Jan 29, 2011

Ireland Travel Blog

P.S I Love Ireland!

Last November, I was fortunate enough to visit my good friend John Smith (seriously, that’s his REAL name) in his native land, Ireland. Here you will find a summary of my Ireland adventures, some travel/destination tips, along with some of my own suggestions that I wish someone would have told me before my voyage! :) If you have any questions you'd like to ask, please don't hesitate- email me; lovelygetaway@gmail.com

P.S- Please keep in mind that my trip was in November. All the prices you see here are in Euro, converted to US$. The exchange rate changes almost daily so make sure and check up on it before your trip! I usually use the XE Currency Converter online website, its easy & fast :)

Look what I found posted on John's fridge :) haha!
John's neighborhood

Ireland was beautiful! Not to mention very very green and cold! Upon my arrival at the DUB airport, John picked me up and we headed straight for home, eh his home, in Dundalk, County Louth (which is about an hour away from Dublin). I was exhausted from my previous travels so it was very nice to come home to an actual house, and not a hotel. After getting my good dose of 8 hours of sleep, we decided on taking the city bus back to Dublin to check out some tourist and historical sites.

Dublin :)
Downtown Dublin

The city bus dropped us off in downtown Dublin, we walked down to the center of Dublin and saw the main O'Connell Bridge and the Spire; the Spire is huge! It was made for the new millennium (although it was built in 2003) and costs 3 million euros to clean it a year. Its 120 meters tall and is the biggest sculpture in the world. To be honest, it wasn't really that exciting and it didn't fit in with the buildings around it. But to the people of Dublin, it’s sort of their own personal landmark.

After looking around for a bit, we easily spotted one of those double deck tourist buses and we hopped on. I must say, this is a MUST for every Dublin tourist. It's the easiest, most convinent way to travel around the city! The tour started off at the Dublin Castle grounds, where we were told about the almost successful rebellion. On the tour we passed Johnathan Swift's (author of the "Modest Proposal") childhood house on our way to Christ Church Cathedral, which was built in the year 1030. Christ Church Cathedral has the 2nd largest crypt in the world and it is where Strongbow is buried. We also saw where U2 was discovered by Mr. Guinness and the hotel across the street that Bono owns (woo whoo! I LOVE U2!)

Along the river, we saw the Ha'Penny Bridge. In the older days, people were required to pay a 1 cent fine for crossing the bridge. Soon they built more bridges close to the Ha'Penny Bridge and everyone avoided it so they wouldn't have to pay the fine. If the city were to still charge a penny for crossing the bridge, it would take care of Ireland's debt within a week. Crazy, huh? Along the tour we also went through Trinity College, where in 1904, it became the first college in Ireland to allow women to study. Apparently, there is an old law that says anyone could shoot a bow and arrow at a Catholic inside the college grounds and not be arrested. Trinity College never removed the law, so it’s still in place! Later we went to see the outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Jameson Distillery. Finally our tour ended at the Guinness brewery house and we had to visit this famous place :)

Guiness Brewary House

Welcome to the Guinness Brewery House!

As a first time traveler to Ireland, everyone (well most people) told me that I had to visit the Guinness Storehouse tour. Well let me tell you this, I did visit and it was a great site and very informative, but I must admit, I was a bit disappointed.

The tour cost 15 Euros, which works out to about $25 US dollars, and all you do is walk about looking at videos and reading about the history of Guinness. I am sure I could go to there website or Wikipedia and read all of the same things online. But at the same time, it was very interesting having everything come to life before your very eyes. 
There are seven floors of an old and renovated brewery and basically a trip through what the process involved in making Guinness. I found this interesting and did learn stuff that I didn’t know such as where Guinness was first brewed back in the day. I will say that the smell in the place is just fantastic the aroma was relaxing. There are quite a few very good displays throughout the building and a lot of history for anyone who cares for the nostalgic side :)haha! And to top it off, especially for the distant traveler and Guinness drinker, you get to pour your own pint of “de black stuff” and try to get the shamrock design in the foam. We headed up to the Gravity Bar (on the top floor, it has a nice view of the city) for a view and some peace/quiet. Cant comment on any food prices, we didn’t eat. All in all I did enjoy my visit, it was a good piece of History- but I wouldn't recommend it.

Temple Bar Area
Another famous place I got to visit was Temple Bar. Temple Bar is a very popular area, especially at night. We wanted to grab a drink at one of the pubs, and maybe sit down to watch a Fútbol (soccer) game, but the place was packed. Also, what I didn't know about Ireland before was that Ireland is extremely expensive! My one cider was seven euros ($10). So instead we just hung out towards the back for a bit, listened to an Irish band playing in the pub, then left. Afterwards we hopped back on the city bus back home to Dundalk. At this time, we were literally starving so we decided on getting some Chinese food to-go. I don’t know why, but Chinese food in Ireland is DELICIOUS! It really is addicting, you must try it if you ever visit. John and his family took very good care of me...feeding me...and I'm slowly porking me up, but I've been walking and talking my calories off. I love my metabolism :) haha!

Dundalk <3
The next morning we had plans to go into Belfast, which is in Northern Ireland. If you’re wondering what kind of weather I got, well it was pissing rain some nights and others the sun came out, but it was cold. Everyone made fun of me for being cold...but it was freaking freezing! So instead of heading up North, we decided to take a day to relax and visit some of John’s family. I met the millions of John’s cousins that make up Dundalk, I exaggerate not! He’s probably related to half the city population.... his family is wicked awesome and his little four year old nephew, also named John, is adorable (he'll be quite the ladies’ man when he grows up). Louise (John’s sister) was kind enough to invite us over for dinner and cook a delicious meal. I swear, in Ireland its Thanksgiving everyday; mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, corn… the list goes on! When people ask me, “What’s a typical Irish dish?” I usually respond, “Whatever you have for Thanksgiving dinner, only they have it daily.”

While in Dandalk I did get to visit “The Eight Wonder of the World”, Magic Hill. We visited at night and I must say it is very intriguing yet, creepy. You park at the bottom of the hill, put your car in neutral and turn it off completely. Your car will literally move up the hill, by itself. John and his cousin, Hami, tried explaining the dynamics about how this happens, but I was too busy screaming, “Holy Jesus! We’re moving! Ahhh! We’re actually climbing the Magic Hill”, so I didn’t pay much attention to what they were saying. Yes, I was a bit too excited, and just so you know I was totally messing about it being the 8th wonder… haha :)

The Irish Sea & Corcomroe Abbey

Doesn't it look peaceful?
The next morning, we drove out to some see some Irish countryside and let me tell you, it was gorgeous! It was exactly how I pictured Ireland as. We traveled to see Corcomroe Abbey in Ballyvaughan. We took tons of pictures there, because the abbey was so pretty! It dated back to the early 12th century. We then drove into the Burren. This hilly area was once completely under water and is now covered in limestone rock. This is also the area where the first Stone Age people settled. Many fossils, wildlife, plants and of course, sheep are found here. In the Barren there is a 5,000 year old tomb called Poulnabrone dolmen. We had a quick lunch in Kilfenora and passed through the village of Lisdoonvarna. Every year the city holds Europe's largest singles festival and up to 60,000 people come to the festival.
Sadly, like any trip, my Ireland adventures came to an end. John dropped me off at the airport for my flight back to Roma. There I would meet up with a friend to continue with our traveling. Talk about exhausting, huh? But let me tell you, it was well worth it!

Overall though, I think Ireland was a success! I hope you like the pictures.

Jan 27, 2011

Review: Hex Hall

Title: Hex Hall (Hex Hall #1)
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 323
Challenge: None

My Rating:

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. -summary from goodreads.com

Sophie is a witch. Her father’s a warlock and her mom's human. Sophie’s mom has made an effort to keep Sophie in the “regular world”; going to regular schools, and living like a regular human girl. But when Sophie blows her cover yet again, she gets sentenced to Hecate Hall (better known as Hex hall).

Sophie is hilarious! Her witty sarcastic attitude had me laughing throughout the whole novel. I love the fact that she goes out of her way to help others and be there for those in need. She’s a take charge character and I admired that about her. The reader is immediately brought into the story, which is amazing! The plot itself is evenly spread throughout the book instead of having the main action crammed into the last few pages. Of course, I don't mind that Hawkins saved a few secrets and betrayals for the end, because she did it in a way that flows and it's part of what makes this story so interesting.

The friendships, the feuds, the hopeless crushes; all of it felt very real and believable. Ms. Hawkins captures and portrays the shifting allegiances and the dog-eat-dog mentality of high school very well! Sophie’s friendship/relationship with Archer Cross was brilliant. But I need answers! I refuse to believe Archer is the villain! I REFUSE!

Overall, Hex Hall is an entertaining, and solid novel. It’s weird to think this is Ms. Hawkin’s debut; she’s a natural storyteller. You know that expression many use, “I’d sell my soul for….”? Well, I don’t know about selling my soul, but I’d probably trade my brother and/or sister any day just to get my hands on Demonglass! I need to know what adventures are in store for Sophie, Jenna and Archer next :)

Book bloggler hop (4) & Follow Friday (3)

Follow Friday is hosted by Rachel of Parajunkee's View & Blog hop is hosted by Crazy for books! This is an awesome way to talk a bit about yourself and make some new friends along the way! 
Follow Friday! :)
This week's question is:

What is/was your favorite subject in school?
-Thank goodness this week's question is easy (well at least for me). Personally, when I was in highschool I LOVED art classes, especially Ceramics. I took 3 years worth of Ceramins :) I don't really know why, I guess I enjoy having a good time and at the same time getting a bit messy!

Book Blog Hop! :)

This week's question is: 
"What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011? Why are you anticipating that book?" 
-Demonglass! I am dying to read this book! Hex Hall was amazing! I am in love with Rachel Hawkin's writing.... She just might be my new fav author ;)

Alex Pettyfer offered the role of Jace wayland? OMG! Please excuse me while I run out of my work office to scream my lungs out in ecstasy!

If you've read my review of book one of The Mortal Instruments, you'll know that I am completely in love with Jace Wayland! To be honest, when I heard they were making the books into movies, I was a bit hesitant... I didn't think anyone would be fit to play the role of Jace, but after reading this article, I think I might just "Midnight" the movie after all :)haha!

Taken from http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/01/alex_pettyfer_offered_another.html
Attention, out-of-touch parents! If you want to plan ahead on knowing your tween and teen daughters' movie crushes, start reading up on Alex Pettyfer. Not only is the British model turned actor about to appear in next month's DreamWorks/Touchstone adaptation of the James Frey and Jobie Hughes young-adult sci-fi novel I Am Number Four, but Vulture hears that the 20-year-old model-actor also has the offer to star in another YA-franchise coming to the big screen: Screen Gems’ adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. In fact, insiders tell us that Screen Gems chief Clint Culpepper feels so strongly about casting Pettyfer in the supernatural love story that he only wants to green-light the film if he can land the actor. Negotiations are expected to begin late this week, and a formal announcement could come as early as next.
For the uninitiated (translation: old), Clare's series is about a female teen who falls in with a tribe of "Shadowhunters" who track down and kill demons loose on the streets of New York City. The first installment, City of Bones, quickly became a best seller when it was released in 2007, and it’s easy to see why: The books are basically Twilight with demons instead of vampires. Headstrong teen girl as main character? Check! Hot-guy love interest kept at bay by a Terrible Secret? Check! Best guy friend secretly pining in the wings? Check!

A breakdown of the character Pettyfer has been offered, the sarcastic Shadowhunter Jace Wayland, calls for a heavily inked-up teen with strange symbols all over his rippling, muscular body. Fortunately, Pettyfer already has seven tats, including a Celtic cross on his chest, Arabic script on the inside of his right arm, and Chinese logograms on his lower waist; it's casting Kismet! As for the heroine, Clary Fray, last month Mortal Instruments director Scott Charles Stewart (Priest) cast 21-year-old starlet Lily Collins (who was in Priest, as well as The Blind Side). Insiders familiar with the situation say that Screen Gems now wants to polish its script a bit, but plans to start shooting the film in March, provided a deal can be made with Pettyfer.

So what do you guys think? Will Alex Pettyfer pull it off? :) Let me know!

Jan 26, 2011

Review: Unearthly

Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 435
Challenge: Debut Author 2011

My Rating:

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy. Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side. As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny? -summary from goodreads.com

In this story we follow Clara, who is one-fourth angel blood and now that she is 16, she receives a “purpose” in a form of a futuristic vision, which will help her fulfill her earthly purpose. Her visions point her to a certain boy in a burning forest. Later on she meets this mysterious boy; Christian, and tries to befriend him in hopes of one day rescuing him from the fire.

It was very nice for a change, to read a book for the protagonist knew what she was. Clara knows she’s an angel; it’s not something that was suddenly announced to her one night. While I was very intrigued by the background of the Nephilim, one of the complaints I have about Unearthly was that there are entirely too many things left unexplained, questions unanswered, which, to me, left too many holes in the plot. I understand that the reader learns things at the same time as Clara does, but I find it hard to believe that she is able to accept such incredible things with barely any explanation as to what is going on or why. It really bugged me that Clara's mother was always super secretive and never gave Clara any answers to the questions she asked.

Being the hopeless romantic that I am, my favorite part of Unearthly was the romance. It's not at all what I expected, but it's the surprising direction it takes that makes it so memorable. There's a genuine tenderness that grows between Clara and Tucker that you can’t help but love it. Half way through the book, when Christian all of a sudden comes back into Clara’s life, I found myself thinking, “Oh yeah… this story is supposed to be about Christian, not Tucker.” I loved reading how Clara and Tucker’s friendship grew into something more, that I completely forgot about Christian and Clara’s purpose. In the beginning, I really liked Christian. I was rooting for Clara, in hopes that she would get to keep Christian to herself, but after what happened at the dance, I was like, "oh hell no!"

*Slight spoilers* The only thing that didn’t go to well, personally, was the ending. One scene that really bugged me was when Clara and Christian finally meet up at the fire. To be honest, their whole conversation felt rushed and left a lot of things unexplained. I was like, "That's it?! 'I love Tucker and, oh yeah, don't you love Kay'?" ugh. but I guess that will work out cause there will be more books in this series.

Overall, I think Unearthly is a fun, romantic read! It's a pretty awesome debut by Mrs. Cynthia Hand... Here’s to hoping the sequel picks up right were Unearthly left off :)

Jan 24, 2011

Review: The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3)

Title: The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 384
Challenge: YA Series Challenge

My Rating:

My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it. This time, there will be no turning back. -summary from goodreads.com

Review: *Warning: Ending Spoilers! Read at your own risk!*

Meghan is my new favorite heroine :) You see her mature so much throughout this book, big difference from her whinny attitude in beginning of book 2.  She sacrifices so much and risks everything to help those she loves. She has her heart set on Ash, and hopes to keep Puck around as a friend. Oh my… Puck! I will always love Puck. This book changes nothing; he is still hilarious, loyal, charming and caring. I will admit, you can’t help but fall in love with Ash… darn him and his chivalry. Gosh, he is just plain out amazing.

I would give this book 4.5 hearts... I loved it, but there was one thing that really bothered me; the ending (I need proper closure :) haha!). Meghan saves both the Iron realm and the Nevernever, but come on… why can’t she keep Ash? I mean I know I’m not his biggest fan, but poor guy! After everything he's done, he deserves to be happy! That stupid curse has haunted him his whole life and now it applies to his relationship to Meghan as well? Aye ya aye! I know the ending is set up for the new spin-off book Mrs. Kagawa is doing, but why couldn’t Meghan have talked to him one last time? During the epilogue, I was praying Ash would come out of the shadows, and tell Meghan that he’s planning on keeping his promise… but he didn’t. My question is WHY!? Such torture!... Agghh! My heart feels for Meghan, its broken, just like hers. I cannot wait to read about Ash and Puck's new adventures in The Iron Knight. Hopefully this book will finally give Meghan her happily ever after :)

Overall, The Iron Queen is an action packed, suspense and romanced filled read... it's a beautiful closing book for this wonderful series. You will not be able to put it down, it will leave you craving for more! If you've read both The Iron King and Daughter, trust me when I say, you don't want to miss this book!

Jan 23, 2011

In My Mailbox #1

Woo whooo! My very FIRST IMM and I decided to do a vlog! Please, I beg you to have mercy.... I know I probably look super tired and I probably sound like a rambling 10 year old... I'm not used to talking to my laptop :)haha! So without further ado... Here is my very first IMM post! Let me know what you think!

For more info on IMM or to sign up/post your link, 
visit Kristi over at The Story Siren.

For Review:
1. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
2. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
3. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

2. Keys to the Repository by Melissa de la Cruz

Bought for my own pleasure: 

What did you get in your mailbox? :)
Share your links!

Jan 22, 2011

The Hunger Games Movie Adaptation

I don't know if you guys have heard but it sounds like Liam Hemsworth (recently seen in the movie The Last Song) is interested in playing Peeta Mellmark in the upcoming film adaptation of The Hunger Games.

(Click Here to read the article and watch his interview)

I don't know about you guys, but being a TEAM PEETA girl myself, I just don't see him as Peeta :\ Maybe its because he's a bit too big (physical wise) or maybe because I haven't seen enough of his acting to see if he could pull it off!.... Call me crazy, but I imagine someone more gentle looking, someone like Lucas Till :)

doesn't he have a Peeta vibe going on? :) haha!

 Yes, I know. I'm weird and I probably watch to many Disney movies :) But tell me, who would you prefer? Do you think Liam Hemsworth ready to take on the part of Peeta and be Panem's hero alongside Katniss?! Let me know :)