Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Long Way Off

A Long Way Off is a modern day retelling of The Prodigal Son. Jake Abraham (Jason Burkey) works for his father (John Diehl), a prosperous farmer in North Carolina. Jake doesn't feel like farm living is the life he was meant to have, so tells his dad that he is quitting, and, by the way, would also like to have his inheritance NOW! He has to have money to invest it... and will need a few dollars to live on as he waits to get richer.

When he reaches the big city, he meets a new friend, Summer (Zoe Myers), who works at a nearby coffee shop, but is drawn to actress, Laura (Johanna Jowett), despite the fact that she appears to be in a relationship with Frank (Robert Davi). Spending money freely, it appears he will waste it all until one of his investments pays off big. However, when the investment falls through, Jake is left with no money, no friends, an angry mobster who is threatening him...and no where to turn.

A chance encounter at a homeless shelter with Al (Rusty Martin Sr.) leads to a job on a pig farm, and some wise advice. Setting aside his pride and fears, he throws himself on the mercy of his father. Will he be accepted or rejected?

A Long Way Off also stars Dave Blamy (as Jake's brother, Seth), Robert Amaya and Edie McClurg. Written by Jon Macy and co-directed by Michael Davis and John Errington. Davis also serves as producer; Gerald McGlothlin and Christy McGlothlin are the executive producers for ProdigalFilm LLC. For more info on the film, visit their website at

My Review: This film is based on one of my favorite parables told by Jesus, "The Prodigal Son". For any unfamiliar with the story, it is the ultimate example of God's grace and forgiveness toward His children who reject Him (but don't hesitate to take His blessings) and His acceptance of those who humble themselves, ask forgiveness, and return to Him. I cry each and every time I read about or see a re-enactment of this Father and child reunion.

This film was no exception! I don't feel like I am giving away anything. The basic plot of the story in in the Bible, and the difference is in the setting and the details. This was a well acted story and looked great. Those looking for foul language and signs of nudity will be disappointed (thank goodness!). Some parts are not necessarily suitable for younger children, but even the worst is better than the average person sees daily. It is certainly suitable for teens and up. Jake's lavish lifestyle may look attractive, but is also a prime example of how quickly people will desert you when you are no longer useful to them. 

I admit, that I am more prone to identify with the older brother in this tale. I loved the way this part of the story was handled, and thought Dave Blamy was excellent in the role of Seth, the "good" brother who felt his efforts were unappreciated. Jason Burkey is an outstanding actor and easily portrayed a believable character who made a complete turnaround with his life. John Diehl was also remarkable as the dad who reluctantly gives in to his son's demands, and his part in the climactic scene will long remain with me, especially when I am reading this story in my Bible.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Edify Media and Word Entertainment for providing me with a copy of this dvd for review purposes. No expectations were given for a positive review; only an honest one.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Identical

The Identical

Identical twin brothers (Blake Rayne), born during the Great Depression, are separated shortly after birth. Their parents (Brian Geraghty, Amanda Crew) simply cannot afford 2 babies, so the dad sees it as Divine Providence when a passing evangelist asks for prayer for his own wife's (Ashley Judd) infertility. The brothers, unaware of each other, have very different upbringings, but share a passion for music. One of the boys, Drexel Hemsley,  becomes a rock ‘n' roll superstar, nicknamed "The Dream". Ryan Wade is torn between his love for music and not wanting to disappoint his father (Ray Liotta), who expects his son to become a minister. Ryan is encouraged by his wife Jenny (Erin Cottrell) and lifelong friends Dino and Avi (Seth Green, Joe Pantoliano) to follow his musical dreams and enters a Drexel Hemsley Impersonator contest. Ryan easily wins and becomes known as "The Identical"!!

This is a story of love, hope, forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and family. It is directed by Dustin Marcellino and written by Howard Klausner for City of Peace Films and Identical Production Company. Yochanan Marcellino is the executive producer and was the composer and musical supervisor.

Buy Advanced Tickets & Take a Group on Opening Weekend -Sept 5th, 6th & 7th! CLICK HERE!!

My Review: All in all, this is a good film. I love Ray Liotta, and he is the stand out performer for me, but everyone did well. This is Blake Rayne's first acting gig, but what he lacked in experience was fine for his character (or characters, in this case). As a musician, his performance, naturally, came to life during the performances. The music was, for the most part, excellent. To be honest, it was just my personal taste when I did not enjoy it as much. Each piece went well for the time period it represented. Speaking of music, the story really pulled me in with a fantastic performance by Noah Urrea (Ryan as a child) during a church scene. It's also the first film directed by Dustin Marcellino, but he surrounded himself with professional cast and crew, and it is a high quality film.

The story seemed more of a "What If?" tale based on the life of Elvis Presley, but it was interesting speculation. I thought it seemed odd that there was not a bit more curiosity about the fact that the 2 performers looked and sounded the same, but I may be looking at it through more modern eyes. I know adoptions were much more secretive years ago, and people seemed a bit more respecting of the privacy of others. (Again, that may just be me. I have never understood the 'Celebrity Worship' culture.) I honestly think I would have preferred the film as a mini-series to delve more deeply into BOTH brothers and to each era, especially the music, but it is a satisfying film. It is great for the whole family to watch, and while it is listed as a faith-based film, it is not a proselytising film. I enjoyed it. 

The Identical website
The Identical on IMDb

The Identical on Facebook

Blake Rayne on Christian Movie Connect
Erin Cottrell on Christian Movie Connect 
Yochanan Marcellino on Christian Movie Connect 
Examiner Article

Disclaimer: I was provided with a link to see this film for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review, or to review it at all. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Your Core by Callie Grant

Everyone has an inner place made by God for welcoming and meeting with Him. Inspired by Ephesians 3:14-19, Your Core appeals to the youngest readers with simple text and colorful scenes to convey a difficult concept to grasp—even for many adults.

books connect studies about the facts of God with a child’s inner life – what Jesus cares about most. Children assimilate on a personal level who God is and how they are made to be with him, trust him and love him. (from the Graham Blanchard website)

My Review: This latest boardbook by Callie Grant is not only perfect for young hands to hold, but also explains the Holy Spirit in such a simple manner that children can get a basic grasp of who He is. The Trinity is a hard concept for even adults to understand sometimes, but this is an excellent starting point. The colorful illustrations by Missy Jay also serve as a visual to help anyone learn the message the book teaches. I highly recommend this book for Sunday School classes, church libraries, or your home library for the young children in your life. Also check out the Tips For Grown-Ups link on the Graham Blanchard website for more ways to interact with your child about the lesson learned.

 I received this book free of charge from Shelton Interactive in exchange for my honest review.

Graham Blanchard: Christian Children's Books
Callie Grant

Shelton Interactive
Missi Jay


Holy Ghost movie

Can the Holy Spirit Direct a Movie?
In this fast-paced documentary from the director of the popular films Finger of God, Furious Love, and Father of Lights, Darren Wilson sets out to make a movie that is completely led by the Holy Spirit. No plan, no script, no safety net — just go wherever he feels the Spirit leading him to try and discover the adventure God has for him. Whether it’s the riches of Monte Carlo, a heavy metal concert, or the oldest city in world, the result is a film that not only challenges and excites, but also reveals a God who is far more alive and active than you ever imagined.

The movie features big names such as Lenny Kravitz, Brain “Head” Welch, Bill Johnson, Michael W. Smith, Todd White, Meredith Andrews, DeVon Franklin, William P. Young, Phil Vischer, and many more! (from the press release) 

My Review: After watching Holy Ghost several times, I remain ambivalent. My favorite parts were anytime Jake Hamilton sang. The boldness of sharing your faith and not limiting God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to our own conceptions also was clearly brought out. In my opinion, we do not teach as much as we should on Holy Spirit in our churches. The movie has great lighting and no issues with the cinematography. There is also Closed Captioning and Director's Commentary!!

Negative is that much of it seemed to be very condescending toward Christians who disagree with the filmmakers. Yet, with nonbelievers, it was all, 'Yeah, man. Jesus loves you. It's all cool.' Frankly, I find that as disturbing as I do the screaming "Turn or Burn" type people. Perhaps they did a follow-up that was not shown on camera, but it felt more like a display of signs and wonders or party tricks...and that they were using Holy Spirit rather than letting Him work through them. Other times, I felt like I may be missing the point. Something about the score bothered me, but I often find that true in documentaries. No doubt that the composer is talented, but I had to turn it down several times.

Great conversation starter and gives the viewer some things to think about. I think I sometime took offense where none was intended, but I also felt that some parts lead to more confusion. Sometimes the director's commentary helped clarify, but other times I still felt there was too much arrogance or attempts to manipulate. To be honest, except for missing Hamilton's music, I prefer to watch the dvd with the commentary on. I believe the film can be used, though. One thing I do know is that you cannot limit Holy Spirit or what He will use to convict.

Holy Ghost Movie website

On September 6th, Wanderlust Productions will host the FREE worldwide premiere of the film at this site —>

GIVEAWAY: FlyBy Promotions Blogger Network has a copy of the DVD available for one of my readers. Simply leave a comment to be entered into a random drawing. Deadline to enter is September 7, 2014 at 7pm (CDT). Open to US and Canada residents only.

 Disclosure: I received a copy of this movie from FlyBy Blogger Network in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

When Calls The Heart: Second Chances

When Calls the Heart- “Second Chances” is a feature length film from the episodes of the When Calls the Heart television series.  The When Calls the Heart television series debuted on the Hallmark Channel to more than 3 million viewers, making it the No. 2 for the night on all of cable for the primary telecast at 9 p.m and No. 3 overall in households.   Distributed by Word Entertainment, previous DVD’s are available to purchase in Christian Retail.

Synopsis-  As Elizabeth and Jack fight to restore their relationship, she searches for ways to help one of her older students learn how to read. Meanwhile, Adam Miller struggles to adjust to his new disability. With so many difficult changes affecting the community, can Elizabeth create a Founder's Day play that will spark hope in everybody's hearts?

My Review: Once again this multi-talented team has produced a high quality film with a storyline that draws you in. Hope and moving on from the past and handicaps is key to this film. Jack and Elizabeth finally decide to pursue a courtship, Abigail moves on to a new level of independence in opening a restaurant, Adam Miller (the only miner to survive the explosion) returns and his family must adapt to his diability, and Elizabeth works to help a student overcome a reading disability.

Watching as each character overcomes fears and failures and works hard to attain goals is inspirational and, not only teaches a lesson to the viewer, but entertains as well. A wonderful balance is struck between the drama and the humor and makes for a wonderful film suitable for the entire family.

 I received this DVD compliments of Word Films and Edify Media for my honest review. I was not required to write a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.

Wine and the Word by Kurt Senske

Throughout the Bible, wine or the vine is referenced a total of 521 times and Dr. Senske is on a mission to connect lessons from the vineyard to our daily life. In Wine and the Word Dr. Senske weaves together stories of the vineyard, connecting them to the Christian lifestyle and and taking readers through places such as Bordeaux, Napa and Tuscany. Using both storytelling as well as humor, he guides readers through a conversation about their lives as disciples and how to fully savor God’s blessings and serve others with great joy. (from the publisher)

My Review: I have always been aware of the many Scriptures that include wine and the vineyard, but I know nothing about winemaking. I love the way this book shares the intricacies of wine development and the varieties of wine and it is a great metaphor of Christians. One chapter spoke on how some winemakers will "sell-out" or compromise quality for what they can gain. There are many Christians who slowly get caught up in the culture around them and forget they are to be nurtured by the the One who wants us to be our best. Just as an oenophile, whether an expert or a beginner, breathes in, savors, and lets the taste of the wine explode, we are called to "Taste and see that the LORD is good." In John 15 Jesus tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches. We must stay attached to Him so we can glorify God, the Master Gardner.

In explaining the full process of winemaking and how conditions affect the harvest on to some of his favorite wines and experiences of sharing wine with loved ones, Senske illustrates that God's Word can have that same impact in our development. Wine and the Word: Savor and Serve is a small sized book that would be perfect for the wine lover you know to enrich their knowledge of how Scripture is reflected from the beginning to the finished product. It is one you can pick up and enjoy for a long time.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Shelton Interactive, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

CEO and critically acclaimed author, Dr. Kurt Senske is deeply passionate about creating conversation centered on faith and character. As a dynamic speaker and leader, he is known as much for his acute business acumen as he is for authorship on the Christian lifestyle. Dr. Senske finds joy in connecting various personal life experiences to the Bible and sharing his insight with other Christians. (from the publisher)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Here Is Where by Andrew Carroll

Here Is Where shares the adventures of Andrew Carroll journey in search of America's sometimes forgotten history. The idea for this book came after he saw the location where Abraham Lincoln's son, Robert, was saved by the brother of Lincoln's assassin, Edwin Booth. Carroll began to wonder what other little known historical facts and places he could come across --- places where extraordinary events happened or people who impacted many lived.  In this book you will find, Here is where...

 ...America’s deadliest maritime disaster took place, a calamity worse than the fate of the Titanic!

...a virtually unknown American scientist saved millions of lives.

...modern anesthesia was first used

...a 14 year old got the idea for the creation of television.

...a black woman refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger (and it is not who you are thinking).

As a lover of both history and trivia, I had no doubt I would enjoy this book. I was aware of some of the stories Carroll shared, but many were new to me. I admit I did not share his fascination with some of the stories he chose for the book, but the majority were very interesting and kept me wanting to read more. His style of storytelling kept my interest and he has an amusing way of presenting some of his encounters along the way. These are stories that need to be remembered. 

 FTC Disclaimer: "I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

 Andrew Carroll is the executive director of the American Poetry & Literacy Project, a national nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., that promotes literacy and encourages a greater public awareness of poetry. The author of several books, he lives in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Christ-Centered Wedding

A Christ-Centered Wedding: Rejoicing in the Gospel on Your Big Day by Catherine Strode Parks and Linda Strode

Wedding planning has spawned a major industry. The average cost of the occasion now exceeds $25,000, and societal pressure to create the “perfect day” is so strong that even Christian couples forget what God originally intended for the sacred marriage ceremony.

While paying attention to the good fun that follows that special proposal (the dress, the flowers, the cake, the gatherings, etc.), A Christ-Centered Wedding first serves as a guide to believers who want their wedding to portray the relationship of Christ with the church and to reflect the gospel to all in attendance.

From the start, this thoughtful book looks to the Creator of weddings for guidance in planning by emphasizing the sacrificial love of the Savior more than the modern world’s idealistic view of romantic love. There are chapters filled with practical information about everything from pre-marital counseling and choosing a wedding location to other resources like a planning checklist and timeline, music suggestions, guidance on potential issues of conflict, a listing of traditional financial responsibilities, sample vows, and other great ideas from couples who have successfully put together a Christ-centered wedding.
(publisher's description)

My Review: If you are looking for a book that covers just about everything you can think of for a wedding, this is the one for you. My favorite part was at the beginning of the book when they went into more detail of Biblical betrothals, marriage contracts, and wedding ceremonies. It brought a greater clarity to some of the metaphors used throughout the Bible, especially with the church being called the Bride of Christ.

The rest of the book is divided up into easy-to-read chapters on various aspects from the engagement to the reception. There were several ideas that I really loved and would suggest to anyone planning a wedding. I did love the way that each focused on having Christ at the center of it all. It brought a deeper meaning to the commitment the couple are making to one another and to their commitments as followers of Jesus.

Honestly, much of it is more overwhelming than anything I would have wanted to do, but I tend to be overly pragmatic. But, I still found it interesting and helpful. There were even things that I wish I had done. All-in-all though, I felt that it covered areas that could handle most budgets. The thought of spending thousands of dollars on a ceremony is absolutely horrifying to me, so if I think something is is. So, whether you are planning a very low cost wedding or if money is no object, the important thing is to work together with your finances, your personal views, consideration of others, and most of all, sharing and celebrating the love of Christ.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Shelton Interactive, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Shelton Interactive is offering a giveaway copy of this book. Please leave a comment no later than 8/14/14 7pm (CDT) to be entered in a random drawing. US & Canada only. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The BTFS "Find It" Contest

Beyond the Farthest Star is giving fans a chance to win a fabulous prize, but you must first answer 3 questions correctly. To make it simple, the answers can all be found on the film's IMDb page.

Click on this
link and find the answers to the 3 questions below: 

1. What's the last name of the actress who played Adam's mom?

2. How many weeks was the film crew in Leonard?

3. What type camera was used fo
r filming?

Email your answers and your name to

Be watching the BTFS Facebook page for the announcement of who won!

Easy as 1, 2, 3...and if YOU are the winner, the next step is choosing A, B, or C!

A - A fabulous BTFS T-Shirt! I have seen them and they are awesome!
B - A copy of the BTFS novel written by Bodie and Brock Thoene
C - Mini-poster of the film

RULES: Deadline to Enter is 8/8/14 Midnight CDT
Do NOT Answer questions on the BTFS page or anywhere other than email or you Will Be Disqualified.

 Important Info: