Saturday, March 25, 2017

Raising A Hand: A Photographic Music Festival With a Cause

Raising A Hand is a brand new book raising awareness for a rare degenerative genetic disorder that affects young girls.  This book is a virtual concert, captured in photographs featuring a variety of musicians. For those who love music and musical history, this will be a treasured volume.  This book is part of an effective and unique outreach program to raise awareness of the little known  Rett Syndrome. The artists included in this book give a voice to the cause of young girls who otherwise would have no voice.

This book is produced from the combined efforts of dedicated individuals whose mission it is to find a cure and treatment for Rhett's.  Dave Clements' life was changed with the diagnosis of his daughter with Rhett's Syndrome.  Clements is the executive director of Raising a Hand, inspired by his daughter.  Together with Kevin Black, whose daughter was also diagnosed with Rhett's- they were inspired to create a one of a kind campaign to raise awareness.   The photographic compendium is a virtual music festival, featuring authentic, vibrant still shots of musicians "raising a hand" during their performances.  This well made hardcover volume is certain to become a collector's edition- perfect for the library or the coffee table. The minimalist modern design of this book, as well as the sharp photographs make this a musical time capsule- the perfect gift for anyone who loves music.  Any serious music enthusiastic needs a copy of this book.  The book features a wide variety of musical artists from all genres and time periods: Chubby Checker, Connie Smith, Brian Black, Peter Noone, Randy Travis, Paul McCartney, ZZ Top and many more.  There is an Artist Index in the back so that the reader can quickly find his favorites.





For more information or to purchase the book please visit their website at http://www.raisingahand.com/

If You Were me and Lived in the Mayan Empire by Carole P. Roman

If You Were me and Lived in the Mayan Empire by Carole P. Roman is the newest of the Romans' picture book  series introducing readers to a variety of civilizations from various time periods.

The Ancient Mayan culture is mysterious to many readers.  Most people have some popular knowledge of the ancient Mayans but this book dispels myth from reality. Roman's picture history book sheds light on this mysterious ancient, yet taboo culture through the eyes of a young child growing up in a typical Ancient Mayan home.   The ancient culture is presented in its raw, uncensored entirety  As an educator and historian, Roman reports the culture as she sees it, without omitting even the distasteful elements of the culture.

The  various books in this series depict the art of different illustrators.  This particular volume features the art of the talented illustrator Paula  Tabor.  I especially enjoy her artwork.  Her bold illustrations in the foreground, with textured, photographs of various scenes are vivid as well as unique.  The textures of the grassy huts, and other textures of the building materials, foods and natural environment transport the reader to a new culture. The reader  will feels transported back into time- with the detailed authentic elements incorporated into the art.

Although this is formatted as  a picture book, it is much more than a simple picture book in its content and detail.  This new hybrid book concept blends the best of a picture book and a history book.  What is created is  a full sized  history book.  Though the pictures make it seem like a picture book for kids, the content is more appropriate for older students who are able to grasp the darker nuances of ancient cultural practices no longer deemed morally acceptable or legal today. This book may stir up some controversy and by other's it will receive a warm reception.  Either way this book is a springboard for lively dialog debates.  Either way this is a book that will illicit a reaction from many parents and educators.


 Additional books in this series include Elizabethan England, Ancient Greece, and Colonial America and are available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

If You Were Me and Lived in...Germany: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World by Carole P. Roman

If You Were Me and Lived in...Germany: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World by Carole P. Roman,  illustrated by Kelsea Wienrenga is the newest book in Roman's illustrated culture series. This edition on Germany is especially of interest as my teenager is in her fourth year of German Language in school. The art contained in this newest book about Germany is a combination of mixed media- colorful cartoons superimposed with beautiful, full color, picturesque photography.  Without a doubt,  each book in the "A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around The World" series offers the reader new surprises each time.



When reading about Germany, the photograph of the castle on the hill in Fussen jumps out at the reader, against the backdrop against a cloudy  blue sky and mountains  in the distance.   Other authentic  details and textures add appeal and beauty to the simplistic cartoon scenes. The back contains a glossary of German words.

 The cartoon tour guides will certainly capture the attention of all young readers as well as parents and educators. I believe the "Carlesque" styled mixed media illustrations with the simple line cartoons in her   books are  an unexpected treat.  Mixed media illustrations are very popular and appealing for young readers as evidenced by the popularity of Eric Carle's kids' books.  By combining geography with mixed media- I believe that Roman will generate even greater interest and attention for her educational series. This sets her books apart from cartoon only illustrations.

The consistency of these geography books makes this series perfect for the school setting. An educator can count on the fact that students will be introduced to the basics. There is enough detail to make this series appropriate for middle school and even high school students as well.


  It would be great to see this series used as part of a  school geography or social studies curriculum.  It is clear that each book, though simple in design, presents a wealth of information and research.   This book as well as the other books in the series is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. As a blogger I received this books for the purpose of writing this review.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
This new reprint edition of the well known book by Mitch Albom commemorates its 20th anniversary.  This intriguing book, starts with the irresistible first line; "the last class of my old professor's life took place once a week in his house...", making the reader want to know more.  A student reunites with his beloved professor and mentor after he is diagnosed with ALS, a terminal illness.  Their memorable relationship- a hybrid of a friendship, and mentor continues until Morrie, his beloved and unique professor dies.  This book is a classic, that will leave an impression long after the finishing the book.  This is a story to be read and reread.  It is certain to inspire and motivate. As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Broadway books for the purpose of writing this review.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez is a modern collection of short stories depicting the harsh realities of modern life: poverty, neglect, social injustice and crime.  These eye opening stories cannot be ignored, and will not easily be forgotten.  The author, Enriquez, puts into words, thoughts and emotions that are uncensored and real.  The fictional characters seem so realistic as they tell their stories.  It is as if the reader is looking through a journal or diary as the individual and unique accounts of harsh realities and difficult and incomprehensible  events are retold.  For example, in one story, the hero tells about the horrific story of a young boy who sleeps on the street on an old mattress with his drug using mother.  She often sees the young boy abandoned and alone.  The story depicts the true to life emotional conflicts of anger and remorse that is directed not only to the neglectful mother, but the young boy.  When she learns of the brutal death of a homeless boy she feels regret and remorse at what she should have done to save him.  She describes the intense desire to seek answers and her anger toward the neglectful mother.  The reader can peer inside the mind at the realism of the story tellers thoughts and words.  In all these stories, a world of emotions and inner conflict is opened up to show that there is not so such thing as simple emotions.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Crown for the purpose of writing this review.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Once Upon a Time Storybook Bible by Zonderkids

Once Upon a Time Storybook Bible

 Although 100 % true, based on well known stories and accounts of the bible, this book of bible stories is packaged as a beautifully bound book of fairytales to appeal to children of all ages.

The publishers market this volume stating "The Bible is not a fairy tale. Every great story happened once upon a time." Using the beloved traditional format of all the classic fairy tales from Grimm to Anderson and even those retold by Disney, each story begins with the famous words "once upon a time", and ends with a "happily ever after".  The presentation of this book is beautiful.  The drawings and art is high quality, and similar to what one might expect from Disney art.  This is definitely a great outreach to reach a new generation of children to the bible.
As with many modern fairy tales, involving a princess and a prince, the cover art features an illustration from the Old Testament, reminiscent of the common themes in Disney stories and movies.  If you know a child that loves fairy tales and Disney movies this book is a great choice.  As a blogger for Booklook I recieved a copy of this book published by Zondervan for the purpose of writing this review.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

NIV Faithlife Study Bible



NIV Faithlife Study Bible

The new NIV Faithlife Study bible is like no other! I have finally found my
favorite study bible combining all the features of a full color bible together with relevant, applicable articles and notes.  Full color bibles are not a new thing.  But in the past, most of the new, impressive full color bibles had a cultural historical or archaeological theme. While impressive, the study notes and features were more scholarly focused for those readers interested in the historical context of the bible.  The NIV Faithlife bible has full color features, graphics, and illustration as well as relevant articles to address relevant issues and spiritual questions.  For example, the well known Christian author, Randy Alcorn has written an article addressing suffering. Other notable Christian writers and leaders have contributed to this bible's articles too!  In addition to articles addressing matters of faith- there are also high-tech, full color diagrams of the creation sequence as well as blue prints of the ark! This is an eye opening bible for all bible readers- from beginners to advanced readers. Whether you are looking for your first bible, or if you want to upgrade to a brand new bible, you will not be disappointed  with this choice.

As advertised, this is the perfect bible for any curious reader.  Be ready with your questions as this bible will certainly provide answers and enlightening insight.  As a blogger for booklook, I received a copy of this bible published by Zondervan for the purpose of writing this review.

UPDATE: After my initial impression after first viewing this bible, after using this as my primary bible, I have decided to provide an update to my original review. Firstly, I found the paper to be very thin.  Unlike the glossy finish of other full color bibles, the paper has a thin matte finish and curls slightly after contact with my fingerprints, after use.  Secondly, I found the color graphics, diagrams and maps to be more subdued, muted colors than I expected.  With the exception of a few  impressive graphs found in Genesis: the diagrams of the ark and the graphic depiction of the creation of the world, the colors are not bold or bright, but rather a softer set of colors- almost similar to the effect of pastels.  The coloring and detail of maps at the end of the bible are created using softer colors as well. This gives the maps a  washed out look. There are some photos of archaeological finds including ancient coins.  There are not truly in full color but appear to contain spot color- black and white with blue tones. I am still pleased with this bible overall and intend to use it as my primary study bible.  However, I found the graphics overall to be more subdued and the maps to have a  washed out appearance than the other full color study bibles I have had the opportunity to review.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls

The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by
Damion Searls is much more than a simple biography of the man behind the well known psychological assessment tool.  This new volume is the complex story about the life Hermann Rorschach and the inspiration behind the psychological test he created. Not only that, the author, Searls delves deeply into the controversies surrounding the usage of the Ink Blot test in the clinical field.   What may seem like a superficial test made up of simple abstract or geometric images, ironically reveals a wealth of insightful analysis of the deep recesses of the mind.  For example, as blob resembling an inkblot could reveal a wealth of hidden subconscious information for the trained clinician conducting the test on the patient.  As the test taker reads into ink blot, providing his or her subjective description, guided by the clinician, subconscious thoughts and emotions are revealed as the unique perspective of the test taker and his inner emotions guide the description.  The act of describing the ink blot is therapeutic and revealing in of itself and it can be used as an assessment tool to assess one's emotional or psychological state for job applicants and custody cases.  This book is an enlightening eyeopening revelation not only for the clinician but also for the layman as well.  For some readers, this book may provide fuel for their own paranoia and psychosis as well.  Anyone interested in the field of psychology will enjoy this book.  Each reader will complete this book as a changed person with a new insight into their own minds.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Crown for the purpose of writing this review.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Really Woolly Easter Blessings By Bonnie Rickner Jensen

Really Woolly Easter Blessings By Bonnie Rickner Jensen is a new board book for young children featuring the cartoon sheep known as  "Really Woolly".  This small sized board book is perfect for toddlers and young children.  Each two page spread features a theme and scripture as well as a special devotional and
prayers.  This book focuses on the Easter theme and related passages of the bible.  Although Easter is in the title of this book it is appropriate for year round use as well.  Other scripture topics are introduced, but the spring theme, with brightly colored flowers, sun and Springtime scenery  ties them altogether in this book.  This is a great choice to stuff in an Easter basket.  As a blogger for Booklook I received a copy of this book published by Tommy Nelson of Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of writing this review.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Story Travelers Bible by Tracey Madder

The Story Travelers Bible by Tracey Madder with colorful lively illustrations by Tim Crecelius, is a unique one of a kind bible for young readers. Unlike other childrens' bibles which are usually a collection of individual bible stories, this new book for children presents the story of the bible from Genesis to Revelation from the point of view of modern, time traveling kids that act as tour guides.  This book turns the bible into a literal adventure- almost like a science fiction time travel saga just for kids.  The narrative is detailed and engaging.  It includes bible stories and a narrative from the point of the time traveling kids who add their own commentary and perceptions.  This is an original idea that packages the truths of the bible in an entirely new way. Full color illustrations and colorful graphics keep the reader engaged.  This bible storybook is perfectly suited for a parent to read to their child or for younger readers to read on their own.  Side bars of information make this book like a study bible which serves to aide a child in understanding how to apply God's word or even the context. As a parent I found this bible to be a pleasant surprise.  Its detailed enough in that this bible can grow as your child's faith and knowledge grows.  Unlike many bible story books for young children, this is not a bible story book that will be quickly outgrown.  As a blogger for Tyndale bloggers I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.  This bible is published by Tyndale Kids publishers.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

If You Were Me and Lived in...the Ancient Mali Empire by Carole P. Roman

If You Were Me and Lived in...the Ancient Mali Empire by Carole P. Roman is the newest addition to
Romans' picture book  series introducing readers to a variety of civilizations from various time periods.

Ancient Mali is a little known culture to many readers.  Roman's picture history book sheds light on this mysterious ancient, yet taboo culture through the eyes of a young girl growing up in a typical Ancient Mali household.  Ironically, this story is somber account although the author takes a light hearted tone in the telling of the young girl's life, and culture. As an educator and historian, Roman reports the culture as she sees it, without omitting even the distasteful elements of the culture.

 There is no censorship in this book as the author gives a truthful, matter of fact, judgement free depiction of some of the primitive cultural practices such as polygamy and child marriage that are considered immoral and unacceptable practices in today's society. For example, on page 10 the author explains that a traditional family would include multiple wives with one husband and many children.  "You shared the house with your father and his four wives.  There were seventeen children between all your father's wives.  He always told you that you were his favorite."  Polygamy is a difficult concept for young children to grasp, even if only in the historical context and something that parents or educators would feel is not appropriate for younger aged children. The practice of child marriage is introduced on page 44 with the statement "you knew the time was coming for you to marry".  A few pages later more detail is added "Twelve to thirteen was a turning point for you too.  You would be considered ready to have children and a marriage would be arranged.... You had time to worry about the thought of a husband.  You were just ten this last year."

For example page 42 explains, "punishment was fierce and fast.  Liars had their tongues cut out, thieves lost their hands".   In fact some conservative readers might find offense with the author's non judgmental stance towards these barbaric practices,

Although this is formatted as  a picture book, it is much more than a simple picture book in its content and detail.  This new hybrid book concept blends the best of a picture book and a history book.  What is created is  a full sized  history book.  Though the pictures make it seem like a picture book for kids, the content is more appropriate for older students who are able to grasp the darker nuances of ancient cultural practices no longer deemed morally acceptable or legal today. This book may stir up some controversy and by other's it will receive a warm reception.  Either way this book is a springboard for lively dialog debates.  Either way this is a book that will illicit a reaction from many parents and educators.


 Additional books in this series include Elizabethan England, Ancient Greece, and Colonial America and are available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

If You Were Me and Lived on...Mars by Carole P. Roman

If You Were Me and Lived on...Mars by Carole P. Roman, Mateya Arkova (Illustrator) is a brand new picture book in the "If You Were Me and Lived on" series of books.  But unlike the previous books that take the reader to different countries or different time periods this story follows a new path to outerspace.  Roman opens up an entire new world for children to explore- the universe.   Just as her other stories, this thorough and realistic account takes the reader through a journey to the planet Mars.  The reader will follow a futuristic family as they travel through outerspace to Mars.   The detailed art allows the vivid imagination of children to imagine what life on Mars might really be like.  From the serene deep orange mountain-scapes, to the deep red skies, one can almost create a picture of what life on the planet Mars would be like if humans were to travel and colonize the planet.  This book will ignite any young reader's interest in astronomy and science.  My two youngest really loved this book and so far its been read and re-read countless times.  I'd recommend this book for any parent or even for use in a science class for grade schoolers.

Disaster Falls: A Family Story by Stephane Gerson

Disaster Falls: A Family Story by Stephane Gerson is a newly published true life
story chronicling the grief of losing a child.  This low profile book, with its minimalist yet cover design gives little clue to the honestly raw, heartfelt account of the author's painful re-telling of the death of his son while on a family vacation.  Ironically a fun, hope filled family vacation turned into a remorseful tragedy.  With the authenticity that only a grieving author has, Stephane Gerson reaches out to the reader in his open and vulnerable life story.  In the end this book cannot neatly fit into any single category.  It can be a memoir or biographical account.  Or it may be compared to a personal journal written by a grieving father who is trying to cope with an unimaginable tragedy.  Even as the reader reads the author's words, it is clear that the depth of the tragic loss is great.  It is painful to read as the reader gathers that even the author himself can barely re-tell the specifics of the account of his son's death.  In fact, you must read through the first half of the book at least until you get the details of his son's death.  And even as the author slowly reveals these details, it is clear by the disjointed and uncertain language, that this is an authentic, and unaltered account in which the author has full transparency before the reader. For an honest account of the journey of grief- this is the book to pick up.  It seems almost more like a personal journal than a book in fact.  Anyone who reads this book will certainly gain new clarity and insight into grief and for those readers who are in the midst of grief it is a comfort to know you are not alone.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Crown for the purpose of writing this review.

A Spectacle of Glory God's Light Shining through Me Every Day By Joni Eareckson Tada

A Spectacle of Glory God's Light Shining through Me Every Day By Joni
Eareckson Tada with Larry Libby is a new pocket sized daily devotional book. While you might feel as one going through a trial or handicap, that you are a spectacle- Joni's new devotional calls is a "Spectacle of Glory"......
Joni Eareckson Tada of Joni and Friends Christian Institute on Disability, is known best by many readers, as an inspirational hero of faith who suffers from quadriplegia as a result of a diving injury suffered at the age of 17.  I first learned of Jodi Eateckson Tada's story as a college student when I read her inspirational autobiography.  Over the years I found myself drawn to her story and example when life became difficult with various trials.  This little book of 365 devotionals- one for every year is a perfect compendium of daily inspiration and empowerment. 

Her faith and resilience in the face of disability and tragedy is an inspiration and model for all Christians and especially for those facing tragic circumstances and disability.  One may wonder where Joni finds her strength and how she maintains her strength and faith. For true inspirational devotionals, side by side with bible scripture- this devotional is  resource is where to turn. Unlike many devotional books  on the market- this daily devotional is truly dedicated to those readers who are actively suffering or going through trial.  Joni provides the tools needed to empower and inspire even the most apathetic and depressed of readers. Whether you are facing the grief of loss, terminal illness, disability or even the loss of a job- this book is certain to provide comfort. I received a copy of this book published by Zondervan as a Booklook bloggerfor the purpose of writing this review. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Q&A a Day for Writers: 1-Year Journal by Potter

Q&A a Day for Writers: 1-Year Journal by Potter is a new alternative format book- a cross between a one year journal and a yearly calendar. Each day features a poetic writing prompt or idea to inspire the reader to write further.  It is reminiscent of the daily journals I did in school to start the day.  This book is a great idea for writers or for anyone else who wants to fill their time with something deeper than passive video games or television.  This book would make a great gift.  As far as practicality I found personally it would require much time and dedication and with all my other responsibilities I felt that I simply did not have the time to spare. Any of the unique writing prompts could even be expanded to create a full length novel for those who are extra inspired or ambitious.  This book has a lot of great ideas and would be an invaluable tool for teachers.   In the end, this book would be perfect to integrate into an honors high school English class or a college literature or writing course.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Potter/ TenSpeed/Harmony press for the purpose of writing this review.