Not me, Leslie. Not. Me.
Today’s #WomanCrushWednesday belongs to Charley. Charley Davidson of the Charley Davidson series.
Charley is a particular lady. She likes her car miserable, her margaritas strong, her coffee sweet, her men hellcats, and her dead people–well–dead, I guess.
Because Charley Davidson is the Grim Reaper.
Charley first appears in:
I read this gem all the way back (a long time ago) and re-reading it reminds me it’s just as bitingly wonderful as it was the first time I experienced it.
Charley is an independent woman who has few close friends, but they are as close to family as makes no nevermind. She’s smart. She has a heart of pure gold, and an aura to match. She fights for truth, justice, and…wait, wrong series. Fuck it, it applies. She really, truly cares about the little guy, even to–and frequently to–her own detriment. She is self-sacrificing for those who deserve it, not to some douche bouquet who belittles her. In fact, the man she’s chosen as a life parter, who may or may not be (is) the son of Satan, believes in her strength even more than she does.
Darynda Jones writing of this funny, strong, kickass heroine is so precise and gripping that every installment is like a cut in time. The time without? The time between novels? It all ends up in those weird gravitational folds they just found. Or it’s wherever hair ties go. (Where DO they go? I swear to Satan’s sexy son I just bought a pack of FIFTY!)
Charley Davidson is exactly who you wish could don a fun lycra (or fleece, because comfort is important) unitard and fight the world’s evils with Aquaman and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Charley Davidson is the kind of character that I wish I could pull from the sexy romance novel and into a graphic novel to read to my daughter and say “HEY, BE LIKE HER!!” She may be the gateway after death, but she values the innocence and experience of life and all its virtues.
She’s also a kickass audiobook. As you may recall, I discussed Charley in her narrator’s auralgasms post. Lorelei King is such an amazing narrator, that even thinking of Charley, I think of Lorelei reading “Right?” or this gem:
I can hear her say “testicles” right now. It’s so soothing. Or, you know, whatever.
Do yourself a favor. PICK UP THESE BOOKS.
Ok, for this lady I had three options: mochalattes, tacos (of the macho sort), or margaritas.
Guess which I picked?
I LOVE TEQUILA!!
I also love creamsicles, and since going vegan, no creamsicles. So I made a creamsicle margarita. With clementines.
When I first started really listening to audiobooks, (more than casually) I tended to listen only to adventurous novels with pesky life-or-death situations, a possible Cornucopia, and maybe there were a few young wizards…Eventually, I started listening to Stephen King novels like The Stand, and favorites like Good Omens.
I avoided erotica like the clap. Both in its written form, and in audio. It’s not that I’m a prude–quite the opposite–it’s just that they had a pretty negative connotation in my mind. Like women who read and/or enjoyed erotica were those women. I am not one of those women. I am a strong woman who fully realizes her own sexuality and fucking owns it.
Until I realized I am not. I am a woman who wants to fully realize her own sexuality and fucking own it, and the fact that I judged the women and men who read these books based on that criteria made me a giant fucking hypocrite. Also, no one BATS AN EYE when men talk about pornography–and this is no where near the same thing, no matter how many times people call 50 Shades or Bared to You “mommy porn.” No, “mommy porn” is shirtless coffee served to me in bed before the children get up for the day, and he’s already brushed his teeth, and the door is locked. THAT is mommy porn.
Erotica is, well,
I’ll admit, I didn’t much like it at first. Much like the action of the content itself, the first time, if one chooses a partner badly, can leave much to be desired.
But then I listened to one borderline novel…and then another. And another. And it wasn’t bad! In fact, some of it was quite readable. Listenable? Either way.
Honestly, I will probably ALWAYS listen and read more to adventure and the less X-rated novels, but I no longer discount the genre, and I can even appreciate it.
Yes, it sometimes makes me blush red as poppies, and I’ve gotten into some sticky situations with them…like say, listening to it on speaker in your office, that you think will remain occupied only by yourself all day, and then your boss walks in, and sits back for awhile so he hears it, and then scares the ever-loving fuck out of you by tapping your shoulder and falling over onto the sofa in a fit of giggles like a 12 year old boy instead of a man somewhat later than mid-life.
Or maybe you’re listening to it while you’re baking. And you’re hearing impaired. And the kids are asleep. So it’s loud. And you’ve paused your scooping, entranced, listening. And your husband walks in. You don’t hear him. He gets quite quite the earful of Tavia Gilbert in flagrante delicto with…well…herself, and he walks behind you saying “is it hot in here because the oven is on, or because THAT’S A VERY INTENSE DESCRIPTION OF ORAL SEX?”
“um, I dunno. both? Want a snickerdoodle?”
Totally not embarrassed at.all. He probably loved it. He probably has an entire file folder on his ipad filled with Jeaniene Frost fanfic.
Though, I think a straight male may write an oral sex scene like handbook plays.
“You see, first, I had to scope out the field, get the lay of the turf. Then, I dug in and made sure I had room to circle the goal. I was ready for the long play–the hard-won finish!”
Narrated by Grace Grant, this book is very sexy. It hits a few of my “feminist miss” buttons, but the narration is so great, and the rest of the story is so fun, that it didn’t make me want to burn my bra or my audible gold membership.
This is PNR that has mucho mucho mucho sexytimes. As usual, Tavia Gilbert, is amazing. The book is hotter than hell, and the story is great.
Unexpected, wonderful narration by Juanita McMahon, and a story that will leave you in stitches. Truly spectacular.
This series is really, really, really dirty.
This series is great. It deals with kinbaku, aka Japanese sexy bondage. It also has some REAAALLY unexpected bits. In some really unexpected places.
The series is narrated pretty evenly between Rachel Vivette and Luke Daniels. Trust me, it does have a good storyline. And not just in the way that Playboy has articles.
This is my favorite of the series. All narrated by Max Bellmore, this series is super intense, but funny and sweet as well.
This series. Oh, this series.
Narrated by Jill Redfield, this series is not only wonderfully hot, it’s LOUD AS HELL, so proceed with caution.
SO UNEXPECTEDLY WONDERFUL. Really. I promise. The narrator sounds very young, but her timing is really good, and you can hear improvement through her catalog.
This is my favorite book in the series. It has some of the issues that #1 book on this list has, but it’s so adorable in places, and so steamy in others, it’s really worth the listen.
Kirstin Potter does a wonderful job in this series. It’s dark and sexy but, oddly, friendly? Gah, that sounds daft as I read it aloud, but I swear that it is. It’s happy hot? Saucy Sappy Sexy?
The heat is as good as the sweet in this novel. The protagonist is so fucking swoon-worthy I may never regain composure. Johanna Parker is a delight, and I think she may have removable testicles somewhere, because GATDAMN, WOMAN!! So good.
What are you waiting for? Have some happy alone time with your earbuds and your battery operated buddy! No, I didn’t mean that. Wait.
Today’s post is not a “book review” or a “Get Series(ous),” post. It is a “seriously, you’re wasting your life if you aren’t reading this book,” post.
There is at once a multitude of people for whom I admire, and a remarkably small number of people of whom I would truly claim to live in the Pantheon of my mind as a hero. Eleanor Roosevelt, Václav Havel, Sir Nicolas Winton, Hillary Clinton, Ann San Suu Kyi, The Notorious RBG/Justice Ginsburg, and Kim Phuc are among those I would readily and eagerly call “my heroes.¹”
However, when it comes to heroes whom I truly wish to emulate, there is but one–Madeleine Albright.
I’m no madwoman, I have no delusions of grandeur in the political arena. I am a writer with a potty mouth who goes to school too much. However, I am also an academic, a mother, and Czechoslovak-American. Madeleine Albright is also all those things. She was, by all accounts, a tremendous professor who stirred the intellectual imaginations and passions for the political process and international relations in the heart of anyone fortunate enough to find themselves in her lecture hall. By all accounts, her children have all matured into spectacularly ambitious and accomplished women. She is a singular human being.
She’s the baddest badass bitch in America. She was the first female Secretary of State in these United States. She was one of the closest advisors to the President during one of the most controversial presidencies, ever. She is a diplomatic powerhouse who rocked the international arena with her bold decisions and laser focus. Kosovo, the assassination of the Israeli president, Africa in crisis, the rise of Russia (part deux.) a global China, the list of diplomatic nightmares she faced during her tenure was maddeningly long. She managed to juggle these with a skill and competency which will stand in the annals of history as nothing short of astonishing.
Now, I’m no psephologist, but I believe that if you look closely enough at the 1996 elections, the Presidential Cabinet/advisor choices would play no small part in Bob Dole’s defeat. People simply didn’t trust the quiet Senator’s inner circle. They were political “cronies” to the public. The economy was good–ostensibly because the President was doing a good job, and had good people advising him. Kansas wasn’t thriving as much as the rest of the country. (To be absolutely fair to Dole, it was a Fallwellian state desperately trying to retain its agrarian economy in a time where it simply wasn’t feasible.) Even so, President Clinton (I hope I get to use that again in the present tense!!!) had a team of advisors one could liken to the School of Night. Almost supernaturally gifted in politics, the economy, and sensitive to the human condition, advisors which included Madeleine Albright were a group in whom America could place their faith.
Now, as a retired Secretary of State, Ms Albright spends much of her time in the public eye giving speeches, and of course, writing books.
The first book of hers which I read was Madam Secretary. My platonic soul mate, Amy, texted me not long after she began reading it: “I think I’m in love with Madeleine Albright, which is a problem because we’re both straight.” (or something similar.) I am ashamed to admit I didn’t pick up the book immediately. I had so many other books on my TBR, how could I possibly fit in a 750 page memoir? However, when I finally downloaded the audiobook, I was hooked.
It wasn’t just that Ms Albright is a wonderful writer, given to precise text and concise details, it was the sweeping nature of the memoir. I was alternately cheering, fist pumping–ala Gloria Steinem–and weeping with sadness and joy. The stories about her Czechoslovak parents, the manner in which she recounts their many successes, and even instances when their behavior baffles, is infinitely warming to the soul. She speaks boldly about the tragic nature of her entrance to this country–what was left behind, and what was gained.
I remember listening to my grandmother tell me many stories of what it was like for her family to leave Czechoslovakia; how dangerous it was, how terrifying, how full of hope. I imagined my family making that same voyage across that same cold, watery road which Madeleine Albright traversed.
I empathized with Ms Albright as she detailed life as a young married woman, wed into a family far different from her own. Different religions, different cultures, different status. The consecrated fields of new motherhood about which she writes are as fresh in the text as they are to any mother who has ever experienced that joy and agony. She even laughingly recalls the rapid swelling of her person when she was pregnant with her twin daughters.
She understands–truly understands–that horrible place women find themselves; that place where a woman feels as a world alone. A place somewhere between motherhood and occupation, in which all of us are occupied. That search for intellectual independence apart from the ties of family, but not so independent that the cords binding you to this amazing thing you’ve built cannot be wrapped around you, and recoiled quickly back unto your heart. She acknowledges that perfect balance is impossible, but that maybe a mostly-happy medium can be achieved. She also demonstrates via her personal narrative, how the motherly instinct is not just a tool of the trade in family, but how it enhanced her judgement and reactions in her high-level jobs.
Ms Albright goes on to write about her years in the UN. It’s fascinating. The inner machinations of the beleaguered institution are even more terrifying and intriguing when explained by someone who lived it. No countries were expected to perform as much or give as freely as the United States–and she doesn’t hold back. Her surprising candor, combined with the insight only achievable by experiencing it firsthand, and having time to reflect upon that experience, is not only surprising, but serves as yet another startling reassurance of the faith I place in the politicians she trusts.
Then there was Prague. Her home. I will not lie to you, this portion of her memoir touched me very deeply. I was weeping from the horror of it, expelling forth tears of joy from the pride of it, and dwelling in the awe that settled over me when listening to her tell me about the Velvet Revolution. At one point, she recounts the story of the student uprising, and the parents of the students joining the call to action. She talks about the orchestras playing in the streets, and the final fall of communism in Czechoslovakia. She was friends with Václav Havel. She, a Czech immigrant to the United States, was able to return to her home country with all of the knowledge of a free state, and experience in the political arena, and assist in helping her homeland find their way to democracy. It was utterly poignant, and somewhat heartbreaking. The implied counterfactual is there, and she discusses it. “What if?” What if she hadn’t fled with her parents? What if she was dealt the same fate as the rest of her family? What if she hadn’t been?
The third portion of the memoir discusses her time in office as the Secretary of State. It’s fascinating and juicy without being sensational. Here she is, trying to deal with Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat, and at home, Kenneth Starr has has panties in a bunch and a pitchfork up his ass for Clinton. In an instant the media circus set upon the White House in an insane tornado of unfortunate. How can you affect change in a country where the congress is more concerned with The President’s “little president” than with, say, NUCLEAR ARMAMENT?! Needless to say, your neck will ache from all of the head shaking. It’s baffling, and at no point does she give Former President Clinton an out. She doesn’t excuse his bad behavior, or even come close to justifying it. She is certainly not gagged by her loyalty to the Former President, and I respect that a great deal.
At this point in the book, the reader is sure like they couldn’t feel any closer to her story, but in chapter 22, she discusses the embassy bombings in Africa in 1998. Hundreds killed and thousands injured across a span of nations, led by Bin Laden. She writes about those dark days, and the reader (if old enough to remember) is instantly back in that place, remembering the horror. I was getting ready for acting class when I turned on the news while I dressed. The screen was filled with terrifying images I couldn’t wrap my head around. I was fifteen years old. The America I’d always known was suddenly put on the defensive. What would happen? Would there be war? Little did any of us know, this would soon be a dusty memory just three years, one month, and four days later. Fourteen years ago, today. At that time, America had not experienced anything of its kind since Pearl Harbor. Chilling.
This is the only book I have ever read wherein I have had some format of it (audio/ebook/HC) on my person for two months+. In total, I have probably read it, through parts and chapters, four times. To say the book is inspiring and life-changing feels trite and insincere, but it’s absolutely true. You are simply not the same after you read it. Madeleine Albright is certainly a force to be reckoned with, for whom America, the world, and especially women, should be grateful.
Five Stars and Stripes…and pins. Definitely 5 pins.
When I decided I’d review Madam Secretary, I immediately knew I needed to feature a Czechoslovak recipe to go with the post. After listening to the book, I realized that Ms Albright and I might actually be food soulmates. Sauerkraut on toast, dumplings, tea and sweets. KIT KAT BARS. Oh, and taco salad. (oddly enough, My aunt Rett makes the BEST taco salad on the planet, and now I’m desperate for some.)
This recipe is definitely one of my favorites, and with peach season in full bloom, it only makes sense. Did I veganize it? Yep. But honestly, this only enhances the final product–in both flavor and texture.
What is it?
Bublanina, aka Czechoslovak Angel Food/Bubble Cake. But better, because the fruit is ALREADY IN IT.
It should also be noticed that it has a bit more fat in the batter. My people are nothing if not fond of fatty foods.