Profile for Kevin J. Allen > Reviews

Browse

Kevin J. Allen's Profile

Customer Reviews: 7
Top Reviewer Ranking: 507,145
Helpful Votes: 74




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Kevin J. Allen RSS Feed
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
Inferno
Inferno
by Dan Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.89
688 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Making Heroes into Villains, December 18, 2013
This review is from: Inferno (Hardcover)
Dan Brown has always prided himself on twists. Would the Da Vinci Code been so popular without the wonderful twist about the villain? The same with Angels and Demons. Brown loves to make us care about a character, only to surprise us and give us a new way to view that... to see interactions in a different way.

But here, Brown fails utterly in this attempt and ends up making the reader not only hate the villain... but also hate Langdon as well.

Without revealing the plot, when the villain's plot is revealed and the world faces a global crisis, Langdon and his allies (including one that knew much, much more than she led on but this is hand-waved away because we are suppose to pity her and not find her utterly selfish) come to a decision for pretty much all mankind and try and play up a horrible tragedy as for 'the greater good'.

Yeah, if warning bells suddenly went off when you heard those last three words do not be scared... that only means you are sane.

Let me make this clear: Langdon fails. He utterly and completely fails. His ally lets something horrible happen to the world and, instead of condemning her, Brown wants us to feel like she was in the right. She is suppose to be given a pass and the villain we are suppose to feel bad for, even as his actions have led to horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE fates for millions of humans. Simply dreadful.

Be forewarned... this is not Da Vinci Code. This is not Angels and Demons. This is not Solomon Key. There is nothing heartwarming or happy about this book. No grand reveal or mystery to be solved. No cool history lessons. Just Langdon bumbling around like a fool because of a head injury and then, and then... making a decision at the end that takes everything that makes him a good man and turns him into, in my opinion, a villain.

This is a sad, pathetic, pessimistic look at the world and I hated myself for ever being excited for it. This read like fan fiction.

Skip this book. Pretend it never happened. You'll be happier you did


Doctor Who Personalize a Sonic Screwdriver
Doctor Who Personalize a Sonic Screwdriver
Offered by Great Price Fast Service
Price: $37.08
20 used & new from $33.32

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great item as long as you know the secrets (and I am going to tell you RIGHT NOW!), November 27, 2013
I have seen plenty of reviews on this with people who have had problems getting the item to work, saying it feels loose or wibbly wobbly (timey wimey...no! stay on track here!) and such. Well, after experimenting and examining the piece, I have discovered all the tricks and secrets to make this a definite buy for any Doctor Who fan.

First things first: you aren't just getting one screwdriver. Due to the design of the pieces, you can assemble all the extra bits that aren't attached to the core (more on that in a moment) into two separate screwdrivers! This is wonderful for people looking for displays, as you can now get three screwdrivers for the price of one and a half.

Now, a review of the pieces.

The first 'official' screwdriver (ie how the box organizes it) is the 11th Doctor's screwdriver. The pieces that make up this are the claw-head with green emitter light, a smooth control piece with a hidden button to activate it, the dual black/white handle, and the copper tip. This is probably the best of the 'official' screwdrivers, as it looks very nice and is pleasing to the eye. Others have stated that the claws do not open but that is somewhat to be expected with this price.

The second 'official' screwdriver is the steampunk screwdriver. It has a clear orb emitter with a green light, a copper control piece with dials and a morse-code style button for activating the effects, a solid white handle, and cap with copper rings. This is why I got this set, as I wanted to create my own personal screwdriver and I love the top design. Unlike the 11th's there are other clear bits in the top of the screwdriver to really make it light up and achieve a wonderful effect. Sadly, the handle is the worst in the set. From what I read this is suppose to be a steampunk version of the 11th's screwdriver but having a huge, blocky white handle just makes it look horribly awkward. There are ways to fix it, of course (more on that in a moment) but it is a shame that the handle for this one wasn't thought out better. Still, I know others who love the big white handle, feeling it feels the older designs of the screwdrivers. To each his own. Thankfully there is another screwdriver in this set that we can pillage for parts.

The final screwdriver is what I lovingly call the 'sonic spanner'. from what I have read it is a mix of the 4th doctor's and the 10th Doctor's screwdrivers. For fans of the classic 'blue light' sonic, this one is designed to give you just that. Yes, this means that it doesn't mesh well with the other two sonics and their green lights, but maybe you are eccentric and like miss-mash colors. The emitter is the weakest, in my opinion, of the three sets. From the looks of it, this head is suppose to look like it can rotate and, if it did that, would be very cool, as it would allow the Doctor to aim it around corners. Sadly, it does not turn and ends up looking like the eye-light someone at Pearle Vision would use... or like a socket spanner. The control panel is very nice, with a ton of cutaway windows to let blue light glow when the sonic is turned on. The handle is absolutely lovely, as it is silver with a textured black grip. The bottom cap is a wonderful textured orb that is crying out for you to apply paint detailing. While this screwdriver is rather nice (other than the odd emitter head), I found it to be a touch... plain. All silver with a few blue paint apps and a black handle mean that when its not turned it just looks like a silver rod (or Obi Wan Kenobi's light saber)

Since the spanner is my least favorite of these screwdrivers, I used its handle on the steampunk to create the basic frame for MY screwdriver. The spanner gets the chunky white.

Now, you've heard me blather on about the pieces... onto the secrets!

First and foremost, assembly is key when you are putting together these screwdrivers. If you do it wrong, you end up with a piece that falls apart, doesn't light up, and sounds horrible. These screwdrivers are designed to lock in a certain way and you have to do this correctly, otherwise the pieces won't fit properly.

When putting in the core, make sure you are lining up the speaker (which is on the opposite side of the core from the activation button) and the holes in the handle. This helps get the sound louder and, in a moment, make it easier with further assembly. The core should press all the way down into the handle. There might be a moment where it feels like it doesn't want to go farther and is flush with the handle; KEEP GOING. That will make it sink in properly.

Next, attach the handle, paying attention to how the button on the control has to hit the core's button. It seems obvious but I know of others who missed this step and thought their sonic was broke because they had it twisted wrong.

Now, here comes the key thing and the first secret: the emitter is designed to LOCK IN. When you first attach it, you will get to a point where it feels locked in... it might not be. There is a tiny tab in the screwlines of the emitters and it can get caught just before it locks it. This makes it feel like its locked in but will cause the heads to pop off it they are tapped. While it is scary, slowly but firmly twist a bit more to get the head to lock in fully. You will be able to tell it is locked it by clues the designers built into each head:

-On the 11th's, the claws should line up with the sculpted 'bolts' on the control piece.

-On the steampunk, the silver bands around the globe should be running straight with all the 'dials' on the control piece

-On the spanner, the head should be pointing the same direction as the button... or the opposite way. Never to the side.

Once you lock in the heads, they will not pop out. The same is also true with all the other pieces: tighten them correctly and they lock into place.

The second secret is the sound effects. As others have mentioned, there are hidden soundclips that can be activated by rapidly pressing the button 3 or more times then holding. You'll know it is working because no sound will come out as you are pressing. These sounds range from sci-fi alarm sounds to a 'power down' style effect. These are great if you are cosplaying and want to claim that the sonic senses something wrong.

The final secret is that while most of the pieces are designed to only fit one way (ie you can't connect to handles to make a super-long sonic), the head pieces and the cap pieces are inter-changeable. Thus, you can take the claw head and make it the bottom of another sonic to give you a double-edge sonic. It won't light up but this can add a TON more possible connections.

In summary, this is a wonderful set for the price you are paying. Yes, a few pieces look odd but I am sure the pieces I love you will hate. Some of you might WANT a sonic spanner with a solid white grip... or the 11th's screwdriver but with a blue control piece so it glow different colors. Others (like me) are going to get some paints and detail theirs to make them look completely different. It is a wonderful set for people looking for interesting sonics to fiddle around with.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2014 10:59 AM PDT


The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Whitechapel Horrors
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Whitechapel Horrors
by Edward B. Hanna
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.14
106 used & new from $0.34

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An interesting novel that drags on too long, April 2, 2012
On of the most annoying things about pastiches are when the authors, in an attempt to show off that they know about the world they are writing about, forget who they are suppose to be.

What I mean by this is this: The stories of Sherlock Holmes are suppose to be written by Watson for people reading of Holmes' adventures in the 1890s-1910s. When emulating Doyle's style, less is more. Watson never spends pages upon pages describing buildings or systems...he assumes his readers know about these things and that there is no need to describe them. This helps make the story flow quickly. And when something is important, Doyle does take the time to describe it.

The Whitechapel Horrors falls into this trap. Well done for the author researching London...but dedicating pages to describing poor houses and churches only make the story drag on and on, to the point where the mystery takes forever to solve (coughcough).

For example, we have one chapter where Holmes talks with a boarding house run by a minister and his wife. The description of the building and the people never seems to end...and in the end does NOTHING to move the story along. And the fact that 'Watson' is describing such things took me out of the story...why would Watson need to describe such things...it would be like a modern writer explaining what an IPod is in great detail, for several paragraphs.

The other fact of the matter is...the mystery just isn't that interesting compared to other, stronger takes. 'Sherlock Holmes of Bakers Street' by William S. Baring-Gould presents a MUCH better telling of Holmes and the Ripper in a MUCH shorter space (only 4 pages, give or take). It has interesting twists, a wonderful disguise by Holmes, and a shocking conclusion that reveal just WHY Watson has earned his spot next to Holmes.

This story, on the other hand, is a long winded bore. Cut it down by half and give it an actual ending...and then you may have a masterpiece.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 19, 2012 8:52 PM PDT


The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Man From Hell
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Man From Hell
by Barrie Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.96
89 used & new from $0.83

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Few to Get it RIGHT, April 2, 2012
The problem with so many writers trying to write Holmes is that they fail in one of three areas:

-Holmes is out of character. It is very easy for Holmes to be written badly. Some (such as the Ectoplasmic Man) make him sound more like Dr. House, insulting people and generally being a jerk. Others fail to make him as smart as he should be. This is not a problem for this novel: Holmes has just the right amount of smugness without becoming so full of himself you loathe him with a passion.

-Removing Holmes. Too many authors, unable to understand how to write around Holmes, remove him from the story, figuring that if 'The Hound of the Baskerfields' can do it...but this only serves to weaken their stories...we want Holmes, not Watson. Again, this story does it right...yes, Holmes does leave for a chapter or two, but he is back quickly. And while there is a large section where Holmes is merely listening to the story of a character (much like A Study in Scarlet) the story that is given is so compelling I can forgive its inclusion.

-The style is wrong. The most important thing for me is that the tone of the story fits Doyle's (or Watson's if you play The Great Game) style. Too many authors try to give so much detail about the world around Holmes and Watson, showing off their knowledge, that they end up losing the tone completely (The White Chapel Horrors is a prime example of this, going into so much detail it at times feels like a history book). The author of this book knows just how much to include to help us understand the world of Holmes, while not adding so much to make us feel as if Watson was writing it in the 1980s instead of the 1880s.

Of all the novels I have read in this series, The Man From Hell is the one that truly feels like a 'lost' manuscript. I place it with 'The Seven Per-Cent' solution in my canon.


Heat Rises (Nikki Heat)
Heat Rises (Nikki Heat)
by Richard Castle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.12
161 used & new from $0.01

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Same Name, Different Tone, November 26, 2011
The problem with having authors ghostwrite the 'Richard Castle' books is that, when a new author decides to take over the duties of writing, the tone and narrative shift can be quite jarring.

The narrative introduces many characters, giving them page space with little pay off. Be it cops on Nikki's team that are dropped after a few chapters of them being developed, never to be heard again (such as the cop nicknamed Opie and Det. Heisenberg) to characters mentioned in passing that get pages of backstory but never appear in the actual story (such as the man Rook interviewed during his investigation...we didn't need pages and pages about some British Arms dealer that will never affect the story). The sad thing is that by wasting time with these characters, the true players get almost no screen time. The main 'villains' of the story, infact, receive the least amount of pages and you are left feeling they are one dimensional.

Then there is the issue with dialogue. Castle, the show, is known for its fast banter. This book, many times, slows that down by having Nikki give several paragraphs of internal thought to a comment before making her retort. Just like above, this comes off as unneeded...one gets the sense that the author is padding the story, just to try and making the page minimum.

The structure of the story itself differs greatly from the first two books, as well. The first two were fast tales that focuses on romance and mystery, whipping through the moments at a breakneck pace while filling the pages with sly references to events from the previous season of the show.

In Heat Rises, such easter eggs are non-existent, and the author has decided to focus more on the inner politics of the police force than on the mystery itself. When one reads about a dead priest tortured in a sex dungeon, we want more of that...not chapter upon chapter of Nikki dealing with the inner workings of the police. Remember how everyone loved 'The Phantom Menace' because it was about bureaucracy? Yeah, me neither. The inner workings plot drags the piece down, bogging the narrative to the point that when it does get back to the mystery you are disgusted to find nothing has changed. Infact, it takes almost the entire book to finally get the mystery moving, and when it does occur it is such a rush job that it comes off as sad. The great betrayals and revelations are muted by the fact that we simply don't KNOW these villains, because the author spent the last 3 chapters having Nikki chit chat with random characters.

There is an old joke when it comes to the classic 'Moby Dick': Read the first 3 chapters, then skip the next 10. Heat Rises is Richard Castle's Moby Dick...a great step up followed by a good half of the book prattling on about information that we don't need, just so the author can show all their research. You could literally skim a 1/3rd of the book and not miss much.

Now, this review is coming off as very negative. But I still enjoyed the book...alot. The problem is, when compared to the first two books (both clearly written by a different author), this one becomes a sad tale that will, most likely, be looked on as the weakest of the three and the one most often skipped by writers when they decide to reexamine the series. Hyperion should consider finding another author, one able to mimic the style of the first two books, as Heat Rises is not the Richard Castle story we've all come to know and love.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 27, 2013 8:26 PM PDT


Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D'Urbervilles (Professor Moriarty Novels)
Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D'Urbervilles (Professor Moriarty Novels)
by Kim Newman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.18
85 used & new from $0.79

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Other Side of the Coin...or is it?, November 25, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Much as the character of Moriarty can be taken at face value as a mathematician by society and the Napoleon of Crime when one looks deeper, so does this book work on two levels that make it a good read not just once, but over and over again.

On it's surface, Moriarty is the flip side of the coin: Many of the stories serve as mirror images of Sherlock stories, told from a darker point of view and by a different hand. There are obvious examples of reflections: Moriarty and Sherlock (the eccentric masters of their field), Watson and Moran (the injured soldiers and biographers), Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. H (the kidnly land lady and the landlady...who runs a brothel), and even minor characters, like Stamford (Watson's boyhood friend and the criminal Moran knows and dislikes, both of whom introduce the pairs).

But there is more to it than that when it comes to the reflections and different outlooks. While Watson sought to bring out the best in people, Moran brings out the worst, focusing on their faults. For example, while Watson writes that Irene Adler was a cunning woman and an accomplished singer, Moran reveals she sang very poorly, was kicked out of her theater troupe, purposely used her...assets...for her gain...and most amusing, actually had a 'Noo Joosey' accent (and not the proper English accent Watson seemingly gives her).

And that is where the second layer comes in.

This book will force the reader to ask themselves a simple, yet complex, question: Who was being honest? Whose word should we take as truth?

Could it be that Moran is the honest writer, not having to alter characters like Watson does (and admits too)? Where Watson creates a world where even murder was a gentlemen affair settled in parlors with smoking jackets, Moran presents a more realistic, more truthful view of the world, making us question everything Watson writes.

And yet, Moran is a killer, a cutthroat willing to murder a feeble minded teen and idly comments that if he forced himself on Irene when he first met her, she would have been broken like a horse and come to heel. Can we honestly believe a word a man who looks at the world so darkly says?

That is where the fun of this book is revealed. You will find yourself flipping back through the famous Sherlock stories, wondering just whose side to believe, how much each is hiding and just what the truth might me.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 30, 2012 1:00 PM PDT


Mattel DC Universe Booster Gold Figure (color may vary)
Mattel DC Universe Booster Gold Figure (color may vary)
Offered by Toys on Fire
Price: $28.95
6 used & new from $23.96

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Hero the World Will Never Know, March 20, 2009
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
If you are looking at this page, then you know who Booster is, so there is no need for me to go over his history, lets just skip to the review.

Booster comes in the standard DC Universe Box in a wonderful flight pose.

Booster has had one other figure recently, the DC direct figure. I will be using this as a comparison.

While the Direct version has Booster with a 80s yellow coloring (very bright), this figure has a more modern gold paint up, perhaps slightly too dark for some but I believe works perfectly. The blue is metalic on both figures. The goggles are perfectly done, as they do not make the figure's eyes appear strange as they have on some figures in this line. While the Direct figure has washed out blonde hair, like a surfer, this figure has the updated darker blond from the recent comic series.

Booster stands just as tall as a normal DC Direct figure, slightly taller than some of the Universe figures (which makes sense, as Booster is 6 foot 5 in the comics).

The paint...we all know there have been problems. The metalic blue is the base paint, and I foung three cases of minor paint problems: the blue peaking through on the arm, a slight smudge on his right check, and a slight smudge on his left arm. Not enough, however to draw attention to themselves.

Booster has amazing articulation. Neck, shoulders, foearm, elbow, wrist, waist, torso, hips, knees, calves and ankles all rotate. Booster can do the splits, people.

Booster's accessory is Skeets. Let me warn you now, Skeets isn't like the Direct version, which was free standing. He is connected to Booster by a yellow energy trail (similar to would one would see in the comics). A bit annoying that it can't be plugged in and out, but not enough to make you turn away from the figure.

There are two versions of Booster, the modern and the classic , or collared, version. The Modern Skeets has a fun surprise: open his face plate to reveal Mr. mind. However, this does lead to the door not shutting completely tight. Again, however, not the biggest deal in the world, especially if you keep the door open.

In the end, this figure is wonderful. i have him standing next to my classic Booster figure, and it really shows the evolution from the 80s to now for the character.


Page: 1