Luke Gracias “The Devil’s Prayer” – A Review

the-devils-prayer-luke-graciasStory  ★★ 
Writing ★  
Cover Mystery 

PROS: Captivating
      Suspenseful
      Strong characters
      Beautiful narrative

CONS: Slow beginning

Oh Boy.

I finally finished The Devil’s Prayer and I still can’t stop my heart racing with excitement. It has been a while since I had read a book this good. And boy was it good!

The Devil’s Prayer is a historical fiction, and even more a thriller in its way. It opens in Spain, in a convent, with the death of a nun. The first pages set the tone for the whole book, with the reader forming instantly questions, such as What are the pages the nun stole from an ancient book? Why did she steal them? Why would monks of her rank be after her? and Why would she kill herself as a result? We then learn that the nun had two daughters, Siobhan and Jess, and of the two, Siobhan is the one after the truth about her mother’s unusual death. Without going into details, and not wanting to spoil the book for you, Siobhan flies out to Spain, to pay her respects to her mother’s body and maybe learn the real reason why their mother abandoned them a few years earlier to become a nun, and why she decided to end her days so abruptly. When she gets to Spain, what Siobhan finds is more than what she had bargained for, as she retrieves her mother’s confession and learns her ties to the Devil and the importance of the Devil’s Prayer.

At the beginning of the book, I could not help but draw some comparison and similarities with Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, but as I read more, The Devil’s Prayer stood on it’s own. Luke Gracias did a fantastic job with his debut novel, offering an interesting and pretty well researched background on religious belief, while exploring the coexistence of Good and Evil, of God and the Devil. He masterfully shapes the story throughout various timelines, both during Sister Benedictine’s time (who is the mother of Siobhan), as well as way back to the 1220s. Although the book started a bit slow, the pace quickly picks up once we enter the “Confession” part of the book. The Devil is revealed and with him, human’s love for a good bargain. The narrative and its characters are strong, and Gracias masterfully uses historical timelines to tell his story, and draw the reader in suspense with a major cliffhanger waiting for them at the end of the book. Throughout the book, one has to put aside his/hers preconceived notions about Good and Evil, and foremost about religion in itself and embrace, even if it’s just as a work of fiction, the possibility that “maybe” as we pray to God, the Devil also listens, stirring along dreadful events for which we just have no explanations.

If you love historical fiction, fast paced suspenseful stories, mysteries, religious conspiracies…then you will love The Devil’s Prayer. I could not put it down from the moment I picked it up, and I am glad I was offered the opportunity to read it and review it fro you all. I am very impressed by the details and the research Luke Gracias has performed for his story, and I cannot wait to read more from him in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley, author Luke Gracias, and Australian eBook Publisher for an ARC of The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias, in exchange for an honest review.


BUY THE BOOK: Amazon
FOLLOW LUKE GRACIAS: Website
MORE INFO
 Language: English
 Genre:Historical, Horror, Thriller, Fiction
 ASIN: B01BXR4838
 Published: February 18, 2016
 Publisher: Australian eBook Publisher
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Time Travel with Melanie Gideon’s Valley of the Moon | A Book Review

valley-of-the-moon-book

Author ★★
Story ★★★★
Writing ★★
Cover ★★★PROS
Entertaining
Great narrative
Powerful charactersCONS

BUY THE BOOK

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FOLLOW
MELANIE GIDEON

Website
Facebook
twitter

MORE INFO

Language: English
Genres:
Literary Fiction
Historical Fiction
Time Travel
Women’s Fiction
ISBN-10:0345539281
Published: July 26,2016
Publisher: Ballatine Books

As a NetGalley member, I often receive their newsletter informing me of the books that will soon be available/are available for request. When I saw the Valley of the Moon in one of these newsletters, I was not much impressed by its cover – it was a bit too messy in my opinion. However, its title – it was filled with mystery and with a promise of an interesting journey just waiting to be taken in between its pages.

And so I requested to read it in exchange for my honest opinion.

And I am glad I did.

Valley of the Moon is Melanie Gideon’s third book and second novel. It is also my very first introduction to Melanie as an author. Valley of the Moon is told from the perspective of two main characters – Lux and Joseph. I am not sure why, but I am a sucker for books told from different point of views. Maybe because they make you feel omnipresent and in a way god-like; always aware of the truth that either character ignores. Seeing how the novel was structured, reinforced my desire to dive into it.

Lux is a single mom struggling to make her way when she discovers an idyllic community in the Sonoma Valley. It seems like a place from another time—until she realizes it actually is. Lux must keep one foot in her world, raising her son as well as she can with the odds stacked against her, but every day she is more strongly drawn in by the sweet simplicity of life in Greengage, and by the irresistible connection she feels with a man born decades before her. Soon she finds herself torn between her ties to the modern world—her adored son—and the first place she has ever felt truly at home.

The narrative takes us back and forth between the early 1900s and the 1980s. Joseph – trapped in 1908, and Lux mainly living in 1980 and finding her way back to 1908. As the story unveils, we learn from both characters their troubled pasts with their fathers, the lack of love they felt growing up, and the desire to build a future together, despite the unlikely circumstances. Both characters are relatable, and it is easy to root for them and become attached. Although Lux at first appears to be a mess – working at a restaurant and barely making ends meets for her and her son Benno, I loved discovering that she was more than her crappy job, and more than the poor life choices she had made up until her visit to Greengage. It is easy to feel empathetic toward her as she tries to better her life and her son’s while trying to maintain the relationship she is building with the people of Greengage, and Joseph in particular. Despite what appeared as her shortcomings, Lux proves to be a person of her word, and a fighter. She is someone one would love to have as a friend or a parent. It is also interesting to see that the all composed, well behaved Joseph is just a human like the rest of us, one that feels guilt, that tries to do and be better, and one who is always ready to lend a hand, and his ear.

Valley of the Moon is a beautiful story of love, hope, redemption and possibilities. It sucks you in the moment you open its pages, keeping you on your toes throughout the novel. It is packed with powerful (read emotional) paragraphs, offering a somewhat unexpected twist to the story that really took me by surprise. I couldn’t help myself from worrying for Lux, Benno, and Joseph, nor could I stop the tears from rolling down. Melanie Gideon created a masterpiece, a novel so powerful that you are left feeling all kinds of emotions at the same time: sad, happy, hopeful, and so much more. Valley of the Moon is a real page turner, and a book I think anyone into time travel, women’s fiction and touchy-feely narrative, will really enjoy this book. I am already looking forward to reading more from Melanie and maybe even see Valley of the Moon being someday adapted onto the big screen (wishful thinking?).

I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Book Review |The Longest Night by Andria Williams

Book Review: The Longest Night by Andria WilliamsDisclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Please refer to the Disclaimer page for more information.

 

Author

Story    ★★

Writing

Cover  

Mystery

 

PROS

Captivating

Filled with tension

Well contructed scenes and characters

CONS

Tedious read

Long to climax

 

BUY THE BOOK*

FOLLOW ANDRIA WILLIAMS

Website

Twitter

 

MORE INFO

Language: English

Genres:

Women’s Fiction

Historical Fiction

Literary Fiction

Contemporary Women

Fiction

          

ISBN-10: 0812997743

Published: January 12, 2016

Publisher: Random House

DISCLAIMER

The Longest Night, debut novel of Andria Williams, was kindly provided for an honest review by NetGalley and its publisher Random House. Read the full disclaimer here.

In 1959, Nat Collier moves with her husband, Paul, and their two young daughters to Idaho Falls, a remote military town. An Army Specialist, Paul is stationed there to help oversee one of the country’s first nuclear reactors—an assignment that seems full of opportunity.

Then, on his rounds, Paul discovers that the reactor is compromised, placing his family and the entire community in danger. Worse, his superiors set out to cover up the problem rather than fix it. Paul can’t bring himself to tell Nat the truth, but his lies only widen a growing gulf between them.

Lonely and restless, Nat is having trouble adjusting to their new life. She struggles to fit into her role as a housewife and longs for a real friend. When she meets a rancher, Esrom, she finds herself drawn to him, comforted by his kindness and company. But as rumors spread, the secrets between Nat and Paul build and threaten to reach a breaking point.

 

Andria Williams’ debut novel is charged with tension from the very first page until the last. The Longest Night, mainly set in Idaho Falls in 1960s, tells the story from the point of view of both Nat and Paul as they navigate through their married life. Paul is in the military, and his current assignment is to work at the site of a nuclear reactor. Nat, originally from San Diego and a free spirit at heart, has to readjust to a new life in the small town, all the while not quite fitting into the expected military wife role. In the background we also dive into other character’s lives, such as the Sergeant Richards and his wife Jeannine, Esrom among other third type characters. The tension comes from everywhere, and Williams does a fantastic job at holding it all together without giving in, and letting the reader guess the end. The eminent explosion of the reactor Paul is sent to work on is constantly looming over the character’s lives, making the reader wonder if there will be a good end to all of this. Throughout the novel, there is a strong sense of time and place, which gives a real dimension to the story.

However, so much tension can also be exhausting. The novel is not always easy to read, with passages that stretch for long periods. In fact, the novel doesn’t really start to pick up until about 60% into the book. For those  used to get to the climax of the story much sooner, this novel can prove to be challenging to read. The characters always seem to linger in certain situations, leaving the reader wondering whether or not some action will soon come along. I for one thought numerous times that the novel should have been renamed to “The Longest Story”, as it never seemed to want to end. Only my determination to get to the bottom of this story helped me get through the long beginning. That, and the fact that one has no clue as to the direction of the book, makes it quite a challenging read. However, the moment Paul is sent away from his family the story picks up pace, with more tension but also with more thrill filled in each page. The pages then just rolled under my fingers, my eyes hungry for more.

Ultimately, The Longest Night is a powerful debut novel, beautifully written and constantly moving forward – even if with some urgency. Even though I still think the beginning was too long, I must admit it was necessary to get the reader to the climax of the story, and to shape the whole “aha!” moment, when all is revealed, and the tensions are broken. Andria Williams crafted a well laid out novel, which doesn’t waste time on unnecessary scenes or unnecessary words. If one can bear long narratives, this is a novel to give a chance to. I promise, it will stir something within you.