Author: Vernitra

Welcome!

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Welcome to my site!

I am a writer and children’s librarian in New York City with a love for books, movies, and Old Hollywood. I have always loved writing and making up stories, and I am currently writing my first novel. Here on my site, I share my adventures in reading, writing, movie-watching, sewing, and the librarian life, with other stuff mixed in from time to time.  (more…)

Readathon: Countdown to Summer 2016

Well, according to the countdown app on my phone, I have 9.5 weeks left of school before I am free for the summer. (Hallelujah!) You see, that is one of the wonderful things about teaching–in addition to all the rewarding moments and molding of young minds, of course. After 9 months of working yourself crazy, you get to spend an extended period of time in the summer exhaling. What the students probably don’t know is that the teachers are itching for summer just as much as they are!

To help get myself through the next 9 weeks, and to distract myself from focusing too much on the finish line, June 2 (the students’ last day; my last day is June 3), I’m going to try to read as many books as possible. Now, this is quite a task I am setting for myself, considering my job as a teacher leaves me with very little free time to read. I guess that will be the fun part of the whole thing, challenging myself to do something I really don’t have time to do. I think it would be pretty neat if I could knock out 9 books over the next 9 weeks, but to be completely honest with you, completing ONE book in the midst of my current schedule would be quite a feat.

Update: I was so incredibly busy with work during this time that I did not finish a single book.

“I’m ready for my juicing, Mr. DeMille.”

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Here’s to Creativity in Bloom

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Well waddya know, it’s spring. Here’s to creativity—and everything else—in bloom.

Don’t You Just Love Capers?

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Whenever I cook with capers, I can’t stop eating them straight out of the jar.

Let’s do the Mashed Potato

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Which one of you lucky spuds is ready to do the Mashed Potato with me?

Drugstore Book Love

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Even at the drugstore, I make my way to the book section. Constant book lover.

Gratitude | The Gift of Creativity

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I’m grateful for the gift of creativity. Everyone has it… We just have to tap into it.

When Writers Get Cookin’

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Like every great meal, a great story has to start somewhere. (more…)

Movie Picks | Swimming with Sharks (1994) | Every employee has a boiling point, and he just reached his

Swimming with Sharks

I am so grateful my experience working in Hollywood (as a production assistant at Don Mischer Productions) was nothing like the one depicted in this movie! Guy (Frank Whaley) is a gullible, earnest, wide-eyed Hollywood newbie who just landed a position as studio executive Buddy Ackerman’s (Kevin Spacey) assistant. From day one, Buddy berates Guy and makes it clear that Guy’s only purpose is to serve his boss’s needs, no matter how trifling. Eventually, Guy reaches his boiling point, and things get very, very ugly.

Written by George Huang

Directed by George Huang

Produced by Steve Alexander

Released by Trimark Pictures

Movie Picks | Blanche Fury (1948) | With her husband and boyfriend living under the same roof, things were bound to get ugly

Blanche Fury

When Blanche (Valerie Hobson) goes to live as a governess at her wealthy uncle’s massive estate, it isn’t long before she marries her cousin and becomes the mistress of the house. Things get complicated when she begins a love affair with Philip (Stewart Granger), an angst-ridden employee of the estate who also happens to be the illegitimate son of the estate’s former owner. Things take a dark turn when Philip announces his intentions to kill Blanche’s uncle and husband/cousin to gain control of the estate.

Written by Audrey Erskine-Lindop, Cecil McGivern, Hugh Mills (based on the novel by Joseph Shearing, which was actually a pseudonym for Marjorie Bowen)

Directed by Marc Allegret

Produced by Anthony Havelock-Allan

Released by Eagle Lion Films

 

Movie Picks | Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (2013) | A Step-by-Step Guide for Ruining Your Marriage

Temptation

Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is married to Brice (Lance Gross), a man who loves her dearly and works hard to provide for his family.  When Judith begins working with Harley (Robbie Jones), a rich, suave Internet entrepreneur, he introduces her to a life of luxury she craves and tempts her to step outside of her marriage. However, Judith eventually learns there is more to Harley than meets the eye, and she is forced to deal with the consequences of her actions.

Written by Tyler Perry (based on his stage play “The Marriage Counselor”

Directed by Tyler Perry

Produced by Tyler Perry, Ozzie Areu, Paul Hall

Released by Tyler Perry Studios

July 2014

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September 2013

Las Vegas, September 2013

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Make that a double…

Photo: Vernitra Jones

After a long run in the sweltering heat, nothing’s more delicious than a tall glass of ice-cold water. Mmmm!

Vietnamese Noodle House Heaven!

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Ready to dive into a bowl of hot noodles at a Vietnamese noodle house

I love to go to the Vietnamese noodle house. Any Vietnamese noodle house. Dipping refreshing spring rolls into peanut sauce + slurping tasty noodles and broth =  noodle house heaven! I could just eat bowls and bowls of that warm, savory soup. (more…)

How to take the heat…

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And to think, because I waited until peak sun hours to get outside, I almost opted to forgo what turned out to be a great bike ride. It was hot, but it sure was fun! Cool-off prescription: some healthy blueberries and watermelon plus a giant, unhealthy (yet delicious!) blueberry muffin. As for my bike trip entertainment, I listened to The Power Trip by Jackie Collins. The blueberries? Juicy. The watermelon? Juicy. The Jackie Collins novel? Juicy, juicy, juicy!

Bookshelf | Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk (2010) | An Old Hollywood tale with a dark twist

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This novel is dripping with Old Hollywood, and if you love that kind of stuff—as do I—you will enjoy this book. The story transported me back to that glamorous era where inimitable stars like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis reigned over Tinseltown and gossip mongers like Hedda Hopper and Lillian Hellman had the power to either enhance or tarnish a star’s reputation.

The star of the book is Hazie Coogan, who really isn’t a star at all but the trusty maid servant and companion to excessively glamorous and untouchable former film star Katherine Kenton. For decades, Hazie has spent her life not only catering to every need and want of her “Miss Kathie” but also protecting her and–most importantly–her glittering star from harm. Now, Hazie’s focus is protecting Miss Kathie from the loving arms and machinations of one Webster Carlton Westward III—a handsome, young, smooth-talking gentleman caller who is finding it quite easy to cozy up to the older and vulnerable Miss Kathie. (more…)

Bookshelf | Married Lovers by Jackie Collins (2008)

Married Lovers

When beautiful Cameron Paradise flees her abusive surfer husband in Australia, she lands in Los Angeles, where she starts a new life as a personal trainer at a posh gym facility. Determined to sustain her newly-gained independence, her main objective is working hard and saving money, so she can fulfill her dream of one day opening her own gym. While the men she encounters can’t seem to resist her stunning beauty and perfect physique, she blocks all their advances with a steely determination. (more…)

Reading Agatha Christie at the beach…

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Crooked House by Agatha Christie.

After sunset

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After sunset at the beach. Galveston, Texas.

Bookshelf | Bossypants by Tina Fey (2011) | You might bust your pants… From laughing!

This book is hilarious! I listened to it on audiobook, and it made me laugh so much that I want to listen to it again. That’s how much I loved it.

As a comedy writer, actress, producer, mother, and wife, Tina Fey plays many roles, and she candidly reflects on all of them in this funny, well-crafted memoir. (more…)

Bookshelf | Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (2011) | If everyone’s hanging out without you, then at least you have time to read this book

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I came late to The Mindy Project  (that’s what Netflix/Amazon Instant Watch binges are for), but I’m glad I did, because it turned out to be one of the funniest sitcoms I’d seen in years. That show serves up joke after joke after joke–and good ones. The show’s creator and star, Mindy Kaling, has infused the Mindy Project with her own brand of insanely witty humor. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? provides plenty of insight into the woman behind the show. (more…)

Bookshelf | I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (2006)

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In this collection of essays, Nora Ephron gives us the gift of her signature candor as she presents her thoughts on a range of topics such as aging, body maintenance, the sport of cooking, life in New York City, apartment-separation anxiety, parenting, and more. She even tells her story of being overlooked by JFK as a potential paramour, when she was a White House intern during his administration. Whether they be on milestones or the events of everyday life, the reflections she shares in these essays are funny, poignant, and rife with her trademark wit.

Great Quotes from the Book

“What failure of imagination had caused me to forget life was full of other possibilities?”

Baked Chicken + Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli

Bookshelf | I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron (2010) | I will always remember how much I loved this book

Memory loss. Teflon. Journalism. Salt. Broken marriages. Hollywood. Hated-on holiday pies. Aging. Chicken soup. Inheritances. Lillian Hellman. Egg-white omelettes. Email… These are just some of the wide range of subjects on which the brilliant Nora Ephron reflects in this entertaining collection of essays—and not necessarily in that order.

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Movie Picks | Running the Sahara (2007) | When was the last time you ran across Africa?

Most recreational runners derive a lot of satisfaction from sharing their most recent running accomplishment with anyone who is kind enough to listen. I know I do.

I am often filled with pride as I share with a kind ear the fact I have conquered a certain course (nothing too strenuous) or endured a certain length of time (20-30 minutes.) While I am quite satisfied with my modest running (okay, jogging) skills, I know they pale in comparison to the skills of the runners in this film. Whether you are an avid runner or have never even as much as run around your block, you can appreciate the spirit of dogged determination portrayed in this story. (more…)

Bookshelf | Always Wear Joy by Susan Fales-Hill (2003) | How to be an original diva

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In this beautifully-written memoir, Susan Fales-Hill paints a comprehensive portrait of her late mother, the inimitable Haitian-American performer Josephine Premice.

A triple threat, Premice sang, danced, acted, and wowed on the stages of Broadway and Paris in the 1940s and ’50s. However, despite her showstopping presence, Josephine’s career never rose to the heights of her white contemporaries. In an entertainment industry that did not favor her type of beauty, Josephine was always deemed either “too much” or “not enough” of something. In spite of the ever-present adversity she endured, Josephine Premice always faced her challenges and naysayers head on, and she was ever the consummate performer and the epitome of glamour. (more…)

Movie Picks | Been Rich All My Life (2006) | 1930s Cotton Club Dancers Still Struttin’ Their Stuff in Their 80s

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This documentary about an inspiring group of dancing divas truly proves “age ain’t nothin’ but a number” and that you’re never too old to strut your stuff. In the 1930s, Marion Coles, Elaine Ellis, Cleo Hayes, Fay Ray, and Berte Lou Wood were sensational chorus girls at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club and Apollo Theater. (more…)

Rice & Beans + Pico & Guac

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March 2013

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March 2013

A Succulent Salad

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Chicken breast strips, spinach, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, & egg with a savory dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Mmmmm!

Peach Cobbler:)

I love to make peach cobbler!

Movie Picks | Black Widow (1954) | Why you shouldn’t invite random houseguests over when your wife is away…

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When Broadway producer Peter Denver (Van Heflin) meets young, aspiring writer Nancy Ordway (Peggy Ann Garner) at a party, he has no idea how the chance meeting will impact his life. (more…)

Bookshelf | French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano (2004) | Mastering the art of guilt-free indulgence

French Women Don't Get Fat

Having observed the American tendency toward extremist diet and exercise programs, French-American Mireille Guiliano makes a convincing case for the French approach toward maintaining one’s figure.

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Bookshelf | Dare Me by Megan Abbott (2012) | The dark side of cheerleading…

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As captain and lieutenant of the varsity cheerleading squad, sassy BFFs Beth and Addy are at the peak of their high-school careers. When “perfect” new cheer coach Colette French arrives on the scene, she quickly wins the respect of Addy and everyone else on the squad—except Beth, who finds her queen-bee status threatened by everyone’s idolization of Coach. When a suicide prompts a police investigation into the lives of Coach and the girls, the plot takes a dark turn. This peek into the world of cheerleaderdom is full of secrets, lies, and twisted stunts.

Movie Picks | Dial M for Murder (1954) | He thought he had planned the perfect crime…

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Secretly aware of the fact his wealthy wife Margot (Grace Kelly) has been having an affair with mystery writer Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings), ex-tennis pro Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) concocts a seemingly airtight scheme to have Margot murdered. Of course, things don’t go as planned…

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by Frederick Knot (based on his 1952 stage play Dial M for Murder)
Produced by Alfred Hitchcock
Released by Warner Bros.

Bookshelf | The Partner by John Grisham (1997) | How to run away from your problems

the partner

When attorney Patrick Lanigan discovers his fellow partners at his law firm are involved in a fraudulent scheme from which they stand to gain millions, Patrick fakes his own car-accident death and successfully steals $90 million dollars from the firm’s off-shore bank account.

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Bookshelf | Love Among the Chickens by P.G. Wodehouse (1906) | Can one really find love among the chickens?

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This humorous and delightfully absurd story is told from the point-of-view of Jeremy Garnet, a writer who longs for some peace and quiet so he can plan his next novel. When Garnet runs into the boisterous Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, an old acquaintance with a penchant for concocting wild schemes, Ukridge convinces Garnet to assist him and his new wife Millie in running their new chicken farm in Dorset, England.

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Movie Picks | St. Louis Blues (1958)

Based on the life of early 20th-century blues composer and musician W.C. Handy, this film tells the story of the man widely considered the “Father of the Blues.” Will (Nat King Cole) is a talented composer who has a knack for churning out rockin’ blues grooves.

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Bookshelf |The Godfather by Mario Puzo (1969) | And you thought your family had issues…

The Godfather

Does your family have some serious drama? Odds are, not nearly as much drama as the Corleones. This iconic tale centers on the Sicilian-American Corleone family, a tight-knit clan knuckles-deep in New York City organized crime. The patriarch of the family is Don Corleone, reverentially referred to as The Don.

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Movie Picks | Strait-Jacket (1964) | Once an axe-murderer, always an axe-murderer?

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After spending twenty years in a psychiatric hospital for the axe-murder of her cheating husband, Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) is anxious about re-entering society.

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Bookshelf | Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan (2010) | 15 years later… Where are Savannah, Bernadine, Gloria, and Robin now?

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In this sequel to Waiting to Exhale, we find our girls Savannah, Bernadine, Gloria, and Robin dealing with the never-ending issues of life fifteen years after the original story ended.

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Movie Picks | Giant (1956) | Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. Boy brings girl home to ranch. Girl takes over ranch.

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The pride of Jordan “Bick” Benedict (Rock Hudson) is his massive Texas cattle ranch Reata. When Bick journeys to Maryland to buy a stud horse for the ranch, he meets and falls hard for the beautiful, strong-willed socialite Leslie Lynnton (Elizabeth Taylor). After a two-day courtship, Bick decides to marry Leslie and take her back to Texas to help him run the ranch. (more…)

Bookshelf | My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours by Kristina Springer (2010) | How to cope when you best friend’s boyfriend is just too marvelous for words

On the first day of seventh grade, twelve-year-old Tori is crushed when her longtime BFF Sienna returns from her extended vacation in Florida looking all kinds of good and attracting all sorts of new attention.

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Bookshelf | Be Different by John Elder Robison (2011) |The power of embracing your individuality

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John Elder Robison discusses various aspects of his life as an Aspergian, including his professional and romantic experiences.

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Movie Picks | A Place in the Sun (1951) | The things a man will do for a pretty face…

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George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) is a penniless, working-class fellow who gets a job working in his rich uncle’s factory. Things begin to look up when he begins a romance with fellow factory worker Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters).

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Bookshelf | Thrill! by Jackie Collins (1998) | And oh what a thrill this book is

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Lara Ivory is a beautiful movie star with a seemingly perfect life. Joey Lorenzo is a handsome actor trying to make his way in Hollywood. When the two meet, sparks fly, and they embark on a steamy love affair. However, both Lara and Joey have skeletons in their closets which threaten to destroy not only their relationship but also their lives. A juicy tale of Hollywood drama and suspense!

Bookshelf Favorite!

Movie Picks | Rear Window (1954) | A view to (watch someone) kill

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Immobilized by a broken leg, photographer L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) finds himself with nothing to do but look out the window of his New York City apartment.

(more…)