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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 Goblet of Fire

When I started typing this post, I had to squeal out loud and couldn't stop grinning. After six months, I'm catching up with my Revisiting Hogwarts posts. *squeeeeee* Six months may not be a long time but it is to me because I have been blogging for less than 10 months only. So, it was also an amusing trip to those initial months and seeing if my style of writing really changed or if it is the same.

(Spoiler alert: the Revisting Hogwarts feature assumes that you have at least 10 OWLs and 5 NEWTs.)
"We start by recruiting members," said Hermione happily. "I thought two Sickles to join - that buys a badge - and the proceeds can fund our leaflet campaign. You’re treasurer, Ron - I’ve got you a collecting tin upstairs - and Harry, you’re secretary, so you might want to write down everything I’m saying now, as a record of our first meeting."

There was a pause in which Hermione beamed at the pair of them, and Harry sat, torn between exasperation at Hermione, and amusement at the look on Ron’s face.

I finally managed to get caught up with this series (never mind that it is for the umpteenth time). The fourth book of the Harry Potter series - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is the first of the chunksters. It is also, to me at least, the first of the books geared for an older audience. And that's understandable, because Harry Potter and his friends are not kids anymore - both in age and in experience. They're also beginning to appreciate the opposite sex as more than just people to be friends with. They are beginning to have more serious fights and ego clashes, and are starting to play a greater role in the evil that happens outside.
"You're not by any chance writing out a new order form, are you?" said Mrs. Weasley shrewdly.

"Now, Mum," said Fred, looking up at her, a pained look on his face. "If the Hogwarts Express crashed tomorrow and George and I died, how would you feel knowing that the last thing we ever heard from you was an unfounded accusation?"

This is one of my favorite books, second only to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, for many reasons. Other than the obvious facts that this is more age-appropriate to me, compared to the first three books (*snicker*), this also happens to be the very first Harry Potter book I ever read, and the one that introduced me to this series, making me obsessed with all things Harry Potter for the rest of my life. "Obsessed" is right, and this is the only obsession that I will ever admit to, otherwise I like to say that I don't get swayed by anything - be it movies, actors or real-life people. When this book was released, I smirked at all the hoopla around this book. Then my cousin (hugs to him) made begged pestered nagged tormented me until I read it. After that, I smirked at anyone who smirked at the Harry Potter phenomenon. There are still many people who do that - laugh at me like I am a baby when they come to know that I love this series. I pity them - they are missing out on something truly amazing. If they gave it a try and didn't like it, that's another matter. Or if they aren't reading it out of choice, it's still okay. But not trying it and criticizing others (not just smirking) is plain lame.
"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."

What I love about this book is that Harry's whole fourth year spreads more pages than the previous three books. There is plenty of drama and ooh-la-la moments. There are pages I deliberately read slowly because I know what's going to come and because I want to feel those moments, as if I am part of the audience too. One of my favorite scenes is when Harry's name comes out of the Goblet. That was probably a tragic moment in Harry Potter history, but to me that was splendid, because of how well J.K. Rowling wrote that chapter - the building excitement, the noise, the cheers, the babbling voices, all instantly vanished in a moment like someone switched off a noisy radio, when the fourth name comes out of the goblet; and then the painful long pause while Dumbledore stares at name on the paper and the rest of the people stare at him. Wow! Gotta love that - I read that passage so many times and still don't tire of it.
It turned out that Hagrid knew quite as much about unicorns as he did about monsters, though it was clear that he found their lack of poisonous fangs disappointing.

One of my favorite characters in this series also returns in this book - Dobby. In real life, if I knew someone like Dobby, I would just run in opposite direction. Imagine being worshipped so much by anyone! In fact, this Facebook page captures Dobby's obsession so well, that it feels like stalking. But it is the elf's innocence and love for the freedom he is denied that makes him so enduring.
"Percy wouldn't recognize a joke if it danced in front of him wearing Dobby's tea cozy."

This book, in so many ways serves as a Part one for the next book. For instance, Dumbledore and Hermione are already stressing about the importance of better relations between wizards of different countries - even before Voldemort has risen. The possibility of a Ron-Hermione pairing is hinted at, and  Ginny gets over her infatuation with Harry. The first time I read this book (after reading the previous three books), I never noticed Ginny's lack of grace around Harry. She was always stumbling around, blushing hard or being plain clumsy in Harry's presence, in the first three books. In this book, she doesn't even bat an eyelid around him, and I barely noticed it until I read the fifth book, when Hermione mentions it to Harry and he himself realizes. That was certainly well-done by J.K. Rowling.

My memory of this movie is really bad though. I believe I watched it only once, maybe twice. Either ways, there are so many scenes I don't remember. I should probably make it a point to rent out those first six movies in time for the release of the part one to the seventh movie. I definitely won't read the seventh book before the movie, much as I want to - that has always ruined my experience.

Related reading:
Revisiting Hogwarts: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Revisiting Hogwarts: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Revisiting Hogwarts: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

This book features Portkeys for the first time in the series. If you had a portkey that you could magic to take you to ONE place on earth for 5 whole minutes, where would that be?


bermudaonion said…
Great post! It's hard for me to believe you've only been blogging for 10 months - you've had a lot go on in that 10 months!
Athira said…
Kathy, I know, I feel the same way too! I'm wondering whether time is going too slow!
I am a Harry Potter fan through and through. Have been since page one of the first book. I really liked Goblet of Fire as well. I liked how the characters started to mature.
Tales of Whimsy said…
I need to revisit Hogwarts.
Lisa said…
My boys both love this series. My oldest really did grow up with them. He was ten, I think, when the first one came out and he devoured it. Then as soon as he'd get each new one, he'd read every moment he wasn't in school until it was done. Could hardly get him to eat or sleep until those books were done. He'd completely relate to your love of the books!
Unknown said…
great review!!!!!!!
I am a potter series fan too....
and i completely understand how the smirking phenomenon goes...i myself was thinking of reviewing the 4th and 5th book but now after reading this I don't think so, I would do a justice to it :)
Athira said…
Helen, the characters really seem to come into their own, right? I loved it!

Juju, yay! You should!

Lisa, it would have been so much fun to actually grow with the books. I'm so glad that the books didn't remain oriented towards the young crowd, but rather grew with the characters.

nj, oh please, you should review them - I would love to read. I'm always up for anything Potter-related, as I'm sure many others are too!
Unknown said…

this was a general review i wrote earlier...