Sunday, 30 September 2012

Tender Hooks (aka Duty Free) by Moni Mohsin

Title : Tender Hooks / Duty Free
Author : Moni Mohsin
Publisher : Randon House India / Random House UK, 2011 / 2012
Pages : 256
Genre : Fiction / Chick lit / Satire
My Rating : 9/10
Reviewed For : Chicklit Club
"Duty Free" (originally released as "Tender Hooks") is a follow-up to Moni Mohsin's "The Diary of a Social Butterfly". Honestly, I had not read "The Diary of a Social Butterfly" & I picked up its sequel on a whim!! And after reading the first page, I was bewildered, because the author had written it in a style, that was full of malaprops. Now if you look up for the meaning of "malaprop" in a dictionary, it says - The unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one that sounds similar. But once you start this book, you will realise that Mohsin has "intentionally" filled the narration with misspellings and used a language that is a cross between English & Urdu. But that, my dear friend, is the most enjoyable part of this novel,undoubtedly. At the beginning, it is a bit difficult to understand, but as you start getting the hang of it, you will clearly fall for it hook, line & sinker...
So meet Butterfly, our unnamed heroine, who is the quintessential privileged class with an absolute preoccupation for designer labels in Lahore, Pakistan. This novel is in the form of diary entries (something which reminds you of Bridget Jones but let me assure you that the similarity ends here) narrating the peppered happenings of her life – from her bore “Oxen” (read: Oxford educated) husband to the overblown kitty parties & wedding season to the fierce competition in her social life. She receives the charge (more like she is emotionally manipulated) from her Aunt Pussy : to quickly find a suitable (read : rich, fair, beautiful, old-family type) match for her hapless cousin Jonkers (who is not exactly marriage material - plain, shy & already divorced) which is ironic since Butterfly’s own marriage is on the rocks. However, taking all this in her stride, Butterfly shinnies her way through the dangerous territories i.e. the Pakistani wedding circuit in search of the right girl from the right “bagground”. What ensues is a series of humorous upshots as she encounters a Smith educated lesbian, fundamentalist parents & drug smuggling families as a potential brides & in-laws. To top it all, our protagonist has to look out for backstabbing frenemies, errant maidservants & beardo weirdos (suicide bombers) who are out to spoil her matrimonial mission.
In a way, Butterfly might remind you of Jane Austen’s Emma - a clueless socialite matchmaker, who believes she can make marriages happen & a man who loves her despite her shallowness. I particularly loved the honest portrayal of the protagonist which made her neither the perfect heroine nor a villain.
Another highlight of this novel is that it is sharply satirical but even with the satire, the book tickles your funny bone. Each chapter begins with headlines from the local newspaper which gives a kaleidoscope view of the social, political, and economic upheaval in Pakistan.  Also, you will laugh out loud at the various nicknames the author uses throughout the narration. Between you, me and the four walls, this is an absolutely witty, funny & thought-provoking romp.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Bombay Mixx by S.L.Lewis

Title : Bombay Mixx
Author : S.L.Lewis
Publisher : Big Bang Books, 2012
Pages : 230
Genre : Fiction / Multicultural Chick lit
My Rating : 7/10
Reviewed For : Chicklit Club

Part one of a two part series, 'Bombay Mixx' is a fresh, chic tale of vibrant Bombay meets alluring Ireland, in this sexy cultural blend! Including breaking sexual boundaries, experiences of the 'secret' side of the London elite and a major family secret which could destroy the Patel family...this book breaks all the women fiction rules!
One lavish celeb-style wedding.
Four friends with very delicate secrets, all hoping to avoid them being exposed.
One of the friend’s unaware that the happy proceedings will be an event to remember, from a simmering secret that no one could have predicted.
With no morals, taboo’s or thought of destroying the special moment or a family, can the Patel’s pull together to get over this life changing revelation from this strange gate crasher and her younger sidekick?

Walking through the door of this countryside mansion, you could be mistaken that you had walked into a rich Moroccan Sheik’s tent. With a Middle Eastern theme, rich colours of deep red, orange and gold; the engagement party filled the entering guests with immediate Eastern promise.

Although she managed to escape the stresses of her current situation, with the constant demands from the dominating bride-to-be, her spoilt sister, Gabrielle, Nita always had her girlfriends Amelia and Anya to pass some of the burden to, along with her new ‘perfect boyfriend’ Yatin.

Nita is 28, half Indian and half Irish, with a down-to-earth, loving personality who is desperate to meet Mr. Right. With a doting father, strong mother and close siblings, Nita has everything she needs until her first relationship ends and she has to move back in with her parents.

Getting the break she so desperately needs, she accepts a job in the city as a secretary and moves into her parent’s apartment in North London and begins to realise the single life is not so bad when you have a cut throat Russian Escort, an eccentric Fashion Buyer and your WAG wannabe sister to welcome you to this new world!

With these wild, drunken nights, enjoying the high life by accepting the invitations to all the fashion after show parties Amelia would arrange each weekend, an affair with your boss and questioning her sexuality with a co-worker, it’s not surprising Nita didn’t see the start of her brother’s and parent’s marriage deteriorating with the arrival of this new mysterious woman! But who was she? Why did she have a strong effect on her father? And how was her brother connected to her immoral revelations?

My Review:
What would you do if you are caught in a whirlwind of betrayals ... would you lose your trust in everyone or would you still hold on and provide unwavering support to your nearest and dearest even in the eye of a storm? This is the  basic premise for “Bombay Mixx”…
Nita is a 28-year-old half-Indian and half-Irish single girl, single because she has been recently cheated on by her long-term boyfriend. So to put some distance between herself & her ex, she takes up a secretarial job in a big stockbroking firm and moves into her parents' apartment where she has an eccentric mix of flat shares which include her spoilt sister Gabrielle, a Russian escort, Anya and a feisty fashion PR, Amelia. In between the wild drunken nights, all the fashion after-show parties and a tumultuous affair with her married boss, Nita has quite a lot on her plate. But then oblivious to her (initially), her brother Renesh's marriage is on the rocks & crumbling around him.. Being closest to his sister, he seeks out Nita's emotional support. Juggling between office, friends & family (not to mention her own personal dilemmas), just when Nita thinks she has reached a lull, a devil from Nita's family's past returns and all hell breaks loose. This is a pacy read yet each character is developed individually, with each of them having their own secrets and insecurities. These sub-plots all add up to fit into the big picture, although some threads seem a bit rushed. Extra-marital affairs, betrayal and sexual boundaries stretched taut are the themes of this book. This is a spicy plot peppered with an unexpected series of twists. There are several unanswered questions at the end which may be cleared up in its sequel. Looking forward for the Part Two…
P.S.: The author is having a Free Two Day Promotion for Bombay Mixx for all Kindle users.. Visit the link below & grab your copy of Bombay Mixx for free :

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Purple Line by Priyamvada N. Purushotham

Title : The Purple Line
Author : Priyamvada N. Purushotham
Publisher : Harper Collins, 2012
Pages : 226
Genre : Fiction / Women Oriented
My Rating : 9 /10
Reviewed For : The Book Lovers

Priyamvada’s debut novel, The Purple Line, delves into womanhood and explores the significance & intricacies revolving around the elusive “Purple Line” that symbolises Pregnancy....

It’s the era of Star Wars & Tennessee Williams & the place is Madras - 1982 (before it morphed into Chennai), where Mrinalini, a typical teenager, is besotted by poetry & finds solace in the literary world. She breezes past from one vocation to another like a running train as her heart makes journey stops on each. But then puberty hits & the hormonal changes conduced by her pubescence bestir her dormant Tam Brahm genes & in a moment of epiphany, she finally realizes that she wants to be a gynaecologist...Mrinalini then sets on a journey that makes her laugh, cry & teaches her the true meaning of womanhood...

Fast forward to the year 2000, where Mrinalini is now a Gynaecologist with a Masters from London. She returns back to Chennai to set up a clinic in her ancestral home...As a gynaecologist, Mrinalini encounters motley of characters in her patients everyday but six of Mrinalini’s patients instantaneously strike the chord. This is Mrinalini’s story & the story of these six women whose lives are unknowingly linked together like fibres braided in a rope..

First there is Zubeida, a typical burqa clad muslim woman, whose entire existence engulfs everything that encompasses womanhood. Zubeida has four boys & yet she yearns for a girl because she firmly believes that only a girl will be the absolute redemption of her motherhood. Zubeida wants to be that ideal mother for her daughter, a mother that she never had & always craved for. She finds solace in watching movies with her neighbour while pining for a girl but then one incident changes her entire way of existence..

Then there is Megha, wed in a heavily patriarchal Marwadi family where having a son is a quintessential status quo.. Needless to say Megha desperately wants a boy, a boy who will lift her entire state of beingness to a higher stratum.. For Megha, a mother of three daughters, delivering a boy to the family is her only way of achieving salvation but then it she realises that it takes a one broken heart to heal another...

Leela is like a Shakespearean sonnet, who is unblemished & always so perfect that wherever she goes she leaves behind a trail of immaculateness. On an first impression to any outsider, like Mrinalini - Leela’s world would seem picture perfect like those in fairy tales but as you move closer, you would see the cracks in the otherwise impeccable wall...But Leela never let the cracks run deeper & in her quest she never experimented, nor explored and never fell down to fit the pieces of herself back together...

Pooja, the 16 year old falls in love and slides headlong into the tunnel of a painful loneliness. She is bowled over by the Cricket Captain of her school team and ends up being pregnant. She comes to the clinic to abort the child but as she does so she learns to embrace a brave new world...

Tulsi, an art director, has been trying to make a kid with her husband Dhruv for 3 years but without any results. She follows her ovulation cycles meticulously but as she goes on & on the method loses its rhythm and the passion seems to seep out from her unfertile efforts. Tulsi is an artist waiting in the wings and ultimately a time comes when she realises what she truly wants & what she can have.

Anjolie is a performance artist who has the capability to breathe life even into a sleepy consultation room by her mere presence. She is a fading artist who has mastered her emotions & conquered her fears but when her time comes she must know that it takes two sounds to make a heartbeat...

This is a beautifully crafted tale that explores the various convolutions of a female mind and reveals the vulnerability of women along with their dreams. The plot narrates seven different stories including Mrinalini’s own tangled tale of love but they flow seamlessly into one another be it Zubeida’s tale ending on a delicious note or Megha’s desperation for her own selfish interests or the abrupt ending of Leela’s tale. The writing is sensous, vibrant & audacious but not brassy. The Another high point is the aesthetic way in which the author has highlighted realistic stories like teen pregnancy or the unwantedness of a girl child... A must read for every woman!!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Secrets and Sins by Jaishree Misra

Title : Secrets and Sins
Author : Jaishree Misra
Publisher : Harper Collins, 2010
Pages : 400
Genre : Fiction
My Rating : 8/10
Reviewed For : Chicklit Club
Well for those wondering - Why put up the review for a book that released way back in 2010, the reason goes like this - It's because this was the first book that I reviewed..and happily so!!! I picked up this book from a local library on an impulse (for which I am still thankful!) and after reading the first few pages, I got hooked!!
This book is a part of a three-book deal that the author made with Harper Collins in UK for their Avon imprint that specialises in commercial fiction. As per the author this book is a "study of infidelity" & once you sit down with this one, the book will grip you with its poignance.. 

To start with, the plot basically revolves around Aman Khan & Riva Walia...Aman & Riva, for whom, the ten days at the Cannes film festival, after an estrangement of 15 years, is like escape therapy from their respective troubled marriages. The cover page of this book says "Be careful what you wish for" & I have to say that  their couldn't be a more apt adage for this book..The story starts in Leeds University where Aman & Riva first cross each other & have a brief but passionate affair..
Riva & Aman couldn’t come from more diametrically opposite worlds…Indian born but raised in London-Riva is confident, witty, intelligent, a passionate feminist who would never think twice before protesting against anything unfair while Aman is a handsome freshman from India, a teetotaller who isn’t so streetwise and has his innocence & shyness bordering on aloofness.. And then there is Ben who is head over heels in love with Riva & comes from Riva's own world..Needless to say, Riva chooses reliability & security with the familiar Ben over her passion for Aman who comes from an exotic land. Riva marries Ben while Aman returns back to Mumbai nursing a broken heart…
The plot then moves 15 years ahead in future where Riva is a bestselling & award winning novelist while Aman moves on to become the biggest Bollywood star albeit both are having a tough time in their respective married lives. But an indefinable tug still exists between them & they follow each other’s careers from a distance. So when fate conspires & their worlds collide again at Cannes film festival (where both are invited as jury members) they create a world of illusion for themselves, with renewed passion & love for each other, where fairy tales exist & their deepest wishes come true albeit without the customary happy ending. But when the colourful & romantic journey comes to an end Riva finds herself standing at the same crossroads again where she stood 15 years ago-struggling to make a difficult choice between her husband Ben-whose frustration with himself at failure in professional life has seeped cold bitterness into the warmth of his marriage with Riva & her old flame Aman who himself is married with a kid but has the world to offer at her feet. The plot then revolves around Riva and her emotional roller coaster of a ride when her world takes a full spin & everything that she believed in, cared for & promised changes.   
I especially loved the book for it's vivid yet simple description of how there are secrets in every marriage-even the seemingly happy ones. Jaishree Misra has captured a heartrending  account of how infidelity can be brutal to a relationship of 15 years on one hand while on the other how the same thing can be inevitable, heartbreaking & yet beautiful. Jaishree Misra also gives us an insight into the secondary characters & the adjacent sub-plots so that the storyline doesn't seem uni-dimensional. It makes you wonder about the "other perspective" & not just about the protagonist...
This is a wonderfully crafted tale..all about love, infidelity, the heart break and the ache around it..

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Welcome to my World!!!!!!!!!!!!

So this is it...after reading infinite number of blogs & obsessing over an equal number of them, I finally took the baby step which might be the first of many....Trying to get the hang of things around here...I know you might wonder that its just a new blog but getting that heady feeling that comes when you start something which you have always cherished albeit in unknown waters....
The reason for this blog you ask??? Well, I will be posting my reviews & my take on the books that I have read...Seems like fun..lets hope I have it!!!
So let's get going.......