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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

Any Day

Thank you Falco Ink for sending us this DVD to review!

Any Day is the story of a boxer named Vian (Sean Bean), who was recently released from prison after serving twelve years for killing a man with his bare hands.  Now that he is free, he must find a place to live and a job to get back on his feet.  His sister, who is a single mom, lets him stay in her garage for a couple of weeks as long as he stays sober.  Her son Jimmy bonds with Vian instantly and appreciates his staying there since he does not have any friends or a father to talk to.

Finding work is difficult for Vian since most places don't want to hire an ex-convict.   Vian does eventually find work at a pizzeria that many school kids hang out at. His boss (Tom Arnold) is a recovering alcoholic that instantly trusts Vian enough to offer him a partnership opportunity if he can come up with $15,000.  

Since Vian doesn't have $15,000, a house, or a car of his own, the partnership opportunity seems unlikely unless a miracle happens.  God is brought up several times and it seems that everyone is a Christian with the exception of Vian.  Even though God is clearly at work in his life, Vian doesn't acknowledge his handiwork.  

Despite the religious references, Any Day is a mature movie and should not be seen around kids.  There are alcohol and drug references along with language and violent scenes.  While Vian doesn't have much going for him, he does manage to win over a woman out of his league (Eva Longoria) and a sex scene is shown as a result.  

Because of the appropriateness issues, I doubt conservative Christians will enjoy this movie.  For everyone else, the story is mediocre and worth a rental at best.  I will admit that there was one scene that brought tears to my eyes, but I won't spoil the story here.   Lastly, the picture/editing quality could have been better as there were scenes that flickered black that made my hubby wonder if there was something wrong with our projector.  Since it was repeatable, we discovered it's a movie quality issue.  Overall, the story and the editing  could have used more work.  I recommend renting this movie before buying it.


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Two New YouTube Videos!

Two New YouTube Videos!

My siblings and I have two new videos on YouTube.

One is a continuation of our Sonic videos. It is about our versions of the characters meeting the Sonic Boom versions of the characters: 

The other is a message video from our other channel, Ordinary People. It takes Bible verses and puts them together like a story: 

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Godfit: Through Love Serve

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

John Hayden is a Christian certified fitness trainer that uses his skills to train others to stay fit and glorify God.  The goal of Godfit is to challenge believers to be both spiritually and physically well.  If believers stay healthy, they can live and serve others longer.  This 117 page book is broken down into a six week program that has both exercise routines and devotional questions.

Before you begin, you should make sure you have the required equipment including dumbbells, kettlebells, and a Bible.  The book also recommends using a photo of yourself for inspiration.  There's a core strength assessment that is highly recommended to complete in order to gauge your fitness level.   There is a spiritual questionnaire to evaluate your religious life as well.

Each workout is between twenty and thirty minutes long.  There are various warm-up and cool down routines to choose from.  If you're unsure of how to do an exercise, there are video examples on http://www.godfit.com.  The videos are password protected but the password is in the book (page 5).

Each week has a spiritual theme including: Solitude, Meditation, Prayer, Simplicity, Study, and Service.  There are many convicting devotional questions to make sure you are growing spiritually as you tone your body.  There are prayer examples as well to give you the strength and the faith to become a better follower of Christ.  Praying for strength is a good idea since the exercises get more challenging throughout the book.  Thankfully the book gives you a list of ten exercises and lets you pick which ones to do with the option of skipping a couple.

I like the included list of energetic Christian songs to work out with.  I was happy to find out that many of them were free to listen to with my Amazon prime membership.  :)  Towards the back of the book there are some healthy meal and snack ideas.  There is also a leadership guide with outline and group activity suggestions.  

If you looking to workout by yourself or with a group, Godfit offers a unique approach that will help you strengthen both your faith and your body.  The Godfit website sells the book along with shirts and stickers.  You can get the book on Amazon for the same price, but the shipping will be cheaper if you're a prime member or have other items to buy to qualify for free shipping.


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Call Me Lucky

Thank you Sunshine Sachs for sending us a screener of this movie to review!

Call Me Lucky is a film directed by Bobcat Goldthwait who was inspired by Barry Crimmins in many ways.  Barry used to go by the nickname "Bear Cat" to which Bobcat Goldthwait followed suit.  Besides helping Bobcat stay sober, Barry has helped launch many successful comedians in his Boston area comedy clubs.  Some of the comedians he worked with include Kevin Meany, Steven Wright, Dennis Leary, Steve Sweeney,  Paula Poundstone, Jimmy Tingle and many more. 

Barry was known for being a political satirist in the '70s and '80s and he didn't hold back in bashing our government and the Catholic church.  Since the pope has joined twitter, Barry has tweeted him daily asking to be excommunicated.  Barry holds an understandable grudge against the church because he was abused by both a family friend and by a priest as a young boy.

While Barry vented on stage and cursed often, he had a gentler side that helped give a voice to those who needed to be heard.  He visited wounded children in Nicaragua during Reagan's term and he helped the government and AOL toughen their policies and prosecute pedophiles when the interest was in its infancy stages.  Thanks to his efforts  thousands of pedophiles have been arrested.

Until Call Me Lucky, I wasn't familiar with Barry Crimmins.  I did watch many skits from his protégées though. Perhaps my parents didn't let me watch Barry's  skits because of the constant swearing and tirades he would go on.  His jabs at the government were direct and laced with information that wasn't as accessible as it is today with the resources of the internet.  While the documentary is interesting, sad, and insightful, I cannot recommend it to a younger audience because of the language and mature content.

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Teen Beach 2

Thank you Click Communications for sending us a DVD to review!

After a wonderful summer together, Brady and Mack (Mackenzie) are heading back to school together.  Even though they're celebrating their three month "meetaversary", their relationship is about to be seriously tested as they discover that they are complete opposites when it comes to their academic studies.    

Mack has her future planned out with wanting to become a marine biologist.  She already knows which college she wants to go to while Brady doesn't even know what he's going to have for dinner at night.  Even though biology isn't Brady's strongest subject, he's not stupid.  In fact, he's designing many great surfboards.  The problem is that he's lost his confidence and doesn't want to share his passion with his girlfriend for fear of being rejected.  

Other guys are taking notice of Mackenzie and Brady is getting jealous of the attention she is getting.  Between the jealousy and the secrets, Mack is wanting some time away from Brady.  Back in Brady's favorite '60s movie, Wet Side Story (a surfers versus bikers rendition of West Side Story), the main characters Lela and Tanner are sensing some trouble between Mack and Brady and come to the future (our present day) to save them. 

Hilarity ensues when Lela and Tanner arrive and don't know how to interact with cell phones, scuba divers, and aggressive jocks.  They try their best to blend in and sing whenever the opportunity arises.  Just like the first Teen Beach movie, the sequel is very much a musical. 

Lela is adjusting well to the modern era and enjoys discovering her true self and untapped intellect.  Tanner on the other hand is very conceited and flaky.  Later, he does come around and learn to put others before himself.  Other lessons include being and believing in yourself and not keeping secrets from a loved one.  

If your family enjoyed the first movie, the sequel is worth checking out.  It's kid safe and my children enjoyed the movie even though they are not teenagers yet.  The wacky humor and silly songs were enough to keep them tuned in.  My daughters fought over the included necklace which is rather stylish.  The price is a reasonable $15, and if you don't like the movie, you still get a nice necklace out of the deal.  


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All Creatures Big and Small

Thank you Entertainment One for sending us a screener of this movie to review!

An over protective nestrian father  is on the move again after his son, Finny, had just settled in and started making friends.   Finny isn't happy about the change, but this time it can't be avoided since the global flood is coming and they have to head towards the ark.  Once they arrive at the ark, the nestrians run into a setback as they are not on Noah's list of animals to bring along.  Perhaps it has something to do with their fictitious species?   Another unique species called grimps, did make the cut though.  The father and son disguise themselves as grimps and stow away on the ark.  The female grimp isn't happy about the nestrians becoming a part of their fictitious family.  

Finny and the young grimp, Leah, get along for the most part and start exploring around the ark.  Panic sets in when they discover that they were not actually on the ark when it has taken off without them.  After a while, the parents notice and try to convince the lion captain to turn the ark around.  Their request is denied and they decide to take matters into their own hands.

Meanwhile, Leah and Finny are trying to find high ground and avoid becoming dinner for a couple of flying creatures that are pursuing them.  Along the way, they meet some other stragglers that didn't make it onto the ark either.  Despite the grimp's nature of being a loner, Leah learns the value of friendship, teamwork, and forgiveness.   

The Christian overtones are relatively minor as Noah or God are not seen or heard from throughout the film.  I also found it peculiar that not all of the animal pairs were mixed gender.  Maybe Leah's mom was pregnant when she boarded with her daughter?  To survive and provide a happier ending, some of the animals were forced to change or evolve rather quickly.  There are plenty of silly scenes and some bits of potty humor.

When all is said and done, All Creatures Big and Small is a cute movie with charming characters and silly humor.  The animation is well done and the voice talent from Amy Grant and Martin Sheen is well done.  If you're looking for a preachy movie, you may want to stick with Veggie Tales, but my family still enjoyed this 80 minute movie regardless.

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Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation

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

The videogame industry is a huge multi-billion dollar industry.  It started and flopped in the early eighties with notable failures like Atari burying between 700,000 to three million copies of ET in a landfill.   Nintendo and Sega continued on and started a battle that defined a generation.  Console Wars is a 576 page book written by Blake J. Harris and weaves the history of these two companies based on over two hundred interviews from family, friends, and former employees of Sega and Nintendo.    

In 1990 Nintendo was dominating the videogame market with its 8 bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and soon to be released 16 bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).   Even though Sega's Genesis was the first available 16 bit console, it didn't get much recognition and as a result it failed to sell very well.  That changed when Tom Kalinske was personally recruited by Sega of Japan's president to become the CEO of Sega of America.  

When Tom started at Sega, he didn't know much about videogames, but he did know how to market things with huge successes including Barbie, He-Man, and Flintstone multivitamins.  He specialized in uphill battles and this story is no exception. It's so good, a feature film is being made about it!

The book goes into the humble beginnings of Sega, Nintendo, and eventually Sony's endeavors into the videogame industry.  Nintendo has an interesting past with their playing cards origins and briefly owning a hourly rental hotel.  They definitely became more family friendly later on which gave Sega a target for their aggressive commercials aimed at slightly older gamers.  Sonic the Hedgehog gave Nintendo and their mascot, Mario, a run for their money.  

While I enjoyed the book and look forward to the upcoming movie, I must caution parents thinking about letting their kids read or see Console Wars.  There is a lot of language (including F bombs) throughout the story and in the Foreward by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

For mature gamers, I wholeheartedly recommend checking out this book to learn how Sega briefly toppled Nintendo with their aggressive marketing but ultimately lost the war once Sony's PlayStation came into the market.  Even though Nintendo's side is fairly represented and respected, the story focuses more on Sega's viewpoint.   I could not help but root for the underdog while I read Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation.


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Build an HTML5 Game

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

My kids have learned many programming languages like JavaScript and Ruby thanks to the helpful books published by No Starch Press.  Build an HTML5 Game assumes that you are familiar with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and will teach you how to create a game from start to finish using them.  You don't have to be an advanced coder to read this book, but some foreknowledge will go a long way since you won't be learning the basics of these programming/scripting languages. 

This 198 page book written by Karl Bunyan will teach you how to make a browser based bubble popping game similar to Bust-A-move.  There are eight chapters and the first seven are dedicated to programming the game while the final chapter discusses other HTML5 capabilities such as retrieving data, webSockets, WebGL (for 3D) and security.  The final chapter also makes some suggestions on other games HTML5 would be well suited for including solitaire, platformers and match-3 games like Bejeweled.  

You won't be getting any history lessons as the first chapter has you diving in and coding right away.  Some of the goals achieved during the development process include randomizing the game board, calculating the firing angle and stopping point for the bubbles fired, dealing with collisions, keeping track of the score and handling new levels and the game's ending.  

Throughout the book, there are many helpful explanations and points to consider.  While the author recommends using Google's jQuery files, we have found the program to run better with them hosted locally.  The source code is readily available to download and view if you're stuck and can't figure out why the game isn't running. 

The price of the physical copy is a reasonable $22 which is much cheaper than taking a college course on browser based game development.   The Kindle version is even cheaper at less than $14.  Click here to check out the completed game.


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Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle

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

Curious George is back and up to his usual unintended trouble making.  The story begins with George and Ted (the man in the yellow hat) flying a kite in a park.  For most people the worst case scenario is losing the kite to a tree, but for George it's a very expensive excursion with many food vendors  getting their carts knocked over and losing any chance of  turning  a profit.  The man in the yellow hat hands out yellow contact cards with his insurance information to those impacted by George's kite flying.  It makes me wonder what his insurance premiums are.  

Later George and his owner head back to the museum where Ted works and they are greeted by Mr. Houston.   There is an opening for an astronaut to go on a mission to alleviate the massive flooding in Africa.    George is eager to go, but the man in the yellow hat isn't sold on the idea right away.  Fortunately for George, he relents and lets him go on the mission.

Sadly, the mission doesn't go as planned and George gets lost in Africa.  Houston and his team estimate George's location within a 500 mile radius.  Not surprisingly, most of the movie revolves around locating George.   Even though George starts off alone, it's short lived as he befriends many unlikely wild animals.  

While this movie teaches the value of friendship, it has a very dangerous ending that involves flying a metal framed kite in the middle of a thunderstorm.  Other than that, I recommend this film for kids of all ages.  The music is catchy and arranged by Heitor Pereira.  Besides the movie, the sound track is worth looking into as well!


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Comeback Dad

Thank you Falco Ink for sending us this DVD to review!

Not everyone grows up with a perfect family.  Many kids are raised by a single parent, and in most cases it's the mother.  It was the opposite for me as I grew up fast when my mother ran off when I was a teenager.  Comeback Dad struck a chord with me as I chose to forgive and reconcile with my mom. I was curious if the daughter, Nina, would do the same for her absentee father (Charles Dutton) in this movie.  

I won't spoil the ending in this review.  Nina is an up and coming composer who learned from her father on how to play the piano.  Her successful fiancé, Spence, loves her despite knowing that she can't trust him fully due to her broken relationship with her father.  Spence encourages her to make amends before their wedding and that includes an out of state trip to meet her estranged family. 

Unfortunately, this movie reinforces the false teachings of works to earn a person's way to heaven.    Nina mentions getting double heaven points for making the trip to see her family.    The Bible clearly teaches in Ephesians 2:8 and in Romans 9:16 that it is by God's grace alone that we are saved, not by our works.

There are both emotional and humorous moments and overall this movie was enjoyable to watch.  Even though it has themes of redemption and forgiveness, it's not suited for a younger audience.  This film is not rated, but it does have some language, sexual references and situations, as well as drinking and drunkenness.

If you don't mind the moral short comings, the overall story is worth checking out.  It's worth renting at the very least.    


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Strange Magic

Thank you Click Communications for sending us this DVD to review!

Strange Magic is a CGI animated musical that borrows from Shakepeare's "A Midsummer’s Night Dream" and Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's "Beauty and the Beast." After seeing George Lucas's attempt at romance in Star Wars II Attack of the Clones, I wasn't expecting much.  I began watching this movie with three of my kids and one of them left half way through to read a book instead. Of the two that remained to the end, only one liked the movie.   My son wasn't a fan of it.  Then again, George Lucas was inspired by his daughters to make Strange Magic.

The movie begins with a fairy princess, Mary Ann, preparing for her wedding day.  Along the way of her collecting materials for her fiancé's boutonnière, she runs into her husband-to-be kissing another fairy.  Not surprisingly, the wedding was called off and her father, the king, wants Mary Anne  to make amends with her ex, Roland.   Instead Mary Anne vows to be independent and swears off love entirely.  

Mary Anne is not the only one uninterested in love.  In the nearby Dark Kingdom, the wretched insectiod King Bog has forbidden anyone to fall in love and use of love potions is forbidden.  To ensure that his ban remains in effect, he sealed away the sugar plum fairy who is the only one that can concoct love potions.  

Roland, still set on getting the crown and a powerful army, conspires with an elf to get a love potion.  The elf agrees to the plan because he loves Mary Ann's boy crazy sister, Dawn.  While they manage to get the potion, things don't go as planned.  I won't spoil any details but I think it's safe to say that the movie's plot is not very hard to predict.  In the end, everyone in the movie learns that love has to be true and not rushed.  

While I recognized many of the songs sung in this movie (I Gotta Feeling, Sugar Pie Huniebunch, Fools Rush In, Tell Him, Wild Thing, Love is Strange),  they didn't have much significance for my kids. The only song my kids knew was Lady Gaga's Lovegame being used as a marching song by Roland's army.  

My kids were obviously not into the music, but the animation was well done.  The story is predictable and unoriginal.  Since only one of my kids actually enjoyed the movie, I can't really recommend it.  If you see it on sale it may be worth considering though.


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Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Thank you Fox for sending us a DVD of the season premiere!

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader is entering its sixth season with Jeff Foxworthy as the host.  There have been some format changes implemented this year.  Instead of five 5th graders, there are now six and it's a new cast this time around.  Another change is that the 11th question for one million dollars comes from a sixth grade text book.

The questions start at one thousand dollars and after the 5th question is answered correctly for $25,000, a contestant will be able to leave with that as their minimum winnings.  A contestant can choose to walk away from further questions with all of their winnings to that point or try to answer the question on their own or with the help of the 5th graders.  

The contestants can choose questions from topics that range from first to fifth grade.  Beside the player is a 5th grade student who will answer the questions secretly with them.  (The students change throughout the show.) When the contestant and respective classmates lock in their answers, the correct  answer is revealed.  If the contestant answers incorrectly but the student is right, a save feature will be used once to  keep the contestant in the game.  If the player is unsure of their answer they can peek at their classmate's answer and choose to go with it or they can blindly copy the answer with no option to decline it.  If the classmate is incorrect, they will lose the game.  

The questions start off easy but get more challenging as the grade level increases.  From watching the season premiere I learned that the eagle is holding 13 arrows on the Great Seal of the United States.  l also learned that there are four planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) in our solar system that have a larger radius than the earth.  In  my defense, I did already know that forty-eight states shared borders and the proper way to spell nickel.  Regardless, I'd be wary of going on national TV to press my luck.

My kids enjoyed Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader and learned a lot from it.  It's a great show that the whole family can enjoy.  I'm sure we'll be watching and learning more from it in the near future.

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Dukale's Dream

Thank you Frank Publicity for granting us access to a digital screener of this movie!

Dukale's Dream is a documentary featuring Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborah on a trip to Ethiopia to learn about World Vision's efforts there.  World Vision does more than give hand outs, they give hand-ups.  What that means is that they provide more than relief, they help improve the economy in poverty stricken areas.  

While helping out a coffee farmer named Dukale, Hugh witnessed firsthand the hard work required to sustain Dukale's family of seven.    Even though coffee is in high demand, the soil only yields harvestable beans every other year.  Dukale has to diversify his crops to stay afloat.  Even still he is barely scraping by.

Fortunately World Vision has improved his family's health and ecological sustainability.  World Vision has setup a methane gas converter that transforms cow manure to usable gas that Dukale's wife can cook with.  By using this gas, it makes their hut smoke free and improves his family's respiratory health and doesn't tear up their eyes.  

In order to improve living conditions for all of the Ethiopian coffee farmers, people need to consider buying fair trade coffee.  Fair trade coffee ensures that the farmers are not being taken advantage of and guarantees them a minimum price.  The farmers in turn must be certified and follow environmentally sound practices.  It's a win-win for everyone if we're willing to make sure the coffee that  we drink is fair-trade compliant.

After his 2009 trip to Ethiopia, Hugh Jackman vowed to only drink fair trade coffee from then on.  To take it a step further he started a (fair trade) coffee bar in New York called Laughing Man Coffee.  The proceeds go back to education, community development and new business development. 

I may not be a coffee drinker, but I can respect their mission and supporting impoverished farmers who deserve a decent pay for all of their hard word.  Be sure to check out Dukale's Dream when it comes out in July 2015!

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Maya The Bee

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

Maya the Bee was originally a German fairytale that dates back to 1912.  Since then it has been published into other languages, has become a TV show, and now it's getting the Hollywood treatment.  While the movie is a bit different than the book, much of the story remains the same.

Maya is born into an unstable beehive.  The aging queen is seen as "too soft" by her advisor and she schemes to replace her.  Meanwhile Maya is having trouble trying to find her role in the bee community.  Nobody seems to be as carefree as her and she seems to cause more trouble than is useful.  

After exploring the Meadows without permission from her teacher, she befriends a grasshopper and other insects.  It's here that the story borrows a bit from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.  Wasps and bees are hostile towards each other and any reason will suffice for starting a war with the opposing side.  Young bees and wasps are instructed not to communicate with other insects, but especially not bees or wasps.

Naturally, Maya and her best friend, Willy, meet a young wasp and save his life from a spider.  To save face from his angry father, he confesses that they saved his life, but denies his friendship with them.  They meet up later in the movie and he apologizes for that.

Later on in the movie a war is brewing between the wasps and the bees and they plan on attacking each others' homes.  The young friends unite despite their differences and rally insects from all over the meadow to stop the unnecessary violence.  

I don't want to give away the causes or the outcome of this battle as you should see this movie for yourself and benefit from the silly humor within.  My three kids enjoyed and laughed throughout the story.  There is some potty humor with the dung beetle rolling around what he's known for.  Maya is brave, charming, and loveable; my kids are looking forward to watching more of her adventures.    


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Extravagant Graces

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

Extravagant Graces is written by Jeanette Chaffee, a survivor from the TWA Flight 840 that had a bomb detonate in mid-air. She goes into detail with her story and how she believes that a guardian angel was among the passengers to spare the structure of the plane and many of the lives within it. Upon sharing her story over the years, she has chronicled twenty-two other stories that defy luck and show God's grace in the midst of chaos.

There are two plane crash stories and two stories of martyrdom. Many people are familiar with the five missionaries who were speared to death by the Ecuadorian Acua tribe in 1955. Not only does this book retell that story, but it goes into details about the lives of the widows and how the Auca tribes people heard the musical score from the 2005 movie, Beyond the Gates of Splendor, before it was even released!

In the 1960s Phyliss and Phil Masters went to Dutch New Guinea to reach out to the cannibal Yali tribe. After converting several tribesmen, including the shaman's son, there was some hostility. This cost Phil his life in 1968. Amazingly, Christianity still thrived within the tribe and when a plane crashed nearby later that year, the only survivor was a nine year old boy that the tribe took in as an attempt at peace.

Not all of the stories are heavy hearted, like the one of Shirley Dobson leaving her hometown of thirty years to move to Colorado Springs. Her husband, James Dobson, joked that she left drag marks from California all across the Rockies. By their faithfulness, their ministry has flourished and is still going strong today!

Extravagant Graces is available on Amazon for less than $14 and is emotionally impacting and worth reading. The garden gnome story made me laugh out loud. In all seriousness, this book shows how God powerfully works in people's lives, even during hardships and suffering. God is always in control and has a plan for everyone. It's awesome when we get to witness our part in His grand plan. 


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Kaitlyn Gress
Hey, I'm reading that book and its really good. My fave story is the one where the author meets a guardian angel. But still, it's ... Read More
Sunday, 24 May 2015 13:00
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Go Far

Yekra Player

Yekra is a revolutionary new distribution network for feature films.

Go Far

GO FAR: The Christopher Rush Story chronicles the inspirational life of Christopher Rush, a paraplegic, and national MDA poster child, who lived with muscular dystrophy from birth to death at the age 30, well beyond his predicted two years of life. Chris achieved extraordinary goals despite impossible odds and left behind a philosophy of life for all of us to follow. GO FAR is a motivational film that will teach and inspire not only persons with disabilities, but everyone, to follow their dreams and achieve them, no matter the obstacles. Featuring Tony Orlando, Jerry Lewis, and other celebrities associated with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Thank you Yekra for granting us digital access to review this film!

Christopher Rush was born with muscular dystrophy and what he lacked physically, he made up for it intellectually.  In fact, he was able to converse with doctors when he was only nine months old.  His physicians told his parents that he would be  "no more than a dishrag, and dead by the age of two."   Chris lived life to his fullest and as a kid he became to poster child for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  He got to meet and inspire famous people including Ronald Reagan, Tony Orlando,  and Jerry Lewis.    

Not letting his disability getting the best of him, Chris graduated with honors in high school, college, and even when receiving his law degree.  He also became the first person with muscular dystrophy to become scuba certified.  Despite his doctor's grim prognosis, Chris lived to be thirty years old.

Wanting to give back to others he developed the Go Far program.  While not easy, it is doable if anyone puts their mind to it like Chris did.

Goals - Setting them is what makes life worthwhile

Obstacles - Recognize and face them

Focus - Prioritize and plan your approach

Act -  Assert Yourself

Review - Whatever the results, learn from them

The movie Go Far is an inspiring documentary on Chris's life and accomplishments.  Since Chris was an avid Star Wars fan, I'm sure he'd be honored by Mark Hamill narrating on his behalf.   Besides not giving up, this movie challenged me to not be judgmental of people with disabilities.  Just because someone is in a wheel chair, doesn't mean that they cannot hear, read, or understand what you are saying.  While I highly recommend this film, it does have some minor language to take into consideration when watching it as a family.

 

 

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Sweet Gentle Rain

Thank you James Samuel Gutshall for sending us a copy of your book to review!

Sweet Gentle Rain is a collection of poems and short stories that the author has written and gathered together since the mid 1980s.  In 2006, he received a trophy from the International Society of Poets for reciting his poem "Breakers" in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Inside this twenty-seven page book, you'll find poems about thankfulness, hardships, wonder, searching, time passing, grandkids, and annoyances. 

Some of the poems are light hearted while most of them are thought provoking.  Almost all of them are spiritual in nature and give thanks to God, our wonderful creator.  Each of the poems are accompanied by photographs or paintings.  All of them are fitting, but some of them are higher quality than others.   

As a mother of three, my favorite poem was "Ladybugs and Squirrels" talking about the curiosity and short attention span of his grandson, Nicholas.  My ten year old daughter enjoyed reading this book as well.  Sweet Gentle Rain can truly be enjoyed by young and old alike.  There is one alcoholic reference in the book and sadly it contains a grammatical error on page 19, "And drank way to[o] much wine".

 Sweet  Gentle Rain  is self published through Xlibris and is available online for over  $18.  I find that price too steep for my liking.  Fortunately,  the kindle version is more reasonably priced at $3.99.  

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The Good Lie

Thank you to Alcon Entertainment for sending us this film to review!

I knew nothing about this film when I sat down to watch it, other than the title, which intrigued me.  Telling a lie is rarely a good thing.  Depending on the circumstances a single lie can contain the power to completely destroy your life, not to mention collateral damage caused to others.  Other lies, commonly referred to as "white lies" are generally considered unharmful, focusing on keeping social interactions civil or inoffensive.  "Does this dress make my bum look too big?"  {Slight pause - often without even looking at said dress or it's effect on one's spouse's bum} "NO! Of COURSE not!  You look great!"  The repercussions of a "white lie" may be minor (like having an annoyed spouse for an evening), but that does not mean telling one is "good."

So what kind of lie is a good one?  The film answers this question brilliantly: The kind that saves other people's lives at the risk of your own.  A couple of biblical references to this come to mind immediately.  The most notable is in Exodus Chapter 1 where Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt sees his slave population growing more numerous than his ability to effectively control.  His solution: infanticide.  All baby boys of the Hebrews are sentenced to death by exposure.  Well, the midwives (ladies who are in charge of overseeing births, like Lamaze coaches and nurses combined) take issue with Pharaoh's solution.  But what's a powerless midwife to do when faced with the choice between disobeying the ruler, who will execute you for disobedience as callously as he kills babies, and doing what they know to be the righteous thing?  You lie.  The midwives tell Pharaoh that the Hebrew ladies are so tough that they pop those baby boys out before they even get there.

Woman, "Honey, my water just broke!"

Man, "What do I do?"

Woman, "GET THE MIDWIFE!"

Man, "But... if it's a boy, Pharaoh said,"

Woman, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWW!"

Man, "Alright! Be right back! Hang on dear!"

Man runs down the street, frantic, to his Lamaze coach's house, retrieves her, and they run back.  He is gone a total of fifteen minutes.

Man, "Honey, the midwife is here!"

Woman, "You lazy bum!  You took too long!  I had to push this little guy out all by myself!  It was ten whole minutes of agony!"

Man,"Sorry Lamaze, but I guess we don't need your help today.  Sorry for waking you up at two in the morning."

So, the midwives tell Pharaoh a reasonably obvious lie, one which is almost unbelievable.  But, the Bible says that Pharaoh was duped by this story, and that God BLESSED the midwives for lying... or rather for telling a good lie.  Not good as in believable, effective, or clever, but good in intent.  A lie intended to save the lives of the Hebrew baby boys, at the risk of their own lives.

Many other examples of such lies could be made.  Examples of this are plentiful during the Holocaust for instance.  "The Good Lie," tells a story of one such event during the Second Sudanese Civil War.

In this story, several Sudanese children are orphaned after their village is massacred. They are Theo, the oldest and their leader, his younger brother Mamere, their sister Abital, and two other villagers Paul and Jeremiah.  They band together and make a long journey through the desert enduring hardship, dodging the rebel forces, and nearly dying until they reach safety in a refugee camp in Kenya.  Along the way Theo tells a good lie.  They are stumbled upon by the enemy soldiers while the group was sleeping in the plain.  The leader's younger brother Mamere is seen briefly before he hides in the grass.  In order to save his younger brother, Theo stands up and surrenders to the soldiers.  He is hauled off by them, and presumed killed, but the soldiers don't find the rest of his group because he lied and told them he was alone.

Years later, these youths are among 3,600 refugees selected for resettlement in America.  The four remaining survivors of their village petition to have them all stay together since they are basically family.  Once in America, they are told that they have to split up and their sister Abital is sent to Boston, while the three surviving boys must make a new life in Kansas City. 

Together, Mamere, Paul, and Jeremiah must adjust to a new and different culture, go to school, get jobs, and try to reconnect with their sister even as the emotional pain of losing Theo haunts them.  Mamere, who feels responsible for his brother's presumed death learns of a good lie in school from a literature class studying "Huckleberry Finn."  In that instance, Huck tells a lie to save Jim from slave hunters.  This example of a good lie inspires Mamere and helps him realize that the guilt he is feeling is not right.  It was not his choice, it was his brother Theo's.  The lie that Theo told to save him and the rest of his group was a good one to tell.

Overall, the film was moving, gave the viewer an emotional connection to the characters, and presented the historical atrocities of the Sudanese Civil War in honest terms.  The actors who portray the Sudanese refugees are all actually Sudanese refugees who became actors (as opposed to the machinists and grocery store clerks they become in the film).  The American actors are Reese Witherspoon who plays Carrie Davis, the boys' job placement agent and Corey Stole who plays Jack, Carrie's boss.  Both of these characters are initially apathetic to the plight of the Sudanese refugees, but eventually help them adjust to American culture and by the end of the film they adopt a sympathetic posture towards their situation.  

Carrie's change is the most abrupt.  When first introduced to her, she is abrasive and unlikable, selfish, and easily put-off by anything that remotely inconveniences her.  By the end of the film she orchestrates reuniting the boys with their sister Abital by sponsoring Abital to live in her own home.  The self-sacrifice she makes in order to help those three boys was extremely uncharacteristic of her early character and clearly represents the change that occurred in her heart to cause her to help the people that were previously just an annoyance to her.

The film is rated PG-13 for violence, language and drug use.  I would concur that it deserves a PG-13 rating based on those factors.

I enjoyed the film a lot, and would recommend it if you like dramas, or movies with a positive message of self-sacrificial love.


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thomasccreech
Thanks
Friday, 22 May 2015 04:57
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H.O.P.E.

Thank you Romans 12LLC for sending us a sling backpack!

Romans 12:12 says "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer"

That's an awesome verse worth  memorizing and living by.  Romans 12 LLC aims to uplift and remind Christians to Hang On Pray Everyday® with useful products and attire.    On their website HopeinaBox.com you can purchase t-shirts, hats, backpacks, mugs, greeting cards, and blankets.  The prices are very reasonable too.  You can purchase a bookmark for 99 cents and red t-shirts are on sale for $4.99.  There are various styles of baseball caps  from $15 to $26.  

It's safe to say that they have something for everyone available on their website.  The sling backpack I was sent seems to be of good quality.  Apparently it's kid approved as my daughter has claimed the backpack as her own.  There are various H.O.P.E. in a box bundles available that range from $20 to $50.  The shipping rates are from USPS and go up if you need it sent priority or express.  

If you're looking for uplifting attire and iPad covers check out HopeinaBox.com.  Not only will the items remind you to pray daily, they also support other hope giving ministries.  In the spirit of spreading H.O.P.E. to others, 25% of all profits go to life, marriage, and family affirming ministries.

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Alvirithian Archives: The Rogue Knight

Written by: Benjamin K. Corum
Published by: Tate Publishing and Enterprises, LLC
Released: February 10, 2015
Price: $21.99

Thank you, Benjamin Corum, for sending us this book to review!

As an aspiring writer, I've spent quite a bit of time looking into the publishing industry and what it takes to get a novel published. One of the things I have learned from well-established authors is that publishers will pay you for your works. If you write it and write it well, then a publisher would publish it. Or it's possible that you can submit it to an agent, and they will find a publisher for you.

Although rewarding, this can be a difficult and challenging road to take. Publishers – especially those that take submissions from authors themselves, without an agent – receive thousands of submissions a year. Some submissions never even get read. 

In these days of the Internet, though, it is possible to publish a novel without a publisher. Companies like Amazon's CreateSpace or Lulu give an author the power to present their books to the digital marketplace for anyone to purchase. However, not all of these books will be of quality. Without the filter of agents or publishers, anything could be listed, and if there's any truth to Sturgeon's Law, 90% of it will barely be worth your time. 

But then there are some publishers that are a bit dodgy in their practices. They offer authors a chance to get their works edited, published and even advertised... for a price. Sometimes a very steep price. They aren't looking to actually sell books or help authors – merely trying to get as much as they can out of people desperate to have their names on a published book. These scammers provide about as much quality control as the self-publishing route, but unfortunately fleece the aspiring author in the process. 

While I'm not saying Tate Publishing falls into the latter category, it's one of the few reasons I can find as to why an established publisher would release a book of such poor quality as “The Rogue Knight.”

The novel details the adventures of a young princess named Sara. Her abusive fiancee seems to be controlling her father, the king. With the help of a mysterious rogue assassin named Johnathan Black, she travels to several other kingdoms to try and build an army to battle her father's forces. She meets other allies and trainers, learns how to use her mysterious magical powers, and takes lots of baths. The overused plot of the guarded princess falling in love with her bodyguard is here as well. The only unpredictable aspect would be determining if they will live happily ever after, or if Johnathan will die at the end, trying feebly to make it a tragic romance. I'll leave the ending a surprise for anyone who wants to try to suffer through the novel.

The book is filled with grammatical errors, typos, plot holes and more tired cliches than you can shake a stick at. (Yes, that was intentional.) The writing style is amateurish at best. This feels more like a second or third draft of a novel, rather than a finished work. If the author or the publisher paid for an editor, they may want to get their money back. If it wasn't for my desire to make the review as comprehensive as possible, I would have stopped reading after the second or third chapter. 

There is some merit to the novel, though. It's clear that the author loves the setting he created, and it is an imaginative approach combining ancient technological beings known as “synthetics” with a standard fantasy setting of forest-dwelling elves, underground-dwelling dwarves, and expansive humans. The theological system that Corum uses is a monotheistic one, with obvious influence from Christianity. Although some of it does feel shoehorned in – such as the communion-style opening to the elven feast – it's a nice attempt to create a fantasy setting that doesn't focus on polytheism. For the most part, the book is actually pretty good in terms of moral considerations. There is some graphic violence as many characters get killed in a variety of gruesome – but quick – ways. But there are no language issues, and no “adult situations.” This is a valiant attempt to make a “clean” fantasy novel that wouldn't meet very many objections in terms of amoral content.

Overall, though, the attempt fails due to the clumsy writing style. While some of the errors in the book do make the novel humorous (for example, when two of the characters battle at the end of the book, one decides to time his strike during his opponent's “most venerable time” (p. 286)), the humor is clearly unintentional, and doesn't make up for the sheer amount of other flaws. 

Many outside the Christian faith tend to look down on Christian media, viewing it as subpar with secular works. “Alvirithian Archives: The Rogue Knight” actually helps to reinforce this sentiment, because this work definitely qualifies as “shoddy.” It's a valiant attempt on the author's part, but the book is in serious need of an editor, and never should have gotten to the point where it was published. In short, if you're looking for an entertaining fantasy novel to read, your time would be better spent looking elsewhere.

One final word of advice for the author – if you intend to continue this series, invest the money into a solid editor instead, and listen to his or her advice. Then use CreateSpace or Lulu to upload the book and sell it. You'll find that to be a much better use of your funds, and it may help you become a better author. Because if you intend this to be your chosen career, you'll really need more help.


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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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