Monday, May 27, 2019

The Royal Secret - Review

The Royal Secret by Lucinda Riley
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: May 21, 2019
Source: Publisher for an honest review

In this suspenseful and heart-pounding novel from New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Riley, an ambitious young journalist unravels a dangerous mystery that threatens to devastate the British monarchy.

Keeping secrets is a dangerous game.

When Sir James Harrison, one the greatest actors of his generation, passes away at the age of ninety-five, he leaves behind not just a heartbroken family but also a secret so shocking, it could rock the English establishment to its core.

Joanna Haslam, an up-and-coming reporter, is assigned to cover the legendary actor’s funeral, attended by glitzy celebrities of every background. But Joanna stumbles on something dark beneath the glamour: the mention of a letter James Harrison has left behind—the contents of which many have been desperate to keep concealed for over seventy years. As she peels back the veil of lies that has shrouded the secret, she realizes that she’s close to uncovering something deadly serious—and the royal family may be implicated. Before long, someone is on her tracks, attempting to prevent her from discovering the truth. And they’ll stop at nothing to reach the letter before she does.

Full of salacious scandal, shocking twists, and captivating romance, and written in Lucinda Riley’s signature “vividly drawn and lushly atmospheric” (RT Book Reviews) prose, The Royal Secret is “a full-throttle escapist adventure” (Lancashire Evening Post).

My Take:

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from The Royal Secret, but the description of the novel definitely intrigued me. I liked the main character, Joana Haslam, a young reporter on her way up. Her life is a bit of a mess due to a break up, but she is smart, funny and tenacious.

I really liked the set up the big mystery – famous actor James Harrison dies and Joanna is tasked with covering the funeral and is sitting next to a little old lady who has a strange and seemingly serious physical reaction during the service. Joanna, being a generally nice person, helps her to a cab and makes sure she gets home. Then a letter which points to a big mystery/scandal arrives at her work from the little old woman – who then dies in a suspicious manner before Joanna can talk with her about it. And things just get more complicated and interesting from there.

Joanna follows up on the letter because she is a journalist and she just can’t let things go. The trail is long and winding and goes in some unexpected directions. I enjoyed the novel and had such a fun time finally finding out the big royal mystery. There are lots of interesting characters, lots of intrigue and some fun spy action. There are some tragedies and so many secrets. Everyone is not exactly who they seem at first and things get complicated.

Overall, I would say that The Royal Secret is a fast-paced and enjoyable read. There were a couple of plot points that I’m just kind of so-so on, but as a whole, I enjoyed the book and can recommend it. I think The Royal Secret makes a great summer read.

About the author:

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into over thirty five languages and sold fifteen million copies worldwide. She is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.

Lucinda is currently writing The Seven Sisters series, which tells the story of adopted sisters and is based allegorically on the mythology of the famous star constellation. The first five books, The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, The Shadow Sister, The Pearl Sister and The Moon Sister have all been No.1 bestsellers across the world, and the rights to a multi-season TV series have already been optioned by a Hollywood production company.


Twitter: @lucindariley

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Girl Puzzle - Blog Tour and Review

The Girl Puzzle by Kate Braithwaite

Publication Date: May 5, 2019
Crooked Cat Books
eBook & Paperback; 263 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Her published story is well known. But did she tell the whole truth about her ten days in the madhouse?

Down to her last dime and offered the chance of a job of a lifetime at The New York World, twenty-three-year old Elizabeth Cochrane agrees to get herself admitted to Blackwell’s Island Lunatic Asylum and report on conditions from the inside. But what happened to her poor friend, Tilly Mayard? Was there more to her high praise of Dr Frank Ingram than everyone knew?

Thirty years later, Elizabeth, known as Nellie Bly, is no longer a celebrated trailblazer and the toast of Newspaper Row. Instead, she lives in a suite in the Hotel McAlpin, writes a column for The New York Journal and runs an informal adoption agency for the city’s orphans.

Beatrice Alexander is her secretary, fascinated by Miss Bly and her causes and crusades. Asked to type up a manuscript revisiting her employer’s experiences in the asylum in 1887, Beatrice believes she’s been given the key to understanding one of the most innovative and daring figures of the age.

"Novelist Braithwaite (The Road to Newgate, 2018, etc.) delivers a well-researched and engrossing tale that focuses on female empowerment. A story of grit and perseverance that will appeal to readers interested in the history of women in journalism." - Kirkus Reviews

Available at Amazon

My Take:

I find Nellie Bly to be fascinating and I was happy for the opportunity to read and review The Girl Puzzle by Kate Braithwaite. Using Nellie's secretary Beatrice to describe her perspective of Nellie and the historical setting works well in my opinion. Beatrice is young and admires Nellie's grit and intelligence and is fascinated by her story. 

Nellie gives Beatrice pages of her story to type up and in the process Beatrice and the reader get a glimpse into Nellie's motivation and the feelings and reactions to the events in her life and her undercover work - especially at the asylum. Much of what she describes  didn't make it into her newspaper articles originally. 

I found The Girl Puzzle to be an enjoyable, fast-paced and thoroughly entertaining and informative  novel. I appreciated that the author took care to show how complicated and sometimes contradictory Nellie was throughout her life. While the novel is fairly short in length, there is a lot of information and an unflinching look at the dark days of mental health care. It can be troubling to read about what Nellie encountered, but we all owe her a great debt for exposing the deplorable conditions at the time. I think The Girl Puzzle is a great starting point for any reader interested in Nellie Bly and her daring and important reporting. I would definitely recommend The Girl Puzzle.

About the Author

Kate Braithwaite grew up in Edinburgh but now lives with her family in the Brandywine Valley in Pennsylvania. Her daughter doesn’t think Kate should describe herself as a history nerd, but that’s exactly what she is. Always on the hunt for lesser known stories from the past, Kate’s books have strong female characters, rich settings and dark secrets.

The Girl Puzzle is her third novel.

For more information, please visit Kate's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Sunday, May 5
Review at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 6
Interview at Jorie Loves A Story
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, May 8
Feature at What Is That Book About

Thursday, May 9
Review at Orange County Readers

Friday, May 10
Review at Macsbooks

Monday, May 13
Interview at Bookish Rantings

Wednesday, May 15
Review at Kate Rock Lit Chick
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, May 17
Review at A Book Geek
Review at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a signed copy of The Girl Puzzle by Kate Braithwaite! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. The Girl Puzzle

A Man of Honor Blog Tour and Review

  A Man of Honor, or Horatio's Confessions by J.A. Nelson Publication Date: December 9, 2019 Quill Point Press Paperback, eBook & ...