Weekly Reading Round-Up
April 24th, 2015

Every now and then you just need a bit of Dorothy Sayers. This week, I revisited one of my favorites, Murder Must Advertise, in which Wimsey goes undercover in an advertising agency. It’s amazing how current much of it feels, although the bit that spoke to me the most was this passage: “He was reminded of his Oxford days, when essays mysteriously wrote themselves in the intervals of club-meetings and outdoor sports, and when most of the people who took firsts boasted of never having worked more than three hours of any day.” It’s nice to know that college hasn’t changed much.

Right now, I’m just starting Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London, courtesy of my wonderful college roommate. So far, it reminds me a bit of Charles Stross’s Laundry Files novels.

What have you been reading this week?

 

“Other Daughter” ARCs!
April 22nd, 2015

Look what showed up on my doorstep earlier this week….

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Advance review copies of The Other Daughter!

Aren’t they pretty?

I’ll be giving one away here on the website as soon as I can think of a sufficiently cunning contest….

You can find The Other Daughter for pre-order at Amazon, B&N, Books-A-Million, Indiebound, Powell’s, and wherever else books are sold.

 

New on the Website….
April 20th, 2015

What with one thing and another, I’ve been slow about website updates this year. But, at long last, you can now find–

— an excerpt from The Other Daughter (you can find a second excerpt here);
— the first (historical) chapter of The Lure of the Moonflower;
— the official blurb for The Forgotten Room;
— an updated list of foreign editions of The Ashford Affair;
— and a link to the German edition of That Summer.

Is there anything crucial I’ve forgotten? More on all of the upcoming books coming soon!

That Summer Paperback The Other Daughter Lure of the Moonflower_deeper sky2

Here’s the publication schedule:

That Summer, paperback, May 19
The Other Daughter, hardcover, July 21
The Lure of the Moonflower (Pink XII), paperback, August 4
The Forgotten Room, hardcover, January 19

 

Weekly Reading Round-Up
April 17th, 2015

This week’s big find? Winifred Watson’s 1937 bestseller, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

Where has this book been all my life? How had I not read it before? Miss Pettigrew and Flora Poste would have a great deal to discuss….

After that, it was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Making of a Marchioness, which I’d read about in Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate, but never quite realized was Burnett until my college roommate mailed me the book. I wanted to love it, but…. Maybe it was the contrast with Miss Pettigrew. Or maybe it was because I love Sara Crewe so much. Definitely a fun read, but just missing something.

What have you been reading this week?

 

And the Pinkorama winners are….
April 15th, 2015

Everyone! With Pinkoramae like that, how could I not give a prize to each and every one?

But if you want to know what the vote tallies were, we had….

Honorable Mentions:

Christine’s Vampeep (and pound cake):

Christine

Nikki’s Love at First Peep:

Nikki 2

Third Place:

Candace and Cassandra’s Napeepleon Meets Miss Gwen:

C&C 1 Group Shot

Second Place:

Rachel’s Robert’s Peeposal:

Rachel 2 Resized

And in first place….

Drumroll, please!

Colleen and Pam’s A Peepingly Good Time at Farley Castle:

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Thank you so much, ladies! The creativity, detail, and sheer virtuosity of these just blew me away. As a thank you for the enjoyment you’ve afforded, there’s an ARC for all. (With the caveat that teams get one ARC to share, since I only get a limited number.)

So, for Colleen, Pam, Rachel, Candace, Cassandra, Nikki, and Christine, here’s your question: would you like an ARC of The Other Daughter now (and by now, I mean in a week or so, when my copies arrive), or would you like an ARC of The Lure of the Moonflower in another month or so? (I don’t know for sure when we’ll have Moonflower ARCs, but I’m guessing May-ish.) Just email me at willig@post.harvard.edu and let me know which you’d like and where I should send it!

And the winner of the signed copy of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla is… Samantha! (Of Comment #10.) Congrats, Samantha. Email me with your details and I’ll pop the book in the mail to you.

Thank you all for a wonderful 5th Annual Pinkorama!

 

The 2015 Pinkorama Round-Up
April 13th, 2015

2015 is a banner year in the annals of the Pinkorama. We have five beautiful scenes, each unique and crafted with sugary care. And, for the first time, also a recipe!

So many thanks to Rachel, Nikki, Christine, Pam, Colleen, Candance, and Cassandra for these Pink peep recreations! I am so in awe of your talent, ladies.

Without further ado, the round-up (in order of appearance in my inbox):

1. Robert’s Peeposal, by Rachel:

Rachel brings us Robert’s proposal to Charlotte from Pink V, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, complete with swan a-swimming, inquisitive squirrel, raspberry tarts, and even a benevolent unicorn.

Rachel 3 Resized

To see the full set of pictures, just click here.

2. Love at First Peep, by Nikki:

In an eerie midnight garden in Mayfair, Nikki brings us Love at First Peep: Sally Fitzhugh’s first meeting with Lucien, Duke of Dovedale in Pink XI, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla. Is he or is he not a Vampeep?

Nikki 2

For more detail, click here.

3. The Vampeep, by Christine:

What if Lucien really were a Vampeep? And Sally happened to stumble upon him in his (delectable pound cake) coffin? A Pink alternative history– and a recipe!– from Christine.

Christine

For the recipe, click here.

4. A Peepingly Good Time at Farley Castle, by Pam and Colleen:

Pam and Colleen transport us to Christmas of 1803 and The Mischief of the Mistletoe. Arabella Dempsey and her good friend Jane Austen have been conveyed to the frost fair at Farley Castle by none other than our favorite root vegetable, Mr. Turnip Fitzhugh– but are they ready for the mysterious pudding that lies in wait?

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For more pictures, click here.

5. Napeepleon Meets Miss Gwen, by Candace and Cassandra:

The gang’s all here! It’s back to the Tuileries Palace and Pink I, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, as Richard, Amy, Jane, and Augustus look on in shock as Miss Gwen lets Napoleon know how she really feels about his high-handed ways… with the application of a purple parasol.

C&C 1 Group Shot

For close-ups, click here.

Thank you so much, Rachel, Nikki, Christine, Colleen, Pam, Candace and Cassandra!

I love how clever and how different each of these is. I don’t think I could pick a favorite if I tried.

What about you? Do you have a favorite Pinkorama? Just place your vote below and I’ll tally it all up on Wednesday….

Since Manzanilla seems to have edged out the other books for Pinkorama supremacy this year, one person who votes, chosen at random, will receive a signed copy of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla.

 

Pinkorama #5: “Napeepleon Meets Miss Gwen”
April 12th, 2015

So many apologies, all! I’d meant to post our fifth and final Pinkorama yesterday, but life (aka toddler) got in the way (and by “in the way”, I mean “demanded the computer”).

Here, belatedly, is Candace and Cassandra’s Peep masterpiece, “Napeepleon Meets Miss Gwen”. The creators informed me: “Cassie decided in honor of the 10th Anniversary we needed to go with a scene from the book that started it all. So the cast of characters that made it into this scene are Amy, Richard, Hortense, Josephine, Napoleon, Miss Gwen, the lady fainting in the officer’s arms, Augustus, and Jane (sneaking out).”

Here’s the group shot (or, as I tend to call it while I’m writing them, mob scene):

C&C 1 Group Shot

You can see the Purple Gentian (in purple!) checking out that intriguing Miss Amy Balcourt as she makes her curtsy to the First Consul (aka Napoleon):

C&C 5 Amy-Richard-Bonaparte

Meanwhile, that long-winded poet, Augustus Whittlesby (complete with puffy white shirt) follows Amy’s cousin, Miss Jane Wooliston (who is, appropriately, a peep of pink sugar). Has he found a new muse?

C&C 3 Jane-Augustus

Josephine and her daughter, Hortense, receive their guests graciously:

C&C 4 Josephine-Hortense

(Don’t you love that tiny, bunny cameo on Hortense’s dress?)

Napoleon, on the other hand, doesn’t. Miss Gwen takes umbrage and whaps him with her purple parasol:

C&C 2 Gwen-Napoleon

Shocked at such lese-majeste, a lady faints dead away into a gentlepeep’s arms:

C&C 6 fainting lady

I love the detail on these! The tiled floors, the tiny portraits…. The Tuileries Palace never looked quite so elegant in candy form before. Thank you, Candace and Cassandra!

It’s also just such fun to get to revisit so many old friends: Richard, Amy, Jane, Gwen, Augustus, Hortense…. As we wrap up the series, I’d forgotten how many of them were present right from the beginning.

Candace and Cassandra tantalizingly informed me that, “a character from another author’s book sneaked into the yellow salon”.

Is it the Peep with the red hair? Maybe the Scarlet Pimpernel? Or someone else? I’m still guessing…. Can you figure out the character and author?

So many thanks to Cassandra and Candace for a beautiful scene and an intriguing mystery!

 

Pinkorama #4: “A peepingly good time at Farley Castle”.
April 10th, 2015

In our latest Pinkorama, by Pam and Colleen, we turn to The Mischief of the Mistletoe for a bit of festive cheer at Farley Castle.

Pam and Colleen describe the scene: Starring Jane Austen in maroon, Arabella in brown, Turnip in pink, and Lord Vaughn in black and red with Mary Vaughn in a red and green cape glaring at the happy trio that just got out of the carriage, with a hidden christmas pudding in the trees.

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Arabella, Jane Austen, and Turnip confer– Turnip waving his arms about in suitably enthusiastic style:

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A close up of our hero and heroine. Could Turnip’s pink coat be any more perfect? Not to mention that brocade waistcoat and expertly constructed cravat….

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Lord Vaughn and Mary, meanwhile, look suitably supercilious:

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Both are richly arrayed, Vaughn in his signature black (with seasonal red accents) and Mary in a great deal of lace and rubies (because, Mary):

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And shall we have another view of the Vaughn sneer?

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Fortunately, Arabella has a friend like Jane Austen to bolster her through the Vaughn scorn:

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And a Turnip to shield her from unpleasantness (or try to).

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Of course, no Mischief of the Mistletoe scene would be complete without… a pudding!

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Doesn’t it just make you want to go out and carol?

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Thank you so much, Pam and Colleen, for this gloriously festive creation!

I am particularly in awe of the costumes. Can’t you just see Turnip preening with satisfaction in that silk coat? And Miss Austen (Miss Peepsten?) looks more like a Regency fashion plate than I would ever have thought possible for a piece of candy. If only I could think of a suitably Turnip-ian way to express my admiration and all that, don’t you know?

 

Pinkorama #3– and a recipe!
April 9th, 2015

For our third Pinkorama, Christine brings you… the Vampeep.

As Christine puts it: What if Lucien really was a vampire and Sally stumbled upon his lair aka pound cake coffin?

Check out the shock and surprise on Sally’s face! (All drawn with toothpicks and food coloring. Pretty impressive, no?)

Christine

As an extra special bonus– and because Christine is beyond fabulous– she’s shared the recipe for Lucien’s coffin, er, pound cake.

Over to Christine for what she swears is her final Pink-related recipe…. (Say it’s not so!)

The pound cake recipe is taken from Sally’s Baking Addiction, but it’s not on her blog. It’s an exclusive that was published in People magazine, but she posted a photo of the magazine page and it’s slightly blurry but legible enough. The recipe also includes steps to make a glaze, but I skipped that part. What’s below is just the cake recipe.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 (I think) tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp orange zest
1/2 milk, room temperature

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease loaf pan.
2. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
3. Cream together butter and sugar in a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
4. Beat eggs and vanilla into creamed mixture until combined.
5. Beat in orange juice and orange zest.
6. Slowly add flour mixture, alternating with milk, until combined.
7. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

I keep saying “this is my last recipe,” but I feel like I’m going to keep coming up with excuses to do more…

Yes! Yes! More excuses! Especially if excuses mean baked goods.

So many thanks to Christine for this beautiful– and tasty– Pink alternative history!

 

Pinkorama #2: Love at First Peep
April 8th, 2015

A moonlit garden, an inquisitive debutante, a duke who might be a vampire…. It doesn’t get much more peepmospheric than this.

Today, from Nikki, we bring you… “Love at First Peep”, Lucien and Sally’s very first meeting at the opening of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla.

Here’s the description from Nikki: A glimpse into when our peep and peepoine meet for the first time in a dark garden, beneath a peeping willow under the watchful eye of a peeping satyr.

Like all lovers, Lucien and Sally had to overcome some obstacles. The box reserved for their Pinkorama was usurped by a furry interloper. (No, not a stoat.)

Nikki 1 Resized

But can you really imagine Sally allowing her scene to be stopped? Even more glamorous than before, here is Nikki’s rendition of Lucien and Sally’s initial meeting:

Nikki 3

Check out Sally’s gold-spangled ballgown and her snazzy hairstyle:

Nikki 4

And the Vampeep himself, with his flickering candle and blood red cravat pin:

Nikki 6

And for the full effect, here’s the whole scene, with book and flower accents (delightfully eerie, no?):

Nikki 2

I had never imagined that Sally and Lucien could be so convincing in colored sugar! (Although, really, Sally and Peep do kind of go together like Turnip and raspberry jam; one gets the impression that to be Sally is to be on a permanent sugar high. But I digress.)

So many thanks to Nikki for bringing us this wonderfully atmospheric scene! I love the finishing touch of flower and book and all that dark, mysterious veiling…. The perfect setting for The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla!