Monday, September 29, 2014

NIV The Maxwell Leadership Bible

The NIV Maxwell Leadership is yet another themed bible published by Zondervan.  With the durable, textured mat finished hard cover, embossed on the spine- this sturdy  bible is made to be durable . The quality cover contrasts with the glossy  pew-like covers of their other bibles.  The market for this bible is for leaders: pastors, ministry leaders and others in leadership roles.  The minimalist, quality binding looks like a pastor bible. The interior has easy to read font and spot color in a green shade.

As far as the articles and content- this is a great study bible and 'devotional bible' rolled into one volume. As the title suggests, its based on leadership and the articles contained center around biblical values concerning leadership.  It is no surprise that this bible has a wealth of content considering all the leaders in the bible- including Moses and David and Paul,  Topics such as effective communication are covered- and anything else that may pertain to anyone in a leadership role.  There is a wealth of study features:  each book opens up with a study page including a book introduction and leadership lessons from the particular book.  Within the book are truly motivational and inspirational articles- full of substance. In contrast to many devotionals or simple themes, that seem superficial or fake- these powerful bits of inspiration will empower the reader in any role. One  thing that is absent are small study notes on the bottom of the page.  This is ironic since John C. Maxwell is known foe=r his authority in explaining scripture.  I guess the assumption is that pastors and other leaders probably have their own library of bible commentaries and references and don't need these features in their own bible.

For anyone looking for a good bible that will provide a lifetime of value and study, this  bible is a top choice for leaders especially. Yet I find after reading the full color NIV First Century study bible, published by Zondervan, I have been spoiled- and I feel that no bible will ever come close in quality and substance.  As a blogger for booklook I received a copy of this bible published by Thomas Nelson.

Have a tough time deciding what bible to choose? Please visit this guide online.

The Battle For Darracia by Michael Phillip Cash- Book 3, Risen

The third book, Risen,  of the Michael Philip Cash's new series, The Battle for Darracia, has been released for all the Darracian fans out there.  Once again readers have the opportunity to enter into a surreal, richly developed futuristic world complete with its own religion, social norms and castes as well as  political intrigue.  This final book leaves the reader with a moral lesson that will stick for years to come.

Beginning with the first word of the first novel in the Battle for Darracia series, Cash captures the hungry reader's attention with an explicit description of a surreal alien planet whose shores "were fine black sand dotted with purple sea glass.... a shooting cosmic spray spread across the inky darkness..." (page 2), as well as its mysterious indigenous "silver crabs".   It is clear that the author put a great deal of thought and research in creating an entirely  new fantasy world right from scratch. Rivaling the depth and imagination of Tolkein's and C.S. Lewis' beloved fantasy worlds, Cash creates a futuristic, sci-fi reality with the same level of imaginative development as Tolkien's middle earth world.  This series transports the reader into a new futuristic fantasy world. No detail is too insignificant for Cash in his visual description of a surreal and futuristic world with its futuristic landscape. The significance of its ancient religion in society and political upheaval and class wars transcends time and space- representing common elements of society that all readers will relate to.  This richly developed world will appeal to history and political enthusiasts as well as fantasy and science fiction fans. The title itself is symbolic -with its dual meaning, referring not only to a cosmic event, but a socio-political event as well.

From the first page to the last, the reader gets the unexpected.  The unique ending of Collision, leaves the reader impatient to find out what happens to V'Sair in the third book, Risen. Cash does not disappoint the reader,

This epic story's backdrop is original.  This is a new world the reader will become immersed in like adapting to a new culture.  Yet the themes are universal- coming of age and the quest for identity themes and the pursuit of purpose present a story line that readers of all ages can relate to.  The eerie unfamiliar setting is set side by side with ordinary and  universal ideas. Cash creates a series  that sociologists, historians, scientists as well as fantasy enthusiasts will enjoy dissecting and analyzing.
Fans of the ever popular  StarWars, Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek series will enjoy the well developed characters as well as appreciate the intergalactic quest for peace and purpose and royal intrigue.  Parallel elements found  in this series are reminiscent of a combination of elements drawn from popular science fiction so that readers will feel right at home with Cash's story.  It is ironic that a horror and mystery writer can cross into the fantasy genre  with such ease. The same talent used in developing three dimensional characters and their personal struggles as well as interpersonal relationships found in Cash's  earlier works is evident in this fantasy novel as well.
At first glance this may seem like a quick read but from the very first chapter it becomes clear that the reader has entered a new world. As a reader I found myself immersed with Cash's lively description and vivid writing style.  I recommend this as a good series  for any young adult or science fiction fan. 

As a blogger I received this series of books published by Red Feather publishers for the purpose of writing this review.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Deliverance and SPiritual Warfare Manual by John Eckhardt

The Deliverance and SPiritual Warfare Manual by John Eckhardt is worth reading and re-reading more than once, in order to empower the reader when confronting personal crisis and trials. John Eckhardt has written many practical, spiritual books bringing light to the evil that exists.  He brings the deliverance ministry to the forefront, explaining how each and every believer can counteract evil and the devil.   Not many believers understand the concept of the Holy Spirit and that we are all called to fight against the devil, our Enemy. The author presenst scriptural background and bible passages from the old and new testaments, as well as prayers to share with the reader that each of us is called to resist and fight against the devil with the power of the Holy Spirit.  The author refers to this as the deliverance ministry and explains this is one of the privileges all believers have at their disposal. This background scripture material is necessary as many readers may be unfamiliar with these spiritual concepts.

The main focus on the book is to be a "manual" or one stop guide to show the reader what  the bible has to say about deliverance as well as to expose the works and deceptions of the devil as well.  The cover itself might seem like a satire in that is "mimics" an actual handbook- yet this book is truly a manual for deliverance.

This exhaustive book contains too much information to be digested in a single, quick reading.  The words contained are life changing. While some traditional readers and those in organized religion may find this book difficult to believe and a bit theatrical, a close minded attitude is exactly what the devil wants in order to operate.   In it important to keep in mind the charismatic background of the authors is based on the belief of the real workings of the Holy Spirit and the literal belief in modern day spiritual gifts such as tongues and healings. 

Much of the book is an invaluable resource where the author have taken scriptural truths and prayers and relate them to the modern day believer to use and apply when facing any trial or work from the enemy.  The scriptural references  will empower any reader with a quick resource of how to respond in faith to any difficulty- large and small.  It is a spiritual self help book in the fact that it will allow the reader the tools to look within himself and identify any areas or issues where Satan has his foothold.  Not only that it tells the reader how to face and address these issues! For those who are at a loss of how to begin to approach their spiritual problems there are a number of sample prayers applicable to any number of situations. Eckhardt's animated and enthusiastic writing style will reach out to all readers.  The reader will get the impression as if the author really wrote this book for his or her own situation.  This is a book to meditate on and use- and is not intended to collect dust on a book shelf. As a blogger for the Booketeria I received this book published by Charisma House for the purpose of writing this review.

Fiddler on the Roof - Crown Publishers

The new release of Fiddler on the Roof, by Crown publishers, is scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of its Broadway Premiere.  This 124 page book, contains the full screen play of the well known movie based on Sholem Aleichem's stories, and created by Stein, Bock and Harnick,  I had expected a larger sized glossy gift type of book with photographs along side the movie's screen play. This book is a jacketed hardcover with the complete screen play in plain text.  This book is marketed as a souvenir, but it looks more like a regular book or manuscript. 

The simple, understated movie themed graphic of the infamous fiddler, and the simple matte finish book cover gives this older movie, a modern appeal.  Yet I feel this book is too minimalist to justify the $18.00 retail price.  I'd expect more- at least some full color photos- at that price.  To pay that inflated price seems more as if one is making a donation, rather than purchasing a book.  I don't think fans will want to pay that much for this book- unless it was adorned with an autograph. 

As far as the content, the book contains the full text of Fiddler on the Roof.  Fans of the movie can read and re-read the manuscript and relive the movie or theater production- all in their heads, and relying on their memories- because there are no photos to accompany the words whatsoever. 

This book may also be useful for a group of drama students who wanted to re enact their own production of Fiddler on the Roof.  This is a sturdy, well made, hard cover volume that will stand up to years of use and reading.  But other than the quality binding, and clean - cut, modern cover, I really cannot suggest this book for anyone unless they absolutely could not live without the manuscript of Fiddler on the Roof.  Perhaps there is a niche market for this book .As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Crown Publishers. 

Agents of the Apocalypse by Dr. David Jeremiah

 Dr. David Jeremiah, well known speaker and author of bible based prophetic books has a new release: Agents of the Apocalypse.  One might wonder how yet another book on Revelation and the apocalypse can be written.  Nevertheless, this new book is written from an entirely new perspective.  Part dramatic fictional account and part biblical commentary, this hybrid genre uses fiction to portray the biblical events predicted in the bible book of revelation.  Through the use of short stories, Dr. David Jeremiah animates abstract bible prophecy to make it more real and relevant for today's modern reader.

In today's culture, apocalyptic books, fiction and movies are gaining popularity.  This trend shows an ever growing interest in this spiritual area.  While many consumers simply find end of the world fiction entertaining- Jeremiah's book provides a unique outreach attempt in combining an entertaining and relevant fiction story with a biblical commentary.  Many readers may find a biblical analysis dry, but this book will hold the reader's attention with fictional, yet realistic accounts of revelation related events.  I this book there are ten revelation related topics covered.  Each chapter, covers one aspect of Revelation and a specific prophetic event.  Each chapter begins starts out with an independent short story- a fictional account, complete with characters and dialog.   The stories  in of themselves are interesting but they also paint a picture of prophetic events of the end times as well.  This is a unique perspective that gives practical insight to prophecy and biblical events. The cover of this book does not convey to the reader- the unique perspective contained.  On the surface, this book seems like a commentary alone; I believe readers will have a special surprise.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Tyndale for the purpose of writing this review. 

Be Your own Duck Commander Willie's Redneck Time Machine by John Luke Robertson

Be Your Own Duck Commander Willie's Redneck Time Machine by John Luke Robertson is a new book experience for elementary aged readers.  For anyone who remembers the popular "choose your own adventure series"- this book is written in the same style.  With this interactive book, there are multiple endings based on your responses within the body of the story. The reader will get a different ending which depends on the options chosen when presented with different choices.  This is the perfect book for hesitant school aged readers to read on their own.

One thing I would have liked to see changed is the fact that this story is written from the first person point of view of Willie Jess Robertson, the middle aged father of the Robertson family.  I would have preferred to see this story written from John Luke's point of view as I feel kids will be able to identify more with a young boy  than a middle aged man with a wife and five kids.   Especially in this first person point of view, I feel the choices would have been more "real" or meaningful if they were from the perspective of a kid.  A ten year old boy reading this book won't have the same parental instinct to follow a child across time.  A young boy would feel more ties to a story where he was looking for his dad or a best friend. Nor will he care at all about his "wife's" birthday and finding a gift- which is backdrop for the beginning of the story. 

I think adults may appreciate the 1980s and 1980s musical references as well- more than children.  Young readers- the intended audience, will most likely skip over the cultural 80s and 90s references and cliches.  As far as the title, using the expression "Redneck" is too dated and too cliche. Its just my opinion, but the title does not seem to be a good fit for a book.  This book is highly tied to popular culture and media, and readers who aren't fluent in popular media, movies and music will probably not be able to really get into this book.  The time travel concept as well as the outhouse portal is an interesting concept.  There are thematic parallels with the re-introduced science fiction series, "Dr. Who"'  There are even references to Dr. Who and other popular television programs within the book.  Overall, this book doesn't qualify as "literature".  If you are looking for a Newberry award winning medal title, look elsewhere.  If you want a quick read for a reluctant  independent reader, this book is a good choice for some entertainment.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.

Give- away alert-  please check out the BOOKS: In Ocean County fb page for an opportunity to grab a free copy of this book!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The New Astronomy Book By Danny R. Faulkner

The New Astronomy Book By Danny R. Faulkner , is a unique astronomy textbook for students and astronomy enthusiasts alike in a "multi-age format".  This guidebook is well adapted as an astronomy review  text for younger elementary aged readers as well as  middle and high school aged students.  The quality presentation of this book rivals that of many popular science themed books for children and adults.  From the cover to the full color photos, graphics, professional astronomy photos and professional scholarship- this book is sure to capture the attention of any  reader interested in astronomy and science. The information represents the latest scientific research.  Even social and historical background information is covered for a well rounded experience, integrating concepts from additional academic disciplines. The photos and illustrations in of themselves are thorough and represent the latest of scientific discovery.   It is a hybrid of a manual, technical guide and an educational text.  It is useful for learning as well as expanding on one's hobby of astronomy and stargazing.  This is a multi-function - multi purpose thorough book. This book isn't only educational for kids, but adult readers- parents, educators and enthusiasts will also enjoy this book.  And, most of all, the author ties this information with a biblical based view of creation.

This astronomy book provides a well rounded background for the science student or hobbyist; technical enough to capture the interest of an astronomy enthusiast, yet simple and broad to serve as an introduction to the study of astronomy.  Presenting science in such an appealing format makes learning more obtainable for students and the public in general.  Once again, Master Books has published a text that meets the high standards of scholarship. Exploring the World of Astronomy: From the Center of the Sun to the Edge of the Universe by John Hudson Tiner is also published by Master books, yet the limitations of the black and white printing make Tiner's volume appear "dated".  I feel this new volume on Astronomy has integrated the best of astronomy research while implementing advanced astronomical photography.  I could spend quite a bit of time, studying and meditating on the beautiful celestial photos. The sharp high quality photos are the best feature- as well as the wealth of information. There is even a pull out poster in full color as well.  As a blogger for Moms of Master books,  I received this book, published by Master Books, an imprint of New Leaf Publishers,  for the purpose of writing this review.

New Leaf Press

Friday, September 19, 2014

Love Letters From God Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist

Love Letters From God Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Sophie Allsopp is a new picture book for young children.  What makes this book unique among choices of the overly saturated bible story book  genre, is in the hidden and unexpected details.  First an foremost are interactive flaps that children can lift up on each page.  These flaps are actually "letters" written from God's point of view to your child.  The salutation,  "Dear _______" has a blank space for a parent to write in the child's name for further personalization.  This makes the story real and personal for the child.  The letters are not arbitrary but rather they expand on the bible story featured.

Just as one may expect from a bible storybook, this has a few of the most beloved and well known stories from the old and new testaments.  "The Sneaky Snake" describes the account in Genesis. "Bethlehem's Baby Boy" tells the story of the birth of Jesus.  Bold bright cartoon styled illustrations accompany the stories.   There is color throughout the book- no white space but actually full page scenes. Finally in the end, there is an "invitation" as well as a space for a child to write their own letter- making this book a keepsake as well.  This large sized story book would make a great gift for any child. The story style is animated and will hold a child's interest in contrast to dry, traditional writing.  As a blogger for BookLook I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.  This book is published by Zonderkidz.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Summer BBQ

The weather is warm, oppressive as the relentless sun, brightly beats down on the pavement.  White smoke billows from an outdoor tent; the mist stings my eyes. I squint in the blinding light, my eyes focused on the grills, filled with charred burgers and hot dogs.  The scent of smoke and meat wafts through the air.  I am dangerously close; the blast of heat from the billowing smoke blasts on my skin and my face. Attuned by an inner drive, by instinct, just as the animal in its habitat, awaiting its next meal, I keep a watchful eye, nonetheless.

I'm a volunteer, stationed at the volunteer table, imprisoned; shackled by a sense of duty, stamping people's hands as they approach the bright red welcome tent.  They come in droves for food- long lines, like the bread lines of the depression, awaiting a free meal. The only cost of admission; a small donation to the local food bank; a small can of tuna, a dented can of tomato soup, a dollar; even a quarter; a small token.... anything, even the lint in your pocket.  Next to the tent, an older, plump middle aged woman in a print dress pulls out her cell phone- to call her brood to come down for the cheap meal, "you can eat all you want for a can of ravioli or bring a dollar", she bellows in a loud, animated voice, as she brags into the earpiece. One could imagine her full grown, able- bodied son as he packs up his wife, and brood of kids, and cousins to come out for all you can eat burgers, hot dogs, chips and soda. A cheap, quick and easy meal thanks to reliable, old grand mom- the same old frizzy, white haired lady with bright coral colored lips, who is always seen at garage sales every weekend and clearance racks.

There was no question, no hesitation whatsoever, as I accepted the volunteer assignment..... in exchange for a free meal. But of course I did not tell a soul that I was doing it for the free meal.  I continuously glance out of the corner of my eye, watchful, waiting. Ironically, my need is the same, if not greater, as those who this event is purportedly to serve.  I look at the cans of food, carelessly tossed into the bin. I look at the discarded cans of beef stew, vegetable medley, and corned beef hash and consider the feast, the food would represent.  I imagine myself eating a can of that stew for dinner or cooking up a sizzling pan of hash.  My pantry is bare, save for a stray can of tuna and a faded can of cranberry sauce left intact from Thanksgiving. With mounting shame I glance away from the cans of food, lest my eyes betray my need. It was only three weeks ago I went to the pawn shop with some gold jewelry, a watch and my computer and came out with enough money for two hundred dollars worth of groceries.  It was a feast! It's amazing how quickly a family can go through two hundred dollars worth of groceries.  Its a shame, in fact.

This will be my only warm meal I will eat for the next week or so. It will be my only chance to get some meat.   Meat is something I rarely eat.  It's just too expensive. All I can think of is eating my fill, of getting a burger or two.  I glance casually, lest my eyes betray my want.

And then in a blur and a rush, from out of nowhere, blackened charred burgers in soft white buns appear.  My adrenalin mobilizes as my sole existence focuses on those burgers and hot dogs which suddenly appear from the white billows of smoke.  Sweaty men in aprons and caps work feverishly to feed the greedy sandal clad crowds. A self - important middle aged woman in full cafeteria attire- with her hair tied up in a net, apron and clear plastic gloves on her hands,  the gatekeeper of the food, quickly sorts the buns and the burgers.  Piles of hot dogs dangerously teeter atop flimsy paper plates.  Greedy men, women and children stack burger upon burger, onto a plate as they snatch handfuls of small bags of chips.  All the while I silently plot and I plan for a way to inconspicuously get myself a single plate of food. I haven't eaten breakfast, as my stomach  relentlessly growls to remind me.  The hot sun beats down and I feel my lips and mouth dry and parched.  All I can think about is a burger and a soda as nameless faces approach the welcome table, without end. A woman, with two burgers and a hot dog atop her plate, wanders to the tent in an attempt get some shade and to assuage her conscious, explaining in a half hearted attempt to convince me of her selfless sacrifice of donating two dollars "so that the poor families can use the money buy fresh bread and fruit. Her anecdote drones on and on.  Meanwhile from the corner of my  eye, I'm focused like a lazar beam, with mounting concern. Mounting anger and humiliation grew as I watched others stuff there faces, as I remain imprisoned in this volunteer table, unable to eat. I begin to wonder what makes these people better than I am.  What makes them more deserving, more entitled to a meal, than I. I feel like a second class servant, a second class human being.  I wonder why I don't deserve a meal.  Am I an indentured servant? Am I enslaved in servitude? I could feel the tears stinging my eyes as I silently watched and glanced downward. I should have stayed home, and been satisfied with my usual fare of white bread, peanut butter and rice.  It was a mistake to venture out; I let my want for a meal get the best of me by volunteering my time. And I did not even get anything to eat, yet I had to watch everyone else eat.  Not knowing why I subjected myself to this, I feel foolish and empty; it was a waste of a precious day and a crushing blow to my self worth. 

The irony? The BBQ event cost more to prepare than the food or donations it generated. Each of the  attendees stuffed down more burgers, hot dogs and chips, and drank more cans of soda and bottled water than a needy family would consume in a week. And there was probably nothing more than a token's worth of awareness for the plight of the hungry and the poor, as people stuffed their faces on all you can eat burgers, hot dogs, chips and soda. This event wasn't fun, nor did it really contribute to any good cause.  The BBQ  was a mockery.  The day is done, the soot covered grills cool down as the sun sets.  The last of the smoke wafts into the distance as I stoop to collect crumpled, empty bags of chips, and empty cans of soda from the blacktop in servile fashion. Trash cans filled to the brim with discarded refuse, as the crumpled paper plates and napkins stir in the wind, only serve to mock me in my lack.   My stomach still grumbles- no different from any other day. I return home empty and hungry, filled with only a dose of shame and humiliation.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Girl Talk by Christine Young

Girl Talk- Unsolicited Advice For Modern Ladies An Illustrated Guide by Christine Young is a new coffee table book that would make the perfect gift for a college roommate or best friend on her birthday.  This attractively packaged, sturdy, hardcover book, embossed with a pattern golden foil doodles and drawings, will capture the attention of any young, modern reading who is seeking out the perfect, yet casual gift for a friend.  This book would be especially suitable on the shelves in the gift sections of college book stores and greeting card stores.

The thick white card stock pages, and the doodle like illustrations and handwriting styled font, give this book an authentic scrapbook or journal type of feel.  Written as if it taken from the diary of a young woman in her early twenties, this book is a satirical compendium of modern, politically correct advice for other young women.

The explicit nature of some of the topics covered make this not a suitable choice for teenaged or younger readers.  I can imagine with the cheerful cover and friendly flower print end pages in aqua and white, many misinformed consumers may  choose this title for a gift for a younger girl such as a niece, or grand daughter. Unless you want your grand daughter, niece or other beloved girl in your life to read about adult topics on courtship, dating and other x rated unmentionables, this is not an appropriate book.   While the cover and interior may seem to draw in young girls, readers and consumers should be aware that this book is not intended for high school or junior high aged girls.  The "Modern Ladies" on the subtitle serves as a subtle hint that this book is for adults only. 

This book offers humor while touching on culturally relevant topics for hip, young people such as clothing, dining, dating friends and family.  Other issues and topics such as health, self esteem, money,job hunting and house hunting are addressed as well through the use of simple cartoon, illustrations and even diagrams. One especially funny diagram was based on the topic of determining the need for a roommate. After following a "flow chart" based on a few responses- the reader could determine if a roommate was an appropriate option.  For example if you answered that you were "over 30 years old" or "prefer nudity", then you, the reader are advised to "fly solo".  In other words, the suggestion is that you are better off living without a roommate.

Needless to say, this book is intended for a female who is single, and in her twenties- and into popular media, and consumerism.  Anyone who is overly literal, older, or who lives a spartan or humble lifestyle will not get anything out of this book.

In my opinion, the publishers should take the idea for this book and create a second volume with the same  high quality binding, cover, and cardstock interior- leave the pages blank and make a blank journal/ sketch book to allow the reader to fill in her own journal entries, photos and illustrations.  That would make this book more appealing to more than the niche readership that this book is marketed for.  As a blogger, I received a copy of this book published Potter Style, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

Irishmen Don't Cry- A Medical and Emotional Journey with ALS by Richard P. Flynn

Richard P. Flynn shares his experience with the insidious terminal disease ALS,  known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," in his newly published memoir, Irishmen Don't Cry- A Medical and Emotional Journey with ALS. Before the "Ice Bucket Challenge", which became wide spread through social media and television- not many people knew about progressive terminal disease which in the course of a few years transforms healthy individuals to become immobile and dependent on respirators. If you know what ALS is whether as a healthcare professional or someone personally touched by the disease, then you will know that ALS is perhaps the worst diagnosis one can receive. "My whole body is becoming gaunt and deformed. My arms... just skin and bones...toes curling under....My voice has very little left. " (excerpt page 100) It is a disease which affects the body but not the mind, so that the victim is painfully aware of all the awaits, from progressive loss of muscle control of the hands, feet, legs and body, and eventually swallowing and breathing. And in Flynn's own words- "It has been quite a journey to get to this god- awful point". Flynn's timely book is one of the countless voices of ALS, that needs to be heard.

This honest book depicts the raw, and un-unedited emotion of a man stricken with ALS, facing the terminal prognosis of a horrible, unrelenting disease which has no cure nor treatment. His book reads like a personal journal, written chronologically and with each entry dated. This book may not be a literary masterpiece but it is inspirational.  His writing is not stylish, but realistic and simple- which makes this account all the more poignant and real.  The reader gets a glimpse into a real man with a wife, and interests and how he faces his progressive disease.  Ironically, in the face of ALS, he maintains a positive attitude of strength and courage despite facing debilitation and death. In otherwords, with tenacity, he maintains that "Irishmen Don't Cry", as he exhorts the reader to never give up. He also proclaims proudly, "I will continue with the same endless faith and hope I started with. I have met adversity and challenged it". (page 101) In fact, Flynn later goes on to say that "To die slowly is a gift. It allows one to reexamine everything overtime, including the good and the bad'" (page 106).

At the end of the book- his account of ALS ends on page 110, seven years into his ALS diagnosis, Richard Flynn is alive- mind still intact as he maintains his awareness that every day brings him closer to his death. The memoir ends, but he is still alive.  That leaves me as the reader wanting to know more about his journey.  I would urge Flynn to maintain a blog in the style and format of his book, but continue the entries for readers to follow. This book would be a good account for a nursing student to read, or for anyone who has a loved one facing an ALS prognosis.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Outskirts press, for the purpose of writing this review.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley

Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley- Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times is a new storybook  that brings the bible to life for young children.  Filled with bold bright cartoons, the illustrations will appeal to young children.  The expressive,  wide eyed animals and people will capture the attention of all readers.  The artist's unique style is highly animated- as the bug eyed creatures and humans with magnified expressions speak to the young reader so that by simply following the pictures, a young child can follow the story. The large, poignant google eyes communicate emotions and feelings in the stories. 

Together, the unique cartoons and the poetry, will draw in the youngest of listeners and hold their attention.  Rhyming words are an effective way to communicate to young children and hold their attention. Children learn with rhymes and  poems.  To tell these stories in rhyme will make these stories memorable as well as entertaining.

A selected number of bible stories are featured in this book.  Each story is several pages of rhyme and full color artwork. Stories from the old and new testaments are selected, including Noah's ark, Jonah and the fish and Jesus walking on the water are included.  The poetry is just as animated as the illustrations. Parents can pick up this book and jump right into the stories at any point.  These stories would be perfect for a parent to read to a child at bedtime.  They would also be suitable for a children's bible class.  Many traditional bible story books are too dry for younger readers.  These rhymes will stick with children long after the book is closed.  This book stands apart from the rest of the bible storybook genre.  Pulley has created a great way to reach out to parents and children to reinforce their faith in the bible.  As a blogger for Litfuse publicity I received a copy of this book published by David C. Cook.

Friday, September 12, 2014

NIV First Century Study Bible- a bible like no other

I have found my new favorite bible! This is the bible that I have been waiting for.  It is a cross between the out of print NIV Archeological study bible, and the newly published NIV Essentials study bible. If you want to own one single bible that is good for study as well as beautifully designed and illustrated, the full color NIV First Century Study Bible is the only bible you will need.  This bible has every study feature you could ever ask for in a bible- including historical, theological and life application information.  This bible is full of full color photos, maps, charts, illustrations as well as the tiny footnotes- traditional study notes on the bottom of the page.  It is like a history book and bible rolled into one volume.  This bible is great for new bible readers as well experienced readers.

As far as everyday study, the font is big enough so as not to require the reader to squint.  Unlike most study bibles where the bible text is extremely tiny, I found the bible text to be readable.  I believe this is the successor to the older full color 1984 NIV translation Archeological study bible.  Having had the Archeological study bible for many years, I am most impressed with the full color interior and photos of this bible.  I have been waiting for another full color bible.  It is nice to see that the publishers recognised the need for a full color bible- with an abundance of study resources and photos from the historical point of view. I do not feel any bible reader would ever need to buy another study bible.  Perhaps teachers, sociologists,  history enthusiasts and tourist travelers will be drawn to this bible as well. Fundamentalist or Charismatic readers, may not be impressed with the tiny notes on the bottom as these notes focus more on historical details and explanations.

Some of the material may be redundant for those who already own the Archeological study bible or Essentials bible.  For example, many of the diagrams, maps and illustrations such as the temple which appears in Matthew, are in both the Essentials bible and First Century bible.  The only difference is that the First Century bible depicts them in full color.  I feel that the full color makes a world of difference in contrast to the black and white which gives the Essentials bible a dated appearance. If you own the Archeological study bible, the only reason to purchase the First Century bible would be if you want the new revised 2011 NIV version with gender inclusive language. If you actually prefer the original NIV translation, then you might not want to "upgrade" to the First Century bible.   If you own the Essentials study bible, then the only reason to "upgrade" to the First Century bible would be if you prefer full color to black and white.

Although there appear to be quite a bit of study notes included, they are more like foot notes.  The study notes add some historical detail but really do not clarify any spiritual concepts.  If you are looking for a bible wth extensive study notes for spiritual clarification- this study bible is not the best choice.  The one downside if I had to choose would be the study notes which seem to be "filler" material.

For anyone looking for a good bible that will provide a lifetime of value and study, the NIV First Century  bible is the top choices in my opinion. I think any bible reader will be impressed.  As a blogger for booklook I received a copy of this bible published by Zondervan.

Have a tough time deciding what bible to choose? Please visit this guide online.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Crap Taxidermy by Kat Su

Kat Su's new gift book, Crap Taxidermy, is among the funniest books I have read in a long time.  This small sized hardcover book, featuring the worst possible taxidermy attempts on public display would make the perfect gift for anyone into alternative humor or art.  This eccentric and unique  book features tasteless and hideous specimens of stuffed animals, created and designed by clueless, and talentless amateurish individuals.  Using satire and humor, Kat Su makes fun of these works of "art".

Grouped by categories, this book organized these poorly stuffed animals by the most obvious features.  For example, "It's In The Eyes", features taxidermy animals whose eyes are weird, creepy, unrealistic or in some fashion, less than realistic.  You will see a rustic looking tabby cat with glassy, aqua marbles for eyes- similar to the clear aqua fish rocks sold in pet stores to decorate fish tanks. There is one animal, an owl, that actually has plastic google eyes.  In the section, titled "Dynamic poses", you will find animals presented in such unrealistic impossible posses that you will never know for sure if the scene is a mockery or is intentional.  For example, a display in New Zealand features a trio of hunched opossums eating leaves in a replica of their "natural habitat".  The author has explored the globe, literally, to bring to the reader, these unusual finds.

Some of these animals appear to be so old and worn from age, that they are broken, musty, moldy, mangled, torn or decrepit.  Most zoological or museum displays would have long tossed them out in favor of new, fresh display animals.  The skill of these displays and taxidermy is reminiscent of a grade school project gone bad.  I felt some of these displays would look more at home at a first grade science fair than at a museum or wherever public display they are actual at.  For anyone in need of a good laugh or anyone who just wants to see something that is just unbelievably weird or creepy, this would make a good book.  Su's book is the perfect comic relief no matter who you are or what your life circumstances may be.  Give this book to your eccentric relative or to someone you know who is having a difficult time and needs a good laugh.  I think this book is perfect for all audiences and readers.  As a blogger I received this book published by Ten Speed Press, a registered trademark of Random House LLC.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

a little too late for my book, but posting anyway

The air was stagnant; oppressive
The dark earthy scent wafted through the air.
Dust particles float listlessly in the blinding sunbeams that creaked through the rotted boards.
In the dim, moldy, cavernous space, where darkness contrasted with the noonday sun, oblong boxes, trunks and corrugated cardboard containers were haphazardly stacked in neglected cobwebbed corners.
Unwholesome seepage staining the floors, darkened black pools of tainted liquefied muck-
An eerie warehouse; these strange boxes containing corpses of various states of decay,
abandoned,  without explanation, nor answers.
freshly, unearthed ground, in mountainous heaps,
saturated as a quiet, forgotten, condemned, forlorn community coughed up its dead
Every house, and structure converted to a grim warehouse -
bodies slick, bloated and pungent;  corpses leathered and petrified; remains dry, parched, withered, brittle, and decomposed,
Remains, lifeless shells, empty husks, chaff,
in pieces, rests
Dust particulates drift aimlessly,
a flakey layer of soot,
slowly swirling, falling downwards, down to rest
an eerie snowfall,
coats the yellowed window pane
everything is buried with
Bone and dust-
only remains
rest in pieces

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lady Emma In Her Land of Wonder by Martha M. Harrison

Lady Emma In  Her Land of Wonder by Martha M. Harrison, is a new full color children's book that teaches a lesson about independence and confidence.  Beautifully bound, with glossy pages, and vibrant cartoon styled illustrations, this short tale is about a young girl named Emma who grows up under the protection of her "Father". Initially, the omnipotent Father gave the impression of a deity protecting his beloved child. Its easy for the reader- parents and children alike- to miss the unassuming, simple image of Emma's watchful "Father" lurking behind an ominous tree. The story seemed like a religious allegory to build the faith of young readers as Emma was rescued from trouble and "every dark day" keeping her safe and secure.   The inclusion of trolls, and evil witches could have been symbolic for evil in general. The story  seemed to take on a more New Age tone as another individual referred to as the "Prince" joined in the responsibility for her care and protection.

The repetition of the well known cliche that serves as a lyric throughout the tale,"When trouble came knocking, Emma knew what to do! The same thing you'd do if it happened to you!"  makes this story more memorable for children and less mystical.  Later in the story, there is no doubt that the prince is Emma's husband- and the "Father", is really just Emma's Dad, and not symbolic for God's presence.  There is a picture of a fairytale wedding near a scenic castle.  Yet even after the marriage, Emma still seems childlike, clingy and dependent until she learns she has the inner strength to work through her own problems and hurdles without outside assistance from her protectors. It seems so simple, that children may even believe it for themselves and find themselves motivated to work through their own fears and problems.  It is amazing how many adult women exist in today's society who are very needy and dependent on the men in their lives,  The moral of this story would also be suitable for so many adult women in today's society who just never seem to grow up. 

There is no single illustrator listed on the cover.  The animation styled graphics appear to be a collaborative effort inspired by the author's daughter.  The subtitle in small print, underneath the author's name explains this story is "Based On The Original Story by Jennifer Harrison".  This gives this book a fairy tale or fable like impression considering many fairy tales are retold by modern authors.  The back cover is reminiscent of a scene from a video game, depicting a scene where Emma defeats a dragon.  This scene is not at all part of the book, but only serves to reinforce the theme of confidence.

This beautiful book would make a nice gift for a young girl.  Yet for those children who are headed by single parents, in broken homes, and no fatherhead figure,  the spiritual interpretation as a religious allegory may be more applicable. As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Incanto Press for the purpose of writing this review.