Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Through the Burren to Clifden

This is the fourth installment in the Ireland Series about studying abroad in Galway, Ireland. Read Part I here.

THERE’S NOTHING like hitching a bus ride through the Burren for a spur-of-the-moment weekend getaway and checking out small-town Clifden, which just happens to be throwing an arts festival. This sleepy village is about an hour to the northwest of Galway along the coast. After absorbing the natural limestone beauty of the Burren countryside, a group of us hopped off in Clifden to stay a couple nights.

We booked a room at the Clifden Town Hostel directly on Market Street, at which the six of us had our own private room. The hostel staff set us up with maps to nearby attractions, such as the Errislannan Riding Centre & Connemara Pony Stud, as well as Clifden Castle.

Pony Riding

Most people would scoff at riding a pony, but I assure you: they are as spirited as their bigger brethren. My parents enrolled me in a horseback riding camp when I was little, and I remember being upset because everyone else in the class got a horse except for me—I got a fat white pony. However, when they had the end-of-camp races, my little pony broke into a gallop the moment a tall mare tried to pass her. Yeah, I wasn’t really in charge of the horse.

 However, I’ve always sought out horseback riding opportunities whenever I can, and this was a no-brainer. The Errislannan Manor Riding Centre offers horseback rides along the rugged emerald coastal cliffs of Clifden Bay, which then dip down to a trek across the sand. The more comfortable riders could even take their steed for a dip in the ocean—an ultimate dream of mine! The stables had beautiful grey-duns, white and flea-bitten grey mares, and chestnut geldings, Connemara ponies all who looked right at home along the mist-shrouded green coast.  

My horse was named Barnaby, a big brown bloke with a white mark on his forehead. He mostly ambled along and followed the pony ahead of him; this trail was nothing new to him. Several times I had to scold him for stopping to eat saplings, but he was a good reliable horse. When we got to the beach and the guide let the experienced riders gallop, Barnaby showed off his stuff with an exhilarating canter across the damp sand. Then came the ride through the ocean with the surf curling up around his knees—fun! We meandered our way back to the stables, the ride taking around 3 hours for 70 euros.

Clifden Castle

This old manor ruin is hidden deep in the countryside to the west of Clifden, overlooking Clifden Bay. This was before Smartphones so it took us a while to find it! We ended up going on a little adventure of our own, through pastures where sheep and horses grazed, over and under barbed wire fences. Several times we feared we were trespassing; other times we were ambushed by a herd of beautiful gray mares and colts who assumed we were bringing them dinner.

The sky darkened late afternoon. We were getting worried about finding the castle, when one of us spotted a dilapidated courtyard. We followed it around to behold an ivy-clad fortress spearing the mists. All of us took shelter inside the ruins just in time; the skies opened up and rain came pelting down. We explored the castle until the showers passed and then took a nice leisurely stroll back to Clifden for dinner—this time along the designated path.

Clifden Arts Festival

Our last night in Clifden took us by surprise, as festivities commenced for Ireland’s longest running community arts festival. And boy, did they! The 10-day festival launched off with artistic showcases, street performers, parades, and musical sets in the pubs, topped off by a surprising fireworks display. This country town hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, such as the Arts Festival in September and the Traditional Music Festival in April. As I watched the fireworks cascade overhead while enjoying a pint and some delicious clam chowder, I knew we couldn’t have accidentally picked a better weekend to visit.

To be continued here.

Disclaimer: the above is presented as fiction, not fact.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 2014 Book Review: The Chaos of Stars


By Kiersten White

~Book Review~

 Warning! Spoilers Alert!

THE AUTHOR of the Paranormalcy Series has been on my radar for a while now, but I’ve taken a break from reading vampire/werewolf/fey books. However, The Chaos of Stars is a contemporary take on Egyptian mythology, which let’s be honest, most of what I know comes from Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles. The tantalizing myths he introduced involving the ambitious likes of Isis, the powerful Ra, and the mysterious Anubis immediately made me eager to read more. Fellow fantasy author Colleen Houck (Tiger’s Curse books) is also planning a paranormal romance series around Egyptian mythology, but if it’s anything like White’s Chaos, I’ll be sorely disappointed. I found myself bored and skimming through the majority of the novel. It read like a children’s book, but it lacked the magic of Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter—heck, I’m even entertained by Christopher Paolini’s Eragon (the first book. Just the first book).

Isadora is godly royalty. She is none other than the daughter of Isis and Osiris, and grows up surrounded by an immortal family. Pretty awesome, huh? Except for one thing—that immortality bit doesn’t extend to her. She will grow old and die like the rest of us mere mortals. As much as her parents love her, she can’t feel their sincerity since she is one in a long line of Isis’s deceased mortal children. So when she discovers that her mother is yet again pregnant, it isn’t hard to see why Isadora doesn’t jump for joy. Alienated from her ancient Egyptian family, Isadora decides to seek out her own destiny…in San Diego.

In San Diego, Isadora lives with her mother’s brother Sirus. Her intimate knowledge of Egyptian artifacts makes her an ideal candidate to work at the local museum. After Isadora lands in San Diego, the action slows to a crawl. She makes some friends, including Standard Hottie Model #NiceGuy, Ry, and contemplates room decoration and dying her hair purple. Danger lurks in the background, but I’d completely forgotten it until the plot lazily propped up a climax. I didn’t mind that the author chose to make Isadora whiny, but that amount of self-centeredness made it really easy to detach from caring about her struggles.

When Isadora first escapes to America, certain parts of her inner monologue made me wince. She talks about America “having no culture” and “no roots.” Genealogy, history, and religion are “fleeting and unimportant as the latest trend in style”—followed by “Yay! I’ll fit right in!” The sad thing is, this is not true. A person’s genealogy/history/religion are very important and often politicized by the groups in power. There are an abundance of distinctive cultures that are framed as living together harmoniously in a melting pot, but that perspective detracts from the history of how it came to be that way (settlers relationships’ via Hawaiians, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian laborers you name it). Simply put, certain genealogies/histories/religions are privileged over others, and to frame it otherwise is idealistic. “Many cultures” does not equal “none;” in some ways, there is more of an awareness of minority cultures in America than in other countries, even if that awareness does not translate to equal footing. I get that Isadora is young and headstrong, so that is an arguable perspective to have at the beginning, especially since she did not grow up in America. However, nothing following in the novel suggests she learns anything otherwise.

Also, I’m not sure why the paranormal element was included at all, since it wasn’t essential to the story. At the beginning of each chapter, there are these exciting tidbits about ancient Egyptian myths, but they felt completely detached from the actual, day-to-day trudge through a teenager’s life. You could have substituted any other mythology in place of the Egyptian one, and it wouldn’t have changed a thing. Ry also turns out to have a secret, but it wasn’t very meaningful and didn’t connect with the Egyptian motif. This is basically a teenage romance with some supernatural elements, and a boring one at that.

Recommended for fans of: Colleen Houck, Kendare Blake, Kiera Cass
Upcoming Book Review: Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Year of the Boar Launches on Wattpad

Happy Father's Day, US Readers!

The first couple chapters of YEAR OF THE BOAR are up and running on Wattpad! Visit and follow me here for weekly chapter updates:

Direct Story Link:

Thanks All! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Year of the Boar, the first Changeling Sisters Novella, coming June 15th

That's in 10 days! 

Dramatic Cover Reveal...

 ...A plunge into the ocean, quite appropriate for the summer, don't ya think?


THERE IS A MYSTERIOUS SPIRIT WORLD running parallel to our own, full of creeping moʻo, canoes that fly on air, and dutiful Nightmarchers…and it’s under attack by an ancient waking evil. 

Welcome to Eve. 

KHYBER: All this cursed Vampyre Prince wants is a way to die. A Hawaiian snow goddess promises him a sure demise…if he befriends and destroys a girl of mixed lineage on Oʻahu named Tica Dominguez, who is more than what she seems. 

TICA: Growing up on the vibrant island of Oʻahu with her Peruvian mother and her older brother, Rafael, Tica Dominguez looked forward to being the brainiac marine biologist who would save her family’s dwindling fortune. Instead, Tica is the cancer girl. After she loses an arm to the deadly bone disease, Tica can’t swim. Can’t surf. Can’t live. A mysterious and seductive new student named Jinho promises to understand her pain, but what Tica doesn’t know is that shadows have come to her island home. And Jinho has a secret that could threaten everything she cherishes.

One wants to die and the other wants to live. What choices they make will generate a wave of tragic romance and self-destructive revenge…and alter the fate of the spirit world.

YEAR OF THE BOAR (Changeling Sisters #1.5) is a flashback novel to Rafael's childhood on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu. It is narrated primarily by his younger sister, Tica, and Vampyre Prince Khyber. The story features heavy spoilers for Changeling Sisters I: YEAR OF THE WOLF, so if you haven't already, drop by my Changeling Sisters page to see what this series is all about! (A diverse world of shape-shifters saving the spirit world from an evil vampyre queen, kick-ass fight scenes, family drama, romance--you know, that sort of thing).

I didn't intend for this story to be so long (twenty-five chapters) but Tica surprised me with her stubbornness and her unique voice. In YEAR OF THE WOLF, we hear Rafael's tragic tale about his childhood, but when we see what happened through Tica's eyes, we realize that quite a few things were left out. Scary, world-shattering things. I truly enjoyed writing this novella because it reminded me of how briefly we scrape the surface of other peoples' lives, and how little we may actually know about them. Plus, I got to explore Hawaiian folklore, which is pretty cool! Some of you may be wondering, "Where does the boar come into all of this?" Do not fear. All shall be revealed :D

This free novella will be released weekly chapter by chapter on, and it will also come to Goodreads at some point in the future. I've always been interested in how ebooks have changed what a book is: no longer is there one finished form of it. An e-version can be revisited time and time again to improve it, although at some point you just have to declare it done. As such, you as the reader get to enjoy an advanced read and watch my editing process unfold; you can even participate with Wattpad's awesome comments section! There was a lot of challenging material to research in this novella, such as bone cancer and Hawaiian phrases, so any mistakes I've made are my own and will be addressed for the final draft. Eventually this novella will be available on

I've met a lot of amazing people along my journey in indie publishing, many of whom are on I'd really like to thank every reader/reviewer who has invested time in my books and left me great, insightful feedback (you know who  you are!). For fans of the series, I couldn't have come this far without you! So please enjoy this freebie :) Year of the Dragon is next on my list to write!

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Latest Book Reviews

Latest Reviews of YEAR OF THE WOLF & YEAR OF TIGER (paranormal/urban fantasy) and THE TRIBE OF ISHMAEL (dark/epic fantasy):

From Sophia Martin's Writing Blog on "WOLF"

From Goodreads Reviewer J. Libby on "TIGER"

From the Bibliophilic Book Blog on "TRIBE"

From Sharon Stevenson's Supernatural Story Spinner Blog on "TRIBE"

Cheers! Make sure to cruise around their blogs, they've got some great reads for y'all :)