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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

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My Faith Journey

Thank you Fox Chapel Publishing and Quiet Fox Designs for sending us this product to review!

“My Faith Journal” is a paperback 128-page guided devotional with scripture meant for use for fifty-two weeks. There are scripture pages to color and thought-provoking questions to answer in the numerous lines below. The art of Robin Pickens is found in this book and it is beautiful along with the inspiring verses it resides by.

I didn’t find it easy to run out of space while answering the thought-provoking yet convicting questions in this book. Some of these questions not only are next to scripture, but ask about certain scriptures as well, such as “Psalm 23 is often read at funerals. How can it bring peace and comfort into your life right now?” which I thought was an interesting interrogation.

Each page has a specific theme in which both the question and the bible verse(s) associate with. When I answered a question relating to the fruit of the spirit, the verse Galatians 5:22-23 “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” was on the page beside it. The question asked me to describe a time when someone showed the fruit of the spirit. That question wasn't the easiest to answer, because it took some time to think of someone I have met who shows others the fruit of the spirit.

I have used this journal for a couple of weeks, and though it is paperback, it seems pretty sturdy. The cover bends a bit of course, as normal paperbacks do. It is made with archival-quality, acid- free 200-year paper. Not that I will be able to know for sure if it lasts 200 years, but maybe someone else after me will find this devotional book intact. It’s also perfect for pen or pencil, so there is no need to write in crayon or anything.

If you are in need of either an awesome devotional journal or a ready-to-color scripture coloring book, I recommend the book “My Faith Journal” for you. This book is the best way for you to connect your faith with your creativity.

 


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The Beloved Word: A Scripture Journal

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

This journal features artwork by Joanne Fink and scriptures from the New International Version (NIV) Bible. The verses are designed to encourage you to trust in God, and are dispersed throughout the book.

This journal has 128 pages (but no page numbers!) and features artwork on almost every page.
There are no guiding questions, but the inspiring verses to look at as you write in this journal are there to help stimulate your faith in God as you dutifully record your thoughts in this book.

This is a hardcover journal, and it uses 200-year paper, which I’m guessing is meant to last for 200 years, and the art in the journal isn’t black and white like it is in most books, but full color. The art is a watercolor style, so it's not so bright that it’s an eyesore, but rather it pleasantly brings color and a soft, feathery feeling into the journal. The book is easy to write in, and the paper is soft so it’s effortless for your pen or pencil to make a nice, satisfying mark.

I taped a piece of paper in this journal, and when trying to take it out, I accidentally ripped a small part of one of the layers of the paper off, even though I did it nice and slowly. Otherwise, I don’t have any problems with this journal. It’s beautifully illustrated, wonderfully colored, and just awe-inspiring to look at as you flip through each page, not to mention the awesomely picked Bible verses placed throughout the book. On the front cover, there’s Matthew 19:26. Scattered throughout the book, there are other well-known verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13.

This is an awesome book, and I thank Fox Chapel Publishing once again for sending us this journal to review.

I look forward to seeing more books from you in the future!

 


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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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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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The Infographic Guide to the Bible: The Old Testament

Thank you Simon and Schuster for sending us this book to review!

Unless you’re reading a children’s edition, there are not many pictures or visual materials in the Bible. The Old Testament has many great events recorded and seeing them come to life in this infographic book is pretty cool. The breakdown of Noah’s Ark and Goliath’s measurements are truly breathtaking. In total, the ark was 1,518,750 cubic feet! Another neat tidbit in this book is that Goliath’s armor was 155lbs and his spearhead was nearly 19lbs. I recently watched Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and was pleased to see the specs of the Ark of the Covenant detailed in this book as well.

As neat as this information is, I was shocked to find some inaccuracies. The infographic on page 31 regarding Rachel's and Leah's children is incorrect. The diagram shows Leah with four sons when she had six plus a daughter (Dinah) and Rachel with four sons when she only had two, Joseph and Benjamin. The book also claims that Rachel bore Jacob's only daughter when it was indeed Leah according to Genesis. If you want to get technical, Genesis 46:7 implies that Jacob had multiple daughters. Last but not least, Zilpah's name is also misspelled (Zilphah).

Here's a breakdown of the children:

Gen 29
Reuben - Leah
Simeon - Leah
Levi - Leah
Judah - Leah

Gen 30
Dan - Bilhah
Naphtali - Bilhah
Gad - Zilpah
Asher - Zilpah
Issachar - Leah
Zebulun - Leah
Dinah - Leah
Joseph - Rachel

Genesis 35
Benjamin – Rachel

Because of these errors, I can’t rely on and trust the information throughout the rest of the book. This critique is based off an advanced review copy of the book. Perhaps it has been or will be revised to correct the errors. Until that happens, I would recommend skipping it or taking it with a pillar of salt.

 

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7 Lessons From Heaven

Thank you Roslan & Campion for sending us this book to review!

Mary C. Neal, M.D. drowned in a kayaking accident in 1999. She was unresponsive for a half hour and vividly recalls her loving encounter with Jesus and shares her experiences and advice with her fresh perspective on life, death, and eternity. I have not read her previous New York Times best seller, To Heaven and Back, but I do appreciate the detailed recap of her near death experience.

Dr. Neal is an orthopedic surgeon and I really enjoyed the scientific analysis of her near death experience and how it could not have been her imagination, a seizure, oxygen deprivation, or a DMT trip. Not only are her experiences shared, but there are several other quotes from people who have also had near death experiences or encounters with the heavenly realm.

As a Christian, I appreciated the many Bible references throughout the book and hearing about her judgement or "life in review" process. It’s comforting to know that it’s not as bad as many fear. The main emotion felt in the afterlife is love and even the painful experiences are shown from various perspectives. One of the goals in the "life in review" process is fact finding instead of fault finding.

The first lesson taught in this book is that circumstances make sense from heaven’s lens. God’s grace should be freely given as it is to us. There’s probably a reason that someone may be in a foul mood and it’s best not to judge them unless you know what they’re going through.

I won’t spoil any of the other lessons taught as they should be read first hand. I told my daughter about this book and she started reading it and got to chapter five in her first sitting! In total, there are eighteen chapters in this 274-page book. It sells for less than $11 on Amazon and I highly recommend checking out if you’re curious about the afterlife.



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Only by the Grace of God

Thank you Archway Publishing for sending us this book to review!

Only by the Grace of God tells the true story of the Brink family who lived in the Philippines and became prisoners of war during World War II. Each of the twelve chapters are told from the three perspectives of the children: Bill, Bob, and Pam. Some of the minor details are different in the accounts, but the main events are told in vivid detail. This family went through a lot of suffering and as the title suggests, they only survived by the grace of God.

The beginning of the 212-page book focuses on their life in the Philippines before the war. The Brink family was well-to-do with fancy furniture and servants who cleaned the house, tended to the children, and chauffeured them around. For birthdays, the kids would get nice gifts like a BB gun or a pony. The recollections of the games the kids used to play were both amusing and scary as a parent. I chuckled about the kids getting caught and punished for sling-shooting rocks at the priest’s metal roof. On the flipside, I gasped aloud when I read about the kids re-enacting cowboys and robbers and hanging one of their friends who volunteered to be the prisoner. Luckily, he was taken down in time before anything serious happened.

Once the war began the carefree lives of this family were over. The Japanese soldiers took away their belongings and father. Later they came back and imprisoned the rest of the family. In the internment camps, the family was often together and usually got a couple of meals a day. Towards the end of the war, food was very scarce and approximately three prisoners a day would die from starvation or other devastating illnesses.

During the war the children still received an education and found unique ways to entertain themselves. One amusing method was taking ants from one ant hill to another and enjoying the battle that would ensue. They even managed to scrounge enough parts to build a cart to scoot around in. While there were a lot of negative experiences, there are still some good ones and the family became closer to God in the process. The timing for their miraculous rescue couldn’t have been better.

Besides the mentioning of mischievous behavior, some other topics including homosexuality, prostitution, and minor language should be noted before letting a child read this book. It’s a great recollection of the terrors of war and the hope and faith needed to endure the trials every step of the way. This book sells for $17 on Amazon and is worth picking up. You’ll have a hard time putting it back down.


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NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible

NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible
Published by: Zondervan
Price: $24.99

Thank you Zondervan for sending us this Bible to color and review!

Kids and coloring books have gone hand in hand for as long as I can remember. Recently adult coloring books have taken off and not long ago we reviewed Inkspirations: Fruit of the Spirit which has thirty-two Bible verse themed pages to color. The NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible is attractive to both adults and kids who like to color and provides fifty-two verses to color.

My daughter took an interest in this Bible right away and I promised it to her if she colored in one of the verses. She agreed to these terms and has been taking this Bible to church with her since. The coloring pages are noticeably thicker than the Bible pages and this is a good thing. The Bible pages are thin (like most Bibles) and prone to tearing if too much pressure is applied while coloring.

One of the first coloring pages has the verse Joshua 1:9 which says: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.” That inspiring verse was the one that my daughter colored. The items to color really don’t match the verses too well in my opinion. This one in particular has a sunrise/sunset and flowers all around. The coloring page for Luke 6:27’s “Love your enemies” is filled with donuts and popsicles. I guess you can show love to your rivals by raising their cholesterol and weight. Despite the odd themes, these pages are pretty well detailed and bound to entertain artists for some time.

NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible

As a Bible, this one is easy to read and I like how the words that Jesus spoke are highlighted in red. Another cool feature is the table of weights and measures in the back that translates Biblical terms with modern day equivalents. For example, a cubit is equal to 18 inches.

There is a lot to like about this Bible. The only problem I have with it is the translation used. There has been some controversy regarding the 2011 NIV translation and this Bible does use the gender neutral verses. So if you look at the verse John 15:6 “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers...” The new NIV changes it to, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers...” The classic Proverb 27:17 is changed from “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” to “…so one person sharpens another” .

If you enjoy reading the NIV translation and like coloring, then you’ll want to check out the NIV Inspiring Words Holy Bible. The hard cover sells for less than $25 on Amazon and that’s a pretty reasonable price. If you’re in need of coloring pencils, we have a review of those too!


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Learn to Program With Small Basic

basic

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

Learn to Program With Small Basic: An Introduction to Programming With Games, Art, Science and Math is 317 pages long and written by Majed Marji and Ed Price. This book teaches you how to program with Small Basic, a programming language created by Vijaye Raji designed to teach children how to program.

Learn to Program With Small Basic teaches you the different features of Small Basic and how to use them. It has 19 chapters, each one covering a different feature of Small Basic. The first chapter introduces you to the language while the rest have you coding in it. It teaches you how to use features like if/else statements, subroutines, events, etc. To enforce these topics, code examples are given and there are named programs they want you to save. At the beginning of a program, you can tell if you need to save it if it says the name of the program as a comment. In the later chapters, you top most of them off with a game that uses the feature taught in that chapter. One of my favorite programs I made is the image viewer that lets you view pictures from Flickr.

Sometimes the book will show you a possible output of a program you wrote. There are also (optional) program ideas labeled in boxes that say “Try It Out.” After you write a program, there are sections explaining how the program works. For some of the larger games you would program, the book breaks the program up into steps, then explains what each step does. Sometimes the steps are small, and other times the steps are larger. Occasionally there will be a picture shown to help you understand the concept better.

As I went through the book, I found it fun at first, but then I lost interest about half-way through it. (That seems to happen with all of the programming books I tried.) Despite that, I’d say the book is pretty good. It’s very thorough on making sure the point gets across. The paperback version sells for $25.49 USD on Amazon. Surprisingly, the physical copy is cheaper than the Kindle version!


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The Marijuana Project: A Story Of Medicine And Morality

Thank you to Ascot Media for sending us this book to review!

Sam Burnett is a self-employed security consultant, highly respected in his field. Sam came from humble beginnings and built a successful consulting firm through hard work and determination. Sam’s services range from security risk assessments to designing physical and electronic security systems for private companies.

One day Sam receives a phone call from MedLeaf, a medical marijuana manufacturing facility seeking a license in the state of New Jersey. Sam’s reputation in the security industry results in MedLeaf reaching out to Sam for help in designing and implementing a multifaceted security system to protect manufacture of the controversial drug. Sam, however, is married with two children and a conservative. He wrestles with his morals, faith, and the legality of marijuana. His world is turned upside down in a compelling story that weaves not only comprehensive information on security systems but serves as a great introduction to the marijuana debate that continues to polarize our country today. 

The Marijuana Project is a fictional novel written by Brian Laslow (pseudonym). It chronicles Sam’s uneasy decision to work with MedLeaf over a two-year period that becomes increasingly demanding. At first, Sam battles with his conservative values whether or not to work with MedLeaf because he is against all types of marijuana, legal or otherwise. He seeks advice from his wife, friends, and business associates. Sam concludes that since marijuana is a highly priced commodity, it still needs protection regardless of his personal views. MedLeaf is eventually granted a license to produce marijuana, allowing Sam to begin developing the complex security system that will protect the manufacturing facility. 

Admittedly, I did not know much about marijuana other than it’s a drug that can produce a “high” due to its THC content and that it kills brain cells. Regarding medical marijuana, I knew that it is beneficial for people dealing with pain and is helpful for cancer patients. Laslow provides a wealth of information about marijuana that ranges from its addictive qualities, to whether it’s a gateway drug and laws regarding the legalized sale of marijuana to the public. Besides the information about marijuana, the author clearly demonstrates his knowledge of security systems with comprehensive attention to detail. This includes the physical protection of the manufacturing facility, the product, the transfer, and its employees in addition to policies, procedures, and protocols. 

In the story, Sam also researches medical marijuana and its effectiveness in treating patients with medical issues. Once more, Laslow provides a bulk of information regarding the different types of strains used in treating patients with a variety of health-related complications.

There were two issues I had with the book. Sam is portrayed as a conservative Catholic. Sam’s use of profanity occurs a few times in the story. I originally dismissed it as stress from the situations Sam was experiencing. A story from the Bible, however, is taken out of context to justify Sam’s choices. In another example, Sam reminisces about an experience he had while serving on a Catholic school board. I was dismayed at his use of language and approach to dealing with a diocese. Although Sam has a strong will and determination, I viewed him as someone driven by pride who wasn’t afraid to show it more than a man led by God.

The second issue I had with the story was the ending. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched too many action movies or read too many of those types of books, but it was disappointing because I expected something more extravagant. Although the ending made sense, it did not seem plausible, as the buildup to the climax was intriguing and kept me hooked. Nevertheless, I applaud the author’s style of writing. It was clear and concise and left no holes. Further, Laslow remained objective throughout and only provided facts ultimately leaving it up to the reader to decide whether marijuana has merit in the medical industry today. 

With the wealth of information from the book, I researched many of the marijuana facts on the Internet and discovered they were correct. It also led me to read about security for the protection of marijuana manufacturing facilities and the types of crimes that can occur here. I can clearly see Laslow did a great job in providing an authentic fact-based fictional story about security systems and medical marijuana. I learned a lot and I highly recommend The Marijuana Project for readers looking for a thrilling ride as well as those interested in learning about marijuana in a fictional setting.

 


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Miracles We Have Seen

Thank you HCI Books for sending us this book to review!

Miracles We Have Seen is a collection of short stories from doctors around the world retelling their most memorable experiences throughout their medical careers.  Since there are many authors, divvying up the royalties would be a pain and it’s nice to know that 100% of the profits are going to various charities nominated by the contributing physicians.  Not only are you guaranteed to read some touching stories, you’ll be helping various non-profits as well!

There are many inspiring stories as well as tragic tales told throughout this book. In each of the eighty plus short essays you’ll see the date(s) they occurred and they range from World War II to this decade.  It’s sad to read about the deaths of those who suffered from now curable ailments.  For example, one of the stories is about JFK’s prematurely born son, Patrick, who only lived a couple of days because of his underdeveloped lungs.  Thanks to modern medicine, premature babies have a much higher survival rate. There are several stories involving AIDS, detailing the historic lack of and modern progress towards drugs that keep HIV patients alive longer than a couple of years.

Though this book isn’t meant to be spiritual, there are a few stories that are nothing short of miraculous and the doctors are convinced that something out of this world happened to some the patients they have seen.  There’s a story about a boy who most likely caught a glimpse of heaven by the sheer look of awe on his face before peacefully passing away while holding onto his mother’s hand.  Another event was about a resuscitated toddler who was pulled out of the pool by a child not much older than he was. When asked why she went in the pool to get him despite not being able to swim, she responded by saying that a man in white told her to.    

Since many of the stories are only a couple of pages long, this is a great book to pick up and read throughout the day.  My oldest daughter starting reading this book before me and it didn’t take me long to surpass her.  The stories shared are definitely worth the price of admission at $9.99 digitally and only a couple of dollars more in paperback format.


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Days? Or Ages? The Genesis Question: A Layman Looks at Creation's Calendar

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

The author Jerry Harmon is not a bible scholar; in fact, he worked in construction until his retirement.  This book is the result of weekly meetings between the author and a couple of his closest friends as they embarked on an in-depth study of the first couple of chapters in Genesis.  Their goal was to determine if Hebrew text could shed some light on the seven literal days or several spans of time/ages debate of the Earth’s creation.  

Surely, God is all powerful and has the ability to age things like wine instantly in John 2:1-11, create life on the spot in John 21:5-11,  or to cause trees to wither on command in Mark 11:12-21.  However, science had disproved statements in the Bible that were taken too literally like the Earth being flat due to verses like Isaiah 11:12 and that the universe was  geocentric as possibly referenced from Genesis 1:16 with the moon being the lesser of two light sources.  Could it be possible that the days of creation are not literal?

All of the common viewpoints are addressed in the second chapter including sudden creation, the gap theory, the day-age theory, the intermittent-day theory, progressive creationism, the literary framework theory, and theistic evolution.  I like how each viewpoint is explained and a list of subscribers to those theories are listed as well.  The rest of the book isn’t as easy to follow, especially when it comes down to breaking down the Hebrew language.  Be sure you are alert and awake when reading this book, or much of it will go over your head.  Some of it still went over my head regardless, but I do recall some good arguments for a possibility of delayed creation.

It is argued that the sun, moon, and planets were created on the first day, but assigned their purpose on the fourth.  The passages in Isaiah 11:6-9  could be referring to Adam being formed as a child rather than an adult.  This theory would make a bit more sense because he would have to have a short attention span to be bored and lonely so fast on his first day of existence.  Also the ability to get to know and name each of the animals is quite a feat as well.

Not surprisingly, the verse Psalms 90:4 is brought up to suggest that each one of God’s days could be like one thousand to us.  In the end, Days or Ages supports the latter.  As to why, I’ll  leave that for you to read and find out in this 203 page book that sells for less than $14 on Amazon.


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Scratch Coding Cards

Thank you No Starch Press for sending us a review sample!

Ever since my son completed the book Scratch Programming Playground, he’s been hooked on Scratch and has been coming up with various challenges and games to create.  The collection of 75 Scratch Coding Cards are perfect for anyone who already has a basic understanding of Scratch and Is looking for some programming ideas.

Each of the glossy cards are broken down into three sections.  The first part is the setup and guides you though selecting the correct sprite.  The second part shows you the code pieces to drop into place.  The last section features a helpful tip to incorporate when running your newly created program. 

While the cards can be done individually, many of them are grouped together to make a bigger program.  Some of the games you will make in this set include a Pong game, a racing game, and an interactive pet.  These were some of my son’s favorites, but there were some duds and even a couple of repeats that he didn’t bother doing a second time.  

Some of the simpler programs just have a sprite make a sound or rotate when they are clicked on.  There’s a whole group of musical cards that will have programs play a rhythm, a chord, a surprise song or even allow you to record your own sounds.  Young girls may like the dress up program that lets you change the appearance of boy and girl characters.  Not only can they change their outfits, they’ll be able to customize their colors too!

There’s plenty to do in the Scratch Coding Cards set and the retail price is $24.95.  The sell for a little over $15 on Amazon and for that price I recommend checking them out for aspiring Scratch coders.  Many of the examples are freely available on Scratch’s website so be sure to check that out first.


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God’s Silver Soldiers Comic Issue #1

Thank you Art Greenshaw for sending us an autographed issue to review!

The goal of Truthmonger Comics is to bring the much-needed messages of morality and spirituality into today’s youth through the medium of comic books.  Besides God, they are also inspired by the comic book legend, Stan Lee.  Some of the characters are dedicated to public figures who are living by their Christian values.  For example, the Silver Soldier Cecilia is named after the first lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott.

God has appointed the Silver Soldiers to battle against the superhuman forces of evil in our world.  The soldiers have different backgrounds and are all united for this purpose.  The black Silver Soldier is an American Indian musician whose songs will now uplift instead of tear people down.  The green Silver Soldier is a surgeon with a drug problem.  A prestigious chef is given a second chance at life by becoming the blue Silver Soldier.  The yellow Silver Soldier is a college girl who has chosen to keep her child instead of aborting it.  A greedy financial programmer is picked to be the red Silver Soldier.  Last but not least, is the pink Silver Soldier who is a lying gossiper who has since repented of her sins.  Once assembled, the Silver Soldiers report to Angelica, an angel sent by God to cleanse to world of the evil that is invading it.

Individually the Silver Soldiers have enhanced strength and speed. They are also bestowed with a unique ability to control various elements or animals.  When the Silver Soldiers are together, their strength is increased one hundred fold.  Satan’s demons had better watch out!

This forty-three page comic is broken into two parts with each ending at a cliff-hanger.  The last few pages go back in time and offer a new perspective on Jesus’ childhood.  There are some mature themes including drugs and teen pregnancy.   The spiritual warfare elements need to be taken into consideration as well. The Silver Soldiers must descend to Hell to rescue someone and they have to leave their bodies behind in a safe place.  Also, one of Lucifer’s human servants wears a pentagram belt buckle.  There are several Bible verses used throughout the story as well which is nice to see.  

While this series is both engaging and God honoring, I recommend parents give it a good read before their children do.  My oldest daughter read and enjoyed this first issue and we’re both looking forward to many, many more.  The suggested retail price is $4.99 unless you’d rather get the jumbo collector’s edition for $24.99.


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Lost and Found

Thank you Riverdale Ave. Books for sending us this e-book to review!

When Micky Neilson was eight months old he was kidnapped by his schizophrenic father and lived as a nomad in the desert.  He didn’t attend school until the seventh grade and his only socialization with other kids was in Boy Scouts. Although Micky thought his father’s stories and notions were strange, he loved him regardless.   

Sometimes Micky and his father would take refuge in Mormon churches, but religion didn’t last with Micky.  His life was pretty rough with being asked to steal or even point a gun at someone from a distance.  Before he was a teenager, he was in a foster home and would continue his relationship with his father via letters.

Micky goes into detail about his experience at different foster homes, jobs, serving in the Gulf War and even his love life.  As a gamer I found his experience at Blizzard Entertainment to be the most fascinating, though his pranks as a teenager are pretty hilarious as well.  I like the prank where he swapped out his boss’ telephone number with a customer's and had a new hire at the telemarketing company call him.

Some of the language in the book is a bit much for children to read and there is some mature content in terms of the war experiences and Micky’s first time with a prostitute.  There are also several references of drinking and partying.  Though Micky got baptized as a teenager his faith didn’t last long and he dabbled in using the Ouija board with his friends on several occasions.  

If you don’t mind those moral issues, this book is a very good read and has a happy ending despite the turbulent childhood Micky had.  The kindle edition sells for $9.99 and the paperback is twice the price.  I highly recommend it for fans of Blizzard games or great story telling in general.  

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Scratch Programming Playground

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

No Starch Press has been publishing kid friendly programming books for a while and my kids have learned a lot through them.  My son went through the Ruby Wizardry book and didn’t like all of the typing involved.  Thanks to this book, he loves making games with Scratch.  Scratch is a beginner friendly programming language that uses very little code.  All of the programs are assembled by dragging and dropping code blocks.  

My son isn’t much of an artist; even when asked to draw simple shapes, the pediatrician said that he isn’t a Picasso.  There is a downloadable resource pack that includes all of the images and source code to reference if you get stuck.  There is also an image file of the completed program to use as a reference if your game is broken.  Throughout this book we have used all of the file types at one point or another.  When the computer was accidentally turned off we were able to restore a program close to where my son left off.  This saved us from further tears and frustration.

The games my son made were fun to play and well-polished (when using the included artwork).  In this book you’ll learn how to make an Asteroids, Snake, Break-Out, and platformer style games.  There is a maze game as well as my son’s favorite:  a Fruit Ninja clone.  My son truly enjoyed this book from start to finish and often completed multiple chapters in one day.

In total there are nine chapters and 256 pages of content.  It didn’t take long for my son to finish this book and we look forward to more written by Al Sweigart.  The list price is $24.95 but I have seen it for less than $15 on Amazon.

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Python Crash Course

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

Python is a powerful programming language that is used worldwide and is a valuable skill to know for a hobbyist or anyone pursuing a computer science major.   In Python Crash Course you’ll learn basic coding concepts, troubleshooting skills, and how to make games, manipulate data, and deploy your programs.  The example scripts show how to code for both Python 2.X and 3.X.   The recommended and free editor, Geany, is user friendly and works well.

The first half of the book talks about variables, lists, loops, if statements, dictionaries, while loops, functions, classes, and working with files.  Each of the twenty chapters has about twenty or so pages with helpful examples to teach you how to use the concepts they are teaching.  The beginning coding examples aren’t that memorable, but they get you familiar with the basics required for the advanced projects in the second half of the book.  

My favorite project was making the Space Invaders type game.  The source code has all of the graphics needed and is available for troubleshooting purposes.  I ran across an issue in the eleventh chapter where the printed code is incorrect and the source code had corrected code that successfully compiled.    The printed code was "print(question)" when the proper code should have been "print(self.question)."  

From chapter fifteen on I could no longer compile my programs using cloud services like Dropbox or One Drive.  If I compiled my programs locally they worked just fine.  This is not the fault of the author; I just thought I would spare someone some frustration if they use cloud storage for saving their work.  

Other issues I ran across include changes in the classes referenced later in the book.  For the data graphing, pygal is required and since this book was published it no longer handles country codes like it used to.  Instead of 'from pygal.i18 import COUNTRIES' I had to use 'from pygal_maps_world.i18 import COUNTRIES'.

The final chapters involve making a discussion forum using the Django web framework. They also cover using Git for version control and Heroku’s free cloud services for hosting it.  However, despite my best efforts I couldn’t get the forum to work online and even had difficulty setting it up locally without using the source code.  Despite not being able to see the final project, I still learned a lot and got to play around with it locally in a virtual environment.

Although my experiences have been mixed using this book, I have learned a lot from it.  I was able to use concepts from it and code a program that quizzes people on the Ten Commandments for a mission’s conference I spoke at.  Without this book it would have taken me much longer to make.  The suggested retail price is $39.95 but it can be purchased for less than $30 on Amazon.

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Learn to Program with Minecraft

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

All three of my kids love Minecraft and they all have learned various coding concepts from several books from No Starch Press.  When my oldest daughter heard about this book being released, she was eager to try it out and she’s glad that she did!  Not only does this book teach basic Python concepts, it puts them in an environment that kids can relate to and see their results in game instead of in a monochrome command prompt screen.  

There is a little setup involved and the first chapter of this twelve-chapter book covers installing and configuring Minecraft, Java, Python, and Spigot.  There are instructions for Windows, Mac, and Raspberry Pi setups.

The first Python concept taught is variables and the reader will learn how to use variables to teleport to different areas in the Minecraft game world.  Modules, mathematical expressions, and strings will be explained throughout the book as well.  True/False Booleans and If/Then/Else statements are also taught and with those abilities, the reader will learn how to make various mini-games.  Instant forests are made possible with While Loops.  Towards the end of the book the reader will learn about lists, dictionaries, modules, saving files, and object oriented concepts.

My daughter’s favorite lessons in the book are making moving blocks and a dance floor that changed colors.   She also liked the secret door that would open when placing a diamond on a pedestal.  There are over seventy projects to be completed and each of them utilizes valuable Python concepts. These skills can transfer over to pursuing further programming with Python down the road.    This book sells for less than $25 on Amazon in hard copy form and is available for half of the $29.99 MSRP digitally.


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Honest Medicine: Effective, Time-Tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life-Threatening Diseases

Honest Medicine
More than 100,000 People Worldwide Have Been Helped
Effective, Time-tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life-Threatening Diseases
[Including MS (Multiple Sclerosis), Epilepsy, Liver Disease, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and other diseases]
Book Author: Julia Schopick
Publisher: Innovative Health Publishing
Cost: (Paperback) $14.95

Thank you Julia Schopick for sending me this book to review!

Julia wrote Honest Medicine in the early 1990s when her husband was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. So Julia did everything she could to work alongside the medical community and doctors to help treat him. She did a lot of research on brain tumors, cancer, medicine, etc. While doing all of her homework, she realized how informed she had become with all of this medical knowledge that the public was not aware of. So she started to write columns and articles on health and medicine, and had become very popular and started to become published with a lot of widely known news companies, and health organizations. Julia felt that she should share all the knowledge and information she was learning with the public, and started her own blog.  I highly recommend visiting the blog and taking a look at the materials there, along with the book to learn what you can do if you or a loved one may have any of the health problems mentioned above.

Honest Medicine revolved around non-mainstream health and medicine cures for such diseases and medical conditions that even today doctors and well-known health institutions and hospitals have a difficult time treating and or curing. The first section of this book introduces you to Tim, who was Julia’s husband. In 1990 Tim was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor by his doctors. Once Tim was diagnosed with the brain tumor, Julia did all she could be to become Tim’s medical advocate and started to do all of the research she could on Tim’s diagnosis. She learned about the traditional treatments and medicines that doctors and medical institutions used to treat such conditions. She also learned the costs of these treatments. So Julia wanted to read about and research non-conventional and in her own words “out of the box” treatments. In doing all of her research, Julia learned about Silverlon. She convinced Tim’s doctors to try Silverlon to help his surgical wounds heal when nothing else seemed to be working. Literally overnight, Tim’s wounds started to heal amazingly. What a simple, and cheap treatment, and as Julia puts it, “an out of the box treatment”. Silverlon has many other uses, not just for treating a problem like Tim’s, but learn the other benefits of it, and who knows, you might be able to find a use for it for yourself, or a loved one.  

You will also read about pediatric and adult seizure disorders. You are given a background on each patient, the doctors who treated them, the treatments used, and then, the diet each patient was introduced to.  It was amazing to read the stories of these patients and what they went through, but to learn of a diet that can be so helpful to them and many other patients around the world. Unfortunately, since it isn’t a medicine that these doctors are taught about in med-school, it’s not something most doctors push to use. This is not the typical treatment used, it’s not the drugs that they spend so much time learning about. It’s not a surgical procedure that is cutting edge, and that can financially benefit these doctors, so a majority of these doctors and medical professionals push these treatments for their patients, and the patients don’t hear about this amazing diet that can benefit them in such a drastic way. You learn about this diet, patients who have used it, how it helped them, and foundations and doctors who do use this treatment. So maybe if you, or a loved one, or someone you know suffers from such terrible seizure disorders, this is something that would be helpful to read, and learn about. Who knows, it’s a diet, what do you have to lose?

I like to consider myself pretty medically savvy. I have not gone to medical school or received any medical training. But I do have quite a bit of medical conditions and take a lot of medications, see a lot of doctors, and spend a lot of time in the hospital. I feel I learned quite a bit reading this book and learning more about how today’s medical system works and how off-label uses for medical conditions can be very helpful if you just take the time and do your research. Reading this book has given me a different perspective on the medical system, doctors, and medicines. Other areas of the book teach you how doctors are trained, how medical schools work, and there are even chapters written by doctors themselves, so you hear it directly from them the truth about medicine. Take a read through Honest Medicine and learn for yourself.

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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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