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Silver Hair Sins | Book Review

Silver Hair Sins – Book Review

Book: Silver Hair Sins

Author: Saumick Pal

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: The Write Place (26 March 2019)

Price: 249 INR

Pages: 158 (Paperback)

Language: English

My rating: 3.5/5

Religious fundamentalism is on the rise and the world is experiencing more and more barbaric acts in the name of God and religion. It has reached a fanatic level. Witnessing all this I, earlier, wrote a piece – What if there was no religion. Well, today I would be reviewing a book that suggests another alternative – merge all the religions into one and with the use of artificial intelligence create a more futuristic utopian society.

Silver Hair Sins by Saumick Pal gives a peek into a similar world. It is his first novel. I would like to express my gratitude towards Blogchatter’s Book Review Program for considering me this book review and towards Saumick for the wonderful personalized message. If you have been following my reviews, then by now, you would know how much I love thrillers. A thriller with religion and AI as its background suits perfectly down my alley.

About the Author

The author, Saumick Pal, is an engineer and has been working for 13 years in myriad fields. Also, he is a mentor to the youth of the country. He has worked as a scriptwriter too. His writing style is crisp, compact and will leave you wanting for more even after you read the whole book.

My Review

The cover of the book, along with its title doesn’t give much away but once you start reading, it will slowly begin to make more sense and now I can say that the cover is equally thought-provoking as the pictures inside the book.

The back cover blurb highlights Silver Hair Sins as one of India’s first visual-fiction novel, with more than half of the book narrated by cinematized photographs.

They say that the picture is worth a thousand words. It surely is true in the case of Silver Hair Sins, which has only 158 pages out of which about 60 pages are full-page photographs/pictures. These pictures are strategically placed in continuation of the chapters that streamlines the flow and pace of the book.

The message from the author.

The story is set up in a futuristic world some 200 years later and mainly revolves around three characters – Mary, Azad and Aasma. You will also read about two more characters that form the background story – Meera and Akbar. The story takes you to a time when the religio-politico divide reaches a tipping point and technology steps in to save humanity – AI merges all religions to create One God AI.

The algorithm picks up populist virtues of all the religions and not necessarily the best ones. This leads to a terrible dystopian environment of murder, manipulation and love where a father is justifying the rape of his daughter as a sacrifice.

The book also makes you think what if AI actually becomes so powerful that it begins to dictate the lives of each and every individual. What will be the outcome of that? Read the book to find out whether the AI remains powerful or the humans rise above technology and win over it with their instincts.

I am sure the writer takes a clue from the all-time classic 1984 by George Orwell where he spoke about the atrocities of a dystopian world disguised as a utopian society set in a time in future.

Pros

It is a very fast read and even if you are not a big fan of thrillers you are bound to finish it in one sitting. The vocabulary is simple and you don’t have to go looking for meanings of every alternate word. The pictures are very figurative yet abstract and each reader will have a different understanding of them.

‘Not everything is black and white’ – I will like to compliment Saumick on how he has used the colors like black, white and silver to showcase the criminality of a person. The colors, the day – Sunday and the dressing have a lot of significance in the narrative. The naming of the characters also has been done keeping the backdrop in mind and by the end, you will realize their importance for their characters.

Cons

The book doesn’t have many flaws apart from the fact that some incidents feel a bit rushed up. Given its size, it would more fit in the category of a novella. I personally didn’t like Kabir’s Dohas being quoted every now and then. For a book that is futuristically set it was a bit awkward for me to visualize the AI enabled beings speaking Kabir’s Dohas. I felt a little disappointed as there isn’t much description about the futuristic setup and many-a-time it feels as if the discussions are in context to present times and not two centuries later.

When I first received the mail to review this book, it reminded me of an important incident that occurred with my friend and me, just when I started writing about a decade ago. He came up with a photo-book, exactly like what this is, but after going door-to-door of various publishing houses all we received were rejections. ‘A book or novel full of pictures will never sell and it will totally add to the cost’, was all we got constantly. I am glad the Indian publishing world is changing for good.

This positively has the potential of being a game changer as far as the layout of a book is concerned in the Indian context. I have seen Dan Brown books having pictures for better illustration and explanation of certain facts.

Verdict

I would end it with a quote from Walt Disney – “Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” This book serves well as a commentary on the current religions and the perils existing in them.

Silver Hair Sins is a good debut effort by Saumick Pal, which stirs up a lot of questions about the existing religions and the extremism attached to them and how in the future technology can be used for mankind in the religious spectrum as well. I am going with three and a half stars for this visual-science-fiction thriller that will definitely make you think.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This review was done as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program. Please sign up if you are a bibliophile.

My side of the bargain – an honest review – Find the Book here on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the author reference: https://www.marketingmind.in/saumick-pals-silver-hair-sins-is-a-must-have-if-you-love-thrillers/

 

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22

Cirque Du Joker

Its a WOW post

Once upon a time in a far far land,

It was unique, as it was known as TEDDYLAND.

 

There lived a Mr Joker,

He was no ordinary card…he was the hero of his own Poker

One by one they came and broke his heart,

Though smiling through the pain was his art

 

They love their Jager bombs and Jagermeister,

He would honor them with his own JOKERMEISTER

 

They would cuddle and lay on his chest,

The funny stories he told were his best

 

In his genre, he was a rocker

He brought to the town his own CIRQUEDUJOKER

 

Each had a Paraphilia that brought them to orgasm,

He had his JOKEROPHILIA hat created a lot of LAUGHGASM

 

His art was to touch women’s heart,

All they would do is break his apart

 

So many stories and so many happy endings,

He was a storyteller whose JOKERTALE was never ending

 

They say, Jack-of-all-trades master of none,

For him, it was Joker of all trades and master of some

 

He faded with time, but his stories remained,

The Contemplation of a Joker forever entertained.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Tell me which one did you like the most of all the new words.

 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

The New invented Made up words:

TeddyLand – A place where every inhabitant is a Teddy bear.

Jokermeister – A potion of the Joker

Cirque Du Joker – Circus of Joker (inspired from cirque du soleil)

Jokerophilia – Love of Joker

Laughgasm – orgasm experienced with laughter

Jokertale – A tale of Joker

 

12

The Cricket Bat

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The Cricket Bat

The continuous ringing of doorbell was a unique trait of Papa’s arrival. Every time that happened I almost instinctively knew who would be on the other side of the door. I was right this time too.

As soon as he entered he announced, “Listen I have a meeting in the evening and I will be leaving early. Sit down, I want to have a quick chat regarding the preparations of the reception”. We both sat down on the sofa in the living room and started discussing. I told him about the things that were already taken care of and what were the expenses involving that.

He went to the items that were yet to be finalized and what would it approximately cost us. While he was still speaking I don’t know when I involuntarily stood up and started walking to and fro. In fact, I didn’t realize until he pointed out to me.

“Why can’t you simply sit and continue a serious conversation? Why are you so restless always?” Papa questioned digressing from the main discussion. By now mom and sister had also joined in. In an attempt to showcase sincerity I blurted, “I am all ears and listening very carefully to what all you are suggesting”.

A smirk had already formed on my sister’s face. She knew where this was heading, like the usual conversations where, in the end, Papa will get angry and frustrated and without completing the discussion, shout at me and leave for some work.

My Cricket Bat

Papa began again with the details. A few minutes later he shouted again. This time I was unconsciously shadowing batting postures with my favorite childhood bat in my hands. “I am earnestly listening to you, Papa. I swear. I can repeat each and every word that you have said”, I pleaded to keep him calm.

It was too late. He was already irritated and all I could overhear was he shouting at mom saying what’s wrong with this boy? Why can’t he just listen to me? Even if he can’t…he can at least act? Someday I will definitely burn this cricket bat of his, somehow it becomes a part of every discussion. My mom sarcastically replied to him, “You are the one who gifted the bat to him”.

The ignition of the car suggested that Papa drive away. My sister was now laughing, as it was a daily routine for her to see every discussion end this way.

My parents say that I have a good memory and a decent recall power. As far as I can remember the first memory about myself is holding a plastic cricket bat and being surrounded by plastic cricket balls. I was about 8 or 9 years old when Papa gifted this bat to me.

Even in ‘the State of Happiness’ I highlighted this. Playing cricket with him was pure bliss. It brought happiness and joy beyond words.

I would carry this bat along with me everywhere possible. Like the girls have their dolls by their side, I would have my bat. I would even sleep with it. I have scored most of my childhood runs with this bat. I still remember how Papa taught me to oil a cricket bat and how I would take care of it like the most precious thing in the world.

It has seen its ups and downs. They were phases where I felt that it might get broken but with the help of some adhesive tapes and extra love and care, it has seen those treacherous and scary days off.

Even today, if you visit my house you will find it in the living room living along with us. You will still see me playing around with it, mimicking cricketing postures even during serious discussions. There were many times when my mother and sister during their clean-up drives, tried to get rid of it. But they know that it is like those older movies of fairy tales where the villain will only die once you kill his pet parrot, similarly my lies in this cricket bat. It is my first cricket bat and is like my first love.

For all those who love cricket,

For all those who have their bats with them,

For all those who still play with them,

And

For all those who are still living with them…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

 

 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

12

Through the Mist – Book Review


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Cover Page

Through the Mist – Book Review

Book: Through the Mist

Author: Sona Grover, Abirami,

Adhithya, Nimitha & Rupali

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Jimpify Publishing (29 Aug 2017)

Price: Rs 99

Pages: 92 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

One picture – Five Authors – Five stories – One Book. This in itself is an interesting premise for anyone to enlist ‘Through The Mist’ in his or her reading list.

About four years back I took part in a collaborative effort to come up with content worthy of publishing. Collaborative writing can sometimes turn out to be very tricky. It can be less writing ‘effort’ but it can surely be more ‘headaches’. When too many heads collide taking a story in a definite direction then sometimes the story takes the back seat and ego begins to power the engine. Anyway, let’s not digress.

Sona Grover, one of the five authors of the book, to do a review for them, approached me. My bargain was; an honest review in exchange for a free copy.

I found the overall premise very intriguing. A picture, which is also the cover page, was shared with the authors and each was expected to start with their version of the story keep the picture as the pivotal point.

Usually when authors collaborate the book turns out to be an anthology but what makes ‘Through the Mist’ interestingly unique is that each author will share their unfinished draft with other authors in a sequential manner and after all the authors have written on every story then only it will be considered complete. So that means each author will contribute to every story.

It is like a relay race of writers. You don’t know how the next is going to imagine and write or how good the outcome would be; all you could manage is your own leg.

The Motivation

The team:

Jithin, who provided the inspiration for the book. He blogs at www.trablogger.com

Abirami, the teenager who’s obsessed with writing and blogs at www.theobsessivewriter.com

Adhithya, the youngest teenager of the team who blogs at www.wordstuggedatheartstrings.wordpress.com

Nimitha, the writer who finds time to write between her busy work schedule. She blogs at www.nimzrevealed.wordpress.com 

Rupali, the teenager studying maths and writing poems at www.literatureismyporn.wordpress.com

Sona, an avid reader and the resource person to lend any help. She blogs at www.sonaonline.wordpress.com

Aadhira, the in-house editor who pushed everyone to write this book, blogs at www.aadhira.me

The five stories are:

‘A Middle Class‘ story brings us Pari, the independent, headstrong girl whose parents want her to marry and settle down. Love has other views and comes unexpectedly through Rehan. In this comedy of errors, blunders pile on and the protagonists head a laugh riot.

In ‘A strange Life‘, Aarya, bored with her profession and disappointed with her personal life, finds an unexpected adventure that is a little too much for her to comprehend. Can she manifest the life she has wanted to have, by reclaiming her power?

Aakash cannot forget Anavya, the love of his life. His longing turns him into a poet and he hopes and waits for her, years later. ‘Languish in Love‘ is a delicate story that explores love, longing, pain.

‘The Lone Man‘ is hard-hitting. All John wants is to forget his wife Sarah’s death and get on with his life. But his nightmares and visions would not let go of him.

‘Turn of the Tides‘ is set at sea and the men who have lived with the sea and loved her are the ones who fear her now. Can they conquer their dread and have the sea lose her power over them?

PROS:

What surely works for the book is the diversity that each of writer brings to the table. With their experiences and thought processes that vary from a teenager to a mom, it definitely adds on to the flavor. The love of writing is what makes this a ‘team’ irrespective of the difference in their culture, language, preferences, age groups and perspectives.

The standout thing in the book is that each story is completely different from each other and do not belong to a single genre. That is very refreshing, as it doesn’t overdo a single theme or genre.

One thing which I would like to highlight since each story exchanged hands five times that there was consistency in the storyline and the theme in all five stories. It is a swift read with only 92 pages.

CONS:

The role of an editor in such a collaborative effort becomes crucial and critical. I felt that the authors were let down by average editing, judging by how the stories were stitched.

The other thing, which I believe, could have been a bit better is the vocabulary. There are far too many grammatical errors. So the onus lies with each author as well as the editor. I can understand the flow of the stories not being smooth because of the format but still, that’s no excuse for the grammatical errors.

How it came about:

My favorite story:

The last story how it personifies the sea. I like it for its poetic and metrical tone and how expressively it gives ‘Sea’ a voice.

The pros definitely outweigh the cons in ‘Through the mist’. It’s definitely worth a read once. I give two and half stars for the stories and another half a star for the concept. It’s 3 out of 5 for the unique collaboration i.e. ‘Through the Mist’.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Grab a copy here: Amazon

21

Let’s Walk


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Take 1:

Come my dear let’s walk
Let’s walk together to forever
I know you fear but let’s walk
Let’s walk and defeat it together.

We might never be ready
Or we are ready now
Let’s tie our will together
And let’s walk to see it goes how

My mind is wide open
To see all the possibilities
I am yours and you are mine
Let’s walk together to the end of time

Take 2:

From far across it was coming back
The memory of a broken past
In fear, I hide and stay
Waiting for this storm to pass

They tell me to face it now
That I will never be ready otherwise
But how do I be brave
What amount of courage will suffice

How do I save what’s damaged
How do I mend a broken tie
How do I live life with hope
When within all wants to die

My will is shattered my faith all gone
All I see is an endless night
Bring me some star bring me some sun
Don’t wake me up if there is no light

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

So which ‘take’ you liked the most 🙂

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

25

The UGLY Teddy

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Once upon a time in a far-off place, beyond the snow clad mountains, within a mesmerizing landscape, where nature was in its purest form, where the freezing streams originated there was a picturesque land known as ‘Teddyland’.

In Teddyland everyone was a teddy bear. From adults to children, from stout to tall, from brown to pink to red to orange, everyone was a personification of a teddy.

In teddy land there lived J, the most jovial of all of them, a teddy that was the center of everyone’s attention. Wherever he was he would always be surrounded by other teddies that would be laughing out at his tales of witticism, puns, and gags. Female teddies drooled over him. Anyone who got an opportunity of his cuddles never forgot his feel.

What made him unique was his appearance to go along with his nature to make everyone laugh at all times. He was surely different than any other teddy of the Teddyland. He had no fur on his head…he was bald. To make matters worse he had misplaced teeth and no jawline. With humor came a lot of sarcasm, which won him a lot of accolades, but the fate seemed to differ when it came to love.

One day a female teddy, S, from the neighboring village came. She was in the market when she heard a loud laughter erupt. She got curious to know what it was. The moment she laid her eyes on J, she was in love with his imperfect smile. Somehow none of J’s imperfections mattered to her.

She confessed her love to J. They started seeing each other. Met, ate and danced together. The moment she cuddled J, her love for him deepened. They became inseparable.

They decided to take a step forward in their relationship and get married. S was very skeptical of her parent’s response. Her mother knew of J, she had seen him perform many of his gigs. She liked his performances but never approved of his looks.

When S discussed about J to her mom, she outrightly rejected him. Her mom told her that she belonged to a royal family with grace and splendor and possessed beauty for which others are ready to kill. How can she stoop down to this ‘Ugly Teddy’?

S never wanted to disappoint her mother, as she was the sole reason for her existence. She knew all the hardships her mother had faced to raise her. But she was in too much love to let go off J either.

She tried to convince her mom but their love was defeated.

In the end, the respect for a mother won over the love for an Ugly Teddy.

Many years later, S was visiting Teddyland with her husband and children. They were taking a stroll by the stream. She heard an eruption of laughter. All of them went to see what the commotion was all about. There was J, right in the center of the action, a little balder and fatter with wrinkles beginning to sketch out, doing the only thing he knew – to make others laugh.

He instantly recognized S. He brought a couple of cotton candies, handed them to the kids, hugged them one by one, wished and blessed the couple and disappeared into the crowd of teddies.

For all those who want to live in Teddyland,

For all those who believe love is beyond looks,

For all those who want cuddles

and

For all those who love Teddy Bears…

It’s not a Goodbye,

but it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Wow Prompt

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

19

The Mystery Blogger Award

The Mystery Blogger Award

To begin with let me express my immense gratitude towards Sonia Chatterjee for trusting me as a worthy nominee for the Mystery blogger award. I have been blogging for the past eight years (yeah its true) but always treated it as a hobby until this year’s blogchatter’s ebook carnival where I published a compilation of my top posts and stories and started seriously putting efforts in blogging too. My father always wanted me to pursue my passion but unfortunately he isn’t around to see me pursuing it.

Thank you again Sonia – I accept the award with all humbleness and would treat it as fuel to weave more words. I am beginning to learn how to take compliments.

Mystery behind Mystery Blogger Award

Okota Enigma started this award with the underlying theme being, “It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.”

Every award is preceded by some rules and mystery blogger award is no different. Here are the rules of this award –

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog. List the rules.
  2. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  3. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  4. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  5. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  6. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  7. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  8. Share a link to your best post(s).

The Mystery Blogger Award

The first three already taken care of, lets begin with the fourth one.

Three things about me:

I was born dead and am not kidding. I have even written a post on the same. You can read it here.

Why I chose the name ‘The Contemplation of a Joker’?

Jostein Gaarder said, “A joker is a little fool who is different from everyone else, he is not a club, a diamond or a spade, he is not an eight or a nine or a king or a jack. He is an outsider”. Here I have tried to be a Joker in everyone’s lives, bringing them bits of stories and laughter from all corners of life. As is the case with a Joker, they might not remember my name, they might not even know the real me, but I will always be glad that I was, am and will always be a part of the readers lives. I touched without actually being in their lives…just like a joker is in the stack with other cards without actually belonging there.

Some unique features:

You will be surprised to know that WWE (earlier WWF) played an important part in me improving my English. I am a good cook – I can actually prepare a whole meal – my father couldn’t even light up a stove, hence my mom made sure that her son turns out to be better at household chores. Few lucky ones have had the privilege of being hosted by me. I am a great relationship advisor too. Over the years many people and close friends have approached me and hopefully they received the right advice. I have been a sportsperson all my life, involved with some or the other at any given time – currently preparing for the Delhi Half Marathon.

Moving on to the questions Sonia put across:
Tell us one thing about yourself that nobody knows.

The actual question should be could I tell you something that no one knows, there is a reason that no one knows it but let me still surprise you. I don’t eat ice creams. I know I know.

Which genre of books do you enjoy reading the most and why?

Anything, which has the potential to stir emotions within a soul, that emotion can be any, the genre isn’t important. My personal favorite being George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal farm and most of Dan Brown and Paulo Coelho’s work.

What is the best piece of advice or feedback that you received for your writing?

That “Don’t struggle to be a writer, that you become the day you hold a pen and scribble your thoughts. Focus on being an honest and relatable writer. Its like, “dance like no one is watching and write like everyone is living your words.”

If you were stranded on an island, what things would you take with you and why?

Few good books, descent supply of my favorite food and a solar powered satellite phone (inspiration cast away) – so that when I am done being in solitude I shall call for help. In all seriousness a book on how to survive when you are stranded on an island. 😀

What is the weirdest or craziest thing that you have ever done?

My weird might not be your crazy, though if you have read my ‘Death on Karnataka express’ you should know that’s as weird as a person can get. Since we are talking about food here I once ate a cockroach. Yeah go faint.

I nominate:

Arjun Gupta – https://knightofsteel.com/

Anshu Bhojnagarwala – https://anshubhojnagarwala.wordpress.com/

Ashwini Menon – https://ashwinisperceptions.com/

Deepti Verma – https://nationalviews.com

Dipali Bhasin – https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com

Huma Masood – https://www.silkenscribblings.com/

Jyotsna Sharma – https://bhaatdaal.wordpress.com/

Kadambari Singh – http://thevibrantdiaries.blogspot.com/

Lavanya Srinivasan – https://thelavmuse.com/

Leha Divakar – https://theliteraryaffairblog.wordpress.com/

MsArora – https://education17048.wordpress.com/

Nidhi R Gautam – https://theprivatesocialite.wordpress.com/

Nupur Maskara – http://www.nutatut.com/

Prerna Wahi – https://prernawahi.com/

Priyal Poddar – http://parilifestyle.com/

Riddhi Sharma – http://riddhiculous.com/

Richa S Mukherjee – https://richasmukherjee.com/

Shalini Nair – https://kohleyedme.com/

Shivangi Srivastava – https://myketosutra.wordpress.com/

I know everyone has their commitments so don’t feel you have to participate just because I nominated you but I would definitely love you to, and if you want to take part and I haven’t nominated you consider yourself nominated.

Five questions for my nominations:
  • What’s your superpower?
  • What do you want to be engraved on your tombstone?
  • What’s that one advice you give to everyone?
  • What’s your take on soul mate
  • Weird one – What do you love more – Cockroach or lizard?
My personal favorite:

The Alien Bridge – sometimes when I read it – I get surprised that I wrote this.

Read it here: The Alien Bridge

For all those who love recognitions,

For all those who love competitions,

For all those who are mysterious,

For all those who are nominated

And

For all those who have received Mystery Blogger Award

It’s not a Goodbye,

But It’s a GOOD BYE…

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul