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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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

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Take Four by Karen Kingsbury

Young and popular actor Brandon Paul has lived his short life starring in movies by day and making the tabloid headlines at night. Christian movie directors Keith Ellison and Dayne Matthews of Unlocked, the next movie Brandon is starring in, have instructed him to clean up his act if he expects to star in the film. However, Brandon decides the follow their instructions for an entirely different reason: because of Bailey Flanigan, his co-star in Unlocked. However, despite the heartthrob’s obvious affections for her, Bailey wants to understand her kind yet tight-lipped boyfriend Cody. She knows something has been going on in his life, but he refuses to tell her. This only makes things more complicated for her. Meanwhile, Andi Ellison is trying to make the hard decision as to what she will do with the baby growing inside her. Should she raise the child as her own or give it up for adoption? With so many questions, how will the intertwining lives of these families affect one another?

Karen Kingsbury seems content to write the never-ending Baxter Saga for the rest of her life, but it’s time for this series to be put to rest. The Baxter family long ago became perfect, and her attempts to create another family like them have failed. There are few characters that are realistic, and she is generally running out of good ideas for this saga. It’s really time to move on.

Brandon Paul is a more ambiguous character than one may expect, even if Karen is trying to create the next Dayne Matthews through him. Keith Ellison, Dayne Matthews, and all the Baxters are dead characters with no substance. Bailey Flanigan is an situational character that Karen can use for any purpose. Cody Coleman remains to be an interesting character, but beyond him, this cast of characters is suffering for substance.

The relationship between Brandon and Bailey was a copycat of Karen’s former relationship between Katie and Dayne, but at least it had a different outcome. At least Brandon was no one’s long lost son. Yet. The situation with Andi and her baby was cheesy and convenient, however. At least the roller coaster relationship between Bailey and Cody always makes things interesting. The best thing Take Four produced was an end to this mediocre film-making series. However, Karen has already made it clear that she’s not ending the Baxter Saga, but is continuing it with Leaving, no doubt the beginning of another single-word-series. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Karen Kingsbury needs to stick with standalone novels.

Perhaps Karen will surprise us all with the beginning of this next sub-series.

2 stars

Friday, October 8, 2010

Unpretty by Sharon Carter Rodgers

The Michaelangeles Movement has kidnapped a man and taken him to an undisclosed location. Hummingbird Collins witnessed the kidnapping, and now is getting harassed by one of the movement's members. He keeps sending her cassette tapes to listen to, disclosing some information of the background of the movement, but not disclosing any whereabouts of the kidnapped man. Hummingbird's lawyer brother, a former NFL player recluse, and a retarded man have all become involved in the perplexing case that involves a higher power than any of them expect. In order to solve the case, they must delve into the strange mind of the "artist" they are dealing with who desires to remove all things "unpretty" from the earth, and trust the strange mumblings of the retarded man...before time runs out.

Sharon Carter Rodgers has set out, as an author, to be as different, abnormal, and offbeat as possible. I like it. Despite the strange character names and the strange purpose behind this book, I find Sharon Carer Rodgers interesting. However, in all their abnormalacy, they still slipped into typical traps along the way.

The character base is scattered. Hummingbird is an interesting enough character, as is her brother. The ex-NFL player acts as a superhuman bailout tool. The retarded man is passable. The "artist" villain is interesting enough, and his philosophical ramblings are intriguing. He may be the most interesting character; however, this is not a model cast of characters. Rodgers needs to work in this area a bit more.

Rodgers builds an interesting case centered around obscure historical facts and philosophy and driven by an odd writing style. One plus is that Hummingbird has no romantic subplot. There is virtually nothing wrong with the body of the plot; things go south when the showdown occurs. However, while the showdown is quite cheesy and predictable, the villain's outcome is quite different and interesting. An epilogue serves to answer some of the reader's question regarding the movement, but the author leaves most of it up to the reader's imagination.

All in all, Sharon Carter Rodgers is an interesting author that needs help with character development. However, they may be able to use their creativity properly in the future.

3 stars

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Bishop by Steven James

Patrick Bowers, special agent for the FBI, has solved quite a few cases in his day, but this current case has him stumped. Teamed up with two women he can’t seem to decide between-Lien-Hua and Cheyenne-he must try to stop a pair of killers who have been leaving their mark around random Washington DC attractions, using misdirection every step of the way. Besides his new case and his relationship confusion, the biological father of his stepdaughter, Tessa, is seeking legal custody of her in a lawsuit. Tessa doesn’t understand the intricacies of life herself, since she is now wondering whether there is a true difference between man and beast. When it comes to criminal investigation, Patrick has to wonder the same things as well. With fake clues and no leads, the time is running out before true disaster strikes Washington DC…

In his usual epic and dramatic storytelling style, Steven James has weaved another complicated and deep mystery wrought with philosophy, suspense, and originality. Driven by good characters, this plot is only tarnished with minor missteps at the end.

Patrick and Tessa are the core characters of the series. They drive it along with their deep ponderings and well-developed personalities. Other characters are fine, but Patrick and Tessa and the true heart of the character base. The only problem with Steven James’ character department in The Bishop is the cheesy identity of one of the villains. Otherwise, I have no complaints.

As usual, Steven builds a strong case filled with dead ends, false suspects, and Patrick premonitions. Tessa’ philosophy adds no small addition to the series; in fact, I would miss her contributions if they were left out. One of the better points of the book is that Patrick’s relationship issues are not resolved. However, Steven may be purposely dragging the issue out. The showdown is the best of the series, though it may not seem like it at first. There is a deeper meaning that requires a second look, which then warrants an applause. There are unresolved issues at the end of this book that Steven will no doubt use to fuel a case for The Queen.

All in all, Steven James makes his books ten times better than they could be with his masterful storytelling abilities. While the originality of the Patrick Bowers Files may be coming to an end, I hope he does not lose to epic qualities he has demonstrated thus far.

4.5 stars