Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Crown and The Chalice both by Nancy Bilyeau

I have found a new favorite author. Nancy Bilyeau has written two superb historical thrillers set during the reign of Henry VIII. I love historical fiction, and I also love great historical fiction that takes me to the world of the past and includes a thrilling mystery. What is also unique about these novels are that they are centered on a young Dominican novice, Joanna Stafford, during the time of the dissolution of the abbeys and monasteries in Tudor England.

The Crown

Joanna Stafford is from a noble family, but her Uncle the Duke of Buckingham was executed for treason, and her family has fallen on hard times. As a promise to a dying Queen Katherine of Aragon, Joanna becomes a novice at the Dominican priory in Dartford. She leaves her priory without permission when she discovers that her beloved cousin Margaret is about to be executed at Smithfield for treason during the Pilgrimage of Grace (a period in time when people in Northern England rebelled against King Henry as they wanted to keep their Catholic faith. Henry did not take too kindly to this). Things do not go well for Joanna on her journey. She is saved from ruffians by a young constable named Geoffrey Scovill. Joanna’s father has also made the journey to Smithfield to try to provide a last act of mercy for Margaret. Joanna and her father are thrown in the Tower of London. The only way to escape and save her father is to go on a secret mission for the Bishop of Winchester along with Friar Edmond and Friar Richard. She is to return to the priory and search for the mythical crown of Athelstan. Upon her return, Joanna discovers that there is much more to the mission than she could have possibly known. Will Joanna succeed in her mission and free her father?

The Chalice

The Chalice has a riveting opening. Joanna (along with various monks) is waiting outside the Canterbury Cathedral to fight King Henry’s soldiers that are stealing St. Thomas Beckets bones in order to destroy them. The religious community has seen their abbeys and monasteries dissolved, but this treatment of sacred relics was more than they can stand.

The novel then flashes back to the events that led up to this. Joanna Stafford has joined the likes of religious sisters and brothers across England at the dissolution of her priory. Never officially a nun, and now pensioned off, she is viewed with suspicion by townspeople and has to determine the route best to go on with her life. This route includes finding love, but the path of love does not flow smoothly. In the aftermath, Joanna visits cousins in London and again finds herself swept up into a conspiracy beyond her control. She must fulfill a prophecy to destroy Henry VIII to bring Catholicism back to England, but she also wants to protect her country from foreign invasion. Torn by these two conflicting ideologies, Joanna takes her destiny in her own hands.

I loved these books and read them very quickly. I was obsessed with them and read them at every opportunity. I was dismayed with The Chalice ended, but was happy to learn that Nancy Bilyeau has a contract with Touchstone for Book 3. It will be called The Covenant and will be out by the end of 2014. I can’t wait!

I loved these books for many reasons. The first was because they were a great suspenseful tale that kept me wondering what would happen next at every turn. I would finish one chapter and have to read the next. It was fascinating. Another intriguing element was the fact that it was told from the prospective of a novice during the dissolution. I have never read a novel of the Tudor period told from this view point before and it was very unique. I enjoyed reading about characters I’ve read about before in history through the eyes of Joanna Stafford. Joanna herself was one of my main reasons for loving these books. She was a strong heroine that was able to use her wits to help her and those she loved through perilous times. She is also a beautiful woman, who does not know it. This leads to a tragic romance, which I don’t want to talk about in order to not ruin it for people (although I am dying to talk to someone about it!). Joanna’s fellow sisters, Friar Edmond, Geoffrey Scovill, and others are all vividly sketched and brought to life in perfect detail.

Overall, The Crown and The Chalice are not to be missed. I highly recommend them and will be also recommending them to several of my friends and family members that I know will enjoy them.

I reviewed both The Crown and The Chalice as part of the TLC Book Tours.  I have been having technical difficulties with Blogger on editing my posts (has anyone else been having this issue) and adding in links.  The link for TLC book reviews is: http://tlcbooktours.com/  For further stops on the book store check-out this scheduled:

Monday, July 15th: Royal Reviews

Wednesday, July 17th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, July 18th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf

Friday, July 19th: Col Reads

Monday, July 22nd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, July 24th: Lit and Life

Thursday, July 25th: Book Addict Katie

Monday, July 29th: Scandalous Women

Tuesday, July 30th:  Laura's Reviews

Tuesday, July 30th: Fiction Addict

Wednesday, July 31st: Booktalk & More

Thursday, August 1st: Bookish Whimsy

Monday, August 5th: Read Lately

Wednesday, August 7th: A Library of My Own

Thursday, August 8th: Literally Jen

Friday, August 9th: A Reader of Fictions

Monday, August 12th: Books Without Any Pictures

Friday, July 19, 2013

Meet Me at The Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan Review and GIVEAWAY!

When this book first showed up in my mailbox, my middle child, 5-year old Daniel, stared at it in fascination. “Mommy, what are you reading,” he asked. “Meet Me at the Cupcake Café, “I responded. “I want to go to the cupcake café,” he said dreamily. After finishing the novel, I find too that I would love to travel to the cupcake café!

Issy Randall is a born baker. Her flighty mother left her with her grandfather for most of her life. Her grandfather raised her with love in his three bakeries and taught her the secrets to good baking. Now a thirty-something worker bee at a real estate firm, Issy finds herself let go by her boss/boyfriend Graeme due to the hard economic times. Issy decides that now is the time to pursue her dream and start her own cupcake café. Through shear hard work, determination, and the help of a few friends, Issy Randall works through trials and tribulations to make the perfect dessert and business. She also meets her handsome banker, Austin, and sparks fly.

I LOVED this book. Issy is not a skinny, beautiful woman waiting for Mr. Right to find her. She is a plump regular woman with an amazing skill of baking and grit to make her dreams come true. She has her own self-doubts and wonders if she has chosen the right path, but she works hard to pursue her dreams. She has her best friend and roommate, Helena, a nurse that knows how to get the job done and does not take any guff. As Helena and Issy enter their thirties and watch their friends marry and start families, they start to wonder if they have made the right decisions, especially in regards to men. I found Issy and her friends to be very relatable.

Each chapter of the book opens with a recipe. As an American looking at the measurements that are strangely metric and old school, I’m going to have to think about this. Many of them sound scrumptious and fun to try out.

Overall, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is a delightful book full of wonderful characters and a great story line about a woman making it on her own. I was sad when it ended and hope that the characters will turn up again in another book. I’ve added author Jenny Colgan on to my list of authors that I really need to find more of her books!

Book Source: Review Copy from Sourcebooks. Thanks!


Sourcebooks has graciously offered a giveaway of one copy of Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan.
If you would like to win this book please leave a comment about what most intrigues you about this book.
As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using random.org (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).

No P.O. Boxes.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday August 2nd, 2013.

Please make sure to check the first week of August to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has been on my “to-read” list for years, especially after hearing so many great stories and reviews of it on NPR and the blogosphere. I finally checked it out of the library for a good summer read and found myself mesmerized by it. It is a non-fiction book, but it read like fiction to me. I blew through reading the book in only a couple of days. I was fascinated by it as well as greatly disturbed. It was a wonderful book that will also provide some great lecture material as I teach environmental microbiology for the first time this fall.

Henrietta Lacks grew up in rural Virginia. She married her cousin Day, and together they moved to Baltimore to find a better life. They had five children together, but when Henrietta was 31, she discovered that something was wrong. She went to John Hopkins Hospital and discovered that she had cervical cancer. She was treated and thought she would get better, but sadly she did not. What she didn’t know is that doctors had taken a piece of her cervix and cancer cells and started to grown them in their lab while she was dying upstairs.

Henrietta’s cancer cells were the first human cells that scientists were able to keep alive continuously. They have never died. Her cells were soon passed out to other scientists and grown everywhere. They were used for a variety of medical and scientific advances, one of which was the eradication of polio.

Henrietta’s family was never told of any of this. It wasn’t until two decades later that they found out some of their mother’s cells were still alive and researchers needed more blood samples from them to work with. Henrietta’s children struggled to make sense of all of this and started to wonder why their mother and family as not credited for this and why companies were selling vials of Henrietta’s cells without paying the family. As one family member said, Henrietta was buried in an unmarked grave in Virginia and her children were unable to afford insurance, yet her cells were helping people everywhere.

The story was fascinating and brought to life the real woman Henrietta, yet the book was also a moving story of Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah. Deborah was only one when her mother died and had a very unhappy childhood. She wanted to learn more about her mother and to let the world know about her as well. The family had been exploited before, but after a time, Deborah learned to trust author Rebecca Skloot and they went on a ten-year journey together to find the truth.

The most moving passages to me were when Deborah and her brother Zakariyya are finally shown Henrietta’s cells for the first time and are fully explained what they are seeing. I wish someone would have shown the family sooner! I was also very moved when Deborah went on a search for more information about her sister Elsie. Elsie was institutionalized just before Henrietta’s death because she was deaf, mute, and had epilepsy. No one visited from the family visited Elise again after Henrietta died and she died herself about five years later. Deborah found some disturbing information about the conditions she lived under. I couldn’t even explain this part of the book to my husband without crying.

Overall disturbing to me was that in the 1950’s it was okay for doctors to experiment on “colored” patients without their permission as they were getting free treatment at John Hopkins. Often they didn’t know they were being experimented on and the ethics of the entire thing are very, very questionable.

I could go on about this book all day, but take it from me, it is a must read. Rebecca Skloot has a gift for being able to take scientific information and make it very relatable. Henrietta’s story is important to understand where we are now and what how we all benefited from her life.

Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library

Setting Limits with your Strong-Willed Child by Robert J. MacKenzie, Ed.D.

I have three strong-willed children, which isn’t too surprising as they have two strong-willed parents. I liked the subtitle of this book which is “eliminating conflict by establishing clear, firm, and respectful boundaries.” I hate conflict so eliminating it sounded great to me.

The book explains the “family dance” which is when your kids discover that you are going to tell them a million times to do something, so they don’t do it, which enrages you, and things quickly go downhill. MacKenzie gave many examples on how to avoid this. Basically this book gives you great examples of a giving a firm limit, and then following it up by a “natural consequence” or a time-out immediately. This is great advice for both me and my husband. It’s hard when you are busy to try to be direct and not get into the “kids put away your shoes.” Five minutes later while you are cooking dinner, “kids put away your shoes.” And so on. Instead, “kids put your shoes away, or some consequence.” If they don’t do it, they get the consequence immediately. The book also has you use timers, which we already do to great effect.

We had been using 1-2-3 Magic with the kids (counting them for misbehavior) and it doesn’t really work that well for our testers. We’ve been trying the methods in this book, which are mostly the same as 1-2-3 magic without the counting and it works better with our strong-willed children. Giving them a choice with a consequence if they don’t make the correct choice and then having the consequence directly follow has been working much better. I also liked the Saturday bin idea where I’ve been putting toys that aren’t picked up into a bin that they can’t use until Saturday. It has been a great motivator for the kids to pick up.

Overall, Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child is another good set of tools to use in my parenting basket.

Book Source: Purchased from Amazon.com

Summer Audiobook Giveaway Winners!

It is amazing how fast it is to get behind on my blog.  I'm finally posting the winners today to the Summer Audiobook Giveaway Blowout and I'll also be posting some reviews I've been working on for awhile.
The lucky winners are:
Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young - Jeanette
Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson - Linda
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown - Traveler
A Conspiracy of Faith by Jussi Adler-Olsen - Petite
The Prosperous Heart by Julia Cameron - Suko of Suko's Notebook
Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni - Tiff of Tiff Talks Books
Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton - Meghan of What Does that Have to Do with the Price of Butter?
Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton - Na

All winners were selected using random.org.  Books that were not chosen by blog readers will be donated to the Kewaunee Public Library.  I emailed all winners to get their email addresses.  If you are a winner and didn't receive an email, let me know if the comments and also check your junk email folder.

Thank-you to Penguin Audiobooks for providing the great audiobooks for this giveaway.  Also thank-you to all who entered this giveaway.

I will have a new giveaway up shortly . . .

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

Title: The Convenient Marriage

Author: Georgette Heyer

Read by: Richard Armitage!!!

Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks - 2010

Length: Approximately 4 hours, sadly it is abridged

Source: MP3 Audio through Wisconsin Public Library Consortium – Overdrive on my Droid

Marcus Drelincourt, the Earl of Rule, has agreed to marry the beautiful Elizabeth Winwood. The Winwood’s are an aristocratic family that has fallen on hard times. Much to the Earl of Rule’s surprise, Elizabeth’s younger sister Horatia “Horry” Winwood arrives on his doorstep and offers herself in place of Elizabeth in a marriage of convenience with the Earl of Rule. Elizabeth is in love with another and the Earl agrees to the sister swap although Horry does not share Elizabeth’s beauty and has a pronounced stutter.

The two are soon married and Horry makes a splash around town as a young new Countess with a love of gambling and a misunderstanding of the workings of finance. Things go too far when Robert, Baron of Lethbridge, an enemy of Rule starts to pay his attentions to Horry with the view of ruining her reputation. Horry just thinks Lethbridge is a nice friend and doesn’t understand the danger. She also wants to punish the Earl of Rule for continuing to visit his mistress, Caroline Massey. There are various scrapes and the Earl and Countess find that they care for much more than a marriage of convenience.

I LOVE Georgette Heyer and I had not previously read The Convenient Marriage. I will admit that I have had this audiobook on my “to-read” list ever since I discovered Richard Armitage narrated it. I LOVE Richard Armitage from the British North & South and Robin Hood series. He is the “hot” dwarf now in The Hobbit movies, although my husband is skeptical that there can be such a thing as a hot dwarf. Richard Armitage did the novel justice and was a wonderful narrator. I particularly loved his portrayal of the Earl of Rule and I found myself wishing this could be made into a movie with Armitage in the role. Seriously, why are Heyer’s novels not being made into movies? I can totally see this on Masterpiece Classic. I have another Heyer novel narrated by Armitage on reserve at the library.

I loved the shades of Pride and Prejudice in this novel. Lady Winwood is very concerned about marrying of her daughters and discusses the state of her nerves at times, which reminded me of Mrs. Bennet. Horry and Rule’s misunderstandings reminded me of how Elizabeth and Darcy misunderstood each other at the beginning of well. Other than that, it was a wonderful regency novel of its own and vintage Regency Heyer. My only complaint was that it was abridged. This novel was wonderful on Audio. I will be listening to more Heyer and hopefully more Armitage!

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

Title: A Hundred Summers

Author: Beatriz Williams

Read by: Kathleen McInerney

Publisher: Penguin Audio

Length: 11 hours, 35 minutes

Source: MP3 Audio Review Copy from Penguin Audio – Thank-you!!

Lily Dane is a young socialite spending the summer of 1938 in the Rhode Island Beach town of Seaview as her family has done for generations. Her mother is more concerned about society events and orphans than her own children, so Lily spends her time taking care of her much younger sister, Kiki. Lily’s world is shaken when she learns that her ex-best friend, Budgie Byrne, now Budgie Greenwald will be visiting with her husband Nick. Nick Greenwald was the love of Lily’s life and she has not seen him since he married her best friend.

The novel alternates between 1938 and 1931 when Lily first meets Nick and they fall in love. Nick is Jewish and this causes much angst for Lily who is sure her old-school family will not approve of her relationship with Nick. Things seem to go that way when Nick finally meets Lily’s father, but are things all that they seem to be? What happened to Lily and Nick’s relationship? Is Kiki Lily’s sister or her daughter? These two central questions intrigued me at the very start of the novel and kept me listening with fascination throughout.

A Hundred Summers is the perfect beach read (or listen). It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite books from my teenage years, Colony by Anne Rivers Siddons. An exclusive Northeastern beach front community, family deception and intrigue, and a great ending made this book similar to Colony and a good read.

I loved the characters in A Hundred Summers. Budgie Byrne is the anti-Lily, a friend that is truly out for herself, but also has a vulnerable side. Lily’s Aunt Julie tells it the way it is and loves to live life large. Yankee’s pitcher Graham Pendleton is a handsome famous man that is seemingly picture perfect for Lily. Kiki is a sweet younger sister, although at times, I thought she was a pre-teen from the way she talked and not a six year old girl.

My only complaint about the novel (besides Kiki’s speech) was that Lily really seemed very clueless. I didn’t understand by the end how she couldn’t have put certain pieces of the puzzle together before she did. I wanted to smack both her and Nick. Their love story seemed too syrupy sweet at the beginning. I will admit to being happy that it became a love story filled with intrigue.

I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook version. Kathleen McInerney was a good narrator with a soothing voice. The chapters alternated between past and present and it was great to listen to while working on chores!

Overall, A Hundred Summers was an entertaining book full of intrigue and great characters. If you are looking for a great beach read – I recommend this book!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Entertainment Weekly’s 100 Greatest Novels Ever

I am an engineer and a lover of lists. I always love to read different lists of top books and have discussed various lists on Laura’s Reviews in the past. I was more than a little bit excited to get my Entertainment Weekly magazine this week with the “100 Greatest Novels ever.” I had many problems with the list overall, which seems to be the case for anyone trying to agree on what exactly the 100 greatest novels should be. First of all, I would expect Entertainment Weekly to pick the 100 greatest novels and to include books that have entertained people throughout the ages. Upon reading the list, I found that the selections were really rather random. I would be interested in a list that readers put together or to know how this list was put together at EW (they must have heard my pleas as they now have their rationale posted here http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/07/05/all-time-greatest-novels-list/).

The list had really random additions like only four children's books (Harry Potter, Charlotte's Web, The Hobbit, and Are You There God It's Me Margaret), which I would not consider the best of all children's books. I love Charlotte’s Web, but would I consider it the 10th greatest novel ever written, and also the greatest children’s book ever written? Quite simply, no. But ask me about Little House on the Prairie (not on the list), and I might have a different answer. I think the children’s books should have been a different list or should have been chosen with more care and placed differently. Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, etc. were all missing from the list. I also thought Are you There God It’s Me Margaret was a strange addition to the list. I feel it is not even Blume's best work and it felt dated when I read it back in the late 1980's. Does anyone else feel the same? I had an interesting Facebook discussion recently about children’s books and I mean to write a future post about this subject!

Anna Karenina should not be the number one greatest novel ever written in my eyes. Top ten, yes, number one, no. I read this wonderful novel about ten years ago with my Milwaukee book club. We all enjoyed it, but also agreed that Tolstoy veered off topic and rambled quite a bit. EW even mentions this with “There are novels on this list that are more perfectly engineered (No.2 and No. 3, for instance.) And there are definitely more books that devote fewer pages to agrarianism (No.2 – No.100).” I would have picked number two or three for my top pick, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald or Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I agree they are perfectly engineered novels, but they also strike a cord within in me that has made me read them many times in my lifetime. Both novels continue to have great impacts on our culture. I also would have included To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee in the top ten, or top three.

I was happy to see Willa Cather in the top ten with My Antonia, but I feel that Death Comes for the Archbishop is her masterpiece. There were MANY omissions from this list. Where is Steinbeck, Orwell, or Bradbury? Where is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier? Thackery’s Vanity Fair? Where is the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien? If we are going to include modern day classics, what about Atonement by Ian McEwan or any of Khaled Hosseini's novels? Where is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, one of the best books I've ever read? If we are going to include Sci-Fi, what about Dune by Frank Herbert? What about historical fiction? Bringing up the Bodies feels like it was slapped on there. What about Katherine by Anya Seton or The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick? I could go on.

Some overrated books are on this list, most glaringly, The Corrections. The Corrections is a true turd of a book, literally. It has a talking turd in it. The best thing about this book seems to be that the author shunned Oprah and made a big to do. I read the book ten years ago expecting great things and just found a depressing book that literally had a taking turd. I wanted to throw it by the end. Why does this stinker keep appearing on best of lists? I have read so many other books that are much more deserving. Am I the only one that feels this book is truly overrated? I also hated the first Rabbit book by John Updike. It was truly depressing and didn’t really speak to me at all.

There were also books that I frankly had never heard of on this list: #30 Blindness by Jose Saramago, #33 Maus by Art Spiegelman, #35 A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe, #38, The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker, #40 A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, #47 The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, #50 Snow by Orhan Pamuk, #54 Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, #55 A Fine Balance by Rohinton, #69 Money by Martin Amis, #76 The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, #78 A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul, #84 Clockers by Richard Price, #91 The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, #92 The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse, #96 If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. As an obsessive reader, I found this to be disturbing. How can there be so many great books that I’ve never even heard of? Has anyone else read or heard of these novels? Should I be adding them onto my giant “to-read” list?

I've read 37 of the books on the list, have 11 on my bookshelf ready to read, and 12 of the rest of the books I haven't read, I've read other works by the author. One (The Sound and the Fury) I've tried to read more than once and can't seem to ever finish, even though I love Faulkner's short stories. This is rather low numbers for me on a best of list. How do others do?

Well, I could go on all day. I would love to hear what others have to say.

The complete list (http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20712079_20711847,00.html):

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

5. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

6. My Antonia by Willa Cather

7. The Harry Potter Series

8. The Rabbit quartet by John Updike

9. Beloved by Toni Morrison

10. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

11. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolfe

12. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

14. Crime and Punishment by Fyoder Dostoevsky

15. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow

16. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

17. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

18. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

19. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

20. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty

21. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

22. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

23. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyoder Dostoevsky

24. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

25. Bleak House by Charles Dickens

26. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

27. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

28. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

29. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

30. Native Son by Richard Wright

31. Blindness by Jose Saramago

32. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

33. Maus by Art Spiegelman

34. The World According to Garp by John Irving

35. A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe

36. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

37. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

38. The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker

39. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

40. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

41. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

42. The Stand by Stephen King

43. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

44. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

45. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

46. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

47. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

48. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

49. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

50. Snow by Orhan Pamuk

51. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

52. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

53. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

54. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

55. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

56. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

57. The Children of Men by P.D. James

58. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

59. Dracula by Bram Stoker

60. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

61. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Gracia Marquez

62. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

63. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth

64. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

65. Herzog by Saul Bellow

66. Howards End by E.M. Forster

67. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

68. Middlemarch by George Eliot

69. Money by Martin Amis

70. Neuromancer by William Gibson

71. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

72. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

73. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre

74. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

75. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

76. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

77. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

78. A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul

79. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

80. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

81. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

82. Disgrace by J.J. Coetzee

83. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

84. Clockers by Richard Price

85. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

86. A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham

87. White Teeth by Zadie Smith

88. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

89. Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

90. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

91. The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

92. The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse

93. Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

94. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

95. The Poisonwood Bible

96. If on a Winter’s Night a Travelor by Italo Calvino

97. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

98. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

99. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

100. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Winner of A Royal Pain Name Gain!

I meant to announce the winner last week - but the 4th of July holiday week and packing for a camping adventure (as well as finishing up items for work!) took center stage.  Using random.org, the winner of the The Royal Pain Name Game is Lynne Pisano.  Her guesses for the royal baby names are Philip for a boy and Elizabeth for a girl.  Those are fine names to carry on down the family and I'm interested to see what the baby's name will be!  It seems I am reading a new royal baby article every day as the world anxiously awaits!
I have emailed Lynne to let her know that she is a winner.  If I do not hear back from her within a week, a new winner will be selected.

Thank-you to Sourcebooks for allowing me to host this great giveaway.  Thank-you to all who entered and spread the word about this giveaway.  I still have a great giveaway going for fifteen different audiobooks from Penguin Audio and will soon have a great new giveaway up for Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe so stay tuned!