Book Review: Home Sweet Home

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Title: Little Friends Home Sweet Home

By: Sarah Powell (Priddy Books)

Illustrations by: Barbi Sido

For: Children 1-3 years old

This is a lovely little Lift- the-Flap book where Baby Owl looks for the animals that live in different habitats. She visits animals in the forest, river, arctic, and mountains, and the book concludes with Baby Owl deciding that she loves all these places but home sweet home in her nest is the place she adores.

The illustrations by Barbi Sido are charming, bright and whimsical. Children always seem to love the surprise of lift-the-flap books, and our kids (especially our owl-obsessed daughters) requested this one again and again.

The flaps on this book are reasonably durable; they’ve stood up to one toddler and one baby/toddler so far in our house. They are almost the size of a whole page, so no tiny flaps that are frustrating to tiny fingers. I’d recommend it for ages one and up, when they have the motor skills to open the flaps themselves and treat them with a little bit of care.

Amazon has a “Look Inside” feature for this one so you can see some of the illustrations.

Need more ideas? Here is another of my favorite books for babies and toddlers!

Buy Home Sweet Home HERE 

(Disclosure: the link above is an affiliate link, meaning that if you use my link to purchase this book, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me continue writing reviews to help you find more wonderful books. Thank you!)






Book Review: Flip Flap Fly

2017-10-29 093Title: Flip Flap Fly

Author: Phyllis Root

Illustrator: David Walker

For: Children age 0-2

When I was pregnant with our first child I was working at Barnes and Noble. Besides being a book lover’s dream job, it gave me plenty of time to pick out my favorite baby books in preparation for our son’s arrival. One of the first ones I bought was this darling rhymed story, Flip Flap Fly, by Phyllis Root with illustrations by David Walker.

I’m really picky about the rhythm and cadence of rhymed stories, and this one is perfect. Every page introduces a baby animal whose mama is helping them learn a new skill. Next is a lovely few lines about the habitat where they live, which rhymes with the next animal that will be introduced.

The illustrations by David Walker are soft and cheerful. Both our son and daughters have all loved this book, and it’s one of my favorites to give at baby showers.

(Disclosure: the link below is an affiliate link, meaning that if you use my link to purchase this book, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me continue writing reviews to help you find more wonderful books. Thank you!)

Buy Flip Flap Fly HERE

Here is my review of another of my favorite books for babies and toddlers!

Christmas is right around the corner, and I will be writing more children’s book reviews to give you lots of gift ideas. Stay tuned!




Book Review: A Bridge Across the Ocean

Bridge Across the OceanTitle: A Bridge Across the Ocean

Author: Susan Meissner

Genre: Historical Fiction

Star Rating (out of 5): ***

This is one of those books where I have a hard time deciding whether to rate it based off the skill of the writing or how much I enjoyed it. I’ve decided to go with “how much I would recommend it,” which unfortunately is not very much.

To begin with, the premise—that there are souls who don’t cross into heaven but stay in “thin places” between this world and the next—is unbiblical, as “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The modern-day character in the book has “the sight” which allows her to see these “drifters.” Meissner is a Christian, and her defense of why she wrote a ghost story is a pretty flimsy: “Jesus didn’t say there are no ghosts, and we don’t know everything, so why not.” (Reference: I can almost accept it as merely a literary device, but I don’t think it was necessary enough to the story to give her a pass for something unbiblical and potentially dangerous. The weirdest ghost moment was when a ghost says they come closest to living people when they are praying. What a creepy thought.

While the ghost chasing in the modern day story disappointed me, the historical narratives in the book are excellently done. The main characters are the daughter of a member of the French Resistance who is fleeing the Gestapo, and a woman fleeing a marriage to an abusive Nazi husband. The mystery kept me guessing to the end, and I truly cared and ached for both women.

Content wise, there are several scenes of rape, murder, and abuse. I felt like they were there to illustrate realities of this time period, not for shock value, but they were still hard to read.

Meissner is such a talented writer—great character development, setting, and plot, so I’m sad that this novel left me feeling let down and disappointed in the plot device she chose to use. It’s not one I would say DON’T read, but not one I’d particularly recommend, either.


One other note: I listened to the audio book read by Kim Bubbs, who was fantastic. She had to do accents from several different countries, as well as characters when they were both young and elderly, and she nailed it. Her only weak spot was the American men (who all seem to have weird drawls), but otherwise a fantastic narrator.

Book Review: Growing in Grace

Growing in GraceTitle: Growing in Grace

Author: Ernest Richards

Genre: Christian Living

Star Rating (out of 5): *****


This is an excellent book that tackles deep concepts of Christian living and in simple, short lessons that are easy to understand but not lacking in depth.

The chapter titles are:

  1. The Bible – God’s Word is the Believer’s Nourishment
  2. Faith Takes Hold of the Word of God
  3. The New Creation
  4. Assurance and Security
  5. Accepted in the Beloved Versus Life on the Ladder
  6. Legislated by Law or Governed by Grace
  7. Sin, Confession, and the Cross
  8. The Holy Spirit Reproduces Christ in the Believer

One of my favorite analogies from the book is what Richards says regarding assurance of salvation: “Certainty of salvation is a matter of faith, anchored to the facts of Scripture, not to feelings or the way we behave. Looking to such shifting, unreliable things for assurance is like leaving the anchor inside the boat. A sailor needs to hook his anchor onto something outside his craft that is fixed and rock solid. The Word of God is that sure and steadfast rock (Psalm 12:6; I Peter 1:23-25). Your eternal salvation is truly as certain as God’s Word!” (p. 33)

Doctrinally speaking, Richards firmly points to Christ as the one who saves us from sin’s penalty (justification), power (sanctification), and presence (glorification). I appreciate that there was no Perseverance Theology in here. Richards quotes from the works of theologians such as Lewis Sperry Chafer, Miles J. Stanford, and William R. Newell, and recommends the Scofield Study Bible.

I used this study with my Bible study group that has a diverse mix of old and new believers, and it was helpful for all of us. I really appreciated all the Bible references Richards included; in our study we read each paragraph together, then stopped and looked up the references. This was so helpful to ensure that both the teaching and our discussion was grounded in Scripture, not just our opinions. Each chapter was a good length to study at home during the week and then discuss in 60-90 minutes together.

I underlined so many thought provoking quotes that it’s hard to pick, but I’ll share one from the last chapter: “Spirituality, like salvation, is by grace and through faith. ‘As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him’ (Colossians 2:6). It is not something we can manufacture or develop or become worthy of. It is only as we cease looking to self and ‘turn our eyes upon Jesus’ that the Spirit of God transforms us into His very image (Hebrews 12:2; II Corinthians 3:18). When we see that all we need is in Christ and allow Him to fill our vision, then, by the power of the Spirit, we will take on His resemblance.” (p. 65)

Book Review: Show Them Jesus

show-them-jesusShow Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Children

Author: Jack Klumpenhower

Star Rating (out of 5): *****

For: parents, teachers, anyone who considers the Bible their guide for life.


This is a life-changing book that put into words so many things that have nagged at the back of my mind about the way we teach the Bible to children. It seems far too many picture Bibles, Sunday school curricula, and parenting books boil the Bible down to “This Bible character did this. You should do/not do this.” You could completely remove God and Christ from some of these books/methods and the application would not change: be good. Likewise, as a parent it’s too easy to simply use Bible stories as a way to try to manipulate our kids’ behavior.

To begin with, trying to “be good” without understanding our new life in Christ and the Holy Spirit’s enablement is completely futile. This focus on morality apart from the Gospel also helps explain why many church kids grow up and leave the church. If all church gave them was a list of how to behave, but they never truly fell in love with Jesus and understand all he did for them, why stay in church?

Klumpenhower maintains that “The cross of Jesus—not principles of good living—is the engine of the Christian life.” The gist of this book is that more than anything, kids need to be shown God’s character, Jesus’ work, and the Holy Spirit’s enabling. This, more than any moral lesson, will be what transforms them. “We make a mistake if we think kids are saved by hearing the good news and trusting Jesus, but then grow as Christians some other way.”  While the Bible does give useful examples, if kids “get Samuel the good listener without first appreciating God the Great Speaker, they’re liable to end up relating to God only in an anxious, what-I-must-do way.”

The book gives practical advice for how to teach the Word in a way that points to Jesus and not our own efforts. For example, when teaching Old Testament stories he recommends asking:

“1) What is God doing for his people in this story? 2) Good News! How does God do the same for us—only better—in Jesus? 3) Believe it! How does believing this good news change how we live?”

Here is an example from teaching about Moses:
“What is God doing for his people in this story? He arranges events to protect baby Moses and give the Israelites a leader who will rescue them from Egypt. Good News! How does God do the same for us—only better—in Jesus? He has provided a Leader and Savior who rescues us from sin and death. Believe it! How does believing this good news change how we live? Even when it’s hard to see, we can trust that God is working out his plan to complete our salvation.”

Another great example is how he recommends addressing sin: the surface sin we can see (example: dancing to lewd music), the selfish fear underneath (ex: afraid friends won’t like or accept me), and the root unbelief (ex: not believing Jesus gives me God’s approval).

I’m just scratching the surface of this book. Chapter after chapter is filled with wonderful truth about how the grace given in the Gospel impacts every area of our lives and about how our identity in Christ is what transforms us. I recommend it to anyone who wants to use the Bible as their foundation for living, teaching, and parenting. It’s that good. Go read it! If you’re intrigued but not sure you can read the whole thing, download the free Kindle sample and at least read the introduction and first chapter; it will give you a good overview. And then you’ll probably want to read the rest!

Book Review: As You Wish

As You WishTitle: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

Author: Cary Elwes

Genre: Memoir

Star Rating (out of 5): ****

For: Anyone who loves The Princess Bride and/or is interested in acting and movie making

My brother, my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I once drove on a 17 hour road trip together, and during the last few hours were going a little stir crazy. I’m not sure how it started, but somehow my brother and I started quoting The Princess Bride, and we spent the last leg of the trip quoting it from start to finish while my husband just listened in bewilderment and disbelief. Haha! I think we quoted at least 3/4 of the lines from memory. That just tells you how much our family loves The Princess Bride!

This book will be a delightful read for anyone who is a big fan of the movie. It is written by Cary Elwes—none other than Farm Boy/Wesley/Dread Pirate Roberts—with excerpts from the director, producer, the author of the book The Princess Bride, and almost all of the other main actors in the film. Elwes writes about being cast for his role, meeting the other cast members, the grueling training for the famous duel scene, and some delightful stories from while they were filming (I will never look at some of the scenes the same again!)

This is not a gossipy tale of backstage backstabbing; in fact it’s more of a love letter to the experience of making the movie and the impact it had on their lives. Elwes is unfailingly magnanimous toward his cast mates, who all seem to share genuine admiration and camaraderie, and his tone is humble and generous throughout.

I listened to it on audiobook, which I highly recommend. Elwes’ voice is lovely and it was a treat to hear the other cast members pipe in with their memories.

This isn’t a book that is going to change my life, but it was a delightful and entertaining read that I’d recommend for anyone who loves the movie. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch The Princess Bride for the 758th time.

Book Review: I Am – 40 Reasons to Trust God

I AmTitle: I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God

Author: Diane Stortz

Illustrated by: Diane Le Feyer

For: children ages 3+

Star rating (out of 5): *****

I love the premise of this picture Bible: forty stories that illustrate the character of God. One of my main complaints about much of Christian children’s literature is that it boils the Bible down to lessons in morality that parents can use to encourage children to “be good.” While it is obviously important that we obey God, children need to first understand that it is only because God came to rescue us through Jesus’ death and resurrection and the Spirit’s enabling that they can obey at all! This book points every story not just toward a moral lesson, but to God and what he has revealed about himself in the stories. THEN it explains how that aspect of God’s character impacts our lives and actions.

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Another thing I love about this Bible is that each story has multiple parts which parents can use to customize the lesson for their child’s age and spiritual maturity, or even the amount of time they have to read right then:

  • A name of God (ex: “Creator: Elohim”)
  • A story from the Bible that illustrates that aspect of God’s character (ex: the creation story)
  • A key takeaway from the story (ex: “We live in a colorful, wonderful world with amazing sights and sounds. Someone powerful and loving made it all!”)
  • A “What Does It Mean” section that draws an example from everyday life (ex: making crafts or baking) and helps apply the story to life
  • One or two verses quoted directly from the Bible. The translations vary; many are from the English Standard Version (ESV), and others are Amplified, God’s Word, the International Children’s Bible, and the New Living Translation.
  • A “Learn More” section suggesting another Bible passage parents could read to their kids to further explain the name of God. This is a great resource to go deeper with older kids
  • A short “What Happened Next” paragraph either summarizing events that happen between the story and the next story, or introducing the next story
  • A short prayer thanking God for what the story reveals about him (ex: “Dear God, thank you for making the world. Thank You for making me, my pets, and the people I love! You are my powerful, strong Creator. I love you, God. Amen.”


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For young children (around 2-5 years old), I think the story and “What Does It Mean” sections are the perfect length and depth, and the other sections are fantastic to go a little deeper with older children or even adults!

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The illustrations in this book are STUNNING. I literally caught my breath several times when I turned the page and saw the next beautiful spread. The colors are vibrant and beautifully gradated, and the detail in many of the pictures is just exceptional. Diane Le Feyer deserves an award for this work; it is absolutely lovely.

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I read pretty carefully looking for any particular doctrinal positions (Calvinism/Armenianism, Dispensationalism/Covenant Theology, Lordship Salvation/Free Grace, etc), particularly in the “What Does It Mean” sections, and nothing in particular stood out to me. Because the book focuses on what the Bible stories reveal about God’s names and character, there really isn’t much in here that I feel would be controversial.

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I appreciated that the book includes some lesser-known stories that are not often included in children’s Bibles, such as Jacob’s dream, manna from heaven, Solomon asking for wisdom, and the day of Pentecost. The stories are all definitely “G-rated.” For example, Joseph’s story doesn’t specifically explain that he was a slave or talk about Potiphar’s wife trying to seduce him or the baker who dies. It focuses on “The Lord My Rock” and how God turns our problems into something good. The crucifixion is also not explained in detail, beyond saying that Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to a cross and he died. Parents can of course add more detail to the stories as they believe it is appropriate.

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We own many children’s Bibles, but I think this one has catapulted to the top of my list of favorites. I love the focus on who God is and on how we can rely on Jesus and his enabling, not just our own efforts to “be good.” And the illustrations are by far the most beautiful that I have seen in a children’s Bible. This is a fantastic picture Bible that I highly recommend.

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(Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)