Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Gentleman's Gentleman

One of my favorite book series is by P.G. Wodehouse and concerns the shenanigans of Bertram, or Bertie to his nearest and dearest, Wooster and his valet, Jeeves. The premise of the stories is that Bertie gets into trouble, and Jeeves calmly and masterfully gets him out of it.

Jeeves and Wooster

Bertie belongs to England's upper crust and is very well-to-do. He has a few Aunts who are forceful in nature, he doesn't have a job, and he treasures his bachelorhood. One of the many quirky charms of this series is the names of all of Bertie's friends and acquaintances. Take for example Stilton Cheesewright, Gussie Fink-Nottle and Boko Fittleworth. Wonderment.

Set during the 1930s, the books take place in Bertie's luxurious London flat, his relatives' country manors, and other stately homes across the English countryside. There are also times when Bertie has to flee to the United States to escape his imperious Aunt Agatha Gregson. While in America, he continues to live a life of leisure, although he manages to get into sticky situations there as well.

I also enjoy watching the television adaptation "Jeeves and Wooster", starring Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster and Stephen Fry as Jeeves. The acting, costumes, and scenery are top-notch and bring Wodehouse's stories to life.

Hugh Laurie

Stephen Fry

Familiar faces from British television pop up as supporting players. They include Martin Clunes as Barmy Fotheringay Phipps, Pip Torrens as Bingo Little, and Amanda Elwes as Angela Travers. I remember Clunes from the Doctor Who episode "Snakedance" and of course his starring role in Doc Martin.

Martin Clunes

Torrens was in the 1984 movie Oxford Blues along with Cary Elwes, whose cousin happens to be Amanda Elwes. Both Torrens and Elwes (Amanda) also appeared in earlier episodes of Poirot.

Pip Torrens

Amanda Elwes

Wodehouse's stories, whether read or watched, will most assuredly entertain for a lifetime.

Friday, July 12, 2013

New Book Releases for Summer's Lazy Days

Some interesting-sounding books are coming out in the next two months. Let's take a look at them.

Who could not pass up "Hen of the Baskervilles"? The title alone is fantastic, and this mystery sounds lighthearted and funny. It takes place in Virginia, within the environment of a state fair. Of course the plot revolves around a chicken, a prize chicken no less, and Meg Langslow, the fair's deputy director, works to solve the case. This is the 15th Meg Langslow caper written by Donna Andrews and will become available on July 16.

Hen of the Baskervilles

You might have heard about J.K. Rowling's "The Casual Vacancy", her first published book since the Harry Potter series. It came out to great fanfare last year, and on July 23, it comes out in paperback. Set in the fictional small town of Pagford in south western England (West Country), Rowling's newest book doesn't have any magic or wizards, but her insightful understanding of human nature seems to be on display once again.

The Casual Vacancy

Also available on July 23 is a murder mystery set in AD670 in Ireland. "The Seventh Trumpet" by Peter Tremayne, a pseudonym of British historian and novelist Peter Berresford Ellis, is the 21st story in the Sister Fidelma Series. In "The Seventh Trumpet", Fidelma of Cashel investigates the murder of a young nobleman, whose identity is unknown. Her trusted companion Eadulf aids in the investigation.

The Seventh Trumpet

With all of the excitement (felt by some, maybe not by others) about the impending arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby, "Heirs and Graces" by Rhys Bowen seems particularly timely. This glimpse into English high society during the 1930s is also a murder mystery, and is appropriately categorized as a "cozy" mystery. The 7th book in the Royal Spyness series features titled sleuth Lady Georgiana Rannoch, and arrives on bookshelves on August 6.

Heirs and Graces

"The Bone Season" by Samantha Shannon tells of a dystopian future set in a strange new London and elsewhere, in which different groups move against each other. The fantasy-based plot for this first offering in a planned 7-book series involves clairvoyants like Paige Mahoney, the main character, and an alien race called the Rephaim. Look out for this book on August 20.

The Bone Season

Last but not least is veteran crime writer Patricia Cornwell's latest novel "Dust" featuring Dr. Kay Scarpetta and Pete Marino. The book takes readers from Scarpetta's stomping grounds of Cambridge, Massachusetts to Washington, D.C., where Scarpetta's husband is carrying on his own investigation for the FBI. You have to wait a little longer to bring "Dust" home, as it becomes available in time for the Fall/Winter holidays on November 12.


All of these books caught my eye for one reason or another. I hope they interest you too. Happy reading! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Summer Movie Releases

The summer months are a leisurely time of year to go to the movies. Whenever I walk inside a movie theater, I want heavily-buttered popcorn. Needless to say, I don't go often.

This summer may not be the most entertaining for Anglophiles but some interesting-sounding films are being released in the next two months.

Grabbers came out in Ireland in 2012 and will be making its US debut, in limited release, on July 19th.


It falls under many genres including horror, sci-fi, fantasy and comedy, and stars Richard Coyle, a familiar face from Coupling, Ruth Bradley, and Russell Tovey, who I remember from the 2012 Sherlock episode "The Hounds of Baskerville".

Richard Coyle

Ruth Bradley

Russell Tovey

Ways To Live Forever is based on the children's novel by Sally Nicholls and was released in Spain in 2010. Also in limited release starting on July 19th, the movie is described as "poignant yet ultimately uplifting".

Ways To Live Forever

It co-stars Emilia Fox, Phyllida Law and Greta Scacchi.

Emilia Fox

Phyllida Law

Greta Scacchi

Finally, there is The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, a young adult (YA) fantasy based on the first book in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. This movie sounds particularly cool, with a plot that involves warlocks and half-angel warriors.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Lena Headey, Lily Collins (daughter of musician Phil Collins), and Jonathan Rhys Meyers head the cast, and the movie comes out August 21 in theaters across the US.

Lena Headey
Lily Collins

Jonathan Rhys Meyers

If I had to choose just one of these movies to see, it would probably be The Mortal Instruments. This is mostly due to my love for fantasy movies, especially those geared towards younger audiences. I will always remain a kid at heart.