Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4) – J.K. Rowling

 

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Source: Goodreads

Fourteen-year-old Harry Potter is ready for his fourth year at Hogwarts; preferably a quiet one where nothing goes wrong and no monsters try to attack the students. Unfortunately, this is Harry’s life we’re talking about, and things are never easy or simple where Harry is concerned. After a terror-filled night at the Quidditch World Cup, Harry finds himself thrown into hot water again as students arrive from other European wizarding schools to compete in a time-honored traditional trial by magic. Harry will need all of the help he can get to survive the challenges that face him in the coming year, but will it be enough?

This fourth book in J.K. Rowling’s best-selling series is a marked turning point from Juvenal Fiction to YA. The tone of the book becomes darker as Harry’s life becomes more dangerous, and all of the characters begin to hit the dreaded puberty.

I absolutely love how the characters were developed in this book. There were so many new people to introduce and examine because of the visiting schools, and we gain a much better picture of the overall state of the global wizarding community. It’s no surprise that at over 700 pages this is one of the longest books in the series. It’s a whopper of a book to be sure, but it reads very quickly. Rowling’s writing is so compelling that it is extremely hard to put the book down. I ended up finishing the last 300 pages in one sitting. Whoops. What is sleep, anyhow?

There is just so much about this book that I love, not the least of which is Hermione coming out of her shell and becoming a much bigger character. Ron kind of takes a back seat in this one as he spends much of the story grouchy and jealous of various people and happenings.

Hermione though, Hermione shines in this book. She’s in her element, studying anything and everything to help Harry out with his situation, and mediating between Harry and Ron, and just generally being the voice of reason in an otherwise crazy world.

“You can’t Apparate inside the Hogwarts grounds, how often do I have to tell you?”
~Hermione Granger

But that’s not all. No, this is the book where Hermione finds her passion(s). This is the part of the story when Hermione begins to take note of the world around her. She discovers boys, and she discovers human rights issues (which may sound a tad boring compared to the magical world, but I assure it is NOT), and with a little magic on her side, she finds the confidence to be herself and speak up for what she wants. Best of all, she’s not afraid to tell it like it is (I’m looking at you, Ron), and put people in their place (Also you, Rita Skeeter). It just makes me so happy to see the character of Hermione grow so much in one novel.

Not everything was cake and roses in this book, though. There is a lot of darkness and a lot of plot set-up for the final three books, which of course means a lot more Voldemort. As much as we wish Harry’s path wasn’t headed in that direction, the Dark Lord is a continual evil that plagues our young protagonist.

Overall, this is an amazing read. The first time I read this book, I was 8, and I was moving. To me, it was the darkest thing that had ever happened in my life. I was leaving all of my friends, and in the 90’s/ early 00’s, this basically meant that aside from long-distance calls on the landline or writing snail-mail, I was losing everyone I knew. Having something, like the Harry Potter series, that followed me from house to house and had characters that were going through turmoil like I was was remarkable in itself. The fact that they overcame their problems and made new friends with people from new schools helped me to overcome my fear of never having friends again and ultimately helped me adjust to a new town.

I highly recommend this book to literally everyone. Tissues required.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Book #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Book #8 – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter et Sorcerers Stone

Source: Goodreads

Harry Potter lives with the most ordinary family, his aunt Petunia, uncle Vernon, and cousin Dudley Dursley in Surrey, England. He attends an ordinary school and eats ordinary food. Except, nothing about Harry is ordinary. Strange things happen when he is around. Dudley and his gang chase him and he’ll suddenly find himself on the roof of the school. A snake at the zoo tries to talk to him. He gets a bad haircut and his hair grows back over night. Harry doesn’t really pay attention to these things, but they seem to bother his aunt and uncle. Then the letters arrive. Each one addressed to Harry’s bedroom in the cupboard under the stairs. Before he can read them, his uncle tears them up and burns them. But he can’t keep them from Harry forever. This first book in the Harry Potter series follows our titular character as he goes from ordinary to extraordinary and learns about his true past and his famous future.

Those of you who are Harry Potter fans will probably say that this has been the lamest intro to the series ever, but I’m trying not to spoil things for people who haven’t experienced it yet. Sure, the Harry Potter series has probably been spoiled 1000 times over for everyone who hasn’t read it by now, but just in case it hasn’t, I won’t be the one to spoil the magic.

This is my first time re-reading the Harry Potter series since I was about 7 and my mother started reading the books aloud to my brother and me. We read the first three back-to-back and then the last four as they came out. It was a truly life-changing experience. You could say that I was part of that generation that grew up with Harry. So, at this time in my life when I am working towards writing more myself, I thought it would be a good idea to re-read some of my favorite childhood books. Obviously, I’m starting with Harry Potter because the 8th story is being released at the end of the month.

Not having the read the books in nearly 20 years (it’s 17, but it’s close!), I didn’t realize how much I had forgotten. I was one of those annoying people who, after seeing the films, would pick apart everything that was different from the books. ‘The Dursley’s should have blond hair’ I’d say, and my family would roll their eyes and tell me to get over it. The more I watched the movies, the less I remembered what had been changed from the books. But delving into Harry’s magical world again after so long had just the same effect it did on me the first time around. It was awe-inspiring and wonderful and amazing. Just how I remembered. Knowing how it all ends doesn’t make me not want to read the series. In fact, it makes certain passages have even greater meaning.

There is a passage on page 99 when Ron is lamenting having to live up to his family’s expectations. He says that even if he does well, it won’t be surprising because it is expected. As I read this, I just wanted to reach into the book and give him a big old hug and tell him what the future holds. He’s going to be amazing. They all are, they just don’t know it yet.

Getting back into this series is so much fun, and I can’t wait to dive into Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets soon! As far as recommendations, go this is an obvious YES. The series as a whole teaches so much tolerance and understanding that it should be a mandatory read for everyone, especially in this day and age when the world is dealing with so much hatred and violence.

If you are looking for something family-friendly and interesting to read, Harry Potter is a go to. There is such a wealth of content that everyone from the ages of 5 to 105 will enjoy it and learn something from it.

If you want to follow along on my journey to The Cursed Child (the 8th story!), you can catch up on my reviews of the other books below as I post them.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Book #5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Book #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Book #8 – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles – Patricia C. Wrede

Source: Goodreads 

Cimorene is not your average princess. Her hair isn’t blond and she doesn’t swoon at the sight of handsome princes, and she certainly doesn’t sew, or dance, or sing, or any of the other hundred things a princess is supposed to do. So she runs away and volunteers to be a dragon’s princess. Her parents are appalled. Her fiance is confused. Cimorene couldn’t be happier. Until the wizards show up of course. Then Cimorene’s life gets so complicated that she gets exhausted just trying to explain it to people.

Patricia C. Wrede’s writing is some of the best I’ve ever read, and her characters are simply charming. The series is made up of four books: Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons.

Throughout Cimorene’s adventures in the Mountains or Morning and The Enchanted Forest, the reader is introduced to such people as a witch with nine cats (none of whom are black), a magician obsessed with magical theory, a flying blue donkey, a stone prince, a fire-witch who can’t actually use any of her magic, and a lot of dragons, wizards, and knights. Wrede’s world is so full it runs itself, and The Enchanted Forest Chronicles simply allows the reader to look inside for a little while. Rich with swords and magic and daring rescues, I could read this series over and over again and never get bored. This is easily one of my all time favorite series.

HHC Rating: 5 stars

Seriously Wicked – Tina Connolly

Source: Goodreads 

Camellia lives with a witch. Sarmine Scarabouche is not a particularly nice witch, evidenced by the fact that she tricked Camellia’s parents into giving her up when she was very little. Now Sarmine wants Camellia to learn magic and become as evil as she is, but Cam just wants to be a normal teenager. Then something horrible happens when Sarmine summons a demon, and Camellia will have to use everything she’s learned, about people, about magic, and most importantly about herself, to stop her world from crashing down around her.

Seriously Wicked is a brilliantly woven story. Every twist caught me by surprise, and Cam is a fantastically complex character. I love fantasy writing, and I’m always interested to see how authors bring magic into present day modern world scenarios without the use of time traveling or immortality themes. In this case, Connolly was able to incorporate beings such as dragons, demons, and phoenixes as well as witches into a modern world without attracting overly much attention, despite the odd ingredients needed for spells and so on. The characters are all very real, and despite the magic and mishaps, there is an underlying theme of normality that Cam is craving, and that Sarmine doesn’t know how to give to her. The whole dynamic between those two characters is so interesting that I could easily write a research paper on it.

The story is funny and captivating, and I couldn’t put it down. I hope Connolly eventually writes a sequel, but even if she doesn’t, this is a book I will probably read at least a few more times.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars