Thank you for Visiting

This book club provided an opportunity to discuss books with authors from 2009 - 2013. I like to think we were a group of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, well... women finding time to meet while juggling daily life.

I hope you enjoy exploring The Manic Mommies Book Club Archives. We read 46 books over the years, with audio or written author discussions for each book read documented on this blog.

~ with kindness & gratitude, Mari

MMBC10: Oxygen

Oxygen is our tenth selection for the MMBC. We will be discussing the book on December 16th with author Carol Cassella. Watch for details for a book giveaway this week on the Manic Mommies website. reviewers give this book 4.5/5 stars! I have read the book and will post my review separately, it’s a page turner!

BN Review: This story is truly a page turner. It is the story of an anesthesiologist, Dr. Marie Heaton, and gives a graphic, realistic read of her daily life and one day, a tragedy. It is centered in Seattle, a place that I've visited often, and it's description of the area and places is right on the money. It's also not "just" a medical read, it gives romance and a wonderful mystery/twist. It doesn't hurt that the author is, really, an anesthesiologist! Would love to find another book by the author someday. Soon!

A conversation with Carol:

Tell us a little about yourself: I am currently wearing lots of hats, so where do I start? I am first and foremost a mother. My husband and I have two sets of twins (I’ll go ahead and answer the question you’re asking—yes they are natural! Set two was quite the surprise!) That alone has made for an interesting life. I’m also a doctor. I started my medical career as an internist, but I wanted a bit more time at home with my family and changed specialties to become an anesthesiologist. I really do love my work, and I’ve never regretted making that change. Anesthesia is challenging, intense, creative, FUN (often) and still does give me lots of patient contact.

Then there is the writer. That was actually my mission in life from the time I was very young, but I kept getting involved in other things (medicine, babies) and never devoted the time and dedication that serious writing takes until I was in my forties. That’s not to say I wasn’t writing—I have drawers of partially finished manuscripts and I worked as a science writer for a few years. But it took a completely different level of commitment to finish a novel. It was much harder than I expected, but also much more rewarding. Other details? I grew up in Texas, lived in the Northeast for few years and then discovered the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Hard to think I’ll ever leave!

Do you write daily? I can’t write daily. Until my children are grown and I work less at the hospital , I’m afraid that will be impossible. But I highly advise all writers to try. Writing fiction, and probably non-fiction as well, is a bit like maintaining a dream while awake. Much as a dream can feel tangible and unforgettable right after you open your eyes, it’s often forgotten by the time you brush your teeth. I try to remember that whatever I would have written today will never make it onto the page unless I make time to put it there. What I write tomorrow may be just as good, but it won’t be the same.

What was it like getting your first novel published? Nothing short of awesome! I had no expectations of being published when I started Oxygen, though I certainly poured my soul into it. I think my path was easier than many new writers, and for that I am very grateful. I found a wonderful agent early in the game and they were able to sell my novel quickly. Still, there is as much work that lies on the other side of the ‘published’ wall as there is leading up to it. Promoting, marketing, learning a whole new industry, and still keeping your next book alive and growing. That has been a huge challenge for me.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? Although I would secretly love to own one, they scare me. I worry that the electronic model may drive our wonderful, critically important independent bookstores out of business, and they contribute so much to the variety and vitality of what is published and made available to the reading public. Regardless, electronic books are here to stay, so we need to hope that they will eventually open avenues for smaller presses and less commercial writers. But we really have to find a model that works economically. If digital publications drive publishers under, many brilliant voices will never make it into any kind of print. We need to pay for books if we want books to survive. I’m a huge fan of libraries, too, but I know so many starving writers who are not getting their second or third books published because their publisher lost money on their earlier work. Support the arts!

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? Don’t give up!! Reading is easy and fun, so it is natural to fall prey to the myth that writing should always be easy and fun. That makes no more sense than believing a musician can make music without long hours of practice. Also, read carefully. When you discover a great book, take a paragraph or two and crawl inside it. Figure out what makes it work. Ask not only why the author put those particular words on the page, but why did he or she NOT choose other words, or a different point of view or a different voice. The beauty of writing is that there is always more to learn, always room to improve.

What are you reading now? The Little Stranger by Sara Waters. Really enjoying it! Also, Sing Them Home, by Stephanie Kallos, and a lovely book that hasn’t been published yet—Lies of the Heart by Michelle Boyajian.

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics: Excluding classics? Does All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy count—it may be a classic by now. I think it’s my favorite book of all time, though I have never been one for having favorites. Tomorrow I might say something different! I also love A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry, and I think Alice Munro is brilliant.

Just for fun:
Favorite Season: Fall! I’m looking at some gorgeous leaves right now. But ask me again in spring when the flowers are blooming.

Morning or night: I love early morning, but absolutely hate getting up early, so I miss too many, unless I’m running to work.

Favorite ice cream flavor: Mint chocolate chip.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go: India. I have always wanted to see it!


  1. After reading a review of OXYGEN in the DUKE magazine, I immediately reserved it at the library. I read it in one evening, and loved it. Can't wait for Carol's next book!

  2. Mari,

    I won "Oxygen" from the MMBC giveaway and wasn't able to start it until after the holidays. I could NOT put it down! It is a riveting story about a woman dedicated to her profession, caring, careful, and consise in what she does, coming to grips with the possiblity that she made a grave error only to find out that the men she most trusts (her friend/lover Joe and the admin at the hospital) in the world have turned against her and knowingly hung her out to dry. She is also dealing with guilt regarding the death of her mother and subsequent estrangement from her father, who is now in failing health. How she overcomes her doubt and guilt, clears her name and reasserts herself into her profession and family make for great reading. I'm looking forward to more books by this author.

    Theresa Vance