Tag Archives: Katie Ganshert

Life After by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2017)

Why or Who {Book Review – Life After by Katie Ganshert}

We have a few authors in our family who become “immediate must-reads” when they have new books. In the kidlit world, these include (but are not limited to) anything from: Natalie Lloyd, Jason Reynolds, Kadir Nelson, Kristy Dempsey, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Caroline Starr Rose, Patricia MacLachlan, Jacqueline Woodson, Stacy McAnulty, Bryan Collier, and many more.

In the adult fiction world, one of my personal “must-reads” is Katie Ganshert.

Life After by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

Life After by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2017)

On the day of a late spring storm, in Chicago, Autumn Manning boarded an “L” train. A bomb explodes, killing everyone in the train car except for Autumn—the sole survivor. A year has passed and Autumn suffocates under a blanket of what ifs and the pressing desire to bring the victims back to life, every day, if only for her. She doesn’t want their stories to be forgotten. She wants to undo what cannot be undone. An unexpected ally joins her efforts, also seeking answers and trying to find a way to stumble ahead.

But one victim’s husband, Paul Elliott, prays to let the dead—and their secrets—rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to hurt his loved ones.

Caught between loss and hope, these restless souls must release the past to embrace a sovereign God.

My Thoughts:

In Life After, Katie Ganshert surpassed my expectations. Really.

Katie dives into deeper, more tumultuous topics with empathy and skill. Life After alternates in third person between Autumn Manning’s point-of-view and Paul Elliott’s perspective. Each character is broken. Each character has secrets. Each character is on a course of internal and external discovery. But, also each character reacts differently to tribulations, and yet, the reader can empathize and understand both.

The main and side characters are all realistic, interesting, and varied. We want to watch Autumn’s story unfold. We want to see Paul heal. We want to learn more about Reese. We want to hear Ina May keep talking.

The Chicago setting roars with life and yet charms with quirk. The setting ties in aptly with character recall and emotions. We feel Autumn’s tension near public transportation. We feel Paul’s ache as he searches for his daughter.

And then there’s the faith journey. Life After asks tough questions. But they are questions (at least some, if not all) many of us have wondered. Questions many of us have discussed and read to learn more about. And questions that have no answers except in God’s knowledge. Part of this book is about just that. The trust the comes with faith and realizing that we cannot–and perhaps should not–always know all the answers. And about light in the chaos.

I highly recommend reading Life After. And then pass a copy into someone else’s hands to read, too.

Who is one of your “must-read” authors?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2015)

Brokenness Turned into Trust {Book Review – The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert}

I’ve talked on this blog about every single Katie Ganshert book currently published. And I’m going to keep talking.

Tomorrow (on April 21st!), Katie’s fourth novel releases into this world, The Art of Losing Yourself (Waterbrook, 2015).

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2015)

This contemporary fiction novel introduces us to Carmen Hart, her husband Ben, and her troubled half-sister, Gracie Fisher. Carmen seems to have perfect life as a well-respected local TV meteorologist, but, as most of us know, nobody really has a conflict-less life. The novel deals with Carmen’s struggle over losing her family’s old inn, watching her admired Aunt Ingrid’s mind slip, working for the close bond she and her husband once had, and figuring out how to help her sister.

In the midst of Carmen’s perspective, we also get to read chapters from Gracie’s perspective. As a teenager who has dealt with more than she should’ve with an alcoholic mother, Gracie has issues of her own. But her inner dialogue helps all of us see that what one shows on the exterior doesn’t always reflect all of the inner turmoil occurring.

The first two pages drew me in with such emotion and powerful writing about miscarriages. We are thrust right into Carmen’s conflicts. Then, over the next several chapters, we learn more about Carmen, Ben, Gracie, Elias, Ingrid, and more. Gracie’s story kept me whispering to myself “one more chapter” often in the first half of the book. Then, as Carmen and Gracie’s stories intertwined more and more, I was so involved in the world that I was thinking about it even when the book wasn’t in my hands.

Katie weaves intriguing analogies throughout her story, including Gracie’s love for random facts and knowledge of the common emotional associations of different colors. Carmen often thinks on Mary Poppins references, which Katie writes so realistically that it just makes sense to include as we learn about Carmen’s character.

I love when books ask real questions about faith, as this book does often, including on page 151:

“…how do you know it’s God talking and not just your conscience?” (Gracie)

“Who’s to say our conscience isn’t one of the ways He talks to us?” (Elias)

How many of us have thought this same question? Multiple Bible studies exist focusing on this topic, so it’s obviously one of need.

This book considers trust, love (between sisters, friends, and more), the work a relationship requires, entropy, dementia, miscarriages, school culture, teenage growth, navigating friendships, relying on others, filling our holes with Truth, and more. While that seems like a lot for one book, this is one of the things Katie does so well: she writes about real life in a real way. (Bonus: the book doesn’t wrap every single conflict up in a perfect conclusion…because whose life does?)

quote from The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

I read The Art of Losing Yourself in less than 48 hours, but I’ll be thinking about it much, much longer than that. I also highly recommend mothers (or older sisters) and teenage daughters reading this together because of the two distinct perspectives represented here.

Check out The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert at your local bookstore, favorite online retailer, or library. Also stop by Katie’s website for behind-the-scenes information on the book and characters and more. (I love how Katie compiles these fun facts for all her books!)

For more about Katie and her books:

  • Read my review of Katie’s first novel, Wildflowers from Winter, here.
  • Read my review of Katie’s second novel, Wishing on Willows, here.
  • Read my review of Katie’s third novel, A Broken Kind of Beautiful, here.
  • Read a fun interview I did with Katie two years ago here.
  • Visit Katie’s website.

Which of the themes in this novel do you think you would relate to the most?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Trust and Forgiveness {Book Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert}

I read Christian fiction for a variety of reasons: entertainment, inspiration, to expand my understanding of characters and setting I’m unfamiliar with. And, largely, to learn from the power of story. We all play our own unique, God-given parts in a much larger story. Reading other people’s stories (whether nonfiction or fiction) can inspire us to grow, to understand, to love better.

Katie Ganshert’s novels do just that.

I first fell in love with Katie’s novels when I read Wishing on Willows as part of her launch team. I then went back and read Katie’s first novel, Wildflowers in Winter. I’m pretty much a fan for life.

I’ve now read Katie’s newest novel, A Broken Kind of Beautiful, releasing on April 15th from WaterBrook.A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Katie doesn’t take the easy route in her plot lines. She covers bold, tough topics in her novels, and each of her settings have been intriguing and different from her other books.

In A Broken Kind of Beautiful, we meet Ivy Clark, a ravishingly beautiful 24-year-old who has been a model since she was only 14 years old. But, as Ivy’s career seems to be halting because of the fashion industry’s empty values on outward appearance and age, Ivy realizes she feel more like a beautiful, but empty, shell of a person.

She finally comes to the point where her only modeling job comes from her step-mother, Marilyn, who wants Ivy to be the face of her new wedding dress line for an advertising campaign. Ivy returns to Greenbrier, South Carolina, and finds out her jeopardized career may only be saved if she can convince Davis Knight to return to his photography roots in New York, even though he swore off photography two years ago for reasons Ivy doesn’t understand. Davis treats Ivy drastically different from any other man around Ivy, and she doesn’t know how to take it. Through the book, Ivy struggles with learning the “why” behind Davis’s actions, and wonders if God can see her broken past and still love her.

Katie’s ability to discuss tough topics helps us as readers learn more about others’ situations and look below surface level of situations we know little about (like the fashion industry for me!).

I love so many aspects of Katie’s writing. The dialogue is realistic and not hokey. She slowly reveals backstory in believable ways. She weaves small descriptive details in scenes to create realistic actions without distracting from the reading itself. You can visualize and feel the scenes.

Example: “A gust of heat swept across the floor and wrapped around Ivy’s calves.” – p. 91

Katie masterfully leaves each chapter with a strong emotion hanging. She doesn’t always have to frame that cliffhanger with a question, either. Each chapter ending entices and easily convinces you to go ahead and turn the page.

In Katie’s previous two novels, I related to the main female characters well. In A Broken Kind of Beautiful, I actually found myself relating to the Davis Knight the most. I could definitely relate to portions of Ivy’s character, but I’ve felt my own struggle of guilt and not truly accepting God’s grace-given forgiveness, as Davis does. The side characters (Marilyn, Sara, Arabella, Twila, even Jordan), all add to the story’s fullness, intrigue, and purpose.

This book covers themes of change and comfort zones:

“This world was never meant to be comfortable. It was never meant to feel like home. I took darkness to show me truth.” – p. 174

And trust and forgiveness:

“It doesn’t matter if I forgiven you. It doesn’t even matter if you forgive you. What matters…is that God already has. So stop wearing your past like a pair of handcuffs. – p. 255

I found myself rooting for side characters (and their very interesting stories) nearly as much as I did the main characters, and love many statements, like this one from Marilyn:

“Perhaps there was grace to be found in this mess after all.” – p. 44

"God's calling you to be His son, not His slave. He doesn't want you to wear shackles. Not when He's already cut you free." - from A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Want to learn more? Katie is hosting a Facebook webcast party for A Broken Kind of Beautiful on April 21st, from 6-7pm (CST). Click here to see the Facebook invite.

Follow Katie on Twitter for more news in a couple of weeks about some Twitter book fun, too.

To read more about Katie Ganshert, visit her website and check out an interview I did with Katie last year. Also, check out the book page for this novel on Katie’s website. I love how Katie shares multiple “theme songs” for the book and behind-the-scenes information on the characters and setting! (Check out the “inspiration” video from Matt Chandler on that page, too. Powerful.)

"...the hard is what makes us who we are. The hard is usually what God uses to draw us closer... If I have to choose between what's easy or what will bring me closer to Him, I pray my choice will be Him." - from A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Do you ever hold on to something from your past too long? How do you forgive yourself and accept forgiveness from others? Or, tell us why you read Christian fiction.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book as a member of the launch team. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in any other manner.

Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert {a book review}

The Winter of Waiting {Book Review – Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert}

A few months ago, I reviewed Katie Ganshert’s Wishing on Willows, an amazing contemporary novel telling part of Robin’s story, a widowed mom needing second chances.

I read Katie’s second novel without having read the first. (This is quite out of the ordinary for me.)

So, now, I’ve gone back and read Katie’s first published novel, Wildflowers from Winter. Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert {a book review}

And it’s fantastic. And tough. And emotional. And well-written. And full of grace.

Wildflowers from Winter introduces us to Bethany Quinn, a 28-year-old architect who has been living the past 10 years burying her past in an effort to make herself anything but what she used to be and where she used to come from.

But when tragedy strikes her hometown of Peaks, Iowa, she’s forced back to visit people she’s purposefully neglected, including her mom, her grandfather, and her childhood best friend, Robin Price.

Several effects force Bethany to stay longer than expected…and evaluate her past and present more than she may have wanted.

Just as in Katie Ganshert’s second novel, readers are able to feel empathy for the characters even in early chapters. You get to know the characters quickly, and you care quickly.

That said, the characters feel so real, with relatable thoughts, questions, feelings. You won’t find fake, too-good-to-be-true characters here. Every character has his or her own faults (realistic faults based on their past experiences). Bethany built up such a wall around her own heart that I didn’t even like her until about two-thirds the way through the book. (This is a sign of a well-written book to me.)

When I think about the characters of a book and their world in other times of my day when I’m not reading the book, I know it’s a well-written book. Katie did just that with this debut novel.

Quote from Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

We read from numerous points of view (at least 4), which may confuse some readers, but Katie explores each character’s psyche well. (For readers concerned about this, Wishing on Willows doesn’t change point of view quite as often. Stick with it for Wildflowers from Winter, too. It’s worth it.)

Though Bethany Quinn and Evan Price are the main characters of Wildflowers from Winter, Robin’s story kept peeking through (with good reason), and it’s Robin’s story that Katie’s explores in Wishing on Willows. I actually finished Wildflowers from Winter wanting to re-read Wishing on Willows since I was able to learn more about Robin’s backstory and get to know both Evan and Bethany so much more.

In all of Katie’s writing so far, she tackles honest questions about faith from characters who both believe and who have stepped away from their faith for a time. Some faith-based fiction struggle to relay these questions in a non-preachy way, but Katie draws readers in, sparking their own questions, thoughts, and exploration. It’s stellar how she writes these components of her stories, really, and with unique imagery without sounding forced.

“He kept throwing tragedies in his path, one after the other, and all Evan could do was toss one aside so his hands would be free to catch the next one.”Wildflowers from Winter, p. 109

Tackling subjects like balancing control, false teachings, and trust, Wildflowers from Winter reinforces a loving God full of grace, not legality. And growth from tragedy. A beautiful read.

Quote from Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

Have you read Wildflowers from Winter? Check out Katie’s page about the book with lots of interesting extras on the book, setting, and characters! (I love that she does this for each of her books!) 

Disclosure: I have NO material connection to this post. I fell in love with Katie’s writing through Wishing on Willows and read Wildflowers from Winter on my own accord. All opinions expressed are my own.