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Book Club Kit: A Beautiful Heist

book-club-kit

I just sent the final copyedits for my latest book back to my editor, so I find myself with a little breathing room again. What to do? Ooh, I know…

I’ve been wanting to create a book club kit for A BEAUTIFUL HEIST for a while. But I thought–why not go beyond merely providing discussion questions? Let’s take this up a notch. I decided it would be fun to compile everything you’d need to throw a jewel-thief-themed evening, all in one kit.

First, let’s cover the most crucial aspect of any good book club: drinks.

Drink Recipes

Cat Montgomery, the protagonist of A BEAUTIFUL HEIST, loves a good cocktail. There are many spots in the book where she has one in hand (as do many of the other characters). For book club night, why not shake up a cocktail or two?

dirty-martini

Dirty Martini

This is the cocktail Cat orders when she’s on the swanky dinner train…where she may or may not be planning to steal something rather sparkly.

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 tbsp dry vermouth
  • 2 tbsp olive juice
  • 2 olives
  1.  Fill a mixer with the first 3 ingredients.
  2. Cover and shake hard.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with 2-3 olives.

Mojito

This is the cocktail being served at the fancy yacht party in the first scene, and it’s also the drink Cat orders while she’s waiting for her “non-date” with Ethan, the art thief.

  • 3 sprigs fresh mint
  • 3 teapoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces light rum
  • club soda, chilled
  1. Place mint and sugar in a tall glass. Crush mint leaves with the back of a spoon or muddler.
  2. Add the lime juice and stir thoroughly, to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Fill glass with ice cubes.
  4. Pour in rum and mix.
  5. Top with a splash of club soda.
  6. Garnish with a lime wedge and a mint sprig.

Manhattan

This is a true classic cocktail, and in A BEAUTIFUL HEIST, it’s Jack’s preferred drink (and what he’s drinking at the masquerade party).

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish
  1. Pour the first three ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherry.

Food Recipes

tapas

Finger food is always a good idea for book clubs. And here are some recipes for nibbles that appear in the book:

Spicy Green Beans

This is the tapas Cat and her girlfriends nosh when they go out on the town. This recipe comes to me from my good friend and amazing foodie, Nicole MacPherson.

  • 3 cups green beans, ends sliced off
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8-1 teaspoon dried chili pepper, depending on your heat preference
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a sauté pan; add the garlic and beans and cook until beans are golden. Add ginger, soy sauce, honey, and chili pepper; cook for 2-3 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds, serve immediately.

Smoked Salmon Crostini

…as served at the swanky yacht party.

It doesn’t get any easier than this:

  • Buy a package of smoked salmon (the GOOD stuff, please–I live in the Pacific Northwest where smoked salmon is basically a religion).
  • Thinly slice and lightly toast a baguette.
  • On each baguette piece, arrange: a slice of smoked salmon, a spoonful of cream cheese, a thin slice of red onion, and a few capers.

Fig & Prosciutto Canapés

…as served at the masquerade gala.

Again, super easy:

  • Use a base of your choice: cracker, Paris toast, or puff pastry
  • On each canape, assemble: a slice of prosciutto, a slice of ripe fig, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

The Sweet Stuff

Finally, because you just can’t have a book club without something sinfully sweet, here are a couple of links to delectable party desserts (Recipes also from the talented Nicole MacPherson):

Music Playlists

casino-royale

I love Songza. Here are some Songza playlists to help you set the mood for a heist-themed evening:

Music From James Bond Movies

High Stylin’ Cocktail Hour

And, because A BEAUTIFUL HEIST is primarily set in Seattle (and Cat is, naturally, a big fan of coffee) here’s one to go with that: Coffee Shop Blend.

Dress Code Ideas

masquerade-party

If your book club is game for it, why not pull out all the stops and dress for the occasion? Here are three ideas:

  • Have everyone come dressed in black, ready to channel their inner jewel thief. Or…
  • Ask everyone to come accessorized with sparkly costume jewelry. Or maybe…
  • Make it a masquerade party (just like the one in the book itself).

Discussion Questions

1. The “heist story” is a popular genre for movies, in particular—why do you think this is? Most of us would not root for a criminal in real life, yet capers with criminal protagonists are common and, for the most part, enjoyable. What accounts for this? Also—why do you think there are far fewer heist stories in books than in movies?

2. In A BEAUTIFUL HEIST, Cat struggles over her particular mash-up of good and evil qualities. Do you believe people are either “good” or “bad”? Or do you think people come in shades and nuances of those qualities? And what about fictional characters—do you prefer when characters are either “good guys” or “bad guys”, or do you enjoy reading about characters with layers and contradictions?

3. Consider this quote from the book:

I realized I didn’t want to give up my life as a thief. This was who I was. And that’s because—right or wrong—being a thief was my own way of being special, of living a life less ordinary. And it was the one thing I could do in the world at which I could be . . . the best. So how could I walk away from that?

What do you think of the idea that people have one thing that makes them special? One way of living a life less ordinary? How important do you think it is for people to seek out this thing, if it exists?

4. Agatha Christie wrote in her autobiography about her dislike of mysteries having a romantic subplot. Do you agree or disagree with her view? Do you feel the romantic storyline in A BEAUTIFUL HEIST enhanced or detracted from the story?

5. Team Ethan or Team Jack? (And be prepared to defend your choice!)

6. Cat is searching for atonement in this story, because she feels she was responsible for her sister’s death. How important do you think it is for to make up for your past mistakes? Do you think it’s possible for a person to achieve true redemption?

7. The rivalry between Cat and Brooke is a thread through the book. Why do you think the concept of female “frenemies” is such a recognizable thing for women? Why do we do this sort of thing to one another?

8. Books and films are filled with action heroes, but action heroines aren’t quite so plentiful. Why do you think this is? Who are some of your favorite kickass heroines? How do you think Cat Montgomery stacks up, in terms of an action heroine?

PS. If you do decide to host a BEAUTIFUL HEIST-themed evening for your next book club, I’d love to hear about it! And–if you’re interested, I would be happy to skype with your club or call in to chat/answer questions! Drop me a line, send me a message or post a photo of your club on my Facebook page.

One Response to “Book Club Kit: A Beautiful Heist”

  1. […] has put together a great post on A BEAUTIFUL HEIST for book clubs! Ideas on how to make book club a fun […]

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Kim

Kim Foster writes YA and adult books about thieves, spies, and assassins. (Read More)

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