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J K (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling was born in the summer of 1965 at Yate General Hospital in England and grew up in Chepstow, Gwent where she went to Wyedean Comprehensive. Jo left Chepstow for Exeter University, where she earned a French and Classics degree, and where her course included one year in Paris. As a postgraduate she moved to London to work at Amnesty International, doing research into human rights abuses in Francophone Africa. She started writing the Harry Potter series during a Manchester to London King's Cross train journey, and during the next five years, outlined the plots for each book and began writing the first novel. Jo then moved to northern Portugal, where she taught English as a foreign language. She married in October 1992 and gave birth to her daughter Jessica in 1993. When her marriage ended, she returned to the UK to live in Edinburgh, where "Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone" was eventually completed and in 1996 she received an offer of publication. The following summer the world was introduced to Harry Potter."Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was published by Bloomsbury Children's Books in June 1997 and was published as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in America by Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic in September 1998.The second title in the series, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", was published in July 1998 (June 2, 1999 in America) and was No. 1 in the adult hardback bestseller charts for a month after publication. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" was published on 8th July 1999 (September 8, 1999 in America) to worldwide acclaim and massive press attention. The book spent four weeks at No.1 in the adult hardback bestseller charts, while "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" simultaneously topped the paperback charts. In the US the first three Harry Potter books occupied the top three spots on numerous adult bestseller lists.The fourth book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" was published in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia 8th July 2000 with a record first print run of 1 million copies for the UK and 3.8 million for the US. It quickly broke all records for the greatest number of books sold on the first weekend of publication. The fifth book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," was published in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia on 21st June 2003. Published in paperback on 10th July 2004, it is the longest in the series - 766 pages - and broke the records set by "Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire" as the fastest selling book in history. The sixth book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", was published in the UK, US and other English-speaking countries on 16th July 2005 and also achieved record sales.The seventh and final book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," was published in the UK, US and other English speaking countries on 21st July 2007. The book is the fastest selling book in the UK and USA and sales have contributed to breaking the 375 million copies mark worldwide.J K Rowling has also written two small volumes, which appear as the titles of Harry's school books within the novels. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" and "Quidditch Through The Ages" were published by Bloomsbury Children's Books and Scholastic in March 2001 in aid of Comic Relief. The Harry Potter books have sold 400 million copies worldwide. They are distributed in over 200 territories and are translated into 67 languages.
ORDER OF THE PHOENIX could well be my favorite book of them all, if Azkaban and Deathly Hallows weren't as good as they were. For all the talk about GOBLET being the one where Rowling really hikes up the intensity and the complexity in the series, it is here, in PHOENIX, she gives us Potter's darkest, and most complex, adventure of all.
The second most complex novel in the entire Potter sequence (the first being Book 7), this book is probably the second best one, though I still like Azkaban better. This novel introduces the Order of the Phoenix, a whole litany of new characters and a more indepth look at the Ministry For Magic.
Potter has been having bad dreams about a locked door. So he must find out what to do about that. While at home with the Dursleys, he and Dudley are attacked by dementors, and so he stands trial before the Ministry for the inappropriate use of underage magic. He ultimately must appear before the Ministry, and it is only by Dumbledore's appearance he is saved.
But the Ministry is not finished yet. Still under staunch denial that Voldemort is back, Cornelius Fudge sends a new teacher, Dolores Umbridge, to bring Hogwarts under the Ministry's control. Much of the storyline revolves around Umbridge as she takes over Hogwarts, eventually ousting Dumbledore, who goes on the run. Her end is very well justified.
I remember when I read the book back in 2003 when it initially came out being rather disappointed. I wasn't a big fan of GOBLET, and I couldn't way to spend more time in Harry's universe, being back at Hogwarts with characters I know and love. But when I read PHOENIX, though, I felt even more lost and rather alienated. Hogwarts was being taken over. Hagrid was missing for half the book.Read more ›
I can only imagine the kind of pressure J.K. Rowling faces when she sits down to write a Harry Potter book. Though she's said she worked out the whole seven-book series on a fateful train ride she took in the late '90s, she couldn't possibly have imagined that the series would turn into this: midnight bookstore parties, record print runs, and a generation of children (and adults) hanging on to her every written word. "This" has now reached a new apogee with its fifth entry, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the longest (870 pages) and most dense (more characters, more complexity) book of the series. And Rowling once again pulls it off. Harry's adolescent funk "Phoenix" begins in the usual place, the Dursleys' house at number four, Privet Drive, in Little Whinging, England. The Dursleys, Harry's guardians, have become more frightened of Harry's magical abilities -- and the now 15-year-old Harry, having sunk into an adolescent funk of bitterness, anger and self-pity, is more than happy to keep them guessing. But Harry soon has bigger problems. Once he's back at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he's treated as a pariah by most students for his insistence that the evil Lord Voldemort is back -- and, indeed, played a role in the death of a student at the end of "Goblet of Fire." Only a handful of professors and Harry's close friends -- among them Hermione and Ron -- support him. Harry also struggles with the series' latest villain, Dolores Umbridge, a condescending representative from the Ministry of Magic who assumes a leadership role at Hogwarts. The students' psychological battles with the odious Umbridge are the best parts of "Phoenix," and Rowling writes them with a wicked zest.Read more ›
As I've been reading many of the reviews here, I see that the opinion of the readers is split down the middle; either they hated it or loved it, no middle ground to tread. It irrtated me thoroughly when readers complained about the length and cookie cutter plot. First off, I would like to remind readers that, while each book does have its own plot, IT IS A SERIES. The books must stay related in plot so there can be a combined OVER ALL PLOT. It would be incredibly confusing if each book whirl-winded off into unknown, very new plot lines. Second, the length is not too much, while the sheer volume of the book is enough to ward many people off, it is not overdone. Nothing's truly 'repeated' (as one reviewer has mentioned), in fact, we (as readers) get to visit two new places that we've never been before; that Harry's never been before--therefore, a long explanation of these places is needed. Lastly, I would like to note that people need to read it again and again and again, just as Harry Potter fans read the first four books over and over while waiting for this one, certainly they should and can read this one again. I was unsatisfied at first with the book when I finished reading it, but out of my love for Harry Potter, I picked it up again, and loved it. JK likes to hide subtle hints in the text that unfold throughout the book, and when you start it for the second or third time, you know what's going to happen, therefore you can concentrate on your present spot in the book. That's actually what happened to me: I was so excited that it was finally published, I read it in seventeen hours straight, just so I could have the whole fifth book story line in my head, to know what happened. I didn't concentrate on the diction or comedy or any of it; I was just reading for the plot.Read more ›