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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

Revisiting Hogwarts: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This weekend, I re-read the second book of the Harry Potter series - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This has always been my least favorite book of this series, because of which I never read this book too many times - in fact, probably only slightly more than the number of times I re-read the last two books of the series. When I scouted for opinions of other Harry Potter fans, I heard the same feeling echoed by most. What is it about this book that has made us like it less than the others? Is it because it is geared towards a much younger audience? But the first book is also geared to the same crowd. Is it because there is lesser humor in this book than there are tragedies? If you like this book the least, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

I'm not sure why this was my least favorite either. (Yes, I say was. More on that later.) I guess it had something to do with Aragog and his clan, or even the Basilisk. These are the creatures I was least impressed with in the entire series. There is also not much "variety" as there is in the other books. It's mostly the attacks and the voices.

One thing I decided when I started re-reading this series, was to walk into the adventure with no prior biases. That helped greatly this time. When I closed this book, I was surprised to see that I actually enjoyed this book much more than I ever did previously. That was one of the biggest surprises to me this time. I like it when re-reading brings to my attention things I missed earlier. Though, truth be told, there really isn't anything I've missed in this series, having re-read it too many times.

I had forgotten that this book introduces so many firsts. It gives us our first glimpse to the Burrow, the gnome hunting, Harry's connection to Voldemort via his ability to speak Parseltongue and similarities in upbringing, Dumbledore's impressive office, Dobby - my favorite elf, Lucius Malfoy, Ginny. I think that's why I liked it a lot this time. This is actually the first book that's setting the stage for future events (Riddle's diary, Harry learning how to do the disarming spell - Expelliarmus at the Dueling Club, Dobby's obsessive dedication, are just some of them).

Don't you just wish the Burrow was your home? I can very much understand Harry's love for that place and how much he wished he could stay there. The ghoul in the attic, the talking mirror, the gnomes in the garden, the crooked house, a vociferous family, Fred and George (who wouldn't love to have them as brothers!). Another scene I re-enjoyed in this book is Lockhart's Valentine's Day celebrations. All those dwarfs running around all day, interrupting class to deliver valentines.

So here are my favorite quotes from this book:

"See, they're not too bright," said George, seizing five or six gnomes at once. "The moment they know the de-gnoming's going on they storm up to have a look. You'd think they'd have learned by now just to stay put."

"'Course, he's very ambitious, Percy, he's got it all planned out... He wants to be Minister of Magic..." Ron told Harry and Hermione in an undertone as they left Percy to it.

Harry had seen Professor McGonagall angry on several occasions, but either he had forgotten just how thin her mouth could go, or he had never seen her this angry before.

"If you must know, when I was three, Fred turned my - my teddy bear into a great big filthy spider because I broke his toy broomstick... You wouldn't like them either if you'd been holding your bear and suddenly it had too many legs and... "

"If, in a month or so, you feel like explaining, you will let us know, won't you?" said Ron irritably.

"It'll be down to you, Harry, to show them that a Seeker has to have something more than a rich father. Get to that Snitch before Malfoy or die trying, Harry, because we've got to win today, we've got to."
"So no pressure, Harry" said Fred, winking at him.

Deliberately causing mayhem in Snape's Potions class was about as safe as poking a sleeping dragon in the eye.

"Make way for the Heir of Slytherin, seriously evil wizard coming through...
Percy was deeply disapproving of this behavior.
"It is not a laughing matter," he said coldly.
"Oh, get out of the way, Percy," said Fred. "Harry's in a hurry."
"Yeah, he's off to the Chamber of Secrets for a cup of tea with his fanged servant," said George, chortling.

"But why's she got to go to the library?"
"Because that's what Hermione does," said Ron, shrugging. "When in doubt, go to the library."

"You're alive," she said blankly to Harry.
"There's no need to sound so disappointed," he said grimly, wiping flecks of blood and slime off his glasses.
"Oh, well ... I'd just been thinking ... if you had died, you'd have been welcome to share my toilet," said Myrtle, blushing silver.

Read: Revisiting Hogwarts: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

What do you think of the second book? Is it anywhere among your top favorites?

If you haven't read this series yet, what keeps you away from it?


bermudaonion said…
I enjoyed this whole series, but do remember that one book didn't live up to the others. It's been so long since I read them that I can't remember which one.

I can't believe how young the actors look in that photo!
Tales of Whimsy said…
Awesome quotes. It's been SO long since I've read these. I wish I could contribute more to your awesome endeavor :)
Ana S. said…
I always name this as my least favourite book in the series as well...maybe a re-read would set me straight :P
Alyce said…
I'm listening to the this on audiobook right now. I love the books, but I'd have to say that you're right that this is my least favorite. I hadn't really ever thought about it before to try to pinpoint why though. I think it's just a combination of everything - little things like Dobby mucking things up and Ron spewing slugs, etc. That being said I do still like the book. I remember the first time I read through them all I couldn't wait to read the next book and see what horrible things the Dursleys were going to do, and couldn't wait for their comeuppance.
I don't remember how much I liked this book because I read it such a long time ago! I always enjoy watching the movie, though. And I've been wanting/needing to re-read the whole HP series, so I'll be able to have a stronger opinion then!
Sherry said…
It's so hard to pick a favorite! I love them all equally for diferent reasons. #1 through 3 seemed to be written more for children (I adore that childlike approach to magic) and then the other books became darker - which was realistic. Nope I can't pick one and I can't rank them.
Library Cat said…
I did not begin to read these books until last year - I was 55. I absolutely loved them. There was one that I did not cherish, but I cannot remember which one. My friend who convinced me to read them says only after two or three readings do you really appreciate the story!
Literary Feline said…
I've only read the series once and can't say I have a least favorite. I hope to revisit the series one of these days. They are such delightful books. And, yes, I agree! It would be fun to live in the Burrow.
Athira said…
Kathy, looking at the photos of the actors was quite fun, especially comparing them between their first movie and now.

Juju, when I re-read these books, I feel like it has truly been a long time too! I'd love to read what you think of this series too!

Nymeth, I always said the same thing too LOL, but I'm glad I won't be saying that anymore. :)

Alyce, you said it spot on! Those were a couple of things I didn't like too. Ron's slug episode was so gross! But yes, in spite of this having been my worst book, I still looked forward to the next book. :) It's all in the relative!

Emidy, I hope you get to re-read this soon! I somehow didn't like any of the movies so far. It was fun watching, but I kept comparing the movies with the books and felt something missing.

Sherry, you said it so well! The child-like approach to magic was so lovely. I liked the growth of the series with the characters.

Library Cat, your friend is so right. On my re-reads, especially after the 7th book was released, I was able to pick things and relations I missed earlier.

Literary Feline, it's funny not having a least favorite. I say this because till now I had a least fav (the 2nd book), but now I am like you, I don't know if I will have a least favorite now. :)
Aliz Cloe said…
SPOILERS for those who have not read all seven books!
The first Harry Potter book is why I now love reading! Without it I would properly still hate learning, be horribly dyslexic, and loath all books, instead of being a know it all that has been on a college reading level since fourth grade. The second and third books are filled with firsts, and character development, and while I love them they are not my favorite. That may have be because they are written more for children. 
The fourth book is my number one favorite, but a large part of that may be from the dragons, and learning more about the wizard world. I do wish Cedric hadn't died, but understand why JK killed him.
The fifth book is my least favorite. Teenage angst, manipulative Dumbledore, the-toad-from-hell, and the death of one of my favorite characters. For a long time after this book came out I hated Dumbledore, and wouldn't even try to understand why Sirius was a necessary death for the plot, and Harry's character development. The only parts I really like was the DA, and the Umbridge bashing(GO Weasley Twins!).
The sixth book was pretty good, and I liked how it progressed all the characters.  There are some parts I didn't like, and some I did. 
I absolutely  loved, and hated, the seventh book! I loved that it ended happy, and it was wonderfully written. I hated that so many people died (FRED! I will never forget you!), and were hurt. I hated it even more for the fact that it was the last. It was over, no more Harry Potter! I was so sad after I finished.