Dead and Gondola (Christie Bookshop: Book 1) by Ann Claire

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: November 1st, 2022

Genre: Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Holiday, Christmas, Adult, Contemporary, Audiobook

Series: Christie Bookshop

Dead and Gondola—Book 1

Last Word to the Wise—Book 2

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

When a mysterious bookshop visitor dies under murderous circumstances, the Christie sisters and their cat Agatha call on all they’ve learned about solving mysteries from their favorite novelist in this new series debut.

Ellie Christie is thrilled to begin a new chapter. She’s recently returned to her tiny Colorado hometown to run her family’s historic bookshop with her elder sister, Meg, and their friendly bookshop cat, Agatha. Perched in a Swiss-style hamlet accessible by ski gondola and a twisty mountain road, the Book Chalet is a famed bibliophile destination known for its maze of shelves and relaxing reading lounge with cozy fireside seats and panoramic views. At least, until trouble blows in with a wintery whiteout. A man is found dead on the gondola, and a rockslide throws the town into lockdown—no one in, no one out.

He was a mysterious stranger who visited the bookshop. At the time, his only blunders were disrupting a book club and leaving behind a first-edition Agatha Christie novel, written under a pseudonym. However, once revealed, the man’s identity shocks the town. Many residents knew of him. Quite a few had reason to want him dead. Others hide secrets. The police gather suspects, but when they narrow in on the sisters’ close friends, the Christies have to act.

Although the only Agatha in their family tree is their cat, Ellie and Meg know a lot about mysteries, and they’re not about to let the situation snowball out of control. The Christie sisters must summon their inner Miss Marples and trek through a blizzard of clues before the killer turns the page to their final chapter.


First Line:

I swung open the heavy oak door and blinked at the figure taking shape in the blizzard.

Dead and Gondola by Ann Claire

I love mysteries set in bookstores and/or small towns, and this book has both. It was a given that I would accept the invitation from the publisher. I am glad that I did because this was a great mystery.

Dead and Gondola is the first book in the Christie Bookshop series. So, my usual drivel about reading previous books does not apply here. You can safely read this book and not wonder about storylines or characters.

The plotline for Dead and Gondola was interesting and engaging. Ellie has returned to her hometown to help her older sister run their family’s acclaimed book shop, The Book Chalet. Ellie wasn’t expecting an older man to show up at the shop, looking for a woman named CeCe and carrying a rare book. She also wasn’t expecting to witness that same older man get murdered. And she certainly wasn’t expecting her long-time employee to disappear simultaneously. With the roads out of town closed, Ellie takes it upon herself to investigate. What she discovers shocks her to her core and throws suspicion at everyone in her village. Who killed the older man? Why did her employee disappear? What connects the two?

Dead and Gondola is a medium-paced book set in the fictional town of Last Word, Colorado. I loved the description of the town. It is a ski town, and the author did go into what it was like living in a town that relies on skiing for income. But she also showed what living in a small town was like.

The characters in Dead and Gondola weren’t as fleshed out as I would have liked them to be. But, seeing this is the first book in the series, I expect some character growth in the later books. Besides that, I loved seeing the assortment of people that made up Ellie’s world. They were as unique as the town was. I also liked the darkness in this town and the people.

  • Ellie—I liked her, but she annoyed me during parts of the book. There were points in the book where I couldn’t connect to her. She became almost obsessed with discovering who murdered the older man and why. I did feel bad for her when the murderer was revealed. Honestly, I was shocked and understood why she felt that way. Also, I did like her flashbacks to childhood and reading. I was the same way!!

The storyline with the older man, the mysterious CeCe, his murder, the book, and Ellie was well written. The author took me on a ride with this one. It had more twists and turns in the plotline than a mountain road. And the red herrings!!! There were a lot of them. I loved the twist the author put into this plotline. And who the murderer was!! I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t who I was expecting it to be.

The storyline with Mrs. Reed, her disappearance, the shop, Ellie, and Meg was also very well written. I was with Ellie for almost half the book. I thought something terrible had happened to her. But then she was found, and I couldn’t help but be slightly irritated by Ellie. I was like, “Leave the poor woman alone!!” Then the author had a twist in this plotline that had me shaking my head. And the author led me to believe one thing when the opposite happened.

Dead and Gondola fit perfectly into the cozy mystery genre. The author kept me guessing a few things (see above), and a big twist at the end of the book took me by surprise.

The end of Dead and Gondola was interesting. The author was able to wrap up the main storylines in this book in a way that I enjoyed. But she did leave enough wiggle room for book 2. I can’t wait to read book 2!!

I recommend Dead and Gondola to anyone over 16. It is a clean book (no kissing, no sex), but there is some mild language and violence.

I want to thank Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam, NetGalley, and Ann Claire for allowing me to read and review Dead and Gondola. All opinions expressed in this review are mine.


If you enjoyed reading my review of Dead and Gondola, then you will enjoy reading these books:

All Dressed Up by Jilly Gagnon

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: September 6th, 2022

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Fiction, Contemporary, Adult, Audiobook, Suspense, Relationships, Crime

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

The weekend getaway at the gorgeous manor hotel should have been perfect. But Becca is freshly smarting from her husband Blake’s betrayal and knows this is just an expensive attempt at an apology. She may not be ready to forgive him, but the drinks are strong, the estate is stunning, and the weekend has an elaborate 1920s murder mystery theme. She decides to get into the spirit of things and enjoy their stay. What could go wrong?

Before long, the game is afoot: famed speakeasy songstress Ida Crooner is found “murdered,” and it’s up to the guests to sniff out which of them might be the culprit. Playing the role of Miss Debbie Taunte, an ingenue with a dark past, Becca dives into the world of pun-heavy clues, hammy acting, and secret passages, hoping to at least take her mind off her marital troubles.

Then, the morning after they arrive, the actress playing Ida’s maid fails to reappear for her role. The game’s organizer–that’s Miss Ann Thrope to you–assumes the young woman’s flakiness is to blame, but when snooping for clues as “Debbie,” Becca finds evidence she may not have left of her own free will.


First Line:

The mansion changed at night, all the rigid lines and hard surfaces of the daytime melting into something softer, more secret, a little strange.

All Dressed Up by Jilly Gagnon

When I read the plot for All Dressed Up, I was immediately intrigued- a mystery that takes place during an immersive 1920s-themed murder mystery. I couldn’t hit that accept button fast enough. I was looking forward to reading bad puns (and yes, there were plenty) and solving the actress’s disappearance. But, this book fell short of my expectations. Not to say I didn’t like it (I did), but it was the characters (mainly Becca) who made me “meh” about this book. Everything else was perfect.

All Dressed Up did have an enjoyable and exciting plotline. The story centers around Becca and her husband, Blake. Blake had arranged a weekend getaway to an immersive murder mystery. But Becca isn’t exactly thrilled about it. Blake and herself are going through a rough patch in their marriage, and she is still furious about what happened. But once there, the magic of the mansion and the mystery draw her in. But, a real-life mystery draws her in when one of the actresses goes missing. Becca is determined to find out what happened to her. But is she getting in over her head? Can Becca solve the fictional murder mystery as well as the real-life one? And, while she’s at it, can she forgive her husband for what he did?

All Dressed Up is a fast-paced mystery that takes place on in a mansion somewhere in New York state. I didn’t catch the town’s name (or there wasn’t one). But with the talk of New York City and going upstate, I figured it was in New York.

The characters are the main reason I was “meh” about All Dressed Up. Individually, they all got on my nerves, and together, that nerve was stretched to the max. I will not discuss each character. I will focus on the main ones, Becca and Blake.

  • Becca: I had mixed feelings about Becca. On the one hand, she was a great detective (both in and out of character). She genuinely cared about the missing maid. But her detective work bordered on obsessive. However, she was awful to Blake. Yes, I get that he cheated on her, and I understood her behavior for the first 25% of the book. But every overture he made, be it doing something she liked and that made him uncomfortable, she was awful to him about. She was mean and spiteful, which didn’t gel with me.
  • Blake: Out of all the characters, I did like him the best. He acknowledged and owned that he screwed up badly. He was willing to do whatever it took to work on his marriage. But there is a line between constantly apologizing for one thing and taking the brunt of Becca’s anger for everything. Becca crossed that line before the book started.

As I mentioned above, the secondary characters got on my nerves as much as the main ones. But, they did add extra depth to the plotline and did provide a few red herrings to the mystery.

All Dressed Up fit perfectly into the mystery and suspense genres. The author did a fantastic job of keeping me guessing who the killer was in the game and why the maid went missing. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, several red herrings were thrown out by the secondary characters.

The author wrote the main storyline well with Becca, the other guests, and the fake mystery. I loved the puns (even if they were groan-worthy at times). I also really liked how the people running the show made the guests work for the clues. Because, on my end, I am also trying to figure out who the killer was. I made notes, and it wasn’t who I thought it was.

The other storyline was well written, with Becca investigating the actress/maid’s disappearance. The author did keep me guessing about what happened to her. I did figure out what happened by the middle of the book, but I didn’t expect who. Talk about a big twist in the plot there. A “no freaking way” was thrown out when it was revealed. And the reason this person did it was heartbreaking.

The end of All Dressed Up was typical of the genre. I liked how the author revealed who the killer was in the fake mystery, why the maid disappeared, and who was behind it. As I mentioned above, it was a twist that I didn’t see coming. Also, what I didn’t see coming was something to do with Becca and Blake. I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but it did tie up that storyline.

Three Reasons You Should Read All Dressed Up:

  1. The murder mystery storyline.
  2. The puns. As bad as they were, I was dying laughing when they came up.
  3. The twist at the end of the book. I didn’t see that coming..

Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Read All Dressed Up:

  1. Becca. I felt terrible for her, but I couldn’t stand her.
  2. Blake. I explained why above.
  3. The other characters. They got on my nerves.

I would recommend All Dressed Up to anyone over 16. There is no sex, mild language, and mild to moderate violence.


If you enjoyed reading All Dressed Up, you will enjoy reading these books:

Alias Emma (Alias Emma: Book 1) by Ava Glass

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: August 2nd, 2022

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction, Mystery Thriller, Spy Thriller, Espionage, Suspense, Adult, Contemporary, Spy Thriller

Series: Alias Emma

Alias Emma—Book 1

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Emma Makepeace is about to spend the longest night in her life.

She’s on her first operation with a shadowy organisation known only as ‘The Agency’, assigned to track down and save an innocent man wanted by the Russian government.

All Emma has to do is bring him in to MI6 before sunrise, and before an assassination team gets to him first.

But the Russians have hacked the city’s CCTV cameras. There are spies all over London searching for the two of them. And her target, Michael Primalov, doesn’t want to be rescued.

As London sleeps, a battle is taking place on its streets as Emma fights to keep Michael alive.

But what sort of reception await them if and when they get to MI6?


First Line:

The sun was setting over one of the most expensive streets in the world when nthe assassins arrived.

Alias Emma by Ava Glass

I usually do not read books that are about spies or any espionage. It’s a genre I do not care for, and I typically go out of my way not to read anything from it. So, I was surprised (and a little irritated) when I read Alias Emma and realized it was a spy/espionage/thriller. That was on me, though. When the publisher sent me the invite to review, I automatically accepted without reading what I was getting. Imagine my surprise when I started liking Alias Emma. This book might be the one that has cracked my dislike for that genre. It was that good.

Alias Emma is the first book in the Alias Emma series. Anything else I would write in this section can be ignored (aka my warnings about reading books out of order in a series). That doesn’t apply here.

Alias Emma had a solid and engaging storyline. Emma is a secret agent working undercover at a shop run by a low-level threat when she gets a phone call she has been waiting for. She has been assigned to pick up a man, Dr. Michael Primalov, and bring him to the M16 before daylight. She must also keep him safe from Russian assassins and rogue agents from her agency. But that is easier said than done. The Russians have taken over London’s CCTV, her handler has gone missing, and she is receiving no help from her agency. With a cryptic message from her handler about staying in the dark, Emma must fulfill her mission. If she can’t, an innocent man will die. Can Emma do it? Can she bring Michael to the safety of the M16?

I loved Emma. She was stubborn (which served her well in this book), tough, and knew how to think outside the box. I loved seeing how she was recruited and her more tragic backstory. She was a very fleshed-out character. She did irritate me during some scenes but other than that, I liked her. I also loved how she saw something through to the end. And oh boy, did she with Michael.

The storyline with Emma, Michael, the Russians, and getting to the M16 was well written. The author did a great job of keeping my attention by constantly changing the storyline. Every time I thought something was going to happen, the storyline shifted. I did have my doubts about them getting to the M16. They were both up against so much.

The storyline with Emma, her agency, and the rogue agent kept me on the edge of my seat. I was alternately irritated for her and frightened for her. But everything did iron out in the end, but it was a ride to get there.

The spy/espionage angle of Alias Emma was very thought-provoking. I liked that the book featured a female spy who was relatable. I got a very James Bondy vibe during parts of the book, and I loved that Emma had to use her intuition to feel situations.

The action angle of Alias Emma was well written. I couldn’t get over the amount of running Emma and Michael did during this book. I also couldn’t get over the number of hand-to-hand combat situations that Emma had with the Russians. Again, it was another thing that kept my attention on the book.

The end of Alias Emma was interesting. I say interesting because I was fascinated with how the Russian storyline ended. The images I produced in my head after the Russian team passed the British one at the hotel in Paris were not good. I also liked how the author left open the storyline about specific agents going rogue. There was an explanation, but the way it was left made me wonder if book two would explain more.

I would recommend Alias Emma to anyone over 16. There are a few kissing scenes (mainly to conceal identities), language, and moderate to high violence.


If you enjoyed reading Alias Emma, you will enjoy these books:

Steel Fear (Finn Thrillers: Book 1) by Brandon Webb and John David Mann

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: July 13, 2021

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction, War, Military Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Crime, Mystery Thriller, Contemporary

Series: Finn Thrillers

Steel Fear—Book 1

Cold Fear—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

An aircraft carrier adrift with a crew the size of a small town. A killer in their midst. And the disgraced Navy SEAL who must track him down . . . The high-octane debut thriller from New York Times bestselling writing team Webb & Mann—combat-decorated Navy SEAL Brandon Webb and award-winning author John David Mann.

The moment Navy SEAL sniper Finn sets foot on the USS Abraham Lincoln to hitch a ride home from the Persian Gulf, it’s clear something is deeply wrong. Leadership is weak. Morale is low. And when crew members start disappearing one by one, what at first seems like a random string of suicides soon reveals something far more sinister: There’s a serial killer on board.

Suspicion falls on Finn, the newcomer to the ship. After all, he’s being sent home in disgrace, recalled from the field under the dark cloud of a mission gone horribly wrong. He’s also a lone wolf, haunted by gaps in his memory and the elusive sense that something he missed may have contributed to civilian deaths on his last assignment. Finding the killer offers a chance at redemption . . . if he can stay alive long enough to prove it isn’t him.


First Line:

Shivers rippled over Monica Halsey’s naked skin as she peered into the steel mirror and splashed water on her face.

Steel Fear by Brandon Webb and John David Mann

I DNF’d this book the first time I read it. I stopped reading at around 40%. The reason was pretty simple; I wasn’t a fan of how slow the book was. Fast forward to a couple of months ago. I decided to go through my NetGalley Will Not Give Feedback section and read/review all the books on that shelf. I am a little anal with keeping my NetGalley ratio on the higher side of 90. And since Steel Fear was one of those books, I decided it would be one of the first ones I read/review.

Steel Fear is a military mystery/thriller set on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Finn is a Navy Seal sniper who is being sent home for a debriefing after a raid goes wrong. With his memory of the events compromised, Finn settles for the voyage back. But soon, he is embroiled in a mystery when several seamen (and women) are found murdered in various areas of the ship. With the ship on lockdown and people beginning to think he is the murderer, Finn decides to take matters into his own hands and solve the murders. But with the body count piling up, can Finn stay one step ahead of the MPs and solve the murders? Or is he the one they are looking for?

Finn’s character was interesting to read. He was a very unlikely Navy Seal. He wasn’t tall, jacked up, or loud. Instead, he was average height, had an average body build, and was very quiet. He was so quiet that people often forgot he was there. What intrigued me the most about Finn was that he was an enigma to everyone, including the ship’s captain. No one knew why he was on board or where he was going. The authors chose to reveal almost all of Finn’s background slowly. His childhood, the horrific thing that happened, and what happened to his team were slowly revealed. And the more that was revealed, the more I needed to know.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this book was a DNF for me because of how slow it was. And, yes, it was still slow. But with the second reread, I noticed that the authors were weaving the story with several of the secondary characters. About halfway through the book, the pacing does pick up, and my interest in the plotline picks up with it. By the last chapters of the book, I was utterly hooked. It was more about the serial killer/murders than the ship.

The mystery angle of the book was well written. While I figured that Finn didn’t do it, I was at a loss for who it was. So when the serial killer was revealed, I was shocked. The authors did keep what happened to Finn on his last mission to the bare facts and what Finn remembered. So, there was nothing new was learned there.

The suspense angle of the book was as well written as the mystery angle. I was glued to the book, wanting to know who it was. I couldn’t hit my Kindle button fast enough.

This is a military book, and with it comes military jargon and talk. I wasn’t very interested in that and did skim over some parts of it. But, I did find it fascinating that the authors chose to highlight how women were treated in the Navy (and military). Let’s say that the women in this book weren’t treated very nicely by their COs. It goes with everything I have heard and seen on the news (rapes, coverups, etc.).

The end of Steel Fear was interesting. The authors were able to wrap up the serial killer/murders plotline in a way that I liked. I felt that person got what was coming to them. But I also liked where the author took Finn’s story. There was also enough left with his story for book 2 (which I will read).

I would recommend Steel Fear to anyone over 21. There is no sex. But there is strong language and graphic violence.


If you enjoyed reading Steel Fear, you will enjoy these books:

Nanny Needed by Georgina Cross

Book Cover

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: October 5th 2021

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A young woman takes a job as a nanny for an impossibly wealthy family, thinking she’s found her entre into a better life–only to discover instead she’s walked into a world of deception and dark secrets.

Nanny needed. Discretion is of the utmost importance. Special conditions apply.

When Sarah Larsen finds the notice, posted on creamy card stock in her building’s lobby, one glance at the exclusive address tells her she’s found her ticket out of a dead-end job–and life.

At the interview, the job seems like a dream come true: a glamorous penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side of NYC; a salary that adds several zeroes to her current income; the beautiful, worldly mother of her charge, who feels more like a friend than a potential boss. She’s overjoyed when they offer her the position and signs the NDA without a second thought.

In retrospect, the notice in her lobby was less an engraved invitation than a waving red flag. For there is something very strange about the Bird family. Why does the beautiful Mrs. Bird never leave the apartment alone? And what happened to the nanny before her? It soon becomes clear that the Birds’ odd behaviors are more than the eccentricities of the wealthy.

But by then it’s too late for Sarah to seek help. After all, discretion is of the utmost importance.


First Line:

The children are chattering.

Nanny needed by georgina cross

I love psychological thrillers. So when I read the blurb for Nanny Needed, I knew that this would be a book that I would enjoy.

Nanny Needed is a story about Sarah. Sarah is living with her boyfriend in New York City and barely making ends meet when she finds a flyer in the lobby of her building. The flyer is for a nanny position in a very affluent area of NYC. Throwing caution to the wind, Sarah decides to apply and gets hired, much to her surprise. But she soon regrets her decision when she finds out her nannying position isn’t what it seems. What is going on in the Bird house? What secrets is Mr. Bird trying to keep from coming out? And how does Sarah figure into everything?

Nanny Needed is a fast-paced book, but it does start slow. There is some lag towards the middle of the book, but it was expected. With what happened and Sarah’s state of mind, I wasn’t surprised by it at all.

I liked Sarah. She started the book as overwhelmed but happy. When she saw the flyer for the nanny position in her lobby, she thought it was a sign, and she was thrilled that she hit it off with Collette. After signing NDA’s and agreeing to a 3-month trial, she realizes what her job would be. Then everything hits the fan. I don’t think that I would have dealt with everything as well as Sarah did. She had some fantastic coping skills (in hindsight, I am not surprised).

The thriller angle was interwoven with the mystery angle, and they were both very well written. There were a few twists in the plotline. One twist I saw coming and called it the minute that Sarah interviewed for the job.

The other major twist, I didn’t see coming, and I was floored. I had to take a break to process what I read. That is how insane the twist was!!

The end of Nanny Needed was almost anti-climatic but perfect. I enjoyed that it not only ended the way it did but there was practically no resolve when the twist was revealed. I will say, without getting into spoilers, that I understand why Stephen did what he did. I would have wanted to know too, but what it cost everyone was almost too much. And poor Sarah!!!

I would recommend Nanny Needed to anyone over the age of 21. There is language and mild violence.

The Hollywood Spy (Maggie Hope: Book 10) by Susan Elia MacNeal

Book Cover

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: July 6th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Thriller

Series: Maggie Hope

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary—Book 1

Princess Elizabeth’s Spy—Book 2

His Majesty’s Hope—Book 3

The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent—Book 4

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante—Book 5

The Queen’s Accomplice—Book 6

The Paris Spy—Book 7

The Prisoner in the Castle—Book 8

The King’s Justice—Book 9

The Hollywood Spy—Book 10

Purchase Links—Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

Los Angeles, 1943. As the Allies beat back the Nazis in the Mediterranean and the United States military slowly closes in on Tokyo, Walt Disney cranks out wartime propaganda and the Cocoanut Grove is alive with jazz and swing each night. But behind this sunny façade lies a darker reality. Somewhere in the lush foothills of Hollywood, a woman floats, lifeless, in the pool of one of California’s trendiest hotels. When American-born secret agent and British spy Maggie Hope learns that this woman was engaged to her old flame, John Sterling, and that he suspects her death was no accident, intuition tells her he’s right. Leaving London under siege—not to mention flying thousands of miles—is a lot to ask. But John was once the love of Maggie’s life . . . and she won’t say no.

Maggie is shocked to find Los Angeles as divided as Europe itself—the Zoot Suit Riots loom large and the Ku Klux Klan casts a long shadow. As she marvels at the hatred in her home country, she can’t help but wonder what it will be like to see her lost love once again. But there is little time to dwell on memories once she starts digging into the case. As she traces a web of deception from the infamous Garden of Allah to the iconic Carthay Theater, she discovers things aren’t always the way things appear in the movies—and the political situation in America is more complicated, and dangerous, than the newsreels would have them all believe.


First Line:

It was 1943 and America was at war.

The Hollywood Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

I have a fascination with World War II. And being fascinated with it, I have read a ton of books that have taken place in various countries during World War II. But, to my knowledge, I never have read a book set entirely in Los Angeles during World War II. When I read the blurb and saw where this book was set, this book caught my interest.

The Hollywood Spy is book 10 in the Maggie Hope series. Readers can read this book as a standalone, but I highly recommend that the other books be read first. There are people and events referenced that I had no clue about, and it drove me nuts.

There were two distinct plotlines in The Hollywood Spy. The first being the plotline where Maggie is investigating the death of John’s fiancee. The second involved the KKK and a plotline to cause as much mayhem as possible. I had zero problems keeping the plotlines separate.

The pacing and flow of The Hollywood Spy were good. It did take forever for the book to get going, but once it did, it kept up a steady pace until the end of the book. The same goes for the flow of the book. It flowed nicely between characters and plotlines, with little to no lag.

I liked Maggie and thought she was a relatable character. She dealt with everything that life threw at her with grace and a bit of humor. I also liked that she was super bright but had to be careful not to tread on people’s toes.

The mystery angle of The Hollywood Spy was interesting. There were so many twists and turns in the plotline that I didn’t know where it would take me. I wasn’t that surprised at who the killer ended up being or why that person did it. Considering the times and how close-minded people were (and still are), it made sense.

There was a massive twist in the plotline with John and Maggie. I did not see it coming, and it took me 100% by surprise when he dropped that bomb on her. It also saddened me because what I was hoping wasn’t going to happen.

I do want to add that racism and homophobia are very much a part of this book. Seeing that it is set in the 1940s, I wasn’t that surprised that it was portrayed. It was still heartbreaking to read (the scene with the nanny in the diner made me cry). It was even more painful because 80+ years later, there is still blatant racism. The author discussed this in her author’s note at the end of the book.

The end of The Hollywood Spy was well written. The author ends the storylines in the book but is left open enough for book 11.


The Hollywood Spy was a well-written mystery. I enjoyed reading it and was kept on edge with the different twists and turns that the plot took.

I would recommend The Hollywood Spy for anyone over the age of 21. There is violence and language. There are implied sexual situations.

The Night Window (Jane Hawk: Book 5) by Dean Koontz

The Night Window: A Jane Hawk Novel by [Koontz, Dean]

4 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication : May 14th, 2019

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Series: Jane Hawk

The Bone Farm—Book 0.5

The Silent Corner—Book 1 (review here)

The Whispering Room—Book 2 (review here)

The Crooked Staircase—Book 3 (review here)

The Forbidden Door—Book 4 (review here)

The Night Window—Book 5

Where you can find The Night Window: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

Book synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz brings Jane Hawk’s one-woman war to an explosive climax as the rogue FBI agent wages her final battle against a terrifying conspiracy–for vengeance, for justice, and for humanity’s freedom. 

Groundbreaking, wholly involving, eerily prescient and terrifyingly topical, Dean Koontz’s Jane Hawk series sets a new standard for contemporary thrillers. Since her sensational debut in The Silent Corner, readers have been riveted by Jane Hawk’s resolute quest to take down the influential architects of an accelerating operation to control every level of society via an army of mind-altered citizens. At first, only Jane stood against the “Arcadian” conspirators, but slowly others have emerged to stand with her, even as there are troubling signs that the “adjusted” people are beginning to spin viciously out of control. Now, in the thrilling, climactic showdown that will decide America’s future, Jane will require all her resources–and more–as she confronts those at the malevolent, impregnable center of power.


My review:

I was excited when I saw that The Night Window was available for review. I was waiting for this book. I needed to see how Jane Hawk’s quest to bring down the Arcadian’s would end. And I wasn’t disappointed. This book was a fast-paced ride from beginning to end.

All the storylines were fast paced and well written. I had issues putting the book down, that is how into I got. I needed to find out if Jane was going to expose the Arcadians and reunite with her son. I needed to know if Tom was going to outwit Hollister. Also, let’s not forget the secondary storylines. Instead of distracting me from the storyline, they added to it. They added that little bit of extra depth to the book that was needed.

Jane, by far, was my favorite character in The Night Window. Her determination to protect her child and to expose the Arcadian’s came off the pages. She took more risks in this book. Her near misses with the Arcadian’s were incredible and nerve- wracking. I did feel bad for her, though. She was exhausted from all the running that she had to do. She wanted to be with her son. She wanted it to be over and justice for her husband.

I wanted to shake Vikram. He took a lot of risks to help Jane. Like going to Ricky and getting the modified RV. He made me nervous. But he was brilliant. It was that brilliance that kept them ahead of the Arcadians. It was also that brilliance that had him do what he did during the last chapters.

Warwick Hollister was one of the evilest characters that I have read to date. The glimpses of him that I got in the previous books didn’t prepare me for what was in this book. I shuddered every time he appeared in the book. But, I did enjoy his descent into madness. Without giving anything away, let’s say that he got paid back tenfold.

The Night Window was a perfect fit into the thriller genre. As with any of his books, Dean Koontz knows how to deliver a thriller. I was kept on edge the entire book. The build-up of that angle was fantastic.

The mystery angle wasn’t there for me. I wasn’t feeling it. The only time I even got a tiny bit of feel for it was when the Arcadians were chasing after Jane and Vikram. But even then, it was more of a thriller.

I loved the end of The Night Window. I did not expect it to go the way it did. But, in hindsight, it was the only way. The author did what few do. The author did what few do — showing what happens after the fact. It was also a fitting ending to the series.


I would give The Night Window an Adult rating. There is no sex (but there are references to sexual situations). There is violence. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The Night Window. I would recommend this book to family and friends.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**


I would like to thank the publisher, the author, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Night Window.

All opinions stated in this review of The Night Window are mine.


Have you read The Night Window?

What were your thoughts on it?

Do you think that something like the Hamlet List could exist?

Let me know!!

The Forbidden Door (Jane Hawk: Book 4) by Dean Koontz

The Forbidden Door (Jane Hawk, #4)

Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: September 11th, 2018

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Series: Jane Hawk

The Bone Farm—Book 0.5

The Silent Corner—Book 1 (review here)

The Whispering Room—Book 2 (review here)

The Crooked Staircase—Book 3 (review here)

The Forbidden Door—Book 4

The Night Window—Book 5 (expected publication date: May 14th, 2019)

Where you can find The Forbidden Door: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

When this relentless rogue FBI agent comes knocking, her adversaries will have to answer—with their lives—in the latest thrilling Jane Hawk novel by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Corner.

“We’re rewriting the play, and the play is this country, the world, the future. We break Jane’s heart, we’ll also break her will.”

She was one of the FBI’s top agents until she became the nation’s most-wanted fugitive. Now Jane Hawk may be all that stands between a free nation and its enslavement by a powerful secret society’s terrifying mind-control technology. She couldn’t save her husband, or the others whose lives have been destroyed, but equipped with superior tactical and survival skills—and the fury born of a broken heart and a hunger for justice—Jane has struck major blows against the insidious cabal.

But Jane’s enemies are about to hit back hard. If their best operatives can’t outrun her, they mean to bring her running to them, using her five-year-old son as bait. Jane knows there’s no underestimating their capabilities, but she must battle her way back across the country to the remote shelter where her boy is safely hidden . . . for now.

As she moves resolutely forward, new threats begin to emerge: a growing number of brain-altered victims driven hopelessly, violently insane. With the madness spreading like a virus, the war between Jane and her enemies will become a fight for all their lives—against the lethal terror unleashed from behind the forbidden door.

Don’t miss any of Dean Koontz’s gripping Jane Hawk thrillers:
THE SILENT CORNER • THE WHISPERING ROOM • THE CROOKED STAIRCASE • THE FORBIDDEN DOOR • THE NIGHT WINDOW


My review:

I am not going to go on a crazy fangirl but I love me some Dean Koontz. I have fangirled in earlier reviews and in hindsight, it made me look like a nerd. So, yes I love Dean Koontz. And yes, I have read almost every single book that he has written. That includes what he was written under his pseudonym and excludes any books written from 2007-2017.  I have enjoyed reading the Jane Hawk series. So when I saw that The Forbidden Door was up for review, I jumped on it. And did a happy dance when I got accepted.

The Forbidden Door is the 4th book in the Jane Hawk series. Jane is trying to get to her son after learning that her friends died protecting him. Her son is safe with an autistic genius. A genius who is nervous about being in charge of a child but determined to protect him as much as he can. While she is traveling to get her son, the Arcadians are searching for her in-laws. They want to adjust Nick’s parents and use them to find out where Jane’s son is. They think that if they have the son, then they will be able to bring Jane to her knees. But, that is not the case. Nick’s parents have become ghosts and force the Arcadians to search for them. The Arcadians also have another huge issue, besides Jane trying to take them down. Recently adjusted people are being driven insane. They are committing heinous crimes. Can Jane reach her son before the Arcadians? Can the Arcadians contain the epidemic of adjusted people going insane? Will the Arcadians find Nick’s parents?


What I liked about The Forbidden Door:

I loved Jane. She was as fresh and as complex as she was in the first 3 books. I like that the author chose to highlight her maternal instinct. I also liked how he balanced it with her need to find justice for Nick’s and all the other adjusted people’s deaths. Her interactions with Luther, Bernie, Travis, and Cornell were awesome. Plus, I liked seeing a heroine that wasn’t afraid to use shady connections to help her.

I was so happy to see Luther make an appearance in the book. I had missed him in book 3. I was wondering what happened to Rebecca, Jolie, and Twyla (and yes, I am still tickled that I see my name in a book!!). My wondering about them wasn’t answered. I was glad to see that Jolie was safe. It was Rebecca and Twyla that was my concern. I wanted to know where they were. I am hoping that my questions are answered in book 5.

I loved that Cornell was in this book. I liked that the author went more into his background and his autistic tendencies. I liked, that in spite of his limitations, that he was able to hide Travis for as long as he did. His terror at taking care of Travis made me sad for him. He was afraid that he was going to fail him. He was a gentle giant.

Travis was a remarkable kid. It didn’t seem like all the upheavals that went on in his life affected him. The only sign I saw was when he called JaneMommy” instead of “Mom“. I am wondering if his character will be in book 5 and what will happen to him.

As with all books, the secondary characters are key to keeping the book flowing. The author did a great job at introducing various characters and keeping them constant for the entire time they are in the book. He also brought in secondary characters that were in the other books. Techno Arcadians and good guys.

There were 3 major plotlines in The Forbidden Door. What I enjoyed was that the author was able to bring them all together at the end of the book. I also liked that none of them were resolved. None. It made me very excited about book 5!!

The first plotline is the one involving Jane and her trek to get Travis. She revisited some familiar people. She also made some new allies. Ferrante was a remarkable one. His obsession with blood skeeved me out. What he asked Jane to do got me even more skeeved.

The second plotline involved the Arcadians and their search for Nick’s parents. I loved it because I had no clue where they went. That ending chapter, when all was revealed, was interesting. I am hoping that this plotline is revisited. I want to know what happens to Egon.

The third plotline involved the Arcadians and the people that they adjusted going insane. This plotline was introduced late in the book. I am curious to see what is going to happen with that. Will all the adjusted people start going insane? Or just the ones recently infected?


What I disliked about The Forbidden Door:

There were a few things that I didn’t like about The Forbidden Door.

I did not like the Arcadians. The single-mindedness that they showed to their cause. They kept using the brain-altering drug even though they knew that it was driving people insane. They turned almost a whole town to track Travis down. And how did that turn out? Not so great for their cause. I also didn’t like how Laurie was treated by Janis. And man, Janis’s psychotic break. It was awful.

I did think that the storyline with the Arcadians hunting down Nick’s parents was a bit drawn out. While I understand why it went on for so long, I started to get bored by it.


The end of The Forbidden Door was great. None of the storylines were ended. Instead, they were all left up in the air. Normally, I would be complaining about this. But because there is going to be a book 5, I know that the storylines will be ended in that book. So, it is fine with me.

I gave The Forbidden Door a 4-star rating. I liked the plotlines and the characters. The only thing that I didn’t like about The Forbidden Door were the Arcadians. I also thought that storyline about them hunting down Nick’s parents dragged on for longer than it needed to.

I would give The Forbidden Door an Adult rating. There is no sex. But there are scenes that discuss child sexual abuse and one man contemplating raping a child. There is violence. There is a disturbing scene where a man is attacked and his chin is almost bitten off. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The Forbidden Door. I would also recommend this book to family and friends. I would include a warning about possible triggers (see above).

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Forbidden Door.

All opinions stated in this review of The Forbidden Door are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

The Whispering Room (Jane Hawk: Book 2) by Dean Koontz

The Whispering Room (Jane Hawk, #2)

5 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: November 21, 2017

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Number of pages: 528

POV: 3rd person

Series: Jane Hawk

The Silent Corner – Book 1 (review here)

The Whispering Room – Book 2

The Crooked Staircase – Book 3 (expected publication date: June 2018)

Where you can find The Whispering Room: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Jane Hawk–fiction’s most relentless, resourceful, stunning new heroine–continues her battle against a murderous conspiracy in the riveting sequel to The Silent Corner.

“No time to delay. Do what you were born to do. Fame will be yours when you do this.” 

These are the words that ring in the mind of mild-mannered, beloved schoolteacher Cora Gundersun–just before she takes her own life, and many others’, in a shocking act of carnage. When the disturbing contents of her secret journal are discovered, it seems certain that she must have been insane. But Jane Hawk knows better.

In the wake of her husband’s inexplicable suicide–and the equally mysterious deaths of scores of other exemplary individuals–Jane picks up the trail of a secret cabal of powerful players who think themselves above the law and beyond punishment. But these ruthless people bent on hijacking America’s future for their own monstrous ends never banked on a highly trained FBI agent willing to go rogue–and become the nation’s most wanted fugitive–in order to derail their insidious plans to gain absolute power with a terrifying technological breakthrough.

Driven by love for her lost husband and by fear for the five-year-old son she has sent into hiding, Jane Hawk has become an unstoppable predator. Those she is hunting will have nowhere to run when her shadow falls across them.

Trigger warning: None

Continue reading “The Whispering Room (Jane Hawk: Book 2) by Dean Koontz”