Day 2: Tyndale Inspire Catholic Bible – NLT translation

It is Day 2 of our 12 Days of Christmas Gift ideas with Ivy! Today, I am presenting what I consider the sibling of something I have brought to you in a previous season. It is the Tyndale’s Inspire Catholic Bible for “coloring and creative journaling”. I have reviewed one of these before, but I was lucky enough to receive a copy of a slightly different version. I’m going to shake things up a little and do more of a comparison post rather than what we usually do.

This version has a brown imitation leather softcover. It doesn’t have the elastic that the other version I reviewed has to keep the book shut. The softcover probably wouldn’t fare very well with it anyway. The front cover has the same design save for the copper lettering and the lack of the dove. The edges have copper gilding to match the cover text instead of the flower and butterflies design. The gilding is very even and does look nice, but as most if not all gilding does, it gets all over my hands when I touch it. You’ll be left with a bunch of shimmer flecks on your hands, and a bunch less on the Bible (not that you could see it disappearing; it’s a pretty gradual process). For this reason, I prefer the design for the edges on the other version, but I can see how the gilding would be more appealing to some people.

One thing that is unique to this softcover version is it has the beatitudes etched onto the back. I think it serves as a nice reminder and could be a reason to pick this version over the other. The font matches that of the rest of the Bible so it fits right in with the rest of the theming. The spines are also different to match the differences in theming for each version. This soft cover version has a cardstock container rather than just a sleeve, which I think is nice. It still has the flexibility of the sleeve for easy removal, but is a bit more protective. The information printed on it is the same as the other version, only the font is a little bigger.

As for the inside, both versions are identical. This goes for the fonts, illustrations, the paper used. For this reason, everything I wrote regarding the previous version also applies to this one. That being said, I noticed that the product code on the inside of this Bible is the code for the other version I reviewed, not this one. I don’t know if this a just a printing error or if it changes anything for the rest of the book. Considering how the outer packaging and description are identical, I suspect that the inside would be as well, however this is not something I can guarantee. I am nonetheless writing this review under the assumption that the content of the Bibles were intended to be the same. This also means that I don’t think one person needs both. Based off the overall outer design, I think it was designed to be a more traditionally masculine version of the other version I reviewed. If that was the case however, I don’t think they were very successful with that because the inner content and design is identical. Most of the illustrations can be considered more traditionally feminine. For this reason, I think when deciding if this is a good gift for someone, I would not recommend looking at it from a masculine vs. feminine angle, but to instead first consider if the illustrations inside are something that the person you would gift it to would like. If you think yes, that is when I would consider which colour and/or cover type they would prefer.

Because there are two versions with identical interiors, I think these Bibles would be a good way to get someone to read the Bible or get into Bible journaling with you without being too matchy-matchy. It is then really easy to coordinate pages, and colouring the illustrations together could make for a nice bonding activity.

You can purchase a copy of the The Inspire Bible here.

And so concludes today’s review! I hope to see you for the rest of the season!

Disclaimer: The Catholic Man Reviews was provided a review copy of this Bible for an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Tyndale Publishing House for the opportunity for us to review The Bible on our blog and look forward to future collaborations. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the product.


Day 9: The Action Bible: God’s Redemptive Story (Revised edition)

Today’s gift idea is probably my favourite of the season, and it is The Action Bible. It takes Christianity and blends it with comics, so I think this is a great way to encourage people with a budding interest in the faith to dig deeper.

This book is quite structurally sound. I has a thick, sturdy hard cover and seems to have been well bound. The endpages are well adhered. The first page has a page “Presented to” page so this book was designed with gifting in mind. There is a Table of Contents which is easy to follow. It is split into old and new testament like the usual Bibles. I appreciate that the titles are supplemented with which book of the Bible they are based on, and this is carried throughout the entirety of the book. If I were to change one thing, I would add a bookmarking ribbon. The pages are also on the thinner side, but the illustrations on the other side of the page don’t show through, and truthfully, I have yet to see a Bible with thick pages.

The biggest selling point in my opinion is that The Action Bible was illustrated by Sergio Cariello who is known for illustrating for Marvel Comics and DC Comics, so you know that you can expect quality and detail in this book. In this respect, The Action Bible delivers. The physical appearance of the characters remain consistent throughout, and there is great attention to things like the direction of the lighting and the flow of fabric, which contribute to subtle differences that really give life to a work. The printing is very clean and the words are fairly easy to read. I also appreciate that the illustrations aren’t very graphic. This makes the book suitable for a greater audience.

The Action Bible isn’t a difficult read, making this a good option to help people who are not interested in reading the Bible get a taste of the real deal (I’m not saying it is a replacement for the Bible; I consider it to be a very adequate introduction or even a supplement. For instance, it’s easier to get most kids into something like The Action Bible than the Bible itself). The combination of illustrations, narrations and dialogue make the characters and storylines easier to envision and understand. The dialogue and thought bubbles help develop and character’s personality and motives before the characters act. I think the image below is a good example of that.

The terminology used is also more current than what is found in the Bible, which is another reason why I think The Action Bible makes for a good introduction. However, when I say introduction, I don’t necessarily mean just children, but adults can also get use out of The Action Bible. My dad spent hours reading it, and even liked it enough to ask me to include his thoughts in my review. He agrees with me on my thoughts regarding the illustrations, and he thinks The Action Bible does a really good job summarizing the most important points in the Bible and making it highly comprehensible. He also thinks that the illustrations help readers remember the contents of the stories and prompts them to continue reading.

Now, between the two writers on this blog, I am the poorer one with regards to Bible knowledge. Thus, I am passing the talking stick to The Catholic Man for the rest of this review.

The Catholic Man’s Thoughts

Now first off, I have to make clear, I have not been exposed to the “pre-revised” edition of The Action Bible so I cannot say much about what’s new. However, I am going to give you what I really think about The Action Bible we have here as a whole.

I have never been a fan of illustrated Bible ever since I was a child. I liked the storybook type, with minimal illustrations and though, it was a little more difficult to understand back then, I kept going at it. However, The Action Bible changed my view on illustrated Bibles. Probably, the ones I was exposed to were too “cheesy” in a sense. The Action Bible is awesome in that it really brings the Bible to life. Having done The Catholic Bible in 365 Days Challenge and exposed myself to the whole Bible it is difficult to sometimes visualize what is happening, particularly in the Book of Revelation. Some stories, such as the Birth of John the Baptist and seeing it illustrated gave me a different perspective to the storyline. I do have to note though, this Bible does leave out the deuterocanonical books which is such a pity. I would have loved to see stories from the book of Tobias and Macabees illustrated in this Bible. However, I think because this Bible also has an aim to sell to a wider Christian community, therefore these books have been left out.

Another feature that I like are the headings for the stories – they are so captivating and makes you ask, “Why did the author choose that heading?” Consider the following: A Bad Disguise, Passing the Mantle, The Wedding Saver.

I really appreciate the Biblical references. The Action Bible pays particular attention to that, while some other illustrated Bibles particularly lack that. I would add the Biblical references to even children’s Bibles because some children remember the pictures and illustrations, and perhaps when the flip through the book again when they are older, they will come to the realization to go back and read it in the “bigger” Bible. That is how we can foster Bible reading in young people. Illustrated Bibles such as The Action Bible are great, and particularly this volume is amazing, but it does not contain the whole of the story, just as a movie can never tell a story in the full depth than the original novel does.

Overall, besides the lack of deuteronical books in this Bible, it is still a fine work of art, and a perfect Bible for young beginners.

You can purchase a copy of The Action Bible here.

Disclaimer: David C Cook Publishing provided us with a review copy of The Action Bible to provide an honest this blog. All thoughts expressed in the review are our own.

Day 2: Vatican Gift Rosaries

And day 2 of 12 Days of Christmas gifts is upon us and today I bring you a 12 Days of Christmas Gifts classic: rosaries.  

These rosaries are from Vatican Gift.  Now, in my opinion rosaries are among the most saturated parts of the market for Christian items, so today The Catholic Man and I are going to highlight a couple things about these rosaries from Vatican Gift that may make you more interested in them than those of other sellers.  

Before I get to the main attraction which are the rosaries, I would like to talk about a Crucifix that we received.  It’s a little over two inches in height and comes strung on a brown cord.  The cord is nothing special, but the Crucifix itself is quite nice.  It is made of metal so it has a bit of weight to it, and the parts that are filled to be red are very evenly done; there isn’t any texture or bubbling to it.  The figure of Jesus is also very detailed.  I am impressed by the amount of musculature and the facial features that are unincorporated on such a small figure – He even has all his fingers and toes! Some statues these days don’t even have defined digits.  The packaging is also quite sturdy.  I must say though, that the centerpiece at the back wasn’t glued down perfectly, so you can see a bit of the glue that seeped out from under it and it kind of looks like a bit of dirt accumulated.  It isn’t very noticeable, but I wanted to mention it anyway.  

On to the rosaries – 

Most of the rosaries are packaged in a little pouch that can be cinched shut, but I feel like the material it’s made out of easily creases and it doesn’t really stay shut anyway so I just leave it open.  The first one I want to talk about is my least favourite.  It is from their wooden line of rosaries.  There’s nothing wrong with it; it just isn’t for me.  The beads are a dark wood, but I think the dark colour, in combination with how well polished they are that made me think they are plastic.  I’m not saying it looks cheap; it just had me a little confused at first.  I prefer being able to see the wood grain which other rosaries in the line fulfill.  I think you just need to keep in mind what the person you are purchasing it for prefers (and that person can totally be you!).  The chain links feel high quality and the San Damiano Crucifix, and Pope Francis centrepiece… once again, is nicely detailed.  You can get this Franciscan-themed rosary here or as part of this gift set here.

The second rosary we received, I much prefer.  It is from the semi precious line, and this one specifically is the Pale Rose Quartz rosary.  As the name implies, the beads are made of rose quartz. I really like the cooling feeling it has when you hold it.  The wooden rosary was very light-weight, and that may appeal to some, but I prefer them to have a bit more weight to them There are a nice variety of stones to choose from if you don’t like rose quartz.  Like the first rosary, the links and Crucifix seem to be of high quality and none of the beads are cracked.  The semi precious rosaries are more expensive than your average rosary, but I think it is a nice middle-of-the-road between the usual rosary and the Vatican Gift precious rosaries, which go into the hundreds of dollars.  

The Catholic Man will introduce you to the final rosary we received, but before I hand it over to him one comment I feel obligated to make: it is HEAVILY scented.  If you are like me and have the nose of a hounddog, you may want to stay away.  I can’t open the box for longer than a couple seconds before I can’t stand it.  Ok, that’s enough from me for now.  

From The Catholic Man

Now, I finally make my appearance in this series! Thanks Ivy for doing a great job so far with the reviews so far.

If you have been to Rome before, you will know that rosaries are very common souvenirs to bring back for family and friends… but not just any rosary – those red, heavily scented rose rosaries. This one as the website states is made of crushed rose petals. Yet, with this pandemic and its travel restrictions in place, going to Rome is not possible for many so this Christmas, bring Rome to your loved ones with this rosary here! I know these rose petal rosaries are easily counterfeited and while in Rome, I avoided purchasing these types of rosaries from street vendors. They may have lower prices, but the quality is simply isn’t the same. What you get here from Vatican Gift is the real deal, with real rose petals. Note though, as this rosary is made from rose petals, it is not suitable for everyday wear. After use, it should be kept in the plastic container.

Now here’s the best part about Vatican Gifts – you can get your gifts blessed by the Pope! Make sure you mention it at checkout. Their website says,

We personally bring your gifts to receive the Holy father’s Blessing.

In some occasions, like the General Audience and the Angelus Domini, in Vatican the Holy Father impresses His Apostolic Blessing over all the presents.

This blessing is explicitly extended to the devotional items each one brings with them.

Vatican Gift Frequently Asked Questions

Vatican Gift also includes a small replica Papal parchment, and within a little card, indicates on what day your articles have been blessed… a nice little touch and fine reminder to pray for the Pope.

Overall, both Ivy and I are very pleased with the quality of the products of Vatican Gift, particularly, their very wide range of rosaries. We suggest you visit there website here to take a look at the wide selection of products that they have in store, coming directly from the heart of Roman Catholicism.

Disclaimer: The items for review on this site have been provided by Vatican Gift, in exchange for an honest review and feature on the 12-Days of Christmas Gifts series. I am thrilled that Vatican Gift accepted my invitation to join in this series and I express my gratitude and best wishes to the Vatican Gift.

Day 1: Little Saints Nativity Playset

The Catholic Man Reviews is once again returning this Christmas season with the annual 12 Days of Christmas Gifts series, and I (as in Ivy) get to kick off this year’s series.  We are starting probably as Christmassy as it can get: a nativity set (this one was provided to us by Legacy Icons).  

This nativity set from Little Saints is designed with children in mind – shaped like classic wooden building blocks, simple and vibrant illustrations, and short prayers on the back of the human figures, giving a very brief summary on what each person did in relation to the coming of Jesus.  Not only that, it is technically a playset.  

The set came packaged in a burlap bag.  It’s a nice way to keep the set together; I will definitely be storing the set in the bag between Christmas seasons.  I think it adds really nicely to the overall Earth-y, rustic feel of the set, but it comes with a qualm: it sheds.  Everywhere.  Whenever I handle the bag, I have little burlap fibres all over my clothes by the end of it.  I also think it made my nose a little itchy.  For that reason, I think parents, if you are gifting it to your children, should unpackage the nativity set and put the burlap bag away.  The blocks are also packaged in a plastic bag and that is also not a toy.  If you are planning on giving this to somebody else’s children, I think this is something worth mentioning to the child(ren)’s parents so they can keep an eye on them while they are unwrapping gifts.  

I have no complaints about the illustrations.  They are clear and there is no doubt what/who each figure is supposed to be even without reading the text on the back.  I can also appreciate that the animals are printed on both sides of the block so that they can be arranged any way you wish.  The terminology used on the back is easy to understand.  That being said, the lines on the drawings and especially the text is a bit fuzzy; I find myself blinking a couple times before trying to read the text when looking at it head on.  If I tilt it back on a 45o angle, I find it easier to read for whatever reason.  I think it is a result of the tiny ridges in the wood and the way the ink (or whatever medium the print is made of) fills those ridges.  If there is anything that I think could use some improvement, it would be that.  The text also isn’t perfectly centred, but it’s not a deal breaker for me.  

One more point to keep in mind is this is definitely a more child friendly nativity set than the traditional statues, but it will not stay in perfect condition if you foresee the figures being tossed around.  I dropped one in the process of photographing the set, and it ended up dented which is no surprise.  One of the blocks is also chipped, but I can’t recall if it came that way or if I somehow manhandled the figure.  The point is, they are prone to being scuffed up, but significantly more shatter resistant than traditional statues.  Afterall, they are marketed as a playset.  

This is the basic set but there is an extension package that can be purchased.  The figures in the expansion set are depicted on a little card that comes with the basic set.  I find it a bit misleading, but definitely a good marketing tactic.  Larger sets are also offered which include the figures in the basic set, with some other add-ons.  

Overall, I think the Little Saints nativity set is well suited for its intended market and is something worth considering, especially if you are trying to introduce a child to the Holy family for the first time.  It is a familiar and approachable way to do such a thing.  It is also a good way to incorporate the nativity into your home if you are tight on space.  

And that concludes today’s review!  If you are interested in the nativity set, you can find it here.  I hope to catch you for Day 2 of 12 Days of Christmas Gifts!

To take a look at other products carried by Legacy Icons, click here.

Day 8: Rugged Rosaries

Don’t get tired of Ivy yet because she is back once again for day 8 of The Catholic Man’s 12 Days of Christmas. We are taking a break from books today and instead are taking a look at some rosaries.

Rugged Rosaries is a fitting name for the brand. The rosaries carry a rustic feel to them which is unlike the usual elegant and dainty look the traditional rosary carries. When you look at a traditional rosary, you can tell almost immediately that it is sacred. The rosaries from Rugged Rosaries are more utilitarian and can serve as a conversation starter before progressing to the usual uses of a rosary.

Some of the rosaries are modelled after specific kind of rosary. For example, the one depicted below is a replica of the government issued rosaries given to those fighting during World War I. It is one of the rosaries in their WWI Battle Beads® series. The ones depicted here are made entirely of a dark metal. I can’t speak to how similar these are to the originals but they are very interesting to look at. In my opinion, the Our Father beads are placed a little more further from the Hail Mary beads than I would like, but it is possible that is how the originals were made. I think it would be a meaningful piece to give to someone whose loved one(s) served. You can take a look at the options in this line here.

This next one is based off the rosaries used by the monks – the Trappist Rosary. It is one of their more widely used designs which use paracord and beads. It is a chunkier piece and the beads are closer together, making it hard to fold, so I don’t think it is ideal to carry around. The crucifix on this one is a newer one, so you wouldn’t find this crucifix on this particular rosary in their storefront. You can find the Original Paracord Rosaries collection here.

Considering how large and long the previous two rosaries were, they also offer more compact, single decade rosaries. The one I received has a carabiner clip and that makes life so much easier for me. I don’t like wearing things on my wrists so the clip lets me attach it elsewhere. It is a paracord rosary but scaled down and the quality is no different. You can look at that collection here. This one is the Soldier St. Michael Pocket Rosary and is Vincent’s favourite out of the three featured in this review. It is compact and makes for a handsome prayer weapon to accompany his pilgrimage backpack.

If you wanted something more feminine, that is also something the people at Rugged Rosaries considered, so they released a women’s collection. I think they manage to accomplish they’re goal of adding femininity to this line without compromising the ruggedness of their overall aesthetic. Unfortunately, I did not receive any pieces from this line so I cannot take any photos or verify that the quality is the same.

Each rosary came with its own drawstring bag with the exception of the WWI rosary, which came in a little tin. All feel durable. My only (minor) qualm is the tin has the Rugged Rosary logo on the bottom. I have opened the container up side down too many times at this point.

You get an extra gift with your order which is a key chain in my case. I don’t know if everyone gets the same thing. You also get some cards that elaborate on the rosaries you ordered, a prayer you might not have seen before, as well on instructions on how to pray the rosary which is also available on their website. These are nice additions to a gift for someone new to the faith or only getting back into it. The paper and print quality is really nice, and the paper is thicker with a gloss finish.

I think Rugged Rosaries set a clear goal and has managed to maintain it really well even as their storefront grows. They have created a different take on rosaries that may appeal to many Catholics. I believe they truly had their customers in mind and what part of their audience they are catering to when creating their rosaries. It is also a good place to start for those new to rosaries. I would recommend these rosaries if you know someone who would appreciate a more unique rosary, if there is a specific rosary that would be especially meaningful to them, or maybe they need a more durable rosary for whatever reason (no judgment there).

I think Rugged Rosaries would be a good option to consider, keeping in mind they are a bit higher in price. For the quality and thought put into them, I think they can be worth the price tag. You can visit the Rugged Rosaries home page here.

That is all for day 8; I will be back tomorrow for day 9 of 12 Days of Christmas!