Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Books 23 - 29 of 2016: The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

In preparation for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child being released I decided that I needed to go back and reread all of the original Harry Potter books. This also helped me get ready for the little mini ebooks which were released later in the year as well.

Now, I reviewed all the Harry Potter books before, so I'm reviewing them all in the one blog post because I like to review the books that I read, but reviewing each book individually (or as part of a pair) in a blog post is probably overkill at this point!

I'm sure you know the story by now, even if you've not read the books or seen the movies. Boy wizard. Evil Lord Voldemort. Magic school. Ron and Hermione. Zany old Dumbledore. Dragons. Hippogriffs. Horcruxes. Always. All was well.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
I can get through this book in a day at my best (e.g. not at work and have nothing else to do on my day off). That wasn't quite the case when I read it last year. I started it on a Sunday and read quite a chunk at my in-laws' house, then didn't get as much read the following two days thanks to being busy at work (and tired when I got home). I was also gearing up for a frozen embryo transfer at the time and I think that didn't help with my mood for reading.

This book is so familiar now that I can't help but look out for my favourite lines. It's like visiting a favourite haunt.

I wrote in my book journal that I was aware in the change of writing style between this book and the later books, and also 'Can't wait to see what The Cursed Child will be like'.

One of my favourite pastimes when rereading these books is to look out for the characters, places and objects which then crop up later in the series.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
I felt like on this reread I picked up on things I've missed before, or perhaps that I'd just forgotten that I have picked up on. Like Harry and Ron bumping into Percy's girlfriend at Christmas when they're trying to find the Slytherin common room.

Again I was suffering from tiredness while I was reading this one (thank you Progesterone). I wound up two chapters from the end and unable to keep my eyes open so had to stop for the night, despite my desire to continue.

This one still isn't my favourite Harry Potter book, but I think I can appreciate how it ties in to Half-blood Prince and Deathly Hallows a lot more now. So while it'll never be my absolute favourite, I think I enjoy it more now.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
This one is probably my favourite book but it took me AGES to read. I was about halfway through it when our frozen embryo transfer failed quite spectacularly and I just didn't have the heart to read so I was on this book for a lot longer than I'd usually take.

I feel like so much of what comes in the later books starts in this book. It's got the relationship between Harry and Sirius. It sets up the stuff that happened with James and Snape. We begin to see just how proficient a wizard Harry can be. I feel like this this the book where the story really truly gets off the ground.

I also like that Voldemort doesn't actually crop up in this book. It's like the calm before the storm where things really go downhill and evil is properly reawakened. Plus it's cool to get a glimpse into the wider wizarding world. I love that we get to spend time in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade; as much as I love Hogwarts, now that I'm no longer at school, I like to see the type of Magical world that I would interact with at my present age (who am I kidding? I'd be back at Hogwarts teaching Charms).

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I was reading this at the beginning of June and it was another one which I ended up reading for an extra day due to my inability to keep my eyes open. I'm beginning to notice a pattern with my reading and I think it simply boils down to the fact that in my old age I need more sleep and less time up until midnight with a book propped against my nose!

This book is so big that it's one of the reasons I'm thinking I need to invest in the ebook versions. If nothing else, it would make it a lot more portable when I'm out and about and want to take a book with me. My copy of Goblet of Fire is very battered already and I'm almost afraid to take it out in case I ruin it further (I obviously can't get a new copy because then it won't be my copy, as in, the one I read at 14 before I started my new school when I was a shy and geeky teenager and it felt like I was at home).

This one is so much darker than the others before it. After reading about Voldemort's rebirth I was really creeped out walking Tara on my own. I was walking Tara early in the morning and I couldn't help but feel like Voldie was just going to pop up on the estate while I was out.

I wrote a little note in my book journal about this one 'Not looking forward to the next book with Umbridge!' hehe.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I found this one a harder read than in the past. I guess it's because I knew what was coming at the end, and the longer I put off reading the end, the more time I had before it would happen. That's logical, right?

It's funny how reading a book can help you time travel back to when you first read it. I can remember this one came out the year my friend was stopping with me. We had her copy delivered to our house and we were reading it virtually at the same time. It was the summer I started writing Behind the Scenes and rereading it this time made me want to dig it out to start working on it again (which I did).

I also forgot how late in the book it was before the Weasley Twins left. I kept on reading the chapter title and thinking 'this is where they go' and then they didn't. It's one of my favourite bits in the book. I think there's a few teachers we can all think of who we'd have liked to have pulled a Weasley on!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Once again, on this reread I was reminded of the first time I'd read it. I'd been promised the day off work and then ended up not getting it, so I sat there reading it all through the day.

I remember starting to read it on the drive home from the midnight opening, reading a sentence each time we passed under a streetlight, then having to wait for the next one. I remember reading until 2am before having to stop because of going to the aforementioned work the following morning. I remember feeling frustrated at my friend who didn't have to work and who texted me that she'd finished it when I was only about halfway through the book. I remember the sound a of bagpipe player on the Square playing as Dumbledore died and it being the saddest moment I'd ever read and hating the fact that I was at work instead of at home in my room where I could've had a little weep.

It's also kind of frustrating to reread it now because I know Draco is going to bring Death Eaters to the castle and that Dumbledore will die, but I don't want it to happen. I want to reach into the book and yell at the characters to listen to Harry because for once he's actually got his suspicions correct. And every time I read it I kind of hope that the previous hundred times I got it wrong and that actually, this time they'll stop Draco and Dumbledore will be alive. That hasn't happened yet, but maybe next time...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Do you ever get to the end of a book or a series and you don't want it to end, so you read it really slowly?

Yeah, that's what I did with Deathly Hallows. Part of me wanted to draw it out to last until right before I went to pick up The Cursed Child and part of me just wanted to get it over and done with like ripping off a plaster. The slow bit of me won and I wound up taking over two weeks to get through, reading a little bit at a time so I could really savour it.

I can't help but think that the start of this book feels pretty slow, but then the last third is really fast-paced. The first part always goes on a lot longer than I expect, what with Harry going to the Burrow, the wedding, the escape, the stuff at Grimmauld Place and the Ministry before they get to the camping (which, let's face it, takes up an awful lot of the book). And then there's the Battle of Hogwarts and there's loads happening in there!

Once again, I loved all the little mentions of past characters, places and things. I think I probably noticed them all for having read the books back to back this time around (rather than with bigger gaps in between). It kind of reminded me of the end of E.R. where they brought back almost all the characters from the original series. Everyone gets a mention. It's just a nice way to remember them all.

Do you find you notice different things when you reread a book? Has your favourite book in a series changed over time or once it your favourite, is it your favourite for life?

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