Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Review: Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg


Title:  Practicing Normal
Author: Cara Sue Achterberg
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Genre: Woman’s Fiction
Publisher: Story Plant (June 6, 2017)
Length: 336
Source: Providence Book Promotions



About the Book:

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.

Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.

untitled Author Bio:

Cara Sue Achterberg is a writer and blogger who lives in New Freedom, PA with her family and an embarrassing number of animals. Her first novel, I’m Not Her, was a national bestseller, as was her second, Girls’ Weekend. Cara’s nonfiction book, Live Intentionally, is a guide to the organic life filled with ideas, recipes, and inspiration for liv- ing a more intentional life. Cara is a prolific blogger, occasional cowgirl, and busy mom whose essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, magazines, and websites. Links to her blogs, news about upcoming publications, and pictures of her foster dogs can be found at


My Review:  4/5 Rating – Practicing Normal, don’t we all do that?  Going through life doing the best we can and telling ourselves it is alright.  Kate wants to believe her marriage to Everett is good, though in the back of her mind are those thoughts that contradict that belief.  Teenage years are hard, Jenna is only going through “typical” teenage stage of life.   As with many families, mine included, add the caring for an aging parent while raising your own children and you are just trying to make it through the day.   Kate’s life is busy from morning to night caring for her family.  As we all know, life isn’t always what it seems or what we want to believe it is.   Kate gets a wake up call that is hard to deny, which changes the course of her family and life.  

Cara Sue Achterberg skillfully intertwines into Practicing Normal, the story of a father who abandoned his family and all the emotions associated with the discovery of that story.  In addition the author addresses, very well I might add, the struggles of raising a child on the spectrum in combination with caring for an aging parent.  This really resonated with me as this is an actual struggle in my own life. Cara Sue Achterberg captures the emotions is such a real way, that really touched me. 

Cara Sue Achterberg does a remarkable job with character development.  Each character is well defined and you feel a real connection with them. I felt a real connect with Kate as well as her mother.  The secondary characters such as Cassie (hospice nurse) and the retired Doctor are also so well developed and play an important part in the story.   Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg is told from three perspectives, Kate (mom and wife of Everett), Jenna (daughter) and Everett.   I liked this as each perspective was different and helped you to understand that character better, as well as the dynamics between the main characters.  

I found myself sitting down on Sunday morning meaning to read for an hour, only to get up 4 hours later having finished the book.  I found myself immersed in the lives of Kate and her family and just lost track of time.  I have never really had an opinion on a title of a book, but Practicing Normal is the perfect title!! 

Practicing Normal is a authentic portrayal of the complex lives many of us lead and the desire to hold it all together and be perceived as normal.   If you enjoy stories of family dynamics, Practicing Normal will not disappoint.  I think you will enjoy spending a Sunday afternoon with the Turner family as I didl!

Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg is currently only $1.99 in the kindle format and free with kindle unlimited – don’t miss out on this great read! 

Click here to view the Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg Book Tour Participants
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Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg was received from  Providence Book Promotions in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Coming Soon to a Bookshelf Near You: July 2017

Book Shelf

Loving this warm weather!   I can’t believe it is July already.   Summers in Minnesota go by so quickly.   We were pretty busy in June with starting a remodel project and work projects.  I read only a couple of books in June.  I am walking again each evening, which has me listening to more audiobooks. 

Currently Reading:  To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son and the Kindness of Machines by Judith Newman (available in stores, August 2017)


Currently Listening:  The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers


To help with your July reading,  I thought I would share some books that have caught my eye.   These books will be available in July.  If you like, maybe even get on the waitlist at the library for these upcoming titles.  As a book blogger, I am able to request, read and provide feedback on upcoming titles.   I love being able to do this, but some months my ambitions are larger than what time allows.  I still have a full time job which interferes regularly with my reading/blogging schedule.  So I decided to share with you some upcoming releases that have caught my eye.    I would hate for you to miss an upcoming title due to my lack of time!!

Here are some books which will be available in bookstores in July 2017, that caught my eye!


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Happy Reading!

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