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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

This blog contains non-gaming related reviews and random ramblings

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 18:00
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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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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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Putting Tradition on Trial

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

Many Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25th and Easter on a Sunday in late March or Early April.  What if our traditions were proven to be wrong?  Patrick Cavanagh is Putting Tradition on Trial using astronomy and ancient Greek texts as evidence against an Easter Sunday resurrection.

I recently did (and highly recommend) a Bible Study called The Life of Jesus Christ Love. Life. Message. Mission. with my small group at church.    It's a great study that's easy to read and one of the chapters had a nice day by day break down of the last week of Jesus' life on earth.   Most Christians accept that the Last Supper was on a Thursday and that he was captured later that night and put on trial and to death on Friday.   Traditionally, Christians believe and celebrate Jesus' resurrection on Easter Sunday.  

While united in celebrating Easter, Christians have often contemplated the year of Christ's death. Many believe it's either 30, 31, or 33 CE.    Using astronomical calculations of the full moon in 14 Nisan, Patrick Cavanagh suggests that Christ died on Tuesday, April 15th in 32 CE and that by late Friday (approximately 72 hours), the women were informed that He had risen.  These are some pretty bold statements and the author makes a compelling case for them by providing Greek text and the works of Josephus to analyze key dates and how they all piece together.  

Putting Tradition on Trial continues to assimilate other historical events like the births of John the Baptist and Jesus in 3 BCE and Herod's death in 1 BCE.  Most people believe that Herod died in 4 BCE.  The book also mentions how the former pope Benedict stated his beliefs that Jesus birth had to be sooner than the currently believed timeframe of 5 or 6 BCE.  Since I'm not Catholic, I usually take statements from the pope with a grain of salt.  

After the case for a non-Sunday resurrection is made, the author states the importance of not celebrating it and puts Christians in two camps, the Sunday keepers and the Sabbath keepers. Verses used in defending the Sabbath include Exodus 19:8, Matt 12:7-8,  24:15-21, Luke 6:5 and Isaiah 66:22-23.  

At the end of the book the author delves into current affairs and shares his thoughts on the end times and on abortion.  And yes, he believes that we are living in the end times and that abortion is indeed murder.  

Putting Tradition on Trial is not an easy or a light read, I've had to read it in small doses to absorb all of the evidence being brought forth.  Thankfully the chapters are relatively short at a few pages apiece.  In total this book has 163 pages and 20 chapters.  The paperback is relatively pricey at over $30 and the hard cover is over $47 on Amazon.  If you have a kindle and are interested in reading it, it's more reasonably priced at $4.99.


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Finding Jesus: Fact. Faith. Forgery.

Thank you St. Martin's press for sending us a review copy of this book!

CNN is doing a six-part series titled Finding Jesus and it discusses prominent figures and relics associated with Jesus and Christianity.  Finding Jesus: Fact. Faith. Forgery. is the companion book written by David Gibson and Michael McKinley.  The book covers John the Baptist's role and remains, The James Ossuary, Mary Magdalene's roles and remains,  the Gospel of Judas, the True Cross, and the Shroud and Sudarium.  

Each chapter discusses the relic or person's history, significance and authenticity.  According to the book, early churches were required to possess a relic in order to be considered credible.   The black market for Christian relics thrived then and it's still alive and well in the twenty-first century.  There are many verified hoaxes when it comes to bones of supposed prophets.  While some churches unknowingly acquired pig bones, other churches like one in Bulgaria, has a bone  from a Middle Eastern man.  Could it really be from John the Baptist?

The James Ossuary is another hot topic for several reasons.  Since Catholics believe that Mary remained a virgin, how could Jesus have a brother named James as the ossuary claims? The Catholic author(s?) suggests that Jesus had step brothers from a possible previous marriage of Joseph's.  The relic itself is a bit questionable since the inscription has two different authors and writing styles.   While the ossuary is genuine, the inscription on it could very well be fake.  The forgery was taken to court, but the accused forger was acquitted.

The gnostic gospels are brought up on two occasions with the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Jesus' Wife.  The Gospel of Judas paints the relationship of Jesus and Judas in a different light and shows them working together on the betrayal instead of it being one-sided as the other gospels proclaim.  The gospel claiming that Mary Magdalene was Jesus' wife is just as sketchy with many words and context missing from the text used to base this argument on.   While that argument isn't very convincing, the book suggests that Mary Magdalene could have been the woman who had demons expelled from her, and possibly the adulterer that Jesus pardoned.  

The last chapter of the book discusses the mysterious Shroud of Turin and it's accompanying Sudarium from Oviedo.  Both of these burial clothes are cherished relics and believed to be used on Jesus's body.  The Shroud of Turin has a faint image of a bearded man with blood markings matching the wounds of the crucifixion and piercings from scripture.  When combined with the Sudarium from Oviedo, the blood markings match up perfectly.  Forensically, the Shroud of Turin hits a homerun, but when it comes to the carbon dating it's inconclusive.  Some of the carbon dating results show the samples to be from the renaissance.  This can be attributed to mishandling or repairs made to it after it nearly got destroyed in a fire.  One thing that the Shroud of Turin is not, is a photograph or a painting because of the 3D impression left on it.  

Finding Jesus: Fact. Faith. Forgery. is a fascinating read regardless if you have seen the CNN special or not.  I haven't seen it, but i have thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The hard cover edition lists for $26.99 but I have seen it for less than $20 online and even cheaper digitally.


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WWJD: The Journey Continues

Thank you Bender/Helper/Impact for sending us this movie to review!

When I was growing up, I used to watch a show called The Hitchhiker which featured a hitchhiker (gasp!) who opened and closed each show, but did not star in the random thriller story in between.  The shows often revolved upon mankind's depravity and sometimes had supernatural plots.  Since I have not seen the original WWJD movie, The Hitchhiker television show is the closest comparison I can make.  

WWJD: The Journey Continues has the same drifter from the original movie, but the main story is completely different this time around.     The movie begins with the drifter catching a ride to a random location.   Meanwhile a young man promises his mother in her final moments that he would take care of his brother.   His adopted brother's prison sentence is nearly finished. Later that night, a church in the midst of being renovated in a rough neighborhood gets robbed.  The pastor, fearing for the lives of himself and his wife, abandons the church and  suggests they hire a pastor with no family to worry about.  Cue in the young man who happens to be a pastor and his parolee brother.  As luck would have it, the pastor's brother is  a carpenter when he's not breaking the law. 

The pastor's brother is not saved and it shows with his quick temper and wanting to pick fights with some trouble-making brothers who vandalize the church. The young pastor has a tight deadline to get the church up and running and financially stable.  Everything is on track until there is a robbery in the church and the pastor's brother pays the ultimate price.  Fortunately, he accepted Christ in his last moments of life.  

The pastor grows bitter and the townspeople take notice.  How can he bring people to the Lord when his faith is shattered?  The drifter comes to town and doesn't get a warm welcome and finds himself chased off by the pastor and the trouble making boys.  He keeps coming back and asking people "What would Jesus do?"  Some townspeople get the message while others take a little more time.

Besides the main message of trusting God, there are many instances of forgiveness. The movie also takes some time to discourage premarital sex.  While WWJD: The Journey Continues is not rated, I would recommend it for teens and older because of the violence and mature themes.  The story is predictable at times but decent.  If you like heartwarming Christian movies, WWJD: The Journey Continues has you covered.


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The Happy Christian

Thank you Thomas Nelson for sending us this book to review!

The world can be a pretty depressing place with natural disasters, murders and needless deaths occurring everywhere on a daily basis.  Turning on the evening news shows more bad news than good.  It doesn't take much for anybody, Christian or not, to lose heart with all of the negative media we're bombarded with.  

Dr. David Murray writes about ten ways Christians can be a joyful believer in a gloomy world.  To back up his claims he provides both Biblical and scientific anecdotes.    The foundation verse of this book is Nehemiah 8:10: "...for the joy of the LORD is your strength." No matter how down in the dumps we are, we can always call upon the Lord's strength.   Another verse referenced is Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."   How true is that verse?  Dr. David Murray suggests that Christians meditate on it daily.  I agree with him.  Not only can it improve our outlook on life, it can strengthen our bond with God and improve our physical and mental health. After all, happiness is 10% circumstance, 50% genetic and 40% choice.

Other suggestions from the book include forgetting the negative things and focusing on the positive influences in our lives.   No matter where we are: at church, at home, or at work.  We are to be biblical examples of being thankful, forgiving, praying, and celebrating diversity.  There is no sense in constantly reflecting on past mistakes, we are to live in the here and now and make the best of it.   The Happy Christian also tells us that we should actively praise people and to pray before criticizing people.  The healthiest balance of criticism to praise ratio is 1:5.  This is especially true in marriages and in the work place.  Positive workers have proven to be better performers.  Marriages last longer if spouses know that they are loved more than they are criticized.

Even though I consider myself pretty happy and laid back in general, I enjoyed my time in this book and learned a lot from it.  The Happy Christian is a great book for any believer who can use a little morale boost.


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Uncle Grandpa Good Mornin' DVD review

Thank you Cartoon Network for sending us this DVD to review!

As the name suggests, Uncle Grandpa is a very odd show.  I'm not even sure how to describe it other than it being "face palm" funny.  The main character, Uncle Grandpa, helps kids by taking them on adventures to solve their problems.  While he does have the ability to replicate himself and conjure up items from thin air, he often makes things harder on himself than necessary.  

Uncle Grandpa is often accompanied by his friends Belly Bag (his fanny pack), Pizza Steve, Mister Gus, and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger.  Whenever Uncle Grandpa's  RV needs that extra boost, Giant Realistic Flying Tiger happily helps out with his rainbow flatulence.  

The Good Mornin' DVD collection features twelve episodes and runs for 132 minutes.  Here's a list of the episodes in this collection:

  • Brain Game - Pizza Steve claims to be the best gamer ever - can he put his skills on the line to help out a kid?
  • Moustache Cream - Uncle Grandpa needs some moustache cream in a hurry; can he get it in time?
  • Nickname - All of the kids but one have nicknames, so Uncle Grandpa helps that kid earn his. 
  • Locked Out - Uncle Grandpa gets locked out of his RV; how will he get back in?
  • Mystery Noise - During a sleep over Uncle Grandpa and friends cannot fall asleep due to a weird noise.  They tear apart the RV looking for it.  Can they find the source of it?
  • Bad Morning - Uncle Grandpa is miserable when he wakes up on the wrong side of his bed.  His friends attempt to correct the problem.  
  • Bezt Friends - Everyone but Pizza Steve agrees to be Uncle Grandpa's best friend.  Will Pizza Steve reconsider? 
  • Hide and Seek - Uncle Grandpa is afraid to play hide and seek after never finding one of his friends.  Will he overcome his fear and join in the fun?  
  • The History of Wrestling - Uncle Grandpa and Mister Gus show people how real wrestling is done.
  • Vacation - Uncle Grandpa needs to take a vacation from helping people.  After arriving at a remote island he finds out he's their only hope from stopping a devastating volcanic eruption.   Will he help them? 
  • Aunt Grandma - Uncle Grandpa is  being upstaged by a new person helping kids in need.  There's not enough room for both of them.   
  • Grounded - Uncle Grandpa unwittingly helps a kids escape from being grounded.  Now he must outsmart this kid to get back into his room.  


All of the episodes are wacky and my kids are now fans of the show.  Like most cartoons out there, you can expect to find cartoon violence and potty humor.  If that doesn't bother you, this DVD is worth owning for its $10 price tag.


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Confessions of a Prodigal Son

Thank you Bender/Helper Impact for sending us a DVD of this movie to review!

Confessions of a Prodigal Son was successfully Kickstarted in the spring of 2013.  The fundraising goal was a meager ten thousand dollars and Nathan Clarkson, the lead actor and project lead, raised $13,835.00 to make it a reality.  While the low budget aspect is hard to hide, the story told is timeliness and teaches about God's love, forgiveness, and redemption.  

Many college age kids are tired of being told what to do by their parents.  As a preacher's kid, Sean wanted to escape from his father's (Kevin Sorbo) shadow. Instead of attending a Christian college to become a pastor, he desired to go to a public college and do his own thing.  Sean's parents relented and paid for two years of college and promised to pay the other half if he didn't squander the funds and keep a grade A average.

Getting an A in his English class will be no easy task as his teacher is very strict and not very tolerant of Sean's chronic tardiness.  Sean is going to have to get his partying under control and figure out what he wants in life and what his goals are.  Not only does he need to do this for his own good, but he has to write a paper about his life story.  He still doesn't know what his is, all he does know is that he wants to be free and not told what to do by anyone else.   

Unfortunately, I couldn't relate with Sean's character and found him to be more shallow than lost.  Why the drastic rebellion?  There's not much of a back story with him and his parents other than him being a preacher's kid.  Sean's best friend in the movie is a womanizer who doesn't have much going for him other than partying and popping pills.  The most complex character in the movie is Sean's love interest (Rachael Lee) whose dad left her when she was just a toddler and is trying to forgive her father.   She turns to God for strength and encourages Sean to re-consider his relationship with God.

While the story is modernized from the Biblical parable, I feel that it could have been better.  The characters didn't click with me and there were too many holes in the story it was trying to tell.  Even though I'm impressed with what was accomplished with limited funding, I think that it could have benefited from more seasoned writers and acting talent.


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Final Symphony

Thank you Shore Fire Media for sending us a digital copy of this symphony!

Nobuo Uematsu is a world renowned composer who is best known for his compositions for Final Fantasy I-IX.  He has worked alongside others in arranging music for Final Fantasy X, XI, XII, and Chrono Trigger.  In his band Earthbound Papas (and The Black Mages before that), he puts a heavy metal spin on his songs.  For a more classical touch, the Distant Worlds CDs give an orchestral rendition of his Final Fantasy works.  A majority of the songs don't stray from the game soundtracks, but there are a few medleys and a playful swing rendition of the chocobo theme. 

Final Symphony combines endearing medleys from Final Fantasy VI, VII, and X and weaves them into an original symphony that spans an hour and thirty five minutes in length.  There are eleven tracks ranging from three to eighteen minutes long.  The digital album is available on iTunes for $9.99 , and only the seven tracks that are less than ten minutes in length can be purchased individually.  Because it exceeds the physical CD length limit, the digital format is convenient.  Tragically, a lossless FLAC option is not available at this point in time.  I sincerely hope they offer it in a lossless format in the future, as the quality of the recording is quite high, and would really benefit from this.

Even in the inferior mp4 format, this symphony sounds very good.  The London Symphony Orchestra provided the musical talent and the recording was done in the famous Abbey Road recording studio.  The music was inspired by compositions from Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu and re-arranged by Jonne Valtonen and Roger Wanamo.  The recording is done in a way that clearly works to the strengths of the classical format, and is fitting to an audiophile audience.  The dynamic range is very good, even dramatically so at times.  This is best listened to in a quiet setting, as the dynamics can sneak up on you if you are playing it too loudly to overcome background noises.

While the lossy, compressed transfer was very well done, I can't help but think how much better this could sound on high end audio equipment with a lossless transfer.  This kind of music is also quite well suited to it.  I recently purchased another great Final Fantasy inspired music set, called 'A New World: intimate music from FINAL FANTASY', in 24-bit/96KHz FLAC, and it sounds absolutely incredible.  I wish that this recording offered similar audio quality; this music deserves it.

Final Symphony starts off with a four minute long overture that then leads into Final Fantasy VI's beloved opera scene and features tidbits from "Terra's Theme" and the "Decisive Battle".  Next comes the three part tribute plus an encore inspired by Final Fantasy X.  Fans of that game will recognize melodies from the songs "Zanarkland" and "Suteki Da Ne". The last few tracks are dedicated to Final Fantasy VII and features fragments from "Cosmo Canyon", "Aerith's Theme", "Battle Music" and "One Winged Angel" in all of its glory.

Unlike other Final Fantasy inspired music, this is not one 'song' at a time, but rather movements that tell a story, and flows from one recognizable theme to the next.  It's a very well done piece, and one that deserves attentive listening.  This arrangement is excellent; they should be proud.

Fans of Final Fantasy VI, VII, and/or X should check out this compilation.  Even classical music lovers who are not familiar with the video game source material can appreciate the talent of the composers and the London Symphony Orchestra.  The price is reasonable and hopefully it will be available in physical or lossless formats soon.


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Um 2 things, I'm having problems with the ip coming up on my desktop............. Is that 'cause I'm not whitelisted yet or what? ... Read More
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Whitelisting doesn't occur until you post 15 times on the forums - https://www.christcenteredgamer.com/phpBB3/index.php... Read More
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Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast

Thank you Disney for sending us a copy of the movie to review!

Even though Tinkerbell is in the title of this movie, she isn't the main character.  She does make a few appearances though.  Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast focuses on a fairy named Fawn, an animal fairy who specializes in  the wildlife surrounding Pixie Hollow.  Because of her love for animals, Fawn often gets reprimanded for bringing potentially dangerous strays into the fairy village.

After a recent scolding from the queen fairy, Fawn stumbles onto a unique creature that she has never seen before.  Vowing to think with her head and not her heart this time, she studies this unusual animal that likes to make rock towers.  She wins its trust when she helps remove a thorn from its foot and a friendship between them is born.      

While Fawn fully trusts this unusual creature, the guardian fairies wish to send it away because of a legend about its involvement in a deadly storm that is starting to brew.  Is this creature the source of the problem or the solution?  Can the fairies come to an agreement and work together?  You'll have to watch the movie to find out since I don't want to spoil it for you.

My husband, daughters, and I enjoyed this G rated 76 minute long film.  Keep some tissues handy for the ending as our eyes were all watering towards the end.   Amazon sells the Blu-ray/DVD combo for $23 and for that price, I recommend adding it to your movie library.


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My kids cant get enough of this movie and I appreciate that it is fairy centric not Tinkerbell. I have always compared the movies ... Read More
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Jasper: Journey To The End Of The World

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

Penguins live a simple life, believe the world is flat and nothing exists beyond the icebergs surrounding them. Jasper is a young penguin that doesn't conform to their beliefs. One day he sees a huge cruise ship which disproves the theory that only penguins exist. Jasper, unfortunately, does not succeed in his attempt to show this to the other penguins. In doing so, he is shunned.

While being tasked to watch his brother, Junior, Jasper loses sight of him. He later finds him making his way towards the cruise ship. Junior boards it followed by Jasper. While onboard, they meet nine-year old Emma and a cat named Lucifer. Together, they all vow to help the Kakapo parrot retrieve his stolen eggs from a passenger named Doctor Block and his helper Rolf. Can these four misfits work together to save the eggs from harm? Can the penguin brothers and Emma each earn their parent's respect? You'll have to watch the eighty minute DVD to find out.

While Jasper: Journey To The End Of The World is family friendly and earns its "Family Approved" seal on the front of its case, I did notice a couple of issues.  There is a scene where the Kakapo parrot falls down a laundry chute and into a washing machine.  Emma shouts OMG, spelled out.  In another incident the parrot says "Oh ca ca."  Last but not least, there's a margarita reference in the end.

Overall my kids enjoyed Jasper: Journey To The End Of The World.  There's plenty of humor and my kids laughed throughout the entire movie.  The price is a reasonable $10 on Amazon and any penguin lover should consider adding it to their DVD collection.


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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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