Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure.





Published 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: purchased
Rating: 3.5 stars

From the blurb: 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?

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?

I don’t know what put me off this book two years ago, but something did because I never added it to my reading list or paid it much attention. But, due to a friend’s love of it (hey, Magz!) I decided to give it a go and I’m really happy I did.

Ismae Rienne is a seventeen year old living in Brittany in 1485. The only men in her life have been cruel to her, and she has been teased and shunned by the people in her village due to a large red scar received during her mother’s pregnancy. A local herbwitch rescues her and has her sent to a convent where she is trained as an assassin, serving the patron saint of death, Mortain. After three years she is assigned to be Gavriel Duval’s companion at court, trying to figure out who is going to betray the duchess.

I loved the historical element of this story, and the setting of Brittany. It reminded me of a YA version of Bitter Greens, minus the fairy tale aspect. There was plenty of intrigue, mystery, death, and romance - a great combination.

Ismae’s childhood was not filled with love or affection, she’s used to being abused by men, but her life at the convent gives her strength and purpose. She takes well to poison making and her assassin training but struggles with flirting, so pairing up with Gavriel and playing his mistress is understandably a difficult task for her. But, she was also a little immature, which is my only criticism of her character. I adored Gavriel, he was such a good male lead - kind, intelligent, and so patient with Ismae. Their slow romance was believable and sweet.

The plot while interesting was a tad slow, I read this over four days, which is a long time for me and a book that’s only 363 pages in length. But, the pace suited the story, a time when there would have been a lot of back and forth due to negotiations, secrets, and lies.

The ending was wrapped up perfectly, but it also left me keen for the sequel and I’ll be picking that up very soon!


I wasn’t sure about doing nails to match Grave Mercy as there was no way I was going to attempt painting Ismae, but once I zoomed in on the details on her dress I felt inspired.


On my thumb, index, and pinky I used 2 coats of Ulta3 Tone it Up. Once dry I used a fine brush and acrylic paint to add the floral/leafy detail of Ismae’s dress.


I zoomed in on the cover and noticed the wonderful embroidered detailing on Ismae’s sleeves (see pic below). So for my middle nail I started with 2 coats of Orly La Playa and then used acrylic paint and a fine brush to paint the flower, vines and lines.




And lastly I had to include Ismae’s crossbow and the castle wall. I started with 2 coats of China Glaze White Out. Over that I sponged on some acrylic paint and then used a fine brush to do the wall detailing and the crossbow.


So, this is one of those manicures that makes no sense away from the book cover, but because some of the details are so small, I don’t think it looks a lot like the cover either! But, I really love the blue floral nail and I’m tempted to do a full mani of that pattern.

52 comments:

  1. I think that's really pretty! I keep meaning to pick up this book. Maybe I'll finally look for it at the library!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this cover and now that I know more about it - I am so interested in reading it! Those nails are epic!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, love this! that red is so vivid. Beautiful :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. So much detail you did on the middle and ring nail! It looks great and it sounds like a nice read too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really like the nails. I think they look cool.

    That's great you ended up enjoying the book overall once you gave it a shot. i am curious about this one!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Beautiful mani! I love how you used the flower as a feature it is really pretty :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm glad that you finally gave this book a try and ended up enjoying it Mandee! I loved Duval, he definitely made this book for me ;) Also I didn't even notice the embroidery on Ismae's sleeves! Your nails are absolutely amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I enjoyed this one but desperately wanted more from it at the same time, so the fact that it seemed like a watered-down YA version of Bitter Greens is promising since I have a copy of Forsyth's book on its way to me. I enjoyed the sequel, Dark Triumph, far more than this installment and I'm hoping Mortal Heart is more like the middle book than this first one, but fantastic review, Mandee! Adore the nails, as always! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think there are definite similarities, but BG is a lot different, too!

      Delete
  9. I really liked the beginning of Grave Mercy but rest of it was a little bit of a let down. :( I wish the story would have focused more on Ismae than the romantic relationship. But your nails I love, they are so gorgeous! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you give the rest of the series a go, Sofia!

      Delete
  10. I'm so excited to hear you enjoyed this, Mandee. It's one of my favorite books and the sequel is even better. I know what you mean about the book being a little slow at first. But once I was into the book, I was fully into it.
    Great review! I hope you love the next book too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay, glad you lied it too, Nick! I'm reading DT now and LOVNG it!

      Delete
  11. Your nails look amazing as always Mandee! I swear each bookish manicure you do gets better and better!! I really wanted to read this book when it first came out but never got around to it. That happens way to much! But after reading your review it reminds me why I was so excited in the first place! Must pick up a copy soon. Fantastic review and nails! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bails <3 Thanks so much! I think you'd enjoy this series, so I hope you get a chance to read it.

      Delete
  12. I love the cross bow! The second book was perhaps even better, the romance is adorable <3 Happy reading with Dark Triumph and I hope you find it less slow :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love the floral nail! I'm not sure the crossbow nail works with the others away from the cover, but it's perfect with the cover.

    ReplyDelete
  14. LOVELY mani (as usual)

    I am so glad you decided to give this one a shot - I've had it on my shelf for far too long and the fact that you enjoyed it despite it being slow is just the motivation I need to get into it already haha I can see it being a bit slow because of it's size but I love the idea of it. I love how you described the MC's past and her thought process. And I'm especially giddy that you mentioned the romance was slow to develop!! Always a plus for me :-) Lovely review Mands ^^ xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes! I think you would love this, Mich!

      Delete
  15. Oh gosh the detail on the dress is gorgeous, I never noticed that before. I avoided this one when it was buzzing because I felt it was a bloggy slut, but I finally listened to the audiobook version last summer and I enjoyed it. Yes, it was a tad slow but I was hooked after awhile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the book, Heids! And I agree, lovely detailing!

      Delete
  16. I also thought the plot was a little slow in places, but I liked the book overall. I still need to read the sequel! I've heard great things about it, so I can't wait. And like Heidi, I never noticed the detail on the dress before! Loving the nails, as always. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I'm reading DT now and I think it's even better!

      Delete
  17. It's been ages since I read this book, but I enjoyed it a lot. I remember it being a little slow, too, though. I've never noticed the dress detail!! Gorgeous. It doesn't much look like the cover, but it still really works for the book. :)

    Rachel @ Paper Cuts

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love this series, though I have to be honest, this first book is my favorite so far. :) And I love the manicure...so pretty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's interesting because so many people have said to me "the sequel is better!" :)

      Delete
  19. I never would have noticed the beautiful embroidery on her dress. Good eye! Like you, I was never drawn to this book. Don't think I'll ever pick it up but I'm glad you ended up enjoying it =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have to know when to pick your books :)

      Delete
  20. Whoa, you are so talented! I love that you incorporated the pretty embroidery in your mani, and it came out gorgeous. And wow, the crossbow! I still haven't read this book, and i think I've avoided it so far because it seemed slow to me too. Glad you ended up liking it though!

    ReplyDelete
  21. So glad you liked this one, Mandee. I have a feeling you'll love book 2. I can't wait to read the third book later this year. I love that you found elements of the cover to go with your nails. I never even noticed that tiny detail on the dress. Good eye! Love the whole look.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wow, you have really outdone yourself with the nails today. They look amazing and I love how you included the detailing on the dress.

    I have seen this one a lot but, like you, I never really paid it much attention. You have piqued my interest though and I may have to order this in at work. Thanks for the great review :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, RfaB! I hope you love it when you read it :)

      Delete
  23. Your nails look soo pretty!
    I've also red this book :)

    Xx julia

    ReplyDelete
  24. As someone who can't even grow nails or paint clear nail polish without smudges - I'm so impressed!

    This book went slow for me too which I don't usually enjoy but I adore this series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks, Karen! I'm glad you like the series :)

      Delete
  25. I bought a copy of this book ages ago... never finished it. But I love the idea. Assassin nuns ... you've convinced me to pick up my copy (which is in storage at my parents house) and finish it! The nails are gorgeous. I love the crossbow!

    Kate @ Fictional Thoughts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy it the second time around, I've started the sequel and it's even better!

      Delete
  26. I still need to read this one, too. I have it checked out from the library now, but just haven't had the time to read it. The slower plot sounds a little off-putting to me, as does her immaturity, but I do love a believable love story, so I'm hoping to find the time for it. Love the nails. That flower is especially lovely against that bright red. Great review and nails!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, hun! I hope you enjoy this when you get a chance to read it!

      Delete

Hi, hi, hi!
Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment.
My priority is to return comments on YOUR blogs because I know how much a comment can make someone's day!
If I have time I will also try to comment back on my blog.
Mands xox