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Mel Aclaro

My wife says she can read me like an open book. Though she regrets not being able to shut me up the same way. :)

ANAHEIM, CA, United States | Member Since 2008

ratings
143
REVIEWS
39
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
6
HELPFUL VOTES
84

  • Tales from the Clarke: The Human Division, Episode 5

    • UNABRIDGED (59 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (528)
    Performance
    (476)
    Story
    (478)

    Captain Sophia Coloma of the Clarke has a simple task: Ferry around representatives from Earth in an aging spaceship that the Colonial Union hopes to sell to them. But nothing is as simple as it seems, and Coloma discovers the ship she’s showing off holds suprises of its own...and it’s not the only one with secrets. "Tales from the Clarke" is a tale from John Scalzi's The Human Division, a series of self-contained but interrelated short stories set in the Old Man's War universe.

    Dennis says: "Very good 5th story"
    "Frustrated. But still hanging on..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    (Follows from my reviews in eps 1-4.) So, I think I'm figuring out what that ineffable "something" is that I'm not gelling with in these "episodes" format.

    I think it's the fact that each of these "self-contained" short stories feels like chapters of a novel where the first third of each chapter finds us breaking continuity so the author can "re-acquaint" us again with the storyline. If you see irony in breaking continuity so as to keep readers aware of a continuous storyline, don't worry, you're not alone.

    Then there's the whole bit toward the end of each chapter where we have to slow momentum -- just when it's starting to build -- for the sake of wrapping up with a convenient end to the episode....

    ... Only to start the next episode and have to suffer an indoctrination all over again to summarize highlights in previous episodes.

    That's what I don't like about this serial format.

    Okay. With that off my chest. On to Episode 6. >:-\

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Deadly Shores: Destroyermen, Book 9

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Taylor Anderson
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (384)
    Performance
    (359)
    Story
    (358)

    The long-planned raid on the heart of the Grik Empire has grown more ambitious - and dangerously ill-defined. Only Matthew Reddy, commander of the old destroyer USS Walker, seems focused on its original intent. Many Lemurians see an opportunity to reconquer their sacred homeland, which was stolen long ago, and have no intention of simply striking a blow and then pulling back. Others, Lemurian and human, have their own agendas - which may not be in the best interests of the Alliance.

    Carol says: "Drags on and on"
    "Still action-fllled, imaginative and fun, but..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ...But after 9 books, I'm starting to get attention deficit.

    I find my thoughts increasingly being pulled away from the main story towards more "universal" thoughts about whether or not the author might be willing to tackle in the future the sci-fi properties of the "straka" thingy that pulled all these interesting characters together from different worlds.

    Does the portal go both ways? Can any of the folks in this story ever end up leaving this universe? If not, why not? Why is it that no beings from a more advanced time period than 1944 ever end up in this world? Will the Destroyermen ever find clues that can help them seriously consider answers to these questions?

    That said, it's still a great ride with more of the same type of action and imaginative twists and turns... which seems to still be working for now. But it IS beginning to beg the question: "Is war all there is ever going to be...? Or, can future books begin to address a larger arc so as not to devolve into a 'Game of Thrones-ish' type perpetuity?"

    Anyway, if you've hung on through Book 8, then you won't be disappointed with Book 9. In fact, the volume gets kick up yet another notch here.

    Oh, by the way, big hat-tip to narrator William Dufris. His performance continues to rock. And not just from his range of voice-diversity. His penchant for modulating the pace of narration to match the scene, and interjecting the little breathy gasps, gulps and chuckles all do great justice to Mr. Anderson's story and keeps this series a "4D" adventure.

    Mel's recommendation: Buy it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Steadfast: The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1099)
    Performance
    (1029)
    Story
    (1029)

    Geary and the crew of the Dauntless have managed to safely escort important alien representatives to Earth. But before they can make tracks for home, two of Geary’s key lieutenants vanish. The search for his missing men leads Geary on a far-flung chase, ultimately ending at the one spot in space from which all humans have been banned: The moon Europa. Any ship that lands there must stay or be destroyed—leaving Geary to face the most profound moral dilemma of his life.

    rich says: "Black Jack Faces His Toughest Opponent Yet"
    "Still a fan, but..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ...this one felt a bit like an anthology of three short stories that were smacked together with some filler transitions to glue them together.

    I was especially disappointed that a couple of events from the last book that held some promise for an interesting new arc didn't really go anywhere in this one. (Caution: mild spoiler follows.)

    The Dancers' previous interest in Kansas, for example, as well as their recovery of a body from the void of "jump space" that was introduced previously, either fell flat or didn't really go anywhere here. In fact, the Dancers themselves -- which I had hoped would evolve in this book as a relationship that revealed new insights about alien culture, ancient relationships with humans, as well as insights about the nature of jump space and the "mysterious lights" -- were treated as little more than a backdrop in this book.

    Still a fan, but I'm really hoping for a little deeper treatment of these things in the next book even as we go romping off again on more trips through the same hypernets and similarly-themed stellar slugfests in adjacent star systems.

    Oh, a hat-tip to the narrator. I have to say that Mr. Rummel's performance continues to be a consistent bright spot through this series. His pacing, inflection and command of different male and female voices continues to impress. Well done, sir. :)

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Into the Black: Odyssey One

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Evan Currie
    • Narrated By Benjamin L. Darcie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1412)
    Performance
    (1306)
    Story
    (1312)

    Captain Eric Weston and his crew encounter horrors, wonders, monsters, and people; all of which will test their resolve, challenge their abilities, and put in sharp relief what is necessary to be a hero. A first-rate military-science-fiction epic that combines old-school space opera and modern storytelling, Into the Black: Odyssey One is a riveting, exhilarating adventure with vivid details, rich mythology, and relentless pacing.

    C. Hartmann says: "Great, Solid Military SciFi / Evolving Space Opera"
    "Cool. I found another "go to" author."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wow. I can't say if any of the tech or physics in this sci-fi are theoretically sound, but the author's narrative pulls it all together reasonably while setting a great tech foundation for the story. It's up there with Taylor Anderson's "Destroyermen" series and Jack Campbell's "Lost Fleet" collection. If you've read any of those and enjoyed them, then you might just find yourself another fave author in Evan Currie. Well done. On to Book 2.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Homeworld: Odyssey One, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Evan Currie
    • Narrated By Benjamin L. Darcie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (745)
    Performance
    (690)
    Story
    (692)

    War comes home to the Sol system when the Drasin track a human ship back to Earth, with devastating consequences. Facing massive force of invading alien ships wielding terrible power, the crew of the NAC spacecraft, their allies, and the people of Earth must mount a desperate effort to stop them. Doomed from the start, but with nowhere to retreat, Captain Eric Weston commits his ship to the defense of the human race even as the human outposts in Sol system fall one by one before the unrelenting Drasin onslaught.

    Joki says: "Satisfying End to an ARC - Ready for Book 4!"
    "This should be made into a movie."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Book 3 starts off shooting. The quantum pellets not only don't stop but keep building to a climactic end. Great series... waiting for Book 4... and the screenplay. :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Night Watch: Watch, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Sergei Lukyanenko
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (546)
    Performance
    (407)
    Story
    (412)

    Night Watch is a world as elaborate and imaginative as Tolkien or the best Asimov. Living among us are the "Others", an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. A thousand-year treaty has maintained the balance of power, but an ancient prophecy decrees that one supreme "Other" will rise up and tip the balance. When a young boy with extraordinary powers emerges, will the forces of the Light be able to keep the Dark from corrupting the boy and destroying the world?

    Parusski says: "Lyrical, haunting and engrossing!"
    "This just didn't gel with me."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Don't hate me, but despite the positive reviews this story seems to have already received from others, for me: it felt like "another" vampire-/witchy-/supernatural-beings infused plot line.

    Characters "shift" in/out of dimensions even as they share a common reality with regular folks. And then there's this thing with a stuffed owl, and "the boss"... no spoilers here, but suffice to say: it wasn't working for me.

    Had the author given a little backstory that attempted an explanatory spin about how it is these beings/dimensions came to be -- or even how they came to be discovered and accepted by folks living in the regular world (the government licenses supernaturals in this world) -- then m'be it would've gel'd a little better with me. Instead, these issues are treated as a "given" in the storyline. Perhaps it's addressed later in the story, but it wasn't happenin' in the critical first hour... so it lost me.

    Okay, so that was one thing.

    The other thing that kept taking me out of the story was the narrator's choice to use different voices for the first-person narrative and the protagonist's dialog with others in the story. I mean, imagine the protagonist carrying on a Russian-accented dialog as he converses with others in the story, but then using a U.S. Western accent while narrating his account of that scene to you and me. WTH?

    I quickly found myself working too hard to keep track of where the guy was that I was supposed to be following... so I just let him go. :(

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jane Carver of Waar: Waar, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs)
    • By Nathan Long
    • Narrated By Dina Pearlman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (278)
    Performance
    (248)
    Story
    (248)

    Jane Carver is nobody's idea of a space princess. A hard-ridin', hard-lovin' biker chick and ex-Airborne Ranger, Jane is as surprised as anyone else when, on the run from the law, she ducks into the wrong cave at the wrong time - and wakes up butt-naked on an exotic alien planet light-years away from everything she's ever known. Waar is a savage world of four-armed tiger-men, sky-pirates, slaves, gladiators, and purple-skinned warriors in thrall to a bloodthirsty code of honor and chivalry.

    Diane Rivers says: "Story and Narration = Epic Fun!"
    "Excellent. With just one downside..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The only downside this audio book had for me was the feeling I got on the commute that other drivers were probably looking at me and wondering what it was that had me grinning like an idiot.

    The protagonist's sarcastic narrative -- and narrator Dina Pearlman's performance -- were a perfect combo.

    Fast paced, great sequences with plausible predicaments and the right spice of biker-chick crassness kept this story moving -- with me alternatingly engrossed and cracking up the whole time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • FREE: Deadlocked 1

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By A. R. Wise
    • Narrated By Brian Sutherland
    Overall
    (925)
    Performance
    (848)
    Story
    (850)

    David was caught in the middle of the city when the zombie outbreak started. His wife and daughters were at home, stranded on the roof as zombies waited below. He would have to fight through hordes of undead, merciless other survivors, and a series of death defying stunts to get home. However, even if he makes it there, how can he be sure they're safe?

    gerry says: "Could not get past the naration"
    "Another zomb-ocalypse story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Okay, let me hit the downside first, then I'll end on the up-

    DOWNSIDE: It's yet another zombie apocalypse story. If you've watched, read or listened to "Night of the Living Dead," "Return of the Living Dead," "The Walking Dead," Blah-Blah-of the Dead, then you know the plot here.

    At this point it's time for a confession: I'm TIRED of zombie stories. So, why'd I pick this one up? I mean, besides the fact it was promo-ing the first in the series for free? Because, even with a tired old theme as zomb-ocalypse certainly is for me, I still hold out hope for an interesting new twist on the genre. If you even remotely enjoyed "28 Days Later" or "World War Z," then you can appreciate what I mean.

    Unfortunately, this wasn't the new twist on the plot that I was looking for... The little twist on the character perspective from book 1 to book 2 was, I thought, a creative angle, but at the end of the day, the larger plot itself was really being driven by more of the same underlying stuff. I guess that's all I have to say about that.

    UPSIDE: A.R. Wise's writing style and tone gel'd with me. Narrator Brian Sutherland was great. I'll keep an eye out for new stories from Mr. Wise; given a different genre, I think he could be another fave.

    "And that's all I have to say about that."
    ~Forrest Gump

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield: Lost Stars, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By Marc Vietor
    Overall
    (744)
    Performance
    (697)
    Story
    (695)

    Following a successful coup, the leaders of the rebel Midway Star System struggle to forge a government free enough to please its citizens yet strong enough to secure power. But in a world where former rulers have become new foes, an alien threat to humanity may turn old adversaries into uncertain allies. General Artur Drakon knows three words describe someone who confides in a Syndicate CEO: Stupid. Betrayed. Dead. Despite his misgivings, he partnered with another former CEO to overthrow Syndic forces.

    Joki says: "Still Great!"
    "Outstanding from beginning to end"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    LOL! I'm writing this immediately after completing the last chapter in this audiobook. What a GREAT ending that promises to create some very compellingly juicy subplots in future episodes. Outstanding!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Storm Surge: Destroyermen, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Taylor Anderson
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (589)
    Performance
    (551)
    Story
    (548)

    In the Pacific, as USS Walker is repaired and updated after a previous battle and Reddy is healing from his wounds, planning begins for a bold raid on the very heart of the Grik Empire. But time is running out for the Alliance army in India, and the Allied forces in the west must gather in an unprecedented land, air, and sea campaign to destroy the mighty Grik battle fleet and break through to their relief. All other plans go on hold when the attempt proves more difficult - and more heartbreakingly costly - than anyone imagined.

    Greg says: "Long in tooth..."
    "Loved it. Waiting for Book 9."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This has been a consistently great series. Now at Book 8 and the formula that made Books 1 through 7 so compelling continues... it does NOT disappoint. The combination of history, character development, and traditions that consistently evolve on the shoulders of actions in earlier books -- AND a great narrator with broad voice diversity -- makes this series a "must listen."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Pandora's Star

    • UNABRIDGED (37 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Peter F. Hamilton
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4148)
    Performance
    (2466)
    Story
    (2505)

    The year is 2380. The Intersolar Commonwealth, a sphere of stars some 400 light-years in diameter, contains more than 600 worlds, interconnected by a web of transport "tunnels" known as wormholes. At the farthest edge of the Commonwealth, astronomer Dudley Bose observes the impossible: Over 1,000 light-years away, a star...vanishes. It does not go supernova. It does not collapse into a black hole. It simply disappears.

    Devin says: "Great Epic Scifi"
    "Narrator ruined it for me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I tried... It's too bad, really. The story seems compelling. So, I may have to actually READ the Kindle version of this book. Either way, the audio version just wasn't doing it for me. More than the inconsistent audio levels (I had to keep turning the volume up b/c I could barely hear the narrator in parts... then down again when the narrator got loud... then up again when he trailed off...) the fact is, he reminded me too much like Captain James T. Kirk's sing-song lilt. 'Just kept pulling me out of the story. 'Had to return it. :(

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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