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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

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Love Finds You in Charm

Thank you Anchor Bay for sending us this DVD to review!

Love Finds You in Charm is based on the book Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio by Annalisa Daughety.  It’s about a young Amish woman named Emma Miller who fantasizes about living outside of the Amish community and doesn’t feel like she belongs.  To make matters worse, Emma feels that she is failing as a role model for her younger sister with her reading habits and longing to explore the world before deciding to join the Amish community.  

If Emma chooses to become a member of the Amish church, she has a marriage offer from Jacob who cares for her more than she does for him.

While she has a good life ahead of her in Indiana, Emma can’t help but wonder what the outside world has to offer.  Sensing her discontentment, Emma’s father sends her to her cousin’s farm for the summer to lend a hand during the tourist season.  Her cousin is a recent widow that lives in another Amish community in Charm, Ohio.  Without much hesitation, Emma packs her bags and hops on a train.

In Ohio Emma meets Noah, a young, handsome, and well-read man that understands much of her struggles.  She also befriends Kelly, an outsider (Englisher as the Amish call them) who is retreating to Ohio to live a more peaceful life.  Another outsider named Andy takes notice of Emma and her award winning goat cheese.  As a blogger of wine and cheese, he’s well-travelled and offers to take her along with him.  

With so many temptations and men interested in her, Emma must discover the right path and decide which man she wants to spend her future with.  My husband (despite making some chick flick cracks) and I enjoyed watching this film together and recommend it for anyone fascinated with the Amish or love triangles in general.  


(Amazon Affilaition Link)

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Full of Grace

Thank you BH Impact for sending us this DVD to review!

Most Christians agree that Mary played a crucial role in bringing our savior into this world in His human form.  His conception was divine since Mary was not yet married and a virgin.  When she was visited by an angel, she accepted God’s will without thinking about the social stigma that would be placed on her or the emotional suffering that was to come.  She is truly a role model of humble submission. 

With that said, there are arguments in Christian circles that some denominations put too much emphasis on Mary believing that she can mediate between Jesus and mankind, that she too was sinless, and remained a virgin after marriage.  The Bible clearly states that Jesus is our mediator (1 Tim 2:5), all have sinned (Rom 3:23, Luke 2:24), and that Jesus had earthly siblings (Matt 12:47).  

The movie Full of Grace does not show any of her offspring caring for her towards the end of her life.  Instead, a (presumably fictional) woman named Zara is shown tending to her.   Sensing that her time on earth is dwindling, Mary sends word to Peter that she would like to speak with him one more time.

Meanwhile, Peter is being pressured by members of the early church seeking permission to interpret scriptures to teach the spiritually hungry new believers.  With issues like denying the trinity, not believing that Jesus was fully man as well as God, and believers picking and choosing Christ’s teachings, the early church is already harvesting seeds of discord.  Peter doesn’t want to spread false doctrine and is not sure how to proceed, so he welcomes the diversion of tending to Mary before giving the church elders a decision.  

Mary and Peter talk about their time together with Jesus and Mary implores him to go back to the beginning to understand the end.  Peter is soon accompanied by Simon and John who question him on Paul’s ministry and his rejecting the Old Testament ways.  Many good topics like law versus tradition, and limitless grace are discussed.  While this movie is slow-paced, it’s interesting to see how the early church struggled with its rapid growth and human failings.  

On her deathbed Mary shares with Jesus’ disciples and friends her earthly memories and wisdom.  She refers to the people there as her children and reminds them that she will always be with them.  Before passing, she has communion with them and has oil placed on her head. Her body is shown being carried away and buried instead of ascending to heaven like some denominations believe. 

Even though I didn’t recognize any of the actors, they played their roles well.  The background music and singing set the tone and the scenery was authentic, beautiful, and gloomy when it needed to be.  It lacks some of the triple A movie special effects, but the message of the movie is made clear without the need for unnecessary fanfare.     

I won’t spoil what Peter learned in case you wish to see this one hour and twenty-three minute film.  My mom, step-dad and I found it somewhat interesting while my husband managed to fall asleep.    If you want to see a movie portraying the possible struggles of the early church, than look no further than Full of Grace.  Just make sure you're well rested beforehand. 


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

 

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War Room

Thank you Sony Pictures for sending us this DVD to review!

The Kendrick brothers have been upping the ante with each film they have released.  I have enjoyed their previous entries including Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous.  While I have heard good things about War Room, I wasn’t familiar with the movie’s premise.  I assumed it took place in strategy room during a major war.  While I wasn’t completely off-base, this movie wasn’t what I anticipated at all and it exceeded my expectations.  I think it’s safe to say that the movies from the Kendrick brothers get better with each release.  

War Room begins with Clara Williams by her husband’s grave forty years after his passing.  He was a decorated war strategist and was very good at his position.  She realizes that war is a part of life, especially when it comes to spiritual warfare.  Clara is a devout Christian and spends much of her day in her bedroom closet praying for her family and friends.  While her closet is lacking clothes, its walls are covered in Bible verses and prayer requests.  At first glance it does look like an old fashioned war room.    

When it comes time for Clara to put her house up for sale she meets Elizabeth Jordan (played by Priscilla Shirer), a real estate agent whose marriage is falling apart. Their biggest issue is that they are putting their careers over the needs of each other and their daughter, Danielle.  Their romance is gone and Danielle is growing more distant and feels neglected each day.  

Clara pushes Elizabeth beyond her comfort zone and insists that she puts God at the throne of her heart and to start letting God fight her battles for her.  While her marriage currently seems hopeless, nothing is impossible for God!  It’s not an easy change for Elizabeth, but she perseveres even when things continue to crumble.  

Without spoiling the story, I will say that there are many emotional moments and a few humorous scenes as well.  I watched this film with my life group and kids.  It’s family friendly and the women in the room immediately recognized Beth Moore’s cameo in the film.  I recommend this movie for anyone whose prayer life can use a booster shot.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

 

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Susie’s Hope

Thank you Greenleaf and Associates for sending us a screener to watch!

Susie’s Hope is based on a true story about the origin of North Carolina’s House Bill 1609 (dubbed Susie’s law) that authorizes up to ten months of jail time for people found guilty of cruelty to animals.  The movie begins with Donna and Roy Lawrence playfully bickering over the gender of their first unborn baby.  Since they don’t have kids yet, their gray poodle named Baby Girl is treated as one.   She is quite pampered and is dressed up in unique outfits with tiaras for various events.  

Despite it annoying her husband, Donna has a soft heart for animals that are neglected in her neighborhood.   Donna and her friend Ramona started taking care of a pit bull nearby that was malnourished and tied to a tree for several days.  After days successfully caring for it, Donna was brutally attacked by this dog and barely survived.  Thankfully she was able to break free and managed to meet Ramona who took her in the hospital in the nick of time.  The wounds were severe enough for Donna to lose her baby and any chance of getting pregnant again.

Both Donna and her husband mourned the loss of their unborn child, but Donna wished that her life was taken as well.  She wondered why God spared her and what the purpose of her life was.  Donna found her answer at a playground when she was taking a walk with Ramona.  In the grass was a mangled puppy that they thought was dead.  Surprisingly, it was still alive and was taken to the Guilford County Animal Shelter where they worked around the clock to treat the third degree burns, broken jaw, and hundreds of maggots found on the puppy.  

Putting the puppy out of its misery would have been easier and less expensive, but Donna sensed that this pit-bull mix puppy was a fighter and deserved a chance at a better life.  Without talking to her friend or husband first, she volunteered to pay for the $17,000 medical expenses to save the dog and was convinced that God would provide a way to have it funded.  

Donna named the puppy Susie and she made headlines in the papers and was on the evening news.  Generous donations were made to the animal shelter to help offset the medical costs.  The next step was to bring justice to the man who beat and burned this puppy alive.  Although he was brought to court, the North Carolina laws at the time were not strict enough to enforce jail time.

While the man responsible was put in jail, I’ll leave the details out so you can enjoy this family friendly movie for yourself.  No animals were injured in the making of this film and the budget is low enough where you can tell that the injured puppy is an animatronic.  It is cool that Susie does star in this movie as herself.  The rest of the cast is relatively unknown with the exception of Jon Provost who played Timmy in Lassie.  All of the cast did an excellent job in telling this story about faith, hope, and love.  It’s available on Amazon for $15 on blu-ray or free to watch with your Prime membership.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Sound of Redemption – The Frank Morgan Story

Thank you Brigade Marketing for sending us a screener to review!

Sound of Redemption – The Frank Morgan Story was successfully Kickstarted in July of 2012.  It’s a documentary about the jazz saxophone legend who spent a good majority of his life in and out of San Quentin’s maximum security prison.  While Frank was in prison he was in a band that put on paid performances and was treated well by the warden.

Many of Frank’s incarcerations were drug or theft related.  To finance his heroin addiction, he often fenced stolen property.  In fact, he once stole some recording equipment in front of Stevie Wonder while he was practicing in a music studio!  

Frank Morgan rubbed shoulders with many legends including his inspiration, Charlie “Bird” Parker.  Despite his dad being a guitarist for the group Ink Spots, it was Charlie Parker’s smooth saxophone playing that swayed Frank to follow in his footsteps.  By the tender age of fourteen, Frank was good at playing the alto saxophone and played in various clubs in California including the one his dad owned, Casablanca.

When Frank was fifteen he auditioned and won a Freddy Martin talent contest in 1948, but because of his color, he never got to redeem his award for playing on live TV.  Besides discrimination, Frank had a rough life with his grandmother, mother, and father involved with and running brothels.  He didn’t spend too much time with his family and spent more time with his music friends who turned him onto heroin in the 1950s.  

Frank attended some wild parties in his lifetime and some of the images in the movie show painted and photographic nudity.  There is also drug and tobacco imagery.  Because of these issues and strong language, this film not to be viewed by younger children.

Despite all of the trouble Frank got himself in, he spent the latter half of his life out of prison and making a big impact in the jazz scene in the 1980s and beyond.  In his lifetime Frank released twenty CDs that earned him praise and recognition in various media outlets on television and in magazines.  My husband is really into jazz music and will be on the lookout for Frank Morgan CDs to add to his CD library.  He found the music to be very moving.

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Umaima
good post. http://www.google.com
Friday, 11 December 2015 21:10
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uFashion3C Running Belt

running belt

Thank you uFashion3C for sending us a review sample!

Every morning I remember to put some pants on. However, I don’t always choose to wear sweat pants with built in pockets. As luck would have it, those are typically days with ideal weather for walking the dog or riding my bike. For short shopping trips I like to ride my bike and I need to have my phone on me for the inevitable phone call asking me to pick up another item while I’m at the store. Without pockets, what am I to do?

My fluorescent yellow fanny pack is an option, though long out of style. Even if I did have my phone in there I wouldn’t be able to interact with it without removing it from the fanny pack. The universal running waist pack solved that problem with a slim design and a plastic window that accepts your swipes without having to remove the phone. The model reviewed supports iPhone 6/6S/6S Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy S5, S6, as well as Note 4/5. My Galaxy S4 with an Otterbox cover worked just fine. 

Another great feature is the headphone jack port that lets you connect ear buds to your phone without having to remove it from the belt. The straps are adjustable up to a 48” waist and the water resistant/sweat proof material is smooth and soft to the touch. (Much softer than my fanny pack!)

There are a wide variety of colors available from fluorescent pink, green, blue to dark blue, red, white and black. My hubby was bummed that I chose hot pink. For an additional ten dollars, hydration models sporting two water bottles are available. The base model is a reasonable $9.99 on Amazon and ships free if you’re a prime member. If you’re into exercising and don’t want to miss a call, then I highly recommend picking up a running belt from uFashion3C. 


(Amazon Affiliate link)
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Top 15 Wii U Games (...So Far)

The following is a list of Wii U games that I have played and can personally recommend as some of the best out there. Wii U games from 2012-13 might be hard to find, but all of them are available on the Nintendo eShop, in case you want to download them.

 

15. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

For all of those SEGA fans out there, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is the racing game for you. Like Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, the game bears striking similarities to the Mario Kart series. However, the overall game is much more enjoyable and creative than its predecessor. Aside from the odd inclusion of Danica Patrick, the amount of characters and tracks has greatly improved. Characters like NiGHTS who should have been in the first one are now playable. Plus, Wreck-it Ralph is in the game. You gotta love Wreck-it Ralph.

 

14. LEGO Marvel Superheroes

LEGO Marvel Superheroes doesn’t branch too far off from the other LEGO games. However, its large cast of playable characters and tributes to the Marvel franchise make it a memorable experience for comic book nerds of all ages. Though none of the characters have as much depth as the characters of Disney Infinity: Marvel Superheroes, the overall experience is more enjoyable, with a variety of missions and unlockables that will keep gamers playing it for hours.

 

15. Disney Infinity

The first Disney Infinity might not be as big or deep as its sequels, but still offers some of the best simplistic fun you can have. It brings out the inner child in you and takes you across the worlds of some of your favorite Disney and Pixar movies. From Pirates of the Caribbean to Toy Story, you’ll find many creative lands to explore in the wonderful world of Disney!

 

12. Scribblenauts Unlimited

As a launch title for the Wii U, Scribblenauts Unlimited was one of the only third-party exclusives that captured the family-friendly fun that Nintendo is known to offer on their systems. Though the game doesn’t rely on tough brain teasers like its predecessors, the emphasis on creativity and the new character creator makes this possibly the best Scribblenauts yet. Trust me, if you are the creative type, you’ll want to try this one.

 

11. Sonic Lost World

Though controversial among critics, Sonic Lost World is a well-developed game that continues the classic revival found in Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. Arguably Sonic’s best-looking game yet, Sonic Lost World features a beautiful art style and wonderful orchestrated music. The gameplay is slower than previous Sonic games, but allows more control over the character. Sonic fans who can accept the slightly slower pace will have a blast traveling the worlds of the Lost Hex.

 

10. Disney Infinity 3.0

One of the best Star Wars games in years, Disney Infinity 3.0 brings to life the characters and worlds from the seven Star Wars films, along with some of the characters from the shows. The gameplay is similar to the first two games, but with enhancements that make it notably better. The combat, in particular, is well choreographed and is much like the fighting style of the Jedi in the films. Star Wars fans young and old have found much enjoyment playing Disney Infinity 3.0.

 

9. Nintendo Land

Nintendo Land is basically Wii Sports for the Wii U. Like Wii Sports, Nintendo Land is a game aimed at the family and showcases what the system can do. The graphics perfectly show the Wii U’s capabilities and the games are very fun. The silliness to the whole thing created many laugh-out-loud moments for me and my family. Admittedly, it doesn’t display the Gamepad’s capabilities as well as Wii Sports displayed the Wii Remote’s. This, however, is easily overlooked after experiencing the mini adventures found in Nintendo Land.

 

8. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

An HD remake to one of the greatest games of all time, The Wind Waker HD boasts an updated look to the already-gorgeous graphics and some new innovations such as the Quick Sail, Gamepad integration, Miiverse bottles, and an easier-to-understand Triforce hunt. Otherwise, the game is mostly the same. However, all of these updates make the game still worth it. The updates take away some of the only real frustrations to the original title, making an amazing game even better.

 

7. Super Mario Maker

In a sense, Super Mario Maker is a simpler version of LittleBigPlanet. That being said, the level editor still allows a great amount of creativity. The main difference is that its simpler system that allows broader audiences to create great levels. One feature, in particular, that is really fun is the costumes you can unlock via amiibo. Almost every amiibo currently available gives the 8-bit Mario a suit that resembles the pixel art from that character’s game. For those who do not care much about level-building, it also includes a story that features levels made on the editor. If you’ve ever wanted to build a level, or just want a classic Mario experience, this is the game for you.

 

6. Rayman Legends

Despite the fact that Ubisoft’s masterpiece is available on other consoles, Rayman Legends was designed for the Wii U. The gamepad integration works very well with the game, and the painting-like graphic style is very beautiful. Its slapstick violence offers humor to just about every level. Its multiplayer shows that 2D platformers can have enjoyable cooperative experiences. And its music levels are some of the best levels in modern platforming.

 

5. Splatoon

Perhaps the only first-party game that is truly original, Splatoon is Nintendo’s brilliant attempt to create a game that focuses on online play. The result? A third-person shooter about squids playing paintball. The game is even weirder than it sounds, with a sort of punk ‘90s approach to the look and feel. However, this odd style adds to a truly wonderful experience. Boasting astounding graphics, a fairly consistent online performance, and a fun little story mode, Splatoon shows that Nintendo still knows how to create something fresh and original.

 

4. Pikmin 3

Pikmin 3 is sort of an overlooked gem. Despite Nintendo’s promotional efforts, it never really was one of their top sellers. However, don’t take this as a sign that it isn’t any good. In fact, Pikmin 3 is a magnificent game with an engaging (albeit addicting) gameplay style and photorealistic graphics. Like the previous Pikmin games, Pikmin 3 uses a level system based on how much you get done in a day. A day in Pikmin 3 is about 20-30 minutes. This adds a sense of urgency to completing everything you need to get done on time. It may be a bit slow for some of the younger gamers, but it is something that older players will definitely want to try.

 

3. Mario Kart 8

When viewing the trailers to the game, Mario Kart 8 simply looks like a prettier version of the previous titles. However, the game is much more than a graphically enhanced remake. This game offers a smart variety of tracks, both new and old. It also features customizable karts, with options that are much more interesting than the ones in Mario Kart 7. Another great feature is its smooth online functionality, which features a near-flawless performance. What really makes this game notable, however, is the DLC and amiibo integration. Both offer a variety of bonus content that makes the game feel much larger than the previous games.

 

2. Super Mario 3D World

Though Super Mario 3D World isn’t as creative as, say, Super Mario Galaxy, its highly-polished gameplay and jaw-dropping graphics make it one of the Wii U’s most spectacular games ever. The Cat Suit is one of Mario’s best power-ups in years. The simplistic but fine-tuned style is perfect for the classy feel Mario tends to offer us in his previous entries. And, unlike the New Super Mario Bros. games, the multiplayer is very fun and offers a great time for those seeking a multiplayer experience outside of party games.

 

1. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is, to put it simply, the ultimate fighting experience. Featuring a gameplay style that mixes the best of both Melee and Brawl, the latest Smash fine tunes the gameplay to near perfection. This game also boasts a ridiculous amount of content, from dozens of stages, to hundreds of music selections. Gameplay elements such as the Mii Fighters are very well thought out and add a sense of creativity to the already-brilliant fighting series. The number of characters is astounding, and DLC characters such as Ryu, Mewtwo, and the recently-revealed Cloud Strife make the game even better.

 

 

Of course, not all of the great Wii U games are listed on here. I have not played every great game the Wii U has to offer, so I cannot recommend them personally. However, other games that are considered great include Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Trine: Enchanted Edition and 2: Director’s Cut, Yoshi’s Woolly World, LEGO City Undercover, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, the Skylanders games, and Child of Light, among others.

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Halo: The Fall of Reach

 

Thank you Content Media Corp for sending us a screener to review!

The Halo series began in 2001 and after a few studio swaps, is still going strong to this day.  The current studio, 343 Industries, and Microsoft have worked together to make Halo: The Fall of Reach. It is based off of the popular book and is a prequel to the games, which discloses the backstory of John 117, also known as Master Chief.  

John and seventy-four other genetically superior children were handpicked by Dr. Catherine Halsey to participate in an elite soldier program called Spartan.  These six-year-old children were taken from their families (with robotic clones left in their place) and raised in a harsh military environment.  In order to survive, or even be fed, these children had to learn to work together as a team.  John was a natural born leader and it showed.

After several trials that sometimes proved deadly, the worst was yet to come, augmentation.  The surgical procedures shown in this film are a bit gruesome and the fatality rate was 36% as these procedures were experimental and inhumane in many cases.  The doctor questioned her motives, but in the end was convinced that the ends would justify the means as these Spartan soldiers were humanity’s only defense from the Covenant threat.

The alien races working together as the Covenant are convinced that they’re doing God’s work by wiping out the human race.  Their technology is light years ahead of human capabilities but like many things, there is always a vulnerability.  John and his team have to find it.

 Not only is the story great in Halo: The Fall of Reach, but there is plenty of action, character development and references to various games in the series.  For example, some ODST soldiers make the mistake of picking a fight with John during a workout session.   

Since we were sent a low quality screener, I can’t vouch for how crisp the visual or audio quality is in the final product.  The movie is computer animated and is not as modern looking as some triple A video games.  Even still, I’m curious how it will look on blu-ray which goes for less than $15 on Amazon.  The movie is relatively short and clocks in at an hour and five minutes.  According to the reviews, like many situations, the book is better.  As a casual Halo fan who has played the first two games, and hasn’t read the books, I enjoyed watching this film. Because of the violence and language, it's best suited for older gamers and not children.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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The Letters

Thank you MPRM for sending us a screener of this film!

Many people are familiar with the humanitarian work that Mother Theresa has done in India.  She tried to deflect all of the recognition to God and said that she was merely a “pencil in God’s hand.”  In fact, she nearly declined accepting her 1979 Nobel Peace prize in person, but was later convinced to go to spread awareness of the poverty situation in India.  All of her tireless and mostly thankless work took a toll on her spiritual life and she confessed to feeling alone and isolated from God in various letters between her and her spiritual mentor, Archbishop Ferdinand Perier.

The film, The Letters opens up with a miraculous healing being accredited to a picture of Mother Theresa healing a tumor from a woman in India in 1998, a year after Mother Theresa’s death.  A priest is sent to investigate this miracle, one of the two required for sainthood in the Catholic church.  While investigating her life, the priest talks to Archbishop Ferdinand Perier and is given access to the letters which Mother Theresa wished to have destroyed. 

Because the letters still existed, the Vatican priest was able to gain insight from her selfless life and devotion to the poor.  While Mother Theresa began as a teacher in the Loreta Convent in India, she longed to help the destitute that were outside of the convent walls.  There was civil unrest when India became its own nation in 1947 and streets were unsafe for the students and nuns in the convent.  On a sabbatical, Mother Theresa received a calling from God to devote her life and to serve the destitute.  The Mother General at the convent doubted her calling, but the Vatican approved it and the eventual founding of the Missionaries of Charity which began with a dozen nuns and is now four-thousand strong. Despite the decline of many Christian organizations and churches, this ministry for the poor is growing.

God was and clearly is still blessing her ministry despite her struggles and doubt at time.  The Letters does a nice job depicting her feelings, struggles, and strong belief in prayer.  In the end, the priest believed that she indeed was eligible for sainthood and I believe that many, myself included, can learn a lot from her humility and trusting in God.  The Letters will be coming to the USA on December 4th, 2015.  It’s rated PG and is a good movie to watch with the whole family.

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Teach Your Kids to Code

cover

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

Teach Your Kids to Code is a book designed for parents and kids to work together and learn the Python programming language.  The author, Dr. Bryson Payne has been teaching computer science to students of all ages from kindergarten to college age pupils at the University of North Georgia.  There are ten chapters that will cover the basics of installing Python, pygame, and learning about graphics, variables, loops, conditions, animations and accepting user input.

Most of the heavy lifting is done by the Python libraries turtle and pygame.  With turtle kids can learn to make programs that generate spirals and other neat shapes in various colors. After launching a turtle program or two you’ll quickly realize how it got its name as even an i7 desktop takes a few minutes to render the final product.

The coding itself is pretty straight forward and the book does an excellent job explaining what each function does and pieces it together bit by bit and combines it into a final program at the end.  One important factor that my daughter and I both learned is that spacing/indenting is critical in Python.  If a function is not properly indented, the program will simply not run and there will be no error code to assist you in the debugging process.  Typos are relatively easy to catch with the syntax errors, but indentation, not so much.  Fortunately, the source code and required media files are readily available on the book’s website.

The only other stumbling block we came across was installing the pygame library in Windows.  We installed the latest version of Python in its 64-bit format.  This worked fine until we needed to install the pygame library as the book’s obsolete version did not work.  We were able to get it working by using a custom compiled version.

Despite those hiccups, my daughter and I learned a lot by going through this book together.  While the typing was her least favorite part of the process, she was very excited to see and share the programs that she made.  Her favorite programs include a text based Yahtzee, War, and a graphical Pong game that uses a smiley face as the ball.  Teach Your kids to Code is an excellent learning tool for people of all ages that can be purchased digitally for less than $15 or in paperback for under twenty dollars on Amazon.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Caffeinated

 

Thank you EG PR for sending us a screener link!

Many people enjoy at least one cup of coffee throughout the day.  I must admit that I’m not one of them.  I’ve tried coffee before, but in order for me to enjoy it, I had to drown out the taste with so much milk and sugar that I may as well just drink a glass of milk instead.  After watching Caffeinated, there’s a good chance I just drank some crappy coffee and perhaps a specialty coffee may change my opinion on this popular commodity.

Even though coffee isn’t a big part of my life, the production of it is truly fascinating and this two-hour documentary explains how it is planted, harvested, hand sorted, washed, de-pulped, dried, roasted and then processed or prepared by a barista.   While the movie does mention mass produced coffee, its main focus is on specialty coffee and the farmers that make it.

Farmers from Nicaragua, India, Mexico, Turkey, Ethiopia, Honduras, and Guatemala are all interviewed to share how they rely on this fruit for their livelihood.  I learned that coffee comes from two different plant types, Arabica and Robusta, and that they grow in 4-6,000 feet altitude in the tropical band of our planet.   The Robusta plant is heartier and produces coffee beans with more caffeine and sugar, but less of an aroma.

The fragrance of coffee is one of the factors taken into consideration at tasting events like the Cup of Excellence which was started in 1999 and has been going strong since.  Other traits considered for quality coffee include the taste and strength of the coffee, the flavors infused into it, the acidity, and how it tastes with and without sugar added to it.  

I was surprised to see some barista champions from 2008 and 2010 featured along with an interview of Danny Glover.  There’s no shortage in finding someone to talk about their favorite beverage.  Coffee is a part of many people’s lives and the farmers that make it need fair representation and adequate pay to provide quality goods for those who enjoy specialty coffee throughout the day.  I think any coffee lover should check out this film!


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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The Gospel of John

Thank you Rogers and Cowen for sending us this DVD to review!

I have read and listened to the Bible in different formats and in a few translations.  I have also seen many film adaptions of Biblical stories and the life, death, and resurrections of Jesus.  Many of these films and story books leave out verses and some context from the scriptures.  The Gospel of John doesn’t have that issue as this is a word-for word movie adaptation of the entire book of John.  It has support for many different languages and translations.  I found it humorous that the KJV version is in stereo while the NIV translation is in 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio.  I guess those still stuck on the old fashioned KJV don’t have modern stereo equipment?      

The Bible translation is spoken over the Aramaic dialogue of the actors.  I didn’t recognize any of the actors in this film or even Jesus at first.  He didn’t look like typical painting portrayals of being Caucasian with brown hair.  In this movie he was more Semitic with black hair and a beard with a touch of gray in it.    

While my kids watched this 161-minute movie with us, it did lose the attention of my youngest a couple of hours into it.  Thankfully the whipping and crucifixion scenes were not as graphic as depicted in The Passion.  The message was very clear and touching to the point of putting a lump in my throat a couple of times.  

Overall the production quality was impressive and this film is well done.  It’s an interesting alternative to your daily Bible reading routine.  The price is very reasonable at less than $10 on Amazon.  It’s definitely worth picking up this family friendly and Biblically accurate representation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.


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Diary of a Jackwagon

Thank you Harper Collins for sending us a copy of this book to review! 

I've never heard of Tim Hawkins or the term Jackwagon before. Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian whose humor is suitable for the whole family to enjoy, despite some whiskey references here and there.  Since I didn't get an explanation of the title in the 209 page book, I looked up the term jackwagon and discovered that it's another way of calling somebody lazy or worthless. 

Diary of a Jackwagon is a collection of humorous and random thoughts and stories compiled in a span of twenty years.  There are forty-one chapters that are typically  a couple of pages each and there is no chronological order to them.  At the end of each chapter is a "Tweet Thought" which is a short joke ideal for the likes of Twitter.  My favorite one is "Mr. Literal then proceeded punching himself in the face in an effort to fight back tears."

I must admit that I smiled most of the time when reading this book and there were several moments where I laughed out loud.  I showed a friend the Turquoise Toilet chapter and she laughed herself to tears.  I'm not sure if the story is true or not, but it talks about Tim taking his kids to Home Depot to give his wife a much needed break.  He didn't anticipate buying a toilet but felt obligated to do so after it was gently used by one of his children.  

I enjoyed the comparisons of today's playgrounds to the ones I grew up with as a kid.  I too remember the ground being made of gravel or concrete with real see-saws and slides made of steel that are both fast and HOT in the summertime.  The parody songs about junk food and home schooling are entertaining as well.  

There's a lot of good humor in this book and I enjoyed reading it.  I know my daughter is eager to read it as well and I'm glad that I can pass it along without any concern, which is rare for many comedians these days.  I'm sure Tim Hawkins fans will enjoy this book and those like me who were not familiar with him, will become new fans of his comedic style.  This book can be purchased for less than $12 in MP3 or paperback form or $8.99 on Amazon's Kindle.      


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The Mark of the Beast: Revelations 13

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

There are many theories about the end times, the anti-Christ and the mark of the beast.  I have read theories of the anti-Christ being the current or future President or Pope.  While the Catholic church is referenced as the “wounded head of Revelation,” the author, Ezra Celestin believes that the Beast of Revelations is not an obvious target.

The Catholic church got its “wounded head” from the reformation movement and the Protestants are still in the dark to the truth, unlike the Seventh Day Adventists.  E.G. White is quoted in the first chapter saying “We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn.  God and heaven alone are infallible.  Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed.  As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed.”  Despite the obvious ties with the Seventh Day Adventist church, this book was an insightful read.

I got quite the history lesson with the fall of the Roman empire, the origins of the reformation movement, the French Revolution, and World War II.  There are many Bible verses quoted to back up claims of the four great kingdoms being Babylon as the head of gold, Media and Persia are the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs are Greece and the legs of iron represent Rome in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision.  Daniel’s vision of the four beasts are translated as the lion representing Babylon, the bear is Media and Persia, Greece is the leopard with four wings and four heads, and Rome is depicted as the beast with ten horns.  

*spoiler alert* As for the beast itself, it’s none other than the Unites States with its calling down fire upon Japan in World War 2.  Also, if you add up the number of people in the president’s cabinet, legislative and judicial branches the number comes out to 666.  With the Republican and Democratic parties, the United States fits the description of the two-horned beast while the United Nations is the image of it.  */spoiler*

This 152-page book can be digitally purchased for $3.99 or acquired in paperback form for $16.95 or in hard cover for $24.95.


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Shelby: A Magical Holiday Tail

Thank you MPRM for sending us this DVD to review!

Shelby is a beagle that has lived in a dog pound for as long as he can remember.  He has a habit of escaping at every opportunity, and Doug the dog catcher (played by Tom Arnold) catches him every time.  Just when Shelby was about to be generously adopted by a rich mother and her spoiled son, Shelby manages to escape once again.  

Instead of running home free, Shelby gets hit by a truck and is taken in by the man who hit him since the vet’s office was closed for Christmas.  The wife can’t stand dogs, but she doesn’t get to meet Shelby as he slips out of the truck and into their basement as soon and the husband pulls into their driveway.  Their son, Jake finds Shelby and takes a liking to him and names him after his favorite magician, P. T. Shelby.  Jake bonds to Shelby right away since he doesn’t have any human friends.

Between Shelby and Jake’s uncle’s dog who is also uninvited, things get pretty hairy around Christmas dinner. Doug the dog-catcher comes by looking for Shelby and sneaks a peek of Jake’s mom changing her shirt after wine got spilled on it.  Besides the relatively tame peep show, there is plenty of potty humor involving laxatives and breaking the law to take stuff that is not legally yours.  In the end there is one good lesson taught, and that is to never beat an animal under any circumstance.  There are some warm and fuzzy moments at the end about Christmas being all about family and togetherness.  That’s all fine and good but I still prefer Jesus to be front and center during our Christmas celebration.

In the end, Shelby was an okay movie.  My kids seemed to enjoy it and the flatulence humor within.  It’s ninety-two minutes long and goes for $20 on Amazon.  I would recommend renting it first.  


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BuyCostumes.com

Thank you BuyCostumes.com for sending us a deluxe Bowser costume!

BuyCostumes.com, a division of BuysSeasons Inc. was founded in 1999 and is one of the largest internet retailers of costumes and accessories.  Their motto is “Life’s Better in Costume.” While Halloweeen costumes are their biggest market, they sell costumes for events and cosplay all year round. 

bowser costume

There are costumes for people of all sizes and shapes; even couple’s and group costumes are available.  Costumes for pets are not left out either!  If you’re looking for indoor, yard, or porch decorations, BuyCostumes.com has you covered!

bowser costume

Gamers may want to check out their video game collection.     BuyCostumes.com sells officially licensed Nintendo costumes featuring Mario, Luigi, Toad, Princess Peach, Bowser, Yoshi, and Pikachu.  Other popular video game costumes include: 

  • Master Chief
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Kitana, Subzero, and Scorpion from Mortal Kombat
  • Batman
  • Arno from Assassin’s Creed  

Minecraft fans may want to check out the block heads for Endermen, Creepers, and the default character, Steve.  Skylander collectors might like the Spyro, Jet Vac, Wash Buckler, and Trigger Happy costumes.  

The costumes vary in price and complete sets on clearance can be had for under ten dollars not including shipping.  Regularly priced outfits are typically between $25 and $50, but some of the more detailed costumes like Edward Conway from Assassin’s Creed goes for $139.97.   Regular clothing can be purchased there like adult combat boots for $45 or Minecraft creeper or ocelot hoodies for $60-70.  Shipping in the continental forty-eight states is regularly $5 but express shipping is available for a little more if you’re in a rush.  Discount coupon codes are also readily available to take off 10% or more from your order!

bowser costume

I’m very happy with my Bowser costume and it fits my 5’7” frame perfectly.  Despite the extra-large description, taller people like my 6’2” husband should go for the more expensive plus sized costumes as this one has a 5’ 11” height limit.  It would be nice if BuyCostumes.com showed the height info in the item description.  Fortunately, they do have a 30-day return policy and they will price match if you find a better deal elsewhere.

bowser costume

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Nintendo Quest

Thank you Sicily Publicity for sending us a screener of this film!

Jay Bartlett and Rob McCallum live in Canada and have been lifelong friends and fans of Nintendo games since the NES era. Although Jay had a decent NES collection, he longed to eventually own all 678 Nintendo licensed games. Over the summer Rob gave Jay a lofty challenge: To collect all 678 North America released games using his own funds, no internet, and having to do it all in thirty days. Jay accepted and this movie was born.

Jay was not allowed to use his existing collection so he began his journey locally and talked/negotiated with friends and nearby game resale shops. When he collected all that he could, Jay and Rob set off on one of many road trips to the USA and expand their horizons and game collection there. 

Out of all of the NES games the rarest three are Stadium Events, Little Samson, and Bonk’s Adventure. Some of these games go for hundreds if not thousands of dollars apiece. Not only is buying these on ebay or craigslist not allowed, it’s not as fun. Part of the video game experience is how they are acquired along with the fun gameplay. Most gamers have specific games that have sentimental value to them. 

Many awesome game collections are shown in this film along with professional gamers and those who are featured in the Guinness book of world records. Besides fine-tuning his negotiation skills, Jay got to meet some video gaming legends who put him in touch with potential sellers of rare NES cartridges. While the viewers are made aware of some of the prices, most of the costs and total money spent remains a mystery.

I will not spoil the ending, but I do recommend this film for gamers who have a soft spot for the NES console. Many good memories came rushing back as I recognized many of the games collected. Some I didn’t even know existed! While Nintendo Quest is mostly kid friendly, there is some language. Some of it is bleeped out but holy sh*t and hell are clearly heard. This film can be rented on Vimeo for $7.99 or digitally owned for $12.99.

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2015 Christmas Buying Guide

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most family friendly games we have reviewed in 2015. More reviews can be found on ChristCenteredGamer.com! Each game is given a gameplay score for the overall gaming experience and a moral score for how suitable it is for younger gamers. The Amazon and Humble Store links will benefit Christ Centered Gamer by giving us a small % of the sale.

System Game Game Score Moral Score Buy it!
Mobile
Mobile
Splendor
(Android, iOS, PC)
84% 100% $6.99
Mobile
Mobile
UNWYND 80% 100% $1.99
Mobile
Mobile
Star Realms 80% 98% $4.99
Mobile
Mobile
Snuggle Truck 80% 96% $1.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX 88% 87% $39.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Quell Memento 86% 100% $3.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Story of Seasons 86% 93% $39.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Fairune 78% 93% $2.99
Nintendo Wii U
Nintendo Wii U
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse 90% 94% $39.99
Nintendo Wii U
Nintendo Wii U
Nova 111 
(PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)
84% 96% $14.99
Nintendo Wii U
Nintendo Wii U
Pumped BMX + 84% 92% $9.99
Nintendo Wii U
Nintendo Wii U
Just Dance Disney Party 2 
(Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
82% 97% $39.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Crypt of the Necrodancer 86% 90% $14.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Pix the Cat 84% 96% $9.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball 84% 94% $15.00
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Shelter 2 82% 92% $14.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Disney Infinity 3.0 
(PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
88% 90% $59.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Shovel Knight
(PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)
88% 94% $24.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Risk
(PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
84% 94% $14.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Boggle
(PS4, Xbox One)
82% 100% $9.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Shovel Knight
(PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)
88% 94% $24.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Geometry Wars 3 Dimensions Evolved
(PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
86% 94% $14.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Nova 111 
(PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)
84% 96% $14.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Switch Galaxy Ultra 78% 87% $11.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Leo's Fortune HD Edition
(Android, iOS, PC, PS4, Xbox One)
88% 99% $6.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Risk
(PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
84% 94% $14.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Dance Central Spotlight 86% 91% $9.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
NYKO Xbox One Charge Base N/A N/A $24.90
Hardware
Hardware
Gamdias Zeus Laser Gaming Mouse N/A N/A $49.99
Hardware
Hardware
SteelSeries Siberia 200 Gaming Headset N/A N/A $79.99
Hardware
Hardware
Mionix Castor Optical Gaming Mouse N/A N/A $69.99
Hardware
Hardware
Cherry MX Board 6.0 N/A N/A $200.00

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Mike
I have a recommendation. It would be nice to get multiple "recommended" lists. Based on Family, and older gamers. Also, would like... Read More
Sunday, 29 November 2015 23:32
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My Little Pony Equetsria Girls Combo DVD Pack

Thank you Shout Factory for sending us this DVD to review!

We have previously reviewed My Little Pony Rainbow Rocks and Equestria Girls and my kids thoroughly enjoyed those movies.  Surprisingly, my son enjoyed them all as well. Along with those two movies, Friendship Games is included in a 3 movie combo pack that will list for less than $25.  This is quite a bargain for My Little Pony fans.

Since this is our first time watching Friendship Games here’s our review of it: 

Rainbow Dash sent out an emergency text gathering all of the members in the band in fear of Canterlot High School being in danger.  As it turns out, it was a false alarm since Rainbow Dash only needed a replacement guitar string.  Instead of heading home right away Sunset Shimmer hangs around the portal for a little bit and catches a mysterious figure scanning the statue/portal.  Could it be someone from Crystal Prep Academy pranking their school for the upcoming Friendship Games competition?  Canterlot High School has never won a competition against Crystal Prep so their morale is pretty low until Rainbow Dash rallies everyone up with a stellar performance.  Could magic be involved in her performance?  Sunset Shimmer has been tasked to get to the bottom of it to avoid their school from being disqualified for magic use.  Twilight Sparkle is also looking into this phenomenon.  

The Twilight Sparkle in this show doesn’t know anyone in Canterlot High School since she is a Crystal Prep student.  However, they all know who she is and don’t know why she doesn’t recognize them and suddenly wears glasses.  They also discover that she has the ability to steal magic.  Will the Friendship Games go on without a hitch?  Watch to find out because I’m not going to spoil it for you!

Like most My Little Pony shows, the power of friendship overcomes any misdeeds.  I like how they emphasize forgiveness and promote kindness to one another.  I highly recommend this show for kids of all ages.  While the target audience is girls, many boys enjoy this show as well.  My son included.


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Ozwald Bozwald - Transformed

Thank you SMT Entertainment for sending us a digital copy of this CD!

Ozwald Bozwald is a Harlem, New York City based recording artist, producer, and DJ.  He's been in the music industry for nearly fifteen years and most of his music was hip-hop and rap based.  In his new album, Transformed, he changes his music style to dance; and it's awesome!  It's not just his music style that has changed, but his whole life has been transformed from when he started making music.  

Ozwald is a full-fledged vegan, Christian, and a husband though he never planned on being any of those.  While the songs are pretty neutral without any scripture or praising of Jesus, Ozwald isn't shy about his faith on his social media sites.  In fact, his single 'Only One' is about being monogamous and the singer offers to break the law if needed for his love interest.  While that song isn't exactly teaching good values, it's not promoting sleeping around like many popular dance songs these days.

There are four tracks on this EP and they can be listened to freely on Sound Cloud.  If you like the music, you can buy it digitally on iTunes for $3.99.      His latest single 'Only One' is available on Amazon, but the rest of the album is not there yet.  Some of his older rap music is though. I'm definitely a fan of his newer music versus his hip-hop roots.

My favorite song on Transformed is Radar; it's one of the two songs that has lyrics and is performed by Kevin Singleton.  The title song only has the word Transformed spoken a couple of times and Heaven is completely instrumental.  The whole CD is solid and I recommend it for any dance music fan.  If you're looking for music praising God, you'll want to look elsewhere, but if you want to dance to some "clean" music, Transformed will fit the bill nicely.

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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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