Bookish Wednesday: The Secret of the Dark Forest by Vasily Mahanenko

Hey all, I’m back with the third entry to the Way of the Shaman series for this week’s Bookish Wednesday. It’s The Secret of the Dark Forest by Vasily Mahanenko!

Plot Synopsis: The Virtual World of Barliona is a place of rest and entertainment – but not for everyone. It has become a survival arena for Daniel Mahan after he was sentenced to 8 years in its virtual jail. Mahan has been through it all: the back-breaking work in the mines, betrayal by other prisoners, and finally, the retrial which has released him into Barliona’s common world. What more could one want? Mahan could have kept a low profile and enjoy relative freedom while serving the rest of his time. But being a Shaman, he can’t help himself…

Plot: The plot of this entry is pretty good, and while there were a few annoying parts I didn’t mind it all that much. That being said if you weren’t a fan of the previous books this won’t change your mind on the series.

Characters: We get introduced to a few new characters, but really the stars of the show aside from Mahan are Anastaria and Plinto, both of whom were pretty awesome. The newcomers were good, but the character we had already met are better. That being said if I had to choose a newcomer as my favorite it would be Barsa.

Overall: If you enjoyed the previous two books, The Secret of the Dark Forest will be just as enjoyable for you. Otherwise you’ll probably not enjoy it all that much.

Bookish Wednesday: Otherlife Dreams by William D. Arand

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Hey all I’m back with the first in a LitRPG series I ran across recently for this week’s Bookish Wednesday! It’s Otherlife Dreams, Book 01 of the Selfless Hero Trilogy, by William D. Arand!

Plot Synopsis:Runner has a problem. He and 499,000 men and women are trapped in a game. He also just happens to be the only person from IT who could log everyone out safely. And he doesn’t remember his password.

He, like everyone else in this nightmare, had their memories scrambled or lost in the process of being loaded into the game. A single garbled message is his only clue on how to save everyone.

The problem is that whoever loaded them into the game, loaded their minds completely. If they die, their brain gets wiped.

Now it’s time for Runner to flex his skills as a power gaming min-maxer and see what he can do. Because every time he levels, he might gain the memory of the password. Time to go Hardcore.

Plot: The plot of this first entry is pretty good, and frankly I really enjoyed the hell out of this book. It made me laugh and it doesn’t make me feel so bad for talking to myself occasionally. There are romance elements, though they are light in this entry of the series. Mostly this is about Runner adjusting to the world he finds himself in and him trying to adjust to his “Unique” circumstances. They make for absolute hilarity.

Characters: Runner is a hilarious person, who is very smart but can come up with some really idiot plans that would seem absolutely insane in reality. But as any gamer will tell you, using a glitch to gain advantages is a mark of a true professional. Scott and Linda were pretty funny as well, if sadly not in the spotlight very much.  Hannars, Lady Death, Kitten and Nadine were our female leads, and they were all very interesting, each has their own flaws, and strengths and are incredibly strong and capable women.

Overall: If you love gaming, and/or LitRPGs, you’ll love Otherlife Dreams, it takes the genre and makes it hilarious and heart pounding at the same time.

For those who like: MMOs, LitRPG, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Magic, Action, Adventure, Romance, Hilarity, Excellent Plot, Fantastic Cast of Characters.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above, but how can you hate all that.

Bookish Wednesday: Edge of Reality by Andrei Livadny

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This week for Bookish Wednesday I’m covering a series I came across recently! It’s Edge of Reality, Book 01 of the Phantom Server Trilogy, by Andrei Livadny!

Plot Synopsis: Xander is a cyber dweller. A gamer who’s grown up in the web of virtual illusion woven from hundreds of phantom worlds. His biggest dream is to dump the real world for good. His desperate hunger of new experiences forces him to take a risk and become one of the first proud owners of a neuronet implant. The new gadget becomes part of him – but soon it’s not enough. If only he could finally burn all his bridges and make a step beyond the real world! He soon gets this opportunity. A new universe, overflowing with mystery and unimaginable, mind-blowing authenticity, opens up before him. This is Phantom Server. The game of the future where your pursuit of an adrenaline rush soon turns into a battle for survival.

Plot: The plot of this first entry is okay, although some plot points were really obvious to me even from the start. That being said it’s probably because I’ve read so many different stories that I was able to do that, so for some it might just prove to be very interesting. That being said it lacks the charm of series like AlterWorld, Way of the Shaman or Mirror World.

Characters: Xander is a decent lead character, but there are times when I seriously wanted nothing more than to throttle his dumb ass for being such a tool. Leori on the other hand was a great female lead, if not very active in this entry sadly. The rest of the cast was good, but still I found myself wanting to throttle more than a few of them more than once.

Overall: A decent LitRPG series, it isn’t as good as others I’ve covered, but it’ll do for those looking for a LitRPG and have gone through the rest of the ones I’ve covered thus far.

For those who like: Sci-Fi, Space Games, LitRPG, Video Games, Action, Adventure, Drama, Decent Plot, Okay Cast of Characters.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

TNT: An Explanation on Subject Matter

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Hey all I’m back with an answer to a frequent question I’ve had for this week’s Translation Necessary Thursday! It’s An Explanation on Subject Matter

What Question?: Well I’ve been asked quite a bit why I don’t cover books like the Play to Live series or officially translated Light Novels and the like in this column. The answer is pretty simple, because they aren’t really the same to me.

Bulls*&% Michael!: No really, they aren’t the same thing to me. Not to mention the frequency with which they release official translations are slow as hell and isn’t going to meet any serious readers demands either. If I cover something that was translated in my Bookish Wednesday column like I did for yesterday’s Patch 17 it means that it’s been released in an Audiobook format and/or it usually has been available and translated for people who really want to read it on the internet for a while already. This isn’t always the case, but frankly I can’t be bothered to care about such things. I’m not going to pay for a translation that is often riddled with mistakes and I’m certainly not going to suggest others to buy such poorly made products either. I often get my source material for Bookish Wednesday from my local library for free.

But what about Yen Press and others like them?: Like I said above, it takes way too long for them to release things that have been on the net for months, often years, prior and have already been translated in a quality fashion by fans for fans. If they want to earn my respect, and I’m going to bet a vast majority of fans respect, they won’t earn it by releasing things so slowly. That isn’t to say they don’t do quality work, although sometimes it’s questionable, but speed has a big factor of whether people will buy it.

So why all the Chinese Novels recently?: Because I don’t like advocating going out there and finding books with “grey” methods. It’s not wrong in my opinion because I’m all for free stories, but the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way. So with the Chinese novels I try to cover series that have gotten official approval or authors flat out don’t care all that much. It’s also why I’m not active anymore on the Baka-Tsuki forums, even though I’m an official “leader” and have access to what they do in their admin forums. I put my two cents in on the subject and they decided to go a different route from what I suggested. I don’t agree and so I won’t cover stuff hosted by them anymore, unless the translated material is truly extraordinary.

That’s it for this week’s Translation Necessary Thursday!

TNT: Shura’s Wrath Chapters 51-100 by Mars Gravity

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This week for Translation Necessary Thursday I’m covering a set of chapters for a series I covered a few months back. It’s Shura’s Wrath Chapters 51-100 by Mars Gravity!

Plot Synopsis: Ling Chen received a drug that would surpress the Isrock disease in his adopted little sister’s body for ten years in exchange for helping with someone in a virtual reality game. Starting out he began much like every other player, but was quickly plunged into a cave far below where the novice village was and survived due to a very lucky item he received from an NPC. He proceeded inside to gain the treasures and experience, but he was forced to do battle with insanely hard enemies that nearly destroyed him. Reaching the last room of the cave, past a monster that was well beyond his ability to even scratch, was a Lunar Chain that had 15 slots that could equip any energy crystals or orbs, items that would increase stats greatly. A normal player would only be able to use one that had two slots for only energy crystals which are lower than orbs, while the most lucky would get one that had 5 or 6. However it was a cursed item, quite literally and tried to take over his body and soul, but Ling Chen surpressed it and overcame it, becoming the first to subdue the evil item. He also unlocked the spirit that was living inside the bracelet, who told him that he couldn’t take it off as the bracelet, called Lunar Scourge decided to make Ling Chen it’s master. He gained the first of the 12 exclusive zodiac orbs and gained increase strength and abilities. He is teleported back to the novice village and begins his journey to restore the Lunar Scourge to it’s full strength with Qi Yue, the spirit, guiding his steps along the way.

Plot: The plot up to this point was mostly set up, but damn does it quickly become chock full of action from here on out!

Characters: We get to meet a few new people including Xi Ling and Xiao Hui and the Cold Magistrate ranked 7th in China named Xiao Qiu Feng who turns out to be a not so bad person, although somewhat arrogant. Overall though we get plenty of time with Ling Chen.

Overall: The series starts off slowly, but these few chapters really make up for the first 50. It’s worth a read if you like gaming centric novels.

TNT: Ark Volume 03 by Yoo Seong

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This week for Translation Necessary Thursday I’m covering the third entry in one of my favorite Korean novels. It’s Ark Volume 03 by Yoo Seong!

Plot Synopsis: Having been enlisted to fight for the city of Jackson where his friend the Viscount Haverstein lives, Ark heads to the battlefield to save his friend and have some fun. However there’s a mysterious shadowy figure who is following behind him and a overwhelmingly arrogant fellow ahead! How will Ark survive the war of Jackson and save his NPC friends.

Plot: The plot is pretty fast paced, but it’s very well done and I have to say this was one of my favorite novels of the entire series. It showcases Ark’s ability to do the unexpected.  It also introduces to some hugely important people for the series as well.

Characters: Ark is my favorite of the older characters, although Justiceman and Roco are pretty close to that. However the newcomers are awesome in this volume and my particular favorite is Shambala. I won’t reveal why, but needless to say he’s a pretty awesome guy.

Overall: If you enjoy VRMMO series and still haven’t checked this series out, you really need to read at least up to this third volume.

Bookish Wednesday: AlterWorld by D. Rus

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This week for Bookish Wednesday I’m covering a series I ran across the other day and enjoyed the hell out of. It’s AlterWorld, Book 01 of the Play to Live series, by D. Rus!

Plot Synopsis: A new pandemic – the perma effect – has taken over Earth of the near future. Whenever you play your favorite online game, beware: your mind might merge with the virtual world and dump its comatose host. Woe be to those stuck forever in Tetris! And still they’re the lucky ones compared to those burning alive eternally within the scorched hulls of tank simulators.

But some unfortunates – the handicapped and the terminally ill, shell-shocked army vets, wronged crime victims and other society misfits – choose to flee real life willingly, escaping to the limitless world of online sword and sorcery MMORPGs.

Plot: So this plot hook instantly caught my attention as it quickly became obvious that the author was influenced by many novels I’ve covered in my Translation Necessary Thursday columns before.  It deals with a lot of the issues that come up in a few novels, like Legendary Moonlight Sculptor, Ark, and Log Horizon, but does so in a way that many Western readers just haven’t experienced before. He’s not the first to come up with this genre, but he is the first to do so and be recognized by the Western world, which strikes me as unfair but that’s a story for another day. Also the author even included a reference to LMS which is awesome.

Characters: Max is our main character and he’s a pretty decent sort of fellow, which makes him a lovable protagonist. The rest of the cast is great, although I despise Tavor with a passion which is the author’s desired effect.

Overall: This is a great read for those who have never read a Light Novel or Web Novel before and should serve as a wonderful introduction. A must read.

For those who like: Virtual Reality, Light Novels, Web Novels, Video Games, MMORPGs, Action, Drama, Social Commentary

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.