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Harry Potter Should Have Died by Emerson Spartz and Ben Schoen

28 Jul



It is rare that I don’t like a book and even rarer still that I return a book to the bookstore for refund or exchange. I did so with this book.

From reading the back of the book, I was expecting the book to be theological discussion on elements of the series of Harry Potter books. I was expecting a deep look into the mythos of the series and the elements of symbolism and magic.

Well, my expectations seemed to have been too high for this book. Each chapter is set up thusly: A Question, an argument for Yes and for No and the verdict of the authors.

Well, while some questions were valid (Did Harry Potter die in Deathly Hallows?) others, such as “Who would you rather make out with: a Demontor or Voldemort?” or “Would you rather shave Hagrid’s back or give Voldemort a foot massage?” left me shaking my head.

Instead of a really in depth look at the series, we are presented with a random series of questions with no order and answers with little to no substance. In fact, in reading the book, it felt as if I was in the middle of a flame war on a message board. Not a comfortable reading experience.

The authors previous book,’s What Will Happen in Harry Potter Seven, was only a NYT Best Seller because people were so desperate to find out what would happen at the end of the series.

I highly doubt the authors will achieve such a feat with this book. I was incredibly disappointed with Harry Potter Should Have Died. Proceeds from the sale of the book are going to charity, but I still wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

19 Jul



By now, everyone knows the story of Harry Potter, the orphaned boy sent to live with his horrible aunt and uncle. When he finds out that he is a wizard on his eleventh birthday, his world changes forever, and not necessarily for the better.

While at first Harry is able to get away from the horrible existence he has with the Dursleys, the wizarding world has its own dark secrets underneath the surface that soon come to light.

Each book in the series has grown in size and in darkness, depth of story and character detail. Harry’s sixth year at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is no exception. In fact, this may be his darkest year yet.

At the end of Harry’s fourth year, detailed in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” Lord Voldemort had returned to life, regaining power and strength once more. At the end of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the second war had begun and no Witch or Wizard was safe.

At the beginning of “Half-Blood Prince,” two weeks after the ending of “Order of the Phoenix,” Harry is waiting for Albus Dumbledore to collect him at the Dursleys. While Harry is keen to leave, there is something inside him that doesn’t believe he will be able to escape the prison of the Dursleys after only two weeks. Harry is wrong, however, and is soon leaving number four Privet Drive after his shortest stay yet.

After helping Dumbledore bring a new teacher on staff, Horace Slughorn, Dumbledore takes Harry to the Burrow where he is to live out the rest of his summer with the Weasleys. Before entering the Burrow, however, Dumbledore informs Harry that he would like to have private lessons with him this year. When Harry presses Dumbledore on what he is going to be learning this year, Dumbledore is vague, but Harry suspects it has to do with the prophecy he heard the year before: “Neither can live while the other survives…”

With Dumbledore’s private lessons on the horizon, two new staff appointments and Lord Voldemort alive and wreaking havoc on the Muggle and Wizarding world alike, it looks as if Harry’s sixth year will be his most exciting – and dangerous – yet…

Of course, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the plot of this book. To go into further detail would ruin the book for the one or two people in the world who still haven’t read “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” For those people, I say only this: What are you waiting for?

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” actually topped my previous favorite book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and that’s saying something. While I found “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” to lag in places and a bit too long, I found “The Half-Blood Prince” to zoom along at lightning quick pace. I was finished the book before I knew it and wondered, vaguely, where the rest of it was. Surely, the book couldn’t just end like that, could it?

“Half-Blood Prince” is the best book in the series so far. It’s got action, danger, laughs, love, a painful death; all the things that make fiction great. As well, character development is at an all time high. Gone is surly, angry Harry. The Harry we know and love is back. All the characters are growing up; they are now sixteen years of age.

Though some reviewers didn’t care for the kissing scenes, I felt that they lent a realism to the character development. Rowling is letting her characters grow up along with the readers, instead of having them remain static. This should be heralded instead of looked down upon.

I read the book three times in a row before I felt sated enough to put it down. I figured I had waited two years for this book and I was going to read it as many times as I wanted, thank you very much. Now, with another two year wait for the conclusion to what are the best books I have ever read, I can only wonder this: What will happen next? Only time will tell…

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

19 Jul



“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” finds Harry about to enter his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Gone is the quiet boy in glasses; Harry has grown up. At fifteen, he is officially a young man. He has passed away another boring summer at Number Four Privet Drive waiting anxiously for some news, any news, from the wizarding world.

After Voldemort came back to life at the end of last term, after Cedric had died at Voldemort’s hand, Harry was sure the world, Muggle and Wizard alike, would be turned upside down – but Harry has heard nothing, not even a mention of the fact that the Dark Lord has risen. Letters from Ron and Hermione are vague and uninformative. Frustrated, Harry is unaware of how quickly things are about to change.

After his cousin Dudley, is attacked by Dementors (evil soul-sucking monsters who guard the Wizard prison of Azkaban), Harry’s life is turned upside down. He is whisked away to the Wizard world, to the lair of the Order of the Phoenix, a select group of witches and wizards who protected the world from Voldemort the last time he was in power.
Now that Voldemort is alive again, the Order has come together again to protect the world from dark evil.

But Harry is still frustrated. Those around him like the Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore or his godfather Sirius Black and Ron’s parents Mr. and Ms. Weasley are being more cryptic than usual and Harry knows that there are things that he is not being told. Voldemort is alive in the Wizard world and dark times are upon them.

Hogwarts is also under siege. A new teacher, Dolores Umbridge, has taken over the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts. She is also a ministry official sent to keep an eye on how Dumbledore is running the school. When Dolores takes over the position of Headmaster, Hogwarts falls into dark hands indeed.

Harry, Ron and Hermione know that this year will be one of their hardest. For, if they fail to stop Voldemort from attaining a prophecy that he seeks, they know that the end is near for Witches and Wizards everywhere….

This book is beyond amazing. By now, everyone knows who Harry Potter is. The Harry Potter books have become publishing phenomena; children who have never read a book are reading Harry Potter, adults are reading Harry Potter books on the bus. Harry Potter has become one of the most read book series of all time and has brought people back to reading. That is pure magic.

With four books already under her belt, J. K. Rowling offers us the highly anticipated fifth book in the Harry Potter canon, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”. Even though fans had to wait for almost three years for “Order of the Phoenix”, the book is so amazing that it is well worth the wait.

It’s a big, big book. It’s well over six hundred pages. My plot description doesn’t even come close to covering what happens in this book. I’ve already read the book twice and will have to read it again a third time to make sure I’ve gotten everything. Rowling is so adept at weaving a story, that the detail is astounding.

This book is incredible. Simply put, it is magic at it’s purest form. The story flies along far too quickly, the characters are alive and vivid and the plot is wonderful. I can’t say enough good things about “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”.

I love everything that J. K. Rowling has written and am eagerly awaiting book six. Book five was particularly wonderful because it represents a turning point in Harry’s life. It’s an incredible achievement and Rowling proves she just gets better and better.

I will read anything she writes, as she never fails to tantalize us with magic and stories that are made from the stuff that dreams are made of. She is a born storyteller and I’m going to keep hope that she keeps telling stories for a long time to come.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling

23 Dec



Everyone who has read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows knows about The Tales of Beedle the Bard. A story from the book, The Tale of the Three Brothers, was a pivotal plot point in the novel and a very important clue for Harry as he tried to defeat Lord Voldemort.

Last year, as a way to thank those personally involved with the success of the Harry Potter books, JK Rowling gave out six hand printed leather bound books of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. The seventh was auctioned off to Amazon.

Amazon posted in depth reviews of each of the stories and posted pictures of the gorgeous book bound in brown leather and decorated with semiprecious stones. That was the closest that most of us came to The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Fans despaired about not having their own copy of the newest book in the Harry Potter canon.

Then, earlier this year, JK Rowling gave announced that The Tales of the Beedle Bard would be published for the public. Not only would fans be able to now have the much sought after book but all proceeds would go to The Children’s High Level Group, a charity which Rowling founded and helps children in need of a voice.

To say that I, along with millions of other fans, were ecstatic would be putting it mildly. A new Harry Potter book when we all thought it was over. A new Harry Potter book a year after the series had ended, leaving fans what they were going to read now.

Finally, this month, the wait was over. On December 4th, Harry Potter fans were able to buy the book that they had been lusting after for so long: The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I know that I could think of nothing else all day at work except getting my hands on a copy. After work I rushed to the bookstore and bought a copy, hardly believing that I held it in my hands.

Right off, I knew that I was in for something special. The gorgeous blue cover with JK Rowling’s illustrations just cries out to be read. However, it wasn’t until I arrived home that I allowed myself to read The Tales of Beedle the Bard; and what incredible tales they are.

In The Tales of Beedle the Bard, there are five stories:

The Wizard and the Hopping Pot: A wizard learns a lesson about helping others.

The Fountain of Fair Fortune: Three Witches and a Knight learn that we are responsible for our own fortune.

The Warlocks Hairy Heart: A warlock learns that disaster looms when you close your heart to others.

Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump: A foolish man learns that even magic can not bring the dead back to life.

The Tale of the Three Brothers:  Three brothers learn that it is not wise to tease death.

Each story is truly a wonder of storytelling. Indeed, I enjoyed the stories in The Tales of Beedle the Bard far more than I enjoy the Brothers Grimm. There are several reasons for this but chief among them is the fact that The Tales of Beedle the Bard are far less dark and, though sometimes violent and startling, the stories never fail to charm and captivate.

What is perhaps most incredible about The Tales of Beedle the Bard are the notes made by Professor Dumbledore on each story.

Written eighteen months before his death, the notes are included in The Tales of Beedle the Bard and are incredibly insightful and wonderfully humorous. The notes also give you more insight into some characters from the series and some pivotal plot points.

Insightful, humorous, captivating and charming, The Tales of Beedle the Bard are at once an incredible addition to the Harry Potter canon and the world of literature. As I read The Tales of Beedle the Bard for a sixth time, I am reminded of something I had forgotten.

Magic does exist. All you have to do is open a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard and fall under its spell.

Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli

14 Nov




I am reading the most wonderfully, magnificent, incredible and enjoyable book I have read in ages. It is a breath of fresh air and I’m thrilled that I picked it up. I’m talking about Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli.

I remember the first time I read Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone.

I had ignored the buzz surrounding Harry Potter for a long time. I remember thinking: No book could possibly be that good. I would see people reading it on the buss, on lunch breaks, line ups. “Bah,” I would say. No book could be that good. And I ignored it still.

I’m not sure why I did now. I must have been annoying about it however because one day, my closest friend at the time handed me something. It was a gift certificate. “What’s this for?” I asked her.

“If you won’t read the damn book, let me buy it for you.” She said.

“Which book?”

“You know damn well which book. You use this gift certificate to buy Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone and nothing else. Then, if you don’t like it, you didn’t waste any money on it.” She glared at me, daring me to argue. “Alright?”

I remember staring at her, unbelieving, and taking the time to light a cigarette before responding. “The book is that good?”

She nodded. “The best.” She said. “Just read it and you’ll see.”

I did what she said. She and I had the same reading tastes and I figured if she said it was good, it probably was. A small part of me still doubted her. But I went to the bookstore at the mall downtown and picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. I hopped on a buss to go home and opened the book to the first page.

I remember being spellbound. I was held in place and all my focus was on the words on the pages in front of me. All that existed for me was Harry. I had found it. I had finally found home in the pages of a book.

I have the same feeling when I read Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli. Perhaps you can already guess at what it’s about.

Anelli, popular web mistress of the award winning The Leaky Cauldron (, a superb Harry Potter fan site, has penned a book of what the Harry Potter phenomenon was like from the inside out. She has written a stunning history of JK Rowling, the Harry Potter books and the Boy Who Lived. From the first page, I was pulled into what I knew was going to be a treat. I stopped walking and sat down in the middle of a mall on a hard metal chair, people milling about me, totally immersed in the words I was reading. Harry, A History pulled me in from the first words and didn’t let go.

The writing is lively and invites the reader to sit, to read, to enjoy. It’s lively and engaging and full of fact and tidbits of Harry’s beginnings and it’s first tentative steps and what it felt like for a fan, for any of us, to experience Harry Potter.

More than that though, it’s a beautiful portrait of one woman’s struggle to find herself, to find joy in books and finally, in the end, do something useful. It’s a brilliant, literary page turner about something that brings joy to so many.

I started it last week and I am fifty pages away from finishing the book a second time. Though there were a lot of things I should have done today, there was nothing that I wanted to do more than read Harry, A History.

You can learn more about the book by visiting

If you have ever read Harry Potter, or experienced it’s life beyond the printed page, you will want to read Harry, A History. Trust me on this. I can’t afford to give out gift certificates to all of you; so you’re just going to have to take my word for it, okay?