Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday's Film Adaption: The Natural by Bernard Malamud

The Natural, Bernard Malamud’s first novel, published in 1952, is also the first—and some would say still the best—novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material—the story of a superbly gifted “natural” at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era—and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work. Four decades later, Alfred Kazin’s comment still holds true: “Malamud has done something which—now that he has done it!—looks as if we have been waiting for it all our lives. He has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology.”

A once promising young baseball player returns to the mainstage fifteen years later in an attempt to restart his career after battling the demons of his past. But, it is the choices he makes with the women in his life that could lead to his downfall again.

Release dates: May 11, 1984
Running time: 137 minutes

Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs
Robert Duvall as Max Mercy
Glenn Close as Iris Gaines
Kim Basinger as Memo Paris
Wilford Brimley as Pop Fisher
Barbara Hershey as Harriet Bird
Robert Prosky as The Judge
Richard Farnsworth as Red Blow
Joe Don Baker as "The Whammer"
Darren McGavin as Gus Sands
Michael Madsen as Bartholomew "Bump" Bailey
John Finnegan as Sam Simpson
Alan Fudge as Ed Hobbs
Ken Grassano as Al Fowler
Mike Starr as Boone
Mickey Treanor as Doc Dizzy
Jon Van Ness as John Olsen
Anthony J. Ferrara as Coach Wilson
George Wilkosz as Bobby Savoy
Paul Sullivan Jr. as Young Roy
Rachel Hall as Young Iris

Academy Awards, USA 1985
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Glenn Close 
Best Cinematography: Caleb Deschanel 
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration: Mel Bourne, Angelo P. Graham, Bruce Weintraub 
Best Music, Original Score: Randy Newman 

Golden Globes, USA 1985
Golden Globe
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Kim Basinger 

With baseball season in full swing, I thought it was fitting to spotlight one of my favorite baseball movies.  I don't know as I would call it a classic but it's well written, expertly acted, and a great story.


Author Bio:
Bernard Malamud was an author of novels and short stories. Along with Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, he was one of the great American Jewish authors of the 20th century. His baseball novel, The Natural, was adapted into a 1984 film starring Robert Redford. His 1966 novel The Fixer, about antisemitism in Tsarist Russia, won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.


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Two Princes: The Biker and the Billionaire by Victoria Danann

Title: Two Princes
Author: Victoria Danann
Series: Sons of Sanctuary MC #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Two brothers, one a player, one a playboy, are on a collision course with destiny and a woman who thought she’d scored a coup when she was allowed a look inside the Sons of Sanctuary Motorcycle Club.

Brigid was a graduate student at the University of Texas. It wasn’t hard getting her thesis approved, but finding a Hill Country motorcycle club willing to give her access to their lifestyle was starting to look impossible. Then she got a lead. A friend of a friend had a cousin with family ties to The Sons of Sanctuary. Perfect. Or so she thought.

What she wanted was information to prove a scholarly proposition. The last thing she had in mind was falling for one of the members of the club. Especially since she was a feminist academic out to prove that motorcycle clubs are organized according to the same structure as primitive tribal society.

Brash was standing in line at the H.E.B. Market when his world tipped on its axis. While waiting his turn to check out, his gaze had wandered to the magazine display and settled on the new issue of “NOW”. The image on the cover, although GQ’d up in an insanely urbane way, was… him.

After reading the article, he threw some stuff in a duffle and left his only home, a room at The Sons of Sanctuary clubhouse, with a vague explanation about needing a couple of days away. He left his truck at the Austin airport and caught a plane for New York, on a mission to find a mysterious guy walking around with his face.

***Intro to the Sons of Sanctuary MC, A Season in Gemini, is published in the anthology Summer Fire, available on Amazon.***

“Sir?” Brash Fornight gradually became aware that someone behind him in the grocery checkout line was trying to get his attention. “Sir?” He refocused and glanced behind him. The woman leaning on a cart overflowing with chip bags and cookie boxes nodded toward the cashier indicating that it was his turn to move forward. Brash looked her in the eye and had to give her props. Most people wouldn’t have the balls to try to herd a guy wearing Sons of Sanctuary MC leather.

The club employed a woman who cooked and did grocery shopping several times a week as part of her job description, but Brash didn’t like to explain his relentless craving for peanuts and he liked being teased about it even less. He didn’t know whether it was the Vitamin B or the fat or just because he liked the taste, but he couldn’t imagine going a day without them.

That’s how he came to be standing statue still In the grocery checkout line, being prompted by some woman with more nerve than sense. While he was waiting, his eyes drifted over the magazine display and settled on the cover of “NOW”, on the Most Eligible Bachelor edition no less. The debonair figure staring back was wearing Brash’s own face and body. He looked different with short hair and a four thousand dollar suit with the shirt fashionably open at the neckline, but the similarity was inescapable.

On impulse he grabbed the magazine and tossed it onto the conveyor belt with his week’s stash of peanuts.

He stuffed the bags into the saddlebags of his bike and roared toward home, nervously tapping his fingers on handlebars at red lights, riding on shoulders to keep from slowing down. He was anxious to get to the privacy of his own room and read about Branach St. Germaine.

Two beers, one jar of peanuts, and one “NOW” article later, Brash was sitting on the edge of his bed looking at the wall, seeing nothing but his own heavy thoughts. He pulled out his phone, looked up a website, and waited on hold for ten minutes to hear the time of the next flight from Austin to New York.

There was a flight to Newark in a little over three hours. He looked at his watch and calculated the time it would take to drive from Dripping Springs at that time of day. As he booked the flight, he stood up, walked to the small closet, grabbed a duffel bag, and began shoving stuff into it. Ten minutes later, he closed his door and locked it, threw the duffel over his shoulder, and headed straight for the office downstairs. He dropped the duffel on the hallway floor beside the closed door and knocked.

“Yeah?” Brash looked inside, glad that his dad was by himself, and stepped in. “What’s up?”

“I’m takin’ personal time, Pop. Gonna be gone for a couple of days.”

“What the hell is ‘personal time’?”

The gruffness made Brash smile. “It means I’m not gonna be here if you call and I’m not tellin’ you why.”

The Sons of Sanctuary President looked up at Brash, over the top of his readers, and narrowed his eyes. “You got a secret?”

“Everybody’s got secrets.”

Brandon Fornight studied his son for a minute. “True enough. Is it the kind of secret that could affect this club?”

Brash shook his head. “Don’t see how.”

“Well, then. See you… When did you say you’d be back?”

“I didn’t.”

“Bein’ purposefully vague, are you?”

Brash grinned. “That’s why they call it personal time. But I expect to be back Friday.”

“You gonna have your phone with you?” When Brash nodded, Bran looked back down at his ledger in a deliberately dismissive gesture. “Well, get outta here then.”

Brash parked his bike in the airplane hangar. The structure had already been on the property when the club had bought it and turned it into a compound twenty years earlier. They used part of it for vehicle maintenance and repair and part for parking.

Some of the guys who were working looked over and shot curious glances his way when Brash threw his duffel into his pickup and started it up, but it wasn’t their way to ask questions. The Sons figured that if somebody wanted you to know something, they’d tell you.

Brash took a cab to a midtown hotel, wondering all the way why human beings would choose to live in such a place. As he slid his credit card across the hotel counter to the agent on duty, he glanced at the name, Brandon Fornight. It seemed unlikely that it was a coincidence that that the mysterious look-alike’s first name began with the same four letters. He ordered room service and pulled out his laptop.

Getting intel on the guy didn’t take advanced ops. Within an hour Brash knew where Brannach St. Germaine worked, what kind of car he drove, what kind of women he dated, who his tailor was, and where he liked to dine. There was no shortage of photos online, but the one that grabbed his attention wasn’t one of the many with starlets or debutantes on his arm. It was the one taken with his arm around his mother as they were arriving together for some red carpet fundraiser. Brash had an almost irresistible compulsion to reach up and touch her face on the screen in front of him.

The knock on the door signaled that room service had arrived. It cost a fortune, but looked and tasted like shit. So he closed the computer and went out for a walk to clear his head and find something edible.

Author Bio:
USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Victoria Danann, is making her debut into Contemporary Romance with releases in May and June 2015, after taking the world of PNR by storm.

Her Knights of Black Swan series won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES TWO YEARS IN A ROW (2013, 2014). Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.

Victoria's paranormal romances come with uniquely fresh perspectives on "imaginary" creatures, characters, and themes. She adds a dash of scifi, a flourish of fantasy, enough humor to make you laugh out loud, and enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. Her heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, psychics, past life therapists, or financial analysts from Dallas. Her heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners - usually - whether they be elves, demons, berserkers, werewolves, or vampires.

The first book of the Knights of Black Swan Paranormal Romance Series, My Familiar Stranger, was nominated for Best Paranormal Romance of 2012 by both Reviewers' Choice and Readers' Choice Awards. All of her books have opened on the Amazon Best Sellers list and earned Night Owl Reviews TOP PICK awards. Many have appeared on Listopia BOOK OF THE MONTH as #1 across all genres.

For books published in 2013, Black Swan won three awards. 1. Best Paranormal Romance Series 2. Best Paranormal Romance Novel - A SUMMONER'S TALE 3. Best Vampire~Shifter Novel - MOONLIGHT. In 2014, Solomon's Sieve won Best Vampire Novel.

If you're interested in Victoria personally, she is also a classically trained musician who defected to Classic Rock music. Until 2013 she was the utility player for Houston's Roadhouse band, which means she played rhythm guitar, keyboards, sang back ups and female leads. Her band covered everything (note for note) from Styx to Led Zepellin to Rush.

She lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband and a very smart, mostly black German Shepherd dog.


Two Princes

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Pre-Release Blitz: Punished by Krys Fenner

Title: Punished
Author: Krys Fenner
Series: Dark Road #2
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Young Adult
Release Date: Late June 2015
Hope springs eternal for everyone except Bella Kynaston. She survived the rape, but making it through the trial is another deal all together. As lies come forward, more questions arise leaving Bella to suffer more punishment than she believed she deserved. Sometimes ending it all seems like the only answer. Will she find the peace she so desperately seeks if the pain permanently ended?

Jeremiah believed he’d done the right thing, even if the timing hadn’t been ideal. The only way to protect Bella was if he stayed out of her life. Or so he thought. When Bella starts dating David, Jeremiah thinks David could save her. As it turns out, things progressively get worse. Could Jeremiah be the solution? If so, can he get to her in time? Or will he suffer the worst punishment of his life and lose her forever?

     “What do you want?” David’s ice-queen sister answered.
     Bella tucked her hands in her jean pockets. “Is your brother here?”
     If he was there, it would only be practical for the girl to step aside, but that wasn’t the case. Like she should be surprised. “Can I come in?”
     “What for?”
     Holy hell, she was so not in the mood. “Let’s get something straight Heather. If I start dating your brother, I plan to be around here a lot. Now you have two choices: get used to the shit, or get shoved on your ass every time I have to walk all over you like a goddamn rug.”
     “There a problem?” David asked on approach.
     Shock remained ingrained on Heather’s face, so Bella took full advantage of the girl’s inability to speak. “None at all. Somewhere we can talk?”
     “Yeah. We can go to the library.”
     Bella inhaled deeply, nodded and followed after him. Once they were inside, David closed the door and she slowly paced the large room. She walked around and tried to get a hold of her nerves. David leaned against the huge oak desk and waited on her. She stumbled over her own two feet. Bella held a hand to back David off and sat down on the chaise lounge. “I’m sorry about last night. I panicked.”
     “I’m more concerned about what prompted it so that we don’t go there again.”
     Unable to sit still, Bella stood again and resumed her pacing. “The smallest thing reminds me of the night I was attacked. I was okay when the kiss was gentle. Then it changed and everything beautiful about it got devoured, lost in my memories of the attack. All I could think was that I had to get away. I had to run.”
     Two hands wrapped around her arms and prevented her from pacing further. “Bella...”
     She gasped at the touch and jumped back. “Sorry.”
     “You could have told me. We would’ve left right then. I’m in no hurry for whatever is happening between us. I’ll wait as long as I need to for you to be okay with any kind of intimacy. You need to believe that.” David placed a finger under her chin and lifted her eyes to his.
     She’d managed to contain the tears through all the pacing and talking, but not now, not after what he said. The flood gates opened and tears freely streamed down her cheeks. How could she express her gratitude? He was so understanding about the whole situation. There was only thing she could think of. Bella wrapped her arms around David’s neck, placed a tender kiss on his lips and snuggled against his chest. “Your heartbeat, it reminds of where I am.”
     “That’s the best thank you I’ve ever gotten. We’ll go as slow as you need to. I’m just glad I get to spend time with you.”
     She didn’t deserve him, but God knew she needed him. Bella sniffled and wiped her face.
     “You need a tissue?”
     “Yes, please.”
     “Okay.” David kissed her forehead and started for the door. “You eat dinner yet?”
     Bella wiped her face with the back of her hand. She hadn’t eaten since dinner last night. Not that she planned to mention that. “No.”
     “If you’d like to stay, I’ll have chef whip up something.”
     “That sounds good.”
     “Okay, stay here. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” David closed the door behind him.
     What the hell was she doing to this guy? Yeah, Jeremiah broke up with her weeks ago. Yeah he used her insecurities against her and hurt her in ways she’d never imagined, but she still had feelings for him. And here she had encouraged David toward something he would never really have from her.      She turned back to the chaise lounge and sat. As much as she didn’t want to compare herself to David’s sister, she could possibly be just as much of a bitch. The empty ache in her heart was getting to her. Maybe he could fill part of it and she wouldn’t be so alone.
     Whoa! The room had begun to spin. Bella gripped the back of the chaise lounge and waited for the dizzy spell to pass. With all the pills she’d taken that day, she probably should’ve eaten sooner. Much sooner, but it would pass. She’d had a couple and they went away after a few minutes. This one seemed to last longer. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes. Relief faded as quickly as it arrived. Nausea climbed up the back of her dry throat.
     God, she was going to throw up. She hopped off the chaise lounge and grabbed the desk to keep from falling over. Bella covered her mouth before she tossed cookies all over the place and stumbled to the door. If she was going to throw up, she’d do it in the bathroom. Movement made the dizziness worse.
     She fumbled with the door and attempted to get enough control that she could grip the knob and open it. Finally she got it open and looked out to the two people standing in the foyer. The last thing she recalled was calling David’s name before her muscles gave out and she collapsed onto the floor.

Author Bio:
At the age of 16, Krys Fenner fell in love with Psychology and Creative Writing. At that time she wrote her first short story dealing with sexual abuse and forgiveness. Psychological issues in her family filled her with the desire to help others using her own experiences. So in 2004, she earned an Associate of Arts in Psychology. And while her sister is the one with dreams of becoming a Psychologist, Krys Fenner returned to Creative Writing. She is currently working on a Bachelor of Arts and plans to continue on to a Masters degree, where she can major in her first love (Creative Writing)  and minor in her second (Psychology).


(Amazon link will work when it's released)

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Sale Blitz: Scars by Elena M Reyes

Title: Scars
Author: Elena M Reyes
Series: Marked #2.5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 19, 2015

Thrown away.


Every single one of those could be used to describe me. They can tell you my story—my sad past—without a single syllable passing through my lips.

I hate them—those who lied to me. They claimed to love me, but in reality they used me when convenient. My parents. Sister. And now Talan. Loving them has left me empty. Sad. 


Not anymore. Screw them. My love has turned to anger…hate. Now, what consumes me is the urge to destroy, to force them to see what they wrecked with their carelessness. My name will never be forgotten. Not after I have my revenge.

His tears will be my ultimate retribution.

Author Bio:
Elena M. Reyes was born and raised in Miami Florida. She is the epitome of a Floridian and if she could live in her beloved flip-flops, she would. As a small child, she was always intrigued with all forms of art—whether it was dancing to island rhythms, or painting with any medium she could get her hands on. Her first taste of writing came to her during her fifth grade year when her class was prompted to participate in the D. A. R. E. Program and write an essay on what they’d learned. Her passion for reading over the years has amassed her with hours of pleasure. It wasn’t until she stumbled upon fanfiction that her thirst to write overtook her world. She now resides in Central Florida with her husband and son, spending all her down time letting her creativity flow and letting her characters grow.


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