Book Review: The Solace of Water

Hello reader friends and Happy Friday! Today I’m reviewing a book that was recently in the spotlight. This is such a fantastic book about friendship, forgiveness, and moving on.


About the Book

The Blurb: “After the loss of her young son, Carver, an African-American preacher’s wife named Delilah Evans moves with her family from Montgomery, Alabama, to Sinking Creek, Pennsylvania, for a fresh start. The last thing she could have imagined was becoming friends with Emma Mullet, a reclusive Amish woman.

Emma is fighting personal battles of her own and feels estranged from her small Amish community. The secrets that have kept her isolated from her own community serve to unite her in an unlikely friendship with Delilah.

Sparrow, Delilah’s eldest daughter, knows she is responsible for the death of her little brother. When tensions at home become unbearable, she seeks solace at Emma’s house, becoming the surrogate daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own, secrets that could sever all ties to her safe refuge.

Life for these three gets harder when church and social issues confront them, causing rifts within Sinking Creek’s three distinct communities: whites, blacks, and Amish. When their carefully protected secrets come to light, there seems to be little hope for friendship, restoration, or even forgiveness. But when the unthinkable happens, Delilah and Emma find themselves looking into the mirror of their own self-deceptions and are forced to make a choice that will set the way of their future. ”

Links: AmazonB&NCBDGoodreads


My Thoughts

This is one of those reviews that is hard to write, because you don’t think you can do the book justice. First of all, I took my time reading this book, which is extremely difficult for me. Not only am I a fast reader, but I often find myself wanting to read and read to get to the end of a book, so I can read another great one. But this book was different. I knew right from the start that it needed to be read at a slower pace. I needed to soak in the words and give the characters the time they deserved. There is so much emotion in this book: highs and lows, laughs and cries, worry and joy. Prepare yourself. You’ll need some tissues nearby, and I would kindly suggest not reading this in public. Or on your lunch break at work surrounded by your coworkers. It makes for awkward conversations.

Although there are some tough topics presented in this beautifully written novel, Elizabeth Byler Younts has found a way to tackle them gracefully and poetically. She writes in such a way that will tug at your heart and make you feel all the emotions right along with the character. I loved having the three POVs in this story. Emma, Delilah and Sparrow each had their own story to tell, yet they fit so perfectly together like a puzzle. Each one had a secret. Each one needed help. And little did they know that the solace they really needed was there all along.

This powerful novel is one that will be on my heart and mind for years. It’s one I know I’ll go back and reread every now and then. It packs a punch friends. It’s that strong cup of coffee that you need to jump-start your day. No, it’s not all frills, roses and romance. Honestly, I’m glad for that. The story wouldn’t have been as powerful and emotional that way. But it is a story of forgiveness. Of moving on. Of trusting in the One who put you on this earth in the first place. Read this book. When you’re done, lend it to a friend and then talk about it. I think you’ll be glad you did.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

 


 

About the Author

Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl and is a RITA nominated writer. She is also the author of The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable.

Follow: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram


Post by Contributor Jessica Baker
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Book Spotlight: The Solace of Water

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages. I’m bringing you a book spotlight of The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts. Have you read it? You’ll want to check out this book as it follows three women, two of which are African American.


About the Book

The Blurb: “After the loss of her young son, Carver, an African-American preacher’s wife named Delilah Evans moves with her family from Montgomery, Alabama, to Sinking Creek, Pennsylvania, for a fresh start. The last thing she could have imagined was becoming friends with Emma Mullet, a reclusive Amish woman.

Emma is fighting personal battles of her own and feels estranged from her small Amish community. The secrets that have kept her isolated from her own community serve to unite her in an unlikely friendship with Delilah.

Sparrow, Delilah’s eldest daughter, knows she is responsible for the death of her little brother. When tensions at home become unbearable, she seeks solace at Emma’s house, becoming the surrogate daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own, secrets that could sever all ties to her safe refuge.

Life for these three gets harder when church and social issues confront them, causing rifts within Sinking Creek’s three distinct communities: whites, blacks, and Amish. When their carefully protected secrets come to light, there seems to be little hope for friendship, restoration, or even forgiveness. But when the unthinkable happens, Delilah and Emma find themselves looking into the mirror of their own self-deceptions and are forced to make a choice that will set the way of their future. ”

Links: Amazon, B&N, CBD, Goodreads


About the Author

Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl and is a RITA nominated writer. She is also the author of The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable.

Follow: Website, Facebook, TwitterInstagram

Book Review: No One Ever Asked

Happy Friday, Reader Friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages. I’m thrilled to share my review of Katie Ganshert’s No One Ever Asked. This poignant story travels three different women. It’s a must read so be sure to add it  to your TBR pile!


About the Book

The Blurb: “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?”

Links: Amazon, B&N, CBD, Goodreads


My thoughts:

Wow. Just wow. I knew when I picked up this book that Katie Ganshert would take me on an emotional journey that would challenge my intellect as well as my mind. And wow, oh wow, Ms. Ganshert did NOT disappoint.

No One Ever Asked follows the journey of three very different women, or are they? Camille Gray seems to have it all and there were moments where she made me cringed. I’ve met women like her and have been on my guard around women like her. By the end of the novel, I wanted to give her a hug.

Jen Covington, bless her heart, I wanted to give her a hug the entire time I read her story. She went through so much and bottled her emotions, something I can completely identify with. I ached for her to let the fear go and embrace love and hope.

Anaya Jones. As the only African American of the group, I identified with her right away. It wasn’t just the race that had me empathizing with Anaya, it was her life experiences. Man, oh man, did Ms. Ganshert bring me back to the days where I went to the beauty shop every 2 weeks. I felt like I was right in there when those scenes unfolded. The way Anaya was cautious about how she responded, careful to no perpetuate any stereotypes, I felt that to my core. And the issues we women face, I could empathize with that too.

But it wasn’t just these three ladies that captured my attention. That kept me turning the page. The secondary characters were so integral to this story. The issues that Ms. Ganshert tackled were nothing short of amazing. For one, she chose to tackle them. Two, they were done in such a way that not one overlapped the other. I mean we have racial issues, social class issues, sexual harassment issues, etc. Each time she unveiled a piece of the story my mind was whirling, thinking of times I’ve experienced the same or haven’t and understanding what a person could have been dealing with.

If you don’t find an ounce of empathy growing in your heart after reading this book, I’d ask you to read it again. It’s that great. That life altering.

*I received a free copy from the publisher. This review is my own, honest opinion. I was not required to do a review.

**Review first seen at Soulfully Romantic blog.


About the Author

Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate. You can learn more about Katie and her books by visiting her website or author Facebook page.


Review by contributor, Toni Shiloh

Inconceived (Sharyn Kopf) – Review

~ About the Book ~

Realizing you’re a spinster is one thing; understanding what that means and how to handle it is another. And it would seem Jolene, Uli, and Catie still have a ways to go before they truly comprehend what God is trying to show them not only in their desire to marry but in their longing to have children of their own.

As one relationship ends and another begins, Jolene Woods realizes she needs to finally deal with the guilt and regret of her past if she’s ever going to move on. And so she embarks on a journey she hopes will bring forgiveness … but may, in fact, only lead to more regret. Did she forever destroy her chance to be a mother in her youth?

Uli Odell has her own journey, though it’s more of an escape from the pain and embarrassment of a broken engagement. She ends up at her mother’s home in Iowa, separated from her friends and desperate for money. But there are some problems she just can’t run away from.

Though Catie’s heart is in a stronger place since she met God on a mountain three months ago, she still doesn’t have answers to many of her questions. Then the possibility of an unhealthy relationship and the reality of a life-altering medical diagnosis make her wonder if she’s figured out anything at all.

As their lives head off in different directions, each of these friends will need God—and each other—to find their way to healing.

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Excerpt ~

Sometimes all I want is a chance to start over. Not just with recent mistakes but with life. A series of potential do-overs scrolls through my brain as I add more concealer to cover the bags under my eyes—a natural consequence of a nightmare-filled sleep before the alarm went off at 6 a.m. so I could get to Easter breakfast on time.
Once again I had that dream. The one I’ve had periodically for most of my life, with minor variations. Always the baby crying. Lost. Pleading. And me, desperate and searching and powerless to do anything about it.
Much like thirty years ago. Only I wasn’t powerless. Just ignorant and immature and confused enough to destroy my own child. Twice. And now…
Stop it, Jolene.
But I can’t. The truth of my choice has haunted me for so long, but lately the grief has hit me with such force, I feel it compelling me to action. If only I knew what action that should be.


~ My Review ~

You may remember I did a book spotlight a couple of weeks ago for the novel Spinstered, by Sharyn Kopf. (If you missed it, you can find it here.) Today I’m reviewing the second novel in the series, Inconceived, which continues the stories of Catie, Jolene, and Uli: three over-forty women who are still unmarried and wondering what, if anything, they’re supposed to do about it. I do recommend that you read Spinstered first, and I will try to avoid giving spoilers for that novel in this review!

The first thing that struck me about this series was the engaging first person narrative that drew me straight into the heart and mind of each of the three characters. Regardless of how different my own circumstances are, it created an immediate emotional connection with these women that has only strengthened as I have walked through their stories with them, sometimes smiling at their wry observations and sometimes aching for the honesty and vulnerability they shared directly with the reader.

While there are developments in the stories of all three women over the course of the novel, Inconceived focuses more on Jolene, a not-so-young woman of Caribbean descent who grew up in a large family in the South. She runs Cocoon House (a home for women who are transitioning out of prison life), so she’s used to dealing with other people’s emotional baggage, but her own emotional baggage caught up with her at the end of Spinstered and she can’t run away from it any more. It takes her on a poignant journey—more so because of who walks it with her—and was a beautiful way of working through the emotional and physical repercussions of the choices she had made in her youth. If you are inclined to be an empathetic crier, you may want to have a tissue or two on hand!

I should add I was no less engaged in the developments in Catie and Uli’s lives, both of whom are still struggling in different ways with their spinsterhood and their desire for a husband. Regardless of whether the reader has been in similar circumstances as these women, at the core, their struggles are universal: Is our happiness found in God, or in our circumstances? Have we wandered away from God in our attempt to satisfy our needs outside of Him?

The final novel in this series is yet to be released, but I will be eagerly awaiting the conclusion to these women’s stories. I’m fairly hopeful for at least one wedding in there!


~ About the Author ~

sharynSharyn Kopf didn’t discover her voice until she found a way to turn grief into hope. For her, that meant realizing it was okay to be sad about her singleness. In doing so, she was finally able to move past her grief and find hope in God.

It also meant writing about the heartaches and hopes of being an older single woman. She published her first novel, Spinstered, in 2014, and a companion nonfiction version titled Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40 in 2015. Her work has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Splickety Love magazine.

Besides writing and speaking, Sharyn is an editor and marketing professional. She loves to connect with readers and singles on Facebook or email and has plans to start a monthly newsletter soon. In her spare time, she enjoys goofing off with her nieces and nephews, making—and eating!—the best fudge ever, long hikes through the woods, and playing the piano.

Connect with Sharyn:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Girls Night In (blog for single, over 40 women)


Review by Katie Donovan

Book Spotlight: Spinstered by Sharyn Kopf

Today’s featured book spotlight is the first in a three book series by Sharyn Kopf following three women—Catie, Jolene, and  Uli—and their struggle with singleness. Jolene is of Carribbean descent, but grew up in the South, and although the second book in the series develops her story more fully, it begins here, in the first book of the series.


~ About the Book ~

Three friends. Three stories. Three women trying to figure out how they ended up over 40 and still single. Committed to her job and pushing fifty, Catie Delaney has almost given up on her dream of love and marriage. Maybe, she tells herself, she’d be happier just embracing her singleness. Maybe that’s been God’s will all along. Catie’s friends, Jolene and Uli, have their own struggles with men, careers, and family. Then into this mix of feminine angst walks Brian Kemper-the latest GWP (Guy With Potential) to join their church’s singles group. But just as something seems about to happen between him and Catie, her world falls apart. With their hearts on the line, these three friends search for hope . . . and find it in unexpected places.

Amazon  //  Goodreads

~ Excerpt ~

Jolene

This is my day off, for heaven’s sake. The Lord’s Day. A day of rest. So why I’m spending it trudging up the side of a cliff is beyond me.
First, Tess and Catie sprinted ahead like gazelles toward a mountain stream. Brian was in a deep conversation with Doug and Lindsay, with Uli tagging along, followed by Scott and Ellen. And I trailed in the back like a caboose.
There’s a joke about the size of my booty in there somewhere.
Now, Brian seems completely entranced by Catie, and I’m still bringing up the rear. I see my red-haired friend glance over at our GWP (Guy With Potential), a look of complete shock on her face. What on earth are they talking about? I’d love to chat with Uli, who’s huffing along next to me, about what’s going on a head of us. But, Lord have mercy, I’d rather breathe at the moment.
I really can’t stand hiking. We’re human beings not mountain goats. A drop of sweat slides down the back of my neck. The climbing shoes forced on me by life in Colorado are beyond ugly. There’s grit in my teeth from the dust we’re kicking up, and I’m wheezing like an asthma patient without an inhaler. Not to disparage asthma patients. My younger brother has asthma. Still, this is no way to make an impression, good or otherwise.
But I hang in there because I refuse to let a pile of rocks come between me and Mr. Possibility.

~ About the Author ~

sharynSharyn Kopf didn’t discover her voice until she found a way to turn grief into hope. For her, that meant realizing it was okay to be sad about her singleness. In doing so, she was finally able to move past her grief and find hope in God.

It also meant writing about the heartaches and hopes of being an older single woman. She published her first novel, Spinstered, in 2014, and a companion nonfiction version titled Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40 in 2015. Her work has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Splickety Love magazine.

Besides writing and speaking, Sharyn is an editor and marketing professional. She loves to connect with readers and singles on Facebook or email and has plans to start a monthly newsletter soon. In her spare time, she enjoys goofing off with her nieces and nephews, making—and eating!—the best fudge ever, long hikes through the woods, and playing the piano.

Connect with Sharyn:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Girls Night In (blog for single, over 40 women)


Book Spotlight by Katie Donovan