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Discussion Questions for the What Doesn’t Kill You romantic mystery series

Saving Grace (#1) Discussion Questions (SPOILER ALERT)

1. In the first third of the book, how did Katie’s behavior make you feel? Did her struggles with alcohol make her seem weak? What did you think was at the heart of her meltdown?

2. Katie says she’s going to St. Marcos to find out what happened to her parents and to stop drinking. Do you think these were her real reasons or the only reasons? Were you able to relate to her desire to run away from her problems?

3. What parallels and what dichotomies did you see between life in the islands and life in “civilization?”

4. What role did Zane McMillan and his disastrous trial play in Katie’s development? In her defense of Ava?

5. Compare Katie’s friendships with Ava, Emily, and Rashidi. Why do you think she develops relationships with each of them? Does she trust them? Should she?

6. Was it believable to you that Katie’s parents were killed because they had recognized Gregory and Lisa? Was it plausible that the sole investigator on the island was in Gregory’s pocket?

7. Did you develop any theories about who or what Annalise is? Who is she to Katie?

8. What do you think the author was trying to say about women in Saving Grace?

9. Did Katie have to let Nick go, in the end? How did her new relationship with Bart work for you?

10. Why do you think Katie buried her mother’s ring, and did you agree with her decision? What importance does her family play in her life?

***

Leaving Annalise (#2) Discussion Questions (SPOILER ALERT)

1.  How did you feel about Nick showing up on Marcos? About Emily giving him Katie’s new phone number? About Ava’s interactions with Bart, Nick, and Katie? About Katie’s reactions and decisions about Nick?

2. What were your thoughts about Bart’s behavior? About the death of his kitchen manager? About Jacoby’s interaction with Katie?

3. How did Slither and Trevor affect the dynamic between Katie and Ava? How did you feel about how Katie and Ava ultimately treated each other? What did this say about the nature of friendship to you?

4. What evolution do you see in Leaving Annalise in Katie’s relationship with Annalise? With herself?

5. What did you think about Katie’s reaction to Nick? To Taylor? To Crazy’s stroke? To Rashidi’s guidance?

6. Did Katie’s reaction to Dorothy’s death upset you? How did you feel about the competing expectations of Nick and Katie regarding Taylor and their life together?

7. Was it plausible to you that Katie has the strength to move into Annalise and live there alone? How did you feel about Tituba, and Katie as the Empress? Were you able to accept Katie’s reasons for returning from Corpus Christi to Annalise? For leaving Annalise with Nick after the hurricane?

8. Did you find the actions of Junior and Pumpy plausible? Did the resolution of “my treasures” work for you?

9. How did the hurricane and Jacoby’s death impact you? Katie’s commitment to his grandmother? Were you able to “buy” the drug smuggling connection to Fortuna’s, the sea bass, and Bart? The rehab tie between Derek, Bart, Trevor, and Slither? Katie’s stand against Derek at Annalise and in Port Aransas? Nick and Katie’s final interactions in Port Aransas and Corpus Christi?

10. What do you think the author was trying to say about women and family in Leaving Annalise?

***

Finding Harmony (#3) Discussion Questions (SPOILER ALERT)

1.  How does motherhood seemed to have impacted Katie’s sense of self? Of her relationship with her husband?

2. What was your reaction to Katie’s behavior and state of mind in the days leading up to Nick’s disappearance?

3. How did you feel about Nick’s communication (or lack thereof) with Katie? How she handled it, before his disappearance and after he was rescued? When they returned to Annalise? Did you feel they ended up in a realistic place by the end of the book?

4. What evolution do you see in Finding Harmony in Katie’s relationship with Annalise? With herself? How did you feel about the revelations about Annalise and Uxolo?

5. What did you think about Katie’s reaction to Tutein? To the crazy old man claiming slave remains lay beneath Annalise? To Jiménez? Did you trust Ramirez and Marrero?

6. How did you feel about the evolution of Katie’s relationship with Ava?

7. Was it plausible to you that Katie and Kurt took on the investigation into Nick’s disappearance themselves? The entrance of Collin (and his new squeeze!)? Julie’s help? Dan-Dan’s role?

8. Did you find the actions of Tutein plausible? The reappearance of Pumpy?

9. How did the death of the PetroMex employee’s death impact you? The Dominican cafeteria busboy? Were you able to “buy” the cartel connection to PetroMex? To Tutein? The terrorist threat to the refinery? The diversion?

10. What do you think the author was trying to say about women, life, and family in Finding Harmony?

***

Going for Kona (#4) Discussion Questions (SPOILER ALERT)

1. In the first third of the book, how did Michele’s reactions to Adrian’s death and the pressures in her life make you feel? Did her struggles trust make her seem weak? What did you think was behind her issues with Rhonda?

2. Did Michele and Adrian have a believable relationship that you could relate to? What challenges did Michele face with respect to her relationships, both personal and professional?

3. What parallels and what dichotomies did you see between Michele’s relationship with Sam and Belle and her own parents?

4. What impact did Scarlet and Brian have on Michele’s trust issues? The media in general? The police?

5. Were Stephanie’s actions surprising, toward Adrian? Michele? Sam?

6. What do you think Adrian meant in Sam’s room when he told Michele it wasn’t over?

7. In what ways was Michele similar to her alter ego Itzpapolotl? When and where did “Itzpa” exert an influence, and why?

8. Was Michele really a triathlete? Do you believe she ever did another Ironman after Hawaii?

9. Analyze Michele’s meltdown on the course: factors leading up to it, the Itzpa influence, her course angel, her kids?

10. How did you feel about the ending? Explain.

***

Heaven to Betsy (#5) Discussion Questions (SPOILER ALERT)

1. In the first third of the book, how did Emily’s decisions and behavior make you feel? Did you understand her decision to move back to Amarillo and live with her mother? To work with Jack?

2. Emily seems to make friends easily. What do her relationships with Wallace, Katie, and Nadine tell you about her? What kind of friend is she? She also seems to hold a powerful grudge. Did you find her relationship with Melinda believable? Rich?

3. What impact did Emily’s father have on her life, positive and negative? Rodeo? Her mother? Religion?

4. What are your thoughts on spirits, like the Apache Mountain Spirits, and the dancers Emily saw?

5. Why do you think Emily cared so much about Sofia and then Valentina?

6. How did you feel about the re-entrance of Collin into Emily’s life and the role he played?

7. Did the author’s treatment of the issue of immigration ring true in this book for you?

8. What one word would you use to describe Emily? Why?

9. Jack: what does he see in Emily? Are you team Jack? Do you think his secrets will be a problem for Emily?

10. Did you find the mystery and ending believable? Satisfying? Discuss.

***

Earth to Emily (#6) Discussion Questions (SPOILER ALERT)

1. What is the essential internal conflict that Emily has to overcome in this book?

2. What implications does the author make about feminine appearance and allure?

3. What is your reaction to the author’s take on Apache mythology and the animal world?

4. How do current events about race and police officers impact your reading of this book?

5. Can you forgive Jack for keeping secrets?

6. How did you feel about the re-entrance of Ava into Emily’s life?

7. There were three big surprises in the last two chapters. Were they believable? Discuss.

8. Was the mystery believable/authentic, given Emily and her role?

9. Were the action scenes believable/authentic?

10. What is the author saying about organized religion in this book? Immigration? Sexual identity? Race?

***

Hell to Pay (#7) Discussion Questions (SPOILER ALERT)

1. Did Emily’s need for Jack to use the “L” word weaken her? With respect to Jack and his evasiveness, were you able to understand and “buy” his reasons, by the end of the book? How did you feel about him during the middle of it?

2. How do you feel about Emily’s relationship with her father in this book? How did it progress? What do you think made the biggest difference in it?

3. What are your thoughts on the relationship of humans to the animal world? What did you think of Emily’s childhood declaration that the fox was her spirit animal? It’s re-emergence in her adult life?

4. What impact do current events involving religious terrorism have on your feelings about Mighty is His Word? The Hodges? Clyde and his son?

5. Some of the actions in this novel were . . . squirmy. Were you able to read through the snake-handling scenes? Were they believable? How did you feel about Emily resorting to physicality to save Jack?

6. Emily was faced with romantic temptation in this novel. How did you feel about that? Were you Team Jack or Team Move on?

7. Did the author’s treatment of the foster and adoption system in this book ring true for you?

8. What did you think about Emily’s friendships in this book, and how she treated her friends: Nadine, Laura, Wallace, Phil, and Michele? About her judgment (or lack thereof) about their actions?

9. Was the mystery plot line suspenseful? When did you figure out “who done it,” and why? What Jack was up to, and why?

10. Was the ending satisfying and believable?

***

Fighting for Anna (#8) Discussion Questions (SPOILER ALERT)

1. How did you feel about Michele’s temporary move to a trailer in the country? What do you think the move says about her as a woman? A parent? An author and editor?

2. Michele struggles with the indignities of middle age as well as widowhood, which leads her to doubting her inner Itzpa and viewing herself through another, darker lens. Talk about this inner transformation. Can you relate?

3. Big wigs and politicos: how did the author’s treatment of the rich and powerful come across in this novel? What impact did wealth and power have on Gidget’s life? Her death?

4. Michele moves to the country to be closer to her memories of Adrian, and another man pops up in her life. Do you think her relationship with Rashidi is authentic? How do you see it progressing, or not?

5. Friends don’t come easily to Michele, and in this book we meet Maggie. Discuss why this friendship works for Michele.

6. The loss of a parent and loss of a spouse within a year is devastating to Michele. To top it off, she learns she has a brother. How does Michele handle this trifecta of loss? What impact does loss play on her ability to be a parent/friend/daughter/mystery solver? How does the discovery of Gidget’s out-of-wedlock daughter play into this?

7. Artists and art (as well as priceless vintage automobiles!) play a big role in this novel. Did this ring true for you as a reader? Do you enjoy the incorporation of pop culture and historical figures in fiction?

8. The Wendish culture and their religious beliefs and practices impacted Gidget’s choices and the the choices of characters in the story. What do you think the author was trying to say about religious freedom, if anything?

9. Was the mystery plot line suspenseful? When did you figure out “who done it,” and why?

10. Was the ending satisfying and believable?

***

Bombshell (#9) Discussion Questions (COMING SOON)

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