Tuesday, December 21, 2010

God's Smuggler

Reviewed by: Emily
Author: Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill
Primary Audience/age group: 12+
Genre: Autobiography
# Of pages: 255
Publisher: Chosen Books
Year of Release: 2007
Rating: 3, for violence (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes

Description: In this suspenseful, awe-inspiring narrative, Brother Andrew relates his thrilling story of evangelism behind the Iron Curtain. Called by God to encourage the struggling Christians behind the Iron Curtain, Brother Andrew risks his life again and again to provide his fellow Christians with the two things they need most– fellowship and Bibles.

Review: Brother Andrew’s story will leave you amazed at the power of God. The book is well written, infused with humor and sincerity. As you read, it feels as if Brother Andrew is in your living room telling his story to you. Throughout the book, his deep, passionate love for God shines through. In addition to being spiritually uplifting, the story is just plain exciting. Brother Andrew moves from one dangerous situation to the next, compelling you to read just one more page to find out how God delivers him. This is a book you will want to have in your personal library so you can read it again and again.

Rating: 3, for violence

Positive: Brother Andrew has a wonderful relationship with God. With his great faith and willingness to devote his entire life to God’s service, he is an excellent role model. His excitement for reading the Bible, prayer, and serving God is infectious. Love for family and friends, frugality, and generosity to the less fortunate are continuous themes in the book. While presenting the story of a courageous man of God, first and foremost God’s Smuggler draws attention to God’s power, goodness, and love.

Spiritual Elements: The entire book centers around Brother Andrew’s relationship with God as well as the amazing work God did through and for Andrew and his fellow missionaries. Andrew also describes the negative opinion he held of God before he became a Christian. Other religions such as Islam are addressed.

Violence: Young Andrew and his friends hitting each other with their wooden shoes. During the Nazi occupation of Holland, young Andrew plays practical jokes on the soldiers involving fireworks. Andrew also describes his experiences in the army, including the horrors of battle, in some detail. He performs surgery on his pet monkey twice, once after a fellow soldier brutally abused the animal.

Language: None. When people swear in the book, it is noted, but the actual words are not included.

Sexual Content: At the chocolate factory where Andrew works, some girls make bawdy jokes. Andrew describes his relationships with his first girlfriend and his wife, but not on a sexual level.

Recommendation: I heartily recommend this book to anyone age 12 and up. The suspense, violent scenes, and other mature subject matter may not be appropriate for younger children.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Healer (The Brides of Alba)

Reviewed by: Shawna
Title: Healer
Author: Linda Windsor
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult – 16+
Genre: Christian Historical Romance/Fantasy
# of pages 384
Publisher: David C. Cook
Year of Release: 2010
Part of a series If yes, 1 of ?? (Brides of Alba)
Rating: 2 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes but with reservations (for an older audience)

Description: In the time of King Arthur, two families are at strife, the Gowrys and the O’Byrnes, driven by the greed and bitterness of one man, Tarlach O’Byrne. But, even his oppressive reign cannot stop the prophecy that his family will be divided. For twenty years, Brenna of Gowrys has been in hiding with her lone companion, a wolf. She has been waiting for the day the two clans will be reunited, and she can openly use the gift God bestowed on her, the gift of healing. When she finds a man of unknown origin injured and left for dead presumably by one of her own she uses her gift to nurse him back to health. But, an unexpected thing happens…she falls in love. Will their love be enough to fulfill the prophecy of peace before evil overtakes them all?

Review: Windsor did her homework thoroughly on researching the Medieval period and King Arthur, who also appears in the story. She provides definitions and character bios at the end for further reference. She does a remarkable job of storytelling using rich descriptions and building the characters of Brenna and Ronan as both well-rounded and enduring. The violence is fierce at times reminding us of the brutal spirit of the time period. The characters are passionate in love and conflict. But, however blessed and in God’s will Brenna and Ronan’s romance is within the story, it is still one for an older audience. Please use caution with those under age 16.

Rating: 2 for mature situations and violence

Positive: Brenna chooses to put God first and seeks Him in her decisions. Even though Tarlach, Ronan’s father and king of the O’Byrne clan, murders her family, she only shows him the love of Christ. Through her actions, God uses Brenna to change the lives of others.

Spiritual Elements: The Gowrys believe in and worship the one true, God. The Gowry women, Joanna and her daughter Brenna, are accused of witchcraft when in actuality they have the gift of healing, using only natural medicine and working miracles through the Holy Spirit. They also posses the gift of prophecy, hearing God speak to them through dreams and visions.

Many in the O’Byrne clan are superstitious and worship other gods including Tarlach’s daughter-in-law, Rhianon. She and her maid use dark magic to obtain what they want. Their dealings end up causing several to be possessed with demons. The other gods and the One true God are at odds with each other in the story. Scripture flows throughout.

Violence: The story begins with bloodshed as a jealous and vengeful Tarlach and his warriors come to claim what he believes is his, Joanna, queen of the Gowry’s clan. Tarlach beheads her husband and kills every other person that stands in the way. He even brings his young son, Ronan, to witness the massacre, which haunts Ronan for many years. In addition, there are suicides, burning of villages, and more blood shed.

Language: H*ll, d**n, by the gods.

Sexual Content: The O’Byrne brothers joke about Caden (the middle brother) and his wife Rhianon’s, reputation of being loud lovers. Sex is implied throughout the story but not described. Brenna is taught by other healers about the physical difference with men. As Brenna takes care of Ronan alone, she must deal with his nakedness maturely. She uses herbs to make him impotent in order to keep herself from harm since she doesn’t know if he is friend or foe yet. As he returns to health, they joke about this, but he is unaware that she has drugged him. They do fall in love but marry before anything happens between them.

Other: There are several mentions of ale, wine, and drunkenness, Caden goes into a drunken rage and fights Ronan.

Recommendation: The book deals with mature content. The scene with Brenna taking care of Ronan is a fairly long sequence. His anatomy is referred to on more than one occasion even though the author does a fine job of using descriptive yet not crude wording. It’s a coming of age story that deals with sexuality, and younger readers will probably not be ready for the subject matter. I think the book can be enjoyed more fully by an older audience, 16+.