caz963: (Default)
You know how, sometimes, you see or read or listen to something that really makes an impression on you? So much so that it stays with you long after you first encountered it?

Back in 1985/6, I picked up a book - completely randomly, and because I thought it sounded interesting - by a British author called Stella Riley. It was historical fiction, which is my literary drug of choice and has been since I was eleven years old - and was set during the English Civil war. It's all based on fact, and many of the characters in the book existed, although the two protagonists in the romance that runs throughout it are fictional.

Anyway. I enjoyed the book so much, that I went looking for more by this author. Sadly, I found only one other title (this time set in the Restoration) but devoured it and loved it as well. Even more disappointing was the fact that she seemed to have stopped writing altogether, which I thought was a great shame. Over the next few years, both books became "comfort" reads - you know the sort of thing; you want to read something undemanding and familiar but good so you're not disappointed in your choice, especially if you're reading something to cheer you up a bit.

Somewhere along the way however, my paperback copies of both books disappeared. I don't know when or how - I can only assume during a house move (and I did plenty of those in the early 90s - divorce has that effect!) or something similar - but I always remembered those stories fondly and more recently, would occasionally check Amazon to see if there were any second-hand copies around so I could read them again. There were copies - but they were on the pricey side. I also discovered that Stella Riley had penned another four or five books, but they were even harder to get hold of and even more expensive.

The fact that, over twenty-five years later, I would still occasionally put her name into the search box at Amazon shows what an impression her writing made on me (either that, or I'm just a saddo - take your pick!) - and imagine my joy when, earlier this year, I discovered not only that she had revised and republished one of those very titles I had lost in ebook form, The Marigold Chain, but that she was revising all her novels with the same intention!

Yes - I was one very happy Caz :D

What all this is leading up to is that today, Stella Riley has published the book that started it all off for me, which is called A Splendid Defiance. That makes four of her titles that are now available as ebooks, and she is planning to republish her remaining backlist next year.

If you like historical fiction laced with romance and adventure; if you like incredibly well-written stories that feature memorable characters and excellent dialogue - I can't recommend her novels highly enough. If you're looking for something good to read over the weekend, you could do a lot worse than check them out.

ETA I reviewed the new edition here yesterday, and today, the author has written a blog post about how it came about.


And if anyone reading this needs more convincing, Stella is a fellow West Wing fan. Nuff sed :-)
caz963: (awesomeness)
I can never resist a meme that involves films, music or books...

So without further ado -



Don’t take too long to think about it.
Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you.
First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
Copy the instructions into your own post.



I have to confess to feeling somewhat intimidated by some of the lists displayed by some on my flist. My reading taste doesn't tend to be as eclectic as my taste in music!

1. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
2. The Barchester Books - Anthony Trollope
3. The Way We Live Now - Anthony Trollope
4. The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
5. Emma - Jane Austen
6. Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen
7. The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
8. Evelina - Fanny Burney
9. L.A Confidential - James Ellroy
10. The Lymond Series - Dorothy Dunnett
11. The Sunne in Splendour - Sharon Penman
12. The Quincunx - Charles Palliser
13. The Forsyte Saga (the first 3 books in the series) - John Galsworthy
14. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
15. Venetia - Georgette Heyer

Here's why... )
Anything else you wanna know? Just ask :-)

Book meme

Jun. 26th, 2008 02:26 pm
caz963: (Default)
I'm still hanging around at my Dad's waiting for some stuff to arrive, so I thought i'd while away the time with this...

Stolen from [livejournal.com profile] snorkel_maiden

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicise those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE, add an strikeout the books you read but didn't like.

top books )
You know what I find really sad though? One of my all-time favourite authors - Anthony Trollope - doesn't even get a look in here, and it's a great shame. If you've never read any, then go find some immediately - the Barchester novels are where most people start. You get the wit, irony and observational skills of Austen combined with the humour and great storytelling of Dickens (but without the sometimes annoying verbosity!). He was prolific - wrote 47 novels (I think) so there's plenty to get your teeth into!

Oh, and if you've read The Woman in White but nothing else by Wilkie Collins, you must check out The Moonstone. I could wax lyrical about books all day...
caz963: (democracy)
I meant to post about this yesterday but didn't get around to it - and then I saw [livejournal.com profile] kathyh's post and it reminded me.

I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett's books - I can't quote from them verbatim (well, not much!) but Rincewind, Granny Weatherwax, Sam Vimes et al have entertained me for years and I'm always waiting desperately for the next book to come out and then 'hoarding' it because I know I'll have to wait a year for the next one.

So I was very upset to hear that he's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

I know it's a truly terrible illness whoever is afflicted - but when I consider exactly what has come from that wonderful mind of his - well, it just seems even worse.

On the Today programme yesterday morning, he talked a little about his condition and also pointed out that Alzheimer's doesn't have the profile or the funding that some other illnesses do - and went on to say that people with cancer are often described as "battling" it, and people who do recover are called "survivors", and how that sort of language conveys some kind of heroic image - and he was obviously not having a go at anyone with cancer, but just drawing those comparisons as to descriptions and terminology, which are valid ones.

He's donated just under half a million pounds to an Alzheimer's reseatch and I discovered today via [livejournal.com profile] kathyh's LJ that fans of his are undertaking to try to match that donation.

I don't think there's anything "organised" as such - or not yet, but below is a link to the Alzheimer's Research Society, and anyone who wants to make a donation can just click on the "donate" button there. There's a box where you can add a comment, so it might be nice to say that the donation comes from a Pratchett fan.



Link to: http://www.alzheimers-research.org.uk/

(thanks to [livejournal.com profile] gillo)

Sky One is broadcasting an adaptation of The Colour of Magic (the first of the Discworld books) over Easter. I have no idea what it'll be like, but hey, David Jason's in it, so it's got to be worth a look, right?
caz963: (Fred & Ginger Swing Time)
I’m not a great reader of fic in other fandoms, but just occasionally, I spot something, or have something rec’d to me and I decide to give it a whirl, given the dearth of decent fic out there in my fandoms.

A while back [livejournal.com profile] imperviousness pointed me in the direction of [livejournal.com profile] michellek’s 30 Rock fic, and I’ve been meaning to spread the word.
She writes mainly Jack/Liz, and the voices are spot on, so if you liked the show and aren’t averse to that pairing, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Then today, I was going through my f-list and found this Heroes fic rec’d at [livejournal.com profile] crack_van. The little snippet included in the summary intrigued me, so I read it. It’s the first piece of Heroes fic I’ve read, and although I doubt I’ll be delving much into that fandom, I’d definitely give anything else by [livejournal.com profile] selenak a second look, because this one is very good and very funny. (There are spoilers for the rest of the season if you’re watching it on BBC2!)

On a complete tangent - while wading through a mountain of ironing yesterday, I stuck on the TV and watched The Hudsucker Proxy, which I haven't seen in ages. I know it got a bit of a mixed reception critcally when it came out, but I really liked it (and I'll watch practically anything with Tim Robbins in) - it's worth watching for Jennifer Jason Leigh's fantastic Katherine Hepburn/Rosalind Russell impression alone!

Oh, and I finally got around to reading the latest (?) Terry Pratchett while I was away - Thud!. Fabulous as ever; he's one of those authors who just seems to keep getting better. The last half dozen or so books in particular have really impressed me, with the way he tackles quite serious subjects (this latest one dealt with fanaticism and fundamentalism of all things!) with humour and a large dollop of common sense. I'm looking forward to the next one which is out just in time for my birthday so at least I'll be able to think of something when I'm asked what I want!

Right, well now I'm off to take the kids bowling by way of a belated birthday party for Elinor.
caz963: (damn hot by coloneljack)
... it's the busiest day of my week! On the plus side, it means I don't have time to pause for breath which means that the day flies even faster than usual (and that's saying something!) - on the downside, it means I don't have time to pause for breath, drink more than half a cup of tea, barely have time to eat my lunch or do any paperwork. Having two of the toughest year 9 classes in the school one after the other doesn't help much either.
This is my last term of training, and I'm teaching a full timetable on Weds Thurs and Fri now, which is fine - but of course, I still have the same amount of paperwork to do - well, actually, not the same amount - more, because I have more classes - but no time to do it during the school day. Typical - there must be some equation somewhere to the effect that paperwork increases exponentially in relation to the diminishing time I have in which to do it. Hm. There must be a mathematician somewhere who can work that out...

I see that [livejournal.com profile] skywaterblue has gotten around to reading "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell"... I envy you! It's been sitting on the top of my "must get around to reading" pile for about a year now and is still gathering dust. I remember when I used to have time to read books for pleasure... *sigh*. Instead, my current reading list is peppered with titles such as "Getting the Buggers to Behave" (yup - it's a real book!) "100 ideas for Classroom Management", and "The Teacher's Toolkit". I used to get through about 3 books a week - now I'm lucky if it's three a YEAR! I am, however, a chapter or two into "Going Postal" (Terry Pratchett - a man who never used to write books in chapters!) - who knows? - I might even finish it before the Summer holidays!

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