Po tak dlouhé době?

This is what happened when my godfather decided to get married in Prague the day Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published.

To give a bit of backstory: I spent a term in France with my school and two weeks before we were due to fly back home, I broke my ankle. I ended up off my feet leaving me unable to go on the trip to the nearest town to find English copies of the Order of the Phoenix. The next day I was on the phone to my parents when my sister took the phone, said “SIRIUS DIES” and gave it back to my parents. So yes, I needed Deathly Hallows the day it came out.

So there I was, stuck in Prague with no hope of reading Deathly Hallows unless I suddenly became fluent in Czech, which wasn’t likely.

The wedding day was hectic with people everywhere shouting in various languages and everyone getting caught up in the moment. Nobody noticed a tall English man slipping away from the crowd. Afterwards, the party was in full swing and I actually completely forgot about the book, or my lack of it.

The next day, we were leaving to drive to Croatia. My sister and I were in our parents’ room, tired and not really looking forward to very long drive ahead of us. I had become painfully aware of my lack of book.

All of a sudden, a bag was put in front of each of us. In each bag was a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. My bloody wonderful genius of a father had found an English language bookshop in Prague, called and reserved two copies of Deathly Hallows before we left England, slipped off to pick them up before the wedding and not told anyone.

My parents have done some crazy things for us, and this is one of my favourites. Completely crazy and so massively appreciated.

We spent the next 10 days visiting parts of Croatia, driving to Bosnia for the day and reading the Deathly Hallows. Obviously I read it faster than my sister, so a repeat of Book 5 was impossible.

Advertisements

2014top10: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

In the weeks running up to New Year I’m going to post reviews of the best ten books I read this year. They will be in no particular order until the final one which is my favourite of them all.

As it stands they include four YA books, three adult, one fantasy and a graphic novel (ish). 70% of them are written by women, two are debuts and all bar three have been newly published in the UK this year. One of them is a hardback I lugged around for a few weeks, one I read in an hour, another I read twice in three hours and one of them is the most challenging books I’ve read this year.

They’re my favourites because of what they say, how I came across them, who gave them to me, how I felt reading them, their writing and how I remember them.

I’ve written about one so far, on to the next.

only ever yours

The second I heard about this book I was completely desperate to read it. It was a painful three months or so before finally, FINALLY, I had it and was home and reading it, and it was phenomenal. The concept, a dystopia where girls are bred in schools and taught the art of pleasing men, is timely and creepy, and Louise wrote it wonderfully. Everything down to the girls’ names being written in lowercase (reviewers who have ignored this, don’t), the bitchiness and the ending is perfect.

At the time, I was bored of dystopia and love triangles, but all of a sudden this book burst onto the scene with its creepy cover, quite irritating protagonist and brilliantly crafted world. I fell asleep reading it late at night (a bad habit of mine), woke up the next morning and immediately went back to reading it. It completely engrossed and scared me. The characters aren’t entirely likeable but they’re realistic, especially the girls who live their lives together (believe me, I went to an all girls boarding school). The snide remarks, judging and every day ranking create a suffocating world that’s impossible to escape, because as long as frieda is in the school, the reader is in the school and there’s no way out. It’s a really brilliant piece of writing.

These days it feels like something is shifting in the world with feminism becoming a very prominent conversation and a constantly swinging pendulum between “Yay, we’re moving forward” and “Oh god, we’re so not”. Only Ever Yours is a book everyone should read today. Aside from the fact it’s so well realised it’s believable, it’s an extreme look at how women are treated, girls are sexualised and how if people are taught it’s okay, nothing will change. Louise is an author to watch, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

My only gripe is I want to read it again and my friend is holding my copy hostage.

2014top10: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

In the weeks running up to New Year I’m going to post reviews of the best ten books I read this year. They will be in no particular order until the final one which is my favourite of them all.

As it stands they include four YA books, three adult, one fantasy and a graphic novel (ish). 70% of them are written by women, two are debuts and all bar three have been newly published in the UK this year. One of them is a hardback I lugged around for a few weeks, one I read in an hour, another I read twice in three hours and one of them is the most challenging books I’ve read this year.

They’re my favourites because of what they say, how I came across them, who gave them to me, how I felt reading them, their writing and how I remember them.

And so we begin.

Life after life

Until February I’d never read a Kate Atkinson book, and currently this is the only one I’ve read, but my god if it isn’t the best advert for her. At the time I worked at Waterstones and had seen the hardback fly off the shelves, read the first few pages and promptly forgotten about it. Then the paperback came out and I knew it would fly off the tables so I put it on my growing To Buy pile in the stock room.

Soon after, I found myself missing tube stops, walking into stairs and losing track of time on my breaks. It completely engrossed me. I didn’t fully understand what was going on until about a third of the way through when I went back over a few chapters and worked it out, but when it clicked it blew me away. I LOVE anything that deals with time and parallel timelines (see: my current Interstellar obsession). I also love anything that is set in a world just slightly different from ours. So slightly, if you lived it in you may not notice it (see: Harry Potter). Reading Ursula live the same moment over and over, from as far back as years to as little as minutes, was excruciating and wonderful. Every time I hoped she would get it right and be allowed to move on, as if she was playing the most intense game of life.

Truly this blew me away. After I read it I wouldn’t shut up about it. I could talk people into submission, and still can. With the news of a sort of sequel on the way, I can’t recommend this enough.

And I know at some point I’ll find my TBR pile invaded by everything else Kate has written. Her writing is really quite something.