Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: Dark Star by Creston Mapes (Rock Star Chronicles #1)

Dark Star by Creston Mapes (Rock Star Chronicles #1)
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Publish Date: August 17, 2011
E-book, 400 pages 
Fiction, Christian fiction/thriller/suspense/court drama

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My Review:
Talk about a wild ride.  Everett Lester is the epitome of the bad boy rocker to the extreme.  Not the bad boys of today, but I think back to the Ozzy Ozbournes and the other extreme bands of the 70s and 80s that my generation was warned against (and I am sure there are still some of those today, they just aren't the mainstream, just like they weren't back then).  Drugs, sex, drinking, a psychic on tour with him, Everett had all of that.  He was hardly likable, yet there was one fan that wrote to him of God's love and she continued to write to him over a ten year period.   Everett kept her letters for some reason and always read her letters.  That was his turning point, this one girl who kept praying for him and kept the faith that he could change.

I really like how the book goes back and forth in the story between the current court case and Everett's previous life.  It slowly fills in the blanks of what happened that leads up to the court case and it's a thrill ride for sure.  I liked getting to know Everett and seeing what happened.  I also liked meeting Karen, her parents, Everett's sister Mary and her friend Jerry and the others along the way as well.  The story that Mr. Mapes weaves is really intriguing and it kept me reading into the wee hours of morning to see what would happen next.

I enjoyed the plot thoroughly.  It felt plausible.  Bad boy rocker one day realizes his life is empty and finds his way to God, but of course, it's really not that simple, you have to read the book because I don't want to give anything away.  Just know that it moves quickly alternating back and forth, but it's easy to tell which is in the past and which is in the present.  I was never confused so that was great.

The characters were also well done.  From the seemingly perfect like Karen (who had her flaws as well) to the down right evil and all of the ones in between, which is where most everyone else fell, the characters are down-to-earth and real.  Sometimes really scary, but still real to me.  I liked Everett even though he is deeply flawed to begin with, he is still redeemable, as well all are.  I think he reminded  me not to judge because we all sin and no sin is worse than another in God's eyes because it is all sin.  I like how the Christian characters preach love, but they still preach trying to live a life for God, so it's not skewed in either direction where it's too much law or too much love.  It's seems the perfect mix.  The book is not preachy at all, the Christian parts just seem to flow.  Karen never screams at Everett, she just gently writes to him over the years and prays.

This book is just amazing to me and I can't wait to start reading Full Tilt, which I have, but have a bunch of review books to finish before I can start.  But I will get to it soon and can't wait to get back to see what happens in Everett's life next.  Try it out, this book is one of those that can wow you.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Check back next month on December 22, for my review of the next book in the series Full Tilt.

About the Book:

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?

About the Author: 
Talented storyteller Creston Mapes graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1983 with a BA in magazine journalism. Since then, he has written for major corporations, colleges, and ministries. He has written for Coca-Cola, TNT Sports, Focus on the Family, Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, and The Urban Alternative. His stories have been featured in magazines including Private Colleges and Universities, In Touch, Leaders for Today, and The Hockey News. Creston makes his home in Georgia.


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Book Review: Remembering You by Tricia Goyer

Remembering You by Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Guideposts
Release Date: November 2011
Trade Paperback, 312 Pages
Fiction, Historical, Christian
ISBN: 978-0824948122

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My Review 
First I would like to say that I really appreciate one of the underlying messages of this book.  Listen to the stories of your grandparents, they won't always be around and they have some important stories to share.  I am thankful that my husband asked my "Pa" about his time during WWII, things I would have never thought to ask so I did get a little glimpse into his life back then.  He was one of 5 brothers and all 5 brothers went off to WWII.

Now to the review, I just wanted to mention that because this book really touched me and felt near and dear to my heart because of the subject matter.  My "Pa" was in the Pacific, but it didn't matter, the stories are the same, young boys off to war.

I found Remembering You to be a very interesting story.  There are several layers or plotlines to the story.  First is Ava's relationship with her Grandfather Jack.  In the beginning we know something has strained it and she sees this trip as something to bring them back together.  Ava also sees this trip as a way to see the world and get herself back together after being jilted by her fiancee.  Another layer is the ability to turn the trip into a way to help her with her flailing career.  Then there is the purpose of Jack and Paul and why they must make the trip across Europe together this year.  And finally, Ava and Dennis.  Dennis was Ava's first love, but it ended badly and doesn't seem to be going very well at the beginning of this trip either.  Ava just wants to get a grasp on one area of her life.

I often felt myself cheering for Ava.  And sometimes I kind of wanted to smack her.  But truthfully I felt for her.  She really had been beaten down and beaten down until she really did not know which end was up.  She had lost her spark and was trying to get it back on this trip, but Grandpa Jack wasn't helping and it seemed like every time things started going well with Dennis things took a huge backwards leap.  But that was part of what made the story.  Her continued trials, make the ending worth it.

Then the mystery of what is going on with Grandpa Jack and why he is being mysterious.  I enjoyed this part but felt like it was done up and then kind of tossed aside to be picked back up later.  I guess I felt this was a little choppy.  But not enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.  I still found this a book I could not put down.

I found it easy to identify with every character in the book.  I enjoyed the scenery and the situations in the book and the pages just about turn themselves.  The plot sped along and except for the choppiness I mentioned this book really impressed me.  I enjoyed Remembering You because it was different.  It delved into remembrances and current lives simultaneously and I love how Ms. Goyer wove these stories together like she did.  I highly recommend this book to anyone fascnated with the WWII era.  Though it takes place in the modern era, it's worth reading just for those remembrances and the respect that is given to the soldiers all through Europe in the liberated towns.  Beautifully researched and beautifully done.

My Rating: 4.25/5.0

About Tricia Goyer:

Tricia Goyer is a homeschooling mom of four (two graduated!) and an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia's written numerous novels inspired by World War II veterans, including her new release Remembering You. Tricia has a weekly radio show Living Inspired and loves to share inspiring, true stories. The Goyer family live in Arkansas.
For more information please visit www.triciagoyer.com.

About Remembering You:

35-year-old Ava Andrews' dream job is interrupted by an unusual request--fulfill her 84-year-old grandfather's last wish by joining him on a battle site tour of Europe. Ava is sure her boss will refuse her request. But, instead, he gives her a directive of his own--to videotape the tour and send it back as mini-segments for the show she produces.
As if juggling these two things isn't hard enough, Ava is soon surprised again ... twice. First, Ava and Grandpa Jack arrive in Europe, only to discover the tour is cancelled. Unwilling to let down her grandfather or her boss, Ava and Grandpa Jack head out on their own. Then, while they're on their way, the pair soon meet up with Paul, her grandpa's best friend, and his grandson Dennis. The same Dennis who just happens to be Ava's first love.
Before she knows it, Ava and Dennis are swept down memory lane as they visit the sites that are discussed in the history books. And even though Ava's videotaping old soldiers, she can see their youth, their hopes and fears, and their pride in their eyes. Soon Ava learns the trip isn't just for them ... it's for her too--especially for her heart.

Watch a video about the real-life stories Remembering You is based on.

Read an excerpt.

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FTC Disclaimer:  I received this book from Litfuse Publicity for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  

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