Review: “No One Ever Asked” by Katie Ganshert

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A few weeks ago, I was privileged to meet Katie Ganshert and a few other awesome authors at a library event near me. (insert fangirling squeal! They were amazingly kind and talked BOOKS!) Katie talked about her new release, No One Ever Asked, and its personal connection to her own story as an adoptive mom, along with some of the other aspects of the story and her research. Seeing her personality and passion for this story made my experience of reading it all the more special. I was highly anticipating No One Ever Asked, but the level at which it was emotionally gripping and spoke to my heart was unexpected. ❤ I love it when a story surprises me!

About the Book

Challenging perceptions of discrimination and prejudice, this emotionally resonant drama for readers of Lisa Wingate and Jodi Picoult explores three different women navigating challenges in a changing school district–and in their lives.No One Ever Asked cover

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray–the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser–faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Through three perspectives and experiences, these characters paint a picture of what mistakes and forgiveness, honesty and pain, and even joy and freedom look like in everyday life. To say I was caught up in the emotion and gravity of the story is putting it mildly. Katie Ganshert has a way with words that is a gift — this story is absolutely riveting and RELEVANT. And, the fact that it is inspired by true events in a neighboring state makes it equally more special and uniquely challenging.

If I could sum up my take-away from this novel, it would be just what author Katie Ganshert hopes to accomplish with this story: Empathy. Like Katie alludes in the author’s note, stories can be a great source of empathy and experiencing something from a different perspective or position. This story asks and confronts the hard questions. Everyone has problems. Everyone has a tinted view of the world due to their personal experiences and circumstances. And, under the truth of the Bible, everyone is equal. Our world and society says otherwise. It sells the lie that we are not the same. That we are measured by our paychecks, affluent (or not) homes, our shiny things and our race or color of our skin. This story tears through that false assumption and illustrates the shared heart of every person.

I want to say so much about this story. My words would not do it justice or capture the nuances of the characters that speak volumes about LIFE. Just read it.

I highly recommend No One Ever Asked. It is not light reading, but it is a necessary message and beacon in today’s world. We are all trying to figure out how to do this thing called life. We are all finding our places in God’s great plan. And, we are all called to LOVE one another with the kind of freedom only found in Christ.

Thank you to the publisher for the complimentary review copy. This is my honest and unsolicited review.

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Review, Author Interview + Giveaway: “Amongst the Roses” by Meghan M. Gorecki

Today I’m SO excited because I get to host author (and friend) Meghan M. Gorecki with a review, interview, and GIVEAWAY of her recent historical romance release, Amongst the Roses. This is a rich story set against the backdrop of the Civil War and two families’ involvement in that conflict.

About the Book

Amongst The Roses

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac. Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever nearer to the homefront?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the war front. The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history brings these three together at Gettysburg and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together.

Amazon | Goodreads

Review

Amongst the Roses transports the reader to the northern front during key conflicts of the Civil War, including its society-shaking start. With multiple viewpoints, it explores the home front and battlefields from multiple perspectives that lend a voice to more than mere characters, but to a tragic and heartbreaking time in history.

This novel explores themes of hope, family loyalty, and the provision of a Heavenly Father whose presence is constant even when He may seem silent. The intricacies of the relationships in this book are fascinating and relatable, even when they illustrate hard truths about sacrifice and consequences.

I’m eagerly looking forward to the next story in this series — especially because “the end” came much too soon (ahem, a little bit abruptly for Margaret, too). I hope the continuing story of the Bryants and Doyles will resolve my questions and bring a few things full circle for the families.

Thank you to the author for the complimentary review copy. This is my honest review.

Interview with the Author

What is the inspiration behind your heroine, Margaret’s, personality?

Part Scarlett O’Hara, part Elinor Dashwood, part Meg March. 🙂

What theme or spiritual message do you want to communicate to readers with this story?

That God holds our hearts in the palm of His hand—and deeply cares for us, regardless of circumstances that may suggest He’s far away. That His perfect plan—and His loving heart—never change even when the winds of war and devastation swirl.

What was most challenging about setting a story in the Civil War era?

The fact that almost the entirety of Chambersburg was burnt to the ground in 1864. And not getting to visit every single battlefield my guy characters fought at.

Which character was your favorite to write?

Connor. 🙂 He’s a stinker, but his redemption arc (ongoing) was something special to get to build.

He IS a stinker! But I can already tell his growth will be worth it.

For fun: If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

Oooh. Love this question. Much as I do love the Civil War—I need indoor plumbing. LOL So probably the 1940’s or 1950’s. All things vintage for this red lipstick loving author!

I can’t argue with you there!!! I would NOT want to fetch water or have to go outdoors to do other necessary things. 😉

What are you currently reading (or reading next!)?

I’m reading this powerful book by Jess Connolly called Dance, Stand, Run: The God-Inspired Moves of a Woman on Holy Ground. Absolutely phenomenal—and I’m only through Chapter Two!

Thank you, Meghan, for taking the time to answer my questions today!

About the Author

Meghan M. Goreki

Meghan M. Gorecki is an author of inspirational fiction about what God can make beautiful from the ashes of history, and hearts. A lover and avid studier of people, times gone by, and fiction, she has been writing since childhood and now houses her books under Northern Belle Publishing. Coffee and red lipstick color her days as a redhead from a box, alongside her treasured tribe of family and friends in her beloved hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open 4/26/18 12am – 5/5/18 12am CT for (1) ebook copy of Amongst the Roses, ebook format of choice, provided by the author. Entrants must use a valid email address. Void where prohibited.

Top Ten Tuesday: 11 Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders of a Camping Trip

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Way back in November, a TTT topic was all about “characters who would make great leaders of _______”. From brainstorming about that list, I came up with a group of characters who would be more helpful in outdoorsy, adventurous situations. SO, it morphed into this week’s freebie choice: 11 characters who would make great leaders of a camping trip!

From real-life experience, I know you want camping family/friends who are dependable, capable, and able to handle unexpected things. This group would be excellent because of their skills and general knowledge of their respective environments. Some would be helpful in an emergency, others reliable for their survival skills and general adventurous natures.

11 Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders of a Camping Trip

1. Tyler Hawk from Count Me In by Mikal Dawn

I mean, he leads his own ADVENTURE expedition company in the pacific northwest. Paragliding or rafting, anyone?

2. Benny Citrone of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police from A Lesson in Love and Murder by Rachel McMillan

Hello, a Mountie who explores the northern territories? AND has a poetic side!?

3. Jesse Bird from The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton & 4. Sion Morgan from A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz

Wilderness and frontier survivors. They can track, hunt, and provide with the best of them.


5. Sadie Boden from No Way Up by Mary Connealy

Her rock climbing skills alone would be handy!

6. Griffin McCray from Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey & 7. Ford Brayden from The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

Griff, a park-ranger-turned-detective, is more than capable of handling anything that comes his way. And Ford— well, his park ranger knowledge of the wilderness, foliage, and axe-wielding skills make him capable, too!


8. & 9. Brothers Pete AND Sam Brooks from Rescue Me by Susan May Warren

Many leading characters from this series would work on this list. But these two….. between their search-and-rescue skills and their general hilarious banter (when they’re not at odds with each other), they would both be assets to a team!

10. Paul Rustin from Reclaimed by Jennifer Rodewald & 11. Reese Mitchell from A Twist of Faith by Pepper Basham

I couldn’t make this list without at least a couple good ‘ole country boys! Paul fits that persona, and more. Reese, well, his skill set begins with fire-starting and doesn’t end there! 😉

Your turn! Who would you add to this list? What did you pick for your freebie topic? Share in the comments!

Musings on the review routine…

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A conversation with a friend sparked this rambling thought process on the “book review routine”.

After mentioning that I review books, this friend asked me if I still enjoy stories as much (because I’m thinking about critiquing, etc.). I heartily responded YES! As conversation continued, it was one of those moments I realized I had not thought of this concept this way before, and talking about it helped my realization.

 

Yes. I do still enjoy story as much, but most likely MORE SO because reviewing makes me say more than “I like it” (ok, most of the time, unless it’s a flailing gush-of-a-review and I just say I loooooove it.). I consider plot, themes, characterization, setting, symbolism, etc., way more than when I read all books at my leisure. I think about all of these things while reading. And, these considerations make those little moments when I recognize a story is going to be ingrained in my heart for its amazingness all the more special.

Oh, and those friends that kindly ask about your hobbies and passions? Hold them dear.

 

I would love to know your thoughts!!! Fellow book bloggers, how has this “process” changed the way you perceive story?

Series Review: “Grace Revealed” by Jennifer Rodewald

Isn’t it the greatest when you can binge-read a book series? When it’s a series by a favorite author like Jennifer Rodewald, though, it *could* mean a week+ of emotional rollercoaster experiences full of emotions and joys. My recent encounter with her “Grace Revealed” series was just that. With the recent opportunity to read the just-released book 3, Finding Evergreen, I am SO glad I had the time to read the previous 2 just before, Blue Columbine and Red Rose Bouquet.

These three stories are distinct and able to be read as stand-alones, though a few characters are connected, especially in the last two books.

About the Books

Blue ColumbineBlue Columbine

Best friends—maybe more—until addiction shatters everything.

Reeling from professional failure, Andrew Harris needs a fresh start. When he moves back to Colorado to join a Denver law firm, he runs into Jamie, his childhood sweetheart. She is still the kind and faithful girl he remembers—not to mention beautiful and still single. With her by his side, Andrew is confident he can overcome the demons that he tries to keep hidden.

Jamie Carson is thrown off balance when Andy resurfaces in her life. Though her faith in God has remained solid, even through her mother’s long illness and after her death, Jamie battles loneliness. Andy fills her days, whispering significance to her heart. But his rejection of the faith she thought they’d once shared, and his alarming drinking habit keep her heart from plunging into deep, murky waters. Or do they?

Andy pursues an intimacy Jamie knows she must guard against. But as the line between loyalty and love blurs, things get complicated—until a devastating blow breaks their relationship. For Jamie, one thing becomes clear: Andy needs a miracle, and she isn’t it.

Will Andrew allow the hand of grace to redeem his legacy of addiction, or will he and Jamie both remain casualties of heartbreak?

This Christian Fiction Book dives into first love and second chances, romance and redemption.

Goodreads | Amazon

Red Rose BouquetRed Rose Bouquet

The dark places in life have taught her this much—some things simply cannot be forgiven.

Cheryl Thompson learned over a decade ago to guard her shattered heart with a veil of cold indifference. Life since that day has been an endless cycle of detachment and loneliness, followed by superficial relationships. Break up, rinse, and repeat. Until something in her snaps. This life…she can’t do it anymore. She returns to her childhood home in the Colorado Rockies to help her nana, only to discover a man capable of thawing her iced-over emotions—a man she knows she doesn’t deserve, so she pushes him away. But he keeps coming back.

Brock Kelly lived high as King of the Slopes in the world of snowboard cross racing. Medals. Money. Fame. But after a visit to an orphanage in Mexico, he gave up his adrenaline-packed lifestyle to follow a calling from God he didn’t know he had—helping kids who’d been damaged emotionally. When his best friend’s baby sister returns to town, he recognizes the hollow look in her eyes and sees the pain beneath her icy armor. It seems God has issued new call on his life. One he is not prepared for.

Falling in love with a woman who keeps secrets is dangerous all on its own. But when Cheryl finally tells Brock what she’s never told anyone else…no wonder she is the way she is. It would take a miracle to heal that wound, and a love bigger than Brock had ever imagined to walk with her through the process.

Goodreads | Amazon

Finding EvergreenFinding Evergreen

He thought he’d found the thrill of his life; she, the romance she’d hadn’t dared to hope for. Falling in love had been easy. Being married? Totally different story.

Married within a year of meeting, Ethan and Brandi add a foster daughter to their newly established family. Their story is enchanting—inspiring. Except when the fairytale fails. The stresses of unmet expectations and wounds from their pasts knife into their marriage, severing what they believed would be forever.

Hope for a broken marriage. Healing for their wounded spirits. It would take both to find evergreen. Are they brave enough to try?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

This series doesn’t hold anything back: the messiness of life, the dark depths of pain, the imperfections of each character, or even the true joys and peace found in a merciful Savior. I have found this to be true of Jennifer Rodewald’s writing whether she’s penning a light rom-com, a layered YA dystopian series, or emotionally gripping character-driven fiction such as this “Grace Revealed” series.

Blue Columbine contains raw emotions, relatable characters, and an arc of transformation and redemption like none I’ve ever read. From the portrayal of close friendships to the fallout of addiction, heartbreaking choices, and healing, this story is eye-opening in its message of grace.

Red Rose Bouquet chronicles a journey of healing, forgiveness, and unconditional love found in an unlikely way. Cheryl’s character especially portrays the depths of hurt and self-doubt that can be redeemed through the relentless pursuit of a Savior. And, this wonderfully plays out through the tangible pursuit of Brock, his growing compassion and answer to a call to love being the story catalyst.

Finding Evergreen is a story of fierce love and holding on to hope. The journey through mistakes and brokenness Ethan and Brandi experience points to God as the true source of grace and love in any relationship. The extremes of emotion, vulnerabilities and baggage of Ethan, and well-intentioned penchant for perfectionism Brandi exhibits all make this story relatable even outside of a marital relationship. (But oh what chemistry they have on the page!) And Sonja, their foster daughter, adds another spunky dimension to the story that binds the three of them together in unexpected ways.

Through all three of these books, a CLEAR theme emerges, one that is a result of the redemptive, grace-filled moments (and romances) in each story: that of Christ’s love for His church. A selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love that manifests in the moments of friendship, forgiveness, pursuit, and intimacy between each of the main characters. I highly recommend this series for fans of contemporary women’s fiction/romance and authors such as Katie Ganshert, Julie Lessman, and Courtney Walsh– just remember to read near a box of Kleenex!

Thank you to the author for the complimentary copy of Finding Evergreen. This is my honest review of that book and the series.

Cover Fun: “Timeless Love” Novella Collection

Timeless Love Novella Collection

Today I get to talk about an upcoming novella collection I’m very excited about! It features 7 different novellas spanning from the Regency Era to a contemporary setting — not to mention 2 of my favorite authors: Pepper Basham and Dawn Crandall.

Timeless Love is available for preorder today (for $.99!) and releases June 19th. It will be available for a limited time in the collection, then each novella will be released on its own. Because of this setup, there are SEVEN gorgeous covers for each of the novellas!

Learn more about Pepper Basham’s novella on her blog.

Learn more about Dawn Crandall’s novella & enter a giveaway on her site.

Amazon Preorder | Goodreads

Regency Era
Give Me Thine Heart
by Andrea Boeshaar
1812: England

Early Victorian Era
The Freedom Journey
by Misty Beller
1833: Colorado

Civil War Era
The Heart of Home
by Stephenia H. McGee
A companion novel to In His Eyes
1865: Mississippi

The Gilded Age
Enchanting Nicholette
by Dawn Crandall
An Everstone Chronicles Novella
1893: Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts

Western
Teach Me to Love
by Kari Trumbo
A Brothers of Belle Fourche Novella
1899: Belle Fourche, South Dakota

WWII Era
Facade
by Pepper Basham
1942: England

Contemporary
Bookishly Ever After
by Sarah Monzon
Current Day: Seattle, Washington

Mini Review: “As Easy As Riding a Bike” Novella by Bell Renshaw

Sometimes you just need to read a feel-good, charming book….. the latest novella from author Bell Renshaw is just that!!! As Easy As Riding A Bike is the first installment in the “Justin Harbor” novella series, and it introduces a quaint setting and a sweet cast of characters that promise more cute stories to come.

About the Book

Emma Holland is almost finished with the renovation of The Brown Bear Lodge nestled just off the Pacific Coast 101 Highway in picturesque Justin Harbor, Oregon. Being a business owner in a small town isn’t easy, but Emma’s got more than enough determination—not to mention an excellent eye for interior design. There’s only one problem. One of her first guests of the season is someone she hoped she’d never see again.AEARAB Book Cover

As a famous landscape photographer, Connor Pearson has traveled far and wide following his dreams at the cost of losing his first love. Now, back in Justin Harbor, Connor is looking for more than just a place to stay. He’s looking for himself.

As Emma and Connor rediscover their lost friendship and seek to find common ground in the present, Connor feels the tug of his small town roots. Is it possible that a man who’s traveled the world could find his home where his dreams began? Can Emma come to terms with the fact that self-reliance isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? Will their bonds from the past weather the storms of the present?

As Easy As Riding A Bike will introduce you to the salty air and calming waters of Justin Harbor, the first novella in a series featuring small town women business owners.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

As Easy As Riding A Bike is a sweet little romance filled with hope! Emma and Connor are equally endearing and likable. Their story is one of navigating surprises as old dreams resurface and manifest in ways each of them never expected to find again. My favorite aspect of the story has to do with Emma’s family — her mother in particular — and a few little ways her memory was honored by story’s end. This is a short, clean, and delightful read not to be missed!

Thank you to the author for the review copy. This is my honest review.