Excerpt from Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships

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When people sat down at Sarah Seldon’s blackjack game, they always wanted to talk about The Book. “Should I double down? Should I hit? Dealer, I know you’re a gambler; you could let me win if you wanted to. What does the book say?” She had never read this book, this mythical Bible for gamblers. The truth is there are 2256 books, each teaching its own foolproof winning system. But Sarah had been in the casino business long enough to think with a gambler’s mind. Gamblers knew they could follow all the rules of basic strategy, utilize money management and still lose if they weren’t dealt the right cards. The allure and curse of gambling was that there were no sure things. In the end it all came down to luck; gamblers prayed that Lady Luck would show up and that she would stick around for awhile.

#1 Cruise Ship Novel at Amazon

#1 Cruise Ship Novel at Amazon

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I love travel, movies and I am lucky because my hometown is the home of the Palm Springs International Film Festival. So for the last few years I have taken advantage of this by having a staycation here and I spend the week binging out on movies and feasting at our great restaurants. Our film festival was started 24 years ago by Sonny Bono the mayor at that time. Over the years it has grown into a star studded event screening 180 movies from 68 countries in 13 days drawing Hollywood and international celebrities.

For many years I skipped the pre-gala star gazing in front of the Convention Center but after last year when Brad Pitt and George Clooney both showed up I decided that maybe I should really get into the spirit. So on a sunny January day we arrived six hours early to save space for on the grass directly in front of where the limos would pull up. I thought I was early but many of the fans arrived at four in the morning ready to wait for that special autograph. The guys in front of me were pros, they had notebooks filled with star pictures.
A great photo my cousin Bobby took of Bradley Cooper

My cousin got took this shot of Ben Affleck signing a picture of - Ben Afleck. Little did we know that his film Argo would win the Academy Award for Best Picture. All day we waited and then just after the sun went down the limos began to arrive, and Naomi Watts, Sallie Fields, Bradley Cooper, Ang Lee and so many others it was hard to keep track of them all. I would like to think of myself as immune to celebrity but when Richard Gere's famous white mane showed up I did feel a little starstruck.
Another great photo of Ben Affleck autographing a photo of himself.

The celebrities are great but the real stars of the show are the movies. It is hard to pick from the best the world has to offer but I study my Desert Sun Festival at a Glance, trying to find movies that will make me laugh, make me cry but most of all take me to a far away place. I would like to share my top 5 films with you so that you can come along on my journey.

1. Every year I hope that we will pick the audience favorite but we never had. This year when we saw The Sapphires at Palm Springs High School I thought maybe this is the year. It is a great movie about an Aboriginal girl group from Australia that entertain American troops in Vietnam. It stars Chis O'Dowd best known for Bridesmaids. It is the kind of movie that comes along and tells the story of a people's struggle with humor. It was the fan favorite at Palm Springs film festival and I predict it will be your favorite too.
The Sapphires shaking their stuff in Veitnam

2. We went to Prague in December and I thought it was a beautiful city, so when I saw that In the Shadow was set in Prague I immediately bought tickets. It is about a time after the war when the Soviets were asserting their control over the Czech people. It follows one honest cop investigating a jewel heist. It is a hard boiled realistic thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

3. It is great to see an Israeli movie that is not about war or the troubles; The World Is Funny takes you to Tiberias, a pretty town set on the Dead Sea. It intertwines the tale of a fractured family, story telling and a famous Israeli comedy troop. It made me laugh and it made me cry and it showed me how the people in Israel lived their everyday lives.

4. A movie about a sex scandal in Sweden in the 1970's caught my eye. Our take on Sweden is that it is so permissive, that it had to be something. Well just like in America the politicians get caught with their pants down only this time it is with under age girls. The title, Call Girl, says it all. The movie centered on a prostitution ring in Stockholm. It not only transported you to another country but also another time, when sex, drugs and rock and roll were all the rage. Like many movies at the festival the director Mikael Marcimain was present and talked to us after the screening. A few hours later we were thrilled to see him at the bar at Workshop Kitchen, a great place to go for hand mixed drinks. That is the great thing about Palm Springs, it is such a small place that you never know who you will run into to.

5. My last movie was the most disturbing of the festival but probably the most honest. It followed the life of a Romany girl in a Hungarian village for a single day. The Romany people have suffered a spate of hate crimes, but prejudice follows them in everything they do. Just the Wind is the winner of the Amnesty International Film Prize and it is also the closest look you will ever have of the Romany community in Europe.

Here are some links to some of my other blogs about the movies:
Click here for My Top Ten Romantic Movies from the Hopeful Romantic
Click here for Casino Movies that Get it Right
Click here for Books to Movies at the Palm Springs International Film Festival

And Hollywood if you are looking for a novel based on a real life love story set in many far away places please check out my story, Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. 

About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"

Please check out her most popular posts at CaraBetoia.blogspot.com  to find more blogs about cruising, casinos and anything that catches her fancy.

Below are the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships