Friday, April 30, 2010

Pegg and Ramamurthy audition tapes discovered!

Simon Pegg (Hotfuzz, Run, Fat Boy, Run, Shaun of the Dead) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes), will be nursing their egos after their audition tapes were rejected by Brit film makers Twist Films.

Auditioning for the star role of 'Derecq Twist', a West Country morris dancer, these two world famous celebs just don't cut the mustard for Morris.

We've found two videos that will truly show the dark side of a life in show-biz....

Simon Pegg

Sendhil Ramamurthy

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I've heard back from the winners of my giveaway for the new Nigel Kennedy Quintet CD SHHH!

They are:

#10 guettel78


#14 FDP 4 Life

Congratulations!! I hope you'll enjoy the music!
I have heard back from the two winners of my giveaway of Merlin. They were:

1. beshe, who said, "i would zap myself to the virgin islands"


2. Ardy22, who said, "If I had magic powers, the first thing I would do is zap a few million dollars into my bank account. LOL!"

I think we can all identify with those statements!

Congratulations to the winners, and be sure and enter my Survivors contest which is going on until May 6!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

For many years, my Swedish husband has been telling me about a British TV series that he saw in Sweden when he was young. It was called "De överlevande," and it made a big impression on him. I had never seen the series, so I wasn't able to share fond memories of it!

Recently, BBCAmerica has been showing a new series called Survivors, about a group of people who are left behind after a virus has wiped out 99% of the earth's population. It seems this is a remake of the show that so thrilled my husband as a child!

The original series was shown between 1975 and 1977 and lasted 3 seasons. It starred Lucy Fleming and Ian McCulloch. The current remake was two seasons (originally broadcast in 2008 and 2010), and stars Julie Graham and Max Beesley. Both series dramatically show the struggle to survive in a world that has totally changed. Not only is there a constant search for food and other supplies, but learning which other survivors can be trusted is also a vital skill!

Thanks to Bridget at Warner Bros., I have 2 copies of each series to give away!

To enter, please leave a comment stating if you'd prefer to win the original series, or the new one. Please be sure that your email address is visible in your comment or on your profile so I can contact you if you are a winner. Enter by May 6.

On May 7, I'll contact the winners and you'll have 72 hours to send me your mailing address, or I'll have to pick another winner! Since the DVDs are Region 1, the contest is open to the U.S. and Canada.

Good luck! While you're waiting to win, here is a short clip from the new series to show you the sort of thing you have to deal with when you're one of the few survivors of a deadly plague:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The other day, as I was leaving Zaxby's (a place I frequent far too often), I happened to notice their somewhat unique parking lot. I'd never paid attention to it before, I guess because I always use the entrance/exit on the other side of the restaurant:

It looks as though some people have blindly followed the exit signs anyway:

Hmm, I guess someone has big plans for that empty grassy lot, or else they really do want us to exit through the field.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Today I'm thrilled to be able to offer up another great giveaway. This time I have two copies of the new CD by The Nigel Kennedy Quintet called SHHH! I've been listening to the review copy I got from Natalie at HeadStreamPR, and it really grows on you! The second track, River Man, was written by Nick Drake, and features vocals by none other than Boy George. I would have never guessed that the somewhat gravelly-voiced singer was The Boy, but he does a fantastic job!

I have two copies of the CD to giveaway. It's going to be released in the UK on May 10 and in the US on June 8. So you'll get your copy before anyone else has it! Be the envy of all your friends!

To enter, just leave me a comment and a way to contact you. Make sure your email address is in your post or visible on your profile. This contest is open to anyone in the US or Canada. The first entry drawn will receive the brand-spanking new CD, and the second will receive my gently-used review copy! :) Please leave your comments by April 28 so that I can choose the winners on April 29.

Here is more detailed information about SHHH!:

EMI Classics is proud to present Shhh! the latest Nigel Kennedy Quintet album, which is released on 10 May 2010. With a special guest appearance by Boy George, the album confirms the maverick status and omnivorous musical taste of one of Britain's finest and most unpredictable musicians.

Following his 2008 excursion into the self-penned tracks of the NKQ’s A Very Nice Album, Kennedy's latest collection reveals an even more eclectic character. It was recorded at one of rock's fabled residential country studios, Rockfield in South Wales with the Polish musicians which make up the NKQ.

Collaborating on one of the album's outstanding and most surprising tracks is Boy George, an old mate and near neighbour of Kennedy's in North West London who shares his passion for the songs of the late Nick Drake. George's delicate vocal on River Man points to another new direction for Kennedy's music – a gentle chamber pop which brings out the understated lyrical tone in his violin playing. The other songs on Shhh! are all Kennedy originals, ranging from the long instrumental opener, Transfiguration - reminiscent of the fusion-ary flights of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra - to the dirty funk rock outro Oy! The moods along the way vary from the sparse and desolate calm of The Empty Bottle to the uplifting Silver Lining.

Throughout the Bank Holiday weekend of 29 -31 May, Nigel Kennedy will also be bringing Poland to the Southbank Centre. The weekend extravaganza includes a feast of music, from jazz and klezmer to classical, performed by Kennedy himself and a number of Polish musicians. The weekend features the UK debut performance of Kennedy’s own orchestra, the Orchestra of Life; Nigel Kennedy’s Chopin Super Group, which celebrates the music of Chopin in a fresh and original way; and Kennedy’s exciting World Cup Project, where Kennedy and guests perform a soundtrack to a screening of the 1973 World Cup qualifying match between Poland and England. The Nigel Kennedy Quintet performs music from their new album and each night of the festival features late-night informal jam sessions. There are free activities across the weekend, with breakdancers, Polish food and drink, and workshops. For more information please visit

You can pre-order Shhh! now at Amazon and watch a clip about the album here!

Disclaimer: I received a review and a giveaway copy of the CD from HeadStreamPR

Friday, April 16, 2010

On April 20, Merlin: The Complete First Season will be released in the U.S. This wonderful and imaginative series looks at the main players from the legend of King Arthur from the time when they were teenagers. We discover young Arthur, Lancelot, Merlin the magician and of course, Gwen (Guinevere) and other characters in a Camelot populated by contemporary attitudes.

From the description: As what Smallville did for Superman, Merlin is a new drama series that updates the story of the infamous sorcerer of Arthurian legend for a new audience. In a time before history began, the mythical city of Camelot was a fantastical realm and a dangerous world in which magic has been banned by the ruthless tyrant Uther Pendragon. When Merlin, a young man gifted with extraordinary magical powers, arrives in the kingdom, he discovers his destiny and that of the kingdom's young leader in waiting, Arthur, are inextricably linked.

Thanks to Bridget from Warner Brothers, I have two copies of Merlin: The Complete First Season to give away! To enter, just let me know the first thing you would do if you woke up tomorrow with magic powers (I'd zap 20 pounds from around my waist, but others might have more far-reaching goals!). These DVDs are Region 1, so the giveaway is limited to only the U.S. and Canada. I'll choose the winners using on Wed., April 28, so I must have your entries by April 27. Remember, leave an email address in your comment or make sure it's visible on your profile so I can contact you. Good luck!

To whet your appetite for life in Camelot, here are some clips from the series:

Disclosure: I received a review copy and two Giveaway copies of Merlin: The Complete First Season from Warner Brothers

Monday, April 12, 2010

I was thrilled to win a copy of Sophie Kinsella's latest novel Twenties Girl from the great book blog Peeking Between the Pages. I've always loved Kinsella's novels, and I was excited to get right to this one. Unfortunately, I maintain a teetering stack of books in my To Be Read pile by the bed, and this one only got added to the tower. Finally, though, I decided I had delayed the pleasure long enough.

In a departure from Kinsella's previous chick-lit outings, this book is a ghost story. Twenty-something Lara has hit a rough patch in her life. Her boyfriend Josh has inexplicably broken off their relationship. She's quit her job and cashed in her savings to go into the headhunting business with her friend Natalie, who has gone on vacation and refuses to return. All of this is not easy for a girl whose uncle is the world-famous founder of the wildly popular Lingtons Coffee shops. You'd think some of the business acumen and confidence would have rubbed off on Lara, but no such luck.

At this point, Lara attends the funeral of her previously unknown Aunt Sadie. Sadie recently passed away at the age of 105 after living many years in a nursing home. Lara had never seen Aunt Sadie before, and knew nothing about her. During the service, Lara is surprised to hear the voice of a young woman, stridently asking where her necklace is. Lara soon discovers that she is the only person who can hear the voice -- for the voice with the misplaced necklace turns out to be the ghost of the recently departed Sadie. This ghost, however, takes the form of a flapper from the 1920s, rather than the 105 year old woman Sadie was at the end of her life.

The ghost is so annoying and instant that Lara is able to delay the funeral service so that she can investigate the missing necklace that the ghost is so desperate to find. Lara is also powerless to resist when the ghost gives her advice on dress, makeup, dating and other matters. On the bright side, the ghost can also travel effortlessly through walls and eavesdrop on conversations which end up being useful talents that ultimately help Lara.

Although Lara has apparently been a total screw-up to this point, with Sadie's help she is able to discover all sorts of family secrets and gain control of her life. While the premise of the book ensures that the reader doesn't take it too seriously, some of the events of the novel just don't ring true. For instance, Lara is obsessed with Josh, her former boyfriend, but when Sadie tells her, "He never loved you" Lara basically is able to turn off her obsessive behavior and completely forget about him. Not exactly how the out-of-control-serial-texter Lara would have probably really reacted!

All in all, I didn't enjoy this book as much as the others by Sophie Kinsella. The plot was a bit too unrealistic (even for a ghost story!) and everything was a bit too neatly tied up at the end. Still, it's a pleasant enough read. I just hope her next book will be better!

Final Verdict for Twenties Girl: Three Gherkins, for a wonderful London setting (including a trip on the London Eye!), but somewhat lukewarm characters

Friday, April 9, 2010

I'd imagine that most readers have occasionally run across a fictional character that they'd love to spend time with. Thanks to a certain Mr. Firth's recent portrayal, most women would probably like that character to be Mr. Darcy. In the 2008 mini-series Lost in Austen, Amanda Price gets her wish. Obsessed with the book Pride and Prejudice, she would rather spend her time re-reading the story than working out her problems with her slacker boyfriend. One day, much to her astonishment, she comes across Lizzie Bennett, the main character from the novel, in her bathroom playing with the electric lights. Lizzie informs Amanda that she entered the 21st century through a previously unknown door through the shower. The door opens onto the hallway outside Lizzie's bedroom in 18th century England.

Intrigued, Amanda goes through the door and enters Lizzie's world. She knows the people of the house and the events of the novel intimately, so she is thrilled to be immersed in the manners and society of her dreams. Unfortunately, not everything goes to plan. She is alarmed when the neighbor Bingley, who is destined to marry Lizzie's sister Jane, listens to his friend Darcy's warning that the Bennett sisters are all gold-digging vipers. Amanda is further distressed when, to spare her family from the possibility of financial ruin, Jane agrees to marry not her true love Bingley, but her odious cousin Mr. Collins.

Darcy shows up and is, true to form, exceedingly proud and disdainful of most other people. Much to her surprise, Amanda's closest ally turns out to be the scoundrel Wickham (whose misdeeds, it turns out, were wildly exaggerated). Amanda tries numerous times to get back through the door into the present day, but is unable to return until she goes to Hammersmith. Once she does return, she is started to find that Darcy was able to follow her into modern day London. While trying to convince Lizzie, who has taken to modern life, to return to her family and marry Darcy, Amanda discovers that she has fallen for Darcy herself. Will she allow the events of the novel to play out as they should, or will she decide to rewrite the events of her favorite novel?

The series was very enjoyable, especially in seeing how the two girls who change places deal with lives very different than those they were used to. My favorite character by far was Lizzie's father, played by the wonderful Hugh Bonneville, who was exasperated with his wife's social climbing ways (and had all the best lines).

Final Verdict for Lost in Austen: Four Gherkins, for being an enjoyable look at a culture clash of massive proportions

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

After meeting 11 year old aspiring poisoner Flavia de Luce in her first adventure, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, I was looking forward to reading about her latest escapades in The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley. This second installment takes place soon after the events of the last novel have wrapped up.

Flavia is still living in the old family mansion with her widowed father and her two odious sisters Feely and Daffy. The family is still subjected to the culinary disasters of Mrs. Mullet, the housekeeper, and the handyman Dogger is still hanging around. This time, however, the main focus of the novel seems to be puppets. A famous puppeteer and his assistant break down while traveling through Bishop's Lacey. Naturally, Flavia is nearby when the drama occurs, and she is quickly drawn into the action. The puppeteer, Rupert Porson, is persuaded to give a performance at the church while his vehicle is being repaired.

Thus, we learn waaaayyyy more than we needed to about the goings on behind the scenes (and on stage) of the puppet show. Naturally, someone is murdered during the show, and it's up to Flavia to rush around the village detecting while the slow-witted cops try to determine if a crime even occurred.

Flavia is as intelligent and occasionally devious as ever as she solves crimes and plots terrible revenge toward her sisters. This book, however, with its rather too in-depth descriptions of all things puppet-related sometimes left me cold. However, Flavia is such a unique character that even that was a small flaw in an otherwise enjoyable book. Here's looking forward to Flavia's next adventures!

Final Verdict for The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag: Three Gherkins, for being a generally enjoyable look at the latest adventures of Flavia and Gladys, her trusty bicycle

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Once again I was lured to read/listen to a book that had an intriguing premise, only to be sorely disappointed by it. In this instance, it was The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha. The book sounded interesting enough: a teenager is murdered, and his mother begins a correspondence with the killer, who is sitting on death row. What could go wrong with a story like that? Well, lots.

{First of all, however unreasonable it may be, I get immediately turned off by a book when the characters have stupid names. Case in point, The Lovely Bones, with "my name is Susie Salmon, like the fish." Oh please! Well, this book has two characters with dumb names. They happen to be the children in the story, the murder victim Stephen (who is inexplicably called Shep) and his sister Barbara (called Bliss for no apparent reason). Again, if the characters are going to be called Shep and Bliss -- WHY GIVE THEM ALTERNATE NAMES?? And why such STUPID names? So I was irritated from the start.}

The Stanley family lives in Illinois, in the family home, surrounded by friends, family and fellow church goers. The father in the family, who works as a police officer, suddenly one day comes home and announces that he's going to move the entire family to Oregon. Without much protest, the wife, Irene, packs up the kids and off they go. They are less than impressed with their new home, but eventually settle in.

About a year and a half after the move, Shep is murdered in an apparent robbery gone bad. After his funeral, his devastated family eventually moves back to Illinois. Irene is unable to cope and lives basically a zombie-like existence for the next 10 years. She decides to forgive the killer and writes him a letter telling him so. She is stunned when the killer writes back. She begins to correspond with him, but doesn't tell her family. Eventually, she learns that his execution date has been set. Irene determines to see him before his death, sparking a confrontation with her husband that results in long suppressed revelations.

Why on earth did everyone keep babbling on about how the father "loved" Shep and "was only trying to protect him" when the father nearly beat his son to death? The book lost what little appeal it had with that inexplicable situation. Completely ridiculous.
All in all, a book that waaayyy didn't live up to its promise!

Final Verdict for The Crying Tree: 1 Gherkin, for being an interesting idea that went horribly wrong

About Me

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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My LibraryThing Library

The Gherkin Scale

5gherkinsb Brilliant!

4gherkinsb Good, innit?

3gherkinsb Fair to middlin'

2gherkinsb Has some good points

1gherkin Oi! Wot you playin' at?

0gherkins3Don't be givin' me evils!

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