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

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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.

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

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 maidservant 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…)

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…)