Excerpt from my story “Rogue’s Hollow”

I’m working on a Paranormal Horror Story for Nanowrimo, here is an excerpt. (unedited, first draft)

“The trees in the backyard are enormous. They’ve been here for ages. Have seen the years roll by, families come and go. Their extended limbs and leaves, have watched the rise and fall of Rogue’s Hollow. It was once a bustling town with lots of businesses from what I’ve heard. They even had a paper mill, and a cheese factory. Stephen’s grandfather, Patrick, grew up around here, he raised all of his kids in the same house he lives in now. Patrick has told me quite a few stories about this old town, such as the fire that burned down half the village. There were once train tracks that came through town, the remnants of which have been turned into a walking trail. It will be nice to take a walk with the baby down the trail, through the woods. It’s quiet here, and smells better than the city. Well, except for when the wind turns and you can smell the cattle from the farm across the street, and chicken shit from the farm up the road.

As we drive down the main street, back up the hill towards Stephen’s Grandpa’s house, I can hear the river rushing, wind rustling in the large trees hanging over the road, birds chirping happily. After living in big cities for the past seven years it would probably do me some good to slow down and live here, at least for a little while. It seems like a great place to raise kids, and almost reminds me of my hometown. Except Rogue’s Hollow is much older, filled with history. I can’t wait to learn more about it, and learn of the secrets the big blue house holds.”

Written by Amanda Hartwick


My never-ending TBR

Hundreds of books on my To Be Read list. Making lists helps me feel productive, so here is a list of the books I think I’ll start with. I’m sure to be side-tracked by other great books along the way. Have you read any of these? What were your favourites?

Tempest by William Shakespeare

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood: For Random House Review

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Stephen King – everything I haven’t read yet LOL

Books I need to finish:
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Indexed by Wim Verveen
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Louisa May Alcott: Little Women Series
Good Wives 1.5
Little Men 2
Jo’s Boys 3

Lord of The Rings:
The Hobbit (re-read)
The Fellowship of the Ring (re-read)
The Two Towers (re-read)
The Return of the King

A Song of Ice and Fire:
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons

Sword of Truth:
The Omen Machine
The First Confessor
The Third Kingdom
Severed Souls

Wheel of Time:
Crossroads of Twilight
Knife of Dreams
The Gathering Storm
Towers of Midnight
A Memory of Light

Harry Potter:
Order of the Phoenix
Half-Blood Prince
Deathly Hallows
and the Cursed Child
Tales of Beedle the Bard
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Quidditch Through the Ages

The Casual Vacancy J.k. Rowling







Book Review: Dark Matter

I read Dark Matter for BorrowAThon – I borrowed this book from the library. My kids and I love our local library 🙂


Dark Matter is a 340 page Suspense Science Fiction novel by Blake Crouch, the author of the Wayward Pines trilogy, which was turned into a TV show. Another TV show, Good Behavior is based on Crouch’s Letty Dobesh novellas.

Dark Matter begins with Dr. Jason Dressen enjoying a family night with his wife and son. He leaves to have a quick drink with a friend, who is an insanely successful scientist, and while walking home Dressen wonders what his life would have been like if he had focused on career instead of family, when he is kidnapped, knocked out, and wakes up in Velocity Laboratories, in a world that isn’t his – where he is not married, and his son was never born. He flees from Velocity Laboratories, running for his life, trying to figure out where he is, and how he can get home.

Crouch successfully melds science fiction and thriller, Dark Matter is a page-turner, which you will devour in one or two sittings. An action love story, about family, sacrifice, temptation, the many paths our lives can take, and the regret we may feel about certain choices. If you could, would you want to see your worlds of doors not opened?

I usually take a lot of notes when I read a book, writing plot points, characters, quotes I liked, themes, questions, etc…While reading Dark matter I did not write a single word. I thought at first I didn’t write anything because I didn’t like it. But, now as I write this review, I realize, perhaps I didn’t write a word because I didn’t want to put the book down.

I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.



Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children


Peculiar. Such a precious word. Just say it, peculiar. Doesn’t it sound exotic? Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is the young adult, dark fantasy, debut novel by Ransom Riggs. My nine year old daughter wanted to read this book,however I was a little worried about just how dark and “young adult” this novel was. After reading it myself I’ve decided she’s not quite ready for this story. The “monsters” and some of the characters are just slightly too dark for a pre-teen, even one who loves all Tim Burton movies, and eerie fiction novels. If you have seen the movie I’d like to know if you think it’s appropriate for a nine year old 🙂

This book is one of the top ten books I’ve read in 2016. Ransom Riggs knows how to write a character-driven scary story filled with peculiarities and fantastically dark settings. The pictures included throughout the novel are striking, their old-unable-to-be-doctored authenticity means they are real. Right?

miss peregrine 2.jpg

Love the way the novel begins – here is first paragraph of the Prologue:

“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After. Like many of the extraordinary things to come, it involved my grandfather, Abraham Portman.” – Jacob Portman, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, p. 12.

The story is set in Florida, and Wales. Jacob is working at Smart Aid in Florida, a chain of stores that his uncle owns. Grandpa Portman is old, and losing his mind, claiming the monsters have found him, and will come to get him.

Jacob finds his Grandpa in the woods – and see one of the monsters.  Jacob finds a small box at his Grandpa’s house, which has letters, and photographs of strange-looking children: a girl trapper in a bottle, a dog with a boy’s face,and a levitating girl.

I love the word choices Riggs has made throughout the novel, such as sharp words used to describe ordinary things, IE decapitated fish, skeletal trees, and a doorway described as “doorless doorway” as an “open mouth waiting to swallow me”.

Jacob’s parents send him to see a counselor – Dr. Golan, who helps to convince his parents that Jake should take a trip to Cairnholm, the island where his Grandpa spent time at as a child, with Headmistress Alma LeFay Peregrine at the children’s home. Jake’s father, a volunteer at a bird rescue who has made many unsuccessful attempts at writing a bird book, decides to go with Jake after discovering there is a large bird colony at Cairnholm, excellent inspiration for bird research.

Jake and his father manage to find two rooms at the bar called the “priest hole” – the only bar, with the only food, and the only phone, on the entire island.

On the bizarre, isolated island, Jake meets Dylan “sturgeon surgeon” aka Emcee Dirty Dylan, and Emcee Worm. He also meets Martin Pagett, the museum curator. (I do wonder why there is a museum in such a small town?)

When Jake tells his father about a peregrine falcon that came into Jake’s room, his father says, “they’re (the peregrine falcons) like shape-shifters the way they streamline their bodies in the air”. Hmmm…interesting 😉

While searching for information about his Grandpa’s childhood home, Jake learns that the children were killed during a war attack on September 3rd, 1940, and that they lived in an old, abandoned house on the other side of the island. “And that is how someone who is unusually susceptible to nightmares, night terrors, the Creeps, the Willies, and Seeing Things That Aren’t Really There talks himself into making one last trip to the abandoned, almost-certainly-haunted house where a dozen or more children met their untimely end”,  p. 103.


Emma Bloom – pyrokinetic


Claire’s curls cover her “backmouth”


Hugh – has bees living inside of him



Horace – a prophet


Enoch – a syndrigast with the peculiarity of being able to animate the dead for brief periods of time


Bronwyn – strong girl


Fiona – can make plants, flowers, and trees grow right in front of your eyes


Millard Nullings – the invisible boy

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series, Hollow City.

Happy Reading!