Fate: Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born? Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands? Jepp of Astraveld needs to know. He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them; but it breaks Jepp's heart to see his friend Lia suffer. After Jepp and Lia attempt a daring escape from the palace, Jepp is imprisoned again, alone in a cage. Now, spirited across Europe in a kidnapper's carriage, Jepp fears where his unfortunate stars may lead him. But he can't even begin to imagine the brilliant and eccentric new master--a man devoted to uncovering the secrets of the stars--who awaits him. Or the girl who will help him mend his heart and unearth the long-buried secrets of his past. Masterfully written, grippingly paced, and inspired by real histori-cal characters, "Jepp, Who Defied the Stars "is the tale of an extraordinary hero and his inspiring quest to become the master of his own destiny. " ~Goodreads.com
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn't shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn't seem human....
Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.
Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.
In a world where people born with an extreme skill - called a Grace - are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even shedespises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.
When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po's friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. ~Goodreads.com
For shame, for shame, I have never read Graceling. Now that it's 2013 I knew it was time to get serious about catching up on some terrific 2012 books, which include Bitterblue, so at the urging of several of my library regulars, I stored Graceling in my TBR pile on my night stand. I'd walk by, glance at my pile, notice it sitting at the bottom and sneak it up a few spots in the stack until finally, there it was, right on top!
At first I had a sneaking suspicion that I had read it before. Female assassin who is controlled by a corrupt entity to do another's bidding questions her place in society and her entire identity. Enter in exotic, yummy young man who tempts our fearsome heroine away from her understood station in life only to discover that she's met her equal in intelligence, skill, and strength...sounded an awful like Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers to me, which coincidentally was written after Graceling. I don't care if the plots are similar; I love them both!