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Monday, September 16, 2019

Nikola Reviews Audio Book Recommended for the Sisters!

I recently have added audio books to my reading list and there are two books that I would like to give two finger snaps, a bow down to, and a thank you to the sisters who wrote them.

I do audio & video journals, blogs, poems, etc documenting my own experiences since my May 12, 2015 surgery at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA.  I believe some people may have listened to some of my audio and videos, I have over 800 recordings (most not made public), but some not all I've posted publicly not making a profit, but as an advocate for women and a call for help. Warning them about the changes in our society that affect our right and freedom to choose what happens to our bodies medically. 

I'm still not exactly sure how some have gotten a hand or ears on some of my recordings and videos, but in a digital society of life hacks, if I'm right, it's no surprise how quickly "evolutionary" news spreads.

After my life altering surgery, I've been evaluating, documenting, and defining new ways to adapt as a pioneer in coping with a change in both my physical and psychological functioning, since my May 12, 2015 surgery. I've been grabbing at everything, the bible, my faith, people who have walked challenging roads and succeeded to hang on and anchor my self-esteem since waking up from my surgery.

The surgery I had holds a heavy historical weight in motive, that questions the purpose, and expectations of African-American women after a life altering surgery, such as mines. So much so, that in my pursuit of esteem in dealing with obstacles that won't move, but I have to some how find my way around- I've been reading and listening to women who may not have the same challenge as myself, but have been challenged never the less, and openly expressed their imperfections, short comings, mistakes, and successes in their journey.

It has helped. It has let me know, that I'm not alone. That I don't have to have it all figured out. It has been healthy not just listening to my own voice, observations, and personal vlogs & recordings, but also, listening to audio books from other African-American women perspectives:

The following is Nikola Reviews Recommended: Excellent from beginning to end:

The Sisters are Alright by Tamara Winfrey Harris

Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Nikola Reviews "47" by Walter Mosely

My teenage daughter picked up Walter Mosley's book "47" on a whim in the young adult section.  While we were in the car together, she started to tell me about the book.  I was immediately interested when she begin to describe the characters "47" and Tall John. I asked her if I could borrow the book. I hadn't really entertained reading a young adult book, but I found Walter Mosley's book to be a re-education of sorts that young adults and adults could take lessons from.

"47" is about a young boy who had to find a lifeline to survive a labyrinth of abuse and oppression during an era of slavery that many have allowed to dull from memory. The book begins with a young boy who lives with an awareness that his existence has been despised from birth, being blamed by  Master Tobias for killing both his slave mother who cared for the masters wife, and later the master's wife who was broken-hearted by the death of her house slave.  The only role that 47 played in either death was his birth.

Too young to enter the slave shack 47 lives in fear and observation of the future that is soon approaching him as he comes of age, and looks ahead at the doom, abuse, grueling ritual routine of daily field labor that awaits him when Master Tobias sends him to the slave shacks.

Immediately when 47 is sent to the adult slave shacks, still too young for the hard labor, but sent early because of the hate and resentment Master Tobias has for him, he is introduced to Pritchard, a bitter slave toppled with a condition that allows 47 no mercy.

Overwhelmed, with the fear of death, and an inability due to size and age to do what is expected of him, 47 is thrown a lifeline when he meets a seemingly disguised educated lost/runaway slave boy who outwardly displays himself as an Uncle Tom named Tall John.

Tall John introduces a philosophy of freedom for slaves that 47 never thought was possible. The lost/runaway boy Tall John is rumored to be a healer amongst slave masters.  Tall John who is seemingly submissive and compliant to Master Tobias begins to secretly educate 47 in defiance of slavery.  Tall John teaches 47 about the medicinal secrets of his native land used to heal. He also esteems 47 and promises him a future of freedom.

Despite Tall Johns healing abilities both boys face a harsh and brutally unfair reality of being seen as a threat for knowing more and doing more even as they aid in healing Master Tobias ailing daughter.  Service during slavery is sometimes a curse for slaves if it gives a slave an upper hand that slave masters feel makes a slave seem more superior.

Much has been learned from reading Walter Mosley's book which is freedom isn't given, it must be taken, a choice that could come with penalty. Freedom is an act based on principals demonstrated by the choices we make everyday, despite the penalty. For slaves it was more than civil disobedience, each act towards freedom meant most often death and not punishment.  The alternative to freedom was unbearable torture.

At times this book was hard to read. Although it is a book of historical fiction, it read more like a parable of lessons. The book 47 teaches readers that the mentality of slavery has to be first altered in the mind, next how one sees him or herself, not through the eyes of the slave master, but as someone greater. Tall John begin to make 47 believe, once your self-image and vision has changed, then one possesses the power to force conditions to change, despite the penalty. Freedom!

I learned today on CNN listening to Spike Lee's interview with Anderson that it was 400 years ago this year, that slaves were brought to America.  

Book Review by Nikola Naylor-Warren

Sunday, August 4, 2019

NikolaReviews Gives "The Best Of Enemies Two Thumbs Up"

I saw a movie the other day "The Best Of Enemies" that I've been thinking a lot about, it chipped away at my resentment due to a surgery I had and has made me see "service" in a different light. What gave this new perspective even more value was that two people Ann Atwater played by Taraji P. Henson and Claiborne Paul (CP) played by Sam Rockwell held resentments much deeper and ever present then I think I could even fathom before 2015.  Sacrifice and Service does mean something to people and can penetrate even the deepest wounds, I know it is true because I feel my stubbornness in typing this.

For the most part of my life I looked at service and volunteering as a willingness of the heart, something that's supposed to feel good, the reciprocal inner reward of being the hero to the rescue. I never thought service could come or should come from a place of resentment. I think I never really imagined it could come from any other place other than love and willingness. If my heart wasn't in it, I thought it to be appropriate to just say "NO", in efforts to be authentic and genuine.

However my perspective has changed after watching the story of Ann Atwater an African-American social and union activist/leader in North Carolina, and Claiborn Paul (CP) head of Klux Klan Clan sector come together with a force that was full of bitterness, hurt, and anger from a history of segregation, violent acts of intimidation, racism, that was currently present when they were asked to organize a "Charrette" "something no one had heard of") to determine if the schools should desegregate after a school fire. Neither wanted to or were willing to lead the "Charrette", but out of pure bitterness and hatred both were afraid to allow members with softer views to lead. Ann Atwater thought some blacks were too educated and wealthy to understand the struggle of under privileged blacks in North Carolina and for CP, he and his Klu Klux clan members were afraid to let whites lead the Charrette who identified with the black struggle.

In this movie a town divided were forced to come together,  in hopes to PROVE that they should stay apart, only to learn that there prejudices were based on falsehoods and preconceived notions that developed from "separatism." In simple terms, "basically not really knowing or understanding the other."

Threatened that the courts could make an unfavorable decision that would not go well for either the blacks or the whites of the community. The townspeople were given a chance to work together over 10 days to come to their own decision that the court system would honor.  It is during this duration that Ann and CP are forced to learn about each other, the causes of their flawed, difficult personalities, developed historical hatred, and last but not least the struggles of survival which they witness the DUPLICITY OF THEIR HUMANITY, when combating the fears of fellow peers, the economic struggle of family life for both CP as a business owner, with a disabled son, and Ann Atwater with the insufficient conditions of her people and her unrelenting leadership.

Frustrated and resistant against their own observation of humanity in  "the other", begrudgingly at different times during this movie both sacrifice and give service in a reciprocated sort of saving grace.When peoples lives and lively hoods are on the line and the spirit moves you or forces you to put aside your resentments to help a person in need a sort of magic, transformation, or God's grace can occur. It's a bitter, hard move, that hurts, but can sometimes offer you what you least expect.

Movie Review By Nikola Naylor-Warren

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Nikola Reviews The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Well I finally finished The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides reading 150 pages in one night.  It took me a little longer to finish it, because I left the book home when I went to Philly to visit family.  It would of been a perfect book to read in my downtime in Wildwood, NJ. I even received a notice from the library only to find out when I tried to renew that there were 79 holds and I had to return it.  Luckily for me the librarian gave me until the 23rd to finish.  I am happy to say I finished 3 days earlier than what I expected. The book was just that good.

After reading The Silent Patient, I'm officially going to have to retire the word "Shady" because pretty much that's how I described almost every character in this story.  The Silent Patient tells the story of Alicia a painter who is married to Gabriel and a psychotherapist named Theo who tries to help Alicia out of silence after she is sent to an insane asylum for killing her husband.

Alicia who was known for her artwork became infamous after the murder of her husband because of her silence and a self portraying portrait she painted in the likeness of her husband and herself called the Alcestis which has roots in a story told in Greek mythology.  The only evidence left for people to wonder, speculate, and assume Alicia's guilt was a painting that drew crowds worldwide.

As Alicia sat silent for years in an insane asylum, Theo a psychotherapist with a past is determined to help Alicia break from her silence when no other therapist or doctor has been able to succeed in years.  He applies for a job where Alicia is committed and is hired.  Immediately he is taken back by Alicia presence, the mystery behind her silence, and the frustration of not being able read her emotion even when coming face to face.

As the new psychotherapist at The Grove, Theo encounters Diomedes who is in charge of Alicia's psychotherapy. Diomedes admires Theo's zeal to help Alicia, although he doesn't think he will have any success because he had tried for years and given up, he still allows Theo to try, thinking nothing will come of it.

Immediately Theo encounters deterrence from staff and patients when attempting to break Alicia's silence. Specifically with Christian Alicia's psychiatrist who appears to over prescribe Alicia with medicine. There's other staff and patients Yuri, who sometimes appears to be on Alicia's side but dabs in illegal narcotic behavior by dealing medicine, and Elif who has bouts of crazy behavior throughout the book.

Theo realizes the only way he is going to help Alicia is by understanding how she became who she is today.  So he starts an investigation of her past leading up to her being accused of murdering her husband.  This is when the shadiness scaffolds.  Theo visits Alicia's childhood home and is greeted by an Aunt who hates her and a tall brolly cousin named Paul who seems to be stuck mentally in adolescence because of his controlling domineering mother. It is here in her childhood home he learns things about Alicia's mom and dad that are troubling.

Theo also pays a visit to Gabriels brother Max Berenson whose demeanor frightens him when he tries to learn the dynamics and inheritance details that results from Gabriel's death. He later visits Jean-Felix Alicia's art studio partner who from the start seemed to be holding something back from Theo as he tried to learn more about Alicia and what inspired her art specifically the Alcestis painting.

Everyone around Alicia Christian, Paul, Max, Jean-Felix carried a piece to the puzzle of Alicia's past that helped lead to and maintain her silence.  Theo is determined to help Alicia put those pieces together, and even as he learns more about Alicia's past he formulates a way for her to do so, by painting.

Theo receives permission from Diomedes to allow Alicia to have an art studio at The Grove (insane asylum), miraculously Alicia starts to paint and as her painting burns into the mind of Theo.  Theo's troubles at home come to the forefront with his wife Kathy when he learns a secret that he tries to suppress in efforts to help Alicia break her silence.

This book is a page turner.  I did not want to put it down. I honestly can say I did not expect its ending. I literally yelled out loud OMG!, Wow!, the ending took me by surprise. If you are reader that likes "spin", this is a book to read.

Book Review By 
Nikola T. Naylor-Warren
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Monday, June 3, 2019

Nikola Reviews an Informative Episode of Real Housewives of the Potomac Season 4 Ep. 5

Let's Talk

It has been my experience with recent movies, talk shows, and comments that an educated aware African-American can sometimes share the flip side of the same coin in other words in order to recognize a sharp edge sword often one is a sharp edge sword, past examples the "brown paper bag party." What might it be in 2019?

I appreciated watching a more serious episode of The Real Housewives of the Potomac it was informative, it let me know, that some do know. Thank God! Often, I watch some of the other Real Housewives shows so I'm not reminded of what is, but instead reflect on what could be. However, I know that none of US, not even the other other Housewives shows anymore, especially women, are living in a time where we are at liberty to always be light-hearted and make everything superficial. It is also true that facing reality can weigh you down and sometimes you just want to laugh, be uplifted, and coast in bliss to the next destination. I did recognize the deliberate split in content RHOP made in this last one hour episode a lot of serious ending it with the ladies having fun.

On my personal twitter page my bio states that I like to be creative but often I am more compelled and inclined to tweet about the social injustices facing our country today than about my product designs, business ideas, and creative writing. I'm learning that sometimes you have to force the narrative to change in both action and words.

Two Thumbs Up RHOP

Review Written By Nikola Naylor-Warren
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Sunday, June 2, 2019

Nikola Reviews gives The Intruder Two Thumbs Up!

Nikola Reviews gives The Intruder two thumbs up and I am excited to write this next review. Thanks to someone I had the luxury of having the entire movie theater to myself. I truly loved the cinematography of this film, the setting was beautiful along with the attractive power couple Megan Good (Anna) and Michael Ealy (Scott). It also had some of my 'love to hate em' characters from other shows Tommy Eagan from Power, real life name Joseph Sikora who plays Mike in The Intruder, and Dennis Quaid who plays Charlie.

Just like Anna played by Megan Good I have dreamed of having a house just like the one her and her husband Scott (Michael Ealy) moved into. Only I haven't been willing to kill to get it, keep it, or MAINTAIN IT, similar to the recent ideas of some presented in the GEICO commercial.  It's comforting sitting in the shade!

Well any who, Dennis Quaid Charlie offers a closeness to the power couple after selling them his beautiful home in Napa Valley that penetrates deep under Scott's skin causing him to act what seems at first paranoid and irrational. Mike's character comically didn't stretch far from Tommy Eagans character because he was the first to detect Charlie's "to friendly creepy helper m.o.".  

Anna plays the lonely but privileged housewife having just moved into her 3. something million dollar home that her husband Scott just bought for her.  Anna is not happy with the time Scott spends at work, to pay and fulfill Anna's dreams of having and raising children in her fairy tale new home.  As she begins to decorate and maintain this huge Napa Valley home, Charlie who should of moved to Florida, seems to pop up at the opportune time to help Anna who is constantly disappointed by her husbands wandering eye and absence.

Not to spoil all that happens, this movie offers suspense and gall watchers will least expect. There isn't a dull moment throughout the entire film.  All the actors were A+, and most importantly again, the filming, location, choice of characters, made it pop.

Review Written By Nikola Naylor-Warren
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Monday, May 20, 2019

Nikola Reviews Gives Dead To Me on Netflix Two Thumbs Up!

Nikola Reviews just binged watched a series on Netflix called "Dead To Me" with Christina Applegate and I have to say it was the perfect show at the right time.  I completely identified with the emotional roller coaster Christina Applegate went through as a struggling single mom having to grieve her dead husband murdered in a hit-and-run, juggle a career, and kids all at the same time. I could not stop laughing at the raw honesty of dysfunction forced to function.  Often I think that's what all of us are doing but like to portray picture perfect lives instead of our best efforts.  I feel like as long as we're making our best efforts and things don't go as we planned it then you're still doing good as far as I'm concerned.

This show lets real emotion off the hook with no apologies just a direction to move past, move forward, and make improvements.  There are lots of extreme moments of tall tales, ridiculous drama, and just the plain outrageous.
But it was fun watching the characters attempt to make everything that is so wrong right.

Review Written By Nikola Naylor-Warren
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Nikola Reviews Audio Book Recommended for the Sisters!

I recently have added audio books to my reading list and there are two books that I would like to give two finger snaps, a bow down to, and ...