The Tide, by Anthony J. Melchiorri

The Tide, by Anthony J Melchiorri, narrated by Ryan Kennard Burke
Captain Dominic Holland (Dom) is head of a covert operations team which investigates bioterrorism. As he and his team check out some suspicious activity on what was believed to be an abandoned oil rig, bone-armored mutant men begin to wash up on shores of countries around the world. Soon, citizens become crazed – brutally attacking and devouring people. Dom’s team rushes to find a cure to the bioweapon, as civilization crashes around them. 


I found this book in the new releases in Audible and thought I’d try it out. The genre is basically bioweapon zombie apocalypse, but the “zombies” aren’t actually zombies. They are living humans who develop bony armor around their bodies and get brain activation of unthinking violence. It was a fast-paced, high-action book. The science was very reasonable – clearly Melchiorri did his research – which I like to see in biotech books (otherwise I tend to roll my eyes and criticize every little mistake). Yes, the race for a cure moved along much too fast to be realistic, but that’s the nature of the genre, not a problem with Melchiorri’s writing. Nobody wants to read a book with the pacing of real life, after all. 🙂 

I think this book will be quite enjoyable to anyone who likes biotech apocalypse thrillers, especially those who enjoyed Jonathan Maberry’s Patient Zero. But beware, it is the first in a series, and the story just cuts off at the end – there’s not a satisfying conclusion. Luckily, Melchiorri is releasing the second one hot on the heels of the first, so this may not be an issue for many readers. 

I decided to give this book four stars despite the fact that there wasn’t a satisfying ending. The science was excellent and it was just what a biotech thriller should be. 

Storm Thief, by Chris Wooding

The Storm Thief, by Chris Wooding

Genre: Young Adult Dystopia, Science Fiction, Ages 11-14

Reason for Reading: This was my bookclub book for this month. 

Summary: The island city of Orokos has been trapped in isolation for so long that the idea of a “world outside Orokos” had become a dream for only the naive and the fanatics. There is nothing outside of Orokos, and Orokos is nothing but city, ghetto, and the ruling Protectorate. Chaos storms wreak havoc upon Orokos and its inhabitants – picking people up and dropping them elsewhere; crippling some people while giving life to others. Even eyeshadow isn’t too small to be overlooked by the probability storms.

When Rail and Moa make a snap decision to hide an expensive artifact from their Thief Mistress, they must flee with an assassin hot on their trail. While running, they come across a golem, Vago, who’d been misplaced by a probability storm before he had any idea of who he was, where he was from, or why he was made. Where can these refugees go when the Protectorate rules with an iron fist – keeping ghetto-folk away from the city? Their path is simply a series of coincidences strung together…leading, where?

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. The characters were simple enough to flow well in a book for young teens, but each character had an interesting mixture of strengths and weaknesses. My favorite character was Vago, the Golem, whose process of self-discovery throughout the story made him intriguing. 

I loved the philosophical underpinnings of this story. It reminded us that the random power of entropy will always win. It always destroys what we have worked to build. Entropy is a non-stoppable machine. So why do we continue fighting it? Why do we continue dreaming of that “other world” when we have so much evidence that it doesn’t exist? Why do we clutch hopefully to mere coincidences and use them to fuel our dreams? 

Slight spoilerish material
This is a book about hope as well as one about chaos. One character, who was “fanatically” willing to risk the lives of her people in pursuit of a seemingly impossible dream said: “We can stay here with our dreams just out of reach, or we can risk everything to reach them.” Even after having finished the book, I’m still not certain which was the right thing to do – was it better for her people to risk everything in pursuit of their dreams? Or was it foolish? Is it better to keep yourself safe by being cynically aware of the brutality of the world, or is it better to hope, dream, or love?

To me, the lasting message of the book is: your life might be nothing more than a series of coincidences that are out of your control, but how you respond to the world defines who you are – and YOU decide how you respond. I’m not sure whether I agree with this philosophy or not. Lately, I’ve had a bit of a faith crisis – which makes the life-is-a-random-string-of-coincidences theory sound rather rational. But I know what everyone expects me to say is that God is in control, it’s not a string of coincidences. 😉 


Deadly Offer, by Caroline B. Cooney

Deadly Offer, by Caroline B. Cooney

Reason for Reading: This book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. When I was a teenager, I read the second book in this trilogy, and I was curious what I would think of the first.

Review
Althea craves popularity. She wants to be a cheerleader – swooned over by all the jocks and the envy of all the girls. When, against custom, she opens the shuttered tower room in her house, she releases a vampire who makes a deal with her: If she brings him victims, he will give her popularity. Althea finds herself spiraling out of control as the vampire asks for more and more – and she feels she has to give it to him or suffer public humiliation. 

Looked at from a superficial point of view, there’s really not much to this book. It’s barely 200 pages long, and has little plot or character development. It’s pretty standard for those Point Horror books that were being pumped out in the ’90s. Teen readers should be wary – this is a quick, fluffy read with a (how dare Ms. Cooney?!) BAD vampire. Yes. That’s right. His skin looks and smells like soggy mushrooms. He feeds on the weakness of teenagers. And he doesn’t sparkle. He is in no way, shape, or form romantic. It was SUCH a wonderful change. 🙂 As long as bad vampires don’t insult your intelligence, you’ll enjoy this book if you’re 11-14ish. Or you might enjoy it if you’re older and enjoy exploring ideas.

What I liked about this book was that it was more meaningful on a deeper level. There were hints all along that Althea could have made herself popular on her own – that her own attitude ensured her unpopularity. She assumed no one knew she existed, so she hid from everyone. Result – nobody paid her any attention. This is also a story about how far some people are willing to go in order to gain what they want. She sacrificed her morals and trampled on other people in order to achieve her goals – and then she was dissatisfied with the results. It’s a story about being true to yourself and how your goals will be more lasting when you achieve them through hard work instead of back-stabbing. Any book that makes me think earns points with me! 🙂 

Another thing that made me think: where the heck were her parents through all of this?! They weren’t mentioned even once! Did Cooney mean to do that? I read the second book in the trilogy many years ago, and I remember THAT protagonist had parents…

Wanted! by Caroline B. Cooney

Wanted! by Caroline B. Cooney

Reason for Reading: This book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Review 
When Ally gets a phone call from her dad asking her to grab a couple of discs and drive (without a license!) in his corvette to “the place where she gets ice cream,” she knows something is wrong. But when someone breaks into the house while she’s in it, Ally makes a run for it – only to find out that her dad has been murdered and she’s the prime suspect. Will she be able to evade the police AND prove her innocence? 

This was a fun, fluffy, and clean teen thriller published back in the late ’90s and recently re-released. I read it practically in one sitting. There are certain aspects of the book that didn’t translate well to the 21st century. For example, this was written in a day when most people didn’t have a cellphone –  is that something today’s teenager can even fathom? 🙂 Ally made some stupid choices in this book (let’s face it, it’s hard to prove you’re innocent when you’re running away!), but in the end she managed to stay true to herself. This book would be appropriate for 11-14 year olds, and could be enjoyed by either boys or girls (i.e. it’s high on suspense and low on romance). In fact, it made me miss the day in which the love triangle wasn’t a required plot device for YA. Oh, those were the days!

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

Reason for Reading: Real life bookclub

Review
Camille Preaker is a troubled young woman and a mediocre journalist. When her editor sends her to her home-town in Missouri for investigative reporting on a possible serial killer, she must stay with her emotionally-destructive mother and wild half-sister. As Camille struggles with ghosts from her past, including her own self-destructive behavior and memories of a dead sister, she discovers that the murders are darker and more complex than she’d originally suspected. 

Although this book certainly had a good deal of mystery to it, it wasn’t really for me. Although I generally liked Camille’s character, there were several times when I groaned inwardly at her choices. She was weak and self-destructive. Such characters are really difficult to write well, and Sharp Objects had a bit of a debut-novel feel to it – perhaps Camille’s character should have been created by a more seasoned author. Another issue I had with the book is it was simply too dark for my tastes. There was so much ugliness in the book. Violence, self-loathing, sexual exploitation, and more. On the other hand, I DO understand why some people like this book. The key question to ask is – how much ugliness can you deal with? If you like reading about emotionally troubled characters, then this book would be attractive to you. There was a slight redemptive feel to the story at the end. A ray of hope for Camille. I appreciate that I was given that much. 🙂

Losing Christina: Fog, by Caroline B. Cooney

Losing Christina: Fog, by Caroline B. Cooney

Reason for Reading: I had hit a reading slump and wanted to perk myself up by reading something “exciting.” I was browsing through the ebooks at my library, and found this. I remembered how much I loved it when I was a child and thought “I wonder how bad it could be?” So I borrowed it. 🙂 I’m rather glad I did!

Review
Christina is excited because this year she is 13 and she gets to leave the island she grew up on and attend junior high on the mainland in Maine. Despite her excitement, she is torn by worry about whether she’ll be bullied by the mainland kids, who think islanders are stupid and poor. But those worries soon take second place when she realizes that the owners of the bed and breakfast where she and her islander friends lodge are using psychological torment to suck the souls out of girls. She’s terrified as she watches the beautiful and brilliant senior Anya fade away. And soon the psychopaths are after her own mind. 

When I was pre-junior high I used to gobble up these Point Horror books like a turkey dinner. (haha. ok, I know that wasn’t funny. Just work with it.) There are very few of those books that I actually remember liking though. This is one that has really stuck with me through the years. When I found it in the library recently I thought: “I wonder…” And I’m glad I did, because I found this book terrifying. When I was a teenager, I think I found the spooky psychological aspects of going insane scary. Now, the book is even more terrifying, but for a different reason. Those psychopath adults who have FULL control over those poor children were horrible! They were charming, and fantastic liars, and those kids’ parents weren’t around to see what was going on. They just believed whatever the adults told them rather than believing their own children. And the things those psychopaths said to the kids! Ohhhhh shudder. Yes, the book lacked subtlety. But the fact that it terrified me even now gets it four stars in my blog! My only complaint (besides the lack of subtlety – which is really due to its target audience) is that it ended in a cliffhanger. This is a trilogy of short books. It really should be one longer book. Even combined, I think the book would still be reasonably short. But it WAS Point Horror, after all. They had to be short.

Assassin’s Code, by Jonathan Maberry

2012 Book 150: Assassin’s Code

written by Jonathan Maberry, narrated by Ray Porter

Reason for Reading: 4th book in the Joe Ledger series. Figured the brainless action would be entertaining for a long car ride. Also, it fits in nicely with the Halloween theme. 🙂



My Review

In this fourth installment of Joe Ledger’s story, Ledger kicks the @$$ of evil Iranians, a Romanian? weirdo cult, and a group of religious doomsday vampires…all while trying to figure out where the mysterious group of psychotic women fit in to this mess. This book is brainless military sci-fi/horror action at its best. I only gave the book three stars because I started to get bored of all the bad @$$ military action. And it waxed a little too political for me at times. This is also a book that you shouldn’t think too deeply about–for instance, why the heck did he bring his DOG for a mission in Iran (when clearly the dog wasn’t being used for the mission)? Certainly, the dog HAPPENED to come in handy at times, but it seems poor planning to bring a dog and then leave him pointlessly in the hotel during the mission, so that if things didn’t go as smoothly as planned, Ledger would have to go back and get his dog before getting out of harm’s way. I also felt some of the “intrigue” plot was rather overcooked. Really? Intrigue in the Catholic Church? Gasp! Never seen THAT in a book before! So, like I said, this book is great if you’re interested in some mindless action…just don’t think too much. 🙂

If you liked the rest of the Joe Ledger books, then this is more of the same. If you liked the first and felt “meh” about the rest, then this book is similar to the rest of the sequels. If you haven’t read any of the others, pick up Patient Zero (it’s good!) and then keep in mind that the rest of the books are less intelligent, but just as much pulpy action.