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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Have yourself a very Harry Christmas

Merry Christmas, Gryffindorks!


I'm happy to see that wizards spend Christmas the same way muggles do. I'm especially happy that Harry finally gets Christmases that every kid deserves. It says a lot about the Dursleys that Harry considers the empty walls of Hogwarts at Christmas more of a home than the one he grew up in. It also says a lot about the level of loyalty of Harry's friends that they're willing to stay behind to be with Harry for Christmas.

Props to J.K. Rowling to not make religion an issue with Christmas. After reading the books, we assume everyone in the wizarding world celebrates Christmas. Rowling simply tells her story without having any kind of social or political agenda, although many social issues of the times are reflected in the story, Rowling doesn't use Harry to push her views on her readers.

Where do the teachers go during the holidays? Don't they have families to go home to? I guess for Dumbledore, Hogwarts is home. For most of the teachers, it seems they have no lives outside the one they know at Hogwarts.


Lastly, this Christmas, let's take a leaf out of Rowling's books and show a little more love this season. Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 1 - 2

Merry Christmas, Gryffindorks! As one blog reader pointed out, it's been a while since my last post. Well Diane, you can Huffle-shove-it. Here's your bloody post! :)

Overview



Each Harry Potter book has its own plot and unique storyline, but each book contributes to a large, overarching plot about Harry. The first two books do very little to move the "big" plot forward. Rather, their role is to introduce us to the wizarding world and give some background on the "big" story. On their own, they're probably geared toward the 9-12 year-old age group. In Prisoner of Azkaban, we see a jump in the level of maturity of the story. I really enjoy that as Harry gets older, so does his target audience. This book is also the first book to really further the "big" plot. I like that in this book, we move away form the formulaic plot of the first two. This is also apparent in the movies, helped by the change in directors from Chris Columbus to Alfonzo Cuaron.

I forgot to give my ranking of Chamber of Secrets in my last post. Here's a recap.
My Rankings:
Of my favorite books in this series, I rank Sorcerer's Stone 6th out of 7.
I rank Chamber of Secrets 7th out of 7. Ha.
I rank Prisoner of Azkaban 4th out of 7.

The Return of the Beefeaters

The Fat-porkers have reached new levels of nastiness in this story, especially with the addition of Vernon's sister, Aunt Hairy Jowles McGruff. Uncle Saltporker and Aunt Dunglips have not changed in their attitudes toward Harry since we last saw them; in fact, if anything, they loathe him even more. The only thing that has changed is that little Roastbeefy is now roughly the size of a baby elephant seal.



Like Wicked

A few months ago, I saw a production of the musical, Wicked. For those of you who don't know what Wicked is, it is the Wizard of Oz told from the perpective of The Wicked Witch of the West (Elpheba) and Glinda. In that musical, we get to see the same story we've known for years, but we get a completely different side of it. The reason I bring this up is because I can liken it to Harry's world. It is a story about wizards, but it is not told from a human perspective as you might expect. It is told from a wizard point of view and things from the muggle world must be explained to the reader. Anyway, that's just something I was thinking about while I was reading this chapter. Random, I know.

For New Readers... or Just People Like My Mom

If this book is the first book from the Harry Potter series you read or if you haven't read the first two books in a long time, J.K. Rowling does a fantastic job of getting the reader caught up on background information from the first two books without taking too much of the reader's attention. She carefully weaves it into the first two chapters without slowing the story down. Takes a special talent to do that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chamber of Secrets Chapters 16 - 18

Well Gryffindorks, these are the final chapters of the book. The book finally reaches its climax. I have to tell ya, I was surprised by the endings of all the books. Rowling is so good at putting in good plot twists at the end, yet, if you look back, the evidence is all there. She doesn't just pull it out of her rear. It's all believable.

Voldemort's Arrogance

Riddle is Voldemort?!? It gave me chills when I read that for the first time when Riddle rearranged the letters of his name. Creepy. One thing that is noteworthy is that we see that even when he was sixteen, Voldemort was extremely arrogant. The adult Voldemort underestimated the power of love and sacrifice. In this book, he underestimated Harry's abilities. We'll discover that throughout the series Voldemort continually underestimates the traits he values least.


Expelliarmus

Harry and Ron get the best of Lockhart before entering the chamber (Not hard to do). To do this, Harry uses the expelliarmus spell. This is one of the first offensive spells Harry learns and as we'll see, it becomes his trademark move. This is the first instance when it really comes in handy.


Man Behind the Mask

When Lucius meets with Dumbledore at the end of this book, at one point the author says that Lucius' expression was "masklike." I don't think Rowling used that adjective lightly. I think she knew that it carried with it huge significance as we'll later find out.



A Typo?!?

Yes, a typo. In the last couple of pages of the book, there's a preview of the next book, Prisoner of Azkaban. In the description, it says that Harry runs away after blowing up his nasty Aunt Petunia. See anything wrong with that? I do! We know he blows up his Aunt Marge, not Petunia. I'm surprised the editors let that one slide.
To Sum Up...

This book was actually my least favorite of all the books, but that's like chosing a least favorite Christmas present, or if you're Sam Orme, your least favorite They Might be Giants album. This book pretty much gets left in the dust in the big scheme of things until the sixth book when a ton of stuff from this book becomes relevant again. I love the sixth book because of all those "ah hah!" moments when we can remember something that was referenced in the second book. I hope you've all enjoyed reading. Tell your friends about the blog and let's get this party a little bigger. Stay tuned for Prisoner of Azkaban next. I've already started reading.

P.S.

On more than one occasion, when writing the title of my post, I've accidentally written "Chamber of Secrest." I'm not sure what Ryan Seacrest has hiding in his chamber, but I'm pretty sure I don't want to find out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chamber of Secrets Chapters 14 - 15

Why the Megaphone?

When Professor McGonagall rushes onto the Quidditch pitch to cancel the match, she uses a large megaphone. Don't we learn in the 4th book that the Sonorus can be used to magically magnify one's voice? Hmmm.

Pudgy McDunderhead

In this chapter, we get our first glimpse of Cornelius Fudge and we also get a good idea of what kind of person and minister he is. You'll notice that he cares much more about public opinion than justice. Do you think J.K. Rowling intentionally used this character to take a jab at politicians? You'll also notice that Fudge is conflicted. He likes his power and likes to please the public and those with influence, but also respects, and to a degree, fears Dumbledore. We'll see how Fudge reconciles these two conflicting views in Book 5. Fudge likes having Lucius Malfoy in his back pocket because of the influence he has, but also knows that Dumbledore is popular in the wizarding community. In this chapter, I don't think Fudge cares so much about the safety of the school as he does his own position.



Always the Gentleman

You'll find that Dumbledore rarely loses his temper. Even so, you can tell when he's at a hightened state of emotion. Rowling describes this as having a "fire" in his eyes. You'll notice that Rowling loves to use eyes as a distiguishing feature of someone. i.e. Dobby's tennisball-like eyes, Lucius Malfoy's cold, gray eyes, Harry's identical-to-his-mother's green eyes. Rowling will again use eyes to describe characters who will appear later in the series. i.e. Karkaroff's smile that doesn't quite reach his cold eyes, Mad-eye Moody's crazy eye, Voldemort's red eyes. Speaking of Voldemort's eyes, does anyone else find it ironic that Voldemort's eyes are red but his house colors were green and Harry's eyes are green, but his house colors are red?

Prophetic Words

As Dumbledore left Hagrid's cabin, he said, "Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it." These words not only prove prophetic in this book, but in the final book when Hogwarts is at its greatest need of help. Without spoiling too much about the final book, notice that in this book, Harry's the one who needs the help at Hogwarts, but in the final book, Harry is the help that is given to Hogwarts by other who ask. Interesting, huh.

Spiders



If there's any part of the series that should give you the heeby-jeebies, this should be it. I just want to applaud Rowling's creepy description of the acromantulas. yeesh!


Answer to the quiz:

1.) C.

2.) F.

3.) D.

4.) B.

5.) E.

6.) A.

Bonus: Ronald - It seems Rowling arbitrarily picked his name.

Good job Tara, you were pretty close!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hang in There Gryffindorks!

Again, sorry for the long hiatus. The second year of dental school is by far the busiest, but that's no excuse. You'll get getting a new post shortly. In the meantime, take a whack at this trivia question:

Match these characters' names with their origins:


__1.) Albus ------------------------A.) A character from Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale"

__2.) Argus -----------------------B.) Old Norse for "Having the Gods' Power"

__3.) Dumbledore -----------------C.) Latin for "White"

__4.) Ron ------------------------- D.) 18th century English for "Bumblebee"

__5.) Snape -----------------------E.) An English Village in North Yorkshire

__6.) Hermione -------------------F.) In Greek mythology, a watchman with a hundred eyes



(All but one of these origins are verified by JKR. In other words, the meanings were intentionally given to these characters. Bonus point to who can tell me which name's meaning was not intentionally given by JKR.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chamber of Secrets Chapters 12 - 13

He's been looking dreadful for days

Fawkes, the Phoenix is Dumbledore's pet bird, although the books never say where he got him. Fawkes is an interesting pet for Dumbledore because Fawkes possesses traits that Dumbledore most highly values. It mentions in the books that Phoenixes make highly faithful pets. Loyalty is a character trait very highly valued by Dumbledore and we'll see that come out at the end of this book. If I could pick three character traits that describe this series as a whole, they would be friendship, love, and loyalty. We've seen a lot of friendship in Sorcerer's Stone, but those bonds will be tested further as the series goes on. Another ability Fawkes possesses is the ability to be reborn from its own ashes. This is another ability highly prized by Dumbledore, but we won't find out just how much and why he values this attribute until the last book.



Speaking of loyalty... how about those Weasleys, eh? They are not only extremely loyal to Dumbledore, but to Harry as well. We see that in some of the small acts of kindness toward Harry. For instance, in this chapter, Fred and George unquestionably believe Harry is not the Heir of Slytherin and go so far as to make light of it so as to convince others that the idea of Harry being the Heir is ludicrous.


Ghosts

I'm surprised I haven't talked about them yet. One thing has concerned me throughout the series: I could nail down the properties of ghosts about as well as I could grab a hold of one myself. They can walk through solid objects with ease, yet are sometimes subject to physical forces. Nearly-headless Nick, for example, is able to be wafted away by a fan. This must mean that he can have physical contact with air. Myrtle was upset by a book being flushed down her toilet. Maybe it was just an emotional thing, but she shouldn't have even felt the book go through her. Another thing Myrtle can do is flood the bathroom. How can she affect water like that if she goes right through stuff. Do ghosts have a limited ability to physically affect their surroundings? I don't know.


I'm Sorry Won Won

I ragged on Ron in my last post, so I feel I need to make up for it. Even though Ron incorrectly jumps to conclusions a lot, he does have one advantage over Harry: he know a lot more about the wizarding world. This proves useful in a lot of cases. In this chapter, Ron warns a naive Harry about Riddle's diary, citing many instances when books have proven harmful to their readers.

Extremely Important Connection

So, Harry keeps Tom Riddle's diary. It mentions in this chapter that Harry feel drawn to it and can't throw it away. We don't find out how important this is or why Harry can't throw it away until the 6th book. We also find out in the 7th book why Harry is drawn to this particular magical object. We find out in this book that Harry and Tom Riddle are very similar people. Their similarities, and differences, we play a larger role later in the series. One noteworthy piece of information in this chapter is that the diary was from a muggle shop. I think the diary is a symbol for Riddle himself. Riddle resents growing up in the muggle world and seeks to prove how special he is. He therefore, took a mundane muggle object and made it extremely special. It's interesting if you note that similarity and even more interesting if you've read the 6th book and know just how significant the diary is.



You Dork!

When Harry is inside Riddle's memory, he finds himself in Headmaster Dippet's office. Harry tries to get Dippets attention, but Dippet shows no reaction. So, fearing Dippet might be deaf, Harry speaks louder. How dense are you, oh "chosen one?" Deaf is deaf unless in England, deaf means "old fart who is hard of hearing."

Half-Blood

Riddle mentions to Dippet that he is half-blood: muggle father and witch mother. It's interesting that in Half-blood Prince, the 6th book, that the real Half-blood Prince also had a muggle father and witch mother. Unless I'm mistaken, this is the only use of the words "half-blood" in the series until the 6th book.

How good are you?

Alright you Gryffindorks, lets see how good you are at solving plot elements. As we've already mentioned, several clues in this book lead us to the conclusion that the monster in the chamber of secrets is some kind of serpent. Harry, being a thick 12-year-old believes Riddles version that it was Hagrid's spider that killed the girl. Don't fall for the smoke and mirrors, readers, stick to the facts!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chamber of Secrets Chapter 11

Wannabe

Harry, Ron, and Hermione have had some good experience playing detective after they solved some of the mysteries in Sorcerer's Stone. They may be getting over-confident. Ron especially is quick to jump to conclusions, but usually the wrong ones. When it comes to detective work, it's usually Hermione or Harry who come to the right conclusions. I think Ron may be getting a little jealous of Hermione and Harry, but I also think it may be an attempt to prove to Harry that he's not a stupid sidekick. Another theory is that this may be an unconscious attempt to impress Hermione. Throughout the series we get little hints that there may be feelings between the two, but this is perhaps the earliest clue we get.


I'm right. You're wrong.

Even though our little trio are only 12, we see some teenage mentality coming out already. I'm talking specifically about their lack of faith in the ability of adults. They somehow think they know more than the faculty do about what's going on at Hogwarts. Here are a couple of examples: When asked about the disembodied voices, Harry lies to Lockhart and to Snape/Dumbledore/McGonagall. The trio also are certain Draco is the heir of Slytherin and rather than finding an adult, they decide to break into Snapes storecupboard to get incredients to make polyjuice potion.

Shouldn't the Ministry be involved?

When Hagrid was at Hogwarts, he had his wand snapped during his third year by the ministry. You should have figured out by now that Hagrid's wand in concealed in his umbrella. In this chapter, Hagrid has to ask Dumbledore for permission to put a charm around the hen coop. Does this mean that Dumbledore knows that Hagrid can still use his wand? That wouldn't surprise me. Dumbledore's been known to disregard the authority of the minisitry. Shouldn't Hagrid have to ask permission from the ministry to use magic since they were the ones who snapped his wand? Leave it to Dumbledore to do things his own way.


That Muggle-loving fool

At the end of the chapter when McGonagall takes Harry to Dumbledore's office, she says the password which is "Lemon Drop." If you will recall, I mentioned way back in the first chapter of Sorcerer's Stone that the fact that Dumbledore likes lemon drops is a metaphor for is unpredjudiced feelings toward muggles. His password is just another subtle reminder of that fact. I will keep bringing up these clues along the way. I think Rowling purposely places these small reminders along the way because this becomes a huge issue later in the series for Dumbledore, the ministry, and Voldemort.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chamber of Secrets Chapter 10

Pre-pubescent little puke

In this chapter, Harry finds himself in a mess after being smashed in the arm by a rogue bludger. One thing about Harry that is impressive is how he handles pain. Despite having his arm broken, he still manages to capture the snitch. As a 12-year-old, I would have been in the fetal position on the ground in tears. I think this resilience to physical pain was brought on by the years of physical neglect he endured from the Dursleys.


Someone needs to learn their anatomy

While Harry is in the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey tells Harry she has 33 bones to regrow in his arm. News flash, Poppy. There are only 30 bones in the human arm: humerus, radius, ulna, 8 carpal (wrist) bones, 5 metacarpal (hand) bones, and 14 phalanges (finger bones). By my count, that's 30. Even if you include the scapula and clavical as arm bones, that's only 32. Therefore, I can draw a few conclusions. Either Madam Pomfrey doesn't know her anatomy, J.K. Rowling doesn't know her anatomy, or Harry ended up with a few extra bones in his new arm.

Class system

So Dobby pays Harry a visit in the hospital wing. In their discussion, Dobby recounts his experience under Voldemort's rule when Voldemort was in power. This is the first time we see a definite class system in the wizard world. By Voldemort, at least, creatures with human or near-human intellegence were looked upon as inferior beings. I'm not sure if Rowling was drawing from stories of Nazi Germany, but it sounds pretty similar to Hitler and his Nazi regime.


Dobby also mentions to Harry that at home, he is treated like vermin. This is a good clue as to the family Dobby serves. This wouldn't be just any wizarding family. The fact that Dobby is treated so poorly is a good hint that his owner is a Voldemort supporter since under Voldemort's regime, house elves were treated the worst.

Powerful Magic of their own

I've already mentioned that house elves have powerful magic of their own. In this chapter, we get a few good examples of just how powerful that magic is. Normal wizards cannot apparate or disapparate within the walls of Hogwarts, but Dobby is able to do so. Dobby was also able to seal the barrier to platform 9 3/4 and bewitch a bludger to chase only Harry. I think the wizarding world underestimates the ability of house elves. Dobby's family certainly does. Otherwise, they'd keep closer tabs on him, preventing him from visiting Harry.

He knows. He always knows.

At the end of this chapter, Dumbledore states that the question surrounding the Chamber of Secrets is not who opened it, but how. This means Dumbledore knows who opened it last time, but is puzzled by how that same person could open it nearly 50 years later; and this, I think, scares Dumbledore more than he lets on.



Answers to the last quiz

1.) What is the incantation that goes with the movements "Swish and Flick?"

A.) Petrificus Totalis

B.) Aquamenti

C.) Wingardium Leviosa

D.) Expelliarmus

E.) Avada Kedavra

The movements for this spell are mentioned in Sorcerer's Stone.

2.) What is the spell Ron uses on Scabbers in Sorcerer's Stone?

A.) Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow!

B.) Rainbow, daisies, sunshine mellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow!

C.) Sunflower, daisies, butter yellow, turn this stupid fat thing yellow!

D.) Sunbeams, daisies, butter yellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow!

E.) Avada Kedavra

Ron tries this spell out on his journey to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express.

3.) Which of these spells is used in the Harry Potter movies, but not in the books?

A.) Aquamenti

B.) Bombarda

C.) Point me

D.) Riddikulus

E.) Avada Kedavra

This spell was never used in the books, but was used by Hermione in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie to break down the Astronomy tower door. A variation of this spell, Bombarda Maxima, was used by Professor Umbridge to break into the Room of Requirement in the Order of the Phoenix movie.

4.) What is the incantation Gilderoy Lockhart uses against the Cornish Pixies?

A.) Peksipiksi Pesternomi

B.) Peskipiksi Pesternomi

C.) Peskipiksi Pesternami

D.) Peksipiksi Pesternami

E.) Avada Kedavra

Pesky + Pixie + Pester + No + Me

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chamber of Secrets Chapters 8 - 9

The Squib

So now we know why Filch is so nasty to students. He's the exact opposite of a muggle-born wizard. He was born to a witch and wizard, but has no magical ability. I'm guessing that there are very few jobs available to squibs in the wizarding world, so for some reason, Filch chose to take a crummy job in the wizarding world as opposed to work in the muggle world.

One thing I noticed in Chapter 8 that I had never noticed before is something that is critical to Book 6. Ever wonder how the Vanishing Cabinet got damaged in the first placed that caused Draco so much trouble in repairing it? We found out in this chapter that Nearly-headless Nick put Peeves up to dropping it over Filch's office. I never noticed that before.



Time line

In this chapter, we again get an exact date of reference so we know in what time this story takes place. Since Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington died in 1492, and he is celebrating his 500th deathday, then that must mean that Harry's second year takes place in 1992. If this is true and Harry turned 12 on July 31, then that means he was born in 1980 and that if he really lived now, he would have just celebrated his 29th birthday.


The Chamber of Secrets


So this is what the story is about. Apparently, there's some secret chamber inside the castle built by Salazar Slytherin. Didn't we just learn about a secret chamber hiding the Sorcerer's Stone? How many secret chambers are there in Hogwarts? We learn in this chapter the reason behind the Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry in school. Okay detectives, if you're sharp, you should be able to figure out what kind of monster is hidden inside the chamber by now. Think about it. First, Salazar Slytherin's house color is green. Second, his name is Slytherin. What kind of animal slithers? Third, the Slytherin house mascot is a snake. If that doesn't give it away right there...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chamber of Secrets Chapters 6-7

He must have porcelain veneers

Mr. Gilderoy Lockhart, in my opinion, is one of the most exaggerated characters in the series. He has his place, but is not really of importance to the series as a whole. He is one of those characters with very little depth and only really serves a purpose in this book. I know I'm being a bit negative here, but when you're dealing with a writer of such talent, the characters come under closer scrutiny. I would certainly expect this caliber of character from Stephanie Meyer, but not from Rowling. Lockhart does have some great moments in this book, but mostly, I find him annoying. Hey, it can't be all sunshine and daisies.



What were they thinking?

So Harry and the gang learn about mandrakes. Professor Sprout tells them that the cry of a mandrake is fatal. If that's the case, then why are they letting 12-year-olds handle them? I wouldn't trust a 12-year-old with a hamster. Apparently, there really are plants called mandrakes.


Pre-teen swear words

I like that even in the wizarding world there are swear words. Just as our swear words here in America are different from those in England, wizard swear words differ from muggle swear words. Apparently Mudblood is a pretty bad word to wizards, but we'll see that later in the series, that word gets thrown around pretty librally. I also like that Rowling comes up with her own sayings that are unique to wizards. For example: the exclamation, "Merlin's Beard!" to connote surprise or incredulity, or "Hungry as a Hippogriff," using a magical creature in a hyperbole to compare a state of hunger.

There's really not much else of significance in these chapters. I suspect there will be more in the next couple of chapters as the plot thickens.


Quiz help:

In my previous post, I wrote a quiz question about a spell Lockhart uses on the cornish pixies. Here's a hint that should give the answer away:

pesky + pixie + pester + no + me

Got it?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A little Quiz to wet your appetite

Hey Harry Potter-ites! Sorry for the lengthy hiatus from this blog. If you've been through dental school, you know it eats up quite a bit of time. We just got done with an intense 6-week term. Anyway, enough about my boring life and on with the Potterness. To hold you over until my next couple of Chamber of Secrets chapters, here's a little quiz to see how well you know your Harry Potter spells. We'll start easy.

1.) What is the incantation that goes with the movements "Swish and Flick?"

A.) Petrificus Totalis

B.) Aquamenti

C.) Wingardium Leviosa

D.) Expelliarmus

E.) Avada Kedavra


2.) What is the spell Ron uses on Scabbers in Sorcerer's Stone?

A.) Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow!

B.) Rainbow, daisies, sunshine mellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow!

C.) Sunflower, daisies, butter yellow, turn this stupid fat thing yellow!

D.) Sunbeams, daisies, butter yellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow!

E.) Avada Kedavra


3.) Which of these spells is used in the Harry Potter movies, but not in the books?

A.) Aquamenti

B.) Bombarda

C.) Point me

D.) Riddikulus

E.) Avada Kedavra



4.) What is the incantation Gilderoy Lockhart uses against the Cornish Pixies?

A.) Peksipiksi Pesternomi

B.) Peskipiksi Pesternomi

C.) Peskipiksi Pesternami

D.) Peksipiksi Pesternami

E.) Avada Kedavra

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chamber of Secrets - Chapters 4 - 5

Sorry it's been so long folks, but here's the next installment.

Borgin and Burke

This dodgy little shop of horrors not only holds items of dark magic, it contains items of significance later on in the series. Did you notice the cabinet Harry hides in? I'm pretty sure it's the same significant cabinet we learn about in the 6th book. Also noted in this chapter is the "Hand of Glory" which Draco will use in book 6. The "Opal necklace" is also briefly mentioned which again comes into play in book 6. It's just interesting that the author plants these little notes here and there early on in the books so that later on we can say "Oh, she mentioned that in an earlier book." It shows that she is able to see the entire story folded out before her. I don't think she makes it up as she goes.



Modes of Transportation



Flying car, floo powder, just to name a few. One thing I wanted to point out is that in the wizarding world, there are way more methods of travel than in the muggle world. What is interesting is that in every book, we, the readers, and Harry learn a new method of transportation. Here's a fairly comprehensive list:

Sorcerer's Stone: Flying on brooms, bewitching objects to fly, i.e. motorcycles.
Chamber of Secrets: Floo powder
Prisoner of Azkaban: Riding a Hippogriff, the knight bus.
Goblet of Fire: Portkeys, flying carriage, magical watercraft, i.e. the Durmstrang ship
Order of the Phoenix: Riding thestrals
Half-Blood Prince: Apparition/side-along apparition, vanishing cabinet.
Deathly Hallows: Traveling by deluminator, riding a dragon*, flying (as demonstrated by Voldemort*)

*Not a typical mode of transportation for wizards

I wouldn't consider the Hogwarts express on this list because there is nothing especially magical about the train itself, although it is stationed at a magical platform.



Educational decree number blah blah blah

So Harry gets a slap on the wrist from the ministry for using magic as an underage wizard. If this holds true, then how do you explain when Ron uses his wand to unlock and start the Ford Anglia? Knowing that Fred and George also flew the car, one can assume they also used their wands to unlock and start the car. Why didn't they get a letter from the ministry? I'll have to ask J.K. next time I run into her.

Reading Minds

When Harry and Ron get busted by Snape for flying the car, Harry has the distinct impression that Snape can read minds. There are a couple of other occasions when Harry also senses the same thing. Harry, however, doesn't really convince the reader that Snape can. I don't think Harry himself believes it either, but this isn't the first time our little hero "accidentally" jumps to the right conclusion.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Half-Blood Prince Movie Review




!!!!!!!!!!SPOILER ALERT
!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I will be giving a review of the 6th movie. Do not read if you haven't seen it yet. You've been warned.







Holy Crap Load of Awesomeness!

I just got back from the movie, and I have to say, it is one of my favorites. It really is much better than the previous two. The acting is much better and the cinematography is fantastic. I'll break down this review into things I loved, and things that could have been better.

Awesome Stuff

- First off, bravo to Mr. Michael Gambon who plays Dumbledore. I was very much impressed with his performance in this movie. I haven't been a huge fan of his before now. I finally caught glimpses of the Dumbledore from the books. Finally!

-The trio have really raised the bar with their acting in this movie. I thought that in the previous two films, the trio may have gone a little too serious with their roles, but in this movie, they struck a good balance between the dramatic and the comedic.

-There was much more of Luna in this movie than I anticipated. The way I see it, the more Luna, the better. I laughed out loud at Luna's Christmas party dress, by the way.


-I was pleasantly surprised by Jim Broadbent's job as Slughorn. He isn't portrayed in the movie like he is in the books, but I kind of like Mr. Broadbent's take on the character.

-The movie didn't get bogged down in over-the-top cinematic action sequences. The fourth movie felt clumsy and clunky as it shifted from one action sequence to the next. In this movie, however, the plot moved forward nicely and the transitions were much more smooth.

-Tom Felton took it up a notch as well as Draco Malfoy. The kid did his homework. I think he was exactly like the Draco we read about in the books.

- The writers took lots of liberties with changing the plot and order of events, but I felt that in this book, more than the others, it worked well and I'm not bummed that something important was left out.

-I was very impressed with the attention to detail. For one thing, in the Chamber of Secrets novel, it's mentioned early on that Mr. Weasley has a garden shed full of muggle stuff he loves to take apart and put back together. This is never mentioned again in the books and is left out of the 2nd movie, but this little nugget wasn't forgotten. They actually included it in this movie. Also, in Sorcerer's Stone in the very first chapter, Dumbledore sits on the Dursley's garden wall and unsticks two lemon drops. These are, in his words, "A muggle sweet I'm rather fond of." Near the end of the film, as the camera pans over Dumbledore's desk, there lies a bowl of lemon drops. Neat, huh.

- Once again, Alan Rickman was amazing. In other news, water is wet. Moving on.




Could have been better

- The ending felt a little rushed. Dumbledore croaking is one of the biggest events in the series. They could have spent a little more time with it. I would like to have seen the funeral. It would have provided a good opportunity for little cameos as well (i.e. Umbridge, Grawp, Firenze, Dobby, Mad-Eye, the Hogwarts Ghosts, etc.) It's important for continuity sake to bring up old characters who will play an important role in the coming films. (By the way, it was just confirmed that Imelda Staunton will be reprising her role as Umbridge for the final two films)

- I felt that the adolescent love stuff was funny and entertaining, but I felt they took it a bit too far sometimes. i.e. Dumbledore asking if there was anything between Harry and Hermione. Like he'd ever really ask that.

- I don't like where they left things between Ron and Hermione. The alluded to the fact that they would eventually hook up, but at the end of the film, it left audiences with the impression that they had, in fact, hooked up.

-I don't think there was enough camera time for the "Staples." Hagrid hardly got any screen time, and same with McGonagall. Shame. Did anyone else think Maggie Smith didn't look very healthy? She looked like she had aged about 10 years between films.

Conclusion

That's about all I can think of for now, but I'm sure to think of other stuff and it has time to settle in my rather empty head, so don't be surprised if I let little opinions on the movie slip into my Chamber of Secrets posts. I probably won't see this in theatres again, but I will definitely get it on DVD... probably on the day it comes out. :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chamber of Secrets - Chapters 2-3

Dobby

I've got two words for any strange creature I find jumping on my bed -- Avada Kedavra. Seriously, Harry it far too trusting. Dobby, however, turns out to be alright. In fact, Dobby ends up being one of my favorite characters. Rowling uses Dobby to represent a lot of social and political underlying themes that occur throughout the series. I'll touch more on those when they present themselves later in the series. For now, let's just enjoy our quirky little friend.

George mentions that house-elves have powerful magic of their own, but are bound by their masters. This is a big forshadowing statement. We'll find out later just how significane that is.



Early Mentions

If you look carefully, you'll notice that Rowling name drops quite a bit. She brings up names far before the character is formally introduced. There are two characters in Chapter 3 that fall in this category. The first is Celestina Warbeck. Como se Huh? Yeah, she's mentioned as playing on the radio when Harry first enters the Burrow in this book. She's also the same wizard singer who sings Cauldron Full of Hot Strong Love in Book 6 during Christmas time. The other is Mundungus Fletcher. Dung is mentioned as someone who gives Mr. Weasley a hard time during the previous night. He doesn't become a prominant character until Book 5.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Chapter 1



Overview

As a stand alone book, The Chamber of Secrets is very similar in plot structure to the first book. It is also similar in its prepubescent target audience. On the surface, this book reads very similarly to the first book, but what I like about it is that it gives a lot of important information on the series as a whole. Each book as its own plot, but there is also this overarching master plot that continues throughout the series and reaches a climax at the end of the last book. I didn't realize just how much important information about the series is contained in this book until I read the sixth book.



The Dursleys

Uncle Salt Porker, Aunt Horseface, and Roast Beefy are just as nasty as we remember. Did you expect any less?

He has to do homework over break?

Seriously?

Getting us Caught Up




One thing J.K Rowling does really well is getting the reader caught up on the background info on the story. She makes it easy for someone who has either never read the first book, or has forgotten a lot about the first book to be able to follow where the story is going. Another nice thing is that she gets the reader caught up without using a lot of words. This way, the story doesn't get bogged down in elements of the story the reader should already know.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Chapter 17 - The Final Chapter

It was Quirell!

Did anyone else see that coming when they first read the series? Maybe I'm dumb, but I didn't see it at all. I guess I counted on the fact that it is a children's novel and I expected it to be predictable. If you look back at all the clues, however, it's easy to see how it was Quirrell and not Snape.

On a side note, I must apologize to Sam O. After doing some research, I found out that Professor Quirrell's first name really is Quirinus, but I was correct in stating that his first name is never mentioned in the series. (My source is imdb.com)


It was Love?!?

Dumbledore explains to Harry that the reason Quirrell couldn't touch Harry was because of his mother's love. When I read the series for the first time, I thought this was the lamest explanation. Is this freaking Care Bears or the best selling novel of ever? It gets explained a little better later in the series, so I feel better about it now.

Politeness

We know well by now that Harry hates Snape. When Harry speaks of Snape to Dumbledore, Dumbledore has to frequently remind Harry to refer to him as Professor Snape out of respect for the title. Notice that when Harry is speaking to Dumbledore in the hospital wing that Harry refers to Professor Quirell as Quirell, but Dumbledore doesn't ask that Harry refer to him as professor. I think this shows a level of trust and respect for Professor Snape that isn't really even explained until the later books.



The First Question

The first question that Harry asks Dumbledore when they are talking in the hospital wing is why Voldemort wanted to kill Harry. We find out that this is the precise question Dumbledore didn't want to answer yet. For those of you who have read the 5th book, in that book, this is the exact question Dumbledore says he should have answered that day.

Final Thoughts

This first book is the shortest in the entire series, yet sets up the series extremely well. For a seven-book series, this one accomplishes the task of setting up the master plot and laying a foundation for the characters, yet it is also a very good story in and of itself. It's not incredibly deep, but it is a well-written and compelling story.

One bit of trivia: Harry's first year at Hogwarts takes place in the 1991-1992 school year.

A little quiz:

Who was the first to thwart Quirell in his attempts to steal the Sorcerer's Stone?

A) Dumbledore

B.) Hagrid

C.) Harry

D.) Snape

E.) Fluffy


My Ranking: Of my favorite books in this series, I rank this book 6th out of 7.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Chapter 16


Petrificus Totalus


When Hermione uses this spell on Neville, his arms and legs snap together and he falls, stiff as a board. One thing I noticed is that in Book 6 when someone uses that same spell on Harry, his arms and legs don't snap together, he just freezes in the position he's in. I only noticed this inconsistency this time reading this book.



A Little Quiz

The Sorcerer's Stone is closely guarded by spells and enchantments set by several of the Hogwarts staff: Hagrid, Sprout, Flitwick, McGonagall, Quirell, Snape, and Dumbledore. Here is a little quiz. Without referencing the Potter series, who can tell me all the first names of the Hogwarts staff I just listed?



The First Big Twist

So, when Harry enters the final room, someone is already there. Not Snape, and not even Voldemort...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Chapters 14 - 15

Sorry it's been so long, Gryffindorks, but between school ending and taking care of the baby, I've been a bit negligent in my blogging duties. So here goes the next installment!

Welsh Green

In Chapter 14, when the trio are talking about dragons in Hagrid's hut, Ron brings up that there is the Welsh Green breed of dragon in abundance in Great Britain. One little note of trivia is that a Welsh Green is one of the breeds of dragon that appears in the Triwizard Tournament in the 4th book.
A big deal to Harry... for now anyway

After seeing losses and gains of 5's and 10's of house points, Harry, Hermione, and Neville lose their house a total of 150 points. To an 11-year-old, this is earth-shattering. However, compared to the real challenges Harry faces later on in the books, this is nothing. It's interesting to observe what Harry considers a "big deal" now compared to each of the remaining books.

Poor Neville

If I were to take a poll of the public's favorite Harry Potter character, Neville would be right near the top of that list. As pathetic as he is, you can't help but love Neville and admire his determination to prove himself. Neville is obviously one of those kids who struggles academically. I'm sure we all knew these type of kids back in school. It's understandable that Harry feels awful that Neville got in trouble. He was just trying to do the right thing. Neville is one of those people where what you see is what you get. He's simple in his determination and unwavering in his loyalty.



Veering off course

As far as sticking to the books, the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movie does quite a good job. The first big difference I saw between the books and the movies is that in the movie, Ron gets detention for being out at night instead of Neville. This isn't such a big deal, but as we'll see, the movies become less loyal to the books as the series progresses.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Chapters 12 - 13

Time Lapse

This book is the shortest in the series and we can see how in just these couple of chapters. Chapter 12 begins just before Christmas and chapter 13 ends in late Spring. The major lapse in time is understandable. The overall plot of the series hasn't quite developed yet. We don't want to throw too much at our little hero just yet.

I've got to say... I got all giddy when I found out that Hermione's parents are BOTH dentists. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

The Invisibility Cloak

I love that the first thing Harry does with the cloak is he goes out and breaks school rules. It's interesting that the cloak was his fathers and that it was given to him by Dumbledore. Why did Dumbledore have it? Don't worry, that gets answered in about 3300 more pages.




Mirror of Erised

It's interesting that Dumbledore has seemingly led Harry to the mirror of Erised. What I like about this part in the book is that Dumbledore sits down on the floor next to Harry. I think this really shows Dumbledore's character; that he doesn't see himself as superior to anyone else. Even though he probably knows he's the greatest wizard out there, he humbles himself and shows this by having a rather adult conversation with an 11-year-old. Yet, another thing about Dumbledore's relationship with Harry comes out in this section. When Harry asks Dumbledore what he sees in the mirror, Dumbledore replies that he sees himself with a pair of socks. Even Harry feels that Dumbledore isn't being quite honest. Dumbledore is being a bit patronizing here, yet he must really feel strongly about not sharing this piece of personal information because he is otherwise quite open about other things.

The Sorcerer's Stone

Oh good, we finally find out what the blasted book title means. The original title of this book was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone which is the title that was used in the British version. "Philosopher", however, has a slightly different connotation here in America, so the editors decided to change the title for the American publication.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Chapters 10 - 11

Hermione, the Wretch

Hermione debuts as quite the piece of work. Sadly, she reminds me a lot of me when I was younger. Scratch that. I'm still a lot like her in a lot of ways. I find it interesting that from the get go, Hermione and Ron's relationship is a bit strained to say the least, but even after they become friends, that tension never leaves; even through the end of the series. The group dynamic among the trio (Harry, Ron and Hermione) is fascinating. The stereotypical role of the airhead is usually, (but not rightly) played by a blond female. In this case, Ron is really the one to take on that role. He is often oblivious to social graces and perception of people's feelings.



It's interesting, but I find myself identifying with a lot of personality traits from each one of the intrepid trio. Like Hermione, I'm fairly studious and can be a bit of a know-it-all. Like Ron, I often lack confidence and social grace, but consider myself a loyal friend, and like Harry, I feel I'm quick to jump to conclusions, but have a good moral compass.

Quidditch

Did you notice who gave Harry is broomstick? It was Professor McGonagall and it wasn't just any old broomstick. It was the best on the market. I think this gesture shows a lot of insight into Professor McGonagall. She isn't just all business. She has a heart and I believe she has a real soft spot for Harry even though she has an interesting way of showing it. She's very old fashioned, but I love the brief moments when we can catch a glimpse of what's hiding beyond her stoic fascade.

Did you know that there are 700 ways to commit a Quidditch foul? Harry learned this piece of trivia from a book called Quidditch Through the Ages. Here's a bit of trivia for you. Quidditch Through the Ages is an actual book written by J.K. Rowling, and yes, I have it and I've read it. It's quite interesting too.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Chapters 8 - 9

The Overgrown Bat

We finally come to one of my favorite characters throughout the Harry Potter series. No, it's not Argus Filch. I'm talking about Severus Snape. Rowling really does a great job with this character. He has so many levels and the depth of this character gets more intricate with each book. Rowling has a gift of making the reader hang on to his every line, and I've got to say, Alan Rickman does a fabulous job portraying Snape in the films. He's a loathsome character, but you can't help but be drawn to him and be intrigued by him. For those of you who haven't read the books yet, why do you think Snape hates Harry so much?



Super Sleuth

So at this point, Harry starts to put together that there is some connection between the emptied vault at Gringotts and the announced break-in. Was Harry right in thinking the grubby little package is what the crook was after? We'll see. From this point in the story, Harry is developing a bad habit of not being able to ignore mysteries. We'll see that sometimes it's for the best, but at others, it can lead to big trouble. I love that Harry has no fear, but at the same time, is like a typical 11-year-old in that he has absolutely no regard for consequences of his impulsive actions.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A little break for a little reason

Sorry for the brief hiatus in the posts folks, but we've been busy enjoying the newest addition to our family, Addelyn Nicole. She's wonderful and we're so happy to be parents. I'll be resuming my Harry Potter posts shortly. Keep reading!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Chapters 6-7


Corned beef? Whose mom fixes their kid corned beef?!?

Anyway, if you've seen the
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie, you may recall a scene that takes place right after the second challenge of the Triwizard Tournament. In the scene, Harry, Hermione, and Ron and walking with Hagrid in the woods singing. If you paid attention to the words, you would have noticed that they are the lyrics to the Hogwarts school song, the lyrics of which are only found in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone book in Chapter 7. What is noteworthy is that in the novels, the song is only ever sung in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, never in Goblet of Fire.



On a completely separate note, there is one important distinction in the author's writing that you may have already picked up on. The distinction is between the roles J.K. Rowling has as the author of the novels and as the narrator. As the author, she knows the story from beginning to end. As the narrator, she sees the world as 11-year-old Harry sees it, and in turn, the story (at least on the surface) is probably suitable to a similar-aged reader. Throughout this book, Harry doesn't always see what is going on behind the scenes and doesn't understand as deeply the problems going on right under his nose, as we'll learn in this novel as well as future books in the series. One example of Harry's 11-year-old point of view is that at this point in the series, Harry sees professor McGonagall as an intimidating authority figure. As the series progresses, we'll get to see how Harry's relationship with his teachers changes and develops and we'll see how very differently he interacts with the teachers by the end of the series.

Lastly, remember back to my post from the very first chapter. Remember how I said that the fact that Harry's parents lived in Godric's Hollow was important? The head of Gryffindor house was Godric Gryffindor. The house colors of Gryffindor are red and gold. Harry was born in the town that was named after Gryffindor. Also, remember back to Diagon Alley. The sparks Harry shoots out of the wand that eventually becomes his are red and gold. It's no coincidence then that Harry ends up in Gryffindor house. I told you there is no minor detail that should be overlooked.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Chapters 4-5

So, Harry knows he's a wizard. He must be a good judge of character if he trusts Gigantosaurus because Uncle Giggle-snort, Aunt Flappergums, and Beefy Weefy certainly don't. One thing I thought of when reading these chapters is the name of Diagon Alley. Does it seem weird to you that when put together the two words form the word "diagonally?" I'm not sure if it was intentional, but judging from the way J.K. Rowling writes, I would say that it was intentional. Also, notice how many references to the color green there are. Harry's eyes, the writing on his Hogwarts acceptance letter, the icing on his birthday cake, and the smoke that came out of his Gringotts vault when it was first opened. Again, I'm sure this was intentional, but even after reading the entire series, i'm still not sure of the exact reasons for making all the 'green' references, but I have my theories.




One thing I love about J.K. Rowling's writing is how descriptive she is. As she describes Diagon Alley, even though everything there is made up and sensational, she makes it completely believable. To those shopping there, everything is commo
nplace and ordinary, just like going to the mall for you and me. From here, the author really sets the stage for how she wants her readers to view the wizarding world: Unbelievable, yet believable.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Chapters 2-3

Ah, the infamous Uncle Salt Porker, Aunt Horse-face, and their devil child, Roast Beefy. After these two chapters, I hope you're getting a feel for how the Dursleys treat poor Harry. One thing I hope you have noticed is that Harry, despite being treated like a rented mule refuses to feel resentful or reclusive. He remains optimistic and eager to explore the world around him. Notice the joy he feels at the opportunity of watching what he wants on TV, having a go on Dudley's computer, being given a cheap lemon ice pop, and finishing Dudley's "knickerbocker glory" ice cream sundae. Although Harry is aware he is treated worse than most children, he never loses hope that things will get better.


Aunt Horse-face, Roast Beefy, Uncle Salt Porker

In Chapter 3, we get a pretty big clue when the
Dursleys get one of Harry's letters. The Dursleys aren't as in dark about the magical world as they let on. At least Petunia knew what her sister was, otherwise they wouldn't have acted so severely toward the letter. She must have known Harry's parents were wizards and that they attended a magical school called Hogwarts. Hmmmmmm.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Chapter 1

Alright all you Gryffindorks, if you don't like my analysis or if you find any Raven-flaws in my blog posts. I won't be Slytherin' away, so you can just Huffle-shove-it.

Now, on to the action. The first thing to remember when reading this series is that there is no such thing as an insignificant detail. For this reason, many seemingly insignificant tidbits of information can actually be big clues as to things to happen later in the book or series. Normally, I won't spoil any crucial plot information that comes later in the series, but I want to illustrate the point that even in the very first chapter, there is a huge load of information beyond the obvious. Here is a list of items I picked out that have significance later in the book series.





1.) Although Professor McGonagall opposes the idea of sending Harry to live with the Dursleys, Dumbledore strongly insists, although the reason for this does not become significant or apparent until Book 5.

2.) Notice how Dumbledore offer's McGonagall a lemon drop. McGonagall clearly has never heard of them, but Dumbledore likes them. This is a major clue as to the nature of Dumbledore's relationships with others. Wizards clearly don't eat muggle candy, yet Dumbledore likes them because he simply likes them. He holds no prejudices. This is also evidenced by his unwavering trust in the half-giant Hagrid. The prejudices held by wizards against muggles and other non-wizard creatures becomes a large plot element of Book 5, is also an underlying theme in Books 4-7.

3.) Now, I've read this book about 8 times, yet I picked out something new once again this time around. When the muggle news is on and they're talking about the absurd flying habits of the owls that day, one news anchor holds back a smirk. It is also noted that his name is Ted. Why would J.K Rowling put in there that Ted obviously knows something the other muggle doesn't? I believe that this is the case because this Ted is actually Ted Tonks, father of Nymphadora Tonks of Book 5. Just a theory...

4.) Rowling also metions the name of Dedalus Diggle in passing. Dedalus acutally ends up playing minor roles throughout the books.

5.) Did you notice who Hagrid borrowed the motorcycle from? Yes, it was Sirius Black. This has huge significance in Book 3.

6.) Dumbledore uses a deluminator to put out the street lights. This handy little device has great significance, although it doesn't reappear in the series until the last book.

7.) Finally, notice where Harry lived before his parents were killed. They lived in Godric's Hollow. This will be important in Books 2 and 7 as well as later in this book.





So there you have it. In just the first chapter, there is a truck load of significant information and I'm sure there is more than what I've just mentioned. So, never take an offhand comment made by the author for granted. Constant vigilance!

The beginning of something great

LET THE GAMES BEGIN! All right all you Potterheads, if you haven't started already, I'm going to start Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone today, so check back periodically for new posts. Good luck and have fun!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Men are from Mars, Women are from Forks, WA.

Okay, okay, I'm done with the Twilight references. I just had to add that one last jab. Thanks Tyler S. for the inspiration!

-Me

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

This is my "football."

Hey all, I just wanted to share a quote out of a book about the Harry Potter series that I can really relate to:

"All of us led other lives, with work and school and families who didn't understand how we could love anything as much as we loved Harry Potter, who even, at times, made fun of us for devoting so much time and energy to it - but then would spend six hours shouting themselves hoarse at a football match, and five after that shouting themselves hoarse at each other as they discussed the same game."

-Melissa Anelli, author of Harry, A History

Warmest regards,

Tyler, the Gryffindork

Monday, May 25, 2009

Okay, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little



It may seem odd, but to kick off my Harry Potter blog, I can't help but post a critique of a book series I just read. Yes, I have channeled my inner 13 year-old girl and read the Twilight series. Please wait until you've read my review before you pass judgment on my testosterone levels... or lack thereof.

Overall, I rate the series 9 stars out of 10......million. All kidding aside, I actually do have some positive points to pick out of the series, so I suppose I'll start with those before I begin the actual rant.

SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read the rest of this if you do not want to know key plot elements of the Twilight series. This is your only warning.


Positives:

1.) Stephanie Meyer - props on coming up with a cleaver and creative idea for a romance novel that seamlessly blends the supernatural with the ordinary. Kudos.

2.) The constant threat of impending doom and violence = compelling story. I'm glad it wasn't all gooey kissy barfiness.

3.) The story does a pretty good job of moving along and keeping the attention of the reader. I got into the story enough to actually care about what happens to the characters.

4.) There are some truly likable characters in this series. Seth, for example is one of my favorites. He has true convictions and sticks to his guns despite being one of the youngest members of his pack. He doesn't carry around prejudices or preconceived notions. He judges things as they are. He's also extremely loyal and has a good heart.




Negatives:

1.) In the words of Simon Cowell, "That was complete self-indulgent rubbish!" That just about sums up my opinion of the whole story. I imagine Stephanie Meyer is a lot like Bella when we first meet her in the beginning of the novel. Plain, not many friends, somewhat of an introvert and social outcast. That's about where that ends. We now enter Stephanie's happy fantasy land where young Bella meets a guy entirely out of her league who just happens to be as obscessed with her as she is with him. Bella has no apparent remarkable personality traits and she is admittedly average looking. Yet, Mr. invincible has chosen her to fall in love with after not batting an eye at any girl for almost a century. Go figure. Second, every guy bella encounters seems to fall head-over-heals in love with Bella; i.e.: Mike, Jake, Edward, even Quil if he had the chance. Thirdly, Bella and Edward have a child who is not only the most beautiful in the world (although every mother thinks theirs is the most beautiful child in the world, but I'm not going to go there.) But does young Renesmee (stupid name) have any flaws? Nope! She's the child that everyone falls in love with immediately upon seeing her. Every mother's fantasy. Just a little self-indulgent maybe? Lastly, "Plain Jane" Bella becomes little miss vixen vampire. Does Stephanie Meyer settle with having her dream self as powerful as the other vampires? No way! Bella exercises exceptional self-control for a vampire, can run faster, jump higher, and even beat Mr. Strongman Emmett in arm wrestling. Hmmm. I wonder who is going to save the entire vampire nation from the opressing Volturi. Surely not the experienced vampires. Nope, it's Bella. If you can't see how self-indulgent Stephanie Meyer is by now, read the previous paragraph again and repeat until you do.

2.) There is no objectivity in the author's portrayal of male and female. These books were clearly written by a female for females. You're probably screaming "DUH!" at me, but come on, give us guys a fair shake. Meyer's portrayal of guys is for the most part is over generalized. They're either too good to be true (Edward) or stereotyped into macho jerks who only think about fighting and/or sex (Emmett and Jacob). Need evidence? Take a look at the passages when Edward is reading Jacob's thoughts and I'll bet you 75% of the things Emmett says have to do with fighting or gettin' lucky. And how many times is Mike going to ask Bella out? Move on buddy!

3.) Can you say clingy? If Edward weren't so in love with Bella, he'd get sick of her pretty quick. Here's the best example of Bella's "clinginess." In New Moon, Edward leaves Bella in the fall. She does the whole "poor me" thing for 4 months until she meets Jacob. She admittedly spends a lot of time with him, but a mere 4 more months later, she's reunited with Edward. Now, 4 months is like a summer fling and yet Bella feels like she can't live without Jacob in her life. She'd known the little brat for 4 stupid months. Get over it!

Those are my biggest gripes out the series although I have plenty more. Finally, I just want to say that I think there was so much potential to do so much with this story, but I was left feeling a bit unfulfilled. I wish Stephanie Meyer would have developed the characters a little more. Not Bella, Edward, or Jacob, but the other characters. It seems like the other Cullens all got pigeonholed in their roles. For example, Carlisle is the compassionate doctor. He plays a huge part in the story, and yet we still don't know much else about him. I would prefer if there were other plot elements to be resolved besides those surrounding Bella and Edward. What about killing off a major character? I think it is a mark of a mature writer that you can kill off a major likable character, speaking of clingy, miss Stephanie.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll think of dozen more things to say about this series, but I've bored you all with enough already. I'll say this though. Stephanie Meyer knows her audience well and she has catered to them brilliantly, and to that I say, job well done.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Welcome!

If you've somehow managed to find your way onto this blog and it wasn't by accident, then congratulations, you're a nerd. Well, at least you're in good company then.

As explained in my family blog, I have created this blog to post and discuss thoughts and insights on the Harry Potter series as I begin reading the books again. I have a great respect for J.K. Rowling's writing and have fallen in love with this series. I love discussing this story's many intricate layers and it is my hope that some of you will post on this blog and read along with me. Now, for some formalities:

I do not intend for this to be laborious nor do I expect any level of commitment from anyone who wishes to comment on this blog. I also do not intend to reveal any key plot elements that would give any of the story away for those who are reading the books for the first time. I will merely be commenting on what I have read. I also do not plan on having a set reading schedule, so check back here periodically for any new posts, or feel free to comment on older posts as well.

My hope is that as we read this series together, we can share thoughts about the books with each other and hopefully gain new insights on Harry's story. I will be starting reading soon, so if this sounds like something you'd like to do, then dust off your seven volume set and get ready!