Monthly Archives: August 2020

Red, White & Royal Blue #BookReview

Book: Red, White & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston

I fell head over heels in love with the endearing premise of this book even before I read it. The love story of the First Son of the United States and the British Prince — the stuff of dreams. So we have two delightful protagonists, Alex and Henry, with some political intrigue thrown in.

The narrative goes like this:

Alex Claremont the charismatic FSOTUS has hated Prince Henry all his life, or so he likes to believe. Then one day the two meet at a wedding. After an embarrassing misadventure, the two are put together to repair their damaged reputations through a picture-perfect (though fake), instragrammable friendship. That’s when they begin to open up to each other, share the struggles of constantly being in the public eye and lo and behold! sparks fly.

However, as always, the path of true love cannot but be strewn with thorns. Given their positions, the thorns are pricklier than ever.

Alex dreams of a career in politics and the odds are already rather precarious since he is half Mexican. Plus, he has to come to terms with his sexuality.

Prince Henry has always known he was gay but coming out doesn’t seem like an option. Getting the British Royal court to accept that their most eligible bachelor, their Prince Charming is gay is no easy task.

My thoughts

Red, White & Royal Blue was the 2019 winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards. I was looking for a light easy romance and it seemed perfect. And yet it didn’t have me gushing as I’d thought it would.

The story is told in the third person, mostly through Alex’s perspective. He’s smart and witty with a quicksilver tongue. I loved how clear and focussed he was in what he wanted from life. That said, Henry remained my favourite. I loved every bit of his understated, rather geeky persona and his subtle, very British sense of humour. I loved how keyed in he was about queer history. McQuiston weaves it in beautifully in the back and forth conversations he has with Alex.

There are a host of side characters. The First Family McQuiston builds up is delightfully warm and mushy.

As far as the British characters go, she was a tad bit unfair, settling for caricaturish stereotypes in her attempt at getting to the quintessential British stiff upper lip. All apart from Henry of course, who I thought was quite perfect.

My major beef with the book, and this was a big one, was the over liberal use of swear words. Despite being pegged as Young Adult fiction, it was peppered with the f*** word. That rankled. I couldn’t come to terms with families talking like that to each other not just in moments of stress but even otherwise.

Also, the rendezvous of the two lovelorn boys seemed highly improbable. I cannot see how two such prominent people could just ‘slip away’ during public events. However, I’m willing to forgive that in the name of creative license.

Those two factors took away from my enjoyment of the book, however, I do see why a romantic young adult would find it quite perfect.

Last thought: A mushy read for romantic YAs.

Top Ten Best Loved Siblings From Books

We’re celebrating Rakshabandhan in India today – a day dedicated to sibling/s. And I bring you ten siblings I loved from some of my favourite books.

We all know the classics — Jo and Meg from Little Women, Jane and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, Scout and Jem from To Kill a Mockingbird. I thought I’d look into some of the more recent works — over the last few deacdes. Something written in my lifetime, at least. That might not be really recent but it’ll have to work :-). Here goes:

Fred and George Weasley from the Harry Potter series by JK
Rowling

Who better, to kick off my list with? I had to have them. Identical twins, who’re not just physically alike but also in every other way you can think of. They were together in every plan, every prank completing each other’s thoughts.

On a side note if you’re a Potterhead and want to see in what ways they were not alike, check out this article here. It’s fascinating, I tell you.

Anna and Kate Fitzgerald from My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Anna was genetically conceived to keep Kate alive – that’s how closely intertwined were the lives of these two sisters. Kate, the older one, suffers from blood and bone marrow cancer and Anna is brought into the world to save Kate’s life by donating her umbilical cord blood. However, the bond they share goes beyond medical procedures.

Katniss and Prim Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne
Collins

Katniss is the quintessential older sister; almost too perfect to be true. She’s tough and bold and smart. She’s the provider while Prim is the baby of the family. Katniss volunteers in place of her sister to participate in the Hunger Games, preferring to court death rather than allowing Prim to do so.

Augie and Olivia (Via) Pullman from Wonder by RJ Palacio

Although Augie was the protagonist of this fantastic book I loved Via a tad bit more than him. It couldn’t have been easy living with brother who required the entire attention of both her parents. Via struggles with feelings of resentment and then guilt. Yet she’s there for Augie when he needs her.

Lou and Treena (Katrina) from Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

My sister and I argued at length about whether Lou and Treena deserved to be on this list. She insisted they didn’t get along at all. Which is so not true. I mean they had their differences, Lou struggled with her complexes; Treena was clearly the smarter of the two. She (Treena) takes over Lou’s room and Lou resents that. But, but but — remember It was Treena who came up with the idea of Lou taking Will on those trips. She also supports Lou’s decision to accompany Will.

Sam and Patrick in The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky

How many brother-sister duos do you see hanging out together in school? That should be proof enough of Sam and Patrick’s closeness. These step-siblings stick close together, they watch football together, they party together and are privy to each- other’s secrets.

Margot and Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by
Jenny Han

I am still feeling a little bad for leaving out Kitty. After all it was she who started off the whole sequence of events and was aroundmore often. However Margot and Lara Jean’s relationship is more mature. I loved their skype conversations and the way Margot advises Lara Jean. Oh they have their differences but Margot is there for Lara Jean when she really needs her. And that’s what matters in the end. Also, in the third book when Lara Jean tries to break up with she is mimicking Margot – that’s the kind of influence Margot has on her.

Alex and June from Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

The first son and daughter of the United States, Alex and June, are another one of my favourite siblings. Alex revels in his mom’s position as the President of the United States. He aims to be a politician himself and loves the hubbub of her office. June, on the other hand, wants to be a journalist, and likes to distance herself just a little bit from it all. What I love about them is that they’re different and yet they are able to connect just as perfect siblings should.

For my last two I’m picking up two books I loved by Indian authors.

Zoya and Zorawar from The Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan

If you haven’t read this delightfully Indian cocktail of cricket, advertising and superstition with a dash of romance and Shah Rukh Khan, well then, your life is incomplete. Zoya and Zoravar are absolutely adorable. He calls her ‘Gaalu’ for her cubby cheeks and she says, ‘Basically, Zoravar’s thing in life is to make fun of me.’ That sums up their relationship.

Diya and Anu from Hot Chocolate is Thicker Than Blood by Rupa
Gulab

This one’s another delightful set of chalk and cheese siblings. Diya is the older sister, the good girl with straight As and just as straight silky hair while Anu is the one who’s perpetually in detention with curly hair (that grows horizontally). And that makes her certain she’s adopted. They sisters bond over cups of hot chocolate and it doesn’t really matter if one of them is adopted because after all hot chocolate is thicker than blood. I really must do a proper review of this one.

Even as I’m hitting publish I have a feeling I’ve left some out. So tell me which ones are your favourite.