Uncategorized

My experience using Second Life

My most recent experience using a Multi User Virtual Environment (MUVE) was in undergrad. I got a writing certificate in writing for online interactive media and one of the courses revolved around using Second Life professionally and for expanding the writing experience.

In the class, we had to explore Second Life and find a professional organization to research in the game. We did videos on how Second Life was being used to promote an organization or company as well as write pieces about our experience using Second Life.

It was an interesting experience but personally I did not enjoy it. I found Second Life to be empty compared to the Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games I was playing. Most places seemed abandoned and it was hard to find active organizations within in the community. Second Life was also released in 2003 and graphically it doesn’t compare to the current standard of virtual spaces. It feels dated and clunky.

However, I can see how Second Life could be very advantageous for libraries. On top of researching places within Second Life, we also held class in Second Life. The class was an online course so we never met in person. But we did all have to meet in our “classroom” Online for a session and it was very interesting. It made the class, my professor, and the other students feel more real. I think this could be useful in a library setting.

This could allow patrons to “attend” an event online if they can’t otherwise reach the library provided it’s not a craft event. But a virtual book club in Second Life could help people who have no way to get to the library feel like a part of the community.

Uncategorized

My experience using social media

I’ve used almost all of the most popular social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. By far the ones I use most frequently and find the most useful are Twitter and Facebook.

I like Facebook for connecting with friends and family. It’s an easy way to stay up to date with them as well as let them know how I’m doing. For example, my grandma and I went to New York City a few weeks again and instead of having to text or call several people so they knew we were alright, we just updated Facebook and everyone who would be worried could see it.

When I was more active on this blog, I also had a Facebook page created for it so that people could see there when I had made a new review. It was very helpful in making sure readers who don’t normally use WordPress that often could see when I made posts.

I use Twitter in a completely different way. I almost exclusively only follow organizations, authors, reviewers, and other professionals on Twitter. It’s where I stay updated on world events and what my favorite creators are doing. I don’t really follow people I know in real life on Twitter.

As with Facebook, I had posts automatically go to Twitter when I was more active as a review blogger. It let more people see my posts and helped my blog gain a bigger audience. Twitter also helped connect me with authors as a reviewer. Twitter allowed one of my favorite authors, Gail Carriger, to contact me and ask me to review an advanced reader copy of one of her upcoming novellas.

Both of these social medias would be very useful in a library setting for the same reason I had blog posts automatically post to both Twitter and Facebook. It’d allow the library to reach a bigger audience since these two social media have the biggest user base. If the library has a blog it could automatically post to both and let the patrons know what’s going on more quickly then periodically checking the blog.

Even without the blog aspect, it’d be easier in general to reach patrons via Twitter and Facebook since people regularly check both. These social networks help the library give updates on events that are happening, library news, and anything else the library may want to convey to their patrons. Like how the official IUPUI Twitter used it to update students that the Summer Session I semester is officially over.

twitter example

Both of these social networks are extremely useful both professionally and personally. It’s hard for any organization or company to survive without a presence on both.

Fantasy, paranormal, romance, urban fantasy

Series Review: Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews

 

ilona andrews books

Title: Kate Daniels Series
Author: Ilona Andrews
Publisher: Ace
Length: Varies from 260-400 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Overall Series Rating: 4 folded pages out of 5

Magic Bites Blurb:

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic…

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

Review:
What better way to start my comeback than with a huge series. The Kate Daniels series, by the husband and wife writing duo Ilona Andrews, currently has 9 main books, 5 novellas, and one online only snippet from a different character’s point of view. The tenth and probably final book is set to come out early 2018.

Let me just say, I LOVE this series. I read the entirety of it in about 3 weeks. I was so sad when I realized I had to leave the wonderful world and character building behind because I’d finished all the books available. I’m not even one to read novellas for series I love because usually I find they don’t really add much for me. But I read every single one.

I want to be Kate Daniels when I grow up. She’s fierce, independent, and caring. Honestly, reading from her point of view and seeing everything she does in these books made me want to start taking some kind of martial art or self defense course so I could be just one tenth of a bad ass that she is. Through the series you see her grow and develop in a way I hadn’t realized a book character could. Keep in mind this is the first series I’ve read that’s longer than Harry Potter.

I love all the side characters pretty much equally. Even the ones your supposed to hate or at the very least find annoying like Saiman. I was always sad when her adventures didn’t bring her into contact with the him even if he was absolutely infuriating at times.

On top of all this, Andrews’ writing is superb. It’s fast paced and snappy. I hardly ever found myself bored even in the middle of info dumps or plot set up; both of which get absolutely tedious in fantasy novels for me.

This series is a must read for urban fantasy lovers. It’s so good I’m already considering rereading it to try and catch things I may have missed. Also, don’t be put off by me saying it’s also a romance. It’s very light and definitely stays on the back burner when compared to the plot.

As a side note: The covers of these books are absolutely horrendous and it’s a surprise I read them at all but please don’t let them fool you. The stories inside are amazing.

Fantasy, romance, steampunk

Book Review: Heartless by Gail Carriger

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Title: Heartless
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 448 Pages, Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Warning: Spoilers for books 1-3 possibly in blurb and review!

Click to see previous book reviews for the series – First book: Soulless Second book: Changeless Third book: Blameless

Blurb:

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband’s past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux’s latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines, Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf’s clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama’s second best closet?

Review:

More and more with this series I find myself both really enjoying and kind of not enjoying it. Heartless had me completely enthralled for the first 200 pages or so but then it got to the action bits and the climax and I sort of lost interest. I think I just don’t care for the way Carriger writes her action scenes but the build up is always a lot of fun.

As always, Alexia was delightful. I loved how it was obvious to everyone the pregnancy was effecting both her brain and her body but she refused to see it. It seems like something Alexia would do. She couldn’t believe she could change simply because she was pregnant even though she was definitely more forgetful and emotional. I really enjoyed seeing this side of Alexia.

Lord Akeldama and Floote were just as charming as before, too. Carriger has no problem building and maintaining interesting characters and I’m very glad to see this. However, Lord Maccon was absent just a bit too much in this novel for my liking, especially considering the previous novel had Alexia and Lord Maccon fighting and not being together.

I still really enjoyed this novel and once I have a small break from the steampunk I’m excited to read the final book in the Parasol Protectorate series.

Wrap Up/TBR

July 2016 Wrap up

july 2016 wrap up

Another month gone! So much happened in July. I rebranded, sort of, to include more of what I actually review. I started officially reviewing video games along side books and comics. I turned 23. What a month!

I definitely didn’t do as well as I wanted with posting reviews this month but it was a very busy month!! Anyway, with summer winding down, I’ll definitely be less busy and there will be lots more reviews~

July Wrap Up

Reviews

Reviews Rated 5:
Reviews Rated 4-4.5:
Reviews Rated 3-3.5:
Reviews Rated 2-2.5:
  • None!
Reviews Rated 1-1.5:
  • None!!
Books I’ve given up on (when I get 5 books total I’ll make another DNF post):
  • None!!!

Total reviews for July: 4

Other Posts this Month

 

Game, Video Games

Game Review: Empire TV Tycoon

ETT 01

Game: Empire TV Tycoon
Developer: Dreamsite Games
Publisher: Dreamsite Games
Release Date: October 20, 2015
For: Windows, Mac, Linux, SteamOS
Genre: Management, Simulation, Strategy
Rating: 3 Achievements

Description (from Steam):

Empire TV Tycoon is a game in which you manage a TV channel and fight for audiences taking decisions that will project your channel to fame and fortune.You will decide the content of your channel, select advertisers, hire workers, make your own productions, hire actors, and engage in much more.

Review:

I’ve had this game on my wishlist for a long while and was recently gifted it for my birthday. It seems right up my alley. I enjoyed it but I also had a few issues with it.

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My biggest issue is the tutorial. It long and wordy. It made it really difficult to want to play the game because you have to read several boxes with hunks of text in a bad font. The font is nice when used for small things but paragraphs telling you how the game works is not easy to read.

Aside from the font and wall of text you get in the tutorial,  the game introduces too many things at once. I’d like to be eased a little more slowly into all the various mechanics. It’s one thing after another and I found myself forgetting key mechanics because the tutorial just hits you with one thing after another. It sets a bad pace for the overall game as well since once you get passed the tutorial it’s rather monotonous since new mechanics aren’t introduced. After the tutorial it’s just another 28 days of making movies/shows and setting a schedule for your channel.

ETT 04

It is a fun little management game, a favorite genre of mine, and I enjoyed some of the puns and references to movies. There’s a character that looks like Dr Emmett Brown and some of the movies are named after real movies. It’s cute but I’m worried it might get the game taken down for copy right infringement.

I do enjoy the art style. It’s sort of classic pixel art with a twist and it’s a nice aesethic for the game. I also like how it adopts a more cartoonish style when you look at the audience watching your channel at that moment (bottom right of the picture below).ETT 05

Overall, the game isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. I could take it or leave it. I’ll end up playing it when I’m in the mood for that kind of game but I don’t think I can get too much fun from it in the long run.

 

humor, short story, young adult

Book Review: Open Mics: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices edited by Mitali Perkins

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Title: Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices
Editor: Mitali Perkins
Publisher: Candlewick
Length: 144 Pages, Ebook
Genre: Short Stories, Young Adult, Humor
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Using humor as the common denominator, a multicultural cast of YA authors steps up to the mic to share stories touching on race. Listen in as ten YA authors — some familiar, some new — use their own brand of humor to share their stories about growing up between cultures. Henry Choi Lee discovers that pretending to be a tai chi master or a sought-after wiz at math wins him friends for a while — until it comically backfires. A biracial girl is amused when her dad clears seats for his family on a crowded subway in under a minute flat, simply by sitting quietly in between two uptight white women. Edited by acclaimed author and speaker Mitali Perkins, this collection of fiction and nonfiction uses a mix of styles as diverse as their authors, from laugh-out-loud funny to wry, ironic, or poingnant, in prose, poetry, and comic form.

Review:
I found this book by chance when going through my libraries ebook collection. After reading it I immediately preordered a physical copy of it because I need it on my shelves to reread. The short stories and poems seamlessly show what it’s like to grow up having different cultures while being funny.

Personally, I preferred the short stories. They helped get the point across better and allowed for more detail. As a person who doesn’t necessarily care for poetry, though, I would take this with a grain of salt if I were you.

I read the entire collection in a matter of a few hours but each of the stories definitely had me thinking for the rest of the week. Open Riffs opens up so many new perspectives that are hard to see unless you are experiencing them yourself. I hope to see more diverse stories similar to these in Young Adult in both collections similar to Open Riffs and in full length novels.

I can’t say much without spoiling the stories, unfortunately, but I will say that the stories had me both laughing at some points and tearing up at others. It’s a book I hope will be included in school curriculum’s because I think it makes diversity easier to understand and can help build a better world view. I enjoyed this book immensely and strongly encourage anyone even slightly interested to pick it up and give it a try.

App, Game

Game Review: Pokémon Go

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Game: Pokémon Go
Publisher: Niantic, Inc
Release Date: July 6, 2016
For: iOS and Android devices
Rating: 3 Achievements

Summary (From Apple App Store):
Venusaur, Charizard, Blastoise, Pikachu, and many other Pokémon have been discovered on planet Earth!

Now’s your chance to discover and capture the Pokémon all around you—so get your shoes on, step outside, and explore the world. You’ll join one of three teams and battle for the prestige and ownership of Gyms with your Pokémon at your side.

Pokémon are out there, and you need to find them. As you walk around a neighborhood, your smartphone will vibrate when there’s a Pokémon nearby. Take aim and throw a Poké Ball… You’ll have to stay alert, or it might get away!

Search far and wide for Pokémon and items
Certain Pokémon appear near their native environment—look for Water-type Pokémon by lakes and oceans. Visit PokéStops, found at interesting places like museums, art installations, historical markers, and monuments, to stock up on Poké Balls and helpful items.

Catching, hatching, evolving, and more
As you level up, you’ll be able to catch more-powerful Pokémon to complete your Pokédex. You can add to your collection by hatching Pokémon Eggs based on the distances you walk. Help your Pokémon evolve by catching many of the same kind.

Take on Gym battles and defend your Gym
As your Charmander evolves to Charmeleon and then Charizard, you can battle together to defeat a Gym and assign your Pokémon to defend it against all comers.

It’s time to get moving—your real-life adventures await!

Review:
I, like many others, have become kind of obsessed with this game since it was released last week. I’ve been playing this basically nonstop and I’m pretty sure my friends who don’t care about Pokémon in the least are sick of hearing me talk about it. However, as much as I love it, I also have quite a few gripes.

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AR On

I’ll start with the good things. This game is so nostalgic for me. Anyone who’s played the original games or watched the TV show has thought about what it would be like to catch Pokémon in the real world and this game allows you to do that, whether it be with the augmented reality (AR) on or off.

Although the style of catching Pokémon and battling is very

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AR Off

different from the original games, it still feels similar. You have the anxious wait of hoping the rare, very powerful Squirtle doesn’t escape. Staring at my phone, the anxious feeling in my stomach is pretty much the same as actually playing the game while waiting for that third wiggle of the Pokéball.

 

img_0837I also very much enjoy that the game is getting people out and about. Exploring neighborhoods and meeting people who are trying to do the same things. One of the game mechanics is hatching eggs for Pokémon and in order to hatch said eggs you need to walk a certain number of kilometers. The more KM for an egg the more likely the egg will be something rare and/or powerful.

Now for the bad. When the game first launched the servers were down more than they were up. Thankfully, they’ve fixed this issue in recent updates. However, this doesn’t fix my main other gripe. The tutorial is severely lacking.

I understand that the original games don’t have a very detailed tutorial but it’s still way better than what you’re given in Pokémon Go. Most of the mechanics of the game are never explained you’re just left guessing or taking to the internet to find tips and guides.

img_0841Just a fair warning, this game does feature microtransactions. So you can pay real money for gold and then use gold to upgrade your inventory or buy more equipment. I understand that the App needs to generate revenue somehow and I’d prefer this over obnoxious ads but for some people it’s a no go.

I’m excited to see where this app goes in the future. Niantic has stated that they will be adding Pokémon trading in the future. Personally, I’m hoping they expand the Pokémon included so that my favorite, Mudkip, will eventually be in game. For now, I’m content collecting all 151 Pokémon.

 

 

chicklit, new adult, romance

Book Review: Eversea by Natasha Boyd

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Title: Eversea
Author: Natasha Boyd
Publisher: NPRB
Length: 359 Pages, Ebook
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Chicklit
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Warning: This book has explicit scenes and is not meant for those under 18.

Blurb:
An orphaned, small-town, southern girl, held hostage by responsibility and self-doubt.

A Hollywood A-list mega-star, on the run from his latest scandal and with everything to lose.

A chance encounter that leads to an unlikely arrangement and epic love affair that will change them both forever.

When his co-star and real-life girlfriend is caught cheating on him by the tabloids, A-list hottie, Jack Eversea, finds himself in sleepy Butler Cove, South Carolina. Jack hopes the sultry southern heat in this tiny coastal Lowcountry town will hide him not only from the tabloids and his cheating girlfriend, but his increasingly vapid life and the people who run it. He doesn’t count on meeting Keri Ann Butler.

Keri Ann has relied on herself so long, dealing with her family’s death and the responsibilities of keeping up her family’s historic mansion, that boys and certainly the meager offering of eligible boys in Butler Cove, have never figured into her equation. But fate has other plans. Suddenly face to face with the man who played the movie role of her favorite fictional character, Jack has Keri Ann yearning for everything she has previously avoided … and Jack must decide whether this funny, sassy girl is worth changing his life for, before his mistakes catch up to him.

Review:
I picked up this book because it was free and I was in the mood for romance. I think it’s no secret that I tend not to expect a lot from free romance ebooks but this book packed a punch! I was pretty much flung across a room by how much this book surprised me and I read it in about 4 hours. I couldn’t put it down.

Keri Ann Butler is probably the best female character I have come across in a very long time. She’s strong, independent, and for the most part confident in herself and her abilities. She isn’t afraid to plainly show her emotions no matter how up and down they may be and the best part is she STAYS that way.

The strong characteristics she starts out with she keeps throughout the book. The entrance of a sudden romance doesn’t change who she is. My biggest pet peeve in romance books, romcoms, Korean dramas, and other similar media types is that the woman tends to suddenly become completely dependent of the man she gets involved with. All of her amazing characteristics disappear to show just how “awesome” their love is and how it’s meant to be. This may be a bit of a tangent but I want to make it clear that Keri Ann Butler is amazing and I need more female protagonists like her in basically everything. Though she isn’t without her flaws.

Jack Eversea is also a great character. He’s broken and mysterious and hunky. Pretty much everything you could ask for in a romance novel. But he also has a lot of character and depth outside of the cliche.

If it isn’t obvious, I really loved this book. The side characters were also fantastic and I can’t wait to read the side story about Jazz, Keri Ann’s best friend, because she was also really well written and developed.

My one issue with this story, really, is the writing in certain parts. The explicit scenes were bogged down by using weird words to describe things. I understand the Keri Ann was supposed to be inexperienced and innocent but constantly describing sex using words like apex and center is just not hot. I also found Boyd to overuse cliches like “wet hot heat” and other similar phrases.

The plot was interesting. I normally get bored with romance books because the plot doesn’t carry well but this one worked. So much so that when I finished it I needed to know what happened with the characters so much I bought the rest of the series in a Kindle set. I don’t normally feel the need to read other books in a new adult series but I couldn’t stop myself with this series.

Overall, this was a fantastic read. I hope more people seek out this series because honestly, it’s probably the best new adult book I’ve ever read. The first book in this series is still free on Amazon if you’d like to give it a go.

speed run, Uncategorized, Video Games

Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) 2016

For those of you who don’t know, I am an avid video game watcher and player. I enjoy both aspects especially since I’m not necessarily good at video games.

sgdq2016-banner

Games Done Quick hosts two 7 day, 24 hour live streams a year to raise money for charity. Basically people speed run games and those who watch donate money just to donate to the cause or to “bid” on certain perks. For example, in the Awesome Games Done Quick (basically the Winter marathon), during the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix speed run people could donate money to bid on what Disney song they wanted to be sung. It was a really fun bid.

Awesome Games Done Quick 2016 is currently going on. It’s running from July 3rd-July 9th and all donations go to Doctors Without Borders. You can also order the official SGDQ 2016 t-shirts and $3 will go towards Doctors Without Borders. I already bought my SGDQ shirt and I can’t wait to see the bids that come up throughout the week to figure out when I want to donate.

This awesome event is put on and the speed runners don’t get any money, they do it just to have fun and raise money. It’s a great event that I want to bring attention to.

Humble Bundle has also joined and has a special bundle that will benefit Doctors Without Borders and features a few popular games as long as you pay at least $15.

As a side note, I think I might start expanding my blog to talk about books, video games, and music.