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

Posted by on Jul 16, 2010 in 2010, 5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Support Your Library | 2 comments


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

Genre: Fiction
Series: #5 in the Harry Potter series
Publication Date: 2003
Read by: Jim Dale
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #28, The Harry Potter Reading Challenge #5
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Things got a little darker in the fourth book and they get downright intense and scary in this one plus it has the deliciously fun to despise Dolores Umbridge.

Why I Read It:
While there’s no hope of me finishing listening to the whole series by the end of this month, The Harry Potter Reading Challenge gave me the push to use the audio versions as a way of re-reading the series back to back and I’m more than happy to fail the challenge and just continue with the last two books beyond the end date.

The Book:
As I’ve said before on the re-read via audio posts, I’m not going to bother with any kind of plot summary. By now you either know it or you don’t want to know.

My Thoughts:
I was curious about how Jim Dale would voice Dolores Umbridge. She was one of my favorite despicable characters in the series and I think he did an excellent job with her voice. He captured her prissiness and her “Hem Hem” interrupting cough perfectly.

Harry is quite the selfish teenage whiner for much of this book, but he’s a 15 year old boy so it’s not out of place. Dumbledore finally gets around to explaining some of Harry’s history and helps him understand why he had to live with the Dursleys.

I noticed on the re-read of this one that there are lots of hanging plot threads from earlier books picked up again as well as a lot of development toward what is to come in the final two books. Little things are mentioned that either have now become important or will be soon.

I’m really enjoying the secondary characters as I re-read the series. I liked the way Ginny is becoming more of a presence and I absolutely adore Luna Lovegood. Even without knowing what was to come in the final two books this was the point where I developed a real soft heart for Neville Longbottom. After learning about his parents and their torture at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange, it was great to see him develop his abilities in the secret DA meetings and to be a part of the battle at the Ministry of Magic (albeit with a few typical Neville Longbottom type results).

I can only continue to recommend the audio versions as a great way to re-experience this series and listening to them back to back has been great fun.

Rating 5/5

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Audiobook – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Posted by on May 21, 2010 in 2010, 5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Support Your Library | 1 comment


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

Genre: Fiction
Series: #4 in the Harry Potter series
Publication Date: 2000
Read by: Jim Dale
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #22, The Harry Potter Reading Challenge #4
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Things get a little darker with this one in the series at the same time the kids are growing up and adding the complications of more adult relationships and general teenage traumas to the already complicated mix.

Why I Read It:
I’m just enjoying the heck out of listening to these as a method of re-reading. It’s increasingly unlikely that I’ll finish all of them by the end of the challenge, but I really don’t care.

The Book:
As I’ve said before on the re-read via audio posts, I’m not going to bother with any kind of plot summary. By now you either know it or you don’t want to know.

My Thoughts:
As always, Jim Dale does an exceptional job of reading this series. The minor quibbles I have with some of the voice characterizations he uses are either becoming less pronounced or I’m getting used to them.

The Quidditch World Cup and Tri-Wizard Tournament were a nice way to expand the scope of the story to include characters beyond Hogwarts and the wizarding folk in England. The introduction of other Wizarding schools and characters from other countries expanded the cast and world of Harry Potter in a good and interesting way. It also reinforced the breadth of the influence of Voldemort.

The fun is bigger, but the dark side of the story is bigger too. As the main characters age the story gets more complex and the themes darker and Harry is forced to face things and experiences that are more than kids (even wizard kids) his age should not have to face.

Although it’s not going to make it any likelier that I’ll finish listening to the entire series by the end of July, I did try something a bit different toward the end of this one. I listened to the last two CD’s with my ipod audiobook playback set to the ‘faster’ setting. I’ve never tried that before and had presumed it simply speeded up the whole recording and changed the reader’s voice so that it would be like listening to the Chipmunks. Then I ran across a discussion post in the Audiobooks group on Goodreads where the faster playback was described as not significantly altering the narration, but shortening the spaces between words so I decided to give it a try. By this time I’m quite familiar with Jim Dale’s reading and knowing that with 17 cds for this book and 23 for the next book (followed by 17 each for the final two books) decided that speeding up the process was worth a try. It took a little bit of getting used to but I think it might be a good way to shorten some of the listening time for the remainder of the series. I wouldn’t do this with every audiobook, but with a re-read of a story I’ve already read once, it works.

Rating 5/5

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

Posted by on Apr 6, 2010 in 2010, 5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Support Your Library | 3 comments


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

Genre: Fiction
Series: #3 in the Harry Potter series
Publication Date: 1999
Read by: Jim Dale
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #17, The Harry Potter Reading Challenge #3
Source: Library

The Short Version:
I think this is the one that’s a real turning point on the re-read cycle because so much is introduced that is important in the later books

Why I Read It:
I’m still enjoying listening to these as a method of re-reading.  I’m not sure I’ll finish them all by the challenge deadline, but that doesn’t really matter.

The Book:
As I’ve said before on the re-read via audio posts, I’m not going to bother with any kind of plot summary. By now you either know it or you don’t want to know.

My Thoughts:
So I just can’t help but picture Emma Thompson from the movies as Professor Trelawney.  She so perfectly fits the image I had in my head before I even saw the movie that I think she only served to enhance my own mental image.  As a side note, that’s the case for most of the movie roles at least for the movies I’ve seen so far.  I haven’t encountered any yet that I’d call a major casting mistake.  I haven’t seen any of the movies beyond Goblet of Fire, though.

I said it above and will restate that I think this book serves as a major turning point in the story.  There is a tremendous amount of information, storylines and characters introduced in this book that become only more important later on.  Even though Voldemort doesn’t make any direct appearance in this one, his history and Harry’s history are developed quite a bit.

I still love Jim Dale’s reading with one exception.  The Hermione in my head is not nearly as whiny as his Hermione.

Rating 5/5

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Audiobook – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Posted by on Feb 22, 2010 in 2010, 5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Support Your Library | 3 comments


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

Genre: Fiction
Series: #2 in the Harry Potter series
Publication Date: 1998
Read by: Jim Dale
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #10, The Harry Potter Reading Challenge #2
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Still fun, still magical, still thrilling even though I know the end.

Why I Read It:
I’d always intended to listen to the series once I’d finished reading them. The Harry Potter Reading Challenge has prompted me to listen to them back to back which I rarely do for any series but for a re-read it’s great.

The Book:
I’m not going to bother with any kind of plot summary. By now you either know it or you don’t want to know.

My Thoughts:
I’m thoroughly enjoying listening to these books one right after the other. I only listen when I’m in the car by myself so my listening time is chopped up enough to spread the books out a bit. This one took me a little over three weeks to get through during my driving around time.

I’m constantly reminded of small details that become important once you’ve read or heard the entire series. Things that I missed the first time (or two) because until I knew the end of book 7, I didn’t realize were important.

My favorite parts of this one were Dobby, Fawkes the Phoenix, my absolute empathy for Ron’s fear of spiders, Gilderoy Lockhart (who reminds me of a couple of people I know), and the final battle far below Hogwarts.

Rating 5/5

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Audiobook – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Posted by on Jan 29, 2010 in 5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Support Your Library | 3 comments


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Audio)
Genre: Fiction
Series: #1 in the Harry Potter series
Publication Date: 1997
Read by: Jim Dale
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #6, The Harry Potter Reading Challenge #1
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Just as much fun the third or fourth time around (although this is my first time with the audio) as it was the first.

Why I Read It:
Partly because of Galleysmiths Harry Potter Reading challenge, but even before that challenge was announced I’d planned on listening to the entire series back to back once I’d finished reading the final book.

The Book:
Do I really need to talk about the plot? Wizards, Muggles, Dragons, Magic, Platform 9 3/4, Owls, the mirror of Erised, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, Quidditch, Fluffy, etc.

My Thoughts:
Having just recently read the final book in the series, it was a lot of fun to start over at the beginning. There are minor mentions early on of characters and events that will become important later in the series, that just pop out when re-reading (or listening) from the beginning.

The story is familiar, but revisiting it makes some of the details more enjoyable even though some of the suspense and surprise is gone.

I love Jim Dale as an audiobook reader. I’ve always heard that his reading of this series is great and for the most part, I agree. I think my only quibble is that his Hermione is much whinier than the one that lives in my head. For a character who is such an overachiever and described as ‘bossy’ the whine in Dale’s characterization of her was disconcerting. I also had a little bit of a hard time getting used to a voice other than Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, because I just adore her in the movies.

Nevertheless, it’s fun to revisit the series and I’m already enjoying the next book.

Rating 5/5

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Posted by on Jan 11, 2010 in 2010, 5 stars, Book Review, JK Rowling | 4 comments


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Genre: Fiction
Series: #7 in the Harry Potter Series (final book in the series)
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 759
Source: Purchased new

The Short Version:
Excellent ending to an excellent series

Why I Read It:
After reading the first book I was completely committed to the end.

The Book:
Although I’m one of the last few people on the planet to read this, I’m going to try to avoid serious spoilers. The final battle between good and evil that the whole series has led to comes to pass. There are surprises, there are deaths, there is excitement and energy. Everything that the series has been leading to from the first paragraphs of the first books reaches a conclusion in the final book. I really can’t think of any major loose ends left hanging.

Harry, Ron, Hermione, and You Know Who remain the focus of the story. The kids (well on their way to adulthood by now) seek to find the final pieces of a puzzle left to them by Dumbledore that will ensure the defeat of Voldemort. At the same time Voldemort seems to be ensuring his ultimate victory and power over the wizarding world and potentially the Muggle world also. The final battle is as exciting and twist filled as expected.

My Thoughts:
I thought this was an excellent conclusion to a series I loved. I was surprised at several points along the way. Some of the epilogue wasn’t a surprise at all, but there were several before the story got to that point.

I was pleased to see so many storylines brought to conclusions and others reintroduced as part of the finale. The deaths saddened me, but I knew some of the familiar characters didn’t survive.. Surprisingly enough I didn’t know ahead of time exactly who did and didn’t make it, so I’m not about to spill the beans in this post just in case I’m really not the last person on the planet to read this.

So now that I’ve finished the series my plan is to re-read the entire seires via the audiobook versions and to count them for Galleysmith’s Harry Potter Reading Challenge. I’ll be starting over with book one just as soon as I finish my current audiobook.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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