Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday's Film Adaption: The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne


Summary:
First published in 1851, The House of the Seven Gables is one of Hawthorne's defining works, a vivid depiction of American life and values replete with brilliantly etched characters. The tale of a cursed house with a "mysterious and terrible past" and the generations linked to it, Hawthorne's chronicle of the Maule and Pyncheon families over two centuries reveals, in Mary Oliver's words, "lives caught in the common fire of history."

This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition uses the definitive text as prepared for The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne; this is the Approved Edition of the Center for Scholarly Editions (Modern Language Association). It includes newly commissioned notes on the text.



The circumstances surrounding the "haunting" of the House of the Seven Gables by the spirit of old Matthew Maule serve not only as an indictment of the greed of the Pyncheons, but also reflect the persecution of the actual historical Thomas Maule, who was an outspoken Quaker and a sometimes victim of Puritan intolerance.

The House of the Seven Gables, antique as it now looks, was not the first habitation erected by civilized man on precisely the same spot of ground. Pyncheon-street formerly bore the humbler appellation of Maule's-lane, from the name of the original occupant of the soil, before whose cottage-door it was a cow-path. A natural spring of soft and pleasant water--a rare treasure on the sea-girt peninsula, where the Puritan settlement was made--had early induced Matthew Maule to build a hut, shaggy with thatch, at this point, although somewhat too remote from what was then the centre of the village. In the growth of the town, however, after some thirty or forty years, the site covered by this rude hovel had become exceedingly desirable in the eyes of a prominent and powerful personage, who asserted plausible claims to the proprietorship of this, and a large adjacent tract of land, on the strength of a grant from the legislature. Colonel Pyncheon, the claimant, as we gather from whatever traits of him are preserved, was characterized by an iron energy of purpose. Matthew Maule, on the other hand, though an obscure man, was stubborn in the defence of what he considered his right; and, for several years, he succeeded in protecting the acre or two of earth, which, with his own toil, he had hewn out of the primeval forest, to be his garden-ground and homestead. No written record of this dispute is known to be in existence. Our acquaintance with the whole subject is derived chiefly from tradition. It would be bold, therefore and possibly unjust, to venture a decisive opinion as to its merits; although it appears to have been at least a matter of doubt, whether Colonel Pyncheon's claim were not unduly stretched, in order to make it cover the small metes and bounds of Matthew Maule. What greatly strengthens such a suspicion is the fact that this controversy between two ill-matched antagonists--at a period, moreover, laud it as we may, when personal influence had far more weight than now--remained for years undecided, and came to a close only with the death of the party occupying the disputed soil. The mode of his death, too, affects the mind differently, in our day, from what it did a century and a half ago. It was a death that blasted with strange horror the humble name of the dweller in the cottage, and made it seem almost a religious act to drive the plough over the little area of his habitation, and obliterate his place and memory from among men.

Old Matthew Maule, in a word, was executed for the crime of witchcraft. He was one of the martyrs to that terrible delusion, which should teach us, among its other morals, that the influential classes, and those who take upon themselves to be leaders of the people, are fully liable to all the passionate error that has ever characterized the maddest mob. Clergymen, judges, statesmen,-- the wisest, calmest, holiest persons of their day,--stood in the inner circle round about the gallows, loudest to applaud the work of blood, latest to confess themselves miserably deceived. If any one part of their proceedings can be said to deserve less blame than another, it was the singular indiscrimination with which they persecuted, not merely the poor and aged, as in former judicial massacres, but people of all ranks; their own equals, brethren, and wives. Amid the disorder of such various ruin, it is not strange that a man of inconsiderable note, like Maule, should have trodden the martyr's path to the hill of execution almost unremarked in the throng of his fellow-sufferers. But, in after days, when the frenzy of that hideous epoch had subsided, it was remembered how loudly Colonel Pyncheon had joined in the general cry, to purge the land from witchcraft; nor did it fail to be whispered, that there was an invidious acrimony in the zeal with which he had sought the condemnation of Matthew Maule. It was well known that the victim had recognized the bitterness of personal enmity in his persecutor's conduct towards him, and of execution--with the halter about his neck and while Colonel Pyncheon sat on horseback, grimly gazing at the scene--Maule had addressed him from the scaffold, and uttered a prophecy, of which history, as well as fireside tradition, has preserved the very words. "God," said the dying man, pointing his finger, with a ghastly look, at the undismayed countenance of his enemy, "God will give him blood to drink!"

After the reputed wizard's death, his humble homestead had fallen an easy spoil into Colonel Pyncheon's grasp. When it was understood, however, that the colonel intended to erect a family mansion--spacious, ponderously framed of oaken timber, and calculated to endure for many generations of his posterity -- over the spot first covered by the log-built hut of Matthew Maule, there was much shaking of the head among the village gossips. Without absolutely expressing a doubt whether the stalwart Puritan had acted as a man of conscience and integrity, throughout the proceedings which have been sketched, they nevertheless hinted that he was about to build his house over an unquiet grave. His home would include the home of the dead and buried wizard, and would thus afford the ghost of the latter a kind of privilege to haunt its new apartments, and the chambers into which future bridegrooms were to lead their brides, and where children of the Pyncheon blood were to be born. The terror and ugliness of Maule's crime, and the wretchedness of his punishment, would darken the freshly-plastered walls, and infect them early with the scent of an old and melancholy house. Why, then, --while so much of the soil around him was bestrewn with the virgin forest-leaves,--why should Colonel Pyncheon prefer a site that had already been accurst?

Film
A man frames his brother for murder to secure the family fortune for himself.

Release Date: April 12, 1940
Release Time: 89 minutes

Cast:
George Sanders as Jaffrey Pyncheon
Margaret Lindsay as Hepzibah Pyncheon
Vincent Price as Clifford Pyncheon
Dick Foran as Matthew Maule
Nan Grey as Phoebe Pyncheon
Cecil Kellaway as Philip Barton
Alan Napier as Fuller
Gilbert Emery as Gerald Pyncheon
Miles Mander as Deacon Arnold Foster
Charles Trowbridge as Judge

Awards:
1940 Academy Awards
Best Original Score - Frank Skinner - Nominated




Author Bio:
Nathaniel Hawthorne was a 19th century American novelist and short story writer. He is seen as a key figure in the development of American literature for his tales of the nation's colonial history.

Shortly after graduating from Bowdoin College, Hathorne changed his name to Hawthorne. Hawthorne anonymously published his first work, a novel titled Fanshawe, in 1828. In 1837, he published Twice-Told Tales and became engaged to Sophia Peabody the next year. He worked at a Custom House and joined a Transcendentalist Utopian community, before marrying Peabody in 1842. The couple moved to The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts, later moving to Salem, the Berkshires, then to The Wayside in Concord. The Scarlet Letter was published in 1850, followed by a succession of other novels. A political appointment took Hawthorne and family to Europe before returning to The Wayside in 1860. Hawthorne died on May 19, 1864, leaving behind his wife and their three children.

Much of Hawthorne's writing centers around New England and many feature moral allegories with a Puritan inspiration. His work is considered part of the Romantic movement and includes novels, short stories, and a biography of his friend, the United States President Franklin Pierce.


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If I Had You by Heather Hiestand

Title: If I Had You
Author: Heather Hiestand
Series: The Grand Russe Hotel #1
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: September 25, 2016
Summary:
Inside the glittering walls of a famous hotel, an ingΓ©nue experiences first passion . . .

As she stands before the gilded doors of The Grand Russe Hotel, Alecia Loudon is poised on the threshold of a profound awakening. It is the Roaring Twenties, and London is buzzing with opportunities for adventure . . . and indiscretion. The young personal secretary knows nothing of the ways of men, but a chance meeting with the hotel’s handsome night watchman sets her imagination afire.

Ivan Salter has noticed the quiet Englishwoman and wonders what delicate beauty might be lurking behind Alecia’s plain clothes. As the handsome Russian draws Alecia further into the hotel’s luxurious world, he introduces her to fine food, cool jazz, and forbidden assignations. Their dalliance is tested, however, by a surprising link between Ivan’s family history and Alecia’s bosses. Tangled up in international intrigue, the lovers must decide if their sparkling new romance is worth the cost . . .


“It isn’t midnight yet,” Alecia said when she spotted Ivan Salter coming toward her. She told her traitorous heart rate to slow. While he might be handsome, he wasn’t kind. She’d asked the Russian chambermaid who cleaned her room what myshka meant. Little mouse, indeed. An insult. She had thought him a creature out of a fairy tale.

As he approached, not speaking, she lifted herself from her slouched pose along the wall and straightened her shoulders. Pins holding her too heavy hair in its prim bun dug into her scalp. She needed to take it down and go to bed, but the music had drawn her. Better than a lumpy mattress, the Lusitania sinking.

When he was two feet from her, he stopped. His gaze wandered the space, taking in the empty sofa, and, oddly enough, the carpet.

“What?” she demanded, very un-mouselike. She had resolved to be as belligerent as a maiden aunt. “There isn’t a sign saying hotel guests are not allowed back here.”

He cocked his head. She wilted when he sucked in his cheeks, highlighting the magnificent structure of his cheekbones. No. He may have every blessing God might offer a man, but he was only a night watchman. She was just a secretary. Unless she was breaking a rule, he had no right to intimidate her. She would not be cowed.

“Say something,” she said very crisply, as if she was dressing down a young nephew.

His lips curved. She felt a sinking sensation in her midsection. How dare he look so knowing?

“Young ladies wandering about unchaperoned are looking to be kissed.”

“By you?” How stupid she was, to say this.

His teeth were exposed by his widening smile. The top row was perfect, but his two lower front teeth were just a little crooked. She fell in love even more. In lust?

“You knew you would see me tonight. I am the watchman.”

“Very well then.” She lifted her chin. “It is unlikely that I am looking to be kissed. I like to wander and have never been kissed.”

“Never, myshka? Such a pity. You are somewhat pretty.”

“How dare you!” Outrage bubbled in her lungs. She could not find any other words.

But the truth was, she could find another thought, even if she couldn’t say it aloud. She wanted to be kissed. By him.


I Want to be Loved by You #2(Coming February 14, 2017)
Summary:
For a young woman swept into international adventure, romance can’t be far behind…

The 1920s are in full swing when Sadie Loudon leaves her grandfather’s stodgy vicarage, and she dreams of the glamour and excitement she’s seen on the silver screen. But before she even begins work at the storied Grand Russe Hotel, she is ushered into London’s glittering nightlife by a handsome young businessman intent on introducing her to the pleasures available to a Bright Young Thing. Is it a fleeting romance…or something even more intriguing?

Les Drake is on the lookout for Bolsheviks when he encounters sweet, sexy Sadie. A British Secret Intelligence agent, Les has more experience with the seedy underside of the city than with innocent chambermaids, but he can’t deny that Sadie tempts him. Using her as part of his cover seems like a brilliant plan until the danger of his assignment threatens what has suddenly become a love he can’t bear to lose…

Author Bio:
Heather Hiestand was born in Illinois, but her family migrated west before she started school. Since then she has claimed Washington State as home, except for a few years in California. She wrote her first story at age seven and went on to major in creative writing at the University of Washington. Her first published fiction was a mystery short story, but since then it has been all about the many flavors of romance. Heather’s first published romance short story was set in the Victorian period, and she has written in many subgenres of romance since then. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she has achieved best-seller status at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. With her husband and son, she makes her home in a small town and supposedly works out of her tiny office, though she mostly writes in her easy chair in the living room.


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A Season for Killing Blondes by Joanne Guidoccio

Title: A Season for Killing Blondes
Author: Joanne Guidoccio
Genre: Mystery
Release Date: June 12, 2015
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Summary:
Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.

When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.

As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.


Carlo had removed his suit jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his light blue dress shirt. His tie lay on the desk. The rumpled look suited him to a tee. And his large black-rimmed glasses accentuated those unforgettable blue eyes. Bluer than blue. Sky blue. Cornflower blue. Robin’s egg blue. Years ago, Adele Martino and I had come up with thirty-seven descriptions of Carlo Fantin’s eyes when Mrs. Gillespie assigned one of her Monday morning English composition exercises. As I tried to recall the other thirty-three, I realized that Carlo was speaking to me.

“…he’ll be taking notes as well.”

Darn! Another officer in the room, and I had missed his name and more importantly, his title. Was he a detective or a constable? I’m sure Sofia would know. In the meantime, I better stop daydreaming and start listening. I nodded in the direction of the beefy officer. Dark hair. Dark eyes. Expertly trimmed moustache. A big bear of a man who reminded me of Magnum P.I.

Carlo cleared his throat. He was ready to get down to business. Police business. “It appears that Carrie Ann was your first client. You haven’t opened this office for business yet. How did that happen?”

My heart raced as I spoke. “After Sofia and my mother left…I’m not certain about the time…um…I…I heard a knock at the front window. I looked up and saw Carrie Ann. Hadn’t seen her in ages.” I paused and then added, “Still wearing the same pageboy hair style and that blonde color—”

Carlo waved his hand. “Stick to the facts, please.”

I felt myself reddening as those piercing blue eyes bored right through me. “Oh, sorry. Um, I let Carrie Ann in.”

“And?” Carlo said when I hesitated.

I shrugged. “We just talked for a while, then, uh…” I closed my eyes and tried to recall the conversation. But nothing concrete came to mind, only Carrie Ann’s infectious laugh and bubbly compliments about the decorating scheme. When I opened my eyes, the other officer offered me a water bottle. I thanked him and gulped down half the contents.

“You scheduled her for a session tomorrow morning,” Carlo said as he held up my appointment book. “Carrie Ann is…was considered one of the best interior designers in town. Why would she need counseling from you?” His dark brows drew together in a suspicious frown. “Were you planning to tell her to give it up?”


 



What Others Are Saying:
✯✯✯✯✯Characters shine in this mystery by Jessica F
I loved this book! LOVED IT! This is my type of mystery - not a lot of blood and gore, just enough suspense to keep me interested, but totally character driven. I felt like I knew this family. Ms. Guidoccio excels at painting a portrait of a family and by the end of the book, I felt as if I was joining them at the dinner table. Gilda was terrific as a leading lady and I love how Ms. Guidoccio creates really wonderful women in her books. I can't wait to read more mysteries from this author.

✯✯✯✯✯Win a personal lottery with this book by Ashantay
Older heroines call to me, and Gilda answered. Ms. Guidoccio has written a fun romp of a story that is not only well-plotted, it has wonderful - and believable - characters. Reading this book is almost better than eating a homemade cannoli. Almost. I'm looking forward to the next Gilda adventure!

Author Bio:
In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.


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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hopelessly Shattered by Bink Cummings

Title: Hopelessly Shattered
Author: Bink Cummings
Series: Sacred Sinners MC- Texas Chapter #1
Genre: Motorcycle Romance
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Summary:
Single Mother- ✔
Dead Father- ✔
Motherless Childhood- ✔
Librarian- ✔
Black Rimmed Glasses to Fit the Job Description- ✔
The Biggest A-hole in the World for an Ex- ✔✔

When you’re born you never know what life will throw at you. You just make the best of it no matter what happens. That’s pretty much been my go-to since infancy. Then the charming, bald headed, blue eyed, Brent came along and I thought all the suck in life had been flushed down the drain. Ha! That’s when my true journey began—motherhood.

This is my story, on how I took life by the go-nads when I decided I needed closure from my past—my father’s sudden death in particular. But what happens next wasn't anything I expected… It’s hopeless… shattering….exciting … scary…joyful…priceless… and I owe it all to one man... Bear, a chapter president of the Sacred Sinners Motorcycle Club.

**Warning: Contains adult sexual content, the excessive use of the F-word, cheating, and whatever else that makes it unsuitable for anyone under the age of 18.**

1st Novel in a Duology - that could also be read as a possible standalone. 



What Others Are Saying:
“Heartbreak, love, angst... all combined together. This was one hell of a ride... and I loved every minute of it.” - Reader Review

“Bink you completely blew me away with this one.” - Author R.F. Greenwood

“OMG what an Epic read !!! 5*+ from me” - Reader Review

“This book was amazing!...... Emotion, love, sex, a great story/characters, and that second of being pissed off.” - 2 Chicks and a Book



Author Bio:
Author Bink Cummings was born and raised part of a biker family. Upon the incessant coercion from her sacred sisters, she has begun her newest journey in life--writing. When she's not shacked up in her home writing at all hours of the night, Bink enjoys riding motorcycles, taking care of her family, reading, and cooking huge meals--Especially her infamous chocolate chip cookies.


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Hopelessly Shattered #1
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Hopeful Whispers #2(Coming Soon)



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Jockeying for You by Stacy Hoff

Title: Jockeying for You
Author: Stacy Hoff
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 28, 2016
Summary:
Ryder Hannon, a thoroughbred horse trainer, has a big problem—fighting her fear of racing again. The emotional scars run deeper than her physical ones. But her romantic feelings towards handsome, uber-rich, stable owner Jake Carter is a bigger problem. Is Jake truly in love with her or is he using her to get back at his smug family?

Jake Carter is on a mission—to prove his family wrong. He may have bought a troubled horse, but he’s hired Ryder Hannon, a “horse whisperer,” to get his horse back on track. She’s more than just a trainer to him, she’s the woman he’s been looking for.

When Jake’s jockey gets injured, he wants Ryder to race. He knows deep down she wants to live up to her family’s legacy. So why does she keep fighting him—and her destiny—so hard?


Jake felt his eyebrow arch up. “Dr. Doolittle, I presume?

A slow smile spread across her lips.

“How far have you gotten with Handsome?”

“He’ll let me ride him now.”

Jake’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline. “My God, Ryder, you’re amazing,” he let out. With a shake of his head and a hard cough he corrected himself. “I mean, your results with him are amazing.”

Ryder’s grin was now Cheshire cat sized. “Thanks for both compliments.”

Damn. She couldn’t let my mistake go.

Then it hit him—his comment was a slip, but was it really a mistake? Her beautiful face, which had been beaming with pride now had a shy aspect that was even more endearing. She bore a schoolgirl’s blush and averted her eyes from him as she busied herself petting Handsome’s nose.

If only she could stroke me the same way. Though somewhere lower down than my nose. He tensed up at the thought. Focus, Jake, damn it! This is business. I need to get back to it.

“Show me,” he said.

She looked back at him and blinked. “Show you what?”

“Show me Handsome Dancer can be ridden. I want you to ride him for me.”

“Now? He’s already had his exercise for today. I don’t want to tire him out.”

Handsome’s head batted her shoulder with a determination that was comical.

“You know,” he quipped, “if he actually understands you then you really are Dr. Doolittle.”

“I’m sure he just wanted me to give him an apple,” she answered, flustered. She wiped a stray blonde bang from her hot forehead and looked the horse in one of his eyes. “What are you saying, babycakes? That you want to go on a short ride with me?”

Yes, yes, I do. Jake cleared his throat and gave her a tight smile. “Go ahead you two. Impress me.”

A few minutes later he was outside the training track, his hands casually resting on the guardrail while he waited for the “show” to begin.

Soon, Ryder and Handsome entered the track. He heard her cluck her tongue at the horse, and then watched her lightly kick Handsome’s rear. The horse took off around the track in a fast gallop. The horse’s “flight” was fluid and astoundingly fast for what was supposed to be an easy go-around. She was doing more than merely riding Handsome Dancer. It looked like she was a part of him. One cohesive whole.

Thinking the demo was about to end, he had almost turned around to head back when something caught the corner of his eye. It was a flash of color, a fast burst of brown. What the…? Whipping his head around to the source, he stared open-mouthed at the sight. Handsome Dancer was bolting down a stretch of training track at a speed unheard of for a newbie horse. Or maybe any horse. In all of Jake’s experiences, he doubted he had seen a horse move that fast when not performing in an actual race.

Author Bio:
Stacy Hoff is a writer, as well as an attorney. She has practiced law for almost two decades, specializing in contracts. Romance novels have always been her secret passion. She writes her romantic stories until the wee hours of the night. Stacy lives in New England with her husband and two boys.


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