Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review & Giveaway - Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

Title: Lichgates
Author: S.M. Boyce
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 336, Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4.18 stars
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG (Nothing more than kissing)

Summary from Goodreads: Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things—Ourea.

Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother’s recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With no way out, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book’s untamed power. Discovered by Ourea's royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict—a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn’t trust anyone… but she’s being hunted and can’t survive on her own. 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 human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.

Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.

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Lichgates is an incredibly inventive fantasy adventure, full of danger, magic and mythical creatures!

When Kara finds and opens a mysterious book, she doesn't realize that she has just become the Vagabond - fated to bring peace to the strange land of Ourea (or die trying).  She suddenly finds herself thrown into a war between Ourean races that has been brewing for centuries - and not everyone wants her to live long enough to bring peace.  Many of those who do, see her as a pawn who is to be used in their game of politics and revenge.  Ourea is a frightening place and Kara would not be able to survive on her own.  Luckily, she has Braeden to help her.  But Braeden has his own reasons for wanting to protect Kara - he needs the Grimoire to escape his ties to the savage race that he is Heir to and to escape the father who has embraced that savagery.

The negatives:
  • Slightly slow start.  While there was plenty of action, even at the beginning of the book, for some reason it took me a little while to engage completely with the story.  Ironically, I think that this may have been because of Boyce's rich story-telling style (which is actually a positive listed below).  While her lush descriptions paint vivid pictures of the world she has created, it sometimes made the book feel just a little bit slow, especially at the beginning.  Once I really got into some of the mysteries of Ourea, though, I was definitely engrossed.
What I enjoyed:
  • Unique characters and creatures.  Ourea is filled with a tremendous array of interesting characters and creatures.  Each race of the people of Ourea (called the yakona) is very different and unique - the frightening gray-skinned, smoke-producing Stelian; the web-footed, blue skinned Lossians; the winged, silver-skinned, beautiful Ayavelians; and the human-looking Hillsidians. Then there are the soul-stealing isen and the shape-shifting Muses, along with creatures like gryphons, giant two-headed wolves... I could go on and on.  Ourea is an amazingly unique fantasy world!
  • Vivid Descriptions.  Boyce describes her characters and landscapes in vivid detail.  Sights, smells, textures - they're all described.  As you read, you can really imagine yourself in Ourea!
  • Witty dialogue.  I loved the witty banter, especially between Kara and Braeden.  Several lines made me laugh out loud.  Here's a favorite passage that's both witty and insightful and gives you an idea of Kara's personality:
"Look, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Dangerous, I'm already in as deep as a stranger can go.  I've met royalty--sorry, Bloods--and I was chased by an army.  I saw dragons.  There's a vicious isen thing trying to kill me.  My dad--" She stopped short, her breath hitching.
"Basically, you don't scare me," she went on.  "You've got a troubled past, well so do I.  Most people do. We do things we're not proud of, things we wish we could take back, but what's done is done and all you can do is try to redeem yourself in the present.  So, cut the crap.  I'm just trying to help you out."
  • Kara.  Kara is a great, strong female character who doesn't let anyone tell her what to do or how to feel.  Even though she has been thrown into an impossible situation that she knows almost nothing about, she doesn't panic (well, not much).  That doesn't mean she's not terrified - she is!  Kara has some pretty significant issues haunting her from her past that she has to work through throughout the book, but that just makes her all the more interesting!
  • Braeden.  Braeden is an intriguing and complex leading man.  He has spent his life fighting against his Stelian nature, trying to find a way to escape the blood ties that control him.  Braeden originally wants to use Kara for her power over the Grimoire, but he eventually realizes that his feelings for her are stronger than his desire to protect his own interests.  The problem is that he doesn't know that he will ever be able to control his darker side - and this side of him just might put Kara in even greater danger!  I ached for Braeden and I so hope he finds his way to redemption.  Meanwhile, I'm just enjoying his journey!  The romance between Kara and Braeden is slow to develop - there's no insta-love here - which makes it much more layered and realistic.
I highly recommend Lichgates to fantasy lovers.  This book is highly imaginative and full of magic and excitement!  I'm now kicking myself for not requesting to review all three books in the series, since I'm dying to know what happens to Kara and Braeden next!  4.5/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***

Summary from Goodreads: Kara Magari ignited a war when she stumbled into Ourea and found the Grimoire: a powerful artifact filled with secrets. To protect the one person she has left, she strikes a deal that goes against everything she believes in. But things don’t go as planned.

Braeden Drakonin can no longer run from who—and what—he is. He has to face the facts. He’s a prince. He’s a murderer. He’s a wanted man. And after a betrayal that leaves him heartbroken, he’s out for blood.

To survive, both Kara and Braeden must become the evil each has grown to hate.

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Summary from Goodreads: Kara Magari isn’t normal, even by Ourea’s standards—and in a world of shape-shifters and soul stealers, that’s saying something. To the royalty, she’s a loose cannon. To the masses, she’s a failure. But Kara’s arrival in Ourea started a war, and she’s going to end it. 

An ancient isen named Stone takes an interest in Kara’s training, and it turns out he has more answers than he originally led her to believe. In an effort to unearth a secret that might end the bloodshed, Kara instead discovers an ugly truth about her family—and how much she has in common with an infamous mass-murderer. 
Braeden Drakonin has slowly rebuilt his life after the betrayal that tore it apart. His father wants him dead, and frankly, his so-called allies wouldn’t mind that either. Private alliances are formed. Secrets are sold. Tension is driving the armies apart. A single battle will end this war, and it’s coming. Braeden may be a prince, but it will take more than that to survive. He must take the fight to his father’s door—and win.

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About the Author:
International Amazon Bestseller. Fantasy Author. Twitter addict. Book Blogger. Geek. Sarcastic. Gooey. Odd. Author of the action-packed Grimoire Saga.
S.M. Boyce is a novelist who loves ghosts, magic, and spooky things. She prefers loose-leaf tea, reads far too many books, and is always cold. She’s married to her soul mate and couldn’t be happier. Her B.A. in Creative Writing qualifies her to serve you french fries.
Boyce likes to update her blog a few times each week so that you have something to wake you up in the morning.

Connect with the Author:
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One Lucky Winner will get a Signed Copy of Lichgates (Grimoire Saga #1) by S.M.Boyce. 
Giveaway Open to US Residents Only.

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