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Melvin

Member Since 2003

32
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 13 reviews
  • 69 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 13 purchased in 2014
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3

  • The Vor Game: A Miles Vorkosigan Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (1531)
    Performance
    (637)
    Story
    (651)

    Miles Vorkosigan graduates from the Barrayaran Military Academy with high expectations of ship command, but is disappointed with an assignment as meteorologist to Lazkowski Base, an arctic training camp. His tenure in the windy, snow-covered north is cut short when Miles narrowly averts a massacre between the trigger-happy base commander and mutinous recruits. After a brief stay under 'house arrest', Miles is re-assigned to investigate a suspicious military build-up near a wormhole nexus.

    David says: "Finally!"
    "Great Sequel"
    Overall

    I would reccommend reading "The Warrior's Apprentice" before this. It is easier to appreciate the characters if you know their history.
    This book was well written and the audiobook was well performed. This won't blow your socks off, but it is a solid SciFi adventure and mystery with a captivating but not overwhelming political background.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5453)
    Performance
    (5187)
    Story
    (5195)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold ""human error"" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Brian says: "Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped"
    "John Scalzi & Mary Roach make a Heinlein novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Hard Scifi set in the near future. This fine piece of fiction chronicles the efforts of an astronaut stranded on Mars. Intelligent, compelling and funny. Easily in my top 25, probably top 10. An instant classic that I've already listened to twice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Year Zero: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Rob Reid
    • Narrated By John Hodgman
    Overall
    (1006)
    Performance
    (920)
    Story
    (918)

    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"
    "Not helped by the comparison to Hitchhiker's Guide"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a good book with a sold performance, but the constant comparison to Hitchhiker's Guide sets an unrealistic expectation. This is not as funny and doesn't try to be. It has moments and scenarios that are HGesque, but all in all it is a somewhat absurdist telling of a hard scifi story, not an absurd story that happens to be in a scifi setting.

    Hodgman's narration has its ups and downs. The novelty and humor he brings to the beginning are great, but the story drags in the middle and so does his deadpan delivery. As the excitement picks up so does his performance and it ends very well.

    Worth a listen, but not something that you're going to insist that your friends get. I look forward to Reid's next novel as he shows real promise.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Postmortal: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Drew Magary
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (79)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (69)

    In a world where an anti-aging cure is available worldwide, immortality comes with its own unique problems. John Farrell is about to get "The Cure". Old age can never kill him now. The only problem is, everything else still can.

    Melvin says: "Interesting concept but bleak and wearing"
    "Interesting concept but bleak and wearing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I heard about this novel from Boing Boing's Gweek podcast. I was interested in the description and the thought provoking points the author was addressing. I confess to disappointment due to my own expectations and my review of the book is tainted by the fact that this story is simply not what I wanted it to be.

    This is a story of the worst in humanity. Tragedy, cruelty and self destruction are the primary tenants of this novel and it seems to me that it pushes too far. My experience in life has not been one of villains at every corner and irreversible self destruction. These traits exist, and are not rare, but are not the norm. I have not read "The Road" because I heard enough about it to know I would not like it. It is a story about the failure of humanity, and so is this.

    As I said, it is unfair for me to judge this book by comparing it to a story I wish I had heard, so I will attempt to review it for what it is. It is clever in its ability to be thought provoking and subtle in its ability to follow the cascade of seemingly unrelated problems to a potential correlation. The characters are far from flat, but most seem to be flawed in an un-compelling way, letting things happen to them.

    The story is full of detail and thought, but the series of events is bleak and soul sucking. I feel it is a short sided product of the general "everything sucks" attitude of the moment. It is easy to look at the news for a day or a year or 10 and feel that we are doomed, but the majority of human history, while not all sunshine and daisies, trends upwards. I feel that stories like this err on the side of pessimism and nihilism.

    The narration is fitting for the story, but that's not a good thing. What little brevity and hope there was in the story is squashed by the narrators depressed reading.

    Enjoyment of this book is dependent, as with virtually anything, on your world view. If you want to like the protagonist in any story you are reading then you will most likely want to pass on The Post-Mortal. If you enjoy and good "life sucks and then you die" french film then this may be the book for you.

    I may give another of the author's works a shot, it is not a bad book, I just didn't enjoy the story arc, the general outlook and the narration.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Tough Sh-t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Kevin Smith
    • Narrated By Kevin Smith
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1134)
    Performance
    (1060)
    Story
    (1063)

    Take one look at Kevin Smith: He's a balding fatty who wears a size XXL hockey jersey, shorts, and slippers year-round. Not a likely source for life advice. But take a second look at Kevin Smith: He changed filmmaking forever when he was twenty-four with the release of Clerks, and since then has gone on to make nine more profitable movies, runs his own production company, wrote a best-selling graphic novel, and has a beautiful wife and kids. So he must be doing something right.

    Pamela says: "Such a likable slob!"
    "If you enjoy Kevin Smith you'll love this."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Tough Sh-t in three words, what would they be?

    Touching. Funny. Lewd.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Tough Sh-t?

    Follow Kevin though highs(wink) and lows in this reflection on his life and future. He is, as always, brutally honest and the constant purveyor of real world optimism. The entire book is filled with memorable moments, literally, that's what it is. Much like his talks, interviews, Q&As and podcasts this is a collection of Kevin doing what he does best, telling great stories.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Kevin's joy and satisfaction at having an idol, Tarantino, appreciate his work.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I love hearing Kevin talk about his relationships with people, particularly his wife. He has a fairly unique perspective and does an admirable job of guiding you into his way of looking at the world.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are offended by language, sexual descriptions, or drug use then you clearly don't know who Kevin Smith is, otherwise you wouldn't be looking at this book. Kevin does not only use everything listed above, he wallows in it. So don't say you were shocked, don't complain and don't preach. Give it a listen if you are curious or if you like Kevin Smith's work, otherwise you'd likely be happier spending your dough elsewhere.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ready Player One

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Ernest Cline
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9781)
    Performance
    (9100)
    Story
    (9100)

    At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

    Travis says: "ADD TO CART, POWER UP +10000"
    "Should you get this audiobook?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Ready Player One?

    Yes.
    Right now.
    Why are you still reading this?
    Seriously, stop. Stop reading this right now and put this book in your cart and checkout already.
    It's that good...
    You're welcome.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By George Crile
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3057)
    Performance
    (841)
    Story
    (858)

    Charlie Wilson's War is the untold story behind the last battle of the Cold War and how it fueled the rise of militant Islam. George Crile tells how Charlie Wilson, a maverick congressman from east Texas, conspired with a rogue CIA operative to launch the biggest, meanest, and most successful covert operation in the agency's history.

    Chuck says: "Best Non-Fiction Book - Extremely Compelling!!!"
    "Audible KIDS ?!?!?!?"
    Overall

    First...this is a great book and a good reading. Second... this is NOT a kids book and I can't imagine why it is under the audible kids title. I can't imagine this being appropriate for anyone under ~16... not only because of an abundance of swearing, racial slurs and questionable conduct on the part of the main characters, but also because of the complexity of the subject matter itself.
    This goes into far more detail than the movie and does an excellent job of walking the listener through he intricacies of the situation. I loved the movie, but I think I like the book even more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • When Gravity Fails: Marid Audran Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By George Alec Effinger
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (116)
    Performance
    (85)
    Story
    (85)

    For a new kind of killer roams the streets of the Arab ghetto, a madman whose bootlegged personality cartridges range from a sinister James Bond to a sadistic disemboweler named Khan. And Marid Audrian has been made an offer he can't refuse.The 200-year-old godfather of the Budayeen's underworld has enlisted Marid as his instrument of vengeance. But first Marid must undergo the most sophisticated of surgical implants before he dares to confront a killer who carries the power of every psychopath since the beginning of time.

    Cliff says: "A must have series!"
    "Still trying to work through it."
    Overall

    I listen to a lot of SciFi and I had high hopes for this one, but I can't get interested. I've made 2 attempts and find myself actively disliking the story, characters and narration and giving up after a few hours.

    All the elements are there, and I can see how it could recover and even become compelling, but I just don't care.

    I read several reviews and the book seemed a little controversial, but in a contradictory way... it is set in a Muslim culture, which is atypical and could be interesting... it is an uber gritty quasi cyber punk story that has some of the most unconventional views on sex and gender that I've ever seen, which is unusual but also potentially interesting... blending the two with no explanation just doesn't work.

    I just can't piece together the logic behind a city that is based on strict cultural norms that also ignores the fact that seemingly EVERYONE has had a sex change operation, a wide collection of sexual partners and pretty much any other vice you can think of.

    There were several reviews I saw that talked about the transsexual characters in the story being a problem, but I ignored most of this as personal bias, but it is really odd. It isn't just the fact that the overwhelming majority of the characters have had a casual sex change, but it appears to be the norm in the entire city, but... what??? Mind you, this is not a virtual reality or a simple body swap (Matrix or Altered Carbon) but actual surgery. And nobody seems to have any compelling reason for it. So the majority of people go through incredibly expensive, painful, and time consuming surgeries but do so casually and with no obvious rational... and it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the story, it's just a part of the background setting, but that'd be like adding systematic euthanasia, mandatory birth control or common plural marriages in a story and then not addressing them... I don't get it.

    6 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Agent to the Stars

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3145)
    Performance
    (2702)
    Story
    (2704)

    The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity's first interstellar friendship. There's just one problem: They're hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. So getting humanity's trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal. Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He's one of Hollywood's hottest young agents.

    C. Paget says: "excellent"
    "Think "The Player" or "Entourage" with an Alien"
    Overall

    This is a wonderfully funny mash up of the Hollywood insider story and a first contact tale. Not only is this imaginative but well executed and oddly genuine.
    Wil Wheaton is a phenomenal reader and I hope he does more.
    John Scalzi's unique voice in SciFi reminds me of Spider Robinson's intro decades ago, just something totally different. He brings a lot to the table with this fairly short story, but with the intelligence and humor you'd expect from Scalzi. The concept he puts forward is crazy, but you gradually start to come around to the idea that it is not only a worthwhile story, but kind of a good idea that you can't believe you haven't thought of before... Aliens really could use representation.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Rainbows End

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Vernor Vinge
    • Narrated By Eric Conger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (769)
    Performance
    (258)
    Story
    (265)

    Set a few decades from now, Rainbows End is an epic adventure that encapsulates in a single extended family the challenges of the technological advances of the first quarter of the 21st century. The information revolution of the past 30 years blossoms into a web of conspiracies that could destroy Western civilization. At the center of the action is Robert Gu, a former Alzheimer's victim who has regained his mental and physical health through radical new therapies, and his family.

    Steve says: "Great Discovery"
    "Great... except for the Story"
    Overall

    Well crafted characters, undergoing significant development, interacting in a captivating world, moving towards a climax from several directions... Why don't I like this? I asked myself several times during the listen and eventually realized that I was not invested in the story, despite the elements listed above. This strikes me a novel that began as a chapter, designed as the setup for a good piece of scifi, that just got stretched into a story line that I didn't really connect with.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Woken Furies

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Richard K. Morgan
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1245)
    Performance
    (507)
    Story
    (513)

    Richard K. Morgan has received widespread praise for his astounding 25th-century novels featuring Takeshi Kovacs, and has established a growing legion of fans. Mixing classic noir sensibilities with a searing futuristic vision of an age when death is nearly meaningless, Morgan returns to his saga of betrayal, mystery, and revenge, as Takeshi Kovacs, in one fatal moment, joins forces with a mysterious woman who may have the power to shatter Harlan's World forever.

    Jeri says: "I should have known better..."
    "A worthy sequel"
    Overall

    Different than Altered Carbon, the first book in this series, but good all the same. This is more of a SciFi thriller than a Futuristic Film Noir, think Aliens vs. Blade Runner.
    Be forewarned though... this book is gritty. The language and imagery is not in the PG-13 category so common to the genre.
    Wonderful narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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