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Jessica M. Merbler

Gaithersburg, Maryland United States | Listener Since 2009

34
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 18 reviews
  • 107 ratings
  • 651 titles in library
  • 15 purchased in 2018
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  • The Enchantment Emporium

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Tanya Huff
    • Narrated By Teri Clark Linden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (346)
    Performance
    (250)
    Story
    (255)

    The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, and they like to keep this in the family. Alysha Gale is tired of having all her aunts try to run her life, both personally and magically. So when the letter from her Gran arrives willing her a "junk" shop in Calgary, Alysha jumps at the chance. It isn't until she gets there that she realizes her customers are fey. And no one told her there's trouble brewing in Calgary - trouble so big that even calling in the family may not save the day.

    HealingMaven says: "A good fun listen, but an uneven reader"
    "Enjoyable enough"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thoroughly enjoyed the story, although I found some of it a bit uncomfortable (the relationships between everyone - although, maybe if you go with the theory that the Gales aren't human, it works a bit better.) Nothing really complicated or twisty about the plot, but enjoyable nonetheless.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Girl on a Wire

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Gwenda Bond
    • Narrated By Marisol Ramirez
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (174)
    Performance
    (153)
    Story
    (156)

    Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.

    S. Powell says: "Mostly dreamy, like a parasol."
    "Just couldn't get into it"
    Overall

    I hate giving up on books. I especially hate it when I've given so much time to it (41% through.) But, for some reason, (and, I don't know if I've just somehow missed key points in the narrative, or if the author's style of writing simply doesn't mesh with my brain,) I have no clue as to what's going on. Normally, one would start the book over, but I'm just not interested in it enough to spend several more hours just to get back where I am.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Serpent's Shadow: Elemental Masters

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Mercedes Lackey
    • Narrated By Michelle Ford
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (951)
    Performance
    (780)
    Story
    (792)

    From the magical mysteries of India to the gaslit streets of Victorian London, Mercedes Lackey's unique departure from her Valdemar series follows a young woman doctor as she searches for the secret behind the sorcery in her blood.

    CatBookMom says: "Very enjoyable"
    "Misty does it again"
    Overall

    I've been a lifetime fan of Mercedes Lackey, and while some of her stories are weaker than others, she remains one of the authors who I'll buy her stories if I only have enough for one book. Even if I've already read it in one format or another. Her Elemental Masters series is my favorite of her many-imagined series, with this story being one of my favorites among these books.

    I've been a member of Audible for years, and while I don't usually write reviews (who actually has time for that?) the various negative reviews irritated me enough to write to counter them. If you enjoy YA books, or Disney-esque good versus evil, I strongly suggest this book. Just enough darkness to make this into an entertaining literary meal, without being so dark as to make this depressing, or too light as to be a popcorn read. In short, the tone is right, the plot strong, and the character development believable.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Stars of Fortune: Guardians Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Nora Roberts
    • Narrated By Saskia Maarleveld
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3251)
    Performance
    (2929)
    Story
    (2905)

    To celebrate the rise of their new queen, three goddesses of the moon created three stars, one of fire, one of ice, one of water. But then they fell from the sky, putting the fate of all worlds in danger. And now three women and three men join forces to pick up the pieces....

    Amazon Customer says: "Typical NR"
    "Was This Ghost Written?"
    Overall

    I'm a huge fan of NR, and have read as many of her books as I can find. I know that she has many ways of telling a story, and many voices to tell those stories, but even then, there's a kind of writing that a person does that's as true and unique to them as their signature. This book was as far away from my favorite author's signature as you can get, while still being a really well written romance story. So, don't get me wrong - it's worth the price to read, it just isn't Nora Roberts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shadow and Bone

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Leigh Bardugo
    • Narrated By Lauren Fortgang
    Overall
    (3149)
    Performance
    (2896)
    Story
    (2902)

    Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

    Barry P. Press says: "Enjoyable Fantasy with an Excellent Narrator"
    "Frustratingly NOT Twilight, but Not For the Reason You'd Think"
    Overall

    It had a slow hook, that's for sure. But, once I started getting into it, I felt "oh, okay, this is going to be on my 'Not ANOTHER Twilight' bookshelf." Because, yes, I have a label for those teen angsty dramas that adhere to the Twilight formula. Don't you?

    So, at the end, I was grateful to see that I had been WRONG about what this book was, and wouldn't have to die of shame, when I got the next book in the series. Which, I WILL be getting. Because, it's rare when you find a story that's unique, and from its Russian-themed background to the characters you're never quite certain what to think of, this is a unique tale worth taking a look at.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sanctuary

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Nora Roberts
    • Narrated By Sandra Burr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (945)
    Performance
    (752)
    Story
    (753)

    Jo Ellen Hathaway thought she had escaped the house long ago. It was where she spent her loneliest years, after her family was shattered by the sudden, unexplained disappearance of her mother.

    But now, the sprawling resort off the coast of Georgia haunts her dreams. Even more haunting are the pictures that someone is sending her - strange close-ups, candid shots, and finally, the most shocking and heartbreaking portrait of all: a photograph of her long-lost mother. . . naked, beautiful, and dead.

    Elisabeth says: "Keep in mind this is from the 1990s"
    "Strong Writing"
    Overall

    NR tends to be very formulaic in her writing, to the point where you know roughly what you're going to get, who to root for, and who are the bad guys. This book breaks her mold a bit. It's really the first book I've read from her that has multiple people falling in love and the same amount of attention is being paid to each couple. It's also one of the first books that I've seen the most character development in a single character. Lastly, in the end, until The Big Reveal happened, I wasn't ENTIRELY certain just who the Big Bad was. The only reason this is four instead of five stars is that there's so much going on, it feels a bit "off," pacing-wise. I think that this is one of the reasons she tends to break a story like this into a trilogy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Seriously...I'm Kidding

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Ellen DeGeneres
    • Narrated By Ellen DeGeneres
    Overall
    (4754)
    Performance
    (4210)
    Story
    (4184)

    "I've experienced a whole lot the last few years and I have a lot to share. So I hope that you'll take a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy the words I've put together for you in this book. I think you'll find I've left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no rug unvacuumed, no ivories untickled. What I'm saying is, let us begin, shall we?" (Ellen DeGeneres)

    R. Strauss says: "Exactly what you would expect from Ellen"
    "Gotta Love Ellen"
    Overall

    I think that the take away of this book is: live life happy. And, a great way to do that is by laughing. To that end, listen (or read) this book at least 15 minutes a day. It can be your happy meditation time. Because, there's no way you can partake of the book and NOT be amused. It's just that good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Night Circus

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Erin Morgenstern
    • Narrated By Jim Dale
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16415)
    Performance
    (14833)
    Story
    (14847)

    The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

    Pamela says: "The circus of your dreams"
    "Everything A Dream Should Be"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wasn't going to review this, because this story deserves ponderous digestion, and by the time I'd be finished, I'd have lost interest in reviewing it, but I suppose that even that could be a review of a kind. It's written in a Romantically Gothic style, if the Victorians had our meter of speech and grammar rules. Perfect for the lush imagery and dream-like themes. Enter at your own peril, as the reading, like any feast of words, will change the mind it goes to sustain.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Spider's Bite: Elemental Assassin, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Jennifer Estep
    • Narrated By Lauren Fortgang
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4046)
    Performance
    (3316)
    Story
    (3324)

    They call me the Spider. I'm the most feared assassin in the South -- when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

    Brian Rygaard Jensen says: "How I got to loathe the story"
    "Poorly written and lackluster"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While the narrator gave it her best go, you can't turn a pig's ear into a silk purse. While this might be a cliche to use, the kind of writing contained within only deserves a cliche. In a word: Yawn. Next?

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Year Zero: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Rob Reid
    • Narrated By John Hodgman
    Overall
    (2271)
    Performance
    (2087)
    Story
    (2086)

    Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it's a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news. The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity's music ever since "Year Zero" (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang.

    Robert says: "Fantastic Performance by Hodgman"
    "When aliens decide humanity has the best music"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Rating: 4 paws

    One quote from the book that I particularly cared for: "More like 'involuntary assisted suicide.'"

    Summary of the book in one sentence: What happens when aliens decide humanity has the best possible music and bankrupts the universe because of copywrite laws.
    --------------
    First paw consists of the writing style - basically, this is the technical aspect of the book. This book is going for two genres: sci-fi and humor. The humor is coming off every page, but even then, he doesn't get slapstick or gimmicky, which I very much approve of. He also doesn't have puerile fart jokes or other gross "humor." He does have some very topical and date specific jokes in it, so the humor might not be as relevant in ten years, but that isn't the majority of the humor, so I won't hold that against him. As for the sci-fi, it's about *aliens* and has alien technology in it. You don't get much more sci-fi. But wait! Where some sci-fi humorists overlook trying to do what more serious sci-fi writers do and explain their technology, HE ACTUALLY DOES explain some. I was actually really impressed with that. He very much met this category.

    The second paw is "emotional connection" - basically, was I *interested* in what I was reading? I don't think there was one instant of reading this that I *wasn't* interested in what he was writing. I loved the characters, I was engaged in the plot, I enjoyed his word choices. The connection was strong for this one.

    Third paw is plot - akin to writing style, but purely about The Story. In a lot of sci-fi stories, you get deus ex machina solutions, which can get quite irritating after reading the umpteenth novel with such. Reid apparently shares my frustration with that cliche of writing, as every possible DEM solution the characters try, it either fizzles before working or actually makes the situation worse. While it could be argued that the ending was a big DEM solution, *I* was entertained enough by it that I found it satisfying even knowing that it was one. While I can't say that I found the plot to be at all twisty, and the characters didn't really have much development, it was still a satisfying story. This isn't a strong paw, but he does have it.

    The last paw is "Other Stuff," which is pretty much anything that doesn't go into another category but is still note-worthy. I have a confession to make: when I read Douglas Adams, I don't end up laughing out loud very often. I find his books delightfully funny, but not bursting-a-gut laughing funny. It's the same with Monty Python. Or with Ernst Cline's Ready Player One. All of these are great fun, but none really get me rolling over laughing. It's the same with this book. Reid is funny and often witty (which are vastly different things, in case you didn't know,) but he didn't inspire any great guffaws of laughter from me. And, you know what? That's okay. He was going for humor, and he achieved it. So, for those critics wondering how this book could possibly be compared to Douglas Adams? Have you READ The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul? This is very much in that vein of humor. Having said that, I give this paw to the book, purely for reminding me of one of my favorite authors, while still being completely unique and having it's own voice.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • In Session: Dr. Morgan Snow with Steve Berry's Cotton Malone, Lee Child's Jack Reacher & Barry Eisler's John Rain

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 44 mins)
    • By M. J. Rose
    • Narrated By Natalie Ross, Phil Gigante, Scott Brick, and others
    Overall
    (1193)
    Performance
    (970)
    Story
    (995)

    As a therapist specializing in sexual issues, psychiatrist Dr. Morgan Snow isn't easily shocked, or shaken, as readers of the popular "Butterfield Institute" novels know. There are times, however, when the need for her services leads her out of the office... and into unfamiliar worlds. In these stories, the therapist matches her wits -and her training - against three men of mystery: Jack Reacher, John Rain, and Cotton Malone.

    Rose says: "Thank you for the free story, however........"
    "Sex Therapy Session"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Rating: 3 paws

    One quote from the book that I particularly cared for, so, here's the quote: "My whole life is a wrong decision. One more one way or the other there is a statistical rounding error."

    Summary of the book in one sentence: "What a sex therapist discusses with professional assassins/spies in a therapy session."
    --------------
    So, I honestly had no idea what this book was to be about, and I really only got it because Audible was offering it for cheap and I enjoy the novels the different spy-characters are in. I had no previous experience with M.J. Rose's works, and I had no idea what I was getting in to. It was an interesting experience.

    First paw consists of the writing style - basically, this is the technical aspect of the book. A short story anthology is a bit difficult to judge on technical merit, at least, it is for me. The writing is just too short for a real sample. But, Rose does well in this area, even in the brief moments that we're with her in the stories, and, while it's not stunning writing, there aren't any glaring, irritating mishaps that she takes, either. She earns this paw on the pure basis that I can't *not* give it to her.

    The second paw is "emotional connection" - basically, was I *interested* in what I was reading? Even in these brief forays into the different scenes, Rose *did* make me interested. I Wanted More. I think that that's probably one of the signs of a GOOD short story - I'm left wishing these were actual novels, so I can revel in the emotional connection with the story. Rose more than earns this paw.

    Third paw is plot - akin to writing style, but purely about The Story. I think my biggest complaint about this book comes with this topic. In any short story, suspension of disbelief is probably more important than ever, to Make Things Make Sense. Even so, the first story has be really questioning the ethics of this doctor and makes me highly uncomfortable. The other stories don't have this problem *quite* as badly, but then, the other stories don't really have much *plot.* They're far more akin to vignettes than anything else. They also didn't contain much *suspense,* which is what I thought they would, considering the characters involved. It was pretty much just dialogue. So, while I enjoyed the various stories and the writing, and so on, I really can't give this paw.

    The last paw is "Other Stuff," which is pretty much anything that doesn't go into another category but is still note-worthy. So, let me gush about the narrators. I *adore* Scott Brick's voice and I think he really should read erotica. I'd buy that RIGHT up. And, I enjoy Dick Hill's voice, for a totally different aesthetic value. Hearing their voices in this made it more enjoyable. So, if you're looking for something purely on the audiophile level, I'd say go with this. The performances were great. Obviously, this is a free paw for this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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