Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











From Goodreads: Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry’s success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem. Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.

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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. 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 doesn’t deal so much with Voldemort and the threat of his return as much as it does with a more tangible threat–one of his followers escape from Azkaban, hunting down Harry to finish the dark lord’s work. Or so everyone thinks. I’m not going to talk much about this here, because you’ve either already read the book/watched the movie and know what happens, or you know nothing about it and need to read the series right now… I do not want to spoil anything for you. I just remember how absolutely floored I was the first time I read this novel and found out the truth, and how shocking and suspenseful it all was, which just adds to the fun of it all. And the of course, re-reading with foresight allows me to pick up on the plethora of clues Rowling dropped throughout, and oh my! All I’ll say is, damn Ron. If he’d only just given up his rat the first time he was asked…

Prisoner of Azkaban always has me questioning why the director chose to portray Snape and the factor of time in the manner that he does. The movie version doesn’t do either of these aspects true justice, and that just solidifies the view that most have when it comes to movies versus books—the books always do it better. Snape is definitely a lot nastier in this novel than he’s made out 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 teenage years, but this novel is the first time his true colors really 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 always reminds me that Snape is quite evil. 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, 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’m always floored by just how different the portrayal really is.

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.

I own this beloved novel and entire series in both hardcover and audible.

Did you know that you can listen to this novel for FREE with a FREE TRIAL of Audible for 30 days? Try it today!

Kindle | Audible | Paperback | Hardcover

Have you read the short prequel to the Harry Potter series, yet?

And if you missed them, read my review of:

The Sorcerer’s Stone #1

The Chamber of Secrets #2

The Goblet of Fire #4

The Order of the Pheonix #5

The Half-Blood Prince #6

The Deathly Hallows #7

For me, the magic of Harry Potter is a Christmastime story. The first time I ever read the series, the first time I ever watched the movies, I just felt like they were definitely Christmas stories, ones of magic and beauty, and I’ve held onto that feeling for years, possibly because the earlier movies tended to come out around the holidays, or perhaps because J.K. Rowling always included Christmas in some way in each novel, but regardless, Christmas means it’s time for Harry Potter once again. Or at least, it did. It used to be that every Christmas season, I’d rewatch all the movies (usually in one sitting), and if I had the time, I’d re-read the entire series as well leading up to the holiday. But it’s been years since I’ve done this due to life and some other personal things. This year, however, the pull of nostalgia for my teenage years and the feelings of happiness Harry Potter always brought to me came flooding back, and I decided that I’d once again re-read the entire series, re-watch every movie (including the extended versions of some that I’d never seen before), and oh my, the magic of Christmas lives once again. And with that, I decided that since I’m back into blogging after so many years away, and since I haven’t posted about Harry Potter since 2013, that this Christmas season, I’d go in order and re-review each book from the prequel to the final novel as we lead up to Christmas day, partially for myself, and partially to spread the joy and cheer of Harry Potter as I know it this Christmas. Enjoy!

 



For me, the magic of Harry Potter is a Christmastime story. The first time I ever read the series, the first time I ever watched the movies, I just felt like they were definitely Christmas stories, ones of magic and beauty, and I’ve held onto that feeling for years, possibly because the earlier movies tended to come out around the holidays, or perhaps because J.K. Rowling always included Christmas in some way in each novel, but regardless, Christmas means it’s time for Harry Potter once again. Or at least, it did. It used to be that every Christmas season, I’d rewatch all the movies (usually in one sitting), and if I had the time, I’d re-read the entire series as well. But it’s been years since I’ve done this due to life and some other personal things. This year, however, the pull of nostalgia for my teenage years and the feelings of happiness Harry Potter always brought to me came flooding back, and I decided that I’d once again re-read the entire series, re-watch every movie (including the extended versions of some that I’d never seen before), and oh my, the magic of Christmas lives once again. And with that, I decided that since I’m back into blogging after so many years away, and since I haven’t posted about Harry Potter since 2013, that this Christmas season, I’d go in order and re-review each book from the prequel to the final novel as we lead up to Christmas day, partially for myself, and partially to spread the joy and cheer of Harry Potter as I know it. Enjoy!

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From 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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As a precursor to Harry Potter and all its goodness, J.K. Rowling wrote this very short teaser, as it were, to give readers young and old a small glimpse into the antics of James Potter and Sirius Black, Harry’s father and godfather, before Harry himself was even a thought. And a glimpse it is because it is so short that it does leave more questions than answers, but also allows the mind to come alive and fill in the gaps, especially for anyone familiar with Harry Potter in any of its forms. This short 800-word glimpse is so well done! Written with the same love and attention readers have come to know, Rowling’s description of the muggle cops scuttling out of the car like crabs in a slender alleyway and attempting to accost James and Sirius is comical and brought audible giggle’s from my depths as I re-read this fantastical, yet brief, tale. Sirius and James were always described by the characters in the Harry Potter series as being cheeky, and here, readers get to see it first hand as they speak with the muggle cops about names, which warmly reminded me of Fred and George Weasley and their nonsense responses when facing trouble.  Of course, readers are left to wonder who the three men on broomsticks were, perhaps Death Eaters, or perhaps someone less nefarious, like friends catching up as part of a game, but the main thing is, we’ll never really know, unless by some fantastic design Rowling decides to take up her pen again and write the prequel series she so adamantly states will never happen. Five stars and a huge want of more.

You can read this very short prequel at MuggleNet for FREE, though some words are a little hard to discern, as this is literally written in Rowling’s cursive handwriting. Enjoy.



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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