Book Review: Life After by Katie Ganshert

Life After

Katie Ganshert

Available 4/18/17

 

My review

This story. Wow! There is so much I want to say about this book, so many things I want you to know but at the same time, I want readers to experience it for themselves. Katie Ganshert has outdone herself with this one.

After the tragedy on the tracks, life for many Chicagoans is now defined as before and after. As Autumn Manning, the sole survivor grapples with the why of her life, she is haunted by twenty-two ghosts. Ghosts of those who she believes should have lived instead of her.

And then there’s Paul, Reese, and Tate Elliott. A family who lost one member during the attack. But the before is not the same for all of them. Tate doesn’t have many memories of his mom, Reese wants to change hers, and Paul wrestles with the truth behind his marriage.

When Autumn and the Elliotts’ paths cross, there are moments. Moments of laughter, moments of hope, moments when they forget the tragedy and focus on life. As these four try to make sense of the tragedy, to put the before behind them, there is a small glimpse into the future. One that, while loss and grief are a part of life for many, it doesn’t have to be something that defines them.

Another beautiful, poignant story from Katie Ganshert that had me wanting to stay with Autumn and the Elliott family long after the last page, to follow them into what I hope is happiness and joy despite the pain they all have suffered.

My Rating:

 

More about the book

Loop train riding above a street in Chicago

 

It could have been me.

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.

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Disclosure statement:

I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

False Security by Elizabeth Goddard

False Security (Wilderness, Inc book 3)

By Elizabeth Goddard

Ebook available April 1, 2017. Paperback available April 4, 2017

 

About the Book

 

NO SAFE HAVEN

Arriving at her secluded cabin to find her brother missing, Olivia Kendricks follows his trail into the woods—until two shooters take aim at her. She only escapes when ex-detective Zachary Long, her brother’s friend—and Olivia’s first love—comes to her rescue. Now as they run for their lives in the snowbound wilderness, they must search for her brother while figuring out why someone wants them dead. And though Zach’s police force training may be what will save them, it’s also what once drove them apart when he gave Olivia up to chase his dream. In a freezing landscape as deadly as it is beautiful, they’ll have to let go of the past…and face down powerful men willing to kill to keep secrets buried.

 

 

 

 

My two cents

Some residents of Gideon, OR are having incredibly bad luck. Or maybe it’s outsiders bringing it to town. Either way, buckle up for another thrill ride through the beauty and harshness of the Rogue River Wilderness area as Olivia and Zack fight for their lives.

From the first pages, as Oliva finds a trail of blood in the snow, I was swept into this story. Goddard writes in such a way that the cold of the snow and blizzard seeped into me as I went along for the ride. But the heart of this story lies in regrets.

Olivia has been estranged from her brother for three years and now doesn’t know if she’ll ever see him again. Zack’s decision to follow the rules cost him dearly. So much so that years later, he’s decided to give up his job. And both of them made a choice that ended their relationship ten years ago.

When they not running from the people trying to kill them or trying to unravel what information Olivia’s brother has, their time together causes both of them to reflect on their past mistakes. And maybe, if they can survive, instead of looking over their shoulders at the past, they can walk forward into a promising future.

Preorder your copy of False Security

 

Disclosure statement:

I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

The Returning by Rachelle Dekker

About The Returning by Rachelle Dekker

Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace”–one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.

But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned–a truth she’ll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.

 

 

My thoughts

First, I loved that the third and final Seer novel begins with Carrington and Remko Brandt. Too often books just jump into new characters and I feel like I need a refresher from what happened in the last book that I read over a year ago. This wasn’t at all the case with The Returning. In fact, the first chapter is both a reminder of what happened in The Calling but also an introduction to the story that is about to play out.

Shame. Fear. Doubt. Emotions that draw us away from God, away from the light. In the finale of Rachelle Dekker’s Seer trilogy, readers are reminded of this fact over and over again. As each character in the books goes through their own journey, much as each of us does, they are reminded that the light has always been with them. That they are not alone. That the light within is greater than anything that comes against them.

A story that clearly draws the lines between good and evil, God’s love and Satan’s lies, the light and the dark, and the choice that each person must make. Fast paced with scenes built in to let the reader breathe, The Returning is the perfect conclusion to a trilogy that started with a young woman who was not chosen with a future of servitude in front of her and ends with more than she could have ever imagined. God not only changes lives, he changes futures and gives us identity and purpose.

 

 

About the Author

 

The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair. Visit her at www.rachelledekker.com

 

 

 

More about the book (in the words of Rachelle Dekker)

 

The Returning focuses on Carrington and Remko’s daughter Elise. Tell us more about Elise’s character and her growth throughout the book.

Elise starts the book in a pretty dark place. She grew up without parents, believing she was abandoned, only to discover there’s an entire world that has been kept from her. Her journey can be divided into two parts, in my opinion: first, learning who she really is; and second, learning how to live that out. It’s the same journey we all take, and I believe that makes her pretty relatable.

The theme of identity is explored in all three Seer books. How does forgiveness relate to identity?

For me, forgiveness is more about the one who feels wronged than the one who committed the wrong. What if, for a moment, you believed that nothing could harm you? That you, as a believer, are seated at the Father’s table and standing with him? Can anything harm the Father? If you believe no, then can anything harm you—the true you, the true spirited self? So then, forgiveness becomes more about letting go of false belief and stepping into the true identity that the Father gave to you. I know it’s radical, but belief like that could change the world, don’t you think?

How do you hope this book will resonate with your readers?

I hope, as with both of the other books, that the reader sees themselves in the characters and that the story causes them to look inward. To ask hard questions like, Who am I? What am I capable of? Do I see myself the way the Father does? Can I? I hope it challenges their idea of identity and then gives them hope to see themselves and others more clearly. Because that’s how these stories have impacted me, and we are all really just the same.

 

 


Disclosure statement:
I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

Once again, Melanie Dickerson has delivered and engaging and unique perspective on a classic fairy tale. This time around, Ariel from The Little Mermaid gets a remodel in Dickerson’s The Silent Songbird.

When Evangeline’s cousin, the King of England, informs her that she will marry his closest advisor (a man twice her age whom she believes is hiding an evil streak from everyone), she does the only thing she can. She runs.

Disguising herself as a mute peasant girl named Eva, she and her companion travel to the village of Glynval with a small group of servants. Their leader, Westley le Wise (anyone else notice the nod to The Princess Bride here?) is both handsome and kind, but Evangeline realizes the secret she carries will end any hope of attachment between them before it can ever begin.

Something sinister is occurring in Glynval which puts Westley’s life in danger. Will Eva reveal her secret to save a man she admires? And if she does, will her send her back when he learns of the lies?

There’s a lot happening in this book (as with most of the Hagenheim series) but it all culminates in a satisfying way. I laughed at some of the escapades as Eva learns to do the servant’s work, grew agitated at the way another person treated Eva, longed for her and Westley to see what is right in front of them, and my heart pounded along with Eva’s when Westley’s life is in danger.

Dickerson is a fan-favorite of these types of books and with the attention to detail and the riveting storylines, there’s no question why that is.

I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Guide Me Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer

As a resident of Nashville, I’ve made the trek north into Kentucky to visit Mammoth Cave, and believe me, its name does not do it justice. Standing in the entrance of the large cave, a visitor realizes the vastness of God’s creation (and it’s just a small, tiny part of this large cave system). I’d post a picture, but it would just be a picture of blackness.

In Guide Me Home, Kim Vogel Sawyer, offers readers a glimpse into the world of the cave system while giving quite a bit of history—and yes, this is a work of fiction so some of it is creative license but much of it (the creatures, the trails, the saltpeter mining, and more) is steeped in fact.

guide me home cover

Rebekah Hardin’s desire to ease her family’s sorrow and suffering lead her to take a job as a guide at the Mammoth Cave resort—a job that is given only to men. Her determination leads her to don men’s clothes and grasp for the job. While Tolly Sandford see’s through Rebekah’s disguise almost immediately, he’s not keen to turn her away and hires her as Reb. Devlin Bale has set his sights on mapping out the cave system as his senior project—one that will not only get him to college graduation but will also give his father a step up in his run for state senate. Cissy Hardin is not like the rest of her family, she believes she’s destined for something greater, something more than being a poor Kentucky farmer’s daughter and she’s determined to make that reality happen no matter what.

As these four lives are intertwined both in the cave and in the land surrounding the cave, each person must face a truth that isn’t always pleasant. Rebecca struggles with guilt, Devlin (while a good person and a complete gentleman) has not yet found the true Source of Light, Tolly’s own burden of guilt weighs heavily, and Cissy’s selfishness and self-importance hurt more than herself.

A story that so beautifully illustrates light in darkness, peace that surpasses understanding, and love undeserving, Guide Me Home is worth the read.

***Blogging for Books and Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.