Sep 25, 2010

Why Am I Qualified to Review?

I provide reviews--summaries of books along with my personal opinion of quality.

But who am I? Why am I qualified to write these reviews? Am I qualified?

My Life
I grew up scouring the library every week with hopes for a new adventure between pages. In the younger years, 5-11ish, it wasn't so hard. No books held threatening material. But then I reached the teen years.
I was just figuring out what it meant to be a daughter of Christ and wanted to read books with Christian themes in them. Yes, books like Stranger's Bride, A Gown of Spanish Lace and Love Comes Softly all had Christian themes--Godly romance. (In some cases, cheesy Godly romance. ;)
Even though teenage girls could like romantic themes, in my case, it would have been nicer if the romance took place in a castle dungeon guarded by a dragon and eyebrow-eating rats. A young Christian girls can only read The Chronicles of Narnia and Pilgrim's Progress so many times.

I ended up resorting to classics, which may label me as a "smart kid" (though I don't think I understood half of them), but they never really satisfied the young imagination and appetite for adventure. I just didn't know what was out there and I didn't know what was "okay" to read.

I believe a child's imagination needs to grow and novels help that. There's always a place for logic and feet firmly planted on the floor, but those places should never come too early.
"But what about in the old days when they didn't have any books?" you may ask. You're right, they didn't have books, but they had amazing memories and stories that they would tell to each other. Word for word. Not missing a beat. So children then still heard of daring rescues and evil enemies that met defeat.
Nowadays we don't tell stories. Not really. But many do write them--a comforting fact. But what happens when the child can't find the story? Or that little girl has no faith in the author like she would in her Dad. She can trust her Daddy's stories--he has her best interest at heart. But can she trust this stranger's book?

So I write reviews on both Christian and nonChristian adventure/fantasy novesl for children/teens. 1) To help them figure out what is "ok" (with their own standards) to read and what's not. 2) To help them have a broader knowledge of what books are available. And 3) to help children and parents to learn about trustworthy vs. untrustworthy authors.

Which author will weave a solidly moral theme through the story with a life-learning conclusion? Which author will shove unwanted swear-words and intimate romance scenes into the story? Which author is writing with a purpose to pull you up into light with questions and wonders about life?
Which author is writing to pull you down to a dark "realistic" place of life so you can experience what true depression feels like? (Who wants that?)

My Book Knowledge
In the past 7 1/2 years, I have read 265 books (yes, I keep track. And yes, I know it's nerdy). That's approximately one book every 10 days. Translation: I read a lot. And I have the knowledge of an avid (slightly robid and obsessive) reader.

I'm Opinionated
The bold part says it all.
I'll read a book and write in a notebook my opinion about it, even if no one reads it. I form a valid (in my mind) opinion and try to look at all the angles.

My Interest in This GenreI have a passion for children and teen fantasy literature (and readers). Why? Because I always wanted well-written Christian novels as a kid (classics don't count). And because I am writing a novel for these age groups. As a hopeful author-to-be, it is important for me to stay up to date on what is out there. What's new. What's on the shelves. And what's good. Because I am seeking to be a trustworthy, moral-based, God-focused author. I don't want to let readers down.

So after all these explanations, am I "qualified" to write reviews? I guess that's up to you. I have no degree in English or history of Literature. I have conducted no studies on children/teen books. I haven't looked at the politically correct criteria of what's acceptable for children and teens to read nowadays. But I'm passionate, well-read, and trying to stay focused on God.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at

Fantasy lion picture:
man-on-books picture:

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