Books

I’m Back After a Short Break!

I guess my break didn’t last quite as long as I thought… He. I really love doing this and writing reviews. I think I’ll be changing how much I blog (it’s just me, God, and my laptop). I think I’ll be focusing mainly on books, graphic novels, and manga, though occasionally apps, non-fiction books, and movies might show up. I thank you all for following me! It’s great to have you, and I hope to do this for a while still. Again, recommendations are welcome.

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Books

A Book Review of The Centurion’s Wife

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn (Thomas Locke) and Jannette Oke

Type: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Romance

Basic Plot: Leah is filled with a bitterness against all men, so when she is commanded to marry the Roman centurion Alban, she is filled with despair. Alban, though, is kind and intelligent, hoping to one day heal Leah. Both of them find themselves unexpectedly changed when they are ordered to investigate Jesus’ disappearance and his disciples’ ways.

Quality

Plot: 3/5 Average: The story was a bit cliché and predictable. A lot of the characters acted in a predictable manner. I will say that there was a plot twist at the very end that I did like, as well as believable character traits, there was just also a lot of the “mysterious Christian” feel to the Bible characters.

Writing Style and Setup: 3½/5 Above Average: The descriptions were beautiful and detailed. Whether it was people, actions, or places, the descriptions were vivid. My only complaint was the dialogue, as there was some dialogue that was just over done in formality or fake feeling. This was constant, but it did occur occasionally. The thing I best enjoyed about the book was, though, was probably the historical accuracy. Customs, government, and religion are all talked about in detail, mainly from a Jewish perspective.

The pace of the book was a little slow. It took 378 pages to get through a story that talks a lot about things most Christians would probably already know about, but some people might like the novelization of Bible characters.

Moral: 2½/5 A Good, but Not Clear Moral: The moral of the book isn’t spelled out or too distinct, but one can see it. Leah is in torments about the idea of marrying, as she has always witnessed abusive and unloving marriages in her family. Alban, her betrothed, is meanwhile working hard to become a great, well known person. Both of them learn to trust in Jesus, putting aside their fears and replacing it with Christ’s love and security. This is a good moral, though I don’t know if non-Christians who read this would be willing to be swayed by it.

Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: I will say this is a tolerable book, being better than the average inspirational romance. (I will say that my expectations for inspirational romance, though, are quite low.) The descriptions are beautiful and the historical facts are thorough. The plot and dialogue are still both weak and watery, making it a bit of a trial to read. If someone wanted to read this, I would say that girls and women fourteen years old and older would like it best.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Brief Mild Suggestive Content: A man and woman hold hands once. It is mentioned a few other times that the man wants to touch her, though never sexually. It is mention at least three times that characters do not make passes at a certain woman, though they are known for regularly doing so. Once it hints that “impertinent comments” have been made at least once before. It is mention that Jewish people believe that mixed gender bathing is wrong. Characters use single gender bathhouses for baths and massages, though it never talks about them being naked, once mentioning the men wearing towels. A man asks another if “he would be willing to sell” his niece; the first man refuses. It is once briefly mentioned that a woman’s mother committed adultery. A brothel is briefly used in a question once. “Sent to the bed of” is once used to refer to marriage. Girls are once mention to give men suggestive glances. It mentions that Herod married his brother’s wife. A man calls a woman “my dear” and refers to another Pilate’s wife as “lovely,” though whether he means it in an impure way or not is up debatable.

Violence: 2/5 Brief, Mild Violence: Violence is used in descriptions. A man fights some men in battle twice. The first has little actually described fighting, but the second is more graphic, including the beheading of a man. Soldiers use landslides in battle. A man taps and pokes a woman with a cane, as well as whips empty air, but does not beat her with it. There is mention of violent robberies once. Men pound tables at least twice. It is once mentioned that “lambs” were “were being brought for the slaughter.”

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Brief Mention: “By Jupiter” is used once. It is implied twice that a character used foul language.

Disturbing, Intense, and Emotional Content: 2/5 Some Disturbing and Emotional Content: Death is used in descriptions. A woman is spared from a beating; she later says that women are sometimes beaten by their sadistic master “until their ribs show.” A woman is mentioned to have dreamed of being beaten by a cane and screaming. It is mentioned that a woman accidentally spills boiling water on herself, and is unable to walk for several days. There are mentions of the different Roman punishments, including beatings, crucifixion, flaying, flogging, and scourging. Sometimes characters are threatened with or worry about these things, though they never come to pass, and it mentions that Jesus went through some of these. Characters sometimes worry about being killed, or such worry is mentioned, as well as that others want to kill them. It is mentioned that John the Baptist’s head was served on a platter and that Herod has soldiers murder infants. A woman has headaches and nightmares, though they are not described. A woman has a nightmare about a beast-like groom lunging for her. A woman faints from sickness and is unconscious and nearly dies for several days, though little detail of this is given. It is mentioned that a boy was once also sick and near death. It mentions that a woman once broke her hip. It is mentioned that only one man was wounded after a battle. It mentions animal’s fear and cries when they are being brought as a sacrifice. Characters cry a few times from emotional circumstances. Characters are mentioned to have screamed from nightmares or in them. Certain characters constantly worry about revolution, and others are hired to investigate if their will be one. It is mentioned that characters in the past died, one because her husband abandoned her for another woman. A blade is pressed against man’s neck, though not to kill him. It is mentioned once that floods “carried away whole villages.” Twice, characters are mentioned to want or have wanted death, though once suicide is only contemplatead briefly. Characters are mentioned to have “calluses,” “scars,” deformities from broken bones, and injuries after crucifixion. A man once fakes a limp. A man once mentions hating “the sight of blood.”

Religious Issues: 1½/5 Brief Mention: False gods such as Diana, Mercury, and Epona, as well as occasionally what they stand for, are mentioned by name, and there are references occasionally to “the gods” in general. It is mentioned that they are given offerings and that they have temples and alcoves devoted to them. It is also mentioned that people from Gaul sometimes fervently worship “wood sprites and fairies” as well as nature. Once a character makes “the sign against the evil eye.” It is mentioned that a woman was once demon possessed, but that she was healed by Jesus. It is asked if Jesus was a wraith after he arose from the dead. “Demon,” “ghost,” “haunted,” “haunts,” “idol to be worshiped,” and “worships” are used for descriptive purposes. Incense is used, but almost always for non-religious purposes; otherwise it is used correctly for the worship of God. Certain characters refuse to accept Jesus as Savior, and it is mentioned he was accused as a blasphemer.

Magic: 0/5 None

Other: Characters drink and are served ale and wine. A character asks if a man was drunk, but he wasn’t. There are mentions of taverns, and at least twice a man enters one, though not for any worldly reason. It is mentioned that a man divorced his wife, and divorce is mentioned at other times. Men have shoulder length hair at least twice. Gambling is mentioned at least twice. Dancing is mentioned, sometimes for worldly purposes and at other times for Jewish celebrations, though never described sensually or otherwise.

Overall: 2/5 Child Appropriate: I would say the book is overall clean. The worst thing was probably the scene of violence when a man was defending himself and some mentions of false gods, but other than that I would say it has nothing that anyone would probably object to morally.

Books

A Crucial Message: I’m Taking a Break

A Message from the Author of CER

Hello, this is the author of Christian Entertainment Reviews. I’m afraid that after two years of blogging (which has been fun) I am taking a break for a little while. I’ll still leave up all of my posts for anyone to read at any time, but I’m not going to be updating for at least a month or two. I might come back, but I’m going to take a break for now. I hope you enjoyed the blog and continue to do so, and there is the possibility that I will return.

Thank you for liking and following me.

– The author of Christian Entertainment Reviews Blog

Movies

A Movie Review of Mr. Peabody and Sherman

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman by Rob Minkoff (Director)

Quality

Plot: 3/5 Average: The plot was not cliché, except at the end, but was definitely action packed and motivated by action. The story was mainly event after event after event, though the events did have some order. The characters did compensate for the slightly week plot in some ways. Mr. Peabody and Sherman were probably the most original characters. Other characters were usually more cliché and/or predictable.

Graphics: 3/5 Average: The graphics were plain. There was no special detail to them, such as lighting or detail, but it was not unpleasant to watch either.

Moral: 1/5 A Mostly Negative Moral: The moral mainly revolved of child independence and a journey from submission to rebellion, glossing it over at the end with a makeup scene, but overall not really teaching children to be obedient. Sherman has always trusted and obeyed his dad, but upon going to school and being made fun of, he starts to slowly become more and more rebellious. He is at first hesitant, but from the peer pressure from Penny, a girl that mocked him at school, he ignores his dad, eventually reaching the point when he rebels against his father with no prompting. He uses excuses such as “All my friends are doing it,” and though things do fall apart and Mr. Peabody has to help his son, there is little emphasis on parental protection as there is on rebellion. A parent may see the makeup, but the child is much more likely to see the rebellious attitude. The only positive moral that could be seen is that there Mr. Peabody and Sherman do care for each other, and Mr. Peabody loves Sherman to the point of doing anything for him. Again though, this moral is inferior to the attitudes of the children against their authority.

Overall: 3/5 Below Average: There is much better out there that can be watched in graphics and story, and the moral is negataive. Because of that, when considering quality, I would say that this movie is not really high up on the recommendation list. One would probably be better off watching the original series or another cartoon or time travel movie.

Moral Content

Official Rating: PG

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Crude Humor and Suggestive Content: A boy points out how King Tut’s “name rhymes with butt.” He laughs when his dad says “booby trap,” and says its because of what his dad said. His dad gives him a disapproving look. Things pop out of statue’s butts. A man’s pants fall down. A man looks at a pair of underwear and holds it up to himself. A woman smacks her bottom and says she tired of sitting on her “abbondanza,” which a boy says “probably” doesn’t “mean chair.” (It means “abundance.”) Some of the dresses on a few women are low. One painting shows a woman with a large, mostly bare bosom. There is another brief abstract painting in the background of a giant creature that does not have clothes, but does not have any details besides the basic limbs and hands and feet. There are a few shirtless characters. A baby’s diaper briefly falls off from the back. A boy and a girl share a long hug once. A newly married couple kisses once. An invention mentioned and demonstrated by a dog is tear away pants. A dog refuses to sniff another dogs butt.

Violence: 2/5 Some Cartoon Violence: A boy is mentioned in speech to have bitten a girl. Later, a dog bites a woman, though the act is not shown. A dog bites someone’s leg for humor purposes. A girl slaps a boy’s sandwich out of his and holds him by the neck. A dog’s head is almost chopped off, but it isn’t. Characters throw fruit at other characters. There are a few sword fights and brief battles. Swords and spears are aimed and thrown at things and characters. A brick is thrown through a window. A character gets tasered twice.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Slight Misuse: “Gosh” is said once. “Jeez” is said once.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 Some Lightly Disturbing Content: Mr. Peabody and Sherman are repeatedly threatened throughout the movie. There are several crashes, and things get destroyed or catch fire a couple of times. There are a few explosions once. A girl bullies a boy once. A boy asks a girl if he should kill some people though skinning and fire ant torture. He doesn’t. A girl is nearly forced to be stabbed and to take a blood oath, but she isn’t. A statue breathes out fire. People are threatened to be plagued if they do not release a girl, though the person threatening really can’t plague them. There is a picture of a heart being torn out of a women’s body. It is then explained in speech that in Egypt, that a pharaoh’s wife was gutted and mummified when her husband was. A boy thinks his dad has died, but he hasn’t. A boy cries once. There is a potentially disturbing child machine that is described as “creepy.” A boy holds a hand that turns out to be a mummy’s hand. One of the time eras that they end up in is the Trojan War. There are soldiers, fighting, and characters chant “blood!” repeatedly. Bite marks are shown on character’s arms. A character gets zapped by lightning. A boy trips and falls on his face a few times. A character has back pain. Characters faint twice. Water overflows and washes over some characters. Characters get hit in the head or things fall on them, though don’t crush or kill them.

Religious Issues: 2/5 Some Brief Mention: There is mention of certain false gods by name. A character pretends to be a false god once to trick people. A character briefly mentions the Egyptian belief about what happens after death. Characters bow when they see the time machine. A character hypnotizes some other characters. Briefly, a boy and girl fly into a Catholic church that has a priest and a choir. The Minotaur and Achilles are mentioned.

Magic: 0/5 None

Others: Some people are served alcoholic drinks at a kitchen bar. Rock and roll music with drums is played a couple of times. There is once pop music. Some characters dance a few times. A character does yoga once. Sigmund Freud is mentioned once in speech.

Overall: 2/5 Child Appropriate: Though not one of the most recommended movies morally, mainly for jokes about body parts and mentions of false gods, I believe the minimum appropriate age for this movie would be ten and older, outside of my thoughts about the overall moral.

Graphic Novels

A Graphic Novel Review of Dogman

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

Type: Graphic Novel, Superhero

Basic Plot: After a bombing incident, a super policeman with the head of a dog and the body of a man is created. The new “Dogman” must save the city from several different evil schemers, despite the protestations from the author’s teachers.

Quality

Plot: 3/5 Average: The stories ranged from cute and humorous to simple and predictable. The later stories were better than the earlier ones, as they had a bit more creativity to them, but unfortunately about half of the humor was disgustingly juvenile potty humor.

The characters are probably the best part of the book. Dog-man, the chief, and Petey the cat are all slightly cliché characters, but are all fun for children of the age group the book is aimed at.

Graphics: 2/5 OK: The graphics were probably the most disappointing of the series. Some may argue that they were intentionally made poor as the boys in the series writing the book are grade school children. This is a fair argument, and one nice feature that can be seen is the changing quality of the comics as the age of the author’s changes. This could also be looked at as a downer though, as this makes the graphics occasionally a bit unpleasant.

Moral: 1½/5 A Hard to Read Moral: There isn’t any real moral that is easy to see. There is the moral, possibly that good always triumphs over evil, as Dogman consistently defeats his enemies and sends them to prison. Unfortunately there are a few negative tones, as the two boys in the book that are writing the Dogman story tend to be rebellious to school rules. They disregard their teacher’s wants and are a little disrespectful in the way they treat their teachers. There is nothing wrong with being creative and having fun, but the attitude of disregard for what authority wants cannot be good.

Overall: 2½/5 Below Average: Because of a lack of moral and the quality of the art, below average is about where I would rank it. It would make a good book to read just for pure relaxation and shallow entertainment. I believe boys from age’s six to ten would like it best.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Some Inappropriate Content: There is a sketch drawing of someone’s butt. A cat pulls down multiple people’s pants and skirts, though their underwear is still on. A man once sits in his office in his underwear. A man is shown “scoot[ing his] butt on the carpet with joy” and says you will too. Characters watch a video of Dogman pooping, though only Dogman’s upper body is seen. There is a brief appearance of some shirtless men at the beach. Captain Underpants is mentioned.

There are several accounts of crude and potty humor, such as one appearance of poop, two of pee, and one of bird droppings, including a man holding poop and giving a high five while holding, spreading it throughout the air. When the whole world is turned “stupid,” a newsman says “Our top story: Me go boom boom in my panties.”

Violence: 2/5 Some Light Violenc: There are explosions of buildings, a car, and a robot, and a dog and man set off a bomb. A cat tries to crush dogs with a falling, spiked ceiling, but fails. A dog throws a bone at someone’s head five times. A man is briefly seen hitting himself with hammer. A character slaps himself in exasperation. Dogman happily jumps on a man several times, and once the man happily jumps on him. A cat gets whacked in the butt and head by various playground equipment, like “The Swing Set Smacker,” “The Seesaw Smoosher,” and “Spring Break.” A man trips over a dog. Sentiment hotdogs get eaten, and a living balloon pops. Characters fly through the roof twice. There is a store that sells bombs. “Kung fu,” “kickin’,” and “can’t punch” are used to describe the features of a man and his dog. A schools motto is “We put the ‘ow’ in knowledge.” “War” is used for descriptive purposes. One face in the “How to Draw” section is a character’s “Ouch!” face.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Slight Misuse: “Gee” and “geez” are each misused once.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1/5 Slight Disturbing Content: When a man and his dog are near death and covered in bandages, their heads are switched, creating Dogman, though this is not shown. The stitches are seen on Dogman throughout the book. Dogman once tries to bite a cat, but fails. Characters cry a couple of times. Some living hotdogs light fires that they once call “raging infernos of death” and threaten to destroy the town, but the fires are tiny and their threats completely disregarded. A character burns his hands a little when he tries to catch something on fire. Some kids are shown in three panels running from various bad guys, one trying to “zap” them.

Religious Issues: ½/5 A man thinks that an invisible character is a ghost, and one claims that some stores are haunted, though this is not true.

Magic: 1/5 Some Possible Magic: A character uses invisible spray and living spray, the latter to make things come to life. Whether this is magic or not is debatable.

Others: Off panel, a character gives another one a cigar. A cat is once shown with tattoos on its arms. One chapter is called “The Franks Awaken,” probably based off “The Force Awakens” from Star Wars, though there is no other connection. A note to some children’s parents says that they should use medical drugs to get their children to behave, though it is likely that this doesn’t happen. One character says once “Get ready to roomba! (rumba)” A “stupid” person calls a male cat a “lady.”

Overall: 1½/5 Almost All Ages Appropriate:  The nudity and potty humor are probably the most controversial things. Morally, it’s a bit difficult to pin. If one is against humor that is on the crude side, I would say to completely skip this book. If a person doesn’t mind jokes about such things, I would recommend the book for children six and older.

Movies

A Movie Review of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Directors)

Type: Cartoon

Basic Plot: Flint Lockwood has always been known as nothing more than a nerdy loser. After years of failure, he finally invents a machine that can make it rain food and hopes to finally make everyone he knows proud of him.

Quality

Plot: 2/5 Below Average: One word comes to my mind whenever I think of this movie’s plot. It is the word cliché. Cliché features are all throughout the plot and characters. The cast includes a misunderstood child, a dead mom, an awkward dad, an evil shoulder devil role model, a guy who thinks he has it all, and a love interest that is understands him and is “different.” Speeches and the story are things that are commonly seen in children’s movies.

Graphics: 3/5 Average: The graphics were plain, having some nice details here and there in the hair, light, and clouds. It leaned more to a cartoon style than a realistic one, as people had completely unrealistic body proportions.

Moral: 2½/5 Good and Bad Morals: The moral had a very “Curious, Curious George” feel, (see Dangerous Ideas above), but I think it had some deeper positive moral aspects as well. The CCG feel came in from the main plot story. The protagonist feels like a failure, no one understands him, he messes up, becomes a success, messes up again, and then fixes everything. This is a common plot theme in children’s movies that seems to show that you can mess things up, but once you fix it, you become a hero by stopping the problem that you caused. It’s like hiring a bunch of bank robbers than stopping them. I understand redemption and changes of heart, but I also think that there is a difference between redemption and avoiding consequences.

Positive moral aspects included understanding, as Flint and his dad slowly learn to understand each other more. There was also the positive moral that we should be careful who we listen too. Flint has two people influencing his life, his dad and the mayor. One says he should do the right thing, even if Flint must sacrifice his fame, and the other tells Flint to do what may be wrong because it will make Flint feel more loved and accepted. Flint chooses the wrong influence and pays (sort of) and fixes the problem. We can see that it is important to follow those that truly care about us and tell us to do what’s right rather than to do listen to people who only say what we want to hear.

Overall: 2½/5 Below Average: Overall, the movie can be concluded with the word cliché. The children’s book is a thousand times better than the movie. The moral is ok, but nothing to jump up and down about.

Moral Content

Official Rating: PG

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Some Inappropriate Content: Flint makes statues of David and ML out of Jell-O, one of them showing the woman shirtless, and the other not really showing any nudity, but possibly doing so indirectly. There are pictures of shirtless men wearing bibs in the background once. There is a close-up of a man clenching his butt. A man several times in the movie wears nothing but a diaper, but he eventually stops that by the end. A man is shown in a bathtub, though no nudity is shown. Two modestly dressed women hang on a famous man. Flint and a girl kiss once, and attempt to kiss a few times.

Violence: 2/5 Brief Light Cartoon Violence: There are several explosions and crashes throughout the movie in cartoon style, as well as people bumping into each other. A banana falls on painting of a woman. A man violently throws snowballs at various people. A monkey decapitates gummy bears and rips out one bear’s heart. A man beats up food that attacks him with punches and kicks. A man gets hit in the eye with both a foot and food, at different times. A man says he will slap a man and then he does. A man tackles people several times throughout the movie. Food attacks people. A man’s mustache is ripped off by a monkey, and the monkey reaches for several people’s mustaches, though he fails to rip them off.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Slight Misuse: “Gosh” is used at least twice, and “geez” is used at least once.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1½/5 Light Disturbing Content: A man is eaten whole by a roast chicken, but he doesn’t die and ends up killing the chicken. A boy ends up in “a food coma” from eating too much candy, and mentions that his “tummy hurts.” Flint’s mom is mentioned to have died in the past. A girl swells up after being pricked by peanut brittle. A man gets shocked by electricity. A man asks if snowball fights are “to the death.” A man punches into his hand when he is angry. Characters run and scream from giant food. Mutant ratbirds attack people and carry off a child. The child is told to “play dead.”

Religious Issues: ½/5 Brief Appearance: Men are seen wearing clothing from the Jewish and Muslim cultures.

Magic: 0/5 None

Others: There is a poster with an electric guitar. People are shown drinking wine in a restaurant. The credits contain rock music.

Overall: Overall, the brief naked statue appearances were probably the worst thing in the movie and possibly some of the light violence. If one wanted to watch it, I would recommend eight and older.

Books

A Book Review of The Hired Girl

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

Type: Historical Fiction

Basic Plot: Joan Skraggs has no more of a future than one of the chickens on her farm. Tired of being either ignored or hated by her family, she runs away to Baltimore to become a hired girl for a Jewish family.

Quality

Plot: 3½/5 Above Average: The story is a story of hope and hard work, but can also be seen having some of the more dependent pictures of humanity. Joan Skraggs runs away from an abusive home to work for herself, but she constantly gets herself in bad situations. They are interesting, but this is the main drive of the book, making the book occasionally repetitive in its content, though usually interesting to read. Joan’s Catholic religion, her employer’s Jewish rituals and lifestyle, and the life in the early 1900’s add the details to the plot that make the partially repetitive plot fascinating to read.

As for characters, the protagonist is as spirited, dreamy, and impetuous as Anne from Anne of Green Gables with a life that is just as, if not a little more, exciting and passionate. The other characters are also flavorful and animated, even the ones with supposedly “dull” personalities. Most of the main characters are memorable, especially the members of the Jewish family. There are a few genuinely dull, cliché characters, but they are brief, existing for no more than three or four entries.

Writing Style and Setup: 3½/5Above Average: The style is pretty to read, partly because it is in the first person. Joan is honest and natural, writing what she sees and from the way she sees it, which his sometimes more than a little childish. Almost everything the author wrote, the reader could tell was written on purpose and with purpose. Very little had any of the “filler” feeling that sometimes books have.

Moral: 2/5 Good and Bad Morals: Joan tends to be an impetuous girl, which gets her in trouble. She spends a lot of time crying because she makes foolish decisions about how much she involves herself in others affairs as well as how she reacts to things. Unfortunately, one can feel traces of “Curious, Curious George” as they read this book, though it is not taken to an extreme level. Though Joan gets in trouble, things usually work out on their own or from some outside help. The only major consequence she has is that she tends to cry a lot from looking like a fool and often sinks in certain people’s opinions. This is mercy at its finest, though real life is often much crueler.

The better, though less shown moral, is the moral of humbleness. Joan often has to apologize for her mistakes and admit her faults. She often thinks how much prouder people in books are as opposed to people in real life and by the end of the book concludes that it is better to be humble.

Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: The book has a quality of fineness and pleasantness. Some may see the plot as a bit repetitive and the overall moral not that substantial, which would be true.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 3½/5 Suggestive Content: A man hugs and kisses Joan and touches “the front of [her] dress,” all against her will. It is vaguely suggested that she may have kicked him somewhere “higher up” than when she kicked him in the shin, and it is said that she used to kick her brother there. After this, Joan worries that all of the men in the city are like that. Unmarried characters kiss at least five times. Joan hugs, is held by, and holds hands with a boy she is not married to. Joan thinks that doing certain “things” that “married couples” do “wouldn’t be so bad” as long as she is doing it with the boy mentioned above. They never do anything like that together. She offers herself to him; he refuses. When the family finds them talking, they believe they have caught them in “a vulgar intrigue” and stare at the man’s bed, though nothing like that was going on. Joan then thinks how she had been warned to guard her purity and reputation. Characters get embarrassed at least twice when other characters see them in their pajamas. Joan brings up sheets when talking to a man and then wonders to herself if the subject was inappropriate and blushes. He offers no signs that it was. There are vague, brief references to Joan getting her cycle. Joan walks in on her father changing, though nothing inappropriate is shown. She is relieved at a different part of the book when she walks in on a man and he isn’t changing. Characters watch an opera that has a man and woman that are living together outside of marriage, and the woman is a prostitute, though she is never directly called so by name. Joan reads a book that mentions such a woman like that. Joan looks at scantily clad pieces of art with a male friend and feels embarrassed, though the statues are not described. At the end of the book, it shows complete pictures of certain works of art, one containing naked, male cherubs in the background that showed everything except for the front of the statue. Some ladies believe that a certain boy will “lose whatever morals he had” when he goes to Paris.

Violence: 2/5 Some Light Violence: Joan slaps a cow. It crushes her foot and knees her in the face. It is mentioned that in a certain book a man slaps his daughter. Joan’s brothers are mentioned to have been whipped as children at home and school, though Joan never was. Her father says that he wishes he would’ve, although he promised her mother he wouldn’t. A girl says that her father never slapped or spanked her. Joan kicks a man twice. Cats bites and/or scratches Joan in at least three entries. A man violently charges at Joan, though he misses. Joan tells him that he had better not hit her; he doesn’t. Joan thinks about her mother painfully pulling dirt out from under Joan’s fingernails. A family believes that Joan was being physically abused at her old home, though she wasn’t. An old woman slaps Joan and cuffs a boy. Joan thinks several times that a person will slap or shake her or someone else, though it never happens. Joan swings a poker at a boy and misses. A boy attacks a suitcase and tears it up while pretending to kill animals. He later pretends to kill other animals, though without attacking the suitcase. Joan’s foot hurts after kicking someone. An old woman’s finger nails hurt Joan once when they grasp her.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2/5 Light Swearing: God’s name is taken in vain in German once, and possibly once or twice in English. “Hell” is misused twice, and “jackass” is once used in anger. One man apologizes for misusing “hell.” Joan says that it is fine, as she probably would have done the same. A few times there are mentions of characters swearing and taking God’s name in vain, but rarely does it say what they said, suggesting once or twice that a man misused “hell.” Joan mentions that a nickname for Damaris would be swearing.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 There are several descriptions that use things like, death, diseases, injuries, violence, cannibalism, and other “disturbing” descriptions throughout the book. Death and violent threats are used for exaggerations throughout the book, and a boy once makes a joke about “dead artist.” In a bad mood, a woman once says that it would be better for others if she were dead. A Shakespeare quote mentions that people do not die and eaten by worms from lost love. Joan cries a lot throughout the book, usually from embarrassment, though sometimes from emotional circumstances. She mentions a girl in another book that cries a lot. A man tells Joan about Catholic persecution of Jewish people, ranging from spitting to rock throwing to massacres of people of all ages, though there is little gory detail. It is mentioned that a woman’s grandfather “was beaten to death with a shovel.” Joan mentions being scared as a child after hearing how a boy lost his finger. It is mentioned that the Romans killed Jesus, and a man mentions he thought the Jewish people had. It mentions that some Jewish people wanted to kill Paul, though other probably hadn’t. An old woman scrams a few times in the book. There is mention of Joan of Arc fighting in a war. Joan bleeds and worries about losing an eye and blindness when she gets kneed in the face by a cow. Joan briefly thinks about suicide, but decides she could never do it because she likes to be alive. It is mentioned that girls had to jump from a burning building. A woman believes that her cat has died, though it hasn’t. In an opera, a woman dies of in her love’s arms of consumption. There is mention of men who died from mining accidents. There is much talk of characters that have already died, though mostly Joan’s mother, and Joan describes her mother’s death. Joan believes she died from overwork, as her Mother just collapsed in the fields, and Joan thinks about how she will probably die the same way. Her mother’s funeral is briefly mentioned. A woman tells Joan that her baby almost died from croup and describes how she stayed awake all night caring for her. It also mentions that a little boy was sick and threw up. It is mentioned that a bird was thought dead in a story, but he wasn’t, he was merely injured. Joan tells a boy in a game they are playing that they will die if he doesn’t get them food. A boy mentions that he broke his nose when he was a child. Joan tells a boy a story about a snake that eats children and is killed by a boy, though no details are given. A man is mentioned to have shot cats. A girl says that a baby cat left in a tree will “starve to death,” and Joan does not want to let a cat by out as she worries about it being killed by cars or children. A woman likes to talk about people dying from diseases, though it never goes into detail on what she says except that the deaths were long. Some ladies say that a cat will suffocate a baby, though the cat never does. A boy asks why on the crucifix Jesus is bleeding. Joan wishes she would faint. One of the ways Joan wishes she could thank a man include “saving him from a burning building,” though he is never in such a position. Joan kills a chicken, though it is not described. Joan once wants to hit a boy. Characters ask Joan a few times if she is or was hurt, and she usually is. Blood is mentioned to be on people and clothing, once Joan being temporarily blinded by the amount of blood over her eye. Joan’s hair and bed catch on fire. Joan’s hairpins hurt in the rain. Joan gets cramps and stomach pain from running, her corset, and her cycle. Joan writes to be careful making jam to avoid getting burned. She also gets blisters, burns, bruises, a scab, scratches, stitches, and a swelled face and eye. Her feet sometimes hurt from work or use them. Other characters are mentioned to have gotten stitches, headaches, bunion pain, and burned. A man is mentioned to have once “almost lost an eye” in a canning accident.

Religious Issues: 3/5 Suggestive Content: Joan is Catholic and is shown to deeply believe Catholicism, calling it the “True Faith” throughout her diary. She goes to the Catholic church as a teenager and child, goes Catholic instructions, prays the rosary and Hail Marys, and often has discussions in her prayers with Mary that include Mary answering her back in how most Christians would look at God answering, though she does admit that she isn’t really sure if Mary answers her. She also once goes to the “Lady Chapel.” Joan thinks about the Eucharist a few times, though it is not ever called that, and wishes she could take it. By the end of the book, she has. She is a very devoted worshipper of Mary, offering her flowers on one of Mary’s supposed Holy Days and planning to write a poem in her honor. She also shows interest in the Litany of the Virgin and in Mary’s Catholic titles and names, though the actual litany, titles, and names are never shown. A priest gives a girl a missal. Characters are called “Father” and “daughter” for religious purposes. Incense, the Pearl of Great Price, statues and Catholic references to saints and Mary, Mass, crucifixes, genuflecting, Purgatory, priests, books with the IMPRIMATUR seal of the Catholic Church, mentions of Catholic prayers, the rosary, certain Holy Days of Obligation, and missals are all mentioned. Joan asks a priest about a line in a supposedly infallible Catholic prayer that says Jesus is “offend[ed]” when we “find pleasure to our liking.” The priest doesn’t believe it literally word-for-word, though he says it is still an infallible prayer. A priest and Joan both believe that they can “feel the mind and heart of God.” A priest asks Joan if she wants to become a nun; she refuses. Joan thinks that only saints can “go straight to heaven” on death. Joan goes through an experience where she can no longer feel God. She says that this “absence” and “darkness was God.” Joan mentions that she was confirmed.

A man tells Joan a story to get her to believe that it doesn’t matter what religion you believe because no one can know which one is real and that it doesn’t really matter. Joan accepts this at least to a degree. She is also reprimanded for telling a little boy about Jesus and later believes that what she did was wrong. A man “decides that religion is hogwash” after some bad experiences financially. Jewish customs are mentioned and sometimes described, such as kosher, certain holidays, and the Sabbath traditions. There is mention of the Talmud. A sentence from a Jewish prayer is said. It is mentioned that Jewish people believe that if they are good enough God will write their name in the book of life on Rosh Hashanah. Joan believes that God loves a certain family because they are “virtuous.” A boy jokes with Joan by telling her a story about ghosts, one a Moorish girl wishing she could be baptized. The boy mentions the Eve of St. John and that he was at a cathedral. Joan jokes back by asking him about other ghosts. Muslims are briefly mentioned a few times, but as “Mahometans,” a common term for them in the early 1900’s. Mohammed (as Mohomet) riding on a peacock is briefly referred to once. There is mention of people being or having been Presbyterian and Methodist. There is mention of cathedrals, a rectory, and a parishoner. There is mention of the Orthodox religion, and how they view where the Holy Ghost comes from as oppose to where the Catholics believes it comes from. The Quaker religion is mentioned. There is mention of false gods and goddesses- often by name-, Medusa, and cupids, some of these being used in art. It is mentioned that Jezebel, in the Bible, “encouraged her husband to worship false gods.” Joan worries that certain things are blasphemy, such as certain Jewish rituals or mentally criticizing an idol of Mary, though they are not. A boy once says “When I’m painting, my religion is painting!” because he is angry. One section is called “A Warrior Goddess of Wisdom” and shows a picture of a false goddess. “Demon,” “ghost,” “haunted,” and “sphinx-like” are used for descriptive purposes, as well as false roman gods. Joan thinks about men and women worshipping each other in relationships and decides that it is better for men to worship woman rather than the other way around. She also uses “worships the ground he walks on” to describe how an old man treats a certain man. A park is named “Druid Hill Park.”

Magic: 1/5 Brief Mention: The fairy tale “Thumbelina” is told, though there are no references to fairies in it. The Wizard of Oz is mentioned. Fairies and nymphs are used for art and decoration. Joan thinks something is a good omen once. “Cinderella,” “changeling,” “bewitch,” “fairyland,” “faery,” “fury,” “goblin-ish,” “magic,” “gazing through a magic casement” “nymph,” “spell,” “sylph,” and “witch” are used in various forms for descriptive purposes. No magic is done in the book.

Others: Joan wants to see a ballet. A man asks his son if he is a socialist, though it never says if he is or not. Two men drink whiskey. People drink wine, and in a Jewish tradition, a whole family- including the children- everyone drinks a little wine. A man is served beer, and it is mentioned that he likes beer. Characters mention that they will be or want to go to or be taken to balls and dances. Whiskey glasses are used for an art lesson. “Champagne,” “ballet dancer,” “dance,” “drunk,” “drunkards,” “gambled,” and “wine” are all used for descriptive purposes.

Overall: 3½/5 Teenage Appropriate: The most problematic things in this book, in my opinion are the religious issues. Most of the sexual content is not very descriptive, especially when compared to most modern teen books. Swearing is also low. Violence and disturbing content is also low in description. Overall, though there was a long list of a bunch of little things, morally the book is acceptable except possibly in some of the religious content, as Joan being a very serious worshipper of Mary. I believe if a person did read it, they should clearly understand why all religions are not the same and why it is ok to politely spread the gospel, even if others don’t always want to hear it. These things should be clearly explained and understood before reading. If that is understood and accepted, I believe fifteen to sixteen would be the best age to read it.

Movies

A Movie Review of Emma

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

Emma (1996) by Douglas McGrath (Director)

Type: Classic, Historical Fiction

Basic Plot: Emma Woodhouse is a cheerful young woman that has the bad habit of meddling. By determining to match off her friends, all she does is cause complications, anger, and sorrow, not noticing her own romantic chance until it may be too late.

Quality

Plot: 4/5 Well Done: For a movie, this Jane Austen story was pretty well done. It was a story that a person could relate to emotionally and socially, and scattered with wit and sarcasm in the dialogue and events. The exact dialogue was not written, though occasionally accurate, but the characters natures were definitely caught.

Acting: 4½/5 Amazing: Gestures, tones, and facial expressions were all well done. There were no hints of “actor’s voice,” except maybe a little bit in Emma’s father, but a majority of the time it was purely as natural as real life. The characters were beautifully portrayed. Emma was cheerful and a bit spoiled. Harriet was sweet and meek. Mr. Knightly was mature without being old. Several other characters followed this line.

Costumes and Scenery: 3½/5 Above Average: Costumes were period appropriate, realistic, and beautiful. The temperance of looking rich and beautiful while not looking silly and elaborate was made. Costumes were often plain, but they were not plain to the point of being an eyesore or unpleasant.

The scenery was befitting a rich man’s home and lands. In a similar nature to the costumes, it was period appropriate, realistic, and not too elaborate. The lifestyle of the characters was of one that could be expected by a viewer, beautiful but not fantasy-like.

Moral: 3/5 A Good Moral: The main moral that can be seen in the story of Emma is to not meddle. Emma believes that she knows best concerning who should marry whom. Her matches result in sorrow and anger, and it is eventually revealed that even her inward speculations about who loved whom were completely wrong. God says in 1 Peter 4:15 “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or [as] a thief, or [as] an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” We are not to be gossips or snoops, as it causes divisions and stress.

Overall: 4/5 Well Done: For the time the movie was made, I would say it was done pretty well. It was not too plain, even though it was not extravagant. Though every detail was not exactly like the books, the spirit was caught and maintained, making it an enjoyable movie. Girls and women twelve to thirteen and older would probably like it best.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Some Suggestive Content: Most dresses in the series are low, and once a lady bends over at least twice briefly, revealing much, though not all, cleavage. One dress is raised slightly and light in color, making the shadow of the women’s body briefly seeable during a certain event. Men kiss or lean in to ladies hands. A man and woman kiss a few times on the lips. Friends air kiss a few times. A man and woman hold hands. A man tells a girl that he believes their acquaintance is being pursued by a married man. She is not.

Violence: 1/5 Some Light Violence: Some people shove a lady onto the ground and grab at her in an attempt to steal her purse. They fail. It is mentioned in conversation that a man has cut his finger. A woman scares some dogs when she shoots an arrow near them, and her friend makes a joke about it.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2/5 Some Swearing: God’s name is taken in vain twice. “Damn” is misused twice.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: ½/5 Light Emotional Content: Women cry a few times over relationship complications, though not intensely. A man is obsessed with people getting sick or carrying illnesses and talks about his worries almost every time he speaks. A woman that is appears in the movie gets sick and dies. Some girls visit and tend to a woman that appears sick. There is brief talk of sick people. Death is mentioned in a song. “Death” is used for descriptive purposes,

Religious Issues: ½/5 A man is a vicar.

Magic: ½/5 “Fairyland” is used for descriptive purposes. No magic is done in the movie.

Others: Characters dance and talk of dancing. A woman accuses a man of mistaking her for another lady and that he is under the influence of wine, though he is probably not drunk and the word “drunk” is never used. A woman asks a man if he wants some whisky, which he refuses.

Overall: 2½/5 Almost Child Appropriate: I recommend the movie for children at least twelve or thirteen and older, mainly because of the swearing and suggestive content.

Books

A Book Review of The Recking

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

The Reckoning by Beverly Lewis

Type: Amish, Christian Fiction, Contemporary

Basic Plot: Katherine has finally sorted out her life to be what she has always dreamed, rich and fancy, but as things from her Amish past keep coming back to haunt her, she wonders if her “real life” is really with the English.

Quality

Plot: 2½/5 Below Average: The first two books in the series were made interesting mostly by their interesting plot. Though the style was weak in some ways, the story was interesting and unique. The plot in this book is more cliché and dull than the first two. Katherine’s life has become more romance focused. A romance focused plot does not have to be boring, but there was little beauty or deepness that makes certain romance classics and novels worth reading. The only interesting parts were the ones concerning character’s salvation, and even those were not as expounded on as some of the less interesting parts. Also, some of the characters actions were not really “in character.” Though the author would know them best, some of the attempts at having a happier ending seemed to make the characters do things that one may wonder if they would actually do, such as the lifting of the shunning from Katherine.

Writing Style and Setup: 2½/5 Below Average: The setup and style in this book was sloppier than the others. Though jumping among several characters in a chapter can be done smoothly, Ms. Lewis was a lot less smooth in this book. It was choppy feeling. Details on certain events were greatly left out as well; having some time skips over parts that may be considered important or interesting.

Moral: 2/5 A Good, But Weak Moral: The moral of the series was that we should be happy with the life and plan God has given us and to be content with it. This is true in several ways, as the Bible says in I Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out.And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”  The other moral was that salvation was by grace and faith, not works. It is a gift, not a reward. Both of these morals are good, but they were not as expounded on as they probably should have been. The latter was expounded on more, but because the focus was more on Katherine’s new life, it was not expounded on as it could have been. The contentment moral was good, though I do not know if I agree with all of the details. The author almost made it seem like having extravagant things was discontentment, which is not true. It is not a sin to be a rich Christian, it is merely sinful to lust after and misuse the riches rather than to invest them in God. Perhaps that was what she was trying to say, I just did not get that as much as she might have meant it.

Overall: 2½/5 Below Average: Out of all of the books in this series, this one was the worst. It felt like the author had speed written it in an attempt to get the next book out. It was sloppy in comparison to the other ones; therefore, concerning quality, it is not as recommended as the first two. The focus of the story has changed, going from a focus on Katie’s life and religious freedom to a focus on the dull romantic life of her and her friend’s.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Romance and Some Suggestive Content: A woman goes on a trip with a man she is not married to, and she briefly worries a little that they will share a room until he tells her that they won’t be. Unmarried and married characters kiss, hug, hold hands, and other affectionate touching, though no where that would commonly be considered inappropriate. The kisses themselves are not detailed, but it is said where the people are kissed, such as the mouth and chin. It briefly mentions that a girl is “flustered” after running into a boy. It is mentioned that a mother nurses her child.

Violence: ½/5 Slight Violence: A woman remembers a snowball fight she had as a child. A girl runs into a boy.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 0/5 None.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content:  1½/5 Some Light Emotional Content: A boy dies from a brain tumor, and a woman cries over it. He slowly loses his sight and becomes more listless, though there is little extremely dramatic detail. A woman gets a stroke. Characters worry that people will die, sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. A woman visits her mother’s grave. Characters that died in the past or died recently are mentioned. One is mentioned to have died from a heart attack. A baby cries from colic and stomach pain. It is mentioned that a mother had a stillborn child. Characters cry for several reasons, whether for someone’s death, someone’s injury (or their own past one), or just emotional circumstances. A girl is mentioned to have tripped and gotten a scab.There is mention that a man was believed to have drowned. A woman tells a girl that she will get a headache from drinking too much lemonade, though it never says if she does or not. The acknowledgements thank different people and a society related to hospices and sclerosis. “Coffin” is used for descriptive purposes when a sick person is laid down.

Religious Issues: 1/5 Some Religious Issues: There is mention of head coverings, and Katherine, by the end of the book, believes that it is God’s will for wives to wear head coverings.

Magic: ½/5 Brief Mention: “Haunting” is used for descriptive purposes.

Others: Some people are once briefly mentioned to be dancing. Women are mentioned to wear pants. A woman once thinks that she would “drown her sorrows” in wine if she were a drinker, though she doesn’t.

Overall: 2½/5 Almost Child Appropriate: Overall, I would recommend the book for children twelve to thirteen and older for some emotional and romantic content.

Movies

A Movie Review of The Best Bad Thing

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

The Best Bad Thing by Peter Rowe (Director)

Type: Great Depression, Historical Fiction, Japanese

Basic Plot: In the summer of 1935, Rinko is forced to work on Mrs. Hata’s cucumber farm. She is sure that it will be boring and weird, but she slowly learns to come to like Mrs. Hata and finds a cause to fight and work for.

Quality

Plot: 3½/5 Above Average: The story was a good family movie. There was no romance, little action, and little cliché content, but the familiar lesson from the old movies of working together is seen. The plot moves at a good pace. The story moves slower than most plots do in more modern movies, but it was not too slow to be boring. Many parents may like the pace, not being action packed fast or moving like a sloth.

Acting: 4/5 Well Done: The main actors and actresses and most of the secondary ones were realistic and entertaining. The ones that were not as good were more minor and were still ok. The main actors and actresses kept an accent throughout the movie that sounded realistic, and the Japanese spoken was real. The children were realistic, having facial features and tones that are common to children of that age.

Costumes and Scenery: 3½/5 Above Average: The costumes were plain, common clothes of that era. They were not overdone, but were not eyesores either, making them realistic. The scenery was also realistic. Though the family was poor, there were enough things of the right quality that made it believable. None of the clothes or scenery looked fake or had the “movie gloss” that many movies have today, making it less fancy, but still a pleasure by being reasonably believable.

Music: 3/5 Average: There was some cliché oriental music, as well as silence. None of the music was especially memorable, but it was not an ear sore either.

Moral: 3/5 A Good Moral: The moral of the movie is seen in the title, that even things we think at the time are bad can be blessings for us and others. Rinko is embarrassed and horrified that she will have to work all summer for Mrs. Hata, but eventually finds it a pleasure to work there. Children naturally learn this as they grow older; that what they hate is good for themselves and others. A childish mindset is put aside as we learn what pain others go through, as Rinko’s selfishness starts to disappear as she learns more about Mrs. Hata’s family’s hard life.

Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: I recommend this movie in quality. I believe children thirteen and younger will like it best, though I believe parents may will enjoy watching it with their children.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: ½/5 Slightly Suggestive: A girl takes a bath, but all that is shown is her leg up to her knee, her face, and her shoulders. A girl’s leg can be once seen a few inches up her nightgown when she gets up from her bed.

Violence: 1/5 Light Violence: Two men push each other in a fight, and a man is held on the ground. A man tries to punch another man, but is stopped from doing so. A girl smacks her brother with a towel a few times times. A boy throws cucumbers at a sign when he is angry. Children bump into each other twice.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 0/5 None

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1/5 Some Emotional Content and Injuries: A boy is shown with some blood on his face from a train accident, and other children get it on their face, clothes, and a handkerchief from helping him. He is later unconscious and seen bandaged on his head and arm. A girl sprains her ankle when she jumps off a train. A girl is told that if she misses her jump, she will die from impact with the train’s wheels. Two people that died in the past are mentioned, one having died of tuberculosis. A woman’s back is once mentioned to hurt. Characters tear up a few times from emotional things.

Religious Issues: ½/5 Once in the background, a movie poster with the words “Devil Dog” can be briefly seen.

Magic: 0/5 None

Others: Men smoke a cigarette and a pipe, about once or twice each. A girl once listens to music on a record with a jazz sound. Girls wear overalls.

Overall: 1/5 All Ages Appropriate: This movie impressed me morally. There was nothing really inappropriate, no gore, and the fight scene was something that most parents could approve of. I definitely recommend it for all ages.