Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, a review (Raybearer #1)

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko is the first in a YA duology following a young girl named Tarisai who is raised in isolation by her mother, the Lady. When she gets older her mother sends her to the capital of the empire they live within to compete with other children to be chosen for the Prince’s council. If she is, her mother has used magic to compel her to kill him.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, UK cover

I listened to this book via audio, narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt, and this is a beautiful way to read this book. It was incredibly well done and I enjoyed how Abbott-Pratt altered her voice to match various characters.

One of my only negatives about this book was in the characters representations. For the main characters: Tarisai, the Prince Dayo, her love interest, and her best friend (as well as antagonists such as the Lady and Tarisai’s father) are well developed and fleshed out. With great depths to them and a lot of development through the book. But there are certain people who aren’t. In this world the Prince has a council of 11 who he is mind-linked with, they all know each other inside out and physically become ill if apart from each other. And yet. We barely know anything about the other 8 members of the council. I could tell you the names of the other two friends (but I’m not in case you’d consider it spoilers) but with the rest of the council? No clue. It was the only real negative of the book, because it felt quite unrealistic that these people so intrinsically linked wouldn’t be more prevalent in Tarisai’s mind.

This book is primarily plot based, and I was utterly absorbed by it. There is so much going on within this Empire and so many stories that Tarisai hears of. Ifueko has mentioned that all of these cultures are made up, but the themes are based on religions that she was exposed to throughout her life. With Tarisai’s best friend’s religion (People of the Wing) being based upon a sect of Christianity that believes in covering their hair with prayer shawls. I loved learning about the magic system within this universe as well, and without spoiling events of the end of the book, I am very excited to dive into book two and learn some more about this world!

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 8, and Enjoyment: 9, giving a score of 8.57 and an average of 4.5*.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: death (including parental), domestic abuse, fire, genocide, gore, memory loss, mental illness, misogyny, murder, parental abuse (emotional), rape (referenced), suicide (referenced), unwanted pregnancy.

This was an absolutely fantastic story and one that I waited far too long to get into! I’m so glad that I’ve finally read it and I really need to finish up this duology sooner rather than later!! (don’t hold me to that 😅)

The Hobbit, a review

Considering I’m one of the co-hosts for MiddleEarthAThon in August I thought it might be a good idea for me to actually, ya know, read the Lord of the Rings books. Just maybe? And of course, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, being so short and being (I think?) a prequel. Well that was the best place for me to start.

I decided to go the audiobook route for The Hobbit, read by Nicol Williamson, because it’s actually available free on Spotify! It’s only 4 hours long so I got to enjoy it over a couple days whilst at work.

Straight away I thought Gandalf seemed like a massive pain in the arse… and I maintain this standpoint 🤣 poor Bilbo was put through so much despite just wanting a peaceful life! I did get a little confused at one point, when there was spider fighting, I had to rewind it a few times just to make sure I understood everything going on. I do think I’ll have to reread this physically at some point, because I absorb more that way.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 8, Writing: 7, Plot: 6, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 8, giving a score of 7.29 and a 4* rating.

I’m not sure why but this was definitely not how I expected the story of The Hobbit to play out! It was so unexpected and I’m glad I didn’t know too much about it going in. I could also see all of the influence that so much of modern fantasy (and non-fantasy!) has taken from this classic. Reading this has gotten me super hyped to read the Lord of the Rings. I know it’s quite a different book but I’m excited to dive in!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: spiders, war, kidnapping, whipping.

Have you read The Hobbit or the LotR? Let me know what you thought in the comments, and let me know if you’ll be taking part in the MiddleEarthAThon in August!!

Comfort Me With Apples, a review

Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente is a book I heard about from Kayla from BooksandLala, and I thought that the audiobook would be perfect for that prompts for the All The World’s A Page readathon!

This is a super short book, so I’m hesitant to tell you too much about it. It was a very quick, but a very fascinating read! I had no clue going in that there were going to be religious aspects to this book, specifically Christian stories. I’m an atheist so when I realised this I had been slightly concerned as I can struggle with religious topics. But I thought this was done so well and really utilises the well known aspects of Christianity and the origins of humans from the bible that I think this can be enjoyed regardless of your religion. Although a passing knowledge of the creation of man (and I mean passing) will be a good basis to have.

I adored how we have the same limited knowledge as the POV main character at first, and how Valente utilises the story to slowly learn more about her life in this supposedly perfect world where she should want for nothing. There are some fascinating discussions about misogyny and control in this book that left me thinking long after the book itself was finished.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 7, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 6, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 8, for a score of 8.17 and a 4.5* rating.

This was such a fantastic little book and one that I really want to add to my shelves! If you’ve read this, please give me other, similar, recommendations. Because I 100% want to read more!!

My Sister the Serial Killer, a review

I ended up picking up My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite via audiobook after hearing so many people sing it’s praises since it was first published in 2018. And besides, death being a main premise in a book? Sign me up!

For some ridiculous reason, I had decided to listen to this audiobook at “normal” speed. That was a mistake. I was bored. I barely cared. And I almost DNF’d the book. But I thought I would give it a shot sped up first and see what I thought of it. Well? I listened to the rest of the book that day and enjoyed it so much more! Not starting with “normal” speeds again for a while 🤣

I will say that this book ended up focusing a lot more on the family drama side of things than I’d expected. It was like a darker version of a British soap opera and that wasn’t what I’d went into the book for. However, it did mean that we got to know the family really well and see the sisterly connection, and I can’t fault that.

I also loved the character development we had through this book (with one notable exception, it kinda works with her character that she doesn’t develop but it was also super frustrating). Our main character goes through quite a lot, both out in the world and in introspection, and it changes a lot of her outlook on her life.

The main character’s love interest also develops, but instead moves towards the negative. I still love a good development, even when it makes the character bad, so I was here for this! I will say a fair few of the background characters were just that. Like slightly blurry people in the background of a TV show who occasionally step into focus, but it’s hard to distinguish between them.

On CAWPILE I rated this one: Character: 7, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 7, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 6, which gives an average score of 6.86 and a rating of 3.5*

This was an enjoyable read and I’m glad that I didn’t DNF it and sped up the audiobook instead! It’s definitely a fun little one.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: blood, cheating, child abuse, domestic violence, murder, paedophilia, rape (implied), stabbing violence [end].