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.

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.