Thursday, September 8, 2016

An Open Book: Bezalel's Quality Offerings

Hi fellow bookworms!  Are you ready to talk books?  I am!  So I'm linking up with my fellow 'worms over at Carolyn Astfalk's blog.
Okay, then.  Well, recently I had myself all pumped up to start a juicy-looking secular work of fiction by Kate Morton, a best-selling author whose novels I've enjoyed in the past.  The cover grabbed me; and the title did as well--especially now that we've purchased a lake house of our own (#oysterhaven!) and have enjoyed one glorious family reunion week there with all 18 of the current members of Team Pearl.

I've gotta say, this one looks good, and I hope it won't disappoint.
I posted the above photo on Instagram a few days ago.  See, I'd already put my feet up, opened up a nice cold bottle of Diet Coke, and gotten myself ready to settle in for an hour or two of  having my nose firmly planted in a good book, which has to be my favorite guilty pleasure of all. Besides Diet Coke.  And coffee.  And chocolate.

But I digress.  Books, that's what we're talking about.  Books.

So I was planning to become immersed in what I hoped would be a grippingly readable fantasy world.  But when I was barely more than a chapter into Morton's novel, I had to go upstairs for something or other, and I spied a too-long-neglected paperback on my nightstand.  It made me realize that before I move on to yet another book, I really should finish this one that I'd already started months ago, when the summer was young.  I was thoroughly enjoying said book, but then put it down when life got busy and never got around to picking it back up.  (I could do that, you see, because it's a collection of short mystery stories that get tied up nicely by the end of each chapter, rather than a novel per se, although they all feature the same thoroughly engaging time-traveling priest.)

Here's the cover of that book I started but didn't finish.
The Father Capranica Mysteries, Stories of the Strange and Supernatural, by Father Mike Driscoll, Ph.D, was published by Cheryl Dickow's wonderful Catholic company, Bezalel Books, which published my two novels as well.  (And I couldn't be more proud to have the imprint of Bezalel--a company esteemed in the business for producing quality works of both fiction and non-fiction--on my "babies," Finding Grace and Erin's Ring!)  When I started Fr. Driscoll's book, I remember being enchanted by the main character, a diminutive priest who finds himself jumping back and forth in time to investigate all kinds of strange happenings, "things-that-go-bump-in-the-night," as it were; so before I delve any further into The Lake House, I'm determined to go back and re-read The Father Capranica Mysteries from the beginning, finish it, and next month perhaps I'll have a review finished to share at the October Open Book link-up. 

Another offering from Bezalel that I've been enjoying lately is actually a coloring book.  And it's not just for kids, either.  Cheryl Dickow very generously sent me a copy of the company's recently published The Stations of the Cross, an adult coloring book, by Kathryn Mulderink, OCDS (with illustrations by Father Victor KyNam), hoping I would spread the word if I found the opportunity to do so.
Adult coloring books like this one appear to be a popular trend nowadays; in fact, I've seen racks of them all over the place--not only at bookstores, but at Walmart, Michael's, and even Bed, Bath, & Beyond.  I think adult coloring books are to the new millennium what paint-by-numbers kits were to the 1950's.  I mean, check out this display I noticed on a recent shopping trip.
Putting a Catholic spin on a popular trend is something that Cheryl Dickow does very well, employing her proudly Catholic company as a tool to evangelize our beautiful Faith.  Bezalel's adult coloring book is filled with masterfully and tenderly rendered illustrations of the 14 Stations of the Cross, each with a coordinating scripture passage and prayer.

When I sat down to color one of the pages, I chose to begin with the 4th Station, "Jesus Meets His Mother," because as a mother of sons this is an image that has always touched me deeply.  I set to work with my trusty colored pencils, and I found the experience of adding color to the beautiful illustration very relaxing.  When I was finished, I read the inspiring prayer to the right of the picture and was reminded of all the suffering Mary willingly took on when She surrendered completely to the will of God.
Ever the self-critic, I wish now that I'd used a darker color behind the faces of Mary and Her Beloved Son, so that they would stand out better against the background.  But there are 13 more Stations to color, and I can try to do better next time.

As I was contentedly coloring this page, I was struck by how perfect an educational tool this would be for homeschooling families.  It combines an art lesson with a religion lesson seamlessly.  In fact, if this coloring book had been around when we were homeschooling our youngest son during the years he was in 4th through 8th grade, I would certainly have incorporated it into our art curriculum. 

Get this book for your homeschool book shelf.  Or just get it for yourself, so that when life's pressures get to you, you can find peace as you create art that will feed your soul.

So that's it from me, until next month.  But head on over to Carolyn's for more book talk.


  1. Thanks for linking up! I received a coloring book for Christmas. I wish I more time to use it. The Catholic one sounds intriguing though. It may be a way to force myself to contemplate the station while I color.

    1. I really did find it very peaceful and relaxing, and better yet, it did make me meditate on the Passion of Our Lord. (And I stayed inside the lines, too--woo hoo! ;))

  2. I so want this coloring book! :-) It's the nicest Catholic one I've seen so far. Just beautiful! But since it's from Bezalel Books, I should not be surprised!

    1. You can always count on Bezalel! It IS beautiful. I'm trying to decide if I'm going to finish the pages myself, or pass it on to my daughter-in-law who has just begun homeschooling our oldest grandchildren (5-year-old twin girls). She could photocopy the pages and make as many as needed. I had a similar book for my son's homeschool art lessons, with Catholic icons to color. I would have liked to use this one as well.

    2. You are right; it's great for children too! I think there is a copyright inside, however, and someone would need permission from the author to copy pages. We all know the indie Catholic book publishing business is a tough one (yessirree!), and purchases of new books would be beneficial to Catholic indie publishers so they can continue their good work. :-)

    3. Oh, thanks for that info! I should have thought of that. It's so true that the indie Catholic book publishing business is tough enough as it is, and we need to support it any way we can. (Maybe Grammy will buy them a couple of copies!)

  3. LOVE that coloring book idea!!

    1. I know, I love it, too. It would work great in a homeschool (or Catholic school) classroom. I love how it combines art and religion--which is so perfect, because some of the most beautiful and famous works of art are Catholic images.