Reviews

The Poppy & the Rose, by Ashlee Cowles

goblin_reaper's review against another edition

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3.0

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and was immediately stricken by the beautiful cover and the captivating title.
The Poppy & the Rose is a short, quick, enjoyable read - I read it in a matter of days because I wanted to see how this story of the Titanic was different than what I already knew of the horrific tragedy. This is a YA/ historic fiction / Gothic mystery, so it’s got a lot going on, but honestly, I enjoyed the story and learned quite a bit!
We follow Taylor as she arrives in Oxford for a summer journalism program, but the real reason why she’s in England is to find out more about her late father and the secrets he kept. Before she’s had the time to unpack her suitcase, she is invited to tea with Lady Mae Knight, who claims to have the answers she seeks. However, when the old lady is found dead, Taylor is left with a single clue: the story of what really happened aboard the Titanic as told by Ava, a 17-year-old socialite.
The Poppy and the Rose is the first novel of Cowles that I have read and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Wow! This book blew me away. Cowles writes beautifully and is a world-class storyteller. I had so much fun reading about Lady Ava and her journey on the Titanic and about Taylor and her sleuthing adventures. The structure, historical accuracy, main character arcs, and secondary characters of the novel are developed, brilliant, and imaginative. I felt swept away as I read, staying up way past my bedtime to finish the book because I was so invested. Cowles delivers wisdom and teaches history without the reader’s full awareness because the story is that good. This would be a great read for learners of any age.
Frankly, I think The Poppy and the Rose occupies a space of perfectly average. It attempts to ask lofty questions about life, love, and the intertwined nature of fate and time, but it forgets to create characters worth investing in and presents a mediocre plot. As a light read for historical fiction fans that go in with the bar set low, maybe this will be worth the time. Going in with high expectations of any sort, however, will likely ruin the experience.
My biggest problem with the book was actually the historical, factual information. I like to think I know more than the average about Europe in the early twentieth century, and I still struggled to follow along. Didn’t deter me from the story per se, but I also just had to push through the information overload. I also thought some of the present-day events were a bit farfetched, but it’s a book and I tried to not think too much into it!
Thanks to Owl Hollow Press and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. This does not influence my thoughts and opinions.

vanessa_issa's review against another edition

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3.0

Thanks to Owl Hollow Press for ARC!

This book tells the story of Taylor Romano, a girl searching for answers about her past.
She sees a woman (who's not her mother) holding her father in a picture. So she wonders: who's she? Where were they? What happened? Did he have another family?

Back in 1912, Ava Knight, a young English aristocrat, boarded the Titanic. She met some incredible people there, and her life was changed forever. Now, in 2010, Taylor needs to read this story in order to know her own.

It was a good read!! I really like stories that take place on ships, especially the Titanic. It's the kind of book you might think you already know the ending, but you'll probably be surprised. I certainly was!

cinephilegirl_'s review against another edition

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4.0

I wanted to choose some young adult novel to read in October and this one strikes me at first sight. The synopsis was very interesting promising both mystery and historical fiction. Topics that aren’t your usual cup of tea.
The story is told by two points o f view: Ava Knight in 1912 and Taylor in 2010.
I loved Taylor point of view, the mystery about her father and the lovely and colorful characters that she met in Oxford. I’m such a big fan of OXFORD since I’ve read A discovery of witches pretty much I wanted to go there to study anything and this teen gets a summer Journalism program pretty much for free… you gotta love that books exists!
It was well paced and the two POV makes everything more exciting to read, letting the mistery unfold in the very last part of the novel.
Like the author saids in her review: I love Titanic and historical facts, I love intrigue, I love romance and I love mystery in the good old England that looks like Downtown Abbey so I’m going to rise my 3.5 Oxford stars up to four in goodreads, because this book deserves it.

riverlasol's review against another edition

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4.0

I read this over the weekend and I really enjoyed it! It’s a dual timeline YA mystery novel that I was drawn to because I love pretty much any novel about the titanic (I have no idea why). I was drawn in very easily to the mystery. I loved how unique the mystery was and how the dual timelines came together in the end. I never would’ve guessed exactly how they related and I thought it was very clever. Plus the plot twist came out of NOWHERE!! I was seriously stunned. 


The plotting of this novel was great, but I do wish there was a little more exploration of each of the main characters. I also wasn’t a fan of the present day timeline romance subplot at all. I didn’t really see any chemistry between the two involved, but I wouldn’t let this dissuade you from reading since it was a sub subplot (if that makes sense). 


I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to read a unique dual timeline mystery. It talks about the psychology movement of the early twentieth century and has a theme of family, both of which were very intriguing. Big thank you to the publisher and @netgalley for the review copy! 

books_over_everything's review against another edition

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4.0

Initial Thoughts

I was bummed that I didn’t get to read this book before release day but, I’m so glad that my forever buddy reader @lianne_the_bibliophile and I decided to make this our next pick. I loved the idea of historical fiction mixed with a modern twist.

Some Things I Liked

Independent storylines. I really enjoyed that these main characters had their own stories with plenty of parallels. I liked the idea of each of them telling their own story and being so similar without feeling repetitive.
Cute and subtle romance plots. I also liked that the author managed to write two subtle but very believable romance plots into these stories. I loved both Caleb and Nathaniel and would read more about their adventures if given the chance.
A sprinkle of the supernatural. I loved that there was a very slight nod to historical fantasy / supernatural elements in this story. It was not the focal point of the plot but it made for an interesting addition.

One Thing I Wasn’t Crazy About

The two main storylines did not converge in a meaningful way until very late in the book. As much as I loved each storyline individually, I felt that they were almost entirely independent for most of the story. It was hard to see both characters as part of a larger plot without that element. I wish we had seen them connect sooner than we did.

Series Value

This story feels very Lara Croft – Tomb Raider meets National Treasure in the investigative journalism sense. I can easily see Taylor going on more adventures and I’d like to think that Ava and Mae had more adventures that they documented and Taylor could relive. I would read more of their adventures if Ashlee Cowles wanted to write them.

Furthermore, I am interested to read more of Ashlee Cowles’s writing. I enjoyed the writing style here and the characters were very engaging.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed this book. It was a fast read and I loved the historical fiction mixed with modern contemporary elements.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Recommendations for Further Reading

Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok – if you enjoyed the idea of a historical fiction story with a sprinkle of the supernatural, try this series.
The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill – if you liked the historical side of The Poppy and the Rose, try this standalone mystery.

georgi_lvs_books's review against another edition

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2.0

2.5 stars.

With this being about the Titanic I knew I needed to have this!

However, the story just didn’t grip me.

If you are a fan of historical fiction you might like this.

pagesofglory22's review against another edition

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3.0

The Poppy & the Rose is a story told through dual perspective and timelines. In one timeline, we follow Ava as she boards the Titanic and is recruited to be a spy. In the other, we follow Taylor as she arrives in England nearly a decade later and is drawn into the mysterious world of Lady Mae Knight.

I didn't really care much for either of the main characters. I was much more invested in other characters, such as Mae, Taylor's father, Caleb and Nathaniel.

While the mystery aspect of the book was definitely intriguing and I found myself wanting to find out how the two characters are connected, I also often found myself quite bored with the story. It all happened so quickly that there wasn't time for the plot to properly develop, and parts of it felt weak. It reminded me of a children's book more than anything else.

I did love the settings. Reading about the people on the Titanic was very interesting, and I appreciate the fact that the author clearly did a lot of research. It was also a very atmospheric, almost spooky, read, which I enjoyed as well.

Overall, while it missed the mark for me in a few spots, I was intrigued enough to keep reading, and it wasn't a bad read at all.

(e-ARC provided by Owl Hollow Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

thewordwitch's review against another edition

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3.0

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am a huge fan of well done historical fiction, and the sections of this book that took place on the Titanic really hit the spot. Her descriptive language is gorgeous, and I felt like I was there. The scenes where the Titanic was sinking were incredibly poignant, and I immediately wanted to rewatch that particular scene from the movie in the 90s. Ava's storyline was incredibly interesting.
Spoiler I did wish that she had suffered the loss of either her father or Caleb on the Titanic. It seemed too fortunate that they both survived. I knew the father was going to survive due to hints earlier in the story, so I was expecting that one.


I felt like having dual narratives caused the overall story to suffer. Taylor's storyline just seemed like a vehicle to tell Ava's story and to connect it so something modern. I'm not sure if this is because the author felt that readers needed someone from our time period to connect with, but I felt that Taylor's storyline was weak as a result. Also, the entire ending felt shoe-horned in with
Spoiler the woman from the photo being a distanced relative who was also the murderess.
It was rushed in comparison to all the build-up with Ava's storyline, and I honestly found that ending confusing.

Ava's storyline is lovely, and I wish that it had been the only one in the book. For that story alone it is definitely worth the read.

unqualifiedreader's review against another edition

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4.0

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lately, I have seen a few books that are set around the Titanic. However, I have never read any fiction involving this tragedy. This book was an amazing place to start! In The Poppy and The Rose, we have dual points of view as well as dual timelines. Taylor is our present day point of view. Ava is our character on the Titanic. In the beginning I really preferred Ava's story, but as the story went on I definitely enjoyed both timelines.

From the beginning of this story I was extremely intrigued, and from about half way through I could not put this book down. I really loved the twists and turns in the plot. I think the growth we saw the characters achieve as the story progressed was amazing (especially Ava). I liked the way all of the side characters interacted in the story as I felt most of them had a significant purpose.

The author obviously did her research into Titanic, and as I was reading the Author's note at the end I was surprised to see that some of the character's in the book were based on real people. Obviously with historical fiction the author always has poetic license, but I appreciated that it was still well researched.

When I was approaching the end of the book, I had no idea how things would wrap up, or how Cowels would finish the story. I am very happy with the way she ended things, and I think she did a great job overall. I would highly recommend this book for any mystery/historical fiction lover!

readerkat8's review against another edition

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mysterious reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5