Book Recommendation – Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol by Creston Mapes

Dark Star

Back Cover blurb:

Can Fame, Wealth, and Power Buy Happiness?

Everett Lester and his band, DeathStroke, ride the crest of a wave to superstardom. But the deeper they become immersed in fame, wealth, and power, the more likely they are to be swallowed alive by the drugs, alcohol, and discontentment that have become their only friends. Everett is headed down a perilous road of no apparent return when he’s charged with the murder of his personal psychic. The only hope he can cling to comes from Topeka , Kansas , and the letters written by a prayerful young lady who lives there. Consistent and persistent, the notes cut straight to Everett ’s empty heart, offering a fulfillment he’s never grasped before. But what if he’s found guilty of murder? Will he recognize the spiritual battle that’s raging for his soul?

Endora Crystal was my rock…

As I staggered through the chaos of rock ’n’ roll fame—the drugs and alcohol, the selfishness and turmoil—Endora was the gentle voice in my ear telling me I was special. Telling me I was adored. She was my personal psychic, and she said I had a unique purpose, a calling to give my fans happiness. To be their god.

My band, DeathStroke, dominated the world of rock. Yet strife ruled our inner circle. My family didn’t know me. I loved no one but myself.

And yet Karen Bayliss was praying for me, that I would come to know the love of God and the lordship of Jesus Christ. She was not a fan. Didn’t care for my music. Karen just wanted me to know peace.

Now Endora is dead, and I’ve been charged with first-degree murder.

Everett Lester is headed down a perilous road of no apparent return. Will he recognize the spiritual battle that’s raging for his soul?

Narelle: I was initially unsure if I’d like reading this book. The author presented a realistic picture of Everett’s celebrity rock star lifestyle, including drug use, and the story included flashbacks to earlier events in Everett’s life leading up to his arrest. After the first few chapters I was hooked, and I read this book very quickly. The powerful story stayed in my mind and I gained an empathy for Everett’s character as the story progressed.

I’m not usually a fan of flashbacks, but the parallel story line that blended past and present events worked really well and heightened the tension and suspense in the story. The spiritual warfare theme was an integral part of the plot and revealed the dangers for those dabbling in the occult. I loved Karen’s character and her unwavering faith in the power of prayer. I highly recommend this book to those interested in reading a thought provoking and compelling spiritual warfare story.

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Book Recommendation – Unlocked: A Love Story by Karen Kingsbury

Back cover blurb:

Before You Take a Stand … You Got to Take a Chance. Holden Harris is an eighteen-year-old locked in a prison of autism. Despite his quiet ways and quirky behaviors, Holden is very happy and socially normal—on the inside, in a private world all his own. In reality, he is bullied at school by kids who only see that he is very different. Ella Reynolds is part of the ‘in’ crowd. A cheerleader and star of the high school drama production, her life seems perfect. When she catches Holden listening to her rehearse for the school play, she is drawn to him … the way he is drawn to the music. Then, Ella makes a dramatic discovery—she and Holden were best friends as children. Frustrated by the way Holden is bullied, and horrified at the indifference of her peers, Ella decides to take a stand against the most privileged and popular kids at school. Including her boyfriend, Jake. Ella believes miracles can happen in the unlikeliest places, and that just maybe an entire community might celebrate from the sidelines. But will Holden’s praying mother and the efforts of Ella and a cast of theater kids be enough to unlock the prison that contains Holden? This time, friendship, faith, and the power of a song must be strong enough to open the doors to the miracle Holden needs.

Narelle: I really enjoyed this inspiring story. We gain an insight into Holden’s world and how his autism, which significantly limits his communication, impacts his family. It also highlights the lack of understanding of Holden’s peers when he is in a mainstream school environment. And offers a sad reflection of human nature when the kids who supposedly have everything feel the need to belittle and bully kids who are unable to defend themselves.

The author’s reader letter provides us with the background on the real life story of a young autistic boy who inspired this story. Ella is a courageous teen who isn’t afraid to stand up for what is right and be a voice for those less privileged than herself. I recommend this book to those looking for an encouraging story about how faith can lead to breakthroughs and healing in situations that seem dire and hopeless.

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Book Recommendation: The Covering by Dana Pratola

Back cover blurb:

What do a woman of faith and a heathen biker have in common? The devil, of course.

Tessa is moved to intercede for a man she’s never met. When they do meet, she’s stunned. Gunnar is gorgeous, charismatic, and driven. He’s also hostile, self-destructive, and an unbeliever…and she’s drawn to him like no other. The temptation she feels is as dangerous as it is alluring. She wants to stay away, but God has other plans. He reveals the devil’s intent to destroy Gunnar, and commissions Tessa to keep him covered in prayer. Can she rely on God to keep her from falling…in love, and into temptation? Or will the devil claim them both?

Narelle: I read the back cover blurb and I wasn’t sure if I would like this book. But, after the reading the first chapter I was hooked. There is an underlying spiritual warfare theme but the main focus of the story is on the fascinating relationship between Tessa and Gunnar.

It has the ‘good girl/bad boy’ romance dynamic and the way the characters are drawn together is not sugar coated and could be considered edgy for an inspirational romance. The attraction between Tessa and Gunnar is not hidden or downplayed and contains a level of realism that may not be to the taste of more conservative Christian fiction readers. I recommend this book to those looking for an exciting and different inspirational romance that explores faith issues.

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Book Recommendation: Red Ink by Kathi Macias

Back cover blurb:

A young Chinese woman, Zhen-Li—raised to observe the party line, including its one-child-per-family doctrine—falls in love with and marries a Christian, and adopts his faith. Though the couple downplays their Christianity in an effort to survive, Zhen-Li’s family is appalled, and she and her husband are ostracized. When she becomes pregnant for the second time and refuses to have an abortion, the persecution begins in earnest. Zhen-Li’s parents, under pressure from the government, pay to have Zhen-Li kidnapped and the baby aborted.

It is then Zhen-Li decides she must live up to her name—”Truth”—and take a firm stand for her faith, regardless of the consequences, and so she begins to regularly teach children about Zhu Yesu (“Lord Jesus”) and to distribute Christian literature every chance she gets.

Based loosely on the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, the story of Yang Zhen-Li tells the desperate tale of her incarceration and separation from her family, as she continues to minister to other prisoners, and even to her guards.

Narelle: Red Ink is one of those books you will remember long after you finish reading. Zhen-Li’s story will stir your emotions as you journey with this courageous young woman who faces extreme persecution and pressure to recant her faith.

Kathi Macias has written an inspiring and challenging story. The true state of the hearts of the characters is exposed in an honest portrayal of the lengths people will go to achieve their selfish agendas. The power of intercessory prayer is masterfully shown as characters stand firm in the face of evil.

I highly recommend Red Ink to those looking for a story that will touch that place deep inside them and lead them to question how much suffering and hardship they would be prepared to endure when standing up for their beliefs.

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Book Recommendation: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Back cover blurb:

California’s gold country, 1850. Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. What she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance, her heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. So Angel runs. Back to the darkness… A powerful retelling of the book of Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love. A page-turner.

Narelle: I love this book, and I’ve read it more than once. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (Monarch Books, 2004) is an award winning historical romance that has featured on Christian fiction bestseller lists for years. Francine’s writing is both beautiful and powerful as her characters retell the little known Biblical story of Hosea and Gomer. If you’ve never read Christian fiction and like reading romance, I highly recommend you start by reading Redeeming Love.

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