The Lie – by Hesh Kestin

I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved  The Lie by Hesh Kestin.  It’s not that it was some epic book that’s burned into my brain forever, more of me just loving the topic, the fast pace, and the writer’s style.

The Lie is about Dahlia Barr, an Israeli attorney whose focus is on defending Palestinians accused of terrorism, and about Edward Al-Masri, an Arab who grew up in Israel, and how their lives are connected.  Dahlia has staunch beliefs about torture and it’s these beliefs that are put to the ultimate test.

Dahlia is asked by the Israeli security establishment to be the nation’s arbiter on interrogation methods and when it truly necessary to use torture.  In Dahlia’s world, there’s never a need to use torture. She takes the job with the idea of changing the way things are done and ensuring torture is never used.  While Dahlia is adjusting to her job, Edward is arrested at the airport in Israel, accused of smuggling money into the country.  Dahlia has two sons, one of whom, Ari, is in the Israel Defense Forces.  Ari is kidnapped by Hezbollah and taken to Lebanon.  And Edward is the one who can help set Ari free, or send Ari to his death by not helping.  Dahlia’s beliefs are tested in ways she can’t even imagine and the struggle to free her son pushes her to the brink.the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-button

The thing I liked  the best about The Lie is the author’s background.   Kestin is a former journalist who reported on war, international security, and terrorism, just to name a few.  He also spent 18 years in the Israel Defense Forces.  This extensive background lent itself to a believable and fast paced story.  Most of the chapters were on the short side but provided good content.  My obsession/love for covert items, defense organizations, and the internal struggle of someone choosing to do the unthinkable also clearly played a part in my enjoyment of this book.

The reveal of the lie wasn’t quite what I expected but given the subject matter and the tension of the region the book takes place in, I can see why Kestin wrote the ending he did.  This was a fast paced and enjoyable book that I would be happy to read again or even give as a gift.  I hope Kestin writes more books like this.


Zombies, Government Conspiracies, and Blogging

Three big topics – zombies, government conspiracies, and blogging – are all combined in The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant.  All three make for great topics and putting all three into a series ends up in a fun read and a new way to tell a story.

Georgia Mason and her brother Shaun Mason are bloggers in the post rising world, are dedicated to telling the true story, and making sure they don’t disappoint their readers.  In 2014 the common cold and cancer were cured.  Those cures created a worse alternative – zombies.  20 years after the cure and the subsequent rising, Georgia (a/k/a George) and Shaun run a blog where they report on zombies and life around them.  George is a “newsie” – someone who tells the stories, making sure all the facts are correct before getting the word out and Shaun is an “Irwin” – those who are field reporters (for lack of a better term) and post videos of their encounters with the zombies.  There are also fictionals – those who write about the world around them but put a fictional spin to it.  George and Shaun, along with their blog team site, get their dream job: covering the next presidential election.  Along the way, they encounter terrible tragedy and realize they can’t trust the people they thought they could.

This series is put in the zombie category but the zombies really serve as the background and back-story to the books – Feed, Deadline, and Blackout.  The main story is the government conspiracy.  What I liked best about this series was the characters were bloggers.  Each chapter had about two posts from one of the characters which gave the reader more of a sense of what the post rising world was like and what the readers of the blogs would see.  The books were told at a fast pace and I thought the blogging aspect was a new and different twist.

Mira Grant isn’t afraid to shock the reader with some of the things that play out.  I don’t want to say too much since it would give away major plots lines, but it was enjoyable to read and be surprised at some of the situations that occur.  The third book gets a bit convoluted towards the end with the conspiracy and does feel a bit rushed, but ends by tying up the story in a decent way.

The background of how the rising started gets a bit technical with the writer explaining throughout the three books how it all happened.  If your looking for a book series that is a good thriller, has zombies as a decent supporting cast, and want a dose of government untrustworthy-ness tossed in, I recommend this series.

NOS4A2 may not Scare you

NOS4A2, Joe Hill’s most recent book is about Talent Manx, a child abductor who takes his victims to Christmas land, and Vic McQueen (a/k/a the brat), the one kid who escaped Manx’s grip.

I wanted to love this book.  I’m a huge Joe Hill fan and have loved his three other books – 20th Century Ghosts, Heart-Shaped Box, and Horns – and was so looking forward to this one.  I was, however, a bit disappointed.  I didn’t hate it but it was missing that gripping aspect all his other books have had.  The book starts out with a brief look at what appears to be a patient, Manx, on his last strings.  The nurse attending to him gets the scare of her life when Manx suddenly grabs her and says there’s a place for her son at Christmas land.  The nurse, terrified this man knows her son’s name, cries for help and the doctor who eventually comes doubts that Manx could have done this in his comatose state.

Next is the introduction to The Shorter Way – Vic McQueen’s inscape.  Where Vic goes when she wants to get away from the fighting of her parents or something that makes her unhappy.  Vic’s first passage to the Shorter Way is her bike, a Raleigh Tuff Burner.  The Shorter Way is kind of like an alternate universe where Vic can talk to and see people as well as travel to where she needs to go. She meets a friend there who also has inscapes and knew that she would one day meet Vic.  As Vic gets older her inscapes start to fall off and she comes to think all that happened was the imaginations of a child.  When Vic is about 17,  her Raleigh Tuff Burner takes her on her fateful journey to Manx only to escape him at the last moment.

The rest of the book is about Vic and her struggle to live as an adult, forget about what happened to her, Vic trying to be the mom she should be, and her fight to end Manx and his life of kidnapping children and tormenting her.  All of which took to long to get to the end result for my liking.  I wanted the pace to pick up and stop providing details which didn’t really help with anything.  I didn’t even find what should have been a terrifying moment – Vic’s narrow escape from Manx – that scary.  It seemed to brief and easy and I didn’t find it compelling.

I found this book to be far to long.  I wanted to know more why inscapes happened but was never provided good reasons behind it.  I also felt as if I was reading one of Hill’s father’s book (Stephen King) and not Hill.  I felt as if he was trying to write an epic horror book that would live up to his famous father rather than be writing all his own, like it was with the first three books.  I wanted to love NOS4A2 but I ended up feeling kind of blah about it.  I didn’t hate it but it wasn’t the Joe Hill I’ve come to love.   I kept thinking I was reading King, not Hill.  I do recommend reading this book if you’re a Hill fan even though I was disappointed.  One thing I did enjoy was Hill’s way of ending a chapter and having the last word begin on the next chapter.  This style did give the book an interesting pace since you really had to turn the page to find out what happened.  A bit odd but once I got used to it found it enjoyable.

I guess you can’t love them all.  Here’s to hoping that Joe’s next book finds his path back to himself.

Procrastination blamed on reading

This weekend rather than work on my homework, I read two books from my pile of “to read” book pile.  My books were screaming out to me and I could not resist their forlorn cries of unread words.  The first book, read on Saturday, was Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.  I had read Gone Girl and really enjoyed it so I thought I give her other books a try.  Sharp Objects was an enjoyable, easy read (took me one day), but a little predictable.  This was Flynn’s first novel and you can see how she made her way to Gone Girl.  Flynn’s character’s are certainly twisted and disturbed.  Good book for a quick read and does not require too much mental thought.

The second book, which I just finished (read in one day as well), was The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.  I’ve read other reviews of this book and wholeheartedly agree – it is an incredible book.  It’s classified as a YA book but the subject matter is definitely not YA.  It’s a story of two teenagers with cancer (one has a terminal diagnosis) and what happens in their lives after they meet.  I found this book absolutely impossible to put down.  I loved the two main characters and thought the humor that was used throughout the book was witty.  This is one story that has you laughing one second and then crying the next.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it.  The subject matter is a bit bleak – it’s about kids with cancer – but the story is told in such a lighthearted yet real manner that the book is not bleak to read.

So, now I have to ignore the cries of my pile of books (although it is so hard when they are screaming so loud!), stop my procrastination, and get on with my homework.  If only my school work cried out as loud as my pile of books.