Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What I Am Reading Now

My discretionary budget for books is quite small these days.  I read a lot of freebies on the kindle, but there have been a few books of late that I actually pony up real dollars for.

I have read the entire Play to Live series by D. Rus and loved every single one of them 1-7.  Those familiar to anime are no doubt well aware of the genre devoted to being transported to the world of your favorite mmorpg game.  This is the first book series that I have run onto that is of the same genre.  Overall, I would call it a near future science fiction based on the concept that players who play a role playing game available in total immersion modules become drawn entirely into that world.  Anyone who has played a good role playing game knows that you don't need total immersion to be drawn in to the point of sometimes feeling like the game world is more real and important to you than the real world.  In D. Rus' world that becomes a reality. Players consciousnesses are moved entirely to the game server, while their bodies lapse into a coma and eventually die.  Once the phenomenon becomes known there are laws enacted to prevent it from happening, but of course, laws can be circumvented by a clever hacker or a black market chip.  People facing problems with the law, others with a looming death from disease, and soldiers disabled in the wars are drawn to the idea of living a full life in the game world. In anime, most of the attention from then on focuses on events in the game world - but D. Rus does a masterful job of real science fiction in extrapolating the reaction of the real world to this phenomena.  Criminals flee. Other people, inconvenient to their governments, are forced to digitize, and then enslaved. Slave trade in the game world begins to flourish. America - well, we start trying to figure out how to put gold in Fort Knox by somehow transporting it out of the game world.  D. Rus is Russian, and it is quite interesting as an American to see how the world view both differs, and agrees with my own. The books are well translated, so that there are only rare occasions of "huh?" where an idiom is used or a historical event referenced that is not common knowledge to those not in Russia.  For the most part these are very small, or explained in notes - which are easy to access with the Kindle. The game follows one particular player, Max, from his purposeful immersion and digitization through his in game career, and the real life consequences.  I don't want to spoil it by giving out too many details, but this series is not just for gamers - it is for anyone who loves near future science fiction and playing with ideas. I was really sorry to read the last of them, and will most likely reach for D. Rus' other series in the near future.

In something completely different, I was also reading the Tubby Dubonnet series by Tony Dunbar.  This series follows a lawyer in New Orleans, and his motley crew of friends and family through a series of mysteries and murders set against the backdrop of the Big Easy.  From Mardi Gras to government corruption, conspiracies and Katrina, Tubby is so thoroughly human you feel like you know him.  You will love his friends, and hate the bad guys and be satisfied when they get their comuppance.  A little bit noir, a little bizarre, these books actually remind me a bit of Joeseph Wambaugh's work where cops were only human, and criminals were too - only they were a bit more prone to bad decision making. I was sad to read the last of these this month and hope there are more to come.

Some months ago I decided I was not going to take free books to review any more - because I really have a hard time with saying "Wow, I hated this" to another author.  If I do dislike something, I always like to chalk it up to personal taste.  But when I can't even think of anything at all nice enough to say to put in a review - well, I feel bad.  If you have ever read my reviews on Amazon, you know I very rarely post a negative review.  I had a run of books offered to me that I did not care for, and I simply did not want to continue.  I never set out to be a reviewer.  When I read something I really like, then yeah, I like to share that book with others who might like it and I post a review.  Kind of like I am doing right here.  

But I relented last month and accepted two books to review.  I'm really glad I did because one of them - Dead Lemons by Finn Bell was in my humble opinion, an excellent read!  I reviewed it here on Amazon but I am not done raving about it yet.  Hurt people, damaged people, are great protagonists but so many authors fall into the trap of feeling sorry for their character, and letting their character feel sorry for themselves.  As someone who has had a bit of an unfortunate start in life, and has more than once got up and dusted her pants off and got back on the horse - I have a limited amount of patience and sympathy for someone who whines, whines, whines for page after page.  I want to slap them.  In Dead Lemons the protagonist tells you, don't feel sorry for me.  I fucked up.  I know it.  I screwed my life up and now I'm paralyzed and in a wheelchair and learning to cope with it.  Yay!  With the help of some very good people, and through falling into involvement with some very bad people, the protagonist - also coincidentally named Finn Bell - makes peace with himself and creates a new life with purpose. Mr. Bell is in New Zealand, and skillfully weaves the character and history of New Zealand into the story, giving an additional layer of intrigue.  I am looking forward to reading every word that flows from this talented pen in the future!

Non-fiction is one of my loves and I have a never ending pile of them in my wish list that I try to buy one at a time each month.  Last month I acquired Kirsten Lamb's Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World.  I've read it cover to cover (so to speak - its on my Kindle), bookmarked, highlighted, and read it again.  Followed her on every social media and joined the WANA writers group. If you are a writer NOW and plan on a career in the future, I highly recommend you read this book.  Of the many books on writing, self publishing and promotions I have read in the last year or ten, this is one of the best.  Get it!

Right now, I am picking at POWER-Surviving and Thriving after Narcissistic Abuse by Shahida Arabi.  I have to say picking at it, because I can only read one essay at a time, wait a few days to a week, and read the next.  She is spot on so far for the events of my first marriage, and although the relationship was different, the manipulations used by my mother as well.  So I read a little and have to put it down and have nightmares and daymares for a few days while my mind goes - yes, Yes, YES and absorbs yet again the concept that there are other victims out there, I was not unique and alone, and there are people who know what happened, who would believe me if I told them.  That what happened to me was wrong, and was abuse even if I don't have broken bones for it.  A broken mind and spirit can be at least as hard if not harder to heal.  I'm working on it.  It is a never ending work in progress.

The local Goodwill store had a book sale and I toddled out under a stack of Dean Koontz books - but you know I am a Dean Koontz fan and these paperbacks no doubt have hundreds of reviews up at Amazon, so I see no need to say much more than that.  Same for the Marcia Mueller books I have already finished and released.  

I did a search for some free kindle books under 'turtle' thinking that my next Odon Ata book might feature a turtle.  In a roundabout way what I ended up doing was reading several books by Albert Bigelow Paine called the Hollow Tree Stories.  They are a bit like the book Wind in the Willows with anthropomorphic animals telling their stories and sharing friendship.  They are gentle and lovely and I like them very much.  They give me the kind of feel I hope to capture in the Mr. Odon Ata series.  These books are in the public domain, so keep searching until you find the free version!

While looking for more children's books that might be similar to the type of work I want to do I ran on to, purchased, and read The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick.  There are children and animals, but The Secret Zoo is more of a rollicking, non-stop adventure that I read all in one gulp.  In my brain I see it making a terrific movie, sort of like Night In The Museum - only it's in the zoo.  There's a little element of Through the Looking Glass,too as the kids find their way into a very different world that is connected to our own.  It was a lot of fun, but Mr. Odon Ata is a much quieter sort of experience so I don't know that we would share an audience.  

I hope you enjoyed my little list and reviews of what I'm reading now.  With luck I've introduced you to a new author or series you will enjoy, or maybe pointed you in the direction of a good non-fiction that will help you out with something. I have linked most of them to their page on Amazon, but that is for your convenience.  I am not an affiliate.   


Summer Foovay

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