Ignatius Martin Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with one hell of a hangover, a raging headache…and a pair of horns growing from his temples.

Because I’ve spent all of my reading time lately with children’s and young adult books, Horns was a real break away for me. For starters, it’s adult horror/dark fantasy. And not the kind of horror/dark fantasy for the faint hearted, not the sugary kind at all.

You see, Ig’s new horns make the people around him admit their worst secrets–those dark and terrible things that linger in the very blackest parts of their hearts and souls. (And I do mean dark and terrible. Probably the most terrifying thing about this book is just how real those are.) But, more than discovering things he never wanted to know about family members and strangers alike, Ig realises that his new power could help him find the person who murdered his girlfriend–a crime that has been pegged on him.

I read this book with my skin prickling. I can’t even begin to describe how creepy the real villain was. And the way Joe Hill uses description with action was utterly amazing. For example:

Then he wore a red suit of flame, became a living torch. He screamed, but couldn’t hear his own voice, because that was when the interior of the car ignited… (p. 270)

I have to admit, there was a part of the book where I almost put it down. Without spoilers, one of the main characters did something major and, well, I didn’t buy their motivation. But I’m glad I kept reading, because it turns out there was more to it. And the ending of the book was perfect in a wonderfully imperfect way. Okay. I know that’s cryptic. I guess you’ll have to read it.

Like I said, this book is not for the faint hearted, but if you love horror and dark, dark fantasy–the kind that will give you chills in the middle of the night–this book is for you.


Something strange happened a week ago when I read my wip (work-in-progress) to my son. I came across a sentence that tripped me up.  I actually stopped and said, “Huh? That’s not how I’d say it.” But I wrote it, right? So what’s up with that?

Your “voice” is the essential element in your writing that makes it unique. It sets you apart from all other writers, just like your real voice is recognisable to a listener as your own. A member of the Write-Brained Network once told me that to find my voice, I should read my work aloud. I always figured that the words came out of my head, therefore they were mine. Turns out, that’s not always the case.

Lucky for me, I have someone to read the manuscript to. If you don’t, you might feel a bit odd, reading aloud in the quiet with nobody there, but it’s worth it.

Try it. And let me know how it went.

Readership: Young readers age 9+

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

From the inside cover:

Thatcher Hill is bored stiff. Fake mermaids and strange mummies don’t seem as exciting when you have to dust them every day–but that’s just what Thatcher is stuck doing for his summer job at his uncle’s seaside museum of curiosities.

Then a mysterious girl steals an artifact from the museum, and suddenly Thatcher’s on an adventure that takes him from the top of the Ferris wheel to the bottom of the sea. He soon learns that she is a princess of the lost city of Atlantis. Her people have been cursed by an evil witch to drift at sea all winter and wash up on shore each summer for an even more terrible fate–working the midway games and food stands on the boardwalk. Can Thatcher help save them before he, too, succumbs to the witch’s curse?

I bought this book for my ocean-mad son, even though he’s only just turned 6 and is likewise only just learning to read, but as soon as I saw the title I knew it would be a hit–and it is! While I do leave out all of the scarier “big kid” content when I read it to him, he loves all the weird and wonderful variations on sea creatures–the jelly boys and lobster men, and especially the kelp people.

I love the subtle and witty humour that Greg Van Eekhout brings to the story in the form of his main character, Thatcher, who is just that little bit cheeky and dorky in a deliberate and endearing way. Right from the start Thatcher describes himself  as “more jokey than punch-kicky. Jokes are my armor.” But as the story progresses we see Thatcher come out of his shell more and more to the point where he is incredibly brave and determined in the end.

Since patience isn’t one of Mr 6’s strong points, I have to admit that we read the ending first because “we” couldn’t wait to find out about the squid (which only appears at the end of the story). But that was okay because I’d read the story first myself to make sure the content would be okay for a younger child (and to make mental notes of which bits to skip).

This is a really great read for boys and girls–but especially boys–and I can’t wait for the day when I pass by my son’s bedroom at night to see him sneak-reading some more pages of this one with a flashlight under his blanket.


The spare space in our house is slowly filling with boxes in preparation for our house move. We don’t move for another two weeks though, so I’m strategizing and packing all the things that we won’t need to use before we move.

Funny thing is, that’s a whole lot of stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hoarder. And I’ve been getting rid of unwanted and unneeded things for the last few months. I’ve been pretty brutal, in fact. I even got rid of that pair of shoes I wore once and never wore again because they put blisters on my heels but I just couldn’t throw them out because boy did I ever remember how much I paid for them. It’s really not until I started emptying cupboards and putting their contents into boxes that I started to quantify how much stuff we have.

One big box for those things. One small box for those things. Several boxes for those other things.

How much stuff do we have that we don’t really need?

If I never opened the boxes again, I wonder if I would miss whatever lurked inside them?

Trouble is, I’m an organizer. A place for everything and everything in its place, so I think I’d be compelled to open those boxes and sort their contents. I couldn’t just leave them sitting there. Or could I?

Have you ever left a box for so long that you couldn’t even remember what was inside it? And when you came across it again, what did you do with it?


If I could go back, I know there are a thousand things I would change. In fact, if I was frivolous about it, I’d probably change something every day in the pursuit of perfection.

But if someone told me I could go back in time and change only one thing, it would be something that happened three years ago.

I was visiting my mother in the country–a quiet time with my little boy and our second baby on the way. I sat at the window bench–houses don’t seem to have those anymore, but there’s a lot that’s old-fashioned about my grandmother’s house–nursing a cup of tea because it was raining. I was alone for a few moments and I looked out the window and down the road as an approaching car caught my eye.

I hadn’t seen it before, but it stopped beside the row of mailboxes that serve the whole street. I saw something flutter into one of them. The usual mail lady drives a little red car, so I assumed a replacement–maybe she was on holidays.

The car stopped for a few minutes and I could tell even from that distance that the person driving was having trouble figuring out which mail belonged in which box.

I had the clearest thought that tugged me out of my seat: “I should go down there and help him.” I even made it to the front door.

But it was raining, and I was six-months pregnant, and I couldn’t see my shoes or an umbrella, so I just stood there and the car drove away.

Ten minutes later we heard the sirens. The rain stopped, and we could see through the misty trees, down on the highway not far from our road, two ambulances and two fire engines.

We read about it in the local paper the next day.

He’d turned out of our street and a mere hundred metres down the highway, an oncoming vehicle hit him head on and ended his life.

If I could go back, I would forget the rain and the embarrassment of my bare feet, and I would run down the street (even with my huge tummy), and help him with the mail. I’d stop him for a few minutes, chatting about nothing. He wasn’t my friend. I didn’t know his family. But just a few seconds longer and he wouldn’t have died.

I absolutely have to update my post on books for boys ages 0 to 5 to include The Ravenous Beast by Niamh Sharkey.

After our son borrowed this book from the school library, I bought it for the kids for Christmas. They have requested it as their bedtime story every night since and, oh, the fun they’ve had!

If you can find it, I highly recommend the version with the Animated Story DVD read by Kevin Whately. Mr 5 knows the story by heart and can do all the voices. Even Miss 2 will shriek: “I am the hungriest of all!” at the appropriate place. Classic!

Swimming in the rain is less crazy than you might think–and more fun than you could imagine.

Rum balls on an empty stomach are surprisingly benign.

I love  golden stars on top of Christmas trees, but I really hate wearing the colour yellow–it makes me cranky.

It is possible to be transported back to one’s childhood by the first five minutes of Back to the Future III.

It is apparently not possible to have too many toys on the floor–there’s always room for one more, or two, or three…

Watching my little girl play on my grandmother’s porch was like looking through a magic lens to see myself a long time ago.

My favourite moments were the quiet ones.