Monday, June 26, 2017

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (Video Game Review)

Shadows of Valentia is a game that was remastered for the Nintendo 3DS from the Fire Emblem Saga. The saga features lovable characters, turn based movement, strategy based play, and captivating stories. You command an army through multiple battles and watch as the story unfolds.  Fire Emblem Games are a combination between engaging stories and challenging puzzles (turn based movement).

 Each game covers different characters; Shadows of Valentia specifically covers the lives of childhood friends Alm and Celica both with shrouded pasts who are called upon to fight for their country and go against the evil invading it. You command both of their armies on separate sides of the continent each going about the war their way while thinking about the other person.

Even though I was able to mostly predict the story line in Shadows of Valentia, I still loved how it gradually unfolded and the truth was not what it seemed. While missing some of the elements from newer Fire Emblem titles, I was impressed with the 3D dungeon style exploring when one went into a cave or temple and the missions and items found in the 2D villages by searching the picture or talking to the people. I was not able to play the original version of this game so I was thankful it was released on a game system I already owned.

Books are not the only thing to have stories; I love stories in all of their formats. Fire Emblem Shadows of Valentia to me is as enjoyable and entertaining as reading a fantasy novel except that I get to solve puzzles and actually become a part of the story. Awakening and Fates are two other newer Fire Emblem titles where you actually get to name the main character whatever you want because you are that character in the story. Both of those titles also have their own stories that are worth experiencing.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ties that Bind by Cindy Woodsmall

Ties that Bind is the first in a Trilogy of three books concerning an Amish community with many secrets. Ariana is a young Amish girl who was hurt in her past by her closest friend Quill.  He stole away with another of her friends, Frieda, and left the Amish lifestyle without warning using Ariana as his cover. Now he appears back in her life as she is just moving on and is about to start her own business. He gives her a cryptic message insinuating that one of her family members is about to leave the Amish, as well, bringing all the old pain back. However, he soon learns an even worse secret that could shake Ariana's life far worse.

Woodsmall has a way of writing that makes the Amish lifestyle and characters understandable and relatable. She comes up with new and exciting twists and story lines to keep audiences hooked upon her books. Especially in this series, I am excited to see her comparison of, what we call, the normal lifestyle and the Amish lifestyle, which is already apparent in this book for reasons that I do not want to spoil. She has a way of showing us what happens in the Amish community when extenuating circumstances occur such as found in this book. Read with me as I finish the stories and write reviews.

A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers

A Lineage of Grace is a compilation of five smaller stories; each story concerns one of the women who is mentioned in Matthew of the Bible as part of the descendants leading to the birth of Jesus Christ. The five women include, Tamar who was abused by her husband, Rahab the prostitute with faith who lived on the wall of Jericho, Ruth the faithful widow and daughter-in-law who was blessed by God, Bethsheba the infamous adulteress, and Mary the mother of Jesus.

I was already in love with Rivers' work on Redeeming Love and the Mark of the Lion series before I picked this book up at the thrift store. Rivers brings to life the stories of these women keeping true to the passages given to us in the Bible while adding in detail that she must have gained from research into the history and culture of each of those time periods and countries the women are from. Through Rivers' writing, she brings emotions to the characters making them relatable to present audiences. Through their abuse, circumstances, temptations, and flaws, she brings to light one of the leading themes found in the Bible; God used the most unlikely and flawed people to bring Jesus Christ into the world. I would recommend this book to all those who have longed to see the Bible as if they had been there. Remember, however, that the Bible is the only ultimate truth.