Friday, October 29, 2010 kindly chose the winner of the Where's Stig book provided by Warner Bros., and the lucky winner was:


Yay!  Congrats to Homemaker, and I hope she doesn't get so caught up with trying to find The Stig that she neglects her other duties at home!

If you didn't win, there's still time to enter a few more giveaways here on my site:

Alien Autopsy (Hurry! ends 10/29)

Congratulations to all the recent winners, and thanks again to Warner Bros. for providing such an interesting prize this time around!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway for DVDs of Being Human: Season Two.  The winners were:









david boyington


Congrats to the winners, and I hope you enjoy watching!

If you didn't win this time, there's still a chance to enter my other drawings:

Where's Stig? (Hurry!  ends 10/28)

Alien Autopsy (ends 10/29)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I had the drawing for the DVD of The Queen, and the winner was:

Congratulations!  If you didn't win this time, be sure and enter one of my other giveaways:

Being Human ( Hurry! ends 10/27)

Where's Stig? (ends 10/28)

Alien Autopsy (ends 10/29)

Thanks again to Acorn Media for providing the copy of The Queen!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'd like to thank everyone for the comments on my Midsomer Murders: Village Case Files giveaway.  I used to choose the winner, who was:


Thanks again to all who entered.  If you didn't win this time, why not enter one of my other current giveaways?

The Queen (hurry, ends 10/22!)

Being Human (ends 10/27)

Where's Stig? (ends 10/28)

Alien Autopsy (ends 10/29)

Ain't British TV great?  :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The hilarious Benny Hill is widely regarded as one of the greatest comedians of the 20th century.  His groundbreaking TV series ran for many seasons, most popularly produced by Thames Television from 1969-1989.  A&E Home Video is now releasing the complete 20 year run of the series.  The set contains 58 episodes on 18 DVDs and will be sure to delight his many fans!

BENNY HILL: THE COMPLETE MEGASET contains Benny’s raucous 20-year reign over the television-sketch variety genre, from the naughty early years to the debut of the nubile Hills Angels, through the final episodes. Witness the birth of crazy caricatures like Fred Scuttle, Chow Mein, and Pierre de Terre. Laugh out loud as Benny and his bevy of buxom babes flaunt their racy rowdiness and tongue-in-cheek satire in characteristically outrageous sketches like The Little Dimpton Street Party and The Crook Report.

  • Bonus Documentary: The Worlds Favorite Clown;
  • The Benny Hill Cheeky Challenge Trivia Quiz # 1-6
  • Liner Notes DVD Insert Booklets
  • Benny Hill: Laughter and Controversy Episode of A&Es Award-Winning Series BIOGRAPHY®
  • Eddie in August
  • Featurettes: I Was A Hills Angel, Hills Angels: Off the Record and Hills Angels: In Conversation
Thanks to Jelena at A&E Home Video, I have one copy of Benny Hill: The Complete Megaset to give away!  To enter, just leave a comment naming your favorite comedian.  Be sure your email address is in your comment or visible in your profile (if you have a blog) so that I can contact you.  Open to the US only.  Contest ends 11/3.  Good luck!

Disclaimer:  A&E Home Video provided the DVD  set for this giveaway

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yes, that's right.  It's me and my new pal, Elton John!  I was incredibly lucky and won the Godiva Chocolate Valentine's Day Game sweepstakes.  The prize was an all-expenses paid trip to New York City, along with the opportunity to attend the Elton John AIDS Foundation's Enduring Vision benefit.  I also got to present Sir Elton a check, on behalf of Godiva, in the amount of $200,000 for the foundation:

Me, my husband Hans, Elton John, Jim Goldman (CEO of Godiva) and Gigi Goldman
 As if that weren't exciting enough, I also got to choose a charity to receive a $20,000 donation in my name.  I was thrilled to be able to choose the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah as the recipient!

So I've had an exciting few days.  Not only did Sir Elton perform numerous songs, but plenty of delicious Godiva chocolate was on offer, so it was a perfect evening!

Thanks so much to the Godiva company for providing such a wonderful experience!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A film about aliens starring Ant & Dec?  What could be more perfect?

Alien Autopsy is a humorous film that looks at the incidents surrounding the release of the infamous "alien autopsy" video from 1995. That year, mysterious top-secret black-and-white footage, supposedly filmed during the 1947 Roswell incident, was broadcast around the world. It showed the autopsy of an alien lifeform. The men responsible for the discovery of the footage, buddies Ray (Declan Donnelly) and Gary (Ant McPartlin), are thrown into intense media scrutiny. But the guys have an even bigger secret. And it's not very pretty. Based on true events, Alien Autopsy is the alternately bizarre and frequently quirky story of the two unlikely lads from London who become icons in UFOlogy with a discovery that stunned millions who've long searched for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Bill Pullman and Harry Dean Stanton also star.  Watch a clip from the film.

Special features on the DVD include:
  • The Making of Ant and Dec's Alien Autopsy
  • Additional Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Alternate Opening
Thanks to Bridget at Warner Bros., I have 3 copies of the DVD to giveaway!  To enter, just leave a comment stating whether or not you've ever seen a UFO.  Be sure to include your email address in your comment or you profile (if you have a blog) so that I can contact you.  Open to the US and Canada.  Ends on Oct. 29.

Disclaimer:  I was sent 3 copies of the DVD to giveaway by Warner Bros.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fans of the BBC series Top Gear will enjoy this new companion book.  Where's Stig is a picture book based on the popular "Where's Waldo" books.  The white-clad, white-helmeted The Stig manages to lose himself in 12 different Top Gear inspired locations, including the Studio, Tokyo, the Deep South and the English Channel.  In addition to trying to find The Stig, there is a list of other things that you can look for in each location, including his colleagues Jeremy, Richard and James.  At the end of the book there is also a checklist of things to look for specific to each scene.

The illustrations are very colorful and humorous, and contain jokes and other elements that fans of the show will surely recognize.  While this is a picture book, it is aimed at adults.  There's nothing really offensive contained, but it is not a children's book.  If you are a fan of the series, you will find a lot to engage you in this book.  Even if you've never seen Top Gear, you'll enjoy the illustrations and the challenge of trying to find all the elements!

Thanks to Warner Bros., I have one copy of the book Where's Stig to giveaway!  To enter, please leave a comment stating your favorite location to "lose yourself."  Please be sure your email address is in your comment or in your profile (if you have a blog) so I'll have a way to contact you.  Open to the US and Canada.  Contest ends on Oct. 28.

Disclaimer:  I was sent a copy of Where's Stig to give away by Warner Bros.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

While most of us take the attributes of "being human" for granted, the three main characters of the BBC series of the same name don't have that luxury.  Being Human is the story of George (a werewolf), Mitchell (a vampire) and Annie (a ghost) attempting to get by in the modern world.

In Being Human Season Two, the vampire leader Herrick has been defeated, but there are new enemies and dangers facing our heroes at every turn.  Mitchell (Aiden Turner) has a new girlfriend, but he's unable to enjoy the relationship due to the disarrayed vampire community.  George (Russel Tovey) also has a new girlfriend, but a new twist in his werewolf life disrupts their relationship as well.  Annie (Lenora Crichlow) has a difficult time trying to figure out how to cross over to the other side, and if that is really a good idea.  To top it off, all three of them are now being threatened by CenSSA, headed by the mysterious Professor Jaggat and the ruthless Kemp.  CenSSA is a religious organization determined to destroy and convert all supernatural beings.  And here you probably thought being a supernatural entity was all superpowers, wearing black, and looking mysterious!

The undead aren't exactly tidy, are they?
Check out this creepy preview clip from the DVD.

In addition, there are bonus features on the DVD including:

o Behind the Scenes Featurettes:

o Blood Bursting

o The Caves

o Unleashing the Beast

o The Swinging Sixties

o Behind the Makeup

o Making the New Werewolf

o Train Carnage

o Easter Eggs

Thanks to Bridget at Warner Bros., I have *TEN* copies of Being Human Season Two to giveaway!  To enter, just leave a comment stating whether (given the chance), you'd prefer to live as a ghost, a vampire or a were wolf.  Be sure and leave your email address in your comment so I'll have a way to contact you.  Open to the U.S. and Canada.  Contest ends on Oct. 27. 
Check out the official site:

Disclaimer:  Warner Bros. provided the 10 DVDs for giveaway.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Congratulations to the winners of my Top Gear Season 13 DVD giveaway.  I chose the winners using, and they were:

Mark N.


The winners have been contacted and the DVDs sent out.  If you didn't win this time, why not enter my other current giveways for The Queen or Midsomer Murders DVDs?

Watch this space for more upcoming giveaways!
Queen Elizabeth II is certainly a popular subject in film and on TV lately.  I wonder what she herself thinks about all the dramatizations of her life?  I was very interested to receive a copy of the recent Channel 4 miniseries, The Queen to learn even more about the life of this long-serving monarch.

I was expecting this to be just a dramatization of various points in the life of the queen, but I was pleasantly surprised by the format of this program.  Five different actresses portray the queen at different ages, and important events are dramatized.  The introduction to each episode states "The drama is imagined."  I think they imagined a bit too far in one episode, as the queen is shown doing the washing up while having a cosy chat with the current prime minister.  Somehow, I don't think "we" do washing up ourselves!  Aside from the re-created scenes, there are also interviews with people who were involved with the events, archival footage, and a narrator tying all the events together.  So the series isn't a straightforward dramatic telling of the story as I had imagined.

The five episodes in the series look to especially stressful or difficult times in the queen's life.

Episode 1: Sisters  This episode looks at the early relationship of Queen Elizabeth and her younger sister Princess Margaret just after the death of their father, King George VI.  After being crowned queen, Elizabeth was surrounded by the mostly elderly male advisers who had worked with her father.  Margaret fell in love with a divorced man, and the queen faced her first crisis in attempting to persuade her sister to avoid this potentially explosive match.

Episode 2: Us and Them  Events from 1969 to 1975 are covered.  In those years, the UK was in economic upheaval.  It was beset by strikes, IRA bombings and demands to abolish the monarchy.  Amidst all this, the queen had to ask for more money from the government to continue to run her increasingly expensive household.  The country is briefly united for the wedding of Princess Anne, but even this turns out badly when she becomes the target of a botched kidnapping.

Episode 3: The Rivals  This turned out to be my favorite episode, mainly because I hadn't realized (or had forgotten) that there was such tension between the queen and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Their icy relationship was mainly caused by Mrs. Thatcher's refusal to impose sanctions on South Africa, which the queen feared would cause the break-up of the Commonwealth.

Episode 4: The Enemy Within  The queen's famous annus horribilis (1992) is played out in all its gory glory, from the divorces of her children to the fire at Windsor Castle to tax problems.  Can't a queen get a break?

Episode 5: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Camilla? The queen must struggle with her son, Prince Charles, over his decision to marry his mistress Camilla Parker Bowles.  Princess Diana had given television interviews blaming Camilla for the break-up of her marriage, so the queen was not especially eager to give her blessing to the union.

I was surprised to see the Queen portrayed as forever reading tabloid newspapers and taking note of opinion polls on the future of the monarchy.  I suppose when your livelihood depends upon "the affection of the public" that it pays to keep up with their moods!

I really enjoyed this series.  It provided a fascinating look behind one scenes at the life of one of the most famous women in the world.  She never had a choice about whether or not to be queen, and she certainly had to endure more than her fair share of controversies and tragedies.  She has still managed to maintain an air of dignity and grace that probably few of us could match!

Thanks to Alyssa at Acorn Media, I have a copy of The Queen to give away!  To enter, just leave a comment naming your favorite member (past or present) of the British royal family.  Be sure that your email is in your comment or in your profile (if you have a blog) so I can contact you. Open only to the U.S. Ends Oct. 22, so get to commentin'!  The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email, or I will have to choose another winner.

Disclaimer:  I was provided with a review copy and a giveaway copy of the DVD.

Pop a ciggy in her hand, and you've got Dot Cotton!
Final Verdict for The Queen Four Gherkins, for being a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a royal life

Thursday, October 7, 2010

If you want a real taste of beautiful scenery, village life, chocolate-box-pretty towns, and the occasional dead body, I've got just the thing for you!  Acorn Media is releasing a collection of recent DVDs in the Midsomer Murders Village Case Files

If you've never visited the lovely English county of Midsomer, you're in for a treat!  Nestled in the middle of England (the real filming takes place in villages in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire), the events portrayed in Midsomer Murders take place in towns with charming names like Midsomer Mallow, Midsomer Wellow, Badgers Drift and Morton Fendle.  It's up to the dogged DCI Tom Barnaby (played by John Nettles) and his assistants DS Dan Scott and DC Ben Jones to clear up the many cases of murder that inexplicably happen in such gorgeous surroundings.

In every episode we are also treated to scenes from DCI Barnaby's home life, including his long-suffering wife Joyce (very sweet, but decidedly lacking in culinary skills) and daughter Cully (an aspiring actress).  The play between Barnaby and his underlings is also interesting to watch.  Somehow the assistants are always the ones directed to chase and tackle fleeing suspects or to overnight in barns and lofts to await developments.

The episodes generally start with the victim meeting his untimely end, and Barnaby and sidekick rushing to the scene.  There will likely be more bodies piled up before the evildoer is finally tracked down!  Many of the mysteries are set in specialized worlds.  The people involved (victims and suspects) might be involved in the local horse racing scene, or be collectors of rare orchids or all have psychic powers.  Everyone is a suspect (well, until he or she turns up dead, that is!) and it's fun to see if I can suss out the murderer before Barnaby does (generally not!).

The series began in 1997 in the UK and since then more than 65 feature-length episodes have aired.  The series is still in production, although John Nettles is set to retire from the show this year).  The Village Case Files set contains 4 sets of DVDs containing 16 mysteries.  The scenery is lovely.  There are plenty of thatched cottages, flowers, stately churches and village fetes to whet the appetite for a quick visit to this lovely area of England!  Bonus features include text interviews with John Nettles and Jason Hughes, fascinating facts, The Killings of Badger's Drift connection, production notes, Caroline Graham (who wrote the novels that inspired the series) biography and cast filmographies.

Thanks to Alyssa at Acorn Media, I have one copy of Midsomer Murders Village Case Files to giveaway!  To enter, just leave a comment stating a mystery you would recommend.  It can be a book or a TV series or even a film.  Make sure your email address is in your comment or profile (if you have a blog) so that I can contact you.  Open only to the U.S.  Enter by Oct. 20.

Disclaimer:  I received a review copy and a giveaway copy of Midsomer Murders Village Case Files from Acorn Media

Final Verdict for Midsomer Murders Village Case Files:  Five Gherkins, for being a cosy look at an idyllic British countryside . . . if you can overlook all the dead bodies!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

As a rabid Londonphile, I'm always thrilled to find a book which centers on weird or unknown facts about the city.  I was very exited to receive a copy of the beautiful little book London Quiz by Travis Elborough and Nick Rennison to browse through.

This compact little book is just packed with interesting stuff!  It is arranged into 20 chapters, each covering an area of London life or history.  Some of the chapters are:

Crime and Punishment
Royal London
London Transport
London Firsts
The London Dead
Literary London
London Buildings

and so on.  There are also 20 questions in each chapter (I'm sensing a pattern here!) followed by three possible answers.  Here is an example of a question from the Shops & Shopping chapter:

In 1907, how did William Whiteley, founder of the famous Whiteleys department store in Bayswater, die?
a. He tripped and fell from a window on the third floor of his store
b. He was shot dead in his office by a man claiming to be his illegitimate son
c. He contracted fatal food poisoning after eating shellfish in the restaurant of his store

To make cheating more difficult (it's as if this book were made for me!) the answers are to be found in the back of the book.  The table of contents gives both the page number of each chapter, as well as the page number where the answers can be found.  The questions and possible answers are all fascinating and lead to a desire to find out even more about some of these people and events.  (Poor Mr. Whiteley was done in by his alleged illegitimate son, by the way.)

The book is also beautifully illustrated by Kerry Lee.  There is an illustration in the style of the map on the cover at the start of every chapter.  The illustrations alone are very colorful and entertaining!

This book is a delight from cover to cover.  In the introduction to the book, the authors state that the questions are not easy, but are rather intended to "provide entry points into the fascinating history of the city."  I can say that they have succeeded admirably with that goal!

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of London Quiz from The Little Bookroom

Final verdict for London Quiz:  Five Gherkins, for being a delightful look at some unusual aspects of a wonderful city

Monday, October 4, 2010

This book manages to be scary, depressing and heartbreaking all at the same time.  Ankarlo visited the US-Mexico border area to get a clearer impression of the people who are involved in all illegal immigration: migrants, coyotes who traffic them, border enforcement agents, residents, and “volunteer” border guards.  He notes that the majority of people who enter the US illegally come here for a better life, but most of them end up in poverty.  The journey itself to get into the country is fraught with horrors.  Not only must migrants pay (generally multiple people) to “help” transport them, they also risk kidnapping by armed extortion gangs (aided by corrupt Mexican police).  Female immigrants are nearly always raped on the journey, and this is a known and accepted part of the price that is paid.  Ankarlo also discovers a growing movement in the Latino community to take back the American southwest states, which were “illegally” taken from Mexico.  He also looks at who is benefitting from this situation.  He fears a growing tide of division in the U.S. if the situation isn’t addressed.  At the end of the book, he offers over 30 possible solutions to this difficult and divisive issue.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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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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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