Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams & Straight White Male by John Niven (Book Reviews)

Here are two mega quick reviews of two books since I’m trying to review everything I’ve read this year before I make my end-of-year lists. Let’s have a look at this strange combo…

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
There is a long tradition of Great Detectives, and Dirk Gently does not belong to it. But his search for a missing cat uncovers a ghost, a time traveler, AND the devastating secret of humankind! Detective Gently’s bill for saving the human race from extinction: NO CHARGE.

My Thoughts:

My absolute favorite book of all-time is The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. But I’ve never re-read it (I’m not a re-reader of books) and I’ve never read the rest in that series or anything else by Adams until this one. I know I really should read more of his work as, judging by the two I have read, I love his fabulous sense of humor and he was clearly clever as hell. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is NOT as utterly brilliant as Hitchhiker’s. However, it has the same style and wacky characters and was a lot of fun. Will I read more in this series (it’s a series, right?)? No, probably not but I’d love to re-read Hitchhiker’s now & maybe continue with those.

The crazy characters in this book are its selling point more than the actual story, which was at least certainly intriguing. I’m not sure why but I found this book to be very slow going at first & it took me a while to get into it (probably just because I’m not super smart & Adams was clearly all intellectual & shit). It picks up about halfway through, though, and I did enjoy the ending.

Okay – I’m seriously struggling with what to say as this is a very hard book to describe, especially to anyone who has never read anything by Adams. As I have so little experience with his work myself, I’m not going to ramble on like an idiot. I love all the little things thrown in, like the Electric Monk (a time-saving device of the future or, um, parallel dimension (?) that was created to believe all the things humans are meant to believe so that we no longer have to spend our own time worrying about such things…. Did I get that right?!). There’s a couch stuck on some stairs even though its being there is a scientific & mathematical impossibility, there’s a horse in a bathroom, there’s a ghost, there’s a dead cat, and there’s a lot of the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan. The main thing I got from this book is that I really want to read those poems now – they sounds nuts! Or maybe it’s just this book that’s nuts.

Anyway, I won’t pretend that I fully followed what was going on in this book but it was bizarrely entertaining. Read Hitchhiker’s first if you’ve never read Douglas Adams but, if you think sci-fi comedy is something you’d like, he’s definitely a must-read author. I need to read more myself and I happily will. Does anyone have any science fiction comedy recommendations? (I actually have another sci-fi comedy one for you – I loved George R.R. Martin’s Tuf Voyaging, which I reviewed HERE. I need to explore this genre more as I really enjoy it).

My Rating: 3/5

Straight White Male by John Niven

What It’s About: (via Goodreads):

Kennedy Marr is a novelist from the old school. Irish, acerbic, and a borderline alcoholic and sex-addict, his mantra is drink hard, write hard and try to screw every woman you meet.

He’s writing film scripts in LA, fucking, drinking and insulting his way through Californian society, but also suffering from writer’s block and unpaid taxes. Then a solution presents itself – Marr is to be the unlikely recipient of the W. F. Bingham Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Modern Literature, an award worth half a million pounds. But it does not come without a price: he must spend a year teaching at the English university where his ex-wife and estranged daughter now reside.

As Kennedy acclimatises to the sleepy campus, inspiring revulsion and worship in equal measure, he’s forced to reconsider his precarious lifestyle. Incredible as it may seem, there might actually be a father and a teacher lurking inside this ‘preening, narcissistic, priapic, sociopath’. Or is there…?

My Thoughts:

This book won’t be for everyone. I find it hard to read a book with a truly hateful lead character and you can’t get much more hateful than this book’s Kennedy Marr. He’s the exact definition of the type of prick I absolutely cannot stand and would avoid at all costs in real life. However, it’s a well-written and at times very funny book. The character arc is fairly believable (we don’t get a MASSIVE change, which is good as it would go too against character) but he somewhat redeems himself.

I know John Niven wrote Kill Your Friends, a similar sort of story set within the music industry as opposed to the literary world and I’d possibly find that one a little more entertaining due to its setting. I wouldn’t totally avoid another book of his but I also wouldn’t hurry to read another. I didn’t hate Straight White Male but didn’t actively enjoy it either since I really didn’t care what would become of Kennedy Marr and his dick, the one true love of his life. I admit, though, that his masturbatory adventures were highly amusing. Do guys actually go to that much trouble when doing that?? Put that much effort into something else instead & maybe something good will happen! World peace? Well, now that I’ve used the phrase “masturbatory adventures” on my blog, I think I’ll just declare this post finished & give this book a rating. I’m spent.

My Rating: 2.5/5

This song kept popping into my head while reading the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poems in Dirk Gently!


My Top Ten Chocolate Bars

With October and then Halloween just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to rank my favorite chocolate bars. Yeah! Why the hell not?

I have both UK & US chocolate on this list but my heart still mostly belongs to American junk food. It’s what I grew up with! But I know most people prefer British chocolate. I also have a few things on the list that aren’t exactly chocolate “bars”. Number three is iffy. Oh well – Close enough. Oh, and this will actually be a Top 20. Yeah! Why the hell not?

So here are My Top Ten (Twenty) Chocolate Bars, counting down to my favorite. (But in all honesty, I prefer chips. Or crisps as they’re known in the UK…) 😉

Honorable Mentions:

20. Whatchamacallit
19. US Mars Bar (The UK Mars Bar is closer to a US Milky Way)
18. US Milky Way (The UK Milky Way is closer to a US 3 Musketeers but not as good)
17. TIE: Munchies & Rolo
16. Minstrels
15. Walnut Whip
14. Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups
13. Hershey Bar With Almonds
12. Cow Tales (do they still do these in the US? Not sure they qualify as chocolate, though)
11. Twix

Top Ten:

10. Maltesers (like US Whoppers)

9. Cadbury Dairy Milk (And I also like the current variant with the popping candy & jelly beans in it)

8. Cadbury Creme Egg (UK or US – the yummy gunk in the center tastes the same)

7. Nestlé Crunch

6. Snickers

5. Kit Kat (In the UK, I prefer the Dark Chocolate Kit Kat)

4. Tootsie Roll

3. Flipz Chocolate Covered Pretzels

2. M&M’s (Plain over Peanut)

1. 3 Musketeers

**I was going to make this into a poll but there are just too many types of chocolate bars. So tell me in the comments what your favorites are! 🙂 And I’ll actually catch up on replying to your comments this weekend. Sorry to those who have been commenting – I’ve fallen weeks behind on my blog!

Dredd (2012) Review

Dredd (2012)

Directed by Pete Travis

Screenplay by Alex Garland

Based on Judge Dredd by John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra

Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Wood Harris, Lena Headey, Domhnall Gleeson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Karl Urban stars as Judge Dredd, a law enforcer given the power of judge, jury and executioner in a vast, dystopic metropolis called Mega-City One that lies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Dredd and his apprentice partner, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), are forced to bring order to a 200-storey high-rise block of flats and deal with its resident drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).

My Opinion:

I finally watched this movie for three reasons:

1) I loved Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and noticed after seeing it that he’d also written the screenplay for Dredd (as well as two other favorites, 28 Days Later & Sunshine)

2) I’m a big fan of a little movie called Hardware (as some of you well know) which, like Judge Dredd, comes from the comic book 2000 AD and

3) I was also a big fan of Anthrax in my teen years and they had a song about Judge Dredd (called I Am The Law) so I was always curious about the character as Anthrax always sang about cool shit.

Oh – and before I start this review, I better give a shout-out to Mike of Screenkicker for finally doing as I said and watching Hardware the other night. Thanks for the running commentary on Twitter as you watched my awesome recommendation, Mike! 😉

I’ve been getting a little sick of all the comic book movies in recent years. I go to them, yes, and I’ve enjoyed the majority of them. They always make for good “popcorn” movies but I can’t say they ever really end up being all-time favorites of mine (although I did love Guardians Of The Galaxy). I even get a little bored with the Avengers, especially when they stick them all in one movie together. Superhero overload!

However, this I quite liked. The dystopian setting and the ultra-violence in Dredd is such a far cry from the likes of the glossy & pretty Marvel films (and Thor’s beautiful hair. and non-hairy butt). It’s weird as I don’t normally like extreme violence but, sometimes, I can stomach it if I think it suits a film and its mood. In the case of Dredd, it works. I hated Sin City. I hated Kick-Ass. I liked Dredd.

As usual with these kind of films, I have ZERO knowledge of the comic book so I can’t compare them but I do know that fans were a million times happier with this version than with the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film (which I have no interest in ever seeing as it looks cheesy as hell). I can’t say I fully bought into the character of Judge Dredd in this, though, as it was more the overall look & mood of the film that worked for me. But this movie does have me interested in knowing more about Dredd’s world as well as knowing more about Judge Dredd himself since there’s unfortunately very little development of the title character.

My favorite bits of the film were the “Slo-Mo” sequences in which we saw the action & excessive violence in slow motion (the way in which those who take the hallucinogenic Slo-Mo drug in the film would see things). These scenes were quite beautiful in a way & I liked that they looked like comic book panels (such as in the above photo). From what I read, Alex Garland helped work on these scenes and spent a very long time getting them just right. It’s unlikely that we’ll see a sequel as Dredd did poorly at the box office but, after proving himself with Ex Machina, I’d love to see a Dredd sequel directed by Garland.

Obviously, I did really enjoy Dredd but I can’t pretend that it doesn’t have its issues. It’s a very flawed film in some ways. I know they chose to focus on just one story instead of an origin story or one that’s more about Judge Dredd himself and, while I did like the Slo-Mo/Ma-Ma drug lord story, I certainly can’t say I know much more about the character of Dredd or his world after this film. Heck, I’d say I don’t know any more about Judge Dredd now than I already knew from that Anthrax song I mentioned.

As I said above, there’s also very little character development of not only Dredd but of all the characters so it was hard to care about any of them. I did like Dredd’s female partner in this but she’s not given a lot to do and ends up a bit too “damsel in distress” for my liking. Things like Mad Max: Fury Road have proven that you can have women who kick ass! Lena Headey is fine as a fairly predictable victim turned villain while Karl Urban is also a decent enough Dredd but, to be honest, someone else could’ve played the character and it wouldn’t have made much difference to this film (except Stallone!). The most sympathetic character was the one played by Domhnall Gleeson (below), who is used very cruelly by Ma-Ma. And I have to say I had no clue that was Domhnall Gleeson until the end credits. Guess his Garland connection landed him the role in Ex Machina! (And I’ll be seeing Gleeson later tonight in…. what’s it called again? Oh yeah – The Force Awakens?) 😉


I enjoyed Dredd quite a bit despite its flaws. It’s far from perfect but if you just want a kick-ass, ultra-violent action movie with some style, you won’t be disappointed. If you want something deep or strong characters you’ll buy into, this may not be the film for you. I have to say that my husband and I like a lot of the same movies but when we disagree, we really disagree, and he was very disappointed with this film. I do think you’d either love this one or hate it.

I love anything post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian so this movie’s world suits me just fine. The only comics/graphic novels that I’ve ever read are Watchmen & Tank Girl plus I really liked the V For Vendetta film (although I’ve not read that). I guess I’m just more of a fan of dystopian British sci-fi comics than the slick & glossy American ones. Maybe I just need to get more sun? That’s why the British dystopian thing works so well – the writers aren’t getting any sun! Because, seriously – England is dreary. I can’t imagine someone being able to create Judge Dredd in California!

As for movies based on stories in 2000 AD, however, I have to say that Hardware did it better than Dredd did and on a FAR smaller budget. I liked Dredd a lot and would love to see a sequel where we learn much more about the character but I do wish the film was a little better overall. It does kick ass, though. 

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Stay tuned tomorrow for my review of The Force Awakens! Hopefully. I’ll be very very tired….. 🙂


Dead Of Night (1945) Review

Dead Of Night (1945)

Directed by Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden & Robert Hamer

Written by H.G. Wells, E.F. Benson, John Baines & Angus MacPhail

Starring: Michael Redgrave, Mervyn Johns, Frederick Valk, Roland Culver

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An architect senses impending doom as his half-remembered recurring dream turns into reality. The guests at the country house encourage him to stay as they take turns telling supernatural tales.

My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see this for a long time as I knew there was a creepy ventriloquist’s dummy in it. Not many things actually give me the creeps in horror movies but those things do!!! *shiver* So I’m happy that I finally saw this but I had no idea beforehand that it was actually a collection of several strange & eerie stories and that the dummy was only one part of those. That was kind of a nice surprise, though. It’s kind of like the original The Twilight Zone before its time (but with more of a horror theme than the quite often sci-fi theme of those). Considering that I still think the original The Twilight Zone is the greatest TV show ever, Dead Of Night was the exact sort of movie for a person like me. I just wish I’d enjoyed the stories a little more. A couple were good, a couple were okay, and the one that seemed to go on the longest was pretty weak.

In this movie, a man arrives at a party at a house in the country and claims to have seen all the guests in a dream, although he’s never met them before. He’s able to predict a couple of things that soon happen, which may or may not just be coincidences. This gets the guests each talking about their own bizarre stories which they’ve either heard about or experienced themselves. We get to see each of these stories while in between them we keep coming back to our storytellers and the stranger who claims to have met them all before.

I won’t go into too much detail on the individual stories in order to avoid spoilers. The first one involving a race car driver was possibly my favorite, although it was pretty obvious where it was headed if you’ve watched enough episodes of The Twilight Zone. But I’m certainly not going to complain at it feeling like an episode of my favorite TV show. The story told by the youngest party guest was fun and slightly creepy but, again, nothing too unexpected when you’ve watched a lot of this sort of thing. I would assume that the two most popular stories are one involving a mirror that seems to be cursed in some way and, of course, the one with the ventriloquist’s dummy as it’s the cover of every DVD I’ve seen and is what I always thought was the one and only story in the film.

I’d say these are the two most well put-together stories with the finest acting in the film. Michael Redgrave stars as the ventriloquist and, although I can’t pretend to fully know all the classic English actors, the Redgrave name is certainly well known and he does a fine job in the story that has clearly most stayed in the minds of anyone who has watched Dead Of Night. I know if I’d seen this years ago I’d have loved it. It’s very “me”. Unfortunately, I’ve just seen these sort of stories so often that the movie didn’t quite have the impact on me that it could have. It was definitely worth my time, though (despite the ghost “comedy” story, which some may love but I found to be overlong & the weakest story by far). But the mirror & the ventriloquist stories make up for the weaker ones and you may find the dummy haunting your dreams in the same way the man in the central story is haunted by dreams he can’t explain. Dead Of Night is a British supernatural horror classic that deserves more recognition than it seems to get. I wish there were more films like it nowadays.

My Rating: 7.5/10


Starter For 10 (2006) Review


Starter For 10 (2006)

Directed by Tom Vaughan

Produced by Tom Hanks, Pippa Harris & Sam Mendes

Written by David Nicholls

James McAvoy
Alice Eve
Benedict Cumberbatch
Rebecca Hall
Dominic Cooper
Catherine Tate
James Corden

Running time: 92 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Starter for 10 is a 2006 British comedy-drama film directed by Tom Vaughan from a screenplay by David Nicholls, adapted from his own novel Starter for Ten. The film stars James McAvoy as a university student who wins a place on a University Challenge quiz team.


My Opinion:

I decided to watch this the other day after reading a review from the lovely Emma on MovieRob’s blog (HERE). I’d known about it but hadn’t known that it was set in my beloved 1980s until I read her review so that was all I needed to convince me to watch it.


Starter For Ten is a book by David Nicholls. I’ve not read it (but Emma has & says it’s of course better than the movie). I did read One Day by David Nicholls and, although it’s very flawed, I still liked the book & the movie (despite the fact that Anne Hathaway was in it – staring at Jim Sturgess & his big brown eyes helped a little). Plus, as I said, Starter For 10 is set in the EIGHTIES! Woohoo! Well, unfortunately, the movie is a bit bland. And as for the 1980s, this is one of those movies where it doesn’t actually look or feel all that much like that decade even though they throw in as much music as possible from that era. Don’t get me wrong – I love 80’s music. At one point I looked at the hubby & said “are they actually playing my playlist?” as it’s filled with things like New Order, The Smiths, Tears For Fears and LOADS of songs from The Cure. It’s nice hearing a bunch of my favorite songs but, at the same time, it also feels very lazy on the part of the filmmakers. It’s like “See? Our movie is set in the eighties because we’re playing The Cure! Ignore Alice Eve with her big boobs & her very un-eighties clothes & blonde highlights – just listen to Motörhead!”


I will say this movie is only really worth a watch if you’re a fan of any of its stars or if you enjoy similar British films. There are some very big names in Starter For 10 so it was fun seeing them just before most of them made it really big in blockbusters like the X-Men, Star Trek & Iron Man series of films. The storyline was extremely predictable to the point of almost being annoying (I’m talking especially about the romance!) but, when the group finally appear on the game show they’ve been preparing for, the film does get a little more fun. The movie is very “British” and I couldn’t help but compare it to Nick Hornby’s books & movies. I have to say I far prefer Hornby & would recommend his stuff over this (especially the book High Fidelity). Overall, Starter For 10 just didn’t really work for me. It’s not a bad movie but the predictable plot and one-dimensional characters just left me feeling “Meh. So what?”. Watch it if you like the actors but first check out some Nick Hornby. And The Cure’s greatest hits!

My Rating: 5.5/10