New Chapters released in Pottermore at long last! I’ll be online tomorrow (HexSnitch22728) šŸ™‚

Pottermore News

Book 3, Chapter 6, Moment 3As planned, today Pottermore launched the first chapters of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

In the first installment, which includes the first seven chapters, users will discover new content from J.K. Rowling on Marge Dursley, enjoy animations of Hedwig, explore the Knight Bus, and much more.

Weā€™ve only had time to explore the first few chapters but already think that it is a major improvement from the second book. The artwork is clearer and more beautiful as ever. Harry, Ron and Hermione also look like they have aged (that had been a complaint in the second book). Interestingly, we have discovered no mini-games, but there might be in some of the later chapters.

So, go on and explore the first chapters of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on Pottermore.

Update:Ā 

The Pottermore Insider has been updated with the announcement of the book launch. Hereā€¦

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Horrible Histories and Horrible Science – Books that got me into reading

I love the first text you see on the Horrible Histories website, it says; “This is the point of no return! Your thirst for gore has led you to the Horrible HistoriesĀ® website. Here you’ll find nasty nuggets and foul facts aplenty. If you lose your way in the labyrinth of long-ago just ask the ratā€¦”

I adored these books as a child and still collect them, they gave me my love of history, a topic which still interests me to this very day, and I hope to pass them on to my children in the future. I couldnĀ“t possibily pick a favourite, although I have always loved World War history! Other books that got re-read hundreds of times include Awesome Egyptians, Vile/Villainous Victorians, Vicious Vikings and Terrifying Tudors. I think I own the whole set of Horrible Histories but IĀ“m still missing a few Horrible Science and most of the Horrible Geography section and I make a point of looking for them when I go to any type of bookstore.

The HH books are mostly written by Terry Deary, a man who feels that the current educational system needs to be changed. He once said “I’ve no interest in schools, they have no relevance in the 21st century. They were a Victorian idea to get kids off the street. Who decided that putting 30 kids with only their age in common in a classroom with one teacher was the best way of educating? At my school there were 52 kids in the class and all I learned was how to pass the 11-plus. Everything I learned after 11 was a waste of time. Trigonometry, Boyle’s law: it’s never been of any use to me. They should have been teaching me the life skills I was going to need, such as building relationships, parenting and managing money. I didn’t have a clue about any of these things at 18. Schools need to change.” I got my appetite for history from him and retained most of what I learned reading his series of books, thatĀ“s more than what can be said for what I learnt in history classes at school, so I think he has a point!

He also said that children should leave school after learning the basics at 11/12 and start working ‘with computers or something relevant’. While I donĀ“t totally agree with this, I do see where heĀ“s coming from and agree that children should be taught life skills, house and money management, and aptitudes such asĀ marketing, computer skills and communication that will help and inspire them to start their own businesses or pick a career that suits them as well as ordinary classes. I think children needs to be surrounded by others of their age but what they are taught and how they are divided up should be changed.

Sadly, in 2011, Terry retired after writing most of the more than 60 titles in the series, which have sold over 25 million copies in over 30 languages. I should imagine that Scholastic will continue publishing with other authors, the HH spin-off (the Horrible Science books) are still being published to date, Nick Arnold writes the majority of these. In the same way as the HH series, the Horrible Science books are also a fantastic way to get young kids interested in science.

So, whoĀ“s read these books? Do you agree with TerryĀ“s viewpoint on schooling today? IĀ“d love to hear from you šŸ™‚

Categories: ChildrenĀ“s books, History Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Freelance Ghost Writing By Karen Cole

Today we have a great post introducing ghost writing by experienced writer and editor, Karen Cole (@karencole37 on Twitter). I found it very interesting and extremely helpful, I hope you do so too!

To be a freelance ghost writer is definitely a way of life. Too many people seem to think itā€™s about hiring ā€œnameless writers,ā€ making money, or otherwise pushing around their talented ghost writers. Seriously, it is about taking the work up for overburdened people so they can afford to be our clients.

On the other hand, thereā€™s something to keeping your byline. I donā€™t take other peopleā€™s credit to their name, when they are considered to be the author and I am only rewriting or otherwise recreating their stuff; they get their bylines instead, and I might be credited somehow. Ghost writing generally means pay above credit, but sometimes Iā€™m listed as a bookā€™s ā€œeditorā€ or as having contributed somehow.

When I write my own books, I use other names than mine – due to various technical issues – but Iā€™m currently working on the first book Iā€™ve put out recently with my own name on it. Writing is something you canā€™t just rattle off. And if you go into it solely for the money, chances are you will only work for limited, occasional celebrities.

You might make some money, but thereā€™s quite a market in first-time authors and people with crazy dreams. I enjoy helping out such people for much more reasonable prices. I do ghost writing and editing, but nowadays I mostly send straight writing out to my team members at Ghost Writer, Inc. – Iā€™m kind of semi-retired, and I love doing all forms of editing for clients.

But when you take up your pen, in whatever form it may take, it needs to hit paper and go somewhere. I made it there; you will make it too. Thereā€™s always hope to have your writing read and published somewhere. And if you need to hire a freelance writer to help you express your ideas and complete a book manuscript, that world is readily available to you.

Categories: Guest Posts | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

ChildrenĀ“s Books, Which One Got You Hooked?

Nowadays, an increasing amount of children are starting school without having been read to… I luckily was read to as a young child, but I remember the books I read myself more.. But which are the books to get, and keep, children hooked? Obviously, before the age where children can read themselves and pick out their own reading material, you have the classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, “WhereĀ“s Spot?” and “Where The Wild Things Are”, but which authors and/or books turned you from listener to reader?

The authors that got me hooked were Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl amongst others. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Witches” were my favourite Dahl books and I read them time and time again, believing every word! I used to fantasize about having friends like “The Famous Five” and going on adventures with the Mannering family out of the “Adventure” series. I also adored BlytonĀ“s short stories and fairytales, where exotic lands started at the bottom of your garden, 3 flowers to the right, and gnomes conversed with elves. Other favourites are “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton, “The Railway Children” by Edith Nesbit, “The Secret Garden” and “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and the “Horrible Histories” and “Horrible Science” series by various authors including Terry Deary and Nick Arnold.

Of course, one set that triumphed over all was “Harry Potter” by J.K Rowling. I had the great fortune to grow up with these books, the day the new one would come out IĀ“d have it ordered, be the first in our family to open it and IĀ“d just sit and read until IĀ“d finished it (even if that meant staying up until 4am on a school night!), before re-reading it again the day after ‘at a normal pace’ šŸ™‚

I have read childrenĀ“s series as an adult too, great pieces of work such as “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman and “Skulduggery Pleasant” by Derek Landy, both of which have kept me totally hooked all the way through despite the fact they are meant for younger audiences!

My first foray into adult literature was influenced by my MumĀ“s reading material, of course, kind of like peopleĀ“s music tastes. You start by liking all the stuff your parents listen to (lots of 80s, Elvis Presley and opera in my case) then add to it with your own discoveries (Michael Jackson, Queen, R&B..). Well, my first ‘adult’ book was “Golden Fox” by Wilbur Smith and that was that, I was hooked on Africa, the tribal wars and ANYTHING by Wilbur! I read all the books by him in the house, bought the ones we were missing, then bought copies of the ones already owned by my Mum to start my own collection!

ItĀ“s been a while since I read anything by Wilbur, you go through reading phrases as you grow up until you find a pattern. I had a time when I enjoyed Mills & Boons (shhh, donĀ“t tell), a time when I would gobble anything that was based on facts, such as broken homes, mafias, etc, a time when I read a lot of war literature and a time when I dedicated myself to classics.

Now, although I like variety and will always buy a recommended book (whether itĀ“s recommened on a site, by a friend or with a literary prize), I tend to stick to fantasy with authors such as Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde and Cecilia Ahern, and novels based on the way people live in different cultures, times or with different outlooks (think “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak or “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon) peppered with classics and old favourites.Ā I also will buy a random book if I like the cover or blurb.

How did your book addiction come about?

Categories: ChildrenĀ“s books, Must Reads | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Thursday Next Series by Jasper Fforde

Ahhh the great Jasper Fforde… A relatively new author (he published his first book, The Eyre Affair, in 2001), he has so far published 11 books, although he supposedly hasĀ 3 coming out this year, another one next year and another one (at least) in 2014. HeĀ“s most famous for his “Thursday Next” series, although his “Nursery Crimes” ones are brilliant too! I canĀ“t account for the “Shades of Grey” or “Dragonslayer” series, as I havenĀ“t gotten my mitts on those yet.

So, how do I even begin to explain the Thursday Next books? I could tell you that they are set in an alternative Swindon in, well, the first book anyway, 1985.Ā  I could say Thursday is a Spec Ops agent with a special gift for ‘jumping’ into books. I could explain that the characters in the novels involved in the ‘jumping’ are self-aware, knowing they are in a book. However, one little post is too small to discuss all the amazing contents at length, so letĀ“s just say they feature:Ā time-travelling fathers and sons,Ā giant evil corporations, the ‘Seven Wonders Of Swindon’, Neanderthals, imaginary children, real children, book-jumping heroes, book-jumping villains,Ā FootNoterPhone, Advertext, military Mrs Danvers clones,Ā gravo-tube journeys from England to Japan, re-engineered and dopey Dodos, a baby-sitting gorilla that is married to a colonel, clock-work butlers, grammar-eating monsters, talk shows, the Abridged Bridge, croquet ā€˜super-hoopā€™ finals, dessert-induced apocalypses, sabotaged ejecto-hats, Shakespeare characters, Presidents ‘for life’, politicians, Miss Havisham, jurisfiction, vampires, afterlife, ‘Women’s fiction’ and ‘Racy Novel’ engaged in border wars, cliffs of notes, an island of ‘Books Only Students Read’, Jane Austen landscapes, stalkers, aĀ minotaur, and the dreaded cheese tax.

To fully enjoy the books, itĀ“s helpful to have general literary knowledge, but not essential. Basically, if you are a fiction nerd, these are the books for you. If you are any type of bookworm, the references to all kinds of books, including the classics, make these the books are for you. If you are a first time reader and want to start enjoying fiction, these books are for you. Do you like/ love/ want to start/ enjoy/ hate/ despite/ are bored with/ donĀ“t want to read? Then these books ARE FOR YOU!

Fforde especially has a creative mind that connects random thoughts, wishes and references to popular (and un-popular) culture, mixes them together, and churns out a story that will have you flying towards the last pages of the book. There is even an annual festival in Swindon (where else?) described as “a weekend of sillinessĀ inspired by the works of Jasper Fforde” dedicated to his work. This year, the Ffiesta will be held on 2nd and 3rd June 2012 at the Village Hotel, Swindon with a 1952 theme for those interested, I wonĀ“t be able to make it but count on me being there next year without a doubt!

So, my recommendation is to curl up with Thursday on your sofa and enjoy šŸ™‚

Categories: Fantasy, Jasper Fforde | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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