Rummanah Aasi
 Reading a Neil Gaiman story is always a treat. You never know what kind of story to expect and are always prepared to be spell bound. Many thanks to Dark Horse Comics and Netgalley for allowing me to read Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries.

Description: Constructing and maintaining all of heaven and earth is an immense task, which God has divided up amongst the various ranks and stations of angels. As with any such huge effort, there are bound to be casualties. This unique passion play sheds light on the hands behind creation, as well as one lonely man in Los Angeles who gets to hear the whole story of a most unspeakable crime: a murder in paradise!

 Review: Murder Mysteries is actually a graphic novel adaptation of a Neil Gaiman short story. The graphic novel features a story of deception and vengeance involving the first betrayal, the first heartbreak and the first crime in God's own city of angels. The story is captivating and is unveiled in a nice, comfortable pace. Gaiman gives us his own spin on the angels, most notably is the complex and charismatic Lucifier who is seen as trying to under God's way of thinking rather than just a pure evil being.
   Raguel is a lost angel, a ragged drifter on the streets of Los Angeles, who tells this story to the narrator, a young Brit stranded on his way back to England. In Raguel's former world, the one in which he had wings, he served as the agent of the Lord's vengeance. When an angel was found murdered, Raguel was assigned to find the killer and his motives. Like an ordinary detective, Raguel gathers his suspects and questioned his fellow angels until he discovered the murderer and then delivered the Lord's terrible punishment. It is not until Raguel wreaks God's vengeance does he realize it was God himself who set up this murder making us wonder about human nature, free will, and what we determine to be justice especially as we see another murder, this time contemporary, that happens as the graphic novel ends.
 The drawings in Murder Mysteries are sharp, magical, and a little terrifying which reflect upon the heaven that Gaiman has imagined. Bright colors illuminated a  world of purity and divine experimentation. His crisp and vividly rendered drawings capture the haunting sense of loss and isolation Gaiman expresses in this mythic tale of love and jealousy.

4 stars

Words of Caution:
Some language, a couple of small sex scenes, and some strong violence. Recommended for mature teens and adults.

If you like this book try:
Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery by Dave Roman, Lucifier series by Mike Carey
Rummanah Aasi

Description: Seventh grader Georges moves into a Brooklyn apartment building and meets Safer, a twelve-year-old self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: what is a lie, and what is a game? How far is too far to go for your only friend?

Review: Seventh grade is not going well for Georges (pronounced George), the only child of an out-of-work Brooklyn architect and a nurse who named him after her favorite painter, pointillist Georges Seurat. Although Georges's mother has taken on double shifts to bring in extra income, the family has had to sell their house and move into an apartment. At school, former best friend Jason, who has started dressing like the skateboarder he isn't, now stands idly aside while bullies harass Georges. Liar and Spy is a book examining all the different and complex aspects of friendships.
  Stead balances Georges's dark, sad period with the introduction of the new neighbors: amateur spy Safer, and his younger sister, Candy, whose parents (in one of many hilarious details) let the kids name themselves. As homeschooled siblings, they offer refreshing perspectives on the ridiculousness of what goes on at Georges's school, including a forthcoming science unit on taste buds that the kids believe forecasts one's destiny. Safer recruits Georges to investigate and observe--using the lobbycam to track a mysterious tenant and binoculars to monitor a nest of wild green parrots--but the biggest secrets are the ones these two boys have buried in their hearts.
 Like Stead's previous novel, When You Reach Me, Liar and Spy has been critically acclaimed and garnered several starred reviews, however, I don't understand the hype. The pacing is quite slow and it stalls in several places, making the reader wonder where and how the many plot lines are going to converge and make sense. There a lot of subtleties and metaphors in this book and I'm not sure whether kids would care enough to find them in this multi-layered story on their own. While there are fascinating characters and intelligent questions presented in the book, it may not appeal enough to kids to finish it.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

If you like this book try: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Rummanah Aasi
 Like many readers, I've been duped before by books that feature a pretty dress on the cover. I was thrilled to read A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Walker because I was really curious about the time period and the connection some reviewers have made to one of my favorite tv shows Downtown Abbey. While it doesn't feature a lot of the drama in Downton Abbey, A Mad Wicked Folly is a solid read about the women's rights movement in Britain and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Description: Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.
   After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly is a well written historical fiction novel that explores the women's right movement in Edwardian Britain and one girl's struggle to pursue her dream of being an artist. The title is derived from a statement ironically made by Queen Victoria in 1870 when she declared that women's rights were a "mad, wicked folly." This statement sets the stage for Victoria Darling's plight to moving beyond the set societal boundaries of her sex.
  Victoria Darling is not an ordinary girl. She is affluent, pampered, beautiful, talented, passionate, and wealthy.  Despite these advantages, however, Victoria still struggles with the harsh limitations imposed upon women prior to and during the Edwardian era of 1901-1910, which curtail her attempts to attend art school. While Victoria does not initially support the Suffragette Movement and thinks these women are radicals, she ultimately discovers that her fate is intertwined with the cause.
 The book is written in Victoria's point of view and her earnest voice helps readers to more intimately understand the growing frustration felt by thousands of women during that time. Waller vividly describes the unbearable restrictions placed upon the women from the fashion of tight corsets to the force-feeding implemented to undermine protesters during hunger strikes, and the swift arrests of notable individuals who helped in the movement. I learned quite a lot from this book as I wasn't previously informed by the British Suffragette Movement and I found this part really interesting. Walker clearly did a lot of research about this time period and it shows.
 I think teens will relate to Victoria's story of rebellion as her eyes open to the injustices around her. I admired the brave sacrifices she makes to pursue her dreams. I was worried initially that everything would tie up in a bow at the end, but thankfully, this doesn't happen as Walker stays true to the time period. There is enough detailed information throughout to make this a useful and fascinating book to pair with nonfiction resources about women's history.I would definitely recommend picking this book up if you are in the mood for a good historical fiction novel.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is nudity since the artist is drawing a nude model, some minor language, and underage drinking. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Lawson
Rummanah Aasi
  I thoroughly enjoyed reading Cynthia Lord's Rules and was very excited to read her latest book called Half a Chance. Half a Chance is a delightful read which combines the adventures of a summer vacation along with a sensitive and mature look at how a family deals with an ailing member of the family. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced reader's copy of this book.

Description: When Lucy's family moves to an old house on a lake, Lucy tries to see her new home through her camera's lens, as her father has taught her -- he's a famous photographer, away on a shoot. Will her photos ever meet his high standards? When she discovers that he's judging a photo contest, Lucy decides to enter anonymously. She wants to find out if her eye for photography is really special -- or only good enough.
  As she seeks out subjects for her photos, Lucy gets to know Nate, the boy next door. But slowly the camera reveals what Nate doesn't want to see: his grandmother's memory is slipping away, and with it much of what he cherishes about his summers on the lake. This summer, Nate will learn about the power of art to show truth. And Lucy will learn how beauty can change lives . . . including her own.

Review: Lucy and her parents have moved from an apartment in Boston to a lakeside cottage in New Hampshire. Her father, a prominent nature photographer, is immediately off to Arizona for a photo shoot. Lucy's apprehension of being the new girl and fitting in at a new school is put at rest as she slowly starts making friends. She is welcomed by Nate, whose family is spending the summer with his grandmother in the house next door. Kayaking, hiking, and loon-monitoring with Nate, Lucy chronicles their experiences using her own budding talent for photography, a hobby that she wishes would bring her closer to her self centered father.
  When she learns that Nate's Grandma Lilah's failing health is keeping her from observing her beloved loon family up close, she and Nate devise a plan to rent a motorized raft to take her out on the lake by entering into a photography contest which leads Lucy to face an ethical dilemma in her decision to enter the contest and which photos to use.
 Half a Chance feels like a summer read thanks to the combined vivid, cinematic description of the setting yet it also has depth with deft characterization and handles several important issues with sensitivity, nuance, and great skill. Lucy may seem bland at first, but soon you get wrapped up in her self journey as she grapples with ambivalent feelings of wanting the attention and approval of her father and face rivalry in the face of new friendships. The trips to saving the loons and photography become metaphors for the mutability of life and the importance of savoring captured moments. Young readers would enjoy the relaxed setting but also learn quite a few things along the way.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.

If you like this book try: Rules by Cynthia Lord, The Center of Everything by Linda Urban, Pie by Sarah Weeks
Rummanah Aasi
  In an overcrowding field of YA paranormal books, Half Bad stands out. With a mystery and heart-stopping adventure at its core, Half Bad is about a boy who is on a desperate search to find out his true identity: is a hero or a villain? Many thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book.

Description: In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan's father is the world's most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Review: Nathan has been plagued with one question all his life: is he good or bad?  Nathan is the son of a white, and one the infamous, hated black witch, Marcus. The very fact that he does not belong to one group makes the Council of White Witches uneasy on how to label him.
 I was intrigued by Half Bad from the very beginning, especially since it begins medias res, with Nathan speaking to himself in second person point of view while living in a cage but attempting at every opportunity to escape and being submitted to beatings and ill treatment from a strange woman. The book starts out slowly but picks up the pace quickly as flashbacks reveal Nathan's backstory: his precarious position in society is a result of his mixed parentage, and their hatred for his father Marcus, who murdered many white witches, led to the council of white witches taking the boy from his home with his grandmother and half-siblings to a life as a prisoner. The racial overtones running throughout the novel and the ambiguity of Marcus' villainy, give Half Bad its complexity.
 While these characters inhabit a world that melds the paranormal with real life, the plot centers primarily on witchcraft, but surprisingly there are very few scenes that involve magic. Green shines her spotlight not on the paranormal, but rather on Nathan's character growth. Nathan's feelings of self-loathing that grow as a result of the ostracism he experiences from those around him, coupled with a yearning to know more about Marcus, will resonate with readers. We are able to understand his anguish and alienation, as well his desperation to search for a sense for identity and learn the truth about his father. While there are secondary characters that are interesting, they are a bit underdeveloped. Since Half Bad is the first book in a series, I'm hoping these characters are fleshed out more in the upcoming books. Fans of dark fantasy will find a lot to enjoy in this book and I'm really curious to see where Nathan's journey takes him.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language and scenes of torture which can get a bit graphic. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: Lumatere Chronicles by Melinda Marchetta, Abarat by Clive Barker
Rummanah Aasi
 Manga Mondays is a meme hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read where bloggers can share their passion for reading mangas. It's a great place to get new manga titles to try and to meet new bloggers. The secondary characters take center stage in a refreshing volume of Boys Over Flowers.

Description: Tsukushi's friend Yuki is still fixated on Sojiro, a member of the F4. While struggling to understand him she immerses herself in a mysterious event from his past. Meanwhile, spies continue to track Tsukushi and Tsukasa's every move. The two of them will have to take some outlandish steps to outsmart the snoops and get some "alone time"!

Review: Volume 28 belongs to Yuki and Sojiro as Tsukushi and Tsukasa's ongoing relationship fades temporarily to the background. We witness Yuki visiting several buildings late at night in her city in search of something. While we don't know exactly what she is looking for, we can tell it is extremely important to her and Sojiro from Yuki's fierce dedication and concentration.
  The author gives us glimpses about Yuki's mission, but only Sojiro knows why and his ordinary cheery, happy-go-lucky self attitude slowly becomes serious, dark, and full of remorse. Sojiro's sudden change begins his back story as he relives his memory. Sojiro's back story is one of missed chances, regret, and the belief that one doesn't deserve love is what tugs at the heart strings. Now more than ever I really hope Yuki is able to change his mind about love, especially the emotions that involve intimacy. As we see Tsukushi and Tsukasa try and fight for their relationship, I really hope Sojiro and Yuki fight for a chance to have one. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and allusions to sexual encounters though not depicted in graphic details. Recommended to teens and up.

If you like this book try: Boys Over Flowers Vol 29 by Yoko Kamio, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda, Mars by Fuyumi Soryo
Rummanah Aasi
  It's very rare that I finish a book in one sitting due to so many commitments and distractions throughout the day, but I managed to finish Attachments in one, cloudy, wintry day. When I finished it I had a big smile on my face and if you're in the mood for an incredibly sweet and quirky romance then this book is for you. With her hilarious and heartfelt characters, Rowell has managed to give the banal office romance her own unique spin.

Description: Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
 Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke. When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories. By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself. What would he say . . . ?

Review: Attachments takes place before social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter dominated our lives and the uncertainty of an event called Y2K was starting to cause hysteria. Beth and Jennifer are news journalists and best friends who share news and trials of their lives in email exchanges at work. Beth wonders if her marriage-phobic, musician boyfriend, Chris will ever settle down and pop the question while Jennifer is terrified of the prospect of being a mother for the first time with her baby-mania-stricken husband, Mitch. What Beth and Jennifer don't know is that the newly hired Internet security officer, Lincoln, is charge of
best newsroom pals Beth and Jennifer trade gossip over their romances-Beth with her marriage-phobic boyfriend, Chris, and Jennifer with her baby-mania-stricken husband, Mitch. What they don't know is that the newly hired computer guy, Lincoln, an Internet security officer charged with weeding out all things unnecessary or pornographic, is reading their messages. But lonely Lincoln lets the gals slide on their inappropriate office mail and gets hooked on their soapy dalliances, falling head over heels for the unlucky-in-love Beth. Debut novelist and real-life newspaper columnist Rowell has the smarts for this You've Got Mail-like tale of missed connections, but what doesn't work so well is the firewall between the traditional narrative reserved for Lincoln's emergence from shy guy to Beth's guy, and heroines who are confined to the e-epistolary format. Despite the structural problems, there's enough heart and humor to save these likable characters from the recycle bin. - See more at:
filtering emails and watching for things like pornography and language that goes against the news company's Internet user policy, is reading their messages and unknowingly begins to fall in love with Beth.
  I loved how this novel was structured. Beth and Jennifer's communications are written out as emails, but they read as if they were sitting across from each other in a cafe. Through written communications their unique personalities and vulnerabilities shine through and make them come alive. I felt as if I knew Beth and Jennifer personally and could picture them in my head without really needing Rowell to tell me what they looked like. Interspersed with the emails are Lincoln's slices of life, but eventually both of these separate worlds meet.
 Like Beth and Jennifer, I completely adored Lincoln. Lincoln is an incredibly smart and sweet guy who is also very shy and lost. Still recovering from his first serious relationship that has bruised his ego and self confidence, Lincoln is in need of guidance. Though feeling incredibly awkward about reading people's emails at work, he reads Beth and Jennifer's emails because they make him laugh but they also make him think and reflect. From Beth's replies he connects to her own questions of self worth and self doubt. Lincoln actually transforms to a shy, awkward guy to being confident, alive, and happy by using Beth realizations and implementing them in his own life. Ordinarily in books, it's usually the female character that goes through this transformation but it was really refreshing to have a guy to have these epiphanies and watch his journey of self discovery.
   The romance in Attachments is slow burn as the characters get to know each other through written words before they actually meet. For the longest time, you don't really know what Beth, Jennifer, or even Lincoln look like but that's the beauty of this book. There are many missed opportunities where Lincoln and Beth are in the same room, but they don't know it until the moment has passed. The anticipation of these two finally meeting had me giddy and impatient. Some readers felt the book's resolution of the book's ending to be rushed but I didn't feel like that at all. Of course I would have loved more scenes of Lincoln and Beth actually together and know who they are together, but I loved the open, hopeful and happy ending. I would absolutely recommend Attachments if you are looking for a contemporary romance read that has depth, heart, and extremely likable characters. Rowell has become one of my auto-read authors and I can't wait to read more from her.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language and sexual situations implied but never discussed in detail. Recommended for teens and up.

If you like this book try: Quite a year for plums by Bailey White, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, Adverbs by Daniel Handler
Rummanah Aasi
 As a blogger and a reader, I'm very weary of books that get a lot of hype. While my excitement for the latest hot reads grow, so do my expectations and majority of the time they don't match up. This was the primary reason why I waited until I read These Broken Stars, a book that many enjoyed and applauded. I wanted to distance myself from the hype and waited until I could judge the book my its own merit. Thankfully, These Broken Stars was just as good as the reviews I read of the book.

Description: It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.
  Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.
  Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?
  Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

Review: These Broken Stars begins like a science-fiction romance we have heard before and then charts its own course that goes beyond the genre tropes much to the reader's satisfaction. As the passengers and crew of the Icarus cruise through hyperspace, spoiled and aloof rich-girl Lilac LaRoux drops a glove before war-hero Major Tarver Merendsen, only to rebuff him later. Yet during a horrifying accident, Lilac and Tarver escape the death-spiraling Icarus and find themselves stranded on a strange, terraformed, yet abandoned planet.
  I really enjoyed watching Lilac's and Tarver's prickly relationship grow. Despite their mutual attraction to one another, they both realize they have no future together, even if they are rescued due to their social class hierarchy. Lilac is the prized daughter of the universe’s richest man, while Tarver is a lowly soldier. It would have been every easy for the authors to create caricatures of these two characters, but thankfully both Lilac and Tarver are fully three dimensional characters with depth, personality, complexity, and strength as we watch them try to survive on their own on this estranged planet. Together, they struggle to save their lives and maintain their sanity—despite disturbing whispers, strange appearances, and disappearances of things lost and treasured—and gradually, the dire circumstances break down the barriers between them.
 These Broken Stars may take place in space but at its heart it is a love story. The book is written in alternate chapters by Lilac and Tarver with intervals from a unknown interrogator. The intervals with the interrogator heighten the suspense and sped the pace of the book for me as I wanted to know how Lilac and Tarver survived and which version of their tale is true. This was a near perfect read  for me. I only wished we got to learn more of the planet that Lilac and Tarver landed on and what happened to it a bit more than it was revealed in the story. While this book is the first of a trilogy, it can be read as a stand alone. I, for one, can't wait to see what these authors have in store for us with the second book, This Shattered World, which will be released this November. 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is a scene of underage drinking and minor language. Recommended for Grade 8 and up.

If you like this book try: Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi, Across the Universe series by Beth Revis
Rummanah Aasi
 Manga Mondays is a meme hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read where bloggers can share their passion for reading mangas. It's a great place to get new manga titles to try and to meet new bloggers. Tsukushi and Tsukasa have reunited. Can they overcome big obstacles in order to be truly together?

Description: Tsukushi makes a shocking announcement at a party! Then her parents move into a tiny apartment, forcing Tsukushi and her brother to get their own place--next door to someone she knows. And, Tsukushi's friend Yuki is becoming increasingly infatuated with Sojiro, one of the F4. Is she willing to compromise herself for what she thinks he wants?!

Review: Tsukushi and Tsukasa are trying to make their relationship work. Instead of a third person trying to separate them, their own socioeconomic differences make the gap between them grow wider. Tsukushi is used to working and earning money to pay for the shelter over her head, tuition for school, and food to put on the table. More responsibility is placed on her shoulders when her parents decide to move to an affordable apartment, leaving Tsukushi to be responsible for her own brother and find a place of their own. Tsukushi handles the pressure with grace and finds a tiny apartment that resembles a shack. She is embarrassed to let Tsukasa know where she currently resides because it is not up to his standards, which makes Tsukushi wonder if Tsukasa will ever understand a lifestyle where luxury and money don't flow freely.
  While Tsukushi and Tsukasa work out their own issues, Tsukushi's friend Yuki steals the spotlight in this volume. Yuki is very serious about her feelings for Sojiro, a member of the F4 and a well known womanizer. Though we got clues in previous volumes of Yuki's crush, we didn't really understand the extent of them until this volume. She gathers her courage and tells Sojiro how she feels, which shocks both me and Sojiro. From the shojo mangas that I've read the female characters aren't really that aggressive and straightforward, which is why Yuki's step is quite bold and welcoming.  Sojiro isn't really sure how to deal with Yuki and tells her that he's got nothing to offer to her besides a one night stand. Yuki again shocks Sojiro and myself when she accepts his conditions. Luckily, Sojiro stops Yuki from doing something she really regrets and gives a hint to a mysterious past that has made him believe he is not worthy of love.
 I think Yuki and Sojiro would make a nice couple and I'm really curious to see if their relationship develops into anything, but I think Yuki is just too naive and sweet for someone like Sojiro. I'm also really curious as to what makes Sojiro behave the way he does and about his past, which I hope we get to find out in the next volume. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some minor language and some crude sexual humor. Recommended for teens.

If you like this book try: Boys Over Flowers Vol 27 by Yoko Kamio, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda, Mars by Fuyumi Soryo
Rummanah Aasi
  2014 doesn't seem to be the year of good finales. I've been sad to see some of the books series that I've been looking forward to end on such a sad note. I'll have to add the last book in the Avry of Kazan/Healer series, Taste of Darkness, to the pile of disappoints. Please note that this review is based on the advanced reader's copy of the book provided by the book's publisher via Netgalley.

Description: She's fought death and won. But how can she fight her fears? Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought the plague and survived. She took on King Tohon and defeated him. But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he's gone forever. But there's a more immediate threat: The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry's healing powers are needed now more than ever. Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully. For the future of her world depends on her decision.

Review: I really hoped Taste of Darkness would end the Avry of Kazan series on a high note, but unfortunately it didn't. The book does not read like a whole novel but rather little novellas stringed along together. There are many subplots featured in this book in addition to the overall plot arc of saving the Fifteen Realms from evil rulers. Due to the episodic nature of the book, I didn't really feel invested in really any of the missions and had to put the book down because it wasn't holding my attention.
  Avry is still likable as a heroine and her relationship with Kerrick grows stronger. Both of these characters find a way to work around with their own flaws of stubbornness and putting other people's needs before their own. Since Avry and Kerrick go on separate adventures, the narrative is split in two, each of them having their own point of views. I liked Avry's point of view more than Kerrick since I was never really a fan of him, especially with how he treated Avry in the first book, and that many of the secondary characters that stole the show for me were featured in her point of view. I was surprised to find out a new villain was introduced in this book only because I didn't think the story arc featuring the earlier villain, Tohlon, was complete. Though The Skeleton King appeared menacing, I didn't think he was fully developed and didn't come across as strong in the book. Overall, the Avry of Kazan is a decent series that had the potential to be a great story.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong violence, fade to black sexual situations, and some language. Recommended for teens and adults who like fantasy.

If you like this book try: try: The Shifter by Janice Hardy, Study series by Maria V. Snyder, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Fire by Kristin Cashore, Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
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