Book Review | The Man of the Year by Caroline Louise Walker

Book Description:

Dr. Robert Hart, Sag Harbor’s just-named Man of the Year, is the envy of his friends and neighbors. His medical practice is thriving. He has a beautiful old house and a beautiful new wife and a beautiful boat docked in the village marina. Even his wayward son, Jonah, is back on track, doing well at school, finally worthy of his father’s attentions. So when Jonah’s troubled college roommate, Nick, needs a place to stay for the summer, Hart and his wife generously offer him their guest house. A win-win: Jonah will have someone to hang with, and his father can bask in the warm glow of his own generosity.

But when he begins to notice his new houseguest getting a little too close to his wife, the good doctor’s veneer begins to crack. All the little lies Robert tells—harmless falsehoods meant to protect everything he holds dear—begin to mount. Before long, he’s embroiled in a desperate downward spiral, destroying the lives that stand in his way. It’s only the women in his life—his devoted office manager, his friends, his wife—who can clearly see the truth.

Biting and timely, Man of the Year races along at an electric pace, with a wicked twist that you won’t see coming.

I cannot explain the spiraling this book does. It starts out with a very proud man, seemingly humbled by an award for his accomplishments and contributions in Sag Harbor, which would give us all the impression he is loved and a friend to all. But is that really who Robert is?

Within the pages of this book, readers get a glimpse of the real Robert: he is somewhat paranoid and judgmental of those around him. He also comes across very insecure and accusatory. His relationship with his wife is very complicated and her behavior doesn’t help us to narrow down her faithfulness. There are a few scenarios that definitely lead us to believe that his wife may in fact be having an affair, however the accusation includes Nick who is currently living with them.

The bizarre events that happen about 25% into the book really reveal the depth of these characters: Robert, his wife Elizabeth, son Jonah, roommate Nick, and even Robert’s office assistant. Who do you trust? Who should you trust? Is anyone even trustworthy? Your mind spins with each new development and it appears the web gets more and more tangled the more we read.

This book was delicious to read, very fast-paced, kept me speculating and intrigued, and definitely did not see the major conflict coming, nor the outcomes! If you like suspense and bizarre twists, this book is definitely for you. I also commend Caroline’s writing. She is very easy to read, but her characters have moral depth (or lack of) that draw you in and make you wish the story went longer.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Gallery Books and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

need to know

Book Description

In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a dangerous secret that will test her loyalty to the agency—and to her family.

What do you do when everything you trust might be a lie?

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—are threatened.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

A classy spy novel with intrigue, doubt, and fierce loyalties.  This debut novel by former CIA analyst, Karen Cleveland, grips and doesn’t let go.  The main character, Vivian, tracks Russian sleeper agents for her career, and at the end of chapter one, realizes they are much closer to home than she thinks!  Hacking into a recovered laptop from a known Russian source, she uncovers five covert agents who are sleepers and she is about to expose them.  But what must she do when one of them is related to her?  The book immediately gets the reader thinking ethically and to what extent we might bend the rules.

By chapter six, she makes a decision that affects everyone in her family, her four children and husband included, and the story takes off.  Can she protect her family from those who really wish harm, or is she trapped?  And will she be able to move on when lies are built on lies?

If you love spy stories, or possible real life fiction, this book is for you.  I will admit at some points, I struggled with some of Vivian’s decisions, but her motherly ways influence her in ways I might not have chosen. However, the end is satisfying, and some of the conversations throughout the book aren’t predictable, but flow as if characters are actually having a conversation, which is rather refreshing.  For a debut novel, I would definitely read more by this author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Random House Publishing through NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 ( “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Movie Update:

Book Review | Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken by Katie Davis Majors

daring to hope


Katie Majors is the author of “Kisses from Katie” and the founder of Amazima Ministries in Uganda.  She adopted 13 girls and made them a family.  And her second book details her life in Uganda, heartache when children are taken away to live with biological parents, friends and loved ones die from disease, and endings don’t go as planned.  I don’t want to share any details, simply because I wouldn’t do them justice.

I grabbed a box of tissues and curled up on the couch, only to weep, read her words and have my heart break with her.  But her story isn’t all sadness and despair.  Her words of truth in describing death and pain draw us nearer to our Heavenly Father and point us to Jesus and the hope that HE is for us.  You just have to read it for yourself.  Allow your heart to break, to hear the Lord’s voice, to see the Lord move and to find a renewed sense of faith in Him.

I am grateful to be a part of Katie’s launch team as she publishes her second book, brings awareness to another part of our world we’d much rather not focus on, and shares the pursuit of hope.  Thank you to Waterbrook/ Multnomah for the Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.  Keep Katie on your list for future publications.  Her eloquence and wisdom is necessary for today’s journey with Jesus.

Book Review | The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

the things we wish

I absolutely loved this book! It took a while to build the characters, but slowly, the intricate parts of their lives began to unfold, and the unity between the neighbors in Sycamore Glen began to gel. It was a wonderful story, told from multiple points of view. I found that not to be distracting, as every character was different, in age, their situation and their perspective.

This story really made me think about our quick and hasty judgements of others. At the beginning of the story, a lot happens around the community pool, which is a common backdrop for gossip and opinions of others. This pool, however, has quite a cast of characters seated around it, and the story takes off.

A small child drowns and it sets off a chain of events that draw people toward each other, some that probably never would have crossed paths otherwise. I found the needs of each character to be vulnerable and exposed, and it says a lot about humanity.

Everyone has secrets, and each one is revealed throughout the book, and how they intersect and unravel is delicate and flawless. I loved each “what just happened” moment and would love to see this book become a movie. The characters were all lovable, with the exception of one, and you’ll figure that out as the story moves toward a garden at Zell’s house. I found this book to be endearing. And at the end, all of the little trails led to a forward moving path. Great story and depth!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an advanced reader copy! This was a great read and one I’m grateful to have had the chance to review for you.

Book Review | Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships with the love of Jesus by Jessica Thompson

Everyday Grace

So, this past year, I’ve been doing some soul searching (aren’t I always?) and Bible reading and it has occurred to me that even though I’m waking up every morning and living my life, sometimes there are still areas I’m struggling.  And I’ll even admit that sometimes I don’t allow the Holy Spirit to do what He does best, which is transform me.  #imaginethat

I have wonderful relationships, but they could certainly be better.

You may be significantly different from me by color of your hair, skin or eyes, but I’m pretty sure grace is not something any of us are born with. Sure we see children who have compassion for each other, but take their favorite toy away and see if they’re still as gracious.  And I’ll admit, sadly, I’ve seen some adults who still have that reaction; faster than you can say “Golden Rule”.

What makes this book so special?  There are many books on the topic of grace, loving others, even having the love of Jesus.  What made this book stand out to me, and why am I recommending that you take time out of your precious day to read it?  Because it’s unlike any other “Christian help book”.

Jessica starts out by addressing what we all need to know: that we are all sinners who need a Savior.  One line from her book that struck me (and will resonate with you too) is the following: “We are a performance-based people, which is completely ironic, because our performance every days is far less than perfect.  We live in performance-based relationships.”  We tend to ask what others can do for us, instead of seeking to meet their needs.  From there, she goes right into the truth of our need for a Savior who can meet us in that place, and change us.  Once we recognize our need for love and grace, we can accept it with the help of the Holy Spirit and then let Him transform us so we can give those inhuman attributes to those around us.

The other beautiful thing about this book is that she ACTUALLY goes into HOW to give grace in the relationships we tend to have: children, friendships, communities, marriages, families, church families, and coworkers.  She doesn’t give step-by-step instructions with bullet points, but provides relevant and Scriptural sound advice on how to deal with our own insecurities, so we can give the best parts of ourselves to others.  We can move from “what can you do for me” to “what can I do for you” without batting an eye.

It seemed to me that every word written was necessary in this book; there wasn’t a ton of “filler”.  Everything was beneficial to tie the ends together and I think it’s a lovely read, with a powerful message.  Do you want to have healthier relationships?  It starts with us loving like Christ.

Pick this book up today!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Publishing’s book review bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 ( “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”