Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Believe by Randy Frazee

Believe: Living The Story of the Bible to Become Like Jesus by Randy Frazee is a hybrid volume which is a cross between a bible study and NIV selection sampler.  The bulk of the 507 page text of the book are selections from the NIV ranging from page long excerpts to individual verses of scripture.  The NIV selections are grouped by topics.  The topical material is organized just as a bible study or a discipleship pamphlet. 

This book is sure to be an eye opener, helping the reader to make sense of the major purpose of the bible.  The book is divided into three major sections: Think, Act and Be. There are subtopics addressing major questions and issues of faith.  This is the perfect concept for anyone who finds himself overwhelmed at the full bible. An alternate, and more efficient method of presenting the material could have been in the form of a pamphlet or small booklet with a "where to find"  themed topical scripture guide. The same format could have been used leaving out all the scripture blocks for a more streamlined product that would be more affordable and more accessible to greater numbers of people.  Had the material been presented this way, as a streamlined booklet, the reader could find the verses and passages for the particular topic in his own bible rather than putting pages of scripture into a thick book.  Personally I feel the information contained in Believe could have a far greater impact if this was designed as a more costly mass produced booklet which  include the references of where to find the passages rather than a 500 page hardcover volume that retails for $24.99. 

This book would be a perfect companion to the bible for any new Christian or for anyone who is first introduced to the bible.  The content of this book is reminiscent to a statement of faith and perhaps it can be adapted as an impromptu catechism for any non denominational or start up bible church.  As a blogger for Booklook I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.  This book is published by Zondervan.

Friday, January 23, 2015

A curiosity, an anomaly, an aberration, a mutation,
unique, unexpected, eccentric.
Difficult to define, or assign,
yet all lay claim and grasp
in order to validate, and explain and fulfill.

The empty, meaningless, void
a spiritual void, devoid of meaning, devoid of purpose, devoid of life
a vacuum, needs to be filled.
The masses grope
grasping at anything,
transference, displacement, diversion
repackaging, disguising, covering
Redefining evil,
with a non threating symbol

-it could be anyone, or anything; it doesn't matter-
Ironically embodied
in a blackened, dimmed, deviled & damned, pitch colored bird,
a dark feathered friend
a friendly figure, a familiar face
inviting and reconfigured
palatable, consumable and all consuming

What is it? Like the golden calf of ancient times, powerful, and alluring, a false "god",
 it's the newest vision, an apparition,
It is reportedly,  the alleged, the rumored, infamous,  "Ayam Cemani Chicken".
 Is it real or fictitious, a fairy tale or fable, a figment of the imagination?
 No one knows, nor does it matter as it has taken on a life of its own.

It was Me All Along: A Memoir by Andie Mitchell

It was Me All Along: A Memoir by Andie Mitchell is a newly published account of a young woman's lifelong battle with food. The book depicts a retro, colorized photograph of a young chubby adolescent girl in a tight fitting swimming suit. This ominous cover depicts a girl who on the surface is smiling but is concealing hurt and shame.  This writing genre is similar to any memoir of abuse or addiction, and those readers who have come from dysfunctional families and who suffered abuse as a child might relate to this book.   Just as any other addiction, alcohol or drugs, Andie's addiction with food destroyed her youth and took over her life.  It is ironic, but many people in the general public may not consider the fact that there are many who do suffer from food addictions and that addictions don't just refer to drugs or gambling.  For many readers who know nothing about food addictions, bine eating and anorexia, this book will be an eye opener.  For those readers who themselves are overweight or battling food addictions, binge eating disorder, bulimia or anorexia, the richly, detailed descriptions of luscious fatty refined food and pastry may be enough to cause a relapse.  Andie's richly poignant descriptions of binge foods made me think that the author still is in fact is facing an internal battle with food and that perhaps her sense of equilibrium with food may be short lived.  This book would make a good case study for a psych student.  It was enlightening, and educational but certainly not entertaining.  This book is easy to read in the sense that it is simple and to the point, but it is not a book for casual reading.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Clarkson Potter for the purpose of writing this review.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Electrifying Nervous System by Lainna Callentine M.Ed., M.D.

The Electrifying Nervous System by Lainna Callentine M.Ed., a new full color book about the body's central nervous system.  Filled with sharp, full color glossy photos with vivid, high tech images of the anatomy that appear to jump out at the reader, this is one of the best anatomy  books written for children that I have read.

Written in a graphically appealing style- sharp state of the art, up close photography, bold fonts, and colorful graphics, this informative book is perfect for kids of all ages, even up to high school. This book is not only an authority on all types of body's central nervous system, but it is entertaining to read as well.

This book is divided into chapters or sections based on insect categories.  There is the science of anatomy and physiology, as well as health related information and fun facts.  The plethora of information makes this so much more than an academic text, but also a popular fact and trivia book too.  Any young reader will have a well rounded experience with the combination of science with entertainment.  It is like a documentary for the CNS.

 The presentation of this book- its colorful magazine styled layout, photos and graphics makes this anatomy subject jump out at the reader. The biological complexity portrayed in this  book testifies to God's glory.  This unexpected way of looking at this body system is sure to leave impressionable young minds with a lasting taste of God's magnificent wonder. Having just completed anatomy and learning about the CNS for Nursing school, I found the information to be accurate and the terminology to be consistent with the subject matter.  The scientific and medical depictions and graphs are accurate as well as visually appealing. The explanations as well as the medical illustrations make concepts about the brain, spine and synapses, easy to understand.  I wish I had this book a few years ago as I was taking my anatomy course.  This book is part of a series of God's Wondrous Machine, also published by Master Books.  The only change I would like to see is all these topics in one comprehensive volume rather than nine distinct volumes. As a blogger for Moms of Master Books I received a copy of this for the purpose of writing this review.

This book is available at

Visit New Leaf Press for more educational titles.

Little Bunny's Bible by P J Lyons , illustrated by Melanie Mitchell

Little Bunny's Bible by P J Lyons , illustrated by Melanie Mitchell is a small board book with a plushy bunny faced cover for toddlers and preschoolers.  This 14 page board book features about seven easy to read stories.  Each story is about a paragraph in length and is side by side full color artwork.  Other than the fuzzy bunny face on the cover, there is nothing to suggest a bunny rabbit theme.  The plush cover is to attract young readers, but the animal theme is not carried throughout the book which may seem to be confusing. Other than the cover in tiny printed font on the bottom of the book, there is nothing to suggest that this is a book of bible stories.  The plushy rabbit has folded ears that are kept in place by a stitch of thread.  With a firm tug, or snip of a scissors, the stitch can be pulled out to release the fold of the ear.  It almost looks as if this stitch is supposed to be removed to reveal the full length of the ears- it is ambiguous.  This is part of a series of bibles that feature a yellow chick and a brown bear.  This might be a good idea for a baby's gift. As a blogger for Booklook bloggers I received a copy of this book published by Zondervan.

Friday, January 16, 2015

My Keepsake Bible by Sally Ann Wright, Illustrated by Honor Ayres

My Keepsake Bible by Sally Ann Wright, Illustrated by Honor Ayres is a beautifully illustrated bible story book that parents can not only read to their child, but can keep.  Ayres' beautifully colored artwork will hold the attention of any young child. This little gift bible with its padded cover, would make a nice gift for any new mom as it has a few opening pages to record the family tree and one page to record some of baby's first moments. Yet, other than the few intro pages, there is not much else to qualify this as a keepsake as the title portrays.   Introductory presentation pages are not uncommon in gift and presentation bibles for adults, but normally they are not found in bibles for babies and preschoolers. That is why this is designated as a keepsake.

Nevertheless I believe the title may be misleading as the "Keepsake" in the title might make someone think this is more like a fill in memory book or baby first year scrapbook.  Other than a few pages in the beginning of this book, with one page to record the dates of a few of baby's firsts, this is a typical baby/ preschooler storybook bible.  If you are looking for a memory book, and purchase this online for yourself, this is not the best choice and you may be disappointed when you see it is basically a bible storybook.  If you are looking for a beautiful childrens' bible story book to give as a gift then this is a good choice. As a blogger I received a copy of this book from Tyndale for the purpose of writing this review.    

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber is a uniquely new novel: a hybrid of science fiction, drama and spirituality.  Faber is a talented writer whose vividly descriptive words transport trans-port the reader into surreal new worlds beyond the imagination.  The science and even the cultural practices of an alien world are well developed.  The surreal imagery of the alien universe with its thick, moist atmosphere, the sideways dancing rain and the green, honeydew tinged water leaves the reader wanting more and more.  The scenes depicting his recovery from space travel are almost believable.  The passage of time is surreal and disorientating- making this book an authentically styled account that addresses the "what if" questions if one were to travel unimaginable distances across the universe and lose the concept of time.  The details fill the imagination of any reader who enjoys richly written science fiction.  The themes are complex and universal at the same time: spirituality, morals and sacrifice.  The reader can identify with Peter's internal struggle with reconciling the will of God, and leaving behind his wife.  In fact, Peter compares the difficult journey with the suffering of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. The reader has a unique opportunity to observe the local alien practices surrounding death with its practical, yet objective attitude of death which is simple yet repulsive as the author describes the glimmering, jewel like bugs and maggots which recycle the body of the dead.  The reader also witnesses the strange of birth of an infant- rich in unusual description as told on page 266, " ...the fontanelle in her head yawned open, and a large pink mass bulged out, glistening with frothy white lather." This book is certainly one to keep- it is imaginative beyond anything else I have read. Faber has a well developed imagination.  The psychological insight is just as well developed as Peter contemplates the irony that these alien life forms have internalized the truths of the gospel with more faith than any Christian here on Earth.

 Nevertheless, while there are many strong points to this epic novel, I found the few explicit adult scenes, starting with the one at the beginning of the book, detracted from the overall story.  The vivid description of a cat being tortured, as told in the correspondence between Peter and his wife, Bea was just too disturbing for my taste.  These little details which may be overlooked as insignificant by many readers, who find adult content common place in today's movies and novels won't give these elements a second thought. Initially when I received this book, I was excited to share this book with my teenager, but after reading through the adult scenes, I reconsidered. I found the inclusion of these explicit scenes unnecessary and difficult to reconcile, and as a result, I almost decided not to finish reading the books.  Yet, I am glad I did- if only to experience the richly developed scientific imagination of the author.  Nevertheless, I find that I personally would not recommend this book to anyone that I know simply because of the few adult scenes. 

The book cover art is simple, eye catching and poetic- somewhat like the surreal universe the author describes.  The golden edged pages give the book a rich, quality feel, suitable for any permanent place in an upscale library.  This book is almost like a work of art.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Hogarth publishers, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group of Random House LLC, for the purpose of writing this review.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Iris Delgado- Satan You Can't Have My Day

For anyone who has ever enjoyed the "Satan You Can't Have My .... " books, by Iris Delgado, will certainly enjoy the newest Delgado book, Satan You Can't Have My Day.  You can count on Iris Delgado to teach you about about effective, "radical" prayer "with tenacity and fervency" in order to claim the promises God has in store for all Christians.  As Delgado states in her previous works,  "If I took the name Satan and all the scriptures out of this book and made it more generic... I would get a much broader audience to read this book." This statement is basically a response to the countless sterile, ineffective Christian books written on the subject of prayer on the market today.

This newest book by Delgado is a yearly devotional book- with one devotional for each day of the year starting with January 1st.  It didn't seem obvious when looking at the cover that this is a yearly devotional book, but that makes this book an unexpected surprise.  This small scale, pocket sized book seems  deceptively brief and simple. And as a devotional, each entry is short in bite sized digestible spiritual chunks.  Yet in it contains literal power- that is,if you believe the bible is true and have faith in the power of God's word.  The author did all the hard footwork, mining all the scriptural references to God's promises for us about the power of prayer and prayers and how it can relate to marriage and family life.

 Rather than a wordy, theological discussion on prayer, or an apologetic work in defense of the power and purpose of prayer and the sanctity of marriage,  Delgado simply provides relevant scripture, short devotional passages and relevant advise. For example, one entry focuses on how one's attitude with even a facial expression, can have resounding effects on one's husband and family.  We do not have to take her word on it- we can literally put her advise into practice and see for ourselves how our families change.

With each snippet of truth,  she provides the actual scriptures, and presents them to the reader to illustrate how prayer can overcome any mundane as well as tragic circumstance, poverty, generational curses, addictions, illness and hurdles.  On the surface, some fundamentalist readers might dismiss this work as "prosperity" preaching- which in essence is a false gospel of materialism without any heed to sin and personal responsibility.  But the author offers a convincing argument that prayer is effective and it is not limited in any way.  The words of prayer are powerful and empower the reader to change his or her life circumstances. 

I found this book is more than just a devotional manual on effective prayer, and more than an exhaustive  reference book of God's promises, but a resource to return to each day to absorb and meditate on the countless promises God has in store for us- not just for eternity in heaven but on earth right now.  There is so much material in this book- a treasure of biblical promises and prayers specific enough for every need for the reader in easy reach for every situation and even  hardship imaginable- illness, poverty, addiction, fear, loneliness and grief.  Even if one does not believe in literal modern day miracles, this book shows the practicality as well as supernatural power of prayer- and that is not a doctrine that conflicts with any believer.  The power of prayer is biblical, but it is something may Christians simply overlook or never think about. This book is very straightforward and mysterious sounding concepts such as generational curses and the power of the blood and the idea of binding Satan are explained in light of the scriptural context. 

One thing to consider when reading this book-  common with Charismatic Christian writers such as Delgado, are anecdotes about literal, actual possession.  Coincidently, these authors always seem to come face to face with victims possessed by demons. Such accounts may seem a bit theatrical for some readers, but they reflect the author's belief in literal, modern day possession - a belief that not all biblical churches or believers share.   Some Christians may be just as adamant, just as grounded in their faith yet believe that "spiritual" signs like possession and other supernaturally classified miracles ended in the ancient days of the early church. Nevertheless, other than the brief reference to the demonic episode at a seminar, there weren't too many possession stories in this book. And the power and effectiveness of prayer is not simply a theatrical exploit limited to charismatics, but rather a fact that all believers need to meditate on. It is regrettable that many mainstream churches reject the real power to prayer due to a perceived negative association with charismatic churches. The author speaks from personal experiences on how prayer can overcome deeply rooted generational curses, and impossible situations.  For the author, as a survivor of childhood abuse the promises of God were sufficient in turning her life around.  There is a reason dies for us- for our sins.  And the power of Jesus' sacrifice still stands today for all believers to grasp.  Satan is a real being- that threatens every believer in ways that may even be overlooked.  This book gives the tools to fight back.  This is a very empowering book that is certain to encourage even the most apathetic of readers to act.

 As a blogger for the Booketeria I received this book published by Charisma House for the purpose of writing this review.