Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone

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Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

“When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Escaping from his unbearable Muggle guardians to Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles into a sinister adventure when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous, or both.”

It was 2000 when I first read Harry Potter. My friend Super Suz recommended the series to me but I put off reading it for ages. I wasn’t into reading much young adult stuff back then and my argument for not reading them was that I wasn’t interested in reading children’s book. How book-snobbish of me.

It was around the time the first film was coming out and I was hearing a lot about the controversy that was being stirred up over witchcraft and censorship. Censorship and banning books is one of my pet issues so it piqued my interest in the books a bit more. I finally broke down and borrowed the first three books.

I read them all in less than a week! I couldn’t put them down. Didn’t want to put them down either! I was hooked from chapter one of the first book. I immediately told my mom that she needed to read them. After she read them, she and my daddy went to see the first movie. After they saw the movie Daddy decided to read the books as well. Now we’re all three addicted to the entire series.

I own several copies of all seven books. This edition of HP & TPS is a Bloomsbury edition that they put out to satisfy adult readers in the UK. Adults didn’t want to be seen on the train reading books with cartoon covers so they released these with adult covers to satisfy that audience. These editions are hard to find as they are only sold in the UK. I was able to get mine on eBay but even then they’re hard to find at a good price.

I read the entire series once a year. I always try to stretch it out and read one book a month so it’ll last for seven months, but I usually end up reading them all back to back and finishing them in a month or less.

Paperback
332 pages
Published July 10th 2004 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published October 1st 1998)
ISBN13: 9780747574477
British Fantasy Award (1999), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adolescent Literature (2008), British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year (1998), Smarties Prize (1997), Prijs van de Nederlandse Kinderjury for 6-9 jaar en 10-12 jaar (2002)
Prijs van de Nederlandse Kinderjury for 6-9 jaar en 10-12 jaar (2002), American Booksellers Book Of The Year Award for Children (1999), West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Younger Readers (2000), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award (2001), South Carolina Book Award for Junior Book Award (2001), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2000), Charlotte Award (2000), Nene Award (2000), Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (2000), Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award (2001), Blue Hen Book Award for Chapter Book (2001), Nevada Young Readers’ Award for Young Reader Category (2000), Sasquatch Reading Award (2000), Golden Archer Award for Middle/Junior High (2000), Indian Paintbrush Book Award (2000), Carnegie Medal Nominee (1997), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (1999)

5 stars

Magyk (Septimus Heap #1)

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Magyk (Septimus Heap #1) by Angie Sage


“The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus? “


This series has been on my to-read list for a while. I was pleased, when I finally got around to getting it from the library, with how long the book was. Typically, for me, the longer the book the better. Not so in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the story. It was just. So. Freaking. Long. Sage probably could have told the story in half the pages and sped the pace up a little bit and it would have been just as good. I’m going to read the second book in the series next month but if I feel the same about the second book, I’ll probably give the series up as a lost cause and move on. I can see kids getting bored with the book in the middle, but when the action picks up, it is a really good story.


Hardcover
564 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN13: 9780060577315


3 stars

Ender’s Game

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“In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.”

Okay, I’m going to say it again… Un-put-down-able! My younger brother told me years ago that I should read this book but I just never got around to it. Then for some reason, it got stuck in my mind in March that I really wanted to read it. I was at B&N just hanging out with my bff when I decided to find it and buy it. I proceeded to stay up all night and read it. It was ridiculously good. I loaned it to my dad the next day and he stayed up all night reading it as well. I’ve read a few other books by Card but I’m definitely going to finish out this series.

Paperback
324 pages
Published July 15th 1994 by Tor Science Fiction (first published 1985)
ISBN13: 9780812550702
Hugo Award for Best Novel (1986), Nebula Award for Best Novel (1985)

5 stars

Twilight (Twilight Saga #1) – Audiobook

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Twilight (Twilight Saga #1) by Stephenie Meyer

“When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret.

What Bella doesn’t realize is the closer she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those around her at risk. And, it might be too late to turn back. . . .

Deeply seductive and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight will have readers riveted right until the very last page is turned.”

I have a total love/hate relationship with the entire Twilight series. They are irresistible reads. Un-put-down-able. I dream about them while I’m reading them. (Yes, really.) Yet when I’m finished, after the initial euphoria wears off, I feel a little… guilty. First, the relationship between Bella and Edward is anything but healthy. And I’m not even talking about the fact that he’s a vampire who could drain her blood at the drop of a hat. He’s a creepy stalker dude. But in a stupidly romantic way. Second, Meyer apparently didn’t have a great editor. She uses the same descriptive words over and over again until I want to scream. And not only is it annoying that they are repetitive, they’re words that no teenager in the world actually uses in this day and age. Well, I don’t know about teenagers in Utah, but teenagers in Virginia definitely don’t talk that way. But I can’t help but re-read the books and enjoy them. It’s weird and extremely difficult to explain. But I give Meyer serious credit for one thing for sure, any book that gets kids/teens interested in reading instead of playing video games is alright with me!

Audio CD
Published December 1st 2005 by Listening Library (first published October 5th 2005)
ISBN13: 9780307282965
British Fantasy Award for Top Ten (2006), Georgia Peach Book Award (2007), Kentucky Bluegrass Award for 9-12 (2007), An ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2006), Prijs van de Kinder- en Jeugdjury Vlaanderen (2008), Prijs van de Kinder- en Jeugdjury Vlaanderen (2008), Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Older Readers (2009), West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Older Reader Award (2008), South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2008), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2008), Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award for High School (2007), Gateway Awards (2007), Golden Sower Award for Young Adult (2009), Nevada Young Readers’ Award for Young Adult Category (2007), The Flume: New Hampshire Teen Reader’s Choice Award (2007), Garden State Teen Book Award for Fiction (Grades 9-12) (2008), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Awards for Young Adult (2008), Rhode Island Teen Book Award (2007), Evergreen Young Adult Book Award (2008), ALA Teens’ Top Ten (2006), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2006), Teen Read Award Nominee for Best All-Time-Fave (2010), Iowa High School Book Award (2008), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2006)

3 stars

Stardust

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Stardust by Neil Gaiman

“One fateful night, Tristran promises his beloved that he will retrieve a fallen star for her from beyond the Wall that stands between their rural English town (called, appropriately, Wall) and the Faerie realm. No one ever ventures beyond the Wall except to attend an enchanted flea market that is held every nine years (and during which, unbeknownst to him, Tristran was conceived). But Tristran bravely sets out to fetch the fallen star and thus win the hand of his love. His adventures in the magical land will keep you turning pages as fast as you can–he and the star escape evil old witches, deadly clutching trees, goblin press-gangs, and the scheming sons of the dead Lord of Stormhold.

The story is by turns thrillingly scary and very funny. You’ll love goofy, earnest Tristran and the talking animals, gnomes, magic trees, and other irresistible denizens of Faerie that he encounters in his travels. Stardust is a perfect read-aloud book, a brand-new fairy tale you’ll want to share with a kid, or maybe hoard for yourself.”

I read the book after I saw the movie. I love them both despite their differences. It you’ve seen the film and you’re expecting the story line to follow the script, you’ll be disappointed. As always, much more happens in the book than happens in the movie. There are many more characters as well. I loved it and read it over again every year or so. I would say that this is a good book for young adults as well, however, there are a few spicy sex bits and one epithet so adults be warned before you pass it to your kid to read.

Paperback
250 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published October 1998)
ISBN13: 9780061142024
Locus Award Nominee for Best Fantasy Novel (1999), Geffen Award (2000), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature (1999), ALA Alex Award (2000)

5 stars

The Mysterious Benedict Society (The Mysterious Benedict Society #1)

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The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

“Young readers who have worked their way through Lemony Snicket may well find their next obsession in The Mysterious Benedict Society, a dandy YA debut by novelist Trenton Lee Stewart. This engaging tale has all the elements tweens find intriguing: gifted kids, a dangerous mission, and a secret society where nothing is as it seems. Stewart throws plenty of challenges — physical, mental, and moral — in the path of his young protagonists, and readers will have fun solving the riddles and unraveling the clues in this smart, unconventional mystery. Complex, unpredictable, and deeply respectful of children’s innate intelligence, The Mysterious Benedict Society is highly recommended for thoughtful preteens. P.S. We loved it, too!”

Once again, this is another book that I picked up at the bookstore on whim because first, I liked the cover art, and second, the premise sounded good. I found out later that the illustrator is Carson Ellis, who illustrates the album cover art for The Decemberists, a band that I love.

Anyway, I loved the book. I knew I was going to be hooked on the entire series less than halfway into the first chapter. One of the reasons that I bought the book was that it was so long (I love to buy thick books that will *hopefully* take longer to read) but it was still a pretty fast read simply because it was such a fun read. The characters are great too and the author writes with a wonderful sense of humor. I read the whole series within days. Definitely a YA recommendation.

Paperback
485 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Little Brown and Company (first published March 7th 2007)
ISBN13: 9780316003957
E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Older Readers (2008), Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (2009), Iowa Children’s Choice Award Nominee (2011)

3 stars

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse/A Southern Vampire Mystery #1) – Audiobook

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Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse/A Southern Vampire Mystery #1) by Charlaine Harris

“Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out….

Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea.”

I originally started reading this series several years ago because the wait for Anita Blake books was so long. A friend (Super Suz!)and I were at a bookstore and the clerk suggested it to us. She said we’d probably love it and she was right. This is the book and series that the HBO show True Blood is based on. I haven’t watched the show personally. Once I saw who was cast as Sookie I just couldn’t do it. Nothing against Anna Paquin, but she’s Rogue, not Sookie. Anyway, it’s a great series, and it’s another series that has gotten to have so many books in it that I’m listening to it on audiobook while traveling.

Audiobook
Published 2007 by Recorded Books, LLC (first published May 1st 2001)
ISBN13: 9781428160859
Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original (2002)

4 stars