This beautiful book is for you. Even if you don't think it is. Definitely worth the read, no matter how dissimilar your life/experiences are from Jackie Hill Perry's.  Book review of Gay Girl, Good God on thepajamachef.com
Reviews

Book Review:  Gay Girl, Good God

This beautiful book is for you. Even if you don’t think it is. Definitely worth the read, no matter how dissimilar your life/experiences are from Jackie Hill Perry’s. 

This beautiful book is for you. Even if you don't think it is. Definitely worth the read, no matter how dissimilar your life/experiences are from Jackie Hill Perry's.  Book review of Gay Girl, Good God on thepajamachef.com

description of the book from the publisher:

“I used to be a lesbian.”

In Gay Girl, Good God, author Jackie Hill Perry shares her own story, offering practical tools that helped her in the process of finding wholeness. Jackie grew up fatherless and experienced gender confusion. She abused marijuana, loved pornography, and embraced both masculinity and homosexuality with every fiber of her being. She knew that Christians had a lot to say about all of the above. But was she supposed to change herself? How was she supposed to stop loving women, when homosexuality felt more natural to her than heterosexuality ever could?

At age 19, Jackie came face-to-face with what it meant to be made new. And not in a church, or through contact with Christians—God broke in and turned her heart towards Him right in her own bedroom in light of His gospel.

Read in order to understand. Read in order to hope. Or read in order, like Jackie, to be made new.

As usual, my five point review:

  • This beautiful book is for you. Even if you don’t think it is. Jackie Hill Perry has a way with words (she is a spoken word artist, after all!) so the writing is absolutely wonderful. I first heard Jackie on a podcast (or six) sometime in the past year. Though her story and background are not really similar to mine, she is captivating. Every word in this book radiates truth, love, and the Gospel–just as is it does when she’s being interviewed on a podcast. She is nothing but genuine. That is why I wanted to read and review this book… even though I was (and am) scared of what others might think. I know not everyone will agree with me for liking this book, whether they’re Christians or not, but that’s okay.
  • The best part of this book is Jackie’s high regard for scripture and for the truth of Gospel. Each page, each chapter, and each part of her story indicate that God is calling himself to us, no matter what our struggles are (with sexuality or anything else). I found myself analyzing my own life and how I fall short of God’s commands frequently throughout Jackie’s story because she made a memoir about leaving a lesbian lifestyle and gravitating to Jesus about so much more than sexuality. She made it about Jesus and His call to follow Him. And what more can you ask for? It’s unbelief that’s the problem, not a specific sin.
  • Jackie’s memoir is written and filled with so much love. She doesn’t seek to shame anyone, not even herself, for their attractions and sins–no matter what they are. Practically speaking, this book provides lots of helpful tips for understanding and responding to Christians specifically struggling with homosexuality. These tips are woven into her story as well as clearly laid out in the last section of the book.
  • Also, this may be small… but this memoir reads like fiction. Though I read it over my lunch break for a couple weeks at work, this is totally a book I could see reading in an afternoon with a cup of cocoa. It’s a fast read, but one I’m sure I will return to time and time again to savor.
  • All in all, this is a great book. I’m sure this book is controversial in some circles and is probably getting some negative feedback, because things related to this sort of thing, written from a Christian point of view, typically do. But I really think everyone should read this book, regardless of their sexuality and faith. It will challenge you and make you think. I’m so glad I got to read it!

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

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Reviews

Book Review: Falling for You

Looking for a sweet romance with some mystery thrown in for good measure? Be sure to read Becky Wade’s Falling for You!

Looking for a sweet romance with some mystery thrown in for good measure? Be sure to read Becky Wade's Falling for You! #bookreview thepajamachef.com

description of the book from the publisher:

Willow Bradford is content taking a break from modeling to run her family’s inn until she comes face-to-face with NFL quarterback Corbin Stewart, the man who broke her heart–and wants to win her back. When a decades-old missing-persons case brings them together, they’re forced to decide whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

As usual, my five point review:

  • I absolutely loved this book! The characters, the setting, the mix of love and mystery… this was a fabulous book. Though I don’t read very much Christian fiction anymore, Becky Wade is always at the top of my to-read list because her novels are always so well written and NOT cheesy! Elements of faith were present but not in an overbearing sort of way.
  • Falling for You is the sequel to True to You, which I also reviewed on my blog. Though these books are related and feature the same family, you could read them out of order and not miss anything. I personally enjoyed Willow’s story in this novel over her sister’s previously. This was a shocker to me because Nora, Willow’s sister, is a library-type like me… and Willow is this model in love with a football player! Who’s more like me? Not Willow, but I was enthralled by her story anyways.
  • The best part of Willow and Corbin’s romance is the fact that their love story is a second-chance sort of love story. They previously dated and suffered a painful (and very realistic) breakup, and this book explores their journey to get to know one another again… and maybe end up together too. Only time will tell, right?! 🙂 The content of their story, as well as both of their personal histories, does make this a little more of a mature-readers book instead of preteens or early teenagers… so parents, be aware of that. Nothing is graphic though, but there are some difficult situations to process through.
  • My favorite part of this novel was something completely unexpected… a little mystery! Corbin and Willow team up (along with Corbin’s precocious niece, Charlotte) to search for Charlotte’s long-missing great-aunt Josephine. That journey, coupled with everyone’s personal ups and downs, was fun to read about even though it illustrated painful family stories in the process. That journey gave Corbin and Willow something to focus on besides themselves and really helped the story develop.
  • All in all, this is a great book to read–I breezed through it in just a few days, and if I didn’t have other responsibilities, this would have read it in a day. It was that good! Any of Becky Wade’s novels are wonderful, but this one may very well be my favorite.

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!

Reviews

Book Review: All the Colors That I See 

All the Colors That I See is a great board book to help young children learn their colors–and that God made all of them for us to enjoy, too!

All the Colors That I See is a great board book to help young children learn their colors--and that God made all of them for us to enjoy, too! - a book review on thepajamachef.com

description of the book from the publisher:

Green and yellow, red and blue?—what favorite color did God give you?

In this delightful board book, preschoolers can learn their colors and learn where they came from—God! They’ll be encouraged to touch, tap, or pat colors on each page, and a sneaky chameleon will follow them along the way.

In the Little Words Matter™ board books, it only takes a few words to tell a big story. Crafted especially for toddlers, these books make biblical truths easily understandable and enjoyable for little ones and their parents too!

As usual, my five point review:

  • I love getting new books to read with my toddler, and this sweet board book is no exception. This book is a great way to teach your young child about all the colors God has created for us to enjoy and appreciate.
  • Most educational books for toddlers about colors or objects are pretty boring, in my opinion. I thought All the Colors That I See is so creative! The premise: teaching children about colors is pretty basic. However, the authors take this a step further by encouraging children to engage with the colors–circle them, tickle them, touch them with their nose. Silly things like that. Finally, there’s a color changing chameleon to find with each color as well. All this adds up to a fun and educational experience for your child–and you! I can see my son engaging with this book differently as he grows, so that’s definitely a bonus.
  • One thing I expected with this book, perhaps by the title, was that it would explore issues of race. It doesn’t go there at all, so just be aware of that. I think it could be used to bridge that topic with older toddlers or preschoolers in a pinch, but I know there are better books about that as well.
  • The faith content in this book is not forced or overbearing, and is very age appropriate. For instance, God made the color red and He also made red apples. On some pages the text is more explicit about God than others, but you can use a similar sort of prompt to share about God’s creation with your child whether you are reading this board book or on a walk outdoors or at the grocery store.
  • Overall, I highly recommend this book. I think we will be reading it for many years to come! My son’s favorite color changes every day and this book is a great way to explore that, and to remind him that God made colors for us to enjoy.

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

Looking to share the story of Creation with your little ones? This sweet board book, God Made the World, is the perfect way to do that! 
Reviews

Book Review: God Made the World

Looking to share the story of Creation with your little ones? This sweet board book, God Made the World, is the perfect way to do that! 

Looking to share the story of Creation with your little ones? This sweet board book, God Made the World, is the perfect way to do that! 

description of the book from the publisher:

Who made the sun, the stars, the moon, and the animals? God did! And who made me? God did! God made the entire world! Author and artist Sarah Collins brings a fresh approach to her illustrations using geometric designs to create bright, beautiful, and exiting pictures that preschoolers will want to look at over and over again.

God Made the World board book tells the story of creation in simple, easy to remember rhymes with art that is engaging and fun for young children. And it is sure to become a classic introductory creation storybook that will be used by countless families and teachers.

As usual, my five point review:

  • What a great board book! It is absolutely beautiful to look at it and feels good too. I know that’s a little weird to say, but we read a LOT to our toddler and the more high quality board books (in terms of construction) just feel good in your hands. Thick pages that stand up to drool and being thrown, bent, and otherwise abused (parents… you know this is true!!) are important. We do teach good book behaviors, but it’s a process. 🙂
  • God Made the World covers the story of creation as told in Genesis 1. The author shares creation’s story through a series of fun rhymes that are enjoyable to read and enjoyable for a child to hear. They aren’t sing songy (which can be annoying) but are fresh and new.
  • Speaking of the Christian message of this book… it’s straight from the Bible, and that’s important to me. I want my son to be exposed to Christianity through a variety of sources–family, daycare, church, music, books, and more. I want the Bible to be repeated to my son over and over and over again, and Biblically based storybooks are great for that!
  • The illustrations are awesome. Bold and bright colors as well as fun geometric shapes and patterns make this book pleasing to look at too. I think this also holds the interest of babies and toddlers better.
  • In general, I think this is a fabulous board book! It would be a great gift idea for a baby shower, first birthday party, or even to gift to your church nursery or daycare. It’s read on repeat at our house… the test of a good book!

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

Breakfast, Egg Dishes, Recipes, Reviews

Cheesy Ricotta Frittata Cups #TheLostFamilySupperClub

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum’s newest novel, The Lost Family. I received an advanced copy of the novel to join with other bloggers in a virtual supper club to celebrate the book’s June 5 release. I was not compensated in any other way, and was not asked to provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. 

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

Click here for more information about #TheLostFamilySupperClub, and to find what the other bloggers brought to this party!

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

Happy Sunday! First let’s start with the book… and then the food.

A description of the book from the publisher:

The New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us creates a vivid portrait of marriage, family, and the haunting grief of World War II in this emotionally charged, beautifully rendered story that spans a generation, from the 1960s to the 1980s.

In 1965 Manhattan, patrons flock to Masha’s to savor its brisket bourguignon and impeccable service and to admire its dashing owner and head chef Peter Rashkin. With his movie-star good looks and tragic past, Peter, a survivor of Auschwitz, is the most eligible bachelor in town. But Peter does not care for the parade of eligible women who come to the restaurant hoping to catch his eye. He has resigned himself to a solitary life. Running Masha’s consumes him, as does his terrible guilt over surviving the horrors of the Nazi death camp while his wife, Masha—the restaurant’s namesake—and two young daughters perished.

Then exquisitely beautiful June Bouquet, an up-and-coming young model, appears at the restaurant, piercing Peter’s guard. Though she is twenty years his junior, the two begin a passionate, whirlwind courtship. When June unexpectedly becomes pregnant, Peter proposes, believing that beginning a new family with the woman he loves will allow him to let go of the horror of the past. But over the next twenty years, the indelible sadness of those memories will overshadow Peter, June, and their daughter Elsbeth, transforming them in shocking, heartbreaking, and unexpected ways.

Jenna Blum artfully brings to the page a husband devastated by a grief he cannot name, a frustrated wife struggling to compete with a ghost she cannot banish, and a daughter sensitive to the pain of both her own family and another lost before she was born. Spanning three cinematic decades, The Lost Family is a charming, funny, and elegantly bittersweet study of the repercussions of loss and love.

This book was absolutely captivating from start to finish. Even though it’s being released at the beginning of summer (well, almost), don’t think this is a light, beach read. Jenna Blum writes with such passion and depth that you will be drawn to the pages. It’s hard to put down!

I will warn you though, this story is bittersweet from start to finish. Every character’s flaws are readily apparent, if not to themselves, to those around them. Such is the human experience. Parts were tough to read, especially as you understand the various ways that Peter, June, and Elsbeth seek to deal with their individual pain and the shadow of Peter’s war experience on the whole family.

See, Peter lost his wife and twin daughters in the Holocaust, and has spent every moment of his life dealing with his grief and loss. Work is his method of coping, and Masha’s (named after his late wife) is the essence of their pre-war dreams. Sadly though, Masha’s does not survive either, and that (to me) seems to be a catalyst for change in the new family’s lives. And yet… there’s beauty in their pain, and redemption in their stories. I won’t give away the ending (READ THE BOOK!) but it is satisfying. The mark of a good story, in my opinion!

When I first started reading this book, I immediately understood WHY this book was being celebrated with a virtual supper club. The food is almost like a character in this novel! Jenna wrote all of us bloggers a sweet note (and sent chocolate!) about her love of food and the inspiration of many of the dishes in this book… “I LOVE FOOD, and I had a joyous time creating and kitchen-testing all the recipes for Masha’s menus in The Lost Family (there are two, Spring 1966 and Fall 1965). I relied on my German friend Christiane’s mother’s recipes, my childhood memories of my Jewish grandmother’s dishes, the Mad Men Cookbook and similar cookbooks from the 1960s, and ingredients from my garden.” Food was celebrated throughout the novel–everything from fancy German and Jewish cuisine served at Masha’s, to family meals, to Midwestern fare that June and Elsbeth eat when visiting June’s mother, and much, much more.

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

The two dishes that compelled ME the most though were not from any of these experiences. Actually, they came from the end of the book–scrambled eggs that Peter makes for his family on the regular, and a mushroom soup that he works to perfect with his daughter by his side. I was *this close* to recreating his mushroom soup (and I still might!) but it has been roasty toasty in Nashville lately, so soup hasn’t been something I’ve been craving.

But these eggs… don’t they sound delicious? This whole breakfast spread, really. “Sometimes, on Saturday mornings, if the Claremont had had a good night the evening before, Peter didn’t go in right away. He got up with Elsbeth, and they made breakfast: fresh-squeezed orange juice–naturally, Peter would not hear of juice from a carton or can. Braed toasted in the oven so it would crisp all the way through, Elsbeth turning it carefully with tongs. And Peter’s special scrambled eggs: first he caramelized onions in a pan, cooking them very slowly in butter until they were translucent; then he added eggs whipped to a froth, heavy cream, ham, fresh dill, and the secret ingredient: a dollop of Neufchâtel cheese. Elsbeth was always allowed to drop this last onto the dish from a wooden spoon. She had her own jacket with her name stenciled on the lapel, a mini chef’s hat, rubber clogs, and a special stool to stand on while she helped Peter stir and mince and measure. The Fabulous Rashkins, the called themselves, and when the food was ready to be served, they presented it to June at the table with a bow, Peter sweeping his hand to the right and Elsbeth to the left. “Ta da! The Fabulous Rashkins! Lo and behold!” (page 277)”

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

I am just in love with that scene. There’s so much happiness and joy between father and daughter. With the knowledge of what comes before and after (it’s actually a memory), it’s very poignant in the life of Peter, June, and Elsbeth. There’s performance and ritual and relationships… and caring for others through a purposeful, planned, and delicious meal. Though my eggs aren’t just like Peter’s in ingredients, they are in spirit: a way to care for my family through good food. These are the frittata cups that my son loves most for weekday breakfasts at school. And why wouldn’t he? These light and fluffy egg muffins are full of three types of cheese. The ricotta contributes to the lightness of the frittata cups, the Parmesan gives them a salty bite, and the cheddar on top gets all brown and crispy. Yum!

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

What I also love about the family breakfast scene is how Elsbeth helps her father in the kitchen. You can tell that this is a usual occurrence, not just an occasional thing. That is what I hope to accomplish with my son as he grows up, and he actually helps me make these muffins. He’s getting good with the whisk and loves to top them with cheese (and eat some too, haha… he is only two after all). I hope you enjoy these Cheesy Ricotta Frittata Cups, and The Lost Family. Let me know if you read it… I’d love to know what you think! 🙂

one year ago: Copycat Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno Dip
two years ago: Baked Tilapia with Coconut-Cilantro Sauce 
three years ago: Southwestern Cilantro Mac and Cheese
four years ago: Black Bean and Rice Soup
five years ago: Blueberry Burgers
six years ago: Parmesan Garlic Rolls
seven years ago: Lemony Kale Pasta

Cheesy Ricotta Frittata Cups

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

from The Kitchn

Ingredients:

  • 12 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded (I’ve used Gruyere, mozzarella, and cheddar but fontina is suggested in the original)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray, or line with silicone liners (paper liners probably would stick, but I haven’t tried them).

Combine the eggs, ricotta, milk, Parmesan, and a generous amount of black pepper in a large bowl. Whisk to combine until the eggs are beaten. Transfer to prepared muffin tins, filling each well 1/2 to 3/4 full. Top with shredded cheese and chives.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the frittata cups comes out clean. Tops should be puffy and edges should be golden brown, just pulling away from the sides. Allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove individual frittata cups to a cooling rack to cool completely. If you do not use silicone liners, a butter knife can be used to loosen the frittata cups from the pan.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Frittata cups can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

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Disclosure: I received a complimentary, advance reading copy of The Lost Family by Jenna Blum for my participation in the #TheLostFamilySupperClub party. All opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for this post.