Finding Hope Reviews, Interviews & News
Eve Marx of the Seaside Signal not only featured my newest novel, Finding Hope, she investigated trafficking in our small town and researched what it might look like in yours. Do you wonder if your kids are at risk? Do you want to know what to look for?
Do you want to learn to recognize trafficking? Have you ever thought about volunteering from your own home town?
Take Operation Underground Railroad’s Free Online Volunteer Training to learn to recognize signs of trafficking.
My Book a Day review Finding Hope
Cathy Jeppson of My Book A Day is one of my favorite reviewers and editors. Read her review:
Jennie Hansen of Meridian, the Latter-day Saint Magazine reviews Finding Hope!
This story is set along the Oregon coast, but could be any city. The author does a good job of creating a background that is mostly big city, but with touches of rural naturalness. The weather plays a role as it always does in the lives of the homeless and is realistic for the Oregon coastline. The main characters are realistic and likable and the secondary characters are distinct individuals. The plot arc leads steadily toward a climax that is both frightening and straight out of today’s news headlines. The major theme of the book, finding hope, is
handled well with no fantastic miracles, but rather steady perseverance toward a better life, safety, and caring relationships.
Safe House Reviews, Interviews & News
Safe House by Shannon Symonds is a 2017 Whiney Nominee!
Learn more about the Whitney Award HERE.
“Safe House, by Shannon Symonds. This is a work of fiction based on true accounts. The author is an advocate for women who have endured abusive situations. Through her community efforts and career, she has helped many women cope with or escape abusive situations. Why do some women stay? How do some find the courage to escape? Explore a little of what can happen through the eyes of fictional characters Grace James and Officer Hart. Shannon visited our book club in Utah. Our group was so impressed with her sensitivities and knowledge of a tough subject. We applaud her efforts to shed a light on this often-silent social issue, and we pray for women in abusive relationships. May they know of their worth and escape their tormented situations.”
“Domestic Abuse, are you sure you know who the victims are?” by Valerie Loveless
It was my privilege to be a guest on Valerie Loveless’s podcast! Valerie is an author and a world changer. She writes and features clean and inspirational fiction. Keep your eye on her for more great reads and author interviews.
While we chat, learn ways to support survivors you know, tips for keeping our teens safe, and why I love Oregon’s services for survivors. Hear my shout out to Operation Underground Railroad and learn about Safe House, and my next novel with the same characters and setting, FINDING HOPE.
Valerie rocks! She is a member of my church and worth following if you like clean and inspirational reads. #waitbythegate #chooselight #shannonsymondsauthor
The interview available on Spotify, Google cast, Breaker, PocketCasts, Radio Public and YouTube.
“Domestic Abuse, are you sure you know who the victims are?” by Valerie Loveless https://anchor.fm/valerie-
loveless2/episodes/Domestic- Abuse–are-you-sure-you-know- who-the-victims-are-e551vu
Valerie Loveless Website and Review Crew Safe House Reviews:
“Wow, I’m not quite sure what I expected from this book, but I didn’t expect to be drawn in as fast as I was. This book is intense from the very first page until the very last page. I loved every minute I spent reading it!
I like the way this book has so many different viewpoints. You get such a great picture of exactly what is happening. You even get viewpoints from the bad guys in this one. That really made the picture of everything going on so clear.
I’m not sure I can tell you just who the main character is, there are several. I’d have to say Amber, Grace, and Kelly would kind of be the three main ones. The characters are so well-written, I almost felt as though I knew them and there were certain times during the story that I was terrified for what was going to happen to them. I thought the author did a great job portraying the way things are for victims of domestic abuse. It really made me grateful that I personally haven’t had to deal with that in my own life, although I do know people who have and it helped me appreciate a little more what they have gone through.
I loved the plot of this one, it really drew me in and it didn’t let go until the very last word! I love that this one is intense, but at the same time completely clean, such a great book!”
Read more HERE
The author does a great job of portraying the horrors of abuse. This is definitely a book that I would not normally pick up because of the subject matter, but the author wrote it well. Grace was a fantastic character, who truly wanted to help people. I did feel there was too much jumping around between so many characters.
Read more HERE
“I have to admit that reading books about abuse of any kind is very hard for me. I like to read books to escape reality and not read about it. Having said that, this book ended up being such a great book to read.I loved this story. I am saying this will all love behind it. My sisters and I love these kinds of books. We call them “Mormon Smut Books”….hehe. I really do mean that as the best compliment. I love to read books that have to do with my religion and love. Or any religion for that matter. I know that when I read it, it will be clean.I loved that this book covered a hard topic, and showed how people could get out and move on to bigger and better things. I am a HUGE advocate for Sexual Abuse, and the author of this book is a HUGE advocate for Domestic Violence. I think that’s why I liked the book so much. Hard topics are hard to read, so they have to be done well. The author definitely did well with this book.We all take the chance when we marry someone, that they are not all they say they are. We may not know what their demons are until after marriage. Then sometimes they have groomed you so well, that it’s impossible to leave. Amber and Kelly realize this after they have gotten married and are both faced with the challenge of what to do now.As they navigate their lives with the help of Grace, they realize that there is a possibility of life outside of an abusive marriage. They find their faith in God again, and the power to fight for what is missing in their lives.This is such a good book about love, life, faith, religion, and suspense. Their stories are heartbreaking, and life changing all at the same time.I hope that you take the time to read this book. It is so wonderful.”
“I connected with this book. It reeled me in and kept me there with an intense and fast-moving plot. The emotional intensity was a unique aspect of this book for me. I had never read a book addressing domestic violence and abuse, and I found myself incapable of putting it down because I just couldn’t leave these characters in the unjust and demoralizing circumstances.”
Read the author interview HERE
“Q.1. Do you plan to write any more books? Could there possibly be more to Grace’s story? (I’d read it!)
Thank you for asking! I would love you to review it.
I planned another story as I was writing this one. It has been taking shape for a while now. I have a working outline and can’t wait to get started! This autumn when the rain starts falling, it will be me, a fire in the fireplace and “Insert surprise name here.”
The next book will be in the same location, same characters with some new friends.”
“Safe House by Shannon Symonds is not an easy book to read, but it is impossible to forget. It deals with the difficult subject of domestic abuse. If anyone has ever wondered why an abused spouse doesn’t just leave, this story will answer that question. An abused spouse is usually penniless and worries about how and where she’ll live if she leaves or worries about her or her children’s safety if she leaves and becomes homeless. Shattered self-esteem is another factor. This book also points out how to find help. It’s also a great story.”
“Author Shannon Symonds brings to life the bitter and devastating truths of domestic violence in her novel Safe House. Her story is heart throbbing and gut wrenching. It hurts so much to read these truths, but powerful at the same time. It teaches readers of the hardships of the people in these situations and about how hard it can be to get out, but that it is possible. The story is a little hard to follow at first due to the way it switches between characters and their stories, but once that is sorted out, readers will not want to put this novel down. It is a captivating and powerful read!”
Read Author Interview HERE
“Q.2. What is your favorite beverage?
Well! Here is an indication of my inner oddball. If I could have anything I wanted it would be a coconut milk, banana, peanut butter, protein powder smoothie with spinach and a tiny bit of raw ginger. But, since I am a writer and often find myself up until all hours of the night creating, I often resort to a drink that you can also clean your driveway with, diet coke. If I could just stay on the wagon and give up caffeine I know I could write and not be weary, but movie popcorn simply screams for diet coke.”
Review by Sharon Haddock, a professional writer with more than 40 years’ experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.
“In “Safe House” by Shannon Symonds, two families are living and trying to survive in homes filled with fear.
The fathers are mean and cunning. They keep the mothers afraid to move, even to do the ordinary things moms do with their children. A concerned social worker does her best to offer the mothers options but the story clearly illustrates the hesitation that the abused women feel when it comes to leaving a bad situation.
It’s a bumpy read as some of the story is simplistic given the complexities of the topic, but it’s told sympathetically.
Amber, the oldest daughter in the home of Berk and Emily, tries to rescue her baby brother and her unhappy little sister. She is the one who calls for help and thus brings the wrath of her stepfather down on her.
In the home of Sam and Kelly, Kelly is nearly killed by Sam’s throttling yet she is the one taken to jail.
Kelly’s small children are whisked off to live with Sam’s new girlfriend after he shows up with divorce papers.
The book is interesting reading if only to see if justice is eventually served.
Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leave a Book of Mormon on Kelly’s porch, which Sam buries in the trash. Amber is invited to an LDS ward activity by her new friend Adam and the local leaders help her.
Working through these situations is Grace, a social worker who cares very much about both families. Grace tries to make a difference. She, however, is fighting to convince discouraged, demoralized women they can make it in a world without their husbands.
In this book, law enforcement and court system officials are not very helpful. Then bad weather, power outages and floods hit as things escalate.
Despite the subject matter, violence is limited to beatings, pulling of the hair and attempts to strangle. Language is left to mentions of cursing and swearing. There is no sex mentioned.”
“I liked this story, and it had me on the edge of my seat at times. It was heartbreaking reading about what each of these families were going through with all of the abuse. It was also kind of eye-opening to see just how much psychological damage can be done by the abuser. It’s easy for someone who has never been through it to say “Well, if they’re in a horrible relationship, why don’t they just leave?” but for someone who has been beaten down so much, that they’re worthless, and been made to feel like they are completely dependent on their spouse, they feel like they have no choice but to stay.
I liked Grace and her caring and empathetic manner towards those she was trying to help. It must be pretty emotionally draining to have a career like her, especially knowing that you can’t save everyone, no matter how hard you try.
The two complaints I have about this book are that there were so many characters in it, and the chapters were so short, switching back and forth so quickly, that it was really hard for me to keep track of who was who. I had to constantly flip back a few chapters to remind myself who I was reading about. Also, I don’t feel like things were resolved with Emily’s husband Berk.
Other than those two issues, I did enjoy the story and would read more from this author.”
“On the heels of the release of her new book “Safe House,” longtime Seaside resident and local author Shannon Symonds was the guest at the July Lunch in the Loft author series hosted by Beach Books.
‘I’m very happy to have Shannon. Her book is fantastic,” said Karen Emmerling owner of Beach Books. “It highlights things you probably didn’t know were going on in Seaside, or hoped weren’t going on in Seaside, but it’s definitely a tribute to her work and to her faith. I hope Shannon and her characters will be back at some point, soon.”….by Rebecca Herren
“Q. Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Grace, the main character in Safe House, is an advocate who responds with handsome Officer Joe Hart to serve survivors of domestic assault. She works twenty-four hours a day to offer survivors and their children safe shelter and a way out. She is the stranger that shows up when your whole world comes crashing down and asks you to trust her and leave everything you know behind.
Grace is also a single mother trying to keep her family going. Grace’s mother Mable, one of my favorite character’s, lives in an in-law apartment in Grace’s house with her younger brother. Grace is only thirty-eight, but she is already a survivor herself and wonders if there is anyone for a clumsy, curly blond.
Grace’s talent is to be the eye of the storm. No matter what dangers swirl around her, she is calm and when you are with her you can’t help but believe that maybe, just maybe, everything is going to be alright.”
“In addition to the social issues and the tensions they provided the characters, this was an exciting adventure as the characters in the town find themselves dealing with a force of nature that threatens to overpower them all, including the modern technology we take so much for granted in this day and age. The action kept me reading….The focus of the book was not romance, but the romance elements present were sweet and clean. Not all romances were resolved, which leads me to hope the author may have a sequel to this novel. It was an enjoyable and enlightening read, and I recommend it.”
“The author did a great job of giving enough detail to let you know these women lived in bad situations without getting too graphic. I am fortunate to not have firsthand experience with this and cringed at what I read, while also realizing that the author didn’t go too dark.
Grace, as well as some other characters, are LDS (or Mormon) so there are some religious references. Each of them are able to help the women and their families in different ways. Women in these situations can be misunderstood and blamed for the situation they are in and Ms. Symonds did a great job in humanizing them and helping the reader see how they can get there. She also shows the incredible courage it takes to accept help and gain control once more of their lives.”
Click HERE for the interview
“Q. 1. Safe House is your debut novel. Have you written anything else?
You’re the first person to ask me!
Recently, I attended a book signing at a hospital where I worked last year. I confessed in front of a large group of friends that I had been a closet writer for years. I explained that I had written around 200 self-help articles for FamilyShare.com or Deseret Connect. I had written for the BillionClicks.org blog created by Hilary Weeks, singer and songwriter. I had also written lyrics to a love song which is on a CD sold on the coast. I am hoping the song stays hidden! The music is great but the lyrics are sappy.
I came home from the signing and told my mother my secret was out. I was no longer an anonymous writer. She laughed and told me I was meant to be a writer. She said even when I was a small child, if I got into trouble, I would write her an apology letter.”
“While Safe House deals with some difficult and troubling issues, it is also full of faith, optimism, and healing. It gives me hope to think that there are people who genuinely care and truly want to help those who are victims of domestic violence. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is exciting and eye-opening, and it has just a little bit of romance mixed in for good measure. Safe House is written from a Mormon perspective, so if you are not a Mormon, some of the language will not be familiar to you, but it also contains a universal message of faith in God that all Christians can identify with.”
Read the author interview HERE
“Q. What do you hope readers will get from it?
I honestly hope readers will be drawn into the story. I don’t want readers to think about statistics or anything but the characters and the seemingly impossible conflicts they must overcome to survive. I want readers to be surprised at every turn by the life-threatening situations the characters are faced with and their ability to not only endure but to overcome. I would love it if readers laugh at the absurdity of Grace’s life, believe characters with broken hearts can love again, and glimpse the miracles I have witnessed over and over.”
“I first have to say that I think the information and overall message of this book is so important. I haven’t had a lot of experience with domestic violence and knowing there are so many women and children (and men) in the world suffering through this is heartbreaking. The author of this book works as a victim’s advocate so her personal, first hand knowledge and experience go a long way in making this novel valid and real. And honestly? Thank goodness for Shannon and people like her to help, support and love to people when they need it the most.”
“I have Three awesome books I truly enjoyed and was very impressed with.
The first is a new exciting book donated by an awesome new author, Shannon Symonds. It is directed at an LDS audience but is great for anyone, especially those who are familiar with abuse.”
Lu Ann of Rockin Book Reviews
Cannon Beach Gazette & Seaside Signal: Domestic violence and sex trafficking more prevalent than you think
by Eve Marx
“Last Tuesday evening I skipped book club to attend a program hosted by the Seaside Branch of the American Association of University Women held at Beach Books. The topic was domestic violence and sex crimes, subjects that have captured my journalistic interest for a very long time.
The meeting was a “get-acquainted” get-together. Following opening remarks by Cindy Gould, AAUW’s local chapter president, Shannon Symonds, author of the novel, “Safe House” and part-time advocate of domestic and sexual assault victims. Symonds was joined by Seaside’s Mayor Jay Barber, an advisor for Shared Hope International, an organization dedicated to ending sex trafficking. ..”
Syndicated Articles by Shannon Symonds, Author
Here are a few pieces written from the heart for the heart.