Weekly Reading Round-Up
September 23rd, 2016

Perhaps it’s something about fall, but I’ve been on an old school Gothic kick this past week.

I started with Anna Lee Huber‘s upcoming book, Secrets in the Mist, a Regency set Gothic involving misty marshes, a mysterious creature named “The Lantern Man”, and, of course, smugglers.

From there, I moved on to some old Elsie Lee comfort reads. For those of you who haven’t discovered Elsie Lee, think Mad Men, but with spies. The wise-cracking, Seven Sisters grad heroines invariably trounce foreign operatives and baffle Interpol, in between mixing highballs, fixing flounces, and caring for stray cats.

After that…. A care package was just sent to me by my favorite book whisperer (thanks, Vicki!), so there is an embarrassment of choice.

What have you been reading this week?


Author Confidential….
September 22nd, 2016

Pssst! It’s Author Confidential, Bacon Free Library’s (incredibly ingenious) fall fundraiser.

What it is: a chance to ask your favorite author three questions– and receive a hand-written answer in return!

Here’s the official press release:

Bacon Free Library Announces ‘Author Confidential’ Auction

Best Selling Authors to Answer Three Questions from Winning Bidders

Have you ever finished a book only to find yourself full of questions? What inspired the story? Did the husband do it? Is she going to live? Will there be a sequel? Now’s your chance to find out!

This fall the Bacon Free Library in Natick, Massachusetts is inviting the public to bid on the opportunity to ask more than 75 best-selling and award-winning authors three (3) questions. The highest bidders will have the chance to ask authors, whose works range from mystery/thrillers to literary fiction, historical fiction to children’s literature, romance to nonfiction, about anything regarding the author’s work or writing process. Winning bidders will receive a signed, keepsake letter written by the author with their responses by mail.

The online auction will take place on eBay from Sunday, October 23, 2016 8pm through Sunday, October 30, 2016 8pm [EST]. Starting bids range from $50-$75.

Authors participating in the Library’s ‘Author Confidential Auction’ are some of the most beloved, diverse and prolific in current literature. They are known for popular and familiar titles such as Fates and Furies, The Perfect Storm, The Giver, In the Heart of the Sea, Presumed Innocent, and A Thousand Acres. Many of their works have been adapted as major motion pictures and television shows.

An interactive list of participating authors is available at

and includes Lee Child, Nora Roberts, Bill Bryson, Diana Gabaldon, Jeff Kinney, JoJo Moyes, Dave Eggers, Laura Hillenbrand, Andy Weir, Peter H. Reynolds among many other notable writers.

Additional details and information on bidding rules are available at


Mark your calendars for October 23, when the auction opens! I’ll post about it again when we get closer to the date. You can find the full list of participating authors here.


“Place of Secrets” Winner
September 21st, 2016

The winner of my copy of Rachel Hore’s A Place of Secrets is…

… Adeia! (Of comment #8.)

Congrats, Adeia! If you let me know where to send it, I’ll pop your book in the mail to you.

Check back on Monday for a new give away!


Out and About in October: NJ and MI
September 20th, 2016

You can find me out and about in October!

Morristown, New Jersey: Saturday, 10/1

I am thrilled to be kicking off the month with the Morristown Festival of Books. Join me Saturday, October 1st, in Morristown, NJ for a panel with two of my favorite people: Sarah MacLean and Eloisa James. If you’ve heard us speak together before, you’ll know that things can get a little bit slap-happy….

The event is free and open to the public. Our talk will be at the Church of the Redeemer (36 South Street) from 10:00-11:00. If you can’t make it to the talk, you can find us at 11:00 in the Author Signing Tent, signing books and chatting (and probably drinking coffee).

Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Saturday, 10/22

What could be better than tea and books? Grosse Pointe Library brings back their acclaimed Authors to the Pointe series on October 22 at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford Estate with a classic English tea, Paula McLain, and me.

Tickets for the event are $30, available starting on 9/22 (this Thursday!) on a first come/first served basis at Grosse Pointe Library’s Central Branch.

See you in October!


Monday Give Away
September 19th, 2016

I did promise you more old houses and family secrets, didn’t I? This week’s book up for grabs is Rachel Hore’s A Place of Secrets.

Here’s the official blurb:

place-of-secretsA runaway bestseller in Britain with over 100,000 copies sold, a riveting historical mystery in the tradition of Kate Morton

Auction house appraiser Jude leaves London for her dream job at Starbrough Hall, an estate in the countryside, examining and pricing the manuscripts and instruments of an eighteenth-century astronomer. She is welcomed by Chantal Wickham and Jude feels close to the old woman at once: they have both lost their husbands. Hard times have forced the Wickham family to sell the astronomer’s work, their land and with it, the timeworn tower that lies nearby. The tower was built as an observatory for astronomer Anthony Wickham and his daughter Esther, and it served as the setting for their most incredible discoveries.

Though Jude is far away from her life in London, her arrival at Starbrough Hall brings a host of childhood memories. She meets Euan, a famed writer and naturalist who lives in the gamekeeper’s cottage at the foot of the tower, where Jude’s grandfather once lived. And a nightmare begins to haunt her six-year-old niece, the same nightmare Jude herself had years ago. Is it possible that the dreams are passed down from one generation to the next? What secrets does the tower hold? And will Jude unearth them before it’s too late?

Have you noticed that there are a lot of appraisers in novels? Also curators, antiques dealers, grad students, art historians, grad student art historians, and other people who deal with art and antiques. Which makes sense in books dealing with history, artifacts, and secrets.

For a chance to win my copy of A Place of Secrets, here’s your question:

— If you were a heroine in a novel and could be anything you liked, what would your profession be?

The winner will be announced on Wednesday.


Weekly Reading Round-Up
September 16th, 2016

As I finish up the revisions on the Gilded Age book (more about that soon, I promise!), I’ve been doing my best to read outside of my comfort zone, to try new genres and authors– or, at least, books I wouldn’t have picked up on my own.

This week?

— Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker, involving a very secret service, a mad princeling, a machine that could bring on the end of the world, and the son of a gangster trying to live an honorable life as a clockmaker– until he can’t. Something about it reminded me of Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, although I can’t quite peg why.

— Simon Sylvestor’s The Visitors, set on a remote Scottish island (any other Shetland fans out there?), and told from the viewpoint of a teenage girl. It’s wonderfully atmospheric and eerie, as villagers begin disappearing and you have to wonder whether the newcomers to town have something to do with it. Or is there something supernatural at work?

What have you been reading this week?


“Wife’s Tale” Winner
September 14th, 2016

The winner of a copy of Christine Wells’s The Wife’s Tale is…

— Rachael! (Of Comment #59.)

Congrats, Rachael! If you let me know where to send your book, I’ll pop it in the mail to you.

Stay tuned for more old houses and family secrets coming up on next week’s Monday Give Away!


Monday Give Away
September 12th, 2016

For those of you who enjoy books like Lucinda Riley’s The Orchid House, Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton, and my That Summer, I have a copy of Christine Wells’s The Wife’s Tale.

Here’s the official blurb:

the-wifes-taleAn unforgettable novel that transports the reader from modern day Australia to the windswept Isle of Wight and the courtrooms of London in the 1780s.

With her marriage on the rocks, workaholic lawyer Liz Jones agrees to visit Seagrove, a stately home on the Isle of Wight, while she quietly investigates its provenance on behalf of a client. When she discovers Seagrove is linked to a notorious eighteenth-century court case, Liz becomes fascinated – not only by the house and its history, but also by its current owners.

In the winter of 1789, the infamous Delany Nash scandalised London when details of her alleged affair with her husband’s brother were aired in a public courtroom. Yet her journals reveal an extraordinary woman’s tale of passion, betrayal and heartbreak.

Captivated by Delany’s story, Liz delves into her research but the more she uncovers, the more she jeopardises the future of everyone at Seagrove. For there are dark secrets that surround the house, and when the truth emerges the repercussions will echo down through the centuries.

The Wife’s Tale is a spellbinding story of murder, family secrets and a scandalous affair.

Basically, it’s a little bit Monarch of the Glen (the whole young lord restoring failing estate bit, not the Scottish bit) and a little bit Garrow’s Law (with guest appearance from Garrow).

For a chance to win a copy of The Wife’s Tale, here’s your question:

— If you could uncover a secret in an old house/castle/chateau/apartment, etc, where would you like the place to be located?

The randomly chosen winner will be announced on Wednesday.


“Curiosity Cabinet” Winner
September 7th, 2016

The winner of a copy of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet is….

Rachel! (Of Comment #2.)

Congrats, Rachel! If you email me (willig@post.harvard.edu), I’ll pop your book in the mail to you.

A new give away will be coming up next Monday!


Monday Give Away
September 5th, 2016

Happy Labor Day, all!

Nothing says Labor Day like Coney Island, so today I’m giving away a copy of H.P. Wood’s Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet.

Here’s the official blurb:

Magruder's Curiosity CabinetA hypnotic debut in turn-of-the-century Coney Island, where an abandoned girl collides with a disgruntled ménage of circus freaks.

Kitty Hayward and her mother are ready to experience the spectacles of Coney Island’s newest attraction, the Dreamland amusement park. But when Kitty’s mother vanishes from their hotel, she finds herself penniless, alone, and far from her native England. The last people she expects to help are the cast of characters at Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of oddities. From con men to strongmen, from flea wranglers to lion tamers, Kitty’s new friends quickly adopt her and vow to help find the missing Mrs. Hayward. But even these unusual inhabitants may not be a match for the insidious sickness that begins to spread through Coney Island…or the panic that turns Dreamland into a nightmare.

With shades of Water for Elephants and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet sweeps readers into a mesmerizing world where nothing is as it seems, and where “normal” is the exception to the rule.

For a chance to win a copy of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, here’s your question:

— What’s your favorite amusement park?

The randomly chosen winner will be announced on Wednesday. Happy Labor Day!