Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Latest Three: Harry Potter Re-read Wonderfulness: Part 2

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.

(In regards to the "Harry Potter Re-read Wonderfulness" part of the blog post title, if you missed my other post wherein there was Part 1 of this reader review series, the update is that I'll be re-reading and reviewing the entire HP series front to back, but reading a different YA/MG/Adult book in between, like I usually do. Because, like many of us bookish fiends, my TBR pile is too big to ignore for too long. You understand, I'm sure.)

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
I read this book and then a few weeks later got to revisit it because I'm taking children's literature. I was assigned a project in which we took a chapter book and created a physical "hook" designed to grab a child's interest and get them to read it. I have provided a copy of the map of Juster's fantastical world not only because it is royally Cool but because I decided to use it as inspiration for my project. I purchased a map of our world via Amazon and took a bunch of colorful sharpies to it. I not only re-imagined our world into fitting Juster's but added in strange and curious lands of my own imagining, all with the intention of getting a potential classroom excited about tracking the main character, Milo's, journey and continuing it even after the book's end. 
But enough about that, how about the book.
Milo is simply a bored young boy with nothing to do. One day, a magical phantom tollbooth appears in his bedroom. On the other side, Milo discovers he's entered a new unimaginable land. He encounters Dictionopolis, where he meets The Humbug and Tock, the dog who tells time. Milo also meets King Azaz, who tasks Milo to restore Rhyme and Reason to the land, only Rhyme and Reason are two princesses who've been banished to the Castle in the Sky. Milo must seek the help of the Mathematician of Digitopolis to help him do so, but only after calming his anger at his brother, who is none other than the King Azaz.
This book was written in the 60's and there's definitely a reason why it's lasted so long. Milo and the rest of the cast might not be very depth-filled characters, but upon reading I discovered the depth can be most clearly (and unusually) found in the world-building. And surprisingly, it works. I particularly loved the scene where Milo tries to paint the sunrise with an orchestra, and learns the consequences. This is a whimsy read that stresses the importance of intelligence, creativity, and curiosity...even much, much more.

Map of Juster's world, located in front of book.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J. K. Rowling
This is another installment of the series where I don't have all that much to say. Perhaps it was because I was so swept away with it I forgot to take notes as I went along. Or perhaps it was because it's one of the movies I've seen the most; I've even dipped into the book here and there despite having not re-read the entire series ever. All I know is I absolutely adore this book. In fact, it's one of my top favorites, rivaled probably by the 4th and 5th...but more on those later, of course.

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
(I won't summarize because, really, who hasn't heard of this book? If not, click the Goodreads link below.)
I feel obligated to start this review in only one way: This book made me cry like perhaps no other. I haven't cried this much since probably a certain character at the end of Mockingjay died (if you've read the series, you probably know). Now, let me also clarify that I do not cry easily when it comes to books; I'm just more of a movie crier. However! I must say that I have memories of sad scenes from books that have practically fossilized on my memory they were so world-changing, as opposed to those many times I've teared up during movies, which I think means more at the end of the day. But boy, did this book bring out the water works and right in front of The Musician no less!
But that wasn't the reason I loved this book. A book can make me cry as bad as if I'd just found out all three of my doggies had died at the same time as all the books in the world had miraculously disappeared and it still might not be a great book to me. 
No, what happened was, well, I laughed. I laughed and then I felt sorrow and each time I laughed again it was funnier and each time I felt sorrow again it was heavier and heavier until, yes, I cried. Like a baby without its blanket, I cried.
Took me long enough to get to this one, but honestly I'm glad I waited. It is YA and I'm thrilled to see a YA get so much appreciation and hype from other literature communities, but I know I appreciated it that much more reading it from the place I am in my life right now, especially concerning past recent events. But still, a book for the ages of all ages. If you've beaten around the bush with this one. 
Shtop dat. Go read it.

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