B O O K R E V I E W : The Bait

The second novella in the To Catch a Leopard triology, The Bait finds the lovers Ania and Jerome in Venice, Italy during the Venetian Carnival a year after the events in The Steal. Determined to trap the Leopard, they plan a daring heist to steal the famed Lemon Twist necklace from Julie Kimbell during her own ball.

Events, however, do not go as planned, and Jerome becomes the focus of the investigation. He realizes Ania may not have been completely honest and that revenge may be more important than her feelings towards him.

This is a quick-paced, classic heist story with a touch of romance. I loved the Venice setting and all the 1950s glamour! The writing style evokes the era, and I think it’s unevenly successful. There’s a scene at a glass factory on Murano island that I really enjoyed: when I was in graduate school, I worked at a bead store and I still sometimes make jewelry so I enjoyed the descriptions of the necklaces and other accessories.

A good choice for readers looking for a quick, fun, romantic heist.

Thanks to @mjroseauthor, @getredprbooks, and @letstalkbookspromo for including me on the tour and for an advanced reading copy of the book!

B O O K T O U R : Sea State by Tabitha Lasley

Hector Falls

Thank you [partner] Bibliolifestyle and Ecco Books for including me on the book tour and for an advanced reading copy of Sea State by Tabitha Lasley (publication date: December 7, 2021).

“A hybrid of sorts: an investigation that is also a confession but reads a lot like a novel. It is a startlingly original study of love, masculinity and the cost of a profession that few outside of it can truly understand.”

—The Guardian

Journalist Tabitha Lasley, long hoping to write a book about men working on offshore oil rigs and quit her job in London. She considered working on a rig herself—and even took a safety course—even though just 3% of the workers are women. But when she began an affair with Camden, a married father of twins, her first source, she let an apartment in Aberdeen for six months instead, resolving to complete one hundred interviews.

Lasley offers compelling observations about the industry—particularly its abysmal records regarding safety and environmental impact. The high pay rate, risky jobs, and significant time away from home shape the men’s attitudes about savings, gender, and relationships.

At the same time, Lasley’s affair with Camden, one of these men, and her time spent among the many others, affected her, as she dropped any pretense of objective reporting, , disregarding boundaries and engaging in the risky behaviors of drinking and drug use.

Sea State is a memoir of Lasley’s stay in Aberdeen, her interactions with the men she interviewed, and her relationship with Camden which, though they saw each other only six times in person, had significant consequences to them both.

I thought the writing was excellent, and I really enjoyed the insights into working offshore and how that affected men and bleed into their relationships. This would be a good book club book—lots to talk about!

B O O K T O U R: Termination Shock

Thank you [partner] @bibliolifestyle and @williammorrowbooks for including me on the book tour for Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson and for a gifted copy of the book which published on November 16, 2021.

In the near-future world of the novel, climate change has led to (even worse) superstorms, rising sea levels and flooding, heat waves, and deadly pandemics.

A billionaire, T.R. Schmidt, Ph.D.—made wealthy through a chain of restaurants—develops a master plan for reversing global warming from his Texas ranch. His hubristic “Big Idea” may just save earth—or hasten its decline. While the narrative traverses continents, it’s grounded in the humanity of the characters.

Termination Shock manages to pull off a rare trick, at once wildly imaginative and grounded, and readers who go in for this world-building will likely leave with a heightened concern for all the ways in which we are actively making the planet inhospitable…this novel is both a response to a deeply broken reality, and an attempt to alter it.—The New York Times

I am a fan of eco-fiction (or “clifi”) so am very excited to read more of this epic novel. I’m guarding it closely because I think my husband will likely try to abscond with it!

R E V I E W: The Twelve Days of Snowball by Kristen McKanagh

Adorable kitty Snowball, a lovable troublemaker, recently found her forever family at the Weber Haus bed and breakfast settling in as greeter, entertainer, and sometimes matchmaker. Her first success, in fact, was getting Emily and Lukas together. She loves everyone but Daniel Aarons, a ruggedly handsome contractor—who almost ruined her plans.

This Christmas, though, brings a new manager to the growing inn, Sophie Heidt, who had been betrayed at work and in love by her last boyfriend.

A master snoop, Snowball realizes that that Sophie and Daniel have a growing attraction to each other. But when Emily has family emergency and Lukas and owner Miss Tilly leave with her, entrusting the inn to Sophie, Daniel’s interference infuriates Sophie. Snowball knows she’ll have to be more proactive to get these two together —and her best plans involve causing trouble!

Told from three points of view—Sophie’s, Daniel’s, and Snowball’s, The Twelve Days of Snowball is a cute Christmas enemies-to-lovers romance. I enjoyed how “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was humorously woven into the novel. Giselle, Sophie’s nemesis in planning the Christmas Market on the Weber Haus grounds, was fun to hate. The second half of the book, in particular, moved quickly, as Sophie and Daniel began to admit their feelings but face unexpected obstacles. And of course, Snowball was precious throughout!

Thanks to Kristen McKanagh and Let’s Talk Books Promo for including me on the tour and for a signed, gifted copy of the book!

R E V I E W: The London House by Katherine Reay

Thanks to Harper Muse Books and TLC Book Tours for including me in the book tour for The London House by Katherine Reay.

Caroline Payne, who was named after her great aunt who died of polio, left law school to be near her family in Boston. She receives a surprise visit from Mat Hammond, a college classmate, now historian, who learned shocking information about Caroline’s family. Her namesake didn’t die young, as she was told, but actually abandoned her family and country to marry her lover, a Nazi officer. At first, Caroline is incredulous but then realizes that secrecy and disappointment have shaped her family. She decides to visit the family’s ancestral home in London to uncover the truth.

Ensconced in a trunk in the attic, Caroline finds letters, diaries, photographs, and other  keepsakes. The letters reveal a fashionable Parisian scene around the House of Schiaparelli but also point to the horrors of living under Nazi rule.

London, Paris, WWII, dual timelines, a promising love interest, and a hope for family reconciliation … once I started this, I got completely sucked in! I enjoy the epistolary aspect of the novel in particular, with the immediacy of Caro’s observations about Paris in wartime. Her story was fascinating! Yet, her shame and the secrets it created in the family caused ripples of despair across generations, and only in confronting the truth could the family heal past and present wounds.