Since this historical fiction novel Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (first in a new series) has been on all of the best of 2012 lists, I just had to check it out. It definitely lives up to all of the hype!!! Ismae’s mother died when she was young, leaving her alone with a brutal, demeaning father who sells her to an even more bullying farmer. Unexpectedly, Ismae is spirited away in the evening by a group of saviors, who take her to a convent filled with beautiful, intelligent, respectable women. They all have a secret though… they serve Saint Mortain, god of Death. Ismae trains in weaponry, poisons, and deception, but her greatest challenge will be protecting her heart from the gorgeous soldier on whom she is sent to spy. Ismae is a brave, self-sacrificing, honorable heroine in the vein of Cashore’s Katsa, Collins’ Katniss, and George R.R. Martin’s Arya. This amazing read will be followed by sequels, as LaFevers follows other assassin’s assignments through the convent.