Category: Books (Page 1 of 25)

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‘The River at Night’ by Erica Ferencik – Review

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik was surprisingly good as an adventure book. This might be sexist of me, but I always expect books about a group of women to have more substance than say, The Expendables II. But The River at Night is just a fun, thrill-ride with a bunch of normal people with a simple plot. They’re a bunch of school chums, getting on in age, who go white-water rafting in a remote part of Maine, who happen to all be women.

When I read the blurb, I knew that there would be killer hill jacks in it. Spoiler alert! Of course, there are! It’s not really even a surprise! But the book is really good. The River at Night is a book about survival, about how it easy to forget that we are animals who are always a few steps away from having to fight for our lives from predators, and how, alone, humans aren’t really that tough.

And yes, I was thinking of Deliverance the whole way through. The movie has sort of overshadowed the book in popular culture, but James Dickey’s book is a true classic of what it means to fight for your life unexpectedly. By the way — another minor spoiler, something I was worried about the whole time — yes, it’s a female Deliverance story, but there’s no rape. There’s even a guy who you think is going to be a rapist, but isn’t. I was very pleased.

In the way of action movies, like The Expendables II, the setup is a little clunky. The dialogue in the first, oh, 80 pages, is brutally bad, like a subpar after-school special with conversations veering from the mundane to the shrieking without any warning. Lots of “Don’t you get it?” If this was a movie, I’d blame the director and say that there’s a tone problem. Be prepared for a stylized ride into people constantly proclaiming in dialogue exactly what kind of person that they are.

This book is all about the adventure sequences.

Ferencik does not really have an ear for dialogue and doesn’t use it much, but her nature writing is amazing. the second the ladies get in the water, the book becomes breathtaking. When the ladies are in the white-water rapids or running from killer hillbillies, this book is truly amazing and comes alive. White-water rafting is dangerous. Just because most people survive, doesn’t mean that nature isn’t predisposed to kill you. And for all those people who think that they could swim in white-water, you can’t. The moment someone falls in the water will show you that nature is, ultimately, in charge of everything.

There are only so many complications you can have in the woods and Ferencik also does a reasonably good job of having them be surprising. Like I said, hillbillies, but at least they’ve got an interesting back story and emphasize that there is more than a little mental illness going on. Also, just their need for water becomes very interesting. And how long does it take before you eat something truly disgusting? Not long!

If you’re looking to while a way a few fun hours with an exciting book and you’ve already read Deliverance, pick this one up!

Finding Harry Potter Contest Header

WINNER ANNOUNCED! Finding Harry Potter in Lancaster County

Enter to win a Finding Harry Potter in Lancaster County: A Muggle’s Guide ebook. To sweeten the pot (and get more eyeballs on my ebook!), I’m including a brand-new, Harry Potter-themed journal.

Finding Harry Potter in Lancaster County: A Muggle's Guide

All you have to do is enter your email address in the contest widget below. You can also share the contest on social media, or visit my Facebook page, for more chances to win. The winner will receive Finding Harry Potter in Lancaster County: A Muggle’s Guide in the ebook format of their choice, along with a brand-new, Harry Potter-themed journal that will be shipped directly from Amazon. (The journal is of my choosing.) Be sure to read the rules!

And as Hermione said to Harry before the first Triwizard trial, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Finding Harry Potter in Lancaster County

Calling all Muggles! Have you ever wanted to visit Hogwarts? Or see Godric’s Hollow? Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, has several magical places that seem like they are right out of the Harry Potter series. I just published an eBook, Finding Harry Potter in Lancaster County: A Muggle’s Guide. My book will take you to seven sites, one for each book, across Lancaster County that will transport you into the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

Finding Harry Potter in Lancaster County Book Cover

Finding Harry Potter in Lancaster County Book Cover


The book was inspired by an article I wrote for a local newspaper, which was inspired by a set of geocaches I wanted to place. But it all began when a friend of mine suggested that I eat at the Gypsy Kitchen in Lancaster, because it looks like the Great Hall at Hogwarts. I took her advice and I fell in love with not only the restaurant, but also the building in which it’s located.

My imagination took off. I wanted to create a series of Harry Potter-themed geocaches that would take fans to places in and around Lancaster that looked like places from the Harry Potter books. I pictured fans arriving at a site and getting all excited about being somewhere Harry Potter-like. However, my time and energy for the project petered out.

Months later, I pitched an article to the York newspaper about seven places in Lancaster County that seemed like they were from the Harry Potter book series. They bought it and I wrote the article, which did pretty well, in terms of page views and readers. But the idea just wouldn’t let go of me, so I wrote the eBook. It’s my way of paying homage to both the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling and Lancaster County.

I published Finding Harry Potter in Lancaster County through Pronoun, which is a free service offered by Macmillan Publishers. If you’re looking to publish an eBook, I highly recommend this service. They make it very easy, with step by step Q&As that help you piece it together. Then, they recommend pricing and categories, and they also offer sales tracking and marketing services. I couldn’t be happier with Pronoun.


The eBook is short, but long enough to cover where to go in Lancaster County and why each place reminds me of Harry Potter. Here’s an excerpt:

The Gypsy Kitchen is a wonderful restaurant that resides inside a building that looks so much like the courtyard at Hogwarts, you’ll do a double-take. This Hogwarts look-alike is Dietz Hall, of Lancaster Theological Seminary, in downtown Lancaster, just off Harrisburg Ave. The exterior has covered brick walkways, stone paths and an arched entrance, just like the main courtyard at Hogwarts. There’s even a crest, centered above the walkway. Sadly, the crest doesn’t bear a lion, badger, raven or serpent.

Visit the sales page for Finding Harry Potter in Lancaster County to download a copy from your favorite online bookseller. Thanks for reading!


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