Book Expo America a.k.a. When 90% humidity, sleep deprivation and hours in line can’t stop you from having the time of your life.
So, remember how I said I knew what to expect from BEA going in? Well, when the time came to actually go in, all of that disappeared from my brain. I wandered in 1000% lost and thank god I just stumbled into the right signing line, otherwise I might still be roaming Javits. But it only took me an hour or so to get accustomed to the layout and pretty soon I was darting all over the place.
This, I would soon discover, would become my life for the next 3 days. I was on my feet 9-5 thanking God that there was a Starbucks on the convention floor. I was powered by adrenaline and caffeine – and the kilos of books on my shoulders meant nothing. It was friggin’ Disneyland.
One of the best things about BEA: the bloggers. I met the lovely Mara (Girls in Capes) that first day, who introduced me to both Susan (Read This, Eat That) and Feliza. It was a lot easier to approach publishers in pairs, so some of the best publisher experiences I had were with them and Tania (Literary Cravings). (Excluding one awesome argument about Sansa Stark over at Source Books – nothing gets the blood boiling better than the Game of Thrones!)
So, yes, you do have to stand in line a lot at BEA – but that is one of the best parts. It gives you an opportunity to talk to fellow book lovers, learn the gossip, find out about books that you might not have otherwise heard of, exchange ARCs and, well, have someone watch your bag while you pop over to grab a coffee and/or publisher. Seriously, people, even if you aren’t British, you’ll quickly love the BEA queuing.
I followed the advice online and checked a bag the first afternoon. On days 2 and 3 I made sure to bring along a wheelie bag as I had to walk a lot after the convention to get back to my hotel and on to the theatre. NYC may be walkable, but it was rather like walking in an oven while carrying your own coffin.
… I don’t do well in the heat.
Anyhow, I met so many authors while I was there they’ve actually rather blurred in my mind. Though I know the US often sends dozens of authors out on tour together, we have nothing like that in the UK. To see 2 or 3 at once is highly unusual – but at BEA? Well, Harlequin had Elizabeth Scott, Julie Kagawa, Amanda Sun, Katie McGarry and Dawn Metcalf together not once, but twice. That’s kinda amazing
So, for the record, I met: Victoria Schwab (super lovely), Amanda Sun (super, super lovely), Richelle Mead (!!), Ally Carter, Brandon Sanderson, Maria V. Snyder, Jonathan Maberry, Eve Silver, Teri Brown, Holly Black, Anna Jarzab, Leila Sales, Jennifer Castle, Sarah Dessen (!!), Marie Lu, Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan, Elizabeth Scott (sweetest person ever), Amy Tintera, Ellen Datlow, Alice Hoffman, Kendare Blake, Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young, Romily Bernard, Lauren Myracle, Dan Krokos, Elizabeth Norris, Katie McGarry, Dawn Metcalf, Dot Hutchison, Ted Dekker, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner, Julie Kagawa, Sean Williams, Deborah Noyes, Michael Pocalyko, Amy Herrick, Faith Erin Hicks, Sarah Jio, and Tyler Whitesides.
In case you hadn’t noticed: I had an amazing time. I met so many amazing people and would highly recommend that you all give it a go sometime – whether as a blogger or as a power reader. However, I’m also glad I took the evening off from author events: it gave me much-needed time away from the chaos and the opportunity to bleed money on Broadway (Matthew Broderrik! David Hyde Pearce! I couldn’t possibly keep away.)
Series: Heist Society #3
Published by Hachette Children's Books, Hyperion
Genres: Contemporary YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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Also in this series: Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals
Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it's that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting-or stealing-whatever they want. No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale's family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother's billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there's no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won't let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother's will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company's fortune. So instead of being the heir-this time, Hale might be the mark. Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she's willing to save her boyfriend's company if it means losing the boy.
Thoughts: Perfect Scoundrels is very nearly perfect – which is still ruddy brilliant.
One of my main issues with the Heist Society series (up till now) had been that there was not enough character development on the Hale side. To be honest, I still hadn’t quite forgiven him for getting Kat kicked out of boarding school in Chapter 1 of Heist Society (I hold a long grudge). But in Perfect Scoundrels we get Hale back story, front story and side story – it’s Hale-a-palooza. And finally I can say that not only do I forgive Hale for the aforementioned Chapter 1 incident, I also rather like him!
Now, along with the Hale-a-palooza, Perfect Scoundrels is still very much a Kat story. She doesn’t have Hale to rely on and every single decision she makes affects him somehow: not easy to choose what is right when it hurts someone you care about.
As for the cons, the heists and whatnot, some of my favourites yet were pulled in Perfect Scoundrels. Heirs returned from the dead, documents were hidden in secret drawers and honest-to-God death-defying stunts were pulled. There was one (which I don’t want to spoil you for) that was slightly obvious, but the rest were just as brilliant as I’ve come to expect from Ally. A-mazing.
On one last character note, I was surprised by how happy I was to see Marcus developed in Perfect Scoundrels. As Hale’s man-servant/butler/back-up, he’s been part of the team since the first book and yet we hardly ever heard a peep out of him. I didn’t know I wanted to know more until Ally Carter suddenly delivered it. Now? I would devour a novella from his POV (in case anyone is listening!).
Bottom line? I’ve loved every one of the Heist Society books – but if you put thought Uncommon Criminals wasn’t quite what you were hoping for, then Perfect Scoundrels will be your come-back book. Pick it up! you’ll be wanting to pick it back up now. Ever
Note to those of you who think this is the last book in a trilogy: It’s not. Don’t believe me? Ally confirmed it when I interviewed her. Can anyone else say YAY?
Series: Heist Society #2
Published by Hachette Children's Books, Hyperion
Genres: Contemporary YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Heist Society, Perfect Scoundrels
Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.
There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long — and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous, and that is . . . the emerald is cursed.
Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend — the gorgeous Hale — and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.
Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.
Thoughts: After the success of Heist Society, I really wasn’t sure how Ally Carter could continue with Katarina’s story. Turns out, Katarina wasn’t sure either.
Unlike Heist Society, which set out to establish the verse and introduce all the fantastic characters (all while carrying out a heist, of course), Uncommon Criminals starts off with characters without a purpose. Kat and her crew have peaked as teenagers: if you’ve just carried out the greatest heist of your career… what do you do next?
That’s not a question anyone wants to answer, but it’s what Kat ends up spending the whole book working out. She also gets knocked down a few pegs: it is rather easy to develop an ego when you really are the smartest person in the room (no matter how nice you may be). And along with all this character development, there is con after con, heist after heist – all of them as clever and entertaining as I’ve come to expect from Carter.
I was also happy that the entire team was reunited. I knew they would be, I knew that they would become a team out of their experience in Heist Society – but it was lovely to see how it was done. I was also overjoyed to see Nick back with the team – I heart Nick the way most people love Hale. He was one of the few characters who wasn’t really welcomed by the gang (other than Kat), so fitting him into the book required a rather ingenious stretch of imagination.
The only thing I wasn’t quite in love with? Hale’s storyline. To be perfectly frank, I’ve never been his biggest fan (don’t shoot me people) as I never really understood why he was there in the first place. So having him sulk about in Uncommon Criminals was just rather tedious. Enough to drag down the rest of the book, to be completely honest.
Bottom line? Great follow-up to the excellent Heist Society, but it didn’t blow me away the way the first book did.
I am super excited to introduce the lovely Ally Carter, author of the Heist Society and Gallagher Girls series. The third novel in the Heist Society series (Perfect Scoundrels) just came out in the UK this month. If you haven’t read her books yet, what have you been waiting for?!
Hi Ally! First off, I let me just say that I love your Heist Society series and Katarina (and not just because she shares my name!).
Yay! I dearly love writing about Kat, so it’s a joy to hear that she has fans.
Talk me through your writing a Heist novel: do you start thinking about a particular character or about the final heist?
Each book is a little different. I’m always trying to think about what I did last time and where I can go next. How do I push the characters? Where should their journeys take them? And perhaps most importantly, how can I write a very different book that gives the reader a very similar experience? That is one of the hardest things with series—making people feel like they are reading something totally fresh and new but still letting them feel like they’ve come back to a world and writing style that is familiar.
For Perfect Scoundrels, the story started with Hale. I’ve always known that Kat and her crew had it easy because of Hale and his vast resources. So I wanted to know what would happen if those resources went away. What would that do to the crew and how they operated? And, most importantly, what would it do to Hale and how would Kat cope with those changes?
I love how your novels have female characters taking on roles that are typically male. Did you set out to counteract the stereotype?
Probably not intentionally. I just don’t know any other way. I’m a woman. Most of my readers are girls and women. I certainly don’t think there is anything about my books that men and boys wouldn’t enjoy if they’d give them a chance, but I know how the world works. From this point forward in my career I will be known as a “girly” author, and so I will probably always write about girls. As to why I give the girls the fun jobs? Well…why wouldn’t I? It wasn’t a feminist statement. It was just the way I think it should be. Your main character should be the hero or heroine of his or her own journey, and that’s what I intend to write for the remainder of my career.
Will there be more books in the Heist series after Perfect Scoundrels?
I certainly didn’t set out to end the Heist series with Perfect Scoundrels, so if you see any reports of it being the third and final book in the trilogy, don’t believe them. That was never my intent. I’ve always seen the Heist series as being quite episodic. Maybe there will be three books. Maybe there will be thirty. I can say that I don’t have any more under contract at this time, but that certainly doesn’t mean the series is over. It just means I haven’t written a fourth one…yet. Will I? Only time will tell, but I’d really like to do that eventually.
I am hesitantly excited about the Heist Society movie (especially knowing that Drew Barrymore has signed on – amazing). Do you have any more news on the film front?
No. I’m afraid there’s nothing to talk about right now. Maybe there never will be anything to talk about. Or maybe a huge story will break tomorrow. That’s the way Hollywood works, I’m afraid.
You write books filled with espionage and white collar crime… you must get your inspiration somewhere! What are your favourite heist and spy books/movies/shows?
I’ve long been a fan of heist and con movies, going all the way back to watching The Sting with my father when I was a girl. I grew up on To Catch A Thief and How to Steal a Million. More recently, I’ve loved all the Ocean’s movies, The Thomas Crown Affair and The Italian Job. And what’s not to love about Leverage and White Collar? And there was a UK show called Hustle that I really enjoyed on DVD even though it never aired in the States (to my knowledge).
Thank you for answering my questions, Ally. 🙂
All about the author
Ally Carter writes books about spies, thieves, and teenagers. She is the New York Times Best-selling author of Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, and the popular Gallagher Girls series, including I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover, and Only the Good Spy Young. She lives in the Midwest where her life is either very ordinary or the best deep-cover legend ever. She’d tell you more, but…well…you know…