Monthly Archives: January 2013

Grave Mercy

Title: Grave Mercy

Author: R.L. LaFevers

Borrowed from: Ann Arbor District Library

GoodReads Rating: 4 Stars

Grave Mercy

Review: Grave Mercy tells the story of an assassin. A female assassin. A teenage, female assassin. A teenage, female assassin who happens to be in a convent. Ismae has had a tragic life growing up in 15th century France. She is saved when sent to live and become a nun within the convent of St. Mortain – the Saint of Death. These young, beautiful assassins work in mysterious ways through the seer of the convent and the knowledge that those who need to die are marked by death and the Saint himself. Sent to court with her “cousin” to learn about the families at court to determine actions that will best help France during war-time, Ismae finds herself taking matters into her own hands. What follows is an intricate story of death, love, deception, betrayal and ultimately the triumph of peace over vengeance.

Recommended for ages 14 and up. First book in the “His Fair Assassin” trilogy.

Spoilers may be found in the following discussion.

Reaction: Overall this is an enjoyable read and the concept drew me in – nuns that work for the saint of death. The idea was new to me plus it is historical fiction which I love to read. The introductory chapters immediately made me want to learn more about the convent and nuns who worship, and act in his stead, St. Mortain.

We follow Ismae into the convent (which happens quickly) and we follow her outside of the convent but her training and her work inside the convent? That’s covered in few chapters. I wanted more! My hope is that in the future books of this series we learn more, however since the second book is changing focus on characters (we no longer will be reading from Ismae’s point of view), I’m not sure this will happen. I want to know all the assassin nuns. I want to know how they learn their skills and secrets. I want to know why these assassin nuns are necessary – why this convent and not a “traditional” one?

This book also has a lot of political discussions that make up a large portion of the story. After all, that is why Ismae is with Duval at court and not restrained to only leaving the convent to kill. Ismae shows restraint with her death skills and even experiments with whether or not St. Mortain provides mercy for those who repent. This ultimately informs her decisions at the end of the novel. I hope we learn more about how those decisions affect her convent life.

I absolutely loved the moment between Ismae and St. Mortain. I know that it helps Ismae realize how she wants to use her skills and knowledge of death. I loved that she found ways to help souls. I hope we get to learn how the dramatic change between becoming the helpful maidens of death to maidens of murder happened. Have we met the responsible parties? Was it a case of too much power or not enough? Is this a question that will never be answered?

What about you – what are you reading lately? What do I need to add to my list?

Level 2

Title: Level 2

Author: Lenore Appelhans

Received from: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing  (Advanced Reader Copy)

level2

In the interest of full disclosure, this book arrived on my doorstep as an Advanced Reader Copy. 

Felicia was killed in a tragic car accident and lands in the place before heaven, Level 2. This place allows anyone who has not passed completely over to view their memories, share their memories with others and see others’ memories. Spending their days dazed in a white universe, Felicia and her friends spend their days reviewing the good memories. Sometimes they try to find a way out however, the seemingly endless white walls, floor, ceiling leads not much room for exploration out of the universe.

Until one day when someone from Felicia’s past, her past on Earth, shows up. She soon finds out that although at one time the only way to pass through to Heaven is to revisit the bad memories too – your mistakes, your foibles, your regrets – the angels in charge of Level 2 are working hard to make sure nobody passes through ever again. What follows is Felicia’s journey on figuring out who to trust, who to follow and when to blaze her own path.

Overall I enjoyed this book. Those who are enjoying the dystopian trend (raises hand) will enjoy this look at the world after. “Level 2” may not be a true dystopia because I cannot say for sure what does happen in the afterlife , but it fits enough for me to include it there. Although I wanted to hear more about Felicia’s life on earth and how her mistakes have shaped her before and after death, I know that in further installments more will come to light. The author uses suspense and intrigue to keep you guessing at the next step. Although we hear some of what happened to Felicia before she died, it’s not enough and I am left thirsting for more.

Recommended for ages 12 and up. Release date: 15 January 2013

Divergent

Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Borrowed from: Ann Arbor District Library

Divergent

You should read this. I had been on the hold list for this book for months and it finally came just in time for Christmas break (but not in time to include on my 60 items to review media log, c’est la vie). Hearing many opposing reviews – one saying it’s the best dystopian novel of the year – others saying it was awful.

One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I enjoy reading dystopian fiction. Perhaps The Hunger Games started it in me. Perhaps it’s just where I am in my life to enjoy them again. But this is one dystopian trilogy you should also read.

Trish, as a divergent citizen, has to choose on her 16th birthday to stay in the faction she grew up in or to change to one of the other 4 factions which will effectively disown her from any communication with her family forever more. Trish makes a decision and the events that follow show us how even when a form of order is created in good, it can quickly turn bad. Factions are dependent on virtues – but what happens when the citizens lose touch with the whole of the virtues? What happens when virtues are taken at face value and not as 1 part of a whole? A lot. Trish and her friends must decide between staying or leaving and hoping to change the world for the better.

This is book 1 in the trilogy and I am on hold for the second book. 31st in line…but I’ll get it eventually and probably really enjoy it. Can’t wait for the 3rd book to be published!

Seriously. Such a good novel. Anyone else read this? Want to discuss?

—Spoilers—

  1. I wanted to read about Caleb and his experiences. I wanted to know more about his decision to become factionless. It would have made the book longer, but sometimes I enjoy seeing other perspectives than just our main character.
  2. I was not surprised that Caleb and Trish’s mother was also divergent. I’m not sure how I would handle that type of situation but how hard it must be to not be able to discuss your faction choice. I love talking about choices and which decision I should make. I hate having to make decisions on my own. So difficult. Would you have been able to not talk to your children about your experiences leaving one faction for the other? Or even just to let them know it’s okay to leave?
  3. What else do you want to discuss? Al?! Peter?! Four?! I must say I was surprised at Four’s identity – although looking back on it, it was clearly obvious. That’s okay. I enjoy that their romance is between the two of them and that they are acting like most teenagers at the start. I felt very sad for Al. Of course, he made some decisions that are reprehensible. How horrible though, to realize your original faction was probably the better choice for you?

PS: If you’re read Insurgent already, please try to keep spoilers for that at a minimum. Divergent spoilers are definitely okay to discuss here. 🙂