2012 Book 152: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
written by J. K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale
Reason for Reading: I’m rereading these books along with Lost Generation Reader.
Harry hopes his second year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry will be calmer than last year’s. However, even before the school-year begins, Harry meets a house elf who is determined to keep Harry from even STARTING his school year. Harry perseveres, however, and delves into trouble yet again when the Chamber of Secrets is opened and some stealthy beast begins to petrify his classmates. Will Harry and his friends be able to stop the beast before it manages to kill someone? Harry also gets his first taste of xenophobia in the wizarding world, when he learns a new naughty epithet (the m-word). And I bet you’d never guess which bratty little villain uses the word? I’ll give a hint. He’s blonde. 😉
This second installment of the Harry Potter series is just as delightful as the first. It, like its predecessor, is aimed at the younger end of the YA spectrum, which suits me just fine. The narration by Jim Dale is quite enjoyable–in fact, I liked this narration better than his narration of the Sorcerer’s Stone. He’s got different voices for each of the characters, and his voice definitely engaged me.
The entire Harry Potter is a popular book on the “banned and challenged” lists released by the ALA. Personally, I didn’t see anything objectionable in this book. Accusations of “satan worship” and “encourages interest in the occult” are silly. There isn’t any language or objectionable morals that I can see–other than the fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione steal, lie, and generally disobey rules. Of course, they do these things with the best intentions, and often because they feel the adults don’t listen to them. Also, they don’t hurt anyone with their antics (though they certainly endanger themselves). But let’s be honest with each other. Would YA books be interesting to ANYBODY if the protagonists were perfect little angels who allowed the adults to take care of all the important stuff? Of course not.
2012 Book 142: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Written by J. K. Rowling, Narrated by Jim Dale
Reason for Reading: This is my third book for Book Journey‘s blog tour for Banned Books Week, and this time I decided to try something familiar. Since Lostgenerationreader is having a Harry Potter readalong, I decided to join in and read the first HP book for Banned Books week. 🙂 This is probably my third time reading this particular book, but it will be my first time reading the series “in one go.”
Harry Potter has been living with his neglectful and emotionally abusive parents ever since his parents died when he was a baby. But on his 11th birthday, everything changes. He finds out that his parents were a witch and a wizard and that he, himself, has been accepted to Hogwarts, a school for witchcraft and wizardry. He is thrilled to feel comfortable and welcome for the first time in his life, but he soon discovers that not all the teachers at Hogwarts are looking after his best interest. Can Harry and his adventurous friends save the Sorcerer’s Stone from being stolen and used for nefarious purposes?
Of course, you all know the answer to that question. If you don’t, then you probably aren’t interested in the answer and I’m surprised you’ve gotten this far into my review. Any comments I make about my appreciation for this book will fade in the wake of the raving of others. Therefore, I’ll only comment on the Jim Dale narration (which was the narration released in the US, but which is apparently no longer for purchase–I’m not sure if they intend on putting out a different narration? Releasing the Stephen Fry narration in the US would be a kind, generous, and profitable move!) Jim Dale did a pretty good job on the narration–If I didn’t already have a very set impression of what all the characters should sound like, then I’d have been much more happy with this rendition. Unfortunately for Dale, however, most anybody who would listen to this audiobook today already has a very set impression of how a centaur should sound and how to pronounce “Voldemort.” This isn’t Dale’s fault, but I suspect his reading has been taken off the market because of these issues. However, I was quite able to ignore this rather amusing issue and enjoy the audiobook. 🙂 I will continue with the rest of the Dale narrations.
My comments on book banning
Harry Potter is #1 Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009 AND #48 on 100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999. As several people commented, Harry Potter was banned for similar reasons as The Headless Cupid, which was my first Banned Books Week review. Parents are concerned that their (apparently not-very-bright and way-too-malleable) children will be driven to the darkside of the occult and Satan worship by this book. I’m afraid I have to disagree and say “that is hogwash.” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had a very clear good vs. evil message. Loyalty, bravery, and camaraderie are emphasized as important traits in the characters of Harry Potter. Love stands out as pretty much THE most powerful force of good available to humanity. That seems to be a pretty healthy message, even to a fundamentalist Christian. On the other hand, “doing ANYTHING to succeed in life” is portrayed as an undesirable characteristic. Killing or taking advantage of the innocent is touted as the most sinful act possible. People whose views of good and evil have faded away to “there’s-only-the-weak-and-the-powerful” are portrayed as demented. Again, the views of “evil” that are communicated in this book are in fitting with Christian views. This is NOT a morally ambiguous book! So why are the fundamentalists so worried? Just because their kids might use their imaginations a little bit?
2012 Book 95: The Storm Dragon’s Heart, by David Alastair Hayden (6/26/2012)
Categories: Young Adult, Speculative Fiction
Reason for Reading: This book was provided by the author in exchange for a review. The ideas, of course, are my own. I am not compensated for a good review. 🙂
My Review: 4/5 stars
Turesobei is the High Wizard-in-waiting for the Chondra tribe, but he dreams of dropping his boring lessons and going on adventures with his father. Then he is given his chance: his father takes him on a quest to retrieve an ancient and powerful artifact that is also being sought by a dangerous cult. Turesobei must learn to be an independent wizard and to trust his companions on this dangerous mission. The Storm Dragon’s Heart is a good-old classic high fantasy for children. It was cute and fun, with lots of adventure and young romance. It was a complete story in itself, but left me curious about how the series would continue.
2012 Book 43: Shadows: Book of Aleth, Part 1, by Michael Duncan (3/3/2012)
Reason for Reading: This was my book club choice for this month. I am in charge of the discussion for the month so I have no choice but to read it! 😉
My Reveiw 4/5 stars
When Aaron, Captain of the Royal Guard, is given a mission to retrieve a stolen book by any means necessary he doesn’t question his orders. He soon finds that not all is as it seems. He becomes embroiled in the politics of Dwarves, a race of men he believed were fairy tales. He must lead a mission to retrieve the Book of Aleth and to discover the truth. I was pleasantly surprised by this allegorical fantasy of the Christian Fiction genre. The epic fantasy story was original enough to capture my attention and the writing was smooth and enticing. The religious message is present but subtle, which to me is a sign of a good writer. (I hate being beat over the head with a Message.) The book DID end with a cliff-hanger, but I guess I was expecting that based on the term “Part 1” being in the title. So I was only a tiny bit irked. (I think books should have a natural ending…even in series.) Other than that quibble, I was very pleased.
2012 Book 7: The Ring of Solomon, by Jonathan Stroud (1/13/2012)
This is the prequel to the Bartimaeus trilogy (which I loved). It could function as a stand-alone book, though I highly recommend the original trilogy too. Bartimaeus is a begrudgingly good-hearted, wise-cracking djinni who is always saving the world from careless humans and their naughty demons. In The Ring of Solomon, Bartimaeus is summoned to serve for an evil wizard under the rule of the powerful King Solomon of Israel. While serving, he encounters a young assassin who is hell-bent on killing Solomon and stealing his powerful ring (in service of her country Sheba). Delightful confusion ensues. These books are funny, witty, cute, and adventurous. I love Bartimaeus’ silly footnotes where he inserts amusing “historical” points. 5/5 stars