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Saman

sam_perera

Houston, TX, United States | Member Since 2010

106
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 44 reviews
  • 58 ratings
  • 172 titles in library
  • 16 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
2

  • A Bend in the River

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By V.S. Naipaul
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (238)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (95)

    In this incandescent novel, V.S. Naipaul takes us deeply into the life of one man, an Indian who, uprooted by the bloody tides of Third World history, has come to live in an isolated town at the bend of a great river in a newly independent African nation. Naipaul gives us the most convincing and disturbing vision yet of what happens in a place caught between the dangerously alluring modern world and its own tenacious past and traditions.

    Everett Leiter says: "Highly recommended"
    "Amazing prose"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What an amazing listen this book was. Totally engrossing! Salim’s life starts as an adventure, an escape from the mundane, and yet becomes colorful, complex and hectic. The writing is the true champion here and the surroundings, the people, politics and Africa, the supporting pillar. You really aren’t quite sure how it will all end but as the narrator is telling us of his past, we can only deduce that no calamity occurs. This was my first Naipaul and I hope to engross myself in more of his tales. Ah, the ending – was that an ending? We will never know I guess.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Japanese Destroyer Captain: Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Midway - The Great Naval Battles Seen Through Japanese Eyes

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Captain Tameichi Hara
    • Narrated By Brian Nishii
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (47)

    This highly regarded war memoir was a best seller in both Japan and the United States during the 1960s and has long been treasured by historians for its insights into the Japanese side of the surface war in the Pacific. The author was a survivor of more than one hundred sorties against the Allies and was known throughout Japan as the Unsinkable Captain.

    Saman says: "Combat, Fear, Survival!"
    "Combat, Fear, Survival!"
    Overall
    Performance
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    If you want a page tuner – this is it!

    The author, Captain Tameichi Hara is a brave, resilient and a lucky individual. He himself states that his survival in WWII is owed to luck rather than any strategic brilliance. But throughout his surface campaigns, he shows that he is a brilliant commander to his loyal men and a tough and experienced naval fighter. He pulls no punches on his superiors for their ineptitude in battle, the suicidal and piece-meal deployments, and utter chaotic command strategy. Even the famed Admiral Yamamoto does not escape his criticism. Yet, he himself is self-deprecating in more than one occasion.

    This is the first book I read about the Japanese view point in WWII. It is a fascinating history of the men who fought this war against a far superior opponent who eventually annhilated the IJN. Even to the end, knowing fully that the war was lost, these men fought on. The final IJN sortie, Operation Ten-Go, is harrowing in its description.

    This is the finest WWII book I have ever read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Alfred Lansing
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2600)
    Performance
    (1904)
    Story
    (1911)

    In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October, 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

    Jennie says: "Unbelievably riveting!"
    "Life is hell in the Antarctic!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What a fascinating and unbelievable adventure. This book tells us of the remarkable story of the 28 member crew of the Endurance and their truly heroic tale to survive in the lonely, cold, windswept hell of the Antarctic.

    Amongst them is one of the greatest heroes of the early 20th century adventurers, Sir Ernest Shackleton; a fearless explorer driven by determination to seek the glory he realizes is within reach for the Empire whilst leading his varied band of seamen, scientists and fame seekers. Affectionately known by his men as the “Boss”, his sheer will leads the team to survive the doomed Endurance mission – the first land crossing of the Antarctic.

    If anyone saw the Kenneth Branagh’s 2002 TV movie, ‘Shackleton’, you must read this book. The movie is great, but this book will astound you. As with “Alone on the Ice”, the story of Douglas Mawson and his Antarctic adventure, this story captures your imagination from the first page. Long after you finish the story, you will wonder who these 28 men were and what drove them to such endeavors. True heroes!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Kiss Before Dying

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Ira Levin
    • Narrated By Mauro Hantman
    Overall
    (434)
    Performance
    (385)
    Story
    (388)

    Now a modern classic, as gripping in its tautly plotted action as it is penetrating in its exploration of a criminal mind, it tells the shocking tale of a young man who will stop at nothing--not even murder--to get where he wants to go. For he has dreams; plans. He also has charm, good looks, sex appeal, intelligence. And he has a problem. Her name is Dorothy; she loves him, and she's pregnant. The solution may demand desperate measures.

    karen says: "Nothing like a classic....."
    "Enjoyable ..."
    Overall
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    I had sorely missed reading a good crime novel for ages. Some list recommended this as a worthy read and I was intrigued by the Author. I had not known of Ira Levin and many of his writings that were turned into major motion pictures. Someone wrote that this novel, the first from Levin, is his Magnum opus

    Certainly the character of Bud Corliss, a certified psychopath is an intriguing invention. As you read through the pages, you can feel the drive of this individual to attain the one thing he lacks; money, fame and social standing. He will do anything to attain his goals including outright murder. He feels nothing for his victims as he calculatingly removes his obstacles.

    This is not a mystery novel but a true, fast paced, crime story. It is beautifully written and keeps you well engaged until the last page is turned. I really enjoyed this book and thoroughly recommend it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Painted Veil

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By W. Somerset Maugham
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (589)
    Performance
    (238)
    Story
    (236)

    First published in 1925, The Painted Veil is an affirmation of the human capacity to grow, change, and forgive. Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, it is the story of the beautiful but shallow young Kitty Fane. When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to a remote region of China ravaged by a cholera epidemic.

    Kevin says: "A Joyous Realm"
    "Interesting …"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I watched the 2006 film version with Ed Norton and Naomi Watts and thoroughly enjoyed the adaptation. Somewhere I read in a review that the adaptation had the familiar Hollywood gloss and the book was somewhat different. Finally, I got a deal at Audible and I dived in.

    This was my first Maugham and I enjoyed the period setting of this novel in the colonial Far East. The character of Kitty Garstin, a self-absorbed socialite is a character I despised. The story revolves around her infidelity with a dashing but unscrupulous married diplomat and the luckless husband, Walter. There are some wonderful quotes in this book that makes you read it out twice. They stick in your mind long after the story has died. As Waddington, an alcoholic diplomat says to Kitty,

    “Some of us look for the Way in opium and some in God, some of us in whiskey and some in love. It is all the same Way and it leads nowhither.”

    In summary, the words within the book are stronger than the story and there lies the strength of Maugham’s writing. There are no characters in this book other than perhaps Waddington, who captures your imagination as a progressive, cohabiting with a noble Chinese woman. The rest are thoroughly rotten in their own way. At the end, you even wonder if Kitty finally does find salvation through her experiences.

    This is a good book and I recommend it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Rebecca Skloot
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell, Bahni Turpin
    Overall
    (4225)
    Performance
    (2756)
    Story
    (2785)

    Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells, taken without her knowledge, became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first immortal human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than 60 years.

    Prisca says: "Amazing Story"
    "Remarkable - no other words exist!"
    Overall
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    Story

    I have to say that this is my best ‘listen’ on Audible for 2014. It’s a superbly written and narrated book based on the life and times of Henrietta Lacks. Not only her life, but the religion of science, period of exotic discovery, lack of ethics in medicine, shameful bigotry, and the ultimate victories of the human spirit.

    When I came into this book, all I knew was the word HeLa. I knew nothing of the wondrous discoveries that these cancerous cells gave the world or its actual beginnings within a woman of color. The author is to be commended for her long and thoughtful endeavor to publish this fascinating history. The author’s journey took more than a decade and its final reading escaped the woman who should have heard it the most; Deborah Lacks, the daughter of Henrietta. Deborah had labored and toiled to make her mother be known, heard and understood and yet she dies on the evening of that triumph.

    Even though Henrietta and her family never achieved the sought after financial gain or any recognition from her immortal cell line whereas many individuals and companies did, we should ever be grateful to a woman that lived in a segregated decade and suffered in death, with gifting humanity of her cells which are even used today to discover remarkable cures.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Siege of Krishnapur

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By J. G. Farrell
    • Narrated By Tim Pigott-Smith
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    India, 1857 - the year of the Great Mutiny, when Muslim soldiers turned in bloody rebellion on their British overlords. This time of convulsion is the subject of The Siege of Krishnapur, widely considered to the one of the finest British novels of the last 50 years. A witty and individual take on the many traditions and follies of Empire, it is also a gripping account of survival under siege, illuminating how extreme conditions can influence and affect people's behaviour and the human spirit.

    Saman says: "Empire at its silliest..."
    "Empire at its silliest..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a very fast listen and probably deemed a novella. Yet, it won the Booker in 1973 and deservedly so. Its writing and storyline are marvelous with lots of comedic situations interlaced with horrific death and mayhem. The sense of fair play, pompous attitudes, constrained lifestyles, witty interludes of conversation and utter idiotic and flamboyant behavior are all intertwined within a narrative of residents trapped by a mutiny. This all takes place in a faraway residence in India under the East India Company. Well where else would it be? There is nothing more sinister or comedic, based on your interpretation, than reading about the local residents camping out on a hill, viewing the battle between the sepoys and the residents play out amongst cannon fire and vultures bloated on corpses. Finally, the residents emerge, not quite victorious, but thin out of hunger, diseased and rather smelly. A metaphor for the British Raj I am sure. Great book!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Keeper

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Kate Morton
    • Narrated By Caroline Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3229)
    Performance
    (2773)
    Story
    (2794)

    England, 1959: Laurel Nicolson is 16 years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.

    Maria says: "Kate Morton (and Caroline Lee) does it again!"
    "Another hit - but not as good as the rest!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Now I have completed all four of Morton’s books. She is an amazing story teller and there is no doubt she will generate more fascinating stories that I will devour. She has a tendency to simply awe me and I am captivated by her mysteries.

    In this book, as in ‘The Distant Hours’, the same period in time, the 1940s, is revisited. And as in all her books, the protagonist is the strong female and the men play only the supporting cast. That is fine by me. The story is strong, nostalgic, tragic, and draped in history. Second chances are possible if not necessarily deserved. Afterall, there was a killing or perhaps even a murder!

    For the first time, I felt that this book was not as strong as the others in Morton’s armoury and the chapters somewhat lengthened to fill the word count. Especially, I was somewhat dulled by the chapter dedicated to Dorothy’s beach excursion. Also how is it possible that a very famous actress like Laurel, can just wonder about town without being harassed in every street corner?

    Still, it is a wonderful book and I will recommend it to the diehard Morton fans like myself.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By David Roberts
    • Narrated By Matthew Brenher
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (95)
    Story
    (97)

    On January 17, 1913, alone and near starvation, Douglas Mawson, leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, was hauling a sledge to get back to base camp - the dogs were gone. Mawson plunged through a snow bridge, dangling over an abyss by the sledge harness. A line of poetry gave him the will to haul himself back to the surface. On February 8, when he staggered back to base, his features unrecognizable, the first teammate to reach him blurted out, "Which one are you?"

    Jacqueline says: "Historic Death-defying Antarctic Expedition"
    "Title is misleading …"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    We have all heard about Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen and their heroic journeys and sacrifices during the golden age of Antarctic exploration. But who has really heard of Douglas Mawson? I certainly did not know of this man’s escapades during the early part of the 20th century until I heard this book recently. It is a painstakingly researched, well written story of Mawson’s adventures trying to explore the unexplored regions of Antartica. The Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AED) was a remarkable scientific foray into the hellishly cold and windy regions of the south pole. Many remarkable characters make up the expeditionary party and crew of the steamer Aurora as they journey towards packed ice fields, stormy seas and the hurricane gusts of Commonwealth Bay. Many early chapters of the book is devoted to Mawson’s earlier life as an explorer and his ambitions to create the AED. Individual party members are also studied in detail and described. I particularly enjoyed the stories of Frank Hurley, the expedition photographer. The actual harrowing story of how Mawson survives the perilous journey on the ice alone for 30 days after his two compatriots die is remarkable but only plays a smaller part of this book. That is the reason I think the book was mistitled. Nevertheless, the story is an amazing piece of history that needed to be told for future generations.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost Wife: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Alyson Richman
    • Narrated By George Guidall, Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1662)
    Performance
    (1483)
    Story
    (1490)

    In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there's an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers. Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit, and the strength of memory.

    Sara says: "Love, Strength & Survival"
    "Somber and reflective …"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was another recommendation based on my reading history on Audible. Specifically I think it was based on my love for ‘Beautiful Ruins’ which was a spectacular novel. There is so much to grasp in this novel which floats between two human beings, Lenka and Josef, forever joined through love in a tumultuous time. Separated and lost, they continue their lives into the future still longing for the times they had spent together during the early part of WWII. Remarkable research on the Theresienstadt concentration camp is embedded in the novel where Lenka suffers through the Nazi occupation. Both believe the other has perished and only a chance encounter many decades ahead will fulfill their eternal love. The story is very believable since millions were separated through anguish, hatred and circumstance during WWII. The author specifically mentions that she was inspired by a similar event that was conveyed to her. It is a beautiful story and well written. Sadly, the narration is so so. But it is worth a listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Siegfried Knappe, Ted Brusaw
    • Narrated By John Wray
    Overall
    (352)
    Performance
    (315)
    Story
    (313)

    A German soldier during World War II offers an inside look at the Nazi war machine, using his wartime diaries to describe how a ruthless psychopath motivated an entire generation of ordinary Germans to carry out his monstrous schemes.

    Erik says: "An incredible true story"
    "Enticing ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There is no doubt that this is a remarkable story. A man situated at the right place at the right time? Perhaps not! Still, there is so much of information here from Siegfried Knappe. Even though he was not necessarily fighting house to house in Stalingrad or facing the D-Day landings from the cliffs, he was close to the major operations as an officer. Especially telling is the last days of the battle of Berlin and the fight to defend the last vestige of the Third Reich. I read that part atleast twice to understand the mental pressures of the last men standing. However, as with other memoirs of the German soldiers, it is troubling to always note the absence of knowledge of the holocaust. Numerous times, he briefly mentions momentous occasions such as Kristallnacht, or his memory of a Jewish friend. But it is unconvincing, atleast to me. Yet, it is about country, family, and honor that drives Knappe to the end. Problems aside, it is a remarkable piece of history.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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