Reviews – The Book Spy & Ashley Bell

Posted January 27, 2023 by Carole in Reviews / 8 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Reviews – The Book Spy & Ashley BellThe Book Spy by Alan Hlad
Published by Kensington Books on January 24, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Historical / World War II
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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An American librarian. A Portuguese bookseller. A WWII mission to change the tide of the war.

Inspired by true stories of the heroic librarian spies of WWII and spanning from the New York Public Library to Portugal’s city of espionage, this thrilling tale from the internationally bestselling author of The Long Flight Home is perfect for fans intrigue-packed historical fiction by authors such as Kate Quinn, Marie Benedict, and Pam Jenoff.

1942: With the war’s outcome hanging in the balance, President Roosevelt sends an unlikely new taskforce on a unique mission. They are librarians and microfilm specialists trained in espionage, working with a special branch of the Office of Strategic Services and deployed to neutral cities throughout Europe. By acquiring and scouring Axis newspapers, books, technical manuals, and periodicals, the librarians can gather information about troop location, weaponry, and military plans.

Maria Alves, a microfilm expert working at the New York Public Library, is dispatched to Lisbon, where she meticulously photographs publications and sends the film to London to be analyzed. Working in tandem with Tiago Soares, a Portuguese bookstore owner on a precarious mission of his own—providing Jewish refugees with forged passports and visas—Maria acquires vital information, including a directory of arms factories in Germany.

But as she and Tiago grow closer, any future together is jeopardized when Maria’s superiors ask her to pose as a double agent, feeding misinformation to Lars Steiger, a wealthy Swiss banker and Nazi sympathizer who launders Hitler’s gold. Gaining Lars’ trust will bring Maria into the very heart of the Fuhrer’s inner circle. And it will provide her with a chance to help steer the course of war, if she is willing to take risks as great as the possible rewards . . .

I really enjoyed this book. I don’t read a ton of historical fiction but I do enjoy the genre from time to time. This was a really interesting novel set during World War II that focused on librarians sent to gather documents during the war. I liked the fact that this book told a story based on an aspect of the war effort that I would have never imagined. I am so glad that I decided to pick up this wonderful story.

Maria was a great character and I loved her determination and willingness to risk everything for what she believed in. Maria was determined to become a part of the group under the Office of Strategic Services as soon as her male college is recruited. While there is no policy against women being a part of the group, there are obstacles that make it difficult for a woman to actually get a spot. Maria had to get creative to get noticed. She proved to be a stand-out in the field once she finally made it to Portugal to do the work.

I also really liked Tiago who did what he could to help the Jewish refugees flee to safety even at his own risk. He was a bookseller in Portugal who also helps Jewish people hoping to leave the country gain the papers that they will need. Along with his co-worker, he has provided passports and visas to countless individuals. Tiago’s and Maria’s paths cross as she is looking for books to microfilm and they soon form a closer connection. They both find themselves in a tremendous amount of danger and I wasn’t sure how things would work out for them.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book to others. I found this to be an incredibly interesting story with fantastic characters. I was surprised by just how much each character risked to achieve their goal. I would definitely read more of this author’s work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Kensington Books.

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Reviews – The Book Spy & Ashley BellAshley Bell by Dean Koontz
Narrator: Suzy Jackson
Series: Ashley Bell #1
Published by Random House Publishing Group, Recorded Books on December 8, 2015
Genres: Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense
Length: 17 hours 25 minutes
Pages: 576
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Audible Plus, Publisher
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo |

From #1 bestselling author Dean Koontz—the must-read thriller of the year, for readers of dark psychological suspense and modern classics of mystery and adventure.

The girl who said no to death.

Bibi Blair is a fierce, funny, dauntless young woman—whose doctor says she has one year to live.

She replies, “We'll see.”

Her sudden recovery astonishes medical science.

An enigmatic woman convinces Bibi that she escaped death so that she can save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell.

But save her from what, from whom? And who is Ashley Bell? Where is she?

Bibi's obsession with finding Ashley sends her on the run from threats both mystical and worldly, including a rich and charismatic cult leader with terrifying ambitions.

Here is an eloquent, riveting, brilliantly paced story with an exhilarating heroine and a twisting, ingenious plot filled with staggering surprises. Ashley Bell is a new milestone in literary suspense from the long-acclaimed master.

I liked this book overall. I have read just a couple of this prolific author’s books in the past so I didn’t hesitate to add this book to my tbr. Unfortunately, I did hesitate to actually read the book and it has lingered on my digital shelves for years. I decided that it was finally time to dive into this one when I got my hands on a copy of the audiobook and found it to be quite entertaining.

The story was quite different than I expected it to be and it had me questioning what was real at every turn. I liked Bibi quite a bit and was really curious about how things would work out in the end for her. Bibi goes to the hospital after having some strange medical symptoms only to learn that she has a very rare form of cancer. After being suddenly cured, she is given the task of saving Ashley Bell. People are out to stop her in any way that they can. The story was quite exciting and I loved the fact that anything could happen.

Suzy Jackson did a fantastic job with the narration of this book. I thought that she did a wonderful job with the various character voices and I found her voice to be very pleasant. I listened to this book for hours at a time without growing tired of her narration. I am certain that her narration added to my overall enjoyment of this book.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a really original and imaginative story. My only complaint was that the book was longer than it should have been and there were several times that I found myself confused but that was quickly resolved. I would like to read more of this author’s work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group.

8 responses to “Reviews – The Book Spy & Ashley Bell

  1. I don’t read much WWII fiction either, but I always find it interesting when I do. I’ve never read a Dean Koontz but I’ve watched movies based on his books. This one does sound good. Nice that Audible + had it. It must’ve been long with a 17+ audiobook! Great that you were able to knock this off your NG shelf.

  2. Ashley Bell looks good but I was super excited to see your review of The Book Spy. I just added that to my audio list at the library but hadn’t seen anything about it.