Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Sweepstakes!

This holiday season WIN $1,000 (two $500 Gift Cards, one for you and one for a friend) redeemable toward purchases at BBCAmericaShop.com with the annual Holiday Sweepstakes: http://on.fb.me/BBC-Sweeps2010.

Imagine all the great gifts you could buy for the holidays with that!  Not to mention all the gifts you could get for yourself if Santa somehow managed to misplace your wish list!

The BBCAmerica Shop has some great gift ideas (sugar plums!) as well as an amazing assortment of DVDs, books, mugs, T-shirts and those all important "Mind the Gap" items!

Click on the link above to go to enter the Holiday Sweepstakes!  The Sweepstakes is only open to US residents and ends on Dec. 19.

While you're waiting to find out if you've won (fingers crossed!), you can enter my own giveaway for a prize pack containing DVD copies of Are You Being Served, Being Human, Last Of the Summer Wine, as well as the book The Guide To the Queen's English, a Big Ben Ornament and Lemon Soap.  To enter, just leave a comment stating the #1 item on your Christmas wish list (I'm angling for the complete All Creatures Great and Small myself!). That's it!  Due to mailing restrictions, the giveaway is only open to US residents.  Submit your comment by Dec. 1, and remember to leave your email address in the comment (or in your Blogger profile, if you have one!) so that I can contact you.

Thanks for entering and good luck!

Disclaimer:  I was provided with the prize pack to give away by Bridget at Warner Bros. online.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A haul for the holidays!

Although I do tend to veer wildly off topic on frequent occasions, one of the main purposes of my blog is for me to rave/complain/recommend some of the books that thrill or disappoint me throughout the year.  I just adore books, and can't stop myself from always being on the lookout for new ones, even though it would probably take several lifetimes to get through all the ones I already have in my teetering TBR pile . . .

So I was thrilled to find out about the Happy Haul-idays contest being run right now by Chronicle Books.  Bloggers can post a list of Chronicle Books that they'd love to win, up to $500. One lucky winner will win their entire list!  In addition, if you comment on a blog post about the contest, you're entered to win, too!  Rules and details about the contest (including a list of other bloggers who are participating = more chances to win!) can be found here.

Here's my list of books that I'm crossing my fingers will find their way under my tree this Christmas:

Wow! That was fun! I was really surprised at how many books I was able to add to my list.  Of course, plenty of worthy candidates had to be left off.  {sigh} Isn't that always the way?

Good luck to all!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Patriotic Daily Readings

The American Patriot’s Almanac is a wonderful book for everyone who is interested in American history and politics.  The book is arranged by date, with every day featuring an engaging description of an event that occurred on that date, as well as an “American History Parade” at the bottom of the page listing other years when significant things happened.  The preface, introduction and “12 Great Reasons to Love a Great Country,” which lead off the book, are perhaps a bit too “rah-rah” and over-the-top in their flag-waving nationalism, but the rest of the book is a treasure-trove of interesting facts about people and events that have shaped the United States.  There are also many useful historical documents included, such as the texts of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.  At the end of the book can be found State Flags, Facts and Symbols, including such obscure state symbols as state rocks, reptiles, folk dances and insects listed for each of the 50 states.  While most of this information can be found online, it is helpful to have it all together and easily accessible in one handsome volume.  Great fun to browse through and learn something new!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy the The American Patriot's Almanac from Thomas Nelson Publisher's Booksneeze.com

Friday, November 5, 2010

Folksy, downhome visits

For over 20 years, Charles Kuralt took his motor homes (he eventually wore out 6 of them!) along the back roads of America to visit people and places that were off the beaten path.  In On the Road, Set 3, we get to follow along as Kuralt discovers what's "just around the bend." On the Road became a regular feature on CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and won an Emmy and three Peabody awards.

This DVD set features 3 volumes of stories.  There are a total of 14 episodes, each containing 3-5 segments.  A bonus feature includes a 55 minute interview with Kuralt's longtime cameraman, Isadore Bleckman. Each disk also contains some Road Updates on the people and stories featured, including websites where available.  Since most of the episodes appear to be from the 1970s, it's good to find out what happened to some of the more memorable characters.  There is also a biography of Kuralt.

I really enjoyed the story of Moses Walters, an elderly mailman in Magoffin County, Kentucky who delivered the mail by mule for over 50 years.  I was most intrigued by this, because my mother is actually a mail carrier in that same county today.  I'm sure there are some roads where she wishes she could trade in her car for a mule!  I was happy to find out that Moses Walters achieved fame late in life by virtue of being profiled by Charles Kuralt (although I'm sure he never sought the recognition!).

That is the beauty of Kuralt's work.  He looked for ordinary people doing ordinary things, and allowed the rest of America to become acquainted with them, too.  In the days before the Internet gave everyone his or her own website, video channel and podcast, Kuralt showcased what made people special and unique.  I'm glad I was able to see the varied personalities and locations in this wonderful set of stories.

Disclaimer:  I received a review copy of On the Road, Set 3 from Acorn Media

Final Verdict for On the Road, Set 3:  Four Gherkins, for being an interesting collection of the extraordinary stories of ordinary people

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bodies turning up in Wales

Last year when I visited Cardiff, I had the quaint idea that it might be interesting to study the Welsh language.  A bit more research into that idea showed me the folly of my ways, but I remain fascinated with the country and the language.

That's why I was thrilled to receive a review copy of A Mind to Kill, Series 2 from Acorn Media.  This is the second season of a Welsh detective drama that ran for 5 seasons, between 1994 and 2002.  The action concerns the sufficiently grizzled yet oddly attractive (he has no problem finding female companionship)Welsh DCI Noel Bain, played by Philip Madoc.  Twelve years before the action in this series takes place, his wife was hit and killed by a drunk driver.  This event has left a massive scar on Bain's life, as will be shown toward the end of this season.

Dr. Edwards looking fondly upon a corpse
Bain has a twenty-something daughter, Hannah, who is off at college but still tends to show up and need rescuing from time to time!  There's also Bain's on-again/off-again relationship with the pathologist Professor Margaret Edwards.  Margaret is something of a puzzle.  I haven't seen the first series yet (although I'm planning to rectify this situation soon!) so I'm not entirely sure what her story is.  She and Bain flirt and spend time together, yet he is also open to overtures from other unattached ladies.  Margaret also seems to enjoy her job a little too much, generally looking all too pleased as she examines the burned or drowned or the otherwise unpleasantly dispatched  corpses of the recently departed!

Rounding out the cast of characters are two of Bain's officers, DS Alison Griffiths and DS Carwyn Phillips.  They appear genuinely fond of their somewhat cranky and unpredictable boss, although they do smirk behind his back at his relationship with Professor Edwards.

The series takes place in Wales, which provides a magnificent backdrop to the horrible crimes that Bain is forced to investigate.  There is some forest shown, but for the most part, the hills are quite barren and stark.  Maybe that's why the people who live there get up to such mischief!

One fascinating aspect of the series is that it was filmed in both English and Welsh versions.  This DVD has the English version (of course), but you can watch 7 minutes of one of the episodes in the Welsh language.  It's a very beautiful and mysterious sounding language!  Even when the actors are speaking English, their lilting Welsh accents are very pleasant.

The 7 episodes on this DVD deal with horrible murders and hostile members of the public.  In one case, two brothers are found tied together at the bottom of a lake, and Bain must work out if it really was a murder-suicide (as it appeared to be at first), or a double murder.  In another case, Bain goes undercover at a seaside resort town to look for a killer, but things are complicated when his daughter Hannah shows up.  Another episode deals with a housing estate where residents don't take kindly to the police coming in to investigate the discovery of a burned body in a car.  I found the most unusual episode to be the last one, in which Bain decides to track down the man who was responsible for the death of his wife 12 years previously.

All in all, this was a very interesting entry into the detective fiction genre.  I really enjoyed the stark scenery and the (for me) unusual accents.  I hope I can find the rest of this series to find out what happened to Bain and crew in future seasons!

Disclaimer:  I was sent a review copy of A Mind to Kill by Acorn Media

Final Verdict for A Mind to Kill Four Gherkins, for being a gripping and atmospheric tale of crime in the Welsh countryside

Benny Hill Winner!

Congrats to the winner of the Benny Hill Megaset giveaway:

dave

Thanks to all who entered, and I hope to have more giveaways to entice you in the future!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Alien Autopsy winners!

Congratulations to the three winners of the DVD of Alien Autopsy:


Nicole C.

susan

leandrew

There's still time to enter my giveaway of the DVD set of Benny Hill: The Complete Megaset.  That contest ends on Nov. 3, so hurry!