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Zaubermond

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  • The Tarn and Other Macabre Stories

  • By: Hugh Walpole
  • Narrated by: Roy Macready
  • Length: 4 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4

Hugh Walpole is best known for his Herries Chronicle, a saga of four books relating the history of the Herries family and set in the Lake District in the north of England, where Walpole settled in his later life. The Chronicle was extremely popular, as was another series of books for children, the Jeremy trilogy. Many of his novels were in the psychological horror genre. He also wrote many short stories that were published in several collections.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gothic tales for the snowbound traveller

  • By Zaubermond on 12-11-18

Gothic tales for the snowbound traveller

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-11-18

While trapped and snowbound in western North Carolina, there was nothing for it but to grab my sketchbook and listen to a good book.

Walpole's gothic tales are excellent classics for the dark time of the year. Plus, I could listen to Roy Macready read out occasional furniture assembly instructions, and his way with characterizations and voices is truly wonderful here.

THE TARN is a wildly original story of revenge. As is the case in many of Walpole's stories, natural forces and insentient things take on a life and character of their own. This is true in THE TIGER and yet another tale of revenge, THE SNOW. A house may also be alive, as THE STAIRCASE makes clear. One might consider M R James and Shirley Jackson and others who had something to say about the malice of inanimate objects.

Walpole, possibly understandably, is not at his best with feminine characterizations. This was not really his specialist subject, one might say. For that reason, I did not particularly enjoy his story THE FIELD WITH FIVE TREES, nor MRS LUNT. However, these opinions and expressions are very much of their time and place, and perhaps should be expected. Just a note should you be offended by the historically politically incorrect.

Perhaps the most chilling tale is THE SILVER MASK. It's a great story, but it becomes rather more horrifying the more one considers how such a thing might actually happen. Sonia Herries, a middle aged woman given to spontaneous acts of charity, is accosted by a beautiful young man while she is on her way home from an evening engagement. When she takes the cadger on as a personal secretary, she unleashes a series of tragic events from which she is unable to extricate herself.

TARNHELM is a wonderful classic story about a werewolf, not to be missed.

Overall, four stars for the stories.

I wish audible would do some Audible Originals with Mr Macready so the sound leveling and studio technology could showcase his remarkable talents.

Mr Macready, please bring us more classics. Perhaps some old German and French stories?

  • The Chronicles of Clovis

  • By: Saki
  • Narrated by: Roy Macready
  • Length: 5 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

The Chronicles of Clovis, which was published in 1911, was the third of Saki's collections of short stories. The character of Clovis Sangrail is, like Saki's earlier hero, Reginald, vain, sarcastic, and self-regarding and another vehicle for Saki's delicious, biting wit satirizing Edwardian high society in some of the funniest exquisite literary miniatures.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great characterizations

  • By Zaubermond on 12-02-18

Great characterizations

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-02-18

I wrote a review of this before but somewhere in cyberspace my words disappeared. To keep it brief, it's Saki, which means every story is infused with wit, wisdom, and unparalleled originality. It's also Roy Macready, which means you're going to hear a beautiful British voice well suited to a wide range of characters. If you love Saki, you'll happily revisit the wicked and satirical Clovis. If you're new to Saki, you're going to have a great time with this Edwardian time capsule. Enjoy!

  • Tales in the Dark

  • The Undying Thing and Other Stories
  • By: Barry Pain
  • Narrated by: Roy Macready
  • Length: 2 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Barry Pain was noted for his humorous tales of "Eliza" and her husband, but his tales of the weird and supernatural are equally noteworthy. This volume contains seven of them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A new discovery for me

  • By Zaubermond on 12-02-18

A new discovery for me

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-02-18

I had never heard of Barry Pain before I saw this title on offer. I will listen to anything from Roy Macready, so I decided to check this out while I did the annual December studio clean and perhaps I'd find the annual ghost story for Christmas while I did so!

I very much enjoyed these stories, some of which are no more than breathtakingly brief vignettes. Published in 1901, they are naturally old-fashioned but many are startlingly original and compelling, especially the first one. Highly recommended for classics collectors. Once again, Mr Macready, your characterizations were very well done indeed!

The stories:

THE UNDYING THING, which unfolds in five parts, is the longest and most complicated story. At times I thought of E. F. Benson and Walter de la Mare. This is a wildly original story of evil, a vengeful ancestral spirit, a haunted wood, and the tragic story of the Vanquerest family. I particularly loved the little mention about the painting, the wolves, and the overpainting. So many little details allow the reader to imagine more things for herself, which is always great fun.

Princess Viola is none to happy with her betrothed, preferring dancing and the moonlight to his company. In THE MOON-SLAVE, she finds her way through a maze to a dark bargain.

I enjoyed THE CASE OF VINCENT PYRWHIT very much and wish it had been developed into a much longer story because its elements are very good: a jealous wife, a vengeful servant, a haunted husband, and a friend to tell the tale. It reminds me of something E.F. Benson might have written.

THE FOUR-FINGERED HAND is a tiny vignette about the eponymous hand, a harbinger of doom.

THE GLASS OF SUPREME MOMENTS was my least favorite story, reminding me as it did of a Victorian morality tale. Lucas Morne finds himself depressed during a bleak winter afternoon and is visited by a timeless soul wishing to give him a different perspective.

THE GREEN LIGHT is a tiny tale of crime and punishment that allows the reader to decide whether or not the conclusion is informed by madness or the supernatural, lending a touch of Poe to the scene.

The final tale has a touch of M.R. James, opening as it does with gentlemen at leisure, leading into an entirely masculine experience of something unexpected. (I was delighted to find this to be a Christmas story as well!) A gentleman of their acquaintance has bought THE TOWER in which he plans to spend the holidays because he hates the usual doings. But there are strange doings there as well, the tower having been built on a site upon which a witch was executed. Once more, there is more to be imagined than is explained.

  • The Best of Saki – Volume 3

  • By: Saki
  • Narrated by: Roy Macready
  • Length: 3 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

The delicious, biting wit of Saki's short stories satirizing Edwardian high society are some of the funniest and most delightful of exquisite literary miniatures. In this third volume, there are 21 glittering examples.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Macready is delightful

  • By Zaubermond on 12-02-18

Macready is delightful

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-02-18

Having just listened to the three volumes of Saki once again, I am in such a good mood. Without a doubt he is my favorite short story writer, unrivaled for his wit, unique perspective, and versatility. Mr Macready is always a treat. I have enjoyed everything I have heard him perform and hope he will continue to bring us classics both obscure and familiar. Love the Poe and Benson and so much more that he has offered here.

  • Conclave

  • A Novel
  • By: Robert Harris
  • Narrated by: Roy McMillan
  • Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 544
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 493
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 495

The pope is dead. Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, 118 cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world's most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. Over the next 72 hours, one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent book, spoilt by its ending.

  • By Patrick Fitzpatrick on 12-06-16

Mambo Vaticano

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-08-18

I like Robert Harris' writing and expected to love this book due to its subject. My expectations were, perhaps, too high.

Sadly, I found the story lacking in the elements most necessary to dramatic fiction. For example, where the author set up conflicts, he just as quickly resolved them in facile, contrived ways. But the worst part was an ending which was both unbelievable and extraordinarily pointless.

On the plus side, Harris did a lot of research and was only mistaken on a few minor points of fact. History, ritual, and rubric were woven into the narrative seamlessly. Settings contained vivid sensory detail and descriptions were detailed without being excessive. Characters were memorable. (I particularly enjoyed his pompous rad trad cardinal who, true to form, blamed all the evils of the world upon Vatican II). The viewpoint character, a moderate cardinal, was a sympathetic choice.

I enjoyed Roy McMillan's narration very much.

  • Francis I

  • The Maker of Modern France
  • By: Leonie Frieda
  • Narrated by: Carole Boyd
  • Length: 13 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30

Catherine de Medici's father-in-law, King Francis of France, was the perfect Renaissance knight, the movement's exemplar and its Gallic interpreter. An aesthete, diplomat par excellence, and contemporary of Machiavelli, Francis was the founder of modern France, whose sheer force of will and personality molded his kingdom into the first European superpower. Arguably the man who introduced the Renaissance to France, Francis was also the prototype Frenchman - a national identity was modeled on his character.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Rekindling salamandrine fires...

  • By Zaubermond on 09-29-18

Rekindling salamandrine fires...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-29-18

Leonie Frieda was responsible for reawakening my interested in Valois history through her biography of Catherine de Medici. In this biography of Catherine's father-in-law, she brings to life an all but forgotten king.

Frieda's research and erudition are impressive, but her writing is always lively and intriguing, never dull. There is so little available in English about the Valois monarchs, apart from the dreck that passes for historical fiction and is propogated through the preposterous miniseries adapted therefrom! If you're really interested in the times of the Valois, read both of Frieda's excellent books instead.

Frieda makes the time period come to life, as she did with Catherine, and illustrates just how complicated, contradictory, and sometimes exasperating, François was. Many of his decisions are no less than baffling, while others are brilliant. Coddled by his mother, Louise of Savoy, he would also be led by other women in his life, sometimes disastrously so. Both a biography and a portrait of France, the book illuminates a France unfamiliar to many. Truly his reign set the foundation for French modernity in countless ways.

May you enjoy it as much as I did.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Vatican II

  • By: Fr. John W. O'Malley SJ PhD
  • Narrated by: Fr. John W. O'Malley SJ PhD
  • Length: 4 hrs and 49 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 11

Join celebrated Church historian John O'Malley in exploring the biggest meeting in the history of the world. The Second Vatican Council concluded 50 years ago, but it is a livelier topic today than it has been for decades. Basic questions are being asked. What did the Council do? Was it properly implemented? Are its decisions being systematically "rolled back"?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic survey!

  • By Zaubermond on 09-09-18

Fantastic survey!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-09-18

The most unutterably ridiculous nonsense I've ever heard as a Catholic has come from the mouths of other Catholics ranting against Vatican II and the errors they mistakenly believe came from it.

When asked if they have ever read any of the 16 documents of the Council, invariably they say no, but then go off on a tangent about how some tragically bewigged neocon online told them (insert subject) was all the fault of Vatican II. Often this turns in the direction of a sedevacantist conspiracy theory filled with speculation and calumnies against Paul VI which simply defy rational belief.

Please, criticize all you like! But read the documents and know what you're talking about. (Lumen Gentium is not a lightbulb). Especially in these days of irresponsible media claims about the factions in an increasingly divided Church, we have a responsibility as Catholics to know the truth about our faith's teachings and history, along with giving attention to that which needs deep reform today. I believe a reassessment of the true nature of Vatican II, as opposed to mad distortions of it, would be helpful in healing the divisions in the Church and bringing back a spirit of unity.

Father O'Malley does a fantastic job presenting the bewildering, unwieldy enormity of the Second Vatican Council in a whirlwind tour you're sure to enjoy if you have an interest in recent Church politics and history. Being a good Jesuit, he doesn't waste your time or his words getting to the essential points, from the introduction in which he sets the stage for this greatest of meetings to the four major periods into which he breaks down the process. However, you need to have an interest in this because it is complicated nonetheless. I highly recommend it to every Catholic.

Schadenfreude Alert: In about a month, Pope Paul VI will be raised to the altar as Pope Saint Paul VI. I can't wait. Tragically bewigged ranters, buy yourself a large grappa and deal with it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Miracle Detective

  • An Investigative Reporter Sets Out to Examine How the Catholic Church Investigates Holy Visions and Discovers His Own Faith
  • By: Randall Sullivan
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Arthur
  • Length: 18 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57

In a tiny, dilapidated trailer in northeastern Oregon, a young woman saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in an ordinary landscape painting hanging on her bedroom wall. After being met with skepticism from the local parish, the matter was officially placed "under investigation" by the Catholic diocese. Investigative journalist Randall Sullivan wanted to know how, exactly, one might conduct the official inquiry into such an incident, so he set off to interview theologians, historians, and postulators.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Excessively emotive and lacking objectivity

  • By Zaubermond on 09-09-18

Excessively emotive and lacking objectivity

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-09-18

As others have noted, this book does not provide what its subtitle suggests. If you are looking for that, try John Thavis' excellent book, The Vatican Prophecies.

I found the writing to be puerile, overly emotive, and absolutely lacking in any sense of objective investigative technique. It is a very poor piece of journalism. Sadly, it is also self-indulgent and tedious, and the author's quest to find himself, if you will, overshadows the purported goal of the book. He seems to have come to a crisis where he was looking for something, anything, to give his life meaning. Devotion to the Blessed Mother would be a wonderful thing....wouldn't it? But is that what Medjugorje is?

I read this book long before Donal Foley's Medjugorje Revisted, which thoroughly convinced me that these apparitions are, if not an intentional hoax, at least a dangerous delusion. Anyone who still has an open mind might examine what he has to say, along with the words of St Louis de Montfort on false devotion to Mary, and those of the great Carmelite saints, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross regarding the way the adversary can produce good fruits for a time.

Those who are devoted to Medjugorje do not, in my experience, have any interest in hearing the other side. For those who are undecided, I recommend looking into the subject thoroughly and prayerfully. It is easy to be deluded and led by emotion. True faith is accompanied by reason.

I will leave you with the words of soon-to-be sainted Pope Paul VI:

It is a strange thing that our incredulous world is never so curious about anything as it is about miracles. The Lord wishes to draw us to Himself by other ways that means of marvelous sense experiences. He wants to attract us by spiritual and moral ways, the way of faith, the way of love, and the way of the examples of the saints, through whom he shines the light of a relationship with God. And He wants to draw us also by means of the authorized voice of the Church. (1975)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Tsar

  • An Epic Chronicle of the Russian Leaders
  • By: Mike Walker
  • Narrated by: David Threlfall, Hugo Speer, Samantha Spiro, and others
  • Length: 10 hrs and 22 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Eleven compelling BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramas telling the stories of the Russian tsars. Broadcast to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, this extraordinary drama cycle by Mike Walker comprises 11 ambitious plays spanning over 400 years, exploring the lives of Russia’s key rulers from Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic BBC drama

  • By Zaubermond on 09-06-18

Fantastic BBC drama

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-06-18

I couldn't wait to get this BBC series into the cloud. It's simply a fantastic series with first-rate acting and great writing. If you love dramatizations or have any interest in Russian history, you'll love this often bloody, brilliant, and bewildering saga.

In order: Ivan the Terrible, Boris Gudunov, Peter the Great (2 episodes), Catherine the Great, Alexander I, Alexander II, Nikolai II, Lenin, Stalin, Putin.

  • Heroes of the Desert: The Lives and Teachings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

  • By: Fr. Philip G. Bochanski CO MA
  • Narrated by: Fr. Philip G. Bochanski CO MA
  • Length: 6 hrs and 9 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 11

Beginning in the third century AD, pious men and women journeyed into the Egyptian desert, where they sought to be "alone with God alone." Known as the Desert Fathers and Mothers, they pursued lives of solitude and prayer in order to make offerings of themselves to God. They acquired great insight into the spiritual life, which has been passed down to us in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Now, you can discover the fascinating lives and works of such awe-inspiring figures as St. Antony the Great and St. Mary of Egypt.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Preferring Christ to all else

  • By Zaubermond on 08-20-18

Preferring Christ to all else

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-20-18

Those who are new to the study of desert monasticism will find this a useful survey. It's broken down into 15 topics, each of which gives much information for spiritual consideration and further research. If you're already familiar with the subject, you will still enjoy Fr Bochanski's teaching. I appreciated his gentle manner and voice throughout as he brought life and relevance to a subject that can, if taught badly, be as dry as the desert in which the religious found themselves.

Perhaps the idea of desert monasticism has never seemed so strange as it does to us today. Maybe that's why it has so much to teach us. Have we gotten as far away from God as we are because of attachments and indulgences and diversions? If so, we have much to learn from these wise Abbas and Ammas.

Some left simple lives. Others left palaces and untold luxuries. Each preferred Christ to anything the world had to offer. But in choosing monasticism, they found they could abandon the world, but not the soul's struggle for holiness.

In fact, the desert fathers and mothers have much to teach us about spiritual warfare. Although their renunciation of the world allowed them to hear God more clearly, it also allowed the greatest of temptation and attacks from the adversary.

Their approach to spiritual direction was also enlightening. There was none of this ridiculous pop psych speak, nor the one size fits all answers which so often pass for direction these days. No, each piece of advice was individually chosen for each situation. This was not relativism, but enlightened guidance. It was about the person being directed, not the director. Modern self-appointed experts would do well to consider this, and the deep humility demanded of the position.

I found the whole presentation to be fascinating and recommend it to every Catholic.

These are the lectures:

1. Alone with God alone. 2. Development of monasticism. 3. Daily life in the desert. 4. St Anthony the Great. 5. Father of monks. 6. Wisdom of St Anthony. 7. Words of the fathers. 8. St Arsenius and St Makarios. 9. St John and St Poemon. 10. Mothers of the desert. 11. St Synclectica's advice for beginners. 12. St Synclectica's wisdom for life's journey. 13. St Mary of Egypt. 14. Desert conversions. 15. St Moses the Ethiopian.