Parks and Recreation is an absolutely wonderful little show - hilarious, on-the-nose, with a whole lot of heart. Tie-in book Pawnee: The Greatest Town...moreParks and Recreation is an absolutely wonderful little show - hilarious, on-the-nose, with a whole lot of heart. Tie-in book Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America is lacking in comparison, but still made me laugh obnoxiously loud a good half dozen times. It's ostensibly a history of and guide to the fictional Pawnee, penned by deputy Parks director Leslie Knope (in actuality written by Nate DiMeo and the show's creative team).
It's a little bizarre in that it really does capture Amy Poehler's Leslie extremely well in places, and yet I absolutely can't believe this is the same book Leslie wrote in the context of the show. In a bid to include the other characters, each is ascribed a feature section which, while entertaining, would never have made it past Leslie's stringent quality control (Really, I love Jean-Ralphio, but a guide to Pawnee's clubs rated by most bangable women? Leslie Knope would never.) Also, while we regularly see elements of Pawnee that are less than wonderful - eg. its genocidal origins - the dearth of scandal presented here makes Leslie's unwavering pride in her hometown veer from endearing to maniacally naive.
That said, certain sections brought me unmitigated joy, particularly the dossier on Pawnee's raccoon infestation and the feature on the years the town was run by a cult who worshipped the six-tentacled lizard god Zorp. I'd definitely recommend it to fully-fledged Parks devotees, but it's not essential reading for the casual viewer.(less)
This book was entirely lightweight and vacuous, but fun nonetheless. I had a month to read it for my book club, but got through it within a few days....moreThis book was entirely lightweight and vacuous, but fun nonetheless. I had a month to read it for my book club, but got through it within a few days. It's an easy page turner, albeit one with very few likeable characters beyond the narrator. Snobs follows Edith, a fairly wealthy estate agent from London, as she marries into a minor aristocratic family. From first to last it sends up those pretentious folk whose self-worth is defined by social climbing, and does so fairly wittily. It's not a laugh-out-loud book, but it is roundly amusing, if overdone in places. My one substantial niggle was the periods of time skipped. One moment Edith and Charles had been on a single date, the next they were engaged. It made it difficult to gauge the passage of time, so when it was mentioned that they'd been married for two years, I could hardly reconcile that with what had passed and it pulled me right out of the moment. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone hoping for hilarity or an in-depth examination of England's social hierarchy, but as fluffy chick lit, I've read a heck of a lot worse.(less)
I bought this for my eight-year-old brother for Christmas, and decided to read it before wrapping it. It's cute! Well, as cute as any book aimed at li...moreI bought this for my eight-year-old brother for Christmas, and decided to read it before wrapping it. It's cute! Well, as cute as any book aimed at little boys can be. It was pretty amusing, I liked the line art, and overall it was a nice way to spend an hour. The main character is a bit of a jerk at times, but I used to love books about ~how unfaaaair~ grown-ups were, and happy-clappy 'let's all be friends!' endings felt super patronising, so I'm sure I'd have dug this as a kid. I just hope Charlie likes it!(less)
The adherence to the characters' voices was excellent here, but some of the content was fairly tedious. Enjoyable enough as a quick read, but not a pa...moreThe adherence to the characters' voices was excellent here, but some of the content was fairly tedious. Enjoyable enough as a quick read, but not a patch on the TV series.(less)
I went to visit my little brothers last week, and my eight-year-old brother Charlie had a couple of Simpsons comics on loan from the library. We took...moreI went to visit my little brothers last week, and my eight-year-old brother Charlie had a couple of Simpsons comics on loan from the library. We took one each, giggled over some of the strips together, and spent a very pleasant afternoon in Springfield. This isn't something I'd ever have read of my own volition, but I expect I'll have happy memories of that afternoon for a while to come. The Simpsons translates well to comic form, and while not every story is a winner (the long segment in space was frankly dull), if you like the TV show, there's plenty to like here.(less)
Although Screen Burn did contain a decent number of laugh-out-loud moments, the sheer volume of it - spanning five years of Brooker's Guardian columns...moreAlthough Screen Burn did contain a decent number of laugh-out-loud moments, the sheer volume of it - spanning five years of Brooker's Guardian columns - meant that the end product was sadly mediocre. By and large, his columns are all pretty much the same. TV spews out a ludicrous show, and Brooker angrily criticises it at length, employing a staggering range of metaphors and similies that eventually become meaningless through sheer number. Rinse, wash, repeat. These are not bad columns in and of themselves, but crowded together here, they all blend into one hazy, forgettable rant. Yes, there's a lot of crap on TV. Yes, we should all have better things to do than submit to it. But I spent quite a lot of Screen Burn musing on the fact that I really had better things to do than read it, which is pretty damning. I'd recommend this as a bathroom book more than anything - something to dip into for a few minutes, then put down for a few days, so the overall effect is more diluted and enjoyable as a result. Because it definitely is funny in places... it just suffers from the transition to book format.(less)
Futures trader Jimmy Corby is hit hard by Britain's recession, and struggles to find a way to keep his family's heads above water. Among his closest f...moreFutures trader Jimmy Corby is hit hard by Britain's recession, and struggles to find a way to keep his family's heads above water. Among his closest friends are an expense-fiddling MP and a crooked banker, allowing Elton to take jabs at everything from cash for honours, MPs expenses, banking fatcats and bonuses, to Live8 and laissez-faire society.
Elton tends to be a very hit and miss writer. Meltdown isn't up there with his best (Dead Famous) but nor is it one of his worst (Maybe Baby). It's largely entertaining, and made me chuckle quite often. Unfortunately, it suffers from the speed at which it must have been written in order to capitalise on all these topical issues. Long sections of the book, typically in the form of arguments between Jimmy's friends, read like an extended transcript from Question Time. It's incredibly preachy in places, and flounders around a lot without anything substantial by the way of a plot.
All of Jimmy's friends are caricatures, and not even well fleshed out ones at that. Beyond Lizzie, Robbo and Rupert, none of them get enough distinguishing page-time. Peripheral characters are also crafted straight from tropes - it takes a single paragraph to establish that Jimmy's son's best friend is a refugee whose mother was raped and murdered and whose brother and father were forced to serve in a rebel army - but of course he's cheerful, fearless and inspiring to his classmates, because anything other than paper thin characterisation would require Elton to actually spend some time on depth.
Despite all this, I didn't hate Meltdown. Elton has a knack for creating main characters who are fundamentally wankers, yet somehow making you root for them anyway. I definitely hoped that Jimmy would come good for his family, and as usual, I fully expect to be back to read whatever Elton puts out this year.(less)