Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling (Book Review)

Lord Voldemort, the powerful wizard that murdered Lily and James Potter 14 years ago, has returned and is currently keeping a low profile as he recruits more Death Eaters and followers. Professor Albus Dumbledore believes that Voldemort may be seeking a dangerous weapon and has called forth the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society of the Dark Lord’s enemies, in an attempt to foil the newly reborn wizard’s plans.

Meanwhile, young Harry Potter is back living with the Dursley family on Privet Drive and is frustrated at being kept in the dark about Voldemort’s plans, especially considering the strong connection between them. When two Dementors suddenly appear out of nowhere and attack him and his cousin, Dudley, resulting in the illegal use of magic in front of a muggle, he is threatened with expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Harry’s fury finally boils over.  

A technicality during the disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic, allows Harry to return to Hogwarts, but the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Umbridge has been appointed by the Ministry to inspect the teaching standards at the school, causing problems for both Harry and Professor Dumbledore. 

The situation for both students and teachers at Hogwarts takes a nasty turn after Harry and his friends are discovered breaking the strict new school rules imposed by the Ministry of Magic, and Professor Dumbledore takes the blame, leaving Professor Umbridge in charge as the new Headmistress.

As if Professor Umbridge’s presence at Hogwarts wasn’t bad enough, Harry struggles to juggle the stress of his Ordinary Wizarding Level Exams, with his nightmarish connection to Lord Voldemort, which allows the young wizard to catch glimpses of the Dark Lord’s intentions.

Just what exactly is this weapon that Voldemort is searching for and what is its purpose? Can the Order of the Phoenix find the object first and prevent Lord Voldemort’s evil plot from coming to fruition?

The immense, 800 page long, 5th volume of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, called the Order of the Phoenix is the most elaborate and detailed of the seven novels. It offers answers to some of the obvious questions that have cropped up in previous volumes, surrounding Harry’s background and the link that exists between him and Voldemort. It is this aspect that makes the Order of the Phoenix, at 5 out of 5 stars, such an important read for fans of the series.

See also:

Book 1 – The Philosopher’s Stone

Book 2 – The Chamber of Secrets

Book 3 – The Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 4 – The Goblet of Fire

Book 6 – The Half-Blood Prince

Book 7 – The Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K Rowling (Book Review)

During the summer holidays Harry Potter has a dream that Lord Voldemort and his servant Wormtail (AKA Peter Pettigrew) are plotting to murder him and he suddenly finds himself wide awake with the lightning shaped scar on his forehead burning. A few days later he attends the Quidditch World Cup Final with the Weasley’s and Hermione, where Death Eaters attack Muggles and Voldemort’s Dark Mark is summoned.

Meanwhile, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is playing host to the first Triwizard Tournament in over a century, a magical competition between the three largest European Schools of Wizardry: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. One champion from each school is to be selected by the Goblet of Fire to compete in three dangerous and potentially deadly tasks, but somehow Harry Potter’s name is also drawn as a 4th competitor, much to everyone’s surprise.

Believing Harry to be seeking fame and attention, the backlash he faces from his fellow students, competitors and teachers leaves the young wizard feeling rather lonely. Especially since his best friend Ron, like everyone else, refuses to believe that he has been set up and did not enter his own name into the goblet.

Harry suspects that Lord Voldemort is to blame for the situation, probably hoping that the trials will kill him, but can he prove his innocence and finish the tournament alive?

The Goblet of Fire is the longest book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series so far, and despite its detailed descriptions and complex storylines, every word has a meaning and purpose. Rowling only fills the pages of her novels with important facts that are necessary to the plot, and her writing matures drastically with every book.

At 4.5 out of 5 stars, book number four plays host to a spectacular magical tournament filled with an extensive variety of magical creatures, while also continuing on with the main theme that runs throughout the entire series of novels, the connection between Harry Potter and his nemesis Lord Voldemort. 

See also:

Book 1 – The Philosopher’s Stone

Book 2 – The Chamber of Secrets

Book 3 – The Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 5 – Order of the Phoenix

Book 6 – The Half-Blood Prince

Book 7 – The Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (Book Review)

The future looks grim for thirteen year old student wizard, Harry Potter when Lord Voldemort’s sidekick, Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban, the Wizard Prison.

Sirius Black is said to have murdered thirteen people with a single curse, twelve years previously, resulting in the Ministry of Magic locking him away in the fortress known as Azkaban. The prison is guarded by hooded creatures known as Dementors, which suck the joy out of everything around them and the island is supposed to be so secure that it is impossible to escape from. However, Sirius Black has somehow managed to do just that. The madman is now evading capture and seeks revenge on the one person who has lost him everything: Harry Potter.

With Sirius Black looking to commit another murder, Harry is on lockdown inside Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, unable even to visit the local village, Hogsmeade with the rest of his fellow 3rd year students.

Would Sirius Black dare to break in to Hogwarts with Professor Dumbledore in charge and the Dementors on guard outside the school gates? Is he planning to bring Lord Voldemort back into power and if so, will he be successful?

The Prisoner of Azkaban is the third novel in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and at 5 out of 5 stars is a very difficult book to put down, once you begin to read it you’ll soon find that you can’t stop until you’ve reached the end.

J.K. Rowling’s writing matures and becomes more and more complex with each subsequent book and the Prisoner of Azkaban is no exception, as we learn that not all is as it first seems when Harry’s Godfather, Sirius Black comes looking for revenge.

The third instalment also plays host to a variety of intriguing magical creatures including: Animagi, werewolves and Hippogriffs, while Harry has an extremely amusing ride on the ‘Knight Bus’, the transport for stranded Wizards and Witches.

The film for the Prisoner of Azkaban however, has a number of problems and doesn’t quite match up to the quality of its predecessors.

See also:

Book 1 – The Philosopher’s Stone

Book 2 – The Chamber of Secrets

Book 4 – The Goblet of Fire

Book 5 – The Order of the Phoenix

Book 6 – The Half-Blood Prince

Book 7 – The Deathly Hallows

*Note: more reviews coming soon

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (Book Review)

It is summertime and Harry Potter is back living with the Dursley’s for the holidays, but when he has an unexpected guest in the form of House-Elf Dobby, he ends up in a whole heap of trouble. Dobby has come to warn Harry that he will be in danger if he returns to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but when Harry refuses to believe him, Dobby uses magic in the house almost getting Harry expelled from school.

Angry at Harry for messing up his important dinner with potential business clients, Vernon Dursley locks him in his bedroom with the promise that he will not be allowed to return to Hogwarts ever again. Fortunately, worried about his friend, Ron borrows his Dad’s flying car to check up on Harry and when the Weasley’s discover Harry’s unfortunate predicament they take him off to ‘The Burrow’ to live with them until the new school term begins.

As Harry, Ron, Hermoine Granger and the rest of the students settle back into their classes at Hogwarts, strange things begin to happen: Harry hears odd whispering voices, Mrs Norris, Mr Filch’s cat turns up almost dead after a petrification curse and a rogue bludger persistently attempts to knock Harry off his broomstick during the first Quidditch match.

It seems that Dobby’s prediction may be coming true and Harry’s life is in danger, now that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened. But just who exactly is the mysterious Heir of Slytherin and why open the Chamber now?

Can Harry and his friends figure out the puzzle and prevent the monster, let loose from the Chamber of Secrets, from killing Hogwarts students?

Favourite Quote:

“There is a plot, Harry Potter. A plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year.” – Dobby the House-Elf. p16

At 4 out of 5 stars the second novel in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series doesn’t quite manage to captivate the reader in the same way as its predecessor. However, with serpents, spiders and a strange creature known as Dobby, The Chamber of Secrets is still a pretty fun novel as it tells of the young wizard Harry Potter and the adventures during his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

See Also:

Book 1 – The Philosopher’s Stone

Book 3 – The Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 4 – The Goblet of Fire

Book 5 – The Order of the Phoenix

Book 6 – The Half-Blood Prince

Book 7 – The Deathly Hallows

** More reviews coming soon

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Book Review)

One Halloween night when a wizard named Voldemort attacks Lily and James Potter, the only person to survive is their young son Harry, leaving a lightning shaped scar on his forehead. Aware that young Harry is going to be famous as a result of this extraordinary situation that he’ll never remember, Albus Dumbledore and Rubeus Hagrid, friends of his parents place the boy in the care of his aunt and uncle to keep him as far away from the magical community as possible, until he comes of age.

Vernon and Petunia Dursley, not being magical themselves, disapprove of Lily Potter and anyone else who gets involved in that sort of nonsense. As a result their treatment of Petunia’s nephew, Harry is so detrimental that they have him sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs, despite having two spare bedrooms, and try to keep him as far away from their only son, Dudley afraid of the strange events that sometimes happen in their nephew’s presence.

As Harry approaches his 11th birthday he receives his invitation to begin attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, however fearful of the magical influence, Vernon Dudley hides his letters from him. When Hagrid tracks Harry down he is both astonished and appalled to discover that the boy has been taught nothing of magic and is unaware of his parent’s abilities.

For Harry Potter is a Wizard and soon begins his lessons at Hogwarts School of Wizardry with his new friends, Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger. However, the trio soon make a startling discovery: One of the Professors has been attempting to steal an item that is protected by a three headed dog, in an out-of-bounds area inside the school. When Hagrid refuses to believe their story, Harry realises that it is up to himself and his friends to stop the theft, but just what exactly does Albus Dumbledore have hidden beneath that secret trap door that someone wants so badly?

Favourite Quote:

“To the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.” – Professor Dumbledore. p320

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a truly fascinating read, filled with magic spells, potions and flying broomsticks, as well as an unexpected twist. J.K. Rowling has done an amazing job with her very first fantasy novel for children.

At 5 out of 5 stars this will have you constantly turning the pages, dying to discover new secrets from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and find out what potential new dangers Harry, Ron and Hermoine will be facing next.

 

See also:

Book 2: The Chamber of Secrets

Book 3: The Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 4: The Goblet of Fire

Book 5: The Order of the Phoenix

*Book 6: The Half-Blood Prince

*Book 7: The Deathly Hallows

*Note: Reviews coming soon

The Drahiad Chronicles Prologues: Book 4 – Siege of Draestl by Randall Seeley (ARC Review)

Siege of Draestl is the fourth book in Randall Seeley’s Drahiad Chronicles Prologues series, and is the first to be a full length novel. It continues the events from the second novella, Alderidon Wolves, following our favourite major characters Waydsyn Scot, Owen Delmsmith and Thraegar Thornclaw.

To get the best out of this series it may be a good idea to have at least read Alderidon Wolves first, to become acquainted with the characters, locations and story, which underpin these two books. If not necessarily all three of the previous novellas in the series, however it isn’t absolutely necessary.

…potential spoiler warning…

Continue reading “The Drahiad Chronicles Prologues: Book 4 – Siege of Draestl by Randall Seeley (ARC Review)”

The Branches of Time by Luca Rossi (Book Review)

Having fled the Northern Lands, the inhabitants of the remote island of Turios, protect themselves with ancient magic.

This very same magic prevents King Beanor, ruler of Isk in the Northern Lands from leaving his kingdom and trading upon the southern seas. For 2,000 years the people of Isk have been forced to live in isolation, prevented from trading with foreign shores.

Keen to remove this barrier Beanor enlists the help of the wizard Aldin to remove the residents of Turios, so that he can succeed where all of his ancestors have failed, break down this magical force field and re-open the trade routes of the sea.

Unfortunately, the wizard fails in his task, leaving three survivors: the Priestess, Miril, a woman, Lil and her injured husband Bashinoir. Can Ilis, the young apprentice wizard, succeed where his predecessors could not, and appease his king?

Meanwhile, the three residents of the Temple on Turios have an added problem, besides the failing barrier, someone has travelled to the past and messed with the branches of time to try and remove them from existence. Will this person succeed? Or can the Priestess find a way to protect them from their fate?

 

Favourite Quotes:

“The life of all of the inhabitants of this island depends on the protection provided by magic. If the priests fail, if they don’t fulfil their duties, the consequences may be very harsh indeed.” – Priestess Miril. (p37)

 

“Get to the point before I cut off your head and throw the rest of your body down the toilet.” – King Beanor. (p54)

 

“Just be a shadow and a voice in his mind: that’s all you need to drive a man mad, anyway.” – Obolil. (p99)

 

“Life gives us gifts and brings us pain when we least expect it.” (p102)

 

The Branches of Time is a very well-written science fiction fantasy novel in which time travel is used to wipe out a colony of islanders and end magical spells that have been in place for 2,000 years. There is also a little mystery to the narrative that both keeps you guessing and whets your appetite for more.

Luca Rossi writes in a simple, easy to read prose that flows nicely as the characters develop and the story gradually unfolds.

The inclusion of an insatiable sex crazed bigamist king however, in the form of Beanor, makes The Branches of Time a rather adult novel with some explicit details, and therefore unfit for any younger readers.

A short book at only 159 pages, it is a quick read and the story ends rather abruptly and with no conclusion, leaving me frustrated and yearning for more. It may have been better had the author waited and completed this story as one novel, rather than splitting the narrative into smaller bite-sized novellas, but I will refrain from being too judgemental in this matter however, until I have read the follow-up novel, Volume II.

Luca Rossi offered me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My summary: At 4 out of 5 stars this is a great concept that is very well executed, but obviously incomplete.

The Shining: Book 2 – Doctor Sleep (Book Review)

For those not already in the know, Doctor Sleep is the sequel to Stephen King’s famous novel The Shining, and the book begins almost exactly where The Shining left off.

You can read my review of The Shining here via this link.

 

…warning: spoilers ahead…

Continue reading “The Shining: Book 2 – Doctor Sleep (Book Review)”

Prison in the Sky by Angela J. Ford (ARC Review)

I received an ARC of Prison in the Sky by Angela J. Ford as I am subscribed to her e-newsletter, however I hadn’t yet familiarised myself with her earlier work, and this novel served as my introduction.

 

Although Prison in the Sky is classed as a stand-alone story it is linked to Angela’s Four Worlds series, and since I haven’t read those books I constantly felt like I was missing some really important information and backstory. The narrative begins at the end of an epic battle, which marks the conclusion of a major conflict. The main character, Marklus is traversing the battlefield and using his unique gift of healing to help wounded soldiers. There’s not much detail about the battle given within the book, or indeed where Marklus’s healing gift came from, was he born with it or was it bestowed upon him? So I struggled a little to follow what was going on and why, but maybe if I had read the Four Worlds series, this information would have been clearer.

The story continues with Marklus and fellow warrior, Crinte the Wise, as they travel to the city in the sky and are held there against their will. Once it gets going the story is quite enjoyable, but I found it difficult to relate to the two-dimensional main characters, due to the lack of prior context and missing details. I did however, enjoy learning about the Mermis, the inhabitants of the kingdom in the clouds, and the book did enough to keep me reading until the end.

 

I’m not really sure what to make of Angela’s Prison in the Sky, but I’m going to rate it at 3 out of 5 stars. This is because I understood the basic premise of the novel, and feel that it would be enjoyable for those already familiar with her Four Worlds fantasy series, and as a newbie the book did enough to convince me to check out more of her work. Unfortunately though, I don’t think it fully works as a stand-alone novel, as the reader is thrust into the middle of an unknown world that they don’t really understand.

 

One final thing to note is that I disagree with the decision to send out ARCs of a book that hasn’t yet been through a final thorough proofread. While it was noted that proofreading was in progress, I was rather dismayed at the high number of spelling issues contained within this ARC of Prison in the Sky. This repeatedly distracted me from the story, making it difficult to read, so I had trouble maintaining focus on an already confusing book. However, I hope that these errors will have been corrected by the time of the book’s official release.