Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
I’m pretty sure every person in the western world knows who Harry Potter is and knows the basic story line. Harry Potter was The Boy Who Lived. Both his parents were killed by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the evil Lord Voldemort, but he survived the attack, somehow causing Voldemort to disappear. Now Harry is eleven, and off to his first year at Hogwarts wizarding school. But it seems like Voldemort is making a resurgence. Is Harry safe, even under the watchful eye of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore?
I recently felt a desire to go back and reread the HARRY POTTER books. I know I have a stack of books sitting on my bedside table that I need to read, and I will, but sometimes the lure of going back to visit an old friend is just too strong to be resisted. Sometimes this leads to disappointment, as books don’t live up to their memory, but I am happy to say that HARRY POTTER is as... Read More
J.K. Rowling(1965- )
Since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997, the Harry Potter novels have sold 400 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 65 languages. J.K. Rowling has generated huge popular appeal for her books across the generations in an unprecedented fashion: she was the first children’s author to be voted the BA Author of the Year, and also to win the British Book Awards Author of the Year. J.K. Rowling lives with her family in Edinburgh. Visit J.K. Rowling’s website.
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Harry Potter — (1997-2007) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.
These are all available in audiobook format
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
I read the Harry Potter books because I wanted to make sure they were suitable for my kids. I fell in love with Harry and his friends but perhaps what I love best is that J.K. Rowling got kids to start reading again. And not just reading, but reading fantasy literature! ~Kat
You know you’ve embarked on a journey you’ll remember all your life when you read this first book in the Harry Potter series. It’s charming. ~Terry
Whatever I thought about the final books in the series, this was a great start to a wonderful new series that everyone enjoyed. ~Marion
I resisted this series for years because the hype annoyed me, and finally read this book when it was the only thing I had to read in a hotel room. I read it in one night, had a dream about Platform 9 3/4, and have been hooked on Harry ever since. The books eventually get darker and more complex, but Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is just sheer whimsical fun. ~Kelly
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry has had a miserable summer. None of his friends have written to him and he wonders whether Hogwarts and the world of wizardry that he discovered the year before is just a dream. Four weeks before he is due to return to school he has a visit from Dobby the House Elf who warns him not to return to Hogwarts. And so we embark on another year at Hogwarts and another mystery — this time involving the Chamber of Secrets.
I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but not quite as much as I enjoyed the first book, mostly because of the clumsy recapping. The worst instance was when Colin and Harry are walking to the Quidditch pitch and Harry has to explain how it all works — it isn't completely unforgiveable since Colin has only just started at Hogwarts, but I felt it was superfluous nonetheless, and this was not the only instance.
It’s fun to watch the characters develop in this second book in the series, but it’s also apparent that the themes are growing darker, bit by bit. The books grow in depth and theme even as the children the books portray grow up. ~Terry
I was surprised at how dark this book was compared to the first, but I liked it. And, as we know now, it only gets darker from here. ~Kat
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is easily my favourite of the Harry Potter books. Harry is in his third year at Hogwarts, and the big news is the escape of dangerous and deadly wizard Sirius Black from Azkaban prison. Harry learns that, for some reason, Sirius is after him. To increase security at Hogwarts, Dumbledore has reluctantly allowed the Dementors — ghostly cloaked beings that suck the happiness from a person's soul and eventually drive them mad — to guard the castle. The book uncovers the mystery of who Black is and why he is so keen to find Harry at Hogwarts, while also dealing with the regular shenanigans of a Hogwarts school year.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is where J.K. Rowling tightens up her act. The plot is excellently written with not too many... Read More
Awesomely twisty. This was the moment that my adult brain really got hooked on the series (my inner child was already over the moon). ~Kelly
Unputdownable. Even my husband, who doesn’t read fantasy, couldn’t take a break to eat meals when he read this book. ~Kat
The Prisoner of Azkaban is by far my favorite of the HARRY POTTER novels. It is the tightest, most efficient of them all and doesn’t sacrifice emotional impact for all that it is several hundreds of pages shorter than the later ones. In fact, several of the scenes are some of the most moving in the entire series. The world is greatly enriched by the arrival of the Dementors and Hogsmeade and the cast of characters is similarly enhanced by the addition of Sirius Black (who adds suspense and menace to the narrative while also giving us a richly emotional vein to tap with regard to Harry) and Professor Lupin. This is the pinnacle I’d say of the Harry Potter universe and even if one doesn’t wish to devote the time to the entire series, it’s well worth it to read the first three so as to arrive here. ~Bill
This was the best book; not only the character development and the growth of the magical world, but the moment when Harry and the reader both learn that not everything is what it seems. ~Marion
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
The one where Harry takes part in the Tri-wizard Tournament. The one where hormones start flying. The one where Voldemort grows ever stronger. The one where J. K. Rowling decided everyone needed more doorstops...
I want it said right from the beginning of this review that I adore the Harry Potter series in its entirety, but I do feel that some books are stronger than others. And this is one of the weakest in the series in my opinion.
For some reason, Rowling decided that she could no longer write her story in a few hundred pages. Instead, we're presented with a positive brick of a book that stretches on for many hundreds more than I felt it should be. If all of the books had been written with the tight plotting and efficient writing of the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Read More
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the first of the books to reach massive size, and it might be a little too long and I can’t always follow Voldemort’s logic. But it’s still a lot of fun, and its ending signals raised stakes and a turn for the darker in the series. ~Kelly
Like Amanda and Kelly have said, there are some dumb-villain plot issus here (I can think of lots of easier ways for Voldemort to get hold of Harry Potter) and the book is longer than it needs to be, but fans won’t mind spending that extra time with Harry and his friends. ~Kat
I agree with Amanda; this book was a couple hundred pages too long. Even though the emergence of Voldemort at the end is dark and truly scary, Rowling loses all discipline starting with this book in the series. ~Marion
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was extremely gripping and exciting, with a great deal of plot progression.
Here, Harry is dealing with the aftermath of the return of Lord Voldemort, and coping with the fact that he is kept very much in the dark about what is happening. While at the Dursleys’ over the summer, he has been relying on the Muggle news to see whether Voldemort has started the expected killing spree and reign of terror. When Harry and his cousin Dudley are attacked by Dementors, Harry is forced to do magic outside of Hogwarts — something expressly forbidden — and is summoned to a hearing. This is where he begins to learn that times are changing: his relationship with Dumbledore is strained and distant; the Minister of Magic refuses to believe that Voldemort is back; and a truly chilling new character (Dolores Umbridge) takes on t... Read More
The Order of the Phoenix is my second favorite HARRY POTTER novel, coming in after Book Three, The Prisoner of Azkaban. Like too many of the later novels, Order is overly long, Harry’s teen angst grates a bit more than necessary, and the battle scene at the end goes on too long and in my mind felt as if it were being written more with the movie audience in mind rather than readers (the first time I felt this in the series but not the last). I give Rowling props, however, for taking the chance of portraying Harry as unlikable as he is through much of the novel. Even better is the character growth displayed throughout amongst several of the characters and the addition of Luna is a great pick-up. But what really makes the book stand out among the others is its emotional impact, especially in scenes involving a younger Snape. ~Bill
I’m in complete agreement with Amanda and Bill about this book. The darkness of this novel is exciting — we feel like maybe things may not turn out like we were expecting, yet there is some real humor here, too. The beginning is slow but the character development is superb and the emotional tension is exquisite. ~Kat
This is one of those series where the story of my journey as a fan sticks with me almost as much as the story *in* the books, so I’ll mention that this is the first of the books that had me keeping a midnight vigil at the bookstore (I read the first four in rapid succession after they’d been out for years). The Order of the Phoenix, like The Goblet of Fire, is a little too long and sags in places, and it’s very dark and not as funny as some of the other books. But it did keep me hooked, and we won’t even go into how late I stayed up reading. ~Kelly
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
I don't want to spoil the plot, as there are many twists lurking within this book, so I'll just say this:
This is the best one yet.
Books 1 and 2 were occasionally intense, but mostly I liked them because they were hilarious. Book 3 was the one that really sucked me in, with its tightly woven, ever-twisting plot. Book 4 sprawled a bit too much but brought lots of romance and character development. Book 5, too, meandered far too much and lacked the comic relief that lightened earlier books, but resonated with deep tragedy.
Here, J.K. Rowling presents a Book 6 that is as tight as Book 3, has as much romance and character development as Book 4, involves a tragedy as profound as that of book 5 (or maybe more so, as I'm not convinced that the character who died in book 5 is really dead), and is sprinkled throughout by moments as funny as the b... Read More
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
There’s good news, middling news, and bad news in the final Harry Potter installment, a book that replicates in many ways the unevenness of the series as a whole. First the good news. The main character, which has always been the book’s strength, continues in that vein through most of the book. Harry’s oh-so-realistic ongoing grief at his parents’ deaths, his sometimes-bends-but-never-breaks bond with Hermione and Ron, his coming-of-age process through idol-worship then respect then disillusionment then adult understanding with Dumbledore, his sense of a greater good — all of these aspects that have made Harry Potter one of the more compelling figures in modern fiction are here in full force. Along with the character of Harry himself, the triangular relationship with Ron and Hermione has also been a consistent highlight in the series, and this to... Read More
I was a little disappointed in the ending of this series. While I get that Rowling was trying to make a point about war, I felt there were too many deaths in this one, or at least that some of the deaths were treated too briefly in the text. And I think the story of Neville & Co. at Hogwarts might have made a better book than the story we did see. It’s telling that this is the only HP book I never get much urge to reread — it’s the first time I didn’t really wish I could go to the wizarding world. Nonetheless, it did wrap up the series’ central conflict, and I have to commend Rowling for giving me all those years of entertainment. ~Kelly
The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
During almost the entire length of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hermione Granger carried with her an old book titled The Tales of Beedle the Bard that was bequeathed to her by Professor Dumbledore in his will. It was not until much later that the full significance of the book, (particularly the final story) became clear in helping Harry achieve his quest of defeating Lord Voldemort.
There have been little allusions to "wizard fairytales" throughout the series, namely through Ron who had grown up with them and expressed disbelief that Harry and Hermione had never heard of the familiar stories:
"You've never heard of the Tales of Beedle the Bard?" said Ron incredulously. "You're kidding right?"
"No, I'm not," said Hermione in surprise. "Do you know them, then?"
"Well, of course I do! Oh, come... Read More
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
[In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]
Early in 2013, a new murder mystery came out. Written by an author named Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoo’s Calling was set in England and featured an army veteran detective with a prosthetic leg (he was injured saving other soldiers in Afghanistan), a strange family and an unusual name; Cormoran Strike. A few months later, through a series of different sources, it was revealed that “Robert Galbraith” was a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, who wanted to publish her first murder mystery without having it connected in any way to her globally-famous, history-making, best-selling series of YA fantasy best-s... Read More