Friday, July 21, 2017

FFB: Heist Week, July 21, 2017

 HEIST SOCIETY (No. 1) Ally Carter

I spent a lot of time, a really lot of time, looking for the right book to read for this topic. Although I have seen dozens of movies about heists, I had never read one. Well. maybe I had and just don't remember it. I must have read a Westlake one.
I took a handful of books out of the library, and none of them grabbed me. Although I loved the topic onscreen, perhaps for me heists are visual subjects.
As I looked for books online, the name Ally Carter kept popping up. I saw her first book in a series was available for almost nothing online so I downloaded it, still not realizing it was a YA book. I don't read YA books really. Well, I read THE HUNGER GAMES and the Greene one about the girl with cancer but on the whole, no.
And then I became fascinated with how an author was going to write a series about a girl burglar. How could she justify it satisfactorily? She certainly didn't want to encourage teenage crime.
She gets off the hook by having her heroine disavow a life of crime and then constructing the plot around the idea that the girl's father is accused of stealing famous paintings. And it is up to Katarina Bishop to find the stolen paintings and prove it was not the work of her father. To this end, she does the time-honored thing and assembles a group of teens to help her.
Carter manages to be witty and fun throughout the book and yet, I found it wanting. I can see that full-fledged adults would be able to read this for the fun of it without thinking the author was endorsing a life of crime. Yet if a twelve year old reads this, what is their takeaway? I am not sure.. I guess my uncertainty stems from the fact that I was reading adult novels and not YA novels from 12-16. So yes, I was reading some pretty questionable narratives in terms of morality. But those books were not written with a teenage reader in mind. If you are writing YA, what is your responsibility? Yes, Katarina only steals for the greater good. But she puts herself, (a fifteen  year old) in harms way to do it. Carter has written several more additions to this series. I am pretty sure they are based on the same formula: Katarina is asked to use her gift for humanity's good.
Looking at the reviews of this book afterwards, clearly the majority of readers saw it as a romance. Maybe as it should be seen. Maybe all YA girls see books as romantic.

The H connotes books that deal with a heist or a similar theme. 

Yvette Banek, ARROW POINTING NOWHERE, Elizabeth Daly
Joe Barone, MERCY FALLS, William Ken Kruger
Les Blatt, CLUTCH OF CONSTABLES, Ngaio March
Elgin Bleecker, THE MONEY TRAP, Lionel White (H)
Alice Chang, THE HOW OF HAPPINESS, Sonia Lyubomirsky
Bill Crider, ROSS MACDONALD'S INWARD JOURNEY, Ralph Sipper. ed
Rick Horton, Ring Around the Sun, by Clifford D. Simak/Cosmic Manhunt, by L. Sprague de Camp
Jerry House, BLOOD ON THE MOON, Basil Cooper
George Kelley, MARILYN K and THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR, Lionel White (H)
Margot Kinberg, TALKING TO THE DEAD, Harry Bingham
Rob Kitchin, DEAD WATER, Ann Cleves
K.A. Laity, FRENCHMEN'S CREEK, Daphne DuMaurier (H)
Evan Lewis, Forgotten Adaptations of Books
Steve Lewis/Bill Pronzini, A TASTE OF ASHES, Howard Browne
Todd Mason,  ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW by William P. McGivern (Dodd, Mead 1957); YA birthday bonus heistlet: FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E. L. Konigsburg (H)
J.F. Norris, DEAD RECKONING. Bruce Hamilton
Matt Paust, WHERE THE MONEY WAS, Willie Sutton with Edward Linn (H)
James Reasoner, HIGH LONESOME, Lous L'Amour; WE ARE ALL DEAD, Bruno Fischer (H)
Richard Robinson, A SIX-LETTER WORD FOR DEATH, Patricia Moyes
Gerard Saylor, THE UNBURIED DEAD, Douglas Lindsay
TomCat, BOOK OF MURDER, Frederick Irving Anderson

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The writers for THE DEUCE begin an outline for the second season in Baltimore. That's James Franco in the rear with the baseball cap. David Simon next to him. Price on the other side. Pelecanos, Lisa Lutz and Megan up front. Don't know the others.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What Book Has Been in on Your TBR the longest and why haven't you either read it or ditched it?

Well, of course, there is more than one. And generally, they are books that came highly recommended or I wouldn't still have them, books I at least gave a start to, but then put aside. Books I know I should read but never seem to. And usually they are books known for a high violence quotient that I am sort of scared of.
Like THE KILLER INSIDE ME by Jim Thompson or SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER by David Goodis.

What about you?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Based on the novel, THE COUNTRY GIRL, by Edna O'Brien, Rita Tushingham brings her winsome charm to the story of a girl's first love affair, with an older novelist.More than movies about teenagers from Hollywood of this era, which seemed to be always set on a beach, this reminds me of my youth.

I am a great fan of British cinema from this era. Do you have a favorite film from the UK? 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Things That Made Me Happy

I made arrangements to put up a new fence across our backyard. We have to wait until October however. Apparently the dearth of people willing to work for the kind of low wages places like this pay has cut down on their employee pool. I heard the same thing from a few other places recently. I will be very glad to have a fence that isn't falling over come October. Just in time for snow.

Saw an interesting documentary about Gertrude Bell, who was a founder of modern day Baghdad. Her accomplishments were many. The footage the film had from 1920s Iraq was amazing.

I am going to talk to a book group this week about SHOT IN DETROIT. I have always been somewhat worried about this because I'm a transplant to Detroit and have been afraid I got some of it wrong. Or was in someway exploitative. Crossed fingers it goes well.

So happy Phil, Josh and Kevin got to see the Tigers win. The white stuff on Phil's face is zinc from the sun bloc.

Grantchester on PBS is going in unexpected directions. All three major characters are having crises unrelated to crime-solving. Bravo for making me interested in their lives as much as their crimes.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, July 14, 2017

Todd Mason will have the links today. I really appreciate the help he has extended me through this trying year. Although there is no sign of cancer on the last scan, the oncologist has recommended six weeks of radiation and low dose chemo (taken as a pill)  as an insurance policy. A second opinion backed this up. We begin Monday.

Next week is heist week for those who have one to recommend.