Partners in Crime by Alisha Rai

Mira Chaudhary is tired of using Hema aunty’s matchmaking services. When nothing seems to be going her way, she hears of her aunt’s demise. And who else but her former boyfriend, Naveen Desai, is assigned the matter of settling her aunt’s will?

Soon, Mira and Naveen get caught up in a case of stolen jewels and must work together to keep their heads above water.

Image Courtesy – Goodreads

I’ve read The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai before, and it was plenty entertaining. While the same can be said about Partners in Crime, I couldn’t connect with the two main characters’ storylines.

It could be because a lot of the important details of their backstory are only revealed much later in the book. And these details are crucial to understanding why Mira and Naveen are the people they are in the present.

The writing is a good mix of dialogue and description.

You can clearly understand from the beginning how both Naveen and Mira haven’t had any closure; some part of them is still pining for the other. That sets the foundation for what’s to come.

I hadn’t read the synopsis of the book. So in the beginning, I would not have thought that the story would take the turn it did with the whole kidnapping and stolen jewel element.

The twists and turns up until the end were interesting; they kept my attention from wavering.

But I would’ve preferred for the ending to have been a bit more believable. There are two significant revelations there that change everything you’ve come to know about the plot. It felt unnecessarily dramatic.

There’s a lot going on in this novel. Indian matchmaking, art auctions, fake jewels, car chases, hacking, unknown mafia gangs, etc.

You might enjoy the book depending on what you expect from it. Want a light-hearted read where you don’t have to think too much? By all means, go for it.

Want to be able to connect with the characters and find some meaning in the story? Maybe, pass on this one.

I didn’t like reading Partners in Crime as much as I was hoping to.

Note – I received an ALC of this book from Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

It’s been decades since the horrific events at The Overlook Hotel that left Dan Torrance with a dead father and recurring visits from the ghosts of the past. Now, struggling with alcoholism, Dan is a wanderer.

When his paths cross that of Abra Stone, a 13-year-old with the shining, he gets involved in a battle against The True Knot, a monstrous cult targeting children with the shine.

This sequel to The Shining left me underwhelmed in some ways but also engaged because of the plot. While the first book is unsettling and creepy (which I loved!), Doctor Sleep is more of a mildly gory and adventurous novel.

The writing is still reminiscent of King’s detail-oriented approach and focuses on bringing out his characters’ internal conflicts. This comes across beautifully in how we see the story through Dan’s eyes.

Copyright © 2022 Meera Nair

Dan’s struggles are quite different from that of his father, Jack. While Jack Torrance had a fury he couldn’t work through, Dan indulges in alcohol because of how it dulls his shining.

That said, there were many passages and many chapters where my interest in the book kept dipping.

I appreciated the fact that the author doesn’t try to make Dan seem like a morally clean character. His experience at The Overlook during his childhood has changed him in more ways than one.

The fun begins when Abra first makes contact with Dan. Gradually, he realizes that he needs to channel his powers to help her.

Their bond goes on to form a rock-solid pillar that Dan uses to gain more strength. In joining hands with her, he becomes to Abra what Dick (Hallorann) was to Dan. I really enjoyed reading the scenes where Abra, Dan, and the team would work together to defeat The True Knot.

Speaking of, The True Knot has been portrayed to be this vampiric group of people with none of the poise or elegance that vampires are known to possess in pop culture.

Abra’s characterisation and her powers are truly a breath of fresh air, transforming the dreary nature of the story into one with more hope.

Were The True Knot a strong enough antagonist that there had to be an internal and external force actively chipping away at their efforts? I don’t know. But it was a nice touch!

The last quarter is easily the most immersive part of the novel, where the plot progression picks up speed.

Even though The Shining will remain my favourite Stephen King novel, there are a few reasons why I would recommend Doctor Sleep – Dan’s story, the action-adventure plot, and Abra’s involvement.

I’m planning to pick up the book Misery next. I’ll be sure to go into it without any expectations of encountering a creepy story.

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Carrie Soto will not let her blood, sweat, and tears of decades go to waste. When her tennis record of the most number of Grand Slam titles is about to be broken by Nicki Chan, Carrie decides to hit a pause on her retirement and get back in the game for one last time.

Copyright © 2022 Meera Nair

This was my second Taylor Jenkins Reid book, and I am beginning to see why her stories are so popular.

The writing in this novel is heavy with tennis lingo and details. From match sequences to Carrie’s training with her dad, there’s a lot about tennis that you get to know by reading Carrie Soto is Back.

Initially, I wasn’t a fan of this. But as Carrie’s journey unfolds across chapters, I became more invested in knowing more about her. Her characterisation is what held my attention.

She is relentless in her pursuit of success, doesn’t bother to please people, and can be quite heartless at times. It’s not often that you see such ruthless protagonists at the helm of a contemporary novel, and I really liked that aspect of the novel.

The narrative follows a non-linear structure. It starts with the present and, with each alternative chapter, explores Carrie’s growth as a tennis player right from her tweens.

With a sports-themed story, the vibe can be extremely competitive, and I wanted to see if the author doubles down on the rivalry between women athletes for the sake of tension.

While it is in Carrie’s nature to consider herself far superior, I was pleased to see the healthy competition between her and Nicki by the end. The way their interactions have been crafted left a far better impression on my mind than I’d thought.

The role Javier Soto, her father, plays in her life is one of the most heartwarming things about the book. He is incredibly supportive and forgiving, even when she is cruel and abandons him. I am keen to see more such parent figures in books.

I think the ending couldn’t have been more perfect. Carrie has come such a long way by that last match that it completely unpacks her misbelief and helps her embrace a sense of peace that had been lacking in her life for decades.

On the whole, I liked reading Carrie Soto is Back (not more than Malibu Rising, though!). But I prefer watching television series about athletes (such as Twenty-Five Twenty-One) rather than reading books about them.

That said, I love Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing style, so I will most certainly be picking up more of her works.

Note – I received an ALC of this book from Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed’s autobiographical book is a staunch reminder of the inner strength that we all carry.

At the age of 26, reeling from various turbulent emotions and personal losses, the author set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail without any prior training or experience in undertaking such physical challenges.

Being a homebody, you can imagine how far out of my comfort zone something like a hike is.

Copyright © 2022 Meera Nair

I picked up this nonfiction book because I’m always in awe of people who challenge themselves and attempt to achieve mind over matter. Wild is a beautiful example of this.

The writing is detailed, weaving the author’s journey over the course of several months along with events from her past that have shaped her.

So you’re not just reading about the progress she makes each day, the setbacks she’s had to face, but also about her relationship with her family, and the extent to which she has felt lost in life.

A lot of the happenings in the author’s life have been written matter-of-factly. They don’t come across as a plea for sympathy.

Although I’m not familiar with the mountainous terrain in the US, I didn’t find the narrative to be overwhelming at all. What I was able to take away from it all is oodles of inspiration.

Moreover, because I listened to the audiobook as well, the somewhat information-heavy bits were easier to get through.

It’s interesting to know the mindset the author has had throughout the journey, from second-guessing herself to persevering in the face of dire consequences.

If you can’t stomach gore or gruesome details, you might want to reconsider reading this book. A few physical injuries have been described in ways that could possibly be disturbing to some readers.

I don’t know much about the Pacific Crest Trail outside of what’s in this book, so I can’t comment on how accurate a portrayal the writing is of the entire experience. I’m sure there are hikers who have covered that in their book reviews.

The reason why I would recommend Wild is that it is a motivating, insightful secondhand glimpse of a unique journey that the author embarked on.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Rosemary can’t believe her luck when a house in the Bramford becomes available just when she and her husband, Guy Woodhouse, are above to move into a new place. Despite her guardian’s warnings about the ill reputation Bramford has garnered over the years, they get settled in.

Image Courtesy – Goodreads

Within a few days, Rosemary begins noticing a change in Guy and her neighbours too become oddly invested in the pair.

A short read, perfect for the fall season with Halloween nearing closer, Rosemary’s Baby has been on my horror books TBR for a couple of years.

I was intrigued by the narrative and the glimpse of what seemed like an ordinary couple, so I read the entire book in one sitting.

Ira Levin’s writing is not too descriptive but strikes a balance between that and dialogue so as to propel the story forward. There’s a lot more showing rather than telling, which I like too!

I wouldn’t say this is a “scare the living daylights out of you” kind of horror novel. It has more of a slow-building dread vibe to it.

In all likelihood, you’d have figured out what’s going on at Bramford. And seeing Rosemary trapped just makes you more apprehensive.

There’s sufficient foreshadowing that just about kept my curiosity piqued, but I would’ve preferred for some hints to not have been revealed earlier in the novel as that made the revelation predictable.

Guy Woodhouse is an abhorrible character. There’s a scene wherein he brushes off the idea of marital rape as “being fun”. It is elaborated on, so be mindful of that before you pick up the novel.

Although, I wonder why at least some of these negative traits in Guy weren’t apparent in the beginning. This was probably a plot device to alienate Rosemary further and heighten the impact of her plight.

Lastly, something I picked up on was the religious theme in the book. Guy and Rosemary are portrayed as being agnostic. Was there a reason for pointing that out specifically, and then having them go through a transformation? You can also make out that Rosemary hasn’t lost all faith in divinity as she claims to have. This would make for an interesting discussion point.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book. Even if the ending wasn’t what I’d hoped for it to be, I’ll definitely pick up the sequel.