Monday, July 28, 2014

The Blessings of Friendship Treasury - Mary Engelbreit

The Blessings of Friendship Treasury featuring the well known art of  Mary Engelbreit as well as poetry from contemporary writers as well as the bible, is a beautiful gift book.  This book would make a perfect gift for a special friend or beloved family member.  Although marketed as a children's book, I believe this book of art and poetry is just as suitable, if not more so for an adult reader.  Quotes from Charles Dickens, The Bible, William Butler Yeats, Henry David Thoreau as well as poetry from Shel Silverstein are included in this compendium of friendship.  Bright Beautiful illustrations are on every page.  This book  is sure to appeal to everyone.  Children in particular will enjoy the colorful, friendly art.  Younger children may need an adult to read some of the poetry.  Adults as well, will enjoy the art, and will appreciate the talents and the variety of themes of Mary Engelbreit.  As a blogger for BookLook bloggers I recieved this book published by Zonderkidsz a trademark of Zondervan publishers for the purpose of writing this review.

Friday, July 25, 2014

If You Were Me and Lived In .....Turkey & If You Were Me and Lived In ... Australia By Carole P. Roman

If You Were Me and Lived In... Turkey... and If You Were Me and Lived In... Australia  are two new editions to the "A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around The World"  series By Carole P. Roman. These books are new editions in a series of picture books focusing on a particular country.  Literally, these books take only minutes to read cover to cover but it will hold a child's attention.  These books follows a similar format as the first books in the series about Mexico, South Korea,  and France. Yet in this newer editions, the author makes greater use of a variety of textures and mixed media in producing the illustrations.

For example, in the edition about Turkey, the water texture, and cloudy sky image  textures add instant appeal to an outdoor city illustration of Instanbul.  The dusky sky backdrop against the illustration  of a simple yet distorted line drawn market and cobblestone road makes for a beautiful and unexpected presentation.  The beautiful sunset and authentic stone  texture adds an authentic appeal and beauty to a simplistic scene. I would like to see this trend continued
to a greater degree in future books.  I am happy to see the direction that Roman is taking with the illustrations in her geography picture books. I believe the "Carlesque" styled mixed media illustrations with the simple line cartoons in her  newest book 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.

These stories would also be a good choice for a family that is interested in their Turkish (or Australian) ancestry, a family vacation or even appropriate for pre school children as part of a social studies lesson. And there is no child that hasn't heard about the Australian culture: its local animals, customs and culture. This consistency of these geography books makes this series perfect for the school setting. An educator can count on the fact that young children will be introduced to the basics.  The predictability of the book's format will also appeal to younger readers who are familiar with the series.  In this addition to the series, in the book on Turkey, the  child will learn about the geographical location of Turkey and will be  introduced to its climate, tourist attractions- and the impressive Hagia Sophia, local foods,  sports and other social norms. Full color, simply drawn cartoon drawings with the unique  texture accents compliment the text.   The pronunciations at the end of the book introduces the child to the native language but it would be better to have the equivalent English words listed as well and definitions to reinforce the material learned in the story.

At  some point in the future, I would like to see Roman combine all the editions of this series into one larger encyclopedia type of volume in order to create one single comprehensive text.  I would also like to see the illustrations revamped and updated in order to incorporate more of the mixed media textures as well. I believe that her loyal readers would be interested in having all these editions in one book.  To do this would be a wonderful educational and entertaining resource.  This would also make the book more accessible and convenient to educators and schools in the  public and  private sectors as well as  home schoolers.  I am curious to know how Roman determines which countries to feature and whether she will eventually cover the majority of countries around the globe.  As a blogger I received these books for the purpose of writing this review.

Monday, July 21, 2014

NIV The Journey Bible Revealing God and How You Fit into His Plan

If you want to purchase a good simply styled bible to distribute as part of an outreach, then this plain text NIV Journey Bible is a good choice.  This is like a simple, bare bones outreach themed bible -a traditional bible, is a good choice for any new believer or as a gift.  The cover implies a nature related theme, yet this is not a theme carried out through the interior.  The poetic styled writing and soft green shades will appeal to environmentalists, nature enthusiasts and even writers and artists. The newspaper styled pages even make this bible look as if it is printed on recycled paper, but is not. Ironically, this bible appears to be environmental themed but it is not.   The stylized cover is merely decorative as well as the newsprint styled paper.

As far as everyday study and devotions, its an okay choice.  This bible is a good basic text bible with some articles and devotions, but not too overloaded. This paper back bible is an easy to read, informal bible that encourages new bible readers to read.  It is a specialty  bible in the new line of NIV  bibles and im sure many customers may purchase this bible expecting more.   The approx $20 retail price is significantly higher than purchasing specifically made outreach bibles in bulk.  Therefore if you are part of a church or community outreach program that delivers bibles in bulk this option may be too expensive.  This bible looks more like it should retail at half that price.

For anyone looking for a good basic  text bible, and is overwhelmed by the bible options on the market, this  bible is  an okay choice.  It is attractive and readable. There are no graphics and very little else to distract the reader from the bible's message.  As a blogger for booklook bloggers I received this bible for the purpose of writing this review.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Flood of Noah Edited & Compiled by Bodie Hodge and Laura Welch

The Flood of Noah Edited & Compiled by Bodie Hodge and Laura Welch is a new hardcover, fully illustrated mixed media- interactive  book.  From the first page, and throughout, the reader will be impressed by unique, visual features such as flip open pages, inserts, antique styled replicas of small scale books and maps, and a large sized pull out of the ark itself.  Full color illustrations by Bill Looney bring the story of the flood to life.  His detailed art also adds a multicultural element as well in depicting folk lore and world wide flood stories.

This book is presented as a picture book for elementary and middle school readers.  Nevertheless all ages will enjoy this fun fact filled book as well as the special unexpected surprises on each page.  This book is a mix of biblical faith, sociology and science all rolled into one fun volume!

Scientific support for the flood from geological evidence is presented in a simple, visual method.  Flood stories from around the world give a social and archeological perspective.  In fact there are a number of charts to depicts visually the similarities and differences of the flood narratives. The book is presented to allow the readers to investigate the evidence themselves.

Fold out pages open up to give the reader a concept of the scale of the ark. I have never seen a more complete or more enjoyable presentation of Noah's ark.  The quality of this book makes it a book to keep and treasure.  It is a book to read and reread multiple tomes, because once is not enough to absorb the wealth and varied presentation of this book's message.  And at the end, the gospel message is presented - a perfect end to complete the book.  On the last spread, the ark is once again depicted with a red card that instructs the reader to pull. The card slides down and contains the salvation message.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Master Books, an Imprint of New Leaf Press for the purpose of writing a review.

Available at NLP view the trailer, download a pdf except, purchase the book

A Curious Man by Neal Thompson

A Curious Man is a  biographical novelization of Robert “Believe It or Not” Ripley, an eccentric
cartoonist- journalist behind the television show that was known for celebrating the world's strangest oddities and circus like attractions. He was known for offering generations of Americans an affordable  means of entertainment through his travels and exhibitions, beginning with the era of the Great Depression. He "celebrated weirdness, he made it mainstream". (page 5)

History enthusiasts, and Ripley fans as well as tourists will enjoy this book with the behind the scenes life of Mr. Ripley.  The author personifies the complex character of Ripley who was ahead of his time.  While everyone has at least heard of Ripley, few have ever had the opportunity to read extensively about his life. The author writes in chronological fashion, starting with Ripley's birth, career and his abrupt death at the age of 59. The writing is very detailed and the newspaperesque description is straightforward, ironically in contrast with the original and unusual circumstances. Expository writing mixed with lively dramatization will keep the reader engaged.

The old fashioned, textured tabloid styled cover looks authentic and is certain to draw in the reader.  This eye catching book also contained assorted interesting facts mixed in with the text.  There is a glossy black and photo insert chronicling Ripley's travels. This unique book would stand out in any bookstore or gift shop.  As a blogger I Received this book published by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, for the purpose of writing this review.

NIV Celebrate Recovery bible

If you want to purchase a good, yet simply styled bible to distribute as part of an outreach bible to those recovering from addictions or enduring difficult challenges, then this simple, two toned  text NIV Celebrate Recovery  bible is a good choice.  If you are tired and weary of phony devotionals in bibles by phony hypocritical, upperclass women that portray their OCD, compulsive shopping and perfectionist tendencies as a their cross, who believe their  admissions are a sign of piety (rather than the veiled pride that it is)then you need to see this refreshing bible. This is like a simple, yet well designed bible - has soft, relaxing two tone graphics and color accents in shades of brown.  The pages have a newspapereaque tint and texture.  The font is easy to read. This bible is very inviting. Its perfect for a gift or for personal bible study.

As far as everyday study and devotions, this is a good choice for anyone in a battle or addiction. This bible contains many good resources, including devotions and articles.Within the text are personal stories of Christians who battle various addictions and challenges. They share their private experiences without shame, humbling themselves so that others know they aren't alone.  They give a voice to the countless quiet people that feel alone, trapped by shame, illness and addiction.  They dont share phony, cliche acceptable problems like OCD, overachieving or perfection tendancies.  Those devotions are phony and nothing more than pride disguised as false humility.  These devotions truly depict a contrite and remorseful heart giving courage and light to others caught in shameful, embarrassing and painful addictions that take strength to admit.

 This bible introduces the reader to the 12 step recovery program in the context of Christian faith. This bible will be a welcome addition for anyone going through a formal 12 step program or just anyone in general seeking recovery from a bad habit or serious addiction.  i would like to see a NLT translation for this bible as I feel this audience would appreciate the less formal style of the NLT.  Nevertheless the NIV is a good, reliable yet easy to understand translation as well.  This soft cover bible is easy to hold and convenient to carry.  As a blogger for booklook bloggers I received this bible published by Zondervan publishers for the purpose of writing this review.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

NIV Teen Study Bible

Finally there is a children's bible that actually targets its intended readers with age appropriate text as well as with colorful graphics and articles. The Teen Study bible  NIV edition is marketed for teenagers.  In practice, i think this is a good choice for younger teens. Unlike many kids' bibles, this bible is actually one that kids will be able to read.  With the two tone, modern  minimalist graphic print cover- interior graphics, and the inviting  font of the faithful yet easy to understand NIV text, will encourage teen  bible readers to actually read this bible.  The green splashes of color and boxed text styled articles will draw the attention of teens .    I can not say how frequently  I have seen children's bibles with tiny 6-7 point font in a hard to read NKJV or  KJV! While some readers may argue that the NIV is not as easy to read as the NLT or other more modern or paraphrased versions- of all the literal translations on the market, the NIV is probably the most accessible to younger readers.  This bible is not one that kids will quickly outgrow.  Even beyond the early teen years, I feel that even teens will appreciate this easy to read, inviting bible.

The bold two-tone green graphics make this bible inviting to pick up and read. Highlighted verses and a magazine styled interior will draw the teen readers attention to the bible text as well as highlighted side bars of useful information to apply.  This bible most likely is intended to be a gift to a teen by a mom or grandmother or aunt.  It is unlikely that a teenager would actually make this bible selection on her own.   Nevertheless, this is still a valuable edition making this a bible that will prove to be useful even long into the teen years and for parents as well.  This is a good choice for first time teen bible readers and it is a good bible that young readers will not quickly outgrow. 

The only questionable portion of this bible is the inclusion of the Apostles Creed on the full color glossy introductory insert pages.  This creed is normally associated with the Catholic or Lutheran church or other more established formal religions.  Maybe this is an attempt at the ecumenical movement but it just seems too formal and out of place for this non denominational bible.  It is unexpected to see this inserted in such a prominent place.  Perhaps this is an outreach attempt to make the NIV more palatable to formal denominations.

Children's Bible Directory

This bible is a beautifully bound hardcover.  This high quality bible will easily stand up to years of use. 

As a blogger for BookLook blogger I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.