Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

NEW REVIEW Karen Victoria Smith’s Dark Dealings

Friday, June 1st, 2012

In Karen Victoria Smith’s urban fantasy, [amazon-product text=”Dark Dealings” type=”text”]B007Z9DEEI[/amazon-product], the mystical world overlaps reality through sabotage, murder and magic. Investment banker Micaela O’Brien has spent her entire life trying to forget the day her parent’s plane exploded over northern Dublin leaving her to explain how she was the sole survivor of the tragic event. Left under the care of her grandmother, Micaela quickly learned that she was not like her friends for she had visions and understandings that went well beyond her youth. After years of tamping her visions down, even convincing herself that they may have been caused by something medically wrong, she has learned to live her life without the nightmares and visions that plagued her youth.

That is until the deal of a lifetime brings everything back. Not knowing who to trust, Micaela is left to turn to the one thing she denied herself all these years, her visions.

Smith’s writing is spot on. Her characters are well thought out and developed and she reveals just enough about the players without giving too much of the story away. At first there does seem to be an influx of characters in the beginning of the story but Smith handles the character development well, quickly fleshing out a spot for each of the main characters in the reader’s head. I quickly came to understand and feel for Micaela as she fought for clarity and safety as her visions returned and her world was threatened by an unknown villain.

I would have liked to know more about her parents. They seem to have been highly respected and regarded in her grandmother’s Druid community, but the details about the explosion and how Micaela survived it (and what that meant) were few. It’s mentioned a few times in regards to her gift and legacy but never exactly what happened or why she survived.

I appreciated the different layers of story telling Smith infused into her work. Suspense, action, magic, mystery, all with a dash of romance, created an extremely well written story about a woman discovering her true path in life. Smith’s voice is strong and seasoned and I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the urban fantasy genre.

Yeah, I Pinned That

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

About 98% of readers of this blog find me via social networking. I have to say, I love Twitter; to me it’s the biggest and best social networking site out there. I can connect to people I’ve never met and most of them actually follow me and care about what I have to say.  I have a Facebook account, both personal and professional but not a Google Plus because let’s just face it, it’s just regurgitating what I wrote on Twitter and Facebook.

With that last thought in my mind I was quite skeptical when Pinterest entered the realm of social networking. However, I admit that I was secretly interested. Over the years I’ve been collecting various craft ideas or project ideas for the kids or my husband and the idea of having them all in one place to pull from was pretty exciting.

Even with my increasing curiosity over the site, no one really said, “YOU HAVE TO BE HERE!” and I was already struggling under the weight of being a mom, a writer, a wife, a friend, a trainer, a bus driver, a twitter addict, amongst other things I didn’t think I could handle one more hat.

But I couldn’t deny the buzz that was going around the internet about this little site for long. A very good friend of mine, Janelle Jensen, wrote an in depth blog post about the dangers of the site in terms of copyright infringement. After reading her post I didn’t think I would want to participate in it. However, after some prodding from several other friends (I’m looking at you, Veronica) I thought that the least I could do is go there and make up my own mind about it.

That was two weeks ago. I am now an addict.  (more…)

Bombs, Alarms and Castles… Oh My!

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Well, friends, what can I say… these past two days have been very interesting for us.

I try to keep a very open mind, I do. I hate being judged or perceived to be a certain way based on past actions, or the way I look, sound, etc. But my entire life I have heard that Northern Ireland is a hotbed of social discord and one should be very careful while visiting. I have to admit, I had my hesitations about stopping there.

However, if a highly recommended and regarded tour was taking me through Northern Ireland then it must be safe, right? And it was, however, there is a reason why we have gut instincts and my gut instinct was to not like this place.

Let me first start by saying that Derry can be a very beautiful town and like most places of social unrest it has given birth to inspiring murals, museums, theaters and other cultural benefits. Which is probably the reason why a small bomb placed in the cultural center our first night there was so surprising to me.

We didn’t know what it was, but we heard a large explosion and from the window of our corner room on the sixth floor we could see smoke billow out from an alley way. Eric tried telling me that it was a boiler or something of a non-issue, but I knew it wasn’t. I couldn’t sleep that night amongst the shouts and bantering back and forth between people outside.

The next morning we rode the elevator down to the lobby with a lovely older couple who were checking out. The woman asked us if we heard the explosion last night. She was the one that informed us what it was.

“Oh, but don’t worry, dearie, it was just a squib, nothing to be worried about now.”

Oh, just a squib. Psh. That’s nothing.

It wasn’t until later that Eric explained the a “squib” is a small bomb. Well isn’t that nice. Just a squib, then.


The Ring of… Fog

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

On today’s itinerary we tackled the Ring of Kerry, “Ireland’s most popular scenic drive. It takes in panoramas of rugged coastline, tall mountains, and pristine lakes.” (Ireland Day by Day, p264) You want to know what we saw? Fog.

View from Glenbaigh beach. See those clouds? Yeah, that's were we went driving. But we touched this side of the Atlantic Ocean, so that was pretty neat. 🙂

We did manage to take in some of the sites of Kerry, including the Kerry Cliffs; not as popular as the Cliffs of Mohr (which we hit tomorrow) but breath-taking all the same.

The Kerry Cliffs - You're supposed to be able to see Puffin Island, the Skellig islands, and the beehive cells (the Monks homes on the coast)

Just a tad bit windy up on the cliffs











After fighting the winds and getting back to the car I thought it was about time for me to take the wheel. Now, obviously I am sitting here typing this so I’m here and I doubt jail would allow me time to blog, so you can guess everyone came out of the experience alive and well. Even the sheep.


I have to say, other than the bridge incident I did pretty well. What bridge incident, you ask? I’ll save that story for another time. 😉 (more…)

Guinness, Anyone?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Well, hello good friends! It’s almost 11pm here and I’m just about to get on skype to talk with my girls back home, but before I do I needed to catch you up on my first day in Ireland. We arrived at Dublin Airport at 6:31am, which is not terribly early, however when you factor in that our flight left Newark at 7pm the previous evening and we time traveled five hours ahead, it was pretty rough for me. Somehow I got into a routine of every 30 minutes changing my position in my seat in fruitless attempt to find comfort. You can imagine my elation when with an hour left in the flight I realized that I sat in every combination possible except for just sitting there and crossing my legs! Seriously people, it’s the little things for me and sitting in that position, first one leg crossed, then the other, kept me sane for that last hour.

Off the plane and ready... for bed. Just kidding. We're off to our hotel.

We’re doing a self-tour around the beautiful country of Ireland arranged by CIE Tours. Our first two nights are spent in Dublin in the Davenport Hotel. Today we were lucky enough to be able to check in when we arrived in the morning. After a quick cat nap, we hopped on the “Hop On – Hop Off” bus, a tour that takes you around the city of Dublin and allows you to get off at different stops, explore, then get back on at your choosing.

Davenport Hotel

Some of our stops on the tour…

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Inscription: This stone was found 15th June 1901 six feet below the surface of the traditional site of the St. Patrick's Well


















St. James Gate for a Guinness Tour

Getting ready to go into the Guinness Storehouse 🙂


My Goodness! My Guinness!










I couldn’t believe how smooth Guinness is over here. I really don’t know if I’ll be able to drink Guinness back at home after this… ok, I know, that’s a stretch, but still, I’m telling ya folks, it’s like drinking silk. At one of the cafe’s in the Guinness Storehouse we drank the water that is used to make the beer and that was the softest water I’ve ever had. I’m not sure if you can use “soft” to describe water, but really, I can’t describe it any other way.

For dinner we ate O’Neill’s a true, traditional Irish pub. It was quite an experience since we had no idea what the hell we were doing. Used to the American way of dining of walking in and being seated, we meandered around three floors trying to figure out where do we sit and where everyone was getting the food. We couldn’t see any waiters or waitresses but food was appearing and drinks were disappearing.


Mustering up some courage we jumped in a line and low and behold we ordered food and were served. Now that we had our food, we needed to find a place to sit. Which was no easy matter. Balancing an overflowing Irish stew with an overflowing Guinness we did our best not to spill everything. There were clusters of tables in the corner, one random table with two small stools by the stairs, a row of chairs by the bar; it was nerve-wracking and exciting and relaxing all at once. The Irish music streaming down the steps lulled our tense traveling nerves and encouraged us to just sit down and relax, and we did.

Mmmm, Irish Beef Stew with Guinness and a Guinness. (Seeing a pattern here, folks?)

So, that was our first day, now it is way past my bed time (I talked to the girls in between trying to upload these pictures!) so I’ll be going to bed now. Tomorrow we’ll be visiting a church with crypts, a gaol and we’re doing a ghost tour around Dublin at night! Hope to see you tomorrow night!

A Dream Vacation

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Hello friends!

Tomorrow night I leave for a trip of a lifetime! That’s right, ladies and gents, my dream of visiting Ireland is about to come true. For 11 nights I’ll be traveling the Emerald Isle’s rolling hills taking in the sights, the sounds, and the accents (sigh). I’m just a tad bit excited, if you haven’t guessed.

Cabra Castle - one of the hotels we'll be staying in.

There is something about Ireland that as soon as almost anyone hears that you’re visiting their eyes light up and there’s just a wee bit of jealousy underlining their well wishes. And who can blame them? Ireland is a place of magic, of inspiration, two things I’m in desperate need of.

I talked Eric into getting me a small data package for my phone; that way I’ll be able to tweet a little each day about my adventures. In addition to that my hope is to blog some posts, with pictures, about my journey around Eire.

My trip starts and ends in Dublin with stops in Cork, Killarney, Galway, Derry and Kingscourt and I’d love you’d come with me! So, stop by sometime within the next two days for my first post. Our flight leaves Newark at 7pm Tuesday night and we get in around 7am Ireland time on Wednesday. (They are five hours ahead of EST.) We can’t check into our hotel until 1pm so I’m not sure when I’ll have internet access to update you to my schedule. But once things get settled and I get a feel for our itinerary I’ll let you guys know. 😉

So until then, have a lovely evening. I need to get things settled on the Writing on the Rocks front before I leave, and I still have some packing to do. But fear not, friends! I have plenty of wine to accompany me through the night. 🙂

What Do Non-Irish People Do On St. Patrick’s Day?

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

We drink, duh.

Before I continue with my post you’re probably a little confused about the above statement in reference to the title. You’re most likely thinking, “She’s not Irish? But she has red hair?” And a temper so watch it.

No, ladies and gentlemen, I’m not Irish, there is no Irish in me no matter how red my hair gets. Growing up I almost started hating this holiday because people would look at me and just question how a “sweet little red head like me isn’t out celebrating her nation’s holiday.”

Ok, one, I’m American, my nation’s holiday is July 4th. Second, there are more redheads born in Scotland than any other place in the world. And that people, is where some of my heritage lies. Actually, I’m more Polish than anything. (Halupkis anyone? Pierogies? No? Good, more for me.)

However, I just learned some good news today while reading all the articles published about Ireland, the Irish and this holiday that gives us an excuse to drink. (Yeah, I know, who needs an excuse to drink? Psh.)

Today I learned that the patron Saint of Ireland, the man who started it all, St. Patrick is actually…are you ready? He was Scottish. You heard me. Now put down your green beer and listen.

He was born in the year 387 in Kilpatrick, Scotland. He was kidnapped by Irish raiders and was forced to be a shepherd. His name was Maewyn Succat (have fun pronouncing that one) until it was changed to Patricius, or Patrick, when he entered the church.

So, there you have it. I feel vindicated. I feel like I can now enjoy this holiday like everybody else. I know you’re probably thinking that there are millions of non-Irish people out there pretending to be Irish and wearing those silly little “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” buttons, but I could never do it. I felt like a fraud.

But no longer! I will no longer pretend to be something I’m not, even though I never would, but still, not the point. What is the point you ask? I honestly have no idea. I saw that bit of information, got excited and decided to post.

I will say that no matter what your heritage is, where you come from or where you live, today is the day where we all get the chance to drink green beer (which to me is just weird) and say stupid things about getting lucky (which has its moments).

Even before I knew what the land of my great grandmother played in the raising of the great St. Patrick I celebrated the only way I knew how. I drank. (Of course, I didn’t start this type of celebration until I was of age. cough)

So here is the way Sparky and I will be celebrating tonight. For those of you who follow me on Twitter you’ll probably note that we celebrated this past Saturday and again last night after we attended a Guinness beer dinner. And before you go on thinking that I’m talking about something weird and kinky, I’m not.

Yes, its the Irish Car Bomb (I didn’t name it so don’t fill my comment section about Irish history and whatnot) Its a half a pint of Guinness, in which you drop a shot glass that contains half Jameson whiskey and half Bailey’s Irish Cream. Drop the shot glass in the pint and chug. Don’t take your time, the contents of the shot glass are known to curdle. Admit it, before that last sentence you were interested. Honestly, it doesn’t curdle instantly, just if you let it sit. Just saying.

So, I bid you farewell and please be careful and responsible whether your celebrations include the drink above or anything else of the Irish variety.

I’ll leave you with an Irish proverb sent to Sparky from a coworker and friend, who, with the last name of O’Hara, is very Irish, seriously.

In life, there are only two things to worry about— Either you are well or you are sick. If you are well, there is nothing to worry about, But if you are sick, there are only two things to worry about— Either you will get well or you will die. If you get well, there is nothing to worry about, But if you die, there are only two things to worry about— Either you will go to heaven or hell. If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about. And if you go to hell, you’ll be so busy shaking hands with all your friends You won’t have time to worry!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig

(Happy St. Patrick’s Day)