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Katherine Kellgren, Inspiring Storyteller

Audiobook Narrator, Katherine Kellgren

I remember seven years ago.  With a little tinny microphone and Windows Movie Maker as my editing tool, I performed my first two short stories for Librivox.org and a whole new world was opened to me.  Immediately I knew what I had been searching for for years: I wanted to be an audiobook narrator/voice artist!  A counselor suggested I read up on all I could find on the subject so that I knew what it took to get there.

I started my research on youtube, of course!  And I learned about professional studios, home studios, how audiobooks were made.  This was just as the audiobook boom hit and was growing in leaps and bounds.  I learned about big names in the industry: Simon Vance, Scott Brick, Jim Daly… and Katherine Kellgren.  Each one had their own unique voice, but Kellgren’s was a voice that contained culture, beautiful diction, and soul.  I enjoyed watching any video I could find with her in it because I found her to be inspiring.  I learned her background story of how she became an audiobook narrator (reading to her father who had a fatal illness).  Every year when the Audie Awards were announced, her name was nominated for at least one– usually several– and she was a winner.

I was sad to hear that Katherine Kellgren passed away just a few weeks ago.  She will leave such a big void within the audio world.  Her beautiful, classical voice will be missed by her captive audience, as I’m sure will her person by the people who knew her.

(For the record, I’m really loving her bookshelves behind her as well!)

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2018 in Inspiring Voices Series

 

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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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Book Review: “The Agony Column,” by Earl Derr Biggers

3234828Genre: mystery; suspense; intrigue

Plot Summary: Geoffrey West is a young American staying in a rented flat in London when he meets another fellow American—the pretty daughter of a senator who is touring with her father. The year is 1914 and it is the hot month of July. Talk of war is in the air as the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand makes headlines. But there is another column in the newspaper that catches both Americans’ attention: the personal notices in the Agony Column. As Geoffrey communicates to Marian via this modern-day version of Facebook, he delivers an exciting narrative of mystery, murder and suspense that may threaten his life.

My Book Review: I found this vintage publication on Librivox and found it to be a short but cute read. Chapters are long, but the plot moves right along and it didn’t take long to finish. All of the fun melodramatic elements of a dime novel are present in the tale: murder, spies, ladies in black veils, strangers at a restaurant, espionage, cloak and dagger, shadow-filled alleys…

This wasn’t the classic of the century, but it made for some good entertainment. It certainly had a couple of huge plot twists towards the end that kept me on the edge of my seat! (Talk about a way to keep a lady’s attention!) If you’re in the mood for something light, fun, and adventure-filled, you may enjoy this WWI-era story.  I know that for myself, I plan on reading at least one other book by this author!

*This book was also published under a different title: The Second-Floor Mystery.  I believe it was turned into an early film by this name.

*To listen to the Librivox audiobook for free, click here.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2016 in Book Reviews

 

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Book Review: He Fell in Love with His Wife, by Edward Payson Roe

8805214Genre: classics, romance; Inspirational

Plot Summary: James Holcroft is a widower farmer trying to keep his farm going, but is losing financially.  He needs a housekeeper (or so he thinks) and employs several different ladies who each in turn cheat, pry, and lie.  After suffering through the oppression of Mrs. Mumpson, Holcroft is done with housekeepers and is ready to auction off his farm for good… But then he meets a woman in need of a home and his plans are radically changed within an afternoon.  Will Holcroft and Alida make a successful business partnership, or will they form a different type of relationship altogether?

My Book Review:  Of course the title of this novel gives the end away, but it’s the getting there that makes this novel a delightful read.  I discovered this gem on LibriVox (which you can listen to for free here) and decided I wanted to read it for myself.  I had never heard of the author Edward Payson Roe and truthfully I was expecting a fluffy, vintage read.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find a book of substance which kept me from feeling guilty about reading a ‘romance novel’!  It being originally published in 1886, I was also expecting to have to work at understanding what was being said.  Instead, the narration and dialogue was a breeze to read through.  I wouldn’t have guessed it was written way back then!

One of the things I loved about the story was the lovely characters and their development.  There are three principle players central to the plot: Holcroft, Alida, and Jane.  Reading about their past histories to understand why they were the way they were, why they reacted the ways in which they did, and the decisions they made during the course of the book did much in making the story seem organic and believable.  Its funny how each of these characters think they want a certain thing and set out to obtain it, yet in the end find that their hearts need something much more important.

"Spring Sky," by Eric Sloane

“Spring Sky,” by Eric Sloane ~ “He did not know it, but his nature was being softened, deepened and enriched by these deep and unwonted experiences; the hard materiality of his life was passing away, rendering him capable of something better than he had ever known.”

I loved Alida Armstrong.  I could totally identify with her personality and motivations, especially her heartfelt wish for a safe and secure home.  Holcroft is a man of the earth, a farmer through and through, and his desire is to be able to remain on the land where he has lived all his life.  He’s just trying to keep anything more in his life from changing.  But what they both find they really need is to experience genuine love.

What made this book so enjoyable was Roe’s perfect touch at story pacing.  The characters and events seem to happen along naturally at just the right time.  He marinates them in the cause and effect juices of the previous chapter, and then ups the suspense to keep us from getting too comfortable in a book where the title gives the end away.

Part of how he does this is through the cat-like character of Jane.  I inwardly groaned when she showed up on Holcroft’s doorstep one rainy afternoon, for the same reasons in which Holcroft and Alida wished she hadn’t.  The farmer and his wife are just starting to get to the point where they are discovering feelings for each other.  Things are developing along quite nicely between them, and then all of a sudden there is a third party that puts a little obstacle in their way.  Now things aren’t quite so cozy!  But at the same time, you feel sorry for this poor little girl who has grown up feeling like she never belonged anywhere.  I admire her for her sense in making a way for herself despite the foolishness of her mother.  Jane makes it difficult for anyone to feel affectionate toward her.  Holcroft and Alida are good people, yet human.  They know Jane yearns to be acknowledged and to be secure.  The addition of this ‘intruder’ in the story makes for some misunderstandings, and hence heightened suspense.  But she is also the one who saves the day in the end.  Jane adds an even more heartwarming element to the story.

"Woman Reading," by Edouard Vuillard

“Woman Reading,” by Edouard Vuillard ~ “…she entertained and interested him, although she said so little, and by some subtle power she unloosed his tongue and made it easy for him to talk to her. In the most quiet and unobtrusive way, she was not only making herself at home, but him also; she was very subservient to his wishes, but not servilely so; she did not assert, but only revealed her superiority…”

As I was reading, I was struck by the immense understanding the author had of men and women, –their needs, values, psyches.  In fact, this is much of how the story forms naturally, through all the misunderstandings, motivations, and consequences.  James Holcroft has no interest in promising to love and cherish another wife and refuses to take the traditional marriage vows.  Yet he does just that in his actions towards Alida.  He is a good and kind man and she senses this.  In turn, she does her utmost to be a wife who does her husband good and not harm, like the Proverbs 31 woman. It doesn’t take the man in Holcroft long to recognize her beautiful personality.  His character becomes incredibly attractive to Alida, and before we know it, they are in love.

The only small thing I didn’t think was believable enough was how soon Alida trusted Holcroft.  After her ordeal with previously marrying such a skunk as Henry Ferguson, I don’t see how Alida’s sensitive personality would have easily trusted another man.  Even though she married for convenience, I don’t think she would have learned to love him so quickly in real life.  Or, at least she would have struggled with trust issues.  Also, I wish the ending was a tad more romantic.  🙂

There’s something for nature lovers in this book as well.  I loved how the story is woven among the timeline of spring, from March to late June.  The weather, flowers, buds, and birds are detailed along with the growth of the romance between the farmer and his wife.

This book has the wonderful makings of a Hallmark movie (Holcroft played by none other than Aidan Quinn, OF COURSE!).  It sort of reminded me of stories like Sarah, Plain and Tall, The Magic of Ordinary Days, and Seasons of the Heart.  You’ll find this to be a sweet sentimental tale that clearly goes beyond ‘fluffiness.’  Don’t pass over this gem!  It may be your new favorite book!

Aidan Quinn as Holcroft?

Aidan Quinn as Holcroft?

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Book Reviews

 

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Book Review: The Man Who Was Thursday

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G. K. Chesterton. 4 = Recommended ReadingGenre: classic; inspirational; mystery; intrigue; suspense; drama

Plot Summary: Gabriel Syme, a poet from Saffron Park, finds himself in over his head in a nightmarish mystery.  From secret meetings, to anarchist intrigues, to wild chases and a flight for his life, Gabriel finds that no one is as they seem.  Who is the man called Sunday?

My Book Review: To be honest, I wasn’t greatly looking forward to reading this book.  A couple years ago I had read The Napoleon of Notting Hill (see my review here) and wasn’t enthusiastic about it.  But I wanted to try my hand at another work of G. K. Chesterton, and I know his books are good for the brain, so I decided to stretch myself once again.

And I’m glad I did.  I liked this one loads more than The Napoleon…  It also happens to be considered Chesterton’s best book.  I was pretty much hooked from the beginning chapters, and actually felt excited about finding out what happens next.  Mysteries that just get more mysterious all the time, impersonations, car chases, secret meetings in secret rooms…  What more could you ask of a thriller?  I’m having a little trouble writing this review because to tell anything more would be to give it away!

The subtitle of this short book is entitled “A Nightmare.”  Given Chesterton’s penchant for hair-brained story-lines, I think this is an apt description.  A lot of intellectual dialogue takes place (hence, get your quote-books ready), but it’s action packed as well.  [Edit: After reading some of Chesterton’s comments about his own novel, I feel I understand it a bit better, which is to say I understand that even the author didn’t take his book seriously enough to understand all of it!  It is, as he reminds us, A Nightmare.]

"He felt he was in possession of some impossible good news, which made every other thing a triviality, but an adorable triviality." ~The Man Who Was Thursday

“He felt he was in possession of some impossible good news, which made every other thing a triviality, but an adorable triviality.” ~The Man Who Was Thursday

When reading The Napoleon…, I came away from it feeling like there was a lot going on that I was not comprehending and needed a commentary to understand it more deeply.  I found that to be the case with this book as well, though I liked it immensely better and felt I could comprehend it a little easier.  There was a three part introductory commentary at the beginning of the copy I borrowed from the library, but frankly I needed a commentary to understand the commentary!  I hope I can get my hands on a better discussion of this classic work.  It seems to be one of those books you could go on dissecting for years and years and still never get to the bottom of it.  I guess that makes it a true classic! 

I’m not sure exactly why this book appealed to me so much.  Maybe it was the action, the unbelievable events.   Maybe it was because it wasn’t what I was expecting when I checked this brown, dull-looking book out of the library.  Or maybe it was because, even though I’m no lit. professor, I couldn’t help but recognize and glean little gems of spiritual allegories in the unfolding of the story.

If you feel you want to give your brain muscles a workout while being taken for a thrill ride at the same time, this book is for you!  It won’t take long to read.  I recommend a good commentary to go along with it!

Have you read this book, too?  Leave your thoughts on it below!

Listen to a free audiobook version of The Man Who Was Thursday.

Or, you can listen to a radio dramatized version from Mercury Theatre, originally aired in 1938:

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2015 in Book Reviews

 

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Book Review: Five Children and It, by Edith Nesbit

E. Nesbit was a classic British children's author whose work inspired Edward Eager. This is her first book about the "Five Children."    Goodreads says: To Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane, and their baby brother, the house in the country promises a summer of freedom and play. But when they accidentally uncover an accident Psammead--or Sand-fairy--who has the power to make wishes come true, they find themselves having the holiday of a lifetime, sharing one thrilling adventure after another.Genre: classic; children’s literature; fantasy

Plot Summary: Five children growing up in Victorian England stumble upon a magical creature who grants them a wish a day.  But what seems like a fun way of obtaining their hearts’ desires may turn out to be receiving their worst nightmares!

My Book Review: I remember once coming across this book on the shelf at school in 6th grade and thinking the cover looked evil, and so wouldn’t even touch it!  : )  Years later I fell in love with the “Half Magic Series” by Edward Eager, and discovered that he modeled his books (and even borrowed plots) from the author Edith Nesbit, whom he greatly admired.  I knew I had to try her out, too!  And so, I finally got my hands on “Five Children and It,” one of Nesbit’s better-known stories.

I never realized how much influence Edith Nesbit had on children’s literature and the paths she trailblazed for many authors after her.  Apparently, she was the first author who actually wrote of magic coming to children in our world, instead of writing about a fatansy-land or of children going to other places to find magic.  Finding the magical amongst the everyday should be celebrated, and the secret to staying child at heart, I believe, is to search for this.

I suppose it isn’t fair that I began comparing Nesbit with Eager, and any comparison on my part is weak, since I’ve read several Eagers to only one Nesbit.  But I did feel like Nesbit’s story was lacking something I’ve learned to love from Eager.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Maybe it’s that Eager had more fully developed characters, the dialogue was crisp, I laughed more, and there was always a deeper problem the children had to deal with (a sick parent, family financial problems, etc.) that the magical adventure helped them sort through.  Usually by the end of the story, the children had matured through their adventures and were better prepared to deal with their real-life situations.  But like I said, it isn’t fair for me to completely jump to conclusions, since some of Nesbit’s other books may be different.

H R Millar illustration from Five Children and It by E NesbitI enjoyed this book for many reasons.  One, a light children’s story full of imaginative wishes and the scrapes the siblings find themselves in and how they problem-solve to get out was a fun break from deeper adult fiction.  I loved the realistic way the children related to each other (something Eager carried over into his books).

I want to try reading more books by Edith Nesbit, even though I was slightly disappointed with my first one.  I wish I would have decided to read this as that kid in 6th grade, as I know I would have loved it back then.   So, I would definitely recommend this as a nice summer vacation read for younger readers!

You can listen to the complete tale of Five Children and It for free here.

So have you ever read this classic children’s story?  What did you think of it?  Feel free to post comments below!

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Article: Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling

I happened to be on LibriVox today where someone posted a link to the this article.  I thought it quite interesting and wanted to pass it along.  I think it’s fantastic we live in a world where audiobooks are growing in great leaps and bounds!

Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling, by T. M. Luhrmann

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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