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NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Hardcover, Red Letter Edition: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture
NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Hardcover, Red Letter Edition: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture
by Craig S. Keener
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $37.11
29 used & new from $27.44

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Content superb, print layout — meh, August 24, 2016
5 stars for content
2.5 stars for print quality

I eagerly awaited the publication date for this study bible. I own both John Walton’s and Craig Keener's Bible Background Commentaries and found them both very helpful. A study bible with this kind of info tickled my fancy.

I have grown to become particular on the print Bibles I purchase. As a graphic and web designer, I know how much print quality effects the ease of reading. So I did my research and found a sampler PDF by Zondervan of the print Bible. Everything seemed good (notes were dark enough) but you never know how the final product will look. Factors like paper quality, ink quality etc. really determine the final outcome.

On receiving the bible I have to admit I am very disappointed. Many things were alright but when I looked at the note sections of the bible I was not a happy camper. Zondervan used a thin weight sans-serif font, very small (6pt ?) that is very difficult to read. Because of the thin weight of the font, the print color looks like a medium gray. In bright light the glare off the paper competes with it but without some sort of direct light it is very difficult to read. Also, the paper is thin enough that the occasional colored illustrations on the reverse side of the page bleed (ghost) through and make legibility even more difficult.

The content of the notes and articles are top notch. No complaints there. But if you can’t read the notes without squinting, what’s the point? My hope is this study bible can be redone at some point to increase the legibility.

Other things of note, I also wish the size of the NIV text was a tad larger. Bumping it up to 9.5 or 10pt font size would be ideal. Yes, I know that would increase the size of the book but as is, this study bible is on the large and heavy size already. You’ll probably not be toting this around to church or the office.

I could do without the red lettering myself. I know many people like it so I’ll back off on that. Red lettering is often hard to read in large doses (try John 14-17) and sometimes turns to a dark pink.

So what to do? For the note section, having the Kindle version may be better. Amazon often does a thing called MatchBook where if you buy the print version of a book you can get the Kindle version greatly reduced. No such luck here so many buyers will need to choose between the Kindle version or the hard-to-read print bible.

I looked at the sample Kindle version and can say I am not impressed. Kindle bibles have notoriously ugly text. The main culprit is the superscript verse numbers which are often not formatted correctly and thus increase the line spacing (leading) of the lines they are on. The text then becomes choppy and irregular with the mishmash of different line spacing. You’ll get that here.

The notes, however, are in different sections and layout perfectly fine. So you will be able to bump the text size to whatever is readable for you. Plop that besides you while reading your bible and you’ll be good to go.

In conclusion, I wish Bible publishers hired better print and layout designers for their bibles. This trend of small font sizes, thin bible paper and compact bible sizes doesn’t make for very readable bibles these days.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 24, 2016 4:11 PM PDT


The Pocket Haiku
The Pocket Haiku
by Basho
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.95
72 used & new from $1.08

5.0 out of 5 stars simplicity reigns, August 20, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Pocket Haiku (Paperback)
Need to slow your racing mind down? Wish to cultivate attentiveness and mindfulness in your life? A lover of nature and simplicity?

This is your pocket sized book to take with you wherever you go. Rinse your mind and soul with these cleansing verses.

Any more comments from me and I have betrayed the sense of the wisdom of haiku.


God In My Head: The true story of an ex-Christian who accidentally met God.
God In My Head: The true story of an ex-Christian who accidentally met God.
by Joshua Grisetti
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.99
19 used & new from $8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing!, April 23, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was interested to read this book because I am both a progressive/liberal Christian and also fascinated by the topic of near death experiences and the like. Seeing the good reviews for this book, I decided to go for it and dig in.

I should say, I am getting alarmed by the amount of NDE books coming out these days, especially now from many conservative Christians. In the earlier days of NDE research, there was much more of a simplicity of accounts, less proselytizing and less hyper-elaboration of the experience. Now, we have even small children going to heaven, seeing Jesus, angels, and yes the devil himself: almost a virtual roadmap of the Bible world and most certainly, a great evangelism tool. Needless to say, I am on my guard even more these days as I see this development.

This book is not just another NDE testimony. While it shares similarities with NDEs, this is more a drug induced hallucination (Grisetti’s own term) that Grisetti experienced. That is an important distinction in my mind and why one may decide not to take what Grisetti “learned” from God literally. But this is both a novel and seemly sincere experience/encounter/testimony (what would you call it?) IMO.

So, putting on my discernment cap, I found Grisetti’s writing very interesting, peppered with humor and intriguing in spots. It was a quick and interesting read. I was hooked into trying to grapple with what he experienced.

While I was reading, I was tempted to dismiss his testimony of what God revealed to him as a bit too much to take for now. Maybe just mull it over for awhile and put it on the shelf. Was it because I had problems with the progressive brand of spiritual reality disclosed by “God”? No, I was already on board as a progressive Christian with that type of understanding. But Grisetti’s words from God didn’t strike me as truly God authentic (after all I had watched Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments), rather maybe simply a discovery of Grisetti’s own subconscious closet yearning for God, now couched in more progressive concepts.

I was heartened when I got to the final end chapter. Grisetti, himself, appeared to be grappling with what he had experienced and seemed to be weighing all the options. That definitely earned from me a vote for his integrity and sincerity. There seemed to be no charlatan shenanigans going on to make a quick buck but the earnest musings of someone who was staggered by a rather bizarre numinous encounter and trying to find out what it meant to the best of his abilities.

One comment in the last chapter I thought was very revealing and insightful. Grisetti writes “I suppose I am proposing a hybrid of theology here: a belief that God may actually exist, but that He dwells in our unconscious minds, gently guiding each of us to hear His voice in ways that we are most capable of listening. The messages we receive from that divine voice may be a purposeful intertwining of our own individual life experience and that of God Himself. In other words, 'God' and 'psychological conditioning' may not be mutually exclusive. They may work together harmoniously, by design.”

Perhaps what Grisetti was experiencing in his drug induced state was this intermingling of God and his own subconscious being, such that it was almost a momentary mini-incarnation. God may truly have been animating Grisetti's subconscious but in a way that respected fully Grisetti’s individual identity. Perhaps not a literal conversation with God but God communicating through the depths of Grisetti’s own soul in Grisetti speak.

Hey, we don’t have to figure all these things out but maybe we can see stories like this as invitations to explore the "something more" we intuit all around us. Many people today are having revelatory encounters with God in a diversity of ways and not just drug experiences or NDEs. I would like very much to endorse this book as another testimony of the sacred mystery that comes in unexpected ways. Be prepared for some eye raisers, especially you brave conservative Christians readers. Read it, discuss it with friends, let it provoke your spiritual imagination. I hope to hear more from Grisetti, may this NOT be his last book.


Hopsooken Travel Wallet & Passport Holder Organizer Multi-purpose Rfid Blocking ID Card Pouch Clutch Bag (Gray)
Hopsooken Travel Wallet & Passport Holder Organizer Multi-purpose Rfid Blocking ID Card Pouch Clutch Bag (Gray)
Offered by HOPSOOKEN
Price: $29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How Am I Going to Use This?, April 23, 2016
This is a decent quality travel wallet for the money. Good stitching, lots of pockets, and with durable materials. For about $10 a very good deal.

I'm not sure how much I'll use this. It's rather large so a bit awkward to carry just by itself. Forget that you put it down while looking at something and potentially you risk losing many of your valuables. (It does have a wrist strap though.) I use a small Timbuk2 "porkchop" shoulder bag that I strap over my body, so no worries of accidentally setting it down somewhere and losing it.

Yes, you can throw this wallet into your pack, purse or suitcase but then those all usually have places for keys, phones etc. So I am guessing this really shines mainly for the actual TRAVELER who needs passport, credit cards, cash etc. handy in one place. And that is exactly how it advertises itself. Not being much of a traveler myself, unfortunately I can't evaluate how how it works for that purpose.

I imagine there are many other purposes you could use this bag for. I may just convert this to an art bag. Throw in my pencils, Rhodia pads, erasers and I'll have a handy case to keep them all together. And all always be ready for that day I travel to that exotic place of my dreams.


NASB Side-Column Reference Wide Margin Bible; Black Leathertex
NASB Side-Column Reference Wide Margin Bible; Black Leathertex
by The Lockman Foundation
Edition: Leather Bound
Price: $25.30
51 used & new from $14.94

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Digging It!, April 19, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am a happy camper with this Bible. I have been looking for a decent wide margin Bible for some time and came across this. For twenty something dollars this is quite the bargain.

I recently bought a HCSB journaling Bible with nice 2" wide margins for notes. A very decent Bible but the problem with it was it was essentially unreadable with a teeny-tiny 6-7 point font size. What's the use of a note taking study Bible if you can't read the text? Needless to say I sent it right back.

There are other journaling/note taking Bibles out there but pretty much most of them use similar itsy bitsy text. (BTW, Amazon isn't very good at showing print samples of Bible pages so I recommend going to ChristianBook_dot_com which does a great job of offering excerpt samples.) Fortunately, I ran across this little gem.

My thoughts about this Bible:

1) Excellent readable text at a perfect 10 point font size. Also, the text is not compressed or condensed so appears larger to the eye. Makes for a great reading Bible.

2) Helpful margins with 1" of blank space for notes. Decent enough but would have preferred 1.5".

3) Imitation leather is adequate and supple enough. Keeps the price down.

4) Some people have complained about the thinness of the paper. Thin paper causes bleed through/ghosting so you see the text on the other side of the page or sometimes even the next page(s). It does definitely muddy the clarity of the text on the page. I was expecting something really bad but looking at it, it seems tolerable. I've seen worse. Also, almost all of today's Bibles have some amount of "bleed through" (even much more expensive ones) since thin Bibles are the rage. I'd personally always choose thicker paper if I had the option but I can live with this.

5) I am not really an NASB man. I would prefer the NSRV, NET or HCSB in that order. But that said, the NASB is a decent form equivalent (literal) translation. It got the knock for being excessively wooden when it first came out but the subsequent revision in 1995 definitely helped its readability. The NASB, I would say, is a very suitable translation for study.

6) No red letter thankfully. I could get into the philosophy of that but just let me say in practical terms, the red lettering rarely matches up fully with the black in many Bibles. Also, red sometimes turns into a dark pink in patches of red letter Bibles and hard to read. The NASB's black text looks very consistent and provides very good contrast.

If you are in the market for a note taking Bible I would say this is great for the money. Unless you have the gift of being able to read teensy small print, there really aren't that many choices currently. Hopefully Bible publishers will see the need to make versions of their Bibles more suitable for study and note taking for older readers and in time, we will have more to choose from.


HCSB Notetaking Bible, Black/Brown Bonded Leather
HCSB Notetaking Bible, Black/Brown Bonded Leather
by Holman Bible Staff
Edition: Bonded Leather
Price: $31.13
40 used & new from $25.46

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars sorry, disappointed, April 17, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Really this isn't a bad Bible. Here are a few thoughts on my take of it.

The HCSB translation is quite good. Word for word when clear enough, thought for thought when things get a bit murkier. Perhaps the best of both worlds in translation philosophy.

This Bible's aesthetics are contemporary and slightly funky (that moleskin look). Pages are clean and wonderful 2" space for notes. I am not into the current fad of drawing artwork in the margins, just gives me tons of room for notes. Love that feature!

Here is the negative for me: WAY too small of text. Looks like a 6 to 7 point size (and a condensed typestyle to boot). Crazy! Why do Bible publishers keep printing such small text? Sure, it keeps the size of the Bible down but I'll go for a bigger Bible and readable text any day! Younger readers with young eyes may go for it. But older readers will be getting headaches squinting to read something so small. Please go to at least a 9 point font size and a non-condensed font.

Perhaps the solution is to offer two versions of the same Bible. Simply increasing the font size should be an easy thing to do for older readers as another option. Those who want compact Bibles can go for this small font size.

Sadly, I am sending this back. I wished it had worked out since I needed a Bible I could write extensive notes in. Unfortunately, I simply can't comfortably read this which defeats the purpose of a study Bible. Not many great wide margin options these days.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2016 9:45 AM PDT


23" Travel Duffel Gym Bag Women & Men Large Foldable Duffle Shoulder Bag Luggage
23" Travel Duffel Gym Bag Women & Men Large Foldable Duffle Shoulder Bag Luggage
Offered by HOPSOOKEN
Price: $49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars a good bang for your buck, April 9, 2016
All in all, this a decent bag for the price. $14 won't set you back very much.

This is a very lightweight bag so I wouldn't recommend it for use as a luggage carrier or more heavy duty use. I imagine its ideal use would be as a gym bag or diaper bag (not an expert on that).

What I wish this had was a bit more firmness to it to make it easier to pack items into it. All my other duffle bags have that feature, which enables the bag to remain open as you pack stuff into it. But then that might interfere in folding it back into its pouch.

Also, the strap could use some padding but for lightweight use I suppose it will suffice.

I'd evaluate this as a decent bag for consideration. But for under $30, moving up to a Diadora Team Bag, Everest Gym Bag (both sold on Amazon) or similar may provide a higher quality choice.


Woogwin Umbrella, Compact Travel Windproof Golf Umbrella, Sports Auto Open/close Rain Umbrella - Strong Frame Unbreakable - Colorful Portable Umbrella with Gift Box (Black)
Woogwin Umbrella, Compact Travel Windproof Golf Umbrella, Sports Auto Open/close Rain Umbrella - Strong Frame Unbreakable - Colorful Portable Umbrella with Gift Box (Black)
Offered by WOOGWIN
Price: $49.99
5 used & new from $13.97

4.0 out of 5 stars This is a very nice, compact umbrella, April 9, 2016
This is a very nice, compact umbrella. It pops open very quickly and easily. It's a very nice size that easily fits into my backpack, though for the ladies it may be a bit too big for their purses.

I am actually giving this 4 1/2 stars. My one criticism is that although I can close it OK, I would have concern for those with weaker arm strength, like the elderly, snapping it back in place.

Problems with my past umbrellas were largely due to them breaking in the wind. I live in blustery Portland Oregon where the wind and rain can create havoc. This umbrella seems pretty stout but if it breaks on me I'll report back.

All in all a fine product I can recommend buying at the current price of $15.


Travel Backpack, Hiking Daypack 30l, Hopsooken Ultra Lightweight Waterproof Climbing Camping Backpack, Outdoor Cycling Bag Running Water Resistant Small Daypack(black)
Travel Backpack, Hiking Daypack 30l, Hopsooken Ultra Lightweight Waterproof Climbing Camping Backpack, Outdoor Cycling Bag Running Water Resistant Small Daypack(black)
Offered by HOPSOOKEN
Price: $45.98

5.0 out of 5 stars a decent lightweight pack, April 9, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have reviewed a few other Hopsooken packs and so rather than being too repetitive I'll cut to the chase. These are very good lightweight packs for around the town or going to the gym. I would not advise using them for more heavy duty purposes. Kids will want to select a high quality pack for school that evenly distributes the weight of their books on their backs. Hikers obviously will need something more robust as well. But if all your doing is throwing in some athletic shoes, towel, soap etc. to head to the gym, look no further. $14 will not set you back very much, so choose your color of preference and off you go!


Travel Backpack for Schools - 28l/25l Hopsooken Waterproof Laptop Daypack Bag for Men and Women, Ultra Lightweight School Backpack for Girls, Boys, College Student, Colorful Crossbody Bag(blue)
Travel Backpack for Schools - 28l/25l Hopsooken Waterproof Laptop Daypack Bag for Men and Women, Ultra Lightweight School Backpack for Girls, Boys, College Student, Colorful Crossbody Bag(blue)
Offered by HOPSOOKEN

5.0 out of 5 stars very good for the money, April 9, 2016
For $16 this definitely is a bargain. Lightweight, waterproof and attractive looking, this would be a great daypack for laptop, notebooks, school supplies etc. A nice feature is that it can be worn as a backpack or a shoulder bag, giving you a couple handy options.

Is this meant for heavy duty use? I don't think so. Several reviewers have complained about zippers breaking or the material ripping. If that happens for me I will promptly add that to my review. But this certainly does not have the feel of a heavy duty pack.

One thing I would request is some padding for the straps, especially when wearing as a shoulder bag. But hey, this has nowhere near the high price of a quality Timbuk2 bag. So for the money, an exceptional deal in my book.


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