Saturday, 29 March 2014

Let Me Off At The Top!: Stay Classy? More Like Stay Away!

A Review By: Amelia
Anchorman is one of my favourite movies. There’s just something about it that’s so ridiculous and over the top that it’s perfect. I mean the part where all the different news teams fight in an alley is cinema gold! All in all, fans of Anchorman had much to look forward to in 2013–the sequel to the film was announced and Ron Burgundy wrote a book! Well, according to critics and fans alike, the second film didn’t go over all that well and–after I raised my hopes that the book wouldn’t let me down–I’m sorry to say that it did. Let Me Off At The Top: My Classy Life and Other Musings was a huge disappointment, and below, I’ll tell you why.

Let Me Off At The Top is the memoirs of the number one news anchor in America: Ron Burgundy. He writes about his humble beginnings in an Iowa coal mining town through his whirl-wind career as the top anchorman ever.

It’s hard to tell you about the author of this piece. It’s a book written as a memoir by a fictional character from a movie. I don’t know if Will Ferrell (who played Ron Burgundy in the film) wrote it himself as he pretended to be Ron Burgundy or if it was a ghost writer pretending to be Will Ferrell as he pretended to be Ron Burgundy! For lack of a better way to say it, I’ll just refer to the author as Burgundy from this point out.

So, as stated before, this book is a memoir written by Burgundy and it’s all about his life (although most of the time it’s so off topic that Burgundy himself plays very little into it at all). After about the first chapter, Burgundy’s writing voice comes off as nothing but arrogant and annoying. And (if we’re going to be honest) if the movie Anchorman had been any longer than it was, he probably would have come off arrogant and annoying there too, but the movie was just enough of him and his news team (of which he has the highest respect for but hardly mentions at all in his memoirs) so to not become overbearing. In the book, it was all him. It was obnoxious to begin with but almost unbearable after about half the book. Everything that made him charming in the movie is forced and awkward in the book and just not fun to read. There’s no humour because it’s so forced–this book was about as natural as the polyesters that make up Burgundy’s suits.

I had such high hopes for this book but unfortunately, it fell short. It fell way short. Burgundy comes off charmingly stupid in the film, but in the book, he quickly becomes the worst person to ever have written a book (and yes, saying that a fictional character wrote this book IS killing me!). There are some great one-liners that came off naturally in this unnatural/forced piece and they made me stop to think if they had been in the movie, but most of it was just mindless filler, unfunny nonsense, and just plain bad material. Honestly, there’s a whole ten pages on Ron Burgundy’s interpretation of the history of Mexico and it’s awful. It’s truly awful. If this book were a stand-up bit that Will Ferrell performed as Ron Burgundy, it might stand a chance. But as a book that you sit and read, well, let’s hope most people don’t waste their time.

My final thoughts on Let Me Off At The Top: My Classy Life and Other Musings are to save your money. If you’re a fan of the first Anchorman movie and want more Ron Burgundy I suppose you could risk it, but for the love of Odin’s raven, borrow it from a library and completely skip over the Mexican history chapter! Ron Burgundy, I’m afraid to say, has not followed his own motto and stayed classy.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You: Cat Comics From the Internet Now In a Book… And It’s the Best!

A Review By: Amelia
I usually don’t go for websits / blogs / Tumblrs turned into books but there have been exceptions. Stephen Fry’s twitter turned book Mrs. Fry’s Diary is one such book (which I have reviewed and posted here before). Another exception is the book How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You. It’s a comic website turned book and since it’s about cats, there was literally no way I could pass up reading it!

“If your cat is kneading you, that's not a sign of affection. Your cat is actually checking your internal organs for weakness. If your cat brings you a dead animal, this isn't a gift. It's a warning.” How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You covers all this and more with the wit and humour of Oatmeal comics and even includes never before posted comics about–you guessed it–cats!

The author of How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You is The Oatmeal. The Oatmeal (aka as Matthew Inman) is an online comic site that’s been around for years drawing comics about cats, sriracha hot sauce, and really anything else that comes to his mind. He’s a pretty funny guy and you should check out his site: If you’d like a certain genre of comic of his all lumped together–like, say, CATS–then this book is right up your alley!

The art style of the book is that of The Oatmeal. It’s a unique style that’s simple and minimalistic (most of the time). It’s not an overly attractive style of art–some of it is down right ugly–but that’s kind of the point… at least, I think it is. Either way the cats are drawn adorable so don’t worry yourself about the art!

If you’ve never read Oatmeal comics, the art is what’s going to put you the most off. The writing in the comics though is what’s going to keep you coming back to read more!

My final thoughts on How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You are that it is amazing! I do admit that I might be a bit biased as I love cats, but cat lovers are who all these comics were drawn for in the first place!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

sTORI Telling: Bear With The Obnoxious Use Of Her Own Name And You’ll Find An Addictive Read

A Review By: Amelia
I love to read tell-alls. There’s just something about troubled lives that draws my attention and doesn’t let go until the last page is turned. With Tori Spelling’s book I figured I get some juicy gossip from the set of Beverly 90210 and spoiled brat stories. Much to my surprise, sTORI Telling gave me only got a little bit of gossip here and there and there were absolutely no spoiled brat stories, but her book was still interesting and definitely a compelling read.

sTORI Telling, as I mentioned above, is Tori Spelling’s memoir. This memoir was Tori's chance to finally tell her side of the tabloid-worthy life she's led: parties and plastic surgery that she’s had, her fairy-tale wedding to the wrong man, her so-called feud with her mother, how she always wanted to do nothing but comedy but found it hard to find any openings due to the stigma attached to her name. She tells all and with the sometimes self-deprecating, always witty prose she writes with, it’s hard not to be enchanting by her mostly less-than-enchanting life.

A regular Halloween in the Spelling household
Tori Spelling–television producer Aaron Spelling’s daughter–is known, honestly, for her name. Her first major role was portraying Donna Martin on Beverly Hills 90210 and, in doing so, became the world’s biggest case of nepotism. All through her teenage years she had a not-so private private life and was one of the most recognizable women in show business. Or at least B-list show business. Over the course of her life she’s had plastic surgery, a clumsy and awkward love life, a complicated relationship with her parents (and that’s putting it lightly), and ultimately, a hard time overcoming the nepotism that got her into show business in the first place!

My final thoughts on sTORI Telling are that it’s a surprisingly good read. Tori Spelling might not have lived a life of drug addictions or being a bitch on set–I’m waiting for Shannen Doherty’s book for that topic–but it’s still a compelling read, especially for all the passages about her over-bearing yet under-caring mother. You might believe that you already know everything there is to know about Tori Spelling because of the things you’ve read on magazine covers; I thought I did anyways. When I came upon her autobiography on the shelves of my local library I thought ‘what the hell?’ all the while believing that everything I was going to read, I would already know. But, really, everything I knew was only half truths. Her memoirs tell her side of the story and, as it turns out, it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than anything you can read in a rag magazine!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Parasyte: A Manga That Sucked The Life Out Of Me

A Review By: Amelia
I’m going to start off this review by saying that I’ve never really been into science-fiction–it’s not my cup of tea. That being said, why did I choose to read a science-fiction manga? I wish you could see my shoulder shrug because after reading Parasyte, my opinion of science-fiction remains the same.

Parasyte is an action/science-fiction/horror manga about a super invasive alien parasite that invades a host body and then becomes a horrible cannibalistic being that can morph the form of its host body to devour its prey. The series focuses around one teenage boy - Shinichi Izumi – whose body was invaded by a parasite with complications to the process. Shenanigans ensue. 

Parasyte is a twenty-four year old series–having started in 1990–and the author and artist of all ten volumes is Hitoshi Iwaaki. His primary work is Parasyte and he’s won numerous awards for it.

The main character of the piece are Shinichi Izumi, who is an average high school student, and the alien parasite that possesses his hand and gets nicknamed Rightie. They’re pretty balanced characters and, surprisingly, they work well together. Shin is kind of a lovable goofball and Rightie is a super-intelligent parasite that doesn’t understand sarcasm. As I mentioned before, shenanigans ensue. I’d love to say more about them, but honestly, there isn’t that much.

The art style in the manga is two completely different things. The alien designs for the grotesque way the parasites morph and change the human body were highly original and a visual feast for the imagination. However, the art style that it’s drawn in is kind of bland. It’s a realistic style in terms of human body portions and attractiveness (unlike some mangas, this one is filled with average looking people) but with it being a science-fiction story, I felt the art was just really lacking.

With bland artwork and a plot that’s supposed to be filled with action and itsn’t the only thing that really made me keep reading Parasyte was the plot, and even that became tiresome about three volumes in. I’m sorry to say it–because I seem to be the only one who is saying it–but Parasyte just isn’t worth it. At least not if you’re only a casual science-fiction fan like myself.

My final thoughts on Parasyte are that it’s a little dull all things considered. A strange alien parasite infects humans and changes them into horrible cannibalistic monsters and the only thing I can think is ‘when is this gonna get exciting?’ It’s got an interesting premise, but with actions sequences few, far between, and over too quickly, shallow characters, and a somewhat bland art style, Parasyte’s premise just wasn’t enough to keep me interested.