A-Z Book Survey

38

Recently I saw Kim over at Tranquil Dreams up her Book Survey, and I thought that I simply had to get on board with this. It was a great idea, and you all know how much I love to read! So I got cracking on it and had an absolute blast putting this post together. Thanks a lot Kim!

atozsurvey-1017x1024 (1)

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Karin Slaughter / Stephen King

Best Sequel Ever:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling

Currently Reading: 

A Clash of Kings – George R.R. Martin

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Creme Soda

creme soda

E-reader or Physical Book:

Physical. While e-readers are useful, they will never, ever top a physical book. Those pages… that smell. Love!

amazon-kindle-reader-books

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School:

Augustus Waters. I mean come on… he’s awesome, and what a personality! Not like that is a stretch or anything, you’d be crazy if you didn’t understand the appeal, but after reading The Fault In Our Stars I simply fell in love with that kid.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Blindsighted – Karin Slaughter. I am glad that I saved this one and the sequel from being thrown out and that I gave it a shot, despite the cover, because it introduced me to one of my all time favourite authors.

Hidden Gem Book:

Oh difficult… the first books that spring to mind are both Anne Rice novels. If I had to choose one of the two, I would say Memnoch The Devil purely because that was some amazing speculation. I completely discarded the whole “story” of Lestat that was snaking through it, it is as though he was there only to present the greater part of what was to be said, and I found Memnoch The Devil to be a very intricate and unique outlook to Heaven and Hell. Well worth the read. Like I say, you can view Lestat only as the vessel with which to convey an idea, but that idea was just so interesting.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life:

Discovering Potter as a kid. Not even kidding, it was the best thing that could ever happen. harry potter books

Just Finished:

One Scream Away – Kate Brady

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Romance. Soppy, sappy, useless romance. Yuck.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Oh jeesh… I read a lot of really long books. Can’t think of just one but off the top of my head I would probably have to say Ken Follett’s World Without End.

Major Book Hangover Because of:

The Southern Vampire Mysteries. Don’t even ask. I can’t explain it. I am not done with them, but reading other books in between them has become a chore, I just want to go back and finish them!

TrueBlood10bksNew

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Three seriously overcrowded ones and a mini one at work.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

There are many, but let’s call it quits on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling

Preferred Place to Read:

My bed. I love being propped up on my pillows, under my blanket, with my light and all comfortable and cosy.

Quote that Inspires You/Gives You All The Feels From a Book You’ve Read:

Iconic Book Scene - Zoe

I really don’t think that I need to explain this… if you have read the book you will understand.

Reading Regret:

I regret never having done Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby in school. Not like it was my choice or anything (we did other books), but I’ll always lament not having done it in so much detail.

Series You Started and Need to Finish (all books are out in series):

Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

dark tower covers

Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books:

The Long Hard Road Out of Hell – Marilyn Manson and Neill Strauss

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling (Yep, third time lucky – can you tell I absolutely love this book?)

The Green Mile – Stephen King

Unapologetic Fangirl for:

Karin Slaughter. That woman can write, oh my goodness! I love her work, her characters, the realism, all of it. Brilliant!

Very Excited for this Release more than the Others:

In terms of books made into films, Joe Hill’s Horns. In terms of a book releases, Cop Town by Karin Slaughter just came! Eeeeeek!

Worst Bookish Habits:

Putting a million books on my reading list, then carting an armful of them with me between home, travelling, and work. It’s ridiculous.

X Marks the Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Carrie – Stephen King

Your Latest Book Purchase:

I just received my Divergent Trilogy box set and I love it!

divergent trilogy

Zzz-Snatcher Book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

the goldfinch donna tartt cover

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling

29

7 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Adult's Cover

Harry Potter #7

Harry Potter is a wizard who has made a very serious and difficult decision: dropping out of school to bring the most vile wizard of the age down – Lord Voldemort needs to be stopped, and Sybil Trelawney’s prediction tells that one of them will have to cease to exist. Harry begins to make preparations for that which he needs to do. His best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger insist that they will accompany Harry on his mission that their deceased headmaster Albus Dumbledore set him on – find the Horcuxes that Voldemort stored sections of his soul in and destroy them. Ex-Auror Mad-Eye Moody perishes in Harry’s escape plan from his aunt and uncle’s home, and many more people are injured. The Horcrux journey is hastened phenomenally after the new Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, brings Harry, Ron and Hermione the things that Dumbledore bequeathed them in his will, but is murdered by Voldemort’s Death Eaters soon after and launch an attack on Ron’s family home, The Burrow. Professor Severus Snape, Dumbledore’s vanquisher, has now taken up post of headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and there are now Death Eaters on staff. Rumours about the type of man that Dumbledore was run rampant, and Harry realizes that he didn’t really know anything about his hero, and is afraid the vile rumours may be true.

Harry, Ron and Hermione make it out of the Death Eater attack by the skin of their teeth and Hermione has been packed and ready to go for days. They go back to Harry’s deceased godfather’s house, which now belongs to him. Within Grimmauld Place, they make their plans to get into the Ministry of Magic to gain access to a locket, the real Horcrux that Regulus Black stole from Voldemort’s hiding place and sent home with the house elf Kreacher, who is now serving Harry. Mundungus Fletcher stole the locket and the horrifyingly terrible Dolores Umbridge got her hands onto it. Harry needs it to weaken Voldemort, but their break in at the Ministry of Magic hardly goes smoothly, and the three make a run for it the moment they have the Horcrux, but lose Grimmauld Place as their hideout, and so they end up trekking cross country, hunting for more Horcruxes. They soon become dispirited when it seems the gifts that Dumbledore left Harry, Ron and Hermione are useless, and they are not getting anywhere in terms of discovering new Horcruxes or how to even get rid of the one that they have, seeing as they have nothing to destroy it with.

Ron eventually deserts Harry and Hermione, and Hermione is particularly crushed by this. The two make way to Godric’s Hollow, where Harry’s family was murdered when he was a child, and where Albus Dumbledore, too, suffered atrocities. However, in Godric’s Hollow they are attacked by Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, and barely make it out, seconds before Voldemort himself arrived to kill Harry. Before arriving at Godric’s Hollow, Hermione finds a symbol written into the book that Dumbledore left to her, and in the town they find the same symbol on a tombstone, and Harry recalls seeing it on Xenophelius Lovegood’s necklace earlier in the year. Setting up camp, Ron returns, led by a Patronus doe, and Harry discovers the sword of Godric Gryffindor, which they immediately use to destroy the locket.

Set on ending it all, they visit Xeno Lovegood, who sells them out to Death Eaters, and they make a narrow escape, though they have learned of the Deathly Hallows now – they are there to master death. Hermione’s logical brain will not accept anything of the sort, though Harry wonders if that is what Voldemort is hunting, and why he has kidnapped two wandmakers, to learn more of the Elder Wand. Irrespective as to what is happening, Harry needs to start working faster to protect the wizarding community that is supporting him, and to stop the death toll rising anymore. Everything that can go wrong seems to start going wrong the moment that Harry has discovered what he needs to do and how he will go about doing it, and the trio’s plans constantly need to be readjusted. The Horcruxes need to be extinguished so that Harry can meet Voldemort on the battlefield as an equal.

Will Harry be able to recover and destroy all the Horcruxes before he faces Voldemort? Will Harry be adequately prepared when he faces Voldemort, or will he be captured by other means, and die without fulfilling his destiny? Will Snape continue to torture the students of Hogwarts? Will Harry ever see Ginny, the love of his life, again? Can Harry end the pain, suffering and terror that has wrought the wizarding community, bring it all to an end?

GRADE 9.5It all ends here, and what a damn spectacular ending it was, too. This book is three distinct different parts for me: the decision, the travel, the war. The first third and last third are great, but that whole section in the middle got a bit long at times, but never really boring. It helped a lot in the sense of bringing everyone in to the desolate feeling that Harry, Ron and Hermione must have been feeling. Everything about this book had that feeling of finality to it, a distinctly defiant hope, but at the same time a massive amount of certainty. Voldemort finally taking the Ministry was long awaited and well received, and Dolores Umbridge still remains one of the most evil literary characters of all time – such a foul woman. The death toll was high in The Deathly Hallows, and though I understand the concept of there being casualties of war, this had so many places where I wondered if I could bear another person dying. I really enjoyed how J.K. Rowling wrote about a romance with Harry and Ginny, spilling over from the previous book, but never making the romance an obsession or the central point. Neville Longbottom made me so damn proud in this book, I loved it. Discovering things about the mysterious Dumbledore’s past was very rewarding yet very shocking at the same time. Kreacher provided me unknowable amounts of laughter in this book what with his drastic attitude change. The danger that was imminent was ever present in the book, and I enjoyed the way this book was written. Rowling was writing again, not the confused start she gave The Half-Blood Prince. This story was filled with joy, pain, suffering, heartache, hope and love it was just incredible. Rowling finds a way to reel you in, no matter what. This was the best way to have wrapped up a series, and is well worth going through the entire collection to get to. It was a fantastic journey to make again, and something that I most certainly will embark upon time and time again in the future.

SPOILER: Snape’s death was a horrible thing to experience, and his memories in the pensieve were heart-wrenching and painful. I thought the significance was brushed over a little bit, but at the same time the emotional charge behind Snape is just beautiful. He really grew to be one of my most favourite characters, who also had a death that made me pine. Fred’s death, too, was a damn shame, and was not on. The final war that raged by the end was amazing, and while it had moments that made you smile, it was overall a very dramatic affair, something we had been waiting years to finally encounter.

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – JK Rowling

7

6 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Adult's Cover

Harry Potter #6

Harry Potter, a young wizard, is collected from his Muggle relatives by Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Albus Dumbledore. Harry has been waiting throughout the summer for news from his world. Harry is still reeling from the shock of having lost his godfather, Sirius Black, mere weeks before. Lord Voldemort, the most feared Dark wizard of the age, has finally moved into the open and the Ministry of Magic can no longer ignore the story. Rufus Scrimgeour replaces Cornelius Fudge as Minister for Magic. Dumbledore takes Harry along with him to visit with Horace Slughorn, whom he wishes to take up a teaching post at Hogwarts. Harry seems to be the one to persuade Slughorn, and Dumbledore explains to Harry that it is because Slughorn is a collector of sort, a collector of great students.

Returning to Hogwarts, Harry and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, are horrified to learn that the reviled Severus Snape will no longer be teaching Potions, but finally got the post he has always wanted: Defence Against the Dark Arts. Slughorn takes up Potions. With Snape no longer being the Potions master, Harry will be able to realize his dream of becoming an Auror, a Dark wizard catcher, seeing as his grades are then fine to be accepted into the class. In their first Potions lesson (seeing as he never bought the relevant books for this class), Slughorn instructs him and Ron to go and borrow school books. Harry gets a rather tattered and frayed one, and is irritated to learn that the previous owner scribbled just about everywhere in the book. However, soon Harry realizes that the previous owner was a genius, and it wins him a prize: Felix Felicis, a luck potion that is incredibly strong.

Harry learns that the book belonged to someone who nicknamed themselves the Half-Blood Prince, and Hermione is awfully sceptical about the book – and not only because Harry has replaced her as top Potions student, either. Aside from school being completely different, Harry feels useless, like he is doing nothing to stop Voldemort. Dumbledore soon informs Harry that he will be attending private lessons with him, and Dumbledore starts revealing memories that he has collected of Tom Riddle in his youth, prior to becoming Lord Voldemort. Dumbledore insists it is of the utmost importance to understand how Voldemort marked Harry as his equal, and how Harry’s greatest power over Voldemort is the fact that he can love. Harry also has issues come up when he starts to realize that he likes Ron’s sister Ginny more than he should, and tries his damndest to stay away from those thoughts and dreams. Ron and Hermione are endlessly fighting about things, and the friendship dissolves when Ron starts seeing fellow Gryffindor Lavender Brown.

Harry is alone in being incredibly suspicious of his nemesis, Draco Malfoy. Prior to school starting Draco was threatening Mr Borgin in Knockturn Alley in his shop, and it is a dark place to be, full of people living on the fringe of the Dark arts. At school, his suspicions are not abated, and Malfoy keeps inexplicably disappearing off the Marauder’s Map at random times (once Harry becomes obsessed enough to try and track him). Harry is tasked with extracting a memory from Professor Slughorn, and using the Felicis, he extracts the memory. He and Dumbledore explore Slughorn explaining Horcruxes to Tom Riddle, and Riddle asking terrible questions. Horcruxes are Dark magic. It entails splitting your soul and hiding it in something, and someone has to die to split the soul. Voldemort has created six Horcruxes, and it becomes Harry and Dumbledore’s job to recover them.

Harry and Dumbledore have a lead and chase it down, but everything goes downhill from there. Harry continually questions why Dumbledore trusts Snape, and he will no longer answer. Will Harry and Dumbledore be able to recover the Horcruxes that Voldemort has hidden his soul in? Two are already destroyed and a large grouping of unknown ones remain. What is Malfoy up to that Snape is insistent on helping him with and that has turned Malfoy against his favourite teacher, made him intent on grabbing the glory for himself? What is going on in the school, and what are Voldemort’s plans? When will the Dark Lord strike again?

GRADE 9I had some issues with some sections in the book. The first time I ever read it, I was struck by the fact that it almost felt as though J.K. Rowling was rushing to get through this book, and I have never been able to shake the feeling. There are a lot of disjointed areas to read through, and some sections of downright sloppy, rushed writing. But then there are areas again that are simply superb. The story that she conveyed in this book was tremendous. The roots of Tom Riddle while on the rise to becoming Lord Voldemort, a terrifying and feared Dark wizard is astounding. Dumbledore’s task of finding out more about Voldemort’s past was dangerous as well as a stroke of genius. A lot of the book revolves around Harry’s obsession with Draco Malfoy, who admittedly has a much smaller part than usual. I was saddened to see that very little attention was given to Sirius’s death as well as how Harry was dealing with it. Being at Hogwarts itself was almost brushed aside, but the luscious detail used to describe Dumbledore’s mission to recover recollections to arm Harry against Voldemort takes precedence and gives us an incredible look into Voldemort’s mind, and how he could possibly be the way that he is. I thought that the best written section of the book was most definitely the last quarter, from Harry’s last trip to Dumbledore for their lesson together and the aftermath. This book series is really one of those rare gems – well written and presented, strong and with a wealth of characters that just draw you into their magical world. This really was a fantastic entry into the series, and had a lot of history in it that just makes all you know that much more solid.

SPOILER: J.K. Rowling managed to convey the raw loss of Dumbledore as well as Harry’s detachment from the rest of the world when he realizes that he is about to leave everything in his life behind to set out on the mission that Dumbledore set out for him: recover the Horcruxes and end Voldemort. The last section of the book was so damn tightly written and well executed. The fight between Snape and Harry will always haunt me and taunt me, even the first time around that I read it, while reeling from the loss of Dumbledore, I realized something deeper was going on, that Snape was sticking out his neck for something.

Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – JK Rowling

16

harry potter and the goblet of fire adult edition

Harry Potter #4

Harry Potter is a wizard who was having quite the raw summer with his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and their horrible son, Dudley Dursley. He is having an even worse summer than usual seeing as he almost got to live with his godfather, Sirius Black, though his name was not cleared before the summer vacation. He was still labelled a mass murdered and Dark wizard. Harry is only too thrilled when his best friend in the world, Ron Weasley, invites him to stay and go to the Quidditch World Cup. Harry is elated, and soon the remainder of his holiday is spent in the company of the Weasleys and Hermione Granger, another close friend. Excited about the Quidditch World Cup, the friends have an absolute blast. However, all good things come to an end, and Voldemort, the most evil Dark Wizard of their time, seems never to be forgotten. His followers terrorize a Muggle family, and finally the Dark Mark is sent into the air, causing massive panic.

Barty Crouch, a member of the Ministry of Magic, sacks his house elf, Winky, when she is discovered near the Dark Mark, carrying Harry’s wand. This spurs Hermione on to start SPEW, an organization intent on helping the house elves in the world. The Dark Mark marred the Quidditch World Cup a little bit, and Harry starts to wonder. His scar was prickling during the summer, but he is sure Voldemort is nowhere near him. Returning to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the students are elated to hear that the Triwizard Tournament has been reinstated, and will be hosted at Hogwarts this year. However, no student under the age of seventeen may enter, and there are many disappointed students, including Ron’s twin brothers, Fred and George, who are intent on finding a way to enter, anyhow. Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody starts at Hogwarts as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and soon the students are in awe of him. As an ex-Auror, Moody has caught many Dark wizards and Death Eaters, and is training the students intensely to defend themselves.

Students from Beauxbatons Academy and Durmstrang Institute arrive to submit the names to have their champions chosen, and Durmstrang comes with a highly notable guest: Viktor Krum, the Bulgarian Seeker that they saw play at the Quidditch World Cup. The night the Goblet of Fire chooses the champions is a wonderful one, and everyone is thrilled when Cedric Diggory of Hufflepuff is chosen as the Hogwarts champion, while Fleur Delacour is the representative for Beauxbatons and Viktor Krum for Durmstrang. In confusion, Harry is also chosen as a champion, and Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore is furious. It is a magically binding contract, and Harry will have to compete, whether he likes it or not.

Incredibly popular among the Gryffindor students and loathed by the remainder of the school, Harry has an incredibly hard time dealing with it all seeing as his best friend, Ron, the person he was counting on the most to stand by him, refuses to believe that Harry had nothing to do with entering the tournament. Their friendship suffers heavily. Draco Malfoy, Harry’s ultimate nemesis, is having a ball with Harry’s suffering. However, Harry has the issue of the three tasks coming up, and not knowing how he would be dealing with it. His first task is set, which happens to be retrieving a golden egg from a dragon, and he needs to figure out how to do that, soon. As though Harry was not having enough issues as was, Daily Prophet reporter Rita Skeeter publishes exceptionally demeaning stories about Harry. Sirius meets with Harry to warn him about the Durmstrang headmaster, Igor Karkaroff. He was a convicted Death Eater. It seems Moody’s assessment that someone may be trying to use the tournament to harm Harry isn’t so crazy after all.

When their fight blows over, Harry and Ron finally have much to talk about again, and so many things were missed. Harry needs all the help he can get, and is pleased to find that Dobby the house elf, whom he had once freed from the employ of Lucius Malfoy, is working at Hogwarts. Harry has two more tasks to complete, and a crowd to win over. However, strange occurrences seem to be taking place, and nobody seems to be taking note of them aside from Dumbledore and Sirius, as well as the three friends.

What do all the omens mean? Do the dreams that Harry is having have anything to do with what is going on outside of the walls of Hogwarts? Did Peter “Wormtail” Pettigrew return to Lord Voldemort when he escaped from Sirius’s clutches at the end of last term, snatching Harry’s future away from him entirely? What is going on at Hogwarts, and is Mad-Eye Moody just crazy, or is something more sinister going on than meets the eye?

GRADE 9.5Another stellar input from J.K. Rowling. The sheer excitement you get caught up in at the Quidditch World Cup was amazing, and Fred and George with their tricky little jokes and inventions was great. It was intense to have Harry and Ron fighting the way that they did, it was very difficult to bear through. Harry’s loneliness was palpable, as was the shock of his name having come out of the Goblet. It was a little disappointing that Snape featured so little in this book; he has always been a very central part of the Harry Potter world, in my opinion. It is not that he was not a part of this book, but it seems very little that he cropped up. Mad-Eye was also a great character, and he incites that necessity for constant vigilance, even with the readers. It was through him that you started to wonder if more was going on than the average wizard was aware of.  The events were awesome to follow in this book, and there was much fun to be had, as well as a lot to make you nervous and wonder. Dobby played another important role in Goblet of Fire for Harry, and he always brings something extra to the table. For the first time, a little pubescent nervousness is brought to the fore what with the Yule Ball, and we have a look at Harry developing some type of inexplicable (at that age) feelings towards Cho Chang. This book was magical, and did not become boring or dragged out at any point. The twins provided humour, as always, and a little bit more of Cedric Diggory’s personality was explored. Rita Skeeter brought in the frustrating element of this book, and even had me just taken a little aback by how nasty and cruel she was. The story behind Neville’s living with his grandmother broke my heart. He lost so much, yet never says anything. I would highly recommend this book, as it was in my top few. Definitely worth the read.

SPOILER: The rise of Voldemort has long since been anticipated, and I thought that it was exceptionally well done in this book. He was terrifying, cruel and mean, nothing short of what you would have expected him to be when he regained his strength. The graveyard duel was intense, and Diggory’s death was terrible to have been brought into play. The Death Eaters’ cowardly return was awful to behold.

Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling

3

3 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Adult's Cover

Harry Potter #3

Harry Potter starts his summer awfully – owl post irritates his aunt and uncle, and Uncle Vernon’s sister, Aunt Marge, is coming to stay. Harry has no idea what to do. He is a young wizard that has survived another year at Hogwarts, again interrupted by the greatest enemy of the wizarding world: Lord Voldemort. A madman has broken out and is roaming the streets of London. Sirius Black is at large. However, striking up a deal, Harry agrees to toe the line for Uncle Vernon if he signs Harry’s permission slip to visit Hogsmeade Village at certain weekends. Instead, Harry blows his aunt up when she becomes far too rude about Harry’s deceased parents, and he makes a run for it. While out there, he sees a huge dog, which he later discovers is called a Grim, and considered a death omen. Sure that he will be expelled, Harry makes his way towards the magical Diagon Alley, where he is directly headed off by the Minister for Magic himself, Cornelius Fudge. Instead of being labelled an outcast, Harry is told the rest of his summer he is permitted to stay at the Leaky Cauldron, and that he must be dreadfully careful. Sirius Black is a wizard, and an awfully powerful one at that. He was Voldemort’s right hand man, and he has escaped from Azkaban, something no wizard has ever done before.

Before boarding the Hogwarts Express, Harry discovers that Sirius Black is after him, and that he must be careful. Harry is intent on being careful. His best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley are fighting endlessly. Hermione purchased a huge ginger cat named Crookshanks that is intent on making Ron’s rat, Scabbers, a divine meal. The two argue incessantly, and on the train they meet their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Remus Lupin. The Azkaban guards, the Dementors, have been posted around Hogwarts until Black’s capture, but they have a terrible effect on Harry, who passes out around them every time. Before long, he has his studies to deal with, and some intense mockery from his archenemy, Draco Malfoy.

Harry’s friend, a giant of a man named Rubeus Hagrid, is now teaching Care of Magical Creatures, and starts well enough with Hippogriffs for the class. Draco Malfoy taunts one by the name of Buckbeak, and ends up in the hospital wing. He milks the injury for all that it is worth. Using his injury, he has the Slytherin team’s match against Gryffindor postponed, and Harry is damn near killed by dementors flooding onto the pitch. His trusty Nimbus Two Thousand broomstick gets blown away and ripped to shreds by the incredibly violent Whomping Willow. After receiving the latest broomstick on the market, the Firebolt, Harry, Ron and Hermione get into a little tiff when Hermione runs to Professor Minerva McGonagall, head of the Gryffindor House, about the broomstick. They are positive Sirius Black has sent it to Harry.

Professor Lupin starts anti-dementor lessons with Harry, intent on teaching him the Patronus Charm to ward them off, and Harry wishes to learn it. However, the Grim continually turns up, and Harry is worried. Hermione’s and Ron’s relationship deteriorates worse than ever when Ron’s bedsheets are covered in blood and ginger hair, and Scabbers is missing. The three attempt to help Hagrid with Buckbeak’s upcoming hearing, trying not to get the poor thing killer. Sirius Black launches an array of break-ins and attacks against Hogwarts, and the students are fearful. Harry receives the Marauder’s Map from Fred and George, and the beautiful map shows him all of Hogwarts and the grounds. Harry uses it to sneak off to Hogsmeade, where on a certain trip he learns of a terrible history concerning Sirius Black and his father, James Potter. They were the very best of friends, and Black sold James out to Voldemort.

The information is crushing for Harry, who now hates Black more than ever. He was left orphaned due to a best friend’s betrayal? What will Harry do now that he knows about Black’s connection to his family? What will they do about Buckbeak’s upcoming trial? Will Ron and Hermione ever be able to get over their issues concerning their pets? Will Harry be able to stay under Black’s radar, escape the man or exact vengeance, whichever option presents itself first?

GRADE 9This is one of those books that I absolutely adore. I loved Buckbeak, I loved Sirius Black and his infamous escape, I loved the introduction of the Dementors and the Firebolt gift. This book is just special, and so great. I love how J.K. Rowling has the ability to ensnare both children and adults in her magical world of Harry Potter. The writing style was again excellent, and the story for this was so in depth and complicated. It was wonderful to meet Lupin, and have Harry get his hands on the very cool Marauder’s Map, as well as the anger, bitterness and fear that was conveyed in the pages of this novel. Exploring more in depth into the Potters’ past was so awesome to get into, no matter how deadly depressing the story is. Snape was extremely amusing to me in this book seeing as he truly was totally horrible, and was intent on making that immensely known to Harry. Losing his cool was entertaining, but he was cruel and horrible in this story. The Weasleys will always remain a fantastic family to me. This was definitely a  great entry to a phenomenal series.

Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – JK Rowling

7

2 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Adult's Cover

Harry Potter #2

Harry Potter is a wizard – a young wizard living with his insufferable aunt, uncle and major bully cousin. But never fear – he will be returning to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry soon. If he doesn’t starve during the summer, that is. After an incident where a house elf named Dobby paid Harry a visit and begged him not to return to school, Harry is imprisoned by his relatives. The Ministry of Magic is convinced that Harry performed magic in front of the muggles, though it is not the case. However, his best friend Ron Weasley and his mischievous twin brothers Fred and George turn up in a flying car to rescue him, and Harry’s summer went from being the worst ever to one of the best ever. However, when Harry and Ron attempt to board the Hogwarts Express, they cannot get through the barrier. In the midst of their panic, they steal Mr Weasley’s Ford Anglia and fly to school, and end up in a ton of trouble. The glorious entrance that they envisioned is crushed by the car crash into the violent Whomping Willow. They are fortunate enough not to be expelled.

Soon all the students return to Hogwarts, and Harry is having a hard time with his celebrity status amongst some of the new students who have arrived, and it causes him immense frustration. As though that was not enough, their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher is famous, and convinced that he can help young Harry along the way to greatness. Strange things start to happen at Hogwarts, and Harry is grievously injured at a Quidditch match, which resulted in a broken arm due to a rogue Bludger in play. Naturally everyone assumes the worst. As though he does not have enough issues on his plate, he hears a cold, disembodied voice floating around the castle that nobody else seems to hear. Vicious attacks start within the grounds, resulting in some people being Petrified, and everyone is terrified. A warning tells them that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened, and that enemies of the Heir should be wary.

Harry, Ron and their close friend Hermione Granger start to look into the attacks. They are desperate to find out more about the history of the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry needs it more than anyone. At a duelling club it was discovered that he is a Parselmouth, something that Hogwarts founder Salazar Slytherin was renowned for, and something that is considered to be a trait of a Dark Wizard. He can communicate with snakes. Harry is right up at the top of everyone’s suspect list, and his innocence is not looking very good. Harry becomes immensely unpopular and avoided. The three are intent that if they could just speak to Harry’s nemesis Draco Malfoy, they would be able to figure out in an instant who the heir of Slytherin is, and who opened the Chamber fifty years ago. However, the answers that they uncover might not be the ones that they are looking for. The attacks increase and intensify, and terror grips the castle and all its inhabitants, no one is safe. What will they do if Lucius Malfoy is pushing for the removal of the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore? He is their keeper, he maintains their safety.

Will the three be able to figure out just exactly what is going on within Hogwarts, and what the dreaded monster is that has been unleashed from within the bowels of an undiscovered Chamber? What will happen if Albus Dumbledore is removed from Hogwarts? Will anyone be safe? Harry has never been more desperate to figure out what is going on, but what will he do once he uncovers the truth?

GRADE 8.5It was definitely a fantastic sequel to its successful predecessor. This book had a lovely story, again, and you learn more about the magical world with each and every endeavour you take to explore it more. Fred and George Weasley provided a great deal of humour when dealing with Harry’s heir of Slytherin rumours, and this book had plenty to make you smile. Dumbledore was again so mysterious, and I thought Harry’s and Ron’s arrival at the school was not nearly as dashing as they were holding out for. That Ford Anglia going wild in the Forest was also terribly amusing. Good timing, too. All the magical elements of this world are amazing, and I must be honest when I say that we do not have things like Howlers. I thought it was really well done how J.K. Rowling brought in discrimination like she did (Mudbloods and pure-bloods), it makes that world almost a little more… real. The entire concept of preserving oneself in a diary was also great, and Lord Voldemort’s name was also good, to see how he evolved, where he came from and a little bit of who he was before the total rise to the Dark Lord was good. I thought this was a fun book, entertaining, though it also had some body to it, what with the issues that were dealt with due to supposition and silly things like rumours.

Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling

20

1 - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Adult's Cover

Harry Potter #1

Harry Potter is a young orphan who was dropped with his wretched family, the Dursleys, when he was a year old.  Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon hate Harry to death, and their son, Dudley, is a world class and seriously overweight bully. Harry dreams of escaping. Many strange things have happened to and around Harry over the years, completely inexplicable things, but odd nonetheless. Just before Harry’s eleventh birthday, he begins to receive letters addressed to him, right down to his living space under the stairs. These letters send his aunt and uncle into hysterics, and they refuse to let Harry read a single one. When the letters do not cease, but if anything, become more consistent, the Dursleys take him and run. He is discovered on their useless little island by Rubeus Hagrid, a massive giant of a man who hand delivers Harry’s letter to him himself. Harry is a wizard, set to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harry sets off to start a new life in a new world with a whole new culture, and it is still a shock to his system. He meets a whole underground community of witches and wizards, and finds that he is somewhat of a celebrity. When Harry was a year old, Lord Voldemort entered his parents’ home to exterminate them, and when he turned to kill Harry, the curse rebounded on him, and he died. The reign of terror ended with his demise, and Harry is largely to thank for that. Harry needs to adapt, and is surprised and pleased all the time. On the Hogwarts Express, the school train, he meets his best friend, Ronald Weasley, and instantly finds his ultimate nemesis, Draco Malfoy.

Harry becomes a part of Gryffindor House, and is jubilant to not have fallen in with Slytherin, a house which turned out the most evil witches and wizards. The adventures keep coming when Harry is chosen for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and he is elated, especially after receiving the superior Nimbus Two Thousand broomstick. No longer is Harry a nobody and someone to be bullied – in the magical realm, he is a hero. Their first year at Hogwarts will be filled with action and adventure. The students are informed that the third floor is off limits, and then start to notice very strange things – suspicious things are starting to happen at Hogwarts. Gringotts, the Wizarding Bank, was robbed the day Harry met his fortune in the bowels of it, and their Potions teacher, Professor Severus Snape, happens to have a dark past.

Whilst investigating a troll break-in, Harry and Ron need to rescue Hermione Granger, a know-it-all that they were not getting along with. After her rescue, the three become great friends. Snape is definitely up to something, and something is hidden within Hogwarts that is guarded by a massive three-headed dog named Fluffy, though what that may be, they do not know. Albus Dumbledore is an enigma, and he is there for Harry throughout – he rapidly becomes Harry’s mentor, and a man he respects immensely. As though the three did not have enough to worry about, Hagrid suddenly has a dragon that he won off of a stranger in a pub, whom he shared sensitive information with. Harry knows instinctively that Snape is going to make a play for whatever is hidden within the castle – he has all that he requires, and just needs to break the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Quirinus Quirrell, and then he will have all the answers.

Will the three friends figure out soon enough what is hidden within the school and find out why Snape wants it so desperately? What with slain unicorns in the Forbidden Forest and whispers of an elixir of life hidden deep within the walls, is someone attempting to assist the Dark Lord back into his former place of power? Will Quirrell be able to stand up to Snape?

GRADE 8This was such a massive part of my childhood. I have read this book so many times I almost know it word for word! This was fantastic for me. It was my adventure, my escape from reality, and it was a phenomenal one! J.K. Rowling knew what she was on about, and knew how to present it. The greatest thing about Potter is it is absolutely not reserved only for kids. Anyone can read it, and anyone can enjoy it (adults might battle a little bit through the first three, though, but after that – you are home free). The Invisibility Cloak that Dumbledore gave Harry was great, as it is such a big thing to do with so many things that are happening in the book as well as future stories. The story is tight, well written and wonderfully paced. The characters are excellent, the humour that Fred and George Weasley bring to the table is unforgettable, and the magical world that is laid out at your feet is breath-taking. Overall, the Potter series is one of my all time favourites, and there is not a single bad entry to it.

A few excellent authors

2

Authors… you get excellent ones, and you get disappointing ones, and you get mediocre ones. Here are some authors that I enjoyed reading, and will not turn down the opportunity to read.

Karin Slaughter… wow. That is all I can say. And so few people here where I am actually knows who she is, so I don’t really have anyone to discuss the books with. I accidentally found Blindsighted in the back of a closet, gearing up to be chucked out. The book was old and tatty, but its sequel, Kisscut, was also there, and I had nothing else to read. It was crime thriller fiction something or other, that is all I recall thinking when I picked it up and read that she was compared to Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell, both who write decently, although not too consistently, for my taste.

So I bagged them, saving them from certainly being thrown out with the dusty stacks of newspapers piled everywhere. The books could not go, they are not in the same category as the shabby newspapers were. I had no other books to occupy me, and I started with Karin Slaughter’s debut novel. I have one word for her writing style: respect. By the end of the Grant County series I had forgotten they were fictitious characters, and lived on a steady diet of chocolate when I had finished with Skin Privilege.

I have been inexorably drawn to her work since Blindsighted, experienced a spectrum f emotions throughout Kisscut, and that was only the beginning for me. After that there was the Atlanta series, and the two merged together for the Georgia series. I was skeptical about how she would bring two totally different story lines together, yet she does so effortlessly. She is one of my top favourite writers, hands down.

Then there is Stephen King. I will not hear a bad word about him! I know that there are so many that dislike his movies (even though it is apparently forgotten that the Green Mile and the Shawshank Redemption are both King creations), and I know that he writes with excruciating detail, and that some might find this to be a bit of a cliché, but Stephen King is a master. I love him!

I cannot remember precisely what my first taste was, but I think it was either Dreamcatcher or Carrie. Either way, I was in love with how this man brought horror and life to the pages of his book. I have read so many of his works and they are rich in detail, description, action, thoughts, everything. You can follow what is happening, the feelings and everything is brought into stark light within the covers of his stories. When you pick up a book by Stephen King, even if the cover was missing, you would know it to be his work!

I started reading his books when I was about eleven years old. I had already whipped through everything in the children’s section and dominated the young adult’s section. The library was nice enough to allow me a card and permission into the adult section. I was stunned. There were gigantic tomes of books with their faraway stories waiting to unfold. I had to know more, and there were horrors, bona fide, true horror books, not the childish ones I had become accustomed to. Naturally, the King shelves dominated the horror section, the closest secondary rival by for space being Dean Koontz. I have started building on my Stephen King collection, but I have a suspicion that it will take a long time to get where I want it to, seeing as it is such a vast compilation.

I spoke of Stieg Larsson in a previous blog that I wrote, and explained my deep seated infatuation with the man and his genius. I maintain that everyone should read his Millennium Trilogy. The story unfurls effortlessly, it keeps you hooked, and nothing can waver your anticipation. You experience the journey as though a part of it. The writing style is smooth and neat, and very well structured. I have been looking for a nice box set, and have as of yet not found anything in my region, which is rather daunting, as I believe these books belong on anyone’s shelf, and I would love to have it as a collected works.

J.K. Rowling is another classic to this list. I wrote a blog on Harry Potter, here, too. But about the author, and how I stumbled upon her books? Wow. Really. I think it one of the best things that I had ever had the fortune of coming across (not that it would have been easy to miss a few years later when it got super popular). I was reading them pretty much since release. My aunt loaned me The Philosopher’s Stone when she heard that I couldn’t get to the library until the weekend. I read the book 4 times before I returned it to her. I was in love. There was this beautiful world, with great people, with crazy adventures, and real lessons. It was amazing.

Obviously, as a child, you read it and you know it is fiction. That did not prevent me from waiting for my very own letter from Hogwarts for years. Alas, it never came, and I was sorely disappointed. I think the Potter series was also great because it gave children something to believe in, to hope for. He had it tough, and he survived it. Things are not always what they seem, and anything can be overcome, and evil does not triumph against those who will fight for the greater good.

I truly enjoy Anne Rice. I loved her Vampire Chronicles, and painstakingly and extremely expensively built that entire collection up from scratch. I love her writing style, but her work is very deep, dark and thought evoking, not light reading to just pass time. The way the characters are introduced and their development is amazing, but I really wish she would have focused a bit more on Armand. He was my favourite character of anyone she had ever written about. He was the strangest one, the most demented, dark and tortured soul ever.

I obviously watched the movies, (Interview With A Vampire and Queen Of The Damned)  but they really are nothing compared to the books. Sad, because if done right the movies could bear so much potential. The first book that I ever read from Anne Rice was The Vampire Armand. I was totally drawn in and besotted with his character. He was perfect… perfectly broken, that is. She really is the Queen of dark, romantic and gothic writing. One thing that she nailed perfectly is realism for vampires, not this twinkly rubbish that we have been submitted to recently. I hope to start on the Lives of the Mayfair Witches soon, as they were rather intriguing to me when they come up in the later novels in the Vampire Chronicles.

This calls for the Distance Book Club again! I would love any author/book suggestions, so throw them along!

Who are some of your favourite authors, and what drew you to them?