Colorization by Wil Haygood

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Colorization: 100 years of Black Cinema in a White World by Wil Haygood- Feature and Review


"At once a film book, a history book, and a civil rights book ... without a doubt, not only the very best film book ... but it is also one of the best books of the year in any genre. An absolutely essential read." --Shondaland

This unprecedented history of Black cinema examines 100 years of Black movies--from Gone with the Wind to Blaxploitation films to Black Panther--using the struggles and triumphs of the artists, and the films themselves, as a prism to explore Black culture, civil rights, and racism in America. From the acclaimed author of The Butler and Showdown.

Beginning in 1915 with D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation--which glorified the Ku Klux Klan and became Hollywood's first blockbuster--Wil Haygood gives us an incisive, fascinating, little-known history, spanning more than a century, of Black artists in the film business, on-screen and behind the scenes.

He makes clear the effects of changing social realities and events on the business of making movies and on what was represented on the screen: from Jim Crow and segregation to white flight and interracial relationships, from the assassination of Malcolm X, to the O. J. Simpson trial, to the Black Lives Matter movement. He considers the films themselves--including Imitation of Life, Gone with the Wind, Porgy and Bess, the Blaxploitation films of the seventies, Do The Right Thing, 12 Years a Slave, and Black Panther. And he brings to new light the careers and significance of a wide range of historic and contemporary figures: Hattie McDaniel, Sidney Poitier, Berry Gordy, Alex Haley, Spike Lee, Billy Dee Willliams, Richard Pryor, Halle Berry, Ava DuVernay, and Jordan Peele, among many others.

An important, timely book, Colorization gives us both an unprecedented history of Black cinema and a groundbreaking perspective on racism in modern America.



Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White WorldColorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World by Wil Haygood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World by Wil Haywood is a 2021 Knopf publication.

Wil Haywood has written a study of the history and struggle of black cinema, starting in the silent era and bringing us right up to present day.

Beginning with the protest surrounding ‘A Birth of a Nation', Haywood takes us on a journey through the decades, featuring not only the films, but the triumphs, setbacks, and the continual struggle for recognition and acknowledgement.

This is a very in-depth history, and contains a wealth of obscure, behind the scenes information, alongside familiar faces, films, producers and directors.

The book is a little chunky- as it does go over an entire century’s worth of material, but it’s a smooth, easy read and goes by quickly.

I was very interested in the older history, especially, because it was mostly new material for me- but of course, I did enjoy reading about the people I recognized, learning more about their career launches, the struggles they encountered, and the impact they made on cinema and on history.

Haywood gives a wonderful presentation, with organization, and research. The book does seem to run out of steam towards the end, with fewer opportunities for little-known insights.

That said, this is a fabulous piece of cinematic history, which includes a segment of photographs, notes, Bibliography, and illustrated credits.

For me, there were some nice memories in here. I was reminded of some movies I have not watched in a long time, while learning a great deal about those movies I didn’t know.

But more importantly, the book chronicles the contributions of black artists and black films, the racism, politics, and social themes involved, through the years, while continuing to battle some of these same issues today- one century later.

Overall, this is an informative, fascinating book, all fans of history and the cinema will want to experience.



Wil Haygood, born September 19, 1954, in  Columbus, Ohio is an American journalist and author who is known for his 2008 article "A Butler Well Served by this Election" in the Washington Post about Eugene Allen, which served as the basis for the 2013 movie, 'The Butler'. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty - Feature and Review


If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?

The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.

One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.

Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.



Apples Never FallApples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Apples Never Fall by Lianne Moriarty is a 2021 Henry Holt and Co. Publication.

This one had my name on it!

The Delaney family was destined to be a tennis dynasty of sorts. Joy and Stan ran a tennis school, but while all their children played tennis, none of them made it into the pros...

The children are all grown now, with various occupations, and riddled with various life challenges, but everything comes to a crashing halt when Joy goes missing.

Switching back and forth in time, we learn that once Joy is left with an empty nest, a chance encounter with a troubled young woman named Savannah, morphs into a full-fledged bond for Joy, bordering on a mother/daughter type relationship between the women.

We also learn of Stan’s massive career disappointments, mainly being dropped as the coach for a student who went on to massive success in the tennis world.

Each of the Delaney children are given a voice, and each is as different as night and day, except that each harbors resentments, disappointments, and suffer from relationship woes. Each responds differently to their mother’s sudden disappearance.

We also get an up close and personal glimpse inside Joy and Stan’s marriage. To anyone who knows them, the couple is the epitome of a perfect marriage- on and off the tennis court. Of course, everything is not always as it seems…

I really liked this book and for anyone who knows me, that will come as no surprise. I’m always up for a good family saga and it’s even better if there’s a mystery involved in there somewhere, too.

The story, for those who are looking primarily for a thriller, goes much deeper than what is on the surface. Joy’s disappearance is a catalyst for the Delaney’s, as memories surface cataloguing the many familial resentments, misunderstanding, and secrets - past and present - that bubble up to the surface.

The mystery, the ‘gotcha’ moment, which sort of made me laugh, since I already had my suspicions, might be too much for some- and I get that- but the mystery, in my opinion, was mainly a means to an end.

At the heart of the story is the character study of a family, and life.

Moriarty nails family and human dynamics- even if our lives are nothing like the Delaney’s, there’s recognition in there, all the same.

While the criminal element is quirky, and perhaps the weakest link in the story, overall, I think the author is going for something deeper here.

I thought the story was brilliant- smart, clever, thought provoking and entertaining.



Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of eight internationally best-selling novels: Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Nine Perfect Strangers and the number one New York Times bestsellers: The Husband's Secret, Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty. Her books have been translated into over forty languages and sold more than 20 million copies.

Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty both debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list - the first time this was ever achieved by an Australian author. Big Little Lies was adapted into a multiple award-winning HBO series with a star-studded cast including Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. Hulu is adapting Nine Perfect Strangers into a limited series starring Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy for release in 2021.

Her new novel, Apples Never Fall, will be released in September 2021.

Liane lives in Sydney, Australia, together with her husband, son and daughter. You can find out more at and

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Lie Beside Me by Gytha Lodge- Feature and Review


You wake up.
You can't remember what happened.
The man lying next to you is not your husband.
And he's not breathing . . .

Pre-order the gripping thriller starring DCI Jonah Sheens, from the author of Richard and Judy pick and Sunday Times bestseller She Lies in Wait

Louise wakes up. Her head aches, her mouth is dry, her memory is fuzzy. But she suspects she's done something bad.

She rolls over towards her husband, Niall. The man who, until recently, made her feel loved.

But it's not Niall who's lying beside her. In fact, she's never seen this man before.

And he's dead . . .

As Louise desperately struggles to piece her memories back together, it's clear to Detective Jonah Sheens and his team that she is their prime suspect - though they soon find she's not the only one with something to hide.



Lie Beside Me (DCI Jonah Sheens #3)Lie Beside Me by Gytha Lodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lie Beside Me by Gytha Lodge is a 2021 Random House publication.

This series keeps getting better!

Louise’s husband is out of town, giving her the perfect excuse to go out partying with her best friend, April. The trouble starts when Louise, as per usual when she’s out with April, gets rip -roaring drunk, then April leaves her at the bar to run off with a guy she just met…

Louise wakes up with the mother of all hangovers and discovers a man in bed beside her- a dead man…

Panicked, Louise moves the body outside before calling the police…

She has no idea who the man was, and she can’t remember one thing that happened after April left the bar…

Once Jonah and his team are handed the case, they are genuinely flummoxed, but when Juliette makes a stunning discovery, Louise becomes the prime suspect.

Meanwhile, Juliette’s ex is still stalking her- but his interference is escalating, jeopardizing her new romantic relationship…

This book grabbed me from the very first paragraph and kept me riveted all the way to the very end. In fact, I put all other books aside to focus on this one exclusively. Man, this series is good!!

The psychological suspense is super tense, and the plot is well- executed. It’s a layered story with several stunning white-knuckle twists, before cleverly weaving all the threads together for a satisfying conclusion.

The detectives, though, are left with some heavy personal issues to cope with, and it will be interesting to see how all this plays out in the next installment, which I can’t wait to read!!



Gytha Lodge is a multi-award-winning playwright, novelist and writer for video games and screen. She is also a single parent who blogs about the ridiculousness of bringing up a mega-nerd small boy.

She has a profound addiction to tea, crosswords and awful puns. She studied English at Cambridge, where she became known quite quickly for her brand of twisty, dark yet entertaining drama. She later took the Creative Writing MA at UEA.

Her debut crime novel, She Lies in Wait, has been published by Penguin Random House in the US and UK, and has also been translated into 12 other languages. It became an international bestseller in 2019, and was a Richard and Judy book club pick, as well as a Sunday Times and New York Times crime pick.

Watching From the Dark, her second novel, is released in February 2020, with her third book lined up for spring of 2021.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

FOODIE FRIDAY- Baking for the Holidays: 50 + Treats For a Festive Season by Sarah Kieffer - Feature and Review


A charming holiday baking cookbook brimming with delicious, indulgent recipes, cozy winter photography, and lots of holiday cheer from Sarah Kieffer.

Here's a festive holiday baking book to celebrate this very special time of year. Sarah Kieffer, author of 100 Cookies, beloved baker behind The Vanilla Bean Blog, and creator of the "bang-the-pan" method offers more than 50 delicious recipes for seasonal brunches, cookie swaps, and all those Christmas, Hanukah, and New Year's Eve parties.

Delight family and friends with edible gifts and whip up some delicious baked goods to treat yourself through the long winter months after the holidays have ended. Recipes include: Triple Chocolate Peppermint Bark, Meyer Lemon-White Chocolate Scones, Pear-Almond Danish Bread, Hot Chocolate Cake, and Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pepita Streusel.

With cozy holiday imagery, a lovely, clean aesthetic, and easy yet innovative recipes, this is a go-to cookbook for baking enthusiasts, anyone who loves the holiday season, and, of course, fans of Sarah Kieffer and her hugely popular cookie book, 100 Cookies.

GREAT GIFT OPPORTUNITY: With happy, festive photography and anyone-can-do-it recipes, this is a perfect holiday gift alongside a cute apron or baking product. It's sure to please anyone in your life who loves to while away the winter months in their warm and cozy kitchen.

BELOVED, ACCOMPLISHED BLOGGER AND AUTHOR: Sarah Kieffer is the beloved blogger behind The Vanilla Bean Baking Blog, which won the SAVEUR Reader's Choice Best Baking & Desserts Blog in 2014. Her pan-banging cookie technique went viral on the New York Times website. She has written two cookbooks and been featured by Food52, The Today Show, Mashable, The Kitchn, America's Test Kitchen, Huffington Post, and more.

Perfect for:

• Bakers of all ages
• Holiday bakers
• Fans of Sarah's bang-the-pan cookies, 100 Cookies, and The Vanilla Bean Blog
• Holiday gift givers



Baking for the Holidays: 50+ Treats for a Festive SeasonBaking for the Holidays: 50+ Treats for a Festive Season by Sarah Kieffer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Baking for the Holidays- 50+ Treats for a Festive Season by Sarah Kieffer is a 2021 Chronicle Books publication.

Often times, when it comes to holiday baking, though I’m more in my element than with cooking turkeys or hams, or other holiday meal items, I start to stress thinking of the exacting measurements, temperatures, and cooking times, the often-complicated steps and time consumption to pull off an appealing presentation for guests- which is why I normally stick to the tried and true recipes- claiming it’s tradition, when it fact, I’m just too nervous to try something new.

This year, though, I’m in a much different mood. I’m ready to shake things up a little! When I saw this book on Edelweiss, I was hoping to find some new ideas that weren’t terribly expensive or overly complicated.

I was quite pleased by what I saw. As the title states, the book has as a set number of recipes- but there are variations on many of these recipes.

The author begins by giving us a very small glimpse into her background and holiday memories, before moving on to instruct the reader how to perform a few tasks, such as making egg wash and tempering chocolate.
There is even a very thoughtful list of the ingredients used, and the suggested brands one should have on hand, as well as tools- mostly basics, like kitchen scissors, thermometers, etc., but there were a few things one might need to consider buying for certain recipes- all easily found on the internet.

The recipes ranged from pastries, breads, holiday desserts, candies, cookies, cakes- and a section for after Christmas treats. All the recipes include color photographs, and the pastry section had detailed instructions on some of the more complicated procedures such as breading dough.

Most recipes were easy to moderate- but there were a few that were fairly involved and might be more time consuming. Many of these recipes can be served anytime- not just during the holidays. I thought the lovely confetti cake would make a nice birthday cake! It was so colorful!
There was a small section at the end for ‘extras’ where I found a homemade marshmallow recipe- the mint version, which was paired with hot tea, sounds so yummy!! I can’t wait to try it!

Overall, if you are looking for a very helpful recipes book devoted to baking- holiday or otherwise, this is one I think you should check out!!



Sarah Kieffer is a baker, cookbook author, and food blogger. Her work has appeared in and on The New York Times, Food 52, The Kitchn, and Good Morning America, among others. Her cookie book, 100 Cookies, will be out October 2020 with a third book on holiday baking to follow in 2021. She has been pan-banging since 1993.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Turnout by Megan Abbott- Feature and Review


Bestselling and award-winning author Megan Abbott's revelatory, mesmerizing, and game-changing new novel set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio, and an interloper who arrives to bring down the carefully crafted Eden-like facade.

Ballet flows through their veins. Dara and Marie Durant were dancers since birth, with their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, homeschooled and trained by their mother. Decades later the Durant School of Dance is theirs. The two sisters, together with Charlie, Dara's husband and once their mother's prize student, inherited the school after their parents died in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago. Marie, warm and soft, teaches the younger students; Dara, with her precision, trains the older ones; and Charlie, back broken after years of injuries, rules over the back office. Circling around each other, the three have perfected a dance, six days a week, that keeps the studio thriving. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school's annual performance of The Nutcracker, a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration, an interloper arrives and threatens the delicate balance of everything they've worked for.

Taut and unnerving, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.



The TurnoutThe Turnout by Megan Abbott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Turnout by Megan Abbott is 2021 G.P. Putnam’s Sons publication.

Strange, Twisted, Hypnotic…

Dara and Marie run the Durant School of Dance, which they inherited from their mother- a famous ballerina. Dara's husband, Charlie, who has been with the family since he was a boy, runs the business end of things, as he can no longer dance.

Just as the casting for “The Nutcracker”, the most important performance of the year, is set to begin; a fire causes severe damage to the school.

Enter Derek, the man Charlie hires to repair the damage. Derek is a dark catalyst that exposes the deep differences between the sisters, and who seems privy to all their dark secrets, as he studiously begins to seduce Marie, drawing her out, giving her a boldness, she was never prone to before….

Okay, I confess, some reviewers gave me cold feet about this one. I have loved the other books I’ve read by this author and was a little worried about coming across one that turned me off.

I somehow managed to approach it with an open mind-despite my concerns.

Well, as much as I have mellowed over the years, I’m still able to tolerate, and even appreciate uncomfortable stories that make me squirm in my seat.

This book is very odd, no doubt, but almost has a 'noir' quality about it. It is centered around the exclusive and elusive world of ballet, chronicling unhealthy relationships that go beyond the pale.

Obsession, control, and manipulation are certainly common themes in novels, but creating an atmosphere that utilizes these devices in a way that makes one feel as though the suspense is nearly unbearable, is rare.

It creates a struggle in the reader- a desperation to put the book down and look away- but it also keeps one so entranced they can’t stop reading, despite the heavy dread of what twisted revelation awaits with the turn of each page.

Abbott is very good at exploring the underbelly of sports- cheerleading and gymnastics- for example. This book examines dancing, specifically ballet- to provide the backdrop of the story.

This is yet another extracurricular activity that young people- often girls- participate in as children, but on this occasion the group is more diverse, as male dancers are heavily featured as well.

Often these specialized groups are a tight knit enclave that outsiders can’t penetrate or understand. Giving readers an inside peek behind the closed door, allows us to divulge, guiltlessly, in a little voyeurism.

What we learn will normally strip away the glamorous veneer, and this book does do that, but, in my opinion, this story is more about the characters coping with a stringent lifestyle, carrying a heavy weight of guilt and shame, and the longing that comes with that kind of isolation… which could, and did leave them vulnerable.

The crimes are not original, by any means, but they are perhaps a catalyst that sends our characters to a reckoning of sorts, forcibly, maybe- but through the pain there is a promise of hope and long-awaited freedom from the demons of the past.

This is not a pretty story, any way you slice it. Ballet is beautiful, but we know by now there is a dark side to such beauty. I suppose some of us are just twisted enough to want to see what’s behind the curtain, what goes on behind the scenes, risking disillusionment, in the process.

I can't begin to guess what goes on in Megan Abbott's mind- but I doubt she’s intentionally trying to offend, I just think she’s a writer who explores the dark and hidden depths of humanity- and sometimes this reveals truths we might not want to know.

Anyway, I liked this book, despite the controversy and the mixed reviews. I don't know what that says about me- except maybe I haven't lost my penchant for dark crime fiction, just yet.

Overall, this one is not quite on par with the other books I've read by Megan Abbott, but still a mind tripping story that kept me riveted to the pages.



Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English Literature and went on to receive her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She lives in Queens, New York

Monday, November 29, 2021

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing- Feature and Review


Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest.

He says his wife couldn't be more proud—though no one has seen her in a while.

Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on pushing these kids to their full academic potential.

All he wants is for his colleagues—and the endlessly meddlesome parents—to stay out of his way.

It's really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost.



For Your Own GoodFor Your Own Good by Samantha Downing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing is a 2021 Berkley publication.

Wickedly Good!

The prestigious Belmont Academy takes a shocking downward turn when a student, Courtney Ross, is accused of killing her overbearing mother.
Enter Teddy Crutcher, the newest recipient of the ‘Teacher of the Year’ award, a man harboring some deep resentments towards his successful and affluent students- and Zach Ward, Courtney’s best friend.

Zach and Teddy have butted heads in the past, but each of them is determined to help Courtney, which triggers a domino effect… and bodies just keep piling up… which garners the school its own hashtag-

#Homicide High

If you like dark humor and smart, twisty psychological thrillers, you will love this book!

Downing examines the dark side of teaching, private school politics, parental involvement, and the way students become pawns, at the mercy of those who hold their futures in their hands..

For their own good...

I love Downing’s writing style and how seamlessly she can switch between first-person narratives, giving the reader the viewpoint of both the teachers and the students. I found myself gasping out loud one minute and laughing out loud, the next.

Overall, a thoroughly entertaining psychological thriller from the first page to the last!!



Samantha Downing is the author of the bestselling My Lovely Wife, nominated for Edgar, ITW, Macavity, and CWA awards. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman's Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel. Her second book, He Started It, was released in 2020 and became an instant international bestseller.

For Your Own Good was released on July 20, 2021. It has been optioned by Robert Downey Jr. and Greg Berlanti for HBO Max.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere- Feature and Review



From Donna VanLiere, the New York Times bestselling author of The Christmas Hope series comes another heartwarming, inspirational story for the holidays, The Christmas Table.

In June 1972, John Creighton determines to build his wife Joan a kitchen table. His largest project to date had been picture frames but he promises to have the table ready for Thanksgiving dinner. Inspired to put something delicious on the table, Joan turns to her mother's recipes she had given to Joan when she and John married.

In June 2012, Lauren Mabrey discovers she's pregnant. Gloria, Miriam, and the rest of her friends at Glory's Place begin to pitch in, helping Lauren prepare their home for the baby. On a visit to the local furniture builder, Lauren finds a table that he bought at a garage sale but has recently refinished. Once home, a drawer is discovered under the table which contains a stack of recipe cards. Growing up in one foster home after another, Lauren never learned to cook and is fascinated as she reads through the cards. Personal notes have been written on each one from the mother to her daughter and time and again Lauren wonders where they lived, when they lived, and in a strange way, she feels connected to this mother and her daughter and wants to make the mother proud.

The story continues to from 1972 to 2012 as Joan battles breast cancer and Lauren learns to cook, preparing for the baby's arrival. As Christmas nears, can Lauren unlock the mystery of the table, and find the peace she's always longed for?



The Christmas Table (Christmas Hope, #10)The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere is a 2020 St. Martin’s Press publication.


Lauren and Travis learn they are about to become parents. Lauren’s friends from Glory House pitch in to help her prepare for the pending arrival. Visiting a local shop, Lauren buys a used table and discovers, by chance, a stack of old recipes. Not knowing how to cook, Lauren decides to try out these recipes. As a result, she realizes how special these memories must be for someone and hopes to find the table’s previous owner.


John Creighton is trying to build a table for his wife, Joan, hoping to have it done by Thanksgiving. While John struggles with his project, Joan, who is battling breast cancer, begins work on the Thanksgiving meal- determined to make it more special than ever. For inspiration, she turns to her mother’s recipes…

In all the years I’ve been reading Christmas/holiday books, I have never read one of Donna VanLiere’s books!! I do have several of them on my Kindle- but… well, you know the score by now…

I’m thankful I made time to look through my TBR pile for older holiday stories before diving into some of the newer ones I’ve added this year. This is such a lovely story! The power of prayer and faith is woven throughout the story, as does the various stages in life and the challenges and wonders they present.

Overall, though, it’s an inspirational story that will warm your heart and leave you with a full heart and a smile on your face!!



..a mom, a wife, an animal lover, and a closet comedian at home. She's passionate about cooking (...and eating), reading, movies and teaching, inspiring, challenging and encouraging dreamers! She doesn’t like watching sports on TV but is a huge fan of athletes under five feet tall who call her Mom. Donna also loves to write books. As a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, her 14 titles include The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Blessing -