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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

I always feel like this is the Harry Potter book that goes from a childish fantasy tale to a series that is complex and a little too serious. Partly it’s because of the content, but I it’s also because if you look in the book case, this book is a LOT thicker than the first three tales in this epic story. Since the first Harry Potter book, I have loved J.K. Rowling’s investigation of relationships. From Ron, Harry and Hermione’s rocky start to their friendship to Malfoy’s jealousy, the relationships follow a really realistic pattern and feel real. And the Goblet of Fire follows this progression.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Growing up, The Prisoner of Azkaban was my least favourite Harry Potter book. It just seemed slightly slower and a little off-topic. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve finally gotten a good appreciation of how wonderful this story actually is. I love the character of Sirius and finally getting to meet him and watch the story of James Potter’s childhood unfold is really interesting. After reading the whole series numerous times, the set up in this story makes the rest of the series make so much more sense. The small pieces that seemed so insignificant when I was a child are actually what make the series so potent.

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Subversive Spiritualities by Frederique Apffel-Marglin

This book was such a unique experience for me – it was an engaging and insightful look into phenomenological ethnography. For those of you who don’t know (as I didn’t when I started reading this book), phenomenology is the different ways in which we view the world. Our phenomenological understandings of our realities are shaped by culture, personal experience and spiritual considerations, amongst other things. Ethnographies, of which I have read a few, are anthropological texts. Ethnographies involve the author immersing themselves into another’s culture and life. Here they participate and observe at the same time, at once part of the group and separate.

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The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

Riordan tried a new tack in this story – in that he split the storyline into two stories, running parallel in time. It effectively split the story into the well-known characters of Percy and Annabeth, and the new arrivals in the Percy-verse. This gave the story such a variety and flavour that it was hard not to continue to flip the pages late into the night.

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The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

For me, The Mark of Athena was Annabeth’s story. She first had to test her pride and courage in Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth, but it was this journey that really tested all that she was. Not only was she forced to strike out on her own and rely completely on her own skills, but Annabeth had a huge choice to make. Honour her mother’s wishes or save the others (and in the meantime, the world).

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The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

The Son of Neptune introduces yet another one of my favourite characters from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Nico completely plucked at my heartstrings throughout his story and his inability to fit in (even with children who tend to be misfits) made me feel some kind of kinship with him. He is still very dark and unhappy and has a layer of mystery surrounding him – it’s hard to tell whether he is on the side of the heroes, or willing to let the world fall.

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