Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Downton Abbey - Where Have You Been My Whole Life?!?

Ok, ok, ok this is not earth shattering news but it is somewhat new for me so here I go...Downton Abbey is AMAZING!!!!  I have been hearing about this show for awhile now and kept thinking that it can't be THAT good, can it?  Oh, yes it can.  So.Damn.Good.  Ok enough of my gushing...I thought it would be fun to put together a list of read alikes for when you are having Downton Abbey withdrawls :)

**in the interest of full disclosure I have not read some of these books but you can bet they are on my TBR list now!!!**

Maisie Dobbs (Book 1)Hailed by NPR’s Fresh Air as part Testament of Youth, part Dorothy Sayers, and part Upstairs, Downstairs, this astonishing debut has already won fans from coast to coast and is poised to add Maisie Dobbs to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths.

Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence—and the patronage of her benevolent employers—she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind. (via

The American Heiress: A Novel"Anyone suffering Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms (who isn't?) will find an instant tonic in Daisy Goodwin’s The American Heiress. The story of Cora Cash, an American heiress in the 1890s who bags an English duke, this is a deliciously evocative first novel that lingers in the mind." --Allison Pearson, New York Times bestselling author of I Don’t Know How She Does It and I Think I Love You.
Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage.
Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, Cora’s story marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James.
"For daughters of the new American billionaires of the 19th century, it was the ultimate deal: marriage to a cash-strapped British Aristocrat in return for a title and social status. But money didn’t always buy them happiness." --Daisy Goodwin in The Daily Mail (via

I am reading this one right now and LOVING it!!!

A Countess Below Stairs
After the russian revolution turns her world topsy-turvy, Anna, a young russian countess, has no choice but to flee to england. penniless, Anna hides her aristocratic background and takes a job as servant in the household of the esteemed westerholme family, armed only with an outdated housekeeping manual and sheer determination. Desperate to keep her past a secret, Anna is nearly overwhelmed by her new duties—not to mention her instant attraction to rupert, the handsome earl of westerholme. to make matters worse, rupert appears to be falling for her as well. As their attraction grows stronger, Anna finds it more and more difficult to keep her most dearly held secrets from unraveling. And then there’s the small matter of rupert’s beautiful and nasty fiancĂ©e. . . .(via

A Brief History of Montmaray (The Montmaray Journals)“There’s a fine line between gossip and history, when one is talking about kings."

Sophie Fitzosborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray with her eccentric and impoverished royal family. When she receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday, Sophie decides to chronicle day-to-day life on the island. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The politics of Europe seem far away from their remote island—until two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then suddenly politics become very personal indeed.
A Brief History of Montmaray is a heart-stopping tale of loyalty, love, and loss, and of fighting to hold on to home when the world is exploding all around you. (via

The LuxeBeautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan's social scene. Or so it appears. When the girls discover their status among New York City's elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone—from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud—threatens Elizabeth's and Diana's golden future.

With the fate of the Hollands resting on her shoulders, Elizabeth must choose between family duty and true love. But when her carriage overturns near the East River, the girl whose glittering life lit up the city's gossip pages is swallowed by the rough current. As all of New York grieves, some begin to wonder whether life at the top proved too much for this ethereal beauty, or if, perhaps, someone wanted to see Manhattan's most celebrated daughter disappear...

In a world of luxury and deception, where appearance matters above everything and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever, five teenagers lead dangerously scandalous lives. This thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

I read SOOOO many blogs that picked this as their top of 2011...ummmm me not so much.  That is not to say I hated it but it wasn't my top.  I couldn't fully fall in love with any of the characters...Harper was just tooo angsty (ya, ya I know she just lost her sister but I really did want to slap her half the time) and Jake was just too bad boy cool, albeit with great taste in music...and don't even get me started about the adults.  I realize this is a book written to a young adult audience but I thougth the adults were so not believable that it made the whole story not believable.  I thought Amy & Roger's Epic Detour did a *much* better cross country, road tripy, getting over losing some one you love, love story (if that makes *any* sense).  Just my two cents :)

Book Description via
Saving June

Everyone's sorry. But no one can explain why.

Harper Scott's older sister, June, took her own life a week before high school graduation, leaving Harper devastated. So when her divorcing parents decide to split up June's ashes, Harper steals the urn and takes off cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going—California.
Enter Jake Tolan, a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession…and an unknown connection to June. When he insists on joining them, Harper's just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what Harper needs. Except…Jake's keeping a secret that has the power to turn her life upside down—again.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

I don't know what to say about this is so excrutiatingly, painfully beautiful that I was sobbing big, ugly tears at the end.  I think adult readers will have a very different experience with this book than teen readers ( *especially* if those adults have children).  You can't help but go to that place...what if that was my child???  Mr. John Green - you absolutly killed me with this one.  So would I recommend this book???  I am still not sure... Review

The Fault in Our StarsAmazon Best Books of the Month, January 2012: In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green has created a soulful novel that tackles big subjects--life, death, love--with the perfect blend of levity and heart-swelling emotion. Hazel is sixteen, with terminal cancer, when she meets Augustus at her kids-with-cancer support group. The two are kindred spirits, sharing an irreverent sense of humor and immense charm, and watching them fall in love even as they face universal questions of the human condition--How will I be remembered? Does my life, and will my death, have meaning?--has a raw honesty that is deeply moving. --Seira Wilson

Monday, February 6, 2012

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

This is another book that has shown up on almost *every* Best of 2011 list and I kinda have to was great.  I thougth the ending was a bit too tidy but I can live with it because the story as a whole was so great.  It kinda amazes me that I liked it as much as I did because I started out really disliking both of the main protagonist but then they grew on me...and I fell in love.

Book Description via

How to Save a LifeJill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she's somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.
Mandy Kalinowski understands what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she's sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It's harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?
As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy--or as difficult--as it seems.

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about the many roads that can lead us home.