Book Club Beat - Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth

Welcome to Book Club Beat, where book clubs share about their discussions. Today I have a special guest, Nora St. Laurent. In addition to running two "live" book clubs, Nora also coordinates the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) on-line book club, plus The Book Club Network, an on-line community for book club leaders, book club members, and authors (http://www.bookfun.org/).

Welcome, Nora! Please tell us about your book club meeting.

Book club name and/or location:

The name of my book club is Finding Hope Book Club. I run two book clubs that meet inside the Christian store I work at in Atlanta, Georgia. One meets on the fourth Monday and the other meets the fourth Tuesday of the month. We meet from 7-9 pm in the back of the store.

When authors speak live at the store, I combine the clubs and meet on Monday night so everyone can meet the author.

Title and Author: Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth.

What It's About:

When Riley Sinclair stepped into her new job as director of guest relations at a posh resort on Paradise Island, she felt the final pieces of her once-broken life coming together. But the waters become choppy when Riley discovers that some who come to the Atlantis Hotel are accompanied by paralyzing secrets and overwhelming fears. Riley and three guests are in desperate but unknowing need of each other, eventually forging unlikely yet powerful friendships. With a hurricane headed straight for the island, together they embark on a journey of laughter, heartache, and healing.

Were discussion questions available? Were they helpful?

I did use several discussion questions in the back of the book. Denise has twelve of them with a variety of topics. They were very good questions.

Since my book club meets in the middle of a book store, I try not to talk about really personal things but talk about the characters. Most of Denise’s questions stuck to the characters and the story so I used many of them.

Just as I was about to start the meeting, I noticed Denise Hildreth walk through the front door. I had asked her to be there at 7:30 pm to give us time to talk about the book before she arrived. Denise sat down among the ladies and asked if it was okay for her to listen. I wasn’t going to say no but I became self conscious. Even though this was my second time meeting Denise, I still felt uneasy sharing the few personal things I was going to share with the group. I fumbled through what I was going to say and asked discussion questions of my group. My ladies responded like Denise had been a book club member all along.

What we liked about the book:

I have a variety of age groups in both book clubs, from teens to grandmothers, so we enjoyed the diversity of ladies in the story. Denise has several quirky characters who wouldn’t have met if they weren’t stuck at Paradise Hotel during a hurricane. We loved how the characters responded to each other.

Anything we would change about the book?

Yes, several of my ladies and I felt one of the characters did not have to die. I won’t name names. But we were all heartbroken.

Fun connections (did the story inspire food, decorations, favors, service projects, etc.? Did you have an author visit or phone call?):

We had a visit by author Denise Hildreth. After the discussion, Denise got up to speak. I saw tears in her eyes. She was touched by what the ladies shared. Denise had never planned on being a writer. She wanted to be a singer but she was obedient to the call. She said, “God doesn’t need me to get His message across to His people. I’m humbled that He has used me in a small way to touch your lives.”

She spoke to the group about her testimony and what had happened in her life since the last time we met. It was powerful. She was so transparent and honest! I love that about her.

Deep connections (this story made us think about the following discussion topics):

This book was a big hit with my members. We needed more than thirty minutes to discuss this book.

I loved what Denise said in the book about her characters and their struggles. “These women face real-life struggles. Real-life heartache that many of us face every day…this is a story about learning to live. My hope is that as you close the pages, you will be more aware of what real living is all about, more aware that inside your soul is the ability to survive even the toughest storms.”

I couldn’t agree with her more. Denise’s book touched my heart and soul. I enjoyed these ladies. I laughed. I was surprised at what the characters shared, and my spirit was moved as they faced their fears. Finding Hope Book Club LOVED this book!

Do you recommend this book for other book clubs?

Yes, I highly recommend this book for a book club discussion.

Thanks, Nora, for sharing about your book club meeting with us! Sounds like a lot of fun.

If you belong to a book club and would like your group to be featured on this blog, let me know! Pictures of the book club can be included if you'd like. Christian or "clean secular" fiction/nonfiction only please. The questionnaire is short, and I'll obtain the book cover and story blurb.

If you're looking for a book club, check out the Book Club Network at http://www.bookfun.org/ , an on-line meeting place for Christian book club members and authors. Over 800 members and it's only a few months old! Join the fun!

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