5 Years Later, Review Repost and #Indie Week Announcement!

I wanted to repost my review of S.M. Boyce’s Lichgates today because in a few days, it’ll be five years since I first read it. Long-time readers have probably seen this review, and various other reviews and posts about Boyce’s work. She’s one of my favorite authors and I talk about her any chance I get. Today’s no different.

A post on the Black Hearts Reviews Facebook page earlier today sparked this repost. It also got me thinking that I’ve been blogging for about five years, been in the Indie publishing world for just as long, as well as how much I miss the way some things in the Indie community used to be.

Back then, in 2012, while I was getting into the vast and ever-growing Indie world, I decided to dedicate a week to those authors, readers, and books. It was called Indie Week. And this is me announcing (without much detail) the return of Indie Week in April or May of this year! I think we could all use a place to get back in touch with that community feel we used to have in the book world. I’m hoping to bring back some authors from the original Indie Week. But I really hope I discover new authors who want to get in on the fun.

More details on that will be coming in the next few weeks. But if anyone’s already interested, drop me a message and I’ll tell you what I can at this time. And here are the original Indie Week posts.

Now, after all that, here’s my review of Lichgates, the first book in what was originally intended to be The Grimoire Trilogy, and is now a four book saga (all books available, separately and as a box set)! Hope you can read the whole thing. I wrote LONG reviews in the early days. I’ve shortened them up since. And the book is currently free. So grab a copy if you want to read it. Let me know if you enjoy it.

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Lichgates Title: Lichgates (The Grimoire Saga #1)
Author: S.M. Boyce
Rating: 5/5 Stars

“The final page will leave you breathless.

When Kara Magari uncovers a secret door in the middle of the forest, she discovers (and trips through) a portal to a hidden world full of terrifying things: Ourea. She just wants to go home, but the natives have other plans for her. She clashes with immortal shapeshifters, is carried off by a dragon, nearly dies on several occasions, and somehow becomes the master of an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire. Every time she thinks she’s safe, her new “friends” show their true colors.

Kara needs an ally, or she might not survive Ourea’s monsters. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn’t know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.

For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this stranded girl, there’s something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.

Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.” (description from Goodreads)

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*Please note that since the time this review was originally published, The Grimoire Trilogy has developed into the four book The Grimoire Saga. I haven’t edited my original review to reflect this.*

The Grimoire: Lichgates is the first book in The Grimoire Trilogy. In this first book the author, S.M. Boyce, throws Kara (the main character) and the reader into an entirely new work called Ourea. To get to this world, Lichgates are necessary. They are portals linking our world to the dangerous, yet beautiful, kingdoms of Ourea. They are scattered all over both worlds and it is through one of them in the Rocky Mountains that Kara stumbles.

Upon falling into an underground library, Kara finds waiting for her an old red leather book. The book is very magical. On it is a necklace with a pendant that looks like four crescent moons configured in the shape of a four-leaf clover. This book is so magical that there are blank pages throughout, but when asked the right questions the pages flip to sections and words appear with an answer.

This book is one of Kara’s only defenses against what lies in wait for her in Ourea. Upon opening the book, she has become the center of every kingdom’s focus; she is the Vagabond. Her purpose in this strange world is to reunite the four kingdoms in peace, fulfilling the goal of the first Vagabond who died a thousand years before.

This concept really caught me from the beginning. Like I said I was hooked from reading the first chapter alone. It takes a lot to do that with most books. Part of what kept me reading was the fact that this book doesn’t wait to get the reader into the action. There is no lead in chapters, no foreshadowing, no mercy. Kara is hiking one minute and in Ourea fighting for her life the next. Every time throughout the book it seems that there will be some time to relax (for the characters and readers alike) something happens. It’s almost impossible to put this book down. Lucky for me I was able to force the book down, which allowed me to savor every experience it held; there are many.

I loved many elements of this book. First off, the setting made me want to visit Ourea. I know this is impossible (not only because it’s not a real place) because if I went there, I’d most likely die (more on that soon.) Ourea is like the worlds of most fantastical stories. It has its beautiful landscapes, luxurious castles, and even a dreary kingdom no one wants to acknowledge. Its landscapes include forests, a kingdom nestled on top of a vertigo inducing multi mile high cliff, and even a kingdom found in a magical dome on the bottom of an ocean guarded by sharks. And it’s not just the places themselves that I fell in love with, it’s the way Boyce’s words describe them. I can’t do it justice in my own words, you’ll have to take my word for it or read the book. Her words paint a picture of every aspect allowing the reader to soak in the images.

The setting wasn’t the only exciting part of the book. There are also the various creatures of the land. To mention a few there are griffins, dragons, something Kara says is similar to a squirrel, and one of my favorites a flaer named Rowthe. I liked him a lot because he’s a huge dog like creature. Of course he has a unique ability, but I’m going to let you find that one out, it’s just really cool.

The characters Kara encounters are very hard to figure out. This helps the story be what it is more than anything else. The Grimoire from the beginning warns Kara that she can’t trust anyone in Ourea. A lot of the times it seems like the characters can be figured out and trusted, but then there’s either a subtle or drastic hint to the contrary. As a reader I was always jumping to conclusions about a character only to change my opinion soon after. I’m still waiting for a character to make a turn for the worse, but we’ll see if that happens.

Kara’s journey takes the reader all over Ourea and she meets a variety of good and evil. She even has encounters with the evil King, Blood Carden. He is the father of Kara’s companion Braeden. I guess I should have mentioned him by now. Carden is the ruler of the Stele, the banished kingdom who reeks havoc on Ourea even through a banishment. Braeden, his son, escaped from his father’s kingdom twelve years earlier and has been hiding elsewhere ever since. But the ever present question in my mind was whether or not he was one to be trusted. When would the evil in his blood consume him, if at all? For most of the book I kept liking and trusting him, but wanted to keep an eye on him for Kara’s sake (not that I could have helped here, that’s just silly she’s in a book.) There is also a growing connection between Kara and the mysterious Braeden which leads to some complications in the relationship of him as protector and one of her few friends.

To wrap this up, The Grimoire: Lichgates is on my top five favorite books I have read this year and possibly in recent years. I keep reading great books so this list should be extended to at least ten. I loved the story, I loved the setting, I loved everything about this book. The only problem that I had with it is that I didn’t have the next book to read. I only hope that the day comes when I can read book two, then book three, sooner than it will.

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Want a copy of this book? You can find it on:

AmazonB&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author

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When S. M. Boyce graduated with a degree in creative writing, she realized that made her well-qualified for serving French fries. It would take years of writing hundreds of thousands of words of all kinds before she became the bestselling action and adventure author she is today.

Boyce specializes in action-packed stories that weave in fantasy, mystery, and heroines with an knack for mischief. All romantic leads are based loosely on her husband, who proves that soulmates are real. She has a deep love for ghosts, magic, and spooky things. If you’ve already finished her books, check out her blog or twitter feed for a dash of adventure.

Find out more:

Feed Your Reading Habit for Free…Legally

We all love books and we love to read. That’s why you’re here reading a book blog. Well, maybe you just stumbled upon this post and weren’t expecting it to be about books. I hope you stick around.

Having a reading habit is possibly one of the healthiest habits to have. However, with the benefits of a good book, comes financial burdens that put limits on what we can read or what we can eat. There is a light at the end of this tunnel though. Books don’t have to break your bank account!

It’s not a new concept to be able to read freely. Ever since the cost of producing books drastically decreased and they were made widely available, libraries of all kinds started popping up. In today’s world almost all of these libraries offer patrons the chance to read books for free. This is common knowledge, but there’s a point I’ll get to…

The great thing about living in the digital age of books is that readers aren’t tethered to the physical library any more. While the actual library is an important institution for any community (they aren’t there just for holding books, but offer many programs and events essential to their community), having libraries offer digital collections expands access and ease of patronage.

You may recall that earlier this year I finally got a library card, after being without one for many years. How many books have I taken out of the library so far? None. But, I have borrowed a handful of both ebooks and audiobooks from them. Without getting into the politics of libraries, for me, this is supporting my local branch as much as I can without transport to the building itself being easy to obtain. And at the same time, it’s access to free books to feed my reading habit.

An offshoot of the library that’s becoming more popular around the country, and I’m sure the world, is little free libraries. These are normally small enclosed bookshelves on sidewalks near a person’s home. You walk by and borrow a book and maybe add one of your own to the collection, or bring one back when you’re done reading. It’s a great way to get people reading a variety of books, and to maybe give away some books from your collection you think can find a better home through a free library. I found out that there’s one not too far from my library, in town, and while it’s out of the main flow of foot traffic, I hope it has a steady flow of readers visiting it.

Maybe libraries aren’t the way you want to go. Maybe you want to “own” books and go back to them whenever you want. Here’s where ebooks and audiobooks come back into the conversation. There are many resources online to obtain free digital books and I’ll list out a few for you to check out. And don’t worry. These are all legal sites. With a combination of using sites from this list and use of your local library, there’s no reason why piracy should look appetizing. The resources are there to read at little to no cost, so why not keep it legal.

  • PROJECT GUTENBERG – I’m sure many of you have heard about Project Gutenberg. This is the ultimate site for free ebooks online. The only limitation is that the books are all from pre-1923 (with a few exceptions). So if you’re looking for a classic book, 99.999% of the time you’ll find it here. It’ll also be in any digital format you need. The reason these are all free, and legally so, is because PG is populated with public domain (out of copyright) books. Many libraries, Amazon, and other major retailers will also have these versions loaded onto their sites. (note that this is for public domain books in the US. Each country has their own laws and I think a site for themselves. I know Australia has one with different titles than the US site.)
  • LIBRIVOX.ORG – Think of this as the audiobook equivalent of Gutenberg. This site is filled with all the public domain books narrated by volunteer readers. It’s one of the ways I’ve gotten through many classic books. And we all know how expensive audiobooks can be. Free narrations are a blessing, and these volunteers are doing readers a great service.
  • AMAZON, B&N, KOBO, SMASHWORDS, ETC -I already mentioned that these sites are loaded with the public domain books for free. And we all probably know what I’ll say next: There are THOUSANDS of free books from legit retailers, like those listed above. I didn’t bother with linking because it’s easier to let you search for yourselves. Want a book in a specific genre? Search it, and sort low-to-high by price. Want to see if an author’s offering books for free? Search the author, sort, again. It’s simply and a great way to discover new authors. I know many of my favorite authors came from discovering them randomly like this. Yes, you will have to weed through a lot of duds, however you’d like to do that is up to you. I’m not being judgmental in this post. Helping weed the garden of books is a topic for another day.
  • (Another topic for another day is subscription services. For example Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. Just to touch on it briefly…don’t come to me telling me your book is “#Free on #KU” because it’s not. It’s “free” because someone paid the $9.99 each month to use the service. Don’t falsely advertise that. Just tell is like it is. *rant over*)

Are there more places to get legal free books? Of course. I only touched the major ones that I use almost every day. I barely have an income. I make a few cents a month by selling my books, when I sell them. We all need a little help sometimes, so go out and explore the free book world. I know it’s the only way I was able to jump into the book world as deep as I have. My print collection may be massive, but it was also years of work, and filled with mostly cheap used books. Nothing to be ashamed of. Reading is reading. And if we don’t feed our habits, we might do something drastic…like turn on a TV *gasp*