Monday, July 24, 2017


Although I can't say that the movie DUNKIRK made me happy, it did make me glad to see how seriously Christopher Nolan took his task in bringing that battle to life. His method of showing it through three narratives worked well for me. And the sense of self-sacrifice exhibited by many characters in that film reminded me that good people still exist. I especially enjoyed the performance of Mark Rylance, who is always spot on.

I was very happy at how well my meeting with the book group who read SHOT IN DETROIT went. This was a group of women who had been together for almost fifty years. I think my book was difficult for some of them (unlikable protagonist issues), but they were good sports, asked smart questions, made good observations, Some of them were Survivors and how I would love to hear their stories. All of them were still engaged by life, books, movies, lectures. What a great afternoon.

Also enjoyed my own book group as we discussed LOVING DAY, Mat Johnson's novel is about being bi-racial. The woman who hosted it was a widow of two months. What strength it must take to force yourself out in the world so quickly. She promised her husband she would do this and she was keeping that promise.

And my third group of women, that meets Thursday mornings, always manages to make me happy. As we bat around current events and personal issues, munching on fruit and drinking tea or coffee, we always leave smiling.

I am also happy that Phil has found two groups of men to meet with. The Hump Day group, meeting Wednesday afternoon, is very large and their speaker didn't turn up this week, so they pelted Phil with questions about the presidency. It was good for him to talk about his scholarship again. His Sunday group, much smaller,  talks more about sports, politics, etc.

This new community has been so good for us. I am so happy we moved when we did.

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?