Review: The Valley

The Valley
The Valley by Rick Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What started as a rather lame dystopia-meets-Jurassic Park-meets-Running Man story ended up being not too bad. The dystopian aspect of it was way too in-your-face and rather illogical, and of course the dinosaur bits used all the big names from the Jurassic Park movies, but the story itself was fairly well-written. The characters were pretty cardboard, but it was your standard pulpy adventure so that’s okay.

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Review: Clammed Up

Clammed Up
Clammed Up by Barbara Ross
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This one could’ve been so much better, had the pace been a bit quicker and the characters not quite the stereotypes they were made out to be. For a good cozy mystery, you’ve really got to have likable characters, and I really can’t say that I like any of the characters in this story; they were all either too broadly sketched or too boring.

The author does capture the feel of a Maine fishing village quite well; she fills in the landscape and you can really see the community in your head. However, the clues to the actual mystery are slow to come, and while logical, it’s really hard for a reader to have guessed who the killer ultimately was; a major flaw when the characters aren’t as engaging as they should be. Still, at least none of the cardinal Dame Agatha rules were broken – and the killer wasn’t introduced in the last chapter.

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Review: Domus

Domus by D.S. Lillico
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

While this book was fairly well-written, the story itself is not the greatest; for one, the plot’s been done before. And the characters are all pretty cardboard. And you’ve got basically a deus ex machina ending intertwined with a failed Twilight Zone twist. And you’ve got people on a work full of dinosaurs, but really only the dinosaurs the public were made aware of in the Jurassic Park movies.

It was okay in terms of standard pulp literature, but as a science fiction novel, it really wasn’t up to snuff.

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Review: The Golden Age Spectre Archives, Vol. 1

The Golden Age Spectre Archives, Vol. 1
The Golden Age Spectre Archives, Vol. 1 by Jerry Siegel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This volume’s usually priced through the roof, but I finally managed to snag a cheap copy, and it’s not disappointing. The Spectre, for those not in the now, is basically the vengeful right hand of the Almighty herself, having previously been hard-nosed police detective Jim Corrigan. Corrigan was allowed to come back after his murder to right wrongs in an never-ending battle with evil.

These tales are all by the creative team of Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey. Siegel, of course, is half of the team that created Superman, and Bernard Bailey was responsible for Hourman over in Adventure Comics. The strangeness of these old stories are definitely part of the fun, as these pre-Comic Code adventures can get a bit macabre, with the Spectre allowing a suspect to be eaten and swallowed by a far-flung space reptile, or causing one to melt like an icicle.

Great artwork and good stories for the era, this is an excellent read!

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Review: Candy Darling: Memoirs of an Andy Warhol Superstar

Candy Darling: Memoirs of an Andy Warhol Superstar
Candy Darling: Memoirs of an Andy Warhol Superstar by Candy Darling
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Very disjointed and poorly formatted as an e-book, it was really hard to glean much of anything from this book. I understand wanting to portray the troubled and artistic sides of Candy Darling, but a reader has to be able to follow the narrative to see those sides. The diary entries and letters by Candy are more disjointed than anything Bill Burroughs could concoct. The second part with a more straight-forward biography (as an introduction) and a couple of what appear to be essays is a much easier, and much more informative read. The third, a return to Candy’s own writings, is again a bit difficult to get through, but seems to have had a bit more care taken with it.

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Review: Bed & Breakfast Bedlam

Bed & Breakfast Bedlam
Bed & Breakfast Bedlam by Abby L. Vandiver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not a bad little mystery. Like a good “cozy” mystery, you really end up caring more about how the characters interact than a lot of the actual mystery. Logan Dickerson was interesting as the protagonist, though she didn’t get many chances in this first book to use her own skills as an archaeologist. Miss Vivee and the cast of characters in the bed and breakfast were very fun – drawn with broad strokes but not allowed to become cardboard.

I thought the tale was just a bit slow in giving the reader the clues, and I have to say that I had to rate this a star less because my dislike of the habits of Agatha Christie (when you read the book, you’ll understand what I mean). However, I’ve already bought the next book in the series and look forward to reading it next week.

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Review: All Star Comics Archives, Vol. 6

All Star Comics Archives, Vol. 6
All Star Comics Archives, Vol. 6 by Gardner F. Fox
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the first volume of the All Star Comics Archives to reflect the period when there were no National Periodical Publications heroes on the team. NPP/DC and All American Comics split for awhile there, so no Superman, Batman, Dr. Fate, Spectre, etc.

While the art isn’t nearly as varied throughout all the issues as was usual for the title, there’s some fun and informative stories in this book. I’d rate the one in which the JSA tries to help a disabled veteran show other folks with disabilities that they can be productive members of society the highest, along with the first tale, a historical journey in which a guy in the US who supports Germany is taken back in history to see how Germany’s leadership became so messed up and power hungry.

Mr. Terrific makes his sole Golden Age appearance with the team, and Wildcat appears in two stories.

A good read for any GA fan!

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