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Die Falknerin

Painter, musician, bibliophile...

Member Since 2008

ratings
579
REVIEWS
115
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
29
HELPFUL VOTES
336

  • The Ludwig Conspiracy

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Oliver Pötzsch
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (79)
    Performance
    (71)
    Story
    (72)

    While putting away books from an estate sale purchase, rare book-dealer Steven Lukas finds a box he's never seen before wedged between books on a high shelf. In it he discovers what looks to be a small diary written entirely in code, a lock of hair, and old photographs of the Fairytale King. It isn't long however, before his excitement turns to fear as he realizes that mysterious others want the diary too - and will apparently kill to get it. Suspecting that his find may contain the secret truth behind Ludwig's death, Steven consults with art historian Sara Lengfeld. Soon they find themselves on the run together, investigating each of Ludwig's three castles for clues....

    Die Falknerin says: "A little predictable"
    "A little predictable"
    Overall
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    Story

    I avoided reading the book in print because the translation I saw was a mess. I waited for the spoken version, and when I saw Anthea Bell had translated it, I knew this translation would have been carefully prepared. Plus, Simon Vance, while perhaps not the best choice for a narrator who has to get through a lot of German pronunciation, does a commendable job. So why am I so disappointed in this book?

    Without revealing spoilers, I'll just say the plot seemed predictable and too much was given away too early. Unfortunately, it cannot escape comparisons to "The Da Vinci Code." This too, is all too obvious very early on.

    Furthermore, while the main characters showed the potential for unique and intriguing personalities early on, they didn't develop into fictional people I cared much about. Despite the fact they were in danger and there should have been great suspense, I couldn't sustain much interest in what happened next.

    On the other hand, the book is atmospheric and evocative, a beautiful fictional visit to Bavaria for the armchair tourist, with a good dash of history thrown in.

    This is the first Pötzsch book I've read. I would definitely read something else from him. But overall, I'd give "The Ludwig Conspiracy" a miss and choose another of this books if you are interested.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Jean M. Twenge, W. Keith Campbell
    • Narrated By Randye Kaye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Dr. Jean M. Twenge focuses on the pernicious spread of narcissism in today's culture, which has repercussions for every age group and class. Dr. Twenge joins forces with Dr. W. Keith Campbell, a nationally recognized expert on narcissism, to explore this new plague. Together, they provide an eye-opening exposition of the alarming rise of narcissism and its catastrophic effects at every level of society.

    Mr. Russell Walker says: "An Outstanding Piece of Work, Highly Reccomended"
    "Feeling "special?" Snap out of it!"
    Overall
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    Twenge and Campbell provide a wide-ranging study of social psychology with many useful insights. Unfortunately the tone in which the book is written and narrated is off-putting, arrogant, and grating on the nerves. The "look at me" author intrusion was over the top. They would have written a much stronger, more cohesive book if that fault hadn't been so distracting. The narrator sounds snarky and disdainful, which doesn't help.

    This book goes a long way to explaining how we find ourselves in this situation. Even if you take out the statistics and somewhat outdated cultural references, there's a lot in here that is important to consider. I wish every parent and grandparent would read it and at least think through some of the issues raised.

    If you need strategies to deal with a narcissist, you won't find them in this book. For that, I'd recommend looking at Rokelle Lerner's THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION IS IN MY REFLECTION and Eleanor Payson's THE WIZARD OF OZ AND OTHER NARCISSISTS.

    This next bit is just my own experience, so feel free to skip if you wish.

    I read this book to understand "small-n narcissism" because there is more and more of what this book talks about in the arts.

    Three examples from the last week. (1) An inexperienced twentysomething painter threw a screaming tantrum when her inadequate work was not accepted for inclusion in a national, highly competitive exhibition. (2) A teenage boy asked me how long it would take "to get good" on classical guitar. When I told him many years of dedicated study and practice, he said he was "gonna get one of those 'learn guitar in seven days' things online" and wandered off. (3) A twelve year-old bragged to her adoring parents that she had "mastered" the flute and called herself "really gifted." She was not a prodigy, just an ordinary kid who'd finished her fourth lesson.

    Those who have something to teach are getting tired of dealing with superannuated two year-olds who have a tantrum every time they find work is required of them, or discover there are others more talented, experienced, or willing to learn from their mistakes than they are. Entitled narcissists want instant fame, accolades, and praise for nothing more than showing up. Like Icarus, they fly on their frail little wings of self-adoration and fall when they come into contact with reality. Then we are expected to clean up the mess.

    We need better parenting that includes the establishment of realistic boundaries and a return to a sense of community. None of us exists without the other. Not one of us is better than another. Narcissism destroys all that is good about a civilized society, and only we can stop it from taking over.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Friend from England

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Anita Brookner
    • Narrated By Cherie Lunghi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    When Rachel becomes involved in the lives of the Livingstones it is with an acute appreciation of their home - beautifully furnished and richly decorated. They have won an undisclosed amount of money on the football pools. But rather than enjoy their new-found wealth, seem sadly resigned to it. They do, however, appear to take pleasure in the association between Rachel and their daughter Heather, seeing Rachel as a good influence. However, no one can foresee their own destiny.

    Die Falknerin says: "A friend indeed"
    "A friend indeed"
    Overall
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    A self-described "plain dealer proud of the honesty of her transactions," protagonist Rachel brings us into the world of Oscar and Dorrie and their extended family. The couple is newly wealthy from an undisclosed windfall from the football pools. Rachel is, to their minds, best friends with their daughter Heather. Unfortunately, it isn't clear that either Rachel or Heather understands the precise nature of their relationship. This "friendship" is the true focus of the book and explores Brookner's obsession with misunderstandings and misalliances, as well as the nature of feminine interactions.

    Much of the beginning is told in straightforward exposition without much dialogue, which does become a bit wearing after a time. But things pick up when Heather becomes engaged. Rachel has her doubts about Michael, Heather's Peter Pan of a fiancé, and more doubts still about his over-protective father.

    Brookner's well-known gifts are evident throughout: close, telling observations which reveal deep character; a deft, painterly touch with description; the creation of an uneasy expectation about what may or may not come to pass.

    Still, having read "A Family Romance" the same week, I found this a little less satisfying. There seemed to be less at stake here, and less intimacy in the viewpoint. But time spent with Brookner is never wasted, and I still enjoyed this story very much.

    The beautiful Ms. Lunghi's narration is well-suited to the story. As Rachel, she delivers a slightly disdainful view of the circumstances with swift, impeccable enunciation.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Complete Short Stories, Volume 3

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By W. Somerset Maugham
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    In 1938 Maugham wrote, "Fact and fiction are so intermingled in my work that now, looking back on it, I can hardly distinguish one from the other." Maugham also wrote that most of his short stories were inspired by accounts he heard firsthand during his travels to the lonely outposts of the British Empire. In volume three of this series, we present all of the remaining short stories which Maugham published after World War I and which he subsequently caused to be republished in various collections.

    Die Falknerin says: "What a treat!"
    "What a treat!"
    Overall
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    Having listened to all three volumes of the complete stories, I am once again amazed by the talents of WSM. Were I an aspiring young writer, I would study his work as we figure painters study the draftsmanship of Degas and Klimt. He maintains intense focus, clear motivation, and never wastes a word as he captures character, dialogue, and situation. Times have changed, to be sure, but excellent technique endures, which is reason enough to study the masters.

    The short story is a merciless, demanding mistress: one wrong move and there will be no end of trouble. When an author is a master of this medium, it shows his talents to best effect.

    Some listeners have groused about Charlton Griffin's not being British. I don't mind that, though some of his pronunciations can be a little eccentric. His rich, world-weary voice is perfectly suited to the character of WSM's observations here. I highly recommend this series to students of human nature, good writing, and days gone by. Enjoy.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Family Romance

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Anita Brookner
    • Narrated By Fiona Shaw
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    As the solitary child of mild and gentle parents, Jane is fascinated and astounded by her exotically European aunt, Dolly. Dolly’s ways are certainly not her parents’ ways, yet she is an object of interest and dread to her beleaguered relatives. It is clear that they have nothing in common: Jane feels no affection for Dolly, and Dolly clearly dislikes children. Yet the two are fated to go through life in uneasy harness, until such time as their alliance is accepted by both as not only inevitable, but as something of great value. Read by Fiona Shaw.

    Die Falknerin says: "Hello, Dolly."
    "Hello, Dolly."
    Overall
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    Jane Manning is a characteristic Brookner protagonist: rather shy, intelligent, sensitive, and by design and circumstance, rather alone in the world. Her aunt, Dolly, is a great contrast to her: maddeningly self-absorbed, designing, intriguing, and glamorous. Her many faults do not keep her niece from caring very much what happens to her.

    In a culture of oversharing, where the facile observation is mistaken for wit, I find myself looking to writers like Brookner more often. Her depth of psychological wisdom and beautiful voice shine all the brighter by contrast.

    Of course, she is not for everyone. But she may be for you.

    If you are someone who values her privacy and independence, if you require "a ruminative space," as Brookner puts it, you may find solace here. Perhaps you learned your hardest lessons early in life and designed your life accordingly, determined to live on your own terms as many Brookner heroines do. If so, you will know what it is to be alone within the crowd, the observer at the party, knowing what it is to remain "the other" even if you are on stage. She speaks to those of us who know these truths, and we listen to her voice in awe.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Doug Bradley's Spinechillers, Volume Five: Classic Horror Short Stories

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ambrose Bierce
    • Narrated By Doug Bradley
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    Welcome to Volume Five of one of the world's largest collections of high quality, classic horror short-story audiobooks. If you're at home, then get some logs ready and put on your most comfortable slippers, as we kick things off with Doug Bradley's well-researched introduction to the authors and stories featured in this volume....

    Die Falknerin says: "Love this series"
    "Love this series"
    Overall
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    Story

    During the book sale, I treated myself to all 13 of these wonderful productions and I've enjoyed them so much I can't tell you. This one may be my favorite, though.

    Ambrose Bierce's masterful time-twisting in "The Death of Halpin Frayser" is unforgettable. Arthur Conan Doyle's story of the mummy is excellent.

    And what more can be said for "The Fall of the House of Usher?" Every time I listen to Poe, I am stunned by his musical, poetical ear for language. (Besides, I've often thought I'd end up like Roderick Usher should I go mad, still painting and surrounded by stringed instruments!)

    Poe is the master who stands above all others in imagination, originality, depth, and intelligence. He always leaves more to the imagination than he explains, and leaves the reader wanting more.

    While I could do with a little less Lovecraft, I'd still recommend the series to anyone with a taste for the dark, Gothic, and supernatural. Bradley's readings are outstanding, and worth listening to again and again.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Service of Clouds

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Susan Hill
    • Narrated By Matt Addis, Rachel Atkins
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    At the far end of the long white gallery is a painting of woman, in pale flowing clothes and lying on a sofa beside an open window. The muslin curtains billow out towards her like clouds. There is a touch of brilliant red, the ribbon on her hat. The rest is the white, cream, palest grey. It is a painting which leads Flora on, beckoning her away from her childhood, her complaining, clinging mother, pert younger sister, and the confines of a small community, to a proud and self-reliant future. But later, its image is to prove the catalyst for the most significant event in her life.

    Die Falknerin says: "A melancholy, unusual tale"
    "A melancholy, unusual tale"
    Overall
    Performance
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    The title is taken from a piece by John Ruskin, referring to certain painters: “If a general and characteristic name were needed for modern landscape art, none better could be invented than the service of clouds."

    This book reminded me of an Anita Brookner novel more than anything else, and that isn't a bad thing. Of slow pace, with beautiful literary writing, and good characterization, it is a novel in which not a lot happens. If you like a book with a lot of action and external conflict which moves the plot forward, this won't be a good selection for you.

    I found it heartbreaking, sad, intriguing, and highly original. It's a book that plays to Susan Hill's strengths. Well done, and recommended to the reader who enjoys this literary style of novel.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • I'm the King of the Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Susan Hill
    • Narrated By Paul Ansdell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    Charles Kingshaw and his mother have come to live with Edmund Hooper and his father – in their ugly, isolated Victorian house called Warings – for good. To Hooper, Kingshaw is an intruder, a boy to be subtly persecuted, and Kingshaw finds that even the most ordinary objects can be turned by his enemy into a source of terror.In Hang Wood, when they are lost, their roles are briefly reversed but Kingshaw knows that Edmund will never let him be and that he cannot win in the end.

    Die Falknerin says: "Makes Bleak House look like a beach read"
    "Makes Bleak House look like a beach read"
    Overall
    Performance
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    This is a story so dark and heartbreaking that I find it hard to write this review. The setting is extraordinary, the characters entirely believable, and the writing simply excellent throughout. Unfortunately, I felt like my heart had been ripped out at the end.

    I wasn't bullied nor was I a bully, but this story arc was unbearably tragic. If you were bullied, it would be triggering.

    I didn't read reviews ahead of time --- I often do not because of spoilers --- but I hoped that if the story were about bullying, the tables would be turned and the bully would get his. Sadly, that was not the case.

    But Susan Hill told a powerful, excellent story full of truth and emotion without ever going over the top. I can't fault her because it didn't end the way I would have liked.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Dolly: A Ghost Story

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Susan Hill
    • Narrated By Cameron Stewart
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    At Iyot Lock, a large decaying house, two young cousins, Leonora and Edward, are parked for the summer with their aging spinster aunt and her cruel housekeeper. At first the unpleasantness and petty meanness appear simply spiteful, calculated to destroy Edward's equanimity. But when the spoiled Leonora is not given the birthday present of a specific dolly that she wants, affairs inexorably take a much darker turn with terrifying, life-destroying consequences for everyone.

    Die Falknerin says: "Are you afraid of dolls? No? You will be now."
    "Are you afraid of dolls? No? You will be now."
    Overall
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    If you're afraid of dolls, this book will frighten the life out of you. I'm not, but I still found it chilling and atmospheric. It's a short feature, but well worth it for the quality of writing, suspenseful timing, and of course, the originality of the story and its characters. Highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mist in the Mirror

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Susan Hill
    • Narrated By Matt Addis
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (25)

    An inveterate traveller, Sir James Monmouth has spent most of his life abroad. He arrives in England on a dark and rainy night with the intention of discovering more, not only about himself but his obsession with Conrad Vane, an explorer. Warned against following his trail, Sir James experiences some extraordinary happenings - who is the mysterious, sad little boy, and the old woman behind the curtain? And why is it that only he hears the chilling scream and the desperate sobbbing?

    Die Falknerin says: "An author at her best"
    "An author at her best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is Susan Hill at the top of her form. I really enjoyed this book all the way to the finish.

    It is a beautifully written, evocative book, with all the deft touches Hill fans expect.

    There are moments of Dickensian brilliance: perfect names, unusual characters, and yes, a convenient coincidence or two. At other times, the piece becomes Kafkaesque: is our protagonist on a senseless quest, inexorably led on from one place to another only to find his ruin?

    The search for the elusive Vane culminates in an ending which leaves more questions unanswered than resolved. I love that in an otherworldly tale like this. I recommend it to all who love a chilling ghost story, but save it for this fall, when a chill is in the air...

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Various Haunts of Men: A Simon Serrailler Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Susan Hill
    • Narrated By Steven Pacey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (281)
    Performance
    (240)
    Story
    (238)

    A woman vanishes in the fog up on "the Hill", an area locally known for its tranquility and peace. The police are not alarmed; people usually disappear for their own reasons. But when a young girl, an old man, and even a dog disappear, no one can deny that something untoward is happening in this quiet town. Young policewoman Freya Graffham is assigned to the case; she's new to the job, compassionate, inquisitive, and dedicated to the task of unraveling the mystery behind this gruesome sequence of events.

    karen says: "Best of the best...."
    "Disappointing book from an excellent writer"
    Overall
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    Obviously, I'm in the minority here! Reading the many positive reviews, I feel I must be missing something.

    As a tremendous Susan Hill fan, I was stunned at what a disappointment this book was. I expected a past master of the ghost story to be better suited to mystery writing. Mystery readers have a lot of expectations and I didn't feel Hill met many of them.

    The book began well, but really bogged down in the middle, and the ending was utterly ridiculous. Some characters were well-drawn, while others seemed like cardboard cutouts pushed out on the stage of a toy theatre to "people the scene." The dialogue of characters was not well-differentiated. There was a lot of scene-painting and navel-gazing that could have been excised. And I think there was too much "sock puppetry" as the author put her own views into the mouths of one character after another, lending a preachy tone. (Polemics are for blogs and nonfiction).

    When I purchased this, I also picked up "The Pure In Heart," but I am requesting a return of it after being so disappointed in this book. I hope the series improved, and well done if it did, but I'll leave it to others to find out. If you read this, I hope you'll find something wonderful in it I simply missed. Best of luck.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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