Don't forget to visit Kaylia's Official Website where you can get information about Kaylia's upcoming events, and learn more about her publications.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Patron Saint of Liars

Patron Saint of Liars

For anyone who has ever wondered about the complexities of self awareness…. For anyone who has a strained mother/daughter relationship… for anyone who has waited for a sign from God…. Anne Patchet has written Patron Saint of Liars for you.

The book tells the story, in three parts with three connected narrators, of Rose a pregnant woman who leaves her first husband, Son, her second husband and chosen father of her daughter, and Ceclie, the unwanted but much loved daughter who is raised partly by a Catholic home for unwed mothers.

At its core, it is a story of love and how love can be difficult to give and sometimes even more difficult to receive. The characters are vivid and real. The pace is perfect., but perhaps the best part of the book is the subtle lesson it teaches about perspective.

For the first third, we are in Rose’s head as she leaves her husband and drives herself to the Catholic home for unwed mothers. Although she sounds like an unsympathetic character, she isn’t. Her pain and frustration are understandable, at least on the surface, and we are rooting for her and her untapped potential.

But then things change. The second portion is Son’s voice and it is his responses to Rose, now totally cut off from the reader in terms of emotion, that we identify with. We, as son… and especially later as Cecile, don’t understand Roses’ actions. We can’t even begin to comprehend her because we aren’t her anymore. we are the oribitng planets that revolve around her.

If there was ever a subtext about accepting that you don’t know a person until you have walked in their shoes (or, to be more precise, lived in their narration head) it is in this book and it is done beautifully.

Again, Patron Saint of Liars tells an interesting story that speaks to every woman who might feel alienated from her mother… or herself. Well written and strangely intimae, this book will stay with you.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Gates

Strap in for a blow by blow of the opening scene followed by a review of the pilot (available on Hulu.com)

The Hulu info by the way is succinct: The Monohan family moves into a new home in an exclusive community.

Well.. with a catch like that… Zzzzzz

No, I’m sure that this new drama from ABC will be exciting and new! Let’s give it a chance!

We open on a dark big wall that is protecting all the joys of suburbia. There is a young white couple running, happy little white kids with lemonade, picnicking, washing cars, etc. Then, a dark haired woman is in her garden clipping roses (no hat, no sunglasses, and no ponytail to obscure her beauty and charmed unrealistic pruning). She calls out to a pouty little girl named Emily that she (dark haired Rose Trimmer) has told her (Emily of the pouty face) not to skateboard without a helmet. Rose Trimmer has an accent.

Emily steps off her skateboard and it rolls away into the path of a car being driven by White Guy On Cell Phone complaining about his wife.

Rose Trimmer runs after Emily screaming but Emily ignores her and then stands frozen in the car’s path. Cell Phone Man slams on the brakes and then crashes.

Rose Trimmer grabs the apologetic Emily and after hugging her checks openmouthed on Cell Phone guy who has a nasty cut and a face full of blood.

Carpool Mom pulls up to pick up Emily and despite her obvious and over acted misgivings, Rose Trimmer aka Mom lets Emily go to school.

The skateboard is forgotten as Emily climbs into the minivan and, not wasting a second, Rose trimmer Mommy invites bloody Cell Phone man inside.

Rose Trimmer gets all chatty with our Contractor Cell Phone man (so maybe it wasn’t his wife he was complaining about). Her second question to him involves her notifying his wife? Girlfriend? He has neither and in fact he says that this (her washing his face) might be the closest he has been to a woman all year. Instead of standing up and kicking him out for being creepy, she continues to wash his face and tries to reassure him.

“I’m sure it will just be a mater of time.”

“I hope so,” he stares at her getting creepier by the second, “Not sure how much longer I can wait.”

Again, she isn’t creeped out but does tell him that she is married and then promptly gets a bit weird about the blood on the cotton balls. She pulls herself from staring at the disgusting things and has the energy to banter with him a bit more. Mixed Signal City.

Apparently the bloody cotton balls changed her mind because suddenly her husband is out of town and they are kissing… she leads him into the kitchen she has a thing for kitchens, and they are making out hard core before I start to wonder if this is going to be a vampire show… and then…

Yep. Teeth, Biting. Shoulder Clutching. Bleeding him over the stopped up kitchen sink.

Roll credits.

Sigh. I sort of don’t want to bother. I mean.. another vampire show? This one with its own mythos (obviously the sun isn’t an issue for Rose Trimmer) and pitfalls. I like the vampire stuff… but… honestly, isn’t mass culture getting a bit blood boated by now?

Also, there are a LOT of white people in this show. Like... everyone.

I digress.

The show is about a family moving into a gated community. Well okay. But…

The show is actually about the cast of characters in the gated community. There are the vampires, but somehow they are a bit human. There are the cliché characters but they somehow seem well cast. There is the set up for down the road reveals that actually look intriguing.

And it is more than vampires. There are werewolves and witches (dueling witches pretending to be herbalist holistic healers!) and of course there is teen angst and marital strife, and small town nosey neighbors.

I wish there was a bit more humor… the show could suffer from taking itself too seriously, but on the whole it is engaging, interesting, and moderatly entertaining.

I’ll keep watching.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson (Series)

The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson (Series)
by Louise Rennison

Every now and then you want to read something light and fluffy: brain candy.

The next time this urge hits you, reach for the highly entertaining Georgia Nicolson series.

These books are the “diary” of a fourteen year old English girl who’s major problems include make up, fashion, dreaming over Sex Gods, and dealing with the embarrassment of her crazy family.

I know… it sounds shallow, predictable, and repetitive. Well, it is. But it is also funny, engaging, fast to read, and above all else plain old fun. Most of the humor comes from a delightful mix of British pop culture and jargon with the misadventures of the freakishly unique Georgia. It isn’t every fourteen year old girl who will go to a costume party dressed as a stuffed olive complete with face and neck painted red.

If the plots sometimes take forever to progress, well, we can forgive it. If the same themes of “he loves me, he loves me not” persist book after book, well again… forgivable. Wasn’t that what being a teenager was all about?

I have read the first 7 of the books and found them to be fun just before bed light reading, (an essential night cap after an evening of, say, Dexter) and I highly recommend them as frivolous fluffy brain candy of the highest order.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Reliable Wife

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Set in the harsh Wisconsin winter, entrenched in the borderline insanity of the town, and taking place just after the turn of the last century, A Reliable Wife is a story that refuses to be pigeonholed. Part romance, part mystery, part over zealous literary symbolic foray into the idea of good, evil, and forgiveness, the story moves through time and space almost effortlessly.

There is particular attention paid by author Goolrick to character development. He straddles the line of telling you just enough to make you care but not too much to keep you from truly knowing… and in this way the twists, when they come, are startling and also totally foreseeable. Through the rampant use of flashbacks (sometimes bordering on too much) Goolrick invites the reader into the hearts and minds of both husband and wife in this almost epic story of a mail order bride with a dark past and the haunted husband who has many secrets of his own.

In the end, it all comes down to the story… and despite the occasional lull in action or redundant emotional plea, this book does indeed have a gripping, moving, and highly interesting story. The excessive descriptions will delight the detail-oriented reader while the themes of love and loss will enamor the more romantic at heart big picture types.

A good title for book clubs or drowsy summer reading, a Reliable Wife will make you cherish what you have and remind you that, thankfully, winter doesn’t last forever… even in Wisconsin.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cutting For Stone

Cutting For Stone
By Abraham Verghese

This novel takes the idea of being ambitious to a whole new level. I don’t mean the characters are driven by ambition in a new and special way (although that could certainly be said) but rather that author Abraham Verghese attempts to tell several stories in one novel.

There are multiple love stories that interweave, there is the core story of the lives of twins Shiva and Marion, there is the historical story of emperors, coups, and political strife in Ethiopia, there are medical journeys through time, there is the tale of parental struggle, and there is the universal story of love lost and found.

No wonder the book is 658 pages.

I think Verghese does a marvelous job in telling each of these stories, in giving each tale the breath and weight it deserved, in weaving them all together in an unforgettable tapestry.

If at times the story seems to take its dear sweet time to get where we hope and dread it s going, well, that is probably intentional. That is part of growing up. That is part of medical advances. That is part of life.

Verghese does a marvelous job of creating characters who are distinct yet shockingly familiar. The traits that make us love Hema and Ghosh, that make us cheer Marion on and wonder about Shiva’s moral compass are artfully portrayed. The characters become real in a very tangible way, flaws and disappointments intact.

Cutting For Stone tells the story of the complex tragic love of an Indian nun and a troubled British doctor. From their union comes the twins who are raised by surrogate parents. Told from the point of view of the first born twin Marion, the novel moves back and forth in time showing us how the small choices of generations before can impact our lives and the lives of others in the future. Set in Ethiopia but spanning India, Africa, and America, the story unfolds and then unfolds again. There are layers here.. layers of beauty, layers of connection, layers of betrayal, layers of love.

With surgical precision Abraham Verghese has found a way to tell a beautiful and haunting story.

This book is well worth the invested time and the occasional slump in plot momentum, and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

I was a bit wary of the book when I started it. About half way though I found that I was really really enjoying it. Towards the end I had retreated to my state of wariness, and upon completion I was filled with the sentiment that can only be described as “frustration.”

The book is about a Nigerian refugee in England. The book is about an English woman having a mid life crisis. The book is about loss, both the tangible loss of family and fingers and the intangible such as sense of self and pride. The book is about how we sometimes cling to illusions of safety, of innocence, or, in the case of the four year old lynch pin, our Batman costume.

The prose is well crafted, the narration is sometimes clunky but well intentioned, and the plot mechanics work until they simply don’t. But that, I have been told, is life. We don’t always get a Hollywood ending and in truth looking for one from this novel would be a colossal mistake.

The best parts about this novel were the two voices that wove together a complex story. Cleave shines in his ability to create such dynamic and believable characters. Like real people, they are flawed but they are also beautiful in their own ways. They are not soon forgotten.

I would recommend this book for the poetic of mind and the soft of heart. Weaving together dark comedy and universal truths, Cleave has created a story that is defiantly worth reading.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Past Life

Of all the crap…

I mean, I live in California. In Santa Cruz. I like sci-fi and fantasy. I have seen plenty of far fetched lame plot devices and things that make you go “what the…?”

But this? This is just crap.

The promo is set to the sound of a defibrillator machine for ambiance… the words are sort of floaty…

“Have you ever had Déjà vu? And thought it was something more? Maybe it was.”

Voice over: She solves crimes that put souls to rest!

Yep. Welcome to Past Life,

...the new crime procedural with the shtick of the crime solvers being Psycho…. Therapists and a washed up has been “cowboy” detective who use Regression Therapy to solve murders. Apparently, as the “doctor” tells us, Reincarnation is real. We all carry around the memories of our past lives and sometimes, due to trauma or plot convention we regress and experience these memories. At that point it becomes up to her to use triggers and forceful staring to get you continue to flash back so that they can investigate the ‘clues” and thus solve the mystery.

That is premise of the show.

I kid you not.

They canceled Firefly, Pushing Daisies, Dollhouse, and Defying Gravity…. And we get this. (Not a shock, the show is on FOX… I am still not sure how a skeptical medical show like House managed to make it on this network that is so obviously catering to the vaccines cause autism and homeopathy is so super reals!)

Here’s the thing. Shows like Fringe and Warehouse 13 are silly. They know they are silly. They deal with things that are obviously silly like enchanted combs and telepathy. They are harmless.

But crap like this? Crap like this feed on the general public’s appetite for reasons to distrust science in the name of pseudoscience. Regression therapy to deal with your tortured reincarnated soul? Give me a break.

The pilot introduces us to Dr. McGinn (doctor of what we aren’t ever told), her horrible fake accent, and her sidekick the skeptical (but for how long?) former detective Whatley. There is also a 14 year old boy who is the reincarnation of a murder victim. We get just enough exposition to make us queasy and then we get the story which is almost unwatchable.

I thought about recapping the episode but honestly by the opening credits I was feeling overwhelmed with nausea so instead here are a few of the best and worst moments of the show.

Read Watch if you can stomach it, and Judge for yourself.

Lines like “The clues are there, you just have to know where to look.” Reek of both poor writing and confirmation bias.

Classic bad moment: Oh no, the kid has gone missing. Let’s go to his room. Hey look his friend is IMing him right now! What a great coincidence… the friend says ‘What up where r u? Zachary park?” because that makes sense. If you IM someone (a message sent to their computer) and they don’t answer you are going to start guessing random places… because they will, what answer? Of course the kid is in Zachary park. And of course he has had some sort of psychotic break, errr, I mean Regression Moment.

Another classic bad moment: The ‘ooo’ moment of the fact that the kid is actually the reincarnation of… A Little GIRL!

“It’s a Texas thang [her insistence on driving in the city], trucks, guns and the death penalty.” Several Texans just hung their head in shame. And that’s saying something. Apparently Texans also have bad taste in jewelry and are bossy about their coffee.

Ahhhhh skeptical detective man is also superstitious man who believes in bad luck. But not in coincidences. (also a widower, but I’m sure that is just a shameless eventual plot moment right?) This show makes my brain hurt.

“Husbands are like Jesus, just another white man telling me what to do” said without a trace of irony by a rich southern white woman.

The intuitive leap of “The clue is referencing a tall building with a red light on it. Which could be lots of places in the city we are in, but not that many places in say… that city over there.”

The murdered girl was killed a month before our Regression driven teen boy was born….. So this show has now not only decided that Reincarnation is real, but that recycled souls can implant themselves into fetuses not at the moment of conception…. But rather at some point before birth. I guess that straddles the abortion line pretty well wouldn’t you say? It has a recycled soul… at X weeks! Hazah!

“he remembers being murdered.” Point of interest. If you are killed you therefore have no future memories… right? You would have the memories up until the point where everything goes black. But if you never wake up as an angel and see your body or end up talking to St. Peter, how would you actually know you had died? Wouldn’t you need a point of contrast? I was alive, now I am dead? Is the soul of the victim self aware and free loading off the teen? Am I the only one who thinks this doesn’t make any sense?

By the way, the FBI vouches for our intrepid Dr. Of course they do.

“The best way to deal with a skeptic is to rip the band aide off, tell ‘em who we are right up front.” I would counter that the best way to deal with a skeptic is with proof but since I have a feeling that this show is going to actually provide us with some “proof” I’ll hold my tongue.

Also, too many people with beautiful blue eyes. Come on folks. Where are all the attractive brown eyed people?

We won’t worry about things like evidence for our warrents… the kid psychic mumbled about a boat name and then we found a guy who owns a boat with that name… he must be our killer! Guess what. In this world, he is indeed the killer.

We don’t see the ensuing court case. Because no judge in their right mind would allow it and no jury even out of their minds would buy it (I hope). But since this is a crime procedural that is more concerned with being edgy and unique due to schtick, we aren’t really surprised.

At 38 minutes our skeptic has officially become a believer. Because…. That’s how skepticism works. We get distracted by the shiny and forget our critical thinking skills. Gah!

And in response to his fumbling ‘aww gee, I guess I have to believe now” bit her response is the classic condescending: “The greater the doubt, the greater the awakening.” She is going to quote Einstein as a way of validating pseudoscience.

Thankfully the credits rolled pretty soon after that.

Want to see for yourself? Episodes are available for free at Fox.com and hulu.com

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Heretic’s Daughter

Book Review for Kathleen Kent’s The Heretic’s Daughter.

Told as a recollection of the past by one of the children who is not only imprisoned during the Salem Witch Trials, but whose mother is one of the condemned, this book does everything it can to pull you in, bind you to the main character Sarah, and mark you for life.

The subject matter of the Salem Witch Trials is handled with a mix of reality and vague instances of women with some sort of “specialness” but the end result is the same. You know how it is going to end before you even begin and for this reason I must admit that I put off reading it for several weeks. One cannot read this book without feeling overcome with frustration and anger at the judges and accusers.

If it was simple that and nothing more, I would have been justified in my hesitation and this review would be scathing… but Kent’s saving grace is that she went beyond the bones of the story to add symbolism and an attempt to make the trials in some way resonate with today’s readers.

In a broad sense it is good to be reminded (especially in this day and age) that the “justice” systems of the past were anything but. In a more specific sense, the book illuminates the struggle between the generations, class, family ties loyalties, and maturity. In these areas, Kent shines. The sense of alienation between Sarah and her mother her anger, and later her overwhelming sadness are very real, very powerful, and very universal.

The prose is at times simple and childlike (which makes sense as it is written as the recollections of a young girl being recounted from the safety of old age) an at times flowery and poetic. The story itself is told well, but it is the trappings of society and the journey of Sarah as daughter learning to value her mother even as it is too late that make this book worth reading.

To be perfectly honest, I hate the cover art for this book. The “Sarah” pictured appears more sullen and sort of “I am attempting to appear woeful” than actually sympathetic or sad. The inner cover of my copy had a great shadowy picture of a tree which I actually liked a lot, but… who am I?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dollhouse (Season 1 and 2)


I meant to write about Dollhouse when it first came on, but the pilot left me ambivalent and it wasn’t until about half way through the first season that the show started to really resonate with me.

I admit, I was worried about the concept. Dolls, or people who have had their minds basically erased, are imprinted with the mind/personality/skill set of whatever the paying client wishes. They can be bank robbers or FBI agents, but they are also quite commonly used on “romance engagements.” The parallels to human trafficking and prostitution is obvious.

So, with that in mind we watch as Echo (played by Eliza Dushku) assimilates a new and exciting personality each week to… right what once went wrong? Well, no. more like to have some sort of adventure where ED gets to show off her amazing body, repertoire of fake accents, great singing voice, super cool hand to hand combat skills….

Like many, I wondered how the show could possibly continue. Doesn’t it sound like a bad made for TV SyFy movie?

Ahhh, me of little faith.

Just repeat after me: In Joss we trust.

Series creator Joss Whedon –who probably dosen’t need an introduction coughBuffycoughFireflycough- did indeed have a plan, an over arching “big bad” in the form of Rossum Corporation who not only has set up the Dollhouse but wants to get all Freejack on these people. It is all about body hopping, immortality, and of course world domination.

Woo hoo! A reason to kick ass and blow things up!

And an actual reason to love the characters that make up this ensemble cast. (Honestly, even Topher grew on me.)

As the show (in its limited 27 episodes) progresses, we get a full story arc. We get good guys and bad guys. We get twists and turns. We get the sudden deaths of beloved characters (classic Joss Whedon). We get post apocalyptic snarky and epic battles. We get Felicia Day.

Oh, and perhaps one of the best parts of this show is Olivia Williams who manages to steal every scene she is in and make all the other seasoned actors look like children pretending to act. This is one classy beautiful regal lady y’all

Enough gushing I suppose. Go out and get yourself the first and second season of this show. Brilliantly written, decently acted, with enough sex and guns to keep anyone interested and a story that is not only apropos for today’s tech hungry world but also classically woven from hero adventure stories of our culture. This show, this story, is not to be missed.

You can get Season One (or rather just think of it as the first half of the story) with the very special final episode –only available on the DVD- which actually ties everything together at amazon.com

I couldn’t find when Season 2 will be available for purchase. They really should just sell it as one thing…. But what do I know.

Anyway, the show is over. It had its run. But it was well worth watching.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Saddle, Back, Me, In, What?

I took some time off. Call it “get your head on straight” or just “life was just too busy and I needed time to connect/reconnect with some people” but yeah… time was taken off in December and January.

I read, but not at my normal level.
I crocheted but not at my previous level.
I reviewed books… nope.
I blogged…but hardly.
I wrote… well, no I really didn’t.
I researched… again, not a bit.

I did socialize and folk dance and see friends and family and move in with my boyfriend and begin the planning for a trip to London and work crazy hours and sleeeeeeeeep.

Oh and I took a mini vacation from the gym and gained 8 pounds. Yikes!

Well, it is February now. (or close enough) and I am happily getting back in the swing of things.

I hope to be back to a new book review posted once a week (shooting for Tuesdays) and some sort of “other” review –movie, TV show, album, etc- also on a weekly basis (aim is for Saturday). Again the review blog is www.perhapsreviewed.blogspot.com

As for regular blogging, well that will be an as things come up sort of thing like always. I do have several blog posts half written… about such exciting topics as IHop’s Bait and Switch, When Your Internal Organs Go Bonkers, Geriatric; not a label for just people abnymore, Cure vs Acceptance, and of course a few wacky Kay adventures (more attacking birds, the trouble with kitties and yarn, my near death by bad drivers, fun with google key words / spam, and much much more) so stay tuned.

I tried to do a “currently reading/have just read” list last year and didn’t start it I time. I am working on it again this year and will have it up soon, I hope.

Also, hope to post a few pics/notes about the crochet projects that went horribly wrong before I destroy, errr redo, them.

And then there is the writing….. the research for my fantasy novel which is so super scary I think I need to reorganize my plan of attack, the research for my sex book which just needs to get done, and the finishing of the several short stories that are currently floating in limbo land on my computer.

And last but not least, there is the continuing promotion of
my book Links. I am in the process now of getting people to actually review it (on Amazon or other blogs) to hopefully garner interest. I am also trying to get a few more readings and events scheduled. (If any of you want to help me out with this, let me know. There will probably be payment in cookies.)

So yeah.
Plate full.
Life hectic.

Wouldn’t have it any other way.