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Cheryl Gress Editor-in-Chief

Married to IBJamon since 1999. Spawned two girls and a boy.

Little Women

Thank you PBS for sending us this Blu-ray collection to review!

The book Little Women was originally published as two volumes in 1868-1869. It was written by Louisa May Alcott and is loosely based on her and her three sisters. As popular as this book is, I still have yet to read it. I am, however, glad to have seen it in the recently released television series.

There are three episodes that are roughly an hour long each. My family was hooked after the first one and we watched an episode a night until it was finished. Even though the main characters are girls/women, my husband and son enjoyed their stories and felt for Laurie who had his love advances thwarted on several occasions.

Each of the sisters has a different personality yet they generally get along pretty well with the occasional spat here and there. Meg is the oldest sister and is quite social and beautiful as she attends various balls and festivities in town. Jo (Josephine) is rather tomboyish and wishes that she was born male. She’s strong willed and an excellent writer. Beth is gentle, sweet, and great at playing the piano. Amy is the youngest sister and is a good artist.

The March family is blessed but they still have their struggles. In the beginning of the series, the father is away at war and later becomes quite sick. The mother is good at keeping peace in the house and instills charity and other valuable lessons to the girls. I like how they tend to a family in need by offering their Christmas meal to them. When the mother gets word of her husband’s illness she leaves to tend to him. The girls fare pretty well but have some serious health hurdles of their own to contend with.

I won’t spoil any more of the story in hopes that you check it out on your own. The acting is well done and Angela Lansbury does well at contrasting her Ms. Potts role in Beauty and the Beast for a cranky old aunt in this series. The characters are likable and relatable in this film. I could relate with some of the sisters more than others though. I highly recommend this series for those like me, who have been meaning to read the book. The DVD sells for $15 and the Blu-ray can be yours for a little over $22.


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Scripture T-shirt Club

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Thank you Scripture T-shirt Club for sending us a review sample!

T-shirts are comfortable, attention getting, and often stylish. If they have words on them, people will usually take the time to read what your shirt says. What better way to spread God’s Word than wearing a comfortable, stylish, and easy to read t-shirt? The best part is that the t-shirts from scripturetshirtclub.com come directly to your mailbox! Along with your t-shirt are cards with the same verse on them to share with others. Spreading God’s Word has never been easier!

The t-shirts are available in men’s or women’s styles and the material is a 50/50 cotton polyester blend. Though the verses are the same on the men and women’s shirts, the female version has a fancier font. The material feels nice and comfortable, but I can’t vouch personally for it since the sample sent to me was too small to try on. My daughter on the other hand was eager to take it off my hands.

tshirt

The verse on the shirt and three cards I received was Isaiah 40:31 “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength”. That’s a great verse and certainly one worth sharing with others. The price isn’t shown on the website yet but it will be close to $20 a month which is very reasonable. A fresh and fashionable verse to memorize and share would be a great blessing for any Christian.

There’s a newsletter available to join and if you sign up you can get 20% off and a chance to get a free t-shirt. The first winner will be chosen on their launch date of July 1st. If you’re looking for some new clothes to wear or a fresh way to share God’s Word, check out the Scripture T-shirt Club!

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Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids

Thank you Quarto for sending us this book to review!

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

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

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

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



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GameChangers: Dreams of BlizzCon

Thank you FilmRise for sending us this DVD to review!

Before watching this documentary by John Keating I was aware that eSports were big and getting more popular every year. I also knew that Koreans dominated it. I just didn’t realize how huge eSports are or what it takes to make a living as a professional gamer. I’m also now aware of the dedication and commitment required to pursue dreams of competing in BlizzCon someday.

This documentary follows two professional gamers, MC and MMA, as they rise up the ranks to compete in Blizzcon 2014. MMA is twenty-six years old and nearing retirement. He’s considered ancient in terms of professional gaming as many of the rising stars are teens and older gamers cannot match their reflexes. Seeing these guys play StarCraft 2 for hours on end and clicking away at their keyboards and not even looking at their fingers is super impressive. I have no doubt that they would kick my butt in a matter of seconds as I use my mouse to issue orders instead of keyboard macros.

I like how the documentary goes into the family backgrounds of MMA and MC. MMA’s father is a preacher and wishes for his son to follow in his footsteps. MMA takes care of his family by providing them with fresh fruit that his mother loves and by donating his paychecks to their church/ministry. MC’s father died when he was very young and he was raised by his mother. To make ends meet his mom had to work a lot and suffered from depression as a result. MC is one of the highest paid professional gamers and his paychecks go towards caring for his mom.

I won’t reveal any spoilers as to which of these pro gamers made it to BlizzCon, but I highly recommend watching this 89 minute documentary for yourself. You’ll be amazed at the dedication and sacrifices required to succeed in the pro gaming world. With eSports having more viewership than the NHL and the US Golf Open, it’ll probably be around for a while.  If you're interested in seeing what eSports is all about, GameChangers: Dreams of BlizzCon will be available for purchase and rental on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu on June 12th.

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Samson

Thank you Pure Flix for sending us this Blu-ray to review!

Samson’s story in the Bible is an incredible one about a man who had God-given strength as long as he kept the Nazarite vows. Since his birth, he was forbidden to cut his hair and abstain from grapes, raisins, and wine. Samson was a judge and was supposed to lead the tribe of Dan, but he was too busy womanizing. Instead of settling down with a nice Hebrew girl, he preferred Philistine women. The Philistines were oppressing the Hebrews so it was difficult for Samson to get his parents' blessing on marrying the girl he fell in love with. In the movie, the Philistine slave he proposes to is named Taren though her name is not revealed in the book of Judges.

While this one hundred and ten minute movie is rated PG-13, it’s for the violence rather than sex scenes. Intimacy is only alluded to and not seen. Samson is shown taking down a lion with his bare hands, killing thirty Philistines for their tunics, and using the jawbone of a donkey to slaughter one thousand Philistine warriors. Tying ignited twigs on three hundred fox tails is also seen though I doubt that any animals were harmed while filming. The special effects are pretty good though not as high tech as many big budget films out there.

Though this film portrays Samson in a positive light, it does deviate from the scriptures a bit. The Philistine woman Samson married is given to Prince Rallah instead of the best man. Rather than being a harlot, Delilah is Rallah’s wife. True to the scriptures, she does entice Samson to reveal his weakness, but the movie only shows two out of four attempts.

If you’re familiar with the book of Judges, you’ll know how this film ends. I won’t spoil it here, but I will say that Samson was definitely used by God to reveal his power to the Philistines. My husband and I enjoyed watching this film and its fresh take on one the Bible’s strongest men. On Amazon the Blu-ray sells for less than $18 and the DVD edition is under $15.

 


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Nature: Sex, Lies and Butterflies

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

I didn’t think I’d be showing my children a movie with sex in the title anytime soon, but I did. This film is aptly titled as it goes into detail about the mysteries and impressive feats of caterpillars morphing into beautiful butterflies. A caterpillar spends its time eating and once it becomes a butterfly, its primary purpose is to mate. Butterflies are shown reproducing as well as aiding flowers in pollination. Since these events are part of nature and can be seen out in the open, I consider this film safe for all audiences despite its PG rating.

Christians should be cautioned, as there are references to evolution throughout this movie. The scientists discuss the butterflies originating from moths and adapting over millions of years. Scientists also marvel at how the butterflies and flowers are designed to complement each other, but if you believe in an intelligent Creator, the answer is simple.

Another marvel is the distance that some species of butterflies travel. The Painted Lady butterflies travel from Africa to the Arctic Circle. Despite their wings taking a beating, they still continue their impressive 9,000 mile journey. Monarch butterflies are known for travelling long distances too, but Painted Ladies go twice as far.

While the Monarch and Pained Lady butterflies are eye catching, there are lots of beautiful butterfly species out there. In fact, there are approximately 20,000 different species fluttering around in the wild. Not surprisingly, many of them have similar coloring. This can be exploited as a survival technique as non-poisonous butterflies mimic the appearance of poisonous ones.

With the vibrant colors and zoomed in details, the Blu-ray format is highly recommended. This fifty-three minute educational film can be yours for less than $18 on Amazon. I highly recommend it for any caterpillar and butterfly lover out there!

 

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Shadow Spirits Vol. 1

Thank you Scarlet Moon Records for sending us this digital album to review!

Shadow Spirits Volume 1 is composed by Cody Carpenter (son of famed film director John Carpenter) and Mark Day. The fourteen tracks are inspired by 8 and 16-bit RPGs and composers Nobuo Uematsu and Hiroki Kikuta. If you’re like me and a fan of these composers, then you’ll probably enjoy these original songs. The original tracks were made by Cody using the NES chipset and Mark re-arranged and enhanced them with a Commodore SID chip and added Juno 106 for additional warmth.

Each of the fourteen electronic retro tracks are good and my favorite is probably the first song, Scarlet Warrior. This song is nearly five minutes long and has some sequences that I think would make an epic ring tone. What can I say, I’m a sucker for good retro music. If you’ve enjoyed RPGs on the NES and SNES, you’ll feel right at home with this album. There are no bad songs and each one is different from the rest.

Most of the tracks are over three minutes long, but there are a couple that are little over sixty seconds in length. There’s about a good forty minutes of music that will make you think about exploring caverns and fighting treacherous enemies and bosses. There’s even a town, finale, and an opening prelude track. Since this music hasn’t been incorporated into a game you can just enjoy it as is or think about the young samurai’s journey that inspired the composers. Nothing more is said about the samurai on the Bandcamp website.

This set was originally planned as a four-track EP. I hope more volumes come out soon as I’m hooked! The album is available on many digital platforms and can be yours for $10 in FLAC or MP3 format.

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Fallen Ones

Fallen Ones

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

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

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

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

 

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Pup Star: World Tour

pup star world tour

Thank you Airbud Entertainment for sending us a digital screener along with a box of aprons, cooking utensils, a stuffed bear, dog treats and a squeaky ball toy.  

Pup Star, the ultimate dog singing contest, is about to go international. This time, Tiny won’t be singing but judging in the competition. Her equally talented lookalike, Scrappy, will be defending her title against many hopefuls from around the world. The four-month Pup Star tour will be voting on talent from India, Africa, China, and Mexico. Each of the judges, who carry over form the previous films, will pick a hopeful to mentor and compete with them in the final episode. The problem is that one of the hopefuls is a fake who is being manipulated by Bark who wants to reclaim Pup Star by whatever means necessary.

Although Bark is imprisoned at a Canine Correctional Facility, he still runs the show. Roland, the bumbling human correctional officer does Bark's bidding. Tiny’s family is being manipulated as well by a dog named Julio. Their housekeeper, Ida, is smitten by Tiny’s pupil and literally caters to his every need. Julio has made himself home there and doesn’t hesitate to tug on the heartstrings of people by retelling the sob story of how he lost his family and that they are all he has left now.

Much of the same slapstick humor is to be expected in this film. Silly violence takes place and is all in good fun. There is one use of the acronym OMG. Tiny’s flamboyant manager is still around though his job is put in jeopardy as the story of deception unfolds. There is some blackmailing and a stolen kiss takes place where Tiny is the victim. Her significant other P.U.P. is hurt by all of the tabloid articles surrounding this event. To find out what happens to P.U.P. and Tiny’s relationship and the future of Pup Star you’ll have to watch this film!

If you enjoyed previous Pup Star entries then you’ll find the same quality of characters, stories, and jokes in this hour and twenty-seven minute movie. It’s available now on Netflix and will be arriving in physical format soon.


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Bill Nye: Science Guy

Thank you PBS for sending us this DVD to review!

When I was growing up, I used to enjoy watching Mr. Wizard’s World and Bill Nye the Science Guy. The way they taught science was both informative and entertaining. Aside from Bill Nye’s evolution DVD (we figured our children would hear about this in school soon enough), we let our kids watch the others. Our kids have enjoyed the DVDs and checked them out multiple times apiece.

Many schools still show Bill Nye’s timeless TV show. Mr. Wizard’s world ran in the '80s and Bill Nye: the Science Guy came out in the '90s; nobody else has carried on the torch and reached children as these shows have. Granted there are some popular YouTubers out there, but TV/DVD format is ideal as YouTube can be a dangerous place for a youngster to browse by themselves.

Bill Nye is concerned about children being indoctrinated by religion and not science during their formative years. This concern and climate change are the focus of this documentary. Like many documentaries, you’ll see Bill Nye’s humble beginnings and rise to fame as Bill Nye The Science Guy. Clips from the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham is shown too. Now knowing that the income that flowed from that debate funded Mr. Ham’s Ark Encounter, Mr. Nye probably regrets accepting the invitation. News footage of prominent Christian politicians like Mike Pence and Sarah Palin are seen as negative media influences. Bill Nye makes it clear that he’s not anti-religion. He’s okay with religion being taught in religion classes. However, he’s not okay with Intelligent Design of any form being taught in science class.

Ice cores are mentioned in both the debate and climate change segments. By drilling and examining ice cores scientists are able to measure the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) from hundreds of thousands of years ago. This process goes against the beliefs of young earth creationists. Scientifically minded Christians are shown in the documentary in a positive light.

Bill Nye’s inspiration and astronomy teacher, Carl Sagan, helped found The Planetary Society. As The Planetary Society’s current CEO, Bill Nye helped achieve Carl Sagan’s dream of launching a solar sail into space. The construction and launch are both shown in this 100-minute documentary. If you want to see what Bill Nye has been up to in the past twenty years, this documentary will fill you in on his latest crusades. 

If you agree with climate change and evolution you'll enjoy it more than we did. The Blu-ray sells for $18 and the DVD retails for $13 on Amazon.

 

 
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Learning to See: The World of Insects

Thank you JGPR for sending us a screener DVD to review! 

Learning to See: The World of Insects was successfully Kickstarted in 2013 and promised to document the journey of Robert Oelman who has spent the last two decades photographing rare and never before seen exotic insects in Columbia, Peru, and Ecuador. The film is directed and produced by his son, Jake. According to Jake, his father is a mix of John Wayne and a hippie. Robert is certainly fearless when it comes to handling exotic and often poisonous insects and spiders. He wasn’t always into insects and spent his earlier years as a psychotherapist. He wasn’t happy with his career choice and his family was well aware of it.

Despite being warned of the crimes and danger in Columbia, Robert packed up and moved there in the ‘90s. After being robbed a couple of times, he had to make some adjustments, but still enjoyed living there. He purchased property near a mountain and began photographing the locals there. When hummingbirds started visiting his home, he wanted to photograph them. Because of their wings' flapping speed, he had to learn some camera techniques to capture their beauty sufficiently. These methods came in handy when he discovered the wonderful world of exotic bugs shortly after.

Photographing insects is tricky work and with the help of his assistant, Christian, they travel several hours away to capture stunning photographs of rare and newly discovered species. Many of the places they travel to are impacted by deforestation and it makes many people wonder how many species are going extinct as a result of this.

It’s a shame that the beauty and intricacy of these insects is credited to millions of years of evolution. Also, finding his calling and purpose is attributed to a “Life Force”. If you don’t mind these references, there is a lot of stunning artwork and the majesty of God’s creation is truly remarkable in this film. More information on this movie can be found at its website. The film is currently available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu. Be sure to check out Robert’s photography on his Flickr page.

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Animals With Cameras

Thank you PBS for sending us this DVD to review!

Scientists have been tracking and studying animals for decades of their lives and despite all of their time and effort, they still have many unanswered questions and much to learn about various species. While meerkets can be observed when they’re above ground, what happens in their tunnels is a complete mystery until now! With the help of excellent engineering and tiny cameras and collars, scientists and viewers can now see what their tunnels look like from the inside and how they sleep in groups despite their hierarchy. Footage of newborn pups was also captured as an added bonus.

Unlike the chimps, the meerkats didn’t accept the collars right away. The chimpanzees enjoyed playing with the cameras and taking selfies with them. Capturing footage of them quickly and gracefully swinging from tree to tree is awe-inspiring. The strength in their arms is tremendous and the cameras had to get redesigned to compensate for their incredible power. One of the cameras did get lost in the jungle but the engineer thought ahead and placed tracking devices in them.

Some of the cameras were designed to fall off after several hours or days. The hook on the devil ray’s floating cameras purposely eroded away in the salt water and rose to the surface for retrieval. The radio collars on brown bears in Turkey were fitted with cameras that fell off in a few days. The footage from the bears' cameras revealed that they have been frequenting a nearby garbage dumpster as a food source.

Many of the scenarios for using the cameras are purely scientific while others are trying to find answers to avoid conflict between humans and wildlife threatening their livelihood. A group of baboons have temporarily stopped raiding a farmer’s butternut squash field and he wants to know what’s keeping them away so it can be done more often. In France, sheep were being attacked by a pack of wolves nearing extinction. Cameras placed on guard dogs proved that they were effective in driving back several wolf attacks.

My kids and I learned a lot by watching these three hour-long episodes and look forward to many more seasons of this show. The DVD can be yours for less than $16 and it’s worth considering for any animal lover in your family.

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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Love and Sex – A Christian Guide

Thank you Regnery for sending us this book to review!

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

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

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

 



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Lady Bird

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

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is a senior at a Catholic high school. Her parents are hard workers, and when money gets tight, it adds to the tension between family members. Lady Bird gets along with her soft-spoken dad, but her mother tells it like it is and shares her disagreement with her daughter’s college choices. Many of the students in the high school are well to do, and Lady Bird lies about her financial situation to fit in. Deceit plays a big role in this film.

Other moral concerns include smoking, drug, and alcohol consumption. There are homosexual relationships and premarital sex is shown in this film. While the actors don’t show much skin, a snapshot from a Playgirl magazine is shown in its entirety. Last but not least, is the amount of swearing and use of F-bombs.

Though there are some good lessons about friendships and family ties, the moral issues are too plentiful to recommend this film to parents struggling to connect with their teenagers. As a mother of one teenager with another soon to be, I could somewhat relate with one of my daughters being similar to me with the other having differences that drive a wedge between us a little bit. Thankfully, our relationship isn’t bad enough to cause us to cuss at and berate each other.

Despite this movie having rave reviews from The New York Times, Rolling Stones magazine, and Rotten Tomatoes, my brother and I really couldn’t get into this story of growing up and cherishing your relationships. The many moral issues also make me hesitant on recommending this film to others. However, if you do enjoy it, Amazon sells the Blu-ray for less than $20.

 


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LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Complete Season Two DVD Set

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

The Freemaker family has been known for their expertise in salvaging and repairing ships for the Rebel Alliance. Occasionally, they’ll be assigned to rescue missions when the need arises. The youngest family member, Rowan, is a Jedi in training who has caught the attention of the Empire. So far, Lord Vader’s attempts at capturing him have failed. The Emperor has commissioned a new prototype robot soldier named MOC to accomplish the task.

Lord Vader is concerned about his job security and tries to trip up the robot as much as possible in this season. In order to earn back the Emperor’s trust, Lord Vader must rebuild the Death Star. Everything is in place with the exception of some special crystals. Rowan is also looking for these crystals to complete the ship he envisioned called the Arrowhead. While searching, Rowan encounters an alien race that worships the crystals that their ancestors left in their care. Rowan befriends a girl that doesn’t believe in the Force or her family’s religion.

Who will secure the highly volatile crystals first and complete their project? You’ll have to watch this twelve episode season to find out. The DVD set consists of two discs with six episodes on each one. Since this show is geared for kids it’s pretty family friendly. There is space combat and cartoon violence. When it comes to language there is some name calling including terms like Scum Weasel and Nerf Herder.

My son and I both enjoyed watching this show. The humor and storytelling can entertain adults as well as children. We’ll have to catch up on the first season now which is available in Blu-ray or DVD formats. I’m not sure why the second season is only available on DVD. Both seasons can be purchased on Amazon.



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Glory To Metal (A Symphonic Metal Tribute to NieR: Automata)

Thank you Materia Collective for sending us this digital album to review!

After hearing Ferdk’s symphonic metal rendition of several popular Undertale songs, I became a fan and bought the tracks. Ferdk and I both enjoyed the music and gameplay from the sleeper-hit, NieR: Automata.

Glory to Metal features four enhanced tracks from the game that are a little over three minutes each. The $4 bundle includes the following songs:

Bipolar Nightmare
Alien Manifestation
Forest Kingdom
Grandma (Destruction)

Two of the tracks are battle oriented while the other two focus on the game’s ambient music. Each of the songs harness Ferdk’s bombastic symphonic metal music style. In Bipolar Nightmare you’ll hear pounding drums, guitar, bells, and an orchestra backing it up. It’s been a while since I played this game but I’ll take an educated guess that this is one of the fighting tracks. Alien Manifestation has the guitars taking the lead with the orchestra and drums backing them up. The organ work is great as well. I am assuming this is one of the background music pieces.

Forest Kingdom features a xylophone and is probably the tamest track on the album. The tempo picks up halfway through the song and is a joy to hear in its entirety. I’m quite certain that this is one of the ambient songs in the game. The orchestra starts off Grandma (Destruction) and the guitar quickly steps in and dominates this battle music track.

All of tracks are wonderful and I can’t pick a favorite. As expected, the guitar work is exceptional and prominently featured in each of the tracks. My only complaint with this album is that it’s over too quickly! I look forward to more game inspired renditions from Ferdk.

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Leaving My Father’s Faith

Thank you Jolson Creative PR for sending us a screener to review!

Tony Campolo is a well-known author, pastor, and evangelist. He was a spiritual advisor to Bill Clinton and recently made headlines in 2015 for fully supporting gay marriage. Up until his 2011 bike accident that resulted in a concussion, Bart Campolo was following in his father’s footsteps as an evangelist. However, after the bike accident, Bart changed and abandoned his faith entirely.

The movie Leaving My Father’s Faith chronicles e-mail exchanges between Tony and Bart and shows them dialoguing over what caused Bart to abandon Christianity. Bart doesn’t completely blame the bike accident for his departure, but mentions that there were several things in his life that cast doubts and slowly corroded his faith.

The first issue that caused Bart to leave Christianity is God allowing for people to suffer. Tony responded saying that according to Philippians 2:7, God emptied His power and doesn’t reclaim it fully until the end days mentioned in Revelation. In college Bart’s faith was further challenged in a religious class that dealt with contradictions in the Bible. Bart’s teacher told him about the writing of Karl Bart that conclude that Jesus was the perfect word and that the Bible is just merely a witness to it. Karl Bart’s works were so inspiring to Tony that he named his son after him. Not surprisingly, both father and son disagree with the Bible’s stance on homosexuality.

Most of the movie talks about Bart’s upbringing and doubts. It claims to be fair and representing both sides equally, but I can’t help think that more time is spent on Bart than Tony. Because of the imbalance, I don’t really recommend this movie to believers. In the end, I’m glad that their relationship with each other is amicable. If you find this exchange interesting you can read the book Why I Left, Why I Stayed which this film is based off of.

 


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Wonder

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

Wonder is based off of the 2012 book with the same name. The book is about a boy named August (Auggie) Pullman that was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome. This genetic disorder affects one in 50,000 people and makes those with it look different because they lack ear and/or facial bones. Like the book, the movie shifts from different perspectives as Auggie starts fifth grade at Beecher Prep School.

Before starting school, Auggie who loves Minecraft, Star Wars, and anything space related, often wore a space helmet out in public. On his first day at school, he didn’t wear his helmet and got stared at quite a bit. Auggie is used to the stares; however, the mean notes/drawings and bullying took a toll on him and his loving family.

Auggie’s sister, Olivia (Via), is used to Auggie getting a lot of attention from their parents. She’s a great sister and very understanding. However, she is experiencing troubles with her best friend at school, but her parents don’t notice right away because they’re focusing on Auggie’s acclimation. The different perspectives in this film are eye opening and from what my children who read the book tell me, the movie is lacking a couple of perspectives that the book has in it.

I don’t want to spoil the story, and I highly encourage you to check out the movie, book, or both! Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts did a wonderful job acting as Auggie’s parents. There are many humorous scenes between Auggie and his father. Conversely, there are some tear jerking moments and yes, I did cry at the happy ending.

This nearly two-hour film is available in DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K formats. Like many movies, the higher the visual quality the more expensive it will be. I highly recommend adding this film in any format to your movie collection.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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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