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Melanie

Stoneham, MA, United States
  • 26
  • reviews
  • 120
  • helpful votes
  • 180
  • ratings
  • Zeroboxer

  • By: Fonda Lee
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
  • Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 14

A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr "the Raptor" Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm - a personal marketing strategist. It isn't long before she's made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Highly Entertaining

  • By Christopher Dickens on 05-23-18

Nice things happen to a nice boy

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-26-19

I honestly don't know why readers are so passionate about this book. It's not a story, it's just a list of nice things happening to a nice boy.

Everything goes right for this kid. He is a good boy with no major flaws. Everyone around him is basically nice. He wins all the time. A beautiful girl falls in his lap and the relationship is effortless. His career trajectory resembles the Mount Washington Cog Railway. The author keeps setting up possible tension, then immediately deflating it by letting him win again. I stopped caring as soon as I saw there were no consequences.

The world is interestingly built, and there's some stage-setting for some really good drama. The protagonist could have experienced seriously earthshaking internal conflict requiring massive personal growth and change.

But he doesn't.

Not to give too much away, but at one point a couple hours in, he learns a fact that threatens to undermine his entire self-identity and everything that's most important to him. And his response to this is... to pretend it didn't happen, and go back to business as usual.

I'm not kidding. He seriously just decides not to think about it and gets back to the boxing ring. That's realistic, sure, but it's not a good story!

I only made it about 2/3 through, then started skipping ahead, looking for any kind of tension or plot development. Eventually I found some near the end but by that point, I didn't care. I felt certain the author wouldn't let anything really bad happen to her golden boy.

It's possible that I'm not the right reader for a sports story. Maybe there's an entire bandwidth of story data being transmitted, and I don't have the receptors for it? I don't know. But I suspect even huge fans of sports stories expect to see at least a LITTLE conflict, to have at least a LITTLE doubt that everything will work out the way the main character wants.

  • A Plague of Giants

  • By: Kevin Hearne
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels, Xe Sands
  • Length: 22 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,635
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,492
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,474

Mother and warrior. Scholar and spy. Rebel and hero. Set in a magical world of terror and wonder, this audiobook is a deeply felt epic of courage and war, in which the fates of these three characters intertwine - and where ordinary people become heroes, and their lives become legend.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Entertaining but dissapointing

  • By Roland on 11-20-17

Amazing book, problematic female reader

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-11-17

The incredible Luke Daniels does a fine job with the male chapters, as always. But the new female reader was a really confusing choice. She has a strong accent with a cadence that makes it actively difficult for me to understand. Considering how dense and complex the book is, this wasn't ideal. In general, the heavy use of unusual accents, whether real or feigned, made it a lot harder for me to listen to than usual.

That said, this book is not to be missed. If you like... well, almost any subgenre of fantasy, you must read this book. It is the kind of work that only an established author like Kevin Hearne could do. It blows literally every other epic fantasy I have ever read straight out of the water. And he does it with the strength of character and belief in the basic decency of humankind that keeps me coming back to everything he writes, knowing I can trust him.

I say, if you need audiobook format, then get it in audio. But if you wouldn't mind print, then maybe try that instead. Either way, get the book.

  • Warlock Holmes

  • A Study in Brimstone
  • By: G. S. Denning
  • Narrated by: Robert Garson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,850
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,735
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,734

Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius who uses the gift of deduction and reason to solve the most vexing of crimes. Warlock Holmes, however, is an idiot. A good man, perhaps; a font of arcane power, certainly. But he's brilliantly dim. Frankly, he couldn't deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart flatmate. Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Short on Clues--Heavy on Delightful Twists

  • By Gillian on 01-10-17

Delightful treat with soul

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-06-17

I don't normally like mashups; simply juxtaposing two concepts is not enough to hold my attention if the writing isn't good enough on its own. I was bitterly disappointed in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, for example, which I am convinced got published based on its elevator pitch alone.

So it was with trepidation that I started this book, and boy am I glad I did. The writer nails the voice (the reader does a great job, too), and has a lot of genuinely creative and original ideas in the book. He rarely settles for the obvious reference but instead layers on more subtle--and funny!--original elements until the result is really its own idea that just happens to also be a hilarious inversion of something from Sherlock's world.

Watson is also excellently portrayed. This Watson is ACTUALLY A DOCTOR and ACTUALLY A VETERAN and reacts to events in ways consistent with this life experience. Watson is one of my favorite characters in literature and I was really pleased to see such a consistent, appealing, and believable version of him.

A lot of it is truly silly. Don't let that fool you into thinking this is all fluff. Surprisingly insightful and well-observed moments show up when you least expect them and remind you this is not just a series of jokes but a real book.

I strongly recommend to fans of Sherlock and anyone who'd enjoy a goofy Victorian urban fantasy. It kept me up late two nights in a row.

  • Uprooted

  • By: Naomi Novik
  • Narrated by: Julia Emelin
  • Length: 17 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,598
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4,306
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,284

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for 10 years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Narrator?!

  • By D. Hawkins on 07-24-17

Great book, difficult narrator

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-09-16

The narrator has a strong accent that meant I had to pay a lot more attention than usual to follow the story. However, as long as I was not distracted, I had no trouble understanding, and it was cool that she could natively understand and pronounce the names of people and places, which I think are based on Polish. The story is excellent and I highly recommend it. Amazingly rich world and characters that live and breathe.

  • Burned

  • Alex Verus, Book 7
  • By: Benedict Jacka
  • Narrated by: Gildart Jackson
  • Length: 11 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,873
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,721
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,722

Diviner Alex Verus finally made one too many enemies on the Council of Mages, and now one of them is angry enough to have him executed. Fighting for his life is nothing new, but this kill order also calls for the death of Alex's dependents - and there's no way that he'll let Luna, Anne, and Vari take the heat. With only a week before he's history, Alex will have to figure out how to disassociate himself from his friends, scrounge up allies on the council, and hopefully keep his head attached to his body.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thought it was good.

  • By Jill on 06-25-17

Great story but narrator had a bad day or something

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-15-16

Jacka delivers a great installment in this series with a ton of huge changes and disasters for poor Alex. But the narrator, who's usually pretty good, delivered most scenes with a detached, slightly exasperated "oh for Petes sake, what now" inflection that undermined the tension and damaged the humor and energy. Maybe this episode is one I should have read in print.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Maplecroft

  • The Borden Dispatches, Book 1
  • By: Cherie Priest
  • Narrated by: Johanna Parker, Roger Wayne
  • Length: 12 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 253
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 232
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 232

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The lengthy build up is worth the mystery.

  • By DabOfDarkness on 10-25-14

Builds looming dread until it becomes unbearable

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-31-16

Note: I did not finish this book, but gave up around 3/4 through.

This is well-written, though in period-flavored prose, which I note some reviewers object to. I suggest listening to the sample to get a sense of whether you'll like that.

The plot progresses slowly and non-linearly, focusing on a variety of odd happenings, never hitting you over the head but always allowing you to draw your own horrifying conclusions.

Many of the characters are sympathetic, even bit players, which serves to amplify the sense of dread. I didn't want bad things to happen to these characters.

And therein lies my problem. The sense of dread built up to the point that I honestly couldn't stand to keep listening. I felt physically sick with dread. Like the sensation before going to the dentist (or facing whatever your phobia is), knowing something horrible is going to happen and being helpless to do anything about it.

If that description makes you sit up and think "Wow, what an effective horror story!" then you will love this book. That's why I gave it a high review. It's very good at its job.

But if you don't enjoy that kind of experience, then I suggest you stay away.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Incorruptibles

  • By: John Hornor Jacobs
  • Narrated by: Steven Pacey
  • Length: 10 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 42
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 41

In the contested and unexplored territories at the edge of the Empire, a boat is making its laborious way up stream. Riding along the banks are the mercenaries hired to protect it - from raiders, bandits and, most of all, the stretchers, elf-like natives who kill any intruders into their territory. The mercenaries know this is dangerous, deadly work. But it is what they do. In the boat the drunk governor of the territories and his sons and daughters make merry. They believe that their status makes them untouchable.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great world, competent prose, messy story

  • By Melanie on 03-31-16

Great world, competent prose, messy story

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-31-16

The core concepts of this fantasy western are great, as others have noted. Some of the characters are interesting, too, especially the narrator (though many are flat and hard to keep track of). The writing is competent and effective.

However, the story is structurally all over the place. Many characters are introduced only to be killed, often before we've had a chance to care at all. Many subplots don't relate to much of anything and/or don't resolve by the end of the book. The main plot question itself doesn't resolve in anything like a satisfying way. In that respect, it's more like a literary fiction than a genre fiction--and that's not a compliment, coming from me.

The book also takes hours before the plot actually begins. Up till then, it's just narrative. This thing happens, this next thing happens, then this thing happens, and we're only reading because we're interested in the world and the narrator. Relationships develop and intensify off-camera. Sometimes the narrator imagines what might be happening, which felt uncomfortable to me.

Finally, most of the character arcs either don't resolve at all or end up with the character weaker than they were to begin with. I'm not going to explain because of spoilers, but take my word for it that I was indignant. I felt like exciting concepts had been introduced, made vital to the character, and then simply trashed, both disappointing me and weakening the character.

Personally, I do not recommend this book. However, I know that many readers place higher importance on worldbuilding and prose than the plot and conclusions--in other words, they care more about journey than destination--and those readers would probably find a lot to enjoy here.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Taken

  • Alex Verus Series, Book 3
  • By: Benedict Jacka
  • Narrated by: Gildart Jackson
  • Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,484
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,299
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,283

This time last year, I could go weeks without seeing another mage. In mage society I was an unknown and, all in all, that was how I liked it. It’s hard to say what changed. Whatever it was, I got involved in the magical world again and started getting myself a reputation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book. Action packed and fun.

  • By Cliff on 02-03-14

Exciting, creative, extremely well-written

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-20-15

This series isn't always the most original in its basic tropes, but let's face it: every story has already been told. It's not the story, it's how you tell it, and Jacka tells it really, really well.

The characters are all compelling and well-differentiated. I cared about what happened to them and followed along eagerly the entire time. I sometimes guessed the plot twists in advance, which was annoying, but not enough to get in the way of enjoying the story. The action sequences are genuinely exciting.

This series often gets compared to the Dresden Files, but I think that's a lazy comparison. The tone and setting are totally different, as are the natures of both magic and magical creatures. This has as much in common with Peter Grant as Harry Dresden. In other words:. It's a fun, well-written, action-packed urban fantasy that features wizards.

I'm buying the next in the series now and I can't wait to start.

  • Daring

  • Pax Arcana, Book 2
  • By: Elliott James
  • Narrated by: Roger Wayne
  • Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,079
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,007
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,002

Something is rotten in the state of Wisconsin. Werewolf packs are being united and absorbed into an army of super soldiers by a mysterious figure who speaks like an angel and fights like a demon. And every Knight Templar - keepers of the magical peace between mankind and magickind - who tries to get close to this big bad wolf winds up dead. No knight can infiltrate a group whose members can smell a human from a mile away...no knight except one.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Kevin Hearne; Jim Butcher; Elliott James, GREAT!!!

  • By G. Horn on 03-12-15

A step down from the last book

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-20-15

The story structure is erratic as the author tries to set up his big plot-twist-filled finish, and it felt confusing and random for a while.

A lot of the action sequences rely on detailed, blow-by-blow descriptions of martial arts moves, which were sometimes hard to visualize and usually too laboriously technical.

The character ensemble is almost totally different, which was disappointing. The new ensemble was populated by largely uninteresting characters who all had similar abilities.

The puns often felt forced.

The author still uses his thesaurus to avoid the word "said" in dialogue.

The reader was still excellent, though. Despite the forced puns, most of the humor was quite good. I was engaged and interested the whole time, even when I was confused. We explored John's backstory a lot--and I mean a LOT--and gained some interesting insights into both how messed up he is and how he's managed to NOT be even MORE messed up.

So, on the whole, a positive experience. I will likely read the next in the series and hope the author learns from experience.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Charming

  • Pax Arcana, Book 1
  • By: Elliott James
  • Narrated by: Roger Wayne
  • Length: 10 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,809
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,686
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,689

John Charming isn't your average prince... He comes from a line of Charmings - an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chain mail and crossbows to Kevlar and shotguns, John Charming was one of the best-until a curse made him one of the abominations the Knights were sworn to hunt.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Charming is Like Dresden in wolves clothing

  • By Suzanne on 05-24-14

Fast, fun, good characters, too much thesaurus

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-20-15

Fast-paced, exciting, action-packed, excellent reader. Lots of great characters forming a fun ensemble. The main character struggles with his humanity and his nature in a way I enjoyed and found compelling even if it was heavy-handed at times.

Biggest beef? The author uses his thesaurus to avoid the word "said" when writing dialogue. Cried, mused, exclaimed, mumbled, whispered, declared, asserted, elaborated--those words have their place, but they shouldn't get used multiple times in a single conversation. A rookie mistake, very distracting and eventually started to drive me nuts.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful