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Book Review | GRIT: THE POWER OF PASSION AND PERSEVERANCE by Angela Duckworth (2016)

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A Book Review by Vernitra Jones

Friday, October 19, 2018

I first started listening to GRIT: THE POWER OF PASSION AND PERSEVERANCE by psychologist Angela Duckworth back in the spring of 2017 when I was living in New York City. I remember listening to the beginning of the book during my morning jogs/walks at the Riverbank State Park across the street from my apartment on Riverside Drive. In this well-researched work, Duckworth expounds on the life-changing power of dogged determination and follow-through.

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Reading Diary: October 2-13, 2018

TAR BABY + new job + chips & guac for lunch

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

I got a new job! I am now an adult services librarian at a public library, and I am liking it. I really enjoyed being a children’s librarian at public libraries in the Houston area and New York City, and now I have the opportunity to explore a different side of the business. At every job I’ve had, I have always been blessed with great teammates, and this job is no different. Things are looking nice!

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Book Review | Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

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Book Review | Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes (2016)

by Vernitra Jones

Some books just get into your heart, and Garvey’s Choice is one of them.

This beautifully and brilliantly written contemporary novel tells the story of an adolescent boy named Garvey who is struggling to find his place. As an overweight introvert with a passion for books and space, Garvey exists far outside the circle of what is considered cool and suffers daily verbal assaults by his peers. Perhaps even more heartbreaking than the rejection from his classmates is the wide emotional distance that exists between him and his dad. In his father’s eyes, real men aspire to athletic greatness, but Garvey’s mind is in the stars and on the smooth Luther Vandross music that soothes his soul. He medicates his feelings with food and nourishes his heart with the honest, warm friendship he shares with his only friend, Joe.

Garvey narrates the story through a series of concise yet emotionally charged poems which reveal his tenderness as well as his evolving strength. Grimes’s poetic language pairs well with her ability to subtly move the story forward, and she skillfully blends moments of pain and joy.

I loved reading this book, and every aspect of Grimes’s writing, from the characterizations to the style to the story, left a major impression on me. After finishing the book, the story sat with me for days, and I am sure to reflect on my reading experience for a long time to come.

I recommend this book to readers of all ages. Although it is categorized as a middle-grade book, I think readers above the middle-grade level will also appreciate and enjoy the story. Also, since there isn’t a major focus on Garvey’s age or grade level, I think this is a great high-low book for high-schoolers, meaning it’s a high-interest but low-readability book, which is great for an older reader who doesn’t want to be intimidated by the text. I would also recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt the pain of not fitting in or anyone who wants to understand that pain. I would also recommend this book to fans of Luther Vandross, who happens to be one of my favorite singers of all time. When you read the book, you’ll understand how he factors into the story!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

[2018, Ep. 6] “Book Review: Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes” (Middle-Grade)

In this episode, I share my thoughts on the amazing middle-grade novel GARVEY’S CHOICE by Nikki Grimes.

Vernitra’s Book Club [2018, Ep. 2] “2018: New Year, New Reading Goals”

In this episode, I share the status of my beginning-of-the-year book purge as well as my reading and channel goals for 2018.

Vernitra’s Book Club [2018, Ep. 1] “The Great Book Purge”

In this episode of my booktube channel “Vernitra’s Book Club” on YouTube, I introduce myself and my new channel as well as share my book-purging plans for the new year.

Book Review | Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Vernitra Jones, writer and book blogger

Book Review | Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (2016)

by Vernitra Jones

Does the perfect guy really exist? What about the perfect wife? Or the perfect marriage? In this psychological thriller set in England, B.A. Paris twists the idea of perfection and confirms one never truly knows what goes on behind the closed doors of another.

When Grace meets her husband-to-be, star-attorney Jack Angel, she thinks she has won the man jackpot. On the surface, her new beau appears to be a total dime. He is handsome, successful, compassionate, and impeccably well-mannered. However, once Grace gets knee-deep into her love story, she discovers a dangerous element lurking beneath the glossy veneer of her marriage.

While I enjoyed the mystery element and steady pace of this novel, I must admit, over the course of the story, I began to grow disinterested in the antagonist’s motivations. Also, without giving too much away, there is an event in the story involving a book, and I wish that particular plot line had thickened, because it seemed to be headed in an interesting direction. As for the ending, it was not as satisfying as I hoped it would be. 

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book, and I am interested in reading more books by the author. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good, non-gory psychological thriller and anyone who enjoys reading about other people’s marriages.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Book Review | If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth by Barbara Leaming (1989)

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Vernitra Jones, Writer, book blogger, and classic-movie fan

Book Review | If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth by Barbara Leaming (1989)

by Vernitra Jones

One of the most legendary screen goddesses in motion-picture history, Rita Hayworth epitomized 1940s glamour. With her angelic face, warm eyes, toothy smile, and luscious mane of fluffy, coppery curls, Rita Hayworth became one of the most adored faces on the silver screen. A trained professional dancer, Rita could glide across the floor and move to a tune like nobody’s business. While Rita capitalized on her picture-perfect image of soft, alluring feminine grace, she led an often tumultuous life plagued by toxic relationships with men and self-destructive tendencies.

In her biography about Rita Hayworth, Barbara Leaming paints an honest picture of the star’s life, one that begins with the childhood sexual abuse which conditioned Rita for a lifetime of damaging relationships with men, in both her personal and professional lives.

From Rita’s early days as a disciplined child dancer, to her reign as a pin-up girl and box-office queen, to her various roles as real-life wife to Eddie Judson, Orson Welles, Prince Aly Khan, Dick Haymes, and James Hill, Leaming spares no tough detail. Leaming provides just enough Hollywood glamour but anchors her story on the harsh realities of Rita’s life.

Ending with Rita’s untimely descent into Alzheimer’s disease, this book provides a candid portrait of the woman behind the glamorous visage.

I enjoyed listening to the audio version of this book, and I recommend it to anyone interested in learning about Rita Hayworth, Old Hollywood, Hollywood gender dynamics, and the effects of childhood abuse.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Pictures

See more pictures on my Instagram page @vernitrasbookclub.

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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.