What I’m Reading: Red, White & Royal Blue

From the book jacket:

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

My review:

I picked up a copy of this book after hearing a lot of positive feedback about it. The idea behind the book was quite intriguing, but I think it really could have been put together more cleanly. Also – I can’t help but assume that this is a fictitious spin on what politics may been like if Clinton had won the 2016 election, but I digress…

The main story idea itself was good – a secret love between the First Son and HRH? Scandalously wonderful! I cheered for Alex and Henry’s love story and I truly wanted them to be together. Love know no boundaries (or political policies), you know? But all details involving their “bow-chicka-wow-wow” moments was … Meh. I don’t know if it was skirted over on purpose or if the author was too apprehensive of researching the subject matter, but those moments fell flat, IMO. There needed to be more than kissing, a smile, an “Oh Baby” and spooning.

Additionally, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m not American, but I just didn’t enjoy the whole re-election subplot and felt that the story could have had the same impact if it didn’t revolve around an election.

Red, White & Royal Blue definitely has an important message behind it – that policies need to change with the times and you should be allowed to love whoever you want to love openly – but I feel the story could have been delivered better. Chop out the centre third of the story and again, the point still could have been made. It was too long for what it was.

In a nutshell: I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. It just didn’t live up to the hype for me.

My rating: ★★★/5 Stars


What I’m Reading: The Color of Our Sky

From the book jacket:

A sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993.

India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before. As time goes by, their bond grows to be as strong as that between sisters. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room.

Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family.

Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.

My review:

I understand the importance behind the subject matter of this novel, as it deals with real-life issues that are still important today, but the writing itself fell short of my expectations.

It was pretty easy to figure out early on how the story would end, and I think that was the first clue that The Color of Our Sky wouldn’t live up to my expectations. The remaining chapters dragged on for too long and I felt that the only reason why I kept reading was because I thought something “big” was going to happen. Everything was a bit anticlimactic, IMO.

This isn’t to say that it didn’t tug at my heartstrings at all. Reading the parts of Mukta’s childhood was difficult – even more so knowing this is something that happens in real life. It just needed a bit more to really pull me in.

Overall, I didn’t love The Color of Our Sky, but I didn’t dislike it either. I just feel it needed a bit more polishing and the storyline could’ve been a bit better.

My rating: ★★★/5

What I’m Reading: Where the Crawdads Sing

From the book jacket:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My review:

I was easily skeptical of all the hype behind this book, so it took me a while to finally give in and see what all the fuss was about. Even after I finally bought it, I was unsure for the first couple of chapters but something finally reeled me in and I was hooked. (Fishing puns definitely not intended.)

Where the Crawdads Sing is quietly powerful, and I couldn’t help but feel heartache for Kya as she desperately longed to feel simply accepted for who she was, and frustration towards those who didn’t understand her.

I believe the author did a fantastic job using detailed description throughout the book without making it too long-winded; it was almost poetic, in some ways, and every detail had a purpose.

I don’t regret my decision to finally pick up Where the Crawdads Sing, and I think it certainly lived up to its hype.

My rating: ★★★★★/5