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Vira

Pretoria, South Africa | Member Since 2012

109
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 76 reviews
  • 77 ratings
  • 568 titles in library
  • 61 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
10
FOLLOWERS
9

  • Dark Star Safari

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Paul Theroux
    • Narrated By Norman Dietz
    Overall
    (121)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (59)

    Forty years ago, Paul Theroux first went to Africa as a teacher in the Malawi bush. Now, nearing 60, he returns to travel by train, canoe, bus, and cattle truck from one end of Africa to the other. From Cairo to Cape Town, what he finds is recorded in the style that has stamped Theroux as a master of the travelogue. His curiosity and intelligent observations help create an unforgettable portrait of the varied land that is Africa today.

    karen says: "One of the best"
    "Africa As She Is!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to Paul Theroux’s “Dark Star Safari” with great interest. After being an immigrant child, I’ve spent a lifetime in Africa and have either lived in, or experienced, most of the places he discusses. From Cape to Cairo. I appreciated his astute observations, as also the veracity and honesty of his writings. I often smiled, thinking “that’s exactly what Africa is like!” I also admired the authentic way in which he travelled – so different from most spoilt tourists – and the difficulties which faced him on an almost daily basis. It’s a harsh continent, and as the locals often say: “Africa is not for sissies”.

    I also agree with his take on the audacity and bare-faced cheek of missionaries, so adamant that their way is the only right way. However, it must be remembered that much good humanitarian work has also been done by them.

    Years ago, I was a reporter on the Johannesburg newspaper which he mentions, "The Star", and later spent many years working for an NGO locally. I feel that his criticisms of Aid organisations are a little harsh, but not completely unfounded.

    I grew up in the same small mining town where Nadine Gordimer was born, and I believe we attended the same school, although I didn’t have the honour of knowing her personally. I feel I know her a little better after the author’s warm descriptions of her and her husband.
    Personal descriptions are just that, though, and I feel this needs to be remembered by the reader. The novel is non-fiction, and because there are so many factual references, one is easily drawn into the author’s personal feelings as though they were also accurate statements of fact. I agreed with most of his emotive reactions to people and situations, could see his points which were well made, but there were also some I would’ve liked to take issue with him over.

    It was a pity, I thought, that his obvious dislike of Afrikaners surfaced as a blanket kind of prejudice. Granted, as a nation they tend to suck at their own PR, have been much maligned and are consequently sometimes over-defensive, but they are a people who also have many admirable qualities. It also needs to be remembered that had it not been for Afrikaners, South African cities could well be another Kampala or Lilingwe today, instead of the haven that the rest of Africa is streaming into. Legally or not. I found it jarring, that the savage, brutal and barbaric murders of Boer farmers over the past years, a fact which almost amounts to genocide, and which is fleetingly mentioned in the book, is simply overshadowed by the author’s personal bias or dislike towards the man who was trying to tell him this. It’s mentioned in an off-handed kind of way, of little consequence by comparison to his own irritation with the man. Conversely, the stealing of land in Zimbabwe gets very good coverage, and rightly so.

    Otherwise, I found his observations of countries and people to be refreshingly open-minded and non-judgmental, imbued with intelligence, a good understanding of the Continent and its people, and a healthy dash of common sense. Sometimes a little long-winded perhaps - I also love Egypt, her gods and her delightful inhabitants, but after a while I thought: “enough already!”, but was soon enjoying the following chapters.
    A good read, well-researched and accurate.

    The narration by Norman Dietz is very good; he must be commended for attempting all those accents! It must have been a daunting task. Well done.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Defending Jacob

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By William Landay
    • Narrated By Eric Meyers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (22)

    Andy Barber's job is to put killers behind bars. So when a boy from his son Jacob's school is found stabbed to death, Andy is doubly determined to find and prosecute the perpetrator. Until a crucial piece of evidence turns up linking Jacob to the murder.

    Minnie says: "How far would you be prepared to go for your child"
    "Insightful family and community drama"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A very well written and narrated novel (which almost felt like a true account) of what a family and a community goes through, when this kind of incident occurs.

    It draws the reader/listener in fully. I felt as if I were right there, with the family during dinner or breakfast discussions, driving to court, feeling their emotions. Frustration, concern and worry over their uncommunicative youngster became my own. I felt the pain of the murdered boys family, felt the ostracising and blame by the community.

    One feels the tension between the mother's willingness to see hard truths yet still love her son, and the father's propensity to cover all in his strong sense of loyalty.

    A very worthwhile and interesting read, with a strong psychological component.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cry, the Beloved Country

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Alan Paton
    • Narrated By Michael York
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (573)
    Performance
    (245)
    Story
    (245)

    This is the most distinguished novel that has come out of South Africa in the 20th century, and it is one of the most important novels of the modern era. Cry, the Beloved Country is in some ways a sad book; it is an indictment of a social system that drives native races into resentment and crime; it is a story of Fate, as inevitable, as relentless, as anything of Thomas Hardy's. Beautifully wrought with high poetic compassion, Cry, the Beloved Country is more than just a story, it is a profound experience of the human spirit.

    Penny says: "Two Words"
    "Not a dry eye in this face!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What can I say? A beautiful book, beautifully narrated by Michael York.
    Except for:
    "Sofeeeyatown"??????? Its pronounced SoFIYA town" with the accent on the FIYA and veld is not like a gentle [s]velte m'dear but FELT! agge nee. fIRE AND fELT, this is Africa!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Cyteen

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By C. J. Cherryh
    • Narrated By Gabra Zackman, Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (431)
    Performance
    (383)
    Story
    (391)

    The saga of two young friends trapped in an endless nightmare of suspicion and surveillance, of cyber-programmed servants and a ruling class with century-long lives – and the enigmatic woman who dominates them all.

    troy says: "This is a Heavy Book (lovely too)"
    "Long, political, and uninteresting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love long books, and tend to buy audiobooks which run over 20+ hours. But this is 5 Parts of interminable boredom. I agree with all those reviewers who wrote "tedious". Indeed it is, tedious in the extremest sense.

    The first two parts are mostly political. I listened enough to set the scene which should have taken about 5 minutes, not 14 hours.

    Part 3 is about Arianne growing up, through childhood and adolescence. I've brought up daughters. Nothing new there.

    I don't remember anything noteworthy about the fourth part.

    And finally, o joy, it ends after Part 5 and a most unsatisfactory ending it is too.

    blah blah blah is the best summing up of this book that i can think of.

    I only managed to listen to it as I was at the same time busy with a very tedious and drawn out task. We're busy renovating, packing boxes, cleaning out old crap along with cobwebs and dust, and the book fitted in perfectly. But out it goes along with the other old .............

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Virgin Suicides

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Eugenides
    • Narrated By Nick Landrum
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (739)
    Performance
    (482)
    Story
    (488)

    This nationally best-selling novel from Pulitzer Prize-winner Jeffrey Eugenides was adapted into an acclaimed film by Academy Award-winner Sofia Coppola. A haunting yet wickedly funny tale, The Virgin Suicides has captivated countless readers with its intoxicating portrait of lost innocence. A brilliant fusion of dark humor and tragedy, it is an atmospheric, allegorical masterpiece about five oppressed, suicidal sisters and the boys who dream of rescuing them.

    Lexi Lou says: "Read this if you want to enjoy this audiobook"
    "To blame or not to blame"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I know that to apportion blame subsequent to events is a fruitless exercise. Yet this book got me thinking ... and pondering ... and trying to figure - who is to blame? The overly strict and narrow parents, or the teenagers for whom life did not live up to their dreams and expectations. Frustration, futility, and compassion are the order of the day.

    The endless battle of generations, of dark and light, of eternal contrasts.

    In some ways it reminded me of the play "Equus" by Peter Shaffer. The teenage boys bring an element of sexuality, life and virility into play, as do the girls' passions, while the girls' stagnant environment maintains a status quo of suspended dying. In the same way that in the end death always overcomes life.

    The irony - were they all virgins? In body or in mind? In a place as bleak, dark, and unclean as their home. Virginal in life experience?

    Readers who enjoy an exercise in psychology and depth would probably appreciate this book. I read it as an intro to Eugenides, as I intend to read Middlesex next, and didn't want to feel disappointed by ''Suicides" as a follow-up.

    I gave it three stars because a definite plot would have made the book more interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sycamore Row

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By John Grisham
    • Narrated By Michael Beck
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (142)
    Performance
    (134)
    Story
    (130)

    For almost a quarter of a century, John Grisham's A Time to Kill has captivated readers and listeners with its raw exploration of race, retribution, and justice. Now, its hero, Jake Brigance, returns to the courtroom in a dramatic showdown as Ford County again confronts its tortured history. Filled with the intrigue, suspense and plot twists that are the hallmarks of the world's favourite storyteller, Sycamore Row is the thrilling story of the elusive search for justice in a small American town.

    Madeleine says: "Grisham is all about the craft"
    "Thrilling courtroom drama"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A well written and interesting court drama, with transparent narration. Themes include racism, testamentary legalities, humility, justice, compensation and forgiveness.

    I love the way the story comes full circle, the end meets the beginning, and the loose ends are all neatly tied up. Very satisfactory, especially after staying awake through the night, unable to turn it off!

    This is my first Grisham book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I cant seem to find the (unabridged) prequel, "A Time to Kill", on Audible but maybe that's only due to where I live. I would've liked to have listened to that as well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Satanic Verses

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Salman Rushdie
    • Narrated By Sam Dastor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (281)
    Performance
    (86)
    Story
    (89)

    No book in modern times has matched the uproar sparked by The Satanic Verses. Furore aside, it is a marvellously erudite study of good and evil. The book begins with two Indians plummeting from the sky after the explosion of their airliner, and proceeds through a series of metamorphoses, dreams and revelations. Rushdie's powers of invention are astonishing in this Whitbread Prize winner.

    BoulderPhysicist says: "Superb reading."
    "The content is a shambles"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The narration was great. I always enjoy the singsong Indian accents.
    The writing was good.
    The content was dismal. It seemed to be a tangle of rejects knitted together into a truly atrocious whole.

    Now I know this isn’t the politically correct thing to say, or the intelligentsian response, and I don’t care. Like when art critics tell me an abominable piece of work is soooo flapping magnificent. I have eyes as well as good taste. Its damnably ugly. The same holds true for some works of literature.

    I thought highly of Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown, and still intend to read Midnight’s Children, but I remain singularly unimpressed with this offering, despite the very occasional noteworthy, well written idea.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ender's Game: Special 20th Anniversary Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison, Gabrielle de Cuir
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (22616)
    Performance
    (13997)
    Story
    (14143)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: It’s easy to say that when it comes to sci-fi you either love it or you hate it. But with Ender’s Game, it seems to be you either love it or you love it.... The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Enter Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, the result of decades of genetic experimentation.

    Kapila says: "6 titles in the series so far"
    "For all Ages"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I put off buying this series for a long time although it sounded very interesting, but I don't like YA and wasn't sure about this. Having bought it, I discovered it really is a book for all ages. I felt much heartache for young Ender, and wanted to continue to Book 2.

    OSC says he wrote 'Ender' as an incidental book in order to introduce 'Speaker for the Dead'. This next in the series was ok, but doesn't quite have the appeal of the first. I therefore decided to end my listening there, without overdoing the experience.

    'Ender' makes me think of many of our school children, of whom so much is expected. Each day's diary is filled choc-a-block with activities intended to enhance achievement levels. There isn't time for kids to be kids any more, which is very sad.

    Both the above are entertaining and worthwhile books, which I would recommend. The narrators are excellent.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Caine Mutiny

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Herman Wouk
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (923)
    Performance
    (800)
    Story
    (803)

    Having inspired a classic film and Broadway play, The Caine Mutiny is Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life—and mutiny—on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater. It was immediately embraced upon its original publication as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of the Second World War. In the intervening half century, this gripping story has become a perennial favorite, selling millions throughout the world, and claiming the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

    James says: "Even Better than the Movie"
    "I Love this Book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Herman Wouk plays me like a cheap fiddle in this book. He bends and shapes my emotions, flips and twists and snaps them back, anywhere he wants them. A brilliant author!

    By the time the protagonist commits his alleged indiscretion, I would've done it ten times over, and would've stood in the dock afterwards ten times as guilty. I STILL think the end was grossly unfair, but ... ladies and gentlemen ... the law is the law. And Justice wears a blindfold.

    I loved every minute of the Caine Mutiny, and I don't easily give 5 Stars. My thoughts and emotions are also not easily manipulated by any old con move, but Wouk is a true artist! :-)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Eric Metaxas
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1621)
    Performance
    (1088)
    Story
    (1109)

    A definitive, deeply moving narrative, Bonhoeffer is a story of moral courage in the face of the monstrous evil that was Nazism. After discovering the fire of true faith in a Harlem church, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany and became one of the first to speak out against Hitler. As a double agent, he joined the plot to assassinate the Führer and was hanged in Flossenbürg concentration camp at age thirty-nine. Since his death, Bonhoeffer has grown to be one of the most fascinating, complex figures of the twentieth century.

    Alan says: "Very Moving"
    "Information, Admiration, and Patience"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer was heroic. Anyone who is prepared to live and die for what s/he believes in is a hero in my book, whether that be Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Che Guevarra. DB was probably also a saint.

    This book was not what I expected. Somehow I thought it was more about providing practical assistance to people, helping them escape, survive, and so on. Similar maybe to Schindler's List. Instead, DB tried to exert his influence on higher levels of the political and religious hierarchies, which is not surprising considering his aristocratic background and connections. Sadly, despite all his efforts, he managed to achieve very little.

    I'm grateful for new awareness about a man I'd never heard of, and for the publicity that not all Germans were Nazis, when in fact many were definitely not! I'm in agreement with many of the praises which have all been sung by previous reviewers, and I don't regret the hours invested in this book at all. That being said, I also found that it contained excessive particulars about theology, church history, religiosity, and a plethora of minor details which I didn't need to know. I guess it depends on the in-depth intensity of a reader's interest. Overall, it was perhaps less of a general interest bio, and intended more for historians with an interest in church doctrine.

    Narration was good, with the German pronunciation fractionally better than most others I've heard. It always amazes me that no bilingual English//German speaking narrator can be found for a book which is so fundamentally German in character. Its like having Michael York's fabulous voice massacre a beautiful South African classic 'Cry the Beloved Country' with pronunciation which inflicts full-body cringes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Thirteen Hours

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Deon Meyer
    • Narrated By Saul Reichlin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (39)

    They killed her best friend. Now they are chasing Rachel Anderson through the streets of Cape Town. The young tourist doesn’t trust anyone - except her father, back in America. When he puts pressure on the politicians, they know that they must find Rachel before the killers do. So Benny Griessel - detective, maverick and father - has just 13 hours to crack a conspiracy which threatens the whole country.

    Lia says: "Captivating"
    "from T(w)inkle Tinkle Little Star to a crescendo!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was my first book by Deon Meyer. I bought it because he’s a South African author and I like to support local talent.

    I expected the worst, mainly because of the sample: … he went to the toilet, lifted the lid, aimed, and peed. Really? Did that achieve the first 4 steps of the 13, I wondered. Is there any part of this procedure you forgot to mention, Mr Meyer? Then, to bring a decidedly low-class flavour into our hero’s morning, he bursts out with “Jissus!” in every other sentence. Maybe they speak that way in the Cape, but not Pretoria cops, I’m quite sure (tic).

    Then, quite suddenly, Meyer starts leaving the low-life stuff to the criminals (there are enough of those to carry the brunt) and it starts getting better. And better. Till in the end it’s a damn good South African detective novel. Our two heroes are Bennie Griessel and Vusi Ngubane. (The character of Bennie reminds me of well known South African detective Piet Byleveld, who made every killer grow a shade whiter when he took the case.) There’s enough complexity in the plot to keep the reader’s interest, and all the knots are neatly unravelled in the end.

    Mr Meyer redeems himself as an author whose books I will most likely buy again, provided Saul Reichlin narrates. What a narrator! I would guess that he grew up in South Africa, as the Afrikaans accent is too genuine for anything else. This, too, was a lovely surprise.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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