Describe it to Me. In Detail.

I am in sadface mode. Tomorrow, two of my triathlon team members leave me for 14 days so they can haul ass back to their native Scotland to vote on the referendum for Scottish independence. They are strongly in favor of Scotland being its own nation. I am awash in anxiety for them. I will miss their company on my long rides and runs these next two weeks.

Since it will just be the Professor, Viking and I running and riding the next fortnight, and we are accustomed to running together quietly, I’m back on the audiobook train! (Incidentally, this train is spectacularly quiet and has booze and/or tea service 24/7. It’s basically heaven.)

Since I’ve been buying up new audiobooks like they’re the key to longevity, or, better yet, the key to unlocking the Voynich manuscript…or the key to eliminating whisky di….nevermind. Let’s just say, I’ve always loved audiobooks.

So, because I have a staggering 288 titles just in my audible library, 60 more on itunes, and COUNTLESS on my hard drive,  I’m going to give you a quick “how-to” guide on getting started with audiobooks.

audible

 

1st tip. If you find you like audiobooks, sign up for a library card, an audible membership, and amazon unlimited right meow.

What’s Audible? It’s Amazon’s audiobook app and store, and you get huge discounts, access to big ol’ sales, whispersync (which is where you can flip back and forth between kindle and audio) and ONE audiobook a month for $15 a month. It’s a steal.

Amazon Unlimited gives you a huge library to choose from with whispersync (many titles) for $10/mo.

YOUR LIBRARY. Not only do they have traditional CDs, they have OVERDRIVE!!! OD allows you to be LENDED books on audio via YOUR LIBRARY, which, as you know IS FREE. Do this. Do this now. They’re not open while you’re reading? Set up a tent and bring bagels. Be ready. Preparedness is important. If those douchey-fucks can wait all night for a fucking phone or handbag at H&M, you can wait for BRAIN CANDY/VITAMINS. Or, you know, go when they’re open.

Personally, I’d like to see people camped out near the library. It would fuck with the librarians.

DO YOU HAVE THE LATEST SCALZI?!??!? WE’RE WAITING…..quietly.

The trouble with audiobooks for most people is….the narration. I, myself am a narrator. (under a stage name not going to be revealed here) And I am also an avid listener. So, as a reader and reader, I am highly critical of a good narrator.

The narration needs to suck you in from the start. It needs to be well-produced and fluid. It has to be fast-paced when called for, and dramatically slow in other parts.

Here’s the thing. Narrating audiobooks is not as easy as you think. First of all, most of us are freelance. We have our own studio space, producers, etc. WE are responsible for talking to the authors for things like pronunciation, ideas, etc. Our producers mix us, and we spend hours upon hours in front of a mic, trying to make magic happen. We see diction coaches and listen to every foreign conversation we can get an ear on. We talk to ourselves in the shower.

Sometimes we slip and are talking to ourselves in the kitchen, in a French accent, and our husband comes up behind us and assumes that we’re role playing, and then we tell them how we want to rain hell over the British…and they may look at you strangely…and you go back to stirring the paprikash. QUIT JUDGING ME!!

However, when a narrator is good? Oh holy shit, it’s great. You are transported. It’s this rush. This OMGWHOISTHISPERSON?!? I totally want to be their bestie/sister/havethemdodirtythingstome. It makes the book better. More alive. More real.

It, in a word, rocks.

For you, my lovely scamps, my favorite current audiobook narrators. (not including myself, as that would be…impossible. I fucking hate the sound of my voice.)

audiobooks

 

In no particular order: (searchable through itunes AND audible)

Sophie Eastlake. Both Thea Harrison and Chloe Neill have used this snarky-sounding Midwestern narrator for their novels, and she’s awesome. She’s masculine and feminine, sweet and mean, sexy and fun. Her grip on punctuation without the intake of breath between pauses is AWESOME!

Robert Petkoff: total panty-dropper narrator. I swear to you ladies, he does this growl….I’d listen to that man read a textbook that I WROTE (I write textbooks. It’s a thing) and be all hot and bothered.

Tavia Gilbert. Jeaniene Frost uses her exclusively. She has the BEST quick-timing. She has a natural flow that slinks like water over sand. It’s brilliant.

Jim Frangione. He’s not shy. Many times a narrator who reads very sexy material can be shy or they read it plain. He puts his sensuality in it and it gives him an edge.

Holter Graham. His RANGE. By all of the gods above and below, his RANGE. You’re never disappointed in an accent or dialect. He fucking nails each one. Sherrilyn Kenyon loves him. So does Patricia Briggs. For.A.Reason.

Luke Daniels. What can I say about Luke Daniels? I loved him narrating for Kevin Hearne, and I loved some other things he narrated, but listening to him depict a person with Asperger’s Syndrome in 600 Hours of Edward made me fall in love with his narration. As many of you readers know, I have a  6 year old son with Sensory Processing Disorder, which shares many similar traits with Aspies. I cried and laughed and cried again at his narration because he got it so fucking right. I can’t explain to you how big this is to us in the community.

*sidenote: I’ve also listened to him enthusiastically describe fellatio. This was overheard by my neighbor who asked me about it later.

Lorelei King: She is Mercy Thompson. She IS Charlie Davidson. She should so be my bff at least long enough that she can introduce me as a pro-wrestling babe, or perhaps nobel winner. Her men? OMG off the charts good. Her comedic timing is perfection. I love everything she reads. (pleasepleaseplease read me the Science Times. The authors are terrible.)

Now…..The food.

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake

It’s not a pumpkin pie, but not strictly a cake, either. It has a crumbly-awesome topping, and it’s OMG SO GOOD.

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake

 

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Keywords: bake bread breakfast dessert cake pie fall

Ingredients (serves 8-12)

    for the cake

    • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 1 cup melted butter
    • 1 1/2 cup flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 cup brown sugar–packed
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp allspice
    • 1/4 tsp clove

    for the crumble

    • 1/2 cup SOFT butter
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

    Instructions

    preheat oven to 350F

    grease 10″ springform pan

    combine wet cake ingredients

    mix until smooth

    sift in dry ingredients

    pour into pan

    crumble

    using a fork, combine crumb topping ingredients until big crumbs form

    sprinkle evenly over cake batter

    bake until the top *just* wiggles when you wiggle it, and the crumb begins to be a bronzy-golden brown.

    let cool completely.

    serve with whisky. Or not. Your choice.

    Powered by Recipage

    Leave the Nietzsche, Take the Poet.

    Book review day!!! 

     

    “All that is rare is for the rare….”Frederick Nietzsche

    “You’re really going to quote Nietzsche to me? To me? The sole female in the room…When I first wake up? Before I’ve had coffee? After finding one of my brothers mating with his hand upstairs for the second time in as many days, and I’m the cow??” –Ashley Winston Beauty and the Mustache

    We as readers have all been there. We’ve all experienced the chapping of our psyche when we let our mind cast itself into the maelstrom of an unexpectedly gripping work of fiction. Sometimes, the conclusion of the work provides an unguent for the wound it has created, and you feel relief. But during the enjoying of it, the fevered reading of its pages, you’re forced to balkanize your emotions into tight constraints, so that you can get on to the next page without having the words blurred by YOUR FEELINGS ESCAPING THROUGH YOUR EYEHOLES.(Shibari of the feels, anyone?)

    Most books, we can anticipate the storm. We are more like “Al Roker predicting a Sharknado,” less  “Al Roker getting knocked on his ass by some rain and wind.”

    No. (man up, Roker.)

    Yes.

    Sometimes, we’re caught off-guard. The first time we find out that Rochester is married. Dr Sheppard being discovered. Cecelia and Robbie. (GAH!! poor Robbie.) I wanted to hate Catherine and Heathcliffe, but I couldn’t.

    It’s good to be taken aback by a book. If you read enough romance novels, you eventually hit a critical mass of predictability and eye-rolling.

    A gillionaire with a giant….heart meets a down on her luck lady of reasonable attractiveness, sparks fly, panties are ripped, happily ever after is achieved.

    Beauty and the Mustache is not that book. It’s Cecelia and Robbie if they were real. It’s waiting in the burned-out husk of a home, missing a hand, a ruined face, and still being loved by one for whom you are the world. It’s that guy who always remembers just how you take your coffee (served shirtless) and knows how wonderful comfortable silence can be.

    The Blurb:

    There are three things you need to know about Ashley Winston: 1) She has six brothers and they all have beards, 2) She is a reader, and 3) She knows how to knit.

    Former beauty queen, Ashley Winston’s preferred coping strategy is escapism. She escaped her Tennessee small town, loathsome father, and six brothers eight years ago. Now she escapes life daily via her Amazon kindle one-click addiction. However, when a family tragedy forces her to return home, Ashley can’t escape the notice of Drew Runous— local Game Warden, bear wrestler, philosopher, and everyone’s favorite guy. Drew’s irksome philosophizing in particular makes Ashley want to run for the skyscrapers, especially since he can’t seem to keep his exasperating opinions— or his soulful poetry, steadfast support, and delightful hands— to himself. Pretty soon the girl who wanted nothing more than the escape of the big city finds she’s lost her heart in small town Tennessee.

    We first met Ashley in Neanderthal Marries Human: Knitting in the City I. This is where we learn that she’s a PICU RN in the same hospital as Sandra and Elizabeth. She comes across as a bookish gal with sharp wit and grace under pressure. *you never know when knitting needles are for more than just knitting a fetus coin purse. We see her a bit through Friends Without Benefits, Neanderthal Marries Human, and Love Hacked, but this is HER book. 

    01

    We get to meet Ashley’s bearded, banjo-loving brothers, and the unexpected *cough*surprises that come with living in a home with six men…six STRAIGHT men. I’ve lived in an apartment with three gay men. That was interesting. One was a drag queen, one my BFF, one was, well…revolving. It was a tidy and clean apartment. This house is sort of like an Augusten Burroughs-style shrink’s masturbatorium on moonshine. Just never go in the bathroom. Ever.

    We are also shown  how they’ve grown into great, loving, protective men in the years since Ashley has moved away. Then we meet Drew Runous. *insert lady-growl.* A bearded, philosophizing, poet-penning, banjo-playing, big-hearted–and still manly–ball of hotness. We are witness as they grow together through tragedy and connection.

    The romance, though!! If you’ve read Penny’s other books (that I’ve much vaunted.see here, here, and here.) You are pretty sure you’d recognize her stories anywhere. Yes, Neanderthal Marries Human was more “and then this is reality” than “Once upon a time…” but the story is still quite quirky.

    This book? It was so deeply romantic and darkly funny that I was never sure which end was up. I was guessing the entire time, and that was GOOD. I never knew if I was expecting Drew and Ashley to turn out to be  Darcy and Miss Bennett or a completelyfictionalizednoteventruetohistory John Smith and Pocahontas.

    For those of you who are given to the notion that sweeping, deep romances cannot be also modern, and funny, and heartbreaking, I challenge you: READ Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid. The darkest sadnesses in the novel are counter-weighted by the richness of the highs, and folly of the fraternity.

    Buy the book, hell, buy the SERIES. Pack your Depends and kleenex, make yourself a tea and bourbon, and settle in for a wonderful time.

    Labor Day Sale