Category Archives: Books

Can We Talk About the Ending of Behind Her Eyes?

Warning: This post contains spoilers about the Netflix series, Behind Her Eyes. Read at your own risk if you have not seen it in full.

The mingling of genres takes a skilled writer. There are two equally important aspects of being able to accomplish this successfully. The first is choosing the right genres. The second is making sure that each of them is given their due while ensuring that they come together at the right moment in the narrative.

One of the newest Netflix series is Behind Her Eyes. It tells the story of a twisted love triangle with Louise (Simona Brown) at the center. At one end is her new friend Adele (Eve Hewson). At the other end is Adele’s husband, David (Tom Bateman), who is Louise’s boss and new lover. It is part psychological thriller, part jealous spouse, and just a little bit of science fiction/fantasy to make it very interesting.

My jaw dropped by the time the credits rolled after the final episode.

I loved the inclusion of Adele’s ability to use astral projection to leave her body. I don’t read or watch many psychological thrillers, but as I understand it, this particular story thread is not often used in this genre. But that is not the twist. The twist comes from Adele’s friend, Rob (Robert Aramayo). He is the master manipulator who is so under the radar that it is impossible to see the ending coming.

Kudos to the author and the screenwriter. If only every story was as good as Behind Her Eyes.

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Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America Book Review

We are all born with talent, ambition, and the desire to succeed. The problem is that while some of us are allowed to see that success come to fruition, others are denied simply based on the fact that we are born with certain skin colors or sex organs.

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo, was published last December. In the book, Ms. Oluo looks at how white and male supremacy is bringing us all down. Using examples from history, pop culture, sports, politics, and other aspects of our culture, she tells the story of how we are all being dragged down by the idea of who is superior and who is inferior.

I loved this book. The author is able to talk about these very delicate topics in a way that is provocative and eye opening without getting her soapbox. Sometimes, all it takes is one conversation to change the world. This book is the conversation starter we desperately need right now.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy/Lincoln: Divided We Stand Review

We can learn a lot about a specific group of people and their culture by their food. Without stepping into a lecture hall, we receive a history lesson, learn about their traditions, and hopefully begin to see them beyond the stereotypes.

Last night, CNN continued to air first of two series. Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy follows the Italian-American actor and cookbook author as he travels around Italy and samples the food that is specific to each region.

The second series, Lincoln: Divided We Stand, is narrated by Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us). This program tells the story of the 16th President in a manner that humanizes him and his story. Instead of just relying on the facts found in a history book, the audience takes a deep dive into the world from his perspective.

So far, I enjoyed both programs. Tucci approach to his family’s native land is that of love, respect, and curiosity. Like many Americans whose family came from elsewhere, he uses food to introduce viewers to an Italy that only the locals know. Instead of lionizing Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln: Divided We Stand introduces the viewer to the man behind the myths.

Do I recommend both? Yes.

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Yellow Wife Book Review

When we are young, we have dreams and ideas of where life will take us. Adulthood and reality has a way of bringing us back to Earth.

Sadeqa Johnson‘s new novel, Yellow Wife, was published last month. Set in the 1850’s in Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown is a slave with privileges that few of her class have. Just shy of her 18th birthday, she dreams of marrying her sweetheart and the freedom that has been promised as a birthday present. The dream is shattered when she is forced out of her home.

Taken to a jail in preparation of being sold, her fate is changed when she is chosen by the jail owner. Pheby’s status is murky. She is still a slave. But she is also the lady of the house and the mother of her owner’s children. Known as The Jailer, he can be both kind and barbaric. Pheby knows that if she is survive, she must rely on her wits.

I loved this book. It is enthralling, engaging, and so dam good. There has been a lot of discussion about giving a voice and a spotlight to people who’s history has been either simplified or ignored completely. It would have been easy to just give lip service to this idea. Pheby is smart, brave, and likable, qualities that are sometimes missing in female characters. Especially in women of color. Though her story is set in a specific time period, she is one of those women who is instantly relatable. It is a quality that creates classics and forces readers to reckon with their own prejudices.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Behind Her Eyes Review

I would love to say that every marriage is a perfect vision of happily ever after. But we all know that some marriages are complicated, to say the least.

The new Netflix mini-series, Behind Her Eyes, based on the book of the same name by Sarah Pinborough, premiered last week. Louise (Simona Brown) is a single, divorced mother who works at a psychiatry office three days a week. She was supposed to have a girls night out with a friend at a local bar. But when her friend does not show up, she starts up a conversation with David (Tom Bateman). What starts with a brief flirtation ends with a kiss. But before it can go any further, he makes his excuses and walks away.

The next day, David and Louise meet up again. The sizzling attraction from the night before has not dissipated. But he is her new boss, making any relationship other than a profession one impossible. He is also married to Adele (Eve Hewson), who has a complicated past. Then Louise and Adele bump into each other and become friends. Though David and Adele project the image of a picture perfect marriage, their relationship is not so perfect.

I’ve only seen the first two episodes. I also have yet to read the book. But so far, I am enjoying this not so simple love triangle with three characters, who each in their own way, are damaged.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Behind Her Eyes is available for streaming on Netflix.

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The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control Book Review

Mind control is like any element found within nature. It is neither good or bad. It is merely a tool to be used as one sees fit.

Back in the 1970’s, Steven Hassan was a college student dealing with a broken heart. Approached by other “students”, he eventually joined the Unification Movement, lead by cult leader Sun Myung Moon. Decades later, he became an expert on cults and mental health.

His latest book, The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control, was published last September. His theory is that you know who’s appeal went beyond that of a political leader. His supporters acted as if they were under mind control, blindly believing what they were told instead of thinking for themselves. Backing up his ideas with research and the experiences of other cults, Hassan makes his case for how truly dangerous this man is.

Among the books that have been written about you know who over the past few years, this is one of the more unique ones. Hassan’s angle is an interesting one, answering the question of how so many can turn a blind eye to the truth that is right in front of them.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Regé-Jean Page Hosted SNL Last Night…That is All

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Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath Book Review

The plot line of a biography is as follows: the person was born on x date, accomplished a, b, and c, and died on y date. From there, it is up to the writer(s) to add the details and color to the story they are telling.

Heather Clark’s biography of Sylvia Plath, entitled Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, was published last October. Delving into Plath’s life and work (including The Bell Jar, one of my personal favorites), Clark takes the reader on a journey from Plath’s early years in New England in the 1930’s to her death in 1962 from lingering mental health issues. Using information that was previously unknown, Clark pulls information from interviews, unpublished works, and other documents to create a complete image of one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

If there was ever a blue print on how to write a compelling biography, this is it. When I finished reading this book, I felt like I knew her. Not just as a poet and a writer, but as a human being. As a reader, it is one thing to connect to your favorite writer based on their work. But when you get to know them as an ordinary person, that is where magic happens.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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New Podcast Reviews: The Experiment and Anxiously

Discovering a favorite podcast is akin to discovering a new television show.

When the United States was founded more than two centuries ago, real democracy was a pipe dream. Most of what was considered to be the known world (aka Europe) was ruled by Kings and Queens. The Founding Fathers were akin to political scientists, trying different experiments until one worked. The latest podcast from WNYC is called The Experiment. The premise is to explore what has worked within our country and what needs to be improved upon.

Jane Austen once wrote the following about friendship:

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”- Northanger Abbey

Friendship is so important. When it comes to mental health issues, it can be the one thing that keeps the emotional wolves at bay. Especially when we are locked in our homes due to the pandemic. Anxiously is the latest podcast from Tablet Magazine. Hosted by two friends, Aimee and Lisa, their conversations revolve around what makes them well, anxious.

So far, I have enjoyed both The Experiment and Anxiously. I like the way both explore their respective subjects in a way that the audience can connect to without being talked down to or over.

Do I recommend both? Absolutely.

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Filed under Books, History, Jane Austen, Mental Health, Northanger Abbey, Podcast, Podcast Review, WNYC

Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-Up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House Book Review

Anyone with a basic knowledge of American political history knows something of Watergate. It is one of the few events that is known by a singular name.

But Richard Nixon was not the only one doing the country dirty while in office. His Vice President, Spiro Agnew was also taking advantage of his position and his power. Angew’s rise and fall is chronicled in the new book, Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-Up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House. Written by MSNBC headliner Rachel Maddow and TV Producer Michael Yarvitz, it was published last December.

The book tells the story of how the Vice President was able to execute a bribery and extortion ring before and during his time in the White House. When it became obvious that Nixon’s time as President was growing short, three young lawyers took it upon themselves to stop Agnew before he could ascend to the Oval Office.

Based on the podcast of the same name, this book is brilliant. It was both a throwback to the past and a light shining on our current political situation. I knew about Watergate, but I had no idea that Agnew had his own political baggage. It reads like a fictional thriller, even though the events that take place are certainly non-fiction.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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