Posts Tagged ‘MomAdvice Book Club’

The 2019 MomAdvice Summer Reads Guide

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

For many years, I have wanted to do a reading guide for you all, but each year the days would slip away and I would think, “Maybe next year!”

Well, not today, Satan!

I am thrilled to share my first Summer Reading Guide with you! This has been a true labor of love and I’m incredibly proud how this turned out.

Within this 15 page guide you will find:

  • A huge list of great books to read over the summer. I have included some new (and upcoming) novels, but I also weaved in some older favorites that might be easier to snag at your local library.
  • Tips for reading more this summer including a few of my own tried-and-true formulas for reading.
  • A bookworm gift guide filled with fun finds from Etsy sellers.
  • 10 of my all-time favorite books
  • 5 summer selections curated by the Currently Reading Podcast.

All you need to do to access the free guide is be an email subscriber! Upon signing up for our mailing list, you will receive a link to the reading guide.

If you decide to read any of these selections, I’d be honored if you used the #momadvicesummerreading hashtag and tag me on Instagram!

Happy reading, bookworms! xo

Sign up for the MomAdvice Newsletter and receive your FREE Summer Reading Guide!

January 2018 Must-Reads

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

January 2018 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I’ve got big plans to tackle another 100 books again and can’t wait to hear what your reading goals are this year too!

I am so excited to be sharing my first month of reviews for 2018.  This month ended up being a slower reading month for me, thanks to tackling some of the bigger books that I have had on my reading agenda. It slowed my roll a bit, but a couple of these larger books ended up being my favorites this month so I’m really glad I invested my time in them.

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there!

In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

MomAdvice 2018 Reading Challenge Printable download our free reading challenge worksheet!

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! I can’t believe we have over 1,500 bookworms in this group. Our discussion this month was AMAZING and it is so much fun to have so many participating (and enjoying) the books that I selected to share. I announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in February) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page. These will be added in a blog entry for January, but book club participants get the list a little earlier. It’s just one more perk to enjoy with this free club!

Need another challenge to push you out of your reading comfort zone? Be sure to download this year’s Reading Challenge Worksheet.

Before we chat about books, this month’s Book of the Month selections are AWESOME this month and I have to share about them with you!

book of the month

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s special:

Get your first month of BOTM free with code YESPLZ

February Selections

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (I already had this as an advanced reader- everyone is raving about this!)

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (this is the one I got!)

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller (this is the other one I got)

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James—a BOTM exclusive!

GOOD STUFF!!

Here are 6 must-read books that I tackled in January!

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Fierce Kingdom shares the terrifying story of a mother and child that are visiting the zoo, as it nears closing time, when a shooting occurs and they must hide their to remain safe. Phillips builds the tension quickly as the book opens almost immediately with the shooting. You then follow the two as they try to find safety in the zoo and the story then begins to unfold with other points of views from other people who find themselves trapped there too.

The plot on this one was a bit thin and had a few loose ends with some characters that made this a quick read, but not necessarily a favorite. Had Phillips lead in with a bit more backstory and then moved to the shooting, I think I would have connected with it more with the story. She does craft believable characters and the struggle is real when her son is hungry and tired, but still has to remain quiet.

This wasn’t a thriller favorite, but it was an easily digestible literary escape for the week.

3 Out Of 5 Stars

The Last Mrs. Parrish

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

The Last Mrs. Parrish has been on my radar, after a few glowing reviews, and I couldn’t wait to dig into this fun thriller as my first book for January.  Constantine pens the story of a woman, Amber Patterson, who feels slighted by society and thinks she deserves more recognition than she is receiving in the world. Daphne Parrish has the life she always wanted and she begins to plan how she can steal this glamorous life from Daphne because she deserves it more than she does. #YOLO

Pretending to be her friend, she works her way into Daphne’s home and heart, all while pursuing her husband in some really conniving ways. A predictable Single White Female plot begins to unfold, but there is more to the plot than meets the eye.

Wait for it…PLOT SWITCH.

I’ll admit that the writing felt a bit juvenile in the beginning and I did not love Amber Patterson (or her viewpoint) when the book began.  I had thought about abandoning it, but Constantine develops a really well-crafted twist as I dove deeper into this one. I think you would enjoy this one a lot!

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Pachinko

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

So many of my readers said that this book made their top ten and I can see why! This book was beautiful from start to finish and told the sweeping story of several generations of a Korean family in Japan and the cultural struggles that they face over the years.

The book begins in the early 1900’s with the unplanned pregnancy of a Korean girl, named Sunja. Sunja faces a lot of humiliation when she discovers she isn’t the only one who has captured her lover’s eye. When her path crosses with a tubercular minister, he offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life as thanks for helping him through his difficult illness.

The story then unfolds as generation after generation deal with their own cultural challenges, the discrimination they must face, and the poverty that threatens to take everything away from them.

This story is RICH in beauty and detail. Lee’s writing is just gorgeous and she weaves this tapestry of characters so very well.  At almost 500 pages, this one is a bit of a commitment, but I finished it in just a few short days because I had to know what would happen to these characters. I highly recommend adding this one to your stack!

Reading Challenge Completed- A book about refugees or immigrants

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Alias Grace

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Last year I read and loved, The Handmaid’s Tale and couldn’t wait to dive into another Atwood book this year. Our first MomAdvice Book Club selection happened to be Alias Grace and lead to one of our best discussions we have had in the group.

This book is based upon the actual case of Grace Mark, a woman convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper, in 1843. Atwood tells this story effectively through sessions with an up-and-coming expert in the field of mental illness, as many believe she is deserving of a pardon, as he tries to uncover the truth. Told from alternating points of view, from the doctor and from Grace, Atwood builds this story and leaves readers on shaky ground on Grace’s innocence.

This was a slow starter for me and didn’t pick up pace until about halfway through. Once it did though, I felt a bit more vested in the story and spent a lot of time reading about the actual case that inspired Atwood.

Since this has book has become a Netflix series, it would be a fun one to read before catching the series. I’m looking forward to diving into this series soon- I hear it is quite binge-worthy!

Reading Challenge Completed- A MomAdvice Book Club Selection

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon has been on my radar for a long time, but I had a feeling that this true-crime story would be a difficult one to swallow. If you are unfamiliar of what this story is about, this book explores the murders that happened in the Osage Indian Reservation in the 1920s. The Osage people ended up being very wealthy when the land their reservation was located on happened to be rich with oil.

Basically the Osage people ended up rich and lived happily ever after.

Right?

Nope.

You can’t imagine the corruption that occurred to try and rob these people of their land and money. From execution-style shootings to poisonings to exploding homes…it is unreal the amount of suffering these people endured.

The book explores the details behind these murders and the birth of the F.B.I. as they scoured the territory for clues and J. Edgar Hoover’s role in launching this bureau and the prestige and power he gained from this case.

This story reads like fiction, but it is anything BUT fiction. Fans of true-crime thrillers will love this one and won’t be able to put it down.

Reading Challenge Completed- A book based on a true story

5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Year of Less

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

If you are looking for a how-to book on how to live on less, then this would not be the book for you. If you are looking for a surprisingly poignant, raw, and honest account of one woman’s challenge to not spend money for a year and the parallels she began to see in her life to her need for acquisition, you will LOVE this book.

This memoir really showcases our deeply rooted attachments and the emotional reasons why we buy the things we do. As she whittles away at her belongings, she has time to reflect on everything from her childhood to her struggles with her alcohol addiction and see how these purchases intertwine with her habits and items she has acquired.

Fans of The Happiness Project will really love this one- it was deeply honest and highly motivating to rethink your spending mindset this year. I highly recommend this one!

Reading Challenge Completed- A memoir from someone you never heard of

5 Out Of 5 Stars

  alias grace follow me on IG

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

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UPDATED!! MomAdvice 2017 Book Club Selections

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

2017-MOMADVICE-BOOK-CLUB

I hope your year of reading is off to an incredible start this month!  Between my two book clubs and our MomAdvice Reading Challenge, every surface and moment is book-filled over here!

How obsessed have I got with my reading this year? Totally figured out my wireless headphones are perfect for soaking in the bathtub with a book in my ears (just avoid sliding down into the water!) and I bought a $10 plant stand for my coffee propping so I can soak until the water gets cold every single day.

I do it for you guys. You need my recommendations!

Just kidding!!

Last year our MomAdvice Book Club on Facebook really began to take shape for our readers. I envisioned a place where bookworms could gather, a good spot to share the daily book deals that happen on Amazon, and a monthly book club discussion. It’s grown SO MUCH and last week we grew to over 700 bookworms last week.

Do you want to join my book club? Let me explain how it works!

How Does the MomAdvice Facebook Book Club Work?

I will be your book club hostess this year and have selected the first seven books to get you started on a fun journey of reading.  The discussion is held on the last week of the month and posted in the group with a thread for each question. You can jump in to answer questions at any time throughout that week, interacting with loads of other fellow bookworms.

How fun is that?

This post will be updated with our monthly selections so you can join in at any time with our group! Feel free to join us and let your friends know about the group too.

The more the merrier!

How Much Does it Cost?

Nada.

Well, What Do You Get Out Of It?

I want this to be fun and free for you. I post the daily Kindle book deals and I share our book club picks though through something called an affiliate link. Basically, this link gives me a few pennies on each of your purchases that help pay for the web hosting on our website. The web hosting currently costs me about $200 monthly and your purchases from this group basically help to offset that cost for our family at no cost to you.

I try to only share the good stuff and good books.

In fact, I have been reading our book club picks before we get to them to make sure that not a moment of your time or penny is wasted.

For example, one of the books I selected, I did not enjoy. It has been removed from the list and replaced with a better selection. I want to make sure this book club is an enjoyable thing and that you don’t feel ripped off if you are purchasing books.

I know I can’t appeal to everyone’s taste, but I am really trying!! 

I also would like to think I made a lot of great bookworm friends too in this group. It’s been fun to have a place to obsess about books, to share what we are reading each week, and just hang out with other people who just get you.

I have tried to cultivate a positive environment and the group is filled with those kinds of drama-free people that you want to have filling your Facebook feed. Escape the political nastiness and join a feel good kind of space.

Here are the books we will be talking about this year!

MomAdvice 2017 Book Club Selections

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

January

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

February

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

March

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

April

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

May

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

June

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

All the Birds in the SKy by Charlie Jane Anders

July

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

If We Were Villains

August

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Words in Deep Blue

September

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Sing, Unburied, Sing

October

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

November

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer

The Changeling

December

The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

Touch

January ’18 (if you are getting a jump on the next year!)

Touch by Courtney Maum

2017-MOMADVICE-BOOK-CLUB

Join in on the MomAdvice Book Club HERE! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

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MomAdvice 2106 Book Club Selections

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

MomAdvice 2106 Book Club Selections

It may be news to you that we have an underground book club lurking in the shadows of Facebook, but we really do! Joining the MomAdvice Book Club is free and a great opportunity to get motivated to read books that you might normally not have picked up on your own.

I wanted to give this year a try to see how successful it was before doing a proper introduction here. I can honestly say that I have read several books this year that I would not have picked up on my own and had some great discussions about these incredible books.

The way I have the club set up is that we have a volunteer hostess each month who makes our selection and leads our discussion. It gives the book club variety to have such different readers leading with very different tastes in books. The discussion is held on the last week of the month and posted in the group with a thread for each question. You can jump in to answer questions at any time throughout that week, interacting with loads of other fellow bookworms.

How fun is that?

This post will be updated with our monthly selections so you can join in at any time with our group! Feel free to join us and let your friends know about the group too.

The more the merrier!

MomAdvice 2016 Book Club Selections

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

January:

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

February:

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

March:

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

April:

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold

May:

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

June:

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

July:

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

the-girl-in-the-ice

August:

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

September:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach

October (discussion coming soon!):

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

November (discussion coming soon!):

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

December: To Be Announced

MomAdvice 2016 Book Club Selections

Join in on the MomAdvice Book Club HERE! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

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Sundays With Writers: The Orphans Of Race Point by Patry Francis

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Sundays With Writers

I am so excited to be interviewing our next MomAdvice Book Club author today. In case you missed my unofficial announcement on Facebook, I decided to add one more summer selection since I am assuming we will have more time to read in the summer.  The first reason is because I read this book, shut it, and immediately wanted to share it with you. The second reason is because Patry Francis is such an intriguing and inspiring woman that I know you will be just as swept away in her words and life as I was.

The Orphans Of Race Point by Patry Francis

For our July selection for the MomAdvice Book Club, we will be discussing The Orphans Of Race Point.  This book is absolutely stunning from start to finish. It was filled with words that begged to be read again because they felt like poetry to me.  It is a  beautifully woven story with big moral messages about love, forgiveness, and redemption. The plot twists? I never saw them coming, which happens rarely when you are an avid reader like I am. I will say now that you will see this book on my top ten books I read this year list and I have no doubt it will be in your top ten too! 

Set in the close-knit Portuguese community of Provincetown, Massachusetts, The Orphans of Race Point traces the relationship between Hallie Costa and Gus Silva, who meet as children in the wake of a terrible crime that leaves Gus parentless. Their friendship evolves into an enduring and passionate love that will ask more of them than they ever imagined.

On the night of their high school prom, a terrible tragedy devastates their relationship and profoundly alters the course of their lives. And when, a decade later, Gus—now a priest—becomes entangled with a distraught woman named Ava and her daughter Mila, troubled souls who bring back vivid memories of his own damaged past, the unthinkable happens: he is charged with murder. Can Hallie save the man she’s never stopped loving, by not only freeing him from prison but also—finally—the curse of his past?

Told in alternating voices, The Orphans of Race Point illuminates the transformative power of love and the myriad ways we find meaning in our lives.

When I finished the final pages on this book, I contacted Patry to ask if she would participate in a discussion of her book with you and if I could interview her about her life. After doing some research on her, I knew that this is the kind of writer whose backstory was just as fascinating as her book. Patry graciously agreed to talk to me and you this summer! 

Our book club discussion will be held on July 29th so be sure to order a copy of the book or put one on hold at your library. If you are anything like me, you will want this one for your bookshelf because it is a book worth rereading! Let’s dive in and learn more about the author behind this beautiful book! 

Patry Francis

Many moms put on hold their own ambitions to support and raise their families. You are a mom of four that supported them through a waitressing job and used pockets of time to write. What would you tell another mom who has put her dreams on hold to support her family?

My oldest son was born when I was just nineteen so children and the necessity of physically caring for them, learning what they needed most to develop their gifts, helping to support them financially–and just enjoying them– has always been woven into my story. However, writing was also a dream I’d nurtured since childhood, and I always believed that my commitment had to be as big as my dream. Though my priority was my family for many years, there was rarely a day when I didn’t find a stray hour, or even fifteen minutes, to devote to my goal. Since writing usually requires a a long apprenticeship, it’s not something that can be put off till “someday”–at least, not entirely. I was fortunate to have a husband who believed in me and demanded that the family take “Mom’s work” seriously.

Your words in your book, The Orphans of Race Point, read like poetry to me and you have such a beautiful way of weaving words that I found myself repeating the phrases out loud. Do these moments just flow out of you or is this something a writer has to develop and practice to achieve?

First of all, thank you for saying that! I wrote poetry in my early years, partly because I loved reading it, but also because it was easier to complete a draft in an hour, which gave me a sense of accomplishment. With fiction, I began like most writers do, by imitating writers I admired. At the time, I was reading a lot of novels about sophisticated singles living in urban settings. I emulated their style and even their subject matter, even though my own life and preoccupations couldn’t have been more different. It took practice before I trusted myself enough to write about characters who were more like people I knew, and issues that were really important to me. When my own voice finally emerged, it was like finding my wings.

I want to save our discussion of The Orphans of Race Point for this summer’s book club, but I loved the character of Gus, in all of his beauty and brokenness.  How much of your husband’s work as a minister helped to shape the role of Gus in your book? Did he also help you with what he thought Gus might think, feel, or do in those pivotal moments?

I love this question because it allowed me to ponder something I hadn’t previously considered. (My husband,Ted, appreciated it, too! ) Gus, who is the heart of the novel for me, came in the mysterious, almost inexplicable way that the characters who haunt me most appear. The only way I could get to know him was by listening to his voice as I wrote. So in that sense, the answer is no. Neither my husband, nor anyone else could really help me.

However, the subconscious is another matter! In the childhood section of the novel, there is a scene in which Gus deliberately picks the weakest player for his baseball team because he feels the other boy’s shame at always being chosen last. When my husband, who was also very athletic as a kid, came upon that passage, he asked if I knew he had done that, too. I didn’t, but I can’t say it surprised me!

Ted has also done a lot of work in hospitals, and undoubtedly many of his stories about the patients he met, his openness to hearing their stories and offering them comfort helped me to understand Gus’s gift for working with the sick and the reason he found so much satisfaction in it.

I have witnessed the power of community & friendship through online writing and I know you have too. During the publishing of your very first book, you were diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, which should have been a true time of celebration for you and that moment. Your community of writers/bloggers came together (300 of them!) to encourage you and the sale of your book since you were having surgery and recovering during its release. Did that help you gain strength during that time? How are you feeling now?

When I first received my diagnosis, I planned to keep it private. But the connection I felt with my online community was so real and vital that eventually I decided to share my experience and how I was dealing with it on my blog in a post I called “Two Ounces of Bliss”. I knew my online community would be supportive–they always were–but I never could have predicted the incredible outpouring of kindness and generosity I received.  Organized by my friends, Susan Henderson, Amy MacKinnon, Jessica Keener, and Tish Cohen, it swelled to include novelists like Khaled Hosseini and Neil Gaiman, who had never met me, but who took to the internet to promote a fellow writer who couldn’t do it for herself. Though I was pretty sick at the time, it was one of the most extraordinary days of my life, and it still lifts me up whenever I think about it.

I spent the next two years in and out of  hospitals, but I’m currently in good health. If anything positive came from the experience (aside from witnessing the goodness of my communities, both real and virtual) it was that that I no longer take anything for granted.  Whether it’s sharing a cup of tea with a friend, enjoying a family milestone, or bringing the novel I began twelve years ago to readers, I’m keenly aware of how lucky I am to be here.

What is a book other than your own which you would recommend?

It’s hard to choose only one, but Amy Greene’s, LONG MAN has everything I look for in a novel: a compelling protagonist named Annie Clyde who faces impossible odds with great courage and resilience, an engrossing plot, and a setting so vivid, you really feel as if you are there.

 I look forward to discussing The Orphans of Race Point with you in July! A huge thank you to our featured writer, Patry Francis, for sharing her heart this Sunday with us!

 

*This post contains affiliate links! Love our Sundays With Writers series? Check out all of our past interviews!  
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Sundays With Writers: Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Sundays With Writers

Sunday means it is time to soak in the words of another amazing writer and I am particularly enthusiastic about our writer today, Torre DeRoche because Love With a Chance of Drowning has been chosen as our Summer Book Club selection!  Although I am interviewing her today, we will still be doing an additional interview with her where you can ask your own questions and we will dive deeper (pun intended!) into this month’s book. Torre has graciously offered to speak to me twice, once to get you excited about her and this book, and the second time to really discuss what this experience was all about and any questions YOU have.

Here is what you need to know about our discussion and this book.

1. I am moving our MomAdvice Book Club discussion up to June so that we can hopefully squeeze in two books this summer.  Plan on this discussion happening on June 24th!  If you want to submit a question for Torre to me directly, you can email me at amy(at)momadvice(dot)com and I will add it to our list. You can also join our Facebook group and either message me through there or you can wait for the request to go up the week before to list any of your questions. I also recommend subscribing to our newsletter (see that box on the right with my mug shot!?!)

2. You will love this book and you will love the author even more after you read this discussion.

Love With a Chance of Drowning

Here is a book synopsis for what book we will be discussing!  I will reserve my own thoughts for you until our discussion next month! 

Love can make a person do crazy things…

Torre DeRoche is a city girl with a morbid fear of deep water. She is not someone you would ordinarily find adrift in the middle of the stormy Pacific Ocean aboard a leaky sailboat – total crew of two – struggling to keep an old boat, a new relationship and her floundering sanity afloat.

But when she meets Ivan, a handsome Argentinean with a humble sailboat and a dream to set off exploring the world, Torre has a hard decision to face: watch the man she loves sail away forever, or head off on the epic watery journey with him. Suddenly the choice seems simple. She gives up her sophisticated city life, faces her fear of water (and tendency towards seasickness) and joins Ivan on a year-long voyage across the Pacific.

Set against the backdrop of the world’s most beautiful and remote destinations, Love with a Chance of Drowning is a sometimes hilarious, often moving and always breathtakingly brave memoir that proves there are some risks in life worth taking.

An engaging storyteller, Torre is also author of The Fearful Adventurer, a blogsite where she posts honest accounts of her deep fears and daring adventures hoping to inspire others to follow their dreams. Film rights for Love with a Chance of Drowning have been optioned and the script adaptation is currently underway.

Torre DeRoche

Torre is daughter to American parents who moved to Australia before she was born. At age 24, Torre decided to make the most of her dual nationality and leave her safe life in Australia for a year of independent fun in San Francisco. A former Graphic Designer, Torre ran her own business in Melbourne before giving it all up to become a Fearful Adventurer.

When she’s not at home in Melbourne, Australia, DeRoche is at large in the world, exploring, writing, painting pictures, and snapping photos, as she faces her fears one terrified step at a time. Stories of her adventures can be found at the The Fearful Adventurer. You can also follow her on Facebook and her travels on Instagram!

Go ahead and grab your coffee and dive into one of the most interesting interviews I have done on here!

As a blog writer to book writer, I went about things in a roundabout kind of way for securing my book deal. You were a graphic designer, turned self-published author, turned published author through a publishing house, and have also been blogging your journey.  What did you feel that a publishing house offered you beyond what you were able to accomplish through self-publishing?

My publisher gave me an incredible marketing push, placing enormous backlit billboards of my cover in airports around Australia and giving the book prime positioning in various stores. Love with a Chance of Drowning was reviewed in a lot of major publications, and my publicist landed spots for me on primetime radio and television. You’d need to invest some serious cash if you wanted this level of publicity for a self-published book.

As you mentioned, I have a background in design and my sister is a talented editor too, so I have all the tools I need to self-publish. But when you self-publish, you need to wear 1,000 hats and it’s difficult not to burn out. A good publisher will streamline everything for the author so that she’s left with only one job: to write.

With your graphic design background, did you get a say in the final look of the cover of your book?

I have two covers: one that was designed by Penguin Australia and one designed by Hyperion in the US. The designers at Penguin were inspired by an illustration of a map that I created for the middle of the book. They did the cover artwork, but it matched beautifully with my own illustration. Hyperion came up with a different concept and I wasn’t in love with the typography, so I reworked that myself.

This past week we got to talk to John Green about the film adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars which was really interesting to hear the process from book to film. I understand that Love With a Chance of Drowning may be coming to the big screen!  Where are you at in the making of this and do you think you will find this process hard because it is, in fact, your own life story?

I’m so jealous that you got to speak with John Green! I’m a huge fan of his. Love with a Chance of Drowning is currently in script development, and yes, it’s certainly frightening to sign the characterized version of yourself over to filmmakers. It requires a leap of faith to let go and trust that they’ll be respectful of your name, your art, and all the people involved. Admittedly, when I was signing the contract for the option, I paused to question if I really wanted to give someone else the right to butcher my name and art if they so pleased. In the end I thought: You only live once, so why be precious about it.

Let’s just say that you could pick anyone, ANYONE to play you and Ivan. What is your dream casting of this film?

I think Gabriel Garcia Bernal would play Ivan perfectly because they’re both soulful Latin types. Bernal would be great in a role as a man who is fed up with society and longs to escape to wild places. I’d pick Mia Wasikowska for me because she’s an insanely talented Australian actress.

Writing a memoir really puts your life out there for scrutiny and, I would think, a very vulnerable place to be writing from.  Was anyone unhappy with how they were portrayed in the book and did you have any moments that you wished you could include, but guarded because you were protecting people in your life or were worried how they would be perceived?

Strangely, one-dimensional, perfect characters end up being more unlikable on the page than those who have flaws, because readers like real people with dilemmas they can relate to. Flaws endear a character to the reader because they offer a precious gift of insight and therefore an opportunity for learning and growth. That’s powerful.

It’s important to tell warts and all stories for this reason, and it does indeed put me in a tricky position as the writer. I run the risk of damaging a relationship every time I write about someone I know, even when it’s buried in fiction. Writing is an incredibly risky pursuit for this reason and many others, and there is no way around that.

So I write the truth and then, with sweaty hands, I seek approval from the person involved before I publish. If someone hates how I’ve portrayed them on the page, I respect that and find way to work around it. Most often, people have no issues or they want small tweaks. Like, my Grandma asked me to remove the word “affair.” I think I used “fling” instead and she was fine with that. (She told me I could say anything at all after she died, and since she has now passed away I can say: Grandma had an affair.)

One thing you have to overcome in your journey is your fear of deep water. This is truly a fear of my own and I really can’t picture having the bravery to even get on that boat to start this journey.  It seems like you overcame many, many fears though in your book. Now that you have overcome one of your biggest fears, what fears could possibly be left?

I’m still kind of scared of the dark.

I was heartbroken to read that your father recently passed away, as we can read in your book that he is such a special part of your life and offered so much encouragement to you in this journey. The fact that he flew from Australia to spend a week on a sailboat with you speaks volumes. What is one thing you wish you could share with the world about your Dad?

Thank you, I appreciate that. My dad made a career out of scriptwriting, supporting six daughters and my mother with his craft. He was the most successful scriptwriter in Australia and he was always my creative hero. When he came to visit us on the boat in Tonga, he brought along a DVD that he couldn’t wait to show us. It featured unedited footage for a documentary called Not Quite Hollywood, about Australian genre film, including my dad’s. On the DVD, there’s an interview with Quentin Tarantino during which he confesses:  “Almost everything that Everett DeRoche wrote is one of my favorite films.” That’s my dad. I’m so proud of him. I’m sad to have lost him, but he certainly lived a rich life.

Since you have traveled the world, what is one place you wish everyone could travel to in the world and what is one place that was surprisingly amazing just in the little ol’ United States?

As for my favorite place in the United States, I was really taken by Nashville. I had gone in expecting fanny packs, ill-fitting jeans and huge country hairdos, but it was so young and hip and inspiring. My parents immigrated to Australia from the US before I was born, and brought with them several cultural quirks, like country music. I grew up with bluegrass and country, which made me an anomaly in Australia. So I felt kind of at home in Nashville.

And where do I wish everyone would travel to? To the protected world heritage sites so that there can be a broad understanding of what we need to fight for. I recently went to Tasmania and stood in ancient forests that were breathtaking and humbling and throbbing with life. These areas are constantly under threat because the wood there is so valuable. But we let these places get defiled forever because a tiny newspaper headline at the bottom of page 12 that reads Tasmania’s Forests to Undergo Logging means nothing to us.

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be?

I don’t think I can prescribe a cure-all because books are so personal to each individual, but I’ll share with you the most important book I ever read—a book that burst open my imagination and taught me that it’s possible to create an incredible alternate reality on the page.

When I was thirteen, my older sister told me I had to read this book, giving me only the title and a pinch of her fingers to demonstrate its approximate spine width. I went to my school library to look for the book and, having no idea where to start my search, I said to a friend, “I’m looking for a book that’s about this thick.” I extended my finger to poke the spine of a random book. It was Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel: the very book my sister told me I must read. It was a bizarre, serendipitous first encounter. That book rocked my world.

And here’s where it gets really weird: Jean M. Auel’s manuscript was discovered by a New York Literary agent named Jean V. Naggar, and was published in 1980 (the year I was born). Why is this amazing? Because my agent is Elizabeth Evans from the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

I told you, one of the most fascinating authors we have featured here! Let’s give Torre a warm welcome and I hope you will be reading along with us this month and picking up a copy of Love With a Chance of Drowning! I look forward to another discussion with you all!

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MomAdvice Summer Book Club Selection: Love With a Chance of Drowning

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Love With a Chance of Drowning

First, I just want to thank everyone for your feedback today about the MomAdvice Book Club. I hope you didn’t feel like I was coming down too hard about it, but the MomAdvice Book Club was a special project for me this year.  I have spent an unbelievable amount of time investing into reading so many books to find the perfect books, coordinating with publishing houses to get free books to giveaway, gathering questions for authors, and then posting/sharing each discussion. In all honesty, it became a little part-time job for me on top of my full-time job.

I didn’t mind doing it until the discussion and participation dwindled.

Based on your feedback, you are 1) very busy mamas 2) are waiting for library copies 3) didn’t have time to read this year.

Again, I get that! I totally do.

In order to make things more relaxed and fun again, we will be selecting a quarterly selection moving forward. This gives you plenty of time to get books, read them, and have questions for our featured authors. On alternate months, I will just share my book reviews as we have done in the past. 

Love With a Chance of Drowning

This summer we will be reading the AMAZING memoir of Torre DeRoche called, “Love With a Chance of Drowning.” It is our first non-fiction selection and I am so excited to share this book with you because I am enjoying it so much.

Not sure if you can get on board with a non-fiction pick? Just picture me laughing until tears are rolling down my cheeks ever since I picked this book up. Then picture me reading aloud almost the entire book to my husband, while trying to read it to him, still laughing with tears rolling down my cheeks and trying to catch my breath so I can read every word to him. It is that funny and that awesome.

Here is a book synopsis from Amazon…

City girl, Torre DeRoche,  isn’t looking for love, but a chance encounter in a San Francisco bar sparks an instant connection with a soulful Argentinean man who unexpectedly sweeps her off her feet. The problem? He’s just about to cast the dock lines and voyage around the world on his small sailboat, and Torre is terrified of deep water. However, lovesick Torre determines that to keep the man of her dreams, she must embark on the voyage of her nightmares, so she waves good-bye to dry land and braces for a life-changing journey that’s as exhilarating as it is terrifying.

 

Somewhere mid-Pacific, she finds herself battling to keep the old boat, the new relationship, and her floundering sanity afloat. . . .

 

This sometimes hilarious, often harrowing, and always poignant memoir is set against a backdrop of the world’s most beautiful and remote destinations. Equal parts love story and travel memoir, Love with a Chance of Drowning is witty, charming, and proof positive that there are some risks worth taking.

Our discussion for this book will be the last Tuesday in July! I will touch base with you in the upcoming month if I am able to secure a discussion with our author. If not, I still think this is a book that is perfect for your beach bag!

the_bear_claire_cameron_book_cover

In the meantime, this month’s selection, “The Bear,” is a short and powerful novel that I think you will be able to finish in just a couple of short days. It is hard to put down and is an author discussion that I am excited to participate in. I am doubly honored since Claire was featured in a glowing review from People Magazine, that she would take the time to chat with us.

I hope that you can join in and thank you for being candid in your thoughts about what works best for you!

xo,
Amy

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March Book Club Selection: A White Wind Blew by James Markert

Friday, February 28th, 2014

A White Wind Blew by James Markert

As I turned the final pages of, “A White Wind Blew,” I knew immediately that this would be a fantastic book for our book club discussion. The book covers so many issues including religion, racism, prohibition, war, the power of music, friendship, illness, and love.

Markert is a screenwriter and the book reads with the cinematic quality of a beautiful film. He also has a history degree from the University of Louisville and, with this background, it is evident that the details he includes in this book really shine.

Dr. Wolfgang Pike practices at Waverly Hills, a tuberculosis sanitarium in Jefferson County, Kentucky. He is a theological student from Saint Meinrad Abbey and is continuing to study to be a priest while practicing as a doctor at the clinic.  Music and his former love, named Rose, are the center of his life and he still mourns the loss of her daily. He has been working on a requiem for her that he just cannot seem to finish in his evenings, never able to fully bring this piece to a close. During the day though, he visits his patients and uses music therapy to help ease their pain and relax them, despite the belief of his boss that this is a waste of time.

When a former concert pianist checks in, he begins to believe that he will be able to help him finish this requiem to Rose. With his help and an unlikely choir of singers and musicians in the hospital, he begins to see the transformative power of music on these patients and what these times of practice mean to them. Unfortunately, not everyone believes this is a good idea. When Wolfgang finds a musician from the colored hospital to participate, during a time where racism runs rampant, many lives are threatened while unlikely friendships & relationships are formed.

James Markert

James Markert is a debut novelist and screenwriter, which is why his writing feels oh-so-cinematic. James  lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife and two children. He has a history degree from the University of Louisville, where, in his senior year, he was honored as the school’s most outstanding history major. He won an IPPY Award for The Requiem Rose, published by Butler Books.

With Requiem’s local success, James was signed by Writers House Literary Agency in New York, and the book was sold to Sourcebooks, Landmark in January 2012. Rewritten and retitled, it became A White Wind Blew.  James is currently working on his next novel, The Strange Case of Isaac Crawley, a story that takes place in the late nineteenth century and involves the theater scene, a lunatic asylum, and the theatrical version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…and possibly a few gaslights, cobblestones, and an eerie fog.

He runs his own blog called Markert Ink where you can read about some of his thoughts on books and writing. I know you will want to become a fan after you read this one and you can follow James on Twitter!

James Markert has graciously offered three of our readers the chance to win his book. He has also offered to answer your questions, which I could not be more excited about! 

To enter to win a copy of, “A White Wind Blew,” please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below!  Just leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts on our book club and book club selections so far! 

MomAdvice Book Club

Our book club discussion for this novel will take place on March 25th. I will try to collect your questions for the author before that though via our Facebook groupSign up for our newsletter to stay informed and connect with me on GoodReads too!

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February Book Club Discussion With the Author: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

I am so excited to discuss our MomAdvice Book Club pick, A Constellation of a Vital Phenomena with you. I am doubly excited that Anthony Marra has agreed to answer our questions about his astonishing debut novel with you.

With a book of this gravity, it is hard to know where to begin in our discussion. First, I want to thank you all for participating in this month’s selection.  I know that we had two historical fiction books that centered upon wartime topics, but once I began to read this book, I knew from Marra’s beautiful writing that this would be a book worth discussing with you all.

Let’s begin with our cast of characters in this book, as there are many, all of them offering much importance to this storyline and beautifully woven together at the end of our story.

The Cast of Characters

 

Sonja: An amazingly talented doctor who is almost singlehandedly carrying for the wounded at an abandoned hospital. Sonja is consumed with worry and grief over the loss of her sister, Natasha, who has disappeared.

Akmed: The neighbor who discovers Havaa in the woods and offers his services as a doctor in exchange for Havaa’s safety at the hospital. We later learn in the story of why Akmed is so motivated to save Havaa.  Of course, we also soon discover that Akmed is more of a dreamer and artist than a doctor, but he offers his services nonetheless. He is also husband to Ula, who has dementia and is completely reliant on Akmed to care for her.

Havaa: Is the eight-year-old child that is saved by Akmed when her father is taken by the Russian military, leaving her without her father and her home. She has now become the target of the Russian military and Akmed has volunteered to keep her safe. Although Havaa is at the center of our story, her storyline isn’t as deep as many of the other characters. Her suitcase that she carries, however, holds a secret that weave some of our characters together.

Natasha: Sonja’s beautiful younger sister is truly a victim of war.  She becomes a victim of sex-trafficking, a drug addict, and is dealing with PTSD after all she has been through. We follow Natasha through both of her disappearances and discover the outcome of both of those, although Sonja never does.

Khassam: Is a scholarly elder neighbor and friend to Akmed and became one of the most endearing characters to me. Khassam writes a book on Chechnya and its history, yet only gets a fraction of his thousands upon thousands of pages published. He is in a nonexistent relationship with his son because his son has become an informant. His best friends have now become a pack of feral dogs.  While Akmed is at the hospital, he visits Akmed’s wife and shares his life story to the one person who will never remember them, due to her failing mind.

Ramzan: Is Khassam’s son and, perhaps, one of the most complex characters in the book. Ramzan has become an informant after two times of brutal torture.  He is the one who has turned in his friends & neighbors to keep his own safety and protect his father.  He is the boy that never felt loved and is still hated even when he feels he is, “doing the right thing,” for his family.

Dokka: Is Havaa’s father and a good friend of Khassam & Akmed.  Dokka has suffered horrible mutilation when he is tortured during this war.  He is a kind soul that takes in refugees during the war.  He is abducted by Russian soldiers in the opening chapter and accused of aiding Chechen rebels.  He is not a central character to this story, as those above are, but his story does weave into these other six characters in some unexpected ways.

Now that we have all of our characters, let’s delve into this book more!  As a reader, we were able to follow the timeline from 1994-2004 as it moved forwards and backwards through time, taking the reader on a journey of what each of these characters went through during the war and how it had impacted each of them as people.  

In this novel, two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child named Havaa.  Havaa is just eight years old when her neighbor Akhmed finds her hiding in the woods, watching her house burning down. Akhmed knows getting involved means risking his life, but her father is an old friend, and he risks it all deciding to take her to an abandoned hospital where a woman named Sonja Rabina runs a hospital almost single handedly.

Sonja does not love kids…at all. Akhmed convinces her to keep Havaa for a trial, and over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will change in ways she never imagined. The reader is taken on a journey through each of these character’s past on an extraordinary journey of love, loss, and ultimately what it means to be human.

I found myself completely swept away into each of these characters and what they had to overcome.  Although the book was about war and suffering, the book was also all about love and what we do for love.

This entire book was so beautiful that I reread some of the scenes over again. For example, the scenes when Natasha finally has some happiness and purpose when delivering babies in the hospital, brought me a lot of joy as a reader. The scenes when Khassam goes to visit Ula to tell her his secrets because he knows her failing mind will never remember them truly moved me to tears. The beautifully drawn portraits that Akhmed drew that hung in the street deeply moved me as a reader.

Everything about this book seemed to have significance and meaning. In previous interviews, Marra has described how he settled upon, “A Constellation of Phenomena,” as his title.  In an interview he states, “One day I looked up the definition of life in a medical dictionary and found a surprisingly poetic entry: “A constellation of vital phenomena—organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaptation.” As biological life is structured as a constellation of six phenomena, the narrative life of this novel is structured as a constellation of six point-of-view characters.”

The reader quickly realizes that every word is precious and every sequence of events will later have meaning and be woven together. Marra frequently writes of what we can expect to come from these characters and even clues us in on their longevity through an omniscient voice that help us sometimes know whether we should get too attached or worried about the next scenes outcome.

When Marra brings it all together, it is beautiful and surprisingly hopeful, especially when we learn of the fate of the beautiful Havva.

MomAdvice Book Club

I am so honored that Anthony Marra has agreed to speak with us today, to share more about this amazing book. You can become a fan of Anthony Marra on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

Anthony Marra is the winner of a Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize, The Atlantic‘s Student Writing Contest, and the Narrative Prize, and his work has been anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently a Jones Lecturer in Fiction at Stanford University. His first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, was published in May 2013 and will be translated into over a dozen languages.

In short, he is a big deal, and he is talking with us today! 

Anthony Marra

Questions for Anthony Marra

I understand that this novel began as a short story called, “Chechyna.”  At what point did you feel that this short story was actually a novel and what did a process like this entail for you as a writer?

Nearly as soon as I finished the short story, I realized that the characters, their pasts and futures, stretched much farther than a twenty-five page piece of short fiction could contain. In the short story, I’d only just crossed the border into a land that fascinated, perplexed, and moved me. The next several years were my attempts to explore that land more deeply and draw a map of what I had found.

Many times as a reader we are clued in on the fates of these characters, even during pivotal scenes, which is a rarity as a reader. Was this style of omniscient narrating difficult to flesh out since you had to know how these characters stories would develop?

My writing process is largely based on retyping. As soon as I finished the first draft of Constellation, I printed it out, dropped it in front of my keyboard, and retyped the book from the first word on, and did this a number of times until I had a final draft. I find this useful for a few reasons. First, it forces you to go through the book at a glacial pace, meaning you end up noticing both the inconsistencies and the small resonances you might miss if you were moving through the book at a rate of more than a page an hour. Second, it tricks your mind into returning to the same creative well from which the sentences first emerged, letting the language change organically from the inside out, rather than through the transposition of red-pen edits. Third, and most important, you begin to see the scene both as you write it, and through your earlier imaginings. There was a David Hockney exhibition here in San Francisco a few months back, and there were entire walls of the same landscape painted again and again, in different seasons and different mediums. One of the placards said that Hockney believes he sees the landscape more clearly the more times he paints it, because he’s seeing it not only through his eyes, but through his memory.

I had a similar experience writing this book. Up until the fourth retyping of it, the novel was told in a very limited third person perspective. The reader never knew or saw beyond a single character per chapter. But the fourth time through, I felt like I knew the scenes so well that my eye began to wander away from the main characters to minor characters I hadn’t paid much attention to before. In a sentence I projected the future of a character who only appears in the book for the space of a paragraph. It felt like a big bang right in the middle of the book. Suddenly the story seemed like it could be much larger, more inclusive, really trying to wrap the covers around as much of this world as it could encompass. And I realized that I wanted to tell a story in which there were no minor characters. Just about every character, no matter how minor, gets their sentence in the spotlight.

The weaving and gathering of six characters together really brought these stories together for me as a reader.  How hard was it to pull these six characters together for you as a writer? Did you always know how they would interweave?

I knew from the beginning that if I was going to write about the Chechen conflict, it couldn’t be a novel with a traditional beginning, middle, and end. Violence has broken these characters sense of time and narrative. Yet they’re all trying to piece their lives together, to recover what’s been lost, and while they often don’t succeed, by attempting to rescue their past they instead create new and unexpectedly meaningful present. I wanted the novel to embody at a structural level this central act of its characters, mending their individual stories into a communal whole.

While writing the first draft, I had a final page in mind that I was writing toward. Even though I ultimately decided to go with a different ending, it gave me a destination, a concrete point in the future of the novel that I had to get to, even if I didn’t really know the way. Sometimes I knew characters would interweave fifty pages in advance, other times it wasn’t until I was in the midst of writing a scene. A novel contains not only a writer’s thoughts, to paraphrase Marilynne Robinson, but also a pretty good blueprint for how a writer thinks. As a writer, I tend to find myself tuning into the echoes trapped between narratives, and using those echoes as the connective tissue to build the kind of mega-story made up of many small stories that feels a lot like life as I experience it.

Natasha and Ramzan both find themselves as prisoners a second time. When faced with the reoccurrence of this, Natasha sacrifices herself while Ramzan sacrifices those around him to save himself.  Were you able to sympathize with both of these characters and why they made the choices they did?

That’s a great question, and yes, I found both characters very sympathetic. Ramzan, the ostensible villain of the book, probably has more of my empathy than any other character. He’s more or less an average person placed in very difficult conditions. A place like Chechnya in this time period magnifies moral choice. Because the stakes are so high, the smallest betrayal can lead to tragic consequences. Were Ramzan to live in America, his ethical failures would probably result in nothing more calamitous than, say, lying on his CV. So I felt it was important to portray his experience without any kind of authorial judgment. The ability to recognize ourselves in a character like Ramzan makes his betrayals all the more harrowing.

Natasha, when confronted with different but no less difficult choices, decides to resist because she reaches a point at which she values her dignity more than she values her survival. If placed in those circumstance, I think we’d all like to believe we’d have her courage. More likely, we’d have his fear.

What do you have in store for us with your next book?

Well, I’d initially thought I’d packed my bags and head to warmer climes after Constellation. Instead, I ended up in the Arctic Circle, working on a book that revolves around a 19th-century landscape painting, and the lives of those who alter, repaint, buy, lose, receive, and restore the painting, along with those who live and die on the plot of land it portrays.

Thank you to Anthony Marra for joining us today in our book club discussion. Isn’t he amazing? I was so honored that he took our questions on his book!

 

What did you think of The Constellation of Vital Phenomena? Did you like the omniscient narrative in this one? Which storyline moved you the most?  Share your thoughts on our  book club pick below and offer recommendations for what you might like to see on our list in the upcoming year!

 

Our next book club pick will be announced on February 28th- stay tuned! In the meantime, catch up on what is happening this year and explore our past book club selections here!

This post does contain affiliate links! 

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February Book Club Selection: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (GIVEAWAY!)

Friday, January 31st, 2014

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

I am so excited to share with you our next book club selection for the month of February. The book for this month is, “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena,” by Anthony Marra.

My intention this month was to step away from historical fiction and read a lighter book. I proceeded to read five good books, not *the* book. When I picked up A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, it hooked me within it’s opening sentences.

“On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones. While the girl dressed, Akhmed, who hadn’t slept at all, paced outside the bedroom door, watching the sky brighten on the other side of the window glass; the rising sun had never before made him feel late. When she emerged from the bedroom, looking older than her eight years, he took her suitcase and she followed him out the front door. He had led the girl to the middle of the street before he raised his eyes to what had been her house. ‘Havaa, we should go,’ he said, but neither moved.”

Just as, “The Paris Architect,” moved me to tears, this book is one of the best books I have ever read and brings to life a country and time of war that I was completely unfamiliar with.

In this novel, two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child named Havaa.  Havaa is just eight years old when her neighbor Akhmed finds her hiding in the woods, watching her house burning down. Akhmed knows getting involved means risking his life, but her father is an old friend, and he risks it all deciding to take her to an abandoned hospital where a woman named Sonja Rabina runs a hospital almost single handedly.

Sonja does not love kids…at all. Akhmed convinces her to keep Havaa for a trial, and over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will change in ways she never imagined. The reader is taken on a journey through each of these character’s past on an extraordinary journey of love, loss, and ultimately what it means to be human.

Again, because we are dealing with a wartime topic, there is a lot of graphic violence, gory medical scenes, and violence in this book. One torture scene in particular is difficult to read (but can be skimmed over).  It is a necessary part of the book though to truly capture what is happening to the Chechens.

For me, it took a little bit to really get into the meat of the story, mainly because of my own lack of education of what had happened in this country. If you struggle in the beginning, I encourage you to keep pushing on. This book is one of the most accomplished books I have ever read. It reads like poetry, the narrative is so unique, you will connect with every character in some way, there are moments of unexpected humor, and there is beauty in the pulling & weaving of these characters together.

Anthony Marra

The author, Anthony Marra,  is the winner of a Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize, The Atlantic’s Student Writing Contest, and the Narrative Prize, and his work was anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He has lived and studied in Eastern Europe, and now resides in Oakland, CA.

I know you will want to become a fan after you read this one!

Anthony has graciously offered three of our readers the chance to win his book. He has also offered to answer your questions, which I could not be more excited about! 

To enter to win a copy of, “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena,”  please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below!  

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Our book club discussion for this novel will take place on February 25th. I will try to collect your questions for the author before that though via our Facebook groupSign up for our newsletter to stay informed and connect with me on GoodReads too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This post contains affiliate links.

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