Review of Sundered by Bethany Adams

How welcome it is to be back in the world of Morainia.  The world remains as beautiful and inspiring as it did in Soulbound and I loved returning to it.  Starting directly after the dramatic closing events of Soulbound, Sundered focus’ on Lyr’s story the most.  There is much on his mind, whilst having to track Kien and deal with the aid requests from those realms who are suffering from the energy poisoning, he also has to deal with the guilt over what happened to his mother and the pain from his own injury.

The energy poisoning coming down from the Earth is spreading to the far reaches of the realm.  Alfheim, an insular city, long cutting itself off from the worlds outside are the latest to fall victim and find themselves having to seek aid from Lyr, meaning that he has yet another thing on his plate, however many in the group are not what they seem.  There is an instant connection with Lady Amelia (Meli), who is close to being shunned by her kin due to her perceived lack of magical talent.  She is baffled by the choice to send her on such a delicate mission, a mission that will have life changing consequences for her.  There is  a familiarity sensed by both Lyr and Arlyn when they first meet Meli – a memory of Aimee, and for Lyr, a need to be bonded with her.   Although he knows that he must push such things aside for both the memory of Aimee and the race against time to stop Kien, he can’t help but wander from his duties.

The peaceful world is shattered however when great atrocities take place and the need to step up the search for Kien intensifies.  The assassins are still finding ways to breach the defences and dangerous missions are ahead for them, but an opportunity to collapse the spell causing the poison can’t be missed.   Ralen’s ability as seer however is not quite back on form and there is confusion and potential danger at every change of the fates, Eri’s own foresight only muddies the waters further.  There is betrayal and great insult, leaving fragile allegiances in tatters but from that arises the chance for new ones to be formed.

Can they foil Kien in time and at what cost?

The storytelling is again utterly captivating and there are many revelations in this tale full of twists and unexpected turns.  A great follow up to Soulbound!

Review of the Sauvage Domicile by Courtney Ruggles

Thankfully picking back up from where we left off at the end of the Vrai Domicile, we rejoin Q and the others as they make good their dramatic escape from the sixth, although tragedy has struck and not all of the group make it to the forest beyond.  Q and U are initially split off from the others forcing their bond to strengthen and when Q’s life is again in danger, B is the one to help bring her to the others albeit in an unexpected way.  An unlikely band of escapees has gathered, including some who Q would never have thought to have supported her cause.  They must learn to work together in order to explore the wilderness, the Sauvage, and move forward with the quest to bring everyone.
Q settles uneasily into her role as poster girl for the revolution, beset by the grief of the lives lost indirectly from her actions she struggles to deal with the new emotions freedom affords her, including the experience of platonic love.  However, she finds herself riddled with self doubt and guilt, with little in the way of support from her fellow escapees who struggle to understand her actions and her love for someone other than B.  Respite is at hand though in the form of Chrysanthe, a Transient girl and all round free spirit who helps Q embrace the new life and freedoms.  
The group are still haunted and hunted by the domiciles, reminders of their cruelty litter the path to the Transient stronghold and despite freeing themselves of the means to be tracked they still find themselves battling the Guerriers whilst seemingly far from their radar.  
Where there was once great hope we are then sucker punched by betrayal on the grandest scale and truths from the Vrai Domicile are revealed in a way that shakes both you as a reader and also Q to the core.  Q’s fate seems sealed but when she receives help from the most unlikely source she is struck by an epiphany, which can only mean that heading into book 4 we are dealing with a very different girl who is very clearly set on her path.

This series continues to grow and mature alongside of Q, I was utterly captivated by the writing of the emotions wrought upon her and the feelings brought about by that.  This remains one of my most highly rated series and the plot twists and revelations coupled with some phenomenal writing makes this another 5* read for me.  

Review of The Soultakers by Christina L Rozelle

So for me to finish a book in a week or so is usual for me.  What is unheard of is for me to finish a 300+ page book in 24 hours.  That’s how much of a page turner and nail biter The Soultakers is (i’m ashamed to say that my parenting today mainly consisted of cartoons so I could sneak in extra chapters).    
The story starts back in Zentao, about 2 weeks after the closing events and revelations from The Treemakers.  Joy still retains the secret behind their “paradise” allowing the children their freedoms to play and learn.  Their contentment however, is short lived with attacks first on the electrics, which shatters the illusion of their new home and then the water supply is sabotaged forcing them to flee Zentao, the children one way and the elders through a second route.  Before the evacuation starts Joy is handed vague information about “The Seekers Keys” with instruction not to share the information with Smudge and to keep the knowledge safe.  What then follows has to be one of the most frightening and adrenaline fuelled story line sections I have ever read, hold on tight for this one, it pulls no punches and will get you ugly crying for sure.  During the escape Joy unexpectedly comes into possession of part of the Seekers Keys, an item which is to bring unimaginable suffering at the hands of Lord Daumier, who along with his Clergy (known as the Soultakers) will stop at nothing to secure possession of all 3 parts.  
It then very much becomes a story of 2 parts and I have to say I am finding it so hard to put into words the feelings this story brought out in me, during the second part the characters spend much of their time in fear and confusion, mind games and lies upon lies left them and me questioning which reality I believed and hoped in.  Rays of hope shine through Joys distorted world however, and slowly the fog clears and her mission remains resolute.  Personal sacrifices must be made both willingly and unwillingly to protect the children and allow her to fulfil her promise of keeping them safe.  

As with the Treemakers, this is a real page turner, I literally couldn’t put it down.  I would again say it’s for more mature YA readers as there are strong themes and vivid portrayals of violence.  The story is intricately woven, with lots of standout moments and shocking and surprising twists which I have tried to avoid spoiling – there is so much more I would love to say about this book!   The fact that one of the latter characters shares my son’s name gives it a sixth star for good taste 😉   I cannot commend this series highly enough and I’m glad that book 3, The Seekers Keys, is released tomorrow, I have to know how this story ends!!

Review of The Treemakers by Christina L Rozelle

So I was lucky enough to win a copy of The Treemakers at an author takeover event, it’s fair to say that this author wasn’t known to me until then and I’m glad that I got this opportunity.  
So, the Earth has been ruined by it’s inhabitants, the hole in the atmosphere leaving no protection to anything above ground, wander in the open at your peril.  The decimation of the trees has led to poor oxygenation and life expectancy.  In order to survive new trees are fabricated from metals, filtering out the toxic air and allowing life – of a quality of sorts.  Joy (although her existence is far from joyous) is a teenager working in the tree factory, although young herself, she is “momma Joy” to the younger children forced to work alongside her in perilous conditions, her and her best friend Jax, the unofficial parents to the orphaned brigade.  The factory is overseen by the “superiors”, truly vile specimens of adulthood, able to prolong their lives through the oxygen canisters they are privy to.  The children are ruled by fear .
Joy and Jax, when the opportunity arises, spend their nights exploring the bunkers and underground tunnels for anything that could make their lives easier, and one night they are pulled into an experience like no other, a paradise beneath the factory and a chance to escape.  Caught on their return, punishments are severe and without mercy – punishments that fuel their need for vengeance and escape further than ever.    Help from unexpected quarters leads to a a chance of a new life, but at what cost, and can paradise really be so?
I would say that this is a book which is very much at the top end of the YA age range, there are some really difficult topics which although are alluded to, still very much stayed with me.  The friends receive horrible abuses at the hands of the Superiors and powerful imagery is left in it’s wake.  The story pulls no punches when it comes to the risks taken and is very much a tonic to the stories where some characters are obviously expendable from the start.    
It had the power to convey a sense of menace throughout and i had adrenaline at times about what was going to come on the next page, I was left never fully relaxed whist reading on tenterhooks about what would happen next.  It’s been a long time since i have been reading a book and spending every spare second sneaking in a couple of pages here and there.  
I realise that i have made this sound very doom and gloom and it isn’t the case there are some beautiful moments – especially when Joy becomes storyteller to the children, and when she find she is able to reminisce about her father when new friends are unexpectedly made along the way.   The children’s final destination provides them with the reprieve that they so needed, but the truth weighing on Joy’s shoulders is very much something that i am looking forward to finding out more about in book 2.
In a world which seems too good to be true, can Joy let her guard down and embrace what the future could be?

This is an exceptional story and i’m glad I also won book 2 so I can move straight on to the next part.