Book Review | Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

need to know

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 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Movie Update: http://deadline.com/2017/02/charlize-theron-need-to-know-cia-spy-novel-universal-pictures-karen-cleveland-1201924366/

 

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 (http://www.jillsavage.org/) 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!