Monday, April 02, 2012

Review + Giveaway: Grave Mercy

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Grave Mercy
Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin, #1
Release date: April 3rd, 2012
by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Goodreads / Purchase

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?

*A copy was provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for review purposes*

Assassins. NUN assassins. Who is not immediately intrigued by this premise? I sure was. It started with a bang too. We are introduced to our feisty protagonist, Ismae; with a bitter childhood and a somber future, she is sent to a convent where she will train to do Death’s bidding. With this great main character and exciting plot, I obviously enjoyed it, my problems lay with the historical/political stand-points where I found myself getting confused and disinterested.

I have enjoyed historicals in the past, but not being a historical nut, Grave Mercy really had me overwhelmed. I had difficulty keeping up with the characters and their roles in this immense political scandal set in a time I am unfamiliar with. I mean, I am not unintelligent, I could keep up with the main plot points but it affected my ability to truly understand these characters and, thus, develop a connection with them. I kept forgetting their roles in this conspiracy, which in turn, also affected my reactions to the twists ; the unraveling of the betrayers was not as affecting as I feel it should have been. It also didn’t help that I couldn’t easily go back to check the character index with my e-reader. I may have been able to follow more easily if it had been a print copy.

With that out of the way, I thoroughly enjoyed everything else. Ismae, the setting, the writing – it’s all excellent and I can see why so many are absolutely in love with this title. Ismae is the type of girl everyone loves, and should also fear (if only they knew). She can kill a man in a second, she does as she pleases, and she’s highly intelligent. Plus, her being constantly underestimated makes her even more dangerous. I had a blast going into this story with her. She also has a great sense of humor that had me chuckling quite a bit.

I found the writing especially wonderful. This is often a big part of why I sometimes can’t get into historicals, but LaFevers gives it all a great flow with an easy to follow prose, vivid descriptions, and enchanting dialogue. I especially loved how she wrote the relationship between Ismae and Duval. It starts off as a mutual distrust, and slowly builds into sometimes heart-meltingly sweet.

Intrigue, conspiracies, scandals, betrayals – you can find it all inside these 549 pages. It does have an immense amount of historical intrigue so for those who are able to follow this will become positively entranced in this powerful, action packed novel. 

3 Hot Espressos
Thomas Allen & Son has generously offered up FIVE copies of Grave Mercy for giveaway to five lucky readers.

Open to Canadian addresses only (sorry guys, they’re a Canadian distributor)
Giveaway ends April 6th, 2012
Use the Rafflecopter below to enter

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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47 Responses to “Review + Giveaway: Grave Mercy”

  1. Maji Bookshelf

    Great review! Im reading it right now and I love the political aspect of it, though I understand it might be a bit hard to follow, I sometimes even go to the first page to remember who is who :D.

    Definitely an amazing book and I can’t wait to get my hands not he second one!!

    oh and thanks for the giveaway!

    – juhina

  2. Sam

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who wasn’t too fond with keeping up with all the political scandal. Quite honestly, that aspect bored me to tears some of the time. But the rest, I LOVED, so overall I really enjoyed this. Great review, Giselle! 🙂

  3. Katie @ BlookGirl

    Great review, Giselle! I have been looking forward to this one for the assassin nun + historical aspect, and I’m glad to read your thoughts on it. I’m a bigger history fan than you are, I think, so I imagine I’ll enjoy it 🙂 Thanks for the heads-up about the overwhelming aspect of the plot line and characters. I’ll probably take notes while I read, since I’ll be reading it on an eReader, too.

    Annnnyway, again, great review! I’m sure your Canadian followers appreciate the giveaway! <3

  4. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I’ve always enjoyed history, which is probably another reason why I loved this story. But, you’re right, it was a bit overwhelming, especially because I wasn’t familiar with this time in history or really much about that country (before it was absorbed into France). Very cool to learn something new!

  5. Zabet

    Of all the contests that I have entered – this is the one I wish I could win the most. 5 copies would be awesome for my classroom and would allow me to do a reading circle!

  6. Giselle

    @Zabet: The giveaway is actually going to have 5 winners with 1 copy each. Sorry I cleared it up to stop further confusion. But you could win 1! 🙂

    Thanks guys! I really only had problems following the historical/political plot, the rest is great and I can see most will love this. Especially if you’re familiar with this time in history for Brittany.

  7. Amy

    Awesome review! I am reading the digital copy so I know what you mean about it being hard to reference the characters. I finally googled a few things, so I am not so confused anymore. I love the storyline, and now that I am a bit more familiar with the time period and things going on it’s much easier to get through the book. Hopefully I will be finished tonight. I have been reading it for days now.

  8. Tiffany Mahaffy

    Great review!! I have been really excited about this book since I first seen it! I have seen many decent-awesome reviews on this book and that has just made me that much more excited! Thank you for the awesome giveaway!!

  9. Jac

    You mentioned one of the reasons I’m hesitant to read historicals – I often feel overwhelmed. But still? The whole Assassin Nuns? That’s a big pull!

  10. Rachelia (Bookish Comforts)

    I’ve heard rave reviews for this book, and I’m glad you enjoyed the book. It sounds so interesting! It’s good to know that the politics and characters may be hard to understand but to push through and the book will reward you. Sometimes that’s all I need – reassurance that it will pay off in the end 🙂 Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  11. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I’m so excited for this one although I’m not big on the historical aspect (which I guess is pretty big.) But I must say, Katie, with all her historical love really makes me want to try to get more into it! Great giveaway, thanks!

  12. Tynga

    I LOVED this book! My review is going up on Friday. I read the eARC but I really want a print copy for keep ^^
    THank you!

  13. Sarah E.

    Eek. Shame on me – I entered +2 before I realized that it’s Canada only – not like I didn’t just see that 8 zillion times. It’s definitely Monday morning. :/

  14. Danny

    WooooW I loved your review!!! And, I admit I am head over heals about kick ass heroine’s and Ismae totally sounds like one! But, I would like to know of there is some tiny bit of romance ?

  15. Kristin

    Nice review!!! Way to nail the 3 star review and still get me to want to read it!!! This was one of those books that had me with nun assassins, too, so I will definitely be giving it a try to see how I do with the political landscape (I’ll probably get lost after the first paragraph but who cares ~ it’s assassin nuns!). Just kidding…
    -Kristin @myparahangover

  16. Sarah

    Great review Giselle! I have this one on tap to read in the next week and you’re right the premise sounds amazing. I have heard mixed reviews. I can see where the names and historical stuff can get confusing. I am a fan of historicals but not hugely so we’ll see how I like that aspect of it.

    Thanks for the great review and giveaway. Good luck to those entering!

    ♥ Sarah @ I’m Loving Books

  17. Ashley @ Book Labyrinth

    Aw it’s too bad you didn’t love it, but I’m glad you enjoyed it for the most part. I guess political stuff doesn’t interest everyone, that totally makes sense. For me, I really love that stuff. =D Thanks for the giveaway!!

  18. Jennifer | Book Den

    Oh, no. Why did I plan two historicals in the same week? I’m just about to start this one. I didn’t know it would be so… historical. Ha. Assassin nuns, though, right? It’s gotta be done. 🙂

  19. Natalia Belikov @ Dazzling Reads

    Oh dear, Im so sad you didnt love it as much as I did. I am in love with this book and I love the historical background. However you are really right when you said that the ebook does not help in going back and ford to re-read certain part that will help you understand/or refresh about the complex plot. I read a finish copy and in the first pages, there is a whole list of characters classified by places,kingdom, etc, which really helped to remember who was who, and where did they come from, and who where they supposed to be loyal to. I am sure you would have loved this book if you would have read a finish copy my dear. *Sigh*
    That’s why I am NOT fond of ebooks. sniff. XD

    When the companion book comes out, I hope you will give it a chance (but read a physical copy;) Im sure you will love it my dear!

  20. GABY

    Thanks for the review! I’m excited to read this book, as you said, who could not be intrigued by nun assassins? I’m a little bit worried about the political aspects, I like to read them but sometimes I also get confused. But I think I’d still like to read it 😛

  21. fishgirl182

    whoops! i am totally not canadian (though that would be cool). please remove my entries (fishgirl182) and sorry about that. sometimes i read too fast. 🙂

  22. Aneeqah

    I’m sorry that you didn’t love this book as much as other people did! The whole political thing sounds pretty confusing, so I think I can understand why you didn’t love it. Thank goodness I have a print copy of this book from ALA, I think it’ll make everything so much easier for me to read! Fabulous review. =)

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  23. Lexie

    I’m sorry this one didn’t live up to your expectations. 🙁 This review coincides with a lot of the other negative ones I’ve seen; most seemed to agree that there was a bit too much politics and not enough assassination. Which is not a great thing, in a novel about assassin nuns.

    Still, I’m glad you enjoyed the rest. I do think I’ll check this one out; I’ll just make sure to take it from the library, or borrow a copy.

  24. A Canadian Girl

    Aw Giselle, it’s too bad you had some difficulty remembering the characters and their roles in this one. I loved this one and like you thought the writing was really well done. This one was long but it didn’t feel like it!

  25. Katie

    I just got this one in the mail the other day. I’m super excited to read it! Hopefully the political aspect won’t throw me too much. But I am liking the sound of Ismae! Great review!

  26. Candace

    Hmmm… the political aspect wasn’t hard for me to follow but I used to read HF a lot so maybe that’s why this felt hf ‘light’ to me. I really loved it. I’m glad you gave it s chance and did enjoy it even if you didn’t love it.

  27. Rebecca

    Great review! I’m going to be starting this one soon. I am glad to have a heads up on all the political stuff:) I will take good notes when that comes up. Thanks!

  28. Bonnie

    I have had my eye on this book for a while – I usually enjoy historical fiction but you make a good point about the political nature of the plot. I definitely have to be in the mood for strongly political historical novels to get into them! 😉

    Thanks so much for the chance to win! 😀

  29. Mo

    I was just about to enter this giveaway till I saw it was can only. I am saddened, however between your review and Amy’s at, I am really intrigued by this book. I shall have to find another way of getting my hands on it. Well other than buying it of course 😀

    Nice review!

  30. Carina

    This is the next book on my tbr-pile and I’m glad to finally see a 3-star/espresso-rating. 😉 I’m a bit scared that all the very positive reviews that can’t even find one negative aspect about GRAVE MERCY will leave me disappointed, so thank you so much for your honesty, Giselle! Glad you enjoyed most of it though, but I’m definitely going to be a bit careful when it comes to remembering characters. 😀


  31. Stéphanie

    I so want to read this book. I was going to buy it yesterday, but now, I will hope to win this contest and wait a few days. I hope I don’t jinx myself…

  32. Rebecca (Kindle Fever)

    This does sound fantastic and I keep hearing such amazing things about it! I’m very happy you enjoyed it even though it sucks the historical aspect seem to have a been too much. :/ To like a historical novel, it has to be done really well for me. I’m a bit scared to pick this one up actually! It did sound a bit of what could be… too… historical-y. o: If it makes sense…

    I’ll probably have to pick this one up because of my curiosity anyway though. 😉 Great review!

  33. Johannah

    Darn the give away is only for Canada! I had a feeling Canada was cooler then the US! lol.

    Great Review and I can’t wait to read it!