Original Books

Original Books is the blog where you will find the best of Christian fiction reviews. We hope you enjoy this blog and that you keep up with us as we continue to post reviews. Make sure you check the Elite List, the list of books we have rated 4 stars and above and the coming soon list to see what will soon be posted. If you feel we have forgotten about an author or a book or have any questions please email us at originalbooks200@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Projects!

Make sure to stop by and check out our just launched news site Original Books News. We are constantly keeping you up to date on what is coming up soon in the CF world.

Also we are just starting up a forum where we can discuss all of this together and we need you yo join! Just go here to check it out!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Emerald Windows by Terri Blackstock

Nick Marcello has been asked to design the stained glass windows for his old hometown church, forcing him to return and face his past. He has chosen none other than Brooke Martin to assist him in this endevour, causing gossip to ripple across the small town of Hayden. Because of their supposed "scandal" nearly ten years prior, Alice Hemphill is going to do everything within her power to fire the both of them, since her money keeps the church afloat. Even though Nick and Brooke both know they never did anything deserving the treatment they are receiving, they also both know that they are falling for each other in a way that will keep the whole town talking...
Emerald Windows echoes from Terri Blackstock's past directly after she left her secular career. Though there are some well-developed characters, the plot is generally typical with a typical end and few original elements. Though this plot is better than the typical romance model, it is still not original.
At least Nick is not a perfect male lead. Brooke, Alice, and several other characters are also well developed. Though Alice is portrayed as an evil villain, she still has a personality. However, there is a lot of imperfection in Hayden, which is the only thing that makes this book worth reading.
The plot is generally more entertaining than a typical romance not only because of the characters but also because of the circumstances. Though the results are expected, the circumstances are not. Terri added several surprises throughout the plot the changed things up, yet in the end, Terri did nothing terribly original save for the loss of a sentimental object.
All in all, the book was interesting to read, but I would not recommend it to somone as an example of Terri Blackstock.
3 stars

New Book Website

Original Books now has a sister website, Original Books News, which can be found at: https://sites.google.com/site/originalbooksnews/
We are currently looking for people who will collaborate with us. Please visit the webpage for more details. If you are interested, drop us an email at originalbooks200@gmail.com.

Playing God by Michelle McKinney Hammond

Tamara Roberts prides herself in being able to counsel hurting people through their broken situations, yet she does not understand why God allows such broken situations. Corrine Collins is struggling with the terrible secret of her pastor husband's homosexuality. Lydia Derveraux is trying to settle the score between her and her famous yet absent producer husband. Tamera's best friend, Jamilah, is trying to save one of her students from a neglectful situation. On top of this, Tamera is searching for love, which she lost years before when she divorced her husband. However, she is much to overconfident of her abilities as a Christian, which will soon lead her to begin playing God...
At first, Playing God appears to be an unedited, poor rendition of fiction since Michelle McKinney Hammond is used to writing non-fiction. However, as the book progresses, the plot becomes more focused and more original. In the end, this is not a five star novel, yet it is not one that can be overlooked either.
At first, the cast of characters is vast and no personalities are nailed down. But as the book progresses, the characters become more clear and unnessecary characters are left behind. The characters are not a masterpiece as a finished product, but they definitely improve. There is no villain save for the characters' choices, which is mainly what makes this book worthwhile.
This could have been a five star novel had Hammond used a respectable publisher or at least gotten some help editing her manuscript. When I first cracked open this book, I was not impressed. However, the plot became more and more interesting as it progressed. Some romantic subplots did not work out. Other subplots had original ends. The biggest disappointment I had with this book was that it could have been better with more efficient editing.
All in all, any Elite Book is worth my time and your time.
4 stars

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fire By Night by Lynn Austin

After years of living a carefree and rich life with her well-to-do parents, Julia Hoffman has forced herself to reflect upon her very existence. When she discovers that she is disagreeable to the handsome yet fierce Reverend Nathaniel Greene, Julia begins to devote her life to service as a nurse on the front lines of the Civil War. Her path soon crosses with Phoebe Bigelow, a woman impersonating a male soldier in order to make a new life for herself. However, Julia also draws the unwanted attention of a seemingly heartless surgeon who orders Julia to leave the front lines and return to her pampered life. However, Julia refuses, stubbornly deciding to prove her worth to the world. However, it seems as though the war is bigger than them all, and none of the wrongs will ever be righted...
While some authors are inconsistent in their writing styles, Lynn Austin is the picture of consistency. She is a master at writing historical fiction and developing complete characters, but a master of endings she is not.
Julia Hoffman is one of the more interesting leads Lynn has ever developed. Her purpose in the plot is unique and makes the book interesting. While Phoebe's situation is not entirely original, her subplot is interesting enough. Nathaniel Greene is an ambiguous character with a different end. There is no real villain, save for the Confederates. All in all, Lynn Austin knows how to develop characters and she did not stop using this talent in Fire By Night.
As usual with Lynn Austin books, the beginning and the middle are more tasteful than the end. Though there are interesting elements in the end, the unoriginal elements overshadow them. However, though there are romantic subplots, they are not structured typically or straightforwardly. However, in the end, Lynn Austin did not depart from her typical fiction model and wrote another typical end.
However, Fire By Night is not a book to complain about since Lynn Austin is very consistent in using her abilities to craft intriguing historical plots and develop good characters.
4.5 stars

Monday, November 29, 2010

Blind Trust by Terri Blackstock

Sherry Cranston has tried to move on and find a new purpose for her life after her fiance, Clint, abruptly disappeared from her life just days before their impending wedding. Now, eight months later, Clint has suddenly reappeared in her life with an urgency to keep her safe from an unknown foe. However, he will not tell her any helpful information, yet only wants her to trust him. Sherry and her roommate Madeline suddenly find themselves dragged across the country with Clint and his bodyguard Sam, heading to unknown locations with the enemy on their tails. Despite all of the danger and intrigue, can Sherry and Clint find once again the love they lost?
If one wants to learn how to write a completely run-of-the-mill suspense plot, one should read Blind Trust and write accordingly. Not only does this book borrow the same old, worn out plot; it borrows it in an unprofessional fashion that does not reflect well on Christian fiction as a whole.
Sherry, Clint, Madeline, and Sam are the core characters of this plot, but they are not characters that carry the story along with their personalities. Though the character count is few, the quality of the characters is lacking. Terri Blackstock has done better with character development in her career; obviously this book was written before she established this talent. The villain is not as bad as they could have been, but still not very intriguing.
This plot is definitely not lacking in potential. At any point, Terri could have changed up the pace and surprised her readers. There are plenty of opportunities for surprises and plot twists. However, Terri Blackstock took the safe way out by writing a predictable novel. Two, not one, romantic subplots are formed by the time the book is over. A typical showdown at the end makes for a boring read. However, despite these wasted opportunities, I know that the Terri Blackstock today would not write such a plot in the same fashion.
These are the types of books that make one appreciate how far an author has come in their career since they started.
2 stars

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner

Jane Lindsay never thought her husband of twenty plus years would leave her. But now he has announced that he is moving out to take another job several states away, in order to give them some space. As Jane tries to figure out where their marriage went wrong, she finds solace in discovering the past behind a ring with her name inscribed on it, which she found in the pages of an old prayer book. She discovers the story of Lucy Day, a dressmaker for Lady Jane Grey, who held the throne of England for less than two weeks. Even though Jane Lindsay tries to numb the situation with her husband, she cannot hide forever and will soon have to face the truth.
Susan Meissner has continued her new trend of writing past\present plots with Lady in Waiting. She has departed from the average historical account by discovering an obscure tale to write about. She combines this with an above-average present plot to make for an interesting read. However, Susan could still use some help with her ends.
Jane and her husband are both well-developed characters and are both at fault for their separation. As the book progresses, the reader discovers more and more how these two characters' choices drove them to where they are at the beginning of the novel. The characters in the past could be better than they are, but they are not unbearable. There are no real villains in particular, making for an interesting and ambiguous read. All in all, the characters are good, but not great.
The problem with a marriage trouble\separation plot is the inevitability of the end. There are really only two options, and Susan chose the more predictable, though it could have been worse than it was. There was one element of the past plot that Susan could not avoid being that it is historical fact. However, Susan took liberty to add unoriginal elements to the past plot. However, these issues are not something dwell on, since they can be easily forgotten in the light of other original elements, such as key character deaths.
While this book cannot be five stars, it is nonetheless an enjoyable book to read. Susan Meissner clearly knows what she is doing as an author.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fatal Convictions by Randy Singer

Civil attorney\part-time pastor Alex Madison makes his living preaching the Word of God and offering his services to patients in hospital beds. However, one of these such incidents changes the face of his career. While visiting the room of a Muslim car accident victim, Alex saw a typical opportunity, but not the groundbreaking case it would eventually become. After taking on the woman’s case, her husband is accused of ordering an honor killing, sparking one of the most heated and publicized court cases of the year. The question is this: did the quiet and reserved Muslim imam, who calls himself a Muslim reformer, order the death of a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity and the man who converted her? Alex takes his case because he believes his client is innocent, but what he soon discovers is that this case is dangerous. Alex soon finds himself fighting not only for his reputation, but for his life.

As is his custom, Randy Singer wrote a book that appeared to be a typical legal thriller he should have never written, but once again, he proved us wrong. Though on the surface Fatal Convictions looks like a run-of-the-mill plot, it is really run-of-the-mill Randy Singer.

As usual, Alex Madison is an exemplary lead, not a perfect and downtrodden attorney looking for a big case to lift his head out of the mud. Alex is actually far from perfect. The defendant is not a perfect victim, the prosecutor is not a belligerent criminal, and the judge is not a biased idiot. If Randy Singer has anything above other legal authors, it is his characters.

On the surface, this plot looks highly typical: an impossible case with international ramifications. It appears this way all the way up until the end. That’s when Randy Singer starts going crazy, placing one character with the enemies, while proving an enemy innocent. Kill one off here, save one there. In the end, the outcome is surprising yet is packaged with a purpose. Randy Singer proved us all wrong once again.

Randy Singer has reached a point in his career where he is not exhausted his store of ideas, but keeps slowly giving us another groundbreaking novel each year. He’s a role that does not appear to be ending any time soon.

5 stars

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson

May Seymour was a confused college student when Claudius Borne, a simple old man who exhibited better relational skills toward plants and animals than toward people, found her on the street, passed out in a hangover. The two of them struck up an odd relationship that did not end, even when May went on a mission trip to Rwanda, attempted to fulfill her purpose in life. But genocide in the hostile African environment sent her back to hide at Claudius’ farm. However, when tragedy struck May’s life, she vowed not to set foot into the outside world, relying on a church friend for sustenance. But when May receives news that an old college friend refuses to appeal his death row sentence, May’s life takes a turn for the better as she begins to discover life once again.

Lisa Samson has continued her streak of avoiding the same old plot with the same old characters. Like Embrace Me and The Passion of Mary-Margaret, Resurrection in May is a departure from her old self of writing about crazy female leads in certain situations. May Seymour is not one of those leads; however, she is not an exemplary character either.

May and Claudius could have been developed better. I am surprised at how much Lisa Samson’s character development skills have digressed the past three years. Obviously creating spastic female leads was the only skill she ever had. There is one good character among the mix, but since there are few characters, all of them should have been developed better. Believe it or not, this area is the weakest area of the book and causes its fall from five stars.

The plot is original and intriguing, much like that of The Passion of Mary-Margaret. There is nothing normal about the circumstances, but there is nothing wrong with this. A self-made farmer, a confused college graduate, a busybody church leader, and a prison inmate all thrown together make for irregular circumstances indeed. Even the romantic subplot Lisa invented was off the wall. No plot can be compared to this plot, making it unique. This is the sort of fiction that should always be: unique, original, and fresh plots.

However, the second component to a perfect book was partly missing: well-developed characters. However, one can never really complain about a Lisa Samson book to the point of never wanting to read her again. I’m sure she’ll be writing unique books until she dies.

4.5 stars

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker

The year is 1772. Toma Nicelescu and his partner Alek Cardei have been assigned by Catherine the Great of Russia to guard the estate of the Cantemirs during the Russio-Turkish War, namely their daughters, Lucine and Natasha. Toma and Alek both know that they cannot allow themselves to become emotionally involved with the sisters, even if the allure is tempting because of their close quarters. Alek is the first to fall, hungry for Natasha. However, Natasha introduces them all to something beyond their control and imagination. In a castle on a mountain not to far away, the devil has come down to tempt humans with the ultimate choice between living free or living dead. Though Toma and Lucine first resist the temptation Alek and Natasha first fell to, they find that there is little they can do to resist it forever.

Immanuel’s Veins can be considered a culmination or an example of everything Ted Dekker has done in his writing career. It is a cornerstone and a sample of everything he has ever done, yet nothing more and nothing new. Combining elements from the endless Circle saga, When Heaven Weeps, and his serial killer novels, and packaged in his trademark epic style, Immanuel’s Veins is deep on the outside yet very empty on the inside. However, nothing Ted Dekker writes can be completely discounted.

Toma, Alek, Lucine, and Natasha are not exemplary characters, but neither are they empty characters. The villain is a mix of all the villains Ted has ever created, making for a predictable result. Of course, there is some offhand allusion to some version of the great Thomas. It’s a miracle this book escaped without a millionth manifestation of Billy\Billos\Will that is really controlling the whole situation with a Blood Book, even though there is a Blood Book mentioned briefly. Basically, this cast of characters is nothing new for Ted Dekker.

The first half of the plot is empty and confusing, lacking substance and locational awareness. Things don’t really get going until the creatures in the dark castle, another manifestation of the Shataiki, start biting people. However, whatever smoke and mirrors and optical illusions Ted Dekker creates are only a cover-up for a very typical plot. By the time the book was half over, Ted created a situation similar to the end of When Heaven Weeps, with the same outcome. Though Ted had a chance to pull things out of a nosedive, he did not, though there are few interesting elements at the end. As mentioned before, Immanuel’s Veins is an example of Ted Dekker, namely the new Ted Dekker, the one that markets himself as an epic and new author but still does the same old stuff.

I used to say that Ted was better at his standalone novels, but now I’m not so sure. Perhaps he can redeem himself in his upcoming co-authored series that seems to be just as mystical as ever.

2.5 stars