Book Club Discussion Questions

Silent Survivor

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1. Silent Survivor deals with the consequences of PTSD in our veterans. Many of the stories presented in Mackenzie’s fictional blog were taken from actual veterans’ recounting of their experiences. Were you aware of the epidemic of suicide among veterans? Of sexual assault in the military?  

2. Compare and contrast Mackenzie’s response to her sexual assault in the military versus Maura’s sexual assault on her college campus? What do you think of the #MeToo movement?  How do you feel that sexual assault be addressed? 

3. Sam Cantori made a deal with the Assistant DA to end the rape investigation in an attempt to get this brother Jake admitted to the VA. What are your thoughts about this? 

4. Viv Wallach claims to be an “ethical” – white-hat-hacker. How do you feel about her hacking in the novel?

5. While Flometoquine is a made-up drug, there is a malaria drug developed by the Army that is known to have serious neurological side effects. It is still on the CDC’s recommended list for malaria prophylaxis. What are your thoughts about medications and vaccines and their risks and benefits?

6.  Detectives and police in many fiction stories take the law into their own hands, often for a good cause.  What is your perspective on "going rogue" or vigilantism?

7.  The military draft ended in 1973.  Do you think it should be reinstated?  Do you think women should be subject to the draft?  Should Selective Service be closed instead?  Why or why not?

8. Think about the writing style. Does it fit a particular genre? (Romance, mystery, thriller, political, medical, etc) Compare Silent Survivor's style to the writing style of other books that you have read. 

9. What kind of mood did the book evoke in you? How did the author achieve this?   


Deep Waters

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1.  There are several themes in Deep Waters.  Can you identify them?  What is the author trying to say about them?  What is the author's overall message?

2.  Sammy has experienced a relationship change, and decides to go on vacation to recover.  Have you made a similar choice in your life?  How did it work out for you?

3.  Sammy is not certain about the level of commitment she wishes to make at this time about her future and family.  Were there times in your life that you made major choices that you can share?  Are you happy with your life choices or do you have any regrets?

4.  Gus Pappajohn has his younger family close by again, but his late wife Effie remains a missing piece of his heart.  Starting over can be difficult.  Do you have any stories to share about "moving on"?

5.  Rearing tweens and teens like Maria in can be a challenge in many cultures.  What are some of the challenges you have faced with children and grandchildren?

6.  Tasos mentions the Greek Civil War from 1945-1949.  How much did you know about this conflict before reading Deep Waters? What are your thoughts about this event and its impact on Greece and beyond?

7.  Gus mentions the "Catastrophe" of 1922 in Anatolia.  What was this event, and what impact did it have on the region, especially upon Greeks, Turks, Armenians, and the cities of Constantinople and Smyrna?  

8.  Sammy visits the "exile island' of Makronissos.  What groups have been exiled and when?  What are your thoughts about these detention camps?

9.  Mount Athos is a peninsula that hosts a number of Orthodox Christian monasteries.  It is closed to women, but Sammy is unfazed.  Do you think she made the right decision?  What are your thoughts about gender differentiation in some religions?

10.  Do you believe that celebrating ancient history insults or endangers modern faith?

11.  Can one be a good person and not be religious?


Rabbit in the Moon

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1.  There are several themes in Rabbit in the Moon. Can you name them? What is the author trying to say? What is the book's overall message?

2. Compare and contrast Lili's cultural upbringing and worldview as an American-born Chinese versus that of Chi-Wen who was born in mainland China. How do these differences influence their reactions to the events in the novel?

3.Think about the emotional and psychological journeys of both of these main characters. How is each different at the end versus the beginning of the story? 

4. If you are first-generation American-born, what difficulties if any did you face growing up? Could you relate to Lili's sense of being "different"?

5. Did you feel that using the backdrop of China in 1989 during the rise and fall of the Student Democracy Movement added or detracted from the story? How much did you know about these events prior to reading Rabbit in the Moon?

6. Were you aware of the events surrounding the Cultural Revolution prior to reading the book? How did the Cultural Revolution affect the character of Chi-Wen - especially in terms of how he reacted to the events of 1989?

7. Another theme in the novel is the issue of longevity. Ni-Fu Cheng discovers the secret of shou that will prolong life for perhaps as long as 150 years. At some point in the novel he begins to feel that the world may not be ready for this discovery. Lili argues that you can't stop scientific progress. What do you think? What are the possible positive and negative ramifications of such a breakthrough?

8. After you finish the novel, re-read the first page or two. Then re-read the last page. Can you discover anything interesting or thematic?

9. How did you expect the story to end? Were you satisfied with the ending? How would you re-write the ending to change the book's message?

10. What kind of mood did the book evoke in you? How did the authors achieve this?

Dead Air

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1.  What are some of the modern ethical issues touched on in Dead Air?   What is the book's overall message?

2. Dead Air introduces Sammy Greene. How do the losses she experienced as a child influence her character and choices?

3. What did you think about Sammy's determination? Does that help or hinder her as a reporter and amateur sleuth?

4.  College is a time to venture beyond traditional boundaries and seek new horizons.  Sammy has chosen to venture far from home.  What are some of the challenges she faces?  How does she honor and acknowledge her roots in a diverse environment?

5. Dead Air also introduces Gus Pappajohn. Pappajohn didn't really have a relationship with his own daughter. Do you think this shapes his relationship with Sammy?

6. How do you feel about pharmaceutical companies testing on animals and humans? If you are against it, what do you think is a better way to develop new products that are made to help us?

7. Do you listen to talk radio?  How does it or has it influenced you?  Should radio be focused on entertainment, news, or opinion--or all of the above?

8. The issue of suicides among college students is discussed in Dead Air. What are the symptoms that someone may need help?  Do you know how and where to refer them for help?

9. How did you expect the story to end? Were you satisfied with the ending? How would you re-write the ending to change the book's message?

10. What kind of mood did the book evoke in you? How did the authors achieve this?

11. Think about the writing style. Does it fit a particular genre? (Romance, mystery, thriller, historical novel, etc) Compare this book to the writing styles of other books that you have read.

12.  Funding for research and education has become much more challenging, especially as public-private partnerships are becoming more common, What are some of the benefits of these collaborations, and some of the risks?

13.  Sammy's focus tends to be "work first, relationships second".  How do you feel about her choices in today's "post-feminist" world?

Devil Wind

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1. What are some of the political and social issues touched on in Devil Wind? What is the book's overall message?

2. Devil Wind is the second in the Sammy Greene series. How has Sammy’s character evolved as she leaves college and deals with the “real world”?  Sammy's focus still tends to be "work first, relationships second". How do you feel about her choices?

3. Father-daughter relationships are often tricky. Gus Pappajohn returns in Devil Wind to face his damaged relationship with his daughter, Ana. How does this compare to how Sammy deals with her estrangement from her own father. 

4. Los Angeles is known as the city of second chances and is very much a "character" in Devil Wind. How does it influence the plot?

5. How does the backdrop of the Santa Ana "devil wind” affect the mood and pacing of this novel?

6. Devil Wind takes place just before Y2K (2000) when many people thought the world would come to an end. Do you remember how you felt then?

7. Devil Wind also deals with an upcoming presidential election and how fear can be injected into a campaign. How do you feel about that?

8. Do you Iisten to talk radio? How does it or has it influenced you? Should radio be focused on entertainment news or opinion - or all of the above?

9. In Devil Wind, a large media conglomerate threatens to take over Sammy’s small radio station. Democratic societies rely on diversity of viewpoints and ideas. This is particularly important during an era in which people all over the world are getting more of their information from mass media which are becoming more polarized and under the control of a handful of giant corporations. How do you feel about this? 

10. Courtney Phillips is a celebrity very much like Britney Spears or Lindsey Lohan. Discuss how the notion of celebrity has changed in the past 20 or 30 years?

11.  Some of the young characters in Devil Wind get into trouble using drugs. What is the impact of drug use and drug addiction on our population? Do you have any stories to share about drug issues?

Tasty Treats/Good Imagination

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1.  Did you try any of the Tasty Treats recipes?  Were they delicious?

2.  Do you have any special family recipes that you'd like to share?  Which are your favorites?

3.  What types of cuisine do you most enjoy?  Your favorite dishes?  Your favorite local restaurants?

4.  In A Good Imagination, Sammy goes above and beyond to help find and rescue a missing 6-year-old boy?  Have you ever been asked to take a risk to help or save someone else?

5.  No matter how carefully they're watched, children sometimes manage to get lost and parents and caregivers are terrified.  Do you have a story to share about care-giving and its challenges?

6.  Jim Lodge is Sammy's engineer and producer at her LA radio station, and is a font of knowledge about conspiracy theories.  He's told Sammy about the popular conspiracy theory that there is a secret base under the new Denver airport--but she's loath to buy in.  How do you feel about conspiracy theories?

7. Dr. Reed Wyndham, Sammy's boyfriend, reveals that he's a pilot.  Have you ever flown a private plane?  Or flown in one?  Would you like to share your thoughts and experiences?  Would you want to learn to pilot a plane, either virtually or in reality?  Have you ever been skydiving?

8.  Do you enjoy learning about other cultures?  Traveling?  Learning a new language?  Share some of the cross-cultural experiences you have had.