Review: It Must’ve Been Something He Wrote || Nikita Deshpande

Author : Nikita Deshpande
Genre : Contemporary Romance
No. of Pages : 272
Publisher : Hachette India
My Rating : ★★★★ / 5

synopsis

When obsessive book-lover (ahem, book snob) Amruta – Ruta – Adarkar arrives in Delhi to work as a marketing executive for Parker-Hailey’s Publishing, she learns that the world of books is not as cozy as she’d imagined. Her eccentric taskmaster of a boss expects marketing miracles to happen on shoestring budgets and in record time, and surviving the job (and the city) means she’ll have to master the local art of jugaad really fast. Worst of all, she’s stuck being a publicist for Jishnu Guha, protein-shake lover, serial selfie-taker, and bestselling author of seven cheesy romance novels, the kind she wouldn’t be caught dead reading.

As Ruta struggles between work and life in a new city, she finds, much to her annoyance, that she needs Jishnu’s help more than she cares to admit. But with her own parents getting a divorce, can Ruta dare to fall in love, especially with someone who’s so impossibly different?

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What drew me to this book was that it was set in the world of publishing, because which bookworm doesn’t like to read about something / anything related to the publishing world? Another was that the heroine is just the type I can relate to and like to read about: a clueless millennial struggling to make her mark in the world. Suffice to say I wasn’t disappointed. I got all of this and more. I loved the humour in this book; really, there was something to elicit a chuckle in every page. The writing style was so breezy and easy to follow. I loved how Ruta is not only a book-snob but also highly opinionated about EVERYTHING! #relatable 😀

Sample this quote here ↓ She’s taking a jab at a Marathi wedding ritual that lets the groom’s family rename the bride (wtf????? but really I’m not surprised at all considering how patriarchal most of our wedding rituals are *eyeroll*)

Because marriage in our culture is akin to buying a puppy at a pet shop and saying, “I am your new owner, and I shall call you Fluffy”

I enjoyed how Ruta’s personality shines through her interactions with her aunt, her best friend Jyo and her cousins. I love how hard she tried to make her cousin rethink her life decisions. She is idealistic, but not without flaws. Jish even calls her out on her bullshit once or twice.

Now, I’m not a big romance reader at all and I truly appreciated the minimal amount of romance in this book. Most of the fluff is in the latter part of the book and even my bottomless, black hole of a heart declared it cUTE!!😍

Based on the blurb, I imagined Jish to be more of an assholey, I-let-the-fame-get-to-my-head sort of person. But guess what!! yes well done, you guessed it. He wasn’t. Under his carefully made-for-camera personality, there’s this big-hearted, genuine fella. The kind of guy who would come without question if you called at 3 AM. I super-enjoyed the conversations between Jish and Ruta and how they help bring out the best in each other and in turn bring out the fuzzies in the readers!

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This was a quick and breezy read for most part and I don’t have complaints, except that the pacing seemed to lag a little once we’re two-thirds into the book. Or may be it just felt that way because Jish disappeared in that part of the book, I don’t know. 😅

I’d be lying if I said the book-snob in me didn’t ever-so-slightly cringe at the use of regional-accented English in some places, although I think it was done to show the reader the kind of language Jish employs in his books and how it explains their appeal ’cause so many people speak that way as well.

That brings me to my last point: there are some, not many, but some Hindi phrases used throughout the book and I would have liked a footnote with the meaning added wherever needed. Not that they were hard to understand, given the context but I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on some inside joke every time there’s a Hindi phrase. This is not the first book I’m noticing this trend in – remember having the same problem with Glitter and Gloss (my review)

There’s an appeal to the authors and publishers: please include footnotes for any language other than English, just to be safe (not all of us know elvish OR Hindi😂) it would help capture a wider readerbase too.

Would ya look at that, I have rambled on too much as usual! Here’s a TL;DR: basically this was a cute, entertaining read and I definitely recommend. Look forward to more books from Nikita Deshpande!

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Do you like romance novels and to what degree? let me know! I’d say the romance in this book was my threshold, can’t handle more than that. 😂

~ Mathangi

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Review: Glitter and Gloss || Vibha Batra

Author : Vibha Batra
Genre : Contemporary Romance
No. of Pages : 184
Publisher : Bloomsbury India
My Rating : ★★★ out of 5

Synopsis :

Misha is a make up artist who, after a series of mishaps and twists and turns, falls madly in love with Akshay who reciprocates her love with ardour. The only hitch in this perfect romance is her prospective sister-in-law who thinks Misha is everything a Bahu shouldn’t be: garrulous, geeky, gawky, gainfully employed (especially the last bit). The questions is will Misha win Didi (and the Kha-Pee Panchayat) over with her Stepford Wife Act? Will she continue to be the poster child for the inherent evils of the Bahu Brigade? Or will she learn to ‘lau’ herself before the whole world and its wife can do the same?

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Misha, the protagonist of the book, could not have been more relatable. I’d call her the millennial-next-door: a self-deprecatingly funny, hyper person with self-esteem issues and struggling to carve her own niche in her professional life. I definitely saw a bit of myself in her. When she meets the charming Akshay, she definitely dreams of a whirlwind romance, but what she could not have dreamt of was dealing with his possessive and over-bearing elder sister. That’s the problem with Indian marriages: you gotta charm the pants off the entire family!

As if that isn’t bad enough, what does one to do when your would-be in-laws expect you to change your entire *self* in order to be accepted into their *honourable* family?
To Misha’s credit, she tries her hardest to dodge some bullets and take some head-on. What follows is a comedy of errors that is equal parts entertaining and engrossing.

I really liked that Misha’s professional side isn’t glossed over either: there is a lot of details on the kind of products she uses and I, a total make-up noob, found it informative.

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My only gripe was that the narrative was peppered with colloquial Hindi phrases which I could not follow, on account of not knowing the language. I get the feeling this book would have been a lot funnier to me had I understood all of that.
Annnnd as cute as Misha and Akshay’s romance was, it was all a bit too insta-lovey for my liking. I get why it was rushed through though, for Akshay was merely a third wheel in the action between didi and Misha. 😀

Glitter and Gloss is a refreshingly cute, hilarious read and I’d recommend this if you’re struggling with a reading slump; this book is guaranteed to pull you right out of it.

Thanks a tonne to the author for entrusting me with a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review. 🙂

Happy Reading!

~ Mathangi

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Review : What Kitty Did || Trisha Bora

Author : Trisha Bora
Genre : Contemporary
No. of Pages : 305
Publisher : HarperCollins
My Rating : ★★★.5 out of 5

Synopsis :

Kitty Roy has more troubles than she can count on her fingers. Her love life is wonky, her paycheck is shit. She has badly behaved hair and struggles with a sugar addiction. To top it off, her pushy mother has set her up with a gorgeous but stuck-up guy who is sending her mixed signals.

When a diplomat’s celebrity wife, Roxy Merchant, falls dead during dinner at their posh central Delhi bungalow, Kitty’s boss gives her a chance to write a profile piece and the hint of a promotion. As she works on her article, Kitty realizes there’s more to Roxy Merchant’s death. She’s on to something big, and it can, perhaps, change her current life forever. But Kitty also has a knack for bungling things up majorly.

Set in the winter of her discontent, What Kitty Did is an irresistible caper zipping through the streets of Delhi.

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I’d just say this is a good book, or I could tell you that this book begins with a recipe for a rich Chocolate cake and then you’d know. It doesn’t stop there, there’s plenty other delicious baking references to make the reader hungry.

What Kitty Did is everything it’s said to be — witty, clever, and entertaining. Kitty’s voice is hilarious what with her ridiculous similes like “pale as a demure bride’s lingerie” the book generously peppered with such imaginative phrases, I don’t think I stopped smiling!

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Ketaki Roy, as an English Lit grad struggling to keep her job at a fashion magazine – is a very relatable character with her millennial age problems. Oh, how I chuckled at the shade she threw at English lit 😀 It made me feel a little better for not picking that as my major (and then I realised, Eng lit or not, I am a corporate slave either way. See, what I meant about relatable?) She struggles to keep afloat at her job, due to, ahem her drinking problems and general reckless behaviour, but then gets to work on an article on the late celebrity Roxy Merchant which could make or break her career. NBD. However, this task gets more complicated when Kitty discovers that Roxy didn’t just die of heart attack, she was murdered. So far, so good.

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Now, after that revelation, I expected details. More details on how the victim died and what happened afterward, what are the police thinking? and so on. I know this isn’t a detective book, but Kitty being a journalist, it was natural to expect her to get involved quickly to uncover vital details. But sadly, I felt like the book lacked a proper flow on the narrative front. As I read, there were some places where I thought Kitty’s getting warmer with the case, but suddenly she’s going shopping in Sarojini nagar or getting drunk senseless OR visiting a tarot reader!? The book could have easily done without 50-70 pages and fewer characters. With Kitty as the lead, the murder sub-plot wasn’t even necessary; if it were a book just about her getting her shit together and figuring life out, I would read the heck out of it.

Even with the shortcomings, I’d say give Kitty a chance. Her misadventures would make for a perfectly entertaining, lazy evening read. 🙂

Although, it’s probably wise not to read this book when hungry… unless of course you want to end up stuffing your face with cake. Then go right ahead, Kitty’s got your back!

PS I wanted to give this 3 stars but I HAD to add a .5 for that blink-and-miss Doctor Who/TARDIS reference 😀 I just really love Doctor Who okay bye


Thank you HarperCollins India for providing a review copy through the blogger program!


~ Mathangi

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Review : The Hating Game || Sally Thorne

Author : Sally Thorne
Genre : Contemporary Romance
No. of Pages : 384
Publisher : HarperCollins

Synopsis : Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.


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As you may have gathered from the blurb, this book’s a rom-com based on the famous – dare I say overused – Hate To Love trope. I usually prefer my Rom-coms in the form of movies (just cause they don’t take too much time to finish), but I quite enjoyed reading The Hating Game!

Lucy “shortcake” Hutton and Josh “hunk” Templeman work in the same office as a result of a recent conglomeration of both their previously separate organisations.

Josh is your typical-made-in-the-laboratory-simmered-to-perfection-book-boyfriend-hero. And I say that in a nice way, okay? He’s ridiculously tall, in perfect shape, always brooding, a workaholic but also a big ol’ softie at heart.

Lucy is the exact opposite – very short, very cute and bubbly, likes to wear red lipstick and bright clothes. She smiles at everyone and is chipper all the time (I really don’t understand how she does that, btw)

The ray of sunshine Josh is, he inadvertently starts the ‘staring game’ when he doesn’t return Lucy’s bright smile during their first meet. He stares at everyone and basically never smiles. Lucy is baffled, also irritated and a little intrigued. She plays along, stares at him at every chance she gets. You could probably guess what happens next.

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Even though the whole book revolves around these two – Josh and Lucy – in their office setting, we get details about their parents and their background and stuff which made the characters seem well-rounded. We are told why Josh is the way he is and we get to hear about Lucy’s childhood and her zootopia parents (Ok Lucy’s parents have a strawberry farm, she’s an adored child who dreams big dreams and comes to the big city to pursue them – all this sounded very much like Judy Hopps from Zootopia, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head)

The base premise and the events that follow are pretty trope-y (like caring for the other person while sick, forced love triangle to induce jealousy etc) but the writing saved the book – at least for me. The writing is cute and sometimes cheek-hurting hilarious! There were many laugh out loud moments, sample this :

Josh : Want a phone book to sit on? How’d you get so small?

Lucy : I shrank in the wash

(I am so stealing that line!)

Lucy may seem like the happy-go-lucky cute heroine but she can be fierce when she wants to be, like the part where she defends Josh to his family when he couldn’t stand up for himself, that was pretty good.

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Josh and Lucy’s attraction to each other, for most part, was just physical. The whole book is just two extremely attractive people caught up in an ever-expanding bubble of sexual tension which threatens to explode at any moment now (but doesn’t until the very end; it’s a torturous slow-burn) Yes, they talked and stuff, they weren’t just making out all the time (there’s even cheesy/cute stuff like where he paints his walls the colour of Lucy’s eyes. Really. Her eye-color. SMH) Even then, from a reader’s PoV, I felt like their whole ‘relationship’ was built on pure physical attraction.

I keep mentioning the word ‘cute’ but be warned, the ‘cuteness’ can get a bit overwhelming sometimes.

I think we should have had at least a couple of chapters from Josh’s point of view, that was really lacking.

The cover. Did they really not see how uninspiring and insipid the cover design is? I don’t feel like reading the book when I see it. (Yes, I am judging the book by its cover, because let’s be honest, it’s what we do right?)

Despite all my criticisms, I am giving this 4 stars because this was very well done for a debut novel and I did enjoy reading The Hating Game. 🙂

My Rating : ★★★★ out of 5.

~ Mathangi.

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Review : The Englishman’s Cameo (Muzaffar Jang #1) || Madhulika Liddle

Author : Madhulika Liddle
Genre : Historical Fiction
No. of Pages : 281
Publisher : Hachette India

Synopsis : Muzaffar Jang is that rare creature in Mughal Emperor Shahjahan’s Dilli – an aristocrat with friends in low places. One of whom, Faisal, stands accused of murder.

When the body of Mirza Murad Begh is found stabbed in the chest, lying in a water channel in the Qila, poor Faisal is the only one around. But what of the fact that, right before his demise, the victim had stepped out of the haveli of Shahjahanabad’s most ravishing courtesan? Could not the sultry Mehtab Banu, and her pale, delicate sister Gulnar have something to do with the murder?

Determined to save his friend, Muzaffar decides to investigate, with only a cup now and then of that new-fangled brew – Allah, so bitter – called coffee to help him….


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Set in 17th century Shahjahanabad (Delhi or Dilli under Mughal Emperor Shahjahan’s rule), this book follows Muzaffar Jang who is an aristocratic young man, but unlike his counterparts who only mingle with upper-class folks and like to amass and display their wealth, Muzaffar isn’t a classist snob – he likes to hang out with all kinds of people, appreciates a quiet life with good books, good food, and less extravagance (wait that sounds wrong – is there a nice, intellectual-sounding word for less extravagance?)

Basically, Muzaffar Jang is a man after my own heart.

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The setting is gorgeous! Madhulika’s writing unravelled the 17th century Dilli alive in front of my eyes. I didn’t pay enough attention in history class to know if the book was historically accurate, but it read like the author has done her research. Be it the picturesque’s havelis, or Mehtab Banu, the courtesan, folding paan with her henna-clad hands or the boat rides on the river yamuna – I could picture it clearly, hell, I could practically feel the dust as if I were on the shores of river yamuna myself. Full points for the evocative writing. This was my first proper historical fiction read and I’m glad I picked this one.

Muzaffar is a smart and likable (and handsome, like the other characters never stop telling you) protagonist with scope for solid development. I see that this book is the first in a series so I think his character would get better as the series goes on.

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I felt like the pace of the book was very slow. 50 pages into the book, you still haven’t learned much other than what the blurb tells you. Then there was the info-dumping. The author took her time with Muzaffar’s background but then all of a sudden you get his whole childhood and family details in a matter of two pages.

Despite being the brother-in-law of the town’s police inspector, when his friend gets arrested on suspicion for murder, Muzaffar decides to do his own investigation privately. Smart and well-read as he is, Muzaffar is not a detective. He is only an inquisitive, young man with friends in many places so as you can imagine, his investigation was slow. He asks questions, tries to put two and two together, tries to break into places and sometimes get caught, sometimes finds a small piece of evidence – you get the gist. I’m not saying every protagonist in a detective/mystery novel should be like Sherlock Holmes and make deductions in a matter of seconds – in fact I liked Muzaffar’s style. The problem was, the whole book is from his perspective and so we get to the bottom of everything only when he does. The titular Englishman and his cameo (which is apparently the name for an oval pendant – I didn’t know this) didn’t turn out to be as ominous as I’d expected but I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing.

Oh, and I really felt like they should have included a glossary for all the urdu words used in the book. The whole book is peppered with them which really adds to the feel of it, sure. but even in India, not all of us know hindi or urdu, so a key would have been really helpful.

My Rating : ★★★ out of 5.

Don’t be put off by how I’ve written more for what I didn’t like. I would recommend this book for its setting, the language, and the feel of it more than for its mystery.

~ Mathangi

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Review: The Masala Murder by Madhumita Bhattacharyya – #DiverseAThon 2017

I had wanted to be a detective. Crime fighter extraordinaire. Equal parts Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot in a fetching female frame.

Author : Madhumita Bhattacharyya
Genre : Mystery
No. of Pages : 292
Publisher : Pan Macmillan India

Synopsis :

Reema Ray is a 26-year-old who writes about food in an entertainment magazine for a living, but Reema is also a private investigator who has her own little detective agency  in North Calcutta. Writing pays, but detective work is where her true passion lies. After studying crime in the US, she comes back to India to set up a detective agency in her home town Calcutta.


I stumbled upon The Masala Murder in the recently concluded Chennai book fair, and the cover and title immediately caught my eye. I do not read a lot of books by Indian authors because the ones I have read were full of cliched bollywood tropes and bad writing.

Madhumita Bhattacharyya may have just restored my faith in Indian authors. The plot aside, the writing was really expressive and the choice of words, clever. I liked that she had also planted small details in random parts of the book for an observing eye to catch on. The author has capitalised on her main character being a food writer and strewn the book with several delicious descriptions of food throughout. I don’t even know how to pronounce most of the Chinese food (involving meat) mentioned here, but it all sounded delectable – and this despite me being a vegetarian, so that’s something right?

A girl’s gotta eat, and as long as that remains true, she might as well eat as well as she can.

My thoughts :

Being a detective is not all murders and catching mobsters, Reema realizes soon after setting up her one-woman agency. What little cases she gets are mostly the unexciting infidelity-related ones. But she does not give up on her passion just yet. Reema is also part of a group which she calls the CCC – Calcutta Crime fighters Club where they discuss unsolved crimes from the public domain that could be solved and raise funds to keep the club going. Her involvement in the club provides her some sense of purpose and drive but being the only woman in this little motley group of people (consisting of lawyers, a police inspector, and a PI) has its disadvantages. Like not being taken seriously.

To Reema’s credit, she’s good. She’s actually studied crime in an University, is ambitious and tries hard to stay true to her passion despite the discouragement she faces. She even knows kickboxing.

When confronted with the dilemma of whether to give up on detective work and become a journalist full time or give up the writing job that actually pays, not one but two interesting mysteries come Reema’s way.

One, her ex-boyfriend Amit is a prime suspect in the alleged kidnapping of his wife Aloka and he seeks Reema’s help to find Aloka before Aloka’s father pins it on him.

Two, a prominent food provisions supplier Prakash Agarwal whom Reema has interviewed as part of her work, ends up dead under suspicious circumstances.

Through the rest of the book, we follow Reema as she interviews the persons of interest to find the motive, sweeps crime scenes; her investigations dig up an almost three-decade old sexual molestation case which leads to surprising revelations. With some help, she solves the crimes rather efficiently.

That said, the book was not devoid of cliches. Be it the mother-hen of a best friend who wouldn’t stop trying to set up Reema with a man, or the very mysterious tall-dark-handsome gentleman who charms the pants off our girl right. at. the. first meeting. However, the real problem areas for me was the predictability of the crimes and the pacing of the book. It could have been at least 30-50 pages shorter. One more very noticeable thing was the lack of humour in the book. A funny moment here and some witty exchanges there wouldn’t have hurt.

I may verge on nit-picking here but there were a few inconsistencies, like the part where it is implied that car’s driver seat is on the left side of the car. In India, the driver’s seat is on the right and I feel like it’s something the editors should have picked up on.

My Rating : ★★★/5

My verdict : Though mild on the masala, The Masala Murder would make a good, lazy Sunday afternoon read.


Read this book as a part of the Diverse-A-Thon 2017.


~ Mathangi.

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