I highly doubted that I would ever write a review for any of the Harry Potter books. Instead, I created a shelf called "seven greatest books ever" and...moreI highly doubted that I would ever write a review for any of the Harry Potter books. Instead, I created a shelf called "seven greatest books ever" and threw them all in there, hoping that would be enough to display my immense love for them.
After seeing Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows movie, I decided that I would kick start the re-reading process before the release of Part 2, so I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for probably the 15th time, and began to read. I realized part way through, that even if I didn't want to review it for its literary merit, I still had much to say about the book solely regarding how it makes me feel.
At twenty three years of age, the book is still everything that it was for me when I was only twelve. I remember seeing it in a book order (remember those?) in the sixth grade and putting a star next to it to take home to my mom. My mom, not wanting to buy me a book I'd never read, denied me my request, adding that it looked pretty silly anyway (the joke was on her though, she came to love them too). Anyway, the next year, my cool uncle (don't we all have one?) decided he was going to buy them for my cousin and she was going to have to let me borrow them. So I began the Harry Potter books, and suddenly being twelve- awkward and unpopular, wasn't quite so lonely as it had always been.
I dreamed myself right into Harry Potter's world; not in a dangerous, psychotic way, but in a starry eyed, childlike way. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were better friends to me than anyone I met throughout my junior high and high school years, which in a way is a bit sad, but I have no regrets.
This was the first time that I've read Sorcerer's Stone since Deathly Hallows came out, and it inevitably made for a far more emotional experience than the first time around. What was once just good, innocent, fun can't exactly be viewed as such when you've seen the big picture. I literally burst into tears at the end of the chapter in which Harry and Ron finally take Hermione as their friend. Oh, what the heck? I'll go ahead and post the paragraph, in case anyone else is wanting to ride the high of that emotional wave:
But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.
Ah! Knowing what they were in store for- years of utter devotion to one another made this moment so much bigger now than it had seemed at first. Either way though, it's a very moving moment. I love this book. I will always love this book. And I full intend to disown any future children of mine who can't appreciate it with me (I haven't decided as to whether or not that's a joke yet).(less)
Three books down, four more to go. My original plan is not going at all as I intended. For those of you who don't know, I was trying to make this read...moreThree books down, four more to go. My original plan is not going at all as I intended. For those of you who don't know, I was trying to make this reading experience last right up to the theater release of DH Part 2. I was supposed to be taking a month with each book to really absorb them and let all the finer details soak in.
Apparently, though, when it comes to Potter, I simply can't exercise self control. My stipulation of one chapter a night turned into "well, two is a nice, round number," which turned into "three can't really make much difference," which finally landed me at "it's two in the morning, and I have to be up for work in four hours, so I should probably put this book down."
You may be wondering, what's the rush, Lisa? Why fly through the book when not only do you own it, but you've read it already? A fair question, indeed. Yes, I have absolutely no reason to fear "The Grim," who I know very well to be Sirius Black. Yes, I have absolutely no reason to fear Sirus Black, who I know very well to be an innocent man. Yes, I have no reason to wonder how Hermione is getting to her classes on time when the feat should be physically impossible, and no reason to wonder as to whether or not Crookshanks actually ate Scabbers. The mystery is gone, sure, but that "magic" I keep referring to in my previous reviews is not.
I'm getting increasingly creepily nostalgic and mystical with each new review I post, so don't be surprised if by the time I review Deathly Hallows I'm raving about the suicide pact I've made in the name of Harry Potter (actually, if that happens, please be more than surprised, be very, very concerned.
Anyway, the point is, the magic is here, as it always is and always will be. This book is pivotal in many ways, most importantly for its introductions to Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, who would both go on to perform very father-like roles for Harry, filling a void that had gone long unfulfilled. Then we've also got our first use of the Marauder's Map (thank you Fred and George Weasley), which makes itself incredibly useful, especially when used as a companion to the invisibility cloak. On top of that, it also gave me the quote for my next tattoo-- "Mischief Managed" on my feet. I know, I know-- what kind of idiot gets a Potter tattoo on their body? Well, the kind of idiot who knows they will love Harry Potter until they die:) Also, you may not have realized, but this is also the only Potter book which doesn't feature Voldemort as the primary baddie. Interesting, huh?
And how 'bout that butterbeer? Eh? If anyone is interested, my friend Emily and I have had a blast making the stuff (or at least one version of it) for parties and such. Here is the recipe, which tastes just as good when using vegan ingredients, by the way:
BUTTERBEER Start to finish: 1 hour (10 minutes active) Servings: 4 1 cup light or dark brown sugar 2 tablespoons water 6 tablespoon butter 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided 1/2 teaspoon rum extract Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer. Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract. In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes. To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each Try it out! But fair warning, the stuff is almost sickeningly sweet.
Oh, and in conclusion, for anyone wondering-- you cannot summon the Knight Bus with just a stick from the ground (even if you think it may slightly resemble a wand). I tried it out, so now you don't have to. (less)
I'm not sure if I should review this right now or not. I'm nearly done with Order of the Phoenix, so my thoughts might possibly come out a bit blurred...moreI'm not sure if I should review this right now or not. I'm nearly done with Order of the Phoenix, so my thoughts might possibly come out a bit blurred between both books, but I'm just going to to give it my best shot anyway, and I may or may not decide to post in the end. (Hint: If you're reading this, I decided to post.)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Who else remembers seeing this monster for the first time? I believe I was in the 8th grade when it made its debut. Now, I was not quite old enough to hang out at midnight book releases (though this was the last Potter book that I didn't go to one) or even to really keep up with release dates of things (I know, shameful), but fortunately I had that cool Uncle I mentioned back in my review for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Uncle Mike kept up with all big-time book, movie, and tv premieres and made it his solemn duty to be sure that the kids related to him would be on top of things.
So, even though I was not really even fully aware it was out, Uncle Mike snagged me a copy on the release day and gave it to me as a (two month early) birthday present. At the time, my cousin and I had somewhat of an unhealthily competitive relationship, so we entered into an unspoken race to see who would finish first. I'm sure we each have our own version of how things went down, but dear goodreads readers-- believe me when I tell you I totally got this one in the bag. And if you've seen the size of this thing, you know that is a serious victory.
Yes. It is a big book-- for a kid, it almost feels as daunting as cracking open the bible. Luckily, it reads a little faster (and that's coming from a Christian). For the first time, we are given a look into some of the wizardry outside Hogwarts-- and it's awesome. Beauxbatons and Durmstang-- two wizarding schools which differ largely from Hogwarts. Harry is entered against his will into what is known as "The Triwizard Tournament" to compete against members of other schools in various tests of skill, strength, and courage. The winner is awarded a buttload of galleons, a pretty little cup, and you know-- glory and stuff. Though Harry is initially a little freaked over his name mysteriously being entered, he's still successful in the competition...to no one's surprise.
One of the most notable happenings in the book is that painful Ron/Harry feud which, when Ron is your favorite character, seems to last an eternity, but is in reality a fairly short portion of the book. Even though he acted a fool, I stand by my man-- it has to be hard living in Harry's shadow. And speaking of my man, or, uh, Hermione's man to be more precise-- how can you not love the first sure-fire sign of their feelings for one another at the Yule Ball? It doesn't get played nearly as well in the movie, (through no fault of Rupert Grint or Emma Watson) but that is some fun stuff in the book. I also like that Harry gets turned down by Cho. I know-- it sounds terrible, but no one should have everything come easy to them.
From the fun and frivolous ball to the quirky, entertaining competition tasks, much of the book maintains its usual light tone. But there's a reason this book is as big as it is; it's hiding one hell of a punch to the gut.
He-who-must-not-be-named returns. And he sucks. Hard.
Cedric Diggory, Harry's fellow Hogwarts competitor, is dealt a quick but cruel death, the first significant one of the series. I, for one, was not expecting it. I mean I always figured ol' Voldy would come back, it just didn't enter my wee little brain that that would mean characters I cared about might actually, you know, die.
Then right after the sobfest that is Cedric's death, Harry is reuinted with his parents for a brief moment. It is beautiful and tragic and at that point in my life, I had never read anything like it. The value Rowling intends to instill with the conclusion of the story-- that we need not separate ourselves so fiercely, even though our differences might be great, is one that's important to all people groups. Yes, even us stuffy Christians;) Thought this is the fourth book, it feels oddly like the beginning. I can't wait to write my next reviews. Thanks for reading (I don't know why I've gone strangely formal).
So how did I do in a review in which I actually talk about the plot?(less)
A lot of people cite this book as their least favorite in the Potter saga; many of my friends included. When I asked one of my friends why he felt it...moreA lot of people cite this book as their least favorite in the Potter saga; many of my friends included. When I asked one of my friends why he felt it was the worst of the bunch, he gave me a very reasonable reply. He'd come in late on the Potter game, having only read them last year in fact, when a Professor of his was walking them through what it takes to be a good mystery-- using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as an example of a perfectly fashioned mystery.
Moving on to the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, my friend (let's call him Rex) found that this book wasn't up to standard mystery-wise in the way the first book had been, which is what he'd been expecting. Maybe it's because I first read it as a child, or it's maybe because I was more interested in the fantasy aspect, but I never really cared, nor do I care now that it doesn't follow the same standard mystery guidelines.
Rex was the only person who gave me an answer other than "I don't know, I just don't like it as much," so therefore his is the only one that I'm able to analyze. But enough negativity, allow me to explain what I do like about it.
Um, Ron's broken wand? Hysterical. Well, if I'm being honest, any single scene including Mr. Ron Weasley is bound to make me smile and any interaction between him and Hermione (yes, even this early on) is bound to make me squee!!!!!!!!!! Notice how quick he is to jump to Hermione's defense; notice how distraught he is over Hermione's being petrified. Oh, how I love them.
To add a few more- Harry's first trip to the Burrow! The flying car! Fred and George marching ahead of Harry, announcing him mockingly as the Heir of Slytherin! The singing Valentine's Day Dwarves! And our introduction to the Whomping Willow! Come on people, this is classic stuff!
I also love the part Ginny Weasley plays in this book; not so much the whole "helping the Heir of Slytherin thing," but her mad crush on Harry. Maybe because I was granted the fortune/misfortune of having a brother a grade above me, I also had the wonderful fortune/misfortune of crushing on all his super hott (yes with two t's) friends. Ah, how I remember the days of pining for them, of whining over their lack of return interest, of cursing my blasted gapped teeth and frizzy hair. Of course, unlike Ginny I was never able to woo any of them in the end, (even after my braces!) but I still think I did alright as far as men go;)
Okay, back to the text. I even enjoy ol' Lockhart, for what he's worth. Yeah, he's obnoxious, but that's the point, right? And yeah, the degree to whch he is obnoxious is a little cartoony and unrealistic, but let's not forget- this is a children's book, after all.
Chamber of Secrets also sees Harry destroying his first Horcrux, and offers us our first insight into one Tom Riddle. I would never discount this book, or cast it so carelessly aside as least favorite of the bunch (I don't believe in ranking these books, by the way). Anyway, it receives a full five stars from me with zero hesitation. I appreciate it's contribution to the Potter world and will look forward to reading it again when the time comes...which it will.
Post 2013 re-read: I enjoyed this much more than Uglies. That Zane sure is a dreamboat.
Original review: I see that a lot of people are of the opinion...morePost 2013 re-read: I enjoyed this much more than Uglies. That Zane sure is a dreamboat.
Original review: I see that a lot of people are of the opinion that this series went more and more downhill with each book The biggest complaints- annoying language and a preachy environmentalist attitude, which I can totally see. I think how you read a book depends a lot on WHEN you read a book, and I guess that's where my perfect score comes in. It was an emotional decision, probably more than anything else. While I was reading this series, a person who shall not be named put my family through the trauma that was his second drug overdose. I remember the next morning, when I was trying to steady myself enough to speak to the kid, I wound up deciding to tell him about this series.
I told him about how these people were experiencing the same thing he was- they'd lost themselves in their own minds. Whether it was their choice or not, they were so far gone it didn't matter anymore whose initial decision it was. But what did matter was that they were not so far gone that they'd lost every bit of themselves. It was an excruciating process, but these characters were able to dig down inside of themselves enough to find out who they used to be, and allow that person to take control once again.
Though it didn't really hit home for him, it gave me some kind of hope and I will always look back on these books fondly.(less)
This book, to me, would have made for a far better finale than The Soldiers of Halla. It was a near perfect book- heart stopping action, raw emotion,...moreThis book, to me, would have made for a far better finale than The Soldiers of Halla. It was a near perfect book- heart stopping action, raw emotion, the return of all the characters we had grown to love over the course of the series...it was definitely my favorite of the Pendragon novels.(less)
I can't really figure out how I feel about this book because I can't really tell what the overall message was supposed to be. The fact that Jenna went...moreI can't really figure out how I feel about this book because I can't really tell what the overall message was supposed to be. The fact that Jenna went on to live a perfectly normal existence after what was done to her just doesn't settle well with me. I wanted it to be addressed that what happened to her was wrong- people are born and they are supposed to die. In most stories (The Island of Dr. Moreau, Frankenstein, etc.) the idea of "playing God" is met with consequences and I think that lesson is important, and not properly conveyed in this book.(less)
In honor of my second reading of the book I am going to post a whole new review. This was an interesting experience for me- reading the book a second t...moreIn honor of my second reading of the book I am going to post a whole new review. This was an interesting experience for me- reading the book a second time definitely caused me to see things differently than the first time around. I don't often re-read things, in fact, Potter is just about the only thing I can claim to have read several times, but because a few friends of mine just read Hunger Games for the first time and have been talking about it, I realized how rusty I am and wanted to brush up. The book was every bit as good as the first time, probably even better, actually. I cried all over again, ached all over again, and swooned all over again- though, against everything I ever thought possible-not just for one boy this time. Ever since reading the book the first time, I have been absolutely blinded by my Peeta love. Any suggestion that Katniss should end up with Gale would always get me scowling. I placed a flower on the page where Peeta first declares his love for Katniss to mark it as my favorite and gushed about him to my sister for days after reading it. The way I saw it- Gale did not EXIST. Katniss was a fool for not knowing Peeta's love was true and for not giving her love back to him wholeheartedly. This time around...well...I don't know. Don't get me wrong- I still love Peeta with all my heart, but through the entire thing I felt just incredibly unsettled over Gale. Gale, who spent years earning his spot in Katniss's heart. Gale, who probably never officially declared his love for her because he never thought he needed to. Gale, sitting at home, watching in anguish as the girl he loves flits around with some other guy- some STRANGER. My heart broke for him this time around-and I couldn't help but think that in a perfect world, it would not be Peeta, the lovable boy with the bread for Katniss. It should have been Gale. But this is in so many ways not a perfect world and where Katniss is now I don't think that she could ever be with Gale, regardless of whether or not she should have been. The Games changed her in a way that Gale will never be able to understand, tragic as it is. If she is going to be with someone at this point, I think it has to be Peeta because of their shared experience- not because of this undying love of his. I would almost rather see her end up alone though. I can't believe I'm saying that, but it's true. I hate to have wasted my entire review talking about the love story, but can you blame me? The love triangle has so much more depth than the average one. But there is so, so, so much more. Rue. Little Rue- probably still the most memorable tribute to come out of both books for me. The Mockingjays and Tracker Jackers...the world created here is so ridiculously inventive. Cinna. Cinna. Cinna! The girl on fire! I love this book! I've restarted Catching Fire and will hopefully have some new insight on that one too. Oh, Mockingjay, please ship quickly!(less)
What a sequel! I was not in love with the first book, and wasn't going to move on with the series. Luckily for me though, I picked it up on a whim and...moreWhat a sequel! I was not in love with the first book, and wasn't going to move on with the series. Luckily for me though, I picked it up on a whim and ended up being absolutely blown away. What I remember from Everlost was liking the premise, but not feeling extremely attached to any of the characters. With Everwild it was a different case, I felt much closer to the old characters and immediately liked the new ones too. I can't wait for the third installment!(less)