Happy Women’s Day South-Africa: Top 15 Favorite Kick-Ass female characters on screen

Today is Women’s Day here in South-Africa. Over here we like public holidays quite a bit (although India has TWENTY ONE), so we are all having a day off today – Whoop!

To celebrate, I made a list of strong female characters on screen. I think we can all agree that there are too few well written, complex female characters, but these ladies below are amazing and did their job extremely well in their respective films!

black-widow

Fifteen: The Black Widow – Marvel movies

Female superheroes have increased marginally, and I am really happy about that. My only negative comment is that I am confused why female superheroes need to either wear skin tight leather suits or skimpy Wonder Woman outfits while their male counterparts wears aerodynamically pleasing outfits or war clothing. We have a far way to still go in this genre, but at least we can all agree that Natasha Romanoff kicks ass multiple times on screen and is a fully functional member of the squad. I really enjoy this character, and I think Scarlett Johannson has done a great job bringing her to the screen. It annoyed me a bit that her infertility was this massive discussion in one of the movies – the reproductive capability of her male teammates have never been discussed.

Katniss-Everdeen_Catching-Fire1

Fourteen: Katniss Everdeen

Katniss as a character has many flaws – she is selfish and can’t choose between two men. While that is certainly a crime, I have never been able to really judge her too harshly for it. Her world is dark and horrible, and she has nothing wonderful. Turning away from the caring of a good man? It seems nearly cruel to expect her to do that.

But despite this obvious flaw, I really thought the character was badass and capable, and honorable to take her younger sister’s place in a situation where she was guaranteed her death.

hermoine

Thirteen: Hermione Granger, The Harry Potter series

If this had been a literary list, Hermoine would have been much higher. Film Hermoine is great and Emma Watson did a good job with her, but my opinion remains that the film adaptions didn’t do justice to the sheer magnificence of the novels, on any level. Anyway, this isn’t a Harry Potter discussion, so I will just mention that Hermoine Granger is the reason those two boys stayed alive. She is strong, intelligent, fiercely loyal and brave, and her contribution to the wizarding world and the feminist cause must never be forgotten.

Elle woods

Twelve: Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

When Legally Blonde dropped in 2001, every single person on this planet was charmed by Reese Witherspoon and the ditzy genius she created. There were tiny dogs, buckets of pink, manicures and textbooks, all in one film. I placed Elle Woods on this list because we too often forget that it is perfectly possible for a woman to love pink, to be girly and to be very determined, intelligent and capable all at one time. Another excellent thing in the film was that sisterhood won out in the end, and Warner Hungtinton the Third was booted on his ass.

Caroline

Eleven: Caroline Forbes, The Vampire Diaries

As the only series character to make it on to this post, you must know that I am very much team Caroline. Another pretty blonde girl who shows determination, loyalty and passion for life! In season one, Caroline works on your nerves pretty much incessantly. She’s insecure and whiny, and seems to be shallow and petty. However, the second she becomes a vampire and she realises that she will live an eternity in her own head, she gets a grip in such a remarkable fashion that I became her biggest fan.

I am no man

“I am no man”

Ten: Eowyn, Lord of The Rings

Perhaps the lady with the most iconic quote on the list, Eowyn, shield maiden of Rohan, is on first impression another lady who waits while her beloved father figure wastes away at the hand of the dastardly Wormtongue and her brother rides to war against orcs. It quickly becomes clear that this is a proud woman who was raised by warriors, and that she is simply tired of being left behind while those she loves die around her. She finds a way on to the battlefield, and if that chilling and rousing speech Theoden gives before his final ride isn’t enough, Eowyn steals everyone’s thunder by killing the leader of the Nazgul. She also gets her super happy ending at the end, which pleased me to no end.

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Nine: The Bride, Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino is a phenomenal film maker, and the roles he creates for women are legendary. The Bride is one such character, hell bent on revenge and making people pay for what was done with her. Uma Thurman brings this vengeful character to life with scary finesse, and even though this isn’t my favorite Tarantino film, the character itself is impressive as they come.

kick ass little girl

Eight: Hit Girl, Kick-Ass

She’s super tiny, she swears like a sailor, she wears a bright purple wig and her father is Nicolas Cage. Who doesn’t love her? I was a major fan of both movies, and it would be amazing if they could make a third. Hit Girl is the best part of this franchise, showing that gender and size is insignificant when it comes to being a bad ass.

rey star wars

Seven: Rey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The horror when Disney bought Star Wars was paramount. Everyone was sure it would be a disaster, and no one could even get a moment of sleep due to the inordinate amounts of stress this franchise was causing in their adult lives. LUCKILY, Disney actually ended up doing a great job, and introduced a bunch of new characters that were able to flow nicely with how things had been done in the past. One of the best new additions was Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, a survivor and a strong female character who can do things for herself. I really enjoyed this character – she is a fantastic blend of purity and strength and was wonderful and empowering to watch.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL

Six: Rita Vrataski, The Edge of Tomorrow

A nice little situation of role reversal, Emily Blunt was a hardened war veteran who saved Tom Cruise’s ass REPEATEDLY from aliens. I loved the character – she was sassy, strong, smart and the heroine of the day.

Eva Green CR

Five: Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale

Did you also just rub your heart because of the pain that shot through it when Vesper was mentioned? It HURTS. Vesper is hands down the best Bond girl that has ever been onscreen. Her sharp brain kept her well equipped to banter with Bond, and her eventual control over Bond ripped out my heart. The fact that Casino Royale is the best Bond film out there certainly helps, but this character in herself is powerful and strong and determined, attributes that were completely left out during the writing process for the other female characters over this incredibly long franchise.

Ellie Sattler Laura Dern

Four: Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park

I mentioned in my review of Jurassic World that it felt awful to realize that Dr. Ellie Sattler, who was in the very original Jurassic Park in NINETEEN NINETY THREE was a better, well written and strong female character than the running-in-heels-Bryce-Dallas-Howard. Dr. Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern, is super smart, professional, excels in her field and gets to see Dinosaurs in JP. I have loved and admired this character from my childhood till now, and I am eternally grateful to the writers that they allowed this strong character to see the light.

M

Three: M, The Bond Franchise

Dame Judi Dench is literal life goals. She is classy, successful and revered, and a girl can just dream to be her when she grows up. M is Bond’s boss, the only person who can try to control him, and their relationship is amazing and complex. I love the power of M, and Judi Dench is incredible to behold as this woman who puts her country above everything in her life.

Furiousa

Two: Furiousa, Mad Max

Homegirl Charlize Theron teamed up with Tom Hardy in the return of Mad Max, and what a job she did. Furiousa is powerful and intense, and her survival skills in the mad world she finds herself in is incredible. The film should have been titled Furiousa, as it is about her and how she helped the wives escape from that dreadful man. The entire film is one big celebration of sisterhood and sticking together, and I could only cheer on the women as they battled for their freedom.

Shoshanna

One: Shoshanna Dreyfus, Inglorious Basterds

The final accolade was difficult to award, because all of the ladies on here are amazing. However, I do think that Shoshanna is worthy, and that her role in Inglorious Basterds is incredibly important. I loved her – her courage and determination, her absolute hatred of anything Nazi, and her eventual success at revenge.

Well, there you have it. There are hopefully a million other female characters that can be mentioned by you below, and I look forward to seeing your opinions!

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Book Review: Fantastic Beasts and where to find them (by Newt Scamander, or JK Rowling if you want to be like that)

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Book: 99/100

Fantastic Beasts and where to find them is an additional book written for the world of Harry Potter. It is a Hogwarts textbook that describes all the magical animals that us Muggles have no clue about.

It is about the 100th time I’ve read this little book. Not more than 50 pages, it is an interesting part of the Potter franchise. There are plenty of animals in there that you’ve stumbled across if you read the books – werewolves, dragons, pixies, gnomes, etc. The book contains “notes” written by Harry, Ron and Hermoine and that makes it even more entertaining.

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I had a little laugh at the beginning of the book – it starts off as a normal Zoology textbook – or in this case Magizoology (I may be wrong) with the “What is a beast?” chapter.

Worth the read!

PS: This is yet another book-to-film that is happening. It will be highly interesting to see if they will be able to make a decent movie!

PPS: You see the 99/100 right?! Finishing last book tonight, will be posting a gloating post on Monday! 😀

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling)

Book: 19/100

With Dumbledore dead, Voldemort continues to gain ground in the magical world. Voldemort is obsessed with finding and killing Harry. His favourite Death-Eater, Snape, who killed Dumbledore the previous year, tells him the date they plan to move Harry from the Dursleys – thereby breaking the protective spell Dumbedore had cast on Harry until he was of age.

The Order of the Phoenix’s plan to get Harry to safety is by giving 6 other people Polyjuice Potion – a potion that causes you to take on the appearance of someone else. With 7 Potters flying through the sky in different directions, the Order is confident Voldemort won’t know who to attack. Harry is not happy with the plan, but ultimately gives up some of his hair to complete the potion.

As soon as Harry and the Order enter the skies on thestrals, brooms and Hagrid’s old motorbike, they are surrounded by Death-Eaters. A blast kills Harry’s faithful owl, Hedwig, and when Harry tries to disarm a Death-Eater, they realise the real Harry. Now chased by Voldemort, Harry and Hagrid crash into the home of Tonk’s parents only saved from him by the protective enchantments around the house previously cast by the Order.

Harry and Hagrid return to the Borrow via portkey, and they join Mrs Weasley and Ginny while waiting for the others. Lupin and George return, with George seriously injured by Snape. Eventually everyone gets to the Burrow, except Mad-Eye Moody, killed by Voldemort. Everyone mourns the death of the ex-Auror, and immediately start to wonder who could have leaked the exact date of Harry’s departure. Harry tells them that he trusts all of them, refusing to believe any of his friends would betray him.

At the Burrow, the entire Weasley family is preparing for the wedding of Bill and Fleur. On the day of the wedding, Harry is disguised once again via polyjuice potion, so that he can attend it safely. During the reception, Ron’s ghastly aunt tells Harry about the numerous secrets Dumbledore had kept hidden from Harry, like the fact that Dumbledore had a Squib sister and had always kept her hidden. While Harry is still reeling from shock, Kingsley Shacklebolt’s Patronus appears, telling them that the ministry has fallen, which means the protective enchantments around the Burrow has been broken. Harry, Ron and Hermione flee just in time as the Death-Eaters turn up and start searching for Harry.

Hermione, Ron and Harry apparate to Tottenham rode and go into a coffee shop to discuss their next plan of action. As they discuss this, they are attacked by Death Eaters and narrowly escape. Shaken by their close shaves with death, they flee to number 12 Grimmauld place, the house Sirius had left Harry. There they realise that the house had been searched, presumably by Severus Snape, and Harry finds a torn letter written to Sirius before her death. Hinting at another secret of Dumbledore, the letter’s last few words are missing. Harry finds a picture of himself as a toddler, but also here the other half off the photo is missing.

Leaving Sirius’ room, Harry passes the room of Sirius’ dead younger brother, Regulus. Harry realizes that Regulus’ full name is Regulus Arcturus Black – RAB, the thief who took the original Horcrux from the lake that Harry and Dumbledore had visited the year before. Summoning his houself, Kreacher, harry demands the truth of the whereabouts of the locket. The hysterically distraught elf shares the tale of how Regulus discovered the truth about Voldemort, and he and Kreacher set out to the lake to retrieve and destroy the locket. Regulus, defying what Sirius had believed of him, chose to save the elf instead of him and died in the lake. Kreacher tells them that Mundungus Fletcher took the locket from the house, and Harry requests that Kreacher find the Mundungus so that they can fulfil Regulus’ dying wish.

When Kreacher returns with Dung, they are horrified to hear who has possession of the locket – Dolores Umbridge, the Ministry witch who was responsible for the disaster of Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts. They group devise a plan to break into the Ministry to get the locket, and although they succeed, they are detected, and upon returning to Grimmauld Place, they bring Yaxley along with them into the protective enchantments, forcing them to leave the place for good. Luckily for Hermione and her great spell work, they have a tent and necessary camping equipment stocked in her handy little bag, enchanted by the Undetectable Extension Charm to enlarge it.

Harry, Ron and Hermione all take turns in keeping the locket around their necks, as they all are affected by its evil. One night, they hear a discussion between Goblins and fleeing wizards, and realising that the sword of Godric Gryffindor can destroy the Horcrux, Harry and Hermione is jubilant at a new lead in their dismal search for destruction of Horcruxes. Ron, who is affected the strongest by the Horcrux, leaves Harry and Hermione in a rage, and after he leaves they realize he won’t come back – their protective enchantments shields them too well.

Now, Harry and Hermione are all alone, and together they continue their search. They find out more about Dumbledore’s youth, which just makes Harry more miserable. They read the autobiography Rita Skeeter wrote on Dumbledore, and in it is revealed that Dumbledore was once friends with Gellert Grindelwald, an evil wizard who was overthrown by Dumbledore. Harry and Hermione travel to Gordric’s Hollow, Harry and Dumbledore’s birthplace, to visit Bathilda Bagshot and Harry’s parents grave. They follow Bathilda into her house, and are attacked by Voldemort’s snake, which comes out of the dead Bathilda with Dark Magic. The snake summons Voldemort, and they escape just as Voldemort arrives, and Harry relives his parents’ death. During their escape, Harry’s wand gets broken, and now the pair only has one wand between them.

Harry and Hermione, now camping  in the Forest of Dean, takes turns keeping watch. One night, there is a Patronus in the form of a Silver Doe, and Harry, sensing that it brings no evil, follows the doe to a lake, where the sword of Gryffindor awaits him in the ice. Harry tries to retrieve the sword, nearly drowns, and is saved by Ron. Stunned at the return of his best friend, Ron asks for forgiveness, and destroys the locket. Overjoyed, they return to the tent to tell Hermione, but she freaks out, and yells at Ron. Ron quickly shares how he came to find them – by the Diluminator Dumbledore had left him. Better yet, he is able to provide Harry with a wand, which Ron got by escaping from Snatchers (people who catch fleeing muggle borns and take them to the now anti-muggle born wizards)

Hermione, reading the books that Dumbledore had left her, Tales of Beedle the Bard, realises the symbol in the tale is the symbol Xenophilius Lovegood had worn to Bill and Fleur’s wedding. Xenophilius  tells them the tale of the three brothers is about the Deathly Hallows, a cloak of Invisibility, the Elder Wand, and the Resurrection Stone. He also tells them that the possessor of all three would make him the master of death. Hermione discards this as rubbish, and argues that it would be impossible. Mr. Lovegood leaves them to prepare some food for them, but actually summons the Death Eaters because they took his daughter Luna hostage, and would return her to him if he gave information on Harry Potter. Once again, they escape by Hermione’s brilliance.

Now obsessed that Dumbledore had wanted him, Harry to find the Hallows, he largely ignores their quest for the Horcruxes, much to Hermione’s annoyance. One night, they manage to tune into a anti-Voldemort radio station. This puts them in a great mood, and Harry accidentally says Voldemort’s name, now a Taboo, breaking their protective enchantments. They are captured, and taken to Malfoy manor. When Bellatrix Lestrange realise that they have the sword of Gryffindor, she freaks out, and tortures Hermione to find out how they got it. Hermione tells Bellatrix that it is a fake, and she is backed up by a Goblin, Griphook. In the cellar of the mansion, where Ron and Harry are now imprisoned, they are saved by Dobby the Houself, who apparatus out with Luna, Dean and MR. Ollivander, and returns for Harry, Ron, Hermione and Griphook. Harry disarms Draco Malfoy, taking his wand, and they apparate to shell cottage, the house of Bill and Fleur. As they apparate, Bellatrix throws a knife at k\Dobby, and it kills the brave little elf.

After they buried Dobby, they talk to Griphook. Harry, who realised that Bellatrix’s fear meant that Voldemort had given her something to store in her vault at Gringotts, where the fake sword of Gryffindor lies, now realises that the next Horcrux waits there for them. Together with Griphook they stage a break in, with Hermione disguised as Bellatrix, once again from the trusty Polyjuice Potion. They break into the vault, and escape by setting the Dragon of Gringotts free.

Now, with the Horcrux in their possession, Voldemort knows Harry is hunting his Horcruxes. Harry sees into Voldemort’s mind, and realise another Horcrux is waiting for them at Hogwarts. They apparate into the village of Hogsmeade, setting off the caterwauling charm set on the village, and they are rushed to safety by the barman of the Hog’s Head, who turns out to be Aberforth Dumbledore – brother of Albus Dumbledore. He tells them more of the sad story of his sister Ariana, who wasn’t a Squib, but whose powers had destroyed her eventually from when she was attacked by Muggles. They enter the school in a secret tunnel, leading into the Room of Requirement, which now hosts all the students defying Snape’s new regime on the school.

Harry sets out to find the last Horcrux, the Diadem of Ravenclaw, as the school prepares to battle Voldemort’s death eaters. Ron and Hermione destroy the cup with a basilisk fang, and Harry finds the Diadem in the Room of Requirement, where everything is hidden. They are attacked by Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, and Crabbe casts Fiendfyre to try to capture them. This result in the destruction of the Diadem and Harry knows that only one Horcrux, the Snake Nagini, now stands between him and a mortal Voldemort.

The first wave of attack on Hogwarts results in the deaths of Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks and Fred Weasley. Harry searches for Voldemort, finding him in the Shrieking Shack, and witnesses the murder of Severus Snape. Snape gives Harry a vial of his memories, and harry returns to the castle to see them in the Pensieve. Harry sees the love of Snape’s life in these memories, Harry’s own mother, Lilly Potter, finally explaining why Snape had always hated Harry, whose father married the woman Snape had loved. He witnesses Dumbledore asking Snape to kill him, Dumbledore, to save Draco from doing it. He also sees Dumbledore telling Snape that Harry was one of the Horcruxes, and that Harry had to die to kill Voldemort.

Accepting his fate, Harry leaves the castle to go find death. On his way, he tells Neville Longbottom that Voldemort’s snake needs to be killed, not telling him that it is a horcrux. He enters the forest, and Harry opens the resurrection stone, hidden in the snitch Dumbelore had given him. His parents, Lupin and Sirius walks with him as beings slightly more substantial than ghosts on his way to death, where Voldemort casts the killing curse, Avada Kedavra, on Harry.

While in a lifeless state, Dumbledore’s spirit returns to harry, telling him what happened in Dumbledore’s life. Harry returns to life, is carried to Hogwarts by a sobbing Hagrid, and while Harry pretends to be dead, Neville kills the snake. Now, with all Horcruxes destroyed, Voldemort is mortal once again.

A ferocious battle ensues, where Molly Weasley kills Bellatrix Lestrange. Harry and Voldemort engage in a duel, where harry tells Voldemort the tale of how Snape always defied Voldemort, and that he, Harry had become the master of the Elder wand, which Voldemort stole from Dumbledore’s tomb. Harry and Voldemort simultaneously cast spells, harry his favourite disarming spell, and Voldemort his Avada Kedavra. Voldemort’s spell rebounds on him, killing him. Celebrations ensue, with the most evil wizard finally overthrown, and when Harry visits Dumbledore’s portrait in the headmasters’ office, he visits the celebration of all the headmasters, telling Dumbledore his decision to keep the Stone in the forest. Harry repairs his old wand with the Elder Wand, and promises to return the Elder wand to Dumbledore’s tomb.

Finally, years later, we witness married couples Ron and Hermione and Ginny and Harry taking their children onto the Hogwarts Express. Harry’s one, James Sirius teases his younger brother Albus Severus that he will be placed into Slytherin. Harry tells Albus that he was named after two headmasters, one who was a Slytherin, and that the sorting hat would give Albus a chance to choose if he desperately wanted to be in Gryffindor. Together with his and Ginny’s daughter, Lily Luna, and Ron, Hermione sees off the train which their children can safely on without the fear of Voldemort.

Rating: 10/10

Yes, the highest rating. In a series of spectacular books, the last one managed to become the most spectacular. Every single page in this read is action packed, emotional and heart wrenching. I cannot say which event caused me the most tears, Tonks and Lupin Dying, Fred Dying, dobby dying, Hedwig dying, Snape’s tragic love story… “Always”

Well, it was probably Snape’s sad life story. What a brilliant shocker. The most thoroughly hated character through the entire series turning to be the greatest hero of them all. I was bawling my eyes out due to his heroics. “Sometimes we sort too soon” Albus Dumbledore to Severus Snape.

My favourite moments in the book? Maybe where Peeves sings his victory song, but most likely where Molly Weasley yells:

“Not my daughter, you bitch!”

Mrs Weasley threw of her cloak as she ran, freeing her arms. Bellatrix spun on the spot, roaring at the sight of her new challenger.

Harry watched with terror and elation as Mrs. Weasley’s wand slashed and twirled, and Bellatrix Lestrange’s smile faltered, and became a snarl. Jets of light flew from both wands, the floor around the witches’ feet became hot and cracked, both women were fighting to kill.”

BEST.MOMENT.EVER.

And all was well.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (JK Rowling)

Harry_Potter_and_the_Half-Blood_Prince

Book: 18/100

Harry Potter and his friends, Ron and Hermione, are waiting to return to Hogwarts for their 6th year. The magical world Harry finds himself in is in panic with Lord Voldemort now openly causing mayhem and terror.

Harry is fetched early during the summer vacation from Privet Drive by Albus Dumbledore, where he asks Harry to accompany him to the house of an old teacher of Hogwarts – Horace Slughorn. Harry and Dumbledore arrive to try to convince Slughorn to return to Hogwarts to teach, and Slughorn very reluctantly agrees.

Harry spends the rest of his summer with the Weasleys at their home, the Burrow. He meets Fleur Delacour again, now engaged to Ron’s older brother Bill, much to the irritation of Mrs. Weasley, who doesn’t seem to regard Fleur as worthy of her son. When the group visits Diagon Alley, under the safe watch of Hagrid, they finally see what Fred and George have been up to since leaving school. Their wizarding shop – Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, openly mocks You-know-who, and is the only shop in Diagon Alley taking a cheerful approach on life.

On the Hogwarts Express, Harry is annoyed when Ginny leaves them to go sit with her boyfriend, Dean Thomas. Harry tells himself firmly that his feelings are brotherly, and doesn’t think that it might be more. He is interested to find out that Draco Malfoy isn’t abusing his Prefect duties, and sets out to find out why he is neglecting his favourite past-time. In the Slytherin corridor of the train, Draco openly boasts about a task that Voldemort had set for him, but doesn’t give any conclusive information. Harry is found by Draco, and left on the train injured, but Tonks, one of the Order members, arrives and takes Harry to the castle. Harry is shocked by the change in Tonks – her usual quirkiness is gone, and she is constantly distracted.

At school, Harry is shocked when he finds out that Professor Slughorn had returned to teach Potions, not Defence Against the Dark Arts. Professor Snape, Harry’s least favourite teacher, therefore got his life’s wish to become DADA teacher. They are all shocked to why Dumbledore allowed the thing Snape had openly sought for years.

Meanwhile, someone at Hogwarts is trying increasingly desperate measures to kill someone within the school. Katie Bell, a member of the Gryffindor Quidditch team nearly dies when she tries to take a cursed necklace into Hogwarts. Ron is poisoned in Slughorn’s office, and is only saved when Harry finds a bezoar to push down his throat – a cure to many poisons. Harry becomes obsessed with proving it is Draco Malfoy behind it all, but everyone, including Dumbledore, ignores Harry about this.

Harry receives private lessons from Dumbledore, and Dumbledore sets to show Harry as much as he possibly can about Voldemort’s life. Even as a child, Voldemort had immense control over his powers, not even caring if he hurt other children with it. He had no problem at all murdering for things he wanted, and indeed murdered all his living relations as a teen. Harry never receives any form of homework from Dumbledore, until Dumbledore asks him to retrieve a memory Slughorn, telling Harry that it is the most important information he will ever receive to Lord Voldemort’s immortality. This seems increasingly difficult, as Slughorn expected Dumbledore to try something of the sort. When Harry retrieves it, he learns that Voldemort had split his soul into seven pieces, making him immortal. Voldemort hid the pieces of his soul, Horcruxes, in different locations, and Dumbledore tells Harry that he can accompany Dumbledore on the next quest.

Harry and Dumbledore set of one night to find and destroy a Horcrux. They go to a hidden lake, a place where Voldemort had tortured young children in his youth, and after Dumbledore drinks a poison, they get the Horcrux. With Dumbledore seriously injured, the two return to Hogsmeade to find that the Dark Mark had been cast above the Astronomy tower. They rush to the school, with Harry under the invisibility cloak, they find Draco Malfoy waiting for Dumbledore, and disarms him. Dumbledore manages to convince Draco to allow Dumbledore to help him. Snape arrives, and kills Dumbledore. Fleeing from the castle, Snape reveals that he was the Half-Blood Prince, and that Harry had used his old Potions book the whole time. Harry finds that the Horcrux is a fake, and that someone else, RAB, took the real horcrux.

In the hospital wing, where everyone is taken to recuperate, Harry shares the news that Dumbledore has died. Fleur and Mrs. Weasley make peace when Mrs. Weasley sees that Fleur intends to stay with Bill even though he was attacked by a werewolf, and this prompts a fight between Tonks and Lupin – Tonks’ drastic change in nature had been caused by her unrequited love for Lupin.

After the funeral, Harry breaks up with Ginny, whom he had been dating since the Quidditch final. He tells her that it would be too dangerous to date her, that she would be in grave danger in Voldemort ever suspected Harry had feelings for her. He tells Ron and Hermione that he won’t be returning to Hogwarts, and they tell him in return that they will accompany him on his quest to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes.

Rating: 8.5/10

What a phenomenal book! The Half-Blood Prince awed me, and repulsed me a little as well. Every part of every book slots perfectly into each other. My heart broke when Dumbledore died, and Harry lost yet another close mentor in his life. Harry finally falls for Ginny, and that girl had been waiting for him since the Chamber of Secrets. I love how she grew into this smart-mouthed individual, able to fight for what she believes in. No other type of girl deserved Harry 🙂

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (JK Rowling)

During Harry’s last year at Hogwarts, he finally saw his nemesis, Lord Voldemort, return. Narrowly escaping death, he managed to return to Hogwarts with the body of fellow student, Cedric Diggory, whom Voldemort had murdered. In the fifth installment of the series, Harry is at Privet Drive with his only living family – the detestable Dursleys. Craving for the news of what is happening in the wizarding world, he gets increasingly frustrated and annoyed when his friends, Ron and Hermione, and his godfather Sirius refuse to give away any information in the letters they send him.

In an attempt to relieve some of his tension, Harry takes to walking through the streets of little Whinging on his own. One night when he returns home with his cousin Dudley, they are attacked by Dementors. Saving their lives, Harry uses magic, and the Ministry uses this to expel him from Hogwarts. Dumbledore manages to revoke the suspension, but Harry is informed that he must still attend a hearing at the Ministry of Magic.

Harry is finally fetched by his fellow wizards and taken to nr 12 Grimmauld Place, the secret location of the anti-Voldemort movement. Sirius tells Harry that it the house belongs to him and that he offered it as base to Dumbledore. There, Harry also meets Kreacher, an old houself who despises his current master, Sirius. Sirius in return also has no love for it, since it reminds him of the family he would only love to forget.

On the day of his hearing, Harry is held at full trial by the Ministry of Magic. Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, now despises both Harry and Dumbledore, seeing them as disturbers of peace for spreading (to him) false rumors of Voldemort’s return. Fudge desperately tries to get Harry expelled, but it is on the account of Harry’s Squib neighbor, Mrs. Figg, that Harry manages to escape expulsion.  Dumbledore leaves the courtroom without acknowledging Harry, and Harry is stung by his behavior.

The start of the school term doesn’t bring Harry much happiness either. Ron is appointed prefect over Harry, stunning everyone, including Ron’s own family. Forced to face Draco Malfoy’s taunts, who is now also a prefect, Harry’s temper is constantly close to the surface, waiting to bubble over. The opening feast comes with shocks as well – Harry, Ron and Hermione’s favorite teacher, half-giant Hagrid is still on a mysterious mission Dumbledore sent him, and their new Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) teacher is Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic. Umbridge rudely interrupts Dumbledore during his speech, and even though Hermione is the only one paying attention to her speech, it is obvious that the Ministry is interfering at Hogwarts.

Harry and Umbridge are constantly at loggerheads with each other.  Sirius tells Harry that the ministry thinks Dumbledore wants to raise a secret army to overthrow the Ministry of Magic, and it makes sense when Umbridge tells them that they will not be learning practical defense magic at all. Outraged at the Ministry’s apathy in such dangerous times, Harry soon finds himself constantly in detention. Hermione finally makes a plan, and the three start up a secret Defense group, calling themselves Dumbledore’s Army, in reference to the thing the ministry most fears.

Even in Harry’s dreams he has no rest. Somehow he manages to see into Voldemort’s mind, getting glimpse of what he is up to. It escalates and finally comes to a point where Harry witnesses Ron’s father, getting attacked by Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, in a deserted corridor the Order is obsessed with protecting. They manage to save Mr. Weasley, but Harry now fears he is being possessed by Voldemort. He isolates himself from the others, but Ginny and Hermione finally tell him it would be impossible – Harry couldn’t have gotten out of Hogwarts due to the school’s protective enchantments and Ginny also tells him that if he was possessed, there would be gaps in his memory – and harry remembers everything he did. Cheered up, his happiness is short lived when Snape, his least favorite teacher at Hogwarts, arrives to tell him that he must teach Harry Occulumency (the art of shutting your mind to magical intrusion). Harry is disgruntled by this, least because of Snape, and more of why Dumbledore couldn’t teach Harry himself if it was as important.

Umbridge, now the most hated person at Hogwarts, finally manages to corner Harry and Dumbledore. Marietta Edgecombe, a friend of Harry’s on-off girlfriend Cho Chang, and unwilling member of the DA, splits on the group, and Harry, their leader, is caught. Miraculously, Harry is once again saved from expulsion when Dumbledore takes the blame – as the heading says it is his army. Overjoyed for a reason to arrest Dumbledore, Fudge tries to arrest him, but Dumbledore easily Stuns all the members of the ministry and disappears after telling Harry to continue his lessons with Snape.

The Occlumency lessons ends abruptly and disastrously when Harry sees Snape as a teenager, being bullied by Harry’s father, James. Tortured with the knowledge that his father was possibly not as great as Harry had thought, he manages to speak to Sirius that James had become better with age, and that Snape was just as bad.

During his History of Magic exam, harry falls asleep and witnessing Sirius being tortured by Voldemort in the Department of Mysteries. Enraged and terrified, he, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville and Ginny gets to the Ministry of Magic by flying on Thestrals. When they get there, they realize that Voldemort set them a trap, luring Harry there to pick up a Prophecy made out for him and Harry. Harry takes the prophecy, and is instantly surrounded by Death Eaters. A fight ensues, and the Order of the Phoenix arrives. Sirius is killed by his own cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange. Enraged, Harry follows her, and finds Voldemort. Dumbledore protects Harry, but Voldemort finally possess Harry, and tries to lure Dumbledore to killing Harry for the price of Voldemort’s death. Harry, now in mortal agony, welcomes the idea of death, thinking only to be reunited with Sirius. This surge of love and longing is too much for Voldemort to endure, and he leaves Harry’s body. Cornelius Fudge arrives, finally seeing that Dumbledore had been telling the truth the whole time.

Back at school, Dumbledore finally confides everything to Harry. He tells Harry that he was afraid Voldemort would try to possess Harry, and that is why he distanced himself – not to give Voldemort incentive. He tells Harry what stood in the Prophecy, why Voldemort had murdered Harry’s parents. The prophecy, made by Professor Trelawney, stated that a wizard boy, born in June, to parent’s who had thrice defied Voldemort, would become Voldemort’s greatest nemesis, and that neither could live while the other survived. Voldemort, thinking it would be Harry, set out to kill him and his parents. Now Harry finally understands why he must kill Voldemort – for they both cannot live.

Rating: 9/10

This is by far the saddest, most gut wrenching book in the series. Harry is completely different from the young child in the previous books. Now he is growing up, angry and grieving, and is faced with the fact that he will never be safe as long as Voldemort and his supporters live.

It is also one of the funniest books – Fred and George Weasley are two of the most endearing, hilarious characters ever written, and they make many funny moments. Harry also finally gets to date his crush, Cho Chang, and his first encounter with love is hilarious because of everything that goes wrong with it.

I will always wonder what madness made JK Rowling kill Sirius, so soon after Harry found a parent like figure. I will always shed a tear when I read about his death. That said Rowling managed to write a character in that was hated more than Voldemort. Umbridge is despicable, and every reader of Potter united in their hate against her.

It is truly a wonderful book, but I warn anyone attempting to read it – get those tissues ready.

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*Please let me know if any links appears in this blog post – I certainly did not create them!

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (JK Rowling)

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Book: 16/100

We meet Harry Potter again in the fourth instalment of the Harry Potter series, where he became famous as a child for destroying Lord Voldemort – a terrible Dark Wizard who murdered Harry’s parents before his destruction. Harry’s survival, and Voldemort’s disappearance, made Harry very famous in the wizarding world, but also made him live with his only horrible relatives, Vernon and Petunia Dursley.

While on vacation from his school Hogwarts, Harry has the strangest dream – a dream where Wormtail, the man responsible for Voldemort finding and killing his parents, is busy nursing a form of Voldemort back to health. They are interrupted by Frank Bryce, a muggle who is in charge of taking care of the home Voldemort and Wormtail is staying in, and Voldemort murders Frank immediately when he notices him.

Harry wakes up from his dream, and promptly writes to his new-found godfather Sirius about what he dreamt. He also receives a letter from the Weasleys, inviting him to the Quidditch world cup, and to stay with them for the remainder of the summer. Uncle Vernon ultimately agrees to let Harry go – not for Harry’s happiness, but to get him away from Privet Drive earlier.

Harry and the Weasleys set off to the Quidditch World Cup the day after Harry arrives at the Burrow (the Weasley’s home) they meet up with Amos and Cedric Diggory, with whom they will be sharing a portkey to transport themselves to the venue of the game. Cedric is also a Hogwarts student, though in Hufflepuff. He seems like a very nice guy, and is very embarrassed when his father keeps referencing to when he beat Harry at Quiddicth at Hogwarts.

When they arrive at the stadium, they are seated on the top of the pitch, giving the best view. They meet a houself, Winky, there, who is apparently saving a seat for her master, Bartemius ‘Barty’ Crouch. The group spots the Bulgarian seeker, Victor Krum, during the match, and he seems around Harry’s age. Ron particularly seems to have a hero worship going for him.

After the game, a crowd of Death Eaters (followers of Voldemort who managed to stay out of prison) terrorises muggles on the camp ground. Harry, Ron and Hermoine escape to the nearby wood, and Harry is worried when he realises his wand is missing. Shortly afterwards, someone casts the Dark Mark, the sign of Lord Voldemort, and the three is nearly stunned by ministry wizards. Things become highly uncomfortable when it is discovered it was Harry’s wand which cast the spell. Winky is found nearby, hit by the Stunning spells, with Harry’s wand, and her master, Barty Crouch, ignores her pleadings and sends her away – the greatest disgrace to a houself.

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the Dark Mark

When all the students arrive at Hogwarts, professor Dumbledore announces a great surprise – that the Triwizard tournament will take place at Hogwarts during the school year. The Triwizard tournament is a historic event where one student from three magical schools: Hogwarts, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons compete in magical tasks where the winner receives 1000 Galleons in prize money, the triwizard cup, and the fame for themselves and honor for their schools. Dumbledore warns the students that only students who are 17 years or older will be allowed to compete because of the danger of the tasks. He also introduces their new defence against the Dark Arts teacher – Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody, a famous ex-Auror, who is slightly senile and orthodox. Mad-Eye moody becomes a hit at the school, despite his strange appearance and manners, when it becomes apparent how much he knows about the Dark Arts. He teaches them the unforgivable curses, and even practises the Imperius Curse on them, and only Harry manages to throw of the curse completely, which causes you to do anything the caster of the curse wants.

A selected group of champions arrive from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, and during a feast on Halloween, the champions are selected: Fleur Delacour for Beauxbatons, Victor Krum for Drumstrang, and Cedric Diggory for Hogwarts. Shock, suspicion and dismay occur when Harry is chosen as the fourth champion – an impossible occurrence. Though Harry swears he didn’t put in his name, no one believes him, and he is magically bound to competing in the tournament. Harry is most hurt when Ron distances himself from Harry, also believing that he chose to put his name in to further his fame. Harry’s life becomes a nightmare, without his best friend, the taunts from the Slytherins, the open loathing from the rest of the school, and the articles Rita Skeeter publishes. Rita is a journalist for the Daily Prophet, and she makes up stories about Harry to suit her reader’s needs

Harry, who routinely writes to Sirius about what is happening at Hogwarts, gets a letter from his godfather asking him to be at the fire in the Gryffindor common room at midnight – on the same night Hagrid requests Harry to be at his house. Harry decides attempting to be at both, and sets of to Hagrid, where he sees that the first task for the triwizard tournament will be something involved with dragons. When he returns to the common room, Sirius appears in the fire, telling Harry to be careful, and that the principal of Durmstrang, Igor Karkaroff, was once a Death Eater.

Harry’s nervousness increases as the test becomes closer, but receives unexpected help when Moody points him to his strong points – flying. With Hermoine’s help, he learns the Summoning Charm, and summons his broom during the test. He manages to get his egg from the dragon, and receives high marks from the judges. The best thing happens – Ron apologises for his disbelief in Harry, and they become friends again.

An unexpected problem occurs when Professor McGonagall announces that the Yule ball, a traditional part of the Triwizard tournament, will take place, and that Harry must get a partner for it. He wishes to ask a pretty girl, Cho Chang, but when he finally gets the courage, she is disappointed to tell him that she already agreed to go with Cedric Diggory. Crestfallen, he goes with a girl in his year, Parvati Patil. Hermoine stuns everyone when she turns up with Victor Krum, looking gorgeous, but Ron is angry at her and jealous (although he won’t admit it)

On a clue from Cedric Diggory, Harry takes the egg under water, and discovers that there are merepeople in the lack, from which Harry will need to collect something. This, again, stresses harry out, but help arrives in the form of Dobby, the house-elf, when he gives Gillyweed to harry, which makes him move like a fish underwater. Harry tries to save all the hostages under water, causing him to break the time limit, but the judges still grade him high due to his “moral fibre”.

The three meet up with Sirius in Hogsmeade, and he tells them that Barty Crouch’s son was a convicted Death Eater. Later on, the champions see their final challenge – a maze with the trophee in the centre. Hermoine and Ron once again assist Harry in preparation for it, and when the day arrives, Harry is calmer since he knows that he practised well. Inside the maze, he and Cedric finds the cup at the same time, and they agree to share the glory for Hogwarts. Upon touching the cup, they find it is a Portkey, and it takes them to a deserted graveyard.

In the graveyard, Lord Voldemort awaits them, and murderes Cedric Diggory. With the assistance of Wormtail, Voldemort is reborn, and he summons his Death Eaters that escaped prison to him. They arrive, and he tortures Harry. He gives Harry back his wand, and they prepare to duel. Upon the first curse that is cast, Harry and Voldemort’s wands connect, and Harry’s parents, Cedric, and Frank Bryce reappear in ghost form, and they create a diversion to help Harry escape. Harry takes Cedric’s body, Summons the Portkey, and returns to Hogwarts.

Upon his arrival at Hogwarts, Mad-Eye takes Harry away from the maze, ignoring instructions from Dumbledore. Locked up in Mad-Eye’s office, he finally reveals himself, as Barty Crouch junior, the Death Eater that had managed to escape from Azkaban with his father’s help. He tells Harry that it was he who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire, and that he had been impersonating the real Mad-Eye all along. Just when he turns to kill Harry, Dumbledore, Snape and McGonagall arrive to save him.

Harry tells his story to Dumbledore and Sirius, and is sent to the hospital wing to recuperate. There, he is awoken by Cornelius Fudge and McGonagall shouting at each other, for Fudge had ordered the Dementors to Kiss Barty Jnr., thereby destroying evidence that Harry’s tale was true. Fudge expresses his scepticism at Harry’s story, and it is evident that he doesn’t believe Voldemort is back. Harry gives the Weasley twins, Fred and George Weasley, his winnings of the Triwizard cup, telling them that the world will need happiness in the dark times ahead. He heads to Privet Drive for vacation, with the promises of his friends that they will see him soon.

Rating:

9/10

The Goblet of Fire has always been one of my favourite Potter books. There is so much excitement happening, with the Triwizard, Harry growing up, finally having a parent figure, and Voldemort returning. JK Rowling chose the perfect moment to bring Voldemort back. It would otherwise have killed the storyline.

PS: Can you believe it was published in 2000? That makes the Goblet of Fire 13 years old – and you, very old 😉

Book review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (JK Rowling)

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Book: 15/100

In the third book of the Harry Potter series, it is noticeable that Harry is starting to grow up. He is more mature (though still young at some parts) and has accepted that he is a wizard, and made peace (sort of) that he is a famous one.

When Harry’s temper gets the better of him, and he makes his incredibly rude aunt turn into a balloon shaped human, he isn’t even expelled. Harry suspects something is up when the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, is just happy he is safe and well, and doesn’t care about his serious breaking of wizarding rules. Harry is allowed to spend the rest of his vacation in Diagon Alley, which is great news for him, as he can be away from his relatives.

The leading news story in the wizarding world is the escape of a mass murderer, Sirius Black. He is now famous, being the only person to escape from the wizarding prison, Azkaban, which is guarded by Dementors – terrible creatures that make you remember every bad thing that happened to you.

On the Hogwarts express on the way to school the Dementors enter the train, and Harry is particularly affected by them – he relives when Voldemort murdered his parents. Professor Lupin, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, repels the Dementors by casting a spell on them.

At school, Professor Dumbledore informs them that the Dementors will be at school until Black is caught. This is bad news for Harry – they affect him so bad that he passes out mid-air during a Quidditch match. When his captain tells him to sort out the problem before the next match, Harry asks Professor Lupin to teach him how to repel the Dementors. Lupin teaches Harry, warning him that it is very advanced magic for an unqualified wizard.

Meanwhile, Hermoine is confusing Ron and Harry by having classes at the same time. She is very vague when asked how she does this, but they can think of no possible explanation.

Harry finally finds out why Cornelius Fudge was so happy to find him well at the beginning of summer. He accidentally hears that Sirius Black is responsible for his parents’ death, because he leaked their whereabouts to Voldemort. Afterwards, he killed one of his friends, Peter Pettigrew, and a whole street of muggles, for which he was imprisoned. Harry is filled with a sense of righteous anger, and his friends try to get him to understand how foolish it would be for him to hunt down a madman.

Professor Lupin is very popular at school, revolutionising his subject for the students. He disappears once a month, and always returns looking ill. It would seem that the only person Professor Snape (Harry’s arch enemy) dislikes more than Harry is Professor Lupin. It finally makes sense to Harry when Lupin reveals that he and James, Harry’s father, were close friends at school.

Hagrid, the gentle half-giant, is distraught when Draco Malfoy manages to fake a severe injury, causing Hagrid’s Hippogriff Buckbeak to be sentenced to death. Harry, Ron and Hermoine try to help him appeal, but in the end the verdict remains. The three sneak down to support Hagrid on the night of the execution, and when they return to the castle, a huge dog attacks Ron and pulls him under the Whomping Willow. Harry and Hermoine chase after Ron, and they find a passage leading to an old haunted house under the tree.

When they find themselves in the Shrieking Shack, they find that the dog is actually Sirius Black, who is an Animagus. Harry tries to attack him, but is stopped by Professor Lupin. Stunned by this betrayal, Hermoine reveals Lupin’s big secret – that he is a werewolf, and locks himself up once a month when he turns into a werewolf. Lupin and Black tell Harry that their friendship group, James, Sirius and a man named Peter Pettigrew all turned into Animaguses to support Lupin when he turned. They also tell him that it was never Sirius who leaked the information about Harry’s parent’s whereabouts, but Peter Pettigrew, whose Animagus form was a rat, and who disappeared after killing all the muggles, blaming Sirius. It turns out that the rat in question is Ron’s rat, Scabbers, and Lupin turns the Rat into the man Pettigrew. Sirius and Lupin want to kill Peter, but Harry tells them not to, and that they can use him to prove Sirius’s innocence.

When they return to the castle, Lupin changes into a werewolf and the group scatters. They narrowly escape the Dementors, but Peter Pettigrew flees, and Sirius is recaptured.

Dumbledore listens to their story in the hospital wing, and tells Harry and Hermoine (Ron is too badly injured to join them) to use Hermoine’s time turner to help Sirius and Buckbeak. The Time-turner, it is revealed, is how Hermoine has been managing to get to two classes at one time. They use it, and manage to free the Hippogriff and Sirius, and rush back in time before Snape throws a tantrum because Sirius got away.

Rating:

8.5/10

The Prisoner of Azkaban is great on so many levels. Not only are we reading about more mature characters, Harry finally finds a parent figure in Sirius. He learns more about his father and mother, and begins to form into the man who would end up destroying Voldemort for good. My favourite part in the book is definitely when they win the Quidditch cup – there is no finer moment. I get Goosebumps every single time I read it. Oh, and this is the book that I can remember reading when I was eleven years old, and I am sure it is responsible for starting my reading addiction!

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (JK Rowling)

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Book: 14/100

I reached for the second book in the Harry Potter franchise almost immediately after I finished The Philosopher’s Stone. I really adore these books so much, and I was very happy when the Potter bug bit me again.

What Happened (the short version)

Harry returns to school for his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry after nearly being punished for magic he didn’t perform. The magic performed was done by a house-elf, Dobby, who deliberately tried to get Harry into trouble after Harry refused to listen to his warnings that Hogwarts wasn’t safe for him.

At school, strange things start to happen. After the caretaker’s cat is petrified, there is a message on the wall behind it saying that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened. The History of Magic teacher tells them that the Chamber was created by Salazar Slytherin, when he left the school because he didn’t want any muggle born witches or wizards enrolled. The rumour went that when the heir of Slytherin returned to the school, the Chamber would be re-opened and the monster within would purify the school of muggle borns.

Harry becomes prime suspect when it is discovered he can talk to snakes, a habit that has long since been accepted as part of the Dark Arts. Every crime points to Harry, but people start to believe in his innocence when one of his best friends, Hermoine, is attacked.

This leaves Ron and Harry to solve the mystery. The find out through a secret diary that Hagrid was expelled for the crimes, even though he did not commit them. When Hagrid is taken to prison as a preventative method, they know they must do everything to stop the monster. They go into the Forbidden Forest, and meet Aragog, a huge spider, who tells them that it was never he nor is Hagrid responsible for the deaths of a student during the last time the Chamber had been opened.

Harry and Ron find out that the monster is a Basilisk, a huge snake that can kill you if you make eye contact with it. When they hear the monster took Ron’s sister, Ginny, into the chamber, they set of to find it and save her. Accompaning them is Professor Lockhart, a man who claims to be a type of heroic saviour to the wizarding world. When they enter the tunnel leading to the chamber, he tries to curse Ron and Harry, but the spell backfires, making him lose his memory, and makes the tunnel cave in. Ron stays with Lockhart, and Harry decides to go searching for the monster alone.

In the chamber he finds Ginny, nearly dead. He finally meets the Heir to Slytherin – who came back through the diary Harry saw Hagrid being falsely accused in. Tom Marvolo Riddle, reveals himself as the young Lord Voldemort. He tells Harry that he had used Ginny through the diary to petrify everyone, and when she dies, he will be restored to his former self.

Tom sets the basilisk free on Harry, and unexpected help arrives when Fawkes, Professor Dumbledore’s phoenix, scratches out the Basilisk eyes, ensuring Harry can kill the snake while looking at it. The sword of Gryffindor is sent to Harry, and he kills the Basilisk with it. Harry prevents Tom from coming back by stabbing the diary with a Basilisk fang, effectively erasing Tom from the present. Fawkes heals Harry, and carries him, Ginny, Ron and Lockhart to safety.

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Rating: 8/10

I don’t ever see myself grading one of the Harry Potter books lower than an eight. They are simply so well written that they deserve highest rating.

The Chamber of Secrets is very funny. I love the humour in it, the sarcasm, and all the small events that make the book such a success. If you have read all the books, you notice how Rowling left clues about events that would happen later on. The characters are all a little older, wiser, and braver.

My favourite part is probably the feast the students have in their pajamas after the Chamber has been closed again, and Hagrid returns to the school. Simply excellent 🙂

Read the review on the first book as well here 🙂

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (JK Rowling)

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Book: 12/100

The Harry Potter series is very sneaky. Every time I think I have possibly finished it for the gazzilionth time, I get the urge a few months later to reread. I have probably read all the books 20 times (each) but I can’t help myself going back.

This time, I was scrolling through my twitter feed, and I accidentally read the word “Sirius”. And there the urge was! I couldn’t help it – I just had to start! I decided to start at the beginning and work my way through, since that just makes sense. So I took the first book from the bookshelf, and there I went.

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, we meet young Harry Potter. Orphaned as a child, when Lord Voldemort murdered his parents, Harry was sent to live with his horrible non-magical relatives, Vernon and Petunia Dursley. They have a son, Dudley, who finds delight in being a mean bully and making sure Harry has no friends at school.

Life at Privet Drive is anything but fun for Harry. He lives in a cupboard under the stairs, is treated horribly, and is a glorified slave to his family. He is confused when strange things happen around him; for instance when he made a glass window disappear at the zoo, putting his cousin in a glass cage and accidentally setting a Python free. He is always punished for these random occurrences, even though there is no explanation for it.

Harry is outraged when he receives a letter for the first time in his life, and his uncle snatches it away. Vernon Dursley’s actions become increasingly strange, and he even takes his family to a remote island to prevent the letter from reaching Harry again.

But Vernon just isn’t capable of hiding the truth forever. On the island, a half-giant, Rubeus Hagrid, appears to tell Harry the truth. He tells Harry, after breaking down the door, that Harry is a wizard. And not just any wizard – a famous one, who managed to free the magical world of the most evil wizard of all time when Voldemort tried killing him. Instead of killing Harry, the curse rebounded on Voldemort, turning him to nothing.

Harry finally reads his letter, which is an invitation to attend the famous wizarding school, Hogwarts. When Harry arrives at school, he becomes friends with ginger Ron Weasley, and bossy know-it-all, Hermoine Granger. He is chosen as Seeker in his Quidditch team (a wizard sport), making him the youngest seeker in a century. This angers his new arch enemy, Draco Malfoy. Draco comes from a long line of dark wizards, with his father only escaping imprisonment by claiming that he was forced to help Lord Voldemort. Draco loves trying to get Harry, Ron and Hermoine in trouble. He finally manages to score them detention, when they help Hagrid get rid of a dragon and get caught on their way back.

For their detention they are ordered to work with Hagrid in the Forbidden forest, helping him to find the beast that is busy killing all the unicorns. Harry is nearly attacked by the beast, but is saved by a centaur, Firenze, and carried to safety.

At school, Harry and his friends start to suspect their Potions master of trying to kill Harry. He seems a likely villain, since he expresses deepest loathing to harry from day one. At a Quidditch match, Harry is nearly killed when his broomstick starts bucking, but is saved from death by clever Hermoine, who makes Snape’s robes catch on fire.

They start looking for clues to why Snape is acting so oddly, and eventually find out that Snape is looking for the Philosopher’s Stone – a stone that gives immortal life, and makes you very rich. The only information Snape still needs is how to get past a 3 headed dog, Fluffy, before he gets to the stone. When Harry finds out Hagrid accidentally let that information slip to a stranger, Harry knows they need to get the Stone before Snape does.

The three friends set off to the forbidden third floor, under the trapdoor. They get past fluffy, a humongous chess set, and a series of riddles containing potions. They manage to get through everything because each of them excel at something; Ron at chess, Hermoine at riddles, and Harry at flying.

Ron is injured while playing chess, and Harry and Hermoine set off without him. When they get past the potions riddle, they realise that there is only enough potion for one person. Harry tells Hermione to get back to Ron, and send a message to Dumbledore for help.

When Harry enters the chamber that is supposed to contain the stone, he gets the shock of his life. He finds his defence against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Quirrel, instead of Professor Snape. But this Professor is startlingly different from the one Harry met at the beginning of the semester. Instead of stuttering and being afraid of everything, he is sarcastic, moody, and a little crazy. He reveals that it was always him that tried to kill Harry, and that Snape always tried to save Harry.

It is finally revealed that Lord Voldemort is controlling Quirrel, and that he lives like a parasite on Quirrel’s head, hidden under a turban. He speaks to Harry, and Harry finally sees what has become of the most evil wizard of all time. Harry finds that the Stone magically appeared in his pocket, and tries to flee from them. Quirrel attacks Harry, and when Harry starts to touch his face in defence, Quirrel’s skin starts to burn. Harry sees Quirrel dying, and the spirit of Voldemort fleeing, before passing out.

When he wakes up again, in the hospital, Albus Dumbledore is there to assure him that everything went well. Dumbledore reveals why Quirrel couldn’t touch Harry – when Harry’s mom died protecting him, she left a magical protection through it.

The book ends on a lovely note, with Gryffindor wins the house cup due to the three’s heroics. Upon his return to the Dursley’s for the summer vacation, Harry conveniently forgets to tell them he isn’t supposed to use magic outside school, making life much easier at Privet Drive.

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*image found on http://www.thechive.com

Rating: 8.5/10

I love these books so much. It is amazingly written, and no matter how many times I read it, I am addicted every time. My heart just breaks for Harry, a sad little orphan with a good heart, who grips to the knowledge that he is something finally. I think Rowling must have known even then how all the books would play out, since all the first books hint at what happens in the later ones. Harry Potter will always be in the same category as Lord of The Rings and Alice in Wonderland.