What I learned from this book? Oh, only the most important of all life lessons. Home-made grappling hooks rarely succeed, forced marriages can be aver...moreWhat I learned from this book? Oh, only the most important of all life lessons. Home-made grappling hooks rarely succeed, forced marriages can be averted with a simple sleight of hand, and being tragically orphaned is an acceptable excuse for acting ungratefully towards ugly clothing. Ta da. -2/8/2009(less)
The Austere Academy is usually the point at which I give up trying to re-read the ASoUE series, not because it's a bad book - certainly not - but beca...moreThe Austere Academy is usually the point at which I give up trying to re-read the ASoUE series, not because it's a bad book - certainly not - but because I think it's the point at which the original formula stretches too far. There are only so many times the Baudelaires can be transferred to a new guardian, pursued by a disguised Olaf and narrowly thwart his schemes before it becomes as tiring as forcing orphans to run laps around a luminous track night after night. This time I was absolutely determined to power through it though (a task far easier than with The Miserable Mill), and there is a lot to like here. The introduction of the Quagmires, the very first mention of V.F.D., not to mention the absurdly sublime Carmelita Spats. If you've ever wanted to read about a rude little girl poking a child in the back with a stick and whispering "Orphan," this book is for you. You monster.
Re-reading this for approximately the millionth time, it was still every bit as magical as the first. For some strange reason, I read Chamber of Secre...moreRe-reading this for approximately the millionth time, it was still every bit as magical as the first. For some strange reason, I read Chamber of Secrets first as a child (I vividly remember picking it up from my brother's bookcase and starting to read, but it's quite beyond me why it didn't seem a good idea to start with number one...) Still, I remember the delight when I did move on to this one and found all the wonderful build up. The Diagon Alley chapter still causes a physical pang of longing to be part of Harry's world. It's quite strange re-reading the whole series knowing exactly what's to come and how it ends. In a way I feel sad for the generation of children that will grow up seeing the films and knowing the plots before ever starting on the books. I think some of the magic will be lost to them, but there's still so much here to love, I can't imagine ever not wanting to re-read them all. Before the first film came out, I set myself the ridiculous task of trying to learn the whole book off by heart. Needless to say, I didn't succeed, but it was quite alarming to realise on this read-through that I still have a good portion of the first chapter stored away word for word! Just a wonderful way to spend a day.(less)
This book was a joy to read. It's an enchanting tale, wittily told, that really captures the essence of childhood all within a few hundred pages. I ha...moreThis book was a joy to read. It's an enchanting tale, wittily told, that really captures the essence of childhood all within a few hundred pages. I have a bit of Peter Pan burn out of late - babysitting a four-year-old that watches Returns to Neverland, Hook and the Sumpter adaptation on a daily basis will do that to you - but it was lovely to come to the source text and discover where it all came from. I have a vague memory of reading this aged six or so, but I can't imagine my comprehension was high, so this was essentially brand new to me. The only reason it's really a four instead of a five is that I found it very easy to put down. I originally started in 2009, set it down after a few pages and didn't come back until May 2012. It's bitesized enough that it could be finished in a day, but it still took me until July. Still, I'm glad I got there in the end.
I love this book. As a fan of ASOUE for over ten years now, it was a pleasure to revisit The Unauthorised Autobiography and find it just as maddeningl...moreI love this book. As a fan of ASOUE for over ten years now, it was a pleasure to revisit The Unauthorised Autobiography and find it just as maddeningly coded, light on real information and full of inanities as I remembered. I can appreciate why it wouldn't suit readers in search of actual answers, but given the lack-thereof in the series as a whole, TUA is a perfect accompaniment. It delves just far enough into the shrouded world of VFD to tantalise, without destroying the mysterious premise of the series by laying anything out plainly. For those that occasionally tire of the routine structure of the Baudelaire tales and wish to spend some time with the older generation, this is a must-read.(less)
Chamber of Secrets has a special place in my heart as the first Harry Potter book I ever read. Having re-read it now, perhaps 12-13 years after that f...moreChamber of Secrets has a special place in my heart as the first Harry Potter book I ever read. Having re-read it now, perhaps 12-13 years after that first time, I have to admit that it's not perfect. With nothing to compare it to as a child, it was nothing short of amazing. It opened up a whole new world, stuffed to bursting with wonderful concepts and characters. Now, with six other Potter novels to consider, Chamber ranks near the bottom. I think Goblet takes the position of least favourite for me, but to some extent that is influenced by my love of Chamber for introducing me to the Harry Potter universe. In absolute and total fairness though, it is a bit dull. With other Harry Potter novels, even the chapters I remember almost verbatim are still a pleasure to re-read, whereas with Chamber I did occasionally experience a twinge of 'do-I-have-to?' before revisiting certain chapters. Still, there is a lot here to love, and a lot of important set-up for the later books. Alas, Dobby and I got off on the wrong foot ('Don't get Harry in trouble, please!') and it's taken me a long time to recover from that, but still, however critical I might feel towards it at times, I will absolutely always love it.(less)
Azkaban is definitely one of my favourite Harry Potter novels. I love that it's the first time we really start to pull back from the trio and delve in...moreAzkaban is definitely one of my favourite Harry Potter novels. I love that it's the first time we really start to pull back from the trio and delve into the wider wizarding world and the older generation. It's a very different experience reading it now compared to the first time - I still remember being utterly stunned through the later chapters (view spoiler)[('GASP, he's a werewolf! He's helping Sirius Black! Scabbers is Pettigrew! Sirius is innocent!). (hide spoiler)] It's a wonder I didn't just keel over, frankly. Now, of course, the shock is gone, but if anything the story feels all the more poignant. It's very strange to encounter Lupin for the first time on the Hogwarts Express, to follow Harry through his visits with him, and know how much the man must be cherishing these moments, and how cruel the intervening years since they were last so close have been. I love Lupin. I love Sirius. One element I'm rather more 'meh' on is the relationship between Sirius and Remus. Knowing so many shippers now, it's very hard for me not to read it from a romantic POV, and I actually feel like their relationship was more touching when I could see them just as friends and near-brothers. But of course, that's not the fault of JKR at all, and Azkaban is definitely a book which is standing the test of time.(less)
My copy of this book is absolutely falling apart. It's a first edition, so eleven years old, and the cover is completely unstuck along the front of th...moreMy copy of this book is absolutely falling apart. It's a first edition, so eleven years old, and the cover is completely unstuck along the front of the spine. Although this made re-reading it a fairly annoying experience, it's testament to how much enjoyment I've got out of it over the years. So when I say that Goblet of Fire is probably my least-favourite Harry Potter novel, you know that's not really strong criticism.
My major problem with it is the prolonged period of isolation Harry goes through when his name comes out of the Goblet of Fire. As a kid with sometimes fickle friends I could relate to that in an unpleasant way, and as an adult I just feel so sorry for him. Although the book ends with Harry facing much worse than a falling out with Ron, it's the latter that makes me feel gloomy. To me, Harry Potter is about good vs. evil and all that jazz, so bouts with Voldemort and a high-body count are, while naturally distressing, to be expected. Beyond that, I like the formula of most of the other books, the routine of life at Hogwarts, our glimpses into Harry's lessons etc, so to have all that overshadowed by the Triwizard Tournament makes re-reading a bit dull. Still, the last few hundred pages are unputdownable, and even if I did spend a lot of the re-read looking forward to getting onto Order, it's still an altogether excellent story. (July 18 to August 06, 2011)(less)
Before my mass re-read, I thought Order of the Phoenix was my favourite Harry Potter book. Now, I know it's definitely not. I reached a point in the m...moreBefore my mass re-read, I thought Order of the Phoenix was my favourite Harry Potter book. Now, I know it's definitely not. I reached a point in the middle, somewhere just before "The Centaur and the Sneak", where I actually put it down and moved on to a Stephen King because it was just so boring I couldn't force myself to continue. Which is stupid, clearly, because Harry Potter is so, so not boring, and as soon as I picked it up again there was McGonagall being all sassy and fierce and I was annoyed at myself for having discarded it. But still. It's tumbled down the list to sit just above Goblet and Chamber for me. I think it's probably because, the first few times round, I loved the Order and the focus on new, adult characters, but in retrospect they're hardly there at all. The DA chapters are brilliant but also scant, and then there's Umbridge. I wasn't as keen on Goblet as some of the other books because the Triwizard Tournament pulled focus away from the wonderful intricacies of regular school life at Hogwarts. Here, life at Hogwarts is unrelentingly bleak and just left me feeling meh. (6-23 August 2011)(less)
I flipping love this book. I'd always liked it, but it took until my 2011 re-read to realise that it's up there jostling for first place with Hallows...moreI flipping love this book. I'd always liked it, but it took until my 2011 re-read to realise that it's up there jostling for first place with Hallows and PS. I love the routine of it - classes and Quidditch galore - and although Harry/Ginny seems much more left field when re-read over a short period, I love how, for a good five hundred pages or so, they're all allowed to just be normal teenagers. The ending is a total wrench - I remember finishing it for the first time and just wandering around the house forlornly, feeling like nothing was right with the world anymore (a melodramatic teenager? I? Never) - but I love all the build up to it, all the Riddle flashbacks. Add in marvellous new characters like Slughorn, brilliant subplots like Molly v. Fleur and Tonks/Remus and it's six hundred pages of pure brilliance. (23 Aug-1 Sep 2011)(less)
I went to visit my little brothers last week, and my eight-year-old brother Charlie had a couple of Simpsons comics on loan from the library. We took...moreI went to visit my little brothers last week, and my eight-year-old brother Charlie had a couple of Simpsons comics on loan from the library. We took one each, giggled over some of the strips together, and spent a very pleasant afternoon in Springfield. This isn't something I'd ever have read of my own volition, but I expect I'll have happy memories of that afternoon for a while to come. The Simpsons translates well to comic form, and while not every story is a winner (the long segment in space was frankly dull), if you like the TV show, there's plenty to like here.(less)