The Cookie Crumbles | Tracy Badua & Alechia Dow


Coming June 11th, 2024 from Quill Tree Publishing; 320 pages

Content Warning: Mention of (attempted) murder, mention of the death of a parent  

About the Authors: 

“Tracy Badua is an award-winning Filipino American author of books about young people with sunny hearts in a sometimes stormy world. According to her grandmother, Tracy inherited this love of the written word from her great-grandfather, a school teacher in the Philippines. To Tracy, this means writing is in her blood, and she continues this family tradition by telling stories with her own spin in an accessible, heartfelt way. By day, she is an attorney who works in national housing policy and programs, and by night, she squeezes in writing, family time, and bites of her secret stash of candy. School and work brought her from California to Washington, DC, and back, and she now lives in San Diego, California, with her family” (Bio from Tracy Badua’s website).

Find Tracy Badua on the following platforms:

“Alechia Dow is a former pastry chef, librarian, and award-winning author of several acclaimed stories: The Sound of Stars, The Kindred, A Song of Salvation, Just a Pinch of Magic, and The Cookie Crumbles which she co-authored with Tracy Badua. When not writing, you can find her having epic dance parties with her family, baking, reading, and exploring her local food scene” (Bio from Alechia Dow’s website). 

Find Alechia Dow on the following platforms:

“There’s nowhere you can’t go. Nothing you can’t do.”

Described as a combination of The Great British Bake Off and Knives Out, this middle-grade novel follows bestfriends Laila and Lucy who are desperate to attend esteemed boarding school Sunderland Academy that is known for creating the most successful individuals in any field, from journalism to baking. Laila, who has loved baking since she was a child, knows the only way she can continue going to school with her best friend is by winning a competition and the full-ride scholarship Sunderland is offering. Lucy, on the other hand, has secured her position as a promising journalist and is invited to report the outcome of the competition in order to apply for a Sunderland scholarship. When a judge collapses during the competition after tasting Laila’s cookie showpiece, all signs point to foul play. Now, Laila and Lucy must work together to identify the real culprit before anyone else gets hurt.

While I loved many things about this book, there were a few choices the authors made that took away from my enjoyment of the story. My primary issue is with the pacing and flow of the storyline. Inserted between chapters were journal entries from Laila and Lucy, which, while entertaining, seemed to interrupt the main story. The timeline was also confusing and difficult to follow since it was out of chronological order. I also found the characters to be a bit juvenile for their ages. Despite being a middle grade story, some of their actions felt more representative of people younger than the intended ages of twelve to fourteen. On the other hand, I very much enjoyed how both main characters were fleshed out in their chapters. Laila and Lucy, though incredibly different, were equally well-developed, which can be difficult to do when there are two authors writing different characters. I also think the murder mystery was maintained well through the story and isn’t necessarily obvious. There are plenty of red herrings planted throughout the story that can lead readers to a false conclusion, which is always fun in mysteries! The reveal and the subsequent explanation of their motive made sense, which is always a necessity when writing a good mystery. Overall, I think this book is one that will entice a lot of young mystery readers and fans of cozy novels. 

The Cookie Crumbles releases on June 11th, 2024.

Pine Reads Review would like to thank Books Forward and Quill Tree Publishing for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.

Vanshikha Vij, Pine Reads Review Writer