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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

The Daniel Plan

Thank you Affirm films for sending us the Daniel Plan In Action DVD set!

While I haven't done any serious dieting, I have tried to stay active and pay attention to what I eat.  After watching the movie Fed Up, our family has cut back on our sugar intake.  The Daniel Plan has five foundations that have a good chance of transforming your body for the better if they are in place.  These include:

  • Faith - Relying on God's power
  • Food - Eating natural food in proper proportions
  • Fitness - Regular workouts  
  • Focus - Don't give up!
  • Friends - You have a better chance of success if you have accountability partners 

Pastor Rick Warren is one of the founders of The Daniel Plan and is featured on the first DVD with his sermon of The Five Habits of Healthy People.  He goes more in depth of the five foundations and uses Bible verses like Philippians 4:13, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Romans 12:2, Ecclesiastes 4:9, and Ephesians 4:22 to back up their diet program.  While I am all for taking care of my body/temple as 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with pastor Rick Warren that it is not a sin if you don't exercise.  Is it a good idea to exercise?  Yes, and the ones on the second disc are pretty good.  

There are four exercise routines and they focus on cardio, abs, upper, and lower body.  Each session is thirty five minutes long and you're bound to break a sweat.  There are lower and higher impact workouts to follow if you need less or more of a challenge.  I must say that after completing these workouts I was feeling muscles I have long forgotten about.  You'll want to have a set of light weights handy for two of the sessions. if you don't have a set of weights available you can use a couple of cans of soup as a light weight replacement.  

I enjoyed the upbeat and remixed praise songs in the background.  If you like them there is a soundtrack CD available for $9.99,  or you can buy the deluxe DVD plan that comes with it and a third workout DVD.  (I was sent the two DVD version so I cannot comment on the third disc or soundtrack).

The instructors were engaging and valued our time together without wasting much of it talking.  Although I'm Christian I'm not used to hearing "Christianese" while working out.  When I'm doing stretches I don't think of them as reaching out to God. Sure it's uplifting, but non-Christians may get weirded out  by these workouts.  It seemed cheesy to me; can't imagine what non-believers would think.  Jumping Jacks for Jesus anyone?

Along with the DVD came a forty day calendar with a recommended workout schedule and a downloadable Daniel Plan recipe sampler.    I tried a few of the recipes and was pleasantly surprised by their quality.  Then again they do have an award winning team who created this diet plan.

Many well-known doctors have lent their expertise in developing the meal plans and exercise routines.  Dr. Mehmet Oz is probably the most well known out of the three; I have seen Dr. Mark Hyman in the Fed Up movie, and lastly Dr. Daniel Amen has contributed with his brain science expertise.  

Overall this is a nice DVD set with the recipes and workout routines that focus on key parts of your body.  The price is a reasonable $20 at http://www.danielplan.com or close to that amount on Amazon.


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JavaScript for Kids

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

My oldest daughter is 10 and has a knack for math and an interest in game development.  When I heard about the release of JavaScript for Kids, I knew it would be right up her alley.  I was right.  After completing the seventeen chapters, she's still cracking open the book and tweaking her code.  I like how the book has challenges at the end of the chapters to encourage the kids to take their coding skills to the next level.  If you're not an IT major, you can download the code solutions from their website.

This 309 page book is broken down into three parts: Fundamentals, Advanced JavaScript, and Canvas. In parts one and two your kids will learn about syntax, comments, variables, strings, booleans, arrays, objects, HTML, loops, conditionals, prompts, functions, ODM elements, jQuery, animations, and time outs.  The last section focuses on the canvas element and drawing objects like squares, arcs, circles, and later controlling them with keyboard input.

There's definitely a lot to learn in this book and I like how they made it fun to put these concepts into practice.  Throughout my daughter's learning adventure she has created a text based Hang Man game, a random insult generator (what kid can resist that?), a treasure hunt game with a map, and the final program was a Snake game.

The Notepad++ editor that this book recommends is free and will catch some, but not all syntax errors.  Debugging broken programs takes just as much (if not more) time to fix than they do to write.  Sometimes the show stopping errors are typos, other times it's a misplaced space or semicolon.  Fortunately, my computer science major husband was able to catch some of the errors in my daughter's programs when I couldn't find everything.  

Despite the frustrations of debugging, this has been a positive learning experience for our daughter.  She has been so excited about this that she showed her teacher at school what she has done, and was so impressed that her teacher made a whole lesson about it.  As a parent, I have seen the confidence and motivation this has given her and I am both proud and excited for her.  I feel like this could be a big first step towards a lifetime of self-learning and I can't wait to see where she goes with it next.

My seven year old son has been inspired by her and has started doing the Ruby Wizardry book.  Expect a blog about that soon!  I highly recommend either book to tech savvy kids, or to anyone who wants to introduce a potentially highly rewarding hobby to someone they love.

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My Little Pony Classic TV Collection

Thank you Shout Factory for sending us this DVD set!

I remember collecting and playing with My Little Pony toys as a kid.  I don't recall watching the show much though.  Fortunately with the helpful DVD set My Little Pony Classic TV Collection, I can relive my childhood and be reminded of how animation has vastly improved since the eighties.  :)  The lessons of helping others and treasuring friendship are timeless and my kids enjoyed watching the 4 disc set.

Each disc is approximately 3 hours, so there's twelve hours of entertainment to be had.  My daughters and (surprisingly) my son enjoyed watching the show.  For any person who has seen The Simpsons, they will recognize the voice of Nancy Cartwright who also voiced Bart Simpson.  

The episodes are pretty short, being around eleven minutes each.  Not surprisingly, there are many multi-part episodes so it's important to watch them in their proper order.  There's a wide variety of ponies including earth ponies, pegasus ponies, unicorns, sea ponies and Spike, their dragon friend.  Some episodes feature male ponies!  (I always wondered where the baby ponies came from!)  Megan and her sister Molly are their human friends that tag along for many wild adventures.  

Enemies abound including greedy queens, witches and evil sorcerers.  There is some enchanting and magic used throughout the series.  More often than not, the episodes conclude with the enemies learning to regret their actions after the ponies speak some sense into them.  They then work together towards a peaceful compromise.  The redemption message is powerful and this show has way more ups than downs when it comes to moral issues.

While the retail price is $29.99, Amazon sells it for less than $25.  For twelve hours of entertainment and every classic My Little Pony episode, it's worth every penny!

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CRCBrony
Are you a brony?
Monday, 16 February 2015 17:02
Cheryl Gress
I'm a girl
Monday, 16 February 2015 17:24
CRCBrony
Oh, well, have you seen the new My Little Pony TV show? I'm a huge fan of it and it is for all ages and for the whole family. P.S... Read More
Monday, 16 February 2015 19:27
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Echo Connect Plus

Thank you Echo Connect for sending us a prototype review sample.

Echo Connect has launched an Indiegogo campaign for their revolutionary dual connector charge key.  It's an Apple licensed and micro-USB charging device.  Because of its small size it can be worn on a lanyard or key chain.  

We were sent  an early prototype that unfortunately broke for us within hours of use.  Our review sample only had a micro-USB connector that came out completely.  The final version of the product will have both connectors attached to each other in a Y shape that should prevent that from happening again.  Another modification from the prototype sent to us is that the USB connector will have metal housing around it.  One change I hope they make in the final product is that they flip (or give the option to) the micro-USB connector around.  My Samsung Galaxy 4 phone had to be upside down when I connected it to my laptop to charge.  It won't matter for portable charging devices though.  Since this is a small device there's not much clearance for tablets and I had to remove my 8" LG tablet's cover to charge it.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Very portable, does not tangle
Weak Points: Mine broke; charged my phone upside down; writing comes off easily

Because we do not own an iOS device and our review sample did not have an Apple connector, we cannot comment on that aspect of the Echo Connect.  As I'm writing this post their campaign is fully funded and all of their $9 early bird sales are gone.  The $15 tier is limited and the $19 tier is unlimited.  For $25 you can get a personalized key.  The writing on the prototype was rubbing off within hours of receiving it. I hope the quality is better for the final product.      

The retail price will be $35 and that's way over priced in my opinion.  Cheaper cables have lasted me longer and I have the luxury of charging my phones right side up with them.  Call me old fashioned, but this is one revolution I won't be taking part in. 

 

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CheapDigitalDownload

Digital gaming on PC is taking off with services like Steam, GOG, GamersGate, Green Man Gaming, Origin, and Uplay.  Electronic versions of games are often cheaper than their physical counterparts.  Consoles also offer games in digital formats in their electronic stores like Nintendo's eShop, Play Station's store and Xbox's marketplace.  Many console games are only available digitally so checking out the shops every now and then is highly recommended.     Instead of comparing prices on several sites to get the best deal, CheapDigitalDownload.com does all of the price comparison shopping for you!  They also anonymously test their suppliers to ensure the confidence of their customers.

CheapDigitalDownload features prices for the latest games on many platforms including PC, Play Station, Nintendo, and Xbox.   Besides games, CheapDigitalDownload also offers competitive prices on gift cards and subscription plans.   While the Nintendo prices are well above retail, there are plenty of deals to be had in the Xbox, PS4 and PC section.  Some games can be yours for less than a dollar!

When I was in the market for an Xbox Gold subscription I purchased my two year code through them.  Instead of receiving a physical code, I was e-mailed a clear photograph of the back of a card and it worked flawlessly.  Why pay fifty dollars on Amazon for a one year membership when I can get a two year subscription for the same price on CheapDigitialDownload.com?  

There are plenty of ways to get free games through CheapDigitalDownload if you have social media accounts.  If you connect your Facebook account with their website you can earn points by registering, visiting, and commenting on the site.   There are also daily and weekly raffles to enter in as well using e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Disclosure: I was financially compensated for this post. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience

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NIV First-Century Study Bible

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Book Info:

NIV First-Century Study Bible
Notes by: Kent Dobson
Published by: Zondervan
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Price: $36 hard cover or $7.99 on kindle
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Thank you Zondervan Publishing for sending us a copy of this Bible to review! 

It's been a while since I've carried around a physical Bible.  I've gone digital and have used the ESV bible on both my phone and tablet.  Even my 3DS has a digital Bile on it!   Finding the verses digitally is easy and usually faster than people flipping pages getting to a particular verse.    

What my electronic versions are lacking is commentary, maps, timelines, and Greek translations and explanations.  The NIV First-Century Study Bible has all that plus lots of pretty colorful pictures of ancient art and artifacts dug up by archaeologists.

At the beginning of each book there is commentary about the book's title (Hebrew text and definition), author, date it was written, historical setting, structure,  and purpose in the Bible. The verses are explained on the bottom of the page. Even tricky books like the beginning of Ezekiel is explained in a manner that makes sense.   Scattered throughout  the text are word studies that explain and show the Greek origins of many words.  One of my favorite examples was the cubit which is a source of measurement often referenced in the Bible.  

Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent commentary and cross references
Weak Points: Big Bible with 1850 pages, New NIV Translation
Moral Warnings: Descriptive violent acts 

Many of my paper bound Bibles have maps thrown in the back for reference.  I like how the NIV First-Century Study Bible has maps everywhere!  It shows Abram's travels, Jacob's journeys, Solomon's divided kingdom, Nebuchadnezzar's campaigns, places mentioned in Isaiah, Alexander's Empire, and Jesus' pit stops in Judea and Samaria.  The verses really come alive as you can literally see where they took place and how much distance was covered by these men.   

I love the timeline in 1 Kings that shows the scripture and reigning periods of Israel's kings.   The cross reference of Old and New Testament versus in Isaiah 53 is extremely helpful.   There is also a time of Jesus' life that covers and indexes his various events with the scripture references behind them.    

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

If you don't mind the latest NIV translation, this is a solid Bible to consider adding to your library.  The price for the hard cover is under $40 while the Kindle version is less than $10.  My ten year old daughter took a liking to this Bible so I guess it's hers now since I'm done reviewing it.  I'm sure she'll learn a lot from it and will benefit from the easy to read translation.

 

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Rethinking Christmas

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Eli
That was a good video, thanks for sharing.
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 20:33
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The Golden Thread: A Memoir

Thank you Kelly and Hall Book Publicity for sending us a copy of this book!

Kristiane Cates was living the dream with a successful, handsome, and doting husband.  After three years of marriage they were having some difficulty getting pregnant and prayed to have children to which the Lord provided them with a boy, and later on a girl.  Things continued to go well for them - in fact too well as they had a feeling that they were soon going to weather a difficult time in their lives.  While their premonition was correct, looking back on it all, Kristiane recollects how the Lord was with them every step of the way.  It's amazing how He dropped several hints of His presence in the most trying of times.  

Just because we're Christians, we're not entitled to an easy life.  After losing her son in a car accident in which she was the driver, Kristiane struggled to cope with the grieving process and hold her family and marriage together.  It was a long and difficult journey that doesn't have a fairy tale ending.   While the book ending seems a little rushed, it was cool seeing how the Lord turned her into a powerful prayer warrior.  

There are many lessons to be learned from The Golden Thread.  Just because somebody looks like they have it all together on the outside doesn't mean that is the case.  If you're blessed with a wonderful family, do not take them for granted and thank God for them DAILY.  As a happily married mother of three, this book made me give thanks for my many blessings and it made me cry on several occasions.  While there were moments where I didn't want to put it down, other times I was afraid to pick it up in fear of it making me cry again.

 

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Gary Wilson
Wow! This is a great topic to discuss here. Thanks a lot!... Read More
Thursday, 17 August 2017 04:46
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Transformers Beast Hunters: The Complete Series

Thank you Shout Factory for sending us this DVD set to review.

Transformers Beast Hunters takes place after the Beast Wars series.  In this universe the part organic part robotic Maximals are descendants of the autobots and are led by Optimus Primal who has a gorilla like appearance.  The Decepticons are now known as Predacons with Megatron as their leader.  The scenery on Cyberton has changed as the planet is lifeless and mostly empty with the exception of deadly Vehicon drones patrolling it. Since Cybertron is filled with Enregon, both factions are fighting to save or control it.  Can the Maximals master their beast like forms and stop Megatron from taking over? 

This DVD series has 4 DVDs which include both seasons and all twenty-six episodes.  There are 690 minutes of nonstop action with 3D rendered computer animation.  The voice acting and character development is pretty good if you can look past their animal appearances.  Many episodes teach about the value of friendship, teamwork, restoration, and forgiveness.   While those are good attributes, there are some flaws worth mentioning as well.  There's some adult humor and a few phrases may go over younger kid's heads.   For younger kids/preschoolers  I recommend the Rescue Bot series since the action in Beast Machines may be a bit intense for them.    

For grade school age boys this is a DVD set worth looking into.  The price is a reasonable $22, especially for nearly 700 minutes of entertainment!

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Adventure Time: Finn the Human

Thank you Cartoon Network for sending us this DVD!

The Finn the Human DVD has sixteen episodes from various seasons and will entertain people of all ages for 176 minutes.  Here's a breakdown of the episodes:

1. The New Frontier - Finn dreams of Jake's demise; can he save him from his fate?

2. The Lich - The world is in danger and it's up to Finn and Jake to save it.

3. Finn the Human - The sequel for The Lich; Finn gets a wish granted by Prismo.

4. Jake The Dog - The conclusion of The Lich; can Jake's wish save Finn and the World?

5. We Fixed a Truck - With the help of Banana Man, Finn, Jake, and BMO repair and enjoy a broken down truck.

6. Blade of Grass - Finn replaces his broken sword with a cursed grass sword, but is it worth it?

7. The Red Throne - Flame Princess and Cinnamon Bun reclaim the Fire Kingdom.

8. The Great Bird Man - Finn and Jake reunite with the former Goblin King.

9. One Last Job - Jake gets back together with his former thief gang for one more heist.

10. Little Dude - Finn's hat is brought to life and causes a lot of trouble.

11. City of Thieves - In an attempt to help a girl retrieve her stolen basket Finn and Jake enter the City of Thieves.  Can they stay virtuous or will they get corrupted?

12. Conquest of Cuteness - Finn and Jake must defend their home from Cuties.

13. Who Would Win - Finn and Jake vow to defeat the Farm; can they train hard enough to do it?

14. Ignition Point - Finn and Jake discover that the Flame King is in danger and try to save him.

15. Furniture & Meat - Finn and Jake decide to spend all of their loot and pay people to do random things for gold.  Hilarity ensues.  

16. Sad Face - Jake's tail has a mind of its own and works at a circus while Jake sleeps.

Even though a majority of these episodes are from season five, there are some from three, four, and six as well.  Since we own seasons three and four, I was glad that the conclusion to season four's cliffhanger The Lich was included in this collection.  The same juvenile potty humor prevails like in other episodes, and there's no shortage of fart jokes. Our whole family enjoys this show and it's good to see that it's still funny and going strong in season five and beyond.  I look forward to watching upcoming DVD/Blu-ray releases.

This DVD sells for $21 and includes a vinyl draw string backpack. The backpack is nothing special, but my son likes it. 

 

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I Love Books Like Your Love Games

I Love Books Like Your Love Games

You like games and I don't want to take you away from that — But I like books like you like games! I didn't always like books. I used to hate them. I hated following thoughts. I hated assigned pages of reading. I even hated the smell of libraries ... but then I started reading.

Good ideas are contagious. In a great sense, that is why I started Brave Reviews. When you come across a good idea, it can transform your life and the lives of your neighbors as well as cities and so on. Books are real life stories and ideas that have been poured out onto pages so they can be shared with others. We need to hear new ideas so to grow, so to transform (check outColossians 1:10).

Brave Reviews exists as a trustworthy corner of the web where people can find unbiased reviews of contemporary books and software. I do not believe in a “bad book.” Like some video games that get a bad name, we (as believers) have got to engage and understand our culture. Why do we get to know our culture, whether it is books, music, video games? Because it is our role to help God redeem our cities. To redeem our families.

If you ever need a break from you games and you want to pick up a book and give it a read, visit Brave Reviews to get insight on what's hot. 

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My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks

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

My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks takes place after the Equestria Girls movie that was released in 2013.  While I recommend seeing Equestria Girls first, it's not required since there are a couple of flashbacks to fill in the story gaps.  Most of the seventy-minute movie takes place in the parallel human world where each pony personality resides in humanoid form.  

Canterlot Highschool has gotten three new students that seem to be mesmerizing everyone they come in contact with.  Instead of a peaceful musical showcase, these newcomers convince the school to host a Battle of the Bands.  Will the newcomer's band, The Dazzlings take the crown, or will The Rainbooms (with the help of Princess Twilight) win the contest?

The music from both bands is catchy and fun to listen to. My kids liked the music, visuals and character personalities.  Even my son enjoyed the movie.  There are some good messages taught including the power of forgiveness and friendship.  Any fan of My Little Pony or Equestria Girls should consider adding this movie to their library.  The blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy sells for $17.99.    


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CRCBrony
I'm going to follow any My Little Pony blog from now on And so far, you're number 1... Read More
Tuesday, 17 February 2015 18:37
Cheryl Gress
Awesome, glad you like them! We'll be posting a review for Adventure of the Cutie Mark Crusaders soon!
Tuesday, 17 February 2015 19:00
CRCBrony
Um, embaresing, but do u think you can tell me where I write my blog? I can't remember... Read More
Sunday, 22 February 2015 10:46
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NIV Live - A Bible Experience

Thank you NIV 2011 Bible Properties LLC for sending us a review sample!

NIV Live - A Bible Experience is a cinematic performance of the Bible that brings Genesis through Revelation to life.  It's more than someone reading the text here; the Bible is being acted out and even sung in some cases.  This rendition features Oscar winning actors, background music and sound effects to make it an immersive experience.   My kids, who normally ask to play music instead of talk radio while driving, did not mind listening to the book of Acts.  They enjoyed hearing the story of Paul being shipwrecked while trying to seek an audience with Caesar.  There was the sound of ocean waves, seagulls in the air,  the ship's crew in the background along with the narrator and Paul, Felix, and Agrippa being voiced by different voice actors.    The audio quality is really good and has 3D theatrical sound. It includes deep bass that you can hear through a subwoofer.

The gospels are all extremely well done and the voices for the apostles, God, Jesus, Roman soldiers, and Pharisees are all top notch.   I enjoyed listening to Isaiah, Proverbs, and Psalms as well.  Some of the Old Testament sections like Jesus' lineage and the temple specifications are still a little yawn worthy, but are well voice acted regardless.  :)  

There are three ways to enjoy this audio Bible experience.  For $19.99 you can gain access to the app on a single (Apple, Android, or Amazon) device.  This includes both text and audio versions.  You can create custom playlists and synchronize them.  The app is really easy to use and sounded great on my Samsung Galaxy S4.  

For $49.99 you can have up to six devices using the mobile app.  You'll also have access to the online web Bible and mp3 downloads.  Make sure you download and backup the mp3's right away since you only gain access to them for thirty days after registration.  

The ultimate package is $124.99 and includes everything from the $49.99 tier and adds seventy-nine CD's and a bonus DVD.  The CD's and DVD are enclosed in a high quality carrying case.  The DVD shows behind the scenes footage and has some trailers and samples.  The CD's are not in chronological order, but are labeled clearly and numbered accordingly.

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

If you don't like the scriptural changes, there are other audio bibles out there.  Faith Comes by Hearing offers multiple translations for free.  If these kind of changes don't bother you, then I recommend checking out the NIV Live - A Bible Experience.  Their prices are comparable to other Audio Bibles available  and the six device limit is pretty generous.  Just make sure you download and back up the mp3's since the access is limited to only thirty days.  If you want to check out an audio sample, go here.

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Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue

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

The Transformer Rescue Bots series is a great show targeted for school age boys.  The characters carry over from the previous shows, but watching them is not required to appreciate these episodes.  This Mystery Rescue has five suspenseful episodes lasting 110 minutes.

  • Countdown - Some weird bugs are teleporting people all over town into an abandoned cavern.  Will the Rescue Bots find everyone in time before they run out of air?
  • The Haunting of Griffin Rock - There are reports of ghost sightings all over Griffin Rock.  Do ghosts exist or is there some other explanation?  Perhaps Doc Greene's Spectral Vapor Filter will help solve this mystery.  
  • Spellbound - The rescue team is vacationing in Blossom Vale when people start acting unusually.  Cell phones are to blame as they are somehow hypnotizing people.  Cody must get to the source and save everyone before it's too late.  
  • Blame the Gremlins - Many people blame technical problems on gremlins.  What if they're real and are attacking the electronic devices in Griffin Rock?
  • Feed The Beast - Cody has an encounter with a bigfoot like creature called the Maine Ridge Monster.  Despite photographic evidence, nobody believes him.  Where does this monster stay and how did it come to be?  The town will soon find out!  

My son enjoyed this DVD and is a fan of the show.  There are some supernatural and mysterious themes in these episodes, but most of the phenomenon  get explained through science.  The humor, animation, and voice acting is well done.  All in all this is a pretty good DVD for $13.


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The Perfect Summer

Thank you Pure Publicity for sending us this DVD to review!

After the death of his father and losing everything, Jake and his mom move in with her estranged father.  Neither of them realize that Jake's grandfather is a legendary surfer and known by all of the locals.  Instead of surfing the internet, Jake is encouraged by his grandfather and love interest to surf the ocean instead.    

Learning to surf isn't easy and to make matters worse, Jake isn't the only guy attracted to Kayla.  He is both physically and verbally attacked by the town bully whom she isn't even remotely interested in.  The town's surf shop owner Cody (American Idol's Jason Castro) is one of the only friends Jake has.  

The only other actor I recognized in The Perfect Summer was the mother's boss played by Louis Mandlylor from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.   The acting was decent but the sound quality was really poor.  Even with the 5.1 sound selected, we only had stereo sound and the voices were noticeably switching channels often.     The story was decent and had some Christian themes woven throughout.  The take away message is to try your best and not give up.


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Brainzy

Thank you Education.com for sending us a one-month trial code!

Kids are getting tech savvy younger and younger these days.  Why not use their computer skills to help them increase their math and reading proficiency?  Brainzy offers over three-hundred games and activities to keep them entertained and sitting still. Their format, which uses catchy music and colorful animations, is similar to Sesame Street.

Brainzy follows the Common Core guidelines and offers both family and classroom versions of their programs.  Families can pay as little as $3.99 a month if billed annually, or in monthly installments of $6.99.  There’s a seven-day trial available to see if your children are compatible with the browser-based program.  ;)  Each family account can support up to three players.

At this time Brainzy has curriculums for Pre-K through First Grade.  My son, who is in first grade, enjoyed using Brainzy while my older daughters watched and chimed in as well.  They wished there were higher level courses available.

Here’s a breakdown of the skills your kids can learn using Brainzy:

Pre-K

  • Math – Numbers 0-20, Addition, Subtraction, Counting, Shapes, Patterns, Sorting, Measurement and Data
  • Reading – There are several animated stories that can be read to or by them including The Lion and the Rat, The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Down by the Bay, How the Camel Got his Hump, The Ugly Duckling, My Shadow, and Anansi and the Turtle 

 

Kindergarten

  • Math – Math – Numbers 0-20, Addition, Subtraction, Counting, Comparing, Shapes, Building Numbers, Sorting & Classifying 
  • Reading – Upper and Lowercase, Short a,e,i,o,u, Blending, Segmenting, Sounds M,S,B,R,P,K,T,G,F, N,D,H,J,C,L,W,V,Y,Z

 

First Grade

  • Math – Number Sense, Place Value, Addition, Subtraction, Comparing Numbers, Geometry, Telling Time, Measurement and Data
  • Reading – Sight Words, Short a,e,i,o,u

As you can tell there is plenty to learn and do here.  Brainzy is reasonably priced and worth looking into for homeschoolers and parents who want to give their kids an academic advantage.

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Pee-wee's Playhouse Seasons 1 & 2

Thank you Shout Factory for sending us these DVD's to review!

I used to love watching Pee-wee's Playhouse as a kid.  Now that most people have forgotten about Mr. Reubens' indiscretions, what better time to introduce him to the next generation!    Each show begins with Pee-wee getting a secret word from Conky, his robot friend.  Every time somebody says that word in the show, everyone is encouraged to scream.  (AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!)   So from here on out, the secret word will be DVD.  Everybody knows what to do right? 

There are many regulars on the show including Cowboy Curtis played by Morpheus.. I mean Laurence Fishburne, and the late Phil Hartman who played as Captain Carl.    This DVD (AHHHHHHHHHHHH!) set contains twenty-three episodes, divided into four discs.  In addition to the shows, there are brand-new interviews from the cast and crew.  There's over nine hours of silliness to be had in this collection.

This show is pretty clean and often teaches good morals and manners.  There are lots of cartoons and clay animated shorts that are fun to watch.   The visuals are pretty good, with exception to the old school cartoons that showed their age twenty-five years ago.  (Yes it's been that long and I feel old now.)  Everything else is bright and colorful.     

Kids of all ages are bound to enjoy this show.  I must admit that it brings back great memories.  My kids are now fans of Pee-wee Herman and we'll have to show them his movies next.  

If you're looking for a silly and clean show for your kids, check this DVD (AHHHHHHHHHH!)  collection out.  Amazon sells this special edition for less than $30. Older collections without the interviews can be had for less than $15 on DVD (AHHHHHHHHHH!).  


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Adventure Time Season 4

Thank you Cartoon Network for sending us this Blu-ray to review!

Like many shows, Adventure Time season 4 resumes from a cliff hanger and ends with a new one.  Season 4 starts with Finn trying to make a relationship work with the Flame Princess after giving up on Princess Bubblegum.   There are a couple of problems with their relationship though.  For starters, she burns Finn when coming in contact with him and the other problem is that she’s emotionally unstable.  If she gets upset, she can get out of control and destroy towns in the Candy kingdom.  Princess Bubblegum wants Finn to be aware of the dangers and to break off the relationship, but he brushes her off thinking she’s just jealous.  

Love is in the air for another episode titled Dream of Love.  In this episode Tree Trunks falls in love with a pig and their open display of affection is upsetting the townsfolk.  They are told to keep their love private, but everywhere they go to make out, they get discovered.   There is one scene where you can see them kissing in the shadows and you see some tongue action going on.  When told to move in together, Tree Trunks declines saying that it would not be proper since they are not married.  Unfortunately, Jake doesn’t follow the same guidelines as Rainicorn announces at the end of one of the episodes that she is pregnant.   

The Ice King is desperate for a wife and makes himself one from body parts he steals from princesses across the kingdom in the episode Princess Monster Wife.  Needless to say, she’s not much of a looker, but her heart is in the right place.  

There are plenty of silly and non-love related episodes.  I like the Card Wars episode where Finn plays against the over-competitive Jake in a Dungeons and Dragons style card game.  The animated effects in that game look awesome and I wish it existed in real life!  

The humor is great as always and the voice talent includes some stars like George Takei and Bobcat Golthwait.  The Blu-ray collection features bonus commentaries from the makers of Adventure Time.  It was neat to see the inspiration and development of many of the catchy tunes used throughout the series.  

For the reasonable asking price of $25 you’ll get your monies worth.  There are twenty-six episodes that will keep you entertained for 286 minutes.

Here’s the episode list:

  • Hot to the Touch (Part 2)
  • Five Short Graybles
  • Web Weirdos
  • Dream of Love
  • Return to the Nightosphere (Part 1)
  • Daddy's Little Monster (Part 2)
  • In Your Footsteps
  • Hug Wolf
  • Princess Monster Wife
  • Goliad
  • Beyond This Earthly Realm
  • Gotcha!
  • Princess Cookie
  • Card Wars
  • Sons of Mars
  • Burning Low
  • BMO Noire
  • King Worm
  • Lady & Peebles
  • You Made Me
  • Who Would Win
  • Ignition Point
  • The Hard Easy
  • Reign of Gunters
  • I Remember You
  • The Lich (Part 1)


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Persecuted

Thank You Millenium Entertainment for sending us this Blu-Ray to review.  

John Luther (James Remar) is a prominent evangelist who has friends in high places.  One of his friends, Senator Donald Harrison (Bruce Davison), turns against John when he refuses to back a bill for religious equality.  This bill promotes equal time to be allotted to all beliefs on religious networks, even primarily Christian ones.  After John Luther puts his foot down and stands firmly in his faith that Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven (John 14:6), he finds himself framed for the murder of an underage girl he had contact with.  

John is now a wanted criminal and must find out who his true friends are and prove his innocence.  Not only is John’s life in danger (Why didn't they just kill him instead of frame him?), his Catholic friends are targeted too.   

To make matters worse, John’s 20+ years younger wife is being hit on by the acting president of his religious organization.   Not only is this new president (Brad Stine) a scumbag, he’s greedy too and willing to compromise his morals for a bigger paycheck.  While Christians are shown in a mixed light, the government is portrayed as corrupt and incompetent in this movie.  
Even with the star studded cast, I recommend watching The Fugitive with Harrison Ford instead of Persecuted.  As a Christian I just couldn't connect with this film.  Yes, John Luther was being framed and that's not cool; however, I don't see this scenario happening any time soon.  When I think of persecution, I think of the Christians in the Middle East who are being killed or evicted from their homes for simply being Christian and not denouncing their faith.  Those are the truly persecuted people and their story needs to be told instead of rehashing another movie to put a Christian spin on it.


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The Sonic Sitcom Episode 3

Here's the next episode of our internet cartoon series!

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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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