Wrapping Up Harry Potter

Well, I did it. I finished the Harry Potter series last month. It was tough to see it end because I had spent the past several months listening to the books in my car hp1as I drove back and forth from appointments. Music just isn’t cutting it for me anymore.

I purposefully held off on reviewing each book as I read it because there isn’t much new that can be said. Even if there was, almost everyone has heard of or read this wildly popular series, so it seemed superfluous. What I will do, however, is share my thoughts on what I liked about each book and if there is anything that niggled at me.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone sets the stage for all that will follow. We meet many of the important characters who will remain throughout the series or will perish in the war against Lord Voldemort. By making Harry a sympathetic character from the start, J.K. Rowling gave readers someone to care about. He lost his parents; he’s being mistreated by his relatives; once he gets to Hogwarts where he is wildly famous and his life should improve, he struggles with his lack of magical knowledge and is despised by Draco Malfoy and seen as a younger version of his arrogant father by Professor Snape.

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In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets a diary is discovered that ends up being part of the plot through to the final book of the series and is crucial in Lord Voldemort’s defeat. This indicates Rowling may have done serious pre-plotting before putting pen to paper. As the story unfolds, Ginny Weasley becomes more of a sympathetic character than Harry because she is fooled by Tom Riddle (Voldemort) and possessed, putting Harry and the others at risk. We also see a very important plot point begin to develop: the hatred of Voldemort and his followers for half-bloods and Muggles.

When it comes to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we meet another new character. As the story comes closer to the end, wehp3 hope that Harry will have just a tiny bit of happiness and not have to endure another summer with his Muggle relatives who mistreat him. There is a definite theme of salvation running through the third book: the possible saving of Harry from the Dursleys, the saving of Sirius Black from the Dementor’s kiss, the saving of BuckBeak who has been sentenced to death, and in some ways Hermoine being saved from overworking herself in an effort to be the best at everything. This book also reveals who truly betrayed James and Lily Potter, leading to their deaths.

hp4Some of these books don’t actually begin with Harry. Book four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is one of them. It’s a nice change of pace and indicates how Rowling worked to keep the series fresh and engaging for readers. We haven’t said much about Quidditch yet, but that is the game Harry has a natural talent for (discovered in Book 1), so this helps to balance that his magic might not be up to par with that of other students. Rowling uses the Quidditch World Cup to introduce another important character: Cedric Diggory. Cedric will end up competing in the Triwizard  Tournament, which hasn’t been held for over 200 years. This brings students and staff from other schools to Hogwarts. This is the book were Lord Voldemort is resurrected by Harry’s blood and what truly begins the war in earnest because the current Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge does not believe Harry and Professor Dumbledore (Hogwarts Headmaster) that Voldemort has returned. Parents, students, and the wizarding community must choose who and what to believe.

How many people loved Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but despised it at the same time? I know it brought out that reaction in me. So much hp5injustice takes place in this novel at the hands of Dolores Umbridge and the Ministry of Magic that at times it was hard not to scream or throw something against the wall. And for anyone who thought that Harry and Sirius would end up finding a nice cottage to live out their days once this whole war was over, they were dealt a crushing blow thanks to Bellatrix Lestrange. This is also the book where Dumbledore explains the prophecy to Harry that has brought him to Hogwarts and will eventually lead to his final showdown with Lord Voldemort.

In certain books, we learn more about other characters than Harry. That is true in books six and seven, where the history of Dumbledore and Tom Riddle a.k.a. Lord Voldemort unfolds. Book 6 is also one that doesn’t begin with Harry. Instead, the reader sees Professor Snape hp6in a meeting with Narcissa Malfoy, where he takes an unbreakable vow to protect and assist Draco in the mission Lord Voldemort has entrusted to him. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince also finds Harry given a mission of his own that will unfold in the final book. It is in this book that we learn how important the diary Ginny Weasley found in the third book is to Voldemort and his plan for immortality.

Then in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows best friends Harry, Hermoine, and Ron risk everything to bring down Voldemort. In order to do that, they set out on their own, learn more about Dumbledore’s past, infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, are captured and held prisoner at Malfoy Manor, secretly enter Hogwarts, and witness tragedy strike Snape who had been installed by Voldemort as the Headmaster at Hogwarts. It isn’t until Snape shares his memories with Harry that he truly understands what fulfilling his destiny means.

What I enjoyed most about these books is how they blended everyday things like relationship issues, coping with tragedy, love, family and friendship while harryexploring a magical world. These books also tackled controversial topics like prejudice. I loved how with each book Rowling upped the ante, so you had intense moments throughout each book, but the series as a whole slowly built up the dramatic face off between Harry and Voldemort.

I don’t believe I am alone, however, in being a bit let down by the epilogue. I am okay with vagueness, but I felt too much time had passed. There is also the matter of Draco and Harry. While I don’t believe they would ever be friends, I wanted to see a little bit more about how their relationship evolved after the Dark Lord’s defeat.

Have you read the Harry Potter series? What were some of your favorite parts? Is there anything you didn’t care for?

 

Rani in Search of a Rainbow by Shaila Abdullah

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Inspired by the 2010 floods in Pakistan, Rani in Search of a Rainbow by Shaila Abdullah is a touching and delightful story of one girl’s determination to help after her family and friends are moved to a refugee campsite.

This is a sweet book with a wonderful message. Abdullah has created a wonderful story to help children deal with life-changing events. The reader watches Rani go through many emotions and be pushed aside in her efforts to help by the busy adults who fear for her safety as they work together to make their temporary home useful to their community. It is such a pleasure when Rani finds a way to help all on her own. Rani in Search of a Rainbow also teaches compassion for others, which makes it a fabulous story for any child.

The vibrantly colored illustrations capture an intriguing culture and, the story not only helps young readers learn about the Pakistani way of life, it encourages them to discover more. While at more than 50 pages it is longer than the typical picture book, the pace of the story keeps the reader moving swiftly from beginning to end. A great read!

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

File Size: 6601 KB
Print Length: 56 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Loving Healing Press; 1st edition (November 7, 2014)
Publication Date: November 7, 2014
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00PE34HWU

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way. 

Hockey Agony by Donna M. McDine

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Hockey Agony by Donna M. McDine displays the importance of honesty and integrity.

In this sports-themed chapter book for tweens, Larry is disappointed that his recent injury has sidelined him from the big game. His coach asking him to be time keeper alongside a member of the opposing team is little consolation. When one of his teammates asks him to cheat, Larry needs to decide if honesty can beat out his bad attitude and habit of bending the rules.

As someone who writes message-driven fiction, I always enjoy a book where a reader has a take away they can ponder long after they finish. Such is the case with Hockey Agony. McDine created a character whose bad attitude and habit of bending the rules finally puts him at odds with doing the right thing. Peer pressure is huge at this age, so the author taps into that dilemma and helps tweens realize honesty and integrity are essential to making us successful in life.

Julie Hammond provided the artwork for Hockey Agony. She has a perfect style to complement this story. I also enjoyed the many background details that I felt relayed the message of the story in a subtle way.

While this award-winning book is sure to be popular with hockey players everywhere, Larry’s story is a great read for any tween looking for a bit of excitement and characters they can easily relate to.

Highly recommended!

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Age Range: 9 – 12 years
Paperback: 20 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc; large type edition edition (March 15, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161633360X
ISBN-13: 978-1616333607

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

Powder Monkey by Donna M. McDine

Powder-Monkey

Powder Monkey by Donna M. McDine is a heartrending, powerful story of survival and perseverance.

Tommy is taken by the press gang and forced into servitude for the Royal Navy. It is a tough life for a farm boy, but he learns to survive by being willing to do the jobs many of the other boys do not like to do.

This is a book for middle grade readers that shares a part of British history that is about as attractive as the years the United States was divided by slavery. It’s not a light story for youngsters to enjoy. Instead, it’s a story to teach children about the difficulties in our past and what they can learn from them.

Tommy’s story is brought to life by McDine’s captivating story and the stunning illustrations of K.C. Snider–one of my favorite artists. The emotions Snider captures in this book are so realistic you can’t help but be touched by them; especially the two at the end of the book. This author and artist should collaborate often.

Powder Monkey would make a great addition to any school or home library.

Rating: :) :) :) :)

Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc; large type edition edition (May 20, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616333855
ISBN-13: 978-1616333850

I received a digital copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management: A Parents’ Guide to Helping Your Teen Succeed by Leslie Josel

What's the Deal with Teens and Time Management 2

Tired of rushing to get your teen out of the door on time each morning? Frustrated by last-minute trips to the store to buy supplies for that school project your child has known about for months? Concerned that your teen is simply overwhelmed by all she has to manage? Let What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management: A Parents’ Guide to Helping Your Teen Succeed by Leslie Josel help.

In less than 100 pages, Josel is able to guide you on how to help your teenage son or daughter get organized and develop the time management skills that will carry them through life. Not only did this book help me to understand how to phrase questions in ways that hone these lifelong skills; it also made me realize that my actions could either encourage or impede my children’s progress.

What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management will provide you with the information you need to make a change in your family’s lives. From insight into learning styles, to homework strategies, to dealing with procrastination, to managing distractions and more, Josel offers realistic expert advice and achievable goals for your teen. I firmly believe every family with teens or soon to be teens can benefit from reading this book.

Highly recommended!

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

ISBN-13:9780990889151
Publisher:People Tested Books
Publication date: 01/29/2015
Pages:88

Purchase at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble

I received a digital copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Diego’s Dragon, Book Two: Dragons of the Dark Rift by Kevin Gerard

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Filled with adventure, Diego’s Dragon, the second book in the Dragons of the Dark Rift series will captivate young readers.

With the fifth sun promising a time of peace for all creatures, the Sol Dragones and their leaders eagerly await the new age; but Vipero wants to alter the ancient prophecy by eliminating the Sol Dragones, which would endanger Diego’s world. Guides, Diego and Rachel travel with their dragons to the Dark Rift to battle Vipero’s immense army, the fate of earth hanging in the balance.

Middle grade readers will enjoy this exciting tale of dragons, ancient prophecy, and a human guide that must learn to harness his powers to fight effectively. Whenever there is a story with an epic battle, getting to know the characters is important to understanding the desires of both sides and being able to root for one side to triumph. Kevin Gerard did a fine job of creating his characters and the world in which they live in order to make that happen. The affection between and Magnifico and Estrella was heartwarming, while the dedication of Mr. Sullivan and Magnifico to training Diego is admirable. They, along with Rachel (Estrella’s guide), make a fabulous team.

While the opening of Diego’s Dragon didn’t capture me right away, I was swiftly caught up in the story and racing to its satisfying conclusion. I’m eager to see what happens next.

Rating: :) :) :) :)

Series: Diego’s Dragon
Paperback: 214 pages
Publisher: Crying Cougar Press; 2 edition (April 6, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0985980249
ISBN-13: 978-0985980245

Purchase at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

 

I received a digital copy of this book from the author through, Mother Daughter Book Reviews. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood

The Brain Sucker by Glenn WoodA creative, zany adventure awaits middle grade readers in The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood.

Callum McCullock is a disabled boy living with his grandmother, Rose. When demented scientist Lester Smythe’s plot to eradicate goodness from the world puts Rose in danger, Callum and his good friends, Sophie and Jinx, band together to defeat his evil plan.

There is so much to enjoy in this novel: the well-developed characters, the neat inventions, the antics of Lester’s bumbling thugs, the craziness caused by Jinx “little problem,” and so much more. Wood definitely knows how to create a story this age group will love. There are kids in the roles of heroes, a battle between good and evil, humor, and the love of family and friends.

It didn’t take me long to finish this one because I never wanted to put it down. I also really felt the selected font was perfect for the story, so kudos to the book designer.

Highly recommended.

 

 

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)
Series: Thunderkit Chronicles
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; US Ver 1 edition (June 28, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1512161624
ISBN-13: 978-1512161625
Purchase at Amazon!

I received a free copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.