The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle

Description:
LOVE. LOSS. AND SECOND CHANCES.

Nina’s once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina’s mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina’s got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver’s on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be.

My take:  I think anyone who has waded through grief will, on some level, be able to relate to the characters in Amy Willoughby-Burle’s novel. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a relationship, or an expected life path, the characters in The Lemonade Year must come to terms and move forward in their new reality. Nina’s internal dialogue moved the plot along as she acted and then questioned those actions. It was an honest and straightforward perspective of people who learn to slowly face their fears with the goal being the possibility of getting a second chance – even though it might not be the second chance they expect. Recommended to fans of novels involving messy family dynamics.


“The Lemonade Year is a smart, satisfying romance that balances life’s sour moments with its sweet ones.” –Foreword Reviews 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amy Willoughby-Burle is a writer and teacher living in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband and four children. She writes about the mystery and wonder of everyday life. Her contemporary fiction focuses on the themes of second chances, redemption, and finding the beauty in the world around us. She is the author of a collection of short stories entitled Out Across the Nowhere and a contributor to the anthology Of Mist and Magic.

Connect with Amy online:
Website: https://amywilloughbyburle.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmyWilloughbyBurle/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmyWBurle
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amywritesfiction/

THE LEMONADE YEAR
by Amy Willoughby-Burle
(Shadow Mountain/Deseret Books, 4/3/18)
*
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Spotlight on: The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam. Plus a US/Canada giveaway

St. Martin’s Griffin; on-sale January 2, 2018

Description:

The unforgettable story of Alexander Pushkin’s beautiful wife, Natalya, a woman much admired at Court, and how she became reviled as the villain of St. Petersburg.

At the beguiling age of sixteen, Natalya Goncharova is stunningly beautiful and intellectually curious. At her first public ball during the Christmas of 1828, she attracts the romantic attention of Russia’s most lauded rebel poet: Alexander Pushkin. Finding herself deeply attracted to Alexander’s intensity and joie de vivre, Natalya is swept up in a courtship and then a marriage full of passion but also destructive jealousies. When vicious court gossip leads Alexander to defend his honor as well as Natalya’s in a duel, he tragically succumbs to his injuries. Natalya finds herself reviled for her perceived role in his death. In her striking new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, Jennifer Laam helps bring Natalya’s side of the story to life with vivid imagination―the compelling tale of her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous imperial Court and that of her greatest love.

 


About the author:

JENNIFER LAAM is the author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar and The Tsarina’s Legacy. She earned her master’s degree in History from Oakland University in Michigan and her bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. She has lived in Los Angeles and the suburbs of Detroit, traveled in Russia and Europe, and worked in education and non-profit development. She currently resides in Northern California.

 

Website: https://jenniferlaam.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenniferlaam.writer/?ref=bookmarks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jenlaam?lang=en

 

Discussion Guide: https://images.macmillan.com/folio-assets/discusion-guides/9781250121882DG.pdf


Excerpt:

From The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam. Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted with permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.

________

A man says he will die for you. A woman is taught to lower her gaze and blush before hiding once more behind a silken fan. Men are given to self-aggrandizement, while women flatter egos and keep men tied to this earth. Such is the way of the world, or so I was taught in the days before I gained a reputation as the villain of St. Petersburg.

I know better now.

When a man declares he will die for you, sometimes a woman must take him at his word. For to allow one’s husband to perish on the field of honor is a shameful affair, worse even, than murdering him by your own hand.

The solemn men who gather at our flat fall silent as my husband draws his final breath. A prickly chill, like the first wave of a fever, washes over me as I realize my husband is gone. The sorrow tightens my chest and clamps down, squeezing until I think my body will snap in two. I sway on my feet and believe I will faint. Only the invisible force of my will keeps me upright. Dark blood still seeps from his abdomen and a sharp metallic scent clings to the air.

For two days my husband had been one of the waking dead, suffering a cruel and lingering death. Though I was not present at the duel where he fought to defend my honor, the image of Alexander collapsing, his blood staining the snow crimson, haunts my every thought. I have slid into despair, veering between hysteria and hopelessness, while Alexander’s wound festered and his once vibrant face distorted with agony.

His friends stand in a semicircle around his body, backs erect, mouths set in stern lines, and expressions stoic even as their eyes dampen with tears.

“What a waste,” I hear one of them mutter. “A genius lost over a woman.”

The words echo in my head. I was the wife of a distinguished man of letters, the greatest in our land, and I let his life slip through my fingers. These men suppose I care only for material comforts and romantic diversions and don’t believe I possess the wits about me to appreciate my husband’s talent. Rumormongers have convinced them I love the empty-headed Georges d’Anthès or have fallen prey to the advances of our iron-jawed tsar. They consider my behavior traitorous, as terrible in its own way as if I had joined the ranks of the Napoleonic soldiers who once threatened our very heartland.

I will confess to basking too long in the attention of Georges and even the tsar himself, yet I am no Jezebel, merely human, as vulnerable to flattery as any other creature. Much as I may wish to do so, I cannot change the past. The damage is done. A fresh wave of tears threatens and subsides, as though nothing remains inside me to expel. I wonder how long I will live with the torment of my guilt and the censure of those who claim to love my husband.


US/Canada Giveaway

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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Next of Kin by James Tucker

Description:

A New Year’s Eve celebration begins with the pop of a champagne cork—and ends with the bone-chilling screams of a killer’s victims. Ten-year-old Ben Brook is the lone survivor of the brutal murder of his wealthy family at their upstate New York compound. But from the moment he evades death, Ben’s life is in constant danger. Can NYPD detective Buddy Lock keep the boy safe from a killer intent on wiping out the entire Brook clan?

When two more massacres decimate the Brookses’ ranks, Buddy’s hunt narrows. But his challenges grow as power, money, and secret crimes from the family’s past stand in the way. With Ben more and more at risk, Buddy steps closer to the edge, forcing a relentless killer to become more brazen, brutal, and cunning. Saving the boy will put all of Buddy’s skills to the test…and risk the lives of everyone he loves.


About the author:

James Tucker has worked as an attorney at an international law firm and is currently an executive managing real estate strategy at a Fortune 50 company, where his work includes frequent travel throughout the United States. Fascinated by the crimes of those in power, he draws on these cases for his writing. He has a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and was one of four fiction writers awarded a position at a past Mentor Series at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He has attended the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop in Portland, where he was mentored by author Walter Kirn. He lives near Minneapolis with his wife, the painter Megan Rye, and their family. Next of Kin is his first novel.


US Giveaway

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Spotlight/US Giveaway: House On The Forgotten Coast by Ruth Coe Chambers

 

Hello, Readers. Today I’m shining the Bookfan Spotlight on Ruth Coe Chambers’ new book:

About the Book:

Like a monarch surveying her domain, the house has stood for over a hundred years in the fishing village of Apalachicola on Florida’s northwest coast. She has known life. She has known passionate love. She has known brutal death. But she has guarded her secrets well . . .

Then eighteen-year-old Elise Foster and her parents arrive from Atlanta in their silver Jaguar, bringing with them their own secrets and desires. Seeking friendship in their new community, they find instead that the townspeople resent their intrusion. But this intrusion on the house’s privacy also provides a pathway for the past and the present to merge—and for the truth behind an unsolved murder to finally be brought to light. As you strive to solve the mystery, you and the Fosters are forced to address two critical questions: What is real? What is delusion?

Scroll down for US Giveaway!


About the Author:

Ruth Coe Chambers takes pride in her Florida panhandle roots and her hometown of Port St. Joe has inspired much of her writing.

She is indebted to the creative writing classes at the University of South Florida where she found her “voice” and began writing literary fiction. Listed in the Who’s Who of American Women. She has recently republished one novel, and published it’s sequel, and has written two award-winning plays. She is currently working on the third novel in her Bay Harbor Trilogy. She has two daughters and lives with her husband and one very spoiled Cairn terrier in Neptune Beach, Florida.

Her two earlier novels include The Chinaberry Album and Heat Lightening

 

Blog Tour Schedule:

Nov. 16: Bookfan Mary (Spotlight/Giveaway)
Nov. 20: I’d Rather Be at the Beach (Review)
Dec. 1: Book Nerd Native (Review)
Dec. 8: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen (Review)
Dec. 13: Silver’s Reviews (Spotlight/Giveaway)
Dec. 15: Readaholic Zone (Review)
Dec. 20: 100 pgs. A Day .. Stephanie’s Book Reviews (Review)
Dec. 28: Broken Teepee (Review)
Dec. 29: Book Nerd Native (Guest Post/Giveaway)
Jan. 3: Wall-to-Wall Books (Review)
Jan. 8: Svetlana Reads and Views (Review)
Jan. 13: Jorie Loves A Story (Review)
Jan. 18: Erica Robyn Reads (Review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #RuthCoeChambers


US Giveaway (3 winners!)

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GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Giveaway ends on November 22nd, 2017


Spotlight on: Have You Met Nora? by Nicole Blades

Today it is my pleasure to shine the Bookfan spotlight on Have You Met Nora? by Nicole Blades.

Kensington; November 2017; $15.00; Trade Paperback

Description: (Spotlight content provided by the publicist)

She’s blossomed from wealthy surgeon’s beautiful daughter to elegant socialite to being the top fashion stylist in the country. And Nora Mackenzie is only days away from marrying into one of New York’s richest, most powerful families. But her fairy tale rise is rooted in an incredible deception—one scandal away from turning her perfect world to ashes . . .

What no one knows is that Nora is the biracial daughter of a Caribbean woman and a long-gone white father. Adopted—and abused—by her mother’s employer, then sent to an exclusive boarding school to buy her silence, Nora found that “passing” as a white woman could give her everything she never had. Every golden opportunity she seized and every deception she worked kept that powerless, forgotten girl forever in the past.

Now, an ex-classmate who Nora betrayed many years ago has returned to her life to even the score. She’s a woman who won’t be bought off, reasoned against, or pleaded with. Her machinations are turning Nora’s privilege into one gilded trap after another. Running out of choices, Nora must decide how far she will go to protect a lie or give up and finally face the truth.


Praise for Have You Met Nora?
“Emotionally intense. Nicole Blades weaves a compelling web of secrets as a desperate woman struggles to overcome her past and secure her future, no matter the price.” —Colleen Faulkner, author of What Makes a Family
*

“…stunning, riveting, and positively unpredictable. This is a deft and searing commentary on identity and race. Nicole Blades has written a book that feels effortless to read and yet pulls no punches, offering a point of view that is piercing and uncompromising. You will be thinking about this book long after it’s over.” —Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, After I Do and Forever Interrupted


About the author:  

Nicole Blades launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine, co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women’s Health. Her essays have been featured in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, MarieClaire.com, WashingtonPost.com, Health, SELF, and Buzzfeed.  Blades can be heard co-hosting her new podcast, “Hey, Sis!,” and lives in Connecticut with her husband and their son.  Here is her most recent piece in The New York Times: Help! It’s Wear Your Teacher’s Favorite Color Day.


Spotlight/US Giveaway: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

About the book:

When Zoe Walker discovers her own picture in the local newspaper’s classified ads, she’s shocked.  A photo from her Facebook page accompanies a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com.  All Zoe’s efforts to discover what the ad means lead to dead ends.  And then a second woman whose picture appeared in a similar ad is assaulted.  When a third woman is murdered, Zoe’s unease turns to fear and paranoia.  The only thing the three have in common is their daily commute on the London subway system.

 

Someone is methodically tracking down these women…and Zoe is next on the list.

 

Told in alternating chapters by Zoe, troubled transit officer Kelly Swift who investigates when others refuse, and the clever killer stalking a new victim, I SEE YOU is an edge-of-your-seat read that will have you furiously turning pages, gasping at the plot twists (including a final chapter breath-taker), and marveling at Clare Mackintosh’s ability to craft a compulsive thriller that keeps you guessing at every turn.


My take (originally posted March 7, 2017): The description will tell you all you need to know before reading I See You. What I will say is that author Clare Mackintosh lulled me into a feeling of “is this going anywhere?” for a good part of the book. That’s not to say I was bored or uninterested. I enjoyed the unfolding of the story. I think she paced it slowly for a reason and then opened up a can of Whoa! in the last quarter of the book. It’s creepy and sinister. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t correctly guess who was behind the crime. I would love to read more about the investigation team in future books. Each detective seems to have a story that I’d be interested in knowing. Recommended to fans of the genre and Clare Mackintosh.


“The Must-Have Thriller of 2017.” —Bustle

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK

Berkley Trade Paperback Reprint; November 7, 2017

 

“Danger feels real in the brilliant I See You…Mackintosh seems destined to do important work for many years to come.”—The Washington Post

 

“Deliciously creepy.”—Ruth Ware

 

“[A] well-told suspense story…refreshingly realistic.”—The New York Times Book Review


US Giveaway

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Giveaway ends on November 6, 2017


Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Vineyard by Maria Dueñas

THE VINEYARD by María Dueñas

Atria Books |
ISBN: 978-1-5011-2453-2| Price: $26.00 US / $32.00 CAN | Pages: 544 |
eBook: 978-1-5011-2455-6 | On sale date: October 3, 2017

Beloved author María Dueñas returns with her highly anticipated new novel, THE VINEYARD (Atria Books; $26.00; October 3, 2017), a magnificent story of ambition, heartbreak, and desire set in 1860s Mexico, Cuba, and Spain—perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Kristin Hannah.

With the debut of her brilliant first novel, the New York Times bestseller The Time In Between (Atria; 2009), Dueñas was lauded for her descriptive and lyrical narrative and uniquely touching protagonists. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly declared her “a writer to watch,” while El Mundo in her native Spain said, “Dueñas more than lives up to her title as one of the best contemporary authors today.” It was critically and commercially acclaimed in the United States, and was also an international success, selling over two million copies worldwide and inspiring a popular Spanish television series, known in the media as “the Spanish Downton Abbey.” Her second novel, The Heart Has Its Reasons (Atria; 2012), was also well received and became an international bestseller.

María Dueñas is also a writer who has her finger on the pulse of society, with an innate talent for exploring the more personal and intimate issues in life—issues that no matter who we are and what we’ve accomplished— have affected many of us. THE VINEYARD is a powerful story of courage in the face of adversity, and of a destiny forever altered by the force of passion.

Mauro Larrea’s fortune, the result of years of hardship and toil, comes crashing down on the heels of a calamitous event. Swamped by debt and uncertainty, he gambles the last of his money in a daring play that wins him an abandoned house and a vineyard an ocean away. Mauro travels to Andalusia de Jerez in Spain with every intention of selling the property and returning to Mexico. That is, until he meets the unsettling Soledad Montalvo, the wife of a London wine merchant, who bursts into his life unannounced, determined to protect her family’s legacy. Before long, Larrea finds himself immersed in the rich culture of the sherry trade. As his feelings for Soledad ripen into a consuming passion, he seeks to restore the vineyard to its former glory.

From the turbulent young Mexican republic to flourishing Havana, and onward to the fertile vineyards of Jerez in the second half of the nineteenth century, María Dueñas’s new novel takes place on both sides of the Atlantic, the New World and the Old. This story of family intrigue vividly conjures the noise and grit of silver mines, and the earthier lure of ancient vineyards and magnificent cities whose splendor has faded. Using the same resonant voice and skillful narrative style as she did in The Time In Between and The Heart Has Its Reasons, María Dueñas pours heart and soul into THE VINEYARD and creates a vibrant canvas that immerses readers in each locale, and offers a fascinating study in contrasts, contradictions…and second chances.

(All Spotlight content provided by the publisher)


María Dueñas holds a PhD in English philology. After two decades dedicated to academics, she broke onto the literary scene in 2009 with the publication of the New York Times bestselling novel The Time In Between, followed by The Heart Has Its Reasons in 2012. Both novels became international bestsellers and have been translated into 35 languages. The television adaptation of The Time in Between earned critical and international acclaim. The Vineyard is her third novel and is being simultaneously published in Spanish as La Templanza.


Praise for The Vineyard:

“Breezy and entertaining, María Dueñas delivers a good old-fashioned yarn.” —The Washington Post

“An all-encompassing saga of one man’s sacrifice, tragedy, courage and passion. Dueñs builds her tale carefully and sets the stage with lush descriptions of Mexico, Cuba and the glorious vineyards of Andalusia, Spain. It is the pictures that Dueñas paints that draw readers into the heart of her character’s journey through three stages. Heartwrenching yet uplifting, this beautifully rendered story will linger in readers’ minds.” – RT Book Reviews

“this sprawling tale will charm fans of historical romance.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Dueñas capably reveals the grace of second chances, as Larrea’s hard work overcomes a cruel twist of fate. There is despair; there is betrayal; there is romance and triumph. Dueñas’ many fans as well as readers who appreciate well-researched historical fiction will find The Vineyard appealing.” – Booklist


US Giveaway of one ARC galley

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Giveaway ends on October 13, 2017