Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas

Ewan, Chris. The Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas. New York: Minotaur Books, 2010.

Every time I read a Chris Ewan book I like his style more and more. Yes, his Good Thief books follow a certain formula. Writer/thief Charlie Howard gets himself into trouble time and time again and lives to write about it. Ewan can make Charlie visit every major city in the world and then some. And if Charlie ever settles down and has a kid who takes after pops…well, sky’s the limit. The trick is to make every story stand alone and Ewan does that. You won’t be missing out if you read just one (but you won’t want to). It’s definitely more fun to read them all in order.
When we catch up to Charlie Howard and his editor sidekick Victoria they are in Vegas, trying to enjoy a little holiday after being kicked out of Paris. Charlie gets himself into a little bit of trouble when he decides he wants to rob an obnoxious magician who rubbed him the wrong way. Finding a dead woman in the magician’s hotel room is only the beginning. There weren’t as many laugh-out-loud moments in this one, but it was still a pleasure to read.

No favorite lines in this one.

Reason read: To “finish” the series I started in September but truth be known, I would have read this in October, in honor of my cousin who lived on the mean streets of Vegas.

Author fact: According to the back flap Chris Ewan lives on the Isle of Man but spent his honeymoon trying his luck in Vegas. Funny how he doesn’t tell us how that turned out!

Book trivia: This is the third Good Thief book in the series.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust to Go in the chapter called “Las Vegas” (p 128).

December 12 is…

December is a mixed bag. Kisa and I aren’t traveling anywhere (I think we did enough of that over the summer). We’ll get the tree today. I’ll spend the weekend humming Christmas tunes and decorating the crap out of the house. Not much else is planned except a lot of books, books, books. For starters I am reading a lot of continuations:

  • Brush with Death by Elizabeth Duncan ~ a final book in the continuation of the series I started last month.
  • The Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan ~ this finishing the Good Thief series I started in October.
  • Lives of the Painters… by Giorgio Vasari ~ this is the third (and penultimate) book in the series started in October
  • Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers ~ this continues the series started with The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

Confession: a bunch of these books aren’t “series” per se. But, because they continue a story (same characters, continuation of plot) I wanted to read them in order, especially Chris Ewan.

For the honor of all things December:

  • The Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer ~ in honor of Hanukkah
  • Women of the Raj by Margaret Macmillan ~ in honor of December being a really good time to visit India
  • The Tattered Cloak by Nina Berberova ~ in honor of the coldest day in Russia (12/31/76)
  • Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegman ~ in honor of Iowa becoming a state in December

For the Early Review Program for LibraryThing I’m back to nonfiction: Drinking with Men by Rosie Schaap (I remembered her last name by thinking Schnapps). This looks really interesting because it isn’t someone’s sob story memoir about being an trapped and pathetic alcoholic.

And, lastly audio – I am planning to drive to work to the tune of Ross Macdonald’s The Galton Case.

So, there is it. Ten books. Ambitious of me, I know. The way I look at it I have ten days of vacation coming up with barely anything to do. I want to spend a great deal of time reading if nothing else.

November ’12 was…

I don’t know what makes me feel this way, but November arrived and left before I knew it.  It felt like it was one of those elusive party-goers who pops in for a quick hello and is gone before anyone else knows. Something I would do. We had a fit of snow to add insult to New Jersey/New York injury. My neighborhood survived just fine but mother nature had it in for my old stomping grounds in the worst way.

My routine of reading during my lunch break hasn’t changed. I’ve come to look forward to camping out in the stacks, listening to students pass my study carrel. It gives me perspective. This month I seemed to read nothing but really short, easy to read books.

  • Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan ~ a continuation of the series I started last month. I think I read this over a weekend.
  • Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, Vol 2 by Giorgio Vasari ~ a continuation of the series I started last month.
  • Breakfast with Scot by Michael Downing ~ in honor of national adoption month. This was cute. I was able to read it in one day.
  • Camus, a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes ~ in honor of Camus being born in the month of November. I took my time with this but still managed to finish it in two weeks.
  • Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff ~ in honor of national Alzheimer’s month. Read over a weekend, I was glued to the words because almost a year ago I lost my uncle to dementia. This really hit home.
  • Before the Knife: Memories of an African Childhood by Carolyn Slaughter ~ in honor of November being a good time to visit Africa. Or so they say. Another quick, weekend read.
  • Edward Lear in Albania: Journals of a landscape Painter in the Balkansby Edward Lear ~ in honor of November being the best time to get to Albania (which I never thought of doing). This took me three weeks to get through.
  • The Cold Light of Mourning by Elizabeth Duncan ~ in honor of Dylan Thomas living in Wales. Don’t ask. It’s a long story. Read in four days.
  • The Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin ~ in honor of November being a good time to visit Africa (yeah, yeah I read two books for the same reason). This was really short. I was  able to read it over four lunch breaks.
  • Corregidora by Gayl Jones ~ in honor of Jones’s birth month. Another short (but difficult) read. Read this in one day.
  • The Akhenaten Adventure by P.B. Kerr ~ in honor of November being Fantasy convention month. Read this over two lunch breaks. Really cute.

For audio books I listened to:

  • Churchill, a Life by Martin Gilbert ~ in honor of Churchill being born in the month of November. A few trips to the eastern part of the state allowed me to finish this sooner than I thought.
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers ~ for the fun of it. This was hard to listen to simply because of the heavy dialogue.
  • Complications: a Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande ~ in honor of National Health Month. This was only six cds long so it was a great way to finish out the month.

What else was November about? I got to see a pretty exciting Patriots game thanks to my husband. I also got to stay home alone and read for an entire Sunday thanks to another Patriots game. Staying local for Thanksgiving definitely allowed for more reading time, too.

Good Thief’s Guide to Paris

Ewan, Chris. The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris. New york: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2008.

Right off the bat The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris opens with a head-scratcher. Writer and petty thief Charles Howard is teaching someone how to break into an apartment in Paris, France. After a successful book reading and too many glasses of red wine Howard has offered a fan a one on one tutorial in how to pull off the standard B&E. If you have read The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam you would think Howard is too smart to pull off anything that dumb. But he does and of course this B&E leads to more trouble, including a dead woman in his apartment.
In addition to being involved in the typical bungled burglar caper Howard’s relationship with unmet editor, Victoria, gets more complicated. She wants to see him face to face. This poses a myriad of problems for Howard, the least of all being he has lied about his looks.
the biggest improvement over the Amsterdam book is that Ewan sums up the mystery in a more realistic, less movie caper-ish way in Paris.
Pet peeve: The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris was published in 2008 and yet Charlie Howard is still slinking around using payphones and phone books. Even I had a cellphone before 2008.

Lines that made me laugh: “I felt my eyebrows switch places. I fumbled for an answer” (p 250). I just love the image of Howard’s eyebrows dancing around.

Reason read: A continuation of the Good Thief series I started last month. Only I didn’t need to. Good Thief…Paris stands on its own with barely a mention of Good Thief…Amsterdam. However, if you want to keep the advancement of the relationship with Victoria, Howard’s editor, in chronological order it is best to read Amsterdam first.

Author fact: Chris Ewan is a lawyer and while this puts him in the category of John Grisham, I enjoy Ewan more.

Book trivia: This is the second Good Thief book. Next is The Good Thief’s Guide to Las Vegas.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Las Vegas” (p 130). As with The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam, The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris was mentioned as an “oh, by the way…Chris Ewan has also written these “Good Thief Guides” in addition to the one set in Vegas.” Obviously, Paris has nothing to do with Vegas.

November ’12 is…

November is Thanksgiving. My mom’s birthday. A wedding somewhere out there. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. Soon it will be time to crank up the woodstove. November is also a football game (Go Pats!) and maybe some music. It promises to be a good month for books, too. I have a couple of really short ones to buzz through:

  • Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Vol 2. by Giorgio Vasari ~ continuing the series started in October in honor of art month. As with Vol.1 I won’t read any bio that has a mistake in it.
  • I’m excited about this volume because Da Vinci is in it.

  • The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan ~ a continuation of the series started in October to honor the Amsterdam marathon. This should be a really quick read.
  • Camus: a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes ~ in honor of Albert Camus’s birth month
  • Edward Lear in Albania: journals of a landscape painter by Edward Lear ~ in honor of November being a good time to visit Albania.
  • I guess so.

  • Before the Knife: Memories of an African Childhood by Carolyn Slaughter ~in honor of November being a good time to take a safari in Africa. Truth be told, this won’t inspire me to travel anywhere near the dark continent.
  • I can tell already.

For audio – I’m plan to listen to Martin Gilbert’s biography of Winston Churchill, Winston Churchill, a Life and Dorothy Sayer’s The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club.

For the Early Review program on LibraryThing I will finish Clay by Melissa Harrison. I have to admit I’m not wild about the story. I love the way Harrison describes the landscape around her but not a fan of her character development.

What else about November? Can I say I will be thrilled, thrilled to not have to listen to Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren bash each other over the head anymore? As a woman I have never felt more “targeted” than in this particular election. That would go for Obama and Romney as well. Grrrr.

October ’12 was…

October 2012 was started out to sea. We landed on Monhegan sandwiched between the bustling start of Trap Day and the slowing end of tourist season. As a nod to the death of summer we readied our psyches to the coming winter. The island had shed its summer greens and stood cloaked in red rust brown and burnt yellow hues. Hiking the trails was at once magical and sobering. It was easy to curl up with a good book every night and read for at least two hours straight (something I never get to do at home unless it’s an off day). And speaking of the books, here they are:

  • Persian Boy by Mary Renault ~ a continuation of the series about Alexander the Great. I started this in September to keep the story going.
  • Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley ~ in honor of Halloween (duh). Probably one of my favorite books of the month. I read this in three days.
  • The Outermost House: a year of life on the great beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston ~ in honor of October being Animal Month. The best book for me to read on an island; finished it in three days.
  • Lives of the Painters, Vol. 1 by Giorgio Vasari ~ in honor of October being Art Appreciation month. This was just ridiculous to read. There were a lot of errors according to the translator. I ended up skipping every biography that had a contradiction or error in it.As a result, finished it in two weeks.
  • Hackers edited by Jack Dann ~ in honor of October being Computer Awareness month. This was cool to read. I read three stories a night and finished it in four days.
  • The Dialect of Sex: the Case For Feminist Revolution by Shulamith Firestone ~ in honor of breast cancer awareness month and strong women everywhere. I didn’t completely finish this, but I got the gist of it.
  • The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan ~ in honor of the Amsterdam marathon taking place in October. I read this in four and a half days. Easy and very entertaining!
  • The Clerkenwell Tales by Peter Ackroyd ~in honor of Ackroyd’s birth month. This was short, a little over 200 pages, but I took my time reading it – almost three weeks!

The audio book I chose for October was The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell. This took forever to listen to! I felt like I was constantly plugged into the story. I listened to it on the drive home from Maine, to and from work everyday. even while I was working out, while I cooking. It was a great story, worth every hour between the earphones. Can’t wait to read other Mankell stories!

For LibraryThing’s Early Review program I read Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave Introduced French Cuisine to America by Thomas J. Craughwell. While I thought I would enjoy this book (TJ is one of my favorite past presidents and I’m wild about food) it fell a little flat for me. I stopped reading on page 200. I also started reading Clay by Melissa Harrison. It was refreshing to get a first-time fiction from LibraryThing!

One thing that I failed to mention about October (and this is related to the books) is that I am back to requesting books from other libraries! Yay yay yay! This was halted in June of 2011 because we were switching ILSs and at the time I figured it would be a good opportunity to read what was on my own shelf and in my own library. Now, nearly 17 months later I am back to having hundreds of libraries to order from. Thank gawd!

We ended October with a freak storm people were calling Frankenstorm in honor of being so close to Halloween. Although we prepared like hell we saw little damage, thankfully. My thoughts and prayers go out to those in New Jersey and New York. It’s sad to see my old haunts get battered around so…

Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam

Ewan, Chris. The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam. New York: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2007.

Charles Howard is a suspense writer visiting Amsterdam for inspiration to the ending of his latest crime-thief thriller. He shouldn’t ever get writers’ block because he happens to be one of the very thieves he writes about in his “fiction.” As a petty thief he steals things just because he can. In addition, the thefts stave off boredom and supplement his writing career. One of his sidekicks is his literary agent, Victoria, who he has never met. He tells he everything about his thieving escapades. This time word has gotten around – he’s a good a thief as they come – and he is approached by an American willing to pay him to steal the matching plaster monkey figurines to his “See No Evil.” The figures are cheap and the job seems to simple. Howard rightly thinks there has to be a catch and of course, there is. After successfully stealing “Hear No Evil” and “Speak No Evil” all hell breaks loose when the American is murdered and his death is pinned on Howard.

Chris Ewan’s writing is fun and furious. It’s easy to read 100 pages in a single lunch break without looking up once. His Charles Howard character is entertaining with just the right amount of cheeky sarcasm contrasted with humble likeability. Like other reviewers I enjoyed his sly and flirty relationship with his literary editor. Of course the ending is wrapped in a “Who Dunnit” ending with a neat little bow, but because Ewan kept many details out this play by play was almost necessary to make the ending complete.

Good line: “It was enough, to begin with, to be somewhere I wasn’t meant to be, without anyone knowing about it” (p 79).

Reason Read: in honor of the Amsterdam marathon which takes place in October.

Author Fact: Chris Ewan has his own Bond-like website. It’s entertaining, just like his books.

Book Trivia: The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam is the first in a series of “Good Thief” books by Ewan.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Las Vegas” (p 130). This was another one of those “mentioned by default” books Pearl decided to include. This particular “Good Thief’s Guide” has nothing to do with Vegas but because Ewan wrote another one that does take place in Vegas Amsterdam gets a mention as well.