ARC Review – Last Stand

Last Stand
Author: Rachel E. Carter
Series: The Black Mage, Book 4
Genres: fantasy, paranormal, romance, young adult
ISBN: 9781946155030

Synopsis:He’s the Black Mage and she’s the traitor to the Crown.

Ryiah’s world was shattered the night she discovered King Blayne’s nefarious plans. Now, she has to betray the one she loves most in order to save the realm from war. Torn between love and duty, Ry finds herself on a perilous mission to help the rebels and convince the kingdom of Pythus not to honor its pact with the corrupt king of Jerar—all the while deceiving the most powerful mage in the realm, the very man sworn to protect the Crown and hunt the rebels at all costs: her husband.

She’s one step ahead, but sooner or later the curtain will fall.

Sooner or later, she’ll have to fight.

Witness the epic conclusion of The Black Mage series, and see just how far one girl will go to save her kingdom and the boy she loves—even when that boy has become the enemy.

I am not usually one for conclusions, but this is hands down, one of my favorite final installments to a series! The pure raw emotion in this book is so well executed, and Ryiah has come so far as a main character. In addition, the prose in this (and the earlier books, but especially this one), is so beautiful. I found myself highlighting lines and paragraphs just simply because, as a writer myself, I love beautiful and descriptive writing.

In First Year, we meet a young Ryiah who is trying to find herself as she is challenged in a competitive magic school. She’s awkward, makes rash decisions, and is learning and growing as a person.

By the time we get to Last Stand, the old Ryiah is gone. She’s grown up. She’s experienced some terrible things, and I think that most of us can relate to this “newer” Ryiah. When you’re young and just beginning to embark on a journey with a goal in mind, that goal is the most important thing in the world.

But things don’t always work out as planned. And sometimes reaching your goal doesn’t mean that you’re happy. I think Ryiah learned this throughout The Black Mage Series, and I’m glad she did. It makes her real and relateable to readers.

Last Stand is chock full of emotional battles, tons of magic scenes, a vivid world at war, amazingly well developed characters, and just enough steamy romance to keep me content.

So if you’re looking for a series with an amazing magic system, lovable and loathable characters, and tons of action and adventure – The Black Mage series is for you, and Last Stand is as epic a conclusion as they come. THERE HAD BETTER BE A SPIN OFF SERIES SOME DAY.

Last Stand is available for preorder from the following retailers: 
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About the Author

Rachel E. Carter is a YA & NA author who hoards coffee and books. She has a weakness for villains and Mr. Darcy love interests. Her first series is the bestselling YA fantasy, The Black Mage, and she has plenty more books to come.

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ARC Review – The Alchemists of Loom

Title: The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga, #1)

Publication Date: January 10th, 2017

Publisher: Keymaster Press

Author: Elise Kova

Genre(s): Adult (YA Crossover), High-Fantasy, Steampunk

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.


In spring of 2016, while I was still blogging for, I was approached by one of my favorite authors, Elise Kova, to beta read a new book of hers – The Alchemists of Loom. I agreed with much excitement, even though she described the book as being quite different from her previous Air Awakens series. Genres don’t matter when the author is a complete wordsmith and master world builder like Elise.

And let me tell you. It’s different. It’s different from anything I have ever read. Hands down. The genre is some sort of mashup of steampunk and fantasy, with a world created by Kova that is completely original, and, in my own words: “…is like none you have read before.” (I was also super excited to blurb the back for Elise). Second best thing to publishing my own book (who knows when that will happen), is having my name plastered on the back of someone else’s book. Amirite?

Loom is a world that is dingy, drab, and dark. It is a world that left me more than slightly terrified at times. It’s a colorless and oppressive underworld where the people of Loom live their day to day lives.

But not Arianna. No, nothing about our main character is structured. Ari is a badass, plain and simple. She is relentless, clever, excessively confident, and extremely protective of her young friend, Florence. Ari is a hired thief who happens to come across a Dragon named Cevareh (more on them in a bit), who grants her a boon – he needs her to navigate the world of Loom and bring him to the Alchemists Guild. In turn, he will grant her anything she desires.

Cevareh as a character, is just as different from Ari as his world of Nova is to her world of Loom. Nova, the home of the Dragons is a sort of sky-world that is a completely vibrant contrast to the colorless world below. He’s friendly and kind, while Ari is grumpy and distrustful – and even annoying at times, though his main motivation is helping his sister to usurp the Dragon King from his throne back on Nova. And when I say “Dragons”, these aren’t like the typical fire-breathing winged lizards. These are essentially super-powered humans with skin that comes in wide variation of colors and hues.

Ari’s boon with Cevareh, leads them on a dangerous adventure across Loom to seek out The Alchemists Guild.

This is a multiple POV book, and my favorite character POV to read by far was Leona – a Dragon who is guard to the Dragon King. Leona is militaristically fierce and fearless. She will do anything anything for her king who she reveres as almost a deity. Her relationship with the King is complex, and terribly sad at times. Even though Leona is cold and cruel, I still felt bad for her.

This book is classified as adult fantasy, but I think that young readers could enjoy it too. If you’re looking for something completely original in the fantasy genre – this is it.





square headshot 1Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).

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