Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cannonball Read # 4: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

I started reading this because it is on my list of "books I should read for my general enlightenment". I confess that I didn't know much about Achebe's work prior to reading this book but since I wanted to expand my bookshelf outside the realm of science fiction, I thought that this would be the perfect time to stop procrastinating and just do it.

This book starts off quite slowly for me and slowly builds momentum. At first we meet Okonkwo, and he is a man's man. He holds a high status in his village, he has proved his physical prowess time and again during the village wrestling matches and because of this, is quite famous at an early age. He has multiple wives and children and in general has a very severe demeanor. Most of the first part of the book concentrates on developing Okonkwo's character and as we follow his life, we get to learn much about the village, clan hierarchy and Okonkwo's family structure. Suddenly we see the introduction of Anglican missionaries and the entire clan system slowly but surely begins to fall to pieces. Okonkwo's son joins the missionary church and Okonkwo's mourns the loss of his eldest son to the church. Since Okonkwo's entire life has been about proving his masculinity, he feels keenly the loss of his son to "these effeminate men of the church".

You can see that initially the men of the village tolerated the missionary as a joke, thinking that no one would take them seriously and therefore when the white men set up a judicial court and start hanging villagers for offenses against the Church, they are all taken aback. But of course by then it is too late.

Initially I didn't like Okonkwo as a main character because he seemed to be completely intolerant of change but as the book went on I began to see that he was the eyes through which we began to see the complete and total destruction of an entire village culture. At the end of the book, Okonkwo has committed suicide in disgrace after killing a District messenger. The Anglican Church has completely taken over the area and superceded Okonkwo's peoples' own justice system because they are teaching the "heathens".

The part of the book that actually spoke most to me was the last couple of paragraphs.

      "The Commissioner went away, taking three or four of the soldiers with him. In the many years in which    he had toiled to bring civilization to different parts of Africa he had learned a number of things. One of them was that a District Commissioner must never attend to such undignified details as cutting a hanged man from the tree. Such attention would give the natives a poor opinion of him. In the book which he planned to write he would stress that point. As he walked back to the court he thought about that book. Every day brought him some new material. The story of this man who had killed a messenger and hanged himself would make interesting reading. One could almost write a whole chapter on him. Perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph, at any rate. There was so much else to include, and one must be firm in cutting out details. He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger. "

Although I didn't LOVE the book, I understand the importance of a work such as this one. We need to see the subjugation of the African people from their own perspective.

Avatar is the Truth!

So I went to see AVATAR in Tobago this weekend, unfortunately not in 3-D but still it was utter greatness. Even though it was 2.5 hours plus, I was completely engaged. Everyone NEEDS to see it.

The funniest thing was that I was sitting in front of THOSE people in the cinema, you know, the people that constantly comment on everything.

"Girl, it preetty eh?"
"Why he goin' dere? Wha he doin'? Wha dey sayin'?" Lol. only in Tobago will they ask someone next to them what the 10 foot Avatar is saying in the imaginary Na'vi language. Gots to love home ;-D

Anyway, I'll be spending New Years over here with the fam, pictures to follow. Happy New Year to all and a blessed and prosperous 2010!!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weird News

So I saw this article on MSNBC about a 13 year old kid who runs up a $22,000 phone bill in one month on his dad's cell phone plan. How is this possible, you ask? Well apparently he decided to download to the phone 1.4 million Kb of data without having a data plan. That's 1.3 Gigs.  I mean WHAT??!!?!

If you want to read about it go to:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cannonball Read #3: Wit'ch Fire by James Clemens

"Wi'tch Fire" is a classic epic fantasy story that must be told over the course of 3 -4 books. Too bad I didn't know that when I started reading. In this book, it is mainly about the "let's get to know all the characters" part of the game. I guess given the length of the book, there was literally only time to take the main character and say, "these are the people that are going to travel with you on your quest". Because of this, the entire book felt extremely unfinished, kind of like I was reading chapters 1 and 2 of the entire story. 
Basically, the book begins in the land of Alasea where they are in the middle of a battle to remain independent from the evil forces of Gul'gotha aka The Black Heart aka the Dark Lord. (and p.s. why are all the evil ones dark and black? Lets get another evil colour representing the enemy forces for once!) Anyway, we meet Er'il who helps his brother Shorkan forge a Book that wille eventually save them. Cut to an unmentioned amount of time later, and we meet Elena who bears the mark of the lost power of her people, ie. a crimson hand. In essence, the usual happens, someone tries to kill her, her power gets away with her and she burns up some stuff thus creating the essential hero's moral dilemma of "my power is destructive I don't want it. but I'm The ONE. Oh what a responsibility!". At the end of the book, her band of merry travellers has found their way to her side, all of them for various and sundry reasons. 
1. Er'il - yes he's still alive hundreds of years later, oops. 
2. a nymphai (tree spirit) the last of her people. 
3   a elv'in who is searching for their long lost king. Guess who it is? (that's right sexist elv'in, your king is a girl)
4 a half shapeshifter half ogre who is on a quest to rid his og're clan of a curse. 
5. A pair of shapeshifter twins, one stuck in human form and the other stuck as a wolf. P.S. the human one is completely craven and whiny on top of everything else.

Blah Blah! Somehow this book had all of the elements of a great story and I found myself struggling through it  and even in writing this review, I don't really care. Somehow Clemens managed to write a book that was both interesting and forgettable at the same time. And did I mention that the plethora of apostrophes in all the names are quite annoying. Like the difference between Gulgothra and Gul'gothra is really all that significant?

I will be taking a break from fantasy from now on and concentrating more on different types of fiction. So next on my list is "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe. Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Notes on a Kindle

Having lusted after the Kindle ever since Amazon first put it up for purchase in my sophomore year at college, it was with great pleasure that I received one from my parents as a graduation gift. I've alway been an avid reader and to me, an iPod for books had the potential to be the most world-changing device since Apple said that you could have music without CDs. I also saw it as freeing me from airline overweight baggage fees because I would no longer have to pack 15 books to travel, I could have them all available on my Kindle. To my disappointment, while I love my Kindle, and use it most of the time, there are certain things that I did not expect and still cannot get used to.

1. I feel cheated out of the bookstore experience. Before I would enter a bookstore with the same reverence that someone would enter a church. This place was going to give me my next epiphany; the book/s I walk out with will change my life somehow. That sort of thing. Instead going to bookstore now its unsatisfying. I find books that I like, but I'm hesitant to buy it because the amazon store might have it for much cheaper. Because of this, I no longer get the same pleasure from picking up a book and that upsets me.

2. When flying, because the Kindle is an electronic device you cannot use it during take-off or landing. For me these are perhaps the most crucial times when I need to read; my iPod cannot be used, the movie has been turned off and all you ever have to do is read. So now with the Kindle, all I can do is sit there concentrating on how long it is taking for the pilot to land the plane.

3. I miss the weight of a book in my hand, and the smell of slightly worn pages and the crease in the spine that means its one of your favorites.

4. Last but not least, you cannot lend your Kindle books to a friend.

For all of the admittedly wonderful things that a Kindle does. Such as its portability, accessibility to Amazon's vast e-library, there are certain things that one cannot ever recreate with a digital book. And I may be an old fogey in saying this, but I will miss books when they are gone. The digital will become the convenience and the norm and people like me will be thought of as eccentric or clinging to a bygone era. Be that as it may, the act of holding a book brings back memories of every book I ever held, and to a certain extent every book I've ever read.

The move toward digital literary content got me thinking about a science fiction short story I read once (of course! ). It was a tale of xeno-archeologists (studying alien artefacts) who come to a planet where they are unable to make head nor tails of any of the old buildings, monuments and artifacts that they find. In the end, they reason, that particular civilization had gone digital, meaning all of their art, literature and cultural content had moved into a completely insubstantial medium. After the civilization became extinct, noone could celebrate them or study them because no one could truly know them.

Perhaps that is a gloomy thought but at the end of the day, progess stops for no man (or however the saying goes) and we will continue to evolve and change as we please. In the meantime however, I guess what I'm saying is that I will continue to celebrate books in their most tactile form until I no longer have that option.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pretty Things

So ever since the Boston Book Festival Boston Noir party where I got to wear this awesome hat, I've become kind of obsessed with hats and hairpieces.

Here are 2 of my "I wish I had". Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cannonball Read #2:The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

So for those of you that are unfamiliar with Robert Jordan's work, this is the twelfth book in the Wheel of Time Series. After Jordan passed away, Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson picked up where Jordan left off.
      Anyway, most of this book is based around the main character Rand's struggle to maintain his sanity in the face of the incredible stresses that come with being the Dragon Reborn. His intense distrust for all those around him, even people that he previously thought had his best interest in hand, fuels the world's fears that he will not be up to the task of facing the Dark one in the Last Battle.
     I do not know if this was a stylistic choice made by Sanderson or if Jordan dictated it be so, but the best part of this book was delving into the hero's psyche. In most fantasy books, while the hero may be superficially conflicted about his journey, he doesn't really seem all that affected psychologically. With Rand, he's damn near driven himself crazy and most of the book is his psychological journey through the crazy; controlling his powers, trying to shut up the voices in his head.
   I appreciated that in this book, unlike the last 3 that Jordan wrote, the plot actually moves along swiftly and even the characters that don't make much of an appearance still manage to do something significant. My problem with the last couple books that Jordan wrote is that they seemed like filler. When a lot of nothing happened over the course of 800 pages and it gets tedious.
  All in all a respectable sending from Brandon Sanderson, and I know we who grew up on the Wheel of Time series are just excited to finally get the story moving again. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I'm now officially obsessed with Lady Gaga. Her video for 'Bad Romance' is genius.

The Gathering Storm

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! Instead, after nearly 5 years of living in this disease ridden country, I finally got the flu. And it kicked my ass all the way back to elementary school. The "I-want-my-mommy, snuggling-with-stuffed-animals, needing-ice lollies-for-my-throat" kinda feeling. Not cool. I repeat, NOT....COOL! But I'm slowly getting better and since I just got my copy of The Wheel of Time Book 12 in the mail, I'm going to drown in Rand-land.

Anyone who's ever met me and had more that a 20 second conversation with me about life knows that I LOOOOOOVE the Wheel of Time series, and it really kinda pushed me into my love of fantasy. Since I started reading this when I was 14, this is my Harry Potter, my Holy Grail of Fantasy. ( Sorry Harry, still love ya!) Unfortunately, the author Robert Jordan passed away before he could complete it. But how is there a new book, you ask? Brandon Sanderson stepped into the most awesome shoes ever, and wrote this book. So I will let you know just how awesome it is. :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Job hunting for 2009 Graduates

So I've been reading a lot of news online and even the occasionally old-fashioned newspaper (gasp!) and overwhelmingly the news about the Class of 2009 has been bleak. And the mood of us graduates has been even more bleak, and understandably so, for most of us, our loan grace periods have expired and bills are due, we've been kicked off parents/schools health insurance plans. And overall getting rejected over and over from jobs sucks the self esteem right out of you.
I started my job search in what I thought was a timely fashion, aka September 2008 for a graduation date of May 2009. As of yet I don't have a full time job and that seems to be the resounding theme for everyone. You know the job market is tough when you are begging Starbucks to call you back (and they won't. Apparently a $200,000 degree in International Relations does not qualify a person to work as a barista at Starbucks. Who knew? )
Most of what we get fed everyday, in between episodes of Maury's "Who's the father?" episodes and Grey's Anatomy are images of how bleak things are for the youth. The media has branded us as lost. How are we supposed to get up and face the job market when the news persists in calling us the "Lost Generation"? I'm not lost! I'm right here! Just because only 19% of the graduating class of 2009 have full time jobs doesn't mean that the rest of us went into a black hole. We are still here, waiting to move out of limbo and get started on the real business of being a 20-something college graduate WITH a job. We still have hope and we are far from lost. So there!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cannonball Read #1: Margaret Atwood's "Oryx and Crake"

SO.... let's talk about the end of the world. What a dramatic opening. I chose Margaret Atwood's book because a friend of mine recommended her other novel "the Handmaid's Tale" to me and I enjoyed it. This book however was a particularly difficult slog. It is written from the perspective of Snowman, one of the last humans on Earth (as far as he knows). All that is left are the genetically altered creations of his childhood best friend, Crake. Some of these creatures are the snat (snake and rat combination) and the wolvogs (cuddly little dogs with vicious wolf tendencies).

Now my first pet peeve with this book is that Oryx doesn't play a really crucial role in the whole plot line. She just serves as a stand in character against which Snowman can play out his fantasies. Whereas we get to know him in obsessive detail, she remains somewhat of an enigma. I would say that this book is like that insufferable Tom Hanks movie where he talks to a beat up volleyball for 75 minutes. Yea, that was awful and in some ways this book was too. I guess my problem is that this guy whines on and on about how apathetic he was, and how regular, and how un-special as compared to Oryx and Crake, and it left me wondering why do I want to listen to this self-proclaimed "normal" person talk for the entire book.

Having said all of that, there are some cool sci-fiesque, end-of-the-world ideas in the book that I enjoyed. For example, Crake talks about how civilization can never be rebuilt if it collapses. And his reasoning is that the discovery of metal and its uses was crucial to the development of the civilized world. I mean, where would we be without the axe? But in this reality, because all of the surface metals have been used already, in the next civilization cycle no one will be able to invent these handy tools. That really struck me because in all the end of time science fiction that I've read in my lifetime, no one has really come forward with such a simple deterrent to the actual end of civilization forever.

At the end of the day, I understand the point of the book, ie. the increasing emphasis on the material and general human dissatisfaction with their lot in life but I couldn't really get behind her on the way it was put across.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Science and Fiction

You know how people always say science is absolutely correct, right up until someone proves it wrong? Well I feel like that is perhaps the truest reflection of life as we know it. The fact that science is so concrete and yet mysterious can activate the imagination of a writer like nothing else. FYI in case you haven't noticed, I am a huge science fiction fan. And one of the reasons that I love it so much is that great science fiction can approaches philosophy. Despite, or perhaps because of the outlandish settings, good sci-fi can make the reader examine their own life and ask certain unanswerable questions.

The boyfriend asked me today what were my favorite books and why, and I had to think about it. Here are some of the ones that I've come up with:

1. Ray Bradbury - "I sing the body electric and other stories":
        This one is not so much a well-read favorite. Instead it is the first book (or rather, collection of short-stories) that I remember reading that truly horrified me, especially "Night Call, Collect." This was a story about a man that got left behind on Mars because of an atomic war on Earth and decides to pass the time recording phone calls to his future self. These calls would ring at an appropriate time in the future and he could talk to himself to pass the time while he waits to be rescued. Of course by the time he gets to be eighty years old, he knows now that no one will be coming for him. Its a haunting story, especially for an only child like myself, I think. It drew attention to the undeniable feeling of loneliness, even though you are surrounded by all these voices. And I also think of it as a metaphor for the different parts of you that constantly argue with one another about right choices.  That is just my personal interpretation of it,  but I could be wrong. But now looking back on it I love it especially because it evoked such an intense emotion from me. Good writing should always make you feel :-)

2. David Weber - On Basilisk Station
    This is a space opera aka battles in space, in which the main character is a woman and she is the new captain of her ship. Of course, stuff happens, sexism and discrimination ensues and she finds herself put in the position of battling to save the "Federation". This one is pretty much greatness if only because you get to see Honor Harrington kick some ass outnumbered by crazy bigger, better equipped ships. Its kind of awesome in my opinion.

Anyway, thats just 2 of the ones that I can think of while I procrastinate doing work but I'll post more as i think of them.

Look out for my book review for the Cannonball Read! It kicks off this week and I'm already a couple pages into Margaret Atwood's "Oryx and Crake", so be prepared!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

52 Books in 52 Weeks: The Epic Read-a-thon

So, I've completely lost my mind and decided to enter 2010 Cannonball Read where I will be reading and reviewing one book a week for a whole year. I mean, its not like I don't read anyway... I might as well do something productive with all that commentary in my head. It should be fun at any rate and my friend Anhelo  will be doing it along with me. Let the wild rumpus start!

One of the great things about this is that I officially have an excuse to tell everyone about all the books that I think are awesome. So lets have a breakdown of what my favorite genres are:

1. Science Fiction
2. Fantasy
3. (Secretly) Sappy Mystery Romances
4. Other random things that I pick up in bookstores.

I will be trying to read outside of my genres in a effort to broaden my scope so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Word of the Day

Little bit o'learning:

1) A digression
2) A detailed discussion of some point in a book esp. in an appendix

Well anyone who knows me knows that when I tell a story, I tend to digress. Alot. All over the place. I think its part of my charm but you know... thats me.

So now you can call me an excursus-ing fool! (disclaimer: that is NOT how you use that word. LOL)

Thought Stream

So I've realized something interesting. I'm really sensitive to people's moods and behaviors. So just being around someone who is a bit sad, makes me sad. Actually, not just someone who is sad,but someone that I have a close connection to. What makes it worse is that I'm told I'm a good listener so I'm the confidant and I take in all these different feelings all the time.
The great thing about this realization is that I know now that I can separate what I feel and what is just mirrored and so everyday I feel more like me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cracked out on reading

So I just finished reading this book that I randomly picked up at the bookstore called World War Z. At first I was like, "a book about zombies, blah..." I can just go watch "Shawn of the Dead" on cable and call it a day. But it sounded kind of interesting and honestly, since getting a Kindle, I've found myself jonesing for real pages like a crack addict in their first day at rehab. So I bought it and it was actually thought-provoking. The author works through individual accounts rather than relying on a grand narrative to tell the story. The premise is that the author is in post World War Z and he is part of the UN postwar commission interviewing people about their experience fighting the zombies. I know this sounds crazy weird but the part that I enjoyed the most is the view of how humanity would deal with a crisis and how people react to that.

Well the point is I liked the book and I got my reading crack on. lol


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Digging this Moschino dress from Milan Fashion Week. Muy Adorable!

TV Obsessions

So I'm currently obsessed with a record number of tv shows in the fall season. It doesn't really matter the genre, I love The Rachel Zoe Project ("I die, I die") and Fringe pretty much equally. I guess the only thing that they have in common is that they allow me to experience a world that I would otherwise never see,like in Fringe's case, alternate universes. On the other hand, for me L.A. might as well be an alternate reality so my theory can still hold up in court. Anyway... the obsession of the day was the 2 hour season premiere of Grey's Anatomy. I've literally been watching this show since season 1 episode 1. While I think that most of the characters' plotlines are ridiculous ( C'mon, when in real life can a "George" get with Izzie, Meredith, Callie AND Lexie?? That's just unlikely and semi-incestuous), I still find myself tuning in every week.
Well even though everyone knew that T.R. Knight was leaving, I still was unprepared for the emotional roller-coaster that this grief-theme episode would put me on. Why, you ask? Number 1 because I'm a crazy , number 2 because for once all of the characters had an opportunity to express their version of grief. The token side-plot of the patient was so-so, just another girl who got her arms amputated by a speedboat propeller, no biggie. lol
The one thing that I wasn't so much a fan of was the idea that Seattle Grace hospital and Mercy West would be merging and according to Chief Weber, "I can't guarantee a place for anyone." That is such a transparent cliffhanger that it is not even worth the time. Although I guess I understand that it is a device to move the plot forward, I still kinda feel that we all KNOW that the main characters will be staying , so why make a big deal?
Anyway, I'm sorry for you if you aren't familiar with Grey's, but I needed to get that out there. lol.

So long, till next time!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Welcome Welcome!

So I'm completely new to this blogging world, but I guess we will learn as we go. So for a little bit about me...
I'm "fresh off the boat", meaning I moved from Trinidad and Tobago to Boston for university four years ago and I swear I am still adjusting to the weather. I still can't get used to temperatures below zero degrees ( thats in Celcius to you I just recently graduated and instead of moving home, I've decided to strike out on my own. So here I am, living in Boston (actually Somerville but Boston sounds cooler :-p) and I'm looking for a full time job in addition. Anyway, topics-wise, I'm interested in books, fashion, movies so that what you'll get.

Come take a journey with me!