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

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.

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.

Books

A Book Review of The Journal of Ben Uchida

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

The Journal of Ben Uchida Citizen 13559 Mirror Lake Internment Camp by Barry Denenberg

Type: Children’s Series, Diary, Historical Fiction

Basic Plot: Ben Uchida and his family are put into an internment camp after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Quality

Plot: 3/5 Average: The story was interesting, though a little predictable in some ways. It was a little unsatisfying in some ways, as it lacked some of the details it could have had, and there were no real dynamic content. Characters were also lacking in dynamics.

Writing Style and Setup: 2½/5 Below Average: The style was more childish and simple than some other styles of Dear America diaries. It was also more cynical and critical in spirit.

Moral: 1/5 Bad Role Models: Ben Uchida and his friends are all terrible role models. Ben is cynical, angry-spirited, and childish. He looks at adults as morons who don’t ever mean what they say, and he pessimistically looks at everything in his life. I admit that sarcasm and cynicism can be funny to watch when done right and appropriately, but this was just done in an annoying, selfish manner, with little humor. The Bible also has a lot in Proverbs to say about those that are scornful in spirit. On another note, his friends tend to be immoral and foolish, often convincing him to do immoral and foolish things.

Overall: 2/5 Below Average: I was more than a little disappointed with this Dear America book. While the information was accurate and the plot was interesting, the main character is annoying, and the Japanese spirit is lacking. This is perhaps to replace the Japanese spirit with a more American spirit that some of the second and third generation Japanese no doubt had, but I think the characters’ attitudes were to too liberal to be something I could believe the average twelve year old in World War II America would have.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 An Inappropriate Attempt: Ben’s friend convinces him to spy on some girls when he believes they will be changing. The girls turn out to have changed before they came.

Violence: 2/5 Some Violence: Violence, death, and suicide are used a lot in exaggerations and sometimes in descriptions. The bombing of Pearl Harbor is mentioned. Characters wonder and believe several times that the Japanese will be killed systematically by the government. While angry, a woman purposely destroys all of her dishes. It is mentioned that a man hangs himself. Some boys play a knife throwing game, and a knife gets in a boys ankle. Someone throws a brick through a window. A boy elbows a kid, and he gets revenge by charging him in football. A woman gets hit in the head with a baseball. A boy attacks another boy, and though nothing to descriptive happens, it does mention the damage that was done. It is mentioned that a movie has a father that hits his son. It is mentioned that a man is shot to death by some soldiers. Characters fall, though rarely, if ever, get seriously hurt. A man is said to have threatened violence, but whether he truly did or not is never said. Several characters deaths are mentioned in the epilogue from bombing, gunshot, and unnamed causes.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2/5 Light Swearing and Racial Terms: “Damn” is misused once. The term “Jap” is used at least ten times.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 Some Emotional and Disturbing Content: World War I, the Alamo, and the Civil are briefly mentioned and World War II is the time of the diary. There is mention of characters dying and getting injured in the war. Both white and Japanese people wish to hurt and kill each other throughout the book, at least twice wanting or threatening to burn down the other ones homes. One boy’s house is mentioned to have most likely been purposely burned. It is mentioned that a roof caught on fire from a sparkler. Characters cry and tear up a few times, usually from the way the children are being raised in the internment camps, and though it is not overly depressing, it is usually at least sad to read. A boy screams once when he gets hurt. A man is rumored to have died from soldiers, and it is rumored that the Japanese men are beaten. A boy is hit so hard in a football game that his a boy wonders if he killed him, and the event is described a little descriptively, though not too morbidly. Military men swarm a crowd when the crowd becomes restless, though no one is hurt. A boy makes a joke about tanks while he is being searched for weapons. Two characters in a movie are mentioned to have died. Soldiers point guns at people and guard from towers and streets. Rumors of riots are briefly mentioned a couple of times, as well as that tear gas killed the rioters. A man is greatly traumatized from being interrogated and held by the Americans and, though not completely mentally destroyed, he is obviously and greatly changed from it. Japanese possibly torturing Americans is briefly mentioned. Several characters deaths are mentioned in the epilogue from bombing, gunshot, and unnamed causes. Characters are briefly mentioned to sometimes faint. Characters hope they don’t get hurt. Characters mention feeling light pain from different circumstances. Bleeding is mentioned at least twice, and characters have or get bruises, cuts, scars, scratches, and swollen eyes. A boy is possibly blinded after getting attacked by another boy. Characters are mentioned to be carried on stretchers. A man is mentioned to have gotten a concussion. The historical facts mention the murder and lynching of Chinese immigrants, as well as military duty done by Japanese-American soldiers in World War II, as well as at least one soldier’s death. The author is mentioned to have written many books about war and war heroes.

Religious Issues: 1/5 Brief Mention A man is described as a boy’s “idol.” In the historical facts, a man is mentioned to be the son of a Buddhist monk.

Magic: ½/5 Slight Mention: “Magic” is used for descriptive purposes. A movie with “Ghost” in the title is mentioned.

Others: Characters smoke, illegally gamble, and are strongly hinted to drink, and sake (rice wine) is drunk by adults and children once. A man is said to have been drunk, but whether truly was or not is never said. Girls practice for a dance, and children perform a dance. A man in a movie is mentioned to have had more than one wife over his life. A man tells his son that there may be people on other planets. Santa Claus is briefly mentioned. Women start to wear only pants because of the sand. “Gamble” is used for descriptive purposes. “Ballet and interpretive dance” are mentioned.

Overall: Morally, the worst thing is probably the boys attempting to spy on changing girls. Other than this, morally there is not really anything wrong with it concerning content, but the main moral and attitude of the story causes me to not really recommend it.

Books

A Book Review of The Confession

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

The Confession by Beverly Lewis

Type: Amish, Christian Fiction, Contemporary

Basic Plot: Katie has gone to look for her birth mother while her family grieves at home.

Quality

Plot: 3½/5 Above Average: Second books tend to be little more than bridges between the first and third, but I felt the author was trying to do more than that. The story was still interesting, and characters still developed. Some of the servants were more cliché than the Amish community characters had been, in my opinion. The plot had good things in it that were believable and thought out well, though not extraordinarily. The ending was a little cliché, but other than that it was not obviously or painfully cliché.

Writing Style and Setup: 3/5 Average: The writing style was the same as the first book. The descriptions were not as frequent and detailed, I believe, as the first book.

Moral: 2½/5 A Good, Partially Noticeable Moral: Though the moral is weaker in this book, I believe the moral that can be seen in this book is that God will come through for us. Katie’s mom prays that she will meet her daughter before her death and eventually does. The moral was not as expounded on as the first books moral was, but it could still be seen. There was little thanking of God for bringing about her daughter at the end of the book.

Overall: 3/5 Average: As most seconds books, The Confession was not as good as the first, but it was still enjoyable and did not feel forced. I think it is therefore above the average book, but like still not amazing. I believe that girls and women twelve to adult would enjoy this story.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: A girl is described as “sensual” and “seductive,” and Katie discovers racy, red undergarments in her suitcases. “Seductively” is used to describe a way a man speaks. It is mentioned that a woman had been embarrassed at any inappropriate “innuendo.” It is mentioned that a man got a vasectomy. A boy is known for being a flirt. A woman flirts with a married man and jokingly tells him to leave so that she can change. A woman confesses to her boyfriend that she is not a virgin, and her boyfriend is mentioned to have asked several times for intimacy before marriage, though he was always refused. A man kisses a woman he is dating, touches her hand, and “put his arm around her.” He later kisses her once after they are married. “Seductive” is used for descriptive purposes.

Violence: There are descriptions that use violence. It is mentioned a man dragged and forced a woman out of his house. It is mentioned that a man punched his pillow. Katie cuts her hand with a knife.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: It is mentioned once that a man swears, though it does not say what he said.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: There are descriptions with death and amputation, and shunned characters are often looked at as if they were dead. A woman believes her old boyfriend had died by drowning, though he hasn’t. Characters talk about a woman dying. A woman has several instances of spasms from sclerosis, and once or twice they are described in detail. A woman slowly goes insane from sorrow and believes she is hearing a child cry. A woman almost chokes on a drink. A woman slowly dies from sclerosis though the book and gets pneumonia, and Katie watches her mother when she dies. Characters are mentioned to have died in the past, including a brief mention of a stillborn baby. A boys feet hurt from having cut his “toenails too short,” and he exaggerates that he practically cut them off. A girl bleeds from a cut once.

Religious Issues: A girl thinks a man is like the devil for his wicked ways, and wonders if that’s what his middle initial stands for. It is mentioned that a girl recites a prayer from a prayer book, though it does not say what it is, and she is encouraged to pray by her relatives to pray using her own words. Characters are mentioned to wear head coverings. A boy says how he believes certain people will go to hell. “Haunting,” “haunted,” and “ghost” are used for descriptive purposes.

Magic: “Magic” and “spellbound” are used for descriptive purposes.

Others: “Dance” is used for descriptive purposes. A woman is given medical drugs and shots. A woman had once thought about divorcing a man but didn’t. A man smokes a cigar, and he uses an ashtray. The cigar is also used for descriptive purposes.

Overall: Overall I would say it’s appropriate for children twelve and older.

Here is a review to the third book, The Reckoning: https://christianentertainmentreviewsblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/a-book-review-of-the-recking/

Books

A Book Review of The Shunning

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

The Shunning by Beverly Lewis

Type: Amish, Christian Fiction, Contemporary

Basic Plot: Katie Lapp has been raised Old Order Amish from infancy, but her seemingly simple and predictable life is changed when she finds some a secret in her attic.

Quality

Plot: 4/5 Well Done: I liked how this Amish plot was not centered on romance, but on family, individualism, and peer pressure. Katie finds out the life that she has been living has been little more than a lie and begins to question the Amish ways more and more. Her growing rebellion results in an Amish tradition of shunning. All interaction is cut off from the shunned one, and Katie has to choose to follow either what the church says is right or what she knows is true. The book deals with a different type of enslavement from Communism or legal slavery. The book deals with slavery to religion, social pressure, and a church.

Characters are much less cliché and more developed than some Christian Fiction I have read. Different perspectives are shown, making sure that the reader isn’t trapped in one way of viewing things. Their feelings and emotions are realistic, and though sometimes the characters are emotional and cry, they are not overflowing with tears at the slightest trouble or behave pathetically.

Writing Style and Setup: 3/5 Average: Despite the amazing plot and characters, the style was more mediocre. Descriptions were plain and predictable at times, though not too forced. The setup was good, leaving the plot twist for the very end, with little to none showing what it would be. Some people may think the story is a little slow, but it did move smoother and faster than some Christian books I have read.

Moral: 3/5 A Good Moral: The moral of the book, I believe, will become more clear in later books, but in this book is opening up to the idea of freedom from religious enslavement. Katie is discontent with her Plain life, wishing she could wear bright clothes or that she could sing non-religious songs. As she thinks on her past and learns more, she realizes that she is merely holding to unreasonable tradition rather than Biblical standards. We should be subject to the Bible, but Katie lives in a society that believes in subjection to manmade laws and traditions. Not all manmade laws and traditions are wrong and unreasonable, but Katie learns that they are not necessarily needed to be righteous, right with God, or to go to heaven, as her friends and family teach. I believe this will be more expounded on in later books. There are small traces of rebellion in action, but I don’t sense a rebellious spirit in Katie, despite her confusion about her religious life.

Overall: 3½/5: Above Average: I honestly think that The Shunning has some of the things that make fine literature, though whether it is a classic or not is debatable. I think girls and women twelve to adults would like to read the story.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1/5 Light, Brief Physical Contact and Some Suggestiveness: Boys hug and kiss a girl on the mouth and cheeks that they are dating and engaged to, and a girl lightly and briefly describes how it feels. A man thinks how a girl’s hair felt when he sprinkled her. A man is eager to “demonstrate his love” for his future wife after there wedding, and one of the reasons of father scolds his daughter for not marrying a man is because he “has no woman to warm his bed.” Katie wonders about the feeling of lying about your purity. It is mentioned that a girl had a child outside of marriage, and she cries over her mistake of having intimacy outside of marriage.

Violence: 1/5 Brief, Light Violence: A boy kicks his sister. It is mentioned that a boy pulled his sister’s hair when they were children. A woman burns her fingers in a dream. Chickens’ heads are mentioned to be cut off as part of the wedding preparations and customs.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Possible Misuse: God’s name is possibly taken in vain once.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1/5 Light Emotional Content: A woman gives birth to a stillborn daughter, and it is mentioned that she had two miscarriages. A girl’s boyfriend is mentioned to have died, though his body is never found. She visits his grave about twice and often thinks of him. A woman is dying from a disease unknown by the reader. Two women briefly discuss death. Characters cry of varying situations, such as abandonment or death, but none are overly dramatic. A character is shunned, which includes a complete break off in communication with the shunned one, and greatly saddens the shunned one.

Religious Issues: 2/5 Practices of Other Christian” Groups: Characters are Amish and Mennonite. Baptism is done by sprinkling. Certain Amish religious rituals and methods such as confession, women wearing head coverings, the Holy Kiss, and casting lots to pick bishops are mentioned. It is mentioned that characters recite prayers from prayer books. A few times, salvation by works is mentioned, and a boy says his sister will go to hell if she does not stay with the Amish Church, though salvation by faith is thought about by the main character. A Bible verse is either misquoted or not KJV, and a character is mentioned to have had a “paraphrased version of the New Testament.”

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

Others: A girl dances once, though it is more like twirling than actually dancing.

Overall: 2½/5 Almost Child Appropriate: Overall I think this book is appropriate for children twelve at the youngest, mainly because of the religious rituals and some of the suggestive content.

Here is a review to the second book, The Confession: https://christianentertainmentreviewsblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/a-book-review-of-the-confession/

Books

A Manga Review of Emma (1-2)

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

Emma 1-2 by Kaoru Mori

Type: Historical Fiction, Romance, Shoujo

Basic Plot: Emma is a maid that tends to catch the hearts of many men with her sweet spirit and appearance. Most men she has shown no interest in, but when she finally falls in love with William Jones, it seems like they can never be together.

Quality

Plot: 4/5 Well Done: The one thing I look for in manga romances in if it is cliché or not. The story was a common story of a forbidden love between the rich and poor, but it was unique in what the characters did. Since the creator tried hard to make the setting as accurate as possible, the story is creative because of its strong Victorian England feel and events. Characters go to places and perform activities that are unique to the time era.

Graphics: 4/5 Well Done: The drawings were less manga looking, probably because the setting was in England, but still had a Japanese touch in the eyes and details. Details were not overflowing, but were there. The artist had a way of making the plain and simple look beautiful and neat. The art changed in that I believe it looks a little darker and neater as the book goes on, and certain characters faces become more rounded. This is about done by the end of chapter four.

Moral: 2/5 No Clear Moral: The moral of the story is not clear. There is no defining lesson or message yet, though one may appear later in the story.

Overall: This manga is recommended for girls and women, especially if they like Victorian England.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2½/5 Suggestive: It shows a girl and boy leaning in to kiss, though the kiss itself is barely shown. A boy grabs a girls hand when he confesses his love. A girl puts her arms around a man. Two boys look at pictures of girls in low corsets and underskirts, one showing a girl sitting in an immodest fashion and showing part of her thigh. A man says that people in India “stride around half-naked.” Some girls from India wear outfits that show off their stomachs and curves, and some girls are shown to have low dresses in the front and back. Men are shirtless, but no inappropriate details are shown. A girl is helped to undress to her nightgown by a maid. A girl is nearly sold into a brothel as a child, but she escapes. The conversation between a man trying to sell her to the lady who owns the place is heard. A girl is hinted to have been born to an unmarried woman. The author says in the afterward wonders if she might be a “masochist” considering how much work she’ll do and that she enjoys it.

Violence: 1/5 Brief, Light Violence: A man gets his head hit when a door opens, and people are run into or hit by luggage at least once each. A man mentions that he once fell and hurt his elbow. A man talks about hunting foxes. A woman slaps a child. It is not shown, but a woman falls down a flight of stairs. A child is shown falling. An elephant goes on a rampage and starts crashing through a courtyard, though no one is hurt. A girl jumps off a wall and lands on her face.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2/5 Light Swearing: “Damn” is misused once. “Hell” is misused once. A girl calls another girl a “saucy minx,” though she is reproved for it.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 Light Disturbing Content: A girl is kidnapped and almost sold to a brothel, and a man tries to convince the owner that men are becoming more interested in children. A woman dies of old age, though her death is not shown. Characters are mentioned to have died, and a man’s burial is briefly shown. The Victorian Era’s obsession with death is briefly mentioned. A man talks about his father dying, as well as that “drowning him in the Thames wouldn’t have killed him.” Characters tear up.

Religious Issues: ½/5 Brief Mention: An Islamic mosque is briefly seen once while touring a museum. Elephants are described as “sacred.”

Magic: ½/5 Brief Mention: A boy wonders if his brother “was bewitched” by a girl’s “face.”

Others: Characters waltz, and Indian girls briefly perform an Indian dance. Characters smoke pipes (British and Indian) and cigarettes, and it is hinted that some ladies leave so that the men can smoke. Characters drink, and a boy mentions how he drank lots on his first night out, that it is relaxing to drink, and the specific names of what he drank. A girl drinks and appears to be a bit lightheaded from it. Men play cards, though it is not made known if they are gambling or what they are playing. A man briefly mentions that the pubs are closed. The author mentions being a fan of Marilyn Monroe.

Overall: 3/5 Teenager Appropriate: I would recommend this morally to children fourteen or fifteen and older because of the suggestive content.

IMPORTANT: Upon further research, the manga takes a turn for the worse in Emma 3-4, mostly in part four, which shows a woman naked, revealing nearly everything except for the front of the lower half of the body, and an entire back shot is shown, with a girl only wearing her shoes. I would not recommend the series because of this.

Books

A Book Review of The Passion of Dolssa

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

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berrie

Type: Historical Fiction

Basic Plot: Dolssa is a young girl that receives visions from her “beloved,” Jesus. Believing her to be a heretic, the Inquisition is hunting down Dolssa. Dolssa goes into hiding in a village with a girl named Botille, and a whole village is changed by the Inquisition.

Quality

Plot: 5/5 Excellent Quality: I was so enraptured by the story that I finished in three days. Plot twists, historical accuracy, and suspense made the story gripping, being neither forced or cliché. Characters were deeper than most YA novels, though they could have been deeper. Almost all of the main characters are somewhat dynamic. They mature and at least partially change the way they look at things. The characters were also realistic, as even the evil inquisitors believe they are genuinely doing God’s will.

Writing Style and Setup: 4½/5 Amazing Quality: There were a variety of perspectives and styles, including first person, third person, and monologues. The narrative was not too casual as to sound awkward or unintelligent.

Moral: 3/5 A Good Moral: The book’s moral was to not hide the truth, especially when regarding history. The author shows this in her characters as well as in her own beliefs that she states at the book. Botille lies often to protect others, get out of trouble, and to convince people to do what she wants. She is often successful, but the more time goes on, the more her lies tend to hinder her and others. If anything, her lying eventually starts to strongly work against her, even if it was for the right reasons. Another case against lying was discussed by the author at the end of the book. She said while studying the Inquisition, she saw that the Catholic Church failed greatly in recording the truth regarding the heretics to the Catholic Church. She discusses how many people in power will try to change what history says in an effort to make those they disagree with seem like the bad guys of history or as if they never existed. She states that, “If truth matters one iota, we can’t be content to write history as we’d like it to have gone. We must tell it, to the best of out biased and hampered ability, exactly as it was.” God says a lot about lying. “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.” Proverbs 12:22. Whether a peasant girl lying to make a profit or a modern historian lying to make his side look better, both are wrong and both will eventually pay a price for lying.

Overall: 4½/5 Amazing: This is definitely a unique and historically accurate book. Teenagers and adults will both find it interesting, I believe, whether you are a boy or a girl. Some things may appeal to girls more, mainly because it is from a girl’s perspective, but some boys may still like the story.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 3/5 Suggestive Content and Inappropriate References:  The priest of one town is mentioned to have impregnated several girls, and that he offers “comfort of a special kind.” A girl once visits him on a night when he has someone over, though it is only briefly mentioned and no details are given. Once when a girl is angry, she pinches her sister’s bottom, though not sexually. One girl is pregnant from this and is desperate to marry before it is obvious she is pregnant. Her friend once mistakes that she was pregnant from a married man. A girl asks a man if he was sent away from his town for seducing other men’s wives. He doesn’t deny it, and says he did seduce the concubines of the religious men. A mother wonders if her daughter had “sinned” because her daughter refuses to marry; she didn’t. One girl believes that men will wish to marry her because of her curves and points them out to her friend. A prostitute meets Dolssa and tries to convince her to join her in her work. A monologue later shows the prostitute asking a friar if he would like to stay with her for a little while. He refuses. It mentions that a man imagines a girl “trying to entice a man.” A man has a dream that Dolssa seduces him, hinting that she may have undressed in front of him. Though it is known that the man and girl have sex and that “She compelled him to… kiss and touch,” there is no description of touching other than a kiss. Characters kiss throughout the book in platonic and romantic manners, whether with the opposite or same gender, on the lips, cheek, and ear. All romantic kissing is between members of the opposite gender and only happens two or three times at most. A girl tells her sister to find a boy to kiss; she doesn’t. There is hugging and arm holding for romance, emotional comfort, or both. A girl once sits on a man’s lap. It is mentioned that the ability to hear noises in neighboring houses is a cause of embarrassment for newlyweds. Men and boys stare at girls crushing grapes, as their skirts are raised higher than normal, and they are described as having “lusty” eyes. A girl is described as “boxum” in the book. Two innocent people are accused of fornication. A girl is stared at by a man, and she believes he wanted “a roll in the hay,” though it is later revealed that he doesn’t. Characters are called sluts, whores, and harlots, whether they have earned the name or not. A girl refers to her sister mentally as a whore and “harlot goddess.” A man comments on a girl’s bottom. A girl’s mother, who has died, was a courtesan, adulterous, and whore according to her daughter’s memory, and she had many lovers. Breastfeeding is mentioned. Boys are whipped while they are nearly naked. Some girls help bathe Dolssa. Dolssa mentions that she believed some other girls were “grooming” her into prostitution, though they weren’t. It is mentioned that religious men have concubines and lovers, and a woman asks if a man searching for Dolssa is looking for her because she is his “mistress.” A girl believed heretics had “giant genitals.” It mentions a girl’s bosom bounces as she jumps. A man reflects how the smell, nearness, and touch of a love interest makes him feel. In conversation, twice it sounds like a man may be cheating on his wife or vise versa. A man asks a girl if she lives alone, making her worry he has dishonorable plans; he doesn’t. A man changes his shirt in front of a girl. A girl tells someone she is changing her clothes (when she isn’t), and then tells a boy that is present to leave her. A girl says she would not go in the forest at night because it is not proper (though she did) and reflects how she and her sisters are not known for their “maidenly reputations.” Dolssa looks at Jesus as a lover in several ways, and once when a girl sees her alone talking to an invisible Jesus, the girl compares it to barging in on kissing. The author says in her historical notes that some women in the past thought of Jesus as their husband, which included “passionate, sexual terms” to describe their view of Him. A book on prostitution, which apparently talks about sex as a list of things it discusses, is recommended in the “Additional Reading” section. “The… sensuality” of specific mystics is mentioned to be discussed in one of the recommended books.

Violence: 3½/5 Descriptive Violence: Violence is used for descriptive purposes. Characters are relieved to see other characters unhurt. Characters frequently make threats of violence that are not intended to be carried out. Characters are or nearly are burned alive descriptively, and there is talk of burning the bones of dead heretics. A girl says the fire “scorched” them, though they are merely near the fire. A girl is shot at with an arrow, though it hits a man. Characters talk of burning down a whole village but don’t. A man is attacked by two boys. The boys are fought off by some other characters. The fight includes tackling and beating characters over the head. Some boys are whipped and branded descriptively. The crusades are mentioned and once described in graphic detail. A girl says she is fine marrying a wife beater. It is mentioned that a cat bit a girl’s hand. A girl bites her tongue. A girl carries a whip with her as she travels and threatens people with it, though it is never used. Characters are commanded to whip other characters and to burn heretic’s bones. A man is pushed in his dream. A girl lies that a man was killed while saving man from assassination. Children push each other once. A woman wonders if her grandchildren accidentally hurt a man; they hadn’t. The historical notes mention a man being lanced to death and the crusades. A baby accidentally pokes a man’s eye. A girl pinches her sisters bottom as her sister pushes her sole into her foot. A man throws a woman “upon the ground.” A man is on the run for murderer, which he did out of fear of his friend’s being killed. It is mentioned that man dies from something falling on his head. A girl wishes God would kill persecutors. A girl tries to bite a boy at least once. Characters show playful violence, such as a light pinch. The historical notes mention the 9/11 attack, torture, and talk about groups of people’s zeal to kill others.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 3½/5 Proper and Improper Swearing: It is mentioned that characters swear, though it does not say what they said. “Damn” is properly used at least eight times and improperly used at least once or twice. The Occitan word “aze” (meaning “buttocks, bottom” in the book) is used several times throughout the book, though it is never made clear whether it is the equivalent of the English swear word. God’s name is possibly taken in vain in French at least thirteen times and possibly twice or more in English. “Lord” is misused once. Jesus’ name and blood are possibly misused once each. Some of the taking of God’s name in vain depends on how it is looked at as swearing or a prayer, but some is clearly misuse. “Piss” is used properly once. The “s” word is used twice in its original meaning, though in a spelling differed by one word. Women are called and referred to as harlots, sluts, and whores, with or without reason.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 4/5 Disturbing and Emotional Deaths and Violence: Several deaths mentioned in “Violence” are disturbing, mentioning the way they burn and scream. Characters nearly die several times, and the scenes can be emotional and dramatic. Characters talk, worry, and wonder about death, near deaths, and executions, whether it is their own or others. Characters are mentioned to have died in the past. Characters scream and throw up at the sight and smell of others dying. Boys are whipped in a descriptively humiliating manner. Characters accidentally burn their hands.A girl’s hand injury releases fluid. Dolssa’s legs are blood covered and torn up from walking for so long, and a girl considers how the injury could become more serious. It is mentioned that it is painful to have her injuries cleaned. It is wondered if a girl is an “angel of death;” she isn’t. A couple of characters funerals are held, though they are sad they are not extremely dramatic. A man goes into a drunken trance for several days after his wife’s death. A girl says that after her mother died she discovered her dead mother. A man wakes up screaming because of nightmares about the crusades. A man has a dream that he nearly dies of thirst. A man sings a song about the crusades and later describes them in graphic detail, describing how they killed people. It is mentioned that a cat once had worms and that a donkey once fell over and died. A girl wants to leave a dying girl be left for dead. Starvation is briefly mentioned. A girl’s hiding place is described as a “grave,” “tomb,” and “burial.” A girl lies that she had been looking at “a dying bird.” “Tanneries and slaughterhouses” are briefly mentioned at least once. A girl accidentally burns her hand. Blood is mentioned at least six times. Scars and bruises and a swollen eye are on characters, and once a man’s skull is heard to crack. Different types of injuries, such as “bleeding and bruised,” are used for descriptive purposes. A girl once thinks her sister is “a bled corpse.” “Murderous” and “dying” are used for descriptive purposes, and a man calls himself a “murderer” for his work in a crusade. A man is called “murder.”

Religious Issues: (At Least) 4/5 Great Practice and Mention and Possibly Blasphemous Activities: Several brief references to Catholic positions and methods are mentioned, including abbots and abbesses, abbeys, bishops, canons, clerics, cloisters, convents, the Eucharist, excommunication, friars, incense, last rites, liturgies, mass, monasteries, monks, nuns, parishes, penance, the pope, priest, priors, saints, the sacraments, shrines, and supposedly “sacred” and “holy” church objects and clothing. Catholic doctrine is sometimes briefly and lightly touched, such as beliefs that only the Catholic Church can learn about God or that the pope and Peter have or have had certain divine powers and authorities. Characters also believe Mary and the Catholic saints have spiritual powers. A woman wants her daughter to be a nun. Characters take the Eucharist once and attend mass a few times, though it is not described in detail. A girl is mentioned to pray for people’s souls. Saints are believed to have powers, and one girl prays to one. One girl is forced to join a convent. The Catholic Church is occasionally referenced to be “true” or called “the Holy Church.” Specific Catholic organizations and buildings are mentioned. Characters refer to each other in Catholic terms, such as “my son” or Dominus, a word meaning lord. A man is once referred to as His Excellency because of his religious position. Characters make the sign of the cross, and a girl once bows and prays at a Catholic shrine. A girl’s mother comforts her at least once, even though she is dead; it is hinted to be merely a dream. A girl wonders if Dolssa is hexing the when she is really just praying. A girl once thinks of her sister as a “harlot goddess.” A girl prays “Our Father,” though the English translation of the Occitan does not exactly match the Bible. Characters show that they believe your eternal destination is determined by the Catholic Church and works, as well as that the priest can forgive sins. Dolssa briefly wonders twice if she is in hell because of bad situations or things said that she deems blasphemous, and a girl once wonders where she will go when she dies. A girl once briefly wonders about “spirits of the dead” being out. A man calls a town “reprobate” for sheltering Dolssa. Characters are accused of blaspheme, once for being against the crusades and once for calling saying that Dolssa’s “beloved is a monster” if He does not care for Dolssa anymore. A girl thought she saw Jesus in her doorway. It was really her stepfather. A girl asks a man if he is a monk; he isn’t. A character wonders if a girl is a saint. Some girls think a demon is responsible for the death of an animal. The Muslim and Jewish religions are briefly mentioned. A girl says she wished Jesus could stay at their tavern and concludes that Dolssa’s allows this at least to a degree. “Offerings at a shrine” and “haunted” are used for descriptive purposes. Dolssa receives visions and feels burnings, as well as talks to and sees Jesus. She also says that he answers her. She also believes that if Jesus tells her to do something, she should follow that rather than the Bible, as she believes that is merely the Apostle’s writing. It mentions that she preaches in front of people and defends it by saying that since she isn’t in church, it isn’t against the Bible. A girl wonders if Dolssa is really “flesh and blood” because of the miracles she brings and hears voices in her head. Throughout out the book, mostly near the end, she sense voices more so than literally hears a person speaking. The author experiences something similar at the end of the book and writes something that happened in the past based on a spiritual revelation. Animals and people are called “devilish,” and characters compare to and accuse other people of being the devil or devils. A mole on Dolssa is thought once to be “the devil’s mark,” and she is accused of being “tricked (by) the devil” rather than actually talking to God. She refutes this by saying the devil does not tell others to love Jesus. A woman claims to have heard Mary speak to her. Either God or Dolssa performs miracles because of Dolssa’s prayers or presence. Such miracles may include healing, endless ale, or breast milk returning to a barren mother. Characters in the book sometimes look at Dolssa with a worshipful amount of respect, one woman even thinking her looking at her death as “God burn[ing] God.” Other characters are also mentioned to have been bowed to for supposedly being holy people. A man is practically an atheist because of how the crusaders treated supposed heretics, though it is shown that he still believes in God to an extent, and he refers to the Catholic’s God once with a lower case “g.” He looks at Christianity, specifically Catholicism and the crusades, with contempt. The historical notes mentions people being made saints and that women tended to view Jesus as their husband in a literal sense, sometimes with “passionate, sexual” things to say about Him. It also discusses mystics and slightly touches the Catholic view of Mary. Real and fake religious movements, Catholic and French religious figures, and salvation by works are all mentioned in the historical notes as well. “The spirituality” of specific mystics is mentioned to be discussed in one of the recommended books.

The religious premise of the book is the persecution of a girl who can literally see and talk to Jesus, as well as Now the Bible does say that one day we will be the Bride of Christ (First Corinthians 11:2 “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”), but at the present time I believe we are merely engaged. Several verses point to this. (See Matthew 25 1-13, Revelation 19 7-9, and First Corinthians 11:2 to name a few.) Also, I believe that the church as a whole is the Bride of Christ, not individual people. I do not believe that Dolssa’s relationship with Jesus is necessarily how God intended it to be, though I do believe she is on the right track, as the Catholic Church has a very removed and impersonal in comparison to what God intended. In a sense, the book is about one form of heresy killing another. The book, therefore, should probably not be read for religious truth as much as for knowledge historically.

Magic: 2/5 Suggestive and Descriptive: Two girls pretend they can read palms, read minds, and see the future. It is strongly suggested they really can’t, merely that they are observant. At least three palm readings are described. One girl’s predictions come true on a regular basis, though she is occasionally wrong. A girl lies that her sister had a premonition. A girl talks about her mother being magic and passing it down to her daughters, as her daughter supposedly read fortunes. A girl accuses her sister of “bewitching” and “hex[ing]” men when they start giving her sister money, as well as ask if she can learn what to do, though the girl does not practice witchcraft. A girl thinks about “sprites and fairies” coming out at night. One girl greatly plays it up by going into costume and using a tent. Pictures of mermaids are used to decorate a girls dress. A girl wonders is Dolssa is hexing the when she is really just praying. Characters are called “soothsayers,” “mystics,” “sorceress,” and “devina” for various reasons, though whether they are or not is debatable. “Ghost,” “phantom,” and “fairy” are used for descriptive purposes, and characters wonder if other characters are these. They aren’t. “Dragonlike,” “trance,” and “specter” are used for descriptive purposes. As far as is known, no magic is clearly done in the book, though it is slightly hinted that one girl’s palm reading may be genuine. In the historical notes, “devina” is translated “soothsayer, witch (feminine).” In “Additional Reading” section, a book that mentions mystics and witches in the title is recommended.

Others: Some of the main characters live in and run a tavern. It is mentioned that they learn to and do make wine and ale. Some characters store their alcoholic drinks in an “ale cellar.” Characters offer alcoholic drinks as presents and serve them at bars. Wine and ale are drunk, and wine is used in food. A man is mentioned to be a “wine merchant.” A town is described as a “wine town,” as that is what the people drink. “Wine” and “liqueur” are used for descriptive reasons. Characters are mentioned and are accused of being “half-drunk” and “drunk,” and one girl is wobbly from drinking too much. Some girl’s father is a drunkard. Characters are mentioned to dance at par ties, and “dancing” is used for descriptive purposes. As a child, one girl would wear boy’s clothes. In the historical notes, it mention a winery.

Overall: 4/5 Adult Appropriate: This book is not really recommended. The swearing, gore, and religious confusion would probably be too much for most teenagers and definitely children. If anyone read it, I believe an adult would be the appropriate age, as they can discern the religious content best, but even then the sexual content and violence may reasonably cause many Christians to not read it.