Audiobook Review: Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Title: Where Hope Begins
Author: Catherine West
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Narrator: Suzie Althens
Published: May 2018
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Length: 10 hours, 37 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Sometimes we’re allowed to glimpse the beauty within the brokenness . . .

Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.

But soon Savannah is given a challenge she can’t run away from: Forgiving the unforgivable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all.

Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.

My Thoughts on the Book:

Catherine West’s latest book is aptly titled. Savannah’s life has taken a drastic turn off course, and she’s not sure what, if anything she can do about it. But over the course of the story, she finds her hope, and her emotional journey makes for a great read. This is excellent women’s fiction featuring complex characters and relationships. The story doesn’t shy away from grittier topics like marital problems, but it keeps a Christian worldview throughout, and will appeal to fans of edgier Christian fiction. It’s an emotionally powerful read, and well worth reading.

My one disappointment in an otherwise excellent story, was with one minor character who I thought was more stereotypical caricature than character. Savannah’s sister-in-law Janice plays a key role at one particular point in the story, but I felt like she was created with that one role in mind, as a sort of judgmental straw-man to be knocked down. I would’ve liked to see her drawn with a little more depth, because she felt really out of place in a story with otherwise great characterization.

Overall, the story is beautifully written, and takes the reader to some really challenging and thought provoking places. It would make for a fabulous book discussion group selection.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Narrator Suzie Althens does a wonderful job bringing Savannah and her family and friends to life in this story. Her voice is pleasant, with just the right degree of emotion incorporated to heighten the drama. I would highly recommend the audio edition of this story.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library via Hoopla. I was not expected to write a review, but wanted to share how much I enjoyed the book.

Quick Links: About the Book | Audio Sample | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

Audiobook Review: The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

Title: The Heart Between Us
Author: Lindsay Harrel
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Narrator: Emily Sutton-Smith
Published: March 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Christian fiction
Length: 8 hours, 53 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

My Thoughts on the Book:

The Heart Between Us has so much going on between its pages that it’s hard to know where to begin. There’s an exploration of family and sisterhood, and of forgiveness. There are fears holding characters back from truly living, and an epic journey (both physical and emotional) for them each to understand their own fears and what to do about them. A look at what it means to be strong, and where true strength comes from. There’s a bucket list and international travel galore – enough to prompt wanderlust in the most homebody-ish of readers. There’s sweet romance included, that’s great fun to read, but on a scale that doesn’t take over the story, which focuses more on the individual characters’ journeys.

I’m glad I read this book. I found myself relating to Crystal and Megan on a pretty deep level, and found that the book’s themes – faith, family, and trusting God with your fears – hit home for me. This is one of those books that prompts thought and reflection, and could make a great selection for a book discussion group.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Emily Sutton-Smith’s reading brings out the sisters’ distinct personalities and quirks through subtle differences in their speaking style. She also does good work with the accents of some secondary characters. The pacing and enunciation is clear and unobtrusive, making this a fun and easy listening experience. Highly recommended.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library via Hoopla. I was not expected to write a review, but wanted to share how much I enjoyed the book.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | Audio Sample | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, July 2018

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the July 2018 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month. I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s July selection is With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley MacKall. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

By the Book is an in-person book discussion club that has introduced an online Facebook-based discussion option. To join in online, like the By the Book Facebook page, and be sure to check back there periodically for any discussion that may not have made it into your news feed. July’s selection is The Hideaway by Lauren K Denton.

For July, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar AND The Innkeeper’s Daughter by Michelle Griep. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Amish Fiction Goodreads group discusses one Amish fiction title per month. The selection for July is Joshua’s Mission by Vannetta Chapman. To join in, visit the group’s online discussion board.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

Firefly Cove by Davis Bunn (Kensington, December 2017, Contemporary Romance)

A Daring Escape by Tricia Goyer (Harvest House, January 2018, Historical Romance)

Judah’s Wife by Angela Hunt (Bethany House, January 2018, Historical Romance)


So, friends, what have you been reading lately? Any titles you’d recommend for book club discussions?

Audiobook Review: The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

Title: The Saturday Night Supper Club
Author: Carla Laureano
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Teri Shnaubelt
Published: February 2018
Series: Supper Club, Book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Christian Fiction
Length: 9 hours, 56 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.

Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.

Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life—and love—outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?

My Thoughts on the Book:

This book was yummy. I didn’t literally eat the book, of course. But I would’ve gladly joined the supper club for a fabulous meal, if I could’ve wrangled one of those coveted invites! Rachel and Alex’s story is a sweet and spicy contemporary Christian romance with substance, and a very enjoyable read. The story’s set up and the thematic look at how social media can inadvertently impact someone’s life drew me in, and the growing relationship between the story’s leads kept me intrigued, right up to the satisfying, if not entirely unexpected ending. Both Rachel and Alex have interesting backgrounds, and their character development over the course of the story is realistically portrayed. I think I can guess who might be featured in future installments of this series, and I hope I’m right. I’m definitely looking forward to more from the supper club.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The narrator, Teri Shnaubelt, presents both male and female voices well, though I have to say I liked the heroine’s voice better than the voices of her girlfriends, which tended a bit more toward wheedling at times than I would have preferred. That said, pacing and enunciation were great, and emotion was well portrayed throughout the story. I will be seeking out the audio edition again, when future books in the series release.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library via Hoopla. I was not expected to write a review, but wanted to share how much I enjoyed the book.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Series | Audio Sample | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

What Makes a Good Audiobook Great?

June_is_Audiobook_Month2018

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post called The Joy of Audiobooks, in which I outlined some of the reasons I love audiobooks so much, and why you might too. I thought about revisiting the topic for audiobook month this year too, but when I re-read my earlier post, so much of it still applied, I figured there was no need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I’ve been giving thought to another topic:

What makes a great audiobook? And conversely, what makes an audiobook not so great? I’ll be sharing my opinions on the topic today, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too.

The Content

I’ve been known to claim I’d happily listen to certain favorite narrators read the phone book. And to an extent, I would. But really, if I’m being honest, I’d much rather listen to them read something I’m actually interested in. Especially if it’s something that lends itself well to the audio format.

Let’s face it. The phone book is meant to be searched as needed, not read linearly. The content makes a huge difference in the reader’s enjoyment. That’s why reference books with complex charts that readers may need to refer back to and graphic novels that rely heavily on images to communicate meaning probably won’t make for great listening experiences.

But that’s okay. Print formats have a place on our shelves too, right? 😉

The Narrator’s Voice

In my reviews, I tend to talk a lot about characters’ voices, but the narrator’s own voice generally comes through in the bits of exposition scattered amongst the lines of dialogue.

A particularly raspy or shrill or otherwise distracting voice can ruin an otherwise good audiobook. Some vocal habits like trailing off in volume at the ends of sentences, overemphasizing the ends of words, frequent mispronunciations, and extraneous noises like loud breathing outside of character, can adversely impact a reader’s enjoyment.

On the other hand, a pleasant and natural sounding voice can blend itself into the background, allowing the story space to shine.

Characters’ Voices

The characters’ voices a narrator creates for an audio production can make or break the audiobook. While I’ve heard there are readers out there who prefer an audiobook read matter-of-factly and without the use of distinctive voices for different characters, I tend to think that approach takes much of the fun out of the format. Personally, I love it when a narrator makes good use of differences in character voices.

Emphasis on good use. Too unique or nasal or whiny and a character’s voice can quickly become annoying. Similarly, too much exaggerated effort in creating a character of the opposite gender, can lead to some eye-rolling moments for the reader.

But on the other hand, one of the worst performances I’ve had the dubious honor of listening to was one where the narrator made absolutely no effort to distinguish voices or to pause between speakers. This made it harder for me to connect with the characters, but even more problematically, I found myself getting lost in conversations, unsure when one character stopped speaking and the next began.

In short, when it comes to character voices, moderation is a good thing. Variations in voices within a range comfortable for the narrator can translate to a fabulous listening experience for the reader.

Pacing and Enunciation

Pauses between paragraphs or lines of dialogue, and especially between scenes and chapters can be important to the reader’s understanding of the audiobook. Likewise, a narrator reading excessively fast or slow can result in a frustrating listening experience.

At the same time, judicious use of variations in pacing, such as speeding up the reading during a high-intensity moment in a thriller, or slowing to savor a romantic or otherwise emotional moment for the characters, can heighten the reader’s connection to the story.

As for enunciation, clarity is king. If I can’t understand what’s being read, or even if it requires too much concentration to catch all the words, it’s going to impact my enjoyment of the story.

Continuity Within a Series

I realize contracts and rights negotiations and timing and … life … can get in the way of keeping the same narrator throughout a series. But (for the people out there who decide these things) please, pretty please try?

One of my favorite audio series was mostly read by one narrator who did a fabulous job of both British and southern accents across genders. I was spoiled, and I fell in love with the characters. And then my heart was broken when a short story featuring the same characters was released by a different audio publisher with a different narrator who didn’t attempt their accents at all. It felt like I was meeting brand new people rather than visiting with old friends.

That was when it hit home just how much difference it can make for the character voices and reading style to be consistent from one book to the next within a series. Just listening to the voices in one book can bring back memories of the characters as read in an earlier book months or years ago and help tie the stories together.

So, yeah, sometimes it works to bring back the same narrator, and sometimes things get in the way of that, but whenever possible… pretty please?

That Special Something

So far, we’ve discussed content, the narrator’s voice, characters’ voices, pacing and enunciation, and continuity within a series as factors in making an audiobook great. But not everything can be that simply explained.

Sometimes, there’s just that special something that takes a good audiobook and makes it great. Could be a spot on accent. Could be an excellent use of music or sound effects. Or maybe it’s when the narrator verbally acts out stage directions like laughter, tears, singing, or slurred speech. You know, actually chuckling, rather than just reading “He laughed.”

Maybe, a narrator’s emotional connection to what he or she is reading shows through in the final production and draws the reader in. Or maybe multiple readers worked together to create a seamless theatrical production.

Sometimes it’s easy to point to one or two, or ten features of an audiobook that come together to make for a fabulous read. Other times, it’s not so easy to explain why the total experience is greater than the sum of its parts. Either way, I love discovering and listening to a great audiobook.

Audiobook Review: Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren

Title: Troubled Waters
Author: Susan May Warren
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Cynthia Farrell
Published: January 2018
Series: Montana Rescue, Book 4
Genre: Contemporary romance, Christian fiction.
Length: 11 hrs, 4 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

With their past tearing them apart, it will take a storm to bring them together . . .

Billionaire Ian Shaw can have everything he wants–except a happy ending. Or at least that’s what it feels like with his fortune recently liquidated, his niece missing, and the woman he loves refusing to speak to him. Despite her love for Ian, Sierra Rose knows he has no room in his life for her as long as the mystery of his missing niece goes unsolved. Sierra has solved it, but a promise to the girl to keep her whereabouts secret has made it impossible to be around Ian.

When Sierra needs funds to repair the damaged PEAK chopper, Ian offers a fundraising junket for large donors on his yacht in the Caribbean. But the leisurely excursion turns into a nightmare when a rogue wave cripples the yacht and Ian and Sierra find themselves washed up on a strange, empty shore.

It will take guts for the PEAK team to rescue the duo. But it will take a miracle to rescue Ian and Sierra’s relationship.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this story ever since I first started reading the Montana Rescue series with Wild Montana Skies and If Ever I Would Leave You. The first book and prequel to the series introduced Ian and Sierra, among other characters, and that’s when I first fell for their story. Then, their story continued on the back burner through books 2 and 3. An agonizing wait! But now, in book 4, we get to see their relationship develop more fully. Their characters are well developed over the course of this book with faith journeys and character development centering on issues of control vs trust. Pete and Jess also see their relationship develop further over the course of this book as well. Readers who enjoy action, adventure, and romance will find much to love throughout this series. And those already familiar with the series, can look forward to a short-term change of setting with action and adventure on the high seas this time around. Highly recommended.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

I’ve listened to several of the titles in this series in audio format, including this one, and enjoyed them greatly. Cynthia Farrell’s reading is consistently excellent from one book to another. Accents, vocal inflections, pacing, and emotional delivery all contribute to the overall effect, and I appreciate the consistency in the way the characters are portrayed from one book to another.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library. I was not expected to write a review, but wanted to share how much I enjoyed the book.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Audio Sample | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

June is Audiobook Month, 2018

June_is_Audiobook_Month2018

Because I #LoveAudiobooks, I’ll be celebrating “June is Audiobook Month” pretty much all month long on my blog, starting with today’s post. For today, I’m featuring some favorite recent listens, what I’m reading now, and a few of the titles on my to-be-read list. I’ll also refer you on to more “June is Audiobook Month” themed festivities you may want to check out elsewhere on the web.

With a 45 minute commute each way to and from work, and with plenty of other opportunities for listening (while doing laundry or dishes, while working out, etc.) when traditional reading just isn’t practical, I find I tend to read more audiobooks than print books lately. And I love every minute of it.

A few of my favorite recent listens include:

I’m currently enjoying:

  • The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

And eagerly anticipating (on my to be read list):

  • Where Hope Begins by Catherine West
  • Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin
  • Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson (Audie Award winner in Inspirational Fiction)

I’m always on the lookout for more great reads to add to my to-be-read list, so please share in the comments if you’ve been listening to any great books lately!

To keep the Audiobook Month festivities going, check out the following sites:

  • The Audio Publishers Association blog tour will be featuring audiobook themed posts and giveaways all month long.
  • There will also be free weekly giveaways at Audiobook.com throughout the month of June, including Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck (June 8th… It’s one of my favorite audiobooks).
  • The Sync summer audiobook program offers free weekly audiobook downloads aimed at teens 13+ all summer long. I’m especially intrigued to see that The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey has a giveaway scheduled for June 28 – July 4. (Check out this review by one of my favorite bloggers, to see why I’m excited to read it.)

Thanks so much for stopping by to celebrate audiobook month with me! I hope to see you again next week for more audiobook themed fun. :)

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, June 2018

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the June 2018 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month. I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s June selection is Callum’s Compass by Sara L Foust. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

By the Book is an in-person book discussion club that has introduced an online Facebook-based discussion option. To join in online, like the By the Book Facebook page, and be sure to check back there periodically for any discussion that may not have made it into your news feed. June’s selection is The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin.

For June, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer AND A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Amish Fiction Goodreads group discusses one Amish fiction title per month. The selection for June is The Cherished Quilt by Amy Clipston. To join in, visit the group’s online discussion board.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

An Amish Winter by Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, and Barbara Cameron (Zondervan, December, Amish Romance

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher (Thomas Nelson, December, Contemporary Romance)

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, December, Historical Romance)

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright (Bethany House, November, Mystery / Suspense)


So, friends, what have you been reading lately? Any titles you’d recommend for book club discussions?

Audiobook Review: A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Title: A Name Unknown
Author: Roseanna M. White
Print Publisher: Bethany House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Liz Pearce
Published: July 2017
Series: Shadows Over England, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 15 hours, 17 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

She’s Out to Steal His Name. Will He Steal Her Heart Instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins who helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets–instead they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary is beginning to question whether she can continue in this life when she’s offered the challenge of a lifetime–determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. After all how does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

As Europe moves ever closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crown–so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstep pretending to be a well-credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.

When danger and suspicion continue to mount, both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth–about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

My Thoughts on the Book:

A Name Unknown is a delightfully fun read for those readers who like their historical romance with a touch of mystery, intrigue, and humor.

The characters are particularly fabulous. Rosemary for her compelling character arc and faith journey. Peter for his charming awkwardness combined with his thoughtfulness toward others, and an appealing quality I can’t quite pin down with words. I admired the way he “talked” so easily about his faith (in written form anyway), and I enjoyed watching the progression in Rosemary’s beliefs as they wrote back and forth. Their romance is sweet and includes some of my favorite tropes and character traits.

There’s a plot twist I didn’t see coming that was… intriguing. I’m tempted to re-read the whole thing just to convince my inner skeptic that all the pieces really do fit the twist. LOL! But I won’t give away any details. You’ll want to read this for yourself.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

I listened to the audio edition and absolutely loved it. Peter’s stuttering plays quite well in spoken form, and halfway through I had to track down a print copy to see if the author wrote it all out that way or if the narrator was ad-libbing. Sure enough, it’s there in written format too. I think it speaks to both the author’s and the narrator’s skill that Peter’s speech impediment comes across believably and sympathetically in the story, without becoming a barrier to the reader’s enjoyment. Narrator Liz Pearce expertly employs a wide range of voices in terms of accent, gender, age, and emotion, resulting in a lovely overall listening experience.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of the audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Audio Sample | Author’s Site

Book Review: No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

Title: No One Ever Asked
Author: Katie Ganshert
Publisher: WaterBrook
Published: April 2018
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

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.

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?

My Thoughts:

Katie Ganshert is among my favorite authors, so I’ve been looking forward to reading this novel since I first heard about it. And it did not disappoint.

No One Ever Asked addresses challenging and timely societal issues, but not in a heavy-handed way. Rather, we meet three main characters at a pivotal time for their community and for them personally. We see their stories unfold from their own perspectives, and each is challenged at her core in a way that is unique to her own situation.

Camille, Anaya, and Jen are each well-developed flawed but sympathetic characters who face difficulties, make mistakes, and learn something new about themselves and their neighbors along the way.

This is the sort of book that makes you think about things you may have taken for granted, in a whole new light and consider questions you may not have thought much about before. Highly recommended for book discussion groups, as well as anyone who enjoys a thought-provoking, character-driven story.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a complimentary advance reader copy of the book through the Blogging for Books program.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site