Review: Grave Mercy – Robin LaFevers

Review: Grave Mercy – Robin LaFeversGrave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Published: April 3rd 2012
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four-stars

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 fought reading Grave Mercy. I wasn’t sold on the concept of historical fiction and assassin nuns. I kept saying, maybe someday, thinking probably never. But my plans were foiled. About 17 people told me to read it and it was gifted to me at Christmas leaving me with little to no argument. So what did I do? I read it. And what did I think about it? I loved it. Grave Mercy is an excellent book and those 17 people knew what they were talking about.

Grave Mercy is about Ismae, a girl that has been treated as property by men her whole life. She has never been able to make her own choices. And then on the night of her betrothal to a vile man in her village she is saved and whisked away to a convent. But this convent serves the Saint of Death. Ismae has a choice to pledge her alliance to Death and learn how to kill people that are marked. Ismae agrees and is trained as an assassin. And then she is given her first big assignment. She is sent to act as the mistress for Duval, the confidant of the duchess. And to see if he is actually a traitor. As Ismae and Duval get closer Ismae’s orders starts to make her question who she is really aligned with, death or her heart.

When I started Grave Mercy I wasn’t sold off the bat. To be honest it was pretty slow in the start. But with a book being over 500 pages I guess that is a given. I didn’t give up though. I kept reading and then I hit my stride and I was hooked. The story took on an air of urgency as the mystery of who was working against who, who was on who’s side, and who was a traitor really took shape. Along with the budding relationship between Ismae and Duval.

Duval and Ismae were probably the perfect pair for one another. They were closed off and grumpy. They were untrusting and wary of one another and everyone else. Yet as they worked together they grew an admiration for each other which turned to more. It was a struggle for Ismae to see the good in any man, but it was truly amazing to see her grow and find that goodness inside Duval as she started to not only trust him but her instincts and her heart.

Truly Grave Mercy was the great reading experience that almost wasn’t. It was a great book rich in intrigue, mystery, politics and the slow burn romance. It was a fabulous look at how black and white isn’t always as simple as it looks. There are always shades of grey. Definitely, a series that will be continued by me.

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Review: Zac and Mia – A. J. Betts

Review: Zac and Mia – A. J. BettsZac and Mia by A.J. Betts
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Published: September 2nd 2014
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three-stars

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this tough and tender young adult novel that's a lot about love (and a little about cancer).Winner of the 2012 Australian Text Prize"When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics." So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can't forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review

I honestly don’t know where to begin with this one. Zac and Mia was a book I was very excited about. Reading the description I thought it was something I would think was crazy good. It had all the parts I like in a good book. Dual POVs, emotions, friendship/love possibilities. So when I was finally able to read it I was pretty excited. Sadly I ended up being slightly let down and ended up feeling meh about the whole thing. Basically I was bummed out.

Zac and Mia is about two teenagers that find a strange connection in a cancer ward that they never expected. Zac has been in isolation for a month trying to get back to normal while Mia is just entering the facility and is Zac’s neighbor. Both dealing with their own struggles and pains an unexpected knock on a wall leads to memories and a friendship neither will ever forget.

The story and the characters were not why this book was meh for me. I actually really liked the characters and their struggles. I liked how they dealt with the same kind of situation in a different way and how they were completely different but ended up complimenting each other in that opposites attract kind of way. I also enjoyed the development of their friendship. It was fitting for how they met and the place where their heads where in at the time. See, I liked a whole lot about the book. But there was one thing that I think made it stuffer and made it turn into a “meh book” instead of a “this was really good” kind of book; the narration style.

The way the story was ultimately told is where I ended up struggling a lot. See, when I hear dual POV I think every other chapter with a new narrator. I think maybe a few chapters back to back with the same voice, but some consistency to the voice pacing. Zac and Mia was not like that. The way this book was broken up, first section in Zac’s voice, second section in both their voices, third section in Mia’s voice, took away from the story. Well it did for me anyway. I think the problem that I had with this was that I never really got to know Mia much in the beginning and then I was supposed to be able to understand her in the second section. And then when I got used to the dual voices in the second section Zac was radio silence. There is no other way for me to say this then to flat out say that it bugged me and I personally think it took away from what was a great story.

But Zac and Mia was a good book when all is said and done. It didn’t wow me like I pointed out, but it was terrible either. It had some really good parts to it and in the long run I think I would recommend it if someone is looking for a realistic read. The friendship was well done and really that was the part I didn’t want to be wrong and it wasn’t. I say check it out and see for yourself what you think.

 

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