Day 9: The Little Oxford Gift Box

It is day 9 of 12 Days of Christmas with Ivy.  Today I am giving you not a book, but a book set.  It is the Little Oxford Gift Box.  

This is not a Catholic focused gift.  It is an interesting concept which I think caters to a very specific audience.  If you were to get this for someone, you would have to know them pretty well.  

In terms of presentation, these are very well thought out.  It’s all very feminine and there is a very clear colour scheme and aesthetic.  These would look beautiful on a bookshelf. Even the colour of the ribbon for the bookmark was well chosen as it compliments the book very well.  The floral theme continues into the book with the little flowers next to the keywords, but otherwise, the pages inside are much more plain. It’s all black and white and mostly text.  

The books are hard cover, each with their own dust jacket.  The box is made of thick cardboard. It is a snug fit for the books.  I wish they made a divot in the side of the box so you can easily grab the books and pull them out.  The way it is now, I have to shake the books from the box. The print is standard laserjet printing, all the text is clear.  The paper is seems like standard printer paper, only maybe a bit thicker. Even then, it doesn’t feel cheap. Overall, everything seems high quality.  

They stay true to the dictionary concept, so navigating the books is very easy.  Keywords are organized alphabetically and can be found at the top of every page. The contents under each keyword is also organized alphabetically.  The text isn’t too small and the fonts look like variations of Times New Roman and Arial, so they are easily read. The text is well spaced apart. For each keyword, there are also other suggested keywords in case you didn’t find what you were looking for under the keyword you chose.  The “definitions” for each quotation/proverb has a combination of, time period and place of origin, meaning, who said it, etc. It’s really interesting to read.  

One (random) thing I think worth mentioning is that these smell a little strange.  They smell new, but it’s a weird new scent that I can’t even begin to describe. I personally don’t like it, but my brother does.  

The set that I received has proverbs and quotations.  I’ve seen other sets that also include word origins but I don’t know if those are still available.  The set on the box says it is a little under $22 USD. I think that is a good price.  

Overall, I think this set makes an interesting gift, but it caters to a very specific audience.  I’d hate to see these collecting dust on a shelf, so I think you should really think about it before gifting these to someone.  You can find it here.

That’s all for today’s review; I hope to see you tomorrow for my last post of the season!


Review: The New Oxford Annotated Bible (Fourth Edition)

Image result for The Oxford Annotated Bible cover oup

This image is only representative of the review. The actual cover of the reviewed copy has slight differences (see slideshow)

Note: I received a copy of this Bible almost a year ago. Due to its length, it was only until now that I was able to review it. However just recently, April 2018, the fifth edition was released. Therefore, the contents of this review only pertain to the fourth edition of The New Oxford Annotated Bible.

I have reviewed many Bibles from Oxford, including Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible. I have never been disappointed with Bible from Oxford, and The New Oxford Annotated Bible (Fourth Edition) was no exception. Straying away from Catholic specific Bibles, this Bible is an ecumenical study bible, meaning that it can be used in more than one Christian denomination. This version I am reviewing contains the Apocrypha.

First, I have to remark about the physical qualities of the Bible. It is a hardcover book, 6 9/16 x 9 inches dimensions, of fair weight, similar to that of a University textbook. I like the fact that it has a sewn binding, ensuring that the book will last for years, especially for those who will vigourously use this bible. The bible lays flat when opened.

Regarding the visual aspect, the type is readable, approximately size 11pt or 12pt with the notes in a smaller font, probably 9 or 10 pt. The font of the bible text is in a font similar to Cambria, while the notes, headings and essays are in a sans-serif font.

The bible text itself is in a two column format, common in most bibles. However, unlike Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible, the footnotes that correlate with a specific verse are all in single column format at the bottom of the page.

As expected by Oxford, there were many different charts, maps and essays. I especially like the chart comparing the Ten Commandments of the different Christian denominations. There is also a timeline at the back which I like. There are many essays that expand on certain dimensions of the scriptures (e.g. The Canon of the Bible, Textual Criticism). You can surf through the slideshow to see some more amazing features.

There is also a detailed introduction to every section and book of the bible, giving the reader a structure overview of the book and what to expect in the section/book.

One thing I always remark about study bibles are the maps. I am never disappointed with Oxford’s maps, considering that they have also published academic atlases. Not only are there maps scattered throughout the bible in black and white, but also a series of coloured maps are available just like Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible.

Finally, to wrap up this review, I have to emphasize that this study bible focuses more on the historical and geographical dimension of the scriptures. Unlike Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible, this Annotated Bible gives the readers a background of the scriptures of the time of Jesus, giving the reader a historical context and give the reader a wider picture of the scripture they read.

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On The Catholic Man’s Scale

★★★★☆ 4/5

Though The New Oxford Annotated Bible (Fourth Edition) is a good study bible in the historical context and biblical geographical context, as a Catholic, I prefer Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible.

Like Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible though, I would prefer if the bible had a bookmark ribbon or ribbons.

Even though this is a review of the fourth edition, I believe that the fifth edition would be better with its supplements.

Click Here to Purchase The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha (Fifth Edition) 


Review: The New American Bible Revised Edition – Black Zipper Duradera Compact Edition

70165Again, I am reviewing another product from Oxford University Press. This must be the best Bible from Oxford University Press for on-the-go Catholics like me. It is The New American Bible Revised Edition, Black Zipper Duradera Compact Edtion. It is the same Bible translation as the Oxford Catholic Study Bible.

I was very impressed when I first opened the Bible. It was shrink wrapped and to my surprise, it came in a very sturdy slipcase. This surprised me because the Bible itself is in the black duradera cover. So, the sturdy slipcase adds another layer of protection to the Word of God. I wished the Revised Standard Version Catholic Bible-Compact Edition by Oxford University Press would have a slipcase as I always have to be very careful not to have the page edges crushed when putting it in my bag with other books.

As mentioned above, the Bible is inside of a protective black duradera zipper cover. green-zipper-cover-new-american-bible4122lgDuradera is a durable synthetic leather. It sort of has that feel to authentic leather. The zipper has a Miraculous Medal on the zipper pull. If I were the designer of the zipper cover, I would have chosen a cross instead. The Bible is God’s word. Mary is not the primary figure of the Bible. This is not an important detail to the Bible, but I just wanted to point that out. The St. Joseph NABRE zippered Bible has a cross on its zipper pull (see picture on right). Beside that detail, I cannot compare the two as I have never held a St. Joseph NABRE Personal Size Bible yet.

Like the Revised Standard Version Catholic Bible-Compact Edition  (from now on referred to as the RSV Bible), this Bible has a gold ribbon marker and a presentation page. It also includes the Common Catholic Prayers and the Table of Weights and Measures like the RSV Bible. Unlike the RSV Bible, this Bible includes the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), the Lectionary Readings table and gilded edges.

The NABRE is my favourite translation after the NRSV-CE. I often cross reference the two translations when one has a word or story that I don’t understand clearly. However, what I do admire about the NABRE are the subheadings that indicate the story. Unlike the RSV-CE, there are the subheadings before each story (instead of just a space in between two stories) and a heading between each section. It even includes clear notes indicated by an asterisk in the text. This is a feature I see in most NABRE bibles. It really helps the reader gain a better grasp on the Bible text, especially for the more difficult ones. There is also a table of cross references to a passage that is found also in another book, after every Biblical book. Going more forward, there is an outline of the major events in before every Biblical book.

One thing I do have the say that like the RSV Bible, this NABRE Bible’s text is a bit small. However, it is something I did expect from a compact Bible. Bible maps would be a nice addition to this edition. As mentioned, I would put a cross instead of a miraculous medal on the zipper.

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In Summary

Product: The New American Bible Revised Edition – Black Zipper Duradera Compact Edition

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Format: Print, duradera zippered cover

Imprimatur: Yes

ISBN: 9780195298024

Dimensions: 4-1/2 x 6-1/8 inches

Published: June 2009

Pages: 1504



  • Compact, easily put into a purse or backpack for school or workplace or retreats
  • Love the colourful page of common Catholic Prayers
  • Includes the Dei Verbum document
  • Tables of weights and measures of the Bible
  • Ribbon marker
  • Gilded edges
  • Zippered… no more worries about wrinkled pages while Bible is inside of backpack
  • Contain notes and references section after every Biblical Book
  • Lectionary tables for easy reference to Sunday and weekly Mass readings
  • Slipcase adds protection to the Bible


  • Text a bit small; not the best for those who don’t have good eyesight
  • Not a big fan of the miraculous medal on the zipper pull. A cross would be preferable.

On “The Catholic Man’s” Scale

★★★★★ 5/5

I really love this edition of the NABRE Bible. It is so convenient to bring on retreats and when travelling. I used this Bible when going to the Lift Jesus Higher Rally this past March. I hope to use this edition again at the Steubenville Conference this year in Oshawa. I do intend to use this edition as my official travelling Bible due to its zippered case and slipcase. The RSV Bible I plan to leave at home as it is the only RSV translation I have on my shelf.

BONUS! I even added the Rainbow Bible Tabs that Tabbies sent m58347-samplee. The size and colours work PERFECTLY with this Bible. The only thing was that the first few and last few tabs of the Bible are bent because of the zipper, but that’s no big deal. I attached them after taking pictures of them for this blog.

Review: Oxford Bible Atlas, 4th Edition


My last review on this blog was for Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible, third edition with the New American Bible Revised Edition translation. Now, I review a second resource sent to me by Oxford University Press, the Oxford Bible Atlas, fourth edition.

A Bible atlas is very useful for those who want to learn more about the Bible stories’ geography and historical context. In many Bibles such as Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible, there are maps for the reader’s reference purposes. Atlases not only provide coloured maps but historical and geographical notes too. The Oxford Bible Atlas also provides coloured photographs and with 21st century technology, satellite images are also included.

The atlas’Image result for Oxford Bible Atlas author is Adrian Curtis who is a “Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible in the University of Manchester… He is also a Methodist Lay Preacher.” The book bears no Imprimatur. However, the atlas does not talk about Catholic Doctrine nor did I find anything contrary to the Catholic Church (please correct me if I am wrong). Though no Imprimatur, the book at least the book is endorsed by Fr. Felix Just S.J., PhD. based on this webpage on his website,  Adrian Curtis details the historical and geographical facts throughout each stage of the Old and New Testament. The atlas is divided into four parts: (1) The Setting (of the Bible), (2) The Hebrew Bible (refers to the Old Testament), (3) The New Testament (includes a detailed part on the Journeys of St. Paul and the beginnings of Christianity), and (4) Arcaeology in Bible Lands. Besides, the atlas provides a chronology of the bible, index of place names and a general index.

One feature that came to my attention was the use of BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) over the traditional BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini). This is understandable to me as there may be non-Christians that will use this atlas. The use of BCE and CE has become more common in books used for historical purposes.

Looking at the physical aspects of the book, it is of softcover with coloured glossy paper. Though one thing I wished was that a hardcover version to be available. I think Catholic Schools may be able to benefit from this atlas but a softcover atlas will not last that long. At my school, we have copies of the Good News Bible. However, due to their paperback covers, they became worn down over time and hand to be rebound. The size however was a size that I expected of the atlas, approximately that of letter sized paper.

This is the fourth edition. I never owned previous editions of this atlas before. However, I did a quick Google Image search of the covers of previous edition and sure enough, just by looking at the cover itself, the atlas sure changed:

Image result for Oxford Bible Atlas 1st Edition

2nd Edition (

3rd Edition (

I was going to post pictures but managed to find a Google Preview.Unlike Bibles, I reviewed mostly the content and therefore, I don’t think it is necessary to have to post pictures of the pages here.

Google Preview:

In Summary

Product: Oxford Bible Atlas, Fourth Edition, by Adrian Curtis

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Format: Print, paperback

Dimensions  (approximate): 10.75 inches x 8.25 inches x 0.5 inches

Imprimatur: No

ISBN: 9780199560462

Published: June 2009

Pages: 240


  • 27 coloured maps
  • 81 coloured illustrations
  • Printed on glossy coloured paper
  • Maps are clear and easy to read
  • Illustrations liven up the Bible
  • Notes are clear and understandable
  • Index of places
  • General index


  • Not a big fan of a softcover for an atlas
  • Use of BCE and CE may be disturbing to some people
  • A lot of text though… many people may just want to use the atlas to reference a map

On “The Catholic Man’s” Scale

★★★★ 4/5

The back of this atlas states that “The Oxford Bible Atlas has been an invaluable resource for all who seek to understand the Bible in its historical context”. This is very true. It has helped me learn some new things in the Bible that I never knew before. Despite its cons, the Oxford Bible Atlas is great for anyone who wants to learn more about the historical background of the Bible. The atlas does not target to Catholics alone or even Christians but to everyone who wants to learn about the Bible.

Visit to learn more or purchase the atlas.

Again, thank you Oxford University Press! I hope to review more of your books very soon!

Next on the list maybe a Bible, or more excitingly, Bible Tabs generously sent to me by Tabbies!

Review: Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible


After a very long and busy break, I will be back reviewing Catholic products. I have a few I
will review and those will slowly roll out.

I received a parcel from Oxford containing two of its published books, the Oxford Catholic Study Bible (softcover) and the Oxford Bible Atlas. After months of using these two books, I finally have enough information to review them. I think these two books go well hand in hand for Catholics who want to dig deeper into scripture. However, today I want to look at the Catholic Study Bible first and the next post will be of the Oxford Bible Atlas.

This is one of the thickest bibles I have on my shelf right now but perhaps a very useful one. Lately, I have been trying my best to write reflections on a part of the gospels before I go to sleep every night. I often use my NRSV Catholic Edition Bible by CBS. However, sometimes there are some verses that I need a little more understanding of the context. The NRSV by CBS do provide very short footnotes but they are sometimes not what I need. Since the time I got a hold of a copy of The Catholic Study Bible, I have often used it to grasp a better understanding of certain Bible texts. The footnotes are great and most of the time, its language is easy to understand. There are also cross references to other parts of Bible texts. The reader can gain an even better understanding in the 574-paged Reading Guide. There are page references to the Reading Guide throughout the Bible itself. On the back of the Bible, it mentions the n411vqcshi2l-_sx344_bo1204203200_ewly expanded Reading Guide in this third edition featuring the new guides for The Pentateuch, Chronicles, Maccabees, Lamentations, Baruch, Tobit and Judith, The Gospel of Mark and Acts. The footnotes and Reading Guide aren’t the only great “Bible luxuries”. Short essays charts and drawings are scattered throughout the Bible and help explain certain Bible texts and bring them to life.

The Bible text itself is from the NABRE which I do own a copy by a different publisher. I wish they could make a Catholic Study Bible for the NRSV version too. However, I do understand how much work must be put in to create just one version of a Study Bible.

One of the things that I look at when reviewing a Bible is certainly the Appendix. This Bible contains many of the standard parts that appear in most Bibles including a glossary, table of measures and weights and an index. However, the standard features listed seem to be more expanded. The glossary itself seems to go more in depth than most that I’ve looked through. The table of measures and weights contains seem to be expanded. It contains conversions from Greek, the NABRE term, Equivalence, U.S. units and metric units (for Canadians!). One feature that I believe is found in most NABRE Bibles is the Lectionary table. I find this feature quite useful. I do not purchase the Sunday Missal in English every year. I often use an app on my phone or use my Vietnamese Missal to get the readings to prepare for Mass. However, there are some days when I find the Lectionary Readings get confusing on which readings to use. For example, the Palm Sunday procession of Year B contains two choices of either Mark of John (yes, its in the Roman Missal). Yet, hand Missals may omit the choice of John. Therefore, before, when I did not have a copy of the Roman Missal, Study Edition (to be reviewed later), I would often turn to the Lectionary Table. Or, the Christmas Readings (for Dec. 24 alone) for example, contain three: Christmas Vigil, Christmas at Midnight, Christmas at Dawn. Again, many hand missals may omit a set which becomes confusing. The Lectionary table would come to the rescue again!

An index of the reading guide is also provided which makes it very useful in finding a certain topic. It limits the time flipping through 574 to find a topic.

I was also amazed at the Concordance of the New American Bible. I expected it to be short the one of the NRSV Catholic Edition by CBS. But I was wrong! The concordance is almost 100-pages. This may be a feature I may use often when writing Spiritual reflections.

Another feature which I love about his Bible are the last 32-pages of coloured maps. Why did I emphasize coloured you might ask. Well, I have noticed that when a Bible is printed in black and white, they contain either no maps or black and white maps. Oxford’s maps are very detailed and the colour brings it to life. The maps clearly depict the changes of the Holy Land throughout Biblical times. A five-paged index is provided with the maps in the last pages.

Reversing to the beginning… I looked for the Imprimatur, a feature that I always look at in Catholic Books I review on this blog. It took me some time to scroll through the tiny text but all the Imprimatur and permission to print by the Catholic Church was on the fourth page. There are three separate approvals in this Bible. First is one for the New Testament of the NABRE which contains a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur. The Old Testament contains a short paragraph indicating the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approval with the approval of Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I who was the president of the USCCB at the time (2010). The general and introductory articles, reading guides, charts, maps, timelines, measures and weights, glossary and index received a separate approval in 2015 by the Very Reverend Ronald Hicks, then Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

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In Summary

Product: The Catholic Study Bible, Third Edition, NABRE

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Format: Print, paperback (also available in a hardcover version and a leather binding version)

Dimensions  (approximate): 9 inches x 6.25 inches x 2 inches

Imprimatur: Yes (for both the NABRE bible and the notes itself)

ISBN: 9780190267230



  • Reading Guide available in the front
  • Includes 32 pages of coloured maps
  • Glossary in the back
  • Tables of measures and weights
  • Index to reading guide
  • Concordance to the New American Bible included
  • Lectionary Reading reference pages
  • Reading Guide (RG) references available throughout the Bible text itself
  • Detailed footnotes helps reader to understand the Bible texts better
  • Sidebar essays, charts and drawings are provided throughout the Bible texts
  • The Bible bears the appropriate Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur and even assures approval by the USCCB


  • Large in size
  • Heavy, not the best Bible for travellers
  • The softcover version is best to have a book wrap cover to add protection. Frequent use may wear down the softcover Bible quickly

On “The Catholic Man’s” Scale

★★★★★ 5/5

I absolutely love Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible Third Edition. This Bible contains so many features that I have not mentioned all of them in this review. The Bible is good for those who want to dig deeper in the Word of God taking into consideration its spiritual and historical context. It is not the best Bible to travel but one of the best to buy for your Catholic Library.

Thank you Oxford for allowing me to review this Bible!