Saturday, May 31st, 2014
First of all, thank you all so very much for helping to spread the word about That Summer! I am so touched and grateful. You are the best.
The winners of That Summer, chosen at random, are….
— Betty S. (of Comment #62)
— Jessica S. (of Comment #44)
— Jane (of Comment #32)
— Daniele K. (of Comment #17)
Congrats, ladies! If you contact me with your info, I’ll send your books winging your way! Thank you all so very, very much!
Only three days until That Summer….
Stay tuned for more give aways on Tuesday, when we celebrate That Summer appearing on shelves!
Friday, May 30th, 2014
I have one big reading item this week: I finally got around to reading Gone Girl! Have you read it? And, if so, what did you think?
This week’s other reading excursion was a trip back into classic 60s Gothic: Mary Elgin’s A Man from the Mist, featuring a young widow hiring herself out as housekeeper to an elderly army major in a remote bit of the Scottish Highlands, and, of course, the elusive young laird next door.
What have you been reading this week?
Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
There’s only one week left until That Summer appears in stores, and look what I have to give away:
Hardcover copies of That Summer, and…
audio CDs of That Summer!
I’ll be giving away two copies of the hardcover and two copies of the audio CD.
Here’s your mission. Help spread the word about That Summer! You can post about it on Facebook, on your blog, on Twitter, pin it on Pinterest, share one of the That Summer cards I’ve posted on my Facebook author page, add That Summer to a summer reading list, tell a friend, or mention it to your local librarian or bookseller.
The word used in the industry is “buzz”, so any and all buzz about That Summer in the week before it comes out is very, very much appreciated.
Let’s get people talking about the book that Kirkus Reviews calls “a perfect beach read”!
That Summer has been compared to A.S. Byatt’s Possession and Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden, as well as Barbara Michaels’s gothic mystery novels (I’m still over the moon about that one!). The story goes back and forth between 2009 and 1849 as my modern heroine discovers a lost Pre-Raphaelite painting hidden behind the false back of an old wardrobe, leading her on a search deep into her family’s past– and her own.
Here’s the official That Summer page, where you can find a blurb, an excerpt, an audio excerpt, and glowing reviews from Library Journal, Kirkus, RT Book Reviews, and others:
Then just head back here and post in the Comments section (let me know whether you’d rather have the audio CD or the hardcover!). No need to include links, or anything like that: this is an honor system.
This give away is open internationally. The contest closes on Friday and winners will be announced on Saturday.
Let’s make That Summer the book of this summer!
Friday, May 23rd, 2014
It’s been a varied reading week for me, ranging from Regency mystery (C.S. Harris’s Why Kings Confess) to contemporary small town romance (Jill Shalvis’s Always on My Mind) to vintage Gothic (Evil at Queen’s Priory). Of these, I enjoyed the first two and was a little underwhelmed by the Gothic, which wasn’t quite up to Elsie Lee standard (although it did keep me guessing as to the villain).
What have you been reading this week?
Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
In honor of the merry, merry month of May, Christine brings us… Madeleines!
With this cookie, we go back to the very beginning of the series, to The Secret History of the Pink Carnation….
And now over to Christine!
In the Spring of 1803, Amy Balcourt, along with her cousin Jane Wooliston, and chaperone, Gwen Meadows, set sail for France, which would lead to the birth of the Pink Carnation. It’s been a long, cold winter, but spring has finally definitely arrived (or at least, at the time of this writing, I hope it has!), so we celebrate Miss Amy, the Purple Gentian, the Pink Carnation, and France with Madeleines.
The only previous experience I’ve had with Madeleines are a desperation hunger grab during a trip to Starbucks and that episode of “Friends” when Ross described Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Madeleines as “lighter than air.”
There are about a million Madeleine recipes online but I opted for one that looked simple enough, for the novice baker, and had a ton of great reviews (the only negative review said that Madeleines should not be light and airy, but rather should be dense and buttery, like the ones at Starbucks. I decided to stick with the opinions of the 100 other people who said it was a good recipe).
The recipe below is taken from allrecipes.com:
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest (I substituted orange)
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar for decoration (the recipe says granulated sugar but I assume that’s a mistake based on every picture of Madeleines I’ve ever seen)
1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease 12-Madeleine pan.
2. Melt butter and let cool to room temperature.
3. Beat eggs, vanilla and salt together at a high speed until airy (this only took about a minute).
4. While continuing to beat, add the granulated sugar. Continuing beating until the mixture is thick and forms ribbons when the beaters are lifted. This will take about 5-10 minutes (mine looked somewhere between thin frosting and thick pancake batter).
5. Sift flour into egg mixture, 1/3 at a time, gently folding.
6. Add lemon (or orange) zest, then pour butter around the edge of the mixture. Quickly but gently, fold it in.
7. Spoon batter into the pan. The batter will mound over the tops.
8. Bake 14-17 minutes. Cakes should spring back when you gently press a finger into them.
9. Loosen the Madeleines with the tip of a knife and invert onto a wire rack to cool, with the shell-side facing up (I had greased a non-stick pan and they slid out without any effort).
10. Quickly dust the hot Madeleines with powdered sugar (I used far less than the 1/3 cup stated in the recipe).
This was actually much easier than I thought it would be, and they came out looking good. Well, the dusting could’ve been neater, but the cakes were pretty. I baked them for 15 minutes and I think they were a tad over-baked. A little too dense and crunchy along the edges (though I LOVE crunchy cookies). And absolutely delicious.
I consider my first foray into Madeleines close to a success, and I’m looking forward to trying some of the ones on this impressive list from Huffington Post.
Don’t those look amazing? I am thrilled to hear that these were easier than they look, because they are very popular chez moi– and those little boxes of them from the supermarket don’t tend to last long. (My spouse swears it’s the fault of Francophile gnomes.)
Thank you so much, Christine! I will definitely be trying this recipe.
Here’s the big question: lemon zest, orange zest, or plain?
Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
The winner of the ARC of C.S. Harris’s Why Kings Confess is…
Kristy! (Of Comment #22.)
Congrats, Kristy! If you email me with your snail mail address, I’ll pop your book in the mail to you.
Stay tuned for next Monday’s give away: the That Summer audio CD!
Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Hot off the presses– or the audio equivalent thereof– I have an excerpt from the That Summer audio book!
It kicks right off with Chapter One.
That Summer— hardcover, e-book, audio, et al– will appear on shelves and iPods on June 3.
The audio version is available for pre-order from Audible, or, if you prefer it on CD, from Amazon and B&N.
Monday, May 19th, 2014
That Summer, my next stand alone novel, comes out in just two weeks!
Here’s the official blurb:
2009: When Julia Conley hears that she has inherited a house outside London from an unknown great-aunt, she assumes it’s a joke. She hasn’t been back to England since the car crash that killed her mother when she was six, an event she remembers only in her nightmares. But when she arrives at Herne Hill to sort through the house—with the help of her cousin Natasha and sexy antiques dealer Nicholas—bits of memory start coming back. And then she discovers a pre-Raphaelite painting, hidden behind the false back of an old wardrobe, and a window onto the house’s shrouded history begins to open…
1849: Imogen Grantham has spent nearly a decade trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older man, Arthur. The one bright spot in her life is her step-daughter, Evie, a high-spirited sixteen year old who is the closest thing to a child Imogen hopes to have. But everything changes when three young painters come to see Arthur’s collection of medieval artifacts, including Gavin Thorne, a quiet man with the unsettling ability to read Imogen better than anyone ever has. When Arthur hires Gavin to paint her portrait, none of them can guess what the hands of fate have set in motion.
From modern-day England to the early days of the Preraphaelite movement, Lauren Willig’s That Summer takes readers on an un-put-downable journey through a mysterious old house, a hidden love affair, and one woman’s search for the truth about her past—and herself.
You can find the first chapter here.
Over the next few months, I’ll be in New York, Connecticut, Arizona, Texas, Alabama and Michigan scribbling my name in books. (You can find the full list on the sidebar here on the News page). If you can’t make it to any of the tour stops, and would like a signed bookplate to paste into your copy of That Summer, just email me and I’ll pop a bookplate into the mail to you.
That Summer is available for pre-order in hardcover from Amazon, B&N, Books-A-Million, Powell’s, Indiebound, and, as always, your favorite local bookstore; in e-book form for Nook and Kindle; on audio CD from Amazon and B&N; or for audio download from Audible and iTunes.
Let the countdown to (that) summer begin!
Monday, May 19th, 2014
For today’s Monday give away, I have… an ARC of C.S. Harris’s ninth St. Cyr novel, Why Kings Confess.
Here’s the official blurb:
The gruesome murder of a young French physician draws aristocratic investigator Sebastian St. Cyr and his pregnant wife, Hero, into a dangerous, decades-old mystery as a wrenching piece of Sebastian’s past puts him to the ultimate test.
Regency England, January 1813: When a badly injured Frenchwoman is found beside the mutilated body of Dr. Damion Pelletan in one of London’s worst slums, Sebastian finds himself caught in a high-stakes tangle of murder and revenge. Although the woman, Alexi Sauvage, has no memory of the attack, Sebastian knows her all too well from an incident in his past—an act of wartime brutality and betrayal that nearly destroyed him.
As the search for the killer leads Sebastian into a treacherous web of duplicity, he discovers that Pelletan was part of a secret delegation sent by Napoleon to investigate the possibility of peace with Britain. Despite his powerful father-in-law’s warnings, Sebastian plunges deep into the mystery of the “Lost Dauphin,” the boy prince who disappeared in the darkest days of the French Revolution, and soon finds himself at lethal odds with the Dauphin’s sister—the imperious, ruthless daughter of Marie Antoinette—who is determined to retake the French crown at any cost.
With the murderer striking ever closer, Sebastian must battle new fears about Hero’s health and that of their soon-to-be born child. When he realizes the key to their survival may lie in the hands of an old enemy, he must finally face the truth about his own guilt in a past he has found too terrible to consider….
The St. Cyr novels are Regency-set mysteries, highly recommended for fans of Kate Ross, Tasha Alexander, or Deanna Raybourn. If you haven’t read them yet, you might want to start with the first one, What Angels Fear.
This one revolves around the mystery of the fate of the lost Dauphin. So, for an ARC of C.S. Harris’s Why Kings Confess, here’s your question:
— What’s your favorite unsolved historical mystery? And do you believe the Dauphin died in prison?
The winner will be announced on Wednesday. (And on Thursday we have another installment of Pink Carnation cookery: May Madeleines!)
Why Kings Confess came out on March 4 and is available wherever books are sold.