Archive for May 2019

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling


I recently got to spend the better part of two weeks on vacation in London. Visiting the historic places in the city and the surrounding area really inspired me to pick up some new books and to revisit others. One set of books that have had a huge impact on the city is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The first book launched a worldwide phenomenon that inspired a seven book series, ten films, a two-part theatrical production, theme park attractions, and countless other media and products. I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as a kid almost twenty years ago. Like so many other readers of my generation, Harry Potter became a defining part of my childhood. As I visited locations like Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross and toured the studio sets where the films were made, I decided it might be time to give Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone a reread.

Summarizing the novel would be an unnecessary exercise at this point. Even if you've never read the books, odds are you've seen the films or at least have a basic understanding of the central plot. Rather than rehash the story, I think it is more pertinent to share some reflections on this read, especially on my perspective of it now as an adult. For starters, Sorcerer's Stone is undeniably a children's novel. As a young reader, I guess I never realized how much the novel was geared toward my reading. From pace to word choice, Rowling has clearly targeted readers who share the age range of her characters. I think that this is most apparent in the pacing. Reading the novel now, I realized how much plot was burned through each chapter, especially toward the book's climax. This really makes me appreciate the way in which Rowling grew her story and writing to coincide with the growth of both her characters and readers.

Despite being aimed at younger readers, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone still has a lot to offer adult readers. I was pleased to pick up on references that foreshadowed events to come in later books that I would never have noticed on my initial reads. It really shows how intricately plotted the series was from the very start. Rowling builds her wizarding world with rich detail that provides it with a sense of reality and history that many budding fantasy writers never fully achieve. Reading as an adult this time also gave me a better appreciation for the motivation of the adults in the novel. Specifically, I found myself relating more to the situation Dumbledore was placed in and even empathizing a bit with the Dursleys. Don't worry, I still hate them as much as I ever did. I just understand where they are coming from a bit more.

After all this time Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is as enchanting as ever. As a series opener, it establishes vast mythology and inhabits the world with instantly relatable characters, each as complex as the world they live in. Rowling deftly sets the stage for the larger story to unfold while also providing a satisfying conclusion to the novel. I feel very fortunate to have experienced these novels as they were published. I quite literally grew up reading these books. No doubt, a large part of my enthusiasm for the books seeps in nostalgia, but my reread has convinced me that anyone who reads them can find something to enjoy. If you've never read the series, I encourage you to pick the book up and give it a go. If you grew up reading the books like I did, go ahead and dust off your copy of the first novel. I promise you the adventures of the boy who lived are as good as you remember them.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.
(2019, 17)

Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline


I'm back from an extended trip to Europe, and boy do I have some reviews to share! I decided not to take my MacBook with me on the trip, so reviews have been stacking up, waiting to be shared. Rest assured, I read plenty on my travels and have been inspired to read even more based upon the places I visited. So without further ado, I'll kick things off with my review of Someone Knows the latest novel from author Lisa Scottoline.

Someone Knows is a novel built upon the guilt of its main character. Teenage Allie is already facing guilt after her older sister inevitably succumbed to a chronic illness. Allie struggles to hold her family together and blames herself for not being able to do more. Her father is brimming with optimism over a charity event built to honor her sister's legacy. Allie doesn't have the heart to tell him that it won't be successful. Meanwhile, her mother is slowly losing control of her emotions, falling into a depression that threatens to remove her from the immediate family unit.

All things considered, Allie is excited to potentially make some new friends in her neighborhood. The suburban development has several areas that are yet to be constructed that provide perfect hangout spots for a group of teens. She quickly becomes part of a group who are eager to explore the subdivision. Things go from innocent fun to serious when one of the teens reveals a buried pistol. Allie is cautious of the weapon but eager to impress her new friends. Despite her best judgment, she stays silent about the gun, a decision that will haunt her for the rest of her life.

This was my first time reading a novel by Lisa Scottoline, and I was instantly drawn into the depth with which she crafted each character. The novel shifts perspectives amongst the various characters, providing the reader snapshots into the motivations and emotions of each one. The first half of the novel, in particular, sucked me into the story of each teen as the plot progressed to the impending tragedy. The scenes with the characters in the past were so engaging that I was a bit disappointed when the novel shifted into the present day. It seemed that not as much time was taken to update each character with the same detail and thoughtfulness that was used in the writing of their past. Still, I was so invested in the story at this point that this was only a minor grievance. In Someone Knows Lisa Scottoline presents a coming of age story that tackles the guilt and regret of youthful mistakes while weaving a thread of suspenseful dread to a satisfying conclusion.

For more information visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.
(2019, 16)

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