Monday, March 12, 2018

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: A Beautiful Poison, by Lydia Kang {2 winners, ends 3/19}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“Funerals always make me happy,” Jasper whispered to Birdie. He handed her his handkerchief because hers was already dampened through.

“You,” Birdie whispered back through a sniffle, “are a monster.”

“I’m not happy she’s dead. Not by a darn sight. But a funeral reminds you to be alive, doesn’t it? It slaps you across the face and points out that there’s still warm blood doing a jig in your veins.” 

Jasper’s hand fell to Birdie’s pale forearm, and he put his two fingers on her wrist, where her pulse was. It was a clinical gesture, cold, if not for the warmth of his fingertips. Oh, she was alive all right. Stubbornly living, despite everything. She withdrew her hand and bowed her head.

A Beautiful Poison is a great mystery, with a story starting in 1918. I was excited to get a few pages in and realize that Birdie was one of the "radium girls." While it isn’t revealed in this book, radium poisoning was a big deal for the women and girls working in the factory painting glow-in-the-dark clock faces. It’s another whole story of its own, that has held my interest for a while. A Beautiful Poison never reveals what’s actually happening to Birdie, as the cause was not recognized until the early 1920s.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: A Beautiful Poison, by Lydia Kang
Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails.

As more of their friends and family die, alliances shift, lives become entangled, and the three begin to suspect everyone—even each other. As they race to find the culprit, Allene, Birdie, and Jasper must once again trust each other, before one of them becomes the next victim.
A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang is a great mystery about several deaths in late summer and fall of 1918, that three lifetime friends don’t believe are just accidents. They start receiving a brief note after each of several deaths that indicate someone is causing them. Luckily, one of the friends is a chemistry whiz, and another works in Bellevue Hospital, with access to pathology information and some real answers about the untimely deaths.

While the friends are happy to be back together after circumstances separated them years ago, the mystery turns dangerous quickly. Just when you think you have it figured out, someone else turns up dead, and no one is quite sure how or why.

A Beautiful Poison does a wonderful job with the mystery, as well as presenting the class differences in New York in 1918. According to the Author’s Note at the end of the book, the doctor who wrote the book worked through a lot of her education at Bellevue Hospital and based some of the characters on real historical figures at the hospital. She conveys her fascination with the historical aspects of the book in a very intriguing way. It’s easy to feel just as engaged as she was to learn so much about the background initially.

Overall, I’d give A Beautiful Poison a solid 4 stars out of 5. The characters and plot were quite engaging and moved along at a good page-turning pace.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley might like to glow in the dark, but not die of radium poisoning. She has been blogging for more than 15 years at


Two of my lucky readers will win a copy of A Beautiful Poison!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, March 19th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified the next day via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. and Canadian residents only, please.

Good luck!

A Beautiful Poison, by Lydia Kang


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