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 | Stratagem by Robin Caroll

Book Description:

A High-Stakes Simulation Adventure Leaves Grayson Thibodeaux the Prime Suspect. . .for Murder
Deep in the gritty underbelly of New Orleans, psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux loses everything when his wife leaves him to climb her company’s corporate ladder. He buries himself in his job of creating mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s to create an elaborate game, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder.

Grayson Thibodeaux is a psychologist who created a business with his best friend, Colton York, a sociologist. They create virtual games for businesses that build trust and team build. He recently went through a divorce, and his wife Anna-Belle had unfortunately cheated on him with her boss. He tried to salvage the marriage, but she wanted out. At the onset of the book, they have a public argument in his office, and his staff witnesses her slap him when terms of their divorce agreement are discussed.

He and Colton create a game for her company, per the direction of her boss. Members of her office attend a team-building game to determine who will get a promotion. All office workers have to go to a certain location and follow certain rules. Only the CEU and board members know it’s a game. While attending meetings and accomplishing tasks, Anna-Belle falls ill because she has an allergy to cherries and passes away! Grayson immediately becomes the primary suspect, being the recently divorced husband.

Two investigators get assigned to his case, who know him pretty well, and have to overcome their bias to prove his innocence. Anna-Belle’s boss, his wife, other employees and Grayson all become suspects and one-by-one they get ruled out.

The pace of the book was fantastic. It was well-written with little things happening during the investigation that made me question a few people. I also loved the faith-based aspect attributed to Grayson as he tries to prove his innocence. It makes a strong character and was a great read! The outcome wasn’t predictable until the moment it was revealed, so it ended very well. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a fast-paced, faith-based, suspenseful novel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Publishing and 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.”

Book Review | Rethinking Sexuality, God’s Design and Why it Matters by Juli Slattery

rethinking sexuality

Book Description:

Sexual abuse, sex addiction, gender confusion, brokenness, and shame plague today’s world, and people are seeking clarity and hope. By contesting long-held cultural paradigms, this book equips you to see how sexuality is rooted in the broader context of God’s heart and His work for us on earth. It provides a framework from which to understand the big picture of sexual challenges and wholeness, and helps you recognize that every sexual question is ultimately a spiritual one. It shifts the paradigm from combating sexual problems to confidently proclaiming and modeling the road to sacred sexuality.
Instead of arguing with the world about what’s right and wrong about sexual choices, this practical resource equips you to share the love and grace of Jesus as you encounter the pain of sexual brokenness–your own or someone else’s.

I loved this book. Not only do I know Juli Slattery from Authentic Intimacy (, but I’ve heard her countless times on Christian radio.  She is a professional who speaks truth. And sex needs to be talked about.

This timely book starts out strong, “Although sexuality presents an enormous challenge to Christians and the world at large, it is not a problem to be solved but a territory to be reclaimed.” Bold, yet truthful! She provides stats and research regarding the epidemic of discounting the importance of sexual purity, but also recounts the harmful effects of sex outside of the God-given boundaries.

She is also clear to point out, “The world is watching and laughing at Christians who worship the same God and read the same Bible can’t agree on God’s intention for sexuality. We can’t guide others if we ourselves are lost.” Amid the confusion of today, she’s got some answers, with glaring totality. The world can provide sexual answers, or we can go back to God, the originator of the Design and seek His will above the noise.

As the world pushes more toward postmodernism and humanism, we are sucked into the mindset that there are no standards of right and wrong, no moral compass.  But is this actually true?  When did what God said about the beauty and gift of sexuality become something we had the ability to define? “The transgender movement is the ultimate expression of postmodern thought, denying even the biological constraints of male and female. Gender becomes something we create in our own thoughts instead of a physical reality to which we must adjust our thinking.” There has to be a movement back to the basics, back to reality where we let God speak about what He’s created, instead of letting our sinful nature draw us away from the One who designed us intimately.

So why does purity matter?  Why should sex be confined to the marital bed and not out in the streets where lust takes control of us? Why does this all matter?  Because we can teach the next generation about the discipleship of sexuality.  “…if the church were using a discipleship model to teach about sexuality, these young people would understand the underlying spiritual importance and implications of their sexuality…they would also know how to apply the broader message of the gospel (Jesus’s love and redemption, the power of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling) to their lives in all circumstances.”

It’s that important.  I applaud Dr. Slattery for being bold enough to speak out about the dangers of misusing our sexuality, mislabeling and giving into sin, instead of seeking the One who gave us the gift of gender and sexuality.  We all need the Living Water.

Check out the website above. She has provided many resources for education, and check out the podcast “Java with Juli” for more of her content.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley and Waterbrook & Multnomah.  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.”

Book Review | Until I Met Her by Natalie Barelli


until i met her

Beatrice Johnson Greene, a bestselling crime writer, has an unusual favor to ask. When a chance encounter brings Emma Fern into her life, she thinks she’s found just the person for the job. Soon Beatrice will wish they’d never met.

For Emma, desperate to please, it’s an offer she can’t refuse. All she has to do is lend her name to Beatrice’s next novel, her first in a new genre. But when the book becomes a huge triumph, Emma finds herself the toast of the literary world. From nobody to somebody without writing a word.

It’s her first taste of success, and now Emma wants more. This is her masterpiece, after all. It says so on the cover.

Only Beatrice knows the truth. And surely there’s a solution to that.

Until I Met Her begins with the funeral of an author- Emma Fern’s best friend and mentor.  There is a private admission from Emma that she in fact, killed Beatrice.  And so the book opens to reveal a mousy character who owns a vintage shop, is married to a successful businessman with a mundane life.  But Emma Fern is nothing if she isn’t incredibly unpredictable.

Her entire world changes when Beatrice Johnson Greene entered her store.  She can’t help but fall all over herself, complimenting her and winning her affection.  The two quickly move from strangers to best friends, and within a short amount of time, trust begins to build between them.  Emma begins to disregard the store, preferring to run off with Beatrice to drunken lunches, and shopping with the rich and famous.

Beatrice confides to Emma that she has written a book that is outside of her genre, and since a previous book of hers had bombed in the past, she was wondering if Emma could be the “author” for a novel she’d already written- take the credit, and be the face of this new book.  At first, Emma is shocked and refuses to do it, but then her dream of being a writer is ignited, and she agrees.

Emma’s lust for fame, and a desire to remain friends with successful, untouchable Beatrice turns to greed as little by little Emma makes subtle changes to the manuscript and takes full possession of the book.  And with no set contract in place, it’s hers, right?

A sidebar to consider in the novel is Emma’s relationship with her husband Jim.  It is incredibly awkward, as she sees no wrong in him at all, and his lack of interest in anything she says/does.  But because of his success, she admires and fawns all over him, even though he’s constantly dismissive of her.  She seems to have a very skewed view of how well her own marriage is going.  Pleasing Jim has always been her main concern, until the book…

Is Beatrice encouraged and thrilled for her best friend to have fame as well?  Or is it truly a passive aggressive friendship that is doomed?  You’ll have to read for yourself.

This was a quick read, one with unpredictable twists and turns, and moments of “what the what!?!!”  I loved the characters, with the exception of Jim, who is so noticeably arrogant, that it makes me wonder what Emma really sees in him.  And even though Emma is nothing like she seems in the beginning, I found that I liked her crazy thinking as she progresses through the story.  She’s feminine, overthinks as many of us do, and a little immature, so I found her to be believable.

I loved Natalie Barelli’s first book in the Emma Fern series, that I’m currently reading the second book, After He Killed Me.  Stay tuned for that review!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer Publishers.  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.”

Book Review | No More Perfect Marriages by Mark and Jill Savage

no more perfect marriages

Wanting a perfect marriage is typical of newlyweds and romantic hopefuls.  And for a while after the wedding bells are rung, things seem to be just that.  But then dust settles and life takes over, and the real “US”es start to show.  Could it mean that a perfect marriage is unattainable?

Instead of answering that question, I think the question should be, “Are we focusing on what marriage is really supposed to be?” Because the truth is that, if we are, we will realize the truth of what Mark and Jill have written about in their new book, “No More Perfect Marriages”- there is no perfect marriage.  They give very real and candid examples from their own lives and long-standing marriage, which I found to be incredibly admirable, and they discuss many changes that many of our marriages may face.

Understanding that each marriage is unique (remember two of us are becoming one), we have to also understand that both people are bringing their pasts, experiences, understandings, expectations, and realities to the center.  And trying to blend those things doesn’t always work out without understanding, grace and forgiveness at the ready.  So needless to say, we need help for our marriages, picture-perfect or not.

One section of the book that I loved was right in the beginning.  They addressed the masks that we wear.  In any marriage, it’s easy to resort to old habits or hide when we don’t get our way, but the problem lies in what those actions do to our spouses.  We need to be realistic and admit when we let selfishness creep in where God wants us to put the other first.  It’s hard, but can be done with Christ’s help.  And Mark and Jill show us how.

I also love how they laid out some God-tools- relevant for all of us, and practical items that we need on a daily basis to consistently put our spouses first, and recognize how our behavior affects each other.  This book has some additional links for support, a link to Jill’s page ( and many fun, practical ideas for how to get over trying to pretend our marriages are perfect.  You’ll love their honesty, raw emotional stories and uplifting outcomes.

This book is (dare I say, PERFECT) for marriages of any length of time, those who are thriving and those who are struggling.  There is help, and these two, along with Gary Chapman are some great Christian resources!

perfect 1 perfect 2perfect 4 perfect 3

I received this book, free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  I am very thankful to Moody Publishers for giving me this advanced reader copy, and providing me an opportunity to post about it with all of you.  Pick up your copy today!

Book Review | The Smart Stepfamily Marriage: Keys to Success in the Blended Family by Ron L. Deal and David H. Olson

smart stepfamily

When I was on my honeymoon, I read a book by Ron L. Deal, called The Smart Stepmom.  It was co-written with Laura Petherbridge, and it illuminated a lot of things I hadn’t thought about before crossing the aisle to wedded bliss.  I appreciate Ron L. Deal’s insight on stepfamilies.  He’s a credible therapist with years of experience and success at helping families cope, as well as being a well known author on the topic of blending stepfamilies. Recently he’s co-written a book with David Olsen, founder of PREPARE/ENRICH, to give necessary tools to help couples who struggle as they try to merge preexisting families.

This new book can be added to his other successful works when it comes to pointing couples in the right direction and giving practical advice.  This book comes equipped with some in-depth situations and solutions for those situations that normally wouldn’t have favorable outcomes.  He also points readers to a tool created by David Olson, The Couple Checkup.  If couples take the time to answer the questions truthfully, it can give a breakdown of healthy and unhealthy areas in their marriage that they can tackle together.  The Couple Checkup is a report designed to address the following key areas: Communication, Conflict Resolution, Financial Management, Relationship Roles, Affection and Sexual Relationship, Couple Closeness and Flexibility, Family Closeness and Flexibility and Personality.

I recommend taking the test at any stage of your stepfamily duration.  Once you know about yourself, and your spouse, you have some key areas to strategize over.  Also, the book addresses many of these areas, to directly relate to the checkup.  I think it’s a great resource for anyone who has chosen to remarry, marry someone with children, has questions about stepfamilies, is looking for meaningful resources to help with relational issues, and needs godly wisdom in seeking resolution.  You will not be disappointed.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have 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.”