Johannesburg, South Africa | Member Since 2009
This is definitely not my cup of tea. The stories are supposed to be funny, but really aren't. It could be that this type of humour isn't funny to people like me. I found the first story vulgar and the rest very dull. It is for free, so try it and decide for yourself.
First it was the Roman Catholic Church and the election of the pope (Angels and Demons), then the so-called Jesus dynasty (The Da Vinci Code), then the Free Masons (The Lost Symbol) that were critiqued, while keeping his readers nailed to their armchairs in suspense. Now Dan Brown pushes a secular humanist agenda by using Dante's Divine Comedy to introduce us to another mad man with an apocalyptic agenda. What is interesting is how Brown leaves behind a feeling that the "genius villain" of this story was not so cruel. Lines are blurred as it seems to be the human race on its own, without God or tradition, to make decisions about its future.
In many ways Brown's Inferno is same old same old. Rather than taking history seriously, he takes the urban legends that has arisen seriously. Robert Langdon is the expert par excellance on symbology and the way he interprets a "text" is more or less the only correct way. There is a lot of suspense and action - enough to keep you glued to the book.
By now, I must confess, I am getting a bit irritated with the subtle undertones and the secular humanist agenda that Brown puts forward. In certain ways, he seems the be the Phillip Pulman of adults. I also don't think the way he used misdirection as a device to create suspense with, is very convincing.
What is clear however is that Robert Langdon has become a 21st century James Bond, anti-establishment in certain ways, ethically indestructible and for the first time he was not ahead in his game. Amnesia brought an interesting twist to Langdon's task at hand - to safe the world (once again).
Paul Michael read the book very well. There is nothing to detract from his performance.
If you like Dan Brown's style you will probably enjoy the book. However, I suspect his secular underskirt is showing a bit more than usual.
While prof. Alister E. McGrath - the writer of ‘The twilight of Atheism’ and ‘The Dawkins Delusion’ - didn’t know C.S. Lewis personally, this biography seems to be that of an admirer… maybe even a disciple. Being himself a well-known Christian apologist, it can be expected that McGrath read with a religious eye when he did his research for this biography. He has read through all the correspondence of Lewis and some of his contemporaries in chronological order. Only thereafter did he engage with secondary literature. Hence you should not be surprised that this book focus more on Lewis’ thought life and its development than on dates, numbers and solid historical facts.
That said, the biography is in no way ignoring facts. It is carefully written, though at times cursive. McGrath thinks it is highly significant that he could determine that the traditional date set for Lewis conversion to Christianity (1929) is wrong. It happened in 1930.
I found this book valuable as it helped me to gain an understanding of who C.S. Lewis was as well as his importance. Yet, I must confess I am an outsider. I didn’t grow up with Lewis, Narnia or the Screwtape Letters as might be the case in many English and American households. English is not my mother tongue. Only as an adult I became aware of his work. I therefore suspect that though McGrath paints a good picture with broad brush strokes of Lewis’ life, then colours it with his world of thought, a hard-core Lewis fan might want a bit more out of this biography. That said, McGrath writes very clear and is easy to follow.
He comes over very sympathetic towards C.S. Lewis. His formulations around possible scandal is very considerate and Lewis seem to get of light when it comes to value judgements about his life. Rhetorical questions leaving certain judgements with the reader/ listener abounds especially at the beginning of the book.
The book is very accessible. Anybody that has listened to it will have a better understanding of who C.S. Lewis was and will be able to appreciate his contribution to uplifting and directing the collective mind of the British nation during the Second World War and how his work has stood the test of time (even though some of it being dated). McGrath also appreciates Lewis’ Irish roots more than seems to have been done in the past (probably because he himself is Irish). Yet the biography’s strength lies in McGrath’s focus. I found that McGrath’s illumination of Lewis’ apologetic arguments very satisfactory. His extensive coverage of Narnia and especially the lion, Azlan, also should be commended. I didn’t knew that Lewis wrote science fiction!
The deep baritone voice of Robert Sachs surprised me. When I started listening to the biography, I couldn’t make up my mind if it fitted or not. He definitely brings ‘something’ different to the listening experience, but it is for the listener to decide if it is good or bad. Sachs’ reading is superb.
I enjoyed the ear candy at the end of the audiobook - hearing C.S. Lewis’ own Oxford accented voice, was quite satisfying. It gives the audiobook an edge over the printed copy (… which might have some photos included).
On a more technical level, I downloaded the biography in two parts. There is an overlap of more or less 20 minutes between the last part of the first audio file and the first part of the second audio file. I am not sure if this is a mistake of Oasis audio or just a download glitch at Audible.
While listening ‘C.S. Lewis - A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet’ I couldn’t help wondering how much Alister E. McGrath was writing about himself. As someone who is able to bring a lot of facts together through identifying overarching themes, McGrath seems to have identified themes that resonates well with what is known about himself. The parallels between Lewis’ life and his own are striking. One gets the feeling that he might be following the latter’s example in his own career.
This biography is well-written, easily accessible, has just enough historical data not to overwhelm the listener, but deals more with the development of Lewis’ apologetic mind. It is splendidly presented and like most of Oasis’ audio books, it starts off with an interview with the author. A superb listening pleasure!
This review is mainly in Afrikaans with a summary in English:
Jakkals en Wolf het nog altyd Dana Nieuhaus se stem en vertelling en T.O. Honiball se strokiesprente by my opgeroep. Pieter W. Grobbelaar stof baie ou stories wat die twee karnallies handel, af en dis dit op in geurige Afrikaans wat jou laat bly luister van pure lekker kry.
Die stories val min of meer in drie groepe uiteen. Die eerste paar stories vertel van slinkse Jakkals en bottoe Wolf op Boer se werf. Hier begin Wolf reeds les opsê as hy onder Jakkals se poetse deurloop. Grobbelaar verander die milieu dan na Jakkals en Wolf in die Diereryk. Steeds bly Wolf aan die onderspit delf. Uiteindelik is dit nie net Wolf wat slagoffer van Jakkals se skelmstreke is nie, maar omtrent elke ander dier van Koning Leeu, Hasie, Luiperd (of dan Tier), Duifie ensovoorts. Gelukkig kom Reier aan die einde van die boek ook op die toneel en Jakkals moet maar katvoet loop en kom so hier en daar sy moses teë. Ek het baie van die manier wat die stories saamgeweef is tot 'n geheel, gehou.
Johann Nel se stemkuns maak 'n ooglopend moeilike Afrikaanse teks lewendig en hy kry dit reg dat jy jouself aan die manier van dinge vertel, verluister. Hierdie luisterboek is dalk gemik op 9- tot 12-jariges, maar is vir alle ore bedoel. Ten spyte daarvan dat die boek relatief kort is (net so oor die 4 ure), is dit 'n kwaliteit-produk en elke sent die moeite werd om te koop.
Die een ding wat my wel opgeval het en waaroor ek nog nie mooi weet hoe ek moet voel nie, is hoe Grobbelaar genoeg van die dier in Jakkals en Wolf laat oorbly dat jy telkens herinner word aan hoe anders ons as mense dink. As Jakkals Luiperd se kinders opvreet of Duifie se klein duifie verorber, besef jy jy het met 'n jakkals te doen en nie 'n mens nie.
Produksies van so 'n hoogstaande gehalte verdien niks minder as volpunte nie. Geniet dit, selfs al is jy ouer as 12 jaar!
['Jackal and Wolf' is a collection of Afrikaans folktales about these two creatures that is very popular through many generations. In this audiobook Pieter W. Grobbelaar retells some of these stories in very vivid language.
Sly Jackals is known to outwit Wolf every now and again. In this collection of stories he goes all out to put Wolf in his place. Fortunately Heron takes the stage later in the book and Jackals meets his match.
Johan Nel does an outstanding job in his rendition of 'Jackals and Wolf.' He seems truly to be a voice artist.
This production is of a very high standard and though it could deemed to be a bit short, it is absolutely worth every penny you pay (as long as you understand Afrikaans, Dutch, German etc.). It is said to be focused on children from 9 to 12 years, but adults and people from all ages can enjoy it just as much. This is a must-listen, if you can understand Afrikaans!
"I, Caesar" is a short overview of the lives of some of the best known emperors of the Roman World. It covers the lives of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero, Hadrian, Constantine and Justinian, an leaves out a few others like Tiberias etc. I understand that it is actually a companion volume to a BBC documentary which I don't have access to. The book is therefore reviewed as a separate entity.
It is a bit disappointing that only the better known emperors (and one dictator) of the Roman Empire is treated in the book. It would have been nice to know a little more about the rest. Yet, the treatment of the emperors that are in the book is interesting and gives a short general overview of each of them. Phil Garbsky can be commended for using ancient sources to compile this book.
What I found very disappointing and even annoying was Phil Garbsky's reading of the book. He started off well, but the wheels started to become apart at Augustus. For me, his reading of the book, just sounds like a job that he needs to get over and done with. Especially long sentences (which he himself wrote) is read as if it is tedious and burdensome. It felt as if Garbsky didn't know his own text or found it boring himself. Thus he almost sinks his own book.
I would recommend this book for content but am a bit reluctant to do so due to the narrator's monotonous tone of voice that just goes on and on and on... even when he changes his voice to indicate that he is quoting someone, the monotonous tone quickly kicks in. I wondered why he went through the trouble of even beginning to read the book?
Shall I start with the narrator? For a book that is sometimes difficult to follow and very technical, I must commend Stephen Thorne for being able to keep my interest alive to the end. That said, I must admit that I sometimes opted out.
This book demands a lot of concentration to follow. It is thorough and many a times interesting, but not the sort of book that would keep everybody's attention. I found Anthony Everitt's treatment of the subject matter (the Roman Republic from its beginnings until its transition into an Empire) quite impeccable. He does more than justice to Roman History.
One of the things that stood out for me, was how Everitt used the ancient literary sources and archaeological findings to give an overview of Rome's beginning. He starts of with legend, sifts a lot of the dead wood and ends up with a believable account of how Rome and its citizens rose to power.
Personally, I think that a book like this should be whisper-sinced as there are parts of this book that must be read to take in completely. Parts of this book comes home more in writing than in any other medium.
That said, I heartily recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in how Rome rose to power. Don't expect much about the Roman Empire (from Julius Caesar onwards), as this is not really the period the book deals with.
Prof. Ronald Hendel, is professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the University of California. He is another heavyweight academic contributing to the biography series "Lives of Great Religious Books" published by Princeton University Press.
Like John J Collins' "The Dead Sea Scrolls, A Biography" the book is divided into seven chapters: 1. 'The Genesis of Genesis'; 2. 'The Rise of the Figural Sense'; 3. 'Apocalyptic Secrets'; 4. 'Platonic Worlds'; 5. 'Between the Figure and the Real'; 6. 'Genesis and Science: From the Beginning to Fundamentalism'; 7. 'Modern Times' and an Afterword: 'Stories of Our Alley.'
Be forewarned that this book is not a commentary or a devotional. Hendel discusses the 'life' and what he calls 'the afterlife' of the book, i.e. he places the book and its origin in an historical context as far as possible and discusses how it was read and understood over the centuries.
He specifically focus on those parts of Genesis which had a great influence on how people perceived their own situations. The creation stories, the story of Noah and the blessings of Isaac are some focus points. I really enjoyed his explanation of prof. Arbunck (not sure of the spellings) literary analysis of Abraham who wanted to sacrifice his son Isaac.
He sees the history of interpreting Genesis as one of going from reading it literally to a figurative understanding of the text back to a literal understanding. He discusses the interpretative universe of the Septuagint; Philo, the Jewish philosopher from Alexandra and Paul and the gnostic writers in chapters 2 to 5, then he brings it back to the real, discussing how Martin Luther interpreted Genesis as well as Baruch Spinoza. He also discusses the interesting role it played in the abolition of slavery. He gives a thorough debunking of Fundamentalism by putting it in its historical context and showing that it has more in common with modernity than it wants to admit. He ends up with the great divide that the new insistence of reading Genesis literally has brought between the reader and the text. The reader has become a outsider to the world of the text, but can come to a new appreciation of it as literature. It is part of the stories of our alley (Western Civilisation) although it might not help us to fight against power mongers and dictators as it had in the past.
Mark Moseley started of much better with his reading of this book, than with John J Collins' "The Dead Sea Scrolls, A Biography" but towards the end his staccato breathing style made it difficult to listen. I actually had to rewind and re-listen when he pronounced certain German phrases to try to understand what he was saying. I suspect he doesn't know German. Fortunately these were limited. (Most of what I have said in the previous review about his interpretative reading still stands.)
I think this was a very difficult book to write. I think Prof. Hendel did a good job of it, but I wondered at times if he didn't try to catch too many fish with a too small net. Either the book should have been longer or the subject-matter more limited. There was also a very North American take on the interpretation of Genesis, ignoring much of the rest of the world, in other words, the book's audience seems to be Americans.
I suspect that listener's will either like the book or hate it, find in enlightening or maybe blasphemous, interesting or offensive. I disagreed to a certain extend with the afterword, but found much value in the ways that Genesis has been understood in the past. It gives an important overview of the influence of the first book of the Bible on the human mind over many a century.
[As this is an Afrikaans collection of some of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales, I shall write the review in Afrikaans followed by an English translation]
Die Mooiste Sprokies van Grimm is 'n keur deur Marita van der Vyver, bekende Afrikaanse skrywer, uit die Grimm-broers se skatkis. Sy het nie net van die mooiste stories gekies nie, maar hulle in lekkerluister Afrikaans aangetrek, sonder om hulle oorspronklike strekking te skaad.
Ek het lekker geluister en beveel die boek ten sterkste aan. Die produksie is nie net van hoogstaande gehalte nie, die voorlesers Susanne Beyers, Roeline Daneel en Deirdre Wolhuter bring die sprankel in die stories besonder goed na vore.
Uiteindelik is daar goeie Afrikaanse luisterboeke op Audible beskikbaar. Ek hoop hulle word net meer en meer.
[Die Most beautiful Stories of Grimm is a choice from the Grimm-brothers treasure trove by Marita van der Vyver, a well-known Afrikaans writer. She didn't only choose the most beautiful stories, she also clothed them in Afrikaans that is very enjoyable to listen to. This she did without changing the original spirit of the stories.
I enjoyed listening to this book and I heartily recommend it. The production is of a very high quality. The interpretative readers, Susanne Beyers, Roeline Daneel en Deirdre Wolhuter, brings the stories' sparkle very effectively to the front.
At long last! Now there is some excellent Afrikaans audio books available on Audible. I hope it will increase significantly.]
This is the third instalment in the "Outlander" series. By this time I've gotten used to Clare's favourite swear word "Jesus H Rooseveldt Christ" and James Alexander Fraser is also swearing much more than he previously did.
The book's title "Voyager" suits it well. Clare journeys back through the stone circles to her beloved, but their daughter, Briana, stays behind. She is reunited with the love of her life, Jamie, but it is twenty years since the battle of Collodin and he might not be the same person he used to be. In the end of this book, Jamie and Clare find themselves in the New World, ready to begin a new life together.
Stripped bare, there is no doubt that "Voyager" is a love story with a lot of sex. It is not SciFi and should not be classified as such.
The third book in the series has a certain predictability to it. When Clare read the erotic pirate novels at hospital, you knew that she would be at sea at some stage doing you-know-what with Jamie. The late 1900's from which she travels back in time to Jamie mirrors the earlier time. On the one hand this creates continuity within the story but by now it has become predictable.
Her use of misdirection kept me wondering at times, but once too often it just suspended the final outcome. She uses a lot of contrasts, Clare the doctor versus the possibility that she might be a witch, the different times, Jamie versus prof. Randall, the Old World versus the New World etc. Yet, I was wondering it Diana Gabaldon wasn't loosing her way with this story a little bit. It felt a bit as if it is just dragging on and on.
If it wasn't for Davina Porter's superb reading, I might not have persisted with the book.
While the book is technically brilliantly executed it has become a bit too mechanical for me. It is time to let the "Outlander" series rest for a bit. Maybe I will listen to the next book much much later...
Have you read "Asterix and the Falling Sky"? Uderzo's drawings of Asterix and his friends are some of the best, but the story reaches a new low point. I am not sure if this is really the case with "Unseen Academicals" but it is really not one of Pratchett's best. There are individual episodes of brilliance in the book. You are also left with the feeling that this is supposed to be (partly al least) THE parody on the Harry Potter-series. Yet, it felt if the storyline lacked some of the Pratchett brilliance I have come to know and love.
Stephen Briggs, almost like always, does a superb job in the reading of the book. I think he brings the game of foot-the-ball sufficiently to life. If I have to choose between reading the book or listening to his interpretation, I would prefer his interpretative reading by far.
Like "Asterix and the Falling Sky" this book is definitely a must for Discworld die-hard fans. You are also guaranteed a chuckle or two, if you are not so familiar with the Discworld, but I have read and listened to better from Prachett's pen. Maybe, the Unseen University and its staff have become a just too familiar place and set of characters in the Discworld.
Who is the real heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork? Who has the power? This book is probably the most important of the Discworld books concerning the City Watch. While investigating the corruptive power of authority as well as the difference between real power and misguided power, Pratchett resurrects the old Ankh-Morpork Watch by helping Captain Sam Vimes to find his feet as chief-in-charge of this most-famous city's law-enforcement machine.
I enjoyed this story tremendously and heartily recommends it.
Nigel Planer did an outstanding job in reading it.
Be warned however, that the Planer-recordings seem all to be dubbed from tape format to digital format. At times the quality of the recording might not be completely what you might come to expect (especially in terms of variation in volume.) Yet, to me this was not a serious distraction.
I heartily recommend patrolling the streets - and sewers - of Ankh-Morpork with Captain Samuel Vimes and the City Watch. Just watch out for any "gonne" or you might be gone.
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