Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (#3) by JK Rowling

Published: 8th July 1999Goodreads badge
Publisher: 
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 371
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer.

This is the book where we start to see the books getting longer as more detail is included. This is of course a good thing because with book three so much of the basic wizarding rules have been established and we’re secure in what we know about the world. With this story Rowling really takes advantage of this and takes on such a deep and detailed journey, not only through the expanding wizarding world, but into the past, learning more about the war and more information about Harry’s family.

As always with a Potter book there are surprises and unexpected twists, even now rereading it for the umpteenth time I still get nervous and worried as I read, despite knowing full well what is about to happen. Rowling immerses you so deeply into her world that you feel like you are falling into them as you read, surrounding yourself with the events on the page.

I always love reading about the daily schooling life, something the movies don’t focus on very much which is a shame but understandable. There’s also so much history and backstory revealed, as well as the typical Rowling hints that something is going on but we aren’t sure of what yet, no doubt to be revealed in a later chapter or even book.

There is a great sense of action and thrill through this book, the killer on the loose angle is paced wonderfully, and as I say, the twists Rowling throws in there are enough to keep you reading intently no matter ow many times you’ve read the same words before.

Fun Facts

It is the third longest book at 107,253 words.

First published 8 July 19999

Cover art is by Cliff Wright

Rowling started to write Prisoner of Azkaban the day after she finished Chamber of Secrets.

Sold more than 68,000 copies in the UK within three days of publication, which made it the fastest selling British book of the time

Won the 1999 Booklist Editors’ Choice Award plus numerous others

Most of the reviews were favourable, however one reviewer, Anthony Holden, who said that the characters are “all black-and-white”, and the “story-lines are predictable, the suspense minimal, the sentimentality cloying every page”

An illustrated edition will be released 3 October 2017, with illustrations by Jim Kay

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (#2) by JK Rowling

Published: 2nd July 1998Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 251
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone, or something, starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects: Harry Potter himself?

What I think is good about Harry Potter, is that Rowling manages to add new details and information that lead you in to the next book without you realising. It isn’t until a second or third reading you notice how new bits of information help the story in the following book. The writing is very easy to manage, the books do get longer but the language and writing style is simple but detailed and filled with meaning and substance which just adds to the greatness. This was not one of my favourites initially, there are others that trump it, but it has an immense amount of charm on its own merit. I think certain things like characters swayed my dislike initially, but I think given it’s been so many years since my first reading that they have all grown on me with odd appeal, but it’s still my least favourite overall.

One great thing about it is we get to see more of Hogwarts in this second book, we learn more about character histories, where they began and how they ended up as they are. Everything is being released slowly in trickles which keeps you engaged and give rise to a multitude of additional questions where only a few have been answered. Having knowledge of future books is interesting as you go, but I do remember being very curious as I struggled to try and piece everything together and guess where book three would lead me.

You certainly cannot read these out of order I don’t think, though there is enough basic recap in the first few chapters to warrant a basic understanding if you don’t. By book three I imagine it would be almost impossible to follow, but also I think going in order just adds to the complete world and story Rowling is trying to convey.

Reviewing these after becoming so familiar with them over the years is an odd experience. I know I probably am not doing it as I normally would, but these are only mini reviews and I feel like I am preaching to the choir, though I know people out there haven’t read the series. I think if you enjoyed the movies, the books are a must, there is such a depth and fascination of story and character that Rowling conveys, even in these shorter books, that are just a marvel to experience.

Fun Facts

It is the second shortest book at 85,141 words, but it’s the longest of the films.

First published 2nd July 1998.

Cover art is by Cliff Wright.

The Ford Anglia is actually the same color and model car that Rowling and her best friend from school used to ride around in when they were younger. She used the car for the book out of her fond memories driving in it.

Upon publication it immediately took first place in UK best-seller lists, displacing popular authors such as John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Terry Pratchett, making Rowling the first author to win the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year for two years in succession

Listed among the 2000 Notable Children’s Books by the American Library Association

In 1999, Booklist named Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as one of its Editors’ Choices and put it in its Top Ten Fantasy Novels for Youth.

Shortlisted for the 1998 Guardian Children’s Award and the 1998 Carnegie Award.

Was the inaugural winner of the Children’s Book Award by the Scottish Arts Council in 1999.

An illustrated version was released in October 2016, with illustrations by Jim Kay.

This book has a strong connection with book six, with many crucial items first appearing in it. In fact, Half Blood Prince was the working title of Chamber of Secrets.

The novel implies that the story takes place in 1992/1993

Riddle’s name changes in translations so that an appropriate anagram could be formed, which results in Voldemort being called wonderful names like Martin and Trevor:
In French, his name is Tom Elvis Jedusor, which becomes Je suis Voldemort
In Spanish, his name became Tom Sorvolo Ryddle, which transforms into Soy Lord Voldemort
In Dutch, his name is Marten Asmodom Vilijn, which is an anagram for Mijn naam is Voldemort
In Turkish the name is Tom Marvoldo Riddle, which makes up Adim Lord Voldemort
In Brazilian Portuguese the name is Tom Servolo Riddle, which makes up Eis Lord Voldemort
In Danish, his name is Romeo G. Detlev Jr., which makes up Jeg er Voldemort
In Italian his name is Tom Orvoloson Riddle, which makes up Son io Lord Voldemort
In German his name is Tom Vorlost Riddle, which makes up Ist Lord Voldemort
In Icelandic his name is Trevor Délgome, which makes up Ég er Voldemort
In Swedish his name is Tom Gus Mervolo Dolder, which makes up Ego sum Lord Voldemort (which is actually in Latin)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (#1) by JK Rowling

Published: June 26th 1997Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 223
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

What Rowling has managed to do from her very first book, is create an entire world, history and character base, but she has also sneakily then refused to divulge any of it. Instead, we get snippets and trickles of information and acts, we learn as Harry learns, but we also get blocked when he does. What Rowling does not want us knowing, what Rowling does not need to tell us, we do not find out. This leads you very eagerly into the sequels I assure you.

What makes Harry as a character so charming is his age I think, but also his innocent naivety and contrasting instinct that he has to help. It’s a weird thing, this 11 year old, who never knew abut magic, the wizarding world, or about the feared He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, yet he still leaps almost instantly into saving it. It is the wonderful courage he has and the deep down sense that he should be doing it and it is his role. We certainly see enough of this reasoning later on.

There are clues hidden throughout, laughs and emotion, always a good combination. But we also get so much more than a basic introduction into a new world, we get enough but not everything, but we also get so much more than you probably ever expected.

The characters are quirky, charming, hilarious, and even the ones you dislike you enjoy reading about. There’s mystery but there’s also exploration of this new wizarding world as Rowling opens the reader up to all the possibilities while not overloading us. It’s the ideal balance of story and information, with more than enough left over to entice us to keep reading, mixed together with seamless precision. As an introduction to a series and a whole complicated world, Rowling has done an impeccable job.

Fun Facts

Written in numerous cafés around Edinburgh, including one called The Elephant House which has a plaque commemorating this.

Is 76 944 words, making it the shortest of the series.

Written between approximately June 1990 and some time in 1995.

First published 26 June 1997 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Cover art was by Thomas Taylor. You can read a fascinating post about him and the cover here.

Called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the United States because US publisher Scholastic thought that a child wouldn’t buy a book with the word “philosopher” in the title. I mean, really.

The novel won most of the British book awards that were judged by children.

Reached the top of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in August 1999 and stayed near the top of that list for much of 1999 and 2000.

It has been translated into at least sixty-seven other languages, all of which have gorgeous covers you can see here. (I particularly love the Italian one. Is there a scene where there is a moment with Harry wearing a giant rat hat? I also love the Spanish version because it makes Harry look like a child, unlike the English one where I’ve always thought he looks about 30.)

An illustrated version was released in October 2015, with illustrations by Jim Kay.

Prices for first edition first printings go up to around $6,500 with a selection between $4,000 and $5,000.

A first edition copy containing a rare typo is expected to fetch up to $34,000 at auction.

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

Published: 25th July 2006
Goodreads badgePublisher: Candlewick Press
Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes
Pages: 48
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
Genre: Children
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, is very particular about rules in the library. No running allowed. And you must be quiet. But when a lion comes to the library one day, no one is sure what to do. There aren’t any rules about lions in the library. And, as it turns out, this lion seems very well suited to library visiting. His big feet are quiet on the library floor. He makes a comfy backrest for the children at story hour. And he never roars in the library, at least not anymore. But when something terrible happens, the lion quickly comes to the rescue in the only way he knows how.

I am a sucker for anything with a lion and I knew there was a book called Library Lion I just hadn’t come across it before. I found a copy at work and I sat down and read it right away and it did not disappoint.

I loved this book. It’s adorable and charming and so incredibly sweet. It’s not just a fantastic story, it’s also beautifully illustrated. I’m in love with Hawkes’ illustrations on top of being in love with Knudsen’s storytelling. I definitely need my own Library Lion, right now.

The story is about a lion who wanders into the library, originally causing a little chaos as he navigates his way around, but he then decides to stay for story time. After a rocky start and after given a talk about the rules of the library, he is soon beloved by the staff and the public and is an asset to the library in many ways.

I loved everything about this story. I loved the lion, he’s just gorgeous, and I love the staff for their quirkiness and attitudes. It’s a fun story but it is also filled with heart. Hawkes’ illustrations make it that much more divine; they are gorgeous and emotive. He captures the personality of the lion, the staff, and the public who come across him superbly.

You can use it as a lesson about following rules and breaking them, but it really is a great book on its own. There is no clear Message, but it can be drawn from it easily enough. I would, however, like to live in this world where a library can have a lion hang around. I didn’t know I could envy fictitious children in a picture book until now.

You can purchase Library Lion via the following

Book Depository | QBD

Booktopia | Dymocks

Fishpond | A&R Bookworld

Wordery |

 

 

 

Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford

Published: 28th September 2016 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Allen & Unwin
Pages: 294
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Online sensation, fearless feminist heroine and scourge of trolls and misogynists everywhere, Clementine Ford is a beacon of hope and inspiration to thousands of Australian women and girls. Her incendiary debut Fight Like A Girl is an essential manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be, and exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women. Crucially, it is a call to arms for all women to rediscover the fury that has been suppressed by a society that still considers feminism a threat.

Fight Like A Girl will make you laugh, cry and scream. But above all it will make you demand and fight for a world in which women have real equality and not merely the illusion of it.

I had been hearing so much about this book when it was published and I was eager to get my hands on it and experience it for myself. Reading it was all I hoped it would be and more, I filled its pages with Post It’s marking of important and wonderful quotes. I also got to meet Ford at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival which was amazing, as was listening to her in her sessions.

Fight Like A Girl is a book that everyone should read, every girl and every woman, but also every man. So many of my own experiences are laid out in this book. The fact that I can agree with so much of Ford’s words should be worrying, but it’s not. They’re a comfort because it reminds me that I’m not being paranoid or silly when I hold me keys in my fingers walking back to my car late at night, it reminds me I’m not overreacting when I feel uncomfortable having a stranger talk to me at the bus stop when he’s a little drunk, worried what he’ll say and what I’m safe to respond with. It makes me think of all the times I’ve placated a thought to save hurting a man’s feelings and not stood up for something out of fear of personal verbal attack. It’s reminded me that the passion and the fight I feel inside me is one that many women out there are feeling and that it’s ok to feel this way.

Ford addresses many issues and “societal norms” I suppose we could call them through her chapters and she is unapologetic in her words and opinions. Mixed in with her own experiences it’s actually a humorous and enlightening book at times that looks at how society has been constructed to see women as the lesser and the weaker, the one in need of defending and the one who is not only walked over and shut down by the patriarchy, but happy to have it happen.

It’s not all agreement and scoffs at how men are and how childish they can be when their ways of life are challenged. Parts of this book made me sick to my stomach and it makes me angry and sad, but more importantly, it flames the fire I’ve been stoking for the past few years. The feminist I’ve been since my second year of uni and the one who’s gradually doing a little more than fuming internally and sharing Tumblr posts, cheering in the tags.

This is a book for everyone. To quote Ford, it “is a love letter to the girls”. There are some tough topics being discussed in here, but they’re important, and this book is important because if someone doesn’t want to listen to (or believe) a women’s experience from her own mouth, you can always throw this book at them instead.

You can purchase Fight Like A Girl via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Amazon | Dymocks | Allen & Unwin

Angus and Robinson’s Bookworld | Fishpond

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