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The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Volume 1 (A-M)

snes omnibus

Author: Brett Weiss
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing
Hardcover book
416 full-color pages
Over 350 games covered
MSRP: $42.99

Thank you Schiffer Publishing for sending us this book to review!

I was fortunate enough to grow up with video games and technology as it did. Being born in 1978 (and recently turning forty), I was fortunate enough to play the Atari 2600 long before I went to kindergarten, played tons of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) through elementary school, and got my Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in late jr. high or early high school (I don’t remember exactly when; it was early in the system’s launch, but I doubt it was year one).

I had gotten a PlayStation maybe a year after that released, and enjoyed it, but I always felt like the SNES was a perfect storm of available technology and maximum creativity that led to some of the best games of all time, and many remain timeless and revered to this day. (It also helped that I had more time to play games in high school rather than the busier early adulthood that occupied my time shortly after I got my PlayStation.) This book celebrates that generation of gaming by devoting one or two pages to each and every game in the SNES library. This volume covers every game in alphabetical order, starting with ‘3 Ninjas Kick Back’ and ending with ‘Musya: The Classic Japanese Tale of Horror’. Volume 2, when it is released in 2019, will cover game titles starting with N-Z.

The first few pages include a foreword, where the technical specifications of the SNES are discussed, as well as a brief summary of historical context about the system’s release. There is also a preface, where the author talks a bit about his history with gaming, and what led to him writing this book. All of the action starts on page ten.

Each page is in full color, with the title, publisher, developer, game type, and release year all notated at the top. Under that is the box art, a picture of the cartridge, and a general description and summary of the game. If it’s particularly good or bad, you might find some commentary there, too. Sometimes they will compare the game with its Sega Genesis counterpart, if there was one. There are also screenshots, and some titles may have promotional art or a picture of an ad as well.

Other than the general overview, each page also includes a ‘Notable Quotable’, which is typically an excerpt from a review, sometimes modern and sometimes classic, or a comment from a famous YouTuber, game developer, or industry veteran. Some games also feature one or more ‘Insider Insight’, which is a story of how that game impacted one of the many contributors. There are ninety people listed as contributors on pages 404-410. There are also brief articles about the console wars from the era, the historical and preservation value of emulation, and a bibliography.

Reading through this lovingly crafted archive, I was reminded both of the many great games that shaped my adolescence, but also the many that I remember looking at fondly but never having the chance to purchase for myself. I had a job in high school, so I worked for my games – but no kid can afford everything, so something always had to give. Thankfully, I often had great success scouring the used games at my old Blockbuster Video, which no doubt saved me a pretty penny in these early days before GameStop (and FuncoLand was the only used game store around).

A few notable games that I either owned or borrowed from friends which are covered here include:

ActRaiser
Breath of Fire
Chrono Trigger
Clay Fighter: Tournament Edition
Contra III: The Alien Wars (my cartridge is gone, but the SNES Classic delivers)
Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf (borrowed from a friend)
Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest (spelled wrong in the book: it's supposed to be Diddy's Kong Quest!)
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble!
Earthworm Jim (I have this and Earthworm Jim 2 on PC also!)
Final Fantasy II
Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest
F-Zero (SNES Classic only)
Gradius III
Inindo: The Way of the Ninja (my cartridge is gone, and makes me very sad!)
Jurassic Park (actually haven’t played it, but apparently it’s quite excellent! Garage sale find)
King of the Monsters 2 (another garage sale find, haven’t played it yet)
Kirby Super Star
Kirby’s Dream Course (SNES Classic only)
Lagoon
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (I thought I had a copy of Lufia 1, but my memory must be hazy)
Mario Paint
Mega Man 7 (I played it on the GameCube collection)
Mega Man X (I played it on the SNES version, but ended up beating it on the rare PC version!)
Mortal Kombat (I think I played a friend’s copy)
Mortal Kombat III (I played the arcade version much more)

This book is an excellent retrospective, and reminded me of several games that I wanted to pick up when I was younger, but never had the chance, as well as some new ones I hadn’t heard of. Who knew that one of the better RPGs on the SNES had a name as wacky as Brain Lord? I had no idea the Michael Jordan video game was actually decent. Apparently the Disney games were all fantastic. Did you know that Blizzard Entertainment met the team that eventually became Blizzard North who created Diablo though their early work on SNES games? All of this, and much more, is lovingly detailed in The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Volume 1. If you are a collector, or simply love the SNES, then I highly recommend that you pick up this book ASAP. It may be pricey, but it’s worth every penny.

 


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The Ultimate RPG Backstory Guide

Thank you Simon and Schuster for sending us this book to review!

The Ultimate RPG Backstory Guide was written by James D’Amato and features 100 prompts to shape a Dungeons & Dragons player’s character as well as that character’s world. The prompts go deep into areas that most would never explore when creating a character or its world. The book has three parts: the first part is exploring the origins of the character, the second part is describing their experiences when they have been adventuring for years, and the third part is probing what they are like and what happens to them when they are powerful and famous.

When I was reading this book and filling out (the majority of) the prompts, I noticed that this book is clearly aimed for adults that don’t hold Christian values, as it explored deities that could possibly be in this world, and made several sexual references. I also noticed quite a few references to drunkenness, as a decent amount of the narratives involve alcohol in some way. For example, there is a propmt asking you to figure out your current predicament after waking up from a drinking session. Of course, being designed for creating a fantasy D&D world, there are also countless references to magic in some form or another. This was something I expected, just seeing the title.

As I worked through it, the RPG Guide provoked thought upon aspects of the character in the making that I never would have thought of. There is a section where the guide addresses things that your character brought but shouldn't have, and even a prompt to help you figure out details about their formal wear. There are also some prompts to determine some details of the world, which are clearly directed towards the game’s Game Master (or GM). The GM controls the game’s monsters and helps create and advance the story. These prompts explored many different things, like a wizard’s college. This prompt explored almost everything that could be explored, and it was really in-depth, as all of the other prompts were.

This book, all in all, is great for those who would like to create a D&D character and the world they live in. I enjoyed working through it, and I now have a really in-depth character who I would like to use in a D&D game that starts from scratch. If you enjoy Dungeons & Dragons and are looking for a guide to create a really in-depth character, then this book is for you!

-Kittycathead

 


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Reflections of God's Grace

Thank you WestBow Press for sending us this book to review!

Reflections of God’s Grace is written by Michelle Hanna, and features 72 different devotions focusing on different topics of life. These devotions offer unique illustrations to make their point, and at the end of each one, there are assorted Scriptures to back up the message of the devotion. Each devotion is only a few pages long, but they provide deep, inspiring messages to bring God’s wisdom into your life and help Him influence your decisions each and every day.

The book as a whole is 179 pages long. While it generally focuses on making your relationship with God better, the devotions help to focus on various areas where your personal friendship with God can be improved upon. All of the sections are influenced by something that happened in the author’s personal life that struck her heart. For example, a section could be influenced by a song the author heard, an event that happened, or simply just a passage from the Bible.

Each devotion ends with a blessing and a wish that the author wants you to pray for in your daily life as you grow with your relationship with the Lord. After this blessing, the aforementioned Scripture is there to back up the passage. Usually there are four to nine pieces of Scripture after the original message of the devotion.

If you’re looking for something to help you expand your friendship with God, this is the book for you. Containing Scripture to back up each of its messages, it is biblically based and contains unique illustrations of Scriptural concepts that will help you grasp what each devotion is trying to tell you. Again, if you’re looking for something to help you get closer to the Lord, then this book would be a good one to add to your collection.

-Kittycathead

 


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Reducing Your Cancer Risk (A Holistic Approach)

Thank you Carl O Helvie for sending us this book to review!

Carl O Helvie is currently eighty-five years old and a forty-three year lung cancer survivor. When Carl was diagnosed, he was only given six months to live. He has incorporated many holistic lifestyle changes and techniques and has shared them in this 152-page book. Not only is the advice for quitting smoking mentioned but steps of how to do so successfully are also shared. Along with Carl’s advice and sixty years of nurse practitioner experience, several interviews with doctors, and case studies are also provided. Although I normally prefer hard copies of books, because of the amount of links to interviews, products, and websites, I would recommend the digital format which is nearly half the price of the paperback edition.

As new case studies come out, the author plans on revising the book and the digital version is easier to update than the physical copies. Hopefully, future revisions will fix a couple of the typos I spotted. Aside from the typos and drawn out doctor bios, this book is easy to read, informative, and hard to put down.

Most of the advice I was aware of such as avoiding sugar substitutes, pesticides and GMO enhanced produce. Avoiding excess minerals like fluoride requires some changes like switching to a toothpaste without it. I like how this book recommends several brands and where to purchase them. Avoiding EMF waves is trickier since I doubt my family will be up for disabling the WiFi at night. When possible the claims are backed up by case studies and interviews with physician specialists. There is some safety lingo stating that this book is not meant to be used in lieu of visiting a doctor and so on.

One bit of advice was a bit contradictory. It’s well known that fish, especially larger ones contain a lot of mercury. It makes sense to avoid eating too much salmon yet the book recommends eating it twice a week in another section.

I like how faith, serving others, prayer and meditation are all recommended for a healthy lifestyle. Many faiths are represented and there are quotes from the Dali Lama and President Monson from the church of Latter Day Saints. Many Bible verses are referenced in the prayer section so I was happy to see those there.

Overall, Reducing Your Cancer Risk (A Holistic Approach) has some great advice and lots of information and web links to check out. Reading the interviews takes more work in the physical format, but it’s not impossible. Most of the information can be found at the author’s website: www.HolisticCancerFoundation.com.

 


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The Rational Bible: Exodus

Thank you Regnery Faith for sending us this book to review!

Dennis Prager has studied and taught the Torah for fifty years and has hosted The Dennis Prager Show on radio. This book is written for people of all faiths or lack thereof. According to the author, “The Torah either has something to say to everyone or it has nothing to say to Jews.” The Rational Bible: Exodus is 520 pages long and goes through each verse and adds commentary to explain them further as needed.

Each chapter of the book focuses on a chapter in Exodus and the longest chapter by far is the 20th one which focuses on the Ten Commandments. That chapter alone is over fifty pages long. Along with the verse explanations are various essays that are thought provoking. Some of the major topics covered are slavery, abortion, and the “eye for an eye” concept.

When the Bible was written, slavery was much different than slavery during the Civil War. Most of the slaves in Bible times were slaves by choice or circumstance and not by kidnapping/stealing. In fact, human trafficking is punishable by death according to the Bible. Many Jews became slaves to pay off debt and they had many rights that American slaves did not have. Along with guaranteed food, clothing, and freedom after seven years, they were not required to work on the Sabbath, and even had marital rights.

While not tolerated or recommended, slave abuse is also covered in Exodus. Any injury that involved the loss of a tooth, limb, or an eye, freed the slaves from their abusive master. If a slave was killed by their master, their death must be avenged and treated as a murder. Beatings are not harshly punished though they are counterproductive and if done too severely, sets the slave free.

Many controversial topics are covered in this book and I cannot recommend it enough. I only wish that a thorough verse by verse explanation book was available for each book in the Bible. The $25 asking price is very reasonable and worth considering if you want an in-depth explanation of the Ten Commandments and the reasoning behind them.


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My Prayer Journal

Thank you Quiet Fox Designs and Fox Chapel Publishing for sending us this book to review!

“My Prayer Journal” is a guided journal meant for recording your heartfelt prayers and keep track of important dates in the lives of people you are praying for. In this book you’ll find the beautiful illustrations and hand lettering of Joanne Fink ready to color next to perfect places to jot down your prayers. The first few pages consist of a huge list of empty spots where you’re supposed to write the date, specific person you’re praying for, and the reason they need God’s help.

Once you fill up that whole list, you’ll enter a new section of the book (happens to be the longest) that’s more like a journal. These pages feature prayer prompts, inspiring scriptures to color, and reminders to check your prayer calendar at the beginning of the book.

After you pass that section, near the end of the book is a little calendar meant for recording important dates in your life or the life of somebody you’re praying for. February has only twenty-eight days though, meaning that if an important event happens on a leap year, you can’t record it in this book.

I won’t be able to live long enough to know if the paper in this book lasts 200 years, but according to the information on the back of “My Prayer Journal” it is printed on archival quality, 200-year acid-free paper. The book itself is hardcover, and I used it for a little while to keep track of my prayers, and I found that it gives you a lot of space to write answers to the prayer prompts and keep track of special dates in the second and third sections.

Maybe you aren’t that organized, or maybe you don’t have a good place to keep track of your thoughts and prayers. Either way, I would recommend this book to you even if you are organized. “My Prayer Journal” is a title I would recommend to any Christian.

 


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Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids

Thank you Quarto for sending us this book to review!

My kids have been playing Minecraft for several years and have spent countless hours chatting and building impressive creations with others online. Minecraft can be a great learning medium and we have reviewed several Minecraft books that incorporate learning and crafts with the popular game. The Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids has both in-game and family projects that teach concepts in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

My son, Aaron, completed all of the in-game projects and enjoyed doing them. Like dominos, he enjoyed the chain reaction projects and showed them to his sisters and friends. One of the projects has you recreating the solar system in game. Creating an ecosystem inside and outside of Minecraft is also covered in this 114-page book. What science project book would not be complete without a baking soda and vinegar volcano eruption? You’ll be able to cause a volcano to erupt in and outside of this game.

One of my daughters, Amber, likes making slime and appreciated the glowing goo recipe found in this book. It should go without saying that some of the projects are messier than others. The only complaint is that according to my son, one of the tutorials asks the reader to craft an elytra cape which is not a craftable item. You can obtain elytras from End ships or cities. Other than that nitpick, this book is highly recommended.

This title is available digitally for $11.99 and in a physical format for $19.99. The flexible binding is sturdy and has survived the wear and tear of a ten year old completing it cover to cover. If you have multiple Minecraft lovers in your household, it should be able to withstand several read-throughs.



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Fallen Ones

Fallen Ones

Fallen Ones is a Hungarian (with English versions available) web comic series made by Lycanthrope Studios. At the time of this review there is a successful Indiegogo Campaign that is seeking funds to produce a physical 90-page edition that combines the current five issues available. The hard copy version is available for $25 while the digital only edition is $5. There are various other bundles that involve posters, autographs, digital wallpapers and more.

Fallen Ones takes place in the Unseen Domains universe in the 17th century. Magic has awakened along with the undead and plagues that have obliterated and scattered the human race. Along with zombies, there are werewolves and witches disguising themselves as humans. Needless to say, once their true form is discovered they are quickly cast out or killed.

The three main characters are Brom, an outcast werewolf, Clemence, an assassin, and Tobias a lonely inventor. Though they all have different backgrounds, they share a common enemy; a demonic dark sect that must be stopped in order to save the remainder of humanity.
Like many comics, violence is a given and there is no shortage of bloodshed in this comic book series. Almost every issue has nudity as well and female breasts, male genitalia, and rear ends from both sexes are shown. Sexual encounters are present and leave little to the imagination. Cussing and blaspheming is also prevalent in this series as well.

After the creators reached out to me for coverage, I clicked on the freely available web comics on my lunch break at work. I was shocked by the nudity and content. There should be a NSFW warning for this series. These comics are gritty, smutty, and don’t portray Christianity in a positive light. I recommend steering clear of them if you have struggles with pornography. This series certainly goes against Philippians 4:8 and I recommend any Christian considering supporting this series read that verse before doing so.

 

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God All Around Me

Thank you Fox Chapel Publishing for sending us this book to review!

This journal features art by Robin Pickens and contains 128 pages. Unlike The Beloved Word: A Scripture Journal, the pages are numbered in this book. There are Bible verses scattered throughout the journal, but the Bible version is not mentioned. There is also beautiful art on each page, and every so often you’ll find a prompt to guide you in your faith journaling.

Just like the previous journal I reviewed, this one is hardcover with 200-year paper. The illustrations are quite colorful, but aren’t an eyesore; rather, they pleasantly introduce a variety of colors to your eyes and are on almost every page. The pages are easy to write on, pen or pencil, and the book is designed to last. When I got this book, I decided to draw on the first page, and found it very easy to do so.

This book, being a guided journal, has a theme for the questions inside. In this book that theme is everyday miracles, as one could tell from the cover (it’s written there). There are questions asking about things like what people are you grateful for, where are you closest to God, etc. that are designed to increase your faith and deepen your relationship with God.

This journal creates an environment inside that allows you to soak in God’s Word with its Scripture on so many pages, giving you space next to the verses to write your reflections on those verses, or to just write what you were writing on the previous page(s). I think it is a really good book, with lots of godly themes inside of it. It contains a broad spectrum of verses that convey lots of different but godly messages. Flipping through it, I saw lots of verses from Psalms, but there are plenty of verses from other books of the Bible too. (Example: Phillippians 4:4 on the cover.)

Once again, I thank Fox Chapel Publishing for sending us this book to review, and I look forward to seeing more from them in the future!

 


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My Faith Journey

Thank you Fox Chapel Publishing and Quiet Fox Designs for sending us this product to review!

“My Faith Journal” is a paperback 128-page guided devotional with scripture meant for use for fifty-two weeks. There are scripture pages to color and thought-provoking questions to answer in the numerous lines below. The art of Robin Pickens is found in this book and it is beautiful along with the inspiring verses it resides by.

I didn’t find it easy to run out of space while answering the thought-provoking yet convicting questions in this book. Some of these questions not only are next to scripture, but ask about certain scriptures as well, such as “Psalm 23 is often read at funerals. How can it bring peace and comfort into your life right now?” which I thought was an interesting interrogation.

Each page has a specific theme in which both the question and the bible verse(s) associate with. When I answered a question relating to the fruit of the spirit, the verse Galatians 5:22-23 “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” was on the page beside it. The question asked me to describe a time when someone showed the fruit of the spirit. That question wasn't the easiest to answer, because it took some time to think of someone I have met who shows others the fruit of the spirit.

I have used this journal for a couple of weeks, and though it is paperback, it seems pretty sturdy. The cover bends a bit of course, as normal paperbacks do. It is made with archival-quality, acid- free 200-year paper. Not that I will be able to know for sure if it lasts 200 years, but maybe someone else after me will find this devotional book intact. It’s also perfect for pen or pencil, so there is no need to write in crayon or anything.

If you are in need of either an awesome devotional journal or a ready-to-color scripture coloring book, I recommend the book “My Faith Journal” for you. This book is the best way for you to connect your faith with your creativity.

 


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The Beloved Word: A Scripture Journal

Thank you Fox Chapel Publishing for sending us this book to review!

This journal features artwork by Joanne Fink and scriptures from the New International Version (NIV) Bible. The verses are designed to encourage you to trust in God, and are dispersed throughout the book.

This journal has 128 pages (but no page numbers!) and features artwork on almost every page.
There are no guiding questions, but the inspiring verses to look at as you write in this journal are there to help stimulate your faith in God as you dutifully record your thoughts in this book.

This is a hardcover journal, and it uses 200-year paper, which I’m guessing is meant to last for 200 years, and the art in the journal isn’t black and white like it is in most books, but full color. The art is a watercolor style, so it's not so bright that it’s an eyesore, but rather it pleasantly brings color and a soft, feathery feeling into the journal. The book is easy to write in, and the paper is soft so it’s effortless for your pen or pencil to make a nice, satisfying mark.

I taped a piece of paper in this journal, and when trying to take it out, I accidentally ripped a small part of one of the layers of the paper off, even though I did it nice and slowly. Otherwise, I don’t have any problems with this journal. It’s beautifully illustrated, wonderfully colored, and just awe-inspiring to look at as you flip through each page, not to mention the awesomely picked Bible verses placed throughout the book. On the front cover, there’s Matthew 19:26. Scattered throughout the book, there are other well-known verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13.

This is an awesome book, and I thank Fox Chapel Publishing once again for sending us this journal to review.

I look forward to seeing more books from you in the future!

 


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Bless This Home – A Guided Journal for Celebrating Faith and Family

Thank you Fox Chapel Publishing for sending us this book to review!

Bless This Home – A Guided Journal for Celebrating Faith and Family is a hard cover 128-page book that provides plenty of room for taking notes about the inspiring verses and thought provoking questions found within. The illustrations by Robin Pickens are colorful and make the pages look beautiful.

I never ran out of room to write my responses to questions like “There are many, many ways—large and small—to find strength in faith and family. How do you find strength in yours? Think about it in reverse, too: how do you strengthen your family?” Not only are the questions thought provoking, but they’re convicting too!

The journal is broken down into themes with Bible verses supporting each one. Not surprisingly, in the forgiveness section you find the verse Matthew 6:14 which states, “If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” So many families, mine included, are torn apart by hate and unforgiveness. In this section is a question asking who you should forgive and ask for forgiveness from and it includes anyone alive or departed.

Since I’m relatively new to journaling, I appreciated the guided approach. I commented on all of the Bible verses, but I enjoyed answering the questions more and completed those first. The build quality of this book seems pretty sturdy and paper within is acid free and good for archiving with its 200 year rating. I won’t be around long enough to test out that claim unfortunately. Hopefully if somebody does stumble upon my completed journal in the distant future, they’ll appreciate my honest responses to these questions. If you’re looking to evaluate your family and blessings, this is a good book to pick up and put things into perspective.

 


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Love and Sex – A Christian Guide

Thank you Regnery for sending us this book to review!

Love and Sex – A Christian Guide is written by Nancy Houston, a Christian sex therapist. According to statistics, people are in one of three places when it comes to human sexuality. If you are either in the process of working through a sexual issue, have just come out of a sexual issue, or about to discover a sexual situation, you’ll want to consider reading through this 231 page book. Out of all the twelve chapters, I found the last one more fitting of a guide since a majority of this book tells the stories of various individuals working through different sexual traumas and abuse.

Admittedly, I could not relate to their stories of homosexuality, porn addiction, rape, or child molestation. However, I still found the book to be well written and the characters relatable despite not being able to connect with them personally. The stories don’t hold back on the details so I recommend this book for mature readers only. There are vivid recollections concerning masturbation, rape, and pedophilia. Sadly, the abuse often came from loved ones or people who should have been trusted in a sinless world. Many marital issues stemmed from childhood traumas earlier on in life for the characters in this book.

It was encouraging to read about the restoration of marriages that suffered from affairs and pornography addiction. There are many scriptural references and quotes from esteemed doctors to back up the claims made by the author. According to this book, there are three elements to creating and cultivating healthy relationships. If your marriage is lacking intimacy, attachment, and passion, then you may want to consider reading this title. The hardcover edition sells for less than $17.00 on Amazon and the digital format is only $9.99.

 



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All the Commandments of God: Find Out the Secret to Inherit All the Blessings of God

Thank you Bohlsen Group for sending us this book to review!

All the Commandments of God: Find Out the Secret to Inherit All the Blessings of God is written by Dr. Esther V. Sheker who was a former Hindu and became a Christian at eighteen. She spends 3-4 hours a day praying to the Spirit and listening to His Word. Many of these sessions begin at 3am and she recommends that you follow her example. According to the author, this book was “conceived into her spirit by the Lord God Almighty Himself and it is absolutely from the Throne-Room of God.” Some parts of this book were also paraphrased from Trinity Broadcasting Network.

While this book isn’t exactly a “page turner”, it certainly is a great reference for various topics and the Scripture supporting or condemning them. There are three parts with the first and longest focusing on the Ten Commandments. The second section talks about God’s ways being higher than our own. The last part is devoted to salvation and obtaining eternal life through Christ.

The majority of this book is taken straight from the Bible and the topics are arranged in a table format explaining the commandments and the rewards or consequences behind them. Scripture is referenced and quoted directly to support each statement. All of the topics, parables, and miracles are listed in the back of the book. This is in addition to the table of contents in the beginning of it.

I have little to argue with most of the points made in this book. I must admit that I find the beginning statements a bit much along with some of the suggestions from the author. While I’m familiar with Jesus ordering the storm to calm down in Mark 4:35-41, I think it’s a bit of a stretch that we as Christians should run out and rebuke natural calamities around the world as the author suggests. I definitely pray for those in harm’s way but I don’t expect major hurricanes or earthquakes to dissipate because of my prayers in Jesus’ name.

If you’re looking for a good reference guide, this book is a worthwhile purchase on Kindle for $3.99. The paperback is quite a bit more at $22.95. If you’re looking for sensible Christian advice, you may want to look elsewhere.


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The Infographic Guide to the Bible: The Old Testament

Thank you Simon and Schuster for sending us this book to review!

Unless you’re reading a children’s edition, there are not many pictures or visual materials in the Bible. The Old Testament has many great events recorded and seeing them come to life in this infographic book is pretty cool. The breakdown of Noah’s Ark and Goliath’s measurements are truly breathtaking. In total, the ark was 1,518,750 cubic feet! Another neat tidbit in this book is that Goliath’s armor was 155lbs and his spearhead was nearly 19lbs. I recently watched Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and was pleased to see the specs of the Ark of the Covenant detailed in this book as well.

As neat as this information is, I was shocked to find some inaccuracies. The infographic on page 31 regarding Rachel's and Leah's children is incorrect. The diagram shows Leah with four sons when she had six plus a daughter (Dinah) and Rachel with four sons when she only had two, Joseph and Benjamin. The book also claims that Rachel bore Jacob's only daughter when it was indeed Leah according to Genesis. If you want to get technical, Genesis 46:7 implies that Jacob had multiple daughters. Last but not least, Zilpah's name is also misspelled (Zilphah).

Here's a breakdown of the children:

Gen 29
Reuben - Leah
Simeon - Leah
Levi - Leah
Judah - Leah

Gen 30
Dan - Bilhah
Naphtali - Bilhah
Gad - Zilpah
Asher - Zilpah
Issachar - Leah
Zebulun - Leah
Dinah - Leah
Joseph - Rachel

Genesis 35
Benjamin – Rachel

Because of these errors, I can’t rely on and trust the information throughout the rest of the book. This critique is based off an advanced review copy of the book. Perhaps it has been or will be revised to correct the errors. Until that happens, I would recommend skipping it or taking it with a pillar of salt.

 

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Tank trouble has a different types of game mode but the objective of the game remains the same which shooting your opponents and b... Read More
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7 Lessons From Heaven

Thank you Roslan & Campion for sending us this book to review!

Mary C. Neal, M.D. drowned in a kayaking accident in 1999. She was unresponsive for a half hour and vividly recalls her loving encounter with Jesus and shares her experiences and advice with her fresh perspective on life, death, and eternity. I have not read her previous New York Times best seller, To Heaven and Back, but I do appreciate the detailed recap of her near death experience.

Dr. Neal is an orthopedic surgeon and I really enjoyed the scientific analysis of her near death experience and how it could not have been her imagination, a seizure, oxygen deprivation, or a DMT trip. Not only are her experiences shared, but there are several other quotes from people who have also had near death experiences or encounters with the heavenly realm.

As a Christian, I appreciated the many Bible references throughout the book and hearing about her judgement or "life in review" process. It’s comforting to know that it’s not as bad as many fear. The main emotion felt in the afterlife is love and even the painful experiences are shown from various perspectives. One of the goals in the "life in review" process is fact finding instead of fault finding.

The first lesson taught in this book is that circumstances make sense from heaven’s lens. God’s grace should be freely given as it is to us. There’s probably a reason that someone may be in a foul mood and it’s best not to judge them unless you know what they’re going through.

I won’t spoil any of the other lessons taught as they should be read first hand. I told my daughter about this book and she started reading it and got to chapter five in her first sitting! In total, there are eighteen chapters in this 274-page book. It sells for less than $11 on Amazon and I highly recommend checking out if you’re curious about the afterlife.



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Only by the Grace of God

Thank you Archway Publishing for sending us this book to review!

Only by the Grace of God tells the true story of the Brink family who lived in the Philippines and became prisoners of war during World War II. Each of the twelve chapters are told from the three perspectives of the children: Bill, Bob, and Pam. Some of the minor details are different in the accounts, but the main events are told in vivid detail. This family went through a lot of suffering and as the title suggests, they only survived by the grace of God.

The beginning of the 212-page book focuses on their life in the Philippines before the war. The Brink family was well-to-do with fancy furniture and servants who cleaned the house, tended to the children, and chauffeured them around. For birthdays, the kids would get nice gifts like a BB gun or a pony. The recollections of the games the kids used to play were both amusing and scary as a parent. I chuckled about the kids getting caught and punished for sling-shooting rocks at the priest’s metal roof. On the flipside, I gasped aloud when I read about the kids re-enacting cowboys and robbers and hanging one of their friends who volunteered to be the prisoner. Luckily, he was taken down in time before anything serious happened.

Once the war began the carefree lives of this family were over. The Japanese soldiers took away their belongings and father. Later they came back and imprisoned the rest of the family. In the internment camps, the family was often together and usually got a couple of meals a day. Towards the end of the war, food was very scarce and approximately three prisoners a day would die from starvation or other devastating illnesses.

During the war the children still received an education and found unique ways to entertain themselves. One amusing method was taking ants from one ant hill to another and enjoying the battle that would ensue. They even managed to scrounge enough parts to build a cart to scoot around in. While there were a lot of negative experiences, there are still some good ones and the family became closer to God in the process. The timing for their miraculous rescue couldn’t have been better.

Besides the mentioning of mischievous behavior, some other topics including homosexuality, prostitution, and minor language should be noted before letting a child read this book. It’s a great recollection of the terrors of war and the hope and faith needed to endure the trials every step of the way. This book sells for $17 on Amazon and is worth picking up. You’ll have a hard time putting it back down.


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NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible

NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible
Published by: Zondervan
Price: $24.99

Thank you Zondervan for sending us this Bible to color and review!

Kids and coloring books have gone hand in hand for as long as I can remember. Recently adult coloring books have taken off and not long ago we reviewed Inkspirations: Fruit of the Spirit which has thirty-two Bible verse themed pages to color. The NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible is attractive to both adults and kids who like to color and provides fifty-two verses to color.

My daughter took an interest in this Bible right away and I promised it to her if she colored in one of the verses. She agreed to these terms and has been taking this Bible to church with her since. The coloring pages are noticeably thicker than the Bible pages and this is a good thing. The Bible pages are thin (like most Bibles) and prone to tearing if too much pressure is applied while coloring.

One of the first coloring pages has the verse Joshua 1:9 which says: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.” That inspiring verse was the one that my daughter colored. The items to color really don’t match the verses too well in my opinion. This one in particular has a sunrise/sunset and flowers all around. The coloring page for Luke 6:27’s “Love your enemies” is filled with donuts and popsicles. I guess you can show love to your rivals by raising their cholesterol and weight. Despite the odd themes, these pages are pretty well detailed and bound to entertain artists for some time.

NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible

As a Bible, this one is easy to read and I like how the words that Jesus spoke are highlighted in red. Another cool feature is the table of weights and measures in the back that translates Biblical terms with modern day equivalents. For example, a cubit is equal to 18 inches.

There is a lot to like about this Bible. The only problem I have with it is the translation used. There has been some controversy regarding the 2011 NIV translation and this Bible does use the gender neutral verses. So if you look at the verse John 15:6 “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers...” The new NIV changes it to, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers...” The classic Proverb 27:17 is changed from “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” to “…so one person sharpens another” .

If you enjoy reading the NIV translation and like coloring, then you’ll want to check out the NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible. The hard cover sells for less than $25 on Amazon and that’s a pretty reasonable price. If you’re in need of coloring pencils, we have a review of those too!


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Learn to Program With Small Basic

basic

Thank you No Starch Press for sending us this book to review!

Learn to Program With Small Basic: An Introduction to Programming With Games, Art, Science and Math is 317 pages long and written by Majed Marji and Ed Price. This book teaches you how to program with Small Basic, a programming language created by Vijaye Raji designed to teach children how to program.

Learn to Program With Small Basic teaches you the different features of Small Basic and how to use them. It has 19 chapters, each one covering a different feature of Small Basic. The first chapter introduces you to the language while the rest have you coding in it. It teaches you how to use features like if/else statements, subroutines, events, etc. To enforce these topics, code examples are given and there are named programs they want you to save. At the beginning of a program, you can tell if you need to save it if it says the name of the program as a comment. In the later chapters, you top most of them off with a game that uses the feature taught in that chapter. One of my favorite programs I made is the image viewer that lets you view pictures from Flickr.

Sometimes the book will show you a possible output of a program you wrote. There are also (optional) program ideas labeled in boxes that say “Try It Out.” After you write a program, there are sections explaining how the program works. For some of the larger games you would program, the book breaks the program up into steps, then explains what each step does. Sometimes the steps are small, and other times the steps are larger. Occasionally there will be a picture shown to help you understand the concept better.

As I went through the book, I found it fun at first, but then I lost interest about half-way through it. (That seems to happen with all of the programming books I tried.) Despite that, I’d say the book is pretty good. It’s very thorough on making sure the point gets across. The paperback version sells for $25.49 USD on Amazon. Surprisingly, the physical copy is cheaper than the Kindle version!


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The Marijuana Project: A Story Of Medicine And Morality

Thank you to Ascot Media for sending us this book to review!

Sam Burnett is a self-employed security consultant, highly respected in his field. Sam came from humble beginnings and built a successful consulting firm through hard work and determination. Sam’s services range from security risk assessments to designing physical and electronic security systems for private companies.

One day Sam receives a phone call from MedLeaf, a medical marijuana manufacturing facility seeking a license in the state of New Jersey. Sam’s reputation in the security industry results in MedLeaf reaching out to Sam for help in designing and implementing a multifaceted security system to protect manufacture of the controversial drug. Sam, however, is married with two children and a conservative. He wrestles with his morals, faith, and the legality of marijuana. His world is turned upside down in a compelling story that weaves not only comprehensive information on security systems but serves as a great introduction to the marijuana debate that continues to polarize our country today. 

The Marijuana Project is a fictional novel written by Brian Laslow (pseudonym). It chronicles Sam’s uneasy decision to work with MedLeaf over a two-year period that becomes increasingly demanding. At first, Sam battles with his conservative values whether or not to work with MedLeaf because he is against all types of marijuana, legal or otherwise. He seeks advice from his wife, friends, and business associates. Sam concludes that since marijuana is a highly priced commodity, it still needs protection regardless of his personal views. MedLeaf is eventually granted a license to produce marijuana, allowing Sam to begin developing the complex security system that will protect the manufacturing facility. 

Admittedly, I did not know much about marijuana other than it’s a drug that can produce a “high” due to its THC content and that it kills brain cells. Regarding medical marijuana, I knew that it is beneficial for people dealing with pain and is helpful for cancer patients. Laslow provides a wealth of information about marijuana that ranges from its addictive qualities, to whether it’s a gateway drug and laws regarding the legalized sale of marijuana to the public. Besides the information about marijuana, the author clearly demonstrates his knowledge of security systems with comprehensive attention to detail. This includes the physical protection of the manufacturing facility, the product, the transfer, and its employees in addition to policies, procedures, and protocols. 

In the story, Sam also researches medical marijuana and its effectiveness in treating patients with medical issues. Once more, Laslow provides a bulk of information regarding the different types of strains used in treating patients with a variety of health-related complications.

There were two issues I had with the book. Sam is portrayed as a conservative Catholic. Sam’s use of profanity occurs a few times in the story. I originally dismissed it as stress from the situations Sam was experiencing. A story from the Bible, however, is taken out of context to justify Sam’s choices. In another example, Sam reminisces about an experience he had while serving on a Catholic school board. I was dismayed at his use of language and approach to dealing with a diocese. Although Sam has a strong will and determination, I viewed him as someone driven by pride who wasn’t afraid to show it more than a man led by God.

The second issue I had with the story was the ending. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched too many action movies or read too many of those types of books, but it was disappointing because I expected something more extravagant. Although the ending made sense, it did not seem plausible, as the buildup to the climax was intriguing and kept me hooked. Nevertheless, I applaud the author’s style of writing. It was clear and concise and left no holes. Further, Laslow remained objective throughout and only provided facts ultimately leaving it up to the reader to decide whether marijuana has merit in the medical industry today. 

With the wealth of information from the book, I researched many of the marijuana facts on the Internet and discovered they were correct. It also led me to read about security for the protection of marijuana manufacturing facilities and the types of crimes that can occur here. I can clearly see Laslow did a great job in providing an authentic fact-based fictional story about security systems and medical marijuana. I learned a lot and I highly recommend The Marijuana Project for readers looking for a thrilling ride as well as those interested in learning about marijuana in a fictional setting.

 


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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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