Life...The Most Complicated Thought

The unexamined life is not worth living. ~Socrates

Neil Gaiman is back!!!

I finished Odd and the Frosted Giants by Neil Gaiman today on my way back home. It was read by Neil Gaiman and I think he is one of the best readers out there. He did an excellent job.

Summary: "Winter is lasting forever in the far north. But when 12-year-old Odd helps a trapped bear, he meets an eagle and a fox – all of whom are actually Norse gods trapped in animal form by the frost giants who have conquered the city of the gods. Odd must reclaim Thor's hammer, outwit the giants, and release the gods." Source: Audio Editions

I enjoyed the book very much. Neil Gaiman is an excellent storywriter and storyteller. His voice makes the listeners believe in the characters and I felt that he himself was enjoying reading the book. I look forward to his other works. I give this book 9 out of 10.

This is it. This is the last post of the year. Time to head to the party!!!

I hope next year brings lots of happiness and success to everybody.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

I think I am going to make this my last entry for the year. I am not done listening to my audio book. If I finish it tonight, I don't know if I will get online to write the review. Tonight is PaRtY!!!!!

I finished Elsewhere on Tuesday. I was on the last disc before my vacation so I had a week break before I could finish it.

Elizabeth "Liz" Hall is fifteen years old and she dies in a hit-and-run accident. She ends up in Elsewhere. Elsewhere is the place where all the dead people and pets end up. It is similar to earth, and the individuals must take a ship to get there. The native of Elsewhere get younger as oppose to getting older. When they are 7 days old, they are sent back to Earth to start life over again. When Liz reaches Elsewhere, she meets Betty, her grandmother. Liz cannot comprehend the idea of this place and cannot settle down. It is her story in the world of Elsewhere.

I enjoyed the story very much. Even though it deals with death, it is not as sad as expected. The author is trying to convey the message that one should live life based on quality instead of quantity. It did make me curious about other animals that are not pets. What happens to them? Where do they go? Beside this curiosity, the story also did not leave any loose ends for me. I felt the story of Liz was followed through. The writing style was simple. I give this book 8.5 out of 10 and highly recommend it.

I did finish listening to my book on my way back from work so one more entry before the end of this year.

James Cameron's Avatar

We watched the movie Avatar on Sunday. I think it was one of the most talked about movies of the year. I honestly don't know what I think of the movie. I enjoyed it very much but at the same time, there was something missing or something I didn't like. I just can't figure out what that something is. The digital works is great. I love the world "Pandora" and the native of the planet. The synopsis of the story is as follows (from the website):

"The story’s protagonist, Jake Sully, is an ex-Marine who was wounded and paralyzed from the waist down in combat on Earth. In order to participate in the Avatar program, which will give him a healthy body, Jake agrees to travel to Pandora, a lush rainforest environment filled with incredible life forms – some beautiful, many terrifying. Pandora is also the home to the Na’vi, a humanoid race that lives at what we consider to be a primate level, but they are actually much more evolved than humans. Ten feet tall and blue skinned, the Na’vi live harmoniously within their unspoiled world. But as humans encroach on Pandora in search of valuable minerals, the Na’vi’s very existence is threatened – and their warrior abilities unleashed.

Jake has unwittingly been recruited to become part of this encroachment. Since humans are unable to breathe the air on Pandora, they have created genetically-bred human-Na’vi hybrids known as Avatars. The Avatars are living, breathing bodies in the real world, controlled by a human driver through a technology that links the driver’s mind to the Avatar body. On Pandora, through his Avatar body, Jake can be whole once again. Moreover, he falls in love with a young Na’vi woman, Neytiri, whose beauty is matched by her ferocity in battle.

As Jake slides deeper into becoming one of her clan, he finds himself caught between the military-industrial forces of Earth, and the Na’vi – forcing him to choose sides in an epic battle that will decide the fate of an entire world."

I loved Neytiri's dialogue when she says "You are like a baby" to Jake Sully and I think her character was my favorite.

Overall, this movie was one of the good movies I have seen this year and would love to own it in DVD.

FYI: The origin of the word "avatar" is from Sanskrit and most commonly it has been translated into "incarnation."
One or maybe two more entries and then time to celebrate the end of this year and beginning of the new.

Trip to New Mexico...Loved it :)

I am so behind on blogging. Many things happened in the past week or so that I want to write about. I want to write about my trip to New Mexico, the movie Avatar, and the last book I read. Since the trip was first, this entry is going to be about my trip.

We left for New Mexico on Sunday Dec. 20th. We were to drive 670 miles on that day and I drove 300+ miles at 90+ mph. I loved it. There were very few cars on the road. We got to Carlsbad in the evening, and went to see "Christmas on the Pecos."

Next day we left for Alamogordo and saw White Sand National Monument. It was so pretty. I definitely recommend that place. After which we went to Albuquerque. There we rode the world's longest tramway called "Sandia Peak." It took us 10,000 feet above the ground level and it was so cold. Next day we went around in Albuquerque and saw the old style houses. We also visited Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. We also did some shopping. Then we headed to Santa Fe. In Santa Fe, we saw Loretto Chapel and the Mysterious Staircase and did more shopping. By the time we made it the Canyon Road, it was already dark out so we did not see much there.

Then we spent the night in Espanalo and went to Sipapu Ski Resort next day. It snowed all day. We skied and I know for sure that I cannot ski. The gliding was fun but I couldn't make the turn when needed. We went to our room in the evening and realized that there was no TV and no cell phone signal, so we ended up playing board games and playing cards.

Our last stop was Taos, where we visited a Hanuman Temple. The site itself was so peaceful. There were peacocks there. Then we left in the evening to head home. We stopped in Amarillo. The roads were very icy. Next day the trouble began. We left and drove about 160 miles non-stop. Then we stopped. What we did not know was that it was not safe to travel, as there was a snow storm a day before. The roads were icy and cars were skidding. On the side of the road, we saw cars that we assumed were stuck since the snow storm seeing their condition. During the day, it was slow but okay as the snow was melting. The night came and snow started freezing up. Our car would go left when we tried to make it go right. That was a scary moment. We decided to stay in Bowie, which is about 200 miles from Amarillo. Therefore, we had travelled 200 miles in one day. Finally, Saturday we made it home in the evening. Here are few pictures:

Time to work now...few more posts before end of tomorrow.

Vacation time is almost over :(

We just got back from vacation today...phew...what a vacation. I will write about it in details soon. I have to head back to work on Monday. I want more days off. Oh well! Only five days until New Years! I love celebrations.

I did not have access to a laptop during the past week. Even though I had internet connection on my phone, it still wasn't fast enough. So today when I was catching up on news and events, I found out that Asheem Chakravarty, singer percussionist of Indian Ocean, passed away on Friday. I am very sad to hear this. Indian Ocean is one of my favorite bands and they will never be the same without him. I met the band when we went to the concert last year. Now I just don't know how it is going to be for the band. :-(


Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

I finished the novel and I enjoyed it. Initially, I felt that I will not like the book as I was annoyed with some of the characters. After a while, I started to enjoy it. I liked most of the characters.

The novel is about the Bennet family. There are parents and five daughters: Jane, Elizabeth, Lydia, Kitty, and Mary. The novel's main character is Elizabeth Bennet. Mrs. Bennet is worried about getting her daughters married, so when rich Mr. Bingley come into the town, Mrs. Bennet tries to get Jane married to him. Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley's friend, joins him for the stay and notices Elizabeth. At first, he finds her plain, but slowly starts to fall in love with her. On the other hand, Elizabeth despises him due to his rude remarks at the ball. Another character, Mr. Wickham,  recounts his unpleasant dealings with Mr. Darcy, adding to Elizabeth's dislike. Eventually, Mr. Darcy confesses his love to Elizabeth, who rejects the proposal. As the story progresses, she reconsiders her opinion of him and her affection for him grows.

Even in my short summary of the novel, I have left out many characters and details that are important. This was a love story. The characters that annoyed me slightly were the mother, Mrs. Bennet, and Mr. Collins. I felt both characters were superficial, but seeing the society, I guess that is required. Elizabeth and Jane were definitely my favorite characters and I liked Mr. Darcy. His effort to please Elizabeth after their encounter was a nice gesture on his part. Even to the last disc, I kept wondering if they would get together. I mean, it is expected, but I was curious about how it will take place. In the end, I concluded that most of the Bollywood movies use this novel as the base story, add one or two twists, and add about ten songs.

When I started the book, I thought it is going to rate about 6 on my scale but I have to give it 9 out of 10. I am actually considering giving his 10/10. If I do, I will edit this post.

I look forward to Ms. Austen's other novels. I can't wait to see both Pride and Prejudice movies.

Btw...I got my phone...I am so excited about it..Yay me!!! Now I can access the web and hopefully I will be able to access the email soon. Ciao for to my vacation.

Another Challenge

I can't believe I have decided to do this, after what happened with last two challenges. I do think I can actually finish this. This challenge is hosted by Royal Reviews and I saw it on the blog "Devourer of Books."

Challenge Guidelines:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

--Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section.

2. There are four levels:

-- Curious – Listen to 3 Audio Books.
-- Fascinated – Listen to 6 Audio Books.
-- Addicted – Listen to 12 Audio Books.
-- Obsessed – Listen to 20 Audio Books.

3. Audio books only.

4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010. Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.

I am going in as Obsessed and I think I can do more than 20 audio books. I think I will add a gadget on the side for this when it starts and add books to that list. Can you tell I am excited?
As for the book I am listening to now, I am on the 9th disc (last one) and dying to know what will happen. I am listening to Pride and Prejudice and I have to agree that I took a while to get  into this book, but it is getting better and better by each chapter. Then I will give the audio books a break for a week. I would hate to leave any audio book in the middle when I take my vacation. I think next audio book is going to be either Neil Gaiman, 1984 by George Orwell, Shopoholic 2 by Sophie Kinsella, or A Christmas Carol. I want to start Ayn Rand's third novel, Atlas Shrugged, soon. I think tomorrow will be the day.
No updates on the personal life beside CPA studies and audit world. Both could be better. I finally ordered my phone today and I am getting Samsung Mythic and I am very excited about that. My brother ordered the same phone, so now I am thinking about buying some sort of sticker to distinguish between the phones. I also got data plan so it will be nice to have access to email and internet at all times. I will post pictures when I get the phones but in the meanwhile here is a pic from AT&T's website:

Btw...I am not liking the new Blogspot compose page. There is no spelling check icon and I can't customize the picture size to my liking...urrgghhh..this is irritating!

It is past midnight now and I think it is time to sleep. So should I say Good Night or Good Morning?

Last Week

Last week had some unexpected events.
  • Monday: An inmate escaped in Baytown while they were transferring him from one jail to another. He was wheelchair bound as per the medical records but he managed to tie up the police officers escorting him and ran away on foot. They lockdowned Lee College and Lee High School and the library closed early. An update on that: they caught him YaY!!!

    • I also started the book Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

  • Thursday: A friend of mine got engaged, so I am super excited for her. I can't wait for her wedding. I just love celebrations.

  • Friday: It actually snowed in Baytown. It snowed last year. I think this might become something regular in Baytown. I don't have any pictures to share because I decided to stay inside the house.
Something on the bad note, I give up on the challenges that I took last year: the Countdown Challenge and the Author Challenge. I am sure I have completed at least one of them, but I am too lazy now to go and update those entries. I think I will just write "Abort" on top of the entry.

That's it for now!!! Back to work...

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Last week was very eventful. I took my second CPA exam and finished Her Fearful Symmetry. The FAR-CPA exam was 4 hours long and when I finished, I was so brain-dead. I better pass this exam as I spent over 6 months studying for this exam alone. I should find out by late December.

Secondly I finished Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. This is Mrs. Niffenegger's second book. I love The Time Traveler's Wife; thus, had very very high expectations from this novel. All my expectations came crashing down. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of the book and now I am wondering why did I give it a 4.5 out of 5 on Facebook. I can only think of things that I didn't like.

The summary of the book goes something like this. Elspeth and Edie are twins who have not seen each other for 20+ years. Now Elspeth is dead and has left her estate to Edie's twin daughters, Julia and Valentina. J and V are 21-year old Americans with no degree and no job, and are staying at home. Julia is the dominant one among the two. They both move to London to live in the flat, where they meet with Robert, Elspeth's lover, and Martin, neighbor suffering from OCD. Then they meet Elspeth or should I say Elspeth's ghost, who is stuck in the flat and cannot leave. The story continues on from there.

Here are few things that I didn't like:
  • When I picked up the audio book from the library, I didn't realize that the reader Blanca Amato is the same individual who read Margaret's part in The Thirteenth Tale. Margaret's character was very irritating and I associated Blanca's voice with Margaret; thus, her voice was sort of irritating. But I got over that quickly. However, since The Thirteenth Tale was about messed up twins, and messed up family, I kept expecting that initially only due to Ms. Amato's voice.

  • To me, Robert was a very flat character. He had no will of his own. He did what Elspeth and Valentina asked of him. He couldn't even face the girls. In the end, he did something that he wanted to do, but the readers will have to wait till the very last line (literally) to find that out. Second, Julia was just plain irritating, but I think that is what the author was aiming for. Same goes for Edie. I felt that she could have done more in the book. Did she represent Valentina in the twin's relationship?

  • The **BIG** shock in the book...hmm...I was expecting that. The author gave it away way before the whole situation came about. The readers just have to pay attention to the thoughts and dialogs to figure it out.

  • I also felt that the story wasn't really over. The author left many loose ends as to the final destination of the characters. The good deeds were not rewarded and the bad were not punished.

The character that I did enjoy was Martin and his relationship with Marijke. I looked forward to bits and pieces that included these two characters. I enjoyed Highgate Cemetery and London described in the book.

One more reason why I didn't enjoy it because as it reminded me of a book that I had read in high school called Twins by Caroline B. Cooney. I do have to say that there are not lots of similarities. Overall, I will give this book 7 out of 10.