Today is all about the Be Better Reading Challenge! But first? RESOLUTIONS. I love a good New Year’s Resolution. I’ve made a few! Last year, I endeavored to lose weight and drink more water. I did both! HOORAH! I also ran or walked almost every day the second half of the year. (Save for during … Read more…

Rock Hard and Rearing to Go.

OMG. You guys, I think I have a thing for befanged grey men. First, it was Brishen in Radiance  by Grace Draven, and now? Daarik from Exile by Colleen Vanderlinden. Maybe I have a statue fetish I’ve not explored? Something about their stoney grace? I have a feeling I know who’s next… It’s the obvious first step into the … Read more…

Life Changing Books on Reader/Eater

Lady in Red.

(read on for foolproof falafel and white sauce!) The Reading: I fully admit that I belong to a fandom or two. I have read and could re-read everything Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Hunter, Octavia Butler, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Daphne duMaurier…and on and on–have written. I never tire … Read more…

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.

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