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Mel S.

  • 27
  • reviews
  • 15
  • helpful votes
  • 185
  • ratings
  • The Wretched of Muirwood

  • Legends of Muirwood, Book 1
  • By: Jeff Wheeler
  • Narrated by: Kate Rudd
  • Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,519
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,246
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,242

The Wretched of Muirwood, the opening novel in the Muirwood Trilogy, is the tale of the orphan Lia - who is part of a pariah caste known only as the "wretched", a people unloved, unwanted, and destined to a life of servitude. Forbidden to read or write, and forced to slave away in the Abbey kitchen, Lia is all but resigned to her fate. But when an injured squire named Colvin is abandoned at the Abbey kitchen, opportunity arises, and Lia conspires to hide Colvin and change her life forever.…

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An unexpected gem

  • By Dylan on 04-17-14

Engaging plot, good characters, weaker narration

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

Reviewed: 06-29-18

Generally, I was pretty engaged with this story, and for 3/4 of the story it is a solid 4 star read for me. However the last 1/4 drags much more, and was harder to engage with. I think as long as the main characters are interacting with the secondary and supporting characters, I liked it much more. It was the parts where Lia was on her own or just with Corvin that fell flat for me. Additionally, the narrator had the tendency to overact, leading to Lia sounding like she was on the verge of tears pretty consistently, and also to over-enunciate dialog, which wasn't helped by the lack of contractions and more stilted language. Plot-wise, the story was really interesting, and I liked how we learn about the world and situation along with Lia. I'm not sure I'm on board with the magic/religious system, which we don't really get a clear picture of outside of an attitude of if you believe you can do something, then you can.

  • Wolfsong

  • By: TJ Klune
  • Narrated by: Kirt Graves
  • Length: 18 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,259
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,201
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,203

Ox was 23 when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his blood red eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces. It's been three years since that fateful day and the boy is back. Except now he's a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Kirt Graves is superb!

  • By Belen on 10-07-16

Engrossing plot, simplistic writing style

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

Reviewed: 04-18-18

If half stars were allowed, I would rate the story 3.5 stars rather than 3, because I enjoyed this story a lot, and the plot kept me very engrossed. In fact, I had trouble putting this audiobook down because the plot kept me wanting more. However the writing style can be very simplistic, with lots of short sentences and straightforward delivery. On the whole, I don't mind this and it makes sense for narrating character's point of view, but it did lead to several instances of conversations in the vein of "He said - I said - He said" and when what the characters are actually saying is only 2 or 3 words long, these conversations become a bit stilted (in printed form, this may not be much of an issue, but in an audio format it becomes much more apparent). Additionally, this made it difficult to follow the aging of the characters - for the most part, they speak the same way when they are 12 versus 20. But on the whole, this book surprised me with it's complexity and the world that was created, and I really loved the characters. The bonds that form between different characters and the way those connections evolve over the course of the story is extremely well done, and I really loved growing with them.

  • Nice Dragons Finish Last

  • Heartstrikers, Book 1
  • By: Rachel Aaron
  • Narrated by: Vikas Adam
  • Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,516
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,087
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,089

Audie Award, Fantasy, 2016. As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don't cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn't fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Almost shockingly wonderful.

  • By Leon Miller on 07-26-15

Good story, but not my favorite narrator

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

Reviewed: 08-05-16

This book grows on you as you listen to it. The beginning is rather plodding and the story and writing seem very simplistic. However, as the book progresses, the plot gets steadily more complex, and my interest grew with that complexity. I saw another review that said something along the lines of every 20% their investment and enjoyment of the story increase from "meh, this is ok" to "holy cow that was amazing", and that ladder-like increase in enjoyment is definitely true for me as well (though I never really got to "amazing" but I did really like it by the end!).

However, I'm not the biggest fan of this narrator. He did a great job with the male voices, and bringing emotion to the dialogue, but his female voices drove me a little nuts. Mostly Marcy - and she talks a lot. It's one of those things that I did get used to, but never really enjoyed.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Dark Thorn

  • By: Shawn Speakman
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 17 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 270
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 247
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 250

Beneath the streets of Seattle, a long-forgotten war is about to be renewed...Richard McAllister, a spiritually destitute homeless man and Knight of the Yn Saith, protects one of seven portals linking his world to that of Annwn, where the fey Tuatha de Dannan of antiquity have been relegated by a long-running religious war. Unknown to Richard though, powerful forces are aligning against him and all he stands to keep safe.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Don't let The fact Podehl read it influence you!

  • By Lisa on 03-12-14

Enjoyable, but nothing groundbreaking

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

Reviewed: 03-08-16

I liked this story, and it has a lot of promise. It wasn't anything particularly special, but it was an enjoyable read, hence 3 stars. It feels a lot like older fantasy story, where the language is more formal and the interactions feel rigid and constrained by expectation, and I think that is where the book fell flat for me. For some characters, that type of language made sense: the residents of Annwn are from an older time and society when that type of embellished speech would be more popular, but Richard and Bran are from present day America, and Bran even grew up on the streets, but they use the same overly formal language which felt contrived and pulled me out of the story. I believe this is Shawn Speakman's first novel, so I am interested to see how he develops as an author, as the story itself is complex and very promising. Therefore, I found this book perfectly passable, and am interested to see how the series develops.

  • Blackbirds

  • By: Chuck Wendig
  • Narrated by: Emily Beresford
  • Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 297
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 276
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 273

Miriam Black knows when you will die. Still in her early twenties, she’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days he will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name. Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. No matter what she does, she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not for the faint of heart or kids but exciting

  • By Steph on 04-07-14

Engrossing, if not particularly enjoyable

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

Reviewed: 03-08-16

This is one of those weird cases where I'm not sure if I really ENJOYED this book, but I couldn't put it down. Miriam Black has a really crude attitude and vocabulary that didn't really resonate with me. I wouldn't consider her badass so much as a bad-mouther -- she has enough self defense to keep herself safe(ish) in her transient lifestyle, but she talks rougher and cruder than her skills can really support. But regardless of my relative apathy towards her and most of the characters, the book moved quickly and was action packed, simply pulling me along in it's wake. This book culminated with a feeling of setting a stage for much more expansion in the next installment, similar to the end of a TV pilot, and I would be interested to see if the series improves for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue

  • The Untold History of English
  • By: John McWhorter
  • Narrated by: John McWhorter
  • Length: 5 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,895
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,448
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,425

A survey of the quirks and quandaries of the English language, focusing on our strange and wonderful grammar. Why do we say "I am reading a catalog" instead of "I read a catalog"? Why do we say "do" at all? Is the way we speak a reflection of our cultural values? Delving into these provocative topics and more, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue distills hundreds of years of fascinating lore into one lively history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great for casual linguists

  • By Anderson on 01-11-10

Author's passion really shines

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

Reviewed: 03-08-16

If you have even a passing interest in linguistics and the evolution of language, I would definitely recommend this. You can tell the author is really passionate about the subject and presents an interesting and well supported theory about the influences on the English language that don't seem to be widely held or taught, but his arguments seem sound from my outside-observer-with-a-passing-interest perspective. I found this book interesting and accessible, and I didn't need any prior knowledge to understand what he talking about. I think this book will have something for people knowledgeable on the subject as well as for people exploring a new topic.

  • Sucker's Portfolio

  • A Collection of Previously Unpublished Writing
  • By: Kurt Vonnegut
  • Narrated by: Luke Daniels
  • Length: 4 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 266
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 240
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 241

Available to listeners for the first time, Sucker’s Portfolio showcases a collection of seven never-before-published works from Kurt Vonnegut, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Short, sardonic, and dark, these six brief fiction stories and one non-fiction piece are consummate Vonnegut with piercing satire and an eye for life’s obscene inanity. Also available for the first time is an unfinished science-fiction short story, included in the appendix.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Hit or Miss, For Completists Only

  • By Dubi on 06-11-14

Not my favorite thing, but I would read more

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

Reviewed: 02-04-16

Based on content, I would give this a 3 stars. I liked it, and the stories are masterfully crafted, but short stories rarely land with me. This is my first Vonnegut experience, and I definitely think I would pick up more of his full length work, based on what I saw here. The first two short stories were rather depressing and intriguingly strange, and my contentment with the stories went up as the book progressed. My favorite was the penultimate work, a nonfiction essay Vonnegut wrote in 1992 that I might briefly label as Vonnegut's take on "white guilt", but that is far from an all-encompassing description. If I were to rate it as an audiobook, I would bump it up to 4 stars! The narrator, Luke Daniels, is supremely talented! And as I said, short stories aren't really my cup of tea, so I probably would not have finished this without how much I liked this as an audiobook. Plus, the short stories are each between 20 and maybe 45 minutes for the most part, which made it great for listening to basically a whole story on my 25 minute commute to work.

  • Sex and War

  • How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World
  • By: Malcom Potts, Thomas Hayden
  • Narrated by: Dennis Holland
  • Length: 16 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 137
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 103
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 107

Human beings have been battling one another since time immemorial. But why war and terrorism? Why are men almost always the killers, and why are war and sex so inextricably linked? Why do we kill members of our own species intentionally, when few other animals do so?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • New Perspective

  • By Craig C. on 08-26-11

Fascinating and well researched

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

Reviewed: 06-14-15

A really convincing look at the evolutionary aspects of warfare and how mankind developed as one of the only species on Earth that kills others of our own species, particularly how sex and biological stimuli play into it. The book seemed well researched, and makes a lot of sense. It looked at primate, particularly chimpanzee, society, as our nearest genetic relative, and also applied it's findings to humans from early hominids to modern day warfare. There was in depth analysis of the roles sex plays in the development of war as a species, and how sex continues to play a role in current events and current wars, which applies not only to wars in third world countries where subjugation of women is a blatant affair, but to the US Iraq war and modern US events. It was really fascinating, and I appreciated that the authors, while making this case, make sure to point out that even if war is an evolutionary trait, that does not mean it is predestined or even preferential for continued species existence. Their argument is not to be used to excuse war, it is a case of understanding the root of an issue so people can determine the best way fix it. Really fascinating!

  • Jumper

  • By: Steven Gould
  • Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews
  • Length: 10 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,860
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,596
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,609

What if you could go anywhere in the world, in the blink of an eye? Where would you go? What would you do?Davy can teleport. To survive, Davy must learn to use and control his power in a world that is more violent and complex than he ever imagined. But mere survival is not enough for him. Davy wants to find others like himself, others who can Jump.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A nice descent into fantasy...

  • By Cather on 08-13-12

Enjoyable, different from the movie

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

Reviewed: 06-12-15

The movie is what eventually directed my attention here. I was intrigued by the premise of a boy discovering he could teleport, but the execution of the movie left me underwhelmed. I was interested in the source material, since it was highly likely it would be better. Which is definitely true, but I found out the movie hardly follows the book at all. The book is much more character driven, with a lot more development of David's character, following him as he discovers his ability and how his life progresses. It is not a high action thriller, especially the first half, but in the second half we do see an escalation. A lot of the book, David's power isn't really the main focus - instead we are following the story of a teenage runaway in NYC who happens to have the ability to teleport, though I have to admit "jumping" definitely skews the end result in his favor.

Overall, I was suitably impressed with this book. While I find David a bit whiny at times, he seems very realistic for his situation, and his life is interesting to follow, even if it's not the danger-around-every-corner type of gripping tale. The narrator did a great job, and I'm glad I took the chance to read this.

  • Serpent's Kiss

  • Elder Races Series #3
  • By: Thea Harrison
  • Narrated by: Sophie Eastlake
  • Length: 13 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,536
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,317
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,331

In order to save his friend's life, Wyr sentinel Rune Ainissesthai made a bargain with Vampyre Queen Carling - without knowing what she would ask from him in return. But when Rune attempts to make good on his debt, he finds a woman on the edge.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My Favorite of the Series!

  • By ducksandruns on 06-20-12

Par for the course-enjoyable but not great

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

Reviewed: 03-01-15

For me, this was the weakest book in the series so far, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I really like Rune and Carling as characters and the plot of trying to save Carling from her degenerating fade outs was really interesting, but the romance parts of this story felt heavy-handed and forced. I had almost decided not to continue with the series, but Thea Harrison has a gift for introducing really interesting characters that will star in her next book, and the Oracle Grace looks to be a real winner to me. If you liked the previous books, you will likely enjoy this installment, but I was not as impressed with this book overall.