Monday, January 24, 2011

The characters we loved in the recent series Merlin are back with all new adventures and thanks to BBC, I have one copy of the Season 2 DVD to giveaway!

Merlin is back with even more magic, adventure and romance as the young wizard struggles to protect Prince Arthur in the perilous world of Camelot. While battling deadly assassins, mystical monsters and the most powerful sorcerers Camelot has ever seen, Merlin must work harder than ever to conceal his unique abilities, as King Uther redoubles his war against magic. And Merlin isn’t the only one whose destiny calls—Lady Morgana , Uther’s ward, discovers dangerous secrets she dare not reveal; Lancelot returns, changing everything for both Gwen and Arthur; and King Uther fall in love, little knowing that the charming Lady Catrina is secretly a hideous troll. And as Arthur continues on his path from arrogant prince to the noble and just King Arthur of legend, we see the return of the one prophesised to kill him—the mysterious druid boy, Mordred. Featuring exciting new villains, white-knuckle stunt sequences, and spectacular CGI monsters, Merlin season two is more thrilling than ever.

The 5-disc set includes over 12 hours of programming plus 3 ½ hours of bonus content including Making of Special, audio commentaries, photo gallery, and more!

To whet your whistle for the new series, check out this clip:

Available on DVD:       January 18th
Official Site URL:

To enter, please leave a comment naming your favorite mini-series. That's it!

Be sure to include your email address in your comment if it's not visible in your Blogger profile (or if you don't have a Blogger profile).  US entries only, due to shipping restrictions.  Contest ends Feb. 2, so hurry!  I'll choose the winner by and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email, or I'll have to choose another winner.  Thanks for entering, and good luck!

Disclaimer: BBC is providing the prize for this giveaway.  I received no compensation for holding the contest.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oh Agatha!  Everyone's favorite short-tempered private detective is back again in M.C. Beaton's latest Agatha Raisin novel Busy Body.  As usual, the bodies pile up along with Agatha's man-troubles.

In this adventure, the lives of the villagers in Odley Cruesis have been disrupted by an overly enthusiastic Health and Safety Board officer, John Sunday.  He has put a stop to nearly everything (from putting up Christmas decorations to the selling of homemade craft items) due to "safety concerns."  He's managed to offend just about everyone, so when he turns up murdered (outside a gathering of most of the villagers), there's no shortage of suspects. 

Agatha is brought into the case when one of the suspects, Miriam Courtney, hires her to find the real killer.  Things go from bad to worse when Ms. Courtney is murdered, too.  As usual, it's up to Agatha to sort out the truth, while dodging threats to her own safety and engaging in various romantic entanglements.  All of her friends are back, too, including her assistant Toni, her friend policeman Bill Wong, former employee Roy Silver, sometime lover Sir Charles Fraith, and patient confidant Mrs. Bloxby.

I do love reading about Agatha's adventures, but I must say there were several things that were odd in this book.  ** Possible Spoiler Alert Ahead **  Such as the insistence that "identical twins" could be of different genders and be indistinguishable when cross-dressing.  Huh?  I guess that's a new wrinkle, but it doesn't seem to be at all possible.  There are also people who are attacked for "knowing too much" who know and do much less than Agatha herself.  Someone close to her also asks for a job, an idea she dismisses immediately, but then a bit later she's advertising for a new assistant.  Hmm . . .

All in all, though, with a bit of the old suspension of disbelief, this book is a welcome visit to Agatha and her old friends.

Final Verdict for Busy Body Three Gherkins, for some plot holes, but a generally enjoyable visit to Carsley

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Finally, finally, I got around to watching Cranford.  This delightful mini-series is based on the novels of 19th century writer Elizabeth Gaskell.  The mini-series was filmed in 2007 and shown on Masterpiece Theater in 2009-2010. 

In the small village of Cranford, times are changing.  The railroad is getting nearer and wants to expand into Cranford itself.  Most of the residents are against the very idea, not only because the work of building the railroad will spoil their beautiful rustic way of life, but also because, well, just what sort of people might the railroad bring?  You never can be too careful, you know, and we don't want any of that outside riff-raff invading our town!

I've been working on the railroad
 Leading the anti-railroad charge is Miss Deborah Jenkyns.  Strong-willed (she brooks no arguments) Miss Deborah lives with her sister Miss Matty in the middle of town.  Their friends are mostly other spinsters of a certain age, who love nothing better than a good gossip.  Imelda Staunton steals the show as the busybody Miss Pole, forever nearly injuring herself as she rushes around to all her friends with the latest morsel of overheard news.

On the edge of town is the stately home owned by Lady Ludlow.  She has only one child living, the spoiled and overindulged Septimus, who is currently residing in Rome "for his health."  Septimus seems to have no contact with his mother, other than to write asking for more money.  Even though the estate is not bringing in enough to cover expenses, Lady Ludlow refuses to take no for an answer when her son asks for ever increasing amounts of cash.  Her estate manager, Mr. Carter (the delightful Philip Glenister playing nice for a change!) attempts to reason with her, to no avail.  The railroad is desperate to have some of Lady Ludow's land, and her cash flow problem makes the situation even more precarious.

There are plenty of side stories, including the Jenkyns sisters' maid's secret romance with the town carpenter, a young doctor's romance with a local girl that is nearly undone by frequent misunderstandings, and a cow in pajamas after an unfortunate encounter with a lime pit.  There is also a poor family whose young son is mostly responsible for the upkeep of his family, with much help from the kindly Mr. Carter.

The cast is outstanding, including Judi Dench, Julia Sawalha, Julia McKenzie, Francesca Annis, and plenty of other familiar faces for fans of British TV!   The scenery is beautiful and the costumes are lovely. 

Unfortunately, the sequel, 2009's Return to Cranford, was a bit of a letdown.  Most of the familiar characters were back, but the story lines were silly and contrived.  True fans will want to catch the second series, just to return to familiar characters and places, but really, you'd be better off to stop after the first!

Final Verdict for Cranford Four Gherkins, for being a delightful period drama with plenty of comedy

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Here's a great opportunity for those of us who are anxiously awaiting the upcoming royal wedding.  I received an email looking for applicants to appear in an upcoming TV show by a major US production company and cable network.  Here is the information:


Can you name William and Kate’s favorite London nightclub?

Do you run a blog that reports every detail of the royal wedding planning?

Did you grow up with a Princess Diana-obsessed mother?

Do you dream of marrying into the royal family?

A major American cable network is currently seeking the country's most obsessed royal wedding fans. We're looking for outrageous, outgoing characters who can't get enough Wills and Kate! Candidates must be American and willing to travel. To apply, please email and a producer will send you an application.

Good luck!  This sounds like a great opportunity to get "up close and personal" with the Royal Wedding festivities!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The book Hope, Help & Healing for Eating Disorders was written by a certified eating disorder specialist, Dr. Gregory L. Jantz.  His work with sufferers of eating disorders and "disordered eating" form the basis of the book.  He describes disordered eating" as someone who may not suffer from a traditional eating disorder, but one whose life is nevertheless controlled by thoughts of food (when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat, how to avoid the effects of what was eaten, etc.). The approach of the book is to look at the whole person when attempting to resolve problems people might have in their relationships with food.  Each chapter takes an issue and then looks at it from emotional, intellectual, physical, relational and spiritual aspects.

An interesting part of the book is the "Food for Thought" section which comes near the end of each chapter.  These sections consist of exercises that the reader can complete in a journal.  One interesting exercise had the outline for the reader to write his or her own obituary.  Jantz points out that eating disorders may actually lead to death, and therefore it is important to think about what would you would want to be said about you after your death.  A bit shocking, perhaps, but relevant!

Dr. Jantz realizes that there is something in the past that has caused the person to have an unhealthy relationship with food.  He discusses many aspects (including examples) of things such as family patterns, repressed anger, abuse and so on that are common in the backgrounds of so many people who suffer from eating problems.  He also includes sections on physically recovering from the disorders, implementing forgiveness, mapping progress, and allowing others to help.

The book ends with an interesting Q & A section about eating disorders, as well as related books and Internet sites that would be useful for further exploration of the topic.

Overall, I found the book to be a useful overview of all aspects of eating disorders:  examples, possible causes, physical implications, and strategies for recovery.  If a sufferer were really and truly motivated to examine his or her situation and do the difficult and painful work of honest self-evaluation, I believe this book could be extremely helpful in the recovery process.

Read Chapter 1

Disclaimer:  I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

In his book The Power Based Life, author Mike Flynt looks at various personal attributes and how they can be harnessed in order to strengthen the body, mind and spirit.  Flynt was a college football player who lost his scholarship and was kicked off the team before his senior year due to his frequent fights.  He had always regretted not playing his senior year, so at the age of 59 he went back and played his final year of football.  In the years in between, he’d worked a variety of jobs before discovering that he could make a career out of something he loved:  strength training and weight-lifting.  The book is divided into chapters such as Visualization, Belief, Adversity and Compassion.  Each chapter uses examples from both the sports world, his own personal experiences,  and the Bible in order to reinforce points.  While the book is positive and can be encouraging, I didn’t find it innovative or especially motivating.  Perhaps I wasn’t the target audience, not being especially tied to the athletic world, , although it might resonate with young athletes.  This book was a so-so addition to the crowded self-help market that didn’t bring anything new to the table.

Disclaimer:  I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers for this review

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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3gherkinsb Fair to middlin'

2gherkinsb Has some good points

1gherkin Oi! Wot you playin' at?

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