Saturday, October 29, 2016

Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories by Bonnie Rickner Jensen and illustrated by Robert Dunn

Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories by Bonnie Rickner Jensen and illustrated by Robert Dunn is a new bedtime themed book of short bible stories written especially for young children. There are many children's story book bibles on the market, but this fills a unique nich as it integrates the bed time story theme and rhymes as well.   Vibrant, colorful art, featuring well known bible characters and heroes such as King David, Daniel, Noah, Paul and Jesus, reinforce bible themes in a bedtime story setting.  The bright illustrations, and the cozy nighttime theme will appeal to young children and are perfectly suited for a bedtime storybook.  This perfect sized hardcover book, with its short, comforting and happy stories are the perfect bedtime story for young boys and girls,from toddlers, preschool ages and  up to grade schoolers

 Unlike a typical bible storybook, the purpose of these stories is to entertain and reinforce bible truths through rhyme and repetition.  I found the stories to hold the attention of young children.  The catchy rhyme format is almost like a song- and sticks to the essential spiritual truths for each story.  This book would make a good first introduction to popular bible stories for children unfamiliar with the bible.    This is a good choice for a casual, lighthearted bedtime book.  These simple stories could also be used as a springboard for a discussion of the bible account from the bible as well. I can imagine the lively discussions that could be started with older children contrasting the actual bible accounts with these stories.  If you are looking for a fresh unique way to capture your child's interest- this makes a great choice.  As a blogger for Booklook bloggers I received this book published by Tommy Nelson for the purpose of writing this review.  

Earth Psalms: Reflections on How God Speaks through Nature by Francine Rivers

Earth Psalms: Reflections on How God Speaks through Nature by Francine Rivers, is a beautiful full color devotional book featuring a variety of nature inspired photographs.   This hybrid book - part devotional and part photography- has full color, vibrant nature photography side by side scripture and biblical devotionals.  This book, by Rivers, is a unique, one of a kind way to start each day with a moment of spiritual relaxation and inspiration.  It teaches the reader to take a break and ponder the greatness of God through the creative world that is all around.  Even in the midst of stress or suffering or day to day work and responsibilities- this book shows the reader that God's glory can peer through anything that we may face with our daily struggles or busy lives.  This book will appeal to all readers.  Even those who are not nature enthusiasts will find peace and relaxation when integrating this book as part of their daily prayer life and biblical study.  As a blogger for Tyndale I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.

Earth Psalms: Reflections on How God Speaks through Nature by Francine Rivers

Earth Psalms: Reflections on How God Speaks through Nature by Francine Rivers, is a beautiful full color devotional book featuring a variety of nature inspired photographs.   This hybrid book - part devotional and part photography- has full color, vibrant nature photography side by side scripture and biblical devotionals.  This book, by Rivers, is a unique, one of a kind way to start each day with a moment of spiritual relaxation and inspiration.  It teaches the reader to take a break and ponder the greatness of God through the creative world that is all around.  Even in the midst of stress or suffering or day to day work and responsibilities- this book shows the reader that God's glory can peer through anything that we may face with our daily struggles or busy lives.  This book will appeal to all readers.  Even those who are not nature enthusiasts will find peace and relaxation when integrating this book as part of their daily prayer life and biblical study.  As a blogger for Tyndale I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The new adult coloring book, David Bowie, Retrospective and coloring book, by Mel Eliott

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.

The new adult coloring book, David Bowie, Retrospective and coloring book, by Mel Eliott, meshes together two popular genres: adult coloring book and the David Bowie trend. David Bowie fans will not be disappointed.  For every fan, this is a must have book.  This book features a quick synopsis of his life and music, and eccentric drawings of David Bowie in each phase of his musical career starting from the 1960s, to the movie Labyrinth all the way to his most recent Blackstar album.

In fact, this book will be given as a gift to my teenager, although music fans of all ages are certain to enjoy this book even if they aren't into coloring.  I received a copy of this book published by Watson-Guptill for the purpose of writing this review.

My teenager inspired me to do the following commentary after a philosophical debate about Bowie and the meaning behind his works.  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. 



Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Night Voyage: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book by Daria Song

The Night Voyage: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book by Daria Song is the newest volume in a series of magical coloring books designs just for adults. This is beautifully detailed coloring book for made for all ages- specifically adults who want to explore their creativity with the therapeutic pastime of coloring.  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 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.

Even the storyline behind the inspiration for this book is relaxing and entertaining.  I enjoy this artists coloring books as I am sure many readers out there will enjoy as well.  For those who have Song's earlier coloring books, this is an essential volume to complete the collection.  This coloring book will be certain to impress and to allow for hours of relaxation.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony for the purpose of writing this review.  

NIV My Journal Bible, Turquoise

NIV My Journal Bible, Turquoise

by Zondervan is a beautiful new bible that is made to not only accommodate personal journaling, but it also a beautifully bound hardcover with a floral design that will appeal to girls and women of all ages .  Although the removable jacket states this bible is for girls- I feel that women of any age- from their 20s, 30s, 40s and up will find this bible is perfectly suited.  No where within the bible itself is anything specifically that limits this bible to young girls only.

There is a new trend of bible journals and bibles with journal space on the market these days. Creativity is a new way to express faith while also building one's knowledge of the word of God.  This bible can easily become a treasured keepsake, passed down generation to generation, once it is personalized.

Generous sized margins feature ample space for writing notes, or even for creating your own doodles.  There is no limitation to this bible as it allows flexibility for anything.  To get some ideas of how to decorate or personalize a journaling bible there are many videos on the internet.  This bible will appeal to a wide audience including scrap bookkers, artists, journalists  and writers.

One feature is its smaller size text and size in general. Depending on who you are, this may or may not be a positive feature.  This bible is portable and light- and easy to read while holding in one hand.  Unlike heavier, bulky bibles, this bible is easy to read sitting up in a chair, or with one hand right before bed.  With its portable size, comes a smaller font.  The text size is slightly smaller  than the standard font size of Zondervan bibles.  The font is still readable, just not as much as the standard font.  Once again this is to allow extra wide lined margins on just about each page to allow for personal journal entries and notes.   This is not a devotional or study bible.  There are no extra articles or devotions which is a good thing as nothing stands between the reader and God's word.

Now that I have this bible, the hardest thing is to figure out what to do with it since there are so many possibilities.  I can not decide if I should take notes, draw doodles, highlight passages or add stickers- or maybe all these things.  As beautiful as this bible is, I may just want to leave it as it is and not add anything. So, I'm probably going to take a few days reading this bible until I decide if or how to personalize it.  Maybe I will watch a few more videos for inspiration.   As a blogger I received a copy of this bible published by Zondervan.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

40 Days to A joyful Motherhood By Sarah Humphrey

40 Days to A joyful Motherhood: Devotions and Coloring Book to Nourish Mom By Sarah Humphrey is a brand new specialty book just for mothers.  This hybrid book is part coloring book, and part spiritual devotional.  Unlike other adult coloring books- the coloring pages of this book aren't so finely detailed with repetitious geometric designs. The art is more natural and free flowing so as to allow coloring with crayons, markers or colored markers. You do not need a pristine, expensive, sharpened set of pencils to enjoys this coloring book.  You can use blunt and broken crayons if you wish!  Some of the coloring pages are full pictures while others are graphic designs and decorations incorporating biblical verses.  There is a broad mix of coloring activities that will suit every style.  The best part of this, is that you can finish these pages in one sitting easily!

The devotions included range from one paragraph in length up to two pages.  They address daily common topics of motherhood- not necessarily deep hardships or tragedy, but the daily ongoing challenges.  I found this book perhaps more suited for new or younger moms, although older mothers will enjoy this book as well.  This book would make a great gift for yourself or any other mom that you may know.  As a blogger for Litfuse publicity I receive d a copy of this book published by Abington Press.

Please visit the publisher's page

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood


http://www.abingdonpress.com/product/9781501834875#.WAJDa-ArLIU

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Taste and Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking by Naomi Pomerboy

Taste and Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking by Naomi Pomerboy is a beautiful new full color cook book. Beautiful photography of a variety of unique recipes are spread throughout this book.  This book would make a great gift for any chef.  Unique dishes include Walnut- Parsley Pistou, Potato Dumplings, Milk- Braised Pork Shoulder and Orange Palmiers.  Taste and Technique is a broad and versatile cookbook, offering traditional classics as well as eclectic and fancy upscale meals as well.  The book is categorized by the type of meat or food group.  Before the recipes are general helpful tips that are perfect for the beginning home cook as well as for the fancy Chef.   .  If you are throwing a party or hosting a special even, these recipes will be certain to impress your guests.  These fancy gourmet treats, desserts and meals are unique- and will tests the skills of any chef.  Each dish is accompanied by a full color photo, a brief background as well as a step by step guide to creating the meal. Also included are the author's notes which are additional helpful hints to guide the chef through the recipe.  Be sure to plan ahead to make sure you are stocked with the fancy, gourmet ingredients needed for these recipes before you try it out.  Once completed, posting photos of the finished product on Instagram or Facebook is certain to impress your friends and draw a lot of likes.  This is a beautifully bound cookbook that includes a wide variety of meal choices.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Potter for the purpose of writing this review. 

365 Pocket Morning Prayers: Strength and Joy to Begin Each Day by David R. Veerman

365 Pocket Morning Prayers: Strength and Joy to Begin Each Day by David R. Veerman is a pocket sized devotional book with a sturdy flexible leatherette cover - making this book easy to carry everywhere. Its versatility and portability are just as useful as the inspirational daily truths contained inside.  Filled with inspirational daily devotionals based on scripture verses, this book is certain to add spiritual truth and encouragement for each day.  This would make a great gift for yourself or a loved one who needs extra encouragement.  I especially like the fact that the cover is sturdy and flexible, which will stand up to wear and tear inside a purse, backpack or totebag.  This book turns scripture into a fashion statement as well- as it is made to be carried with you as you go about your day.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.

Monday, October 10, 2016

NIV Faith and Work Bible By David H. Kim Published by Zondervan

NIV Faith and Work Bible By David H. Kim  Published by Zondervan, is the newest themed bible featuring articles and devotionals that people who are employed full time can relate to.  Full time employment outside of the home has its own unique and stressful challenges.  There are so many devotional bibles for stay at home mothers and homemakers, but this is a first- made for both men and women who have full time jobs.  The articles are broad in scope and everyone from a lawyer or accountant to a retail salesperson or fast food worker can relate to.  One poignant devotional focused on the disappointment of a college graduate who was stuck making minimum wage as a sales clerk.  This bible gives new hope and empowerment to show the reader that self worth is not linked to income or social status.  I found some of the articles to be inspiring.

The bible itself features the NIV text.  Although not advertised as a larger print. the font is larger sized and easy on the eye- much bigger than the usual "standard sized" font.  The readability of this bible is one of the best features in light of the minuscule font in many bibles.  The bible features olive green toned spot color and a few graphics that break up the long passage of text.  Overall this bible and its readable font makes it a great choice for everyday reading.  As a blogger for Booklook, I received a copy of this bible for the purpose of writing a review.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer's Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe

Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer's Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World

by Art Wolfe is an impressive showcase of photography bound into one volume.  This book chronicles the photography of Art Wolf, chronologically.  Those unfamiliar with his works will find themselves immersed into new, colorful worlds and exciting scenes ranging from wildlife, extreme landscapes to primitive cultures.   Wolf can turn any scene into art- from a dilapidated sweatshop in India, to a group of elephants and even street scenes of third world countries.  This book is full of impressive photography. Even if you are not a photographer, this book is informative as well as entertaining.  For those readers who are photographers, the helpful photography hints offered alongside each photo will help photographers fine tune their skills.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Amphoto books for the purpose of writing this review.  

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Beginner’s Bible by Zondervan

There are many bible story books that use the words, "beginner" and "bible" in their titles, - but this childrens' bible produced by Zondervan, known as the The Beginner’s Bible® is the proto-type of bibles made for children.  Having read many other bible story books, this is the first time I have read the Beginner's Bible.  This is a reprint and revised edition of the original that was first published in 1989. 

From the start I was impressed by this bible.  The bible stories contained are true to the bible- complete with bible references, but simplified for young children.  The illustrations are simple and colorful.  The faces of the illustrated characters and figures are expressive with bold, piercing, wide eyes.  The bold lines and contrasting colors will draw in children of all years.  From the first story, my toddler was engaged, and listened to the story.  Each page features a bold drawing with a few lines of text.  The format is not too overwhelming, and each story is quick to read.  

This bible is thorough and complete.  Unlike many bible story books that seem to include only a few bible stories, with 511 pages, this bible contains a thorough selection of all the most important and well known stories and selections from the bible.  This choice is a good solid bible to build a foundation for young children.  As a blogger for booklook I received a copy of this bible published by Zonderkidz for the purpose of writing this review.