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Die Falknerin

Painter, musician, bibliophile...

Member Since 2008

388
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 128 reviews
  • 592 ratings
  • 1175 titles in library
  • 142 purchased in 2014
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33

  • Fidelio: Opera Explained

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 19 mins)
    • By Thomson Smillie
    • Narrated By David Timson
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Fidelio is a work like no other. Beethoven’s only opera is about the joy of married love - by a man who never knew that pleasure. It is about heroism by a man who was often mean and petty in his human relations; it is about freedom by a man who was a prisoner of his own deafness; and ultimately it is about joy by a man who experienced precious little of it.

    Die Falknerin says: "Beethoven's only opera in all its glory"
    "Beethoven's only opera in all its glory"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an outstanding title in the "Opera Explained" series, one free from a lot of extraneous detail and unneccessary introduction. We get right into the opera almost at once. And what an opera it is, containing as it does a political message, a paean to the joys of married love, and a score so demanding one wonders at the endurance of its performers. While the plot appears at first glance to be somewhat commonplace, it nonetheless shows the triumph of good over evil, justice over tyrrany, and hope over despair.

    Furtwängler praised the opera, saying its political message and music "will always represent an appeal to conscience." But perhaps just as much, it is a monument to its composer's own statement: "Strength is the morality of the man who stands out from the rest, and it is mine."

    Even if you're not a great fan of opera, if you love Beethoven, you're likely to enjoy this brief look at the incredible work he swore would win him "a martyr's crown" for his trouble. It is nothing less than a wonder to behold.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Old Harry's Game: The Complete Series 1 & 2

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Andy Hamilton
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (41)

    It's not easy being Satan - thrown out of heaven by a vengeful, white-haired God merely for daring to voice the concerns of middle management and condemned for all eternity to listen to Edith Piaf and Elvis Presley. Still, there are new arrivals to welcome - the Professor, an atheist whose unerring optimism is a nasty blow, and Thomas, chairman of a privatised water company (so vile that Judas Iscariot starts calling him the Guv'nor).

    Mary says: "From Gary to Scumspawn in two easy seasons"
    ""Screaming always sounds better in German""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I got the whole season. In a state of overwork and fraught nerves, I wanted nothing more than to escape into some light hilarity. This series, for the most part, provided that admirably, although it gets a bit stale as it moves toward Season 7.

    The British take the mickey out of the usual suspects. Satan says, "Screaming always sounds better in German, don't you think?" (Something to do with waiting for the verb). The French, oh, the French! And of course, the Americans don't escape unscathed. Then it's time to turn on one's own with lots of topical UK snark on pop culture, politics, and sport.

    You'll meet the all-too-good professor. And Thomas, the most evil thing ever to emerge from Godalming. (Well, as yet). But the devil is the star-turn, of course, and he is quite a bit more lovable that you might have imagined.

    I feel better now. Maybe you will too after you spend a season in hell with the deranged Andy Hamilton and his impish minions.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Appleby and Honeybath

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Michael Innes
    • Narrated By Jeremy Clyde
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Every English mansion has a locked room, and Grinton Hall is no exception. The library has hidden doors and passages - and a corpse. But when the corpse goes missing, Sir John Appleby and Charles Honeybath have an even more perplexing case on their hands. Just how did it disappear when the doors and windows were securely locked? A bevy of helpful houseguests offer endless assistance, but the two detectives suspect that they are concealing vital information.

    Die Falknerin says: "Country house mystery with an artistic twist"
    "Country house mystery with an artistic twist"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was my first Michael Innes book and I enjoyed it. I was hoping there would be more about painting in it, as Honeybath is a Royal Academician and portrait painter. (I am a figure painter myself). However, he never did get around to beginning his portrait, which is ostensibly why he finds himself in the setting which contains this clever mystery.

    Actor-musician Jeremy Clyde provides his usual good timing and beautiful tone for the narration. (He comes by that posh voice honestly, you know). The only thing I'd change would be just a touch more differentiation between the characters.

    Order a Bucks Fizz and listen for yourself. It's worth a credit, and I for one will be back for more.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Fear Index

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Robert Harris
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (282)
    Performance
    (225)
    Story
    (231)

    Dr. Alex Hoffmann’s name is carefully guarded from the general public, but within the secretive inner circles of the ultrarich he is a legend. He has developed a revolutionary form of artificial intelligence that predicts movements in the financial markets with uncanny accuracy. His hedge fund, based in Geneva, makes billions. But one morning before dawn, a sinister intruder breaches the elaborate security of his lakeside mansion, and so begins a waking nightmare of paranoia and violence.

    Mark C Walker says: "Familiar plot"
    "Trading at the speed of thought....but whose?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Robert Harris is a wonderful writer, but this book is not his best by any means. Unfortunately I was stuck in airplane mode with this the last book in my downloads. Otherwise, I don't think I would have finished it. It felt like being stuck at a very long cocktail party with a quant. I kept looking at my watch wondering when it would be over, which is not something that happens to me when I listen to a Harris book! I was really surprised at how little I cared about the characters and how unbelievable the plot became. This is really a sci-fi book.

    Rodska's narration was uneven. He's great at portraying a pompous corporate character, but falls short with the foreign accents. He seems to believe a Dutchman sounds like either a concussed Swede or someone who has a broken jaw. Very annoying.

    So if you want my opinion, give this a miss unless you're obsessed with numbers, trading, and computers. Choose another of Harris' excellent books.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Pietr the Latvian: Inspector Maigret, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Georges Simenon, David Bellos (translator)
    • Narrated By Gareth Armstrong
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (45)

    The first audiobook which appeared in Georges Simenon's famous Maigret series, in a gripping new translation by David Bellos.Inevitably Maigret was a hostile presence in the Majestic. He constituted a kind of foreign body that the hotel's atmosphere could not assimilate. Not that he looked like a cartoon policeman. He didn't have a moustache and he didn't wear heavy boots. His clothes were well cut and made of fairly light worsted. He shaved every day and looked after his hands. But his frame was proletarian. He was a big, bony man.

    Mike says: "Finally, Maigret Unabridged"
    "Long live Maigret"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've been disappointed with so many new, highly acclaimed books lately that I find myself turning back to the classics once again. (As usual, curmudgeon that I am). Now I'm working my way back through the Simenon canon and enjoying every minute. I'd almost forgotten how much I loved Maigret! A big, strong, man of few words who can take a bullet and keep on working, never complaining or blaming. For me, that's old school sexy and I'd like to see it come back into style!

    The stories are edgy, sometimes raw, and always realistic. Paris is not idealised as it is so often, but shown with all its flaws and very much anchored in that particular postwar time. Simenon knows how to choose just the right detail in his description, saying volumes in a simple but compelling observation. Such simplicity is a great gift, and much appreciated.

    In short, you can't go far wrong. The translation is good, the story fast-paced and interesting, and Gareth Armstrong has fantastic pacing, a beautiful voice, and gives us an excellent narration. May you enjoy taking a trip into the old days with the unforgettable, highly original character that is Maigret.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Can Such Things Be?

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Ambrose Bierce
    • Narrated By Anthony Heald
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (24)

    Prepare yourself for the shocking, the strange, and the terrifying in Ambrose Bierce’s 1893 story collection Can Such Things Be? One of the greatest masters of horror brings you 25 tales of the supernatural and the unexplained. Whether in stories of ghosts sending desperate warnings to their human counterparts, psychics attempting to bridge unknown dimensions, howling werewolves, or a robot who takes on a life of his own, Bierce plumbs the depths of fear and fascination.

    Die Falknerin says: "Excellent narration of the classics"
    "Excellent narration of the classics"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved listening to Anthony Heald reading these wonderful old tales from Bierce. He was just perfect here! If you've read Bierce, you'll love the collection. If not, you'll love it all the more. He's the kind of author you wish you could read again for the first time because there's no one quite like him. As with Poe, many have attempted to imitate him, but all fail in the attempt. He remains his own twisted, unique self and I love him for it. May you enjoy this collection as much as I did.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Cazalets: The Epic Full-Cast BBC Radio Dramatisation

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Howard, Sarah Daniels, Lin Coghlan
    • Narrated By Penelope Wilton, Full Cast
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Penelope Wilton narrates BBC Radio 4’s epic dramatisation of the treasured family saga Elizabeth Jane Howard’s five book chronicle of the upper-middle class. Cazalet family begins in 1938, as siblings Hugh, Edward, Rupert and Rachel join together for another family holiday at Home Place, their house in the Sussex countryside. During the course of The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, Casting Off and All Change, the progress of their lives, and those of their children, will be charted.

    Die Falknerin says: "Return to Home Place"
    "Return to Home Place"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you've never met the Cazalets, let this be your introduction. And if you have, you'll love returning to Home Place to see them all again. The casting is perfect: every performance was distinctive, powerful, and absolutely top class. It was enjoyable to hear the ever-ladylike Penelope Wilton's narration throughout. It is a bit of a soap opera, of course, and rather melodramatic in parts. (I would have liked deeper characterization in several places). But what a story! It has everything: war, peace, love, desire, denial, regret...all of human life. You won't forget these characters, nor "Home Place" the estate that is, if you will, a character in itself. Highly recommended to those who love a sweeping family saga, and to all who enjoy hearing BBC Radio at its very best.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Julia Fox
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (34)

    In a life of extraordinary drama, Jane Boleyn was catapulted from relative obscurity to the inner circle of King Henry VIII. As powerful men and women around her became victims of Henry's ruthless and absolute power - including her own husband and sister-in-law Queen Anne Boleyn - Jane's allegiance to the volatile monarchy was sustained and rewarded. But the price for her loyalty would eventually be her undoing and the ruination of her name

    Marie says: "Well Worth Listening To"
    "In search of Jane"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are many issues detractors have cited about this book, and many of them are valid. It depends upon what the reader is expecting. For me, I found much to admire in this book. I admire Fox's determination to find out as much as she could about Jane. Sadly, "bit players," especially when they are women, are often rather elusive, if not obscure. Even when they witness and participate in great events, they may be eclipsed. (Anyone who has researched a particular female relative in a family history may realize what I mean on a smaller scale).

    I've read about the Tudors for many years, and I found several things that were new to me in this book. I also enjoyed the writer's style, erudition, and her honesty in attempting to find the real Jane. She does not make promises she cannot keep: she is forthright about possible "things one may never know." Jane emerges as a tantalizing, elusive figure, and in Fox's eyes at least, she is redeemed to some degree from calumny and derision. I also enjoyed the small details and the elegant, lively descriptions of Tudor life.

    I recommend this book to anyone who loves reading about the Tudors. I enjoyed Fox's writing so much that I plan to read her work about Catherine of Aragon and her sister, too.

    I will listen to Rosalyn Landor read anything. Her narration here was as beautiful as ever.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ghosts of the Golden West: The Hans Holzer Digital Collection

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Hans Holzer
    • Narrated By Tom Pile
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    In Ghosts of the Golden West, Hans Holzer and medium Sybil Leek head out west in search of the haunted, and the possessed. There's San Diego's Whaley House Ghosts; Count Wurmbrand, now deceased, who may or may not be the fulfillment of an ancient curse; an ambulance driver possessed by two victims; a disgruntled, displaced mother-in-law; sailors; Indians; Carole Lombard; Spanish monks; a disenchanted debutante; and last but hardly least, a "topless" psychic who also happens to be the mother of eight.

    Die Falknerin says: "The swinging sixties, with ghosts"
    "The swinging sixties, with ghosts"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Pile into the Citroen with the Holzers and Sybil Leek and join them on a wild California road trip to investigate hauntings and sightings of the early-to-mid sixties. There's a ghost-inhabited closet, a spectral Carole Lombard, the discarnate monks of Etna Springs, and of course, the recurring Holzer theme of psychic topless dancers!

    The most interesting story was that of Count Degenhard von Wurmbrand. A tall, elegant Austrian officer who relocated to America in 1927, Wurmbrand had a stunning tale to tell that gives new meaning to "rara avis." The ominous ravens, a castle south of Vienna, and unusual characters could well serve as the foundation of a compelling horror novel or screenplay. (For all I know, they have done).

    Tom Pile's narration is excellent. He never sounded campy or silly portraying the female characters. His voice is just right for this kind of story: sort of "Robert Englund meets Jeffrey Combs" in the best way.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Gothic Ghosts

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Hans Holzer
    • Narrated By Jim Tedder
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (5)

    Gothic Ghosts is a collection of 19 true stories of haunted houses, ghosts, and eyewitness encounters with the spirit world. Included are true accounts of interactions with the Other Side from the states of Georgia, New York, California, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut, as well as encounters in Switzerland and Canada.

    Die Falknerin says: "Vintage ghosts"
    "Vintage ghosts"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When you grow up in a haunted house, as I did, it leaves an impression. Especially on house guests. I started reading Holzer when I was a small child to help me make sense of what we lived with in that house. Whether it was a ghost, "leave-behind," energy imprint, or a grand mass delusion, he helped me come to terms with the fact that not everything can be explained, nor does the unexplained need to be feared.

    Holzer had an usual gift for combining the "unheimlich" with the "gemütlich." Perhaps only a Viennese gentleman could pull that off! He always gave the impression that he was sincere and honest. He was not a trickster but a seeker. With a gift for friendship and writing, he told it as he saw it. Even though I don't agree with everything he believed or did, I respect him for his spirit and courage.

    This little collection is filled with stories ranging from a bayberry-scented apparition in the home of a conservative banker in Philadelphia to a premonition of death given to a striptease artist on the night train to Zurich and so much else. Whether you believe the stories or not, they'll give you something to think about.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Ghost Writer

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By John Harwood
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (43)

    In this tantalizing tale of Victorian ghost stories and family secrets, timid, solitary librarian Gerard Freeman lives for just two things: his elusive pen pal Alice and a story he found hidden in his mother's drawer years ago. Written by his great-grandmother Viola, it hints at his mother's role in a sinister crime. As he discovers more of Viola's chilling tales, he realizes that they might hold the key to finding Alice and unveiling his family's mystery - or will they bring about his untimely death, as they seem to foretell?

    Die Falknerin says: "A modern master of the Gothic"
    "A modern master of the Gothic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In 2004, I took "The Ghost Writer" on a long, dreaded flight. By the time the plane landed, I knew I would be reading everything Harwood published for the rest of my life.

    Listening to Simon Vance's performance was such a treat. It's like when you listen to a piece of music and love it on an emotional level, then listen again to find the deeper structure and beauty. "The Ghost Writer" is all the more impressive ten years after.

    Harwood plays fair and respects his reader. All the clues are there but he expects you to pay attention and think things through. His foreshadowing is subtle and well-timed. There is no dumping of information or meaningless backstory, and every scene contributes to the advancement of the plot. His writing is masterful, and as a poet, some of his imagery is arresting, but his prose never calls attention to itself. Add to that compelling characters and layers of intriguing mysteries waiting to be solved, and you've got a writer worth reading every time.

    In a world of overwritten, self-conscious twaddle we are told is "literature," modern masters like Harwood shine all the more brightly. He provides everything I read fiction for and I hope he will continue to write novels for many years to come.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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