Thursday, March 29, 2012

Let us employ the little grey cells for a moment in appreciation of one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time: Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. Between the 1920s and the 1970s, the Belgian detective appeared in 42 novels and short story collections. He has been portrayed on screen many times, most recently by the British actor David Suchet. Thanks to Acorn Media, I'm offering one lucky person the opportunity to win a special prize pack of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Series 1-4, (valued at $160.00)!
Here is a little more information about each series:

Series 1: (approx. 501 minutes)
These 10 full-length mysteries star fan-favorite and BAFTA nominee David Suchet as the brilliant Belgian detective. Based on the novels by Agatha Christie, these lavish adaptations capture every splendid detail of the Art Deco era. ITV Studios’ Poirot has aired on ITV1 in the U.K. since 1989 and on PBS and A&E in the U.S. The 3-vol. DVD set includes all 10 mysteries from the first series, now with SDH subtitles.

The Adventure of the Clapham Cook;
Murder in the Mews;
The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly;
Four and Twenty Blackbirds;
The Third Floor Flat;
Triangle at Rhodes;
Problem at Sea;
The Incredible Theft;
The King of Clubs;
The Dream

Series 2: The diminutive detective returns in these nine full-length mysteries, starring beloved actor and BAFTA nominee David Suchet as a “near-perfect Poirot” (USA Today) in these sumptuous adaptations of Christie’s bestsellers.
(approx. 507 minutes)

Peril at End House;
The Veiled Lady;
The Lost Mine;
The Cornish Mystery;
The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim;
Double Sin;
The Adventure of the Cheap Flat;
The Kidnapped Prime Minister;
The Adventure of the Western Star

Series 3: The impeccable Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) is back on the case in these 11 mysteries from the hit series.
(approx. 606 minutes)

The Mysterious Affair at Styles—Poirot and Hastings tackle their first case together.
How Does Your Garden Grow?—Poirot cultivates leads in a murder case.
The Million Dollar Bond Robbery—The detective investigates an international banking caper.
The Plymouth Express—Poirot is called in when a case of romantic intrigue turns fatal.
Wasps’ Nest—Hastings’s new photography hobby helps Poirot crack a case.
The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor—A writer calls Poirot for help untangling his own plot.
The Double Clue—The detective seems taken with an exiled countess while investigating a jewel heist.
The Mystery of the Spanish Chest—Poirot is a guest at a dinner party that turns deadly.
The Theft of the Royal Ruby—An Egyptian prince learns a difficult lesson about who to trust.
The Affair at the Victory Ball—A costume party becomes a crime scene when two revelers are murdered.
The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge—A wealthy landowner becomes the quarry during a hunting party.

Series 3 also stars Hugh Fraser (Sharpe) as the affable Captain Hastings, Philip Jackson (Little Voice) as Chief Inspector Japp, and Pauline Moran as Miss Lemon.

Series 4: The endearingly eccentric detective Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) is back on the case in these three feature-length mysteries from the hit series. 
(approx. 306 minutes)


The ABC Murders— Poirot investigates the baffling mystery of a murderer who announces his next victims through a series of chilling letters, each addressed to the detective himself.

Death in the Clouds— There’s murder in the skies as a ruthless blackmailer is killed on board a plane full of likely suspects. Unfortunately for the culprit, a certain Belgian detective is a fellow passenger

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe— When a popular dentist is gunned down, a murderous chain of events ensues. A broken shoe buckle becomes the key to untangling a deadly web of deception.

Series 4 also stars Donald Sumpter (Game of Thrones), Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), Hugh Fraser (Sharpe) as the affable Captain Hastings, and Philip Jackson (Little Voice) as Chief Inspector Japp.

That's a lot of Poirot!  To enter to win this amazing series, just leave a comment stating your favorite mystery author.  Be sure to leave you email address in the comment (or on your Blogger profile, if you have one) so that I can contact you if you are the lucky winner.  Open to US residents only.  Enter by April 15.  The winner will be selected by and contacted by email.

Thanks so much to Acorn Media for providing this wonderful prize, and good luck!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest to win a free copy of the wonderful Bumper Book of London.  The winner was:


I'm sure you'll love the book as much as I did!  The winner has been contacted. Thanks to everyone who entered, and watch this space for an upcoming giveaway that's very exciting!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Always on the lookout for a great book about London, I was thrilled to get a review copy of The Bumper Book of London: Everything You Need to Know about London and More by Becky Jones and Clare Lewis.  This colorful and fascinating book is marketed as a children's book, but it's bursting with bright colors and fun information that makes it a great read for all ages!

The book begins with some general facts about London, then it is divided into chapters covering the chronological periods in London's history, beginning with Roman London and going through the present (Modern London).  Every section is filled with historical facts, words used during that time, rulers, and things to see from that time period that still exist in London.  For example, from the Saxon/Viking period, you can still see the Coronation Stone of the Saxon Kings at Kingston Town Hall, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the British Library, and Sutton Hoo treasures at the British Museum.

After the historical portions of the book, there are sections devoted to various aspects of life in London including sport, food, transport, the River Thames, animals, streets, and so on. 

Every page uses colorful lettering and fonts, and there are also numerous illustrations done by children which help to enliven the facts.

Illustration of what was lost during
the Great Fire of London
I learned many interesting and unusual things from reading this book.  For instance, there is a Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, currently filled by Larry the Cat.  Larry has his own Twitter account to keep everyone up to date on his activities (although distressingly, not much mouse abatement work is mentioned!).  There are also yummy recipes (including one for "London Cheesecake" that includes no cheese!), Fast Facts and a recommended list of "London's Best" which includes such lists as "Best Books Set in Victorian London" and (more importantly) the locations of the "Best Cake Shops" to be found there today.

More information is also at the book's website and at Becky and Clare's website

I have one copy of the wonderful Bumper Book of London to give away to a lucky reader!  To enter, just leave a comment stating your favorite tourist attraction in London (one you've visited or hope to visit one day).  Be sure and leave an email address in your comment or Blogger profile so I can contact you if you're the winner!  Open only to those residing in the US.  Please leave your comment by March 15.  The winner will be chosen by and I will email the winner.  The winner will have 72 hours to respond, or I'll have to choose another winner.  Good luck!

Disclaimer:  I received a review and a giveaway copy of The Bumper Book of London from 45th Parallel Communications

Final verdict on The Bumper Book of London Five Gherkins, for being a totally engrossing book about London filled with facts and fun!
If you like YA books with lots of twists and turns you may enjoy T.K. Richardson's new book Shield the Heart. When you mix one girl with a special gift, one ancient Russian prophecy, danger, and a dash of romance you end up with Shield the Heart!

I hope you'll check it out. The book is available in paperback and as an ebook.

One Gift, One Prophecy, One Choice

Shield the Heart

(Note: This book is part of a series. Book #1 Return the Heart. Book #2 Shield the Heart.)

What if the battle was in your heart?

Lilly's gift of reading the heart seemed like a curse, but when she discovered her gift was linked to an old, Russian prophecy it changed everything. What she never questioned, though, was her own heart.

When the prophecy pulls Lilly back to Russia and demands to be fulfilled she is torn between love and loyalty. She must make the most difficult decision of her life and choose between the two. But Lilly's decision is farther reaching than even she is willing to acknowledge. It stretches from East to West - from the past to the future.

Lilly discovers there's more to the old prophecy than she realized and enemy forces are bent on stopping it from unfolding.

One thing is certain - there will be casualties. And sparing those closest to her may be impossible. While Seth attempts to shield Lilly from the truth, Nikolai reveals secrets that could change everything.

As Lilly falls into the arms of Russia she must decide: will love or loyalty reign? And can she live with the consequences? Two sides compete for Lilly's heart and she must find the answers she needs before her enemies find her.

Shield the Heart, by T.K. Richardson, is the riveting second book in the series and takes Lilly deeper into Russia's mysterious past... and her future.

(**This post was part of a contest to win a Kindle Fire. If you'd like to enter for a chance to win visit the site to find out how!)

Friday, March 2, 2012

I was so excited to see another Sophie Kinsella book was coming out!  I immediately put my name down on the waiting list at the library, and was shocked when I was notified that the book was ready for me to pick up on the same day it was released!  Talk about good timing!

I've Got Your Number is a book with a now classic Kinsella formula:  the somewhat ditzy but lovable heroine who gets herself into a pickle, but ultimately wins the heart of the fabulously wealthy and successful male character.  And it's set in London, so what's not to love?

Our main character this time is Poppy Wyatt, a physiotherapist who, as the book begins, is attending her hen night party in advance of her upcoming wedding to the somewhat condescending Magnus.  Poppy is immediately thrown into turmoil from the first page as her engagement ring (a family heirloom) goes missing in the midst of a fire alarm at the hotel where the party is being held.  Unable to get a signal on her cell phone (which she's using to try to alert everyone to her predicament -- well, everyone except Magnus), she runs outside to see if reception is better.  Distracted, she is totally unprepared when a thief on a bike rides by and steals her phone from her outstretched arm.  In a complete panic now, she runs back into the hotel lobby, and as she's passing a trash can, she notices a discarded cell phone.  Since she's currently in dire need of one (to be available for messages in case her ring turns up), she decides to "borrow" this phone for the time being.

The phone turns out to have formerly belonged to the Personal Assistant of Sam Roxton, head of a global corporation that happens to be holding an event at the same hotel and at the same time as Poppy's hen party.  It turns out that Sam can't be bothered to receive messages himself (neither business nor personal), so Poppy makes an arrangement with him:  she'll forward all his emails and messages if he will only let her keep the phone until her ring is found.

Of course, this might have been a very bland book except for the fact that Poppy can't keep from reading Sam's messages and eventually replying for him.  Sam is a somewhat gruff and detached person, but the emails from him that are sent by Poppy interact with employees and acquaintances in ways that Sam never did before.    While Poppy's interference causes Sam some embarrassment, it also allows her to become a major player when a looming scandal threatens Sam's company.

Meanwhile, Poppy is preparing for her wedding.  Magnus comes from a family of high-achieving intellectuals, and Poppy has to deal with feelings of anxiety and inferiority whenever she comes into contact with them.  Shortly before the wedding, she receives an anonymous email that causes her to re-evaluate her entire situation.

I've Got Your Number is an engaging and fun read.  Poppy is thrown into messes, largely of her own making, but is able to overcome every obstacle with her own brand of spunkiness and ingenuity.  Her determination to do what's right for everyone (whether they want it or not) is just one of the aspects of her endearing personality.  If you're looking for a light read that will leave you with a good feeling, this is the book for you!

Interestingly, there was a somewhat negative interview (well, the interviewer was negative, Ms. Kinsella was nothing but charming) with Sophie Kinsella recently in The Guardian which resulted in a follow-up commentary defending Ms. Kinsella and all things "chick lit."

Final verdict for I've Got Your Number:   Four Gherkins, for being an enjoyable, if somewhat predictable, fun read

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I’ll admit that I’m generally pretty slow on the uptake in recognizing if a particular newspaper, book or film has an “agenda” unless it’s fairly blatant.  There is no problem at all in puzzling out the agenda in The Coming Revolution by Dr. Richard G. Lee.  This book makes no bones about hitting the reader over the head with the author’s agenda, which is radical conservatism.  He attempts to present himself as a learned historian who is using the lessons of the past in an attempt to forecast the future of the United States.   However, by page 13, when he’s bemoaning the current state of political discourse in the US as “bickering and name-calling,” he’s already spoken disparagingly of “feminists, ” “left-wing groups” and “socialistic-minded elites” (surely an oxymoron, if Dr. Lee could be bothered to look up the definition of the word “socialist”).  He also states, “I am convinced that every one of the problems confronting this nation today can be solved by concerned citizen action,” yet anything that doesn’t involve the tea-party movement (the only ones allowed to have a voice, apparently), is “an unrepresented segment of the electorate” bent on radicalism, violence and civil disobedience.  So which is it?  Are citizens allowed to voice dissent with the status quo, or does that make them feminist-socialist-elites?  It’s all very confusing.  While I’d hoped for a book taking a realistic view of the problems confronting the US, I really have no use for this mean-spirited, narrow-minded cheerleader for the radical right.  We get enough of that on the radio and TV, I certainly don’t need it added to my reading material.

Disclaimer:  I received my review copy of The Coming Revolution from The BookSneeze program

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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