Winners Announced in the Harry Potter Blogsplosion Giveaway!

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Eight lucky winners have been chosen in the Harry Potter Blogsplosion giveaways!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Congratulations to Gisele who left a comment on July 27th

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Congratulations to Wehaf who left a comment on July 4th

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Congratulations to Vanessa who left a comment on July 24th

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Congratulations to Felicia who left a comment on July 7th

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (book) – Congratulations to Thao who left a comment on July 25th

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (DVD) – Congratulations to Vicky who left a comment on July 11th

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Congratulations to Crystal who left a comment on July 25th

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Congratulations to Cole who left a comment on July 17th

 
Congratulations to all the winners!! 
 
 
Winners: Please contact me with your name and mailing address by August 7, 2011 to claim your prize.  Shipment is to the US and Canada only.
 
Thank you to all of the participants! 
 

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Wrap-Up!

I do hope that you’ve enjoyed the 15 days of posts dedicated to Harry Potter!!!  However, all good things come to an end.  Whomp whomp.  In case you didn’t get a chance to enter all of the giveaways, here is a quick listing and link to them.

All giveaways are open until midnight on Saturday July 30th.  Winners will be announced Sunday, July 31st.   Good luck to all the participants!

I’d like to send out a huge thank you to all my friends who guest blogged over the past two weeks: Adam, Savanna, Sam, Todd, Adam S, Amy, and Zach!  You were wonderful guests and without you the blogsplosion wouldn’t have been as big a success as it was!  I also want to thank  all of you fabulous participants for paying homage to Harry Potter with us here at the blog.  You’re fabulous.

Until next time…..

…Happy Reading!

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 4: Savanna’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Please join me in welcoming back gust reviewer Savanna New! Savanna is the co-producer of The Hunger Games Fireside Chat and is also an associate editor at Picktainment.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets just can’t seem to catch a break! As I mentioned yesterday in my review of the book, when forced to choose, most fans usually describe Chamber of Secretsas being their least favorite book in the Harry Potter series (at least, that’s been my experience).  It’s an astonishing work of literary genius, to be sure, but just doesn’t stand out as much among its brethren.  The movie adaptation, which I will be looking at today, constantly receives a lot of flak as well.  Last year, one of my co-associate editors at Picktainment, Adam Spunberg, surveyed hardcore fans, along with a few Picktainment staff members, and asked us all to rank the first seven Harry Potter films.  How did Chamber of Secrets fare?  Adam wrote, “Sporting just 2% of the first-place votes and 69% of the bottom half, Secrets ought to just take some gillyweed and sulk among the Merpeople.”  Ouch!

So, what is it about the film that draws such a muddy reception?  You would think the things that make the book less attractive to readers – a slightly formulaic plot structure that’s “too” similar to Sorcerer’s Stone and a lack of the powerful and intricately woven storylines that characterize Rowling’s subsequent works would fade away behind the veneer of movie magic.  And they do, to an extent.  The movie has its own set of problems, which I’ll lay out below; fortunately, though, there are also a lot of really wonderful aspects to this film, which should definitely not go unrecognized.

Magical Moments:

  • Richard Harris is absolutely moving in his final turn as Dumbledore, delivering his lines with the sort of wise gentleness and winking spirit that make the headmaster such a lovable character in the books.  My opinion may be an unpopular one, but I’ll probably always prefer Harris’s Dumbledore to Michael Gambon’s. I like my Dumbledore with a twinkle in his eye, not a harsh snarl on their lips.

  • Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy?  Yes, please!
  • The design and voicing of Dobby could have gone very, very wrong.  Thankfully for all of us, it didn’t.

  • Chamber of Secrets, the movie, follows the book almost too closely, if such a thing is possible (and I hate to say that it is, considering how much I disliked the “liberties” that Alfonso Cuarón took when directing Prisoner of Azkaban).   A lot of unnecessary shots and scenes are present, but as a fan it’s truly incredible to see things like the Burrow, floo powder, Howlers, the flying Ford Anglia, Polyjuice Potion, and mandrakes brought to life.  And I relish the Quidditch scenes, given that those subplots basically disappear from the later films.
  • Two words: Kenneth Branagh.  This movie is worth re-watching just for his hilarious performance as new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and wizarding world celebrity, Gilderoy Lockhart.

Squib Stuff:

  • When in doubt, blame the director.  I think that Chris Columbus – who also directed Sorcerer’s Stone – is the main reason why many fans don’t seem to care for Chamber of Secrets as much as the other Harry Potter films.  His style is just to cutesy, clean, and sparkly for some.   Both Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets have always felt a bit like children’s holiday movies to me, and the tone that they evoke is not representative of the series at all.
  • Many of the scary scenes just aren’t scary enough.  The moments featuring Harry alone in the dark corridors of Hogwarts are really well-done – and appropriately creepy – but whenever Ron and Hermione are around, the mood tends to lighten unnecessarily.  Add a dose of ill-placed, jaunty music, and it’s the Scooby-Doo Gang resurrected.
  • I love Shirley Henderson, but I will never understand why they cast a woman in her late 30s to play Moaning Myrtle, who died while she was a student at Hogwarts.  Ghosts don’t age, last time I checked.

Maybe it’s because I’m starting to already get a bit weepy at the thought of “it all ending” on July 15, but as I watched The Chamber of Secrets for the umpteenth time in preparation for this review, I found myself treasuring and savoring each moment with a fondness and nostalgia that I’ve never really felt before.  Chamber of Secrets will never be my favorite Harry Potter film (or book), yes, and it certainly has its flaws, but it’s one-eighth of the unforgettable journey that we’ve been a part of for the last ten years and will always have a firmly rooted place in my heart.

4 out of 5 Stars

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Warner Brothers
G, 161 Minutes

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 3: Savanna’s Review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling + GIVEAWAY

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Please join me in welcoming Savanna New to the Reflections of a Book Addict family! Savanna is the co-producer of The Hunger Games Fireside Chat and is also an associate editor at Picktainment.

As is the case with most people, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has always been my “least favorite” of the Harry Potter books. It’s not that it’s a bad book; J.K. Rowling is obviously incapable of writing anything less than brilliant. It’s that Chamber of Secrets doesn’t quite pack the punch of the other six novels in the series and, as a result, seems to be easily forgotten and usually relegated to last place in any kind of Harry Potter books ranking (the same can be said of the film, which I’ll discuss tomorrow). While it’s true that Chamber of Secrets may be slightly formulaic and lack a bit of the depth and literary magic of, say, Goblet of Fire or Deathly Hallows, I actually think it’s one of the smartest books in the series, in terms of its overall role.

At the beginning of Chamber of Secrets, we’re reunited with Harry just before the start of his second year at Hogwarts. As in the opening of Sorcerer’s Stone, we find Harry once again trapped, chez Dursley, longing to escape. Fortunately for Harry, though, a few things have changed. In addition to having received a room upgrade (no more cupboard under the stairs!), our bespectacled protagonist is a year older, a year wiser, and – perhaps most importantly – has tasted freedom. Harry now has something to live for, which – while doing wonders for his self-esteem and morale – has also made his life with Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley even more of a nightmare. He knows now that he isn’t “one of them,” and that there’s a place where he belongs and people who genuinely care about him. He misses Hogwarts, so much so that it’s “like having a constant stomachache.”

Luckily, Harry doesn’t have to endure the torturous confines of number four, Privet Drive, much longer. After finding a house-elf in his bedroom (Dobby!) who warns him that he’ll be in mortal danger if he shows up at school (this won’t be the first warning Harry ignores), Ron, Fred, and George Weasley show up in a flying car and whisk the Boy Who Lived away to their home, the Burrow. Chamber of Secrets is “Riddled” (pun intended) with funny, clever, lighthearted moments like that (e.g. basically every scene involving Gilderoy Lockhart), but doesn’t shy away from the darker stuff either. The main storyline of Chamber of Secrets is incredibly creepy, in fact, and the book as a whole is definitely heavier than its predecessor, touching on more complex issues like racism.

Like Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets revolves around a mystery that eventually leads Harry, Ron, and Hermione into the subterranean bowels of Hogwarts. After a series of petrification incidents and threats against Muggle-born students – and thanks to the help of a bathroom-dwelling ghost, Voldemort’s old diary, and little Ginny Weasley, whose kidnapping spurs everyone into action – the trio uncovers the Chamber and the horrors it hides within.

Many have critiqued Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for being too similar to Sorcerer’s Stone. The plot structures are similar, yes, but I think it’s important for the second book in a series to never stray too far from the spirit and basic anatomy of the first – after all, that’s what people are coming back for. The first must capture and captivate, but it’s the second book whose job it is to really hook the reader and convince him or her that the author is more than just a one-hit wonder. It’s unfair to compare Chamber of Secrets to the later Harry Potter books because, in many ways, Chamber of Secrets can be viewed as an extension of Sorcerer’s Stone. There’s still a lot of world-building happening, and I like the fact that Rowling doesn’t bombard us with too many details at once or try to rush the introduction of new characters and new information.

I’ve never been adept at conclusions, so I’ll instead leave you with the following words of wisdom:

“Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”

– Arthur Weasley, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

4 out of 5 Stars

Scholastic (1999)
Hardcover 341 pages
 
Giveaway
 
One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Paperback) by J.K. Rowling.  For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Saturday July 30, 2011.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Sunday July 31, 2011.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. Good luck!!