Thursday, April 16, 2015

And We Remained by Asad Ali Junaid

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Time Travel...
Writers are very blessed. With a few strokes of a pen or jamming on a keyboard one can time travel. Reliving your memories of the days bygone makes one think of all the hits and misses that one has experienced in life. This story is like a two-way street, in which the author makes us travel back and forth, throughout the novel. The excitement of a college life, the fears, the tribulations all turn out to be the background of this story.

The characters came to life...
The author has not restricted the POV to the protagonist. It's almost like small patches woven together to make a quilt. Warm, fuzzy and very relatable. How many of us can truly say that college life is only our experience? Youth is selfless and as a result it shapes the person not for what he or she has done but what has been done to him or her. Sahir Hasan had experienced all these things in his college life which has shaped him to be the man he was  in his 30s. Each chapter is the POV of one of the friends and all culminate to project their college days.

Some cuts are too deep...
One bad experience can take over your life. Here too there was such a case which could have really spoiled the lives of all those involved. But young hearts heal very quickly. 

"We stopped imagining eyes following and whispers behind our backs wherever we went. Our limp stopped showing. Our bruises turned from red to purple and then merged with the colour of our skin."

A Soft Love Story...
What is a campus story without a love story? The story of Wardha, Sahir and Sandeep has been woven across the many educational, social activities, political activities that goes on inside a college campus. No words or emotions has been exchanged between these three characters but the underlining emotion of love has been beautifully portrayed. The ending has been unexpected too.....

Unusual technique of writing...
'It's different' certainly not a cliche in this novel. The author has mixed various styles of writing in which not only the actions of the protagonists but also the thoughts move the story forward. While many people are talking about the email method used in the story. I found another technique very amusing. Shall I call it 'the look' technique?

Me: "What??? You can't be serious!!!" look.
Sahir: Still the "Should I???" look.
Sahir: "All good with you???" look.
Me:"Why do you care…???" look.
Now some of you might find it "breaking the rules", but I found it rather entertaining.


1. Keeping up with too many characters got confusing at some point of time. 

2. Growth of the characters did not keep up with the time frame of the story. Sahir did not mature much as a character. I can overlook the email chats between friends. I am sure most of us, when we meet our college friends, are more willing to talk about what we did in college rather than about our bread and butter. But Sahir's character affected me the most since he came across as the responsible one- till his thoughts about Wardha, after a 15 years of gap, emerged. He was still thinking in those lines !! Or is it the beginning of another story? Time will tell :)

 Note to the author: 
OK pardon me.. This is the voice of a married woman, who expects her hubby to behave when he sees his ex-girlfriend and not do a slow dance. The same law does not apply to married women. :)

Would I Recommend This Book..
A very bieezy read that will entertain you. And Time Travel is the addes bonus..:) How can you not think of your college days when you read such stories.

Line that stayed with me:
It was at that moment – seeing her unkept hair and a crumpled dress with a cast on her leg, helpless and hurt in the hospital – she went from being attractive to beautiful.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hidden Passion By Summerita Rhayne

Click on the Picture to Check out the Book Details
Historical genre is one of my favorite genres. Having devoured Barbara Cartland,Anna Campbell, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn and Sarah Maclean, I was a bit skeptical when I got this book for review from the Author, Summerita Rhayne. I was all prepared for a demure heroine and a lot of  'priye', 'pitashri' and 'mrignayani' thrown in. For those who are wondering what the words mean, its 'love', 'Father' and 'Doe-eyes' respectively. And before any of you snicker, the regency novels are full of them too. But somehow we have made it into a joke in our Indian genre. So I promised myself to read this with an open mind and accept the fact that there was a time when people did use these words.

Sizzling Chemistry..
"She had an impulse to trace those planes and angles. His mouth.... she blushed at the thought of how it might feel to have it touch her. She was an innocent as princesses were expected to be."
.... and thank god she isn't. She is spunky, knows her mind and is a rebellion. All the ingredients I like in a girl (except in my daughter..PJ) Rukmini is portrayed as girl who follows her heart. She is depicted as an huntress, seductress and above all a woman who can fight her own battle. She had me lusting after Devesh and mock Pala, one of her suitors. I applauded when she questioned her father regading her marriage.  Her words,
"I select everything I own myself, my clothes,my jewellery. Why can't you allow me to choose the man I wish to marry?"  
The above line shows very clearly that her upbringing had been very forward compared to those days yet marriage is one space where she is not given the rights. Why?

Social Standings

From time immemorial, we have given too much importance to the social standing of a person. Easier said than done for everyone wants a better life their children. Suppressing my bourgeoisie mentality as I read about Devesh, I could very well see her attraction for him. His rise from a farmer to being a king can be a very interesting subject, if the author had so wished to explore.  But keeping it in the lines of the romance, he cuts a dashing figure as lover, friend, king and a savior of his tribe. 

Do Away with the Society

Having read all the books of Summerita Rhayne, I see a growth in her writing. Her writing is tighter, her characters are well placed and the most of her secondary characters come when they need to without boring explanations as to why they are needed. In this genre, it is very easy to spread out, to make your imagination run wild. But reigning those thoughts and keeping the focus on the protags makes historical romances different from Historical fictions.

Kiss Formula

Keep you dirty minds away. I don't mean that they keep on kissing. The author has literally followed the Keep it Simple Stupid style. The princess who knows what she wants, the King who is bound between love and duty and a conflict will they or won't they. You cannot go wrong with this formula. So if you are looking for your world to change after reading this book, please don't. But a few hours of a beautiful romance and a cuppa is definitely guaranteed. 


Well researched, well edited and well presented. The author has taken time to do a bit of research of the clothes worn durig those times. The ambiance has been set right and the romance is sizzling.

Would I recommend this Book?

If you love only Romance - No. But if you are a lover of Historical Romance.- A Must Read. 

The Saying That Stayed With Me

"You've been a wanderer too long. Your spirit rebels against settling down even when your heart compels it But tell yourself, you aren't tying yourself down if you follow your heart.  You're only on a new adventure ....."

Monday, March 30, 2015

He Fixed The Match She Fixed Him by Shikha Kumar

Name of the Book : He Fixed The Match She Fixed Him
Author: Shikha Kumar
Check the synopsis @ Goodreads
Buy at @
Disclaimer: I got this book to review from The Author.

Are marriages made in heaven?
Everytime a girl is born, the first thought that crosses a mother's mind is that will she get married or will she be happy after marriage? Sandhya and Mahesh thought the same thing when Shreya was born. But Shreya had a past and even with her educational background they could not find a groom for her.

Marriage – the all and end all of our society.
So when one day out of the blue, the Kholis  get a call from the Kharbandas, asking for Shreya's hand in marriage – there was no dearth of happiness in Shreya's household.

Girls as a commodity.
Recently, I was watching some old flick in the Netflix, when a blind girl was asked to sing and dance in front of the prospective groom and his parents, I felt like banging my head on the TV. But that would have been a bit expensive, so I satisfied myself by switching off the television. So  I was dreading the scene, when the girl was supposed to meet the boy, But, the treatment of this whole boy-meets-girl was done with great respect and never was the girl put up as a commodity. As a reader and a woman I appreciate that.

When past overshadows the present.
Both Shreya and Kunal had a past. A past which was intermingled and had created a very unusual present for them. It is here, where as the reader I started getting lost. To give the writer her due credit, I must say she has beautifully woven the past and present. But there is one major flaw in the story. Even when Shreya comes to know what Kunal was all about – why did she keep her mouth shut? Was she going through a Pati Parameswaran syndrome? And even if she is, why did not Kunal realize it even once that he is the one who had started the game? Shreya has not been portrayed as a village belle. Highly educated and very well-developed business acumen endowed personality should not be given this characteristic trait where she tolerates every nonsense metted out to her by a husband.

Is love this blind?
There was one part in the story, a very small part, when the guy asks the girl to undergo an eye surgery so that she doesn't have to wear specs again. In fact, he is very insistent about it and in many places, in the story, the appearance of the girl has been given a different shade of importance. I can understand the parents being worried that the guy might reject her on the basis of her looks. I can even understand a guy quietly pointing out that he does not like his wife wearing spectacles but what I cannot understand was when a highly educated girl accepts this condition meekly and even undergoes the surgery. What did I miss here? Isn't our society past this stage? If the author, would have slightly shifted away from physical beauty concept I would have given the story of five-star.

Sizzling chemistry.
The passion and the chemistry between Shreya and Kunal is palpable. Everytime they met, you could feel the vibrancy in the story. One can truly say that this was the USP of this novel. Whenever Shreya droned on the persona of a bussinesswoman, she presented what Indian women aspire for but at home she was a total Suraj Barjatiya heroine. 


1. Scenes like her figure being good for she is doing Yoga has been repeated many a times. 
"She was wearing a light green sari of net fabric: she had realised that her curves were in good shape, thanks to Yoga."
2. The feminist in me was really furious at the number of times Shreya meekly accepts whatever Kunal did to her on one side

3. Most of the characters are very well etched and even though the last four chapters stretched out in front of me and could have been condensed into a much shorter version, still it makes very interesting read. I feel the author has really justified the true meaning of marriage through Shreya's mom, Sandhya. Sandhya had every right to be furious. I just wish this thought process was of Shreya's rather than her moms. Then it would have made Shreya a complete woman.

Would I recommend this book?
Most definitely. In fact I would love to read more from this author for she really knows how to spin a tale.Many parts of this book is unputdownable.

The saying that stayed with me.
"Then she remembered another saying: 'when someone is determined to trouble you, make sure the troublemaker learns what trouble really means.'"

Monday, March 23, 2015

Twisted by Lola Smirnova

Name of the Book : Twisted
Author: Iola Smirnov
Check the synopsis @ Goodreads
Buy at @

Disclaimer: I got this book to review from Book Publicity Services

Statutory Warning
Before you read this review, please proceed with the understanding that this book is not for those who shy away from violence and sex. I don't review books which have erotic content in it. I have made an exception here out of choice.

Is money a very decisive factor in our lives? Sitting in our own cocoons we cannot nod our heads sagely and look down upon those who beg to differ. The first thing that strikes me about this story was the background in which it was written. The author has declared that this story has been inspired by real-life events. Someone who has seen sex trade by being a part of it. My curiosity was piqued by this bold statement for watching about it in the movies as to why a woman enters sex trade or why a man becomes an animal enough to degrade women to such an extent. This story is set in the 90s when Soviet Ukraine was going through a devastating depression due to its flattering economy. It was during this time, when three sisters,Natalia, Lena and Julia were forced to go to Luxembourg, Western Europe to make some quick money. 

Each one of us are born under different stars. While one sister was a strong one and could mange to come out of it with dignity, the second one was one of those who fell in love easily, got hurt easily and recovered easily. The story concentrates on the third sister Julia. As a character, I found Julia very contradictory. Her vulnerability was in constant battle with her sense of independence. It was definitely not good for her. As a reviewer, I don't want to judge the morality of her behaviour but the way the author has portrayed Julia's behaviour and the direct consequence her actions had on her life has some tear jerking moments.

I'm not apologising
Not one instance shows Julia as one who is sorry for choosing this path. She is drugged, abused, raped and betrayed. But after each incident she feels surprised and this is what surprises me. Did she not expect all these things to happen to her the moment she set her life into this path? Feminists out there may question me regarding my supporting a man for doing the things he does to Julia. I am not. In fact. I don't want to talk about any man featured in this story for they all come out like animals.

To quote Julia on her non-apologetic actions: 
"The only paradox that can't stop stirring in my head is why on earth am I so morally comfortable with what I'm doing? I do not feel ashamed or dirty because I'm a pro."

But then only those who can pocket the morality and can walk on this path has to have a part of the mind or heart locked up – not to be seen by strangers or even one's own conscious. It is only when we question if actions are good or bad, then only the fear of the "society" comes into our heart. But Julia was very clear when she had stepped into this world.

"What's more, this trade wouldn't be my first choice if there were other well-paid jobs available. Trust me, if teachers earned the same as sex traders, I would not hesitate to change my clientele from adults to the under aged."

With this attitude, who would have thought that she would have landed – where she ultimately lands.

Julia has never been portrayed as the weak, brainless character. She always knew where she was going and what she was doing. Yet some of the incidents she lands into, I keep on wondering as a woman, how she could not have seen it. How could she not understand that she was going to land up in danger or she was being cheated? Some of those moments are very heart-wrenching.

For the Bold
As I have already said, this book is not for those who are not comfortable with explicit sex scenes. But if you can wade through that you will find a story full of courage, coming of age and most of all f understand what happens when a person is unable to differentiate between the right and the wrong how members of the family stick together to support and guide the person towards light. The role the sisters played in Julia's life left me stunned Were they for real? Guiding her towards sex-trade and then bringing her out of it. It left me amazed at the bonding the sisters had. 

If it has to be based on morality I would have given it a one star. The girls were not pushed .. they made a choice. But this is a story which was told with a lot of elan and boldness and as a writer I can appreciate that. But some details were unnecessary. They made me want to throw up. Was it really needed .. not once but twice? Was it done for the effect to shock the reader? I understand the pain.. but it was a choice made by Julia.. so can I as a reader also have the same choice. Not read those puking parts? It was suddenly slammed on my face and believe me I had some tough time even to eat that day. Not fair on me.

Would I recommend it:
For those who have not read this kind of book, I would suggest stay away since there are some very puking moments in this one. But If you want to read about a real life story of a sex trade worker and anyone really can tell you a tale as it is then only it can be one who has seen it all. It takes guts and courage and as a reader I can respect that. As a woman all I can say is this book will give you some food for thought - to appreciate your own life. 

Line that stayed with me...

"I guess now I know that there is only one thing that can be worse than death, and that is to wait for it – the absolute certainty that your life is over while you're still breathing."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Breach by Amrita Chowdhury


Acel, a pharmaceutical company, has come out with a new wonder drug, Colare, that would cure last stage  metastatic pancreatic cancer. Here Amrita Chowdhury has introduced a glimpse of outsourcing and how much the Indian companies have to be on their toes to meet up with the prejudices and angst of their American counterparts. Andrew Rudd, the Head of Research at Acel Biosciences,  had a major peeve against Uday Vir Dhingra - the young leader in the Indian division. So it was on Vir's shoulder not only to prove them wrong but also to shoulder the pressure of introducing the new drug into the Indian market. 

And just as things were gaining momentum, a few weeks before the The US patents application was being filed, a hacker had infiltrated their system in the Indian branch.The story takes us in a journey along with Vir as he struggles to balance his professional and personal life.

Weaving Information Into The Story
Crime Thrillers are a difficult genre to write in. Especially cyber crimes. Not only should you be well researched, but you also have to weave the research material into the story. A very difficult thing to do. Few writers like Robin Cook have done a fabulous job by weaving medical terminologies into a story. 

Have cyber crimes writers achieved the same feat? 
This is one question that has been nagging me for a long time. Hacking, Denial of Service Attack, Easter Egg, Phishing, Spam Viruses or simple Email hooks have always interested me. No I am not a hacker. As Amrita says even with all her research she could not hack her child's IPhone, I too am sailing in the same boat :D 
The Book starts with a lot of info about the world of hacking, introducing the characters and various scenes from all over the world. So by the time I could settle in Maryland, I was boarding a flight to China. So while I did feel the novel was fast paced, but injecting 'bytes' of information in every page slowed me down. And I so wanted to catch the hacker. :P

Romance in the Cyber world
There are two parallel romances taking place but strangely the romance which stayed with me was not the two main romances but  a third one. That of the Sandman. I could feel his loneliness and need to be appreciated and loved. the way Ms. Chowdhury has drawn the world of a lonely man using very few words, is commendable. Though this was not the focus of the story, it did carve a place for itself. 

Emotional Turmoils
Emotions play a subtle role in this story. The corporate world with all its dangers is shown as a 'no personal life zone'.Yet, the way a son cries for his dying mom or the growing tensions between two lovers that is showcased in between adds a soft padding this story required. Or it would have been a Dummies for Hacker series.

A few Loose ends
The love story of Vir and Diti needs a more passionate ending. Leaving it our imagination was not fair :D In fact, both the romances did not seem to have reached its destination at all. Whether it was intentional or not I have no clue; but as a reader I certainly would like to see all the ends neatly tied up. 

The Guessing Game
The biggest USP of a crime thriller is its 'whodunnit' game. I love playing this game and sometimes I do get a thrill of guessing it earlier than the author intended me to find out. I won. be fair, I peaked into the last page. :P

My Love in This story
Hold your breath .. not the HERO.. but Sandman. Was it because his emotions were naked, volatile and one could easily see this passionate disposition? Or was it because suave Vir was more into hiding his feelings? 

And Another ..
Madhu. I personally felt the author has let go of her emotions when she wrote about Sandman and Madhu. I really wish she had done the same with Diti and Vir. 

A few misses. But can be ignored. They don't affect the flow of the story nor make a reader become a grammar Nazi. 


1. Too much information at the beginning. I was totally caught up in the second half of the story. But before that I had to wade through many oft repeated information. 

For eg. 
Pg.2 : A wonder drug to cure late-stage metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Pg 18:  For the first time in the history of Acel, it was doing multi country research for his new dream drug for treating late-stage and metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Page 38: Colare, the latest wonder product in Acel's stable of biotech solutions,was about to be launched. 

2. Emotions take a backseat against the plot. I was almost cheering for the hacker. Though Vir was the tensed one, his emotions are over shadowed by the stories of the hackers. 

3. There are many small stories in this novel, woven together to make the characters reach the same spot. A Jodi Picoult/ Sidney Sheldon/ Harold Robbins Kind. But the weaving here could have been a bit more subtle. I wanted to know the characters better before I was pushed into another scene. 

As I end my review here with the writer's very words..'Knowledge was power, Power was responsibility.'I must comment on the impeccable research done my Ms. Chowdhury. She has shown hacking in all its glory and yet not glorified it. That that is exactly what makes this story so interesting.

A Touch of Humor keeps a reader smiling :)

Sunny Singh, Proprietor
Jasoos Detective Agency Private Limited. 

Would I recommend this? Most Definitely. This book clearly shows how our Indian readers and writers are entering Cyber Thrillers. This might be Ms.Chowdhury's first cyber crime thriller but she is definitely on her way in mastering it. A must read.

Amrita Chowdhury

The Blurb

How secure are your secrets in the virtual world?  Weeks before pharma-giant Acel is ready to file a global patent application for cancer wonder-drug Colare, its offshore data centre in Mumbai is hacked. The charismatic, young leader of its Indian business, Dr Udai Vir Dhingra, finds himself being blamed for negligence and breach of security. Battling market pressures, media scrutiny, livid American bosses and crumbling relationships, Vir must find the perpetrators, or see his career – and his life – spiral downwards. But the deeper he gets dragged into the shadowy world of masked online identities and muddied digital footprints, the more Vir discovers that nothing is easy or obvious, and everything has a price. Set across Mumbai, Washington and Guangzhou, Breach is a compelling and edgy cyber thriller that explores the dark and dangerous underbelly of our increasingly virtual existence

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Meet the Author

Amrita Verma Chowdhury is the author of Faking It, an art crime thriller about fake modern and contemporary Indian art.
She holds engineering degrees from IIT Kanpur and UC Berkeley, where she was a Jane Lewis Fellow, and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon (Tepper Business School). Her work as an engineer in Silicon Valley led to seven US patents for semi-conductor fabrication – something to show for those bad-haired days. She has done Strategy Consulting and Board Effectiveness work in the US and Australia and has spent long nights fitting five-syllable words inside two-by-two squares. She has worked in the rarefied bastions of Ivy League education bringing together ideas and people. She currently works in publishing.
She lives in Mumbai with her husband Sumit, their two children Shoumik and Aishani, and an assortment of pets including a cocker spaniel, a guinea pig and two turtles. She loves travelling, baking cupcakes with her daughter and hearing from her readers.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Wrong, For The Right Reasons by Ritu Lalit


From the beginning, Ritu Lalit draws us into the world of Shyamoli. She represents all those Indian women who leave their home after their marriage and steps into an unknown territory. Ritu Lalit had started the story very aptly by quoting lines from the famous Star Trek, "to boldly go where no man has gone before." It's just very ironic that today I use this quote – the day Capt. Spock has left us all to meet the Almighty.

As you travel along with Shyamoli, you feel the pain as she subjected to the insensitivity of her husband, Manav as he continues to have liaisons with his ex-girlfriend, Nimmi. The strange part was when instead of sympathizing with Shyamoli both the mother-in-law and her own mother did not support her. The mother-of-law I can understand, but what shocked me was the behavior of the mother. But then, come to think of it, it should not have shocked me. There are hundreds of such cases where a girl is literally considered an outsider as soon as she changes her surname. We would love to think that the trend is changing, but it isn't.


I could relate to this story a lot. Many relationships have been at play in this small novel. The relationships between a mother and daughter, a son and a mother, amongst friends and between strangers. Shyamoli had a very tough relationship with the mother. Her yearning to please her mother is very heart wrenching. There is also a saying in India, 'there is no greater enemy of a woman then a woman herself' and this quote has been proven right every time a Shyamoli is born to a mother like hers. Ritu Lalit has brought out changing facets of ideologies that a woman has to face in her journey from being married to being divorced.

Each character that Shyamoli meets contributes to her growth. Whether it is Jaya auntie or her daughter, Uma. Another relationship which creeped me out was that of Shyamoli with her brother, Varun. How could such a simple relationship become so complex just because some amount of money is involved? Agreed, that like Shyamoli, I too am being naïve. But it does leave a feeling of distaste when you come across such relationships. Ritu Lalit on her part has done a wonderful job in giving every character a perfect role in her story.

The only thing that I found as a reader in this story was the number of characters in there. I understand the need for Gul's character but a mention of her relatives in such details was sometimes confusing. I won't call the characterizations misplaced but maybe a tad overdone.

I love this concept. Did Uma deserve what Shyamoli did to her? I'm not into moral policing. To some extent, Uma deserved everything that happened to her. But it did paint a tinge of grey shade on Shyamoli’s personality? However, I loved the way Ritu Lalit boldly presented Shyamoli at that point of time. Frankly speaking, presenting your protagonist in such a light takes guts.


This story will question your perspectives at every angle. Some may sympathize to what happened to the mother and some might sympathize of how Uma ended up with the looser. Some might call Shyamoli overambitious or a drama queen but whatever she did, she did with a lot of elegance.

There is much to learn from this story. It was not only a woman's struggle to provide a good home for her children but also about a woman searching for her feminism. Feminism is not something that makes you depended on others, take a placard and fight for your rights. To me it stands for the strength that drives you to face even the adverse situation. Shyamoli depicted every facet of feminism throughout the story. As daughter, a mother, a businessperson and a lover.

This style of writing is very humorous. Even though Shyamoli was going through a very bad phase, there was not a moment when I felt like pitying her. It was her sense of humor that made her face every situation.

"Prawpurly inbested," Mrs. Ghosh said, flustered by Mr.Singh's rapt gaze and stopped. She sipped some water and sand again, "properly invested, the sum is sufficient."

The above line, when I read suddenly, literally made me hear that dialect. Similarly, the whole story has a splatter of humor injected here and there.

This manuscript is not without flaws. A few punctuations here and there and a few errors with scenes have been noted. But one thing I have to mention here is from the time the blog tour has started and when other reviewers like Janaki Nagaraj have pointed this out, the author has made an attempt to correct those errors and informed the reviewers. This makes us feel good for at the end of the day the selling and marketing are just a very small part of writing. This makes all our reviews feel justified.


The story was soul touching and heartfelt. Shyamoli represented the highs and lows every woman faces in a marriage. Her struggles and victories is a ray of light for all those struggling women out there. I loved the way she was not portrayed as a Miss. Goodie Two Shoes. The boldness of her character is very refreshing. The only problems that I had were the badgering of characters one after the other which could have been taken down by a few notches.

A must read. 

Lovely Lines

"My decision was made years ago, to only be mother to the kids I’d birthed, I can’t mother a husband too".---*the bitch inside me snickered. 

"Call it sour grapes or whatever, but when people talk about life abroad as though it was a huge adventure, I don’t get the point.  They can come and live mine; it’s more exciting and stressful." -- the bitch retreated. :D

For The Right Reasons
Ritu Lalit

The Blurb

Shyamoli Verma’s timing is wrong. In her late twenties, she finds that her marriage is irrevocably broken. She comes back to her parents with her pre-teen son and an infant daughter, only to find that she is unwelcome. 

Independent and brash, she decides to bring up her children and also get a divorce without any support from friends and family. 

Written with wry self deprecating humour, this is the story of a divorced woman's quest for love and security.

Buy @

The Story Told In Pictures 

Meet the Author

Ritu Lalit is a corporate slave turned fiction writer. A voracious reader, she is a gold medalist post graduate in English Literature who spent most of her childhood in remote areas in the northeastern parts of India, lying on grassy hillsides daydreaming and reading books.

She loves spinning tales, but no longer has her captive audience as her children grew up and flew away from the coop. Her three dogs don’t pay much attention. She began writing in the vain hope that the characters she creates will listen to her, even do her bidding.

She has five books out in the market, A Bowlful of Butterflies, HILAWI, Chakra, Chronicles of the Witch Way and Wrong, for the Right Reasons. Her fifth novel, His Father’s Mistress is coming soon.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

She Loves Me- He Loves Me Not by Zeenat Mahal


When I got this book from Indireads, I was pretty excited. I have read Haveli by Zeenat Mahal and really loved her play with characters. She builds her characters up throughout the story. Here too we started with a love stuck girl, Zoella. Then her family problems are introduced along with her talents and by the end of the story not only is she married, she has a glamorous career too. A fairy tale in the true sense. 

The story starts with a beautiful scenario of kite flying. The atmosphere has been well created and every time they shouted 'Bo Kata', I too wanted to join in. We do have such scenes in India during the spring festival, Basant,  Makar Sankranti and on Indian Independence Day. That feeling of kite flying has to be experienced to even imagine it.  Zeenat must have had some such beautiful experiences in life which she has echoed in her writings. 

This story is about relationships. Not just between the husband and wife but also the parents. Many of you might feel that the role of the parents are given too much importance in this short love-story. But form the culture we come from, they are. All our love, fights and emotions are co-related and Zeenat has done a fabulous job is taking us through the journey of Zoella's household. 

The Story

A young girl gets married under strange circumstances. Though Zoella was in love with Fardeen from the time she had set her eyes on him, he on the other hand hardly knew of her existence. Zeenat brings this out very cutely when he tries to remember her name at the beginning itself. But again as in all love stories, Fate plays her role and the story of the Beauty and the Beast starts. 

Fardeen too feels the effects of a forced marriage though he does end up with a better deal at the end of the bargain. But now, his heart too is captured by this Florence Nightingale in his life; and he wanted to have a fresh start with her. But Zoella had been insulted too many times. Now her heart has closed up against his love. Will he be able to revive it?


When things stopped for a bit....

Zeenat took us from scene to scene with an ease. The back drop of the story created a lot of visualisation for us as a reader. If I stick to only Fardeen's and Zoella's love-story then I would say that there is nothing new. In fact, it just formed the basic skeletal of the story and the main theme was 'Family Matters'. The secondary characters were too powerful. Swaba dominated the scenes and at places Zoella ended up looking like a country bumpkin. Lines like, "Every passing day, she withdrew more into herself and distanced herself further from the rest of them." were repeated to show the relationship between the two protag. Was the repetition needed? It was the totally the secondary characters who carried the story to the next level. All I saw was Fardeen being the cold guy and Zoella being the good wife. Take two: Zoella being the cold woman and Farhaan trying to have sex with her. 

I found the story moving forward after Zoella became stronger. There were moments when the feminist in me found Fardeen a huge MCP but then I suppose all our Macho characters are. What this story lacked are incidents between the characters. Most of the incidents involved the secondary characters. Did Fardeen and Zoella do anything else besides baiting each other? 

Besides the above said line, I found no fault with the editing of the story. The grammar was impeccable as is with all Indireads stories.  

The Role They Played ....

All the depicted characters of this book are well etched. Zoella's mom is the epitome of 'majboor' moms. (Dependent moms) that are scattered all over our societies. All their lives they work hard for their family and in the end they have to spend blurting out dialogues like “Daughters are daughters. No daughter-in-law can ever come close.” Such a cliche from the perspective of a daughter-in-law. :P But then this is exactly what happens and Zeenat has brought this about well. 

All the other characters are very distinct. Ami, Swaba, Salaar and of course Fardeen and Zoella all have a voice of their own.  Except Neha. I personally felt Neha as a vamp was a bit forced. She reached everywhere they landed. How? Who was her informer? 

As they spoke ....

This is truly Zeenat's forte. Her dialogues are really superb and witty and more than the plot of her story, binds the readers to the story. I simply loved the interaction between Zoella and Fardeen in the little seduction scene played out by Zoella. "Seduction isn’t as easy as you’d think, and I’ve never done it before.”  - this dialogue was hilarious. 

The sense of camaraderie between Zoella and her in laws was really well portrayed. 

Beauty and the Beast ?

Now this is one question that makes me always stop and ponder. What is an original story? Shakespeare lived in the good ole' days :D But yes if you must dissect this story - theme was not original but the treatment of the story was. 

A contemplative Thought 

"A husband’s regard was crucial in their hypocritical society, and knowing that, Fardeen had made sure her family knew that he valued her. Not that she needed validation from any man."

I loved the word - hypocritical. 

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