Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen in Prime Shop now
Profile for SocialBookshelves.com > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by SocialBookshel...
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,667
Helpful Votes: 395

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
SocialBookshelves.com (High Wycombe, UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Quidditch Through the Ages
Quidditch Through the Ages
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Here, we have a fiction book masquerading as a ..., 23 April 2016
Here, we have a fiction book masquerading as a non-fiction book – this is a book that J. K. Rowling wrote that’s ostensibly one of Harry Potter’s textbooks about Quidditch, by Kennilworthy Whisp.


The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Standard Edition
The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Standard Edition
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars though – it’s a great little collector’s item, 23 April 2016
The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a cute little companion book to the Harry Potter series which was released by J. K. Rowing sometime after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the series. That novel explains what exactly this book is supposed to be, and so read that before you read this. It does belong in your collection if you’re a Harry Potter fan, though – it’s a great little collector’s item. So go and get it!


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: 6/7 (Harry Potter 6)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: 6/7 (Harry Potter 6)
by J.K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It’s just that it doesn’t feel like much fun whist it’s all happening, 23 April 2016
Wow – I reported in my review of Order of the Phoenix that it was the longest Harry Potter book by page count, but Half-Blood Prince is only two pages shorter. Considering that each of my reviews takes the page count of the book that I’m reviewing and turns it into a word count for the article, I have my work cut out for me.

I didn’t think much of Half-Blood Prince, which is why I only gave it a 7/10 – it was professional and proficient, but it just wasn’t as magical as the other books in the series. Oh, sure – it was necessary. If anything, the story line itself is developed just as much (if not more) in this book than it is anywhere else. It’s just that it doesn’t feel like much fun whist it’s all happening, and a high-profile character gets killed off, too.

Broadly speaking, the plot introduces the concept of horcruxes, which are fragments of Lord Voldemort’s soul which were introduced to a number of different objects to preserve the Dark Lord’s immortality. One such horcrux was Tom Riddle’s diary, which you might remember from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I’m not going to spoil it by telling you what each of those horcruxes are, but I will tell you that in this book, Harry learns that it falls to him to hunt them down and to destroy them.

This is largely what happens in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was much more exciting. In contrast, the vast majority of this book seems like it’s only present to set the scene for the final book in the series. That said, it is interesting to watch as the wizarding world is forced to deal with the return of the Death Eaters, and the slow descent into fear which characterises the return to power of He Who Must Not Be Named. There’s a darker feel throughout it, and it feels like Rowing’s universe has finally matured, like it’s grown from a child to an adult.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read this book – I’m just saying that it’s something of a let down, if you compare it to the rest of the books in the series. It just didn’t seem to have the same magic – it was a bit like reading a Rick Riordan book instead of a J. K. Rowling book. Competent enough, but somehow missing that secret ingredient. You should still read Half-Blood Prince, if only to discover who the titular character is, but you should read each of the books in order. That way, you’ll be so deeply invested in the series that by the time that you get here, you’ll be determined to see it through.

I don’t mean to be too harsh on Half-Blood Prince, because there’s nothing inherently wrong with it – indeed, I’m sure there are fans out there who regard it as their favourite book in the series – but I will say that it just didn’t do it for me. That’s all I have to say on the matter, really – it didn’t feel right, it didn’t hit home, and I just didn’t think much of it either whilst I was reading it or afterwards.

Unfortunately, I still have another 200 words to fill, so let’s take a look at its reception. It’s certainly true that it broke a lot of records, although many of those same records were eventually beaten by its successor, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it also sold a lot of copies. My counterargument to that would be that Rowling could have released anything and she still would’ve received the same reception – and, like I said, there’s nothing that’s actually wrong with it.

Perhaps part of my attitude towards it stems from its release date – I was about sixteen at the time, and so I had a lot of other things on my mind. But I still read it pretty quickly, and I’d had high hopes for it after The Order of the Phoenix, which was one of my favourites. It just didn’t live up to my expectations, and that’s a shame – other than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which is much more of a ‘children’s book‘, no other book in the series left such a lasting impression of mediocrity. But hey ho – not to worry about it, just read your way through it and then move on to Deathly Hallows!


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: 5/7 (Harry Potter 5)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: 5/7 (Harry Potter 5)
by J.K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars like a memory or a hangover which just won’t go ..., 23 April 2016
Order of the Phoenix is the fifth Harry Potter novel, and it marks something of a turning point in the series – up until this point, the threat from He Who Must Not Be Named is almost indirect, like a memory or a hangover which just won’t go away. But here, the big man is back in the flesh and blood, with a crack squad of his loyal Death Eaters at his service – the threat from him is real, and he’s no longer just worried about taking down Harry Potter. Now, he’s getting ready to take over the world.

The Order of the Phoenix, which the book takes its title from, is a secret society of ‘good guys‘, from Dumbledore to Sirius Black and the school-age Harry, Ron and Hermione. They’re a pretty bad-ass organisation, but they are also up against the Dark Lord and all of his Death Eaters. Wait, isn’t it only Death Eaters and former Death Eaters that call him the Dark Lord? Uh oh, I’ve been rumbled.

This is also the first book in the series to feature the death of a prominent character – not necessarily a protagonist, but one who’s played a key role in multiple books. I’ll say no more on the matter – you either know who I’m talking about or you don’t!

In this book, our heroes are struggling to cope with their entrance into early adulthood whilst simultaneously fighting off the hordes of darkness. And not all of them are overt – he has to deal with Dolores Umbridge, for example, who Stephen King once described as “the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter.” Umbridge is a frightening figure, someone who’s truly evil and yet who’s managed to project a facade of innocence.

Whilst writing this review, I also learned that Order of the Phoenix is the longest of all of the Harry Potter novels, which also means that it has to be my longest Harry Potter review by word count. At 770 pages, it’s true that there’s plenty of the book to get through, but it never feels like a chore and you’ll be glad you stuck with it. For me, the story line was so gripping that I read it in a couple of days, and when the final book (Deathly Hallows) came out, I read it in a day. It also got delivered a day before shops were selling it, so I was very slightly ahead of the curve!

For me, most of the earlier books (and the first two in particular) had a focus on the minutiae of life at a school for aspiring wizards. Here, we get to see the wider world really opening up for the first time, and it’s fascinating to see how detailed Rowling’s imagination is. She’s easily one of the best living world-builders who’s still active today, and it’s a pleasure to read any of her work. But Order of the Phoenix will always be one of my favourites – it’s not just because of the vast amount of book that’s available to you, although that does help. For me, it also came about at just the right time – when it was released in 2003, I’d just turned fourteen, so it was perfect timing. In fact, this is the first of the Harry Potter books that I remember actually having to wait for.

I’m almost 600 words in and still have another 200 to go, so I guess I’ll talk about the audio books. I’ve listened to multiple different versions of them, and I was a big fan of both the Stephen Fry one and the Jim Dale one, although I’d probably go for Fry if I was going to listen to them again. With a book as long as this, sometimes an audio book can help – on the other hand, sometimes the audio books end up being twenty hours long, in which case you’ll probably find it faster to read the book.

But you should read the book, because it’s awesome, and one of the highlights of the series in my opinion. Of course, I also think that you should read the entire series in order, but that’s up to you – the good thing about the Harry Potter novels is that they’re such a part of mainstream culture now that you can almost dip in and out of them. After all, everybody already knows the basic story line that loops through the seven books.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: 1/7 (Harry Potter 1)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: 1/7 (Harry Potter 1)
by J.K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.49

4.0 out of 5 stars and whilst it is pretty good, it’s also one of the weakest, 23 April 2016
This is the first book in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and whilst it is pretty good, it’s also one of the weakest. It’s more obviously a children’s book than other books in the series, but it does establish the story and set the tone in a way that few openers ever manage.

I won’t go into the plot, because I don’t want to ruin it and I feel like most people already know it, but basically we get to watch Harry grow up into a young wizard and get spirited away to Hogwarts. Rowling’s approach to magic is magical in itself, and if you start at the beginning and stick with the series, like I recommend, then this is the book that will introduce you to it, slowly but surely and at a pace that it’s easy for you to keep up with.

This is just the sort of book that everyone should read at one point or another, a true modern day classic. So if you haven’t read it yet then what are you waiting for? Get out there, grab yourself a copy, read it and come back and leave me a comment.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: 3/7 (Harry Potter 3)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: 3/7 (Harry Potter 3)
by J.K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Rowling at her finest, and the time travel element towards the end ..., 23 April 2016
In my view, Azkaban is the first book in the Harry Potter series which really shows J. K. Rowling at her finest, and the time travel element towards the end of the book is particularly well-executed. It’s difficult to get it right, but Rowling absolutely nailed it. It’s also interesting to note that this is the only book in the series which doesn’t feature He Who Must Not Be Named as an antagonist, although there are plenty of bad guys for you to enjoy.

This book also features the first appearance of Sirius Black, a fan favourite. I don’t want to say too much about Black, because I don’t want to ruin the story line, but suffice to say that there’s plenty for you to look forward to, if you haven’t read this book before. Really, you should read the whole series in order, but Azkaban works pretty well as a standalone novel if you choose to read them like that.

The great thing about the Harry Potter series is that the characters are so three-dimensional, and the world feels three-dimensional too – in fact, in Azkaban, we start to see how the events of the wider wizarding world are related to the goings on at Hogwarts. It’s cool, because it gives us context, and that adds to the whole vibe of Rowling’s work. I might even go so far as to say that this is my favourite book in the series – it’s certainly one of my favourites.

So go out and get this – the entire Harry Potter series belongs on every true book lover’s bookcase, and this is one of the jewels in the collection. I might go re-read it.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: 2/7 (Harry Potter 2)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: 2/7 (Harry Potter 2)
by J.K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars and to seem like it’s aimed at adults as much as it is ..., 23 April 2016
This is the second book in the Harry Potter series, and the first in which it starts to mature, and to seem like it’s aimed at adults as much as it is at kids. I remember having nightmares after the first time I read this – the basilisk is terrifying, and a worthy adversary for Ron, Harry and Hermione. The diary story line is pretty cool too, but I can’t say any more than that without spoiling the story for you.

Suffice to say that Rowling hits her stride here, and this is the first book in which her fictional universe is able to show off its full glory. Of course, He Who Must Not Be Named is still a constant threat, and Harry and his friends are forced to work together in new and interesting ways. Throughout the series, it’s certainly true that Harry, Ron and Hermione, as well as all of their friends, have an uncanny knack for complimenting each other perfectly, so that they can only achieve what they need to achieve through teamwork.

Chamber of Secrets isn’t the best Harry Potter novel, but it is still a good one, and a great read for anyone. But you might as well read the whole series in order, right? Once you start reading the Harry Potter series, you find it difficult to stop. Potterheads unite!


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars and it’s pretty cool!, 23 April 2016
This is ostensibly one of Harry Potter’s textbooks, and it’s pretty cool!


Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (Spike Milligan War Memoirs)
Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (Spike Milligan War Memoirs)
by Spike Milligan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here, 21 April 2016
This book is the first of three books in Milligan’s war diaries series, and it offers a fascinating glimpse into life on the home front during the Second World War. Milligan writers in an idiosyncratic stream of consciousness style which people have dubbed ‘Milliganese‘ due to its uniqueness, and whilst it can sometimes be difficult to understand what’s happening if you’re not paying full attention, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Here, we just deal with Milligan’s experiences in England, but he does make it to mainland Europe in later books in the series. I picked the next book up from the book exchange at our local arts centre; I can’t wait to get started!


Student Life: A Survival Guide, Practical Advice and Help with Starting Life at University (Student Helpbook)
Student Life: A Survival Guide, Practical Advice and Help with Starting Life at University (Student Helpbook)
by Natasha Roe
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars which is good because there are a lot of different things to ..., 21 April 2016
This handy little guide by Natasha Roe tells you everything you need to know about heading off to university, and whilst it might be a few years old now, I don’t think much has changed since I bought it. In a weird coincidence, my university could have been named after the author – I went to Roehampton University in south west London.

The topics range broadly, which is good because there are a lot of different things to think about – money is just one of them, but it’s an important one, and there’s lots of practical advice here. I can’t say that I followed them to the letter, but I did remember a lot of them and later used them to great effect.

Truth be told, I’m not entirely convinced that anybody needs to read a book before going to university – you can pick things up yourself as you go along, and as long as you have some common sense then you’ll be alright. But that said, it can’t hurt to read a book like this either – you can learn a lot, and if you’re of a nervous disposition then it might help to put your mind at ease. Either way, you’re the best person to make that call – if you do read it, have fun!


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20