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url 2017-11-21 19:35
Gamasutra - "Steam alters user review system to combat spamming"

[This is a non-book post, but it is at least related to reviewing.]


I write reviews for my Blogger blog (where pretty much everything goes, albeit without spoiler tags), LibraryThing, Goodreads (I went back after we all thought Booklikes might be going away ::sigh::), Booklikes, and Steam. I've only started reviewing on Steam in the past few months, but my impression has been that the reviewing atmosphere there is actually worse than the worst I've ever seen on Goodreads.


For one thing, there's the whole binary recommendation system. I've always hated that Goodreads doesn't have half stars, but they're practically spoiling users compared to Steam. All you have is "do you recommend this game, Y/N?" It's up to the text in your review to let folks know about the shades of gray, but the product page as a whole just knows things like "this game has gotten overwhelmingly positive/negative reviews."


Also, Steam actively encourages developer comments, which can be a mixed blessing. My second review (first negative review) had the developer jumping on it to explain how my dissatisfaction with their game was wrong, even though they were pleased that my review also mentioned that I'd enjoyed another one of their games. Developer comments can be nice when they address technical issues that interfered with the game working properly, but this felt exactly like having an author jump on one of my book reviews to let me know that my criticism hurt their feelings and/or that my opinions were wrong.


Then there are the "was this review helpful?" votes. My total number of reviews is in the low double-digits, but even I've noticed downvoting that was clearly aimed at hiding certain types of reviews (postive or negative). In my case, both reviews were positive and both were for games featuring prominent LGBT content. They were downvoted by multiple people within a day or two of being posted.


I can already see the effect of some of what this article talks about. Those downvotes that I was pretty sure were from people gaming the system have disappeared. It'll be interesting to see how things work out in the long-term.

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review 2017-11-09 02:41
Infected: Lost Weekend (Infected #7.5)
Infected: The Lost Weekend - Andrea Speed

Scott hires Roan to look for a missing teammate. Misery ensues. :P


This apparently takes place at some point after Undertow, since Scott's concussion is cleared up and he's living in a hotel for some reason. Holden's working his first official case as a real P.I. It's a quick read, a single case that actually goes somewhere, and Ms. Speed doesn't have time to indulge in her typical writing that drives me crazy. It's a win-win. :D

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review 2017-11-09 02:31
Infected: Undertow (Infected #7)
Infected: Undertow - Andrea Speed

Hm, not sure what to say about this one. It more or less starts off where the last one ended, but then it kind of meanders from there. Roan's condition keeps changing and no one knows what it means - which has been par for the course throughout the series. There's some repetition that could have been edited out to provide a tighter story, and at this point in the series, it really doesn't add anything to keep going over the same ground. It feels like Ms. Speed is treading water, more than anything, and I'm getting rather tired of how impressed everyone is with themselves. Let's just say, I'm glad there's only one left.


Once again, the characters themselves are the best part. Holden and Scott are the special treat here, since their not-exactly-a-relationship-but-it's-totally-a-relationship relationship allows us to see different facets of Holden and actually see him have no clue what he's doing for once. :D I wish we'd seen more of Fiona, Seb, Dropkick and the other side characters, but they were mostly shunted to the side. Even Dylan wasn't as prominent in this one.


The cases were more hodgepodge than usual and not even worth mentioning, really. At least Roan solves one.

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review 2017-09-19 03:51
Infected: Lesser Evils (Infected #6)
Infected: Lesser Evils - Andrea Speed

I just can't seem to stay in love with this series, but I am at least saying in like with it. Once again, there are lots of things I really like here, mostly with the characterizations and the relationship building. Holden and Scott were especially a nice surprise. But, and this is a big but, Ms. Speed just can't seem to decide where to take this story. The overall arc is well done - Roan's continued evolution/downslide as a virus child and how the virus is changing/being changed by him and vice versa. Other than that though, there are a lot of things that are introduced and then just sort of get shoved aside, forgotten or rushed at the end so at least something's kind of resolved. 


Still, I'm glad I'm reading these after they've all been released, because that cliffhanger is just cruel. CRUEL I SAY! 

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review 2017-08-29 03:30
Openly Straight (Openly Straight #1) (Audiobook)
Openly Straight - Bill Konigsberg

Rafe is openly gay, has supportive parents (a little too supportive), a fairly inclusive community (a little too inclusive) and a great life. So what does he do when he realizes that his entire life has become about him being gay and nothing else? He goes to boarding school clear across the country and drops all labels that define him. 


This was a fun book, and often funny. The supporting cast were great, especially Alfie and Toby. It was interesting to see Rafe navigate his way through his no-labels experiment and realize that whether you use them or not, they still define you and to deny them is to deny yourself. He makes a lot of mistakes, including some big ones with his bromance bestie Ben, but he learns a lot about himself and life along the way. 


The narrator did a decent job. He got Rafe down perfectly and did a good job with the main supporting cast. There could've been more variation in the voices he used for the other characters, especially the girls. But he knew when to keep it light and when to get more introspective without getting schmaltzy. 

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