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Christ Centered Gamer Blog

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5 Reasons to Play Slither.io

slither.io

Fresh on the heels of Agar.io is a new, exciting multiplayer game: Slither.io. Challenging for casual and advanced gamers alike, Slither.io is one of many free titles available at Poki.com. It's essentially a highly competitive and fun multiplayer version of Snake. Below, we've outlined five of the best reasons to play Slither.io.

5. It Really Is Free
Not every "free" game is truly without cost. Many of the most popular online games are free to play, but inundate gamers with invasive advertisements. Or, all too often we start a game at the beginner level, and have a difficult time progressing due to competitors that have paid for upgrades and special abilities. Slither.io doesn't incur any of these issues, because it's completely free, and there's absolutely nothing to pay for. Everyone is on an even playing field.

4. Quick to Start
Slither.io is a casual multiplayer game. By casual, we mean that every player can begin a game within seconds. When you're done playing, simply close the game or your browser, and start fresh next time. There's no lengthy registration process or progress to save. There aren't any introduction videos, cutscenes, or ending credits. Slither.io is one of the most convenient games to join and leave whenever you wish. That's why it works great on desktop computers, tablets, and mobile devices alike—try Slither.io and see.

slither.io

3. Easy to Grasp
There's nothing more frustrating than reading a game manual, memorizing complex controls, and losing because you accidentally pressed the wrong button. Slither.io has an extremely simply control scheme and practically no learning curve. During the game, your snake will follow your cursor. Point the slithering reptile in any direction, and it will go there. For a quick speed boost, simply click and hold—that's all there is to it. This type of one-button gameplay is the key to attracting all types of players. Young, old, casual, and hardcore gamers can master the control system instantly.

2. Healthy Competition
Multiplayer games are extremely popular because they bring people together. In Slither.io, there are no teams, but everyone shares the same arena. Every second of gameplay is shaped by individual players. Certain parts of the map may be inhabited by gargantuan snakes, and other sections may be filled with smaller, more defensive snakes. Each player chooses where they want to go and with whom they interact. The always-visible leaderboard is a constant reminder of how you currently compare to other gamers. Jump into the competition, and feel the joy of thriving!

1. Fun, Fun, Fun
The best reason to play Slither.io is for sheer entertainment. It's an undeniably fun game that uses simplicity as a vehicle for addictiveness. Crawl, eat, slither, and grow. The bigger you become, the more you have at stake. Sometimes it takes a minute to climb the ranks, and other times, well, it just doesn't happen. The most important thing is that you have fun trying. Be the best snake you can be in Slither.io!

 

Disclaimer: This article has been provided by one of our donors - Poki.com

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Touched by an Angel: The Complete Series

Thank you BH Impact for sending us this DVD set to review!

Touched by an Angel began in 1994 and was almost cancelled after its first season. However, it was brought back for eight more seasons after the fans of the show wrote enough letters to change CBS’ mind.  During season’s three through six, Touched by an Angel was one of CBS’ highest rated series.  While it was nominated several times for the Golden Globe Awards it never won them.  It did however win multiple Outstanding Drama Series awards, and rightfully so!

The series begins with a couple of angels named Tess and Monica.  Tess is Monica’s supervisor and Monica is a newly promoted “case worker” who lends a helping hand to people in dire situations.  The show doesn’t pull any punches with the topics it discusses.  There are shows about alcoholism, drug addiction, AIDS, cancer, teen pregnancy, racism, homosexuality, and that’s just within the first couple of seasons!  While many of the shows are kid safe, some of them have serious themes and minor language that may not be suitable for young children.   I am happy to report that intimate relationships are eluded to and not explicitly shown.

I also like how this show displays God's love and even though we may be going through tough times, God never abandons us.  It also makes it clear that tough times are not necessarily a punishment and our mistakes still have consequences despite repenting and being forgiven for them.  The angels are not depicted as being perfect either; both Tess and Monica let their pride and emotions get to them and they get set back on track and confess their sins and make amends.  Andrew (from season two on), the angel of death, often appears in the show as well.  His appearance doesn't always mean that someone is going to die, but it's usually the case.  

Throughout the nine seasons and fifty-nine DVDs in this set there are numerous guest appearances from many popular celebrities including Bill Cosby, Celine Dion, Montel Williams, Randy Travis, and Wynonna Judd.  I also like how the show’s finale has guest characters from the first season reprising their roles and bringing closure to this inspiring series.   

Despite the low picture quality of the first couple of seasons, the stories are timeless.  Widescreen format is not available until the final season!  The musical talents of Della Reese (Tess) and other guests is a pleasure to listen to and the writing is excellent.  Some of the episodes will bring tears to your eyes so keep some Kleenex handy!

The complete series retails for $145 but is available for less than $90 on Amazon.  That’s a great price for over one hundred and sixty-five hours of inspiring entertainment.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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PrayerBowls

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Thank you PrayerBowls for sending us one to review!

PrayerBowls is a husband and wife team that offers two different styles for bowls designed to receive prayer requests.  We were sent the Angie set, which is named after a woman that prayed daily for the founder during a serious illness and her many surgeries.  Angie used a bowl to place her written prayer requests and this idea inspired Karen to design some PrayerBowls for family and friends. They were well received and PrayerBowls was born.    

The Angie bowl is white and has a light teal edge with a cross in the center of it.  A Swarovski Crystal adorns the center of the cross. Inscribed on the edge is Philippians 4:6 which states: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.”   The Celeste set is white with gold trim and it has five Swarovski Crystals on its cross and the verse Romans 12:12 which reads “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfast in prayer.”  

 

prayerbowl

Each set comes with one pack of 25 prayer cards.  Some of the cards have lines to fill out while others have fill in the blanks like “Protect __ from harm” or “Lord, I lift up __” or “Please bring comfort to __”.  While any piece of paper will do the trick, replacement card packs are $3 on the website and are best ordered in bulk or with the PrayerBowls since there is a $5 flat rate shipping price on any item.  Both PrayerBowl styles sell for $52 apiece and a dollar from each sale goes to the Mary Lee’s House Charity which aids children who are abused.

PrayerBowls can make wonderful gifts and can be an excellent tool for strengthening your prayer life.  There’s even an AppStore version if you prefer to digitize your prayers.  Our family has been blessed with our new PrayerBowl and my son alone has put about ten prayer requests into it. One of his cards thanked God for the PrayerBowl and cards.   If you have children or foresee a lot of prayer requests, it’s probably not a bad idea to order an extra set or two of prayer cards.  Many retailers sell PrayerBowls and their website will help you locate the nearest store that carries them for you.

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My Little Pony Friends Across Equestria

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Oculus Snift

VR Has leveled up: Oculus has included the sense of smell with their latest product, the Oculus Snift!

By adding the sense of smell to video games they take gaming to a whole new level! For example, when you burn a meal in the forthcoming VR version of Cooking Mama you’ll take your meal preparation a little more seriously!  A DLC for Lucky's Tale will feature Pepe’ Le Pew as he pursues his love interest, a black and white cat that looks like a skunk.  “Believe me, you DO NOT want to get him killed” says the present of Oculus VR, Brendan Iribe. Some games will feature pleasant smells like the Snift version of Flower which will be coming to PC later this year.  

Owners of the Snift can put their noses to the test with the future release of Jackbox Games'  "Name that Smell!". If your nose isn't very good, doctors are looking into using Snift's technology to strengthen the sense of smell.  Nothing can be confirmed without FDA approval though. Pricing and availability for Snift has not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. Snift is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.

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Glimmer Girls: A Dolphin Wish

Thank you Zonderkids for sending us this book to review!

This book is the second book in the Glimmer Girls series, and in it Maddie, Mia, and Lulu are swept away to San Diego for another one of their mom’s concerts. You will also find out the dad’s name - Jack.  To relax the family goes to Captain Swashbuckler’s Adventure Park, an amusement park with an ocean theme. On their first day there, the Glimmers visit the dolphins. On her way back from the bathroom, Mia overhears a conversation that revolves around the topic of illegal animal releases!

The mystery begins when the family is seeing seals and Lulu finds a slip of paper - a possible clue!  The girls think people might get suspicious if they talked about the criminal as a criminal, so they agreed on the code name Dr. Dolittle.  The girls needed to get the feeding schedule of the animals, for it was crucial to the solving of this mystery. Lulu’s slip of paper just happened to be the feeding schedule. 

When they were visiting the  seals, Lulu found a boy with a sketchbook. She asked what he was drawing, and the boy acted all secretive. He could be a possible suspect! The girls were also doing a treasure hunt throughout the park. Mia had one clue the others didn’t – the golden key. She told them about it on the last day as they were preparing to leave the park. The rest of the story you’ll have to read the book to find out.

The drawings in this book are in the same style as in the last one- cartoony and monochrome. They are typically at the beginning of chapters, and sometimes at exciting parts in this 208 page book. It was a really good story and I highly recommend it. 

Buy it on Amazon
(Affiliate Link)

 

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Sole to Soul

Thank you to Westbow Press for sending us this book to review!

Eleanor MacLellan and her husband, Ig, were out of options when their son Patrick began having problems. From bad grades to school suspensions, Patrick was on a road to nowhere fast. During his junior year in high school, Patrick totaled the family van in an unauthorized road trip. The breaking point, however, was when he was caught for shoplifting and thrown in jail. The end result was a change of scenery for Patrick. He was sent out of state to repeat his junior year at an alternative school for at-risk youth. 

At Hyde School, not only were students expected to perform with high standards, but parents as well. While a senior project is normal for any student entering their last year in high school, his parents learned they also needed to complete one. The goal of the senior project was to operate beyond your comfort zone while doing something worthwhile to help your community. Ig decided on a community service trip to El Salvador. Eleanor, on the other hand, embarked on creating a large canvas labyrinth to donate to her church. As Eleanor reflected on her life leading up to this as well as researching the project, she discovered the labyrinth was symbolic of life itself as there are no straight paths or dead ends such as with a maze; all the surprising twists and turns carry you on a walk towards the rose center, which represents the soul. 

With one family crisis after another, Eleanor's passage also led her to become more confident and stronger as a Christian. She didn't do it alone however. Obviously, she had her family but she also had a group of close friends who helped her with funding, designing and creating the labyrinth. Together these special companions journeyed through life's toughest battles including many hardships, pain, loss and grief. 

The author cleverly wrote each chapter chronologically in "circuits" to coincide with the labyrinth path from the entrance to reaching the center. For example, Circuit One is primarily the beginning of the story and upon entering the labyrinth, a brief description of the path is provided. Accompanying each chapter also includes a small diagram of a labyrinth. This has two shades of gray. The darker shade displays the previous path taken while the lighter shade displays the current path the chapter is about.

While the intro was interesting, admittedly, it took awhile to really get into this book. At first I found the story dry. There are small anecdotes about Eleanor's family including divorce from a previous marriage and then having to manage a blended family, her work as a trial lawyer, and church service. Although the book follows a labyrinth path, I kept wondering to myself, "Well what about the creation of the labyrinth itself?" The labyrinth is discussed in greater detail in Circuit Five. As Eleanor gets painfully honest with herself and realizes she needs help, she reaches out to five church members and bares her soul. These five women not only became her closest friends but also become known as the Labyrinth Ladies.

Although a large portion is written about Patrick's triumphs and struggles, his story becomes vaguer as the book continues. Patrick is eventually kicked out of Hyde School two months before graduation. At one point there is an occurrence of an ethics violation early on, however, no clear reason is provided for getting kicked out and not allowed to graduate. I found it odd that the author skimped on providing more information about this particular detail. 

The only other issue I had with the book is Eleanor went to a New Age book store in order to find out more about labyrinths. It is no secret that New Age and Christianity oppose each other. The memoir occurs in the early 2000s. She could have looked in traditional bookstores and even the library. It's not to say that a labyrinth is strictly tied to New Age spiritualism. Many churches, including orthodox and nontraditional, have labyrinths on display. However, with information about any subject easier to obtain nowadays, why research in a nontraditional method especially for a Christian? 

Returning to the review, I admire her group of friends. To have close friends who you can share secrets with yet won't abandon you when you're struggling through the darkest of days is something each person hopes for but very few have. 

As with many, the completed labyrinth was a marvel to behold. It is a thirty-six foot square of purple canvas. The path was hand-painted not only by the Labyrinth Ladies but by church and Hyde School volunteers. It was a concerted effort that reinforced the concept of community. In fact part of the actual labyrinth made serves as the cover of the book. 

Probably one of the reasons I struggled with reading the book is it's not a straightforward memoir. There is so much detail to digest here. It's not only Eleanor's struggles with her family but her friends are given a fair amount of time as well. Each person you read about is real and walk their own labyrinth path, which is skillfully depicted in the book. 

If you are looking for an in-depth memoir that encompasses the many paths people take towards their own God-inspired center, please give Sole to Soul by Eleanor MacLellan a try.  It's available on Amazon for $3.99 electronically or for $24.95 on paperback. (Affiliate Link)

 

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Odd Squad: Dance Like Nobody is Watching

Thank you PBS kids for sending us this DVD to review!

The Odd Squad is a government agency that’s run by kids.  Their mission is to investigate and rectify strange occurrences and to keep everyone safe.  All of the agents have names that begin with the letter “O”.  Field agents Otto, Olive, and their boss Miss O., are in each of the six episodes on this 90-minute DVD.  As the title suggests, each episode is musically themed and most of them use math logic to solve the perplexing mysteries in their neighborhood.

Here’s a break-down of each episode:

Dance Like Nobody is Watching – The agency is under a lockdown as their alarm system got triggered.  Their scientist, Oscar has put many booby traps in place and has long forgotten their patterns.  Otto gets to show off some of his dance moves while de-activating a tricky laser trap. 

Sound Check – There’s a hot boy band called Sound Check and all of the townsfolk and agents (except for Olive) are digging their new single – “Take Away 4.” The problem is that whenever people hear the song, four of their items disappear!  

Sound Check Part Deux – Sound Check is back, well at least one of the members is.  The Odd Squad has to help put the band back together by locating the missing three members.

Case of the Sing Alongs – The mayor has developed an unusual habit of singing and dancing at public events.  The Odd Squad has been called in to figure out why and to put a stop to his strange behavior.

O is not for Old – The agency wants to throw a surprise birthday party for Miss O.  Everything is set up except for the forgotten present and birthday cake.  Oscar can produce them quickly if the group can decide on what type of cake and present to give her.  Olaf’s suggestions for potatoes for both are not very helpful. 

Mystic Egg Pizza – The pizza delivery girl and egg sandwich delivery guy have discovered that pieces of their products show up missing after they are placed into their delivery boxes.  The Odd Squad is called in to follow some leads and crack this tricky case.

My kids enjoyed this show and its wacky humor.  Besides entertaining, it teaches logic and math concepts like fractions and graphing/charting.  I highly recommend this DVD which sells for less than $10 on Amazon (Affiliate link).

 

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My All American

Thank you Anthem Productions for sending us this Blu-Ray to review!

My All American is based off of the book Courage Beyond the Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story written by Jim Dent.  Both the book and movie are based on a true story about a young man who lived for playing football.   Freddie wasn’t very tall for a football player, measuring in at 5’ 9”, and as a result not many colleges responded to his applications for scholarships.  Some of his taller friends had no trouble hearing back from prestigious colleges.  Freddie compensated for his height with speed and strength and was a very talented safety.

His high school coach saw his potential and worked him pretty hard.  After school’s training, Freddie’s father worked him even harder!  Freddie was very disciplined physically, academically, and spiritually by praying and attending mass daily.  Due to financial constraints Freddie’s family was relying on his football skills to land him a scholarship to pay for his college tuition.  Despite the lack of responses from colleges, Freddie and his family did not give up.  

Freddie’s high school coach put in a good word for him and one of his taller friends to University of Texas’ coach Royal.  Freddie was finally given a scholarship and a chance to show his prowess on the field.  Instead of taking the credit, Freddie said it was an answered prayer.   Getting the scholarship was half the battle, maintaining it is even harder.  Freddie survived the cuts that weeded out half of the prospective players.

Despite having some leg pain, Freddie didn’t let it stop him from achieving his goals.  His dedication and skills set him apart on the field and his efforts made the 1969 Texas Longhorns national champions.  Once they won the “Game of the Century” that was attended by Richard Nixon, Freddie got his leg examined by a doctor and the diagnosis was startling.  

I won’t be spoiling the end of this one hour and fifty-nine minute movie for you.  I will however highly recommend it while cautioning that it’s probably not suitable for younger children and earns its PG rating.  There is language from the coaches as they give the team pep talks.  One scene shows one of the teammates streaking in his jock-strap which shows off his butt cheeks.  Other than those issues, this movie is very well done and shows a good example of courage and sportsmanship.  


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Thank You For Playing

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Thank you Falco Ink For sending us a screener of this movie!

When Joel Evan Green was a one-year-old, he had brain tumors and was only given four months to live.  His parents had a choice.  They could distance themselves and prepare for his death, or celebrate each day of his life.  While the tumors came and went with chemotherapy, Joel lived a few more years and was showered with love each and every one of those days.  Throughout Joel’s treatment, his parents documented their journey for this documentary and their game immortalizing Joel’s battle with “That Dragon, Cancer”.  

Both the film and the game capture the struggles and testing of the family’s faith and hope for saving their son’s life.  Lots of emotions are shown and they’re all genuine.  A couple of swear words are said so keep that in mind for younger audiences.   

It was really neat to see the behind the scenes discussions and work put into the making of “That Dragon, Cancer.”   Ryan and Amy Green worked together on the script and their sons lended their voice talents in the game as well.  While the laughs in the game are Joel’s, the crying is not.  

Though the characters in the game are expressionless, this movie leaves nothing to the imagination and has lots of footage of Joel and his family.  Many videogames promote violence but not too many tell an emotional story.  Too many families have been impacted by cancer and they don’t talk about their struggles.  One of the goals of this game is to break down those barriers and allow people to share, uplift, and mourn together.  At its PAX appearance, many gamers who play tested “That Dragon, Cancer” were moved to tears.  Both the film and game are powerful and worth checking out.  Just keep some tissues handy.

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Dynamic Studies in Hebrews

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

The book of Hebrews is not one of the easier books in the Bible to read.  Fred A. Schreeren, who wrote Dynamic Studies in Hebrews, goes over each and every verse in this thirteen-chapter epistle.  The Bible study is broken down into twenty sessions that are designed for weekly Bible studies.  Even though snacks are usually a given at a Bible study, I thought it was amusing that this study says to “assign refreshments for next week.”  

Most of the sessions are around ten pages in length and involve referencing and comparing verses from both the New and Old Testament to those in Hebrews.  Some of the sessions recommend assigning someone to read and summarize other books (God’s Appointed Times, Christ in the Passover) for the next session.

I like how each study gives you a warm up question that will set the tone for the current study.  I have to admit that I changed my point of view from the start to the end of the study on at least one occasion.  One question that I changed my mind on was: How do you normally respond to someone who gets in trouble?  While my initial answer was “Not much pity if they deserved it”, after reading and studying on how much Christ suffered on our account, I was convicted about how I’m lacking in the compassion department.  

There are some great Old Testament comparisons to Jesus being the high priest of the New Testament to the Old Testament’s Melchizedeck.  This Bible Study also goes over the necessity of the new covenant.  The author also makes the case that Paul is the author of Hebrews since he was longing to see Timothy, references believers in Italy, and last but not least, it has his signature ending: “Grace be with you all. Amen.”

For anyone who is looking for an in depth look into Hebrews that is easy to understand, I highly recommend checking out Dynamic Studies in Hebrews which sells for $23.95 on paperback or $3.99 digitally.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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God’s Club

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us this movie to review!

Does a Bible Club belong in a public school?  That’s the premise of the movie God’s Club.  Christine Evans was getting pushback from launching God’s Club at the Echo Grove high school in Vermont.  This small community has a number of outspoken (and often jerkish) atheist families who are trying to stop the club from launching.   Her husband reluctantly supports her efforts, but doesn’t get too involved until she dies suddenly. 

Michael Evans (Stephen Baldwin) takes his wife’s death pretty badly and holes himself up in his house for twelve weeks (often wearing the same shirt).  His nearly angelic teenage daughter tried to get him out of the house without much success.  One of his colleagues (Corbin Bernsen) pays him a friendly visit and reminds him that he could lose his job altogether if he doesn’t return to work soon.  To inspire him, he suggests that Michael launches the Bible club in his wife’s honor. And he does so, not anticipating the uphill battles ahead.

At first the Bible club has a few members and a couple of them joined up just to heckle the teacher.  Other students are positively impacted by the gospel and it stirs up trouble with their non-believing parents.  One of the parents is a lawyer (Lorenzo Lamas) and is looking for any creative way to shut down the club for good.  Some of the students resort to vandalism to let God’s Club know that they are not welcome as well.

With so much stacked against them, Michael and his daughter press on with the club realizing that their lives, jobs, and reputations are on the line.  But their faith is strong and unwavering as Psalm 62 proclaims.  Other verses quoted include Mark 11:25 and Romans 8:28.

While a bit corny and stereotypical at times, there were some enjoyable moments in God’s Club.  I’m in no rush to see it again nor am I eager to loan it out to fellow believers telling them that it’s a “must see.”  Overall it’s a decent film. However, I certainly won’t be handing it out to non-believers because of how they are portrayed in it.


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Glimmer Girls: London Art Chase

Thank you Zonderkids for sending us this book to review!

Glimmer Girls: London Art Chase is written by Natalie Grant who many know as a four-time Grammy nominated singer.  She is now using her creative talents toward writing books that pre-teen girls will like.  As an 11-year old, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In London Art Chase, twins Maddie, Mia, and their little sister Lulu are going to London for their mom's concert tour. They have a nanny named Miss Julia who takes are of them while their parents are gone. Their mom is named Gloria Glimmer, and she is a famous Christian pop star.

While their family is packing to go to London for Gloria's concert tour, the sisters decide to hold a fashion show, as many young girls enjoy playing dress up.   Once packed, the family heads to the airport and flies off to London.  Unfortunately, Lulu's suitcase with her toys didn't make it there.  While Lulu hoped to investigate the matter, they were re-united with it after a few days.   Later in the book the whole family will embark on a case regarding a stolen painting.

In London the family gets to stay in a really nice hotel and visit the National Gallery during their free time.  They also got to visit Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London, where they were awestruck by the jewels that belonged to many princes and princesses over the centuries. On their trip the family also learned that their great-great-great-great-great grandfather founded the London police force and was knighted as a result.  Besides learning about their lineage, the girls also learned a thing or two about  solving mysteries. I won't spoil them, so you'll have to read the book to find out more!

I enjoyed this 205 page book so much I finished it in a day! It is kid-safe with no foul language and a few references to God and the Bible. It has some black and white illustrations as well. Most of them are at the beginning of the chapter, but there are some that are at exciting parts in the story. I would highly recommend this book and it sells for less than $8 on Amazon. 


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

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Buyus Colored Pencils

Buyus Colored Drawing Sketching Pencils
Developed by: BuyusDirect
Price: $12.95
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Highlights:

Strong Points: Very durable pencils; sturdy container; hex-shape makes them less likely to roll
Weak Points: Faint colors unless you press hard

Thank you, BuyusDirect, for sending us a set of these pencils to review!

We were approached at Christ Centered Gamer to review a set of colored pencils from a company called BuyusDirect – not normally a product we cover, but we don't mind being experimental. It's good to branch out now and then!

The pencils came quickly from Amazon, and contain 36 pencils in a wide variety of shades. The container is a sturdy cylinder, made of yellow-covered cardboard and topped with a durable plastic cap. The writing on most of the container appears to be Chinese, and what little English that is on the container makes little sense. There is a picture of some sort of bear wearing sunglasses in the middle – presumably the "Mr. Cuya" that appears below the picture. Around the portrait of the bear is the odd phrase "CUYA STORY – They love each other and happy every day." Underneath the title of "Mr. Cuya" is another peculiar phrase, "Cool is a kind of life is also a kind of attitude." 

case

Despite the odd use of "Engrish" on the package, the pencils within are of fine quality. Each pencil is six-sided, which means they are less prone to roll off the table than your typical colored pencil. The colored lead within each is durable, and not prone to snapping or crumbling over heavy use. My daughters have enjoyed using them quite a bit, and I've even used them to try and sketch out a quiet, nature scene (which also told me that my drawing skills are sorely out of practice). The colors aren't terribly bold, though, unless you press hard. Fortunately, the lead is durable enough to withstand this kind of pressure. Unfortunately, when my wife tried to use them, it led to her having cramped fingers after just a few minutes of coloring.  

 Another thing that we found odd was the price. The Buyus pencils have a list price of $49.99, but we've seen them on sale for around $12. However, when you compare them to Faber-Castells – one of the premium names in artistic pencils – you can get a set of 48 pencils, and an eraser, for $30.79, also from Amazon. Another thing to consider – Faber-Castells often have the name of the color stamped on the side, while the Mr. Cuya pencils don't. It's a minor point, though – the hue of the paint on the outside of the pencil is going to be the hue you get when you touch it to paper. 

Buyus coloring pencils

All in all, these pencils have a very good quality, but require a bit of effort to really make the colors stand out. They can be a good deal if purchased on sale, but at their full price, you may be better off looking to one of its competitors.


(Amazon Affilate Link)

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Noah’s Ark (2015)

Thank you Cinedigm for sending us this DVD to review!

Our family has watched many faith-based movies and most of them show the biblical figures as upright, holy, and serious.  While those films don’t stray from the Bible and teach valuable lessons, they are often hard to relate to in modern times.  Noah’s Ark (which originally aired on BBC television) changes that formula by telling a well-known story with a modern twist and personable characters.  Although Noah was close to 600 years old (Gen 7:6), he is shown as being a fit man who joins his sons (Ham, Shem, Japeth) in diving, swimming, rough housing and some joking around.  

Besides the added dialog, there are some new characters brought into the story including an adopted son named Kenan.  Ham, Shem, and Japeth are all married though having grandkids is a little challenging for them since everyone is all living and sleeping in close proximity.  Some of the couples are discussing the lack of privacy and the need to move out to start their own families.  Kenan is nearly eighteen and falls in love with a non-believing girl in the nearby town.  He sneaks out to go partying with her almost every night.

The townspeople are shown as evil with implied pedophilia and valuing science over an all-powerful and loving God.  Some of the arguments made by the townspeople are the same as those used by modern day skeptics.  Instead of being told directly by God (Gen 6:13), an angelic messenger is sent to Noah to build an ark for the upcoming flood.

I love how this film depicts his family’s (realistic) reactions to such a bold mission.  Having not seen rainfall in over a year, the family is doubtful to say the least.  Noah keeps his faith and embarks on building the ark on his own.  His family slowly comes around, but when Noah tries to warn the townspeople, they nearly kill him.  Some do come around and join him on the ark before the storm comes. A couple of Bible discrepancies include Genesis 7:7 stating that it was only Noah’s family onboard, and God shut the ark’s door (Gen 7:16) instead of Noah.

The actual flood and gathering of the animals takes a backseat to the storytelling and portrayal of Noah’s family.  Despite some artistic license taken with this Biblical event, my family enjoyed watching this movie.   This 92 minute film has a faith friendly 12+ rating and I think that's fair given some of the bedroom discussions.  I wasn't familiar with any of the British actors, but they all did a fine job.  I highly recommend the 2015 Noah's Ark movie if you’re looking for a different spin on this great story of faith.


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The Great Video Game Music III – Choral Edition

Thank you Shore Fire Media for sending us a digital version of this CD to review!

As a proud owner of the first two Greatest Video Game Music CDs I’ve been very happy with their symphonic renditions of many video game songs that I hold dear to my heart.  I can even appreciate songs from games I have yet to play.  The first two CDs were performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and they did not disappoint.  The third entry features the Oprhei Drangar, an 80-piece Swedish choir and the female vocalist, Myrra Malmberg.  

The track list spans though several popular game series including Assassin’s Creed, Dragon Age, Final Fantasy, God of War, Minecraft, Portal, Skyrim, The Last of Us, and World of Warcraft.  There are thirteen tracks in total and some games have multiple tracks like Final Fantasy X and Skyrim.

My favorite song on the CD that I’m already familiar with is Skyrim – Dragonborn.  I was also familiar with Portal’s Still Alive, but I’m still a fan of the original rendition (though the choral version is still nice.)  Even though I haven’t played Dragon Age: Inquisition, the theme is really well done and is a pleasure to listen to.    The choir is very prominent (and rightfully so!) in most of the songs, but I couldn’t tell if they actually sang in the Minecraft song, Sweden.  The symphony did an excellent job and my kids enjoyed that song the most on the CD, but the choir was either not performing in it or were drowned out by the orchestra. 

Gamers who have played any of the games mentioned in this review should check out this CD and its predecessors.  The audio CD sells for $11.99 on Amazon or in digital form on iTunes for $9.99.


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Monkey Up

Thank you Airbud Entertainment for sending us this DVD, shirts, a mini barrel of monkeys game, some coupons for free rice and a monkey bag to carry it all in!  

My kids were excited to see this movie, especially after meeting its star actor, Crystal, the monkey who plays Monty in Monkey Up.  Crystal is 22 years old and has been in several movies including Dr. Dolittle 1&2, Night at the Museum, Zoo Keeper, George of the Jungle and many of the Buddies movies including Treasure Buddies, Spooky Buddies, and Super Buddies.  Monkey Up is her first movie where she takes the lead role.

Monkey Up is about an egotistical talking monkey, Monty, who is full of himself and wants to become a big time movie star instead of being the spokesperson for Monkey Up, a sugary energy soft drink.  Monty hears about an upcoming movie role, but the director would rather use a CGI monkey instead of one that’s full of himself and doesn’t know the first thing about family.  Instead of heading back to his trainer to do more commercials, he runs away and hides in a doll house.  

The doll house is delivered that night to a girl named Sophie whose family is a bit dysfunctional with her father switching jobs and her mother putting her career above her family’s needs. Her brother Ethan is nice to her, but is more interested in getting to know their new neighbor girl than spending time with her.  

Sophie can really use a good friend and she’s been asking for a pet monkey for a while. Needless to say that when she found out that her dollhouse had Monty as a tenant, she was thrilled.  Of course Monty only wanted to stay there for a little while, but as he started to get to know the family and help them out, he started to love them and learn what it’s like to put other’s needs before your own.

Monkey Up is a heartwarming movie that promotes family values and has a lot of silly humor that my kids enjoyed.  Adults may not be impressed with the action stunts, but this movie has a good message and it reminds me as a parent to pay attention to my kid’s needs.  It was fun watching Crystal the monkey doing her own stunts and our family looks forward to seeing her in many more movies to come!


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Waves '98

Thank you Brigade Marketing for sending us a screener of this short film to review!

Waves ’98 is a short film (15 minutes in length) that takes place in Beirut in 1998. Omar is a teenager that is depressed with all of the somber news, his parent’s financial situation, and the rundown neighborhood he lives in.    One of his methods of escape for him is to sit on top of his school’s rooftop to view the parts of the segregated city that he has never seen before.  While he’s outside he’s seen smoking a cigarette, though the vision he sees later makes me wonder if it was just tobacco.

Later Omar is shown riding a scooter and I like how the real life images are blended into the animated environment. The scooter scene is primary real time footage and for once, the animated scenes take a back seat.  The animation becomes front and center again when Omar comes face to face with a giant golden elephant.  Omar enters into the elephant and is joined with a few other teenagers who are looking for a similar escape. 

The friends get to experience fun times at a beach and witness sea creatures swimming in space?  Their time together is short lived as reality creeps back in.  The ending isn’t very clear and had my husband and I scratching our heads and wondering what the overall message was.  Despite the confusing elements and subtitles (the default language is Arabic), we were captivated by the story and neat visual effects.   

If you like short animated films Waves ’98 is worth checking out though I’m not aware of any way to view it in its entirety.  The trailer can be seen at its website.   At the Cannes Film Festival, it was given the Palm D’or which is the highest tier prize awarded.

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Bridge of Spies

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

Bridge of Spies takes place during the Cold War in 1957 and is based on true events.  A Soviet spy has been captured and needs to be tried for his crimes.  The people are afraid of nuclear warfare and want swift and deadly justice to keep our country safe.  But who wants to defend this war criminal?  An insurance lawyer, Jim Donovan, gets the patriotic privilege of being Rudolf Abel’s legal counsel.

Despite his family’s concerns for their reputation and safety, Jim accepts the job and represents Mr. Abel honorably.  In fact, the cards are stacked against Rudolf and some legal shortcuts were taken to get him into court.  Even when the legal discrepancies are brought forward, they are disregarded by the judge.  Jim Donovan doesn’t give up and stands his ground and pleads for the court system to spare Rudolf’s life as a good gesture towards Russia.

While the arraignment proceedings are taking place, a top secret U.S. pilot is shot down in Russia and a U.S. student is captured while being on the wrong side of the newly erected Berlin wall.  Jim Donovan goes above and beyond the call of duty of simply representing Rudolf Abel, and is instrumental in negotiating his safe return to his family.

Without spoiling any more details from the movie, I will say that it’s well worth watching for yourself. When I saw that Bridge of Spies was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Tom Hanks, I had my expectations set pretty high.  I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed and highly recommend it.  Bridge of Spies is rated PG-13 due to strong language (a few SOB’s and F-bombs) and violence.  There are some emotional scenes with people losing their lives trying to reunite with loved ones on the other side of the Berlin wall.  Anyone who likes movies about war or justice should definitely check out Bridge of Spies.


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Lyfe’s Journey

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

David Lyfe had a good life, a nice house, a great job, a pretty wife and daughter, and a baby on the way.  He was a wonderful dad and a loving husband.  Things couldn’t get much better until he found out that his company was merging with another bank.  He detested having to fly out to California to lay off the people he personally hand-picked for that location.  To make matters worse, once that was handled, he was given the same lay-off spiel by his boss! To cope with the news David decided to drown away his sorrows at the hotel bar.

It’s there that he meets a lonely housewife named Amy and they share stories about each other’s life and spouses.  David is happy in his marriage, but Amy is not since her husband doesn’t pay much attention to her and her desire to have kids.  I’d like to say that they parted ways but instead David makes a mistake that will cost him his family, house, and job opportunities.  

When David hits rock bottom, he meets up with a pastor and starts to stay at their homeless shelter.  The pastor’s daughter took an interest in David since she sensed her deceased mother’s “presence” around him and knew that he deserved a second chance.  Can David repent of his sins and regain his wife’s trust and earn her forgiveness?  You’ll have to watch this eighty-two-minute film that has earned Dove awards for yourself.  It’s recommended for audiences that are twelve and older and I agree with that rating.    Although intimacy is not shown, it is implied and there are alcohol references.

Overall I found the movie enjoyable, but predictable.  The acting is decent and the main character is a good guy who makes one mistake and pays dearly for it.  The wife is rightfully hurt and her mother (who was cheated on numerous times) is pushing for her to divorce him.  As a Christian I like the message of redemption, but I’m not so fond of the spiritual sensing that the pastor’s daughter had with the local homeless residents. 


(Amazon Affiliate Link)

 

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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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