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Any Good Thing

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Witness a young man's battles of mind, heart and soul and follow his coming-of-age journey from selfishness to true sacrifice and from recklessness toward redemption in this contemporary southern fiction novel meant to reside on your heart's bookshelves.

Jack Calhoun recovers from one tragedy and its consequential addiction enough to glimpse a shimmer of hope for his future--until the day of the second accident. Instead of heading to college with his childhood sweetheart, Rachael, Jack flees the rural southern town that blames him for every bad thing and leaves his loved ones behind.

His journey for purpose, if not peace, brings Jack face-to-face with war in Iraq's desert, with his past's nightmares and with a deeper battle on a mountain peak. Along the way, he both finds and loses parts of himself.

Perhaps it was never purpose he required but the ability to discern selfishness from sacrifice. Will he cast off a lifetime of crippling guilt to rest in redemption, or will peace remain as elusive as any good thing for Jack?

This book lends itself to a lively book club discussion or shared read between couples and friends. While readers who remember 9-11 will have an instant bond with the story, anyone who enjoys a well-paced tale full of larger-than-life characters--with a dash of southern charm and a whole batch of tasty food--may just discover a new favorite book in Any Good Thing.

438 pages, Paperback

First published September 24, 2019

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About the author

Joy E. Rancatore

4 books99 followers
JOY E. RANCATORE writes fiction, nonfiction and everything between. In addition to her publishing roles, Joy is a blogger, speaker, teacher, editor for fellow Indie Authors and co-host of QWERTY Writing Life Podcast.

A multi-genre Indie Author, Joy has published Any Good Thing (2019) and This Good Thing (2020). Every Good Thing and One Good Thing will complete Carolina's Legacy Collection. She also published Finders Keepers: A Practical Approach to Find and Keep Your Writing Critique Partner (2019) with co-author Meagan Smith. Her fantasy work “Ealiverel Awakened” was first published in The Crux Anthology (2018).

When she's not doing horrible things to her characters or dreaming up faerie creatures and fantastic weapons, she beats her husband at card games, homeschools her two children, snuggles her two stinky dogs and lets her cat, Tolkien, do whatever he wants. They'd prefer to live in Middle-earth or Narnia or Hogwarts or in a galaxy far, far away; but, for now, they live across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. Her biggest writing accomplishment to date remains penning the cover story for the August 2003 issue of Leatherneck, Magazine of the Marines. It featured her brother, Justin.

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Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for Eric Demmer.
3 reviews
August 25, 2019
The publisher asked me to beta read Any Good Thing and provided me a near-final copy in order to provide my honest feedback to them. I am normally not a reader of Southern Fiction so reading this genre was a bit out of my comfort zone. However, I am so glad I did.

Several times while reading Any Good Thing I resented Joy Rancatore for what she did to her Protagonist, Jack Calhoun. The story was captivating from beginning to end and lead the reader on a journey with Jack through an emotional, physical, and spiritual struggle that encompassed several stages of life allowing a wide variety of readers to be able to identify with Jack. The colorful characters surrounding Jack brought a sense of levity to several serious issues surrounding Jack's life.

Joy Rancatore's novel challenged the reader to be mindful of the internal spiritual struggle that so many people in life often deal with alone. Any Goo Thing is a testament that we do not walk this journey alone and that not one of us deserves "Any Good Thing" and that every good thing is a blessing from God.

I would recommend this book to anyone. Any Good Thing is the perfect book for anyone dealing with tragedy, PTSD, mental health, love, marriage, or simply need a word of encouragement.

Disclaimer: a box of tissues should be readily available during the beginning.
September 19, 2019
“Any Good Thing” by Joy E Rancatore is a warm, heart-filled journey of particular lives in the South during a difficult period in history. The story provides great characters where relationships build and fall -and the young man’s life takes the reader through highs and lows, twists and turns. It’s written with care and emotion to take the reader directly to the moment in the story. If interested in story-telling fiction with characters of depth, courage, emotion and realistic timely situation, this is one to take a dive in. I am happy having had the pleasure to read and journey through “Any Good Thing”.

“The publisher asked me to beta read Any Good Thing and provided me a near-final copy in order to provide my honest feedback to them.”
Profile Image for Carol Baldwin.
Author 1 book32 followers
January 8, 2020
The book dramatically opens with 15-year-old Jack Calhoun's life permanently altered: a teenage drag race ends in death and disaster. From that point onward, Jack shoulders the guilt of four deaths--compounded later by two other deaths for which he takes responsibility.

In the first chapter the reader meets Jack's girlfriend, Rachel Burns, her father Ben, and Jack's mother, Becky; the three people who are his trinity of support as Jack wrestles with demons from his past.

Jack's father abandoned the family when Jack was young and Ben becomes a father figure to him. Quickly after the accidents, Jack descends into alcoholism; Ben helps him to get into a rehab. There, Jack confesses his motivation to get over his addiction: "I want to be better for my mom and the people who've stuck by me...despite all I've done." (p. 43)

Although this refrain is repeated throughout the book, Jack's fatal flaw is that he believes the only way he can help the people he loves is to remove his poisonous influence from their lives. "No more would he sit by and watch people he loved get hurt by whatever curse had claimed him as its host. The final tendrils of the sun's red hair slunk before him as he headed west." (p. 90)

With this faulty conclusion guiding him, he joins the Marines and vows to make something of his life and become a source of pride to his mother.

Jack's internal conversation shows that he sees himself as a failure, but at the same time the author portrays him as a successful carpenter and outstanding Marine who is consistently promoted. Even when he feels responsible for his best friend, Tray's, death in Iraq, Tray's mother forgives him, but he doesn't forgive himself.

Jack feels hopeless when he returns home after taking a bullet in his right arm. His days as a Marine Scout Sniper are over and he refuses to get help. He enters into a bleak, near-suicidal time of roaming through North Carolina. His only help for the reoccurring PTSD anxiety is a stray, shaggy hound, Scout, who provides the companionship which Jack desperately needs.

For me, the most powerful part of this book came in the last one hundred pages. An unexpected encounter with his father helps Jack begin his journey home, eventually leading to his emotional and spiritual healing. Rachel's unconditional love is poignantly portrayed. Jack's self-absorption (which is the lie behind "I'm too bad for even God to love me") is shown in the last few pages. Although Jack's coming to faith was predictable, it provides a satisfactory resolution to Christian readers.

Although much of what the author loves is packed into 418 pages--southern food, the Marines, small southern towns, romance, and the peace of Christ--the constant point of view shift from omniscient narrator to one of the characters, was distracting. In the author's desire to include seventeen years of Jack's life, I had to frequently remind myself what his age was; many of his thought processes make him seem older than his stated age.

Overall, I would recommend this book for the reader who loves fiction which carries a character through the dark spots of his life to Christian victory. I'm giving this book away on my blog; giveaway ends January 11.https://carolbaldwinblog.blogspot.com
1 review
September 28, 2019
My wife handed me "Any Good Thing" by Joy Rancatore yesterday around 1:30 pm. My wife (the soon to be famous author/cover designer herself @rachaelritchey) had designed the cover for Joy and got her copy in the mail, and I was just saying I needed something to read.

I read the first page, and honestly was not impressed. It didn't seem overly clear, I wasn't sure about the writing style and it didn't grab me. Boy, am I glad I kept reading though, because by the end of the 2nd page I was hooked.

Joy has a way with words that grabs the reader and pulls them completely into the story. I'm not an overly emotional guy (I've gotten pretty salty in my 43 years.) , but this book had me in tears more than once because I was so connected to the main character.

I spent the whole afternoon/evening reading since I was so emotionally involved that I HAD to keep reading.

There were some slow parts of the story that didn't flow as well as most, but (in my opinion) they were easy to get through because I needed to see what happened next.

This book incorporates a lot of faith/Christianity (so if those things offend you, this may not be the book for you). But if you can be open-minded and get past those prejudices I think even you will enjoy Joy's writing style and character development.

Beware there are several parts that made me tear-up, so be prepared to explain to those in the room with you why your "eyes are leaking".

Thank you Joy Rancatore for this story, I look forward to reading more from you in the future.
Profile Image for Meagan Smith.
Author 2 books3 followers
September 23, 2019
Reading Any Good Thing was a journey for me as much as it was for Jack (the main character). I felt his internal struggle from the first chapter to the last. This book reminded me of why I love the South while also providing gentle (and not-so-gentle) nudges to build relationships on truth rather than break ties with assumptions. Other thematic elements fleshed out through Jack's road of trials were self-forgiveness, redemption, recovery, and persistence. I'm having trouble not writing spoilers, so I think I'll stop explaining here. :) This book is a gateway to discussion beyond the final page on topics such as PTSD, teenage alcoholism, and religion.

If you dig thoughtful, character-driven tales with a strong sense of place and artful prose, Any Good Thing may be your next favorite book!

*The publisher provided me with a copy of Any Good Thing. This review is my honest feedback.*
Profile Image for Sandy.
136 reviews1 follower
July 20, 2020
What an emotional roller coaster! And just like real ones for me, there is the very real sense in this book when the end draws near that you can’t wait to ride again...or in the case of the book, you want to know more and continue the journey. The carefully crafted and well developed characters feel like family. The storyline is built upon real life joys and challenges and the center of it all is the ever present call of Christ. A beautiful story I literally could not put down! Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Christy Decker.
Author 3 books15 followers
July 13, 2020
Joy writes so beautifully it is easy to get lost in her words. ESPECIALLY during the current climate of this crazy world I feel like this is a great read. Everyone needs reminders that no matter what we do, no matter how many mistakes we make - we are never beyond Christ's reach. No one is beyond the power of His love and redemption. Really good book and really great job by the author.
Profile Image for Valicity Elaine.
Author 20 books68 followers
October 15, 2019
An Emotional and Encouraging Journey for Christians and Secular Readers Alike

This is a book that deeply explores dark psychological concepts—things like depression, PTSD, and other mental and emotional struggles. This may sound morbid, but I actually found these components to be the best points made in the story. Maybe its because I have a Bachelor’s in psychology, or because I appreciate a well written contemporary that does more than present a really sad story or a really emotional romance. Despite the grittiness of this emotional journey, I think what I liked best about this novel was the inclusion of faith. If you aren’t a Christian or you aren’t able to be open-minded and accepting of other people’s beliefs, then I’ll warn you now, this is not the book for you. But I promise it will be worth the read if you can set aside your own reservations and appreciate the story written on the pages.

Any Good Thing follows protagonist Jack Calhoun in this southern, Christian, coming-of-age tale. We see what life is like in a small town and we see what war is like on the battleground, then we see the wreckage of war—the scars beneath the surface of skin and bone and fake smiles—and we end with a glimpse of a man who has done all he can to find healing, in more ways than one. This story tugs at your heart without being sappy—and that’s something I appreciated most. I hate stories that throw things in for the sake of shock or emotion; everything about this book has reason and meaning, there is nothing here just to move the story along.

All that being said, I feel like there’s A LOT of story in this book. If I had to choose a complaint, I’d definitely say Any Good Thing is very long, but it isn’t unnecessarily long. One thing I’ve noticed about contemporary fiction and coming-of-age stories is they tend to get weighed down by authors simply showing off their impressive verbiage, which is cool for all the wordy pedants out there, but I’m not a wordy pedant; I’m a reader with a busy schedule. Now … Rancatore did not weigh down her story at all, I want to make that clear. I appreciated the depth and value of each word in this book BUT I will say there were quite a lot of words.

Since we’re talking about words, I have to add that the writing was really good. I enjoyed the style because it really matched with that southern sort of feel you got throughout the story. Rancatore put together an emotional and pressing journey while maintaining a small sense of joy along the way. As a Christian reader, I was very pleased to have been able to review this work.

I would recommend this to YA and adult readers, especially those who enjoy Christian and contemporary fiction. Anyone looking for a good tear-jerker may have found it here.

*The Rebel Christian received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Christine.
418 reviews1 follower
September 29, 2019
CW/TW: War & PTSD, substance abuse (alcoholism), child deaths

Any Good Thing follows the young life of Jack--a teenager who cannot seem to escape tragedy. After the deaths of his friends--who he feels responsible for--Jack heads out into the world to find himself. Jack lands in construction, Iraq as a marine, and even homeless. Any Good Thing reads like This Is Us in novel form.

A coming-of-age story about redemption with religious overtones, readers will laugh and cry as Jack perseveres through his demons. You'll love the community he meets on his journey, too.

With setbacks and the reality that Jack's life will never be the same, Rancatore offers a heartwarming tale and begs the question of how we can survive and move on when our pasts still flow through our blood. What is forgiveness and how do we forgive ourselves?

I equally appreciated the insight and sensitivity of enlisting in the marines, PTSD, and what it is like to be an addict. YA and older teen novels like Any Good Thing are sorely needed.

You can find similar books set in the south on The Uncorked Librarian here: https://theuncorkedlibrarian.com/sout...

I'd like to thank the author, Joy Rancatore for providing me with a free copy to add to my book list.
Profile Image for Rachael Ritchey.
Author 10 books112 followers
December 10, 2019
Talk about pulling the heartstrings! Any Good Thing by Joy E. Rancatore is a bit of an emotional roller coaster where one cannot help falling in love with the characters, especially Jack Calhoun.

This is a journey through time, from coming-of-age in a small town in the South, to enduring the hardships of war, and through the reluctant search for healing in the aftermath of a life with more tragedy than one person should ever endure.

Joy E. Rancatore's characters feel real, and there are so many moments of visceral heartache that you are pulled along on Jack's journey from beginning to end. There are two constants in his life: one is the love of others for this broken boy-turned-man, and the other is his devotion to the loves he thinks he can never have.

I'd recommend this book to older teens and adults, women and men, who enjoy Southern Contemporary Fiction, Christian Fiction, fiction about coming of age, the importance of family, friends who become like family, war, the emotional aftermath of serving in the military during wartime, sweet romance, and overcoming tragedy.

I received an ARC copy of Any Good Thing from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Of course, I bought an ebook copy as soon as it was available because I enjoyed it so much. :)
1 review1 follower
November 2, 2019
The publisher asked me to beta read Any Good Thing and provided me a near-final copy in order to provide my honest feedback to them.

This book is not something that I would normally read and I am too young to remember the immediate effects of 9/11. However, the story was extremely well written, and I was drawn in from the beginning of the first chapter. Throughout the story you can't help but cheer for the main character and want to see him succeed. He is surrounded by a cast of characters equally as compelling as he is. The theme of redemption is something any reader can relate to and does an excellent job of driving the story forward. This is the first book I've read by this author, but I can't wait to read more.
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews

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