Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Favorites #2 A Prayer for the Devil

Title:  A Prayer for the Devil
Author:  Dale Allan                                                                  
Pages:  320
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Emerald Books
     When I first heard about this novel, my interest was piqued because of the title.  Where was the author going to take a reader with a book that includes prayer and devil in the title?  Perhaps you too have looked at a novel picture, title or author and whatever you conclude decides whether you will read the book or keep looking for something else.  I read a couple of reviews and decided to go to author’s website to read more about the author as well as the book.  Deciding to contact the author and inquire about the contents of his book, I was pleasantly surprised when I received a direct answer from the author himself.  Then, having interacted with the author via email, I proceeded to risk reading his debut novel.  What I didn’t expect was one of the best novels I have read by an author that is new to me.
     A Prayer for the Devil is a novel that really defies any one particular genre.  There are multiple themes, stories, locations, cultures, characters, and more included.  There is a flavor of mystery, suspense, thriller, and more as well.  Inside the multifaceted story is murder both at an individual level as well as national level.  A nation with certain philosophies desires to destroy another nation for many reasons that come to the surface the farther one reads.  Characters that live for selfish gain as well as those who would lay down their lives for a complete stranger are portrayed.  In some cases, it is based on just being part of the human race.
     Religious affiliation, national governments’ philosophies, and freedom come into play as a plan from the past has now come into fruition.  During a political speech for the presidential race, a bomb from the past explodes and causes the death of key figures.  As a result many lives are irrevocably changed and not all for the better because for some there is no closure.  Luke’s twin brother is one of the casualties.  Suddenly this priest finds himself temporarily changing vocations.  Luke is no longer an unknown priest serving parishioners; he now has decided to find out who murdered his brother.
     Luke, however, has no idea how this one decision is going to change the life of his parents, sister-in-law, nieces, and countless others.  The local detectives have run into a dead end in their investigation, and now it has become a matter for the FBI to handle.  Though the investigation doesn’t stop with the FBI, it becomes necessary to involve the Vatican and their protective services.  There are homeless people who offer clues as to what they witness, even though what was seen in the past has some link to the current tragedy.  Would you even believe that baseball has a part in the resolution of the plot?

     There is so much more to what Dale Allen wrote in what I can describe as an imaginative, peculiar, and illusive spiel.  Many times you will locate well known places or climaxes that only continue to lead down paths to discovering who has means, knowledge, purposes, and reasons.  The priest goes from Boston to Dubai to locate and hopefully conclude what he considers his sole purpose:  Find the mastermind who killed his brother.  Yet, just as the priest is about to get the answer that has driven his life for months, revelation for both Luke and the nation will be more than anyone can even imagine.
     The author is currently writing more fiction that I hope proves to be just as captivating as A Prayer for the Devil.  Don’t pass this one up!  There are a few swear words and no sexual content or innuendos at all.
     My rating is 5+ stars!
     Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Favorites #3 Opening Moves

Title:  Opening Moves 
Author:  Steven James                                                                                                                   
Pages:  483
Year:  2012
Publisher:   Signet Select                                                                             
                If you’ve never read Steven James before, this book should be the first.  He does a masterful job of building tension, maintaining suspense, and action.  This book is the beginning of his Patrick Bowers series, a prequel if you will.  I’ve read all of the other Patrick Bower books, which are great!  This one is no exception.
                For this story, the reader finds Patrick Bowers as a homicide detective in Milwaukee.  This is where he first meets his mentor Dr. Werjonic, one of his college professors.  Pat is pursuing a degree in criminology and law.  He also meets a man that will become one of his best friends, Ralph Hawkins, who works for the FBI.  Ralph has been called in to work on a current homicide case and partners with Pat.  After the case is over, is there a future for Pat as a homicide detective in Milwaukee?  Will the FBI become his new employer?
                There are two serial murder cases being investigated simultaneously.  Are they connected in any way?  The criminals are vicious, evil, and deadly.  Please be aware that the subject matter of how they commit their crimes is extremely grisly.  The evil these criminals perpetrate is unthinkable to the average person.  Pat has vowed to get the guilty person(s).   There are personal questions that occur during the course of his investigations as to the existence of heaven and hell.  He considers himself to be not very religious, but these questions keep coming up and begin to make him think.
                Patrick must face down his own struggle with his ability to commit criminal acts.  Not that he has committed any, but that he thinks it possible that he could.  He also must deal with his relationship with Taci, his girlfriend of one year.  They’ve talked about marriage, and they’ve said they love each other, so what is holding them back?  The crimes begin to escalate in severity, and begin to touch someone on the police force.  Someone has personal knowledge of police procedures and chain.  Is the criminal involved in law enforcement?  Can one of their own be committing these heinous acts?
                This is a page-turner that will be hard to put down.  Readers get to know Patrick from his first law enforcement job, and his beginning questions of faith.  His attention to detail, his methods of investigation, and his dedication will become his trademarks.  He is tenacious, but also caring.  He is not a hard-nosed cop, but no wilting daisy either.  He has strengths and failings just like the rest of us, but how he uses each to attain his goal is what is interesting.
                My rating is 5 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Favorites #4 Double Blind

Title:  Double Blind
Author:  Brandilyn Collins                                                                                                              
Pages:  328
Year:  2012
Publisher:   B&H Publishing Group                                                          
                Lisa Newberry thinks she is going insane.  She has suffered several traumatic events over the last two years including three miscarriages, being attacked and almost strangled to death, and the death of her beloved husband.  All this has happened and she is only 29 years old.  She has been suffering from severe depression.  She has no family nearby and only one close friend.  God has surely abandoned her, right?  Then, she gets The Letter.
                Cognoscenti is a company that has created an Empowerment Chip.  They hope to help those who suffer from severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s, and other brain disorders through the use of this chip.  The chip is implanted in the brain and prevents the impulses of depression, panic, fear, etc… so that the people implanted with the chip can live normal lives.  The chip is now at the human trial level before being available to the mass market.  They need volunteer subjects for this trial, who agree to undergo brain surgery for chip implantation.  There are many applications; they notify the applicants of their acceptance by letter.
                Lisa has been accepted to the trial.  She has a meeting with those in charge of the trial and they tell her that neither she nor they will know if she has received a placebo chip or the Empowerment Chip so the results will be accurate and not influenced by anyone…a double blind trial.  She undergoes the surgery and has the chip implanted.  While in the recovery room, she has a vision of a man committing murder.  She chalks it up to the drugs and anesthesia, but the next day she has another vision.  As the week progresses, so do the visions with more and more detail.  All the visions are viewed through the eyes of the murderer.  Lisa decides she wants this chip out.  She keeps seeing this vision over and over of some woman being murdered.  She can’t sleep one night because as soon as she closes her eyes, the vision begins and plays over and over.  The company won’t listen to her story, won’t remove the chip, and tells her she has had a placebo chip implanted.  Lisa knows this just can’t be true, right?  She is not going crazy or is she?  There is something wrong with this chip and she must find out before it is available to the general public.  It is not safe.  Lisa, with the help of her mother, who comes to stay with her after receiving a threatening phone call about Lisa, begins to investigate who the victim might be.  Guess what?  They find the victim alive and well.  What is going on?  Obviously, this murder never happened, but it seemed so real.
                Brandilyn Collins has written a fantastic, suspense-filled thriller that I couldn’t put down.  I have not read any of her other books yet, but I’m going to now!  You’ll see that God hasn’t abandoned Lisa, and he will never abandon you either.  Get this one and put it on your keeper shelf after reading it.  It will keep you riveted and on the edge of your seat.
                My rating is 5 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Favorites #5 Darkroom

Title:  Darkroom
Author:  Joshua Graham
Pages:  384
Publisher:  Howard Books
Year:  2012

                What words or images come into your mind when you see the word darkroom?  Is there any particular activity that you connect with this word?  Joshua Graham is a new author to me, and I can tell you that if he continues to write at this level, I am hooked!  The novel uses flashbacks to the time the United States was involved in Vietnam.  Interspersed throughout the pages are recent past events in U.S. History.  Especially compelling is the thread of presidential elections and thoughts by the characters of the two main parties involved in the political arena.
                Colson is running as an independent candidate who seeks to be the next President of the Unites States, bringing with him the hopes for a brighter future.  The FBI seeks to solve a murder of a young college student or is there more to this?  Xandi is the daughter of a photojournalist who was in Vietnam and witnessed horrifying events.  Being attached to particular group of Marines, the pictures the photojournalist takes portray the horror that is surrounding him.  Is that all there is to the situation when years later he is being hunted by the FBI?  The same person who tries to befriend Xandi is also an FBI agent and has a tie to the history of Vietnam.  How long has he been involved in discovering a plot?  What plot?  Who is calling the shots and doing his bidding?
                The novel is a page-turner from the prologue to the last page, and like real life, not everything ends well.  Okay, maybe some things do, but not everything.  Some things are not clearly tied up at the end of the story.  Could the author be planning another book along this line?  Who knows?  Scripture is spotted throughout the book by various characters.  People are praying together and helping one another.  Intrigue, murder, assassination attempts, friendship, shattered dreams, love, suffering, death, and so much more are in this story.  Darkroom has those page-turning story lines that keep the readers going until the eyes get tired.  It was worth it for me!  The chapters are short, and the characters are vividly described as well as the action.  I love the flashbacks and the hints to the way the story is possibly going through Xandi’s dialogue.
                I rate this a 5+ novel.  It is that good and worth cuddling up with a diet drink to read with in the quietness of the morning, afternoon or evening.  Grab a copy and get lost in the pages.  It is awesome!
 Note:  “I received a free copy of this book from Hard Books for my honest review.  The opinions expressed here are my own.”  Other reviews can be read at