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on October 6, 2015
SPECIAL NOTE: For U.S. customers purchasing the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, you will notice the text has NOT been converted to the "Americanized" version of the original U.S. releases (with the exception of changing all "Philosopher's Stone" mentions to "Sorcerer's Stone"). So far, I have noticed the following: (EU/US) dialling / dialing; Shan't! / Won't!; sherbet lemon / lemon drop; motorbike / motorcycle; and dustbin / trashcan. For many purists of the series who never liked the idea of modifying the original text for an American audience, this is a good thing. Good or bad is naturally for each reader to decide--just know, if you plan to read the books while listening to Jim Dale's audiobooks, you'll notice a few superficial differences.

The quality of this new illustrated edition is phenomenal. I've been excited about the release of this book since it was announced, but I never expected the book as a whole to be so well crafted.

A couple of things to note:
1. Underneath the book jacket, the novel is bound in a sturdy red hardback with gold lettering on the spine.
2. The paper is thick with an eggshell glossy finish.
3. All chapter intros are illustrated.
4. Some images take up full pages or multiple pages. Most illustrations share the page with text.
5. Every inch of the book is illustrated or decorated in some fashion. There are NO white pages in the book. Even the pages without large illustrations have the paper printed and marked with ink blots or paper "stains".

I would highly recommend this for anyone looking to read the series (again, or for the first time), especially if you plan to read this with someone younger. If this book is a demonstration of what is to come with the illustrated editions for the rest of the series, we're all in for six more impeccable treats.
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VINE VOICEon October 6, 2015
The book itself and illustrations are absolutely, incredibly extraordinary. In that way, this is 100% a 10-STAR book and is absolutely to die for for Harry Potter fans. I was ravenous to get my hands on my copy as soon as it was delivered this morning, but was quickly disappointed.

First, Amazon's packaging was utterly and despicably inadequate. (See Photo) My book was shipped in a box, with *no packing material* of any kind. At first glance, it seemed OK. But when I took a close look at my dust jacket, I was extremely upset to find that the gold foil lettering for "Harry Potter" had been rubbed away and destroyed completely in some places leaving ugly, black matte in its place-- pock marking the otherwise handsome gold lettering. Also, the matte-finish of the dust jacket had been rubbed so badly due to the bad packaging that it left scars and shiny markings where the matte finish was worn off. For an obvious gift/collectors item, this is absolutely unacceptable. I called Amazon and they didn't seem to "get" what my fuss was all about and just offered to ship a replacement which, undoubtedly, will be shipped in exactly the same way.

Second, after I got over my initial outrage over the shipping/packaging. I sat down to enjoy the actual book itself, which as I said is absolutely extraordinary! I was extremely cautious handling the book and binding, being unsure how tolerant the binding is of weight. I carefully opened both the right and left sides of the binding and supported the weight of the opened cover using a small pillow. By the time I reached the back 3/4th of the book (on Professor McGonagall's full page illustration) the binding separated from the spine the very first time I turned the page. In other words, the binding fell apart during my very first pass through the book. (See Photo). Another thing that really drove me crazy was the way that the stitched in book mark was carelessly folded into the book. It left dents all over my pages (See Photo), which of course had to be on a full page illustration of Hagrid!

Needless to say I'm in awe how Bloomsbury has managed to put together such an incredible project, with JK Rowling's remarkable literature and Jim Kay's otherworldly illustrations-- and allowed it to be put together in a low quality binding! I noticed that all of the previous Harry Potter books were printed and bound in USA (some in Mexico) but this book was printed and bound in China. I would like to hope that they would quality check a thing like this, but perhaps not. Either way, I am extremely disappointed in the quality/binding of my book. I would be interested to know if others are seeing the same thing. And please, Amazon, pack these books in bubble wrap and packing material! Not all alone in a box...

Update (October 9th): I have finally received my new book and it was in much, much better condition. The cover and spine were tight, intact and falling apart from the binding like my original copy. Addtl photos to follow...
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on October 3, 2017
The book is amazing, as always. I love these illustrated editions and wish I had young children to read them to! I am very disappointed in Amazon's shipping AGAIN. The book was not cushioned in anyway so it was tossed around inside a box too big for it on it's journey here. The book jacket now has peeling and wear all along the edges. How very sad! I collect these. I expect them to be shipped properly.
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on October 6, 2015
The numerous illustrations are a wonderful addition to a brilliant book and will bring the story to life for young readers just growing into the series. Be aware, however, that books in this new illustrated series are quite substantial in size and weight, with pages so wide that column format is used for the text. I imagine that later books in the series will rival encyclopedias. Prepare your bookshelf accordingly.
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on June 27, 2017
Obviously, it's hard not to love this series. This edition is one of the most beautiful editions I have owned. It is the Ravenclaw Edition which was printed for the 20th Anniversary of the first publishing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (you can find Editions for all of the houses). What makes this edition different besidea the cover is the bonus information inside. You get information about the House, the founder, notable people who have come from that house, the house ghost and even a fun quiz to take at the back of the book. I hope they do something similar for the 20th Anniversary of all of the books in the series.
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on October 8, 2012
Having read some of the more negative views, I have to say this: Would you have ranked "1984", "The Bluest Eye", "The Grapes of Wrath", or "Great Expectations" so badly? Guess what, some of the best stories aren't fun-filled light reading! Some of the best works are disturbing, even sad. So, if your view of literature is that a book can only be worthwhile if you can breeze through it having a fun adventure, then don't bother with this book. This is something else entirely.

That said, "The Casual Vacancy" is a disturbing character study. It is written in third-person omniscient point of view. It does require some effort to handle a story with some 18 or so viewpoint characters, so this book will be at too high a reading level for some. I normally don't like the omniscient POV, but this story had to be told that way and Rowling handles it with expertise.

So, what is this book about? It is about pain and cruelty and why people become cruel. There are no traditional protagonists or antagonists, just people going through life. Rowling explores the various ways that people become cruel, angry, or jaded with each main character showing a different form of cruelty and a different reason for it. And, this book is about the people that get hurt by other people's pain and anger.

This isn't an easy book to read, probably the reason so many have reviewed it negatively. But, this is a brilliantly written book, just not for everyone.

This novel is written with a seldom-seen narrative structure. In this structure the story begins with a simple, perhaps commonplace, connection between a group of people (in this case, someone dies, which has some effect on each of these characters). The narrative then explores how each character's life led him or her to be present for that connecting event and then the character moves on past the single event. As this structure is used for a character study, the connecting event may not even be particularly important. Instead, we see a collection of interconnected characters as the main thrust of the novel, rather than a single story unfolding. In this case, we follow how the death at the beginning of the novel affects approximately 18 characters.

I highly recommend this book to those who want to read something thought-provoking and actually about the real world. But, if you want some light reading that you don't have to think about, then stay away from "The Casual Vacancy".

To those who reviewed it negatively because it wasn't like Harry Potter, I can only ask whether they were paying attention. Rowling explored many of these themes, hidden behind the window dressing of fantasy, in those books. That is why Harry Potter was not just another of the countless stories about magical children. She continues this exploration in "The Casual Vacancy", but without the magic and without the restrictions of children's literature.

Edited to add: I realize that Rowling has described this as a dark comedy. I don't know why she has said that. Perhaps she had intended this to be a comedy, and there are some satirical scenes, but it grew into something else as she developed and revised it. Whatever the case, I saw very little that was humorous in this book. I did greatly appreciate the book, but I don't know why she would claim it was a comedy, dark or otherwise.
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on October 15, 2017
The first two illustrated versions were beautiful. This one really let me down. I felt like there was a lack of variety of illustrations, and the ones that there were didn’t have the detail and complexity of the previous books. Perhaps (darn it) a year isn’t enough time to create the art captured before. I hope the next one goes back to the detail and breathtaking art of books one and two.
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on August 13, 2016
Can I give this book more that 5 stars? I love Harry Potter books and this book with the illustrations is just amazing! I have such a hard time putting it down one because it's Harry Potter and two because these illustrations are fantastic. I have so many pictures in my head about how so and so looks for how the sorting hat looks. I'm sure many of these are influenced by the movies. But this illustrator didn't seem to let the movies getting his way. Who came up with such wonderful and unique illustrations good show you a glimpse in to the way that he sees Harry Potter.

This is the third set, obviously just the first book is out, Harry Potter books that we have in our household. If there were more to get they would probably be in our house as well.

I love that they have created these books and keeping the fans happy! I realize it makes money for them so they are happy!

The written layout format is slightly different then that's normal filling up the page, from left to right, text this is in four columns layout. Not that different just thought I would note that.

I am always, always happy to talk Harry Potter and so I am very happy to get to post pictures from my book and to give you my thoughts on this wonderful wonderful book. I can't wait for the next book to come out so I can stare at all the beautiful illustrations.
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on September 15, 2017
I’ve read this book a few of dozen times over the years. I’ve tried, each time, to figure out how to put into words my feelings on it. I fail every time. But here I am, trying once again. I’m going to try and speak of just this book in this review – so (beyond these few statements) I won’t touch on how incredibly built the series is. Each book is builds on the ones before it, widening and strengthening the world. There are foreshadowings and moments peppered throughout the series that sometimes don’t come into play for many books to come. As Harry grows and becomes more mature, so too do these books. It’s something that’s almost impossible to realize here, in the first one, and that I still appreciate each and every time I pick up this series.

When I first picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone I had no idea the impact it would have on my life. It was just a story, about a boy that finds out he’s a wizard and has to fight the forces of evil. That’s what I thought when I started it that first time.

Very quickly I was drawn into the world of magic that J.K. Rowling penned, surrounded by witches and wizards, magic, and muggles. When I try to examine my feelings for this (and all future books), I run into the problem of not being able to quantify what makes it so special.

The story is a classic; boy finds out he’s special, learns about world, fights evil, wins. The world is intricate and fun, with a lot of cleverness – plays on words, simple ciphers, and logic puzzles made me smile – while still being straightforward. The characters, though varied and three-dimensional, are fairly standard.

And yet, this all combines into this wonderful, fantastical world that pulls me in and makes me wonder what’s hiding behind that brick wall over there, or what I might be missing out of the corner of my eye.

I remember, distinctly, the feeling of sorrow that I had upon finishing this first book and realizing I was already too old to get a letter to Hogwarts. The world is so enchanting that I can’t help but want to be a part of it. It’s all about the feeling that it evokes in me. It makes me feel like there’s magic in the world, and it’s not necessarily the turn-a-mouse-into-a-snuff-box type of magic, or the type where the chess pieces actually fight each other (though, how awesome would that be?). It’s the type where friendship is stronger than anything that gets thrown at it. Where people, kids, can fight against injustice and wrong – and win. It lets you know that life isn’t always fair, and that you might have to battle against things that are scary and horrible, but the happiness at the end is always worth it.

And I suppose that’s what keeps me coming back, time and time again, to re-read, revisit, and relive this story. It makes me feel a part of something amazing.

And that is definitely magical.
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on September 17, 2017
Delightful, just delightful. The Kindle-in-Motion illustrations are all you could hope for, starting with the delicious cover. The portraits, both still and moving ones, are extraordinarily beautiful. I was so impressed and delighted. I showed the book to my mother on her I-Pad and she literally clapped her hands and said, "I have seen so many things in my nine decades, but to think I would live see books that move! What a wonder!" Enjoy the story again.
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