Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes’s Emmy Award-winning PBS show Downton Abbey, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war.

“‘Why is the movie never as good as the book?’ Readers are asking the wrong question,” suggests Donna Woolfolk Cross, author of Pope Joan. “The question should be: ‘Why is the movie always different from the book?’ Here’s what matters: The movie needs to capture the soul of the book – the part that made readers love it. I’m so lucky this happened with Pope Joan. The theme of my novel is female empowerment through learning. That theme has survived intact – and very movingly – in the film. This is why I’m so excited about the upcoming television mini-series based on my novel. It has TWO nights to tell the story of Pope Joan. It will air on ReelzChannel TV on December 18/19.”

“A beautiful, heart-breaking gem of a novel written just the way I like them,” says Tatiana de Rosnay, international bestselling author of Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept, “with the past coming back to haunt the present, endearing heroines and a sunny, hopeful ending. You’ll wolf it up in one delicious gulp.” Fans of historical fiction, romance, and page-turning novels will love Sarah McCoy’s The Baker’s Daughter.

“I knew very little of Queen Margaret or King Malcolm and this was a great introduction,” writes Siobian at The Owl Bookmark Blog. “Reading Susan Fraser King’s Queen Hereafter, it was easy to see why the Catholic church made Margaret a saint. Equally moving to me was the love between her and Malcolm. The scenes of them together were so sweet and I enjoyed watching her go from indifference toward the king to bliss. Overall, I liked this book and learned a lot about Scotland and its heritage.”

“In my view, The Human Comedy is the best restaurant guide you could ask for, for the era,” suggests Anka Muhlstein, author of Balzac’s Omelette. “Balzac was a regular at some forty restaurants, and he sent his characters off into the most refined establishments, as well as into the lowliest ones. The result is both an ideal Michelin Guide of gastronomical delights (and disasters) in nineteenth-century Paris, and an enchanting introduction to the work of one of the greatest French novelists.”

In February 2011, Read It Forward introduced you to Taylor Stevens and her blockbuster debut The Informationist. With The Innocent, Taylor returns with another page-turning thriller featuring the fearless Vanessa Michael Munroe. Tautly written, brilliantly paced, and with the same evocation of the exotic combined with chilling violence that made The Informationist such a success, The Innocent confirms Taylor Stevens’ reputation as a thriller writer of the first rank.