Monthly Archives: May 2018

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

Book Review: Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry

Title: Under a Cloudless Sky
Author: Chris Fabry
Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: January 2018
Genre: Historical Christian fiction

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

A charming and engrossing novel for fans of Southern fiction and the recent hit memoir Hillbilly Elegy about a lush and storied coal-mining town—and the good people who live there—in danger of being destroyed for the sake of profit. Will the truth about the town’s past be its final undoing or its saving grace?

1933. In the mining town of Beulah Mountain, West Virginia, two young girls form an unbreakable bond against the lush Appalachian landscape, coal dust and old hymns filling their lungs and hearts. Despite the polarizing forces of their fathers—one a mine owner, one a disgruntled miner —Ruby and Bean thrive under the tender care of Bean’s mama, blissfully unaware of the rising conflict in town and the coming tragedy that will tear them apart forever.

2004. Hollis Beasley is taking his last stand. Neighbors up and down the hollow have sold their land to Coleman Coal and Energy, but Hollis is determined to hold on to his family legacy on Beulah Mountain. Standing in his way is Buddy Coleman, an upstart mining executive who hopes to revitalize the dying town by increasing coal production and opening the Company Store Museum. He’ll pay homage to the past—even the massacre of 1933—while positioning the company for growth at all costs.

What surprises them all is how their stories will intersect with a feisty octogenarian living hundreds of miles away. When Ruby Handley Freeman’s grown children threaten her independence, she takes a stand of her own and disappears, propelling her on a journey to face a decades-old secret that will change everything for her and those she meets.

My Thoughts:

This novel’s gritty historical detail, unexpected plot twists, and literary leanings set it apart as something special within its genre. The coal mining town and its people come vividly to life on the page, as do the spunky octogenarian Ruby and her family. The split time structure works well, flowing logically and smoothly from 1933 to 2004 and back again, without losing the reader along the way.

“I think people see their story here. The pain and brokenness. And it helps them make sense of their own. They soak in the horror and the beauty of it.”

That quote from Chapter 52 is referring to the history of the mining town’s Company Store as shared in a local museum, but I think it could just as appropriately be applied to this work of fiction itself. As with many beautifully written stories, this one uses the specific details of one particular location and cast of characters to address the general human condition in a way that’s broadly relatable.

A great choice for book discussion groups and anyone who enjoys a thought provoking story with some unexpected twists and turns along the way.

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a complimentary advance reader copy of the book for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, May 2018

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the May 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 May selection is Forgiving Natalie by Kristin Noel Fischer. 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. May’s selection is If I Live by Terri Blackstock.

For May, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing From the Start by Melissa Tagg AND Catch a Falling Star by Beth K. Vogt. 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 May is The Haven by Suzanne Woods Fisher. To join in, visit the group’s online discussion board.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

Perennials by Julie Cantrell (Thomas Nelson, November 2017, Women’s Fiction)

A Place at Our Table by Amy Clipston (Zondervan, November 2017, Amish Romance)

Love Held Captive by Shelley Shephard Gray (Zondervan, October 2017, Historical Romance)

In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury (Howard, November 2017, Contemporary Romance)


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