Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Latest Three: Harry Potter Re-read Wonderfulness Part 1

The Latest Three is my reader's review blog series where I talk about the latest three books I've read and at least enjoyed to some degree. The policy is that if I feel the book wasn't totally pointless, which I usually do, then I discuss the things I liked most in hopes there will be something that intrigues you enough to pick it up yourself. But at the same time, I give honest commentary and discuss things I wasn't too fond of either so you can understand the best scope of the book in your endeavor to read lots of really great books! Obviously, these come in batches of three, but if you like my review style head over to Goodreads and follow me, Kateri Ransom. I post those as I read them.
*Note: I will be posting The Latest Three every Wednesday, with my regular discussion posts on Saturday, as I mentioned in an earlier post. I just realized one post a week was kind of a stupid idea. So yay, weekly reviews on Kat Wearing Hat!!!

This Latest Three is brought to you in part ("in part" being the operative words here) by the marvelous, the magnanimous, and the always magical Harry Potter!
I decided sometime about a year ago that I would FINALLY re-read the entire HP series--last Christmas seeming like the perfect time to start.
No, sadly, I have not once re-read the entire series since I finished it when the last book came out. But wait! Don't scoff and click away just yet!
I have a reason.
I say that because the WIP I've been pursuing for over seven years is very much inspired by this series. Back in the day, I didn't want anymore of Harry Potter creeping into my own novel. Despite being inspired by the whole idea of a normal girl learning she's actually from another magical realm, I wanted to make sure that at the end of the day it was completely my own. So I merely dabbled in the books here and there. I re-read the first book countless times, just when I was getting that itch for some Hogwarts and Quidditch and the like, and sometimes also the third one because it's my favorite. But re-read them all, I did not.
Now that I'm editing my first draft, I feel confident that my own story is fully established and cannot be so easily influenced, and so I am ready to return...well, home!
On that note, I will not, however, be re-reading them consecutively as, though it is tempting, I still have a mountainous pile of books to read and don't want to let them sit for too long. Solution: I'm reading a different book of choice between each HP one. And so far, it's going rather swimmingly!
And here it is...
What I thought of the Latest Three books I've read.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J. K. Rowling
There's not too much I can feel profound in saying about this one because it's the one I've re-read the most. It's just got that sense of Magical that you can't quite get with the rest because you're discovering this magical world along with Harry. But of course you know that, which brings me to...

Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis
One of the best books of 2013 for me, especially when it comes to debut authors. What was cool about this book is that I got super excited about it way before it came out. When I finally got my hands on it there was like this uh-oh moment because there had been months of expectation building and what if, gasp!, it didn't meet them?
Well, not only were my expectations met, they were exceeded.
Lynn lives with her mother in the basement of their old house by their pond, and it is always about what is theirs. Because if they don't have their water then they don't have any, and that is because in Lynn's world there is no longer enough water to go around. Lynn has no friends, but she has her mother and her pond and her gun. And that's all she needs...until.
This novel is gritty, harrowing, thought-provoking, vast and minuscule all at the same time. It's one of those "Stranger Comes to Town" stories but even before that happens OHMAGAWD my heart was ripped out and I had to stuff it back in there with cheap scotch tape in order to get through the rest of the book.
Luckily, McGinnis draws you in effortlessly, even if reading through it is sorta like trudging through deep sand, hot and heavy...and I mean that in a sexy Hollywood sort of way.
If you like books that take place in re-imagined, slow, semi-apocalyptic worlds with tough but believable chicks with big hearts that just need to learn to open up and really cute and endearing boys and complex, strong characters...then this book is for you.
In a Handful of Dust, the companion novel, is coming out this year. Holy Guacamole, that cover is beyond words and I can't freakin' wait for it to come out!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J. K. Rowling
OK, so everyone knows this book tends to be the least favored of the HP series. But while re-reading, I found I truly loved it on the same level as all the others. Not that it beats my favorite, Prisoner of Azkaban, but it's a Fun Read. So fun! Of the series, this one and Goblet of Fire are closest to the mystery genre. There's all these strings splayed out before, many of which blend so well into the background you don't notice they're there, until WHAM! At the end it all comes together. I also appreciate how Rowling incorporated the issue of bigotry so early in the series. Lots of young readers are able to participate in feeling the hatred coming from Malfoy when he calls Hermione a mudblood, and consequentially the hurt as well, and...well HOPEFULLY...that kid hasn't really experienced such feelings before. But experiencing it on this level is really great food for thought, and like I said, Rowling brought it in so early. People say the books get so dark after 4, but I find this book particularly dark for its placement in the series. What say you?

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