Wednesday, January 27, 2016

NIV, God's Justice Bible, Hardcover The Flourishing of Creation and the Destruction of Evil By Tim Stafford

NIV, God's Justice Bible, Hardcover The Flourishing of Creation and the Destruction of Evil By Tim Stafford is the newest themed bible published by Zondervan.  The book is modern yet minimalist with its earth and jewel toned graphic touches in the interior, artistic images of tree artwork and the sturdy, hard cover.  This bible is very attractive and would make a nice gift as well as a good personal choice for daily reading for anyone who is new to the bible or looking to upgrade their old bible.

As far as the articles and content- this is a great introduction bible to introduce newer believers in the faith to basic bible principal of God's justice. For those who are used to extensive study bibles with foot notes, this bible is less indepth as it does not have study notes for the actual bible text.   This is not meant to be a study bible- but rather a simple, reader friendly presentation of the bible side by side with relevant articles about God's justice and the theme of justice in light of current and historical events.  Within the book are  some good articles- full of substance. One can say this is a pretty bland bible if you compare it to the full color study bibles on the market.  This bible is perfect for a niche market or outreach for social activists- and one can say without all the "extra" features, one can focus on scripture.

As far as content, this bible is a good choice- a step above the standard pew bible. With all the niche bibles out in the market- there is truly a bible for every taste.    This is an okay bible choice for a beginner.  It is easily read in the reader friendly single column format without notes inserted.  The only thing that is difficult is trying to find particular bible books since there are no headers which identify where you are at in this bible.  The reader has to do a lot of flipping in order to locate a particular bible book or verse. For a serious bible reader who frequently looks up specific passages for study or devotions, this might not be the best choice.  As a blogger for Booklook I received a copy of this bible published  by Zondervan for the purpose of writing this review.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Pop Painting by Camilla d'Errico

Pop Painting: Inspiration and Techniques from the Pop Surrealism Art Phenomenon by Camilla d'Errico is book for d'Errico fans as well as Manga art enthusiasts.  This book is beautiful.  AT once I was intrigued by the beautiful and mysterious art featured on the cover.  I had never heard of this artist or her works before.  I am vaguely familiar with Manga art through the interest of my teenager. Not only was I impressed by the beauty of the artwork, the presentation of the book is impressive as well. Part instructional manual, part biographical and part portfolio- this comprehensive book contains anything you would need to know to create your own art as well as the life's work of the impressive artist featured. This is an impressive work of art- and it is just as informative as beautiful.  The pages take you step by step in teaching the reader to create works of art starting from scratch.  The reader can follow the process from start to finish in creating the elaborate and impressive surrealistic- pop art.  Beautiful full color reproductions of her unique art as well as instructional photographs are included. This book would make the perfect gift for any artist, art enthusiast or Manga art fan. As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Ten Speed Press/ Potter book for the purpose of writing this review. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

There is no way that anyone in this  modern era of social media could have missed that the news that the infamous artist, David Bowie died three days after turning 69.  Not only that, he left an intriguing new album released on his birthday- just three days before his death. Without a doubt this music video release was planned to coincide with his imminent death as the artist had been fighting a private battle with cancer.  Although I am unfamiliar with most of David Bowie's works, aware of the musician from the sidelines, listening only when others played his songs on the radio during long car trips, I could not help but find myself intrigued and drawn to his newest release by the title of "Lazarus".  I could only imagine Bowie's giddy anticipation as he knew he would be leaving the world this complicated, musical tidbit of packed to the brim with symbolism for the fans, critics, religious leaders and psychologists alike, to interpret, discuss and dissect long after his death. To describe this last album as a "parting gift" to his fans seems fitting.

The opening scene of the musical video, Lazarus is poignant as Bowie is confined to a hospital bed: empty, devoid and clinical.  His disheveled colorless hair, shiny diaphoretic skin, and the tortured blue vasculature of his distended aged veins are clearly visible as he writhes around in bed, experiencing terminal agitation as well as spiritual distress, engulfed in regret and longing.  The absence of medical equipment normally seen in the hospital setting as well as  the chipped antique metal framed bed, the pilled salmon bedding, the dingy off white tile floor, the antiqued solid wood wardrobe and the threadbare yet ornately ruffled vintage nightshirt suggest that he is in a nursing home.  Confined to bed, deprived of sensory information as he has a band of gauze wrapped around his eyes, his only sensory input is enabled by two tiny pin sized holes provided by the carefully placed metal rivets. 

An ominous dark female figure slinks out of the heavy wooden wardrobe and finds herself underneath the bed grasping hesitantly upwards.  Ironically, while confined to bed, Bowie apparently rises a few inches off the bed- just enough to suggest levitation, but not enough to allow him to escape the confines of his bed reflecting his imprisonment, emotionally, spiritually and physically. 

As a nurse, it is important to allow the aged and terminally ill opportunities to reminisce as they approach the end of life. Bowie accomplishes this literally and figuratively throughout the piece.  In a scene change, from the sick- bed, Bowie is depicted in an eccentrically patterned, form fitting pair of black long underwear.  He finds a burst of energy, dancing as he continues to reminisce and reflect.  His alter ego is energetic and frantic as he pours out his story. His scissor like movements are quick and frantic in an attempt to release excess energy after having been bed bound for an indeterminate amount of time. This burst of energy is short lived, nevertheless.   In a quick change, his animated facial expression goes blank in mid- song. His eyes  become glassy as they stare off into the distance, detached, in an attempt to disengage from the reality of this world, in preparation for his inevitable death.   Adapting a mechanical, repetitive form of movement that can barely be classified as dancing, his song becomes more forced and structured.  The animated,  emotional piece is short lived as Bowie seamlessly retreats into a devoid expressionless human shell.   From that point the only animated personality is confined to the bed as depicted by Bowie's grandiose gesturing and wide range of intense facial expressions ranging from intense pain, regret and anguish as he grimaces and writhes in the bed.

Near the end, he exhibits a pained, tortured expression as he holds up a black quill pen, as if faced with an impossibly difficult choice.  One wonders the significance of the sharp black quill pen- as if it represents an inner battle- as demonstrated by the intense anxiety on his face. While one may ponder some mundane explanations for the anxiety, I can imagine it represents him contemplating major end of life decisions.  The high pitched screeching music only intensifies Bowie frantically scrolls not only on paper but the sides of the table and the legs as he experiences a cathartic release of frantic energy.  The final scene shows Bowie's facing turning off like a light switch as his pained anxious facial expression is replaced by a stone- like gaze.  He slowly retreating back words with an unsteady Parkinson's like gait back to the oppressive, ominous heavy wardrobe- his gaze glassy and dead. His short, uneven shuffled steps end as he backs into the wardrobe and closes himself inside. 

The lengthy music video Black star is even more complicated and intricate as it explores Bowie's search to reconcile his life with spirituality. Disturbing images of  rhythmic, decerebrate, seizure activity minimally resembles dancing. Parodies of barbaric, senseless ritual activity represent Bowie's condemnation of organized religion, no doubt.  Perhaps these disturbing artists with their expressionless seizure like posturing are representing Bowie's belief that faith in the bible is the product of mindless, brain dead individuals automated by antiquated and barbaric superstition.   

For many musical performers, religion- and specifically the bible- is like the big white elephant in the room. At one point in another, in everyone's life, one must make some sort of decision as to whether to believe the bible's claims about Jesus or to reject them.  There is an in incongruency between the lyrics of the
album with the images portrayed on the video- as if the satanical parody of the cross cancels out the searching spiritual lyrics.  It is apparent that Bowie experienced spiritual anguish near the end of his life as he pondered the truths about God.  Nevertheless the message as portrayed by the disturbing images of the video suggest that Bowie rejected Jesus' claims and also the bible in favor of his own judgment and interpretation of Jesus and spirituality.  The imagery of Blackstar could not have been more evil, more vile, more disturbing, than  if it had come from Satan himself.  On the other hand, Bowie's lip service to the bible may bring out the curiosity of his fans becoming a catalyst to investigate the bible that he alludes to.  There is a quote attributed to Bowie circulating around social media "I don't know where I'm going from here but I promise it won't be boring".  I agree it is accurate, and pretty sure it stands true from his vantage point in the afterlife, but probably not in the way that he intended. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

PrayerPoints: Praying God's Promises at Your Point of Need by Ken Petersen

PrayerPoints: Praying God's Promises at Your Point of Need, edited by Ken Petersen is a pocket sized book to turn to when you are in need of finding God's promises quickly.  This book is an expanded version of a "Where to turn to" section that is often included in many traditional bibles. This book is a compilation of a variety of bible verses to turn to for every need ranging from grief, depression, anxiety, addiction, entitlement, compulsive behavior and even dieting.  Topics are arranged alphabetically for easy reference.  Although one may choose to read this book cover to cover, it is more of a bedside reference to turn to when in need. This book addresses just about every emotion and need.  Included are pertinent bible verses as well as a small devotional designated as "Pray God's Promise" section.   This small book features a flexible leatherette cover embossed with a soothing tree print.  Embossed on the cover is a verse from Psalm 145:18. It is perfect for carrying in a purse, pack pack or a glove box.  This book is suitable for men and women alike. This is one book I will keep in easy reach.   As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Tyndale for the purpose of writing this review.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Grieving the Child I Never Knew A Devotional for Comfort in the Loss of Your Unborn or Newly Born Child By Kathe Wunnenberg

Grieving the Child I Never Knew A Devotional for Comfort in the Loss of Your Unborn or Newly Born Child By Kathe Wunnenberg is a new hardcover devotional book for those readers who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss.  This small sized hardcover book contains 31 short devotions covering a variety of grief and loss topics in light of scripture.  Devotions are followed by scripture and thoughts to encourage a journal. The author had experienced pregnancy and infant loss, although the details she provides concerning her personal loss experiences are brief.  Nevertheless, having experienced pregnancy and infant loss she is well qualified to speak to other grieving mothers as her words are based on her own grief journey. The book itself is beautifully bound, the pages are thick and durable- perfect for those readers who wish to used the blank lines for recording their own thoughts.  The back of the book included selected prayers for grief with blank lines for the reader to insert her own name.  There is also a scripture reference guide and a quick guide with suggested devotionals for specific milestones and moments of grief.  Wunnenberg clearly understands grief and is well qualified to effectively minister to women who are in deep grief and depression.  Her book is quick, with minimal words, and get's directly to the point for those weary mothers experiencing raw grief and who are low on energy.  This is a book for an urgent need- perfect for a women in a crisis of grief.  There is a presentation page, making this book a suitable gift to give any grieving mother. I personally feel this is the perfect thoughtful expression to give to a grieving mother.  For those who know someone experiencing stillbirth, pregnancy loss or infant death- I highly recommend giving this book as a simple gesture to show you care.  For those who experienced loss first hand, as I have, I feel this is an okay resource to provide comfort and reminders of God's promises to those who mourn. Personally I think it makes a better gift as a bereaved mom is unlikely to purchase a grief resource for herself.  As a blogger for Booklook, I received a copy of this book published by Zondervan for the purpose of writing this review.

This Is Camino by Russell Moore and Allison Hopelain with Chris Colin

This Is Camino by Russell Moore and Allison Hopelain with Chris Colin is a new niche cook book based on the recipes of the restaurant and grill based recipes.  One might wonder why in this modern day anyone would purchase an expensive cook book when there are so many free recipes available on the internet.  There are still some people out there who prefer a physical cookbook that they can shelve in their kitchen rather than a collection of printed out recipes.  This book is a beautifully bound hardcover with full color photos of exotic looking meals.  It is a work of art- which it needs to be- in order to compete with the convenience of online recipes.  This book would make a great gift for a chef or as a housewarming gift.  As far as recipes- this book is for the advanced chef who feels at home trying new meals This book is about grilling- but not about a typical barbecue or hotdogs and hamburgers. This book is for daring individuals who dare to mix the dangers of grilling ver an open fire with meal preparation.  This book combines artistry and upscale ingredients with a variety of meat and ingredients.  The book goes over the step by step process of the recipes even the history of the recipe as well.  There is a lot of background and supplemental information to make the reader an expert in this cuisine .  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Ten Speed Press publishers for the purpose of writing this review.