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M. B.'s Profile

Customer Reviews: 7
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,960,596
Helpful Votes: 15

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M. B. RSS Feed (New York City)

Page: 1
Price: $7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling... but definitely worth checking out!, July 27, 2012
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This review is from: Alex (Kindle Edition)
Alex is a story about a young boy's murder and the consequences this has on his parents - namely the father, Ian. It is a psychological thriller that places the reader in Ian's shoes as visions of his dead son become increasingly frequent, causing him (and the reader) to question: Is he going insane? Or is Alex trying to say/do something?

Nicolai is masterful in his writing. The novel flows smoothly, and he manages to convey Ian's thought process in a way that feels natural and logical. This is definitely not one of those books that require you to re-read certain sections for comprehension, and this goes a long way in terms of immersion.

In a perfect world, no parent should ever have to bury their own child. Unfortunately, we live in a flawed society and these heinous acts of evil do occur. This is the subject matter that Alex tackles, and, frankly, this novel is brutally honest in its portrayal. There ARE difficult sections in this novel; however, Nicolai refrains from being excessively graphic. A mature reader should be able to get through these passages.

Although I am too young to have children of my own, I didn't find it too difficult to empathize with Ian. This is primarily because his reactions were realistic. Ian's decisions, actions, and emotions never felt forced. Despite the fact that I wouldn't have made the same calls as Ian, not once did I ever feel like he was acting in a way that was convenient for the story - which was especially appreciated as a reader who gets extremely frustrated when authors treat us like idiots who can't see what's going on.

I admit that there were more than a few instances when I felt like the novel dragged on, yet I still found myself eager to read more and discover the truth. In the end, Alex is an unsettling page-turner that I recommend for fans of horror and thrillers - although, I can't help but wish that Nicolai had dialed down the amount of ghostly encounters, as the frequency in which they occurred ultimately lowered the creepiness factor.

For there mere $0.99 price tag, this novel is a steal. Self-published book-a-phobes need not be wary, as Alex proves to be a top-notch quality product.

Raven's Shadow Book One: Blood Song (Raven's Shadow 1)
Raven's Shadow Book One: Blood Song (Raven's Shadow 1)

5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously, Wow., July 25, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I just finished the book a few minutes ago and there's not much more I can say that hasn't already been said by many other reviewers, except: BUY THIS BOOK - or, at the very least, get on that free Kindle sample/Look Inside! feature.

Now, I'm sure that the reason you are reading these reviews is because you're thinking: "Okaay... a 630 page book for $2.99 with 205 five stars. This guy must have a big family." Well, I can't really say much in regards to that last portion, but.. No. These ratings are very well deserved.

For the mere price of a snack, you get: a top-notch story with excellent pacing and fully fleshed out characters. There is a sequel for the book in the works, however, that doesn't mean that the questions and conflicts brought up within the storyline are left unresolved. You will definitely get a sense of closure.

There were, however, a few things that bothered me...

The first being the size of the font. It is ridiculously small and I had to bump up my Kindle font nearly to maximum size in order to read it. Although it's not a huge deal, it did get quite annoying whenever I decided to switch books for a bit.

The second is the editing. A lot of people have already mentioned this, but it is a nuisance. I found myself having to re-read some sentences a couple of times before I understood what was being said.

Aaand... lastly, a bit of confusion in regards to transition. During certain parts of the book, particularly the end, the text shifts from one period of time to another. I'm not referring to the sections with Verniers, but within the actual chapters. One specific portion is when Sherin asks Vaelin to explain his plan to her, and he says: "I don't see why not." The next paragraph is a flashback... but it's not really apparent until you continue reading in a bit, get a little confused, and realize that it's a different time period. I don't know if this was an issue for anyone else, but it was something that bothered me due to the numerous flashbacks near the end of the novel.

Another related gripe is that Ryan was not very clear that what we actually read in the chapters is not what Vaelin is telling Verniers. There were more than a few moments when Verniers would ask something that was made explicitly clear a chapter or two back. So.. which parts did Vaelin actually tell Verniers? Who knows and.. really, who cares, since it's not meaningful but it got annoying that he kept asking redundant (from the reader's perspective) questions.

In the end, those are all just MINOR issues that shouldn't deter you from this title. This is a truly immersive novel and worth more than the price that it is listed for. The Raven's Shadow is definitely a recommendation-worthy book and one of the best stories I have read in this genre. I am so disappointed to have reached the end of the book and eagerly await the next installment.

A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls
Price: $1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking and Moving, July 18, 2012
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This review is from: A Monster Calls (Kindle Edition)
A Monster Calls is a moving story about overcoming tragedy and the suffocating feelings of anger, guilt, and denial. The novel is paced well and Patrick Ness does an excellent job of portraying his characters in a realistic and believable manner. I was not aware that this was a children's novel beforehand, but I can attest that the word choice is accessible without being overtly simple. The story flows naturally and is one that is engaging.

As the subject matter of the book is dealing with cancer, it is obviously a very heavy subject. Those who are thinking of purchasing the book for a young child may want to give it a read beforehand to see if it is appropriate. As mentioned by the "monster" in the book, "Not every story has a happy ending," and this is definitely a novel that will leave a lasting impression - one that is bittersweet and more on the side of sadness. However, it is also a story that will really make you think. I truly do believe that there are exchanges in this book that could help someone cope a bit easier with a difficult situation.

Within a little more than an hour of purchasing this book, I was finished. I highly recommend reading it in one sitting if possible. This is not too difficult to do, as I found the experience of reading it to be akin to watching a movie or seeing it acted out in front me as a play. It is a very immersive, thought provoking, and moving story... and I would definitely recommend it.

The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden: 1
The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden: 1
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Memorable Novel, Forgettable Characters, July 17, 2012
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This is the first novel I have read by Ms. Catherynne Valente and it admittedly took some time for her prose to grow on me or flow naturally. As others have mentioned, the structure of the book is one that is rather complex. The use of stories within stories within stories makes it necessary for the reader to pay attention. The main backdrop of the novel is that of the girl with ink on her eyelids and a young prince eager to learn about the tales written upon her eyelids. The escapades of these two serve as the central returning point for the novel, while the tales that the girl tells the young prince during the stolen moments they spend together acts as the transition into the story within a story structure.

The tales that the girl tells the prince are divided into two main books, which are further divided into: a) a main storyline, that also serves to introduce, b) numerous other story branches that diverge and converge back into a. You will find that some characters appear in other stories or are mentioned in passing, which may require you to do some backtracking or placing a bit of effort into forming an orderly timeline. In short, this is not a book where you can skip around, as failing to grasp the relation of one story to another will not only lead to some confusion but also dampen the effect of the novel.

I have to say that I did find myself charmed by many of the tales within the novel, however, I was quite disappointed by the monotonous theme or similarity of mood throughout the experience. It is not too difficult to get characters confused with one another as none of them really exhibits any characteristics (i.e. dialogue and manner) that differentiate them from others... in truth, the only real defining attribute that they are given is their particular appearance and name. I sometimes found myself questioning if I should just stop reading or get on with it, as there was literally no character that I could identify with or care for due to the lack of wholly realized characters. That's not to say I didn't find myself touched or affected by some of the stories in the book, however, these emotions were mostly a result of a general understanding of the situation and not out of empathy for the characters. I found myself reading just for the sake of wrapping up a plot thread, as opposed to wanting to find out about the fate of a character I liked. As a result, I never felt immersed in the novel.

All in all, yes, I would recommend this book, although it is far from being on my list of favorites. Essentially, a memorable experience with forgettable characters.

A Face Like Glass
A Face Like Glass
Price: $3.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Whimsical Adventure, July 16, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Face Like Glass (Kindle Edition)
I stumbled across A Face Like Glass while browsing the Book Smugglers blog. After reading the short synopsis, I was immediately interested and went to check out some reviews of the book prior to purchasing. To my surprise, there were hardly ANY reviews... not only for this title, but for most of Ms. Hardinge's work. Although I hate to admit it, this did cause a bit of hesitation on my part, but THANK GOD I decided to take the plunge.

I won't repeat the premise behind the book, as that can easily be read by scrolling up for a second or two. It took me quite some time to wrap my head around the concept of not being able to naturally express emotions without being taught the "face" for it. Obviously, this is a fantasy novel.. so suspension of belief is practically a necessity, but for some reason, it was a difficult thing for me to accept - which may or may not be an issue for other readers.

However, the concept of having to be taught how to convey emotions provides important backdrop in illustrating how society is divided in Caverna, where a Face is arguably the most important commodity. Status is evident based on the amount, quality, and uniqueness of your collection of Faces. There are even Facesmiths whose entire livelihood rests upon their ability to come up with new Faces. Layered on top of this premise is a society corrupted by extreme thirst for power and the lengths people are willing to go to achieve it. Now, there IS murder in this book (quite a few actually), but it is neither graphic nor vulgar.

This book was an absolute pleasure to read! I often found myself thinking about the story and looking forward to devouring it some more. I recaptured that feeling of childish awe and wonder I hadn't felt since reading Harry Potter as a child and Neverwhere and Stardust a few years back. I was truly immersed in the world and was fascinated to learn more about Caverna. The characters are also very charming and I admire Hardinge's ability to make them wholly realized and complex. I absolutely loved Neverfell and was pleased with the fine balance the author kept in not having her act too young, or too old, for her age - as is often the case with most novels with a young lead. There are many twists in this novel and Hardinge admittedly DOES have to do some nudging for younger readers, but never in a way that is aggravating for older readers. Although there were a few things I saw coming beforehand, it was still a joy to see how the plot moves forward or how characters are affected. Essentially, the pacing, atmosphere, characters, word choice, and conflicts are great!

There is also no need to worry about the ending, as A Face Like Glass definitely delivers a satisfying conclusion. In fact, my interpretation of the epilogue allowed me to not only appease my difficulty in accepting the concept of having to "learn" facial expressions, but made me accept it to an even greater degree.

As is always the case with books that we find plenty of joy in reading, I was sad to witness the approach of the last few pages. Never once in the 496 pages did I feel that the story was dragging on. My saving grace lies in the realization that I now have a new author to add to my list of favorites and that there are books of hers that I have yet to experience! I highly, highly recommend this book and implore you to take advantage of Amazon's "Look Inside!" feature or request a Kindle sample if the story piques your interest in the least. Frances Hardinge is truly a hidden gem that deserves more exposure.

KMD Xbox 360 Text Messaging Pad Black
KMD Xbox 360 Text Messaging Pad Black
Offered by Globalprice
Price: $13.77
12 used & new from $6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good for Sending Quick Messages, May 7, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Overall, the product does what it is supposed to do: provide a convenient way to send messages via Xbox Live. I personally don't use the Messenger, so some buttons were kind of pointless to me -- but for those who do, I'm sure that being able to quickly pull up your friends list is convenient. Lately, I've been playing a lot of multiplayer and the only gripe I have is that it makes the controller think you are using a headset, thus muting game conversation. I think that this is perhaps standard for chat pads, but I didn't like having to wear a headset just because I wanted to be able to send messages quickly.

The 4 star is due to the jack not aligning with my controller conveniently. 90% of the time, I have to turn my controller upside down, align the jack, and then apply pressure on the black part that cradles the battery.

The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings Enhanced Edition
The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings Enhanced Edition
Offered by King Beardo
Price: $34.99
89 used & new from $9.90

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Checking Out for RPG Fans, May 7, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Fantastic. I pre-ordered this game solely based on the hype it was received during the original PC release. In preparation for the game, I even bought Witcher 1 off Steam and forced myself to play it on the mediocre capacity of my Mac. Truth be told, I wasn't completely sold after playing the first game. The voice acting was subpar and I had some difficulty getting attached to the characters and the world -- however, the experience was still enjoyable.

I went into the Witcher 2 with high expectations from the reviews, combined with doubts after Witcher 1. I personally found the game a bit difficult to get into in the first 2-3 hours (namely getting used to combat and figuring out story progression).. but that is usually the case for me when I start a new game. By the middle to end of the first chapter, the game truly began to grow on me. The voice acting, graphics, and combat are considerably better than the first game without question! I found a lot of joy in reading the journal entries and seeing how the entries changed depending on how far I was on the story and what decisions I made.

There is a lot of versatility in the way you can approach combats.. although, as you increase the difficulty level, you really do have to get used to mixing up bombs, traps, signs, maneuvering (parry, riposte, dodge, etc.), potions, and oils. Combat is really a treat! Particularly in Dark Mode, when you can't just rely on hack and slash.. and a mistake could mean starting over again. I felt that the damage dealt by enemies and Geralt felt balanced.

In regards to the story, I felt that it was compelling and immersive experience! I did feel a bit confused as to what was going on with Geralt's flashbacks. I got a decent sense of his background, however, references to Yennefer, The Wild Hunt, Ciri, etc. were a bit over my head as (I believe) you need to have read the novels to fully understand what's going on. BUT.. that's not to say that you won't understand what's going on in the PRESENT during Witcher 2. In that aspect, you know what's going and what your goal is. At the end of Chapter 1, you are given the choice to side between Ioverth or Roche -- this decision impacts how the rest of your game plays out. Chapter 2 entirely changes based on this, and two playthroughs allows you to fully appreciate how much attention to detail was paid to how characters fate's are changed based on where you go -- i.e. one path allows you to decide the fate of a prince, whereas another leads to an inevitable demise. The dialogue was great, and I actually felt myself getting angry or laughing at loud during certain parts of the story. It's without a doubt a game that rewards the choices that you have made.

The characters are top notch and are presented realistically, in that every person has a flaw. They are not perfect and there is no clear good vs. bad. The characters stay true to who they are presented as. CD Projekt's ability to create believable characters was solidified for me when I found myself appreciating characters that I truly hated. Despite not agreeing with certain character's viewpoints, motivations, or actions (really HATING them).. I would be absolutely against writing them off from the story. One sorceress that plays an important role in Ioverth's path, in particular, was a complete b**** (pardon!) in every sense of the word, but, WOW! What a character!

I could go on and on about this game and how much fun I had with it, but it all boils down to one thing: PLAY THIS GAME. Especially if you are big on story and decision making.

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