A new London crime detective takes to the big city streets with a vengeance.  There is a little political intrigue mixed up with the murders John Carlyle is investigating…the case involves a former Cambridge University club filled with future politicos who are being killed off one by one years later. Carlyle is a believable London inspector who fights crime with a passion, though the writing could be a little better and the book does have its fair share of cliches.  Not the best British mystery (by a long shot) but far from the worst.  Definitely something for British mystery lovers to try. 

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Once again, Isabel Wolff and her chick lit do not disappoint.  Yes, it’s light.  Yes, it’s predictable.  But, it’s fun.  And Wolff is a strong author who can create strong characters and semi-believable tales.  This one finds the main character Ella Graham as a popular portrait painter in London’s inner circles.  Her newly-engaged sister commissions a portrait of her fiancé and Ella encounters problems when she finds herself attractive to the fiancé.  Other fascinating storylines stem from the different clients Ella is assigned to paint, but the main focus is Ella’s woes with her sister’s fiancé.  Wolff combines just the right combination of wispy prose with heartfelt stories and quality writing for this to be a perfect weekend read! 
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Akin to Deanna Raybourn and her Lady Julia Grey series and Anne Perry’s William Monk series, Charles Finch puts together a smart, fresh historical mystery series with a debonair gentleman detective Charles Lenox.  In this book, the fourth in the series, Lenox begins working as a Member of Parliament in 1860s London, but called upon to do some investigating when the servant of a fellow MP turns up murdered.  Sadly, his new wife, Lady Jane Grey, is not too pleased his sleuthing…she would rather he be home with her, so that leads to some tension.  Mostly, Lenox is an easy-going and dapper fellow who appeals to all.  I think most mystery readers, especially those who like historical or British mysteries (or both) will like Finch! 
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The British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced their winners on February 13th!  

ACADEMY FELLOWSHIP
CHRISTOPHER LEE

OUTSTANDING BRITISH CONTRIBUTION TO CINEMA
THE HARRY POTTER FILMS

BEST FILM
THE KING’S SPEECH Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin

BLACK SWAN Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin
INCEPTION Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan
THE SOCIAL NETWORK Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Céan Chaffin
TRUE GRIT Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
THE KING’S SPEECH Tom Hooper, David Seidler, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin

127 HOURS Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy, Christian Colson, John Smithson
ANOTHER YEAR Mike Leigh, Georgina Lowe
FOUR LIONS Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Mark Herbert, Derrin Schlesinger
MADE IN DAGENHAM Nigel Cole, William Ivory, Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley
                                                                                                               
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
FOUR LIONS Chris Morris (Director/Writer)

THE ARBOR Clio Barnard (Director), Tracy O’Riordan (Producer)
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP Banksy (Director), Jaimie D’Cruz (Producer)
MONSTERS Gareth Edwards (Director/Writer)
SKELETONS Nick Whitfield (Director/Writer)
DIRECTOR
THE SOCIAL NETWORK David Fincher

127 HOURS Danny Boyle
BLACK SWAN Darren Aronofsky
INCEPTION Christopher Nolan
THE KING’S SPEECH Tom Hooper
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
THE KING’S SPEECH David Seidler

BLACK SWAN Mark Heyman, Andrés Heinz, John McLaughlin
THE FIGHTER Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson
INCEPTION Christopher Nolan
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
THE SOCIAL NETWORK Aaron Sorkin

127 HOURS Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Rasmus Heisterberg, Nikolaj Arcel
TOY STORY 3 Michael Arndt
TRUE GRIT Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Søren Stærmose, Niels Arden Oplev

BIUTIFUL Alejandro González Iñárritu, Jon Kilik, Fernando Bovaira
I AM LOVE Luca Guadagnino, Francesco Melzi D’Eril, Marco Morabito, Massimiliano Violante
OF GODS AND MEN Xavier Beauvois, Pascal Caucheteux, Etienne Comar
THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES Mariela Besuievsky, Juan José Campanella
ANIMATED FILM
TOY STORY 3 Lee Unkrich

DESPICABLE ME Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois
LEADING ACTOR
COLIN FIRTH The King’s Speech

JAVIER BARDEM Biutiful
JEFF BRIDGES True Grit
JESSE EISENBERG The Social Network
JAMES FRANCO 127 Hours
LEADING ACTRESS
NATALIE PORTMAN Black Swan

ANNETTE BENING The Kids Are All Right
JULIANNE MOORE The Kids Are All Right
NOOMI RAPACE The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
HAILEE STEINFELD True Grit
SUPPORTING ACTOR
GEOFFREY RUSH The King’s Speech

CHRISTIAN BALE The Fighter
ANDREW GARFIELD The Social Network
PETE POSTLETHWAITE The Town
MARK RUFFALO The Kids Are All Right
SUPPORTING ACTRESS
HELENA BONHAM CARTER The King’s Speech

AMY ADAMS The Fighter
BARBARA HERSHEY Black Swan
LESLEY MANVILLE Another Year
MIRANDA RICHARDSON Made in Dagenham
ORIGINAL MUSIC
THE KING’S SPEECH Alexandre Desplat

127 HOURS AR Rahman
ALICE IN WONDERLAND Danny Elfman
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON John Powell
INCEPTION Hans Zimmer
CINEMATOGRAPHY
TRUE GRIT Roger Deakins

127 HOURS Anthony Dod Mantle, Enrique Chediak
BLACK SWAN Matthew Libatique
INCEPTION Wally Pfister
THE KING’S SPEECH Danny Cohen
EDITING
THE SOCIAL NETWORK Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter

127 HOURS Jon Harris
BLACK SWAN Andrew Weisblum
INCEPTION Lee Smith
THE KING’S SPEECH Tariq Anwar
PRODUCTION DESIGN
INCEPTION Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Doug Mowat

ALICE IN WONDERLAND Robert Stromberg, Karen O’Hara
BLACK SWAN Thérèse DePrez, Tora Peterson
THE KING’S SPEECH Eve Stewart, Judy Farr
TRUE GRIT Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh
COSTUME DESIGN
ALICE IN WONDERLAND Colleen Atwood

BLACK SWAN Amy Westcott
THE KING’S SPEECH Jenny Beavan
MADE IN DAGENHAM Louise Stjernsward
TRUE GRIT Mary Zophres
SOUND
INCEPTION Richard King, Lora Hirschberg, Gary A Rizzo, Ed Novick

127 HOURS Glenn Freemantle, Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Steven C Laneri, Douglas Cameron
BLACK SWAN Ken Ishii, Craig Henighan, Dominick Tavella
THE KING’S SPEECH John Midgley, Lee Walpole, Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen
TRUE GRIT Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F Kurland, Douglas Axtell
SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
INCEPTION Chris Corbould, Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Peter Bebb

ALICE IN WONDERLAND Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Sean Phillips, Carey Villegas
BLACK SWAN Dan Schrecker, Henrik Fett, Michael Capton, William ‘Brad’ Kalinoski
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 Tim Burke, John Richardson, Nicolas Aithadi, Christian Manz
TOY STORY 3 Guido Quaroni, Michael Fong, David Ryu
MAKE UP; HAIR
ALICE IN WONDERLAND Valli O’Reilly, Paul Gooch

BLACK SWAN Judy Chin, Geordie Sheffer
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 Amanda Knight, Lisa Tomblin, Nick Dudman
THE KING’S SPEECH Frances Hannon
MADE IN DAGENHAM Lizzie Yianni Georgiou
SHORT ANIMATION
THE EAGLEMAN STAG Michael Please

MATTER FISHER David Prosser
THURSDAY Matthias Hoegg
SHORT FILM
UNTIL THE RIVER RUNS RED Paul Wright, Poss Kondeatis

CONNECT Samuel Abrahams, Beau Gordon
LIN Piers Thompson, Simon Hessel
RITE Michael Pearce, Ross McKenzie, Paul Welsh
TURNING Karni Arieli, Saul Freed, Alison Sterling, Kat Armour-Brown
THE ORANGE WEDNESDAYS RISING STAR AWARD (voted for by the public)
TOM HARDY

GEMMA ARTERTON
ANDREW GARFIELD
AARON JOHNSON

EMMA STON

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Can Winston Churchill be exciting? In this second installment of HBO’s film on Churchill (the first being The Gathering Storm with Albert Finney playing Churchill), the old English Bulldog is pretty darn exciting. Maybe I should preface that by saying the ERA that this film takes place in is much more exhilarating than the timeframe of the Finney film (pre-WWII). Churchill during WWII was a force to be reckoned with. He and FDR formed a powerful, menacing alliance that took the world and Hitler by storm. In The Gathering Storm, Finney did a fabulous job of embodying the Prime Minister, but there was always something a little too “regal” about him. I mean after all, it was Albert Finney under all of that make-up and the years of classical acting seemed to hinder the rough, brash Churchill exterior from coming all the way through. Here, in this film, Irish actor Brendan Gleeson does not have any problem being a true, unadulterated curmudgeon. Gleeson’s performance is truly phenomenal…he’s all fire and brimstone when he needs to be but in the scenes with Churchill and his wife Clemmie, Gleeson shine’s as he lets slivers of Churchill’s soft side peek out. All around, an excellent film about a traumatic time in history…and about the man who made sure Great Britain got though that trauma mostly unscathed.

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Another great, fun story by Wolff, who is getting stronger and stronger as a storyteller. The writing is solid, but Wolff’s forte is forming bright, vivid female characters who face their troubles head on with passion. A British native, Wolff’s young career women all start off less than resilient but then end up conquering heroes. In this novel, Phoebe starts off by opening her new vintage fashion shop, fresh from a badly broken relationship and the death of her close friend. Through both events and a series of wonderful supporting characters, Phoebe comes into her own (her store being a success doesn’t hurt either!)! In addition to the story and characters, I also enjoyed leaning about vintage haute couture. A must read for chick lit-ters and those who enjoy light, breezy women’s fiction.

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An Education is a charming, intelligent film filled with excellent performances, especially from Carey Mulligan, who shines as the curious ingénue. Mulligan’s character, Jenny, is bookish school girl from suburban London who meets an older, sophisticated attractive man, David (played perfectly by Peter Sarsgaard), who drives a sports car and who sweeps her off her feet. David even convinces her strict, driven parents with his “respectable” act. Jenny is hooked completely…so much so even school is no longer important. When David’s true colors surface, she seems left with nothing, but is she? Based on the memoir by Lynn Barber, An Education was adapted for the screen by British novelist and humorist Nick Hornby, who uses his satiric, dry wit to bring the characters, especially Jenny and her family, to life. Though this film is mostly a serious drama, Hornby’s knack for writing vibrant and vivid characters comes across in this touching and heartwarming story. Nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Actress (Mulligan), Best Adapted Screenplay (Hornby) and Best Picture), this film is one of the best of the year.

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A very entertaining read, for Du Maurier lovers and others as well…those who just like a good story and some good mystery. Challis takes the future authoress and fictionally creates her as an amateur sleuth, all the while allowing her to use her sleuthing for material for her novels, mostly Rebecca. Set in Cornwall, England (Du Maurier’s home county in England), Challis sets up a Rebecca-esque story here with all the trimmings…money, a large manor house, an austere housekeeper, a mysterious young woman of a questionable background, and, of course, the sea in the background, its waves crashing against the cliffs. Daphne as a young pre-novelist sleuth is very appealing. She’s innocent, yet worldly. She’s careful, yet adventurous. Rebecca is one of my favorite books and I’m always skeptical when someone tries to “improvise” on already-near-perfect work. Here, I think Du Maurier herself would be proud.

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