What I liked about Professor Kaler's approach was that he related everything back to the earth. Though he points out that the terrestrial planets could be regarded as the sun's leftovers, he reminds us that size does not equal significance.
The professor has a way of describing things so that you can picture them in your mind's eye. He points out not only the huge sizes of objects like the sun and Jupiter, but even more so the enormous distances between them. I did not realise how big the solar system is. Neptune is 30 times further from the sun than is earth. And the comets perhaps extend out to half the distance to the next star. But you don't get blinded with statistics. Professor Kaler explains succinctly how the moon orbits the earth, why it appears in phases, and other basic facts of astronomy.
The lectures are well worth your credit. I've already started listening to Part 2.
I'm not Catholic, but this history is fascinating. As the professor says, the Papacy has lasted about 2000 years, and is the oldest human institution in the world. When you consider the different societies in which it has functioned, from the ancient Roman Empire, through feudal Europe and into the modern secular world, to see how it has responded to all these changes and challenges is interesting. I was especially interested in what he had to say about Pius XII's conduct during the Second World War, as I had heard more negative assessments. Given only 8 hours, the professor could not cover every topic of interest in depth. But, like a good meal, it left me wanting more, and I'll certainly do more reading.
There's a lot of trashy fantasy out there, but Guy Kay's novels are not out with the garbage. He focusses on a few characters, and draws them well. You really get to see what they're about. His command of English is superior to most fantasy writers. He doesn't overdo the supernatural, which I think helps make his characters more believable. Some might find the pace a bit slow, but I think he's just taking time to draw you in. Simon Vance reads at just the right speed.
I acquired another of his novels, Tigana, from a different source, as Guy Kay's novels were not at that time available from Audible in Australia. I can't therefore comment on the reading, but may I recommend that novel as well? The character development in Tigana is perhaps even better than in Under Heaven. May I also thank Audible for resolving the copywright issues that prevented them from supplying Guy Kay's novels to Australians in the past?
There are few works of fiction that I bother to read more than once, but I have reread the Odyssey numerous times. The techniques that Homer uses, such as having other characters tell us about Odysseus for the first 4 books, seem so modern. And it's a classic "Show, don't tell" work, as we learn about the characters through what they say and doo rather than from the author's lengthy descriptions.
I have read several translations, and I would compare this one to the one by E V Rieu that we used in high school decades ago. By this I mean it is good readable, and listenable, English. The short summaries of each book are short enough not to be bothersome if you don't need them, but would help the first-time listener.
Lombardo's reading is superb. He reads at just the right speed. And the expression he puts into each character's words is convincing.
If you've never read the Odyssey before, you're depriving yourself of a great story brilliantly told. And for those who enjoyed it long ago, it won't be a waste of reading time to have another go.
My first reaction when I started reading this novel was to kick myself for wasting my credit. The murders took place years ago and the murderer is already behind bars. Where's the mystery? But I soon got into it. The novel is not a murder mystery, but a psychological thriller. What makes it different is that it is told largely from the point of view of an eleven year old boy. The author captures his mental processes, emotional development and the troubles of schoolboy friendships brilliantly. There is mystery too, as young Steven follows the clues. But I don't want to give the plot away. On the other side, part of the story is told from the vantage point of an evil child killer who has no excuse for his crimes. And yet, in spite of the repulsion he elicits from us, we somehow become interested in what happens to him. A superbly crafted thriller.
On listening to these poems I felt I was back in ancient Rome. Charlton Griffin's rich voice is such a pleasure to listen to. Michlie's translations are so pithy and witty that you can easily forget that the poems were not originally written in English. I laughed at some of the lines that a Roman reader must have laughed at 19 centuries ago. Martial's grief over the death of the little slave girl is quite poignant. From a historical point of view, we get an idea of how demoralising and damaging the Roman patronage system could be. The reader will find himself or herself disgusted at some of Martial's attitudes, such as when he writes of forcing a young slave boy. But Audible have put the naughtier poems at the end of the recording, with an advance warning. And besides, for those of us interested in history, this unfortunately is also part of the historical record. A fascinating read.
What really stands out in this latest Rebus novel is the variety of characters among the detectives and the criminals. A common theme in both groups is the old guard being replaced by the new. But Ian Rankin doesn't waste his words or your time overdoing the personal details; he gets on with telling an intriguing story. Unlike lesser writers, he doesn't contrive a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter, but there are enough twists and turns to keep you baffled. I've only read one of the previous Rebus novels, so don't worry if this is your first encounter with Inspector Rebus. You don't need to read all the other sfirst, but I guarantee you'll want to read more of them once you've tried this one. The Scottish accent took a little getting used to, but it was appropriate. So bear with it, and it will repay your effort.
I have a personal policy of writing reviews only for books which I would give 5 stars to, because they are the books I tell my friends about. I read Michael Robotham's first 2 books, and they were quite good, but not gripping. Say Your Sorry is different. It got me in right from the start, and kept me enthralled wright to the last chapter. One of the best points about it was the passages written from the point of view of one of the victims. Often I find books that alternate between past and present to be confusing, and the technique can detract from the suspense. But with this story the excursions into the recent past only add to the drama. Although there is some graphic detail, Robotham doesn't go overboard with the sex, blood and guts. If you like a thrilling crime novel that has you cheering on the sleuths and the victims, this one's well worth your credit.
Another fascinating presentation by Professor Tobin. This time she focusses on just one small part of the ancient world, Anatolia, or what we nowadays call Turkey. But the number of different peoples who lived in this bit of land makes it an amazing trip through time. Did you know that people were building temples in 11,000 BC, even before we started farming or living in villages, let alone cities? Do you know who invented money? Did you know that America's federal system is based partly on the government of a small nation in southern Turkey that was established before Christ? Enough of the spoilers, hear it for yourself. Suffice it to say that Professor Tobin never loses sight of the fact that she is talking about people, not just buildings. And the PDF document you get with the program enables you to see the pictures and check the spelling of those funny names.
This is an excellent complement to the Modern Scholar lectures on Roman history. The professor gives the historical background as well as describing the monuments in Rome and the provinces. Getting a picture of the man-made material setting helps one to more easily visualise the people and events, than if one only had the literary sources. You get to stroll through Trajan's Rome, at the height of its power and wealth, as well as cities in Africa and Asia. The professor's rather negative view of Hadrian is interesting.
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