Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “J.K. Rowling”

CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR4 Review #39 The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

 

I didn’t know that this book existed until I saw a few reviews of it on the Cannonball Read blog.  Thanks again Cannonball!  This is the book Dumbledore leaves Hermione in the beginning of the book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  It is a collection of fairy tales, similar to the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson, except they were written for Wizard children.  There are 5 stories, and each one has an afterword written by Albus Dumbledore.  Each of the stories is designed to teach a lesson, so maybe these are more like Aesop’s Fables than the Brothers Grimm.

This was a cute collection.  J.K. Rowling did the interior illustrations herself, and this book was used to raise money for the charity she co-founded, The Children’s High Level Group.  This is a great addition to the Harry Potter universe.

4/5 Stars

CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR4 Reviews 32-38: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

*Audiobook Review*

***This is my FOURTH attempt to write this review.  I have become paralyzed with fear that I cannot do justice to this amazing series.  Feel free to criticize, you can’t write anything worse than I have already thought.***

Since I am incredibly behind on my reviews, I’m doing one giant review of the series.  Shut up.  I need to spend more time reading and less time agonizing over reviews if I’m going to make it to 52 books.

I used to be obsessed with the Harry Potter books.  I read and re-read the first four books during that horrendous three-year wait between books four and five.  I was at midnight book parties for the last 3 books, and my first knitting project was an attempt at a Gryffindor scarf.  It was terrible, because I couldn’t knit very well and I was using cheap-o scratchy yarn.  I watched the movies, and I was relatively pleased with the first three.  Then they started turning 700+ page books into 2 1/2 hour movies, and the perfectionist in me reared her ugly head.  I was increasingly disappointed by what seemed to be glaring omissions in the films (S.P.E.W. anybody?).  I never even watched the last 3 films.

Lately I have had a Harry Potter renaissance.  I re-read all of the books, watched all eight of the movies, and even blasted my way through both Lego Harry Potter video games (which are the video game version of crack, by the way).  This was my fourth (maybe fifth?) re-read of some of these books, and even knowing what happens, they are as engrossing as ever.  I still get a little teary when certain characters are killed.  I still hate Delores Umbridge with the fire of a thousand suns.  The twelve-year-old me still identifies with Hermione Granger, and I still want a Hippogriff for a pet.

These books are credited with getting kids to learn that reading is fun. They are classics that will hopefully be read and re-read for generations.  Finishing the series is depressing, because I won’t be able to have any more adventures with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  If you haven’t read these books yet, there is nothing I can say to convince you.  Just don’t make the mistake most adults make in assuming that because these books are written for children that they are childish.  These books have some very adult themes, and some of them are downright dark.  Characters die.  Characters that you love.  Your favorite characters will die FOR NO DAMN GOOD REASON.

*Audio-specific portion of the review*

Jim Dale’s narration is nothing short of amazing.  When he reads Hagrid, you think that Hagrid is there reading his part.  His Professor McGonagall was amazing as well.  These are wonderful for a car trip, or just listening while you clean around the house.  Probably the best-read audiobooks I have ever listened to!

*Coda*

I forced my roommate to watch the movies since he had never seen Harry Potter anything before.  I previously tried to get him into fantasy with Game of Thrones, but he hated all of the characters. Here’s the exchange we had after watching Prisoner of Azkaban.

“Do you like Harry Potter better than Game of Thrones?”

“Game of Thrones is like Harry Potter, if everyone was in Slytherin.”

 

There is nothing I can write that can top that.

 

5/5 Stars

 

xoxoxoe’s #CBR4 Review #38: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone [audiobook], by J.K. Rowling

I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone more than once (or even twice), not to mention seeing the movie a number of times. My daughter loves Harry and all his friends. At eight, she isn’t old enough to see all the movies yet, or read the books. A friend a few years back recommended the audio books, and since we have been doing a bit of driving around this summer I thought we’d give the first novel a go. I didn’t think I was really in the mood to “read” it all over again, but the amazing work of Jim Dale changed all of that. He makes Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone come alive in a way that rivals the printed word and the movie, although some of his vocals, especially those of Hagrid and Harry’s uncle Vernon Dursely, seem to be influenced by the movie’s actors, Robbie Coltrane and Richard Griffiths respectively.

Dale is so convincing in the prose passages and character voices that at times it is easy to forget that you are listening to just one person. From Wikipedia:

To millions of fans in the United States, Jim Dale is the “voice” of Harry Potter. He has recorded all seven books in the Harry Potter series, and as a narrator he has won two Grammy Awards, seven Grammy Nominations and a record ten Audie Awards … He is also the narrator for the Harry Potter video games, and for many of the interactive “extras” on the Harry Potter DVD releases. He also holds two Guinness World Records: one for having created and recorded 146 different character voices for one audiobook, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and one for occupying the first six places in the Top Ten Audio Books of America and Canada 2005.

As much as some of J.K. Rowling’s character names become a little twee for me after a while (Phyllida Spore, Vindictus Viridian, Arsenus Jigger, Quirinus Quirrell) I have to admit that Dale has helped me fall in love with Harry Potter all over again. I’ve always felt the first book was her best, as it probably received the most solicitous attention from editors. But it is fun again to hear Harry encounter Hogwarts and Hermione and Ron and everything else for the first time. Rowling undeniably created a wonderful world, and as inspired as it might have been by authors like Roald Dahl or P.L. Travers, it is still an amazing achievement. For our first venture into audiobook territory I’m now glad that we chose something so familiar and loved. And as Dale has done the entire series I’m tempted to press on. I’m not sure, however that even Jim Dale could get me through the last book and its endless forest camping trip, but we’ll see.

You can read more of my pop culture reviews on my blog, xoxoxo e

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Idgiepug’s CBR#4 Review #22: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

After my negative review of Inheritance, I wanted to revisit the Harry Potter series to do a bit of comparison.  I really don’t hate the Eragon series, but there are so many really good fantasy series out there that Eragon was just disappointing, and I re-read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows recently after catching the film(s) again on HBO.  I started off re-reading only the chapter containing Snape’s memories just to compare it with the movie, but I wasn’t satisfied and started the whole book over.  I wasn’t sure if I would do a review here, but then I felt sort of badly about the whole Eragon thing and thought this might be a good companion piece to that review.   

To begin, I thought I’d give a little of my personal history with this series.  My husband and I read the first Harry Potter book as an assignment for a kiddie lit. class way back when it was still fairly new on the market.  To save money, we bought one copy and took turns reading it aloud to each other.  We enjoyed it so much that it began a now long-running tradition of reading to each other every night and on long car trips.  We read every one of the Potter books that way, and since then we’ve done the same with other series of books, like the Bartimaeus, Eragon, and even Lisbeth Salander series. Harry Potter was the only one, though, for which we had all the books on order and read them as soon as they were published, so I was sort of predisposed to either fully enjoy or to be terribly disappointed with the last novel in the series.  Luckily, I found the book to completely satisfying.

Rather than trying to write a synopsis of a book that just about everyone knows, I’ll focus on some of the things that really worked in this novel/series.  First, the characters are very likable and very believable.  Even though Harry’s a hero, he has some significant flaws, as do his friends.  Their relationships with each other also feel real.  Ron struggles throughout the whole series with his jealousy of Harry and his conflicting loyalties to Harry’s cause and to his family.  This novel also includes an incredibly touching scene with Hermione and her parents, who have been neglected in the other books.  We also get an explanation (finally) of Severus Snape, the character I felt was most unbelievable in the other novels.  I think the Snape story alone made this book one of my all-time favorites.  There are also moments of fun in this book despite its very serious nature.  For example, there are some funny scenes in the beginning of the novel when Harry is in disguise for Bill and Fleur’s wedding, and there are quirky little moments throughout the novel.  Even though Harry’s story arc follows that of a fairly traditional hero tale, Rowling uses her creativity to build the suspense and even to surprise the reader at times.  I know people have some problems with the epilogue at the end of the novel, but it didn’t really bother me.

At the risk of sounding hokey, I can say that the Harry Potter series changed my life.  What started as a necessity, reading a book aloud to my husband for a class, became an integral part of our relationship.  I don’t know that any other series of books would have inspired us in this way.  When we recently installed floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in our basement, we set aside a special spot for the Harry Potters (next to the Bartimaeus series, a close second favorite).  I’ve now re-read all the books at least once, and I will pull these off the shelves and re-read them again and again.  Always.

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