I’ll admit I was a little nervous. I spent most of yesterday preparing; I double- and triple-checked my lists, fussed over my centerpieces and took extra care in choosing my outfit for that evening’s event.

I mean, it’s not every day you get to meet a bestselling author.

But once she appeared on screen and as we all said our hellos, any nerves I had vanished. It felt as if I was just chatting with an old friend, not someone whose work I admired and whose company I had anticipated for months.

Something I've been looking forward to for months ... getting to visit with Kelle via Skype.

Our book club had the opportunity to meet with Kelle Hampton, New York Times bestselling author of Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected and publisher of the popular blog Enjoying the Small Things via Skype – and, as can be the case when you’re lucky, meeting her in real life far exceeded my expectations.

Kelle was as kind, easygoing and down-to-earth as she comes across in her debut bestseller. But between the laughs and kind words we shared, there was an emotional undertone to the evening as well, which is a testament to her talent as a writer.

Although “Bloom” is a memoir and tells of the struggles and triumphs that Kelle and her family have faced since their daughter was born with Down syndrome, the theme of the book is universal and applicable to most anyone who reads it: It’s about choices. It’s about life and what we do with it.

It’s about finding the beauty.

Reading anything by Kelle will make you fell like you took a big swig of happy. Not only does she have an amazing talent for writing in general, but she has a way of connecting with her readers that will make you feel like you’ve made a new friend.

We had the opportunity to meet in our local high school's technology classroom, a newly upgraded, state-of-the-art space that helped make this discussion an event. Thank you St. Maries High School!

Interested in a more in-depth analysis of Bloom? My review was featured on Meagan Francis’s Babble Voices blog last month. Check it out here.

Perhaps our favorite book club guest and - ironically - the most well-behaved, was Beau - who turns three today. Happy birthday buddy! Read about Beau and his family on their inspirational blog, http://alainakylestevenson.blogspot.com/. They're doing big things for the local Down syndrome community.

Want to connect with Kelle? Follow her on Facebook or Twitter, and her site is a MUST-read.

Book clubbers chatted as we waited for the discussion to start.

We also have copies of Bloom available at The Paperhouse. It’s a beautiful book, combining Kelle’s lovely prose and stunning photographs. Not in the St. Maries area? No problem! We ship anywhere … Shop with us.

A big thank you to my husband for taking these photos last night and for acting as our techie guru. He and Beau’s daddy, Kyle, got to chat about the challenges of fantasy football trades in-between discussions of children, family and life struggles. It was a well-rounded evening, truly a win-win for all.

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