Moonshine: A Celebration of America's Original Rebel Spirit

I want to help you add even more FUN and BUZZ to your book club!

I love book clubs, and I love moonshine!

I’ve gotten to visit with book clubs all over the country—some in person and others via Skype. Each time, I’ve found these groups of friends and neighbors to be the best of the best when it comes to love, laughter, and simply enjoying one another’s company.

Book clubs have also perfected something else after my own heart: the art of having a great time while simultaneously discussing books and enjoying scrumptious cocktails and savory snacks. You are my kind of folks!

For Moonshine: A Celebration of America’s Original Rebel Spirit, I want to really show the love when it comes to your book club and do something extra special for you and your friends. After all, we’re talking about a story 250 years in the making, along with a collection of 100+ handcrafted moonshine infusion and specialty cocktail recipes.

Please consider me the co-host for your Moonshine Book Club gathering.

If you are interested in choosing Moonshine as your next book club selection, I have listed some discussion questions below to get you started.

Also, if you would like moonshine cocktail and snack recipes, signed bookplates, and even a visit from me via Skype, please email Ann Pryor, Senior Communications Manager at Kensington Publishing Corp., at


Moonshine Book Club Discussion Questions

There are many topics you can explore when discussing the 250-year history of the moonshiners. The following questions are only meant as suggestions. Feel free to take your Moonshine Book Club discussion in any direction you all choose—just be sure there are plenty of cocktails and snacks to go around.

1. The history of the moonshiners is interwoven with the larger history of the United States, from the time it was a new nation onward. In what ways did this intimate connection between a group of citizens and our country surprise you?

2. What was your favorite fun fact that you learned about moonshine or the moonshiners?

3. In what ways did the moonshiners demonstrate that they were naturally savvy and wise at doing business?

4. In what ways is the story of the moonshiners a uniquely American story?

5. Of all the moonshiners—and other real-life characters—mentioned in Moonshine, who was your favorite and why?

6. Moonshine has appeared in many movies, TV shows, and songs. What are some of your favorite appearances by moonshine in the entertainment world?

7. Do you have any personal or family connections to moonshine or moonshiners, past or present? If so, please share.

8. In what ways do the moonshiners and their lives serve as empowering and inspiring role models for us in today’s world?

9. If you could go back in time and be a moonshiner, would you? Why or why not?

10. Of the 100+ handcrafted infusions and cocktails in Moonshine, which one do you most want to try?

Five Years in Heaven

One of the great joys of sending Five Years in Heaven out into the world has been getting to meet with so many book clubs around the country, either in person or via Skype.

Below I have listed some discussion questions to get you and your book club started on your journey with Five Years in Heaven.

To further help to maximize your book club’s experience with the memoir, in the paperback edition of Five Years in Heaven, I included a chapter-by-chapter Reader’s Guide with discussion questions at the end.

If you are interested in choosing Five Years in Heaven as your next book club selection, and would like signed bookplates or to schedule a Skype visit with me during your book club meeting, please contact Steve Troha at


Five Years in Heaven

Book Club Discussion Questions

Five Years in Heaven presents several launching points for discussion about the numerous questions and topics we all confront in our lives every day. From forgiveness, death, and even the existence of God, to love, success, creativity, sin, relationships, and numerous other daily challenges, the following discussion questions will allow you to further explore and actively engage with the wisdom, humor, and lessons shared throughout the book.

This companion guide will direct you toward discovering your own Heaven on earth, and your own meanings to the universal questions and topics that Sister Augustine and John discuss.

1. At the beginning of Five Years in Heaven, John finds himself at a crucial crossroads in life. When in your life have you found yourself at a crossroads like John did?

2. John initially questions how sorrow can be a “gift,” as Sister Augustine calls it, which should be greeted with gratitude. Have you ever found sorrow to be a gift in your life? Explain.

3. Just as John experienced, when have you realized that a great teacher entered your life? What lessons did you learn from that teacher?

4. Sister Augustine says of creating ceramic pieces: “This process is a slow one that tests each piece along the way over time. More often than not, they’re tougher than you’d think by just looking at them.” How can you relate this sentiment to your life?

5. Sister Augustine says: “That’s when gratitude counts the most. It’s in those challenging moments when we get a little closer to our true purpose in this life. We need to be thankful for those challenges.” Think of a disappointment or challenge in your life. How can being grateful for that situation help you to move through it into a better place?

6. John writes: “It’s so hard to have faith in a greater purpose that you can’t see or easily explain. Or to find belief in a world that no longer seems to believe in you.” Have you ever felt this way? Explain.

7. Sister Augustine tells John: “God has His ways. His reasoning may not seem obvious to us at the time, but someday you’ll look back and say, ‘That’s exactly how my life had to happen, good andbad, right down to the second, to get me where I am.’” How does your life journey so far support this sentiment?

8. Sister Augustine tells John: “Forgiveness is an act of love and compassion. Yes, it is a gift we give to the person who hurt us, which is often the hardest part for people to understand. In our minds, that often means we’re letting that person off the hook for whatever they did to us. But ultimately, when we forgive someone, that act is also a gift of love and compassion, andfreedom, that only we can give to ourselves.” How did this statement support or change how you view the act of forgiveness?

9. In discussing our pursuit to know God, Sister Augustine says: “We have to see, with our entire bodies and souls, before we can truly understand.” Besides your eyes, how else can/do you “see” God at work in your life?

10. While at one time or another we all stand before a wall of fear and challenges, Sister says: “The difference for some, though, is that they look upward and think, I can climb right up over this wall. Or they look to the sides, and think, I can go around this wall. Or, if nothing else, they take a step back and carefully examine the wall, thinking, I can smash right through it!” When in your life have you taken this proactive approach to overcoming fear, change, or some other challenge?

11. Sister Augustine says: “One of the most important things in this life is just showing up. . . . That speaks for itself, where words never could. Just like a smile does.” What is an example from your life when “just showing up” made an important difference?

12. Sister Augustine says: “That’s what life is meant to be: an unfinished piece of work that others carry on in some way after you’ve gone. That way there truly is no beginning and no end.” Did this statement influence your own views on living and dying? Explain.

13. John writes about how his friendship with Sister Augustine ultimately transformed him. Think of a close friendship you have or had with someone. In what ways did that friendship transform you for the better and help guide you along life’s journey?

14. From the beginning, Five Years in Heavenhas explored the topic of Heaven on earth. When in your life have you had an experience that you would describe as Heaven on earth?

15. John ends the book with a simple reaction. Why in that moment do you think that was his reaction? How does this seemingly simple reaction reflect his growth in the five-year journey he just completed?