27 June 2011

Sky Lantern

We belatedly celebrated the solstice and the end of my exams the other night with one of these sky lanterns. They are cool, rising like miniature hot air balloons. Well, maybe not too miniature, this one was pretty big! They are cheap too, and relatively easy to light and send off. Ours rose fast, even on a night with little wind, so it's probably best to let them off on a windless evening.

I'm currently in the process of moving my WordPress photography blog over to blogger. It's a lot of work, but hopefully when I'm finished it will end up many times easier to navigate (for me and for readers).
We will be heading down to Cork and Kerry and the Millcove Gallery for the Poets Meet Painters award ceremony/publication launch on the 30th of July. We are hoping to spend a week down there hiking in the National Park and exploring the area.

23 June 2011

'Siberia' Book Review

'Siberia,' by Ann Halam, is an intriguing book. It is set in the future, and it only took me until the end of the book to realise that I had read Halam before, in the equally thrilling 'Dr Franklin's Island.' One of the things that I like most about her books is that, though they show a bleak and sometimes depressing world, they end rather happily. Enough to make the reader believe there is hope for the world she has created.
From the blurb: When Rosita was tiny...she and her mama had to go and live in an ugly place...a prison camp...she didn't understand her mama's magic...She only knew she had to keep the secret until Mama said it was time to start on the great journey...But once Rosita grew up to be a tough, cynical girl called Sloe...Mama was gone. Sloe had to make the journey alone...Sloe becomes a heroine, equal to anything, in this dazzling blend of science, adventure, and fairy tale.
I really enjoyed reading this book.  Like the blurb says, it is a mix of science, adventure, and fairy tale. Each element is warped and rearranged to fit with the others but they are no less pure for that. The world as Halam created it was spectacular. I could see everything as though it was before me, and the people fit cleanly into it. It might be true that people will easier believe a big lie than a small one, and that is true here. How odd this book seems, though no less odd than the other I read, but it is...believable. Sloe's love for the tiny animals is real and her adventures as she tries to make it back to her mother are difficult and trying. The other characters are vibrant. I think this was a great book. In fact, I might recommend it on the strength of the note at the end alone.
Halam writes:
The greatest seedbank in the world is held in Lenigrad....In the Second World War...half a million people starved, but the curators of the seedbank barricaded themselves in, and defended their stocks - the hope of the future - from the starving citizens. When Allied soldiers finally entered the facility, they found the emciated bodies of the botanist lying beside full sacks of potatoes, maize and wheat, a priceless genetic legacy for which they had given their lives. This is the story that gave me the idea for Sloe and her adventures...The Siberia I'm talking about in this story is not a place. Siberia is a sate of mind.

I give it:

Plot: *****
Characters: *****
Voice: *****
Originality*****(is six possible here?)
Dialogue: ****

Which means... five stars

Amazon listing here.

22 June 2011


I "learned" a new word today. I was watching a video and the guy in it said, as he tried to sound eloquent and all-knowledgeable, and I quote: 'whether real or fictitional.'
Fictitional. Hmmm.  I almost choked on my drink. When I researched it, it seems that it was first coined by Nicholas Wright, a British dramatist. There are many renowned writers who coined words, so maybe fictitional will make an appearance in a dictionary someday soon.
Also, did you know that the definition of 'fortuitous' is simply 'happening by accident or chance,' and doesn't really mean 'by fortunate accident or chance'. However, since it has been "misused" since the 1920s, surely by now it has assumed a new definition?

21 June 2011

Summer Solstice

I feels odd, it being the 21st June already. The longest daylight of the year, and it seems as though it should be the middle of summer when it arrives. Normally it feels that way, but not this year. Have you seen the smart TV ad where they put screens over the windows of the train? The song in it is beautiful and having discovered the artist, have been listening to her music over the past few days. There seem to be a lot of "fan snobs" who get really annoyed at people for discovering new musicians from commercials. That is how I have found almost all of my favourite singers and bands though. I think anything that gets the artist known to more people is a good thing.

Anyway, I give you a lovely little song by the same artist, Vashti Bunyan, perfect for today.

20 June 2011

I'm Back

I am just beginning to relax into the warm bath of summer. Finally free of exam stress and worries, and my creativity is blooming again at long last. Last Friday I threw out (by that I mean recycled) three years' worth of copies and pages and school-related things I no longer require. It was wonderfully liberating. Best of all, I found amongst them so many scribbled pages of words and ideas I had long forgotten. It was a little sad to see how much I used to write, how often I used to just let the ideas flow and forget about making sense and having a plot. But then, now I have so much free time to fill with writing.
Slovenia was absolutely amazing. I only spent about two days there (one full day and two halves), but we did so much, I had such a great time. I cannot express how brilliant it was. Well, I suppose I could try. We ate at a farmhouse and the food was the best I had ever had, and home-made apple juice and meat reared there and lettuce grown there and tomatoes that tasted of sun. And the caves we visited in the only other karst region of the world besides Ireland. And flying over the Adriatic so clear, even from 30,000 feet, and the Alps dappled in snow and wind farms in the Channel and English farmhouses and stepping out into London sunshine (sort of). And driving through Italy and weather so warm while storms raged at home and sitting out under a balcony draped in vines sipping cold water. And the music festival where they played traditional songs and even the teenagers waltzed. Wow. I cannot wait until we go back (sometime...)