The Order of the Phoenix *Just About* Rises from the Ashes

*Or, ALL THE SPOILER WARNINGS, how to get an innocent man killed*

harry potter review

Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_PhoenixHello all! It’s finally time for my most controversial Harry Potter review. Yup- we’ve made it to book 5 and I’ve so far managed to survive the wrath of fans… but I think this one might just do me in 😉 As I mentioned in my complicated relationship with Harry Potter piece, I have never been the biggest fan of this book (and for those that are gonna get offended by that statement- either muffliato a minute and hear me out or, you know, just don’t read this). Because of that, I was extremely strategic this time round and made sure to read it fresh, at least I wouldn’t in the hope I wouldn’t dislike it as much as I have in the past. And you know what? It kind of worked… kind of.

I won’t pretend this book cast a Cheering Charm over me- especially since you could reallllly feel the length of this one. More of the plotlines felt unnecessary and while I conceptually like the idea of the beginning and end centring on the Ministry, it took far too long to get to that point. It took 20% of the book, which in a book this huge is *150 pages* to get to the school and consequently the actual plot- and the fact that I spent a large amount of time calculating the pages should tell you how bored I got with it. I’m sorry to say this, but some of the fat should’ve been trimmed here.

I also spent most of the book with a mild case of irritation. Part of that came down to the repetitive and pointless conversations about the “secret weapon” that go nowhere fast. So many of the conversations about it just went in circles- which, if you compare this with conversations in the Philosopher’s Stone, where every time Flamel is brought up, we learn something new, made it all the more irksome. Just dropping in the occasional “we still don’t know what the secret weapon is…” doesn’t build the mystery in quite the same way.

Some of this can be blamed on how infuriatingly little Harry is told. For some reason, most of the adults in his life (like Molly Weasley), seem to think the most dangerous thing for a boy that’s nearly been murdered on multiple occasions is… knowledge. WHAT?! This is why I use the term “the Dumbledore” to describe the wizard who refuses to give information for *reasons*. Doofus Dumbledore (yes, I am going there… maybe I should’ve imperio’ed fans not to read this review) doesn’t seem to understand that *truth* is the most powerful weapon (which is funny, cos the whole book seems to be about the baddie *SEEKING INFORMATION, so he seems to get it). I understand that secrecy is important for plot development, but you can still have a character die without it being for reasons this dumb. One of the reasons I think this whole issue comes about is because Dumbledore just knows too much from book 1. I get that this is supposed to be because “he’s the best wizard” and all that jazz, yet it actually comes across as though he’s got far too much power in comparison to Voldemort (which definitely comes out when he whoops his ass in the last fight scene 😉 ). In fairness, a lot of this can be put down to *serious character flaws*– ie Dumbledore is too proud/stupid to tell Harry the truth and Harry is to proud/stupid to go and ask. Which don’t really excuse them- just makes sense.

harry potter how dare you

Pipe down Harry!

Speaking of Harry’s character, this is the HELLO PUBERTY book. And the thing is, I was just coming into that magical time of hormones when I first read this book, and I’m pretty confident to say that it doesn’t get turned on and off like a faucet. Either way, I didn’t like his temper and thought he spent way too much of this book jumping down everyone’s throats. And I know some people are going to say “oh but this reflects trauma”- ermmm no, there’s more to trauma than shouting and the occasional magically induced nightmare, sorry. Also, hitting the CAPS LOCK for paragraphs on end to express anger is annoying.

And since this is a theme, I was annoyed by Ron again (I don’t know why anyone’s surprised at this point, I’ve been saying it since book 1). First of all, why is anyone surprised he gets off from weird trumped up charges at the beginning of the book? And secondly, Ron saying “you always get away with stuff” made me legit yell at the book so do you!!!! I also don’t get why he ever thought it made sense for him to be a prefect– he’s definitely got the same disobedient streak as Fred/George (just to add insult to injury in my criticism of Dumbledore, I’d have just made Neville prefect- cos, why not?)

Okay, you may not think I’m justified in my dislike for Ron, but I think we can all agree that Umbridge is the MOST LOATHSOME Harry Potter character. I HATE Umbridge. I have to say her characterisation, from that early “silvery laugh” is magnificent. But again, it makes me seriously scratch my head at Harry’s actions. I genuinely can’t decide if I admire Harry’s restraint for not cursing Umbridge or wanting to throttle him for not standing up to her more (I probably lean towards the latter, though I understand why people feel the former). At least have the good sense to go to another teacher! I can’t believe that most of them would have stood for it and there were so many ways to catch her out. Evidently, Dumbledore stopped her shaking Marietta- so why assume that they’d let her basically stab children in the hand. McGonagall would have probably stabbed her with the quill if she’d have known.

Incidentally, I’ve been remiss in not mentioning Minerva thus far. She’s one of the few sensible adults in Harry’s life and I just love her “Have a biscuit, Potter” line. Though she’s not the only adult looking out for Harry. For all his rashness, Sirius definitely has Harry’s best interests and *has the most logical views*. There is an ongoing theme in the book of Sirius comparing Harry to James- what’s infuriating in the film adaptation is that he mistakes Harry for his father in his final moments. Which, not only takes the sting out of his death, but also ignores the fact that book-Sirius grows into his godfather role and ends up coming to his rescue in a fatherly fashion. The film version is also poor on multiple accounts, as it ignores the fact that Sirius is basically right the whole book- you’ve got to learn to defend yourself with a sociopathic cult leader on the loose.  

And I know that I shouldn’t have liked it, but I always have fun with the Snape vs Sirius rivalry- honestly, anything that gets us closer to a Marauder’s story makes me happy. Speaking of which, Snape’s memories are *traumatic*- yet again, I don’t like the film’s version, because to my mind neither is the good party- especially in the larger context of them both antagonising each other. Still, even if you want to go with the view that James was the bully… Snape’s basically the equivalent of a racist here, so…

Anyway, this is part of one of the *many* aforementioned subplots. It makes some sense to me that Harry isn’t keen on the Occulemency lessons- given the poor choice of teacher- yet even when he’s given the reasons why, he still has little interest in learning (cos of course Harry knows best…). Honestly, I get the feeling that a longer book just gave Harry more opportunities to be an idiot. And to sulk- exemplified by the fact Ginny has to tell him “hey, no, you’re not possessed” because he won’t leave his room.

What saved the book for me was how much the book picks up from the point when Fred and George stage their epic exit. While I don’t like how we got to the end point and got irked with Dumbledore, I can’t deny that “he’s got style”. I actually liked the addition of Grawp and some of the imagery that came with it. And finally, finally, Hermione gets to play the hero in getting rid of Umbridge!

I have been neglecting Hermione this review, because I’ve been saving this point for the end: Hermione is right- about everything! Well, more specifically that Harry has a saving people thing. Indeed, his hero complex is KILLER- because, frankly, I genuinely believe they all got Sirius killed. And no, I don’t blame him for being rash and going to the ministry to save a bunch of kids- that’s the time to be rash. Not, say, when you’re an arrogant teen that thinks your high school club can save the day without knowing what’s going on. I mean *prepare for some heavy sarcasm* don’t assume that the Order member is putting on an act for Umbridge’s benefit and wait for him to come back. And of course, why don’t you grab that big juicy prophecy while you’re at it?

Nonetheless, I can’t entirely blame Harry for feeling like he’s got no one to help him when all the adults in his life are useless – which is why I say they *all* got Sirius killed. And yeah I view Sirius as a martyr to their stupidity. His death is devastating, not just because he’s a great character, but because, my goodness, Rowling does his death well. He gets his hero’s death, protective to the last, and the grief pours in waves from that point. Other than a brief interlude of CAPS ruining the moment, I’d say this ending is done perfectly. Seeing other people’s reactions and the gradual overbearing weight of it gives the death the space it needs. Indeed, the subject of grief is handled beautifully for much of the series.

There was as usual a lot of set up for later books- especially with the prophecy. I can be iffy about such things, however it was sufficiently vague enough for me to not mind it *too much*. Although perhaps this was down to knowing how things turned out, because in the past that was another sticking point for me. Overall though, based on my enjoyment this time round, I gave it:

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana

Phew- I know I probably pissed a lot of people off with this, but that felt like expunging a fifteen year old wound. How do you feel about book 5? Let me know in the comments!

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Obsidio was OUT OF THIS WORLD!

obsidioI don’t get that many new books- but I simply *had to* have this one. I mean, you guys know how much I adored Illuminae and Gemina (although I know a fair number of you are new here- in which case welcome! And just to get you up to date at the speed of light: hi, I’m the Orangutan Librarian and I *love* these books!). I mean what’s not to love about a space adventure told in a “found files” kind of way?

I will admit that every time I start one of these books, I do have some trouble getting into the format. Don’t get me wrong- I think it’s phenomenally unique and different- only that sort of thing is always a double edged sword for me, because it takes a while to get used to. That said, each book has been inventive in its own way and I always end up completely immersed in the experience.

More importantly, as a conclusion this was devastatingly emotional. Unlike the first two, there wasn’t the entire universe on the line, but in a way that made it more poignant. Instead of floating around in the vast hypothetical territory of the previous books, this was more grounded and focused on individuals. While it was action packed and explosive like its predecessors, what gave me goosebumps was feeling closer to the people whose lives were on the line.

All the characters felt so real to me- I was on-the-edge-of-my-seat terrified of what might happen to them. The cast was expanded here, which meant we had less time to spend with some of the favourites we’d met in the last two books. But never fear- everyone still got space to breathe and the finale they deserved! Plus, I found the new characters added to the plot in a significant way and were a sympathetic link to the drama going down.

And boy was there drama! The *evil corporation* was upto no good and there was mischief a-foot closer to home as well. Speaking of which, spoilers for the first two books, who knew a murderous AI could be so hysterical?

Overall, this was an entertaining and gripping series- and the only reason it’s not getting a full feast of bananas is cos I’m nitpicky about how long it took to get into it and one grammatical question mark.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana

So have you read this series? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

*ALL the Viewpoints* – Differences in Style Series #3

Annnd I’m back *finally* with another of my “differences in style” pieces. The point of this series is largely to talk about different techniques/styles, while acknowledging a lot of these choices come down to different tastes. Since this is such a common topic, I’m going to be specifically talking about my personal views on viewpoints, some of the ways it can work well and some of the pitfalls of each POV. Let’s get into it!

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First Person Point of View

Kinda what it says on the tin. The benefit of First Person is you get to see the inner workings of one character (usually the mc). There is also “first person peripheral”, which means it’s not the narrator is not the protagonist, instead forcing the reader to view the story through a prism of someone else’s experience. As with The Great Gatsby, it can be used to great effect.

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Second Person Point of View

stolenThis can be interesting. Okay, I can’t lie, I don’t much like the use of second person for an entire book. Still, I will admit it can be intriguing for certain concepts, like Stolen, where it’s used to address a kidnapper. And I know a lot of people love how unique that is- so again, yay for personal taste!

However, there are lots of pitfalls. It can feel quite gimmicky, especially if there’s no clear reason for it. Also, one mistake I’ve seen is making it unclear who is being addressed. Also, unless it is a “choose your own adventure” book, it doesn’t really make sense to address the protagonist, who is a particular character, as “you” (I saw this in Half Bad and wasn’t a fan).

night circusOn the other hand, I love occasional uses, like the effect it has in Night Circus to make readers feel like the audience. Even better is when it’s used by a narrator to break the forth wall (gotta love Deadpool!)

 

 

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Third Person Limited

This is basically narration limited to one character (and largely encompasses the “deep pov” perspective as well). It’s great for writing more intense close ups of a single character.

Third Person Multiple

Basically as above, just with more than one character. Usually this switch is between chapters. The part where this can get tricky is when it comes to *DANGER UP AHEAD* head hopping territory. I’m going to say something controversial now: I don’t think it’s guaranteed to be bad. I think even this can be done well, in a way that’s not noticeable or makes sense. The biggest issue that can arise is that it can be confusing. Throne_of_Glass_UKHowever, I’ve seen people critique authors like Maas for this, and personally I think she sometimes uses it to great effect or for a reason (like a very intense romantic scene). Obviously I can’t argue with individuals who didn’t like it or found it disorientating, but I have to point out, since this is the whole point of this series, that this is a personal taste thing and I don’t always see it as a problem. Unless it’s unclear to me who is thinking what, or someone has knowledge of thoughts they can’t possibly know, then chances are I won’t bat an eye. I mean, there are exceptions to every rule (even when it comes to “not being able to read minds”, you can have a telepathic character in fantasy, so…)

On this POV, the only question that remains to be asked is: can a book have too many POVs? The answer is, well, yeah. Apart from the issue of character soup, if there’s no real differentiation between characters, all of them can blur together and become feast for crowsdisorientating. Not to mention how unnecessary it can be. Even with books I like, there can be additions that feel superfluous to the plot (*coughs* the later GOT books #sorrynotsorry). That said, the question of “how many is too many?” is entirely personal- what may not work for me, may work for someone else and so on. The only thing I’d advise is to make sure all the characters are relevant/add something to the story and it’s easy to tell them apart.

Third Person Omniscient

tess of the d'urbervillesThe *I SEE EVERYTHING* narrator. I’ve seen people argue that this cannot be mixed with Third Person Limited- I personally view this as poppycock, given a blend of the two types of point of view make up the likes of many a-great novel (I’m thinking of Hardy as a fantastic example, though there would be far too many for me to list). Yes, sometimes an omniscient narrator can see inside a character’s head- they’re all-knowing, it’s not implausible!

Accounting for Personal Taste

When it comes to my own choices, I’ve used most of these at different times- so I really don’t have a strong preference. I think the most important choice is what kind of story do you want to tell? When the focus is on “coming of age” for instance, I prefer first person. And when it’s an epic, I feel like it’s got to be omniscient to have that extra *oomph this shit’s important*. But that’s just me, everyone makes different choices, and they all work in their own way.

Other posts in this series:

Pared down vs Purple prose – Differences in Style #1

The art of Intertextuality vs Innovation – Differences in Style #2

And that’s all for now! Do you have a personal preference? Disagree or agree with anything I’ve said here? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t Write X

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A couple of months back, I did a post about taste. But when I did it I was thinking more about readers than writers. Now, I don’t talk about this much, but I do actually write a lot (I know, what a surprise, the book blogger writes 😉 ) and I’ve thought an awful lot about what it can be like navigating the landmine of opinion pieces on what you should and shouldn’t write. I don’t know about you, but I personally think there’s a helluva lot of confusing advice out there, mostly of people telling others what to do according to their own taste. There’s a lot of “DON’T WRITE X”, “WRITE MORE Y”, “DON’T WRITE Z UNLESS YOU ARE Z”. In truth, I find it somewhat exhausting, especially since my view is pretty much write whatever the hell you like. To clarify, I’m not telling writers to ignore criticism (errr yeah, do that at your own peril I guess) and I’m not telling reviewers not to review (this is not me hanging up the bananas!!!), merely suggesting that sometimes a lot of the forceful generalisations are more a matter of taste. And I think some people would be well served if they knew that- which is why I decided to devise a list of instructions… on how to not take instructions (that made so much more sense inside my head). Here’s some of the ways you can avoid falling into the my-personal-taste-is-better-than-yours trap:

people pleaseDon’t try to people please. I know a lot of people go into it wanting validation from millions of people- however the thing is even if you get to be a bestseller, there will be people who hate your work. It’s a sad fact of life. One thing I’ve noticed whenever I do some piece where I talk about what I don’t like, like my least favourite fantasy tropes, is that someone will read what I’ve written and be discouraged. I always want to tell people that I am just one person and while I’m not going to pretend I’m  into things I’m not interested in, there are plenty of other bookworms out there who I’m sure will love it. This is something I try to do with my own work, because honestly I don’t see the point in pushing my writing on people who will hate it- that’s a road to ruin! So fly your freak flag and write whatever you like- just don’t make demands or be insulted if people don’t want to read your work.

colouring inDon’t try to do “paint by numbers” writing- I see a lot of people breaking down *exactly* how they think a novel should work. And while there’s a lot of good advice there, take it with a pinch of salt. Cos I’ve read some of the books based on those standards and yeesh– they’re boring. Again, this is my personal take, yet there’s no easy instruction manual when it comes to writing. Be prepared to mess up and to fail, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Incidentally, one way to get round this problem is…

read-fastDo read lots of books– I mean this is a no brainer, but I always have to put it in because there are still writers who say they don’t read and GAH I CAN’T EVEN! That said…

 

coolDon’t worry too much about being original– or being too original for that matter. I kind of wrote this one for me, because I have a freakout about this on a regular basis to be fair. But it’s silly, because, to use the corniest quote in the world “there’s nothing new under the sun”. I think it’s important to strike a balance- don’t be afraid to do something different, but don’t worry too much if something’s been done before. There are always those who will like either or both!

style orangutan logoDo understand that there are different writing styles and that *it’s okay* to employ one of the less popular ones. This is probably one of the issues of taste I see around the most and have been trying to address this for a while with my “differences in style” series (okay not recently, but I hope to rectify that soonish). I find a lot of people favour particular styles and then turn them into *universal rules*- which only work for said style. One of the best ways to combat this is to know about a variety of different techniques, so you can deliberately choose the best ones from your arsenal, rather than being subject to the whims of fashion or personal opinion.

bad writing gigDon’t get bogged down by pedants. Again, this comes from some criticism I see about a lot and usually comes down to things like specific word choice in world building. An example of this could be the widespread criticism of the word “hell” in Zenith, because it was space fantasy (which I personally didn’t agree with, since it was written in English and as one of the critiques said “every culture has an idea of hell”). We all have things that bug us, and that’s fine, we can’t help having pet peeves- however as okay as it is for someone to critique a word choice, I wouldn’t take it too much to heart.

choose books2Don’t steer clear of controversial content (aka “don’t listen to moral busybodies”). We all have our personal limits and every individual has content they don’t want to read, however, there are also people who take this one step further and say “my personal taste is more important than your art”. For instance, I have seen people saying things like “I object to the book because it has such and such theme”. Again, this is not to say you shouldn’t critique it, in whatever terms you like, yet it’s not a good reason to avoid writing about what you want. Even if it doesn’t resonate with one person, someone else will like it.

writingDo worry about your own personal experience- and don’t get bogged down in trying to make it universal for everyone. This is very similar to the last one, because I know there are a lot of people who will tell you “ah but it didn’t speak to *my* experience”. Well, I hate to break it to that hypothetical person: there are billions of other people on the planet. The idea that a book has to speak to every single individual experience is frankly absurd. The only reason to get offended is if you commissioned said book as a biography 😉 If you’re concerned that it’s not going to be “real” for everyone… good news, it’s not real! So this kind of goes back to #1- it’s not worth seeking validation from everyone. As cheesy as it is, you’re not writing for everybody, you’re writing for you.

And that’s all I have for now. I have a few more personal ones, but I thought I’d leave it there, or I wouldn’t be speaking to a universal experience- JK! 😉 Do you agree or disagree with any of these? And do you have any other ideas to add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

Consumed by the Goblet of Fire

harry potter review

*Spoiler Line: PROCEED WITH CAUTION*

goblet of fireSo I will admit that I didn’t write as much in the way of notes for book 4, because I was pretty gripped from the start. I know it sets a very different tone, but I’ve always liked that creepy opening and how it builds up the sense that this is going to be a very different book from what’s come before… although not too different, since it’s quickly followed by the humorous introduction of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and then flies into the Quidditch World Cup (who else was devastated that they never included that in the films?)

It’s not all fun and games though and things quickly take a dark turn (one could even say that moment of cheer was just a Wronsky Feint 😉 ) with a hint of all the grim  things to come. I’m talking, of course, about the Death Eaters- I mean, who wasn’t freaked out by them as a kid?!? Or even as an adult?! That injection of terror is incredibly powerful and seeing the mistreatment of muggles is a strong moment in the series, pushing the message of anti-racism very effectively.

I am always impressed with the plot of Goblet of Fire, although I did notice more kinks this time round. For instance, while Barty Crouch is an excellent villain and I love how he outsmarted everyone, I couldn’t help but wonder… how?! I mean, did it never occur to Dumbledore that Harry was put in the Tournament because someone wanted him to win it? Especially as it becomes apparent that he was never in any danger in the first two rounds and he seems to do remarkably well. But I guess child safety is never the Hogwart’s headmaster’s biggest concern and Harry’s happy to throw caution to the wind in an effort to win. Like I said, I really enjoy this plot and the dramatic showdown in the graveyard is dead epic, so it’s probably best not to think about it too much…

That said, Voldy is a moron– Wormtail points out to him that literally any wizard would have done and that abducting Harry seems like a waste of effort- but does he listen to his advisor? No, of course not, he has to go with the convoluted plan and gets lucky that Dumbledore’s not paying too much attention to all the strange goings on at his school. And then when he has Harry in his grasp he goes and gives him his wand back, affording him a chance to escape (but whatever, he’s obviously not checked out Peter’s Evil Overlord list, which Cameron Graham introduced me to yesterday).

Speaking of characters I’m not always so keen on, I liked Ron less and less in this one (sorry!). It started with him being touchy about Harry’s gift (who, to be fair, is splashing the cash about). But then he’s a *total* jerk about the whole champion thing and is the walking embodiment of jealousy… until he can bask in the glory of his friend’s success again. He only takes a break from that to complain about not getting a good enough date to the Yule Ball (just try that irl and see how attractive you are to women).

I’m not exactly under the spell of the romance in Harry Potter– but I have to say that the introduction of Cho Chang as Harry’s love interest is sorta endearing. Sure, it’s stupid and immature, but that’s kind of what you’d expect at that age. I personally think that Rowling got the trials and tribulations of first crushes down to a T here. Even if I think some of the pairings leave a lot to be desired.

Still there are other things that leave more of a sour taste in my mouth– namely that this is the year of the SPEW subplot. I’m not fond of it at all. Not only does it slow down the story and make the book feel a little overlong, but I find it makes Hermione a bit irritating. I get that it’s representing her as a mini activist and so it makes sense that she’s pretty oblivious to what the House Elves actually tell her they want, but maybe she could have just asked. Although, I do think it’s solid character development and ends up being another example of the ongoing Hermione is always right theme in the series. Whatever Hermione says is always a good metric of where the narrative is heading- which is why she gets to have such a central role in the Rita Skeeter plot. And I have to say, while I’m on the fence about some of the other storylines, I’m not even remotely bugged about how that part plays out 😉

Okay, so I know I’ve been hypercritical in this review, but I wouldn’t take it too personally, cos this is still one of my favourites. And like I said at the start, I was too absorbed to take notes (clearly most of what I wrote were all the parts I had a question mark over)Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it this time round as much as I usually do though, which is why I’m giving it:

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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So what do you think of book 4? Am I being a bit harsh? Let me know in the comments!

Bloggers who Deserve more Attention

Hello! I wanted to do this post a few days ago, in honour of my 3 year bloggiversary, but it’s been a crazy week so I’ve not been blogging nearly as much as I wanted to (annnd I’m totally not breaking my new rule of not apologising all the time, just explaining a little 😉 )

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Anyway, I mentioned the other day that I owe a great deal of thanks to the lovely Zezee for basically discovering me as a blogger! If you’re not following her already- what the hell are you doing!? In honour of what she did for me, I decided to share some people’s blogs. Now obviously *everyone* on the blogosphere deserves more attention, but that would’ve taken a bit too long, and while there’s loads of blogs I talk about a lot, and who you should already be following, I think there’s a few that don’t get nearly as much attention. So without further ado, here’s some bloggers you should definitely check out!

Fran Laniado– so Fran is great at keeping up with memes, but that’s not why I love her blog! The best thing about Fran is that she reads so many different books that not a lot of other bloggers are talking about. This makes her lists very thoughtful and stands out a lot. If you’re really interested in classics and literary fiction, like I am, then I highly recommend checking her out! Plus she’s highly intelligent and has some great writing discussions that I very much enjoy.

Cameron Graham @Here be Wyverns– not only is Cameron *super smart* and his content realllly detailed and interesting (really recommend his discussions on mythology– it’s phenomenal!), but I gotta say, he frequently makes me laugh and is absolutely hilarious. So head on over there and say hi to his dragon Ivan!

Lucinda is reading Lucinda is just lovely, sweet totally approachable, really funny and very clever. Her review style is always so varied and tailored specifically for the book! Every review is unique and interesting. Plus she reads a great variety of books so you can’t go wrong! Plus, she agrees with me about not liking Gormenghast, so she must be amazing if she’s on the same page as me there 😉

K L Kranes– I had to include her just for how *awesome* her discussion pieces are- seriously, if you’ve not checked out some of those- you are seriously missing out! They’re really thought-provoking! She talks about writing, reading, grammar, tv, travelling and tons of other things.

Eva O’Reilly– Eva has done something on her blog I could never do: a lot of daily content! I am always so impressed when people blog every day or nearly every day, but what makes Eva more impressive is that her content is often profound and strikes a relatable cord for any writers out there! She talks a lot about writing, life, and just check her out okay!?

Joelendil’s Kingdom of Books– I really love the type of books that Joelendil reviews (a lot of classics and SFF!) and he always gives such a clear picture of his impressions and what to expect. Plus, there’s the added bonus of his reviewing  the type of books that aren’t the run of the mill books you see on the blogosphere.

Lost Art of Reading– speaking of reviews, I had to include Lost Art of Reading on this list, simply because she always writes such top quality, thorough reviews- particularly on books you might never have heard of otherwise. Plus, she’s really friendly and great to chat to!

Simply a book drunkard– Milou does such a fantastic variety of content, it’s hard to pin down a single reason why you should go follow her! Her reading is eclectic and if you’re into sci fi/fantasy and graphic novels in particular, then she’s definitely someone to check out 😀

Wordaholics Anonymous– I really can’t mention Milou without giving a shoutout to her other half as well! I highly recommend you check out both regardless, because he does really interesting reviews on fantasy books, has cool music taste and shares some of his awesome poetry.

Angelica @Dreaming of Fiction– Angelica runs a really varied blog and I think this comes from the fact she’s completely unique on the blogosphere- I mean, I defy you to find another geeky opera singer in training! So her content is a mixture and I really enjoy reading about her bookish and music tastes!

Bookwyrm Knits– if you’re into discussions, reviews and weekly memes, then you’ve definitely got to hop on over to Bookwyrm Knits (and I know most of you answered yes to all of those 😉 ) Plus, she also shares her knitting WIP, and I know from my Reverse Q&A that a fair number of you are knitters, so you should definitely have a look! 😉

And that’s all for now! And because I want to spread the love around a bit, I think it would be great if you could share some more bloggers who deserve more attention in the comments! 

Captivated by Prisoner of Azkaban

*I solemnly swear that there will be spoilers*

harry potter review

Harry_Potter_and_the_Prisoner_of_AzkabanAlohamora! So I actually read the first three in a row- I didn’t intend to, it just sort of happened, can’t imagine why 😉

The first thing I love about Prisoner of Azkaban is the contrast of the good birthday with the bad birthday in the last book. It shows how well these books are interconnected.  

Like Chamber of Secrets, there’s also a strong connection between the hero’s journey and the villain’s. In fact, in this one I’d say it’s even more pronounced, with the so-called baddie being a troublemaker at school and the added bonus of this being about Harry’s father. From beginning to end, it’s a deeply personal story.

In fact, this book explores his childhood trauma in both explicit and symbolic ways. The dementors, possibly the scariest of all Harry Potter creatures, are fantastic at showing how some people are more susceptible than others (not in a way that shows weakness, but that accounts for differences in personality and experiences).

Speaking of symbolism, I also love the use of boggarts- especially the idea that ridiculing something reduces your fear of it. I think Rowling is exactly right with this perception- it takes things much further than the idea that “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself”- because mocking something scary reduces the reverence you might have for it. So I do somewhat like how fear his handled here- although I don’t consider it especially wise to be afraid of fear. I know, I’m simultaneously disagreeing with both FDR and Lupin, but given how rash Harry is as a character anyway, someone should have told him that a) there’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of fear if you don’t want to rush in blind to stupid situations (*cough* book 5 *cough cough*) and b) bravery is actually about overcoming fear.

But whatever, that doesn’t detract from how awesome this particular book is. Like the second book, Prisoner of Azkaban beautifully builds on the wizarding world. Best of all is Hogsmeade, made even more satisfying for having to wait for it. And I also love the use of self-references in the writing, like “could have produced the world’s best patronus” when Gryffindor wins the Quidditch final, which is pretty dang cool.

I also loved the characters- both new and old– especially Crookshanks and Buckbeak 😉 Okay, they may be animals, yet they are so full of personality! Plus they serve a great purpose, not only for the plot, but also for Hermione’s increasing interest in activism. Her development as a character takes such an interesting turn and shows what a huge heart she has. Basically, I think Hermione kinda rocked in this book.

Even better than that for me, this book introduces my favourite character in the whole series: Sirius Black. Now, I know this might be a funny thing to say considering I’ve not bothered with any of Harry Potter spinoffs, but I would love a Marauders book (not play/film/slam poetry event mind, a book written by Rowling). I am so emotionally invested in their story and I *adore* how it’s done. It’s why I can never pick between book 2 and 3. As horrible as it is to hear Sirius’ story, it’s also amazingly well done and I don’t think I’d ever have guessed the *plot twist*.

Sirius’ escape is, in the end, bittersweet. There’s a sense of Harry’s hopes of a normal family relationship flying off and my heart aches every time I reread that. At the same time, the book leaves behind the message that Harry has found his father in himself, and that those who are gone never truly leave us. Right now I am typing and retyping this sentence trying to put into words how perfect that moment is and I just can’t do it justice!! I think my feelings around it are something like: awwwww-arghhh-so-good!!

Once again, the book comes full circle, from Owl Post to Owl Post Again, making this structurally flawless. It’s no wonder I flew through it faster than the speed of a Firebolt.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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*Mischief managed!* So what did you think of Prisoner of Azkaban? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!