Just finished reading Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone!

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Recently I have read Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by J.K. Rowling and I thought I would write a blog post about it.

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My friends couldn’t believe that I had never read Harry Potter books before. I have tried but never really got into them. The film had put me off. However my friend lent me their copy of The Philosophers Stone a few weeks ago. It’s an enjoyable book, when I actually gave it time, I couldn’t put it down.

Basically, Harry Potter’s parents were killed when Harry was little and he went to live with his Aunt and Uncle – which he hated thoroughly! Harry started receiving hundreds of letters which his evil uncle just burnt. However they didn’t know that the letter was to tell Harry that he had been accepted into Hogwarts. As days went on the Uncle took Harry away and then Hagrid (school assistant) gave them all the good news – well good news to Harry anyway.

I really like this book because most of the time there’s always something big or small happening, the writing is brilliant which keeps you interested. I struggled to keep interest towards the end when the action got less and less but I kept on going and glad it didn’t put me off the book.

I would recommend this book for 7 – 12 year olds (boys or girls!) I give it five out of five stars!

My next book in the series is the “Chamber of Secrets”.

Has anyone read this book? Do you love Harry Potter?

Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop 2014 #KidLitGH (Now closed to entries)

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Hello this post is part of the 2nd Annual Children’s Book Week Kid Lit Giveaway Hop. The giveaway is run and managed by Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews (links below):

Youth Literature Reviews: http://youthlitreviews.com
Mother Daughter Book Reviews: http://motherdaughterbookreviews.com

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Click here to view the complete list of participating bloggers and authors…

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Below was my prize!

Prize: A copy of The Sugary-Sherburts and The Stone Witch by Heather Ellis (suitable children aged 7+).

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(The image above is the Kindle book cover).

Link to my the book for more detail:

http://amzn.to/1jn0mXj

The blurb…”

“A cruel witch and a desperate discovery. Kit and Kat, Sugary-Sherburt, find themselves on the run from a dastardly witch who is trying to destroy their town called Thornton. Kit and Kat must join forces to defeat the wicked witch and get home in time for dinner. The journey takes them to a secret snow castle. They are in terrible danger; will they manage to save the town, their friend and families in time? The Sugary Sherburts and The Stone Witch is part two of the Sugary-Sherburts series by Heather Ellis.”

My contest ended.

Open to: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: No purchase required to enter or win. Void where prohibited by law. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. No cash alternatives available. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with the company Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored, hosted, and managed by Heather Ellis from Heather Ellis Books.

To find out details of who the winner was…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author interview – Ngaire Victoria Elder of The Cecilia Spark Adventures

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Hello everyone, let me introduce you to Ngaire Victoria Elder, who is the author of the Cecilia Spark, children’s adventure books. She has been very kind in letting me interview her for my blog – I hope everyone enjoys the interview!

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Let’s start, tell me about yourself, the author?

I am a married mother of four magnificent children, originally from Scotland and now settled in Southern Spain, in a small farmhouse, surrounded by lovely plants and animals of all types. I have written three well received children’s books as part of a series called The Adventures of Cecilia Spark and look forward to carrying on with that. I am a voracious reader and am rarely without an on-going book and as part of my work as a children’s author, I visit schools in Spain and the UK and read to young children, with the express purpose of encouraging literacy, a love of animals and the great outdoors.

OK that’s you, please tell me about Cecilia Spark and how she came about?

In the beginning, Cecilia Spark was a boy! It was my eldest niece who convinced me to change the protagonist into a girl and Cecilia Spark was born!

Cecilia Spark has a thirst for adventure and loves the great outdoors. Her adventures will take children to new worlds deep in their imagination. The stories touch on the emotional, behavioural and real-life challenges young people will most likely face as they grow up.

How long does it take for you to write a book?

Jings, let me think … from start to finish about 8-9 months. That may seem long but I fit writing into my busy schedule. I am a mother first and foremost, any time left I devote to writing.

Creating the story is the easy part. Editing and publishing are the most time consuming and hair-pulling aspects!

How did your childhood inspire your writing?

As a child I was always outside playing, discovering and enjoying nature. My childhood was carefree, fun and full of adventure. My imagination fuelled many an escapade!

You have written a number of Ceilia Spark Adventures, do you find it more difficult to write a series?

No, I don’t. I can honestly say as my series progresses the characters develop, I become more attuned to their likes and dislikes! My imagination gets carried away at times, but I love it!

I love the research stage for Cecilia Spark’s adventures and I endeavour to base parts of the story on real places; magical and unique locations in our world. In book 2 – The Adventures of Cecilia Spark: the Mystical Mountains of Terra – one place I was drawn to whilst researching for this adventure was the mangroves in Brazil, in particular the Bahia region, and the lake scene at the Mystical Mountains, was inspired by Lake Baikal in Russia. 

Given this I believe every child that reads a Cecilia Spark adventure will not only enjoy the thrills and spills but will also learn about the world we live in and the importance of friendship.

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How did you meet your illustrator Peter Maddocks (I love the drawings!) and how do you work together?

Peter Maddocks and I have been friends for a number of years; he’s a wonderful person and his artwork is sublime.

As for working together, I give Peter the finished manuscript and leave him to work his magic. I am not alone in thinking that Peter’s illustrations are fantastic and capture the enchantment and excitement of Cecilia Spark’s adventures beautifully.

You have some cool promotional videos on ceciliaspark.com – who put them together?

I created the book trailers and had a little help to upload 2 to You Tube. I used to methods: Movie Maker and Animoto.

Movie Maker is more time consuming and takes a bit of patience to get used to it, but once mastered Movie Maker creates some fabulous results. In conjunction with Movie Maker I downloaded music from Jewelbeat.

Animoto is quick, fun and easy to use. There are few options available – a ‘free’ option, and 2 priced options for greater choice and business users.

On the whole,   Movie Maker and Animoto are great tools to use for producing professional quality book trailers without stretching the budget! Don’t be afraid to experiment with all the different options available.

What are some of your favourite children’s books, the ones you have read over and over?

My all time favourite – The Blown Away Rabbit by Enid Blyton. I genuinely thought I would be able fly after reading that book. Also, Winnie the Pooh by A A Milne and Peter Pan by J M Barrie.

I read in another interview that you like Roald Dahl books. My favourite Dahl books are The BFG, The Twits or Fantastic Mr Fox – which is yours?

My goodness there are too many to choose from! I do like The Minpins, The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, any of his Revolting Rhymes and poems.

Stealing a Magpie is fun and reminds me of one summer when I was a child. A magpie befriended me and followed me round the garden. For days, perhaps even weeks, the magpie was always waiting for me in the morning. But one day he flew away and I never saw him again. I remember feeling extremely sad.

I looked out for him the next summer just in case, but he never returned.

What do your children think of mum’s books?

I think they are proud of me. My youngest son has one of my books and he enjoys colouring the illustrations.

Recently, my son, Duncan, took some of my books to school to show his teacher and classmates.

When I’m writing my daughter always asks me how I am getting on.

I see you love animals, do you have a favourite pet and why?

I don’t have a favourite; I love all animals (okay, except snakes and gigantic spiders!).

I care about every waif and stray that passes by my door. I have rescued a few dogs, brought them back to health and then found a loving home for them. Two dogs we took on ourselves (Toto and Poppy).

I am a passionate supporter of horse rescue, having volunteered in a rescue centre in southern Spain.  I am actively involved in fund raisers supporting not only local rescue centres, but also for international programs, such as saving the wild mustangs in the Pryor Mountain range in Montana. 

I believe we need to teach our children to take better care of our world than we have. The human race has systematically ravaged and depleted many beauties of the natural world. In fact, one of the characters in book 2 of my children’s series is named after a sub-species of tiger that is now extinct, Turan.

What should a first time visitor to Southern Spain do while there?

Depends on ones likes … I would say a visit to Malaga is a must; a beautiful cosmopolitan city with a Roman Theatre.

The lakes at El Chorro and El Camino del Rey is another must do: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmDhRvvs5Xw

I think El Camino del Rey (The King’s Walkway) is being re-opened 2015.

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 Photo of El Camino del Rey

The Alhambra at Granada and a trip to the Sierra Nevada for winter sports, the caves at Nerja, La Cala beach (EU Blue Flag Beach) and Refugio del Juanar  (http://www.juanar.com/).

Of course a trip to Southern Spain wouldn’t be complete unless you visit one of the waterparks or a quick trip to Morocco! 

What is your proudest achievement?

My beautiful children, they make me proud every day. Also working with my daughter, Fearn, on our book – My Nature Friends – she illustrated it.

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What’s next for you in writing?

I plan to continue with Cecilia Spark’s 4th adventure and write the next book in my a-z series which will be illustrated by Fearn.

I am in the midst of producing audio books for the first 3 books in my series and so once that project is complete I will start writing. 

How can my blog readers find out more about you and your books?

My website – http://www.ceciliaspark.com/

My blog – http://adventuresofceciliaspark.blogspot.co.uk/

Heather, thank you very much for hosting me on your blog today.

 

Children’s Book Author Interview with David Chuka @DavidChuka #kidslit

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Hi Everyone 

I have a lovely interview for you today. It’s my pleasure to introduce a lovely children’s book author called David Chuka. You should read this and then go check out his web-site links below.

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First of all, please tell us a little bit about yourself?
 I live in London with my wife and two children who are usually the first ones to hear my funny stories and serve as the inspiration for some of them. I grew up in Nigeria but have lived in London since I was a teenager. I’ve written 10 children’s books with more in the pipeline. Growing up, I always kept changing my mind about what I wanted to do when I grew up. One of my chosen professions was to be a wrestler in the WWE. I’m glad that didn’t work out.

At what moment did you stop and think, I am going to write a children’s book?
 I think the turning point was when my daughter was getting to the age where she was getting fascinated with books. There was only one book on my tablet that she could read as a beginner reader. I watched her read this book with such pride day after day and wished I could write something for her. That and a mix of different things led to my first book ‘If You See a Doctor.’

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Choose two of your favourite books that you have written, how did they come about?
 That is kind of an unfair question Heather. :-) I don’t think any parent likes sharing who their favourite child is :-) I think all my books all have a unique back story to them. Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs is the third book in the Billy and Monster series. The Billy and Monster series is a collection of funny books for kids. As Easter approached last year, I thought about what situation we could put Billy in. I thought about the common denominators around Easter like chocolate, family, over-indulgence etc. It then hit me that I could tell a funny story about Billy and Monster at Easter and weave in a lesson on moderation. The idea for I Love Baby Animals came about while I was washing plates on a Saturday morning.

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Here is David reading the book to some school children, awesome!

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You have published a book called, I Love Baby Animals, do you have any pets and what are they like?
 At the moment, I don’t have any pets although I had a Cocker Spaniel called Lancelot when I was younger.

I really like your book illustrations, who illustrates your books for you?
 Thank you. It means a lot to know that you love the illustrations in my books. My illustrator is Aubrey Gonzaga and she’s from the Philippines. She’s worked with me on 7 of my books.

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What is that process like, I.e. working with an illustrator?
 I think it’s very important that a children’s book author has a strong vision of how they want their story illustrated. Sometimes, as I’m writing a story, I can see the illustrations in my head. As Aubrey has worked with me on several books, the process has gotten easier. Basically, I write detailed descriptions of what I want for each image. I sometimes send her links to images that convey what I’m hoping to achieve. She might as this point come back to me with a few questions before beginning to draw sketches. Once I’ve seen the sketches and approved them (after requesting amendments if necessary), she goes ahead to add colour. Once this stage is completed, with a few tweaks here and there, we’re good to move on to the next stage in publishing the book.

My own personal writing inspirations are Lemony Snicket, Suzanne Collins and Roald Dahl, who are your writing inspirations?
 It’s interesting you mentioned Lemony Snicket and Roald Dahl as I only recently finished reading books of theirs. I read Lemony’s ‘All the Wrong Questions’ and  Dahl’s ‘The Twits.’ My writing inspirations vary from season to season but I love books by Stephen King, John Grisham and Myles Munroe.

The Twits is my favourite Roald Dahl book ever. =)

What are some of your favourite children’s books, the ones you have read over and over?
 Hmmm… very interesting question. I’m racking my brain to think of one now but I’ve read ‘My Dad is a Superhero’ by Lily Lexington on multiple occasions to my children at bedtime.

Have you ever considered writing for older children, teen fiction for example?
 I have actually. I have a few ideas for writing Middle Grade Literature and I’m hopeful, I’ll get one published within the next 12 months. My inspirations in this category are Jeff Kinney who writes The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and Jim Smith who writes the Barry Loser books.

I look forward to reading  that book when you have finished it. I love The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books – I am reading ‘Hard Luck’ at this moment =)

I noticed your blog has lots of interesting author interviews, how did you first start interviewing authors?
 Thanks for taking the time to check out some of my interviews. I have a special feature on my blog called Author Interview Thursday and it originally started out as a way for me to meet fellow children’s book authors and discover the challenges, breakthroughs and background of the featured author. It’s blossomed into something really special and I’m glad to say its been a way for me to make new friends, provide a platform for other authors to shine and learn something new in the process.

Do you have any new books in the pipeline? Tell us more..
 The next book which I’m going to get published is the 5th book in the Billy and Monster series titled ‘Billy and Monster Meet the President’ The story takes place in the run-up to July 4th which is the American Independence Day. Billy loves July the 4th as he gets to do fun things on that day. While at the fun fair, he meets a stranger dressed in a bunny rabbit costume. This stranger leaves a suitcase by the bench Billy is sitting on. Billy goes after the stranger to give him his suitcase but Mr Bunny Rabbit runs away frantically from Billy who turns around to discover that the secret service men in black suits and black glasses are coming after him. There is an almighty mix up that leaves Billy frustrated and his Dad mad at the way the secret service guys have treated his son. While at a party that night, a surprise guest knocks at the door to give Billy something. You’ll have to wait till June when the book will be published to see what happens. I’ll be working with my illustrator over the next few weeks to ensure we have the book ready for Summer.

How can readers find out more about you and your books?
 I love meeting readers of my books and would love readers of this blog to connect with at the following links

 Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Author.David.Chuka

Twitter - https://twitter.com/DavidChuka

Blog -  http://davidchuka.com/

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6872534.David_Chuka

Amazon Page - http://www.amazon.com/David-Chuka/e/B00AV6UT9U

Thank you David, what a lovely interview!

It’s been an absolute pleasure being on your blog today Heather.

Thanks for the opportunity to share with your readers. 

My 100th WordPress follower!

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Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to let you all know that Lyndsay from the site http://officiallyglutenfree.com  followed my blog yesterday. Lyndsay is now my 100th WordPress follower!

Thank you very much, Lyndsay and to all the rest of my wonderful followers for your following.

I suggest you checkout Lyndsay’s blog, it’s pretty awesome.

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Have a great day everyone.

Alton Towers theme park, including my top tips!

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Earlier this week my dad and I, went to a theme park called Alton Towers.

Probably the biggest theme park I’ve ever seen in the U.K. In fact it’s so big that you have to take a monorail train from outside, to the actual entrance. This is where the fun begins! = )

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First, within Alton Towers let me tell you about the new experience. There is a ride with fourteen loops called “Smiler”, I stayed away from that ride because I was too scared of it! If you’re really brave take a trip on Oblivion, which is a short vertical drop – very scary.

I did take a ride on a rollercoaster called, “Thirteen”, which is a fast rollercoaster, which goes into a dark tunnel; it drops suddenly and then goes super-fast, backwards in the dark. Not for the faint (It was probably my favourite rollercoaster though!) It was fun listening to everyone scream, at the part when the ride dropped.

My other favourite ride on the day was a ride called Sonic. My friends all love this ride as well. You sit in a carriage which spins around whilst you go up and down on a rollercoaster. It curves and gives you a fright especially if you sit backwards, because you don’t know what’s ahead of you.

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The runaway train, looks old and wooden, and although it goes fast, it is not very scary.

runaway train

I really enjoyed River Rapids! Although you need to be prepared to get wet because people around the ride can use water guns and squirt you.

I got drenched.

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If you’re up for being scared then there is a ride called, The Hex. You listen to the horror story and take a weird ride. The ride is like the inside of a church, there is music and scary lights and the room seems to rotate – it takes you upside down, without noticing.

I recommend Alton Towers for kids age 5 upwards. If you are frightened of scary rides then don’t worry. There is a selection of rides for all the family, all weathers, and if you like upside down rides or easy rides – there is something for everyone at Alton Towers.

My top tips for Alton Towers are:

  • Wear comfortable shoes, you will do lots of walking.
  • Take some drinks or a picnic, food and drink in the park is expensive.
  • Save the big rollercoasters till the end of the day, when the queues are shorter.
  • My dad says if you book online you can save 25% on entry, if you book 7 days in advance.

    If you are interested in reading about Alton Towers and the rides, see their web-site.

    http://www.altontowers.com/

    The fantastic electric furnace at Magna in Sheffield!

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    This week I went on a trip to a place called Magna, which is in Sheffield (South Yorkshire in England).

    Magna is an old Steel factory which was converted to a science and education centre / museum.

    There is lots of Steel Heritage here. You might not have known (I didn’t until I went), but Sheffield was famous for making steel. During World War II, Sheffield was a big target for enemy planes, who were trying to bomb it to destroy the steel factories.

    Anyway, the best part of Magna is when they show off the large steel Furnace. They do a demonstration every hour. When they bring the furnace to life, they use a wicked sound and light effects. The show uses pyrotechnics, fire and smoke and lighting. The process is narrated throughout the process. It is loud. It is worth going just for that Furnace demonstration. I really felt like I was part of history and could imagine what it was like back in the olden days, working with this Furnace.

    The furnace is so massive, it’s like the size of a football pitch!

    Unfortunately I couldn’t take a photo of the furnace because the demonstration is in darkness.

    Here are two of my photos from outside.

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    Here is a photo from inside (from http://www.visitmagna.co.uk/content/14/steel-heritage)

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    Oh yes, I nearly forgot, they have other different areas of the Magna centre. They have different pavillions for Water, Earth, Fire and Air – You can look around all of these, you can read, learn and take part in all the actvities.

    A lovely day out.

    If you want more information about the Furnace and about Magna:

    http://www.visitmagna.co.uk/

    Have you ever been to Magna?