Saturday, 11 February 2017

Apprentice by Rachel E. Carter - Non-spoiler review.

Hi booklovers

This is my spoiler-free review of Apprentice - book two in the Black Mage series by Rachel E. Carter. This book was kindly sent to my by the author - I'm a part of her review team - in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book.

This will contain spoilers for First Year. You can find my review of First Year here. I read this book for the Of Wonderland Book Club on Goodreads. February's theme is 'badass females'.

Title: Apprentice
Author: Rachel E. Carter
Genre: YA, fantasy
Format: e-book (provided by the author)
Ryiah has been chosen as the 6th Combat mage apprentice. In this book we go through her training from year 1 'till year 4 (their 2nd 'till 5th year at the Academy). In this book we mainly focus on the training, the mock battles and the relationships.
There is a lot of action but also travelling from training place to training place and of course there's love.

-Ryiah: In the prequel novella and the first book I wanted to strangle Darren for being so arrogant, but in this book it was Ryiah's turn to be strangled. I got so frustrated with her at times. She was so indecisive when it came to her love interests: hot - cold - hot - cold.
I liked the fact that there wasn't a love triangle in the first book, so I was a bit disappointed that there was one in this book.
What I did really like about Ryiah was how she fought for everything she was worth, she didn't take anything for granted. She became an even stronger person when it came to her mage training, but she remained so fickle towards her love interests. It annoyed the hell out of me.

-Darren: What can I say about Darren? He continues to be his charming, pleasant self. In other words: I still wanted to smack him on the head on several occasions. We do get to see more of his personal/emotional side, though, but I still didn't like some of his decisions and actions! Although his stupid behaviour was explained in the end, in didn't redeem everything he did.

-Alex: This is a sidecharacter that goes through so many changes and so much growth, I really liked that. (Even though he acted like such a dick sometimes.) I loved how concerned he was about Ryiah and Ella.
I wanted to strangle him for what he did to Ella, but I'm glad they got together at last.

-Ella: Another wonderful sidecharacter that really comes into her own. She is strong-minded and determined to succeed in her training. I really enjoyed her interaction with Ryiah. They still bring out the best in each other.

-Priscilla: She is still such an unbelievably big bitch, but at least she's an honest bitch even though she's very selfish.

-Blayne: I never thought he would be so much like his father, but he is. In fact, I think he's even worse than his father. I do not like him at all, he's such a spoiled brat and a monster.

-Ian: He's a nice addition to the set of charachters, he was funny, nice, sweet, cute :-) I felt so sorry for him when Ryiah did what she did to him.
As I said, I didn't like the love triangle. Granted, most of the time we think that Darren doesn't want Ryiah anymore, but it was still a low thing of her to do.

-Derrick: I loved Ryiah and Alex' little brother. He was so witty and he really knew what he wanted. I hope we'll get to see more of him in book 3.

This book is again a bit heavy on the fighting and training, but that is of course still very much a part of their routines. The pacing of this story is different from the first book in the sense that we go through four years in one book. We get a lot more worldbuilding in this book since the apprentices move from place to place during their training.

I also very much enjoyed the further development of the magic system. In this book we are introduced to weather casting, a type of magic where you have to draw from a very powerful emotion to be able to cast lightning. I think this is such a cool concept. 

I also like that their magic isn't limitless. The mages have to build their stamina or their casting doesn't last very long.

I really enjoyed this book, but I couldn't give it a full five stars because Ryiah got on my nerves so many times with her indecisiveness it wasn't funny anymore. But I still gave it a solid 4 stars.
I'm currently reading and enjoying book three: Candidate.

Have you read this book or the previous one? Let me know in the comments.

Bye for now.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

First Year by Rachel E. Carter - non-spoiler review.

Hi booklovers

I got this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This doesn't affect my opinion of the book.

Title: First Year
Author: Rachel E. Carter
Genre: YA, fantasy
Format: e-book (provided by the author)
This book starts with the final scenes of Non-Heir but from Ryiah's POV. We follow Ryiah on her journey to becoming an apprentice at the Academy. She's a lowborn girl coming to the Academy to try and get a place as an apprentice. The only problem is there are only 15 places and there are 122 people starting the year. Through a lot of (harsh) training only those who really have what it takes make it 'till the end of the year. Ryiah has to fight and prove herself from day 1, because she is not one of the highborns who have had years of training and she still has a lot to learn. Also, from the start she has both friends and enemies who all play their part in her journey.

-Ryiah: She is a strong character who doesn't give up at the first sign of difficulties. She grows stronger throughout the story
- both litteraly and figuratively speaking. There were, however, moments in the book where I just wanted to grab her by the shoulders, give her a shake and tell her that she should believe in herself and that she knew she had every right to be there.
-Ella: I liked how feisty she is and how she didn't let what happened to her with Blayne get her down. On the contrary, it made her stronger and more determined to become a Combat mage apprentice. I really appreciated that even though she was highborn and Ryiah wasn't, she immediately had a connection with Ryiah. I think they really brought out the best in each other. I was really happy that we got to see more of her.
-Alex: Ryiah's twin and the complete opposite. He's an extreme flirt and also a bit more confident. But, he also has a soft and caring side to him. That's why he wants to become a Restoration mage apprentice. I loved his bantering with Ella, it made me laugh out loud at times.
I liked how their love was slow-burning and it wasn't until the very end of the book that they might make a move. I'm curious to see how it will develop. And yay, no love triangle here!

-Darren: Although I had been warned that I was going to want to smack him on the head just like in Non-Heir I found the urge to do so not to be so big. Sure, he is still his arrogant, cocky, brooding self - he is one of the best first year's at the Academy and knows it and acts accordingly - but we also get to see a different side of him.
At times, however, I did find it hard  to fathom him completely. Why did he help Ryiah at times and work against her at other occasions?!

-Priscilla: Oh how I hate that character. She has everything and she bests almost every girl at the Academy but it's still not enough for her. She has it in for Ryiah from day 1, because Ryiah is lowborn and Priscilla will use every chance she gets to boycot her. And yet her attitude is partly what makes Ryiah more determined to succeed. So in a way she also helped Ryiah. But that doesn't take away the fact that she's a total bitch.
-Eve: I thoroughly regret that we only get glimpses of her throughout this story. I would have very much liked to know more about her first year at the Academy. This is one of the reasons I didn't give the book a full 5 stars.
I found the worldbuilding to be a bit lacking. Sure, they spend all of their time at the Academy and some parts are 'explained', but I still would have liked to see a bit more of it.
I also found the training and fight scenes to be a bit much sometimes and certain events were even a bit repetitive. I get that there is a certain routine they follow, but still.
What I did immensly enjoy was the magic system: those who have magic have to project what they want to cast. I don't think I've ever read anything like this before. I'm also quite intrigued by the concept of pain casting and I wonder if we'll get to see more of it in book two.
I liked that not all mages are pain casters and I'm curious to see who'll become the best at it: Darren or Ryiah? Her pain casting is also the reason the Black Mage chose her to be the sixth Combat mage apprentice.

*Overall rating:
The ending of the book had me in tears and they were tears of frustration. Not frustration for the book, but for what Ryiah went through at the very end.
I know it's stupid because I knew there was no way she wasn't going to become an apprentice. But I was so absorbed in the story that I felt Ryiah's pain and rejection when Priscilla's name was called out as the last Combat mage apprentice.
To me, feeling those emotions when reading a book even though you know things have to work out for the main character, shows that it is a well-written book.
I can't wait to dive into the second book and see how Ryiah comes into her own and if Darren will still be his 'charming' brooding self. (At the moment of posting this, I've actually already finished it :-) )

Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments.
Bye for now

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

January 2017 - wrap-up.

Hi booklovers

The first month of 2017 has come to an end, so I thought I would do another reading wrap-up.

January was a good reading month. I was able to read 4 books, which is very good for me.

First I finished Some Kind of Perfect by Becca and Krista Ritchie, a 5 star read.
This was the perfect conclusion to the Addicted / Calloway Sisters series. It was a well written book containing stories from all the characters in this series. It was so nice to see how everyone's story 'ended', but it was also bittersweet, because this was the last book with these beloved characters.

The second book I read was a prequel novella: Non-Heir by Rachel E. Carter. I got this for free by signing up for her newsletter.
This is the first novella I gave 4 stars, you can find my full review here.

The next one I finished was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016. I even ordered the November MyBookishCrate box because it was going to include this book and that is Heartless by Marissa Meyer.
This book was so amazing and well-written, I gave it a definite 5 stars. It even made me feel sorry for the Queen of Hearts and I understand where she is coming from. I will post my full review soon.

In January I joined the Of Wonderland Book Club on Goodreads. January's theme was fantasy, which is right up my alley. My second read for the OW Book Club - the first one was Heartless - was First Year by Rachel E. Carter.
I recently became a member of her review team, so I got this as a free e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book and gave it 4.5 stars. I immediately moved on to book two: Apprentice (which I'm still reading). You can find my Goodreads review for First Year here. You can find my full review here.

I know I don't do TBR's anymore, but I just wanted to share February's theme for the OW Book Club, which is badass females. My 'TBR' is not set in stone, but I might be rereading Throne of Glass or Falling Kingdoms. And I will continue with 'The Black Mage' series by Rachel E. Carter.

What books did you read this month? Did you enjoy them? Let me know in the comments.

Bye for now