Monthly Archives: October 2013

Rave: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2012. Review copy provided by my local library.


Before I get started, I’ll say two things: 1) Generally, I prefer not to read this kind of royalty-centric high fantasy; 2) I’m very susceptible to readers’ peer pressure. These things came into conflict recently, but I ultimately decided to read Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers because of reason #2 and despite of reason #1. Grave Mercy is not the kind of book I’m normally drawn to, but several people recommended it to me despite my usual preferences, and I’m glad I gave it a chance.

Grave Mercy is the story of Ismae, who lives in 15th century Brittany (a small kingdom near France). At the age of fourteen, her cruel father sells her off in an arranged marriage to a man who seems equally cruel, but Ismae escapes that fate by being taken to the convent of the order of St. Mortain, the saint/god of Death.

The abbess explains their order:

You would not expect a queen to wash her own clothes or lace her own gown; she has handmaidens for that. And so it is with us; we serve as handmaidens to Death. When we are guided by His will, killing is a sacrament. […] If you choose to stay, you will be trained in His arts. You will learn more ways to kill a man than you imagined possible. We will train you in stealth and cunning and all manner of skills that will ensure no man is ever again a threat to you.

It seems that Ismae’s actual father is Mortain himself, and as such, she has certain abilities. She chooses to stay at the convent and serve Mortain. Initiates of the order serve Mortain by using their deathly talents to carry out espionage and assassin missions. They seek to protect Brittany from outside threats, such as England and France.

After three years of training, Ismae is sent out on a mission at the royal court. Her mission is to find and kill traitors to the crown. Her cover is to serve as mistress to Gavriel Duval, an arrogant soldier (and bastard brother to the duchess). The young duchess has many marriage proposals and many enemies, and Ismae has a lot of work to do to determine who she (and the duchess) can trust.

I won’t go into all the intrigue–it’s complicated, and it’s also not the kind of plot that holds my interest very well. But I still enjoyed reading Grave Mercy because I was so interested in Ismae and her deathly order. Her character has some interesting insights on life and death. I also liked all the action and cool assassin nun gadgets, like Ismae’s teeny-tiny crossbow.

Some of the language used by the characters is a little bit anachronistic, and some aspects of the story were just annoying to me… but overall, I really liked the character of Ismae and enjoyed reading about her adventures! I’m glad I stepped out of my literary comfort zone and tried Grave Mercy, and I’ll also be picking up the sequel, Dark Triumph.

Reviewed by: Teen librarian Renata

Recommended for: Fans of old timey fantasy type books (you know what I mean); fans of assassin nuns (or people who think they might be fans of assassin nuns, if given the opportunity)


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Teen Read Week: TAB Choice Books

This year, ALA’s Teen Read Week is October 13-19! Of course, I like to think that teens read every week, but sure, let’s take this week in particular to celebrate teens reading! *throws confetti* (Note: if you throw confetti in  the library please pick it up afterward, out of respect for our maintenance staff.) You can vote for ALA’s Teens’ Top Ten through October 19th.

In the meantime, here are the books New Albany-Floyd County Public Library’s Teen Advisory Board chose as their favorites. They’re currently on display in the Teen Scene. Check them out! You might find a new favorite.


Teen Read Week Display

Teen Read Week Display

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Rave: Fangirl


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. September 10, 2013.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin. September 10, 2013. Review copy provided by NetGalley.

I loved Rainbow Rowell’s first YA book, Eleanor & Park, so I was eager to read anything else by her. And when I heard her newest book was called Fangirl, I jumped at the chance to read it. (Figuratively. It’s hard to read anything while literally jumping.) I read an advance copy of this several months ago and told all my nerdy friends to read it as soon as possible. The nerds of the world took this to heart and chose Fangirl as the first pick for the Tumblr Reblog Bookclub.

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