Friday, January 12, 2018

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Strains of Silence

About the Book

Author: Bethany Kaczmarek  
Genre: Contemporary Romance  
Release Date: August 1, 2017

Music was her driving passion and the truest expression of her faith, but three months before her wedding, twenty-year-old Kasia Bernolak can’t even pick up her guitar. Feeling like a fraud who will ruin her dad’s pastoral reputation, she can barely meet his eyes. When Kasia finds the strength to break off her engagement, she still doesn’t realize the dangerous truth: Blake Hamilton isn’t ready to say goodbye. And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her. 

Alexander “Zan” Maddox has seen what a domineering man can do to an unsuspecting woman, and Zan is sick of injustice. He gave up a college baseball scholarship so he could protect his sister from her abusive husband. When he rescues Kasia from her ex-fiancĂ©, he instinctively appoints himself her personal bodyguard. Now, all he has to do is keep from falling for her himself. 

Kasia and Zan become fast friends, but true healing and justice might cost more than either of them is willing to pay.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Thoughts

Strains of Silence is an emotionally engaging story that shines the light on the very timely subject of domestic abuse – and while I have no personal experience in this area, I suspect it is pretty realistic. But while the topic is serious, there are moments of relief, resulting in a very uplifting read overall. And I loved how well grounded in the Scripture it is. This is a story that captured my attention from the first page and kept me eagerly turning the pages.

Blake came across as kind and caring of Kasia at first, gradually pulling her away from her godly convictions, only to become controlling and abusive as time went on. From a non-experienced viewpoint, I was frustrated at Kasia’s slow progress, poor decisions, and defense of his actions – which is probably completely true-to-life. It was an enjoyable break to “visit” Peru through Kasia’s summer missionary experience and see her grow spiritually.

I loved how the relationship between Zan and Kasia began with friendship, developing a connection he felt because of his sister’s abusive situation. Zan’s journey from a cynical disbeliever to a man of faith made him an appealing character that I came to care about.

There’s a good group of supporting characters that I liked, although I wished for more character depth overall. Sections of the story move at a steady pace, while others more slowly. Purely from a reader’s perspective, some scenes didn’t seem essential to the storyline and slowed its progress down, but it all came together in a realistic reflection of life.

Strains of Silence is a moving story that leaves readers with much to reflect upon and I look forward to much more from this author.


I was provided a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

About the Author

Bethany loves a home filled with family and friends. Word gets around that—at the Kaczmarek house—food is abundant, conversations are real, and anything is up for discussion. 

She and her clan are fans of laughter, indie music, sonic screwdrivers, and superheroes. Home is wherever in the world they’re all together.

Guest Post from Bethany Kaczmarek

Strains of Silence: A Novel for Anyone Who Can Say #MeToo

We’re everywhere. After years of silence, many survivors of sexual assault are raising our voices. You’ve seen the hashtag. You know someone who suffered like this—a friend, a sister, a daughter. 

Maybe you know personally what it’s like to be used. 

I’m thankful for the conversations the #MeToo campaign has started, proud of the brave women who are speaking out. But I know some are still quiet, nursing wounds. 

I could list loads of valid reasons a victim chooses to suffer in silence.
  • People won’t believe her.
  • If she doesn’t say it out loud, it’s easier to pretend it was a nightmare.
  • He’s got authority over her—at work, at church, in the family—and it’ll cost her too much. He’s done enough damage already.
  • He’s threatened to destroy her reputation, and she believes him. One, because he’ll do it without flinching. Two, because she’s already convinced that she’s living a lie.
  • Because at church, she’s supposed to be fine, smiling, rejoicing in her suffering and pressing on. Besides, people don’t want to sit with her in her pain and listen. They’d rather offer bumper-sticker theology and trite spiritual bandages.
  • The few times she’s tried to speak up, her used-to-be friend basically made her feel like it was her fault.
The list could go on, but it’s fair to say that being honest about what happened to us makes us vulnerable all over again. The idea is understandably stressful. 

But you know what? Pretending we’re fine is exhausting too. We bear a great strain when we hide our hurts, for whatever reason. 

Kasia Bernolak, the heroine of my novel Strains of Silence, gets it. She’s got reasons for keeping it quiet too. But when God brings some new people into her life, she realizes she doesn’t have to be alone. And speaking up offers a freedom, a lightness, she wants. 

It’s a freedom I want for my readers. 

I know. Strains of Silence sounds like a heavy book right now. The themes are heavy, no doubt. There’s no glossing over and prettying up sexual assault or domestic violence. But—just like in real life—it’s how well we surround and support the suffering that can set the tone. Kasia’s friends are real, they’re funny, they’re quirky, and they believe in her. 

Besides, it’s not all dark and brooding. There’s travel—an entire summer in the mountains of Peru. There’s a lot of music—Kasia’s a singer/song-writer who loves indie artists (I’ve got a playlist on my website). There’s heritage and culture—meet her immigrant family and you’ll get a delicious taste of Poland. There’s humor—enough to keep the story light when you need it to be. 

And there’s hope. Kasia’s life is absolutely full of possibility. 

So are the lives of everyone who can say #MeToo. 

Sometimes, it just helps to see someone else fight the battle on our own horizon. And if you can do it with a fantastic new playlist and some laughs, why not? 

My hope is that Strains of Silence will lead to real discussions with reader-friends, book-club gatherings that become turning points, and the true pursuit of freedom. It’s time to throw off the burdens we wear and stand up. Raise your voice, link arms with others, and fight for hope. 

Healing is within our reach.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, January 6
Fiction Aficionado, January 8
Genesis 5020, January 8
Bigreadersite, January 9
Mommynificent, January 10
Texas Book-aholic, January 11
allofakindmom, January 11
Blogging With Carol, January 12 (Interview)
The Power of Words, January 12
Pursuing Stacie, January 12
A Greater Yes, January 13
Faithfully Bookish, January 16
Carpe Diem, January 18
Remebrancy, January 19


To celebrate her tour, Bethany is giving away a grand prize of ...

  • a signed book
  • a Polish pottery mug with two of the main character’s favorite kinds of teas, 4 of her favorite albums (Josh Garrels, Waterdeep, The Gray Havens, and Andrew Greer)
  • a box of chocolate butter cookies
  • and a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Click the image above or the link below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!


  1. this sounds truly interesting. I know of someone in this situation. sounds like this book may be good.
    quilting dash lady at Comcast dot net

  2. Since our adopted daughter was sexually abused as a young child and then later abused by a boyfriend, I have a great interest in this topic and would love to read this book.

    1. I'm so sorry to hear about the suffering your daughter experienced. Please know I'll be praying for her.

  3. This sounds like a really interesting read, a timely subject. Looking forward to reading.

    1. Thanks, Dianne. I hope you do get a chance to read it. I find myself thankful that women are speaking up about their experiences, and equally concerned that they're finding a lot of solidarity but little hope and direction. We've got to get the word out about the hope and healing that is reaching for them.

  4. Sounds like an interesting book! I'm thankful to have been protected from this. jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)

    1. I'm thankful you didn't experience it too! I hope you'll enjoy the book as well, and maybe gain some insight into how to pray for and help those you see walking through this. We're all over.