Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling (25 July — 27 July)

My goodness, this book was long. How did I read this in one night when it first came out? A mystery of the universe, that.

So. HP4: A New Hope. Harry goes to the Quidditch World Cup, where quidditch happens but also some bad wizards do bad things and then the mark of the Bad Wizard shows up in the sky and everyone flips. Then, at Hogwarts, there is a Tri-Wizard Tournament going on with four champions — someone put Harry’s name in the Goblet even though he’s underage, and now Harry has to fight dragons and merpeople and a hedge maze. But, oops, at the end of the maze Harry gets transported to meet the Bad Wizard, who does some magic and is now scarier than ever. Then three more books happen.

A few days ago, I would have told you with absolute certainty that this is my favorite Harry Potter book. Now I’m not so sure. Azkaban may have beaten it this go round, and of course there are still three more books to go. But it was really long, and even though it was really long most of the scenes still felt truncated! I had forgotten just how short the World Cup really is, how little there is to the Tournament, how much I don’t care about house-elves… bah.

But! I did like the fact that, knowing the story well, I could see how things would fit into the ending — Winky at the World Cup, Moody and his dustbins, Bartemius Crouch in Snape’s office. And I like that all of the help Harry was getting was really part of the story, instead of convenient to the end (Dobby bringing Harry gillyweed vs. Ron’s expertise at wizard chess).

Also, Fudge is an idiot. But more on that, sadly, later.

Rating: 7.5/10
(Summer Lovin’ Challenge)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling (23 July)

Uh, what’s that? Oh, um, yes, I did read this in the same day as book two. -cough- Moving along now.

Book 3: Harry returns to school again, but this time there is a Secondary Bad Wizard just escaped from Azkaban (wizard prison and thought to be impossible to escape). Oh, and, bad news, Secondary Bad Wizard might possibly want to kill Harry. Seriously, this kid’s life kind of sucks. Primary Bad Wizard doesn’t make an appearance in this one, but his presence is felt and in the end a Very Tertiary (Vigenary?) Bad Wizard is presumed to have gone off and joined Primary Bad Wizard. Then four more books happen.

Since this is my favorite of the movies, I found myself many times wondering why things hadn’t happened/weren’t happening in the book. Sigh. I certainly missed Alfonso’s Knight Bus. But, interestingly, I feel like I enjoyed the book better than I did when I first read it.

I have to say my favorite part was the time travelling, what there was of it. Rowling followed my favorite of the time-travelling conventions — that of each timeline being dependent on the others. And no changing the course of events! I did think the bit with Harry thinking Harry Prime was his father was a bit contrived, but, well. I don’t know how it could have been done better (do you?).

I also appreciated Dumbledore’s handling of the Buckbeak and Sirius problems; he seems to love, as my LIS textbook would call them, “wrong way” approaches. It might not be doing it right, per se, but it’s getting it done well that matters. I think that’s why I like Dumbledore so much.

This book is where Rowling also starts to tear down Harry’s “good guy” persona; he jumps to conclusions without full facts, he flaunts rules meant to protect him, and he is accused (rightly) of ignoring the sacrifice his parents made for him. And he’ll continue to do that right through to the end of the series. It makes me dislike him rather a lot at times, but it really does show that he’s a teenager and I respect Rowling for that.

Rating: 8/10
(Summer Lovin’ Challenge)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling (23 July)

The second book! I’d forgotten how addicting these are… I might not get around to reading anything else until these are done. No! Help me! Make me read something else!

Anyway. HP2: Electric Boogaloo. Summary: Harry returns to school. He learns even more new things and then a monster starts Petrifying (literally: turning to stone) students and then Harry fights the Bad Wizard, again, in memory form (yes, really), and then five more books happen.

I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed parts of this book. Lockhart is hilarious, and I’ve certainly met plenty of his type in my time. All of them deserved a memory charm to the face. I also thought that the big plot line was better paced and required much more effort on the part of three twelve-year-olds to solve. The adults could probably have solved it if those darned kids would just trust them, but I certainly didn’t trust adults when I was twelve. Just ask my mother! Similarly, I initially thought it odd that Ginny gets all but ignored throughout the novel, for the integral part she plays in the plot, but then I remembered that this is really from Harry’s point of view and I would probably ignore Ginny, too. I was sad that the bit that actually takes place in the chamber lasted all of ten minutes — I really thought it was more involved, but that’s probably the movie instead? I don’t know. Nonetheless, I want a phoenix.

One last thing: Dobby is so annoying. I do not look forward to his presence in the remaining books.

Rating: 8/10
(Summer Lovin’ Challenge)

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling (21 July)

Things I forgot about the first Harry Potter book: 1) It’s short! 2) It’s cute! 3) It’s not very British! (Silly American translations…)

I really think that if you don’t know what the Harry Potter books are about, at least slightly, you have to have been living under a rock under a larger rock for the past, um, 12 years? Wow, that’s a long time. I’m old. Anyway, summary: Harry Potter is a wizard. His parents died at the hands of a Bad Wizard when he was but a little thing. Now he is eleven and off to wizarding school. He learns things and fights monsters and learns that the Bad Wizard, who all but disappeared after not killing a little thing, is back and coming to get him. Then six more books happen.

It was kind of weird reading this after seeing the most recent movie, because I kept imagining the twenty-year-old actors instead of the twelve-year-old ones. Then I thought about how my youngest brother is turning eleven this year, and I just about laughed out loud at the thought of William fighting trolls and Bad Wizards. I don’t doubt that there are eleven-year-olds that could, I just don’t know any, is all.

I also realized just how contrived the ending was (oh, let me alone, I last read this book nine or ten years ago!), what with all of the little tests fitting in with the main kids’ skills so well. And while I dare say they probably couldn’t have got past Fluffy (teehee, it’s still funny) without Hagrid’s help, the mirror was probably the only thing actually guarding the stone. I mean, three eleven-year-olds beat every other test. Really. Just put the mirror up and be done with it!

But! I still love this book, even if I’m shocked that Rowling earns a couple hundred dollars every minute off this franchise. And even if the movies are terrible.

Rating: 8/10
(Summer Lovin’ Challenge, My Year of Reading Dangerously)

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling (13 March)

This book took me like seven minutes to read. Or maybe 30. Something like that. But it was cute, and if you like Harry Potter you might as well read it. 🙂

Basically, this is a book of five short educational tales for small wizards. They touch on sympathy toward Muggles, except the idiot kind; solving your own problems; experiencing life to the fullest; and not trying to cheat death.

The fun part is that after each of these tales, Rowling includes “Albus Dumbledore’s” notes on each of the stories, explaining why they’re important to wizards and, in some cases, why wizards don’t like them. And it’s cute. And it’ll take you seven minutes to read. Or 30. Just do it.

Rating: 6/10
(Support Your Local Library Challenge)