Thursday, August 27, 2015

Doctor Who The Drosten's Curse by A.L. Kennedy

Doctor Who The Drosten's Curse by A.L. Kennedy is the newest novel based on  the well known Doctor Who series. Fans of the series will love this newest book.  A.L. Kennedy's writing style qualifies as literary fiction delving deeply into a well developed plot and three dimensional characters. The intensity of this writing is more than what a reader might expect from a serial book based on a popular television program. "The Doctor was used to all the weird surprises, odd transmat beams and, for that matter, harsh treatment that a universe- one that didn't wish to be rude, but one did have to mention- a universe filled with some highly unpleasant characters could serve up." (Kennedy, 2015 p. 158)

Doctor Who is a popular TV series originally produced in 1963 and has since earned a place in pop culture. Who hasn't heard of the infamous traveling "Tardis"? Anyone familiar with popular media would recognize the "Public call box" as it  travels in space.  TThe different books in this series are written by different authors- each with their own unique style and twist.

The fast paced narrative jumps grabs the reader at the first paragraph.  His action packed dialogue will keep the attention of all readers as well as his in-depth probing of the individual characters and their thoughts will keep the reader glued to the page for this new adventure. There is satire and humor woven through- as well as plot twists that fans have grown to love.  Fans of the popular TV series will enjoy the common themes of the television show, within this book.  Readers who enjoy  mystery and science fiction fans alike, will also enjoy this book. There is enough authentic graphic scientific description to hold the attention of true Sci fi fans.  The authentic historic elements of traveling back into time will be appreciated by history enthusiasts.  The story is eccentric and combines a number of unusual happenings and events. There are a number of allusions and references that might be missed if the reader isn't paying careful attention. There is some deciphering involved- and a learning curve if you are not familiar with the series.  But even unfamiliar readers will enjoy this book.  If you need a break from the everyday commonplace world of fiction- this is a great choice. This is a well rounded story with a variety of elements. While the TV series is equally enjoyed by adults as well as teens and children alike, this novel  an appropriate book choice for teens as well as adults.

As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Broadway books an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, for the purpose of writing this review.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My First Hands On Bible

My First Hands On Bible with its flexible pink leather- like leatherette,  featuring the New Living Translation is a new children's bible published by Tyndale publishers.  There are so many new children's bibles on the market, but the unique aspect of this bible is that is actually features the word for word text of the bible- the NLT. In contrast to other children's bibles which are simply paraphrases or summaries based on the author's interpretation- this is actual biblical text! Side by side with actual bible text (the easy to understand NLT) are simple  cartoon styled illustrations. Dispersed within the text and illustrations are simple prayers, interactive ideas and "Jesus Connection" statements to add clarity and to sum up important biblical ideas.  This is a hands on bible for young children- preschoolers. It would not be directed to older children.  With the guidance of an adult to read the text, preschool aged children are sure to understand and enjoy this bible.  One thing to keep in mind is that it obviously is intended that this bible
be read to a child as the text is beyond a preschooler's reading level   and the thin pages could easily be torn. This is a keepsake bible so you may wish to store it safely on a high shelf.  One main thing about this bible that I would change are  the overly simple cartoon styled drawings- which artistically,  I feel are basically one step above stick figure drawings.   Nevertheless this style of illustration is obviously geared towards very young children. The simple art will draw in younger readers.  As a blogger for Tyndale bloggers I received this book for the purpose of writing this review and my opinions are my own.

NIV Zondervan Study Bible

I have found my new favorite bible! The  NIV Zondervan Study Bible is the bible that I have been waiting for! I can't say enough of the greatness and beauty, as well as the utility of this bible.  The pursuit of the perfect bible has come to a closure!!!! I know in a previous review, I said that Zondervan's  NIV First Century bible takes first place with the NKJV full color study bible in a close second.  For anyone already familiar with the NKJV study bible- this NIV Zondervan Study is comparable in the in-depth study notes, graphs and full color photographs.  
This is the newly released NIV Zondervan  study bible-  published in full color!  The simple, minimalist, modern book jacket gives little clue to the visual goodies contained within. The pages are simple yet full of colorful study helps, photos and maps.  The quality, durable textured hard cover will last with heavy use. The pages are perfect as far as their thin texture which is also durable.  

As far as the content and presentation:   I found it to be similar to the NKJV full color study bible and the newly published NIV Essentials study bible. If you find yourself stuck in a deadlock contemplating which bible to choose: This NIV Zondervan Study bible, the NIV Essentials bible or the NKJV study bible- I'd choose this one.  The biggest difference between the newly published NKJV Study bible by Thomas Nelson  is that this is a NIV translation.  The NKJV is  more literal and traditional in style and language than the NIV.  The NIV essentials bible is black and white with some spot color which seems like an adequate bible until you have been exposed to the beauty of a full color 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 Zondervan Study Bible is the only bible you will need.   This bible is great for new bible readers as well experienced readers.

As far as everyday study, the font is okay in standard size but still on the tiny side. But that is understandable given the amount of content and the size of this bible.  As it is this bible is bulky and not really the optimal choice to carry around.   It is nice to see that the zondervan publishers recognized 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. If you are wondering why to choose this bible over the most recently published full color bibles- I'd choose this particular bible if you prefer the NIV. There is some similar content such as illustrations, maps and charts that you will find in the First Century and Essentials bible as well as the NKJV STudy bible.  Therefore its redundant to own all of these bibles  in my opinion unless you collect  bibles.

The digital access can be used through an enclosed card with a code.  These days many college textbooks come with digital access.  There are two options for digital access- lap top and tablet/ cell versions. I chose the android format which lead me to the olive tree app.  I found that installing the digital access was not particularly easy.  I am unsure if I was able to unlock all the features.  I was only able to view the NIV text on my mobile device- no additional photos or charts..  Some readers might be confused into believing the digital access is the digital version of the NIV Zondervan study bible.  So far I found that not to be the case. Nevertheless I enjoy this bible as a bible- and digital access is not at all important to me.  I only wanted to try it simply to take a look at what it offered.

For anyone looking for a good bible that will provide a lifetime of value and study, this is it!- The top  bible among 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.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Time Garden: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book by Daria Song

The Time Garden: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book by Daria Song is a beautifully detailed coloring book for made especially for older readers.  These beautiful scenic drawings in of themselves are a work of art.

The beautiful binding and removable jacket can also be colored as well.  This makes a great gift for yourself or a friend.  The luxurious quality of this book, thick pages, and elaborate art,  is unexpected considering its affordable retail price.  Its an affordable luxury certain to brighten up anyone's day. Armed with a sharpened set of colored pencils, this book can become a personalized masterpiece to treasure and even pass down.  Although it is marketed for readers of all ages, it is most suitable for teens and older due to the tiny detail. I do not feel a grade school-er would appreciate the fine detail of this book, and it would be a shame to destroy a beautiful book with scribble.  This is a coloring project that takes time, perseverance and patience.  I gave it to my teenager to color and even she was in awe and hesitated telling me she did not want to ruin it. She started the first page then gave it to me to finish.   I could imagine many readers who appreciate art will hesitate before making the first stroke with their pencils as well. One thing to keep in mind is the fine detail and repetition of tiny geometric shapes and designs that are a part of each picture.  Some of these pages can take hours to complete- maybe more than the time allowed in one sitting.  It takes patience.  Be sure to have a pencil sharpener handy when starting this book.  Don't bother with crayons or markers. The story line and theme is like a bedtime story.  I feel as if this would also make a beautiful book if it was full color rather than a coloring book.  I almost would have preferred this to  be a traditional full color story than a  coloring book.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony for the purpose of writing this review.  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Believe Kids' Edition by Randy Frazee

Believe: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus Kids' Edition, edited by Randy Frazee is part of the Believe collection of resources.  This series  includes age level resources for adults, students and younger children as well.  After reviewing the adult, kids' and child resource, I was most impressed with the hard cover, full color children's Believe Storybook.  I was underwhelmed by this Kids' Edition of the Believe resource; the paperback quality reminded me of the dollar store.  I felt the strongest books in  this series was the children's Believe Storybook.

This trade paperback edition gave the impression of a dollar store coloring-book quality with  its illustrations and formatting.  It just did not give the impression of a quality book for the $11.99 retail price.  If it was priced at $2.99 for the mass market, it would be more reasonable.  Although there is a blue spot color throughout and plenty of illustrations, I feel the large chunks of text are still too monotonous.  With the inclusion of scripture texts and commentary, I do not feel that there is enough unique content to a justify purchase of this book in the context of the wide range of children's study bibles available for the school age and pre-teen age group that this book is marketed for.  With the availability of high quality affordable complete NIV youth bibles available today, I do not see how this resource stands out.  This book might be good for those younger readers who might be too over whelmed by a complete bible.  This book covers a good variety of biblical topics as a non denominational version of a "catechism". In general, there are enough people unfamiliar with the bible as it is, that if presented with the Believe series of books, will find themselves confused with these resources that present large portions of the bible, yet are not the actual bible.  As a blogger for Booklook I received a copy of this boo published by Zondervan for the purpose of writing this review.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Giants Legends, Lore & Goliaths by Charles Martin, illustrated by Bill Looney

From the first page of the new book, Giants Legends, Lore & Goliaths by Charles Martin, illustrated by Bill Looney, children, as well as parents, 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 panorama of David and Goliath.   Full color illustrations by Bill Looney bring the myths and history of ancient times to life.  The art captures the realism of these giants.  His detailed art also adds a multicultural element as well in depicting folk lore and world wide giant folklore and 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 the existence of giant beings as well as the flood  from geological evidence and history is presented in a simple, visual method.  Tales and folklore of giants, as well as creation stories presented from around the world give a social and archeological perspective.  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 massive scale of giants. Vintage styled replicas of "books" and flags and antiqued maps give an element of historical realism as well as mystery.  I have never seen a more complete or more enjoyable presentation of the subject matter of Giants- often overlooked as simply the matter of fairy tales.  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. There is more to the idea of Giants than the popular child hood stereotype of Jack and the Beanstalk.  If you want to go beyond fairytales  and learn about how fact and myths intertwine to create fables- this book is a great case study. 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.
Giants available @

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop by April Vollmer

If you are in the market to purchase a book on a new and exotic craft, Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop by April Vollmer will introduce you to a new genre.  This hardcover book is a blend between a gift book and instructional guide.  This book is just as suitable for those who are interested in gaining a world wide perspective on art as well as hobbyists who want to try an eclectic and new art project.  This minimalist, modern designed book features a color coordinated abstract nature print resembling either trees or flowers.  The interior features full color photographs not only of art samples but also the materials needed and step by step instructional photographs.  The stylized art has a washed out watercolor impression as the colors are often muted- not bold or bright.  In my opinion the most impressive pieces of art were featured on the front and back covers.  The interior art looks like a combination between folk and modern abstract art combined.  I do not believe there is a sufficient number of pieces of art featured to qualify this book as either a gift book or art book.  There is a history of Japanese woodworking included in this book, giving the reader a broad background into this type of art.  A history student of Asian or Japanese studies may find an interest in this book as well as anyone looking for a new idea for a project. It fulfills a niche market of interest, but most likely wont be aesthetically pleasing for those who prefer oil paintings and traditional art.  I could see how some of these ideas might be integrated into modern home decor as part of a DIY project. This book would look sophisticated on anyone's bookshelf although this niche book would not be aimed for the general population. As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Watson-Guptill Publications an imprint of Crown Publishing for the purpose of writing this review.  

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pokergeist by Michael Phillip Cash

"Poker is life.  The hand you're dealt is determined.  It's how you play the cards that counts. Does the circumstances make the person, or does the person make the circumstances." (Cash, 2015, p. 232)

Pokergeist is the newest novel by Michael Phillip Cash.  This fast paced novel combines the paranormal with the Las Vegas casino nightlife.  In this original work, the reader is introduced to a timid man of low self worth named Telly, unemployed  and living out of a cheap motel, quickly losing hope as he makes one last effort to pursue a far fetched dream of winning a poker tournament before resigning himself to a life of disappointment.  Ironically he isn't alone in his quest as he makes an unlikely acquaintance with a dead poker player, once a professional who wanders in a limbo state unable to accept the loss of his final tournament.  Together they form an unlikely bond, complimenting each others' weakness in one final attempt in the pursuit of their dream, and more importantly, spiritual and emotional redemption.

Not simply a ghost story, the characters have real depth- as if Cash has the ability to psychologically analyze the the three dimensional characters he creates.  Telly is in his thirties, lamenting his lost career and lifestyle, a victim of corporate downsizing, he now lives on the brink of poverty. Despite his Masters degree, he must endure the ongoing humiliation of job rejections as he contemplates taking a minimum wage job as a cab driver. He is torn between his pride and his duty to care for his wife who has become the sole breadwinner. Meanwhile, the spirit of Clutch, a hardened and weary soul, is racked with guilt as he powerlessly observes the aftermath of his poor choices on his family as well as his teen-aged daughter and his grieving mistress. He is impotent to protect his family from the unsavory loan sharks he owed money to as his estate is tied up in probate because he did not write a will.  He wonders aimlessly as he watches from the sidelines- until a quirk in the spiritual- space time continuum allows his path to cross with Telly.  This story will leave any reader glued to its pages, rooting for redemption.  In a plot twist, the end is ironic, and unexpected, yet the careful and astute reader might find some clues threaded throughout the novel.  There is more than meets the eye with this complex novel.  Although fast paced with lively dialogue, it is thought provoking as well.  In fact it may even leave the reader to contemplate his or her own life and priorities as well.  Philosophical truth is found in the unlikeliest of places and circumstances.  A lesson from an unlikely ghost from Clutch's own past reveals an important lesson, "Poker is life.  The hand you're dealt is determined.  It's how you play the cards that counts." (Cash, 2015, p. 232) As a blogger I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review. This book is available on and Barnes & Noble.

NIV Bible for Teen Girls: Growing in Faith, Hope, and Love

The newly published Bible for Teen Girls: Growing in Faith, Hope and Love, in the NIV translation
comes packaged with an inviting mat- finish artistic retro cover.  The vintage scroll work and antique styled bird cartoons is reminiscent of a typical teenager's pencil doodle drawing and no doubt will draw in a variety of readers and even young adults. This is the first thing that will jump out when choosing from a variety of bibles. This full sized study bible is perfect for pre teens and teen-aged girls.  The NIV translation is a reliable and trustworthy translation in contrast to other paraphrased translations frequently used for childrens' bibles.  The NIV is not difficult to comprehend for teens and young adults,  in contrast to the Kings James Translation or NKJV,  often used for a children's gift bible.  I imagine that kids' and teens' bibles using difficult to read translations could not possibly be used as a primary bible and are used mostly just for gift giving and sitting on a book shelf or trunk of trinkets.

Applicable devotions and commentaries are scattered throughout to help apply bible principals and teachings.  This bible contains character profiles and book introductions as inviting chunks of information to give the reader a background on the bible.  Selected scripture verses are highlighted as well, almost like a highlighter. This includes key memorable verses such as  Acts 16:31. The interior design with pink toned spot color and supplemental material break up the bible text making scripture more inviting and memorable.  Relevant articles on technology, friendship and other teen related issues as well as matters of faith and bible concepts are covered for a well rounded mix. The concordance is extensive making this an actual study bible- not simply a devotional bible.  Even so, there are devotional articles- which will hold the interest of any teenager.  Many teens like reading short personal stories and anecdotes in magazines- this will appeal to those readers as well.   The study bible features are more versatile and more powerful in terms of looking up specific passages and focusing on particular topics of interest.

This is not a bland text only bible.  I have seen many "children's" bibles that have beautiful covers but when you open them up, the interior is simply a standard black text on a white page, in a tiny font, with no embellishment- no different than a standard pew bible.

 If it weren't for the large "teen girls" boldly highlighted on the cover, I'd use this as my own bible. The only change is I feel the "teen girls" label on the cover should be delegated to the bottom corner of this bible in a smaller script font.   This is a bible that will be read- not simply to collect dust on a bookshelf.  As a blogger for BookLook bloggers, I received a copy of this bible published by Zondervan for the purpose of writing this review.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Intersect - Rob Peabody & Cris Rogers

Intersect - where your story and God's story converge by  Rob Peabody & Cris Rogers is a newly published DVD of The Awaken Movement.  This production is a short film that believers may use as a valuable resource in order to introduce friends, family and acquaintances to Christ. How many times have you wondered about how to bring up the message of the Good News of Jesus to friends, family or anyone for that matter? This short film is intended to be part of a five week curriculum to not only introduce Jesus in casual, non religious, non threatening context.  This documentary styled outreach film can is produced so inspire audiences of all ages and religious backgrounds and secular background.  The DVD had a small, full color, glossy study guide pamphlet enclosed in the case.  The guidebook offers suggestions on how to effectively use the film series for the bible study leader, out reach director, teacher or youth group leader.  It guides the user to creating an effective "lesson plan" for use with a small group.  In fact there are mini lesson plans and discussion questions for each of the five topical lessons to be delivered over the course of five weeks.  Therefore even if you never have led a study group before, you can easily lead one with the guidance provided with this DVD.  This DVD is intended for small group leaders, church ministry volunteers, bible study leaders or anyone interested in sharing the good news in a small study group format.  Do you belong to a book club?  Why not present this DVD series as a change of pace.  Do you have a weekly ladies night out, college study group or mom's playdate group?  Why not integrate this resource to deliver the life saving message to friends, family or acquaintances.   Get some popcorn, sodas and candy and your big screen TV and invite some friends over to watch the short films and have a discussion afterwords.  It doesn't need to be a formal even.  No one needs to purchase anything to participate in the group.  Even if you don't have a leadership role in a church or any background in teaching- I challenge you the reader of this blog, or even a fellow book blogger to get a copy of this DVD resource and start sharing the gospel message to all you know.  In the true spirit of the Great Commission of the Gospel this DVD resource shows us where to start in sharing the message if we have no idea where to begin. As a blogger for Litfuse publicity I received a copy of this DVD for the purpose of writing this review.

Glory Days by Max Lucado

Glory Days is the newest book written by one of America's most uplifting authors, Max Lucado. This book specifically helps those who are enduring really difficult times to simply mundane ordinary times, to endure and persevere. The author address real issues- job loss, terminal illness, grief and loss. This book is designed to help those not only those who are suffering from extreme circumstances, but those suffering from apathy, boredom and depression.  By following the Old Testament account of Joshua, this book offers real help by applying what we can learn from the account of Joshua to our modern day problems!  Most of us have our Caanan or trek in the wilderness.  If you feel like your life is stagnating or struggling with self esteem  or striving to achieve a goal- you will get something out of this book.  If you are bellyaching because you burned your husband's dinner, or the grass stain won't come out of the soccer uniform, or if missed an appointment for your pedicure, or your favorite coach bag sold out before you reached the mall, then this book isn't for those complaints.  Yet you should read it anyway as it might put your life into a more spiritual perspective.  This book is not a fluffy, superficial, condescending, feel- good, women's devotional book. Max Lucado addresses the real life experiences and heartaches and holds our trials up to the biblical heroes who also suffered but endured with the help of God.  But, if you truly suffer from life's heartaches, or you are striving for something you feel is beyond your reach, then this book will offer the comfort and cheering you need.
This is a book I have read and re read.  Its readily available on my bookshelf when I need to turn to it in a time of need or or a time of change or challenge.  Its simple and to the point, bible truths are communicated in an easy to digest form for those who are too stressed or grief stricken to focus.

In true Lucado fashion, Max writes in an animated, easy to understand style that communicates biblical truths to the reader in this book. He bring the lessons of Joshua and its timeless truth to life in an inspirational way that speaks out to the reader. "Catch God in a bad mood? Won't happen. Fear exhausting his grace? A sardine will swallow the Atlantic first. Think he's given up on you?" ..... Lucado's use of colorful language and his conversational tone, make it so that biblical truths are memorable and meaningful to the average modern reader. You need not be educated in an expensive seminary or college to understand Max Lucado's books. This inspirational book will be certain to leave the reader with a lasting impression. In today's self centered society, without offense Max Lucado illustrates the importance of living life based on biblical principles. After reading this book, and really meditating on the biblical truths communicated via Max Lucado, one can feel a renewed sense of empowerment to live a selfless life style. Max makes use of personal anecdotes as well as bible stories to illustrate the importance of depending on God rather than on the material things of this world. If on the other hand you are simply looking for bible based motivation and a relief in a world that takes pride in materialism, selfish ambition and competition, then this book is perfect. If you need a boost for your self esteem, and to understand your purpose or to define your goals this book is a great choice.   As a blogger for Litfuse publicity, I received a copy of this book an ARC copy, published  by Thomas Nelson publishers in exchange for writing an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own. Visit Glory Days on Lifuse Publicity
Glory Days Trailer

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Learning to See Creatively by Bryan Peterson

Learning to See Creatively- Design, Color, and Composition in Photography by Bryan Peterson is newly revised in this third edition.  This is the perfect book for beginner and professional photographers to bring new life to their photography.  Not only for photographers, this book will provide insight for anyone who just wants to challenge and refresh their perspective on the world. As one would expect there are a variety of high quality photographs representing various photography styles and themes including action, still life, nature and abstract.  Color, composition and other aspects of photography are addressed making this a good introductory guidebook on the basics of photography.  There is even a chapter on photo-shopping photos for a surreal effect. Whether one prefers traditional photography or has a digital camera or even a camera phone-  this book would make a great gift for anyone who loves photography.

One change that I feel the author should consider is the cover photograph.  It is too abstract and uninspiring. I do not feel the photograph is a good  quality representation to draw in the reader to purchase the book. The abstract image of a street sign and traffic light are reflected by a puddle- yet the image looks grainy and blurred. It makes the book appear dated. Considering this is the cover of a photography book, I was a bit underwhelmed and would have expected a more impressive cover art and design to be depicted. If one takes the time to get past the cover design, then the reader will find this book informative and engaging.  Nevertheless I can not help but feel many possible readers will pass this book up simply because they are not engaged by the cover.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Amphoto books, an imprint of Watson- Guptill Publications,  for the purpose of writing this review.