Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I had to wait so long to read this book because it had about a million holds on before I could get it. And I am so glad I waited. This is one of the best books I read in 2012, I think.

At first, I wasn't too sure if I would like it. It's set in Brittany (that's medieval France, if you can't recall) in 1485, which is, for whatever reason, not one of my favourite time periods. I guess I've just read too many books set in this time that I just didn't like.

But this one did not fall into that category of 'just didn't like'. Not in the least.

Just to start off- Ismae, the main character, is probably one of the most kick-ass heroines I've ever read about. In fact, all of the characters were fun to read about and not a single one made me annoyed, not once. I don't think if I've ever read a book about assasins before, and I can't possibly think there was a better book to start with. I love the concept of the convent and the take on religion; it made the whole book more interesting to me. 

From the start, the pacing of this book was spot-on. It didn't waste time following Ismae from Timbuktu and back as she journeyed from her home(and away from her abusive arranged-marriage husband) to the convent, or as she spent time at the convent (I do kind of wish there was a bit more on that, just because I'm curious, not for plot-sake, but can you imagine how long this book would be if the author spent more time on this sort of thing? It's already 549 pages long!) and instead it sped(nawww, not the right word, more like... cruised) through, set the stage, and jumped in to the story with just the right amount of time to understand where Ismae was coming from and what the background of the story was like. I don't think there was a single part of the book where I got bored or it felt like it dragged on.

The book also incorporated many terms and words that are either not used much or at all anymore, or have a different meaning now. Depending on your preferences I guess this could be good or bad, but for me it was a plus. For me, it helped to draw me in to the world more. It was also written in first person, which isn't always a favourite for me, but I really really enjoyed it in this book. It fit first person more than it would have fit third person.

The romance aspect of this book was a nice addition. It was believable (as in, it made sense that the characters were drawn to each other, and not just added in for razzle-dazzle.) and added that extra spark to the book, even if it was a little bit predictable at times(the romance, that is). If I lived in the 1400's I think I'd call myself pretty lucky to have someone such as Duval courting me ;)

The overall plot had me not wanting to put the book down ever. I read all 500-some pages in about five days, it was that intriguing. As soon as I though I had it all figured out, something else would be revealed and the whole story would be a complete mystery all over again.

Overall, I think this is a must-read in the YA department. It's full of traitors and plots and awesome characters and kick-ass-ery and romance and intrigue and assassin-nuns-who-might-just-be-ninjas. 

What's more, the sequel, Dark Triumph, comes out in April and the pre-release reviews are already better than for Grave Mercy.

Plus, it has a map. Bonus points from me.

The Good: Plot, pacing, clothing, characters, romance
The Bad: Since Ismae is an assassin, I was expecting more actual assassinations and some more action. Hopefully that will be to come in the sequel.
The Verdict: 5/5 stars


TTT #19 Favourite Fantasy Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. Each week they give a topic, and then other blogs make their top ten lists for that topic.

This week's topic is.......Top Ten Characters from the Fantasy Genre

1) Sirius Black from Harry Potter: Sirius always has been and probably always will be my very favourite Harry Potter character, even though we didn't get to see him as much as some of the characters in the books.

2) Alanna from Song of the Lionness: She's pretty much all you could want in a female character and then much, much more.

3) Ismae from Grave Mercy: Ismae is the main character of one of my new favourite series, and she's so completely kick-ass it's amazing. I loved reading about Ismae and her world.

4) Katerina from Katerina Trilogy: She's got dark necromancer powers but she's completely devoted to doing what she thinks is right, as well as ignoring all of the standards that people think she should be following. 

5) James from The Books of Faerie: He's smart and funny and a bit of a smart ass and musically talented and deals with faeries. Plus he plays the bagpipes. Plus I like his name.

6) Reepicheep from Prince Caspian & The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: The Narnia series, along with Harry Potter, were kind of the first fantasy books I read. I've always loved Narnia, and these two books are my favourites of the series. It's been a while since I've read them, but I've always loved Reepicheep. He's a talking, sword-yielding mouse with sass. How could you not love him?

7) Cole from Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy: Sure he's kind of your typical bad-boy, but I couldn't help rooting for him through this whole trilogy. 

8) Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride: "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." 
If you haven't seen this movie, you're missing out big time.

9) Jack Dandy from the Girl in the Steel Corset: Again, another of the somewhat-shady characters, but he's so charming and mysterious! 

10) Lord Raoul from Song of the Lionness: He's just awesome, okay? You just have to read the books to understand :D (yes, that is me trying to get you to read Tamora Pierce books.)



WOW #8: PODs by Michelle K. Pickett

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine . Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event meant to showcase the not-yet-released books that we are eagerly awaiting. This week I've chosen PODs by Michelle K. Pickett. 

Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it's in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it's a balm for the broken soul. 
After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That's the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating... monsters. 
Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life--a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure.

I thought I'd do a Waiting on Wednesday, since we haven't had one on our blog for a while, and there are so many awesome looking books coming out this year! This one looks very interesting, the cover sort of makes me think of robots and cyborgs... also reminds me a little bit of The Last Book in the Universe...with the aluminum shack in the background... hmmm... can't wait to read it! 

keep readin' it write! 


Review: The Hunger Pains: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon

WINNING MEANS WEALTH, FAME, AND A LIFE OF THERAPY LOSING MEANS DEATH, BUT ALSO FAME! THIS IS THE HUNGER PAINS When Kantkiss Neverclean replaces her sister as a contestant on the Hunger Games—the second-highest-rated reality TV show in Peaceland, behind Extreme Home Makeover—she has no idea what to expect. Having lived her entire life in the telemarketing district’s worst neighborhood, the Crack, Kantkiss feels unprepared to fight to the death while simultaneously winking and looking adorable for the cameras. But when her survival rests on choosing between the dreamy hunk from home, Carol Handsomestein, or the doughy klutz, Pita Malarkey, Kantkiss discovers that the toughest conflicts may not be found on the battlefield but in her own heart . . . which is unfortunately on a battlefield.

When I saw this book on the shelf at the library and read the back, I was completely ready for a funny, witty and clever parody. I love parodies of anything- Star Trek, Harry Potter, Twilight, whatever. So long as it's witty and amusing, it's all good with me. Unfortunately, this book just kinda fell flat for me. The synopsis hinted at the kind of humour I really enjoy- the witty, clever kind, but the majority of the jokes weren't like that and just didn't really do it for me.

There was only a handful of jokes in the entire book that amused me. There was a few spots that truly were good jokes, ones that made me chuckle, but for the majority of the book I was just close to cringing.

I did like the fact that it was fairly short and quick- perfect for one of those day or two days when you don't have something to read and want a book that takes little energy and is nice entertainment to tide you over until you can get something more serious.

It swapped out character names, like in the synopsis, for ones that were similar but somewhat funny. These were amusing to start, but then all the jokes just kept going in a similar fashion- nothing especially funny or creative.

Of course, like always, this might appeal to someone else. Since it is a comedy there will very likely be people with a different sense of humor than I that will probably find this quite hilarious.

The Good: A few make-you-smile jokes, and a nice quick, short read.
The Bad: Not my type of humor- many of the jokes fell flat.
The Verdict: 1.5/5

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