Johannesburg, South Africa | Member Since 2009
Nasty, naughty and nice
Its difficult to say. I think the
His Discworld performances are very much the same - excellent. I don't think you can add much to his performance. He is a good narrator that bring the text alive as if the Nag Mac Feegle might just crawl out of your ears.
Big surprises come in small packages... except for cats
Its worthwhile to listen to, but definitely one of the Discworld novels that are not so much of a page turner. The humour is sharp, but maybe one can say same old same old, nothing much to think over... maybe that is what makes it a children's book, but I don't think children is so stupid.
The expectation with which you come to a book can often colour how you judge a book in the end. With 'The Enlightenment - And Why it Still Matters' I expected a piece of objective history writing. If you have the same expectation you might be disappointed as Prof Anthony Pagden who specialises in Political Science and History has very clear cut ideas about the Enlightenment.
Prof Pagden is a heavy-weight in his field and speaks with authority of what he knows... but it seems more as a Political Scientist than as a Historian. That said his facts seems to be impeccable. His tract gives a positive evaluation of the 'Enlightenment' by introducing the major thought leaders of its time as well as their thoughts. By doing so he successfully explains the phenomena that lead to the modern world. The book is often very informative. But it seems that Padgen purposefully ignores the dark side of the Enlightenment, maybe because of the negative way it impacted on religion in the West and because he shares this negative inclination towards it.
Pairing Pagden's book with the voice of Robert Blumenfeld (who also read 'Jurgen' under the "Neil Gaiman presents" label) might not have been the best match. I found Blumenfeld very difficult to follow. He has a rushing quality in his reading. Furthermore he is not consistent in his pronunciation of Latin, while his German and French pronunciation are excellent. Yet he is not one of my favourite interpretative readers.
It is a solid book, but biased... It is difficult at some times to follow. Yet Padgen has written a tract that do not only introduce you to the Enlightenment, it is sure to produce proper debate.
The following review is in Afrikaans followed by a short English summary.
Bittermin Afrikaanssprekendes het sonder die TV-reeks 'Wielie Wielie Walie' groot geword. Dit is goeie herinneringe en nostalgie wat my beweeg het om hierdie luisterboek te koop. Ek was ook nuuskierig om te sien of Louise Smit daarin kon slaag om Sarel Seemonster, Karel Kraai en Bennie Boekwurm van die kassie tussen die blaaie van 'n boek te laat lewe kry. Helaas dink ek nie dat sy dit reggekry het nie.
Eerder as om Wielie Walie vars te bedink, skryf sy maar net 'n televisie-episode vir 'n nuwe geslag kinders. Dit kos om opgevoer te word sou jy dit wou laat werk. Die inhoud is ongelukkig voorspelbaar en die storie is baie los en voel soos 'n losgetorringde bol gare.
Soos al NB Uitgewers se luisterboeke is die voorlesing van hoogstaande gehalte, maar dit kan nie die boek red nie. Jy moet 'n Wielie Walie bittereinder wees om hierdie luisterboek te waardeer.
[' Wielie Walie' was an successful Afrikaans TV program a an exceptionally long running children's series. Unfortunately the writer almost blindly duplicate the recipe she used to write the TV program itself. It's content is extremely shallow and disappointing. While the interpretative reading of the audiobook is top notch, the story doesn't do the voice of the interpretative reader justice. You must be a die-heard Wielie Walie fan to enjoy the book, otherwise you will probably be dead bored.]
It took some time for all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories to be collected into one audio omnibus. It took me almost just as much time to listen to Brilliance Audio’s ‘The Complete Sherlock Holmes: The Heirloom.’
This enormous collection of the whole original Sherlock Holmes canon is read by Simon Vance from the 1887 edition of ‘A Study in Scarlet;’ 1890 ‘Sign of Four;’ 1891 ‘Adventures of Sherlock Holmes;’ 1892 ‘Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes;’ 1902 ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles;’ 1903 ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes,’ 1914 ‘The Valley of Fear;’ 1917 ‘His Last Bow’ and 1927 ‘The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes.’ In short the whole collection of Sherlock Holmes stories by the original author is contained in this audio production, not only the best adventures of Sherlock Holmes but every single one of them. It adds up to more than 56 hours of listening time.
By adding Simon Vance’s voice to the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, you don’t only get to listen to all the stories about the great detective. Vance has been awarded 10 Audie awards and 48 Earphone awards and has over 30 years of experience in recording audio books as a voice artist. He is an excellent narrator who has the ability to enliven the world of the narrative, helping you live through every moment of suspense, violence and intriguing detective work.
In ‘The Complete Sherlock Holmes: The Heirloom’ the master of freelance crime investigation is paired with a master of voice. It becomes extremely affordable when you pair this powerful combination with an Audible credit. It is one of those quality bargains you should not resist!
I am really not sure how much of Dr. Mark Goulston's book 'Just Listen' is about listening and how much is about techniques that might help you achieve your objectives with other people. I hoped that the book was about active listening skills, but it is more about techniques which might be useful to managers and sales reps, especially if you are American. What is the reason for me saying this?
1. It is a self help book that focusses on you achieving greatness through listening, but not listening with no expectations, listening as a tool of steering people in a way that they might not initially want themselves to be steered. (Am I imagining it or may there be some ethical dissonance or is it something that is a bit more unacceptable in my culture?)
2. It is American because it takes for granted that you will know the people to whom Goulston refer. They are American and there are never any explanation of who they really are. This creates an in-group out-group feeling of which I found myself mostly in the out-group (except when he spoke about Colin Powell and OJ Simpson).
3. Most of the techniques he explains must be exercised consciously, like the power thank you; the power apology; the filling in the gaps etcetera. It made me wonder about the genuineness of the genuineness propagated in these.
I can see that this book can be of help to a lot of people, yet I wonder how much of it becomes an acted out staging event instead of genuine interaction. I was wondering if one cannot be caught up in sticking to techniques thus loosing true interaction. It was especially the use of leading questions as well as the presumptions that the writer wants the listener to make that made me wonder about how much this book contributes to real listening. I would have thought that open questions and the funnelling technique etcetera would have jumped up somewhere in this book. in my humble opinion you are equipped in formulas and listening strategies, but not listening techniques. I think the "O crap to Okay" technique is the most valuable tool you might come across in this book.
For some or other reason Walter Dixon's reading of this book didn't feel completely right. It could be that the way he read it also subtracted to the 'genuineness' I struggled to find in the book.
I would recommend this book to managers and sales rep's who need to quick fix certain relationships. I would recommend it to people who know the American high-flyers, the men and women that believes they make the world go round. Be warned that you might easily feel excluded by unintentional in-group and out-group language. (I think the book needs to be rewritten for the international market.)
I remember reading ‘Dune’ the first time in secondary school when I borrowed a copy of the book from the local library. Though I don’t return to most novels once read or listened to, ‘Dune’ have been one of the exceptions. My second acquaintance was during my study of Hebrew and Classical Arabic during postgraduate studies at university.
My third meeting with Frank Herbert’s Sci-Fi classic was when I listened to it in audio book format. While it initially was just a great story, and during my years of study a feudal-Arabic desert mixture, the religious aspect of the novel intrigued more this time. Though the quotes by the princess Irulan felt at times as if it took away some of the suspense in the book, it had the function of giving the story the feel of a memoir.
Paul Arteides the son of the duke Leto Artreides becomes the Mohammad-type prophet of the desert planet Arrakis, filled with dunes and huge sandworms which rules its surface. The story plays out around his transition from a duke’s son to a prophet, religious leader, genetically engineered oddity (the Kwisatz Haderach of the Bene Gesserit) and political force against the evil Harkonnen house who have been extorting the local population of the planet. It is a story filled with treachery, slyness in which good and bad, right and wrong blurs. Herbert has the ability to drag the reader or listener into a story in such a way that you change with Paul Artreides and accept the idea of a jihad against even the Emperor Shaddam IV. I was trying to think of a close parallel to what the story is about and the best I can come up with is the idea that a European kingdom loses its rightful heir just to discover that he has not died but turned Muslim and yet it is open to accept him and swear absolute loyalty to him.
While Simon Vance reads the story, his reading is enriched with various voice actors that acts out important characters and scenes. These are also complemented with certain background sounds. Although some reviewers complained that some of the interpretative reading didn’t sound natural and sounded forced I there was nothing that hindered me. If there is something that I would change in the way the novel is read, it would be Vance’s pronunciation of certain words like “Lisan al-Gaib” to sound more Arabic. Then again there is nothing that says it must be pronounced the way I would like it to be pronounced.
This 1965 Nebula and Hugo Award winning book is still a worthwhile and intriguing book to read. In some ways the story is straightforward, yet it has its surprises and it is a worthwhile Sci-Fi classic to listen to.
Neil Gaiman is the writer and the reader of the audio book "The Ocean at the End of the Lane." The story comes to life through the eyes of a seven year old boy, possibly Gaiman himself. A lot of not-so-nice things happen to him but in it he discover an 'imaginary' world where reality and fantasy blur into a dark fairytale.
The listener is drawn into the story and you empathise with the boy from almost the start. It comes highly recommended.
Stephen Dando-Collins is a Australian writer of history. He has written on vast periods and subjects that had presented it in history. In "The Idea: Caesar's Murder and the War for Rome" he congested and popularised the murder of Julius Caesar by re-examining and presenting this notorious incident to the layman.
If you are a Shakespeare fan or you have a classical background you might not find much that is new from what you already know. You will however find accent changes and a more realistic portrayal of the day that Caesar was stabbed to death by members of the Roman Senate under Brutus and Cassius.
Dando-Collins claims (of seem to) make critical use of his sources which include Suetonius, Dio Cassus, Cicero and some other material. While he makes use of the original sources, I got a feeling that he was not always as critical and evaluating of the evidence presented in the sources. For example, when Gaius Iulius Caesar's wife dreams that he will die and when an augur reads and omen of death in the entrails of a bird, he takes it as facts. In my humble opinion the ancient Roman historians used just as much literary devices to tell a good story of which timely dreams and predictions are just two to mention. Dando-Collins seems not even to consider this. Yet het uses the earliest sources available and he is very critical when the sources do not agree with each other.
You as the listener might find it interesting how Dando-Collins describes the web of intrigue that surrounded Caesar's death. He also comes up with some very interesting facts and gives a colourful picture of the Ides of March, the day Caesar died.
Bronson Pinchot read the book fairly but at times he really presented the content as just downright boring. While you will be able to listen through the book, I would lie if I don't say that I was disappointed in the narration the the book. It could've had a negative impact on the way I interpreted Dando-Collins' story of the turning point in Roman history. His heavily accented quasi-Latin pronunciation of Latin words and phrases (although very few), really hindered.
Yet the book is worth a listen to anyone who wants to know more about the events that led up to Caesar's assassination and what expired thereafter. It has a thorough perspective though a lot is already known. I comes recommended for those with an interest in ancient Roman history.
'The Art of Storytelling' by Prof. Hannah B. Harvey is probably one of the best courses in 'The Great Courses' series. Not only does it deals with something no human being can get away from - the telling of stories - Harvey's presentation is absolutely exquisite, she has a way to draw you in.
So why don't I give it five stars throughout. Because you loose out tremendously by buying the audio only version. While listening to Prof. Harvey gives you the basics, there are so much more that is just not accessible when listening to the audio version of the course. I would have loved to not only hear, but also to see the storytellers, including herself perform by telling a story. You only hear the example 'stories' while it is used to help you with gestures, movement etc. She also gives valuable exercises on body posture and warming up your body and vocal chords before an performance. In the audio version you miss out on a lot of these.
That said, being a minister of religion that often preaches to various audiences, I was able to incorporate some of her ideas in one of my recent sermons. I was astounded with the reaction.
Prof. Harvey covers al the components of a good story, how to write or think up or identify a story as well as how to present or perform it. It is absolutely worthwhile and the self-help exercises (cross-training) she gives helps a lot.
Unfortunately you will want to have more. I found that the audio version of this lecture left me with a feeling of being cheated out of the most important part of storytelling - body language... maybe it is better to wait for a Great Courses 70% off sale, pay a little more (or a lot) and watch the video version. If you don't have that kind of money, the audio might just help you getting started.
I am intrigued by the name of the course 'The Old Testament' as Prof. Amy-Jill Levine herself is Jewish. One would've expected a course name such as 'The Hebrew Bible.' But Prof. Levine is one of those scholars who has a very open-minded approach. If I didn't know, I wouldn't have guessed that she is not a Christian scholar. In this course she takes you through almost every aspect of the Old Testament or Tanach or Hebrew Bible, whatever you want to call it. In her lectures she also has a sensitivity for the New Testament and I think this enriches her presentation so much more.
The course consists out of 24 jam packed lectures. Lectures 1-6 focus mainly on the Book of Genesis through which she introduces the various critical approaches of studying the Bible while giving the listener a feeling of the content of the book. I thought lecture 7 "Folklore Analysis and Types Scenes" were a highlight. (If you have listened to Prof. Gary Rendsburg's lecture series 'The Book of Genesis' you might be pleasantly surprised how these two courses complement each other.)
Lectures 8-11 deals with the rest of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible). I found her explanation of various laws and why they are the way they are very interesting. She was able to keep my attention through what might seem very boring to some indeed.
Lectures 12-14 deals with the books of Judges and Josua and the conquest of the land. He take on the various judges was refreshing, especially how she interpreted Samson. (It is approached mainly narratively and reminds me a lot of Tammi J Schneider's commentary on Judges in the 'Berit Olam' commentary series.)
Lectures 15-17 deals with the kings of Israel focussing especially on Saul, David and Solomon. The highlight here was her treatment of the story of David and Batsheba. She ends with the earlier prophets.
Lectures 18-21 deals with prophecy, the fall of the two kingdoms (Israel and Judah), the exile and restoration. You will be introduced to Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah and a book like Ruth.
The last three lectures (22-24) deals with Wisdom literature, Song of Songs, Job and Ecclesiastes; the books of the Diaspora, Esther and Daniel and the apocalyptic part of the book of Daniel.
It is quite extensive. Prof. Levine is able to deal with almost all of the important issues in the current scholarly study of the Old Testament.
Her style and enthusiasm for the subject matter keeps the course vivid and easy to follow (that said, you must have at least an inkling of the content of the Old Testament as this is not a crash course in its content.) Unfortunately Audible do not provide any study guide in PDF format for the Great Courses series.
I recommend this course to those who what to get a grip on the Old Testament and want to understand it better. It is an excellent course covering A LOT of information.
Ellen Kushner's ability to weave a net of intrigue is to be admired. In 'Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners' the listener is introduced to a mysterious university student that hits it off with a swordsman in the city slums called Riverside. You are quickly reminded in the story that it is not the Middle Ages, but a place where the chivalry of the Middle Ages are blended with modern issues and snobbish aristocracy creating an eerie world within which it plays off.
Kushner is a master of misdirection, suspense and surprise. What I found difficult however was to identify with one of the characters, they felt so otherworldly that I completely felt left out. Maybe I am too conservative in my views, but I found that there was a huge gap between my values and those portrayed by the prominent figures in the book.
The book seems to be a mix between an audio drama and a book. The scenes where voice artists played out the little intrigues were exquisite. It is candy for the ear. Yet I had to tune my ear in to Kushner's reading and identifying of a character that suddenly had her voice and not the male voice of once of the scenes. It made it difficult for me to follow - especially at the beginning - but I while I got more used to it towards the end, I cannot say that it didn't hinder. That said Kushner's own reading was superb.
If you like intrigue, civil nastiness where tea parties are more important than city council meetings and the flare of sword fighting this book might be for you. It is woven together very intricately like a tapestry, so be careful not to get lost by missing a thread. (Listen to it... with manners.)
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