Feb 27, 2014

{Review & Guest Post} Secrets, Spies & Sherlock Blog Tour & Giveaway on Mom Loves 2 Read

Welcome to Day 4 of the SECRETS, SPIES & SHERLOCK BLOG TOUR, featuring two exciting new middle grade mystery series: Sherlock, Lupin & Me: The Dark Lady by Irene Adler and Secrets & Spies: Treason by Jo Macauley. Each stop on the 2-week tour will feature fun posts and a chance to win a set of finished copies!  Today’s post features Treason.

Life of an Actress in 17th Century London

Shortly after Shakespeare’s death in 1623, King Charles I was deposed and Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans took control of England. The Puritans believed theater to be immoral, and it was banned in 1642 until Charles II resumed the throne in 1660. Under Charles’ new regime, women were allowed to act on stage for the first time, making this an exciting time to be alive for a young actress such as Beth Johnson.

Charles himself sponsored the King’s Company, the troupe Beth belongs to in Treason, which became the first company to hire female actresses in 1661, including Nell Gwyn. Gwyn’s story may sound familiar to those reading Treason since, like Beth, she became an actress at 14, after a year of being an “orange-girl” (selling oranges outside the theater). Nell went on to become one of the most famous actresses of the time, perhaps boding well for our young protagonist.

The addition of female actresses had a huge impact on Restoration comedy. The largely male audience was fascinated by the novelty of women performing in the risqué plays of the period, which were encouraged by Charles and his debauched court. Before this time, boys would play the female roles — a practice that became especially complicated in such plays as Shakespeare’s As You Like It, which featured a male actor playing the character of Rosalind, who in turn masquerades as a man in the play and at one point imitates a young woman — or in other words, a boy playing a girl pretending to be a boy pretending to be a girl. Whew!

However, in 1662, a law was passed stating that female roles could only be played by women, in order to eliminate the practice of male cross-dressing that scandalized the Puritans who still held influence at the time. Ironically, this led to the development of “breeches roles” in which actresses appeared in male clothes, often to play a heroine who disguises herself as a boy. A quarter of the plays produced during this time featured breeches roles — and in Treason, Beth finds herself inhabiting a similar part in the fictional play Love’s Desires Spurn’d, crossing swords with actors much older than her. These cross-dressing roles allowed female actresses the same freedom as men, and some critics regard them as subversive of gender roles and empowering for the female audience.

Male and female actors alike became celebrities for the first time during this period, and drew more people to the theater than the plays themselves or even the playwrights — a change from the days of Shakespeare and Marlowe. With two theaters competing for popular actors, the actors were able to negotiate unprecedented deals, including company shares and higher salaries. Yet, despite their popularity, women did not have the same status as male actors. They did not receive equal pay, and while many men went on to become playwrights, very few women did. However, several women did become theater managers, as Beth desires to do in Treason. Lady Henrietta Maria Davenant, who succeeded her husband as manager of the Duke’s Company, went on to make it the most successful theater in London, producing the plays of the first female playwright, Aphra Behn, whose comedies featured strong female characters that made their own choices — much like the fiercely independent heroine at the heart of Treason.

Enter below to win a copy of Treason to learn more about Beth’s life as an actress, as well as a copy of The Dark Lady by Irene Adler!

***Stop by AkossiwaKetoglo tomorrow for the next stop on the SECRETS, SPIES & SHERLOCK BLOG TOUR and another chance to win!***

Secrets, Spies & Sherlock Blog Tour Schedule:

February 24th: The Dark Lady at The Write Path
February 25th: Treason at I Read Banned Books
February 26th: The Dark Lady at Buried in Books
February 27th: Treason at Miom Loves 2 Read
February 28th: The Dark Lady at Akossiwa Ketoglo

March 3rd: Treason at GeoLibrarian
March 4th: The Dark Lady at Bookshelf Banter
March 5th: Treason at Candace’s Book Blog
March 6th:  The Dark Lady at Through the Looking Glass
March 7th: Treason at Unconventional Librarian

About Sherlock, Lupin & Me: The Dark Lady by Irene Adler:

While on summer vacation, little Irene Adler meets a young William Sherlock Holmes. The two share stories of pirates and have battles of wit while running wild on the sunny streets and rooftops. When Sherlock's friend, Lupin, joins in on the fun, they all become fast friends. But the good times end abruptly when a dead body floats ashore on the nearby beach. The young detective trio will have to put all three of their heads together to solve this mystery.

My Review :
Wow, this is an amazing story!  I have always loved Sherlock Holmes and have a large hardcover book that has many of the Sherlock Holmes classic stories within that is a personal favorite in my home library.  Finding that an author has taken on the task of creating a young Sherlock Holmes story and adding in Irene Adler and Lupin as well, got my heart racing at the thought of getting to read and review this book.
And, it does not disappoint.  Sherlock, Lupin & Me is written from Irene's point of view (and authored by Irene Adler) and tells the reader about her first meeting with Sherlock as a young girl.  It takes the reader on an adventure as they struggle to solve their very first mystery together.  It is very well written, a fast paced, keeps you on your toes read that engages the readers' imagination and love of adventure.  I could not put it down!  I definitely recommend this for middle grade readers up to adults who love mysteries and adventure - it is a great read for most any Sherlock fan!
About Secrets & Spies: Treason by Jo Macauley:

Fourteen-year-old Beth Johnson is a talented and beautiful young actress. She is also a spy. The year is 1664, and Charles II is on the throne, but all is not well in the bustling city of London, and there are those who would gladly kill the king and destroy the Monarchy. One morning, a mysterious ghost ship drifts up the Thames. Sent to investigate by the King's Master of Secrets, Alan Strange, Beth quickly finds herself embroiled in a dangerous adventure. Will Beth be able to unravel the plot to kill the King before it's too late?

My Review :
Another big hit with this reader/reviewer from author Jo Macauley.  Once again a well written book that is an "edge of your seat" page turner.  Don't start reading this one unless you have time to continue to the end.  It was hard to put down and walk away from.  More great adventure, mystery and ghosts to tease a mystery lovers' mind.
Beth is a great spy and up and coming actress who must face danger to find the answer to a uniquely intriguing mystery.  Great read for middle grade and up.

Now, what could be better to go with a great review
than with a fun GIVEAWAY?
Enter below for a chance to WIN BOTH of these BOOKS!

Disclosure: I received free the item(s) mentioned in this post in exchange for my honest review. Regardless ~ All my reviews are my honest and personal opinion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”.


  1. I would love to win them for my mom, she loves these kind of books!

  2. 6 Friendship

  3. I would like them for myself.


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