Monday, 28 January 2013

365 Days of Children's Book Challenge (up to day 28)

My apologies for not getting the updates posted sooner but I got ill, then went on holiday and I'm now ill again which has meant more time away from my computer than I would have liked. 

In today's post I'm going to list all the books we've read so far as part of the challenge along with a brief review of what we thought of them.
  1. The Tortoise and the Hare and The Jet Pack by Steven Novak. My 5 year old liked this one and was happy when the tortoise won. He laughed a lot at the jet pack too. My 17 month old showed no interest at all (but then probably not the right age range for this book). I would have like to see more pictures and think that would have helped keep both of their interest more. A nice twist on an old classic.
  2. A Horse with Wings by Daeshin Kim. I won this book in a Goodreads give-away and thought it was a nice way to introduce kids to Shakespeare. The CD with the songs on it really added to the reading experience. Both kids enjoyed the songs (especially the one about the smelly dog).
  3. Safari Stanley's bugs & Insects: Peek-a-book Who's under the leaf? by Christopher Biggs. 5 stars for this one. Kids loved guessing who was hidden behind each leaf.
  4. Horse and Hen Count to Ten by Maisy Daniels. Fun little rhyming book with simple colourful pictures. Thumbs up from both me and the kids.
  5. Three Wee Peas : On the Farm by Laura Yirak. Cute but just got an "it's ok" from the boys.
  6. When I go to the Farm by Jill Harker. Nice hardback rhyming book with colourful pictures.
  7. My First Toy Catalogue by Jane Kemp and Clare Walters. Nice pictures. the kids liked talking about the toys.
  8. Simple First Words- let's say our numbers. Book with electronic number buttons incorporated. The kids had great fun pushing the numbers to answer the questions and for counting the objects.
  9. That's not my Puppy by Fiona Watt. Nice simple pictures. Kids read along. Both liked the touchy-feely shaggy ears best.
  10. Humpty Dumpty - Marks and SpencersBook with electronic buttons incorporated. Kids liked pushing the buttons. My 5 year old thought it was sad that they couldn't fix him.
  11. Butterfly by Mick Inkpen. Nice book. Kids liked the clever dog and were glad he let the butterfly go.
  12. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. Kids had fun flipping the flaps and guessing the animals. At the end of the story my 5 year old said "I want a puppy too".
  13. Frogs and friends by Joanne Barkan. Rhyming text with fun croaking frogs. My 5 year old liked the turtles best.
  14. Maisy at the Farm by Lucy Cousins. Excellent! Fun flaps and slides for interaction. Simple pictures in bold colours. Both my 5 year old and my 17 month old loved it.
  15. Spot at the Fair by Eric Hill. Liked it. Horse on roundabout was my 5 year olds favourite too!
  16. Little penguin Dives In by Rachel Elliot. Nice pictures.
  17. Mighty machines: Diggers by Amanda Askew. A non-fiction children's book with nice facts about all different types of diggers. Includes photo's with labels with the names of each of the parts of the diggers.
  18. Thomas Saves the Day (a Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends book). My youngest loves trains and is a big Thomas fan. He adored this play-a-sound book.
  19. Have you seen puppy? by Smriti Prasadam. A colourful book with flaps and touch and feel parts. 
  20. Puppy Boo! by Kate Rowbottom. Counting, dogs and, slide and peek surprises. The boys loved it!
  21. 10 Little Elephants by Ashley Brayden. Very simple book with very basic pictures. Kids liked it though.
  22. Andy and the Angry Dragon by Thomas Yu. Read this one when the boys both had colds and they liked the idea of the dragon having a cold too. Very nice pictures.
  23. Baby Monkey has a Dream by Kris and Robert Barnard. Not bad. My 5 year old liked the story.
  24. Bailey's Birthday by Elizabeth Happy. The illustrations were gorgeous! 
  25. Blankie Buddies Save the Day by Joy Findlay. A cute book with nice pictures. My son now wants a blanket with animals that come to life.
  26. Billy The Coral Snake by A.J. Cosmo. A good lesson in manners and how to interact with others.
  27. The Boy Who Cried Over Everything by Betsy Childs. Nice idea but a bit sad. The boys weren't really interested.
  28. Bumble Babees by Laura Yirak. Nice illustrations but found teh rhyme quite forced in parts.
Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

What titles have you read so far this year?

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Featured Friday: The Everafter Chronicles: Reign of the Night Creatures by Casey Sean Harmon

Today is Featured Friday and this weeks guest is author Casey Sean Harmon with his latest book The Everafter Chronicles: Reign of the Night Creatures

About the book:

The lives of James, Charlotte, young Susan and their dog Clovensport are about to change forever. After investigating a mysterious sun dog that appears in their living room, they are inexplicably transported to the mystical land of Everafter. A host of mythological creatures makes their days long and their nights dangerous as they are enlisted to discover why the moon has stopped shining. Little do they know that their purpose in Everafter is much grander than they realize.

The children soon discover that the only way for them to return home is to uncover the secrets behind an ancient mystery that will lead them down a winding path of danger and discovery!

Available from Tate Publishing Spring 2013 at, your local bookstore, or for download to you PC, Kindle, Nook, or iPhone! (You can pre-order Now-26 January 2013 from Kickstarter!)


"Casey Sean Harmon's 'The Everafter Chronicles: Reign of the Night Creatures' has the feel of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia with the story revolving around three siblings and their dog who were pulled to another world and immersed in a magical adventure. It is a world where the fight between good and evil is ever present; a world called 'Everafter' where evil can be defeated by the presence of light. But how can evil be fought when, at night, the moon is nowhere to be found? Can these children save 'Everafter'? I love Harmon's writing style. It is simple, concise, and organized. The way he develops his story and his characters is seamless. I know that if I have kids, this book will be one of those that I'd read over and over again, simply because Casey Sean Harmon has been able to effectively teach courage, compassion, generosity, trust, and most especially love. The way Harmon ended 'Reign of the Night Creatures' reminds the reader to value not just friends, but also family. Casey Sean Harmon is also able to teach the reader the value of community and teamwork; that we are not alone in solving the problems of the world and that the people we meet are instrumental in our success."
-Mina Rivera, Reader's Favorite (5 star rating)

"A fast-paced, fun adventure for young children. Would make a great bedtime story."

-Alison Pensy, Bestselling author of The Custodian Novels

"Reign of the Night Creatures is an action-packed modern story in the brilliant tradition of the Chronicles of Narnia. James and his sisters are kept on their toes in the imaginative world of Everafter, where the battle of light versus dark rages. Who knows what darkness's next move will be?"

-E.P. Marcellin, Bestselling author of Element Keepers

"I truly enjoyed reading this book; I found the story to be incredibly innovative and imaginative."

-Meghan Gregg, Tate Publishing

"Adventure reigns in this debut novel. What a fun ride."

-Obert Skye, National Bestselling author (Leven Thumps series, Pillage Trilogy)

“Inspired, imaginative and very exciting, it’s a great adventure for young readers."

-Brian Falkner, Bestselling author (The Tomorrow Code, Brain Jack)

Author bio:

Casey Sean Harmon is a two-time bestselling and award-winning author, as well as an active duty Soldier in the U.S. Army. He was born in Alabama in 1988. He has studied with the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer's Guild, and holds a degree through American Military University. He lives with his wife and son wherever the military sends them.


Q: How long have you been writing?

A: I wrote my first story when I was seven years old. My second grade teacher asked the class to write an essay about our favorite ocean creatures. I wrote about the tiger shark, and I had so much fun researching and writing that I have been writing ever since.

Q: What's it like to be an author and a Soldier at the same time?

A: Many of my battle buddies don't believe me when I tell them that I am a children's book author. They really think I'm pulling their leg when I tell them that I have been a published author longer than I have been a Soldier. It's always fun to show them a copy of one of my books and watch them stare in amazement. It's a great conversation peace, and really helps me to connect with other Soldiers on an all new level.

Q: So what do you hope to accomplish from this book?

A: It is my goal to instill good, positive morals to young readers in such a way that they are having too much fun to realize that they are actually learning valuable life lessons. The writing style and overall spirit of The Everafter Chronicles has been compared by a number of reviewers to The Chronicles of Narnia. It is my goal for my book to appeal to a large and diverse audience. Some might compare the book to The Adventures in Odyssey series, while others believe that it more resembles some aspects of a young adult version of The Lord of the Rings. I believe my book to be an epic tale of excitement and adventure. Nonetheless, I have taken great caution to support good morals and to teach valuable lessons without promoting a certain faith group. It is good, clean fun!

Author website:

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Featured Friday: The Spy Game by J.D. Holiday

Today is Featured Friday and this weeks guest is children's author and illustrator J.D. Holiday with her latest book The Spy Game.

About the Book

Eddie would love to have a puppy to play with. A puppy would pull on a rope. Catch a ball and lick your face. But his Uncle brings Eddie an older dog named after a famous spy. What can you do with an old dog? It probably couldn't learn new tricks and the only thing this dog did was stare. It's what they find to do together that makes them the best of

Publisher: Book Garden Publisher, LLC
ISBN: 978-0-98186-144-9
Publication Date: August 2012

Places available for sale: Amazon, B&N

Inspiration Behind The Spy Game

This story is based on a puppy my brother, Ike's dog, Sheeba had. He ask me to take this puppy he named, Sidney Reilly after a spy series he and I watched together and loved.  At the time I had a dog and didn't think my older dog, Snoopy would be happy with a new addition.

My brother said okay, but he felt sure this dog was for me and he kept it with that in mind.

When the puppy was 11 months old, my brother, Ike died of a heart attack and Sidney came to me, I was wrong. Snoopy and Sidney got along in their own way. 

Though this did not happen in real live, in The Spy Game I have my brother bring Sidney to my house to live.  ~J.D. Holiday

About the Author 

J.D. Holiday is the author and illustrator of four children's books. Picture books: JANOOSE THE GOOSETHE SPY GAME, and Matt Shelley's Halloween Misadventure with Award-winning author, Christy Condoleo, and the chapter book for 6 to 8 year olds, THE GREAT SNOWBALL ESCAPADE. J.D. Holiday is a co-host on It's Story
Time, Gather 'Round with Christy Condoleo on Blog Talk Radio's World Of Ink Network:

Mini Interview

What are some of the things that have influenced/inspired your writing?
I think reading great stories was one thing that influenced me. There were books that I said to myself, how I wish I had written that. I think I was also inspired or conditioned, in some way, by watching my dad write his stories. He would type every weekend at our dinning-room table on his manual typewriter all my childhood.

Can you share some writing experiences with us?
I publish my own books using my own publishing company, Book Garden Publishing. After years of submitting to publishers I decide I was my publisher.  Up to that point, though, I had some short stories and a Chapbook published, and had some editors interest in my stories, and I even had an agent for a time, but none of my children's books in print.

Have you ever suffered from writer's block? If yes, how did you cure it?
I would say yes I have, but it was really due to rejections of my stories. I would be down for a while. But, after some time past and I picked up my story again and read it,  it would usually get me back on track again.

Who or what inspires your characters and/or plots?
As I said above, events from my childhood are a great source of stories and characters, though there is a little of me in most of my characters.

How do you see the future of book publishing, both traditional, electronic and print on demand?
I think there will always be books. Maybe it will come down to just the most famous stories, but I can't see books not being on shelves in stores, libraries and in home. Digital books are also here to stay. It is so easy to read on the go where with E-readers.
As for traditional publishers, I think the are already starting to adapt and adding self-publishing printers and print services to their companies.

You can find out more about J.D. Holiday, her books and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Follow J.D. Holiday at
Twitter: @JDHoliday

Publisher Website:

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Life as a Writer

Today I'm taking part in a blog hop. The theme for posts is "Life as a Writer". 

My life as writer started when I was little. I was always making up stories and absolutely loved all the creative subjects at school. I remember when I was about 8 or 9 years old being given homework to make a book about an endangered animal. Mine was a non-fiction about panda's (one of my favourite animals). The whole book was in the shape of a panda head and the cover art was his face.

I also remember another similar project where we had to write a picture story book. Mine was about my pet rabbit "Bumper". In the story she ended up having an adventure in the washing machine.

I enjoyed these projects so much I started doing my own just for fun. My very first picture story books and the start of a life long love affair...

Having been told when I was younger that I'd "never make a living doing that kind of stuff" I had various different jobs over the years including a bit of everything from working in clothes shops and restaurants to credit control. I was even a tour guide for the Colosseum at one point.

In 2006 my life changed. I sent off my first article to a newspaper and got accepted. They printed it in the very next issue. This was when I realised I COULD do this job. It was also when I realised I had been doing it for a while anyway... you see I had already worked for a company that published books for the dental industry and gained hands on experience about formatting, proofs and the general publishing process. At the time I was working for the Department of Neurology at the main hospital here in Rome and a large part of my job was to help write research articles. I already had quite a bit of experience.

Rocking the #1 spot on the best sellers list
Having tried various genres over the years and published a couple of non-fiction books I moved my focus to children's picture books after my second son was born in 2011. It seemed so natural. I was always making up stories for my kids anyway and we often had drawing sessions together. The final nudge was when my eldest son (at the time 4 years old) as me why I hadn't written a book for him yet. I figured he had a good point and so created Out and About at the Zoo. The book proved to be a huge success and made it onto several best seller lists and received some fantastic reviews. This has motivated me to continue in this market and my new rhyming children's picture story book Fairy May will be officially released on 1st February 2013.

Fairy May will be officially released on 1st Feb 2013
I can now confidently say I'm a writer and I love my work. Whether I'm writing freelance articles for clients, blogging or working on a non-fiction or children's picture book I'm happy. Not everyone can say they love their job as much as I can and for that I feel truly blessed.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Wall Chat Wednesday: Special Guest Richard Paa Kofi Botchwey

Wall Chat Wednesday is back! Today my guest will be Richard Paa Kofi Botchwey. Join us at at 9:30pm Central European Time and feel free to post your own questions for Richard directly to the wall.

A bit about my guest:

Richard Paa Kofi Botchwey is an internationally known Ghanaian Writer, a trained Conventional Stock Trader, a Blogger, a Poet, an Idealist & a Public Speaker. Born into a humble but poor family, he has come out as a strong, moral, determined young man. He is the founder & CEO of Orphan Trust Movement.

His poems, Life lessons & The Birds were published by Rising Artist Magazine (April 2009) and Imbue Life Publications (December 2010) in U.S.A respectively. Several of his captivating essays such as The Slaps Switch & I’ve Said I Can’t Too Often have also been published online. Kiss of Death, The Soon Drama and The Muted Island are some of his poems which have gained much attention around the world.

Currently, he is working on his next books: My Shoes Don’t Fit—a Young Man’s Conversations with God and a novel— The Girl Who Swallowed Fire. For more information, please visit:

Hope to see you there! 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

365 Days of Children's Books Challenge

As you probably know I'm an author and illustrator of children's picture books. For 2013 I've set myself (and anyone else that cares to join me) the challenge of reading a children's book a day, everyday in 2013. 

Why? you may ask. Well I wanted to introduce my children to a variety of new books. They both love books and I figured I could easily hit my target by picking a different book for their bedtime story each day. My second reason is that as an author and illustrator in this genre I think it's a good idea to research and see how others are working. By getting my target market (my sons) to give me their feedback on each book we read together I should gain some important insight into what works and what doesn't.

To make the whole thing a bit more official I've designed this simple badge to go with the challenge.

I'll be posting my reviews of the books read during the previous week every Monday on this blog (e.g. for this weeks books check the blog next Monday).

If you've read one of the books I note or would like to join the challenge and share which books you've read, you can leave a comment on the Monday post with your input. Obviously I'd love it if you posted the badge to your blog with a link back to this site. It would also be great to see some other parents joining in and committing to regular reading with their kids.

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