Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











2From Goodreads: Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…

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If there was only one thing I was allowed to say about this novel, it would be this: “I hate Umbridge!!!”

Unlike the first four novels in this series, I was less familiar with the many events that take place in this fifth installment as it’s the longest book and also the worst movie, in my opinion. The movie itself was excessively choppy and off kilter, as far as I’m concerned, so I didn’t watch it as much as the first four movies.  But, where the movie is stifling and inconsistent, the novel contains in-depth detail and really brings home the many atrocities and difficulties that Harry and his true friends face during their fifth year at Hogwarts, and re-reading this novel has given me a new appreciation for the storyline that the movie so vastly failed to portray.

As much as I hated everything that was happening to Hogwarts and Harry, especially as the entire wizarding world, it seems, stands against Harry, this novel has some great themes, especially for young adults struggling through their own identity crisis as they battle their way through high school.  And it really shows just how much people would rather look the other way than see the truth, or deal with anything unpleasant, which can again be equated to the real world as the entire bullying epidemic has come to the forefront.

What I found to be the most interesting aspect of this novel, however, was the way the Ministry of Magic attempted to control Hogwarts and its teachers, subjecting them to multiple unfair observations and write-ups, firing at will. This is not so different from the reforms happening in the real world, with states and the government attempting to flay teachers based on poor student performance without taking anything else into consideration. And though I really doubt tgat Rowling was thinking about education reform when she wrote this novel, I found that it still had a very heavy social commentary on education and the powers that be attempting to control it with little to no knowledge of teaching or how the system really works.  With the Ministry’s long reaching hands now up to its elbows in the running of Hogwarts, the system begins to crumble. A very interesting concept indeed.  Five stars.

5 starsI own all these novels and movies.



5From Goodreads: Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It’s assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney’s ghoulish predictions seriously?

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Rowling has, once again, written a gem that keeps adults just as entertained as it does the MG and YA age group for which it was written. This world is just… amazing.  The series transports me to another world that I am highly invested in, and Rowling sheet amount of detail and her ability to interlace the plot and twists throughout her ongoing series just amazes me.  This is a series that I will continually come back to time and time again because it’s a classic.  A must read.

This third installment in the amazing Harry Potter Series is actually extremely different from the movie, and I didn’t realize it–even though I’ve read these books once before (7 years ago, so apparently I’ve forgotten). I guess I need to watch the movie again, maybe I just didn’t see it before, but Snape is definitely a lot nastier in this novel than I’ve ever perceived him to be in the movie.  It’s like the escape of Sirius Black has made Snape into a crazed monster, which I guess it has, in a way, knowing what I know about Snape’s love for Lily Potter, but this is the first time his true colors seem to be coming out.  While he was definitely a “meanie” in the first two books, Rowling takes his character to a whole new level in this novel, and I was appalled by his behavior!

I originally thought Snape’s antics on the big screen to be slightly humorous, and he’s one of my favorites in the movies, truth be told, but in the novels he’s completely awful and full of hate—no redeeming qualities can be seen in this book, and he really made me angry! I understand his prejudices against Harry, and I know his back-story from the text, but I didn’t ever see him as being such an awful person before now. And he is.  I mean, I knew he was the resident sourpuss and that he was mean to students, but rereading his actions in this novel gave me a brand new perspective that I either hadn’t seen before, or had forgotten existed; Snape takes hatred to a new extreme.  The way he treats the students, all of them, really, is inexcusable.  Perhaps I’m seeing him in a new light as I’m now seasoned teacher myself, and I wasn’t when I first read the books, but regardless, Snape’s actions within this book made me livid. The way he talks to Hermoine, Ron, and Harry made me cringe; he’s just an unacceptable person—no matter how much you dislike a person, you just don’t treat them the way Snape treats Harry and his friends.  You just don’t.

Rowling definitely presents Snape in a different light than the directors in the movie, possibly because the directors didn’t want viewers to hate him to the extreme, but even so, I was floored by just how different the portrayal really is.  At least now I completely understand why some of my friends have always been so adamant about their hate for Snape.  Wow.  Just, wow.

But, despite Snape’s actions, I adored this novel, especially the explanation and replaying of events through the unique time changes that are presented.  Just in case you haven’t read the novels or seen the movies, I won’t go into too much detail here, but I personally felt that this novel does a much better job handling the time change than the movie does because I never felt like events were being repeated, whereas in the movie I thought this portion dragged on a little too long. Rowling keeps it short and sweet, though, in her novel, explaining it perfectly, and I highly enjoyed this aspect.  And, if you’ve only seen the movie and haven’t read the book, then you’re seriously missing out.  In this instance, it isn’t even a close second, the novel completely beats out the movie. No contest. Go read it. Five stars.

5 stars

I own all these novels and movies.



9658936From Goodreads: The Harry Potter prequel is an 800-word story written by J. K. Rowling, and was published online on 11 June 2008. Set about three years before the birth of Harry Potter, the story recounts an adventure experienced by Sirius Black and James Potter.

At the bottom of the card, JKR wrote: “From the prequel I am NOT working on – but that was fun!”

There is no official ‘cover’ for this short story, seeing as it was penned (By JKR) on an A5 card for the auction by bookseller Waterstone’s, in aid of two reading charities, Dyslexia Action and English Pen. It was auctioned off for £25,000.

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I really liked this very short (800 words short) glimpse into the antics of James Potter and Sirius Black, but as it’s so short, it really leaves more questions than answers.  Who were the three men on broomsticks?  I can only assume, since this is approximately three years prior to Harry’s birth, that they were Death Eaters. Perhaps?  And, what’s to happen to the muggle policemen after it’s all said and done?  Ultimately this is a teasing glimpse into the world before Harry Potter, but it’s not enough to give satisfaction. I would LOVE a series that actually follows James Potter’s life prior to Harry’s birth, maybe showing the dark times of Voldemort’s reign… perhaps one day.

You can read this very short prequel here: http://www.mugglenet.com/potterprequel.shtml (it will take you about 3 minutes).  Enjoy.

3 starsI read this prequel online.



et cetera
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