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Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“OMG — Not another book review on Harry Potter.” *or* “OMG — I LOVE HARRY POTTER”

I bet you just said something along those lines… Me too. But I have to do this for two reasons: (1) It’s Harry Potter and (2) I committed to writing a real review for every book I’ve read and I’m only on 202 of 454. Slap me please. But when I’m done, not quite yet.

However, to save us both… I won’t do a review on this whole book. You can read every other review for that! I’ll just say the top 5 reasons why I loved this particular book:

1. Harry Potter went dark! Not the book… the character… this was the first time for me where I really stood back and said “He’s growing up. He’s realizing not everything around him should be believed without a hint of doubt.” When he protected Sirius in the Shrieking Shack, it all changed for me.

2. Dementors are awesome. I love the concept of stealing someone’s soul through sucking their physical body off its bones.

3. Transfiguration is a focus point, and I love seeing people turn into animals. It’s like our core is bursting to show itself.

4. Remus was my favorite Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. He was someone I’d want to hang out with… you know, and be a werewolf and all.

5. History is revealed in many family connections and secrets. And since that’s my favorite thing… this book was the most eye-opening for me.

See, that wasn’t so bad to re-read a little bit of Harry Potter. I promise the next one won’t be so hard. Only 4 left to write a review for.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.


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Review: Alice in Wonderland

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Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland written by Lewis Carroll and adapted by Jane Carruth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lewis Carroll‘s Alice in Wonderland is one we are all familiar with at some point in our lives. Many of us have read an abridged version, heard the basics of the tale from friends or family, or even watched cartoon versions. And when Johnny Depp’s version was filmed, everyone flocked to re-read the book. I actually read the story when I was about 13 or 14, as I had gotten a set of various classics for my Confirmation from a close family member.

Alice is a remarkable character. She can be a completely charming and funny girl, and she can be an example of life lessons. It’s the kind of book where you have a lot of interpretations, especially given what your particular reading style is. You may feel close to the Mad Hatter, the Queen or Alice herself. Perhaps it’s the caterpillar or Cheshire cat or the rabbit. Each character represents many things in our life, and each temptation is something Alice, or any young child, must consider. But it’s also just a beautifully drawn and illustrated tale of friendship and going on a journey in unexpected places.

It’s a must for for kids and again as adults. There’s a strong chance you will get something different between reads. I also suggest a first time reader NOT read it alone. It’s not anything bad, but it’s the kind of book worth talking about… that you want to share your thoughts on… it will build your analytical skills… and it’s a perfect way for parents and kids to connect about the right way to do things and the consequences of one’s actions. I’d say around 10 or 11 is the best age… but all depends on the maturity level of everyone involved.

Think about the imagination and creativity that went into designing the world that Alice finds in the hole… I wonder what gave all these ideas to Carroll. Lots of speculation, but in the end, I choose to forget what led to the creation and rather to simply enjoy the fantasy world created for me.

And who doesn’t love talking animals?

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.


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Review: The Witches

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The Witches
The Witches by Roald Dahl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Roald Dahl is in my top 3 of favorite children’s authors. I had read a few of his books as a child, but most of my exposure occurred as a young adult and while in college.

The Witches was actually a book I read after the movie with Anjelica Huston was produced. I am a huge fan of her work, and when she appeared in this movie, I was fascinated with the story. I’d definitely recommend reading the book first as the movie takes the story so much further.

For one thing, the book has an unnamed narrator and grandmother, whereas the movie is very detailed on the history of the characters, the various types of relationships, etc. But both were still very good.

It combines so many wonderful things for kids to love — and to be scared of. Witches who can turn little boys into… well, I won’t ruin the surprise. Suffice it to say, this can be a bit of a scary theme.

Dahl’s style is so embracing and captivating. His characters are intense. The creativity and imagination from the works he’s produced over the years is quite astonishing.

The Grand High Witch runs the show here, and she won’t let you forget it. But it’s the grandmother and the boy who may hold all the power. A classic battle of good and evil with some fun thrown in between.

A definite read for kids. And adults. When I was taking a course in college on “Reading in the Elementary School,” I had to read 150 children’s books and produce a portfolio showing a lesson plan for each book. Dahl featured in many of the lessons and books I had chosen, as I tried to incorporate some Newbery and Caldecott winners, but not all. What a joy to re-read these classics as a 21 year old thinking about becoming a teacher. Though I didn’t stay in the teaching field (and possibly regret it to some degree), I will always go back to these books and this time period as one of the favorite parts of life.

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: Catching Fire

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Catching Fire
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins   My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every so often, I select a Young Adult book to read. After I read the Hunger Games, I had to finish the trilogy… I mean, how could you not, right?

Let’s back up a bit… I love challenges. I am totally in my element watching serial killers on TV shows. (Umm… I didn’t mean that in a sociopath-kinda way… I just mean the thrill of trying to guess who the killer is and who’s gonna go next is the fun part… make believe… not real… I’m honestly not a serial killer… wait wouldn’t a serial killer say that… oh, I’m screwed here.)

And my favorite book of all time is “And Then There Were None.” But the first thing I saw was “Battle Royale” years ago… what an amazing movie. It’s total cheesy fun, but I could watch it anytime… ok, I’m off topic. The point is… there is something about knocking people off one by one until you’re left with only 1 possible person… and the winner is… THAT is a fun book.

So I had to read The Hunger Games. But OMG, when book 2 came out and Peeta and Katniss where back in the contest, I think I died and went to… not exactly heaven, as that would be WEIRD.

She’d already been through so much. And I couldn’t take the stress of guessing which character would go and in what horrific way. My reaction was like:

OK… now that the hysterics and humor are done… I really, really liked this book. And if it wasn’t already done in the first edition, I would have given this a 5… but I wasn’t keen on the ending and so I had to go with a 4 for this one.

I am normally a fan of the bad boy/girl winning the hero’s or heroine’s heart, and as much as the movies may have tried to change my mind… Peeta seemed destined to be with Katniss in the books. And I was good with that. We all need someone to bake for us, right?

Losing Mags and Rue was awful. But the imagination in these books is incredible. And the push/pull in every direction… so good. This is is how I felt:

I recommend reading the series. It may totally be commercial young adult fiction, but if it gets you to read, it’s a good thing. And it’s full of moral lessons and a challenge to think critically about life.

All around… I think it’s a must read!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: Peter Pan

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Peter Pan
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie   My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before I get into the review… it took me forever to go through all the editions of Peter Pan listed on Goodreads. While I suppose it’s not too important to get the right version, I was shocked at how many there were, as well as that this was a longer series with multiple books. I guess I always knew that, but when I read it, it was just the Peter Pan book, which I believe was the third in the series. I could be wrong… nonetheless… wow… and it’s review time and let’s do some soaring…

There is so much I could say about this book. I could write a formal review. I could compare the story to the TV and film adaptions. I could cover the cartoons. BTW, the most interesting one for me was “Once Upon a Time’s” portrayal of Peter. So dark… LOVED IT. But that said, to me, it’s a children’s tale with a huge primary lesson: We never want to grow up, but we have to…

And that’s what I’ll focus on. This book must be read to children a few times over the years. I’d start first when they are about 4 or 5, and then show the cartoon versions. Let them absorb it and think about it. And then again when they are 7 or 8, helping them understand what it means to grow up. And then again when they are about 12 or 13… and make them do a book report on it, even outside of school. It’s a lesson that must be taught young.

Growing up is scary. But so is not growing up. There’s a fine balance between finding the time to be free and open, enjoying life and staying away from one’s fears. But you must also learn what is necessary to become a good, solid and functioning citizen of the society.

What I love about this story is the amount of interpretations you can absorb from the story, the characters, the setting and the action. Just when you think you’ve got them all down, another view point comes into play — and you have to re-think what the moral purpose of the book is about.

Or did Barrie intend it to just be a fun trip for kids… I’m not so sure we’ll ever know!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.


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Review: The Fellowship of the Ring

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The Fellowship of the RingMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien‘s first novel in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, later made into a billion dollar movie franchise. I count myself lucky to have been able to read this book before it became a movie, though I loved the movie, too.



Why This Book
I was 13 years old when I stumbled upon this book while a friend was reading it. He was a major video gamer, fantasy sports leaguer and avid reader of science fiction. Though we were good friends, I had different hobbies. He was about a third of the way into the book, talking about Bilbo, Frodo and Gandalf… and I think my response was something like… “but what about the lions, bears and tigers… oh my!” He knocked me off his bed and laughed at me, which made me curious about the book. He lent it to me once he finished it, and I ran through the trilogy quicker than a trip to Mordor.

Overview of Story
It would take an entire chapter to summarize the book, so I’ll try to keep it simple. It takes place in Middle Earth, a huge land full of different types of people: Men, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Wizards, Orcs and a whole lot more. As you’d expect, lots of re-alignment between groups over the centuries occurs during epic battles between the good and the evil. A long time ago, a ring was forged, unbreakable, except to be destroyed in Mordor. People have hunted the ring for years, to use its power, but it was rarely ever found. Bilbo Baggins, an elderly hobbit, comes across it one day. And its dark forces take over his mind, willing him to run away with it. But Gandalf the Wizard convinces him to give it up, and the ring falls to Bilbo’s young cousin, Frodo, to throw into the fire hell of Mordor. He cannot escape the journey, but along the path, he is protected by Gandalf and many other friends. He has epic battles and at the end of this book, he’s come upon one of his first major stops to seek protection, but is forced to flee with new best friend, Sam, for Mordor. And it’s to be continued…

Approach & Style
It’s a fantasy story, so the language is thrilling and beautiful, dynamic and ethereal. Tolkien’s created a world where anything can happen, and one where readers have little history to know what’s real and not real.

The book follows Frodo on his path as the primary character, and you see much through his eyes. It is in third person omniscient, meaning you do see most everyone’s thoughts.

Strengths
The creativity. The imagination. The fortitude. The lessons. The moral code. The honor among friends. The fear of a foe. The power of a wizard. Struggles to survive. The book has it all, even a little romance. And death. 😦

One of the original masterpieces in this genre, it set the bar for everything to come. It was published mid-20th century, when books simply didn’t exist in trilogies. There were a few, and some were decently written, but this is the beginning of a cult phenomenon. As much as I love Harry Potter, and I imagine I will love Game of Thrones, they were not the first. But Middle Earth is an epic journey across a vast time period and a vast land. Written more for an older young adult crowd, it has fans everywhere from ten to a hundred.

Open Questions & Concerns
It’s a lot to taken in and will completely absorb its readers… when’s the right age to ensure its ideals are properly understood. Why is it acceptable to kill someone in protection of the ring? How do you handle fear on a journey you must go on? Should it be used in schools? There are so many lessons, ideas and themes to ingest. Is it a pleasure read or something to teach? I see both sides.

Should I re-read it? YES!

Final Thoughts
You cannot help but be immersed in this story. If you’re not a fan of fantasy, this is NOT the book to start with. There are probably 100 characters to keep track of, each with a unique set of powers or goals. If you are going to take it on, you need to invest in the entire world… up next at some point will be The Hobbit, as it’s another clever place to lose oneself in.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: A Christmas Carol

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A Christmas CarolMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Charles DickensA Christmas Carol, a story almost everyone is likely familiar with as early on as childhood. And we’ve all seen some form of this in a TV show, movie or another book, given how familiar the three ghosts of Christmas have become.



Why This Book


I honestly don’t recall how I stumbled upon this book, perhaps by watching one of the movie versions as the first foray. Sacrilegious, I know. But once you see it on a TV screen, the story compels you to want to read it. And when it’s the great Charles Dickens, how can you say no, right? I was 17 when I read the book… the summer before college started. And I often wonder if I missed out by not reading it when I was younger… but then again, the movie had already formed images in my mind and set the expectations, so probably turned out OK.



Overview of Story


A quick summary, as I’m sure we’re all familiar. Jacob Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge run a business. Bob Cratchit works for them and several young kids. Marley dies. Scrooge is a penny pincher. He forces Cratchit to work too hard and the man is already so poor and loving to his family. One night, Scrooge is visited by Marley’s ghost, forewarning him to be a nicer person and to listen when “they” come. Scrooge laughs. “Who’s they?” He mocks him. And then it happens… three ghosts visit Scrooge and show him a Christmas from the past, a current Christmas and a future Christmas, all resulting from the way Scrooge and Marley ran their business — essentially, a way to show the old man what his behavior has caused all around him. A reflection pool of the inner workings deep in your mind you’ve refused to hear or see for far too long. And when Scrooge sees poor Timmy, Bob Cratchit’s son, and the maladies surrounding him, Scrooge realizes he, too, must re-learn his lessons.



Strength


In true Dickens style, the words are beautiful. The story reads itself, not the reader. And you find such broad strokes of characters and morals within these 100 pages. You learn from it. You open your mind and accept what’s already somewhere in your heart.



Open Items


None really… mostly when’s the best time to introduce this to children? Too young and you scare them. Too old and you miss out on helping them. It’s one of those books you should read together with your kids.



Final Thoughts


Read the book before you watch any movies. Then figure out how to help people in your life, just like Scrooge learns to. This book is all about lessons… and every reader can take away something different with their imagination and application to their own thoughts and actions.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews