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Book Review: “The Club of Queer Trades,” by G. K. Chesterton

18834844Genre: mystery; classic

Plot Summary: [from Wikipedia:] “The Club of Queer Trades is a collection of stories by G. K. Chesterton first published in 1905.  Each story in the collection is centered on a person who is making his living by some novel and extraordinary means…  To gain admittance one must have invented a unique means of earning a living and the subsequent trade being the main source of income.”

My Book Review: If you’ve come to this blog post thinking you were going to read something on sexual identities, sorry to disappoint.  Once upon a time the word ‘queer’ was used to mean ‘peculiar’.  (I suppose ‘peculiar’ means something else now, too.  We’re so creative as to assign a double meaning to every word that already exists.)

There are ordinary men who lead ordinary lives with their chosen ordinary careers. And then there are others who take a different route in life.  They are the eccentrics, the colorful, and the crazy.  …Or are we, as ordinary citizens, the crazies?

If someone asked you to invent a whole new career that had never been thought of before, do you think you could do it and make money from it? Not merely recycling an existing career, substituting one thing for another, but actually coming up with a line of trade that’s never been done before.  It’s harder than it at first seems.  Of course, there would have to be a market for it.  And in the case of many of the extraordinary tradesmen in this collection of short stories, their careers are kept secret either because of the nature of their work, or because they would be thought insane.

As one would guess, this leads to many bizarre circumstances of ordinaries encountering these oddbodies (or geniuses) in society. The facts are there in front of their noses, but they can’t make sense of them.  It takes a remarkable fellow straddling the best of both worlds to make sense of the mysterious cases brought before him.  It makes for a curious read.

4b4f62db81ff23d0d0a99f7b0870ecddAlthough I usually dislike short story collections, I was glad this was written as it was. I didn’t particularly feel in the mood for a novel-length Chesterton at the time.  Sometimes he’s best taken in ‘doses’ because he can be so thick in his nonsense.  🙂  Really, G.K. was such a Mad Hatter!  Chesterton is never for those wanting a nice little story.  And it definitely isn’t my favorite book of all time.  But I enjoyed reading it anyway, because he picks you out of the mundane and makes you view the world at a different angle.  It gives the brain a good exercise!

I would say my favorite chapter story was “The Adventures of Major Brown”, in which a man is caught in an awfully good escapade, but doesn’t realize how much fun it was until it was over! How often are we the same in life?  We read novels for “escape” or to pseudo-live other “experiences”, but when some adventure happens in real life we are too overwhelmed to enjoy it in the moment.  Then of course, there’s the debate over modern-day video games.  Guys are so eager to play at fantasy games because it feeds something deep in their souls- the need for adventure.  But what happened to living real life?  Life is full of exciting experiences if only we accept its opportunities.

You can listen to the audiobook on Librivox by clicking here.

If you liked this book, I also recommend…:

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Posted by on April 22, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Winter 2016-17)

Life is full of secrets and adventures…  Read all about them this winter in these two fascinating books!

17623735101 Secrets for Your Twenties, by Paul Angone~ I first heard of this book when I heard the author interviewed on Moody Radio by Melinda Schmidt. I was about to turn 27 and was convinced I was having a quarter life crisis.  And so I came across this interview that I had saved on ‘Programs to Listen to Sometime Before They Expire’ list and decided it was a good time to hit the play button.  I liked Paul Agone (see his website here) and his message.  He could empathize on the struggles of Twenty-somethings, having just graduated to his Thirties and being a Millennial himself.  The topics they discussed resonated withme, and I knew I wanted to read his book.  Problem was, none of the libraries among all of my state’s vast interlibrary loan systems had it.  My solution was to order a copy for my church library.  I knew if I could benefit from it, so could others.  (:) But I got first dibs! Ha ha!)  I wish that I had had this book much earlier, but better late than never.  Angone has a humorous writing style and had me Laughing Out Loud (I refuse to abbreviate) throughout.  But more importantly, there are many spots I want to copy out into my quotebook before I turn this over to the church.  It makes life much more bearable when you know that others are going through similar hurdles as they live out their adulthood.  It gives one hope that these same hurdles have purpose.  The author is a Christian and writes from that worldview, but is not preachy.  I suggest this for anyone anywhere in their twenties, and would make a good gift for highschool/college grads.

1441778The Lost Shipwreck of Paul, by Robert Cornuke~ It’s hard to remember when or where I learned of bible explorer Robert Cornuke. Somehow I just ran into his adventures while surfing the internet many years ago and became intrigued by him.  As a former police investigator (and now president of the BASE Institute), Cornuke has made it his mission to explore mysteries from the Bible, such as… The Lost Ark of the Covenant, the location of the real Mt. Sinai, and Noah’s Ark.  Even though many, many people have tried their best to hunt for the same things and made great claims, Cornuke is no sensationalist.  He treats the people he meets and interviews with respect, often gaining their trust and having access to places many other outsiders are not able to obtain.  He also has some unique theories that appear to come closer to the truth than many others.  I’ve been wanting to read one of his books for a long time, and have finally got my hands on one of the least talked about.  I’m still in the middle of reading it, but it is fascinating.  I love how he tells of his adventure from a storyteller’s point of view,– building suspense and making it a fun read.  I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.  If you want to watch some of his videos, Youtube has several of them, including the Temple of YHWH.  I highly recommend them!  You can visit his website here.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2017 in Non-Fiction Books I'm Liking

 

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BBC Audiobook: Winnie-the-Pooh

3c22fde7610bf01818b37bc9de298973What do heffalumps, woozles, birthday parties, and very tight places all have in common?  Why Winnie-the-Pooh of course!  And autumn is the perfect time to settle in for the evening with some classic Pooh-bear stories read by Alan Bennett.  So grab your children, grandma and grandpa, too and get ready to go on an expotition!  Only available for a limited time.

 

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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A Visit from Johnny Heller

serveimageHi! It’s been a while since I’ve had some time to sit down to blog…  I thought I’d tell you about an interesting opportunity I had to go see a professional audiobook narrator perform live!

If you love audiobooks and have ever listened to “Marley & Me”, the “Horrible Harry” childrens’ series, or “Lusitania”, chances are you probably were listening to the voice of Johnny Heller.  Having narrated over 200 titles, won many different awards including a few Audie Awards, Heller has been named among the top 50 narrators of the 20th century by Audiofile Magazine.  Last June Johnny Heller came to a library in my local area.

I really appreciated that he and his wife came all the way from New York, even though there wasn’t as big of a turnout as was expected.  It didn’t seem to bother them and Mr. Heller was gracious and relaxed as he started out the evening by describing the process of creating an audiobook.  He brought humor to it all as well, when he chose a couple of his favorite excerpts from past projects he’s recorded.  I was also pleased to hear that he explained he doesn’t accept reading titles that go against his values, such as books that denigrate women.

During the last part of his visit, he accepted Q&A time, and I got to ask him two questions that I had.  I only wish I could have asked him more.  It never occurred to me to take pictures, so sorry about that oversight!  It was a fun evening, I wish it had been longer– but thank you Mr. Heller for coming to perform! 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Book Review: “Love Comes Calling,” by Siri Mitchell

18008073Genre: romance, historical fiction, Inspirational, 1920’s, humor

Plot Summary: Ellis Eaton is bombing out in her classes at college.  She just can’t seem to apply herself!  What’s more, she feels like she keeps failing everybody she knows and loves– including Griffin Phillips, the boy-next-door.  The only solution seems to escape and go to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming a movie star.  The only problem is to save up enough to get there.  When a lookalike friend suggests Ellis fills in for her as a ‘hello girl’ telephone operator, Ellis agrees.  But then she accidentally overhears a mysterious conversation implying danger toward Griffin.  What will this mean for him and for her future plans?

My Book Review:  I’ve been interested in trying some of Siri Mitchell’s novels and this is the first one I’ve tried.  I had a lot of fun reading it!  The main character, Ellis, is a lively heroine who keeps getting into scrapes and she reminded me a lot of Anne Shirley.  It didn’t take me long to wonder if Ellis might have had some sort of attention deficit disorder.  Her rambling first person narrative (which I loved) would stop and change on a dime from one topic to another.  Unfortunately for her she is often misunderstood because of this, especially by her mother.  At the end of the book, the author explains that she did purposefully create Ellis with ADHD, but that society would not have recognized or correctly diagnosed it back during the Prohibition era.  I thought this was an interesting angle to the story.

b1882cf3f70040d799b56130233ba331One of Siri Mitchell’s signatures is filling her novels with interesting history so that you’re not only entertained, but educated.  This particular book centered on the Prohibition era of the 1920’s (a decade that’s really popular right now thanks to Downton Abbey!).  We get to see the introduction of crossword puzzles, and references to fashion trends, popular songs, films, movie stars, and other pop culture of the times.  I loved the descriptions!

I didn’t find the book to be a painful, fluffy novel and enjoyed it.  However, there came a time where I felt the plot felt stuck in a rut like it was not going anywhere.  The biggest hitch was repetition.  Ellis was continually reminding us of her goal in trying to protect Griffin, but it became tedious.  Griffin tries to pursue her romantically but can never seem to find a time and place alone with her.  This doesn’t happen once, twice, or three times but many many times during the course of the story.  Instead of creating suspense, this technique caused me to feel the story had nothing more to offer than filler scenes.  I really dislike repetition!

It also became a little confusing as to what Ellis was thinking, –but then I think she was confused herself!  First she says that she disappoints others when she is herself, so she finds it best to pretend to be a different character.  Then she says she can’t be what everyone else wants her to be because it’s not who she is.  ?

This was a fun story that didn’t center so much on romance as it was a coming-of-age story with a heroine who is in a journey of self-discovery.  You don’t have to worry about it getting steamy.  I could easily let my teenage daughters read it (if I had any teenage daughters).  I want to try at least one more book by Siri Mitchell.  Don’t get me wrong, –I liked this book but I have a hunch I’ll like some other of her books better once I get to them.

This book is #7 in the “Against All Expectations” Series, but I think these books are all stand alone.

Have you read this book?  What did you think of it?  Share your thoughts below!

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2016 in Book Reviews

 

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Nonsense!

f3b7a15186f19ec8cdd7da91c0ea34eaI’ve been enjoying listening to my newly discovered program on BBC Radio 3: Words & Music.  Are you a practical person by nature?  Do logic, sense, and reason appeal to you?  Then you probably won’t like this episode much, which features music, songs, poems, and prose with the theme of ‘Nonsense’.  From Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, to Erik Satie and Gilbert & Sullivan, your ears will be tickled with sounds and made up words that practically make no sense.  Available for only a limited time.

 
 

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BBC Radio Drama: Alice Through the Looking Glass

1d6f194e93ac7e21ea39ce7c100d36bfDue to the interest in the new Alice film, BBC Radio 4 is currently playing their dramatized version which you can listen to free for a limited time here.  If you click on it past the expiration date, you can explore their website for currently airing programs that may peak your interest.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2016 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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