Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Red Letter Words of Jesus By Jack Countryman Published by Thomas Nelson

The Red Letter Words of Jesus By Jack Countryman  Published by Thomas Nelson is a beautifully bound pocket sized book highlighting selected scripture verses from Jesus' words in the new testament.  Unlike other devotional books- this small volume focuses on the words of Jesus.  Each selected verse is one of Jesus' words from the new testament.  The title "Red Letter Words of Jesus" is based on the concept that many bibles specifically print the words of Jesus in red colored font to distinguish from the reminder of scripture.  Each two page devotional spread features a beautifully illustrated verse- is red type font, along side a short devotional passage written by the author, Jack Countryman.  If you are looking for a new devotional that will lead you back to the spiritual basics, this book is a good choice.  This book would also make a beautiful gift as well.  As a blogger for booklook I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.  This book is published by Countryman, a division of Thomas Nelson publishers. 

The New American Heart Association Cookbook

The New American Heart Association Cookbook, 9th Edition: Revised and Updated with More Than 100 All-New Recipes

by American Heart Association  Is the newest edition of this classic cookbook.  This basic cook book belongs in the kitchen of every chef  and family.  Not only does it include a variety of hear healthy recipes- low fat and low cholesterol meal choices- it includes everything from basic to more advanced recipes for every level of chef.  If you are looking for a basic cookbook containing a variety of basic recipes to appeal to a family, friends and guests of all ages, this is the only cookbook you will need. This would make a great house warming gift for anyone who is moving into their first home as well.  The one thing I would change is to at least include a color insert of photographs of selected recipes.  There were no photographs included in this cookbook other than the photos on the cover.  At minimum, I'd expect a cookbook to have some photos at least.  Considering the suggested retail price, this is one thing that bothered me.  I'd imagine there are many chefs who probably won't mind that there are no photos included, but some basic and beginner home cooks might like at least some visual content of what the finished meal should look like.   As a blogger I received a copy of this cookbook for the purpose of writing this review.

Oh Susannah: Things that Go Bump by Carole P. Roman

What may seem like trivial problems to an adult, may be an insurmountable mountains for a child.  In her newest chapter book series, "Oh Susannah", Roman empowers grade school children to tackle the everyday problems they face.  In her second  "Oh, Susanna" book, "Oh Susannah: Things that Go Bump" Carole P. Roman follows where the first story leaves off. In this story, Susannah tackles her fears and social anxiety over a sleepover invitation.  What an adult may dismiss as a silly unfounded fear, Roman captures with authenticity.  The author gets inside the mind of a child so much so that a child can fine reassurance through the story in order to tackle their own fears. I'd imagine many parents can relate to this story as well.   Once again Roman shows her versatility as a children's writer,  With skill, she writes an entertaining as well as a comforting tale about what happens when you keep secrets and burdens hidden inside.   This is the perfect story for elementary school readers to read as well as the perfect bed time story for parents to read to children.  The illustrations by Mateya Arkova are the perfect graphic touch to start each chapter. The haunted sleepover theme and the ominous looking old home on the cover make this a perfect story to read in October.  The cliff hanger ending will keep the readers engaged, waiting for the next story in the series. As a blogger I received a complimentary copy of this book.  It is available for purchase on Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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

If You Were Me and Lived in...Israel: A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around the World

by Carole P. RomanKelsea Wierenga (Illustrator)




There is another new volume in Carole P. Roman's Cultures around the World series.  If You Were Me and Lived in...Israel: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World by Carole P. Roman,  illustrated by Kelsea Wierenga is the newest book.

There are plenty of commentaries and tourist books on Israel.  It has much symbolic, religious and political significance.  Countless affluent religious tourists make the expensive trip to visit this location. No doubt if you have access to social media, you have seen vacation photos in your newsfeed from your upscale, upper class friends.  Tourist photos do not give the whole picture of daily life in this culture.  Written from an objective, secular viewpoint, the reader gets a unique, unbiased  perspective of everyday life.   The author goes beyond the stereotype of Israel to review the basic day to day life that a child who lives in Israel experiences: school, sports, pastimes and more.  This edition  is a beautiful and informative work of art, celebrating Israel with its combination of  cheerful cartoon tour guides 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.

I can imagine this book series would make a good transition as an educational television series. Hopefully at some point in the future, consideration can be made to publish these stories together in one larger volume. 




When reading about Cuba, the photo shoot with the happy family   jumps out at the reader, against the backdrop against a traditional city neighborhood with its stonework benches  and age withered apartment complezes.   Other authentic  details and textures, bright blue skies, stonework, and architectural details,  add appeal and beauty to the simplistic cartoon scenes.

 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.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Assisted suicide or euthenasia- what's your view?

Most people have heard of the idea of living wills and advanced directives- especially those who work in the healthcare field. Those living with chronic progressive and/or terminal illness and their families, most likely are also knowledgeable about advanced directives and living wills. Hospice services help those patients with a terminal illness to receive comfort care in their final days.    Palliative care services aides those who may or may not be eligible for hospice, but  have intractable pain or other needs that might not be fully met with mainstream pain management alone.

Assisted suicide, is an entirely separate concept, and it is not legal in the United States.  Commonly referred to as euthanasia, the idea of assisted suicide is a complicated subject, and is distinct from Hospice services.  Personally I have known some confused individuals and even healthcare professionals who  may even equate hospice and palliative care services to be no different than euthanasia.  Yes, it is true that effective pain and symptom management might require increasing doses of medication to be effectively controlled, nevertheless this is not considered euthanasia or suicide. Although for some living with terminal illness, there is the rare occasion that severe intractable pain  might need to be treated with palliative sedation, in no way is this to be equated with euthanasia or assisted suicide.


Dignitas- assisted suicide video - This video depicts the last day of a man in the later stages of  a terminal neuro-degenerative illness. It is the policy of Dignitas, the assisted suicide service organization-  to take a video of the patient for the purposes of establishing that his death was not coerced and to rule out a crime when an investigation is conducted.  For this reason, one may come across assisted suicide videos on the internet.  In this video, can see that the man's degenerative conditions has progressed so as to cause almost a full body paralysis and to impair his ability to breath on his own.  It is clear even with ventilation support, the work of breathing is debilitating for this man. One can see his gasps for breath as he talks.  It is obvious the man is suffering physically and emotionally, and that his mental awareness and cognitive ability is fully intact.  Also this is not legal in this country, nor should it be legalized,  it is hard to place judgment, nonetheless,  on this man's decision, nor should one presume to make judgment on this man's personal decision to end his life.   I was unable to find any information if this man had access to hospice programs. One can not say with assurance if this man had access to Hospice, if he would have still experienced the hopelessness, distress and physical pain leading to his decision.  Nevertheless, I have seen the effectiveness of hospice programs in alleviating the physical and emotional distress of alleviating individuals in terminal stages of illness ranging from cancer to degenerative neuro- motor diseases.  I personally feel its worth while to make hospice more accessible to patients and to take measures to reduce the fear and stigma that many associate with hospice programs.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Your Guide to the Apocalypse: What You Should Know Before the World Comes to an End by Matt Hagee  

Your Guide to the Apocalypse: What You Should Know Before the World Comes to an End by Matt Hagee   is the perfect guide book for those who have ever been curious about what the bible has to say about the end times.  The apocalypse is a common theme these days- especially since 2012 with psuedo- scientific and social predictions of the end of the world. A popular genre in movies as well as novels, it is difficult for the casual reader to sort out the pop culture views from biblical reality.  The bible has much to say about the end times, but it may difficult for the average reader to decode- and sort through the relevant prophetic related scriptures that are woven throughout the old and new testament.  In his new book, Hagee does thorough research into matching up political, social environmental events with what the bible has to say about the end times. This book is written in a mater of fact narrative style, that is simple for all readers no matter where they may be in their spiritual growth. Bible readers as well as the general audience will be able  to learn much about what the bible has to say about the end times.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Waterbrook press for the purpose of writing this review.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

100 Favorite Bible Verses By Thomas Nelson Published by Thomas Nelson

100 Favorite Bible Verses By Thomas Nelson  Published by Thomas Nelson is a beautiful, portable devotional book features 100 of the most relevant or popular bible verses.  This compendium is certain to feature many familiar bible verses.  Each two page spread features a beautifully illustrated bible verse and a short devotional that expands on the verse.  I found the devotional passages to be enlightening,. making me think abut familiar verses in an entirely new way.  For example, just about everyone has heard of the "Love Is" passage from Corinthians.  It is commonly cited in anniversary cards, for example.  Yet how many considered that this can be applied to any relationship such as with interactions with grumpy coworkers or gossiping neighbors?  Its sounds counterintuitive for many to apply this beloved passage to enemies, but that is what Jesus asks us to do.  The devotional passage opened up an entirely way to read into this sometimes overused passage which is often used as a common catchphrase in romantic relationships.  There were other eye opening insights for commonly known bible verses as well.  I'd recommend this book to any bible believer in whatever stage of spiritual growth they may be in.  Whether a new believer in the bible wanting an introduction to basic memory verses or an experienced bible enthusiast who wants new insight into familiar bible passages this book will not be a disappointment.  This book is not simply a superficial survey of popular verses.  Rather it offers meaningful, in depth insight.  The beautiful book is reminiscent of the art featured in the "Beautiful Word" Zondervan series of bibles and devotionals, but is not associated with the series.  There is some common styled graphics and art, but this book features bible verses from the NIV, NLT and NKJV as well as other translations.  As a blogger for booklook I received a copy of this book published by Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing this review.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Foundations of Drawing: A Practical Guide to Art History, Tools, Techniques, and Styles by Al Gury

Foundations of Drawing: A Practical Guide to Art History, Tools, Techniques, and Styles by Al Gury is an all in one volume- an art technique course and history rolled into one.  If you are looking for one single art book to introduce you to art instruction as well as a brief introduction to art history, then this is the only book you will need.  Perfect for the beginning artist as well as the established professional, this book will open the reader to new art methods and the history behind creating art.  This is definitely a book you will return to often, for reference as well as for instruction.  This book is like having your own personal art instructor at your finger tips.  Also included are beautiful reproductions of art, step by step photos of the stages of art as well as photographs.  Be sure to take this book with you as well when compiling and shopping for your artistic tools.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Potter/Ten Speed/ Harmony publishers.  This is certainly a book that will be treasured; an essential reference for all artists.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Night Night, Train By Amy Parker Published by Thomas Nelson

Night Night, Train is the newest picture board book By Amy Parker  Published by Thomas Nelson.  Parker's bed time themed picture books are part of our bedtime routine for my 2 and 4 year old.  This newest picture book features beautiful colorful art and the popular train theme.  The serene animal  cartoons and peaceful nighttime sky with the bright moon and the stars will serve as a perfect way to prepare young children for med.  The dreamlike story covers everything from dinner to bathtime, story time and prayer time on the quaint nostalgic train ride.  This book will be enjoyed just as much by girls as it will be enjoyed by boys.  As a blogger for Booklook I received a copy of this book published by Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing this review.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Bible Sleuth: New Testament by Scandinavia Publishing House (Produced by), Jose Perez Montero (Illustrator)

Bible Sleuth: New Testament  (Produced by), Jose Perez Montero (Illustrator)  is a new hybrid book that is  actually a game. Whether or not your child is familiar with the Where’s Waldo series of books and games, parents and kids alike will enjoy the new book, Bible Sleuth: New Testament.  This book provides an opportunity to introduce young children to the bible using an innovative format. The Bible Sleuth is the perfect outreach to reach a new generation of parents and kids who might pass up the traditional bibles and bible story books available on the market. Each two  page spread is a new hide and seek puzzle where kids participate in the game to find the missing pictures.  The hide and seek games are difficult enough to engage older kids as well.  The pictures are complex and entertaining as well. This is the perfect book to take along on a road trip or a long plane ride to keep kids of all ages entertained.  Not only that, children are sure to gain a new interest in the bible and bible times as they are introduced to the culture of bible times: clothing, food, architecture and other aspects of life in bible times.  As a blogger for Tyndale I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.


Monday, June 19, 2017

If You Were Me and Lived in...Cuba: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World by Carole P. Roman,  illustrated by Kelsea Wierenga

There is another new volume in Carole P. Roman's Cultures around the World series.  If You Were Me and Lived in...Cuba: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World by Carole P. Roman,  illustrated by Kelsea Wierenga is the newest book. This edition on Cuba  is a beautiful and informative work of art, celebrating Cuban culture with its combination of  cheerful cartoon tour guides 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.

I can imagine this book series would make a good transition as an educational television series. Hopefully at some point in the future, consideration can be made to publish these stories together in one larger volume. 



When reading about Cuba, the photo shoot with the happy family   jumps out at the reader, against the backdrop against a traditional city neighborhood with its stonework benches  and age withered apartment complezes.   Other authentic  details and textures, bright blue skies, stonework, and architectural details,  add appeal and beauty to the simplistic cartoon scenes.

 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.

Oh Susanna: It's in the bag by Carole P Roman

What may seem like a trivial problem to an adult, may be an insurmountable burden to a grade school child.  In her newest book, Oh, Susanna: It's in the bag, Carole P. Roman shares the challenge faced by a young girl when the every day stresses pile up and become bigger stresses.  In this allegory, the ballooning back pack symbolizes the ever mounting stresses faced by Susanna, a young school aged girl.  Smaller problems add up: unfinished homework, a poor grade, social anxiety over a sleepover invitation- until they become way too much for the girl to handle. Rather than addressing the seemingly trivial problems, Susanna figuratively and literally hides them away ignoring, burying her shameful secrets under her bed,  until the anxiety mounts and she has an emotional breakdown. Ironically, the backpack breaks under the pressure  as the zipper bursts under the ballooning weight of everything she stashed away.  In addition to children, no doubt, I'd imagine many parents can relate to this story as well.   Once again Roman shows her versatility as a children's writer,  With skill, she writes an entertaining as well as a comforting tale about what happens when you keep secrets and burdens hidden inside.   This is the perfect story for elementary school readers to read as well as the perfect bed time story for parents to read to children.  The illustrations by Mateya Arkova are the perfect graphic touch to start each chapter. As a blogger I received a complimentary copy of this book.  It is available for purchase on Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life by Alyona Nickelsen

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life by Alyona Nickelsen is a must have resource for any artist who wants to add realism their drawings.  For those artists who prefer the use of colored pencils for their art- this will take their hobby up to the next level of detail and realism.  For those who prefer oil paint, pastels or acrylic, this will introduce the reader to the versatility of the colored pencil.  Personally, I never realized that the colored pencil could be so versatile in creating art.  Many assume that colored pencils are for doodles or for grade school art projects.  This book will have you see the colored pencil in a whole new light.  This is an eye opening instruction book that shows that their are other alternate mediums for realistic portraits beyond acrylic or oil paint.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.

NIV, True Images Bible The Bible for Teen Girls By Livingstone Published by Zondervan

NIV, True Images Bible  The Bible for Teen Girls By Livingstone  Published by Zondervan is a brand new bible that is made for teenage girls.  This hardcover bible is the perfect size for daily reading.  Included with the full NIV version of the bible are graphic features throughout which make this an inviting bible for teens.  Also included are magazine - like articles and quizzes relevant to today's generation of teenage girls.  The main issue with this bible is that I see it as too "worldly" in that it promotes too much materialism and materialistic values when it comes to the articles and advice.  This bible seems more about adapting worldly man made values to a Christian life rather than teaching biblical values.  I don't believe any dating advice or fashion advice belongs in a bible of any sort.   I see this as a "lukewarm" bible that reinforces transitory material values.  I feel that many girls may feel alienated simply because they do not fit into the popular, socially accepted, affluent, first world defined, teenage girl mode. I feel the niche market for this bible may be for an outreach  program for privileged  teen aged girls who have never been introduced to the bible to slowly introduce them to the bible in a palatable way.  I felt it reinforces  stereotypical ideas of the ideal girl's life in that it assumes all girls are automatically interested in boyfriends, shopping and makeup.  For this reason, this is not a choice that I would automatically make for a teenaged girl.  As a blogger for booklook I received a copy of this bible for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible: Explore the Story of the Bible—People, Places, and History

NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible, Hardcover, Full Color Interior Explore the Story of the Bible—People, Places, and History is a brand new study bible published by Zondervan.  Unlike other bibles published for kids- this bible actually includes full color graphics, diagram, illustrations and photos to accompany the bible text.  Each page includes side bars featuring simplified study notes on selected verses and bible concepts.  Most bibles for kids on the market may advertise that they are kids' bibles.  In reality they are nothing more than the standard basic bible text in small font with colorful color and maybe a few pages of colorful inserts. I feel like those themed bible are nothing more than standard pew bibles with a kids' cover.  This bible is completely different and true to the title it helps the young reader explore the bible.  I feel this bible is suitable for kids even up to teenaged years as the study features are flexible and adaptable to appeal to older children.  Younger readers will need guidance with this bible as it is the complete NIV text and the standard sized font is small.  I'd even say that anyone new to the bible will find this as a suitable bible. If it were not for the cover with the word "Kids" in bold, that all ages would find this to be a great bible.  Personally I feel they should remove the word "Kids'" from the title and rename this bible "The NIV Visual Bible" to reflect its versatility. rather than to exclude older adolescent readers or adults.  This is the best kids study bible I have seen in a long time.  It's format is similar to the NIV Quest bible which is marketed to adult readers with the study helps and notes delegated to the color blocked side bars distinct from the main text.  As a blogger for booklook I received a copy of this bible for the purpose of writing this review.