Sunday, September 3, 2017

My Book Club with Cara Sue Achterberg of Practicing Normal + #Giveaway

Let me tell you about my book club. We read between the wines, too. In fact, a lot of nights we just drink the wine. And yet, our love of reading is what’s brought us together for over a dozen years now.
The hostess gets to pick the book. We only get one pick a year, so most of us obsess a bit about it. I’ve picked more duds than winners in the past, but I’ve discovered that sometimes when we there’s mixed reviews on a book we have a better discussion than when everyone loves it!

At our meetings, the hostess also provides the wine. Everybody else brings food – many times it’s something decadent or something they could never cook at home because their kids (or husbands) would never eat it.

Some nights we get talking and never quite make it to the book at all. So maybe the discussion isn’t what makes or breaks a book club. Maybe there’s more to it that simply talking about a book. But it’s not like my husband assumes—we are not a wine club that reads.

What I love about being in book club is every time I open that month’s book, I imagine the rest of the members reading the book. I wonder what they think. At this point, after so long together, I can usually guess what some will say. I have some idea who will love it and who won’t finish it. But then again, sometimes they surprise me.

Last month, when the hostess picked my latest novel, I was oddly nervous about attending book club. I’d refused to allow them to pick my previous novel for book club because I thought it put undue pressure on them (and their judgment scared the bejesus out of me). This time in a moment of weakness, I relented, but as the days passed and I knew they were all reading my book, I grew anxious. What if they didn’t like my book? Would I sit there, awkwardly trying not to make eye contact and drinking too much wine to distract myself?

These women are important to me. I love them. They love me. But I also know they are honest. They don’t candy-coat their opinion. If they didn’t love my book, they would certainly say so. My latest novel has at least one character who is easy to hate. It skates carefully around the assumption that any of our lives are normal and takes a few glancing blows at the hypocrisy of the neighborhoods most of the book club’s members live in.

My nerves were for naught, because the ladies loved the book. I was humbled and happy and drove home replaying their thoughts in my mind, tickled that they loved my characters as much as I did, thrilled the story had resonated in their hearts. The title had even become a catch phrase – when one of the members texted me to say she wouldn’t be there, she told me all the reasons and then said, “You know, I’m just practicing normal.”

It’s my turn to host tomorrow so I’m cleaning my house for the first time in months and already have plenty of wine chilling. Since I didn’t write this month’s book, I’m not nervous at all.

If you’re looking for your next book club pick, here’s my recommendation (and a nice, complicated red wine would probably go best with it) : Practicing Normal

32565146Practicing Normal
by Cara Sue Achterberg 
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Story Plant
ISBN 1611882443
The houses in Pine Estates are beautiful McMansions filled with high-achieving parents, children on the fast track to top colleges, all of the comforts of modern living, and the best security systems money can buy. Welcome to normal upper-middle-class suburbia.

The Turners know in their hearts that they're anything but normal. Jenna is a high-schooler dressed in black who is fascinated with breaking into her neighbors' homes, security systems be damned. Everett genuinely believes he loves his wife . . . he just loves having a continuing stream of mistresses more. JT is a genius kid with Asperger's who moves from one obsession to the next. And Kate tries to manage her family, manage her mother (who lives down the street), and avoid wondering why her life is passing her by.

And now everything is changing for them. Jenna suddenly finds herself in a boy-next-door romance she never could have predicted. Everett's secrets are beginning to unravel on him. JT is getting his first taste of success at navigating the world. And Kate is facing truths about her husband, her mother, and her father that she might have preferred not to face.

Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners. That's what happens when you're practicing normal.

Author Bio:
Cara Sue Achterberg is a novelist, blogger, and rescue dog foster mom who lives on a hillside farm in south central, Pennsylvania with her family and far too many animals. Practicing Normal is her third novel. For more information, blog links, and plenty of puppy pictures, visit

The author is offering one copy of this book, E-book or paperback - winner's choice, to one reader today. To enter, just fill out the rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. I do not belong to a book club but I would definitely join one


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