HP TGR: Goblet of Fire

This is the fourth installment to Harry Potter: The Grand Reunion.

Book 4 was exciting. There’s the excitement of the Triwizard Tournament and the Quidditch World Cup, making us realize that the wizarding community actually has a wider reach than the UK. (I mean maybe entrance to other wizarding schools is ~30 years old, so I just haven’t been admitted yet.) Aside from the community, those tasks !!! The first task was my favorite because YES, HARRY, SHOW OFF YOUR FLYING SKILLS. FYI there were two other champions who also played Quidditch but, nope, only Harry flew. So simple, it brings tears to my eyes.

Raving aside, the other thing I liked about Book 4 is it’s transitional role in the series. Books 1-3 were pretty light, full of wonder and discovery. However, Books 5-7 were very dark. So Book 4 set a good stage for Books 5 onwards.

Let me expound.

The tournament and Harry’s luck throughout the book got readers excited. The book was very flashy and distracting with the World Cup, Viktor Krum, S.P.E.W., Ron and Hermione, and all of those wonderful things. Indeed this was the book in which I developed a soft spot for Dobby because his socks and wages were so out of the ordinary. Throughout the book, however, there were dark forces moving about, waiting for their moment to strike. Think: Harry nightmare-ing about Voldemort (I refuse to call it a dream; I feel like ‘dreaming’ implies something positive) and Mr. Crouch going crazy—these were kind of only moments in the book, only here and there, but not enough to distract from the glamour of the tournament until… VOLDEMORT IS BACK.

Everything tied in so well together, and Voldemort finally becomes something more than a shadow, that the series takes on a dark turn. We still don’t fully understand all of the implications because Cornelius Fudge is not buying into it, but the book leaves you wanting for more, and you are more or less prepared for the darkness that is coming.

HP TGR: Prisoner of Azkaban

This is the third installment to Harry Potter: The Grand Reunion.

For the longest time, Book 3 was my favorite book in the series. Although I’ve had to recalibrate as new books came out, re-reading the book reminded me specifically why it was my favorite. See below:

  1. The Firebolt & Quidditch: Gryffindor finally wins the cup, and Harry gets the broom that he looked at every day in Diagon Alley. I mean, don’t we want our main boy to just be happy? Also, Wood and his obsession with the cup is almost comical. Is that really how athletes think? Asking for a friend.
  2. The Marauders: Perhaps greatest set of characters to grace Harry’s world is the Marauders. I was obsessed with them because they’re so cool. Well, most of them. Somehow, they found a way to stealthily become Animagi just to help a friend. Their friendship was so heartwarming that it was sad realizing that because of Voldemort, they lost each other’s trust. Also, THE MAP!!! Mischief managed, people.

But let’s all take a moment to delve deeper as to why the Marauders are so awesome, and why they matter:

  • Remus Lupin is the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher ever. It’s so sad that he’s an outcast because of his furry little problem. But when Madame Pomfrey is impressed with you, I’m impressed, too.
  • James Potter and his special connection to Harry’s patronus is love. Harry’s patronus takes the form of a stag before he even knew what type of animal his father turned into. Also, don’t worry, Harry. He was not as pigheaded as Snape makes him out to be (or at least he grew out of it), and he will always be with you.
  • Sirius Black and the fact that finally Harry has someone in his life who will treat him like family is all I could ever want for Harry. No one should ever have to be alone and grow up unloved. I am so happy that Harry connected with Sirius. Sirius is my fave.

Also, this is the only book in the series that doesn’t actually feature Voldemort — references at the most. This makes it unique in a way, and I do give Rowling props for that.

HP TGR: Chamber of Secrets

This is the second installment to Harry Potter: The Grand Reunion.

Everyone at work knows I love Harry Potter. One Halloween I dressed as a Slytherin student (I decorated my desk with my Slytherin banner from home and brought my wand around the office), and I somehow convinced at least half the office to get themselves sorted. To date, there are five Slytherins at the office, but I have yet to bring my Harry Potter obsession over to the Product team. (They might want to watch out.)

On a day I took the train to work, I placed Book 2 on my desk upon arriving at the office because it’s so nice and wonderful to display. Later during the day, someone came over and started a debate on which book was the worst in the series. Spoiler alert: said person concluded it was Book 2. Obviously an effort to troll me, but do not challenge me for I troll back. I disagree, and I’m a bit feisty, so light a fire, will you? 

I wish I were a witch. I mean:

  1. Ron and his broken wand certainly made things interesting. His wand got broken just as school had started and stayed that way through the end of the year. Let us not forget the brief period of time when Ron’s curse backfired and he was throwing up slugs like no other (I shudder at the memory). It’s amazing he managed to pass his classes that year. Then again, school is also about those written tests, so I’ll give him benefit of the doubt.
  2. Hermione is amazing. Re-reading Book 2 made me appreciate the effort that went into brewing the Polyjuice Potion. It took a full month, and it was advanced magic. Gilderoy Lockhart has nothing on Hermione, but thanks for signing that library permission slip though!
  3. Ginny probably had the most traumatizing first year ever that I’m surprised she even made it through. When I was younger, I loved writing in journals, and I would have loved a magical diary like Ginny had. Only I don’t know what I would do if I had found out that I was possessed into sending a basilisk out to attack my friends. Yikes.

Also let us take a moment to thank Professor Binns for holding that one interesting History of Magic class where he talked about the origins and legends of Hogwarts and gave context to Slytherin’s preferences: it was a time wizards and witches were being persecuted—I’m not surprised at the mistrust, but OK fine, probably not an excuse to keep a deadly monster pet roaming about… (but what if he just loved his snakes like Hagrid his dragons? OK, I will stop now.)

HP TGR: Sorcerer’s Stone

This is the first installment to Harry Potter: The Grand Reunion.

It’s been more than 15 years since I fell in love with Harry Potter, and I have to say, the sparks are still there—a fire, actually. In my second reading of the book, I still found myself in awe of the wizarding world and in the tiny little details that JK Rowling used to set the stage.

  1. Fred met Harry first. (After Mrs. Weasley, but Harry didn’t introduce himself to her anyway.) Isn’t that interesting? He basically set Harry and Ron up for best friend-hood, and I think he deserves credit of some sort. Not like he purposely told Ron to befriend Harry but Fred was nice to Harry that Harry took a liking to their family soooooo… let’s give him credit.
  2. The Dedalus Diggle references were so entertaining. Shooting stars, anyone? He was just so quirky. What else did he do? Oh yea, bow to a little boy out with his magic-hating muggle relatives. Strange man, bowing.
  3.  Diagon Alley, just wow, please take me there.
  4. Because of the introductory chapters, Harry and Ron and then Hermione only became friends more than halfway through the book. Wow. But look at that bond though, so beautiful. Also, the book was very clear in showing that Harry could not have done anything alone. Would Harry have been able to successfully play his way across the giant Wizard’s Chess board? Doubt. Would Harry have figured out which potion to take and which fire to walk through without Hermione? Very highly doubt.
  5. Wood? Was McGonagall going to beat Harry with a piece of wood? was one of the random light-hearted moments that made me feel like the book wasn’t trying too hard to take itself too seriously. 

I realize that these are just random thoughts… I will say that I know I greatly enjoyed a book when I finish it very quickly. In this case, I finished it in two days. (It was the weekend though, so it was a matter of choosing between books and tv.) I inhaled it, basically. It’s a great start.

Well, these random thoughts aside, I want to talk about how much I love Harry. Imagine being brought up by people who hate you, constantly being reminded that you are not one of them. (I will say, though, that the Dursleys did have hearts somewhere. They didn’t have to take Harry in, but they did.) Through growing up in that kind of environment, Harry did not develop some kind of grudge or hatred towards others (unlike someone who turned to the Dark Arts and murdered James and Lily Potter). What a pure heart.

Harry Potter: The Grand Reunion

Finally, after (more than) ten years, I began re-reading Harry Potter, the series that introduced me to magic and that sparked a fire that is my love for reading. It’s been a long time coming, really (not that I never signed up for Pottermore or binge-watched the movies…), and though I had earlier thought of re-reading the series, I didn’t for two reasons:

  1. It would have been a massive undertaking. After all, there are seven books in the series; it would take commitment (time and effort) to read everything; and
  2. I was scared that the act of re-reading would take away the magic and wonder that I had felt the first time around simply because I knew what was coming.

Well, I happened to be stuck at home on Black Friday—not because of the rain that, thank heavens, finally poured down San Francisco and cleared up the bad air, but because of a bout of food poisoning due to bad almond milk I drank at a cafe that morning. Funny, I never thought my precious coffee shops would lead me to my demise. (Also, I did purposely exclude the coffee shop that served the bad almond milk from San Francisco: Coffee & Tea in the West Side. I haven’t completely gotten over it… How does almond milk even go bad?)

Moving on, when I began to feel better, I turned on the tv and found all eight Harry Potter movies available for streaming on Hulu TV. I made it all the way through the end of the fifth movie when I decided to finally re-read Harry Potter. I already had a copy of Book 1 anyway, and didn’t I tell myself that I would re-read the books as I rebuilt my collection? Yeah, it was about time. 

Unfortunately, Book 1 was all I had, and I had gone through it so quickly that I know Book 2 wouldn’t arrive on time if I ordered it online. So, on Sunday, when I was decidedly better, I visited three different bookstores in the hopes of finding Book 2 in the original Scholastic hardcover edition. I didn’t, so I went home and ordered Book 2 online. (I did go back to watch the sixth and seventh movies while waiting for Book 2, but Hulu removed the eighth movie the day I was set to watch it.)

I am deep into re-reading the series right now, and I am so happy I get to revisit this magical world that I grew up with. Re-reading the books, I get to dig deeper in to the details that I may have glossed over (or forgotten) the first time I read the series. I’ve finished Books 1 and 2 now, with Book 3 in tow, and I am excited to once more accompany Harry all the way to the end.

PS If you haven’t already been sorted, shame on you. Go put on the Sorting Hat. I also visited Ollivanders and discovered my Patronus already. I did those ages ago. Hurry.