Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

9565548 (1)I’ve been waiting for months for a book to grab hold of me and not let go—this one was it. It completely swept me up and into its world of politics, history, fantasy, assassination, treason, romance, and mystery.

Ismae is handmaiden to Death. She is an assassin, sent to kill those with the marque of St. Mortain, the god of Death. She is swept away from an arranged marriage at a young age and raised in the convent of St. Mortain, where she is trained in the arts of poison and weaponry.

She is assigned to the High Court of Brittany where she is completely unprepared for the intrigue and treason of court.

This book reminded me very much of Snyder’s Poison Study—but only for the assassin element and the way it gripped me and made me finish in it in a day.

Ismae is a very real and likeable character. After escaping a brute of a father and a violent arranged marriage, she isn’t the biggest fan of men. Though the romantic element did not come as a surprise, it wasn’t as nauseating as I thought it would be. In fact, I loved it.

Ismae is also a total badass lady. She doesn’t need to be rescued by anyone else, in fact, she ends up rescuing other people.

I am so incredibly excited to get my paws on book two and three (and the fact that there are three books). I’m leaving for my honeymoon on Thursday, so I’m waiting until then to break into them—they’ll be fabulous for the plane ride! I rated this a 5/5 on Goodreads.

lauren copy 3

I received a free copy of this ebook through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. 

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The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

20727654Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever. – Goodreads

The premise of this book sounded incredibly intriguing to me. Paper magic? What does that even mean? Is Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined like Hogwarts?

The climax of the book is when an Excisioner—a dark, flesh magician—shows up, rips Magician Thane’s heart out, and Ceony has to literally go into his heart to save him.

Let me answer some of my previously mentioned questions.

Tagic Praff School is not like Hogwarts. Students essentially go to the school to learn about magic for a year (though they don’t practice it, they just read about it) and are assigned to an apprenticeship upon graduation. They can only bond to one form of magic, whether it’s plastic magic, metal magic, etc. Ceony is stuck with paper magic.

Paper magic is basically origami on steroids. Fold a paper crane, tell it to “breathe” and boom; it’s flying around.

This book was confusing to me. For the last 2/3s of the book, I wanted so desperately to get it over with. It was dull and boring to say the least. Remember how I mentioned Ceony going into Thane’s heart? That was 2/3s of the book—Ceony running around through his heart, trying to escape a madwoman.

Why didn’t I put it down? I loved, loved, loved the writing and prose. Everything was described vividly, but without a windy paragraph. The detail was beautiful and I could picture every scene clearly. Though the plot and story was boring, the writing was not.

I rate it a 3.50/5. It wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t outstanding, but right in the middle. I probably won’t be picking up book two, but would definitely read another series that Holmberg puts out in the future.

I was given a free copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion through NetGalley. 

Lauren11

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

17332556It’s been a while since I’ve been so wrapped up in a magical/fantasy world. It was a pleasant surprise to crack open The Burning Sky and within several chapters, become completely enamored with the characters, story, and world.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her time—or so she is told, by Prince Titus, who rescues her from the forces that want to harness her power.

Forced into hiding, (and in a very She’s The Man style), she’s forced to chop her hair off and pose as a boy at Prince Titus’ school in Eton. During this time, she learns more about her abilities, her destiny, and the political entities that want her.

This is Sherry Thomas’s first YA fantasy novel—before now, she’s stuck to historical romance. I’m glad she ventured out—I haven’t read a book this imaginative and creative since Harry Potter. Before the Potterheads freak out, don’t—I’m not comparing it to Harry Potter, or saying it’s better or Harry Potter is better—I’m saying that in a wild way, it reminded me of the magic I used to love when I cracked open a new Harry Potter.

Many things felt similar to Harry Potter, just with different names. This didn’t bother me. Vaulting was essentially apparating. There was transmogrification. They had wands. They had spells. A certain magical trunk felt a little bit like a portkey. But you know what? It all worked, because there were so many elements that were original and unique. Harry Potter was fantastic, but I don’t think that should stop other authors from incorporating transmogrification, wands, magic, teleportation, and magical objects from their stories.

Her writing style is fabulous. It’s incredibly descriptive, especially once you get a few chapters in. I ached for both characters, felt for them, rooted for them, wanted to yell at them for being idiots.

If you decide to pick this up, I advise you to be patient. It takes a little bit to get into, but once you do, you won’t be able to put it down. 5/5 on Goodreads…I immediately went to get book two, the Perilous Sea!

Lauren11

Throwback Thursday: Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney

226550I received my hardback copy of the Goddess of Yesterday during a summer reading program at my local library in 2004. To get our free book from the book cart, we had to read for five hours and turn our coupons in. I read five hours the first day of the summer program and pitched a fit when my mom wouldn’t take us back to the library the next day.

I chose this book from the book cart solely for its cover. I’ve been attracted to fantasy novels from a young age, and without reading the inside cover, I assumed this was a book about Medusa. I was wrong, as it is definitely more historical fiction, but I loved this book just the same. I’ve read it several times since choosing it from that cart, but lost it in a move several years ago.

Goddess of Yesterday is about Anaxandra, who is kidnapped by a king at a young age to be a companion to his young, crippled daughter. She adjusts to life in their culture, until it is sacked by pirates—and she’s the only one who escapes. She assumes the identity of the king’s crippled daughter, Princess Callisto, to survive, and is taken in by the King of Sparta. Helen, his wife, and Paris, her mister, do not believe she is Princess Callisto, and Anaxandra must stay out of the way of spoiled, witchy Helen of Troy to survive.

To this day, I still love the main character. She is extremely resourceful, strong, independent, and likable. She doesn’t need a man to save her, and she saves herself. She is complex and I found myself feeling for her—terrified, relieved, terrified again. Cooney does a fabulous job at shaping her other characters, too, and I also found myself hating Helen of Troy, who is extremely spoiled and terrible.

The story moves along quickly and wraps up well.

Lauren11