Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows {re-read}

TitleHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author: JK Rowling
Genre: YA fantasy
ISBN: 9780545010221
Length: 749 pages (I didn’t read the epilogue, this time around)
Published: 2007
Source: personal collection
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: Harry Potter Reading Marathon

Reason for Reading: I’m participating in Shannon’s Harry Potter Reading Marathon, and the book for December is Deathly Hallows.

Summary (from Goodreads):

As the novel begins, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on the run from Lord Voldemort, whose minions of Death Eaters have not only taken control of the Minister of Magic but have begun to systematically – and forcibly – change the entire culture of the magic community: Muggle-born wizards, for example, are being rounded up and questioned, and all “blood traitors” are being imprisoned. But as Voldemort and his followers ruthlessly pursue the fugitive with the lightning bolt scar on his forehead, Potter finally uncovers the jaw-dropping truth of his existence.

My Thoughts: How weird is it that the last time I read this book, I listened to it on audiobook and finished it just a couple weeks earlier in December of 2010.

I don’t believe I have ever noticed how serious this book feels from the very beginning. The story (concerning Harry) starts, as usual, in the Dursley household. But the mood is immediately depressing and ominous. That being said, there isn’t really all that much in the book to be happy about. I guess it’s good that Bill and Fleur get married, even if the wedding turns into a nightmare. And it’s good that Lupin and Tonks have a baby, but then they die. The happy parts seem much happier the first time around–as a reread, the fact that practically every good thing has an equally bad thing that follows.

But rereading does shed light on other parts. For instance:

“I shall attend to the boy in person. There have been too many mistakes where Harry Potter is concerned. Some of them have been my own. That Potter lives is due more to my errors than to his triumphs.” (Voldemort, p6)

I did not realize how important Voldemort admitting he is fallible is in the story. Clearly he does not think Harry is better than himself–he admits that all three times he directly tried to kill him, he “accidentally” managed to live. I must not have really realized Voldemort said this the first two times I read/listened to the story. That is a big deal, for Voldemort to say he is not perfect. It must be hard to be the most powerful wizard in the world and not be perfect.

Oh, and then there’s Draco. It becomes pretty apparent in this final installment that he’s pretty much all talk and no action. Being associated with very powerful people, he boasted a big game when Voldemort returned. But then he told the Death Eaters that a-disguised-Harry wasn’t really Harry–why? And he couldn’t kill Dumbledore–why? Part of it is, I’m sure, that he can be very cowardly. But when he and his own family suffered at the hands of Voldemort and the Death Eaters, I guess he came to realize that dark power is good in theory, but dark magic in reality is not good.

Here are a few other things I found interesting:

  • Hermione explains the enchantment she placed upon her parents (p96-7), but she says she has never performed a Memory Charm later (p167). So what did she do to her parents? I guess they never really explained how many different kinds of Memory Charms there are, but Obliviate is the only one mentioned previously. Also, I find the scene in the movie when she wipes herself from her parents’ memories much more heartbreaking than her explanation of it in the book.
  • Ginny’s name is Ginevra (p141). Never caught that before. This was particularly interesting because I had been thinking, “What is Ginny short for?” the day before I got to that part of the book.
  • Hermione was getting on my nerves a little this time around. But she was seriously a broken record about Harry’s occlumency.
  • Harry, at some point in the woods, said that (essentially) he missed being fed, bedded, and having others in charge and telling him what to do. And, my first thought was, “Welcome to the real/adult world!”
  • The Muggle-born Register screams Jewish rosters in Nazi Europe. You know, all that “dirty blood” (totally being sarcastic there!)

As I mentioned, I didn’t read the epilogue this time around. Not just because I don’t like it–which is true, but it doesn’t ruin the book for me anymore (like the first time). But I just didn’t feel like reading it. I already know what it says and it’s not important to the story. The book ends just as well without the epilogue–a good, solid closure.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

TitleHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Author: JK Rowling
Genre: fiction
ISBN: 9780439785969
Length: 652 pages
Published: 2005
Source: personal collection
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: The ongoing Harry Potter Reading Marathon hosted by Shannon at Giraffe Days.

Summary (from Goodreads):

After months of frenzied anticipation and wild speculation about the identity of the Half-Blood Prince, the numerous bombshells and incredible plot twists in the sixth, ever-darkening installment of J. K. Rowling’s bestselling Harry Potter saga will leave readers as shocked and stunned as they are utterly satisfied..

As the novel begins, a “grim mood” has fallen over the country. The minions of Lord Voldemort (a.k.a. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) continue to grow as his evil spreads. The Ministry of Magic has stepped up security everywhere, and as Harry enters his sixth year at Hogwarts, he begins to see himself — and everyone around him — in a different, more discerning, light. With rumors swirling about Harry being the prophesied “Chosen One,” he begins taking private lessons from Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

As Dumbledore prepares Harry for his destined clash with Voldemort by revealing jaw-dropping insights into the Dark Lord’s past — who his parents were, what happened after he left Hogwarts, and more — Harry also struggles to uncover the identity of the Half-Blood Prince, the past owner of a potions textbook he now possesses that is filled with ingenious, potentially deadly, spells. But Harry’s life is suddenly changed forever when someone close to him is heinously murdered right before his eyes….

My Thoughts: Oddly enough, most of my thoughts are focused on the Ginny-Harry relationship. Before this reread (my 3rd of this particular book), I was 100% convinced that it was merely the films that didn’t do that relationship justice as far as the books did. But I have come to the realization that the films NOR the books did that relationship “justice”. I have never liked the fact that Harry and Ginny got together. I think that is because deep down I always felt that JK Rowling hadn’t written the first five books with that intention–she seriously did just add it in randomly to mix things up, I’m convinced. There were no feelings on Harry’s part until the sixth book, and it was only the first couple books where Ginny’s awkardness around Harry hinted at any feelings towards him.

Maybe it’s merely that I like the Harry-Hermione-Ron trio and don’t like ANYTHING to mess that up.

It bugs me that at the very end, Harry says to Ginny, “Sorry, I love you too much to let Voldemort use you against me,” in so many words. But then he turns right around to Hermione and Ron and says, “Well, okay. I guess I don’t love you that much and I’ll let you endanger yourselves for me yet again.” It’s just such a contradiction.

Discussion Questions:

1. What one big theme or scene or character really stuck out for you in this book? What was the most powerful?

2. Harry and Ginny: thoughts? Rowling said she wrote the epilogue of book 7 at the beginning, and it was always in her head that Harry and Ginny, and Ron and Hermione, would become couples. What did you think about how this played out in book 6?

3. The film: pass or fail? Favourite bits?

I’m not sure if you’d consider it a theme, but I really like Dumbledore’s training of Harry. Dumbledore somehow knows that he won’t be around much longer, so his passing on his knowledge to help Harry fight Voldemort was very imperative to this story. I don’t think Dumbledore was naive about his time being short. Voldemort would have to go through Dumbledore to get to Harry and both knew it, while Harry might not have realized it. Harry thought he would fight alongside Dumbledore, whereas Dumbledore knew Harry would have to go it alone.

I’ve already given my thoughts on the Harry-Ginny relationship. Knowing that Rowling had intended Harry and Ginny to be together in the end really upset me. (I hadn’t known this before.) I thought she was a better writer than that–her development of their relationship was awful. I think there should have been more about their feelings towards each other in the previous books–even just the intermittent mention of Ginny feeling awkward around Harry and something that makes it seem like Harry paid a bit of attention to Ginny.

It’s been a long time since I saw the sixth film. But from what I remember of the film and having just read the book, I think they are pretty similarly matched. Although I don’t remember Harry being so obsessed with catching Draco at something bad in the film as he was in he book. But, honestly his obsession in the book was a little overdrawn, so the lack of its full extent in the film fit right in with the faster pace of the story, for film’s sake.

Readers Imbibing in Peril VI Wrap-Up

As it is October 31st–also Halloween–it is the end of RIP VI.

The RIP VI challenge is to read books of a spooky nature, running from September 1st to October 31st. Hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. I have signed up for Peril the Second, in which I must read TWO spooky books.

1. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

      

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

“Size is no guarantee of power.”

TitleHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Author: JK Rowling
Genre: YA fantasy
ISBN: 9780439358071
Length: 870 pages
Published: 2003
Source: personal collection
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: Harry Potter Read-a-Long, hosted by Shannon and Giraffe Days.

Reason for Reading: The Harry Potter Read-a-Long is my excuse to reread the entire Harry Potter series–two reasons right there 🙂

Summary (from Goodreads):

As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It’s been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero’s non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief… or will it?

My Thoughts: As usual, I find that I am still in love with the Harry Potter series. But I have come to a sad realization that may influence how often I reread the books in the future.

I have recognized a feeling I experience with every continuing book of the series. And that is because it is a characteristic that I think grows in presence in each consecutive book. That characteristic, my friends, is arrogance. I’m finding certain characters to seem more and more arrogant as I reread these books (for the third time). I’m sure it’s pretty obvious that one of those arrogant characters is Harry. Even Hermione states that when she says Harry likes to “play the hero” and Snape is good at seeing Harry’s resemblance to James (but I think memories of James don’t seem as bad as Harry). I’m also getting the arrogant vibe from Dumbledore though.

“You will give the order to remove Dolores Umbridge from Hogwarts. You will tell your Aurors to stop searching for my Care of Magical Creatures teacher…I shall need to return to my school. If you need more help from me, you are, of course, more than welcome to contact me at Hogwarts. Letters addressed to the headmaster will find me.”
(p818-819, Dumbledore to Fudge)

What a great example of Dumbledore arrogance! And then, at times, Sirius also gave me that vibe, too. While Sirius plays a major role in Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, he really doesn’t actually have much focus as far as the story goes.

Despite the arrogance I feel from certain (and very important) characters, I still love the books. In the overall scheme of things, I don’t remember the arrogance over other, more exciting and interesting parts of the story. I mean, Umbridge carried off by centaurs is definitely a highlight to this particular book 😀

I just feel like I have to mention again that I’m still pretty upset that the films paid no attention to the fact that the prophecy could’ve been about Neville, not only Harry. I like the story line of the films and I understand that it’s not exactly essential to the rest of the big-picture story, but I still feel like it’s important.

Discussion Questions from Shannon at Giraffe Days (host of the HP Reading Marathon):

1. Where do you stand on The Order of the Phoenix: exciting story or series filler, or something in-between?

2. How did you feel about Dumbledore’s role in this installment?

3. How did you think the film version compared to the book?

1. I think I’d say this is more of an exciting story than a series filler. This is where we hear the prophecy that–half-heard by Voldemort–was the beginning of Harry’s story. If not for the prophecy, Voldemort would not have attempted to kill Harry, be foiled, and, well, we know the rest of the story. I suppose that the story could have continued without us actually knowing Voldemort’s motives–his “return from the dead” and further attempts to kill Harry are considered revenge in either case. But it gives a bit of irony to the story, with Voldemort not knowing that he or Harry must die at the hand of the other.

And of course, I really enjoyed Dolores Umbridge. By enjoying her, I mean I like to read the book knowing what’s in store for the old hag.

2. I always feel like Dumbledore is not very helpful in this book. But I don’t think that is exactly true. He just sort of keeps to himself and stays in the background–after all, he is why the Ministry is trying to intervene at Hogwarts, so he should give them nothing to of which suspect him. But I think the film dramatizes Harry’s consternation concerning Dumbledore’s aloofness towards him. Harry doesn’t try to talk and meet with Dumbledore nearly as often as the film lets on. Anyways, I think that Dumbledore was simply busier with the Order than in the past. And, after all, Harry is growing up and has to learn to do some things on his own.

3. I enjoy the book more than the film, as usual with this series. (But I do like the movies because of convenience, I suppose.) But I think many things are left out of this particular movie, most of which aren’t really important to the story, but which irk me nevertheless. Firstly, and what I think is most important, the fact that Neville could be in Harry’s place had Voldemort heard the entire prophecy is completely ignored. Then there is the whole prefect thing, which I think the movie underplays. I mean,  Hermione isn’t even really presented as a prefect in the film, but Ron is. And I would have loved to actually see Hagrid’s trip to the giants as a “flasback” sort of sequence–that would’ve been awesome, but a huge deal of work for the CGI people.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

TitleMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Genre: fiction with elements of the magical, but not so very sci-fi/fantasy
ISBN: 9781594744769
Length: 349 pages
Published: 2011
Source: personal collection (a birthday present from my friend, Kirsta)
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: Readers Imbibing in Peril (RIP) VI Challenge, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.

Reason for Reading: While searching for books to read for the RIP Challenge, I realized this would be a good one. Plus, I’d seen it on the new release shelf at the bookstore and it look eery, so the RIP Challenge really only gave me the excuse/reason to read it 🙂

Summary (from Goodreads):

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

My Thoughts: For a short while, I was afraid I would not like this book. I was loving it, but when I had read about a third, something happened that immediately changed my mind. I was worried that I would end up disliking the last two-thirds–but I ended up being wrong. It won’t really give anything away to say that that thing which turned my head had to do with “time travel”. When I found out that this was an element to the story, I immediately thought the story was ruined. The story was getting creepy and then that twist came–I was unhappy.

It turned out that the “time travel” element didn’t bother me so much. It became quite important to the story. And while I thought it would make the story a bit more haunting if there wasn’t such a clear “portal” back and forth. If just arriving at the old home made the time change, or opening a door or something that changed a little every time were the catalyst, I would’ve liked it a bit more. And I liked how the two worlds in the two times were important to the story. Interestingly enough, the time set in the past was special–it was one day, on a loop. For some of those living in the “then”, they led a Groundhog Day-esque life, while most didn’t know they were one a loop.

Anyways…

There are some very haunting photographs throughout the book. And while I know they may be altered and faked–or simply normal–they really affected my feelings towards the story. If I’d seen these photos randomly in a context completely separate from the story–like at an antique store or something–I wouldn’t have given most of them a second thought or found them creepy at all. I think that the photos actually sort of made the story. I mean, I think it would’ve been easier for Riggs to create a story with these photos in mind rather than to write the book and then search for photos that would work with it.

I think that this was a great book. It was very strange. I feel that the ending was open-ended, but I don’t know if there will be (or should be) a sequel. I sort of hope there won’t. Because if there is, I might feel obligated to read it and then the magic of this book would be lost.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

TitleRebecca
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Genre: fiction (suspense)
ISBN: 9780380730407
Length: 386 pages
Published: 1938
Source: public library
Rating: 3/5
Resolutions/Challenges: Readers Imbibing in Peril VI Challenge

Reason for Reading: I meant to read this last year for the RIP V Challenge, but didn’t have time to read more than I did.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past ther beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten…her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant — the sinister Mrs. Danvers — still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca…for the secrets of Manderley.

My Thoughts: I neither enjoyed or disliked this book. Therefore, it gets a 3/5 rating of “neutral”. Having watched the 1940 film last fall, I knew the story behind it. However, I forgot exactly how Maxim got out of the situation in the end, so I did get a little surprise out of reading the book. But I didn’t get interested in the story until what truly happened to Rebecca was revealed–which left me pretty uninterested in the majority of the story.

Turns out that I really didn’t like the character of the second Mrs. de Winter. Firstly, she was so very weak. Like she didn’t have a mind of her own. She consistently needed someone telling her what to do. And she always wondered what everyone else thought of her, comparing herself to Rebecca. She had no real identity, furthered only by the fact that her name was never mentioned once. She was only known as Mrs. de Winter–whatever Mrs. van Hopper called her was never actually said.

As mentioned above, I read this book for the RIP Challenge. As the challenge centers on all books creepy, one would expect to find creepy bits in stories read for the challenge. Such was not the case with Rebecca. Very little of the story was creepy. When Mrs. Danvers was trying to convince Mrs. de Winter to kill herself was a little creepy. But the strangest part of all was that Mrs. de Winter was completely okay, even happy, with finding out what Maxim did. I mean, listen to this:

There were no shadows between us anymore and when we were silent it was because the silence came to us of our own asking. I wondered how it was I could be so happy when our little world about us was so black. It was a strange sort of happiness. Not what I had dreamt about or expected. It was not the sort of happiness I had imagined in the lonely hours. (p293)

Most people wouldn’t expect a great amount of happiness to come from finding out your significant other hated someone so much they did…something.

BBW 2011 Read: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

~~Banned Books Week (BBW) 2011 takes place September 24th-October 1st~~

TitleHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: JK Rowling
Genre: YA fantasy
ISBN: 9780439139601
Length: 734 pages
Published: 2000
Source: personal collection
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: Harry Potter Reading Marathon 2011 hosted by Shannon at Giraffe Days
Here is Shannon’s post about Goblet of Fire.
Here are two more reviews: Lucybird’s Book Blog and Sky Ink.

Reason for Reading: I love Harry Potter 🙂

Summary (from back of book):

Harry Potter is midway through both his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Change, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event that’s supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competitions that hasn’t happened for hundreds of years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he’s not normal–even by wizarding standards.

And in his case, different can be deadly.

My Thoughts: I have begun to notice something with rereads. It is pretty impossible for me to write about my thoughts about it 😦 I have no problem in the Harry Potter instance with comparing it to the movie I’ve seen countless times since the last read. But to really think about the book on its own, is kind of hard. I don’t really know where to start when thinking about the book. All I have is a collection of random thoughts about the story. So here are some random thoughts.

  • This film is sooo different from the book it isn’t even funny. The timeline is all wrong and there is so much that is cut out. Yes, I still like the film and will continue watching it rather than trying to read the book that often. But, this is one when you honestly can’t take the movie’s word on.
  • I love that Ron and Hermione have their little altercation about what their relationship is. I actually am beginning to think that the movies display their growing relationship more than the books do with describing them. But I still get that vibe from the writing.
  • The first time I read this book was the first time while reading the series that I wished the focus strayed from Harry. Yeah, yeah, everyone loves Harry. And the books are all “Harry Potter and the…” But I wanted to see some more of someone else, especially Ron. Because I love Ron–he’s pretty goofy sometimes. But  I was getting sick of only Harry. Pretty sure that was due to the fact that Rowling had written that Ron was feeling overshadowed, again, but to a larger extent in this novel. She did a great job with that one!
  • There are a lot of politics in this book that I forgot about. I mean, the film GREATLY overlooks all of the crap with the Ministry that is going on. Especially with Bagman. And even Fudge being an idiot at the end is so underplayed in the film. Oh, and Hermione’s issue with the house elves and slavery. Have to admit that I honestly forgot about that!
  • In this book, Harry becomes more of an equal with Dumbledore. The ending alone shows the transition of Harry from the boy who looked up to Dumbledore for guidance and help to the young man who sought comradery and working side-by-side with Dumbledore.
  • The ending of this book is so much darker than the rest of the the book. Yeah, there is a lot of ominous foreshadowing throughout the story. But the ending is such good preparation for what’s to come. I feel the movie ending makes it seem like there’s not that much left in the story of Harry vs. Voldemort–like there could be only one more book. But the ending of the book is better at foretelling  just how much of a struggle there is left and how much more Harry must mature to finally end the Harry vs. Voldemort struggle.
  • I love that on page 417 (of my edition) Dumbledore finds the Room of Requirement as he is desperately searching for a bathroom 🙂
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Memorable Quotes/Passages:
If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.
~~Sirius, p525
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…we should exercise caution with our curiousity.
~~Dumbledore, p598
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Here are Shannon’s questions for discussion about Goblet of Fire for those of us doing the Harry Potter Read-A-Long:

Discussion Questions:

1. What did you think of the movie adaptation of this book,and how well the changes they made worked?

2. What was your favourite scene in this book?

3. What are your thoughts and opinions on the heftier political aspects of this book?

1) While there were SOOO many changes the movie made to the book, I think they did a great job deciding what needed to be kept in and what could go. I mean, I watch the movie over and over (pretty much whenever it’s on TV) so obviously I don’t loathe it or anything. Let’s be honest, Hermione’s SPEW cause really isn’t imperative to the story. Both Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince were published before Goblet of Fire (the movie) was released. So it was easier, I think, for the movie-people to know what would be important for the story–SPEW never really comes up again, therefore, there was no real need for including it in the movie. Although I am a little sad that Dobby didn’t get his glory in this book. I mean, he did help Harry with that gillyweed bit. But we’ll never know that. Oddly enough, it made me a little sad to be reminded that Neville didn’t come up with the gillyweed–I really loved that in the movie he got some glory. Can’t have it both ways, I suppose!
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2) I have to admit that my favorite scene is probably when Hermione calls Ron out about not asking her to the ball–she doesn’t like being treated like dirt until he needs someone. I love this scene in the movie, too. It’s funny because I actually have a couple of friends who are in the Hermione-Ron stage–they have been for years! 🙂 My girlfriend is often only paid any attention, in a more-than-a-friend manner, when my brother-in-law doesn’t have another girl in mind 😦 And I honestly think they will end up together–even if it takes 7 years (already been 5). Perhaps that similarity alone is a reason I like this scene so much.
Oh, and I really do love the ending where Dumbledore is pretty much telling Fudge he’s a frickin’ idiot 🙂 Put him in his place!!
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3) I like that there are more politics in this book. I think all of the issues presented towards the end, about Fudge quieting something up because he wants to look good, really show the true colors of some politicians in reality. Plus, it just goes to show the younger adults in the book–Harry, Ron, and Hermione especially–that just because adults are adults doesn’t mean they are right or do the right thing. There will always be people out there who take that path that is easy over the path that is right. I think Dumbledore was very right in pointing that out in his amazing speech at the Leaving Feast. And I did enjoy that house elves and giants were added to this book, at least as far as magical creatures that aren’t wizards/witches go. Yeah, house elves were introduced in Chamber of Secrets. But the species wasn’t really talked about as a species, just Dobby and he is something special in his group.

Readers Imbibing in Peril (RIP) VI

Last year, I took place in a challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings called Readers Imbibing in Peril (or RIP), which takes place from September 1st through October 31st.

To make things simpler for myself, this is what I wrote last year about the challenge:

According to Carl, this is what the RIP Challenge is all about:

It was a dark and stormy night…”

Or at least I wish it was, rather than a warm, sunshiny day. Despite the weather refusing to cooperate with my gothic mood, the calendar does not lie, ladies and gentlemen. It is indeed that time of year where two short months are dedicated to reveling in all things creepy, eerie, mysterious, gothic, horrifying, suspenseful and strange.

It is time to celebrate things that go bump in the night; that favorite detective that always gets his man, or woman, in the end; that delicious chill of a creak on the stairs, of the rogue waiting in the dark, of the full moon and the flit of bats wings.

Perhaps that was also the beginning of my passion for I what I lump under a broad personal definition of gothic literature: dark nights; decaying, haunted castles; menacing forests; pervasive gloom; ancient prophecies; damsels in distress (or at least at the wrong place in the wrong time); blood-curdling screams…stories with atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a knife.

It was a desire to celebrate and share that love of the elements of gothic fiction that inspired me to create the first R.I.P. Challengefive years ago.

In essence, the challenge is about reading gothic literature in all it’s forms, but especially in these categories: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, and Supernatural. As I like to get into the spooky spirit of the time surrounding Halloween, I think this will broaden my reading and also give me the chance to read, not watch spooky stories.

Once again, I’ll be signing up for Peril the Second, in which I must read two books from those categories.

I PLAN ON READING REBECCA BY DAPHNE DU MAURIER AND MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN BY RANSOM RIGGS FOR THIS CHALLENGE.

And, (again) like last year, here are my own personal recommendations for books to read towards this challenge:

  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (this is longer than most of the Sherlock Holmes stories)
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker (obviously)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (again, obviously)
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (Austen refers often to The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe in this novel and includes many gothic elements in her own style)
  • the Parasol Protectorate quintet by Gail Carriger–there are only three so far (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless), but they’re not necessarily gothic, just vampire-y/werewolf-y (not like the Twilight books)
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • Phantom of the Opera or The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux
  • The Graveyard Book or Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (even Coraline and Stardust are a little creepy)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Perfume by Patrick Suskind (maybe?)
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  • anything by Edgar Allen Poe

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (re-read)

“‘You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us?'”

TitleHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: JK Rowling
Genre: children/YA fiction (fantasy)
ISBN: 078073007998
Length: 435 pages
Published: 1999
Source: personal collection
Rating: re-read
Resolutions/Challenges: Harry Potter Read-a-Long

Reason for Reading: Not only is this my favorite book/movie of the Harry Potter series, but I am also participating in a HP read-a-long, reading a HP book a month until the end of the year (2011). Also, I hadn’t read this book since 2007 when the last HP book was released.

Summary (from Goodreads):

For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter’s defeat of You-Know-Who was Black’s downfall as well; and the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, “He’s at Hogwarts . . . he’s at Hogwarts.”

Harry Potter isn’t safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.

My Thoughts: This has always been my favorite of the Harry Potter series. And I think it always will be. I have known since the series was being originally released that one reason I liked this book so much was that it doesn’t directly involve Voldemort. In a long series, I like a little variation. It’s nice not to know that Harry would fight Voledmort, win, and then another book would come out (since we knew there’d be seven books, that sort of gave away some endings in the middle books)–that this story is completely different from the regular flow of the other books in the series.

But I think I also realized another reason why I liked this one so much. Harry meets Lupin and Sirius, two of his father’s best friends. I think that this book holds the happiest moment for Harry in the series–finding out about Sirius and the (original) idea that he could leave the Dursleys and live as an actual wizard and be happy. I think it beats winning at Quidditch and destroying horcruxes in levels of happiness.

Oh, but I really do have to say something about what Snape says about James. Snape repeatedly mentions to Harry that he, too, is arrogant, just like James, “strutting around the castle” and whatnot. And then Harry blows up and gets upset that Snape would besmirch James’ name/memory. But I think this arrogance strikes true, to be honest. I love Harry, don’t get me wrong. But I think he can be arrogant. (I remember my initial reading of the series. I think I got to Goblet of Fire and starting thinking, “Gosh, I wish the books would focus more on Ron and/or Hermione for once” despite it being Harry Potter and the… series.) Especially the fact that Harry doesn’t know anything about how his father acted, it makes him seem a little arrogant to believe James wasn’t arrogant. Make sense? Oh, and I think Harry realizes this later in Order of the Phoenix, when he and Snape are working on Occlumency. When Harry accidentally sees some of James in Snape’s memories, he realizes some of what James was like from the view outside of his gang (forgive me if this is something that is emphasized more in the movie than the book, but I forget sometimes which has what). ANYWAYS, Harry can be arrogant and cavalier. But there obviously wouldn’t be a story without him.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling (reread)

“It’s our choices, Harry, that show what we really are…”

TitleHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: JK Rowling
Genre: children’s/YA fantasy
ISBN: 9780439064873
Length: 341 pages
Published: 1999
Source: personal collection
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: Harry Potter Reading Marathon 2011 hosted by Shannon at Giraffe Days (here is a link to her review post)
(Here’s a link to my post for HP & the Sorcerer’s Stone)

Reason(s) for Reading: I’m participating in a reading marathon (see above link) to finish a book a month until the end of 2011, so that’s one reason. Plus, it’s been about four years since I last read all of the HP books and I’ve missed them!

Summary (from Goodreads):

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts Schools of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart; a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom; and the unwanted attention of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone—or something—starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects . . . Harry Potter himself?

My Thoughts: I’ve found it very hard when rereading the HP books to entirely forget the movies. It’s not that I compare the two anytime I read the book exactly. But there are some things that I just can’t not think about it. Take Chamber of Secrets for example. This is the book where we first learn that Ginny has a HUGE crush on Harry. And it only continues in further books. But the movies so greatly misrepresent their relationship. (Have you seen Deathly Hallows Part 2 when they’re together–no chemistry at all! And that’s supposed to be when their relationship is strongest…) Regardless, that relationship isn’t the only thing misrepresented. There are so many clues as to what Ginny did in Chamber of Secrets, but the movie hardly touches on them at all.

It’s been four years since I read this book and I don’t remember enjoying it as much last time as I did with this reading. There was something about it that I really liked. And, of course, it’s hard for me to pinpoint what I liked so much (I find this true for a lot of books, especially ones that I reread). Maybe all the small things that the movie left out just made me remember and enjoy the book more. This is the book when the HHR threesome becomes solid in their friendship. I realize they have their squabbles later on in the books, but they are steadfast friends. And, regardless of the fact that in this book they are 12 and I am almost 24, I still wouldn’t mind being in their group 🙂

I also really like that this book is a little more complicated than Sorcerer’s Stone. But it’s still pretty simple, to my 24 year old mind (helped, of course, by the fact that I’ve heard the story sooo many times). It takes me back to the time when I first read it (which was at least 10 years ago!)

Shannon’s Questions for Chamber of Secrets:

In the meantime, here’re some wee questions to ponder:

1. Did you find the main plot to be free of holes? I found some things to be rather conveniently glossed over, like how Ginny would have been able to command the monster in the Chamber of Secrets, though it doesn’t bother me too much.

2. Of the new characters introduced – Dobby, Colin Creevey, Gilderoy Lockhart, Moaning Myrtle, the flying car etc. – do you have a favourite and why? Were there any characters you wish we’d seen more of in later books? (I find myself wondering what the car’s up to and how it’s faring. :) )

3. I’ve been avoiding mentioning the movie, but here goes: was there anything in the movie that you felt was done better than the book, or that made you like this story more? I couldn’t help but picture Kenneth Branagh playing Gilderoy, he was so perfect at it, and Tom Riddle and Colin Creevey were just right too, but the rest I’ve more or less forgotten.

1) As for the first question, I don’t think I really picked up on anything that was glossed over. Something that did make me do a double-take and think for a moment was this: “The Dursleys were what wizards called Muggles (not a drop of magical blood in their veins).” It made me think, “So magic has to do with blood?” And I thought of the “pure-bloods” such as the Malfoys and Blacks. Now I remember enough from biology that genetic traits can sometimes be passed on or skipped–how there come to be Hermiones and Filchs 🙂 Of course my brain went right to the smallest detail: What about blood transfusions? Would a Muggle get some magical ability if it received the blood of a witch/wizard? Or, was Rowling simply using the drop of blood as a simple saying? I pick some crazy stuff to think about.

Oh, but it did seem strange that Harry got in trouble for Dobby’s Hover Charm. You’d think the Ministry would be smart enough to know who conjured a spell and who didn’t.

2) Of the new characters, I’m partial to Dobby. He  always had Harry’s best interest in heart, even if he went about a weird way of showing it. I like him simply as a result of trying to protect Harry to such pain to himself. And don’t get me started on how much loyalty to Harry he showed in later books, up until the very end 😕

3) Don’t even get me started on the movie. This is where the movies started to go wrong in their representation of two Weasleys. (Yes, I know the question was about if I liked anything more in the film than the book, but please allow me my small rant.) First off, Ginny. The movies have done a horrible job displaying her and Harry’s relationship. Even through the very last movie, Ginny and Harry never seemed to have what the books said they had. The films intersperse moments that are more awkward than endearing, and their such random moments, too. Then there’s Percy. The films suck (to put it lightly) at showing how much of a prick and brown-noser Percy can be. I realize Percy isn’t really all that important to the rest of the story. But there’s no excuse for a poor representation of the Ginny-Harry relationship!

But, I agree with Shannon that Kenneth Branagh couldn’t have been more perfect in his Gilderoy role!