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Review – The Red Chrysanthemum March 1, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 2 stars, Mystery/Thriller.
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The Red Chrysanthemum

by Laura Joh Rowland

(also available in paperback and on NOOK)

Sano Ichiro’s pregnant wife Lady Reiko has been found next to the mutilated and bloody corpse of Lord Mori. Not only is she accused of his murder, Sano stands accused of treason. The two of them must face these charges together or be executed together.

This book didn’t have much to recommend itself to. I found the characters acting in a manner that was very unlike the Japanese culture in which this book was set in. This may have been the point, but it rankled.

Sano went around accusing all the suspects point blank of killing Lord Mori without any proof in desperation. Only it didn’t come off as desperate really. It came off as blustering and blundering without a clue.  Lady Reiko did some investigating of her own with much the same effect. She did a lot of accusing of her own which made her seems just as clueless.

The dialogue was trite and unbelievable. I heaved great sighs of annoyance throughout the book.

While the climax of the book had an intellectually stimulating satisfying ending, the dialogue! The dialogue killed it!

Finally, the antics of the antagonist in her final moments before the executioner’s block had me in disbelief. It was a sub-par effort for sub-par book. All in all a very disappointing book for what is usually a very good series.


Destruction From Twins and Four Hundred Days January 29, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 2 stars, 3 stars, Fantasy.
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Destruction From Twins

by L. Carroll

(also available in paperback and on NOOK)

From Good Reads:

Part I (Destruction From Twins)
When a selfish enchantress seeks to steal mystical powers from her twin sister, she sentences the world of Lor Mandela and its inhabitants to death. In an effort to preserve itself, the soul of the planet appoints a Child of Balance named Audril Borloc who must solve a prophetic riddle known as the Advantiere. All hope seems lost, however, when shortly after her fourth birthday, Audril disappears without a trace.
Desperate to save their world, Lor Mandelan spies travel to Earth in search of the little girl with black hair and bright blue eyes-traits that on Lor Mandela are exclusive to the ruling family, Borloc. Instead, they find seventeen-year-old Maggie. While the age difference between the girls is obvious, Maggie has the Borloc traits-evidence enough for the eager spies. They devise a plan to get Maggie to Lor Mandela, but will their scheme be successful? And what if they have the wrong girl? Who will save Lor Mandela then?

Part II (And So It Must End)
Maggie Baker has always wished for a more eventful life. Unfortunately, she is about to get it. Following an earthquake that no one seems to have felt but her, her mundane existence is thrown into a roller-coaster ride of twists and turns as she suddenly finds herself bouncing back and forth between her hometown of Glenhill, Iowa and the distant world of Lor Mandela. On this strange planet, Maggie must learn who to trust, and who to fear. More importantly, she must find a way to convince the Lor Mandelans that she is not the Child of Balance, and her family and friends in Iowa (and herself for that matter) that she is not going insane.
Amid fighting a two-headed creature, being captured by a lawless band of Shadow Dwellers, and falling head-over-heels for the enchanting son of an evil warlord, Maggie sees the lines of the Advantiere unfold around her. It isn’t long before she discovers that her blasé reality could be the real fantasy, and that the fate of an entire world may actually depend on her.

I had a few problems with this book. One of them was that the charcters were rather shallow. I never seemed to ever become fully connected with any of them.

Also, the jokes in the book always fell flat with me. The author’s sense of humor just didn’t fall in line with me and it irritated me more often then not.

For another thing, the battle scenes made no sense. What 17-year-old girl from modern Ohio is going to jump into battle with no qualms about killing a man? With a sword? Without breaking a sweat?

As much as I had problems with the story, I did find it imaginative and inventive.   I also found Carroll’s writing style to be engaging enough to not be considered awkward or untidy. Enough so that I kept reading. I even read on to the next book.

3 of 5 stars

Four Hundred Days

by L. Carroll

(also available on NOOK)

From Good Reads:

When Audril, the heiress to the Lor Mandelan throne, sneaks away to Earth to save one of her dearest friends, she finds that a power hungry tyrant from her own world has begun systematically obliterating towns and cities to get her to turn herself over to him.

On Earth, she meets a wildly eccentric old lady named Teedee Venilworth whose imaginary butler/fiance supposedly holds the key to her success. But how can someone help if he doesn’t exist? Could it be that creatures who dwell in shadow are not exclusive to Lor Mandela?

I had the same problems with this second book as with the first book. The characters didn’t develop any further with the series as I had hoped they would. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any time devoted to character development whatsoever.

I had even more problems with the plot this time around though. The villain’s actions seemed even more implausible then possible. It was frustrating to say the least and I was forced to put down the book for forced time outs several times.

Still, I read on because there were other plot events that were compelling enough to keep me going. I had to find out what happened next. This is despite the fact that the more I read the more I felt like the events were starting to feel contrived and even cliched.

The book did end in a cliffhanger but I’m forced to wonder if I’ll even continue to read this series. I usually don’t give up on these things, but my enjoyment was so little that the likelihood of my going on with this series is in serious doubt.

2 of 5 stars