Where the Crawdads Sing – A book review

Where the Crawdads Sing – A book review

Reading a pretty hyped up book has its own disadvantages, mainly the pressure to like it because everyone else did. But did Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens pass the test for me? Let’s get on to the book review shall we?

About the book

Where the Crawdads Sing Book cover

Book Name: Where the Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens

Genre: Fiction – Romance; Thriller

Characters: Kya Clark, Tate Walker, Jumpin’ and Mable, Chase Andrews

Setting: Barkley Cove, North CarolinaThe USA

Plot Summary

The book begins when six year old Kya watches her mother leave their shack and her five children with her drunk, violent and often absent father. Soon one by one her siblings also flee, as does her father eventually, leaving her behind to fend for herself.

She attends the school for a day, forced by the authorities and tempted by the meal, but realizes she would be hungry rather than be laughed at. When Kya learns to accept her loneliness, two boys enter her life.

One of them teaches her to read and discover more about the marsh life and another shows what her life could be if she were a “normal” girl. And to make things worse, both of them abandon her at some point, just like her family.

Fast forward to 1969, when they recover a local athlete, Chase Andrews’ body near the marsh. Without much evidence, they arrest Kya when the villagers come to know Chase and Kya were closer to each other than they all thought.

Why was Kya arrested and who murdered Chase? What happens to Kya forms the rest of the story in Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Book review

In this historical fiction, there are two timelines – one following six year old Kya’s life from 1952 and the other follows Chase’s murder investigation in 1969. There are vast differences in the writing styles, almost like they were written by two authors.

But I think that worked, because for me they felt like they were different genres (a coming of age romance and a murder/legal thriller). And I am sure fans of both the genres would have something for them.

It is apparent that Delia Owens knows the marshland very well. And her writing ensures the reader gets transported to the wetlands themselves. Once I suspended the skepticism about a kid living all alone, I really liked Kya and her will to survive everything that life throws her way.

I loved how Where the Crawdads Sing spoke of several themes like abandonment, parental neglect, alienation, bullying and racism. And yet made it all about hope and love.

The romance part was a tiny bit melodramatic. But when you are 20 something everyone is allowed to be heart broken and decide to “never love anyone ever again”. There were quite a number of red herring and I was at a point convinced someone particular was the murderer. But surprisingly they were not!

What worked for me

  • Where the Crawdads Sing works mainly for Owen’s writing and her ability to grasp the reader’s attention – be it the romance or the court room drama!
  • Kya herself is an unique character and she will be cherished as one of the strong female literary characters in my mind.
  • Despite talking about so many serious themes like abandonment, parental neglect, alienation, bullying and racism, it is hope and positivity that I ended up feeling.

What may have been better

  • The first part contains a lot of descriptive writing, so if you are not into those type of books be warned.
  • Also a warning people who are not into alternative timelines.

Bottom line

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is one of those books that survived the hype and came through for me. I liked the author’s writing style and her character building. Catch Where the Crawdads Sing before the movie comes out!

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Where the Crawdads Sing – A book review

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – A book review

You all know how exciting it is for me to read a Pride and Prejudice retelling. Especially since I heard it was about Indians Muslims settled in Canada, I had wanted to check this one. So can we talk about Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin?

About the book

Cover Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Book Name: Ayesha At Last

Author: Uzma Jalaluddin

Genre: Fiction – Romance

Characters: Ayesha and Idris Shamsi, Khalid and Zareena Mirza, Farzana, Hafsa, Sheila, Clara,

Setting: Toronto, Ontario,  Canada

The plot

Ayesha Shamsi, a 27 year old aspiring poet, is on her first year as a substitute teacher in an attempt to pay off her family’s debt. Her extended family and the aunty brigade never stop reminding of her age and the fact that she doesn’t have a stream of ‘rishtas’ (marriage proposals) coming her way.

Neither Ayesha nor her mom are worried about her getting married right away but she is annoyed that her cousin Hafsa, whom Ayesha is overprotective about, is taking it too lightly. Hafsa enjoys getting marriage proposals and promises that she would not choose until she gets a hundred of them.

Khalid Mirza is conservative and quick to judgement, especially when it comes to fellow Muslims who are not as religious as he is. When a colleague introduce Ayesha to him in a bar, he quickly dismisses her.

What trouble befalls Hafsa and thus Ayesha when Khalid’s mother proposes the marriage between Hafsa and Khalid? Who ends up with whom form the rest of Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin.

My initial thoughts

Ayesha At Last is a modern day Pride and Prejudice with a bit of gender swap. It’s Khalid’s mother who acts like Mrs Bennett and all up in his business. I can relate some of the characters to the original but on the whole, you may not even realize it is a retelling (if you hadn’t known earlier).

I loved how South Asians and Muslims were not just a backdrop for the story, but their beliefs and customs were an integral part of Ayesha At Last. This is exactly why #OwnVoices matter. I was able to relate to their talks, language and family bonding well, as an Indian myself.

SPOILER While I love a good makeover, I don’t think Khalid should have had to change his appearance to appease the Islamophobics at his workplace and Ayesha. If we hate a woman changing herself to fit the society’s norms, shouldn’t we do the same for the guy?

What worked for me

  • I really liked that the characters were truly south Asian Muslim and not just a backdrop.
  • And kudos to the writer on keeping the narrative flow interesting without turning the explanations about the practices of the Muslims preachy or into a lesson.
  • I loved the author’s take on the different types of Islam followers and not harshly judging any of them (while her characters were having a hoot doing just that).

What may have been better

  • I wish Khalid didn’t have to change his appearance or behavior to fit into the western mold of normalcy.
  • Since there were many characters, we didn’t get the chance to delve into any other characters deeply. I am sure I would have loved to know more Amir or even Ayesha’s mother.

Bottom line

If you are craving for a good Muslim representation in a romance book, then Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin is a good choice. If you are a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice, you might be left wanting a bit more with Ayesha At Last, but still worth a read.

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Have you read Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin? Which of the many Pride and prejudice retellings do you think is the best? Leave your suggestions right below. Let’s talk.

Where the Crawdads Sing – A book review

Coincidence of Coconut Cake, The – A book review

The book description of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert has “You’ve Got Mail meets How to Eat a Cupcake” on it and that had an influence on my choice to pick this one. Let’s see if this book fulfills its promise.

About the book

Coincidence of Coconut Cake book cover

Book Name: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

Author: Amy Reichert

Genre: Fiction – Romance

Characters: Elizabeth “Lou” Johnson, Al Waters, Devlin, Harley, Sue

Setting: Milwaukee, WisconsinThe USA

The plot

Elizabeth “Lou” Johnson is a chef and owner of a French restaurant and has everything going on in her life. She is engaged to be married to a handsome, ambitious man, Devlin and she is excited for her birthday surprise.

But nothing goes right for her on a day that was supposed to be brimming with promise.

She walks in on her boyfriend with an intern and worse, a well respected food critic trashes her restaurant causing a huge blow to her business.

Al hates being Milwaukee and misses his family and just being in Britain. He is waiting to move on to the next job as he works as a columnist in a local newspaper. Until he meets a colorful, optimistic woman at a coffee shop, who smells of vanilla, coconut cake and bacon.

How does Al realize his blunder? Does she ever get to know that Al was the one who wrecked her business into pieces with his review? The answers form the rest of the plot in The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert.

My initial thoughts

As I picked The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, I knew I was in for a light hearted romance but I was not prepared to be overpowered by so many different food and desserts. Yes, serves me right for not reading the reviews. But hey, I am not complaining. I loved the onslaught of smells and flavors of food.

Lou and Al were likeable and so were the older couple living in their neighborhood. I always have a thing for the romance between the matured and young at heart characters and The Coincidence of Coconut Cake did a number on my heart. Not saying anything more, cuz spoilers!

The book stands as an ode for the author’s love for Milwaukee, without making it sound like a travelogue. I loved Al’s review process and how serious he took his job. He reminded me of someone else you know. wink wink

What worked for me

  • The book is filled with food and smells and flavors. Beware it might make you hungry, like it did for me.
  • The characters are sweet and adorable and well written.
  • If you are planning to or are from Milwaukee, you are in for a special treat. The author loves the city and she ensures we get a chance to know it

What may have been better

  • The plot is fairly predictable and runs on a tried and tested formula for rom-com books and movies.

Bottom line

Sure The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert is fairly predictable and fluffy, but it is heartwarming and delightful too. It is definitely perfect if you want to pick a light entertainment.

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Have you read The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert? What other books will you recommend that talks so much of food that you end up hungry? How much weight do you give to descriptions like “Hunger games meets vampire dairies”? Let us talk.

Where the Crawdads Sing – A book review

Virgin River by Robyn Carr – A book review

Virgin River by Robyn Carr is the book chosen for the month of Aug’20 by Maureen’s book club and it is the first book of the club too. The Netflix series adaptation is already out and I hear it is good. Let’s see how the book turned out for me, alright?

About the book

Virgin River cover

Book Name: Virgin River

Series: Virgin River #01

Author: Robyn Carr

Genre: Fiction – Romance

Characters: Jack Sheridan, Melinda Monroe, Preacher Joey, Mark, Doc Mullins, Joy, Connie

Setting: Virgin River, CaliforniaThe USA

The plot

Melinda Monroe devastated by the sudden death of her husband, uproots her entire life and career as nurse/midwife in LA and moves to Virgin River, California. When she first arrives, she has been duped by old Mrs McCrea about the town and doesn’t even have a decent place to sleep.

She understands that her move was a huge mistake and can’t wait to leave the town. But an abandoned baby, local women who definitely would love her expertise and a particular ex-marine turned bar owner change her mind.

Jack Sheridan is not one for long term commitments, well until he meets Mel. But how much is he willing to give up for a woman who is still in love with her late husband? Whose baby was it and the rest forms the story of Virgin River by Robyn Carr.

My initial thoughts

I have not seen the Netflix series but I have heard lot of good things about the author and have been meaning to pick one of hers soon.

I love books with a small town set up with zany people with their eccentricities, so Virgin River was a good choice for me. And I really liked the small town characters like the Doc and the friendship between Joy and Connie.

Jack was a great guy, who genuinely liked helping people and contributes to the town and they love him back.

I am not a huge fan of the love at first sight trope, so I had a hard time understanding why and how Jack started falling for Mel.

On the other hand, I loved the way the Ms Carr had handled Mel’s grief and trauma over her loss, and how she overcomes them. I am glad that Mel and Mark had a happy backstory and that had a huge impact on her relationship with Jack.

What worked for me

  • I liked the small town scene and I wish I had met more people. But I guess that should be happening in the other books in the series.
  • It is always a pleasure reading about men who genuinely want to help others and be good to the society. Undoubtedly, I liked Jack, despite having issues with the “insta love” trope.
  • To be honest there are not many conflicts in the plot and it is a book that is straight sweet romance.

What may have been better

  • The graphic teen age sex scene between a 14 and 16 year old was completely unnecessary to the story and should turn off anyone who reads.
  • Motherhood, pregnancy and men “loving” pregnant women form a huge part in Virgin River. While I understand that Mel is a midwife and thus it makes sense, consider this as a warning if it were something you would avoid reading.

Bottom line

If you are looking for a small town romance that has a very few conflicts and is quite fun to read, Virgin River by Robyn Carr should be your pick. Maybe check the Netflix adaptation which I heard was better.

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Where the Crawdads Sing – A book review

Daisy Jones & The Six – A book review

I picked Daisy Jones & The Six mainly because Bookstagrammers kept posting raving reviews about it. Despite being recommended to pick the audiobook, I picked the physical copy. Did I make the right choice? Let us check how did that turn out for me, shall we?

About the book

Book Name: Daisy Jones & The Six

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Fiction – Romance, History

Characters: Daisy Jones, Billy and Graham Dunne, Camila Dunne, Simone, Warren, Eddie, Karen, Teddy Price

Setting: Los Angeles,The USA

The plot

Daisy grows up as a precocious young girl with absentee parents and a love for music. As she turns twenty her voice gets her the recognition she was craving for. But what she wants to do is write songs, rather than sing them.

Billy and Graham Dunne start a band called Dunne brothers with few of their friends and are slowly in the rise to their stardom.

Soon Billy is addicted to pills, alcohol and other women, and it is his wife Camilla’s grit and steadiness that brings him back to his sense and to the band. As they start getting famous, they reluctantly invite Daisy to join their band.

What follows is the electric chemistry between pill riddled Daisy and currently sober Billy and how the band ‘Daisy Jones & The Six’ breaks apart.

My initial thoughts

Daisy Jones & The Six would mark my first tryst with Taylor Jenkins Reid and I can say she has left a positive impact and I would definitely be reading more from her.

I really liked the premise and Reid’s writing made sure to make me feel like I watched a movie about these rockstars and their pill addiction, boozy parties and shows. The interview format of narrative was a clever idea too.

Again, my issue was just the same thing. I didn’t feel connected to the characters at all, because they felt like stars being interviewed. This is totally a “it is me, not you” thing, with the interview format narration. We don’t get to see what these characters are apart from the roles they play in a band, which is a sore disappointment.

I loved Camilla and Karen, strong ladies who seemed badasses on their own merit. While I wish I had such an emotional connect with Daisy too, all I could think was ‘omg she is a dumpster fire’.

I have been hearing that the audiobook does a better job than the physical copy, so if you are into audiobooks, you should try that.

What worked for me

  • I loved the plot and couldn’t stop imagining Cooper and Lady Gaga for obvious reasons.
  • Daisy Jones & The Six took me to the 70s setup of rock n roll, sex crazed and pill popping era and Reid’s writing shines through. Billy and Daisy were the epitome of all the glitter and issues of the era.
  • I loved the strong, female characters like Camilla, Daisy, Karen and Simone. It is obvious that a woman wrote these characters.

What may have been better

  • While I love the narrative format for its cleverness, I think it didn’t work for me personally.
  • The placement of the songs from the band could have been better, I almost skipped those pages.

Bottom line

Daisy Jones & The Six is a popular historical fiction, and for the right reasons. If you want to be transported to the world of rock n roll and understand what happens after the show ends and behind the screen Daisy Jones & The Six is a great pick.

While the interview format didn’t work for me, I enjoyed Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing style. I will be seeing more of her.

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