Book Review: Emmanuel

I liked the book, first and foremost. I think it’s a great start for a dystopian America book series where faith seems dead, humanity might just be at its worst, and nothing seems hopeful on the horizon. Even there, as the author suggests, there is hope, and that hope is in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I like that idea a lot.

The story begins with a boy named Ezekiel, or EZ, who is lives in a domed slave world in a very bad part of the broken country. We are then introduced to Reese, who isn’t related to EZ in any way but seems to play a sort of parental role. The book details Reese, who has some knowledge of Christmas and its Biblical story, as he tries to teach the story to Ezekiel.

As it is a novelette, it needed to move quickly, and it does. We meet the supporting cast early on, understand the reasons for Reese’s hesitation to believe the Christmas story (or to have hope, for that matter), and learn how the little boy helps God break down Reese’s hard heart. Really good.

I was a little confused a little at the end, when Ezekiel talks about seeing Jesus, but it’s not something that will ruin the story for anyone. Certainly didn’t ruin it for me.

While the writing is good, I must point out that it could use a little tightening. Like, just a little bit. That’s the only thing it could use though. Great plot, great characters, great story. I was happy to give it four stars.

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Book Review: Runaway Saint

Runaway Saint was a great book overall. I liked that the author didn’t force me to suspend belief in order to make the plot work (as in, the plot was plausible). I also liked that there was a happy ending, without having everything happily ever after. Finally, I liked that it was Christian fiction, but not dry or overly safe.

One issue I had with the book, and this might seem minor, but it bothered me. On page 51, the author talked about the great missionary to China, “Judson” Taylor. However, the missionary’s name was Hudson Taylor. I find it hard to believe that a publisher would have allowed a serious mistake like that, so I’m assuming that this was a typo that made it through. The “J” and the “H” are very close on the keyboard. Just to make sure I wasn’t wrong, I googled Judson Taylor and didn’t come up with anything useful, certainly not someone who was famous for being a missionary to the Chinese like Hudson Taylor was. As a student of Taylor’s (via research), I was kind of put off by this mistake and almost stopped reading the book. I’m glad I kept going though. It was a good book.

Three stars because the ending was good, but I was really unnerved by the crucial mistake in editing.

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Book Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

** spoiler alert ** Let’s start with the title. I’ll just cut to the chase and tell you that there aren’t a hundred lies, or even a hint at lies. We learn that Lizzie Lovett wasn’t as happy as she pretended to be. That’s not even a story, much less the title of a book.

It got preachy at the end. The last twenty pages or so was supposedly internal monologue with a few scenes in it, but the reality is that it was a thinly veiled sermon. I did like that the main character seemed to find love in the end. I did want that for her, just like I want it for my own daughters.

Spoiler: For Christians, I would say this book is not an option. There is a description of sex in one of the latter chapter. It’s not overly dramatic, but for believers, I believe it’s a non-starter.

Spoiler: One of the only things I really appreciated from the book was on page 340, when it talks about a list of suicidal warning signs, even though Lizzie hadn’t had any. That’s true in so many cases. We talk about what we might have missed, but the simple fact is that we often don’t see any warning signs. It sucks, but it’s also true.

The biggest takeaway, and the biggest negative, is that I kept reading the book, hoping that there would be some positivity at some point, but there just wasn’t. Even in tying up loose ends, Sedoti left me depressed. I get it, teenage angst is tough. As a human, I went through it too. Unfortunately, all I felt at the end of this book was depression. It was technically sound, so I give it 3 stars, but nothing more.

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