Book Review: The Mark of the King

Read on to learn more about The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green. I hope you’ll read this book soon–it is amazing!

Read on to learn more about The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green.

A description of the book from the publisher:

After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne’s brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king’s mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

As usual, my five point review:

  • The characters in this book were stunning. No one was uni-dimensional, and no matter whether you loved or hated someone, their character and role in the story truly made a difference to the plot and outcome of the story. I am still torn as to whether Julianne or Marc-Paul was my favorite character, but no matter… their (surprising) romance was the highlight of this book.
  • Even though I do consider the highlight of this book to be the romance between Julianne and Marc-Paul, it was not overbearing, lovey-dovey, or predictable. Lots of twists and turns influenced their relationship at many different points… and they almost didn’t make it (in more ways than one). I love that sort of romance. It’s so real! But it would not have been possible without the grace both show towards the other, and to the people around them dealing with very hard circumstances.
  • Though the characters are influenced by Christianity, this book absolutely does not “feel” like a Christian romance novel AT. ALL. No lightly disguised evangelism here, and that’s not a criticism at all. The discussion of faith was very natural and at times, ambiguous. Real characters, real faith.
  • The writing was excellent. The novel was divided into three parts, each with a shocking twist. I managed to read this (a print copy) in less than two weeks, which is a recent record since it’s hard to read a print book with a baby in tow most days. I do most reading on my phone or Kindle these days, so you know that this must have been good!
  • 1720s Louisiana truly came alive in Jocelyn Green’s The Mark of the King. This is an often-forgotten time period of American history, something Green mentions in her readers’ notes. As such, I imagine researching this era took a great deal of grit and determination. Reading about everything from the abysmal living conditions to the devastating hurricane that ended up shaping the French Quarter of New Orleans was heartbreaking… and fascinating. I’ve said it before, but reading fiction is the best way to turn someone into a history lover, and this book is no different. I highly recommend it!

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

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Book Review: Her One and Only

Another book review! It’s been awhile but I have a whole slew of book reviews to share with you in the coming weeks. And we’re going to start with Becky Wade’s Her One and Only. This is the last in the Porter Family series. You can read my reviews for the rest of the series here. Spoiler alert: Becky Wade is a fabulous author. You won’t be disappointed!

Becky Wade's Her One and Only - a book review on The Pajama Chef

A description of the book from the publisher:

Gray Fowler, star NFL tight end, is being pursued by a stalker, so his team hires a protection agency to keep Gray under the watch of a bodyguard at all times. When Gray meets Dru Porter, an agent assigned to him, he’s indignant. How can an attractive young female half his size possibly protect him?

But Dru’s a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt. She’s also ferociously determined to uncover the identity of Gray’s stalker. And she’s just as determined to avoid any kind of romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past. But the closer they get to finding the stalker, the closer they grow to each other. As the danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their hearts–and their lives–to one another?

As usual, my five point review:

  • I’ll start off with the good… Becky Wade’s writing, as usual, was flawless. I love her character development, easy pacing, and descriptiveness. She is so good at putting her readers right in the action and also organically blending in the characters’ faith. Sometimes contemporary fiction can come across as awkward because authors try to make things too relevant, and that’s just not possible when you consider things like current events and technology… but I think she does a great job balancing things. Christian fiction is also hard because it can vacillate between having too much God talk and having just a bit thrown in. But this author is great at authenticity and incorporating faith naturally. I have said it before and will say it again–even those who do not like Christian fiction will like this book! It’s not “normal” Christian fiction–yay!
  • And then I’ll move to the bad. Unlike the other books in this series, I wasn’t pulled in right away to the plot. It was a slow start. In my opinion, the characters just weren’t as likable from the beginning, and maybe the football aspect was off-putting to me. Once I got going though, I wanted to know what would happen with Dru and Gray. Their romance, their safety, their past, their future. Dru’s strong personality is inspiring and Gray softens over time too.
  • But that’s really all the bad! Promise. I appreciated how Becky Wade incorporated suspense and romance into one novel, introducing lots of new characters but also seamlessly blending in the rest of the Porter family’s tales into this book. There was heartache and joy and goodness… just what you would expect from this likable family!
  • Ending a series well is tough, and I think that this series DID end well so I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the ending and was glad that the series was only four books long. Sometimes, a series can drag on forever, and this felt like the perfect length. Way to go, Becky! 🙂
  • Overall, this is a great read for new and old fans of the Porter Family. It’s probably a book mostly women would enjoy but the football element makes this a book my husband would even enjoy too! Two thumbs up. 🙂

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

Book Review: The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers

Now that #BabyVolde has been eating solids for about a month, this is the perfect time to share my review of the book The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers by Anthony Porto, MD and Dina DiMaggio, MD. I received a complementary copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. 

A book review about a topic that is recently near & dear to my heart... how to feed my baby!

A description of the book from the publisher:

A comprehensive manual for feeding babies and toddlers during the crucial first years of life, written by a team of medical experts who are also parents.

All Your Questions about Feeding, Answered.

The choices of when, how, and what to feed your baby can be overwhelming. With The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers, you have the expertise of a team of pediatric medical and nutritional experts—who also happen to be parents—in a comprehensive manual that takes the guesswork out of feeding. This first-of-its-kind guide provides practical, easy-to-follow advice to help you navigate the nutrition issues, medical conditions, and parenting concerns that accompany feeding. With recipes, parenting stories, and recommendations based on the latest pediatric guidelines, this book will allow you to approach mealtime with confidence so you can spend more time enjoying your new family.

#BabyVolde making short work of some butternut squash!
As usual, my five point review:

  • From the first time I opened this book, the format drew me in. Each chapter discusses a specific age group: 0-3 months, 4-6 months, etc. And, the chapters are broken up by sub-headings in the table of contents so it is REALLY easy to find what you need. Topics include developmental milestones, medical concerns, and nutritional needs… as well as healthy recipes for you and your baby/toddler [once they are in the solid food stage, that is]. I also appreciated the length of the book: at 256 pages long, it’s a good size to share a lot of information but it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
  • My overall favorite part of the book was the perspective from which it was written: a team of pediatricians, a dietitian, a lactation consultant, and two family chefs who all happen to be parents. The result is a wonderful evidence-based yet realistic perspective about how you can feed your child at different stages AND how to deal with tricky situations like picky eating. You can read more about their goals here. As a librarian and a new mom, the evidence-based perspective was particularly important to me. There’s so much information available online that it can be hard to sift through, and this book took care of some of the legwork for me. I haven’t read it cover-to-cover [and it’s not really a book that you would do that with, anyway] but so far it is pretty unbiased especially about hot button issues like breastfeeding vs. formula feeding or when to start solids. I’m breastfeeding my baby, and didn’t start solids until he turned six months old but even if your baby eats formula and started solids at four months, this book will still be useful because it is not biased or judgy.
  • Also, the book is such an easy read, even if the medical field is unfamiliar and/or scary to you. There isn’t any medical jargon or technical details, and there is even a section about what to expect if you have to visit a specialist and how to prepare for that visit. Including details like that makes the book even more accessible and useful. I also appreciated the section on food allergies: what reactions to look for, what to do if a reaction DOES take place, etc. Calmed my nerves before giving my baby his first taste of solid food: sweet potatoes!
  • The recipes are simple and use real ingredients–I appreciate that so much and think other busy parents will too. I’ve only tried one recipe so far–the zucarrot puree [zucchini + carrots, roasted and pureed] but look forward to trying more as #BabyVolde expands his food horizons. 🙂 Right now, aside from his favorite mama milk, he eats: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, avocado, zucchini, carrots, oatmeal, some herbs and spices, and on Thanksgiving he tried turkey! While I know I can’t control whether my son will become a healthy, adventurous eater or not, I can introduce him to a variety of real foods to encourage him towards that end as much as possible. Some of the recipes for older babies/toddlers may seem a little too “adult” for them, but I think it’s always worth a shot introducing new foods to kids. If all we give kids is chicken nuggets, that’s all they will know and want. Some of you experienced parents might be laughing at me [and maybe I will laugh at myself in the future too], but I am pretty set on this. And I’m not going to be a short order cook, so this baby better learn to like a variety of foods. Ha! 🙂 Just kidding, but really…
  • Overall, this book is a great addition to any baby book and/or cookbook libraries. It includes a wide variety of information on nutritional needs, child development, as well as providing easy recipes that are realistic for busy parents to make for their kiddos. Since I love food and cooking so much, and value healthy eating for myself and my family, I want my son to grow up with that mindset as well. This book will surely help in that quest! I definitely recommend it to anyone who has or works with babies and toddlers.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to for the chance to read this great book!

Book Review: Delighting In God

Find out all about A.W. Tozer’s Delighting In God. It’s the intended follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy and it’s powerful!

Find out all about A.W. Tozer's Delighting In God. It's the intended follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy and it's powerful! - a book review on thepajamachef.com

A description of the book from the publisher:

Understand Your Life’s Purpose by Better Understanding God

“My worship grows and grows as my perception of God grows. God cannot grow. My perception of God grows as I experience Him day after day. I should be more capable of worshiping God today than I was ten or twenty years ago.”

Delighting in God is the message A.W. Tozer intended to be the follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy. He demonstrates how the attributes of God–those things God has revealed about himself–are a way to understand the Christian life of worship and service. Because we were created in the image of God, to understand who we are, we need to understand who God is and allow His character and nature to be reflected through us.

We are here to serve and adore Him, and we can only fulfill that role by acknowledging who He is. This is the essence of the Christian life and the source of all our fulfillment, joy, and comfort.

As usual, my five point review:

  • Tozer’s classic The Knowledge of the Holy has been a book that has had a meaningful impact on my life. I think sometimes Christian women especially can have a more “emotional” approach to faith and can forget that we need to engage our minds with God too. The Knowledge of the Holy challenged me to do that, so I was interested in reading this “follow up,” published long after Tozer’s death. I was not disappointed–but keep reading to find out why.
  • Since this is a posthumously published book, I always am interested to know how it came together. With editor James L. Snyder, this book is a compiled collection of selected sermons preached late in Tozer’s life. Like with The Knowledge of the Holy, this book focuses on the attributes of God and our perceptions of him. But it’s not just a repeat of the former book, but rather a refined call to examine these attributes based on what Tozer learned as he continued to know God more.
  • This book is challenging, so I’ll be honest: it took me awhile to get through it, but it is worth it. Sermons can be hard to read, especially when they were prepared in a different era. But that is the beauty of Tozer–he is very timeless and his call to the church to follow God is still very relevant today.
  • One issue I have to mention with the book [that really could go either way, depending on your perspective] is that it’s edited–and by someone from the current era. This can be good because it can make it more readable, but it can also be bad because I think some of Tozer’s voice [but not his perspective] gets lost. Not a huge deal to me but some may be irritated by this.
  • All in all, this is a powerful and convicting book and is recommended for those who are fans of Tozer, especially if you want a more accessible way to read his sermons.

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

Book Review: Until the Dawn

I’m back with another book review! This time, I have another great read from fellow librarian and author Elizabeth Camden. One of her newest releases, Until the Dawn, is just great! Read on to learn more. 🙂

Until the Dawn - a book review on thepajamachef.com

A description of the book from the publisher:

Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie van Riijn sees no harm in setting up a rooftop weather station for her work with the newly established Weather Bureau. While the villagers are suspicious of the mysterious estate and its tragic history, Sophie has come to see it as her own enchanted piece of paradise.

The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover Sophie trespassing on his land.

Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie yet find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There’s a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark can no longer be kept in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?

As usual, my five point review:

  • The premise of this book stems from the history of the Dutch settlement of New York, a portion of history that I was not very familiar with prior to reading this book. As always, one aspect of Camden’s writing that I appreciate is her ability to introduce a new part of American history. It was also interesting to learn about the early days of the Weather Bureau. I kept finding myself consulting the internet to learn more about these topics. 🙂 Always a sign of a good story!
  • I also really enjoyed the house at the center of the story. Dierenpark, as the description of the book mentions, has a sad history and at the beginning of the story, balances from being forgotten to being a tourist trap. The house and estate are truly a character in the story and play an active role in the plot. I love when authors make homes a key role in the story!
  • The mysteries surrounding the house, Quentin’s past, and Sophie’s optimism despite sadness in her life are all unraveled well throughout the plot. The major mystery, of course, is the history of the house and why it has been virtually forgotten by the family for so long. The ending is unique and full of several unexpected twists and turns. I won’t give any spoilers but the ending was great!
  • The characters, as usual from this author, were great. They were not predictable [even though the romance, as it was, did have some predictability]. They were also, even for the minor characters like household help, well crafted and came alive. Very three dimensional.
  • Overall, this is a book that will keep you engaged to the last page. I stayed up wayyy too late reading it–even with a newborn baby to take care of! It really is a great read and one you will be sure to enjoy.

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!