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


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.


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


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


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?


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

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.


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.