Book Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”0544022491″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51taGdUInuL._SL160_.jpg” width=”106″][simpleazon-link asin=”0544022491″ locale=”us”]Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin Trilogy)[/simpleazon-link] by Robin LaFevers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The narrative instantly grabs the reader and never lets go. The author maintains a dark sense of looming danger and impending deception. The romantic tension is well-played. The story also contains intense political mystery, a delicious murder mystery, and intrigue. The connection to death is compelling with the main character, Ismae Rienne (daughter of death), possessing the power to experience someone’s last thoughts, knowing when someone is about to die, and being an assassin in service to death as well. When Ismae begins to question her duties as an assassin, the absoluteness of the marque, and her allegiance to the convent, the story grows even more interesting. I can’t wait to read the next book. Highly recommended for fans of YA fantasy.

Quotes:

“It is the well-tempered blade that is the strongest” (p. 15).

“People hear and see what they expect to hear and see” (p.97).

“I am a handmaiden of Death. I walk in His dark shadow and do His bidding. Serving Him is my only purpose in this life…” (p. 97).

“I can dodge a blow or block a knife. I am impervious to poison and know a dozen ways to escape a chokehold or garrote wire. But kindness? I do not know how to defend against that” (p. 220).

Book Review: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”0670026611″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51xxZ6EsIhL._SL160_.jpg” width=”106″][simpleazon-link asin=”0670026611″ locale=”us”]The Girl You Left Behind[/simpleazon-link] by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I became so caught up in the storytelling and so invested in the characters that I barely remembered to take notes as is my habit. The two love stories, nearly 100 years apart (St. Peronne, France under German Occupation 1916 and London, England 2006) and linked by a portrait, were interlaced beautifully and compassionately. I especially liked the two female characters. They were strong-willed but kind, flawed but likeable. Both were willing to sacrifice everything for love. At times this made them do foolish things, but it was hard not to root for them just the same. This book had hope and tragedy, history and art, war and sacrifice, cruelty and unexpected kindnesses. I was captivated from start to finish, and I highly recommend for fans of historical fiction and romance.

Favorite quotes:

“This was the story of our lives: minor insurrections; tiny victories; a brief chance to ridicule our oppressors; little floating vessels of hope amid a great sea of uncertainty, deprivation, and fear” (p.14). –Sophie

“Sometimes life is a series of obstacles, a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, she realizes suddenly, it is simply a matter of blind faith” (p. 332). –Liv

In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note that I was given a free copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Jojo Moyes begins touring for this book on Sept. 11. She will be in Atlanta at the Georgia Center for the book on Thursday, Sept. 12. Details here.

Book Review: Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War by Sebastian Faulks

[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”0679776818″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51lkSckd0gL._SL160_.jpg” width=”104″][simpleazon-link asin=”0679776818″ locale=”us”]Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War[/simpleazon-link] by Sebastian Faulks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Birdsong was passionate and yet dispassionate, graphic yet cold, unflinching yet painful. It was a study in contrasts as is often the case with the subjects of love and war. The author does not glorify love or war but rather exposes their ugly underbellies – what happens when desperation takes hold. The descriptions of war were almost poetic in their brutality. Love was not as romantic as dreamers like to think it is. I felt the horror of it all, particularly the battle of the Somme, and saw how it could destroy a man or change him irrevocably. The ending was appropriate but seemed almost cliche compared to the rest of this remarkable book. I highly recommend it for readers of historical fiction, especially those interested in World War I.

Favorite quotes:

“What happened a few miles away was kept secret. None of these men would admit that what they saw and what they did were beyond the boundaries of human behavior” (p. 136).

“There were in their own view a formidable group of men. No inferno would now melt them, no storm destroy, because they had seen the worst and they had survived” (p. 270).

“The random violence of the world ran supreme; there was no point in trying to find an explanation” (p. 328).

*Featured presentation on Masterpiece Theatre

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay soon to be released in film

I read Sarah’s Key earlier this year, and I was deeply moved as well as troubled by it. It is not a happy story, but one that needed to be told. The author takes the story of the Vichy government’s treatment of the Jews and makes it very personal through a little girl named Sarah and her family. It will make you sick, and it will make you cry. But, it will also teach you about a relatively unknown event in French history: the Vél’ d’Hiv’ roundups. The shocking aspect of this story is that the Jews are not rounded up by the Nazi’s but by the French police. This book received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and it was well deserved. But it is not light read, and it will break your heart. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it. I hope to go see the movie when it is released.

How Huge the Night by Heather and Lydia Munn

Mother and daughter writing team Heather and Lydia Munn put together a very compelling story that will appeal to teenagers and adults alike. (Read exert) Julien is believable as an ordinary teenager caught up in extraordinary circumstances. I became engrossed in the dramatic struggles that his family faced as well as the parallel story of Nina and Gustav. I liked the honesty of this book in how it dealt with faith. Real people struggle with their faith especially Continue reading “How Huge the Night by Heather and Lydia Munn”