Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling (#hpreadalong)


Book 3 (already!) for the Harry Potter re-readalong.  It is now the summer before the 3rd year of Hogwarts.  Harry is once again at home with the Dursley’s nothing has changed… in fact now that they know that Harry is not allowed to perform magic outside of school, things have become a bit worse.  When things do go terribly wrong, Harry finds himself on his own trying to get to Diagon Alley two weeks before school starts and discovers there is a Knight Bus for witches and wizards in need.

When the third year begins Harry overhears that a recent madman has escaped from Azkaban, and for some reason he has his sights set out for Hogwarts, and more importantly Harry.  Dementors are now protecting the school… but not always the students.  While the teachers are over protective of Harry for this reason, they will not give him the details as to why this man would be coming after him.

Hogwarts for Harry….. NEVER easy.

Of course Harry is hanging out with Ron and Hermione again… a particularity tense year as Hermione now has a cat who really would like to sample Ron’s rat Scabbers.  Hermione also disappears a lot – returning usually looking disheveled and worried constantly about her studies.

It is a year of once again trying for the Quidditch cup,  avoiding Malfoy’s sneering and jeering, a new (yet familiar) magical creatures teacher, and of course yet another new Dark Arts Teacher.

Harry works hard to keep himself safe all the while worried about sighting of this man named Sirius Black.  Why would someone he had never heard of want to kill him?

The Knight bus at Universal Studios Orlando


Inside of the Knight Bus
Inside of the Knight Bus – Universal Orlando



The Prisoner Of Azkaban is the first of the books where you start to feel that Harry is growing up a bit.  He is no longer a scared little newbie to the wizarding world and is growing into his own.  It is funny to think that I do not recall every really enjoying this book that much but found this time around that I really got into it.

Harry’s friendship with Ron and Hermione is solid… although Hermione causes quite a bit of drama in this book, they are still friends…angry friends, but not like in the first book where she cries in the bathroom and is attacked by a troll…. no nothing like that. 🙂  Harry also holds his own on the Quidditch field, an important part of the team he loves being the Seeker (you will see that even comes with trials this time around).

I think what I love the most about the book is the introduction of the Mauder’s Map and the 4 students who had created it.  This group of rebels that once ruled the school have passed their knowledge on and it is in Harry’s hands.  I love that so much and I love the connections that he has tot he map that he does not even know about.

Great introduction of key characters take place here as well… we are introduced to Sirius, Lupin, and even Peter….  (well played JK, well played).  This casual introduction will play out as the books continue.

I found this particular read to be so engaging I could not wait to get back to it.  Not sure if it is the season, the mood, or what… but I fully wanted to engage this magical works and not come out.  Feeling a little bit like Harry in the end, not ready to go back to everyday life… but knowing there is the promise of more to come.

This book was read for the Harry Potter re-readalong.  It is a delight to be reading and rereading these books with a group from all over the world! 


Harry Potter Readalong House Point Update, Info, and Winners!


*Its not too late to sign up!

So… basically after I kicked off the Harry Potter Readalong that started November 1st, I disappeared for three weeks between a fun trip with my son and a work trip.  For the most part I kept up with all the happenings, including our first book read and discussed, but about the time I was due home on November 20th I was exhausted and lost steam.

Today, home feeling under the weather, I decided it may be a good time to add up the House Points… after all year one is over and I need a House Winner before we start talking about book 2 on December 6th.  (Yes we have House Points – optional to participate in that part but fun for those who wish to do so!)

House points are given for writing posts on the books we are reading (3 points per linked post) and for commenting on any HP linked post *2 points per relevant comment and yes you can comment more than once on a post).  They also come into play for giveaways and occasional games or participation posts that can earn you points.

Looking at all the posts so far today was fun – there are many great posts out there as I added from the start-up posts to the first discussion posts as well as all who commented on them.  They were fun to read.  You do not win as a House but as an individual representing a house.  And before I share with you who our Year One House Point winner is, I feel as though I represent Dumbledore in this readalong and at the end of book 1, he offered up some additional House Points as will I…

I would like to award Donna from Writers Side Up an additional 4 points for her offering up the Book Mark giveaway for our first book.

I would also like to award Jennifer from Literate Housewife an additional 4 points for her snitch giveaway for book one, the book that introduces the snitch.

And finally, 5 points awarded to Tanya from Dogeared Copy for organizing and executing the Twitter movie group for The Sorcerer’s Stone.  (Note – The next movie Live Tweet/Tweet Chat will be on Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.! I hope you can make it!)

All that said, our winner for the House Points for book one and the winner of the Golden Snitch is:

golden snitch

Donna from Writers Side Up

*note you can see all House Points here.  All points are now cleared and we start again for book 2… points will come from posts and comments on linked posts centered around The Chamber Of Secrets.

On to other prizes!  The bookmarks will go to…

book marks

Jackie from Forget Me Nots

And finally the copy of The Sorcerer’s Stone with the new book cover using random.org for all #hpreadalong commenters on the start up posts and the book discussion posts….

ss new cover

Brooke from Brooke Blogs


There are more giveaways planned for book two which will start to be discussed on December 6th.  It is not to late to join in on the readalong!  All participants are eligible for the prizes and the occasional fun quizzes we will be setting up.  *You must be signed up for the readalong to be eligible for the giveaways.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (HP Readalong w/giveaways!)

This is the cover of the book I read from. This is the 20 year anniversary edition of The Sorcerer’s Stone. I picked this one up in New York at the Harry Potter Exhibit



This is the first book from our Harry Potter Re-Readalong (not too late to join in!)

I wish I could remember exactly when I read this book for the first time.  I believe it was sometime around when the first movie came out in 2001.  I remember wanting to know what my sons were reading.  Little did I know that I was about to read the book that would set off something in me that would lead to:

1.  Owning all the books in paperback and hardcover

2.  Owning all the books in audio (fantastic by the way – both narrators Jim Dale and Stephen Fry – wow!)

3.  Owning several Harry Potter Board Games including HP Scene It

4.  Going to the Harry Potter Exhibit with Reagan (Miss Remmer’s Reviews) while in New York

5.  A different year dragging Cindy from Cindy’s Love Of Books to Potted Potter in New York.  (For the record she had not read the books which made her even more of a trooper to attend with me and she loved it!)

6.  Going to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios three times in the past three years with my son who is into it just as much as I am.

7.  Of course seeing and owning all the movies.  😉

8.  Early acceptance into Pottermore

My ticket to the HP Exhibit which I keep in my book as a book mark
My ticket to the HP Exhibit which I keep in my book as a book mark

I love this first book.  There is so much going on here not only within the book but the fact that the book exists at all.  If you have ever read or listened to anything about JK Rowlings start with this book it is fascinating stuff.  She was turned down again and again publishing houses stating that no one would want to read about children that had magic skills and misbehaved in school.  Bloomsbury was the publisher that said yes (hazah to them!!!) and this book – opened up doors to change the publishing world forever…

HP and The Sorcerer’s Stone is fun to re-read as there is so much I pick up on now that I have read all the books.  I feel like I pick up something new each time I read it and I have to smile at the sheer brilliance of how the books tie in so well together.  JK did not know at the point of book one that there would be seven books – but they sure read like she knew exactly where she was going.

The short synopsis (just because I like writing about it)… Harry Potter is raised by his aunt and uncle after being left in their care upon the death of his parents.  Harry is treated very poorly as an unwanted intruder in their lives and sleeps in a small space under the staircase.  As he approaches his eleventh birthday he finds out that things are not exactly as he had been told all of these years.  His parents actually come from a magical background and Harry is about to be introduced to his first year of school at Hogwarts.

Harry can not believe his luck as of which he had none before.  He has a little help from Hagrid in picking up the supplies he will need and then he is on the train to Hogwarts where he meets Ron Weasly and Hermione Granger, two students who little does Harry know – will become lifelong friends, something he has not had before.

Of course all is not smooth sailing for our young Harry.  We also learn about he-who-shall-not-be-named (Good old Volde!) and his role in Harry’s parents deaths as well as Harry’s scar.  For years no one has heard from him but things are about to change and of course Harry would be the main focus of HWSNBN return.

This is the original drawing of Snape as JK first pictures him.  This picture is in my book.
This is the original drawing of Snape as JK first pictures him. This picture is in my book.


I am going to believe that most of you reading this post have read this book or at the very least, have heard of the Harry Potter phenomenon.  I seriously have to smile when I think of how this series has held on – now being one of the biggest attractions at Universal Studios Orlando, so big in fact they just added on in 2014 a whole new amazing section that actually goes into the next park!  I wrote about that here.

I adore this amazing book filled with magic and messages of good… just listen to Dumbledore’s quotes throughout the book and the series – these are amazing life lessons:


“Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help.”
Harry thought. Then he said slowly, “It shows us what we want… whatever we want…”
“Yes and no,” said Dumbledore quietly.
“It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.


“To the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure’.”


Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone is just the beginning.  If you have never read the series, I invite you to join our group now.  If you have read it many years ago, you are also welcome to join in the fun.  The giveaways are available to those signed up for the readalong, so come on in.  In fact out first giveaway is posted by Donna at Writer’s Side Up for a set of cool bookmarks.

book marks


I am looking forward to the next book!

Justin at 9 3/4
Justin at 9 3/4

*Readalongers be sure to link up your Sorcerer’s Stone post here.  House points for participants comments on HP posts that are linked as well as the post itself.


Universal Studios: New Harry Potter World Additions and Re-Read Kick Off


Happy Kick-Off to the Re-Read Readathon for Harry Potter!  This Re-Read happened to coincide with my son and my annual Florida trip to Universal Studios… more importantly Harry Potter World.  If you are a Potter Head, such as myself, you are probably aware – or at least heard Muggle mumblings of additions being made to the park…. most specific – A Hogwart’s Express that you can actually ride from one park to another.  There was also mention of additional shops, Diagon Alley, and a Gringott’s Bank ride.  All of this…

definitely worth checking out.

Join me now… for my thoughts on the additions to the park and what you should know before you go.



For the whole “Look I have been accepted to Hogwart’s and am going to the school on a train!” experience, it is important (vital really) that you enter from the Universal Studios side of the park.  *Note – it is two parks adjoined together, you can pay for the Adventure Island park pass and be able to walk into Harry Potter World but for the full experience with the train ride and Diagon Alley you will need to buy the park pass for both parks…expensive – yes.  Worth it?  You bet.


Once you enter the King’s Cross Area you will have your ticket checked by a Train Conductor (I like to use the word Keeper) but my son says that is not correct… sheesh… like he is Magic born or something…)

While on your way to the train you get to experience some super cool effects.  Do not miss out on going through the wall to get to platform 9 3/4 (it is easy to miss – you have to watch your friends go through to see it.. if you see other people stopped and looking at a wall – you should too!)  I have a cool video of this on my Facebook page (Sheila McKinney DeChantal).  Here is a sort of picture of it:


Once you get to the train area (oh yeah it is awesome!), you will wait to be seated and you will go in a very authentic looking version of the Hogwarts train – even the fun little compartments to sit in with your Hogwart friends.

Justin at 9 3/4
Justin at 9 3/4



Then you are off – it is actually a smooth ride and you may not even think the train is actually moving – but it is because the doors open up and you are in the other park (Island Of Adventures) and you are at the entrance of Hogsmeade, the town near the Hogwarts School.  This is all the original Harry Potter World park so if you are new, be sure to check out all the amazing detail in the shops, listen for the show on the stage, and perhaps grab a bite to eat in Three Broomsticks, a beer in Hogshead (very cool and authentic) or – for the whole family… you must try the Butter Beer – either on ice or frozen:


If you are new to the Harry Potter Wold or a repeat offender such as Justin and I, you must go on The Forbidden Journey ride.  Walking through the Hogwarts building is a treat in itself with amazing detail, talking pictures, the whole works.  Even if you opt out of the ride, you are able to walk through this part and check it out.  However – do not opt out of the ride!  It is mainly simulated, you are in a seat and get the feeling of flying through the air.  There are no sudden drops and you are not really shook up as in some rides.  I personally LOVE IT.

But now… where is the new stuff?  Well, we were not sure either but we looked at the awesome sauce park map and discovered it was back in the other park…

Nicely played Universal, nicely played….  utilizing both parks so well.


Note – this is perfect.  YOU want to ride the train into Hogsmeade and go to Hogwarts BEFORE you go back to Diagon as the train experience is a bit different.  When you get off the train back in the Universal Park Diagon Alley is not obvious where it is.  Come off the train and go to the left… you will receive a few hints… for instance, the Knight Bus is there along with the Shrunken Head (be sure to check out the back of the bus, you can step into it.)



If you look across the road from the Knight Bus you will see a large brick wall and you can see an area to go in.  It looks as though it may be a way to bathrooms… there is nothing identifying it… but step in and around the corner…



AHHHHH AHHHHHHHH!  It is DIAGON ALLEY!  Sweet Mother!  It is a while new world hidden behind a wall!  Seriously, this finding… took almost the rest of our day!  There is so much to see!


PicMonkey Collage

Many of the shops you could walk into… of course they are selling everything from chocolate frogs to Quidditch gear.  Scarves, gloves, hats, t-shirts, gowns, Weasley sweaters, key chains, Christmas ornaments… you name it.. they probably have it.

The Leaky Cauldren is a restaurant but they told us it had a different menu than the Three Broomsticks which is found at Hogsmeade.  Florrish and Blotts had notebooks, diaries, pens, note pads… there was so much to see and do!  Justin even was chosen to be tried for a wand…

Yes, we got our geek on.
Yes, we got our geek on.


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes was a cool shop of candy and gags, great looking building inside and out.


Kids… ok people, can purchase wands and in certain places in Diagon Alley you can stand on these cool areas that tell you what spell to use and how to swish your wand and things will move.  It was brilliant and the kids… err…. people, loved it.


Of course… the real highlight of the new Diagon Alley area is the Gringott’s Bank ride.  This ride will be discussed in a separate post so not to make an already long gushing post longer.  🙂  Hopefully I will get that post up today.


My overall rating on a scale of 1 – 10, a 10+.  For all Potter fans this is a must do trip.  It was absolutely awesome to see all the people wearing Harry Potter gear, ties and gowns were everywhere.. this is truly a franchise that is not going anywhere soon and kudos plus to the amazing J K Rowling for creating such a phenomenon that captures the imaginations of children of all ages.



This is as I mentioned the kick off date the The Harry Potter Re-Read Readathon.  Check out the details… there are giveaways and house points and all sorts of fun for those who decide to join in. 🙂

Looking For Potter Heads! Winter Re-Read/Readalong


Are you a Potter Head?  Do you….

Sometimes find yourself whispering a spell under your breath at a family member, co-worker, or friend?


Get excited every time you see one of the movies playing on TV?


Have now or ever in your past used a Harry Potter type of ring tone (this also counts if your phone case has now or ever been Harry Potter)?


Own(ed) any sort of Potter paraphernalia – IE.  Article of clothing, movies, costumes, a wand, board game, posters, bookmarks, signs… ok – you know what I mean ;).


Ever went to Universal Studies in Orlando mainly because of Harry Potter World?


Recited movie lines or profound Dumbledore quotes with a sense of superiority?


Well… if you said yes to any of the above.  YOU are a Potter Head.  And this post is for you.  AND if you are new to the whole Potter literacy PHENOMENA, well, first I take a moment of silence for you…. and then I offer you to read on as well, as an opportunity awaits you as well. (you will be known as First Years)

Starting in November I will be hosting a Harry Potter Re-Read that I am SUPER EXCITED about.  Pull those books off the shelf, or pick them up at your local library, download on your e readers, or listen to on audio (also super fantastic with either narrator I am just saying!).  However you decide to join in… all are welcome.

Throughout our 5 months allowed for the Re-Read there will be dates to discuss the book, add your posts, or add comments to the new tab I will have right below the Book Journey Header.  You can pop in whenever you want to add your thoughts, look for new contests, etc… check back often – not everything will be posted and I want to keep this as lose as unstructured as possible as that is where I thrive best.

If you want in… and I hope you do… please grab one of the following memes from below for your own blog.  If you do not blog, see below for further instructions.










Once you have chosen your House, please write a post about your involvement in this project as well as what year you are (see years below to help you).  By writing a post you will be helping to pass the word about this Re-Read so more may hear about it and join in.  You may also choose to leave a comment here about which House you are in and what year you are.  *This will also be where those without blogs can can leave a comment of how they are participating.

So… here is how you decide on what year you are:

First Years:  You have read The Sorcerer’s Stone or you have not read and Harry Potter books

Second Years:  You have read Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets

Third Years:  You have read the two mentioned above as well as The Prisoner or Azkaban

Fourth Years:  You have read the three above as well as The Goblet Of Fire

Fifth Years:  You have read the four above and the Order Of The Phoenix

Sixth Years:  You have read the five above and The Half Blood Prince

Seventh Years:  You have read all of the Harry Potter books


Now, some of you may be unsure what house you may fall in.  So we will pull out the sorting hat.  Click below on the sorting hat to have the hat choose a house for you… but know this…  what you desire is also considered, so you may choose your own house as well.


The “loosely applied” reading of each book will look like this:

Nov 1 – Nov. 16 – The Sorcerer’s Stone

Nov 17 – Dec. 6th – Chamber Of Secrets

Dec. 7 – Dec. 29th –  The Prisoner Of Azkaban

Dec 30th – Jan 20th – The Goblet Of Fire

Jan. 21st – Feb 13th – Order Of The Phoenix

Feb. 14th – March 7th – The Half Blood Prince

March 8th – March 31st – The Deathly Hallows


There you have it!  All communications will be under the tab under the Book Journey Header called “Harry Potter Re-Read”.  As I mentioned check it often as surprise posts and giveaways will be added by sponsors as we go.

Special note:  You will win “House Points” by participating in commenting, giveaways, and more (all of this will be revealed thought the Harry Potter Re-Read tab).  Your house point totals will show under tabs as well.  It s going to be good fun!  Really!

To commit (and so I can communicate with you if you win anything) please sign up using the form below:

I will personally be kicking off with a trip to Harry Potter World in Orlando Florida.  I will send some posts from there and give you a peek at some of the items that may be coming home with me for giveaways!

 The hashtag for the read-a-long on twitter is #hpreadalong

  Hope you will join me!