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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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Amazon’s Updated Kindle Line Adds HDX For an Even Better Selection

Kindle Fire HDX comes with Mayday button supportAt this time Amazon has expanded their hardware offerings to include three types of Kindle. The Kindle eReader is still going strong, while the Kindle Fire HD and new Kindle Fire HDX justifiably occupy their space atop the Android tablet market. The release of the HDX also beings in a lot of great features that users have been requesting since Amazon’s first foray into tablets.

Improvements added to the Kindle Fire HDX over the Kindle Fire HD go beyond the incremental changes that we would take as a matter of course. There is the expected power increase, bumping it up to a 2.2 GHz Quad-Core CPU, as well as slightly improved battery life, but that is only the start of things. The HDX is also lighter, has more cameras (Front-facing added to the 7” model, Front- and Rear-facing now included on the 8.9”), and features a higher resolution screen with greater pixel density than the iPad 3.

The biggest benefits aren’t available from hardware specs, though. Fire OS brings a lot to the table. The most-hyped addition is the Mayday button. This will connect you instantly with tech support and allow they to walk you through any problem you might have, giving them access to your screen and the ability to highlight various portions of it to point out important functions.

Perhaps most important to device adoption is the expanded enterprise support that Amazon has put in place. A lot of people have been using the Kindle Fire at work and Amazon has taken steps to make it more useful for that purpose. There is now VPN support and MDM available through companies like Citrix. It makes for a much friendlier BYOD offering.

The existing Kindle Fire HD remains an excellent tablet in its own right, despite not measuring up on paper to its successor. The fact that the HD remains only $139 (8.9” – $229) compared to the HDX’s $229 (8.9” – $379) helps to assume that it isn’t going to be abandoned right away. Still, if you have the money and the inclination then the HDX is definitely the superior product.

New Kindle Paperwhite has greatly improved lighting and contrastThe eReader side of Amazon’s Kindle line has been fading away in the last year or two. It doesn’t get much spotlight now that there isn’t much room to grow. Still, they did recently update the Kindle Paperwhite to a new version and find a few ways to make it even better.

The improvements in the new Paperwhite are small, but noticeable. It is a bit faster, somewhat more responsive, and contains a better light than the original version. Most importantly they have evened out the lighting a bit around the edges. There are unlikely to be any complaints about the way things look now. While they may not be betting everything on eReaders anymore, Amazon hasn’t left Kindle readers behind.

Amazon Joins With HTC to Enter Smartphone Market

It appears that the long-rumored Amazon smartphone will become a reality at some point in 2014. We have heard talk and speculation about it since as early as 2011, but now it seems that HTC has been tapped to help Amazon put together a real contender to stand up to Apple and Google.

People familiar with the project recently mentioned to FT that at least one device is in an advanced stage of development and that if things don’t change in the meantime there is every reason to expect a launch sometime next year. Amazon, of course, declines to confirm these rumors.

If Amazon were to release a device using the same sales philosophy as it employs with the existing Kindle line – sell near cost and make your profits through use – then there is little doubt that adoption would be strong.

This would put HTC in a bit of a bind with Google, who has proven to be proficient at protecting their brand over the past couple years. Given the release of HTC’s less than successful Facebook Phone, though, they probably have the details about that already under consideration.

Watch for more news toward the end of this year. Amazon might not be willing to confirm, but a Kindle smartphone is going to have leaks along the production line and it should be particularly interesting to see what these reveal along the way.

Kindle Fire Father’s Day Sale Going On Now

Going on now through the end of June 8th, Amazon is offering a $20 discount on any Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9”, or Kindle Fire HD 8.9” 4G if you remember to use the promo code “DADSFIRE” when you check out.  Supplies will probably hold out through the end, but you might want to get in early if you’re interested.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you take advantage of this offer.

Kindle Fire HDThe most important is probably that each of these models includes Special Offers from Amazon and its affiliates.  These can be removed, but it requires a $15 fee to be paid in addition to the purchase price.

Not a huge problem, but it’s worth being aware of since this is a sale centered on a gift giving holiday.  To be fair, the only time you’re likely to notice the ads is when you’re first turning on your tablet.  They mainly take up the lock screen.

It’s also important to note that none of the Kindle Fire HD options involved in this sale come with their own wall charger.  They will instead have a Micro USB cord to connect to any convenient computer.  If you have a phone charger with a removable USB cord, chances are good that you can simply plug your Kindle into that using the included cord.  Amazon doesn’t recommend that, but they’re selling independent wall plugs for $20 apiece so they might be biased.

The hardest part of this deal is really just deciding which model is the right one.  They are all fine devices, but they excel in different ways.

The Kindle Fire HD is the obvious choice in terms of price.  $179 for the 16GB model is a great deal.  You get a highly portable tablet with a great screen and some of the best sound available for the best price anywhere.

Of course, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9” is even better in its own ways.  At just $279 you’ll be able to pick up a significantly larger tablet.  Watching video on the larger model is much more pleasant, even if it means that you’re not going to be fitting it into even the largest pockets.  The sound is also much improved here since the speakers are able to sit even further apart.

The Kindle Fire HD 8.9” 4G is basically the same thing.  It’s a lot more expensive at $379, though.  Really this should only be considered if you’re giving it to somebody who travels outside the range of wireless networks on a regular basis.  The extra $100 won’t bring nearly as much benefit as you would think to most people.

While you’re shopping for Father’s Day, keep in mind that the Kindle is only as good as its media.  There are all sorts of books that are free or cheap enough to be easy to include with the tablet itself.  The app selection over at Amazon is also quite a bit more impressive than it used to be.  It’s easy to make a good gift great with just a little effort.

Introducing Amazon Coins: A Digital Currency for Kindle Fire Owners

Amazon’s most recent Kindle Fire marketing effort is the introduction of Amazon Coins.  They’ve released their own digital currency that can be used to purchase apps and games from the Amazon Appstore.  On the surface it’s a confusing move, given the larger trend of companies moving away from internally controlled currencies, but there’s a lot to be said for the idea if it is handled correctly.

Most users should already have received the email informing them that 500 Amazon Coins have been added to their account.  That will hopefully give people a chance to get interested in the idea.  This will not be blocking off real currency-based purchases, of course.  That’s going to be an important consideration, since systems that completely replace all other forms of money with their own tend to enjoy little enthusiasm.  One mistake easily avoided.  Even Microsoft has been forced to begin removing their digital currency thanks to that approach despite a large and dedicated user base.

Most likely, the goal here is twofold: Encourage more frequent spending and allow for more options where children are concerned.  The addition of an alternate currency model that can be used for these tasks makes perfect sense so long as they are not forced on the customer without their input.

Consider the potential for the Amazon Coin as a micro-transaction currency.  Rather than needing to enter a password for every payment, a customer can purchase 100 coins for a dollar and spend them at their leisure with no hassle.  Abuse is limited since there is a hard limit to how much of the currency is present at any given time.  Annoying lists including dozens of $0.05-0.10 transactions are removed from statements.  Customers even feel more free to make the occasional transaction they might otherwise have avoided, since the Coins are already sitting there.

When it comes to children, this has the additional benefit of security.  Nobody wants a repeat of the early iPad problems that resulted in thousands of dollars worth of purchases being made by those too young to grasp what they were doing, but at the same time parents often want to be able to allow free use of the devices.  By setting up a separate wallet for this sort of thing, Amazon could allow these parents to offer an allowance of sorts that doesn’t require regular input of a password or PIN.

Amazon is known for offering frequent promotions with purchases.  This will certainly continue to be the case.  While the occasional free MP3 or video credit might be beneficial for some and overlooked for others, it’s going to be easier to encourage people to make use of these freebies if they have a wallet to fill up with Amazon Coins.  This will encourage app purchasing and use while giving developers even more incentive to join the platform.  Considering the fact that Amazon’s Appstore for Android already shows superior returns when compared to the Google Play app store, it’s only going to get harder for anybody to justify staying away.

Amazon Picks Up Goodreads For Kindle Social and More

GoodreadsA few weeks ago, Amazon announced that they were going to acquire Goodreads, one of the most popular social sites on the internet for book lovers.  Goodreads has become a great place to go for sharing reviews, recommendations, ideas, and more since its debut in 2007.  While this is certain to be mutually beneficial in many ways, we have to assume that the goal here is to develop the Kindle Social experience into a real selling point for the eReader line.

The Kindle has an interesting position with regard to social interaction.

By its very nature it allows greater privacy than most paper books would.  No matter what situation you happen to be in, nobody can tell what you are reading without looking directly over your shoulder or asking you.  This cuts out the opportunity for people to randomly discover shared literary interests.

At the same time, because it offers access to practically any book in print at a moment’s notice there is a lot of opportunity for sharing and recommendations.  Users just need a way to willingly share their activity now that book covers can’t do the job.  The current integration with Twitter and Facebook are alright in this regard, but really a dedicated space for that sort of posting would go over better.  Hence the Goodreads acquisition.

There are a few things that both organizations stand to gain beyond that, of course.

One of the main services that Goodreads provides its users is book recommendations.  Regardless of what your opinions are of their other business strengths, nobody is going to deny that Amazon is the best there is at accurately targeting recommendations based on previous purchases.  Taking that technology and applying it to these book lists will improve the performance immensely.

That helps to drive up business at Amazon, since the Kindle Store remains the best place to buy eBooks.  In addition to the sales, there’s a wealth of data to work with on the Goodreads site.  Tying the review system there into the main Amazon site could provide much more accurate information for potential shoppers.  The associations and trends found between various readers will probably do some good in refining recommendations further as well.

It’s going to be a while yet before anything changes.  The acquisition that was just announced won’t actually take place for a couple months.  Even after that there will need to be a fair amount of work before anything is ready for release.

Millions of readers are about to get a much more robust social experience out of their reading.

Reviewing ColcaSac Uintah for the Kindle Fire

ColcaSaclogoI recently got the opportunity to try out a ColcaSac sleeve for my Kindle Fire and thought that it might be useful to share my thoughts.  It’s proven to be an interesting product.


ColcaSac Uintah for Kindle FireFirst impressions

The sleeve I ended up with was the $29.95 Uintah style for the Kindle Fire.  A fairly minimal design made of undyed hemp canvas and lined with a surprisingly soft recycled polyester fleece.  This fits together with the company’s environmental concerns without sacrificing quality.  There is absolutely no question, holding the sleeve in my hands, that this is a durable product.

Getting the device into the sleeve for the first time was somewhat daunting.  The packaging actually instructs you to brace the device against your body while pulling it on and the instructions mention that the fit should be tight fitting, but that doesn’t get the idea across well enough.

It is very clear that my Kindle will not just fall out of this sleeve even if I leave the flap at the top closed.

After some use

ColcaSac InteriorOk, the horrible snugness that made me fear I might never be able to retrieve my tablet again has faded somewhat.  Now that I’ve been using it for a couple days, things have stretched out enough that while there is still no danger of the Kindle falling out I will at least never have a problem sliding it in and out.  It’s clearly a case that has to be broken in.

In terms of other performance, the Uintah sleeve has held up well.  A spilled drink left no stain on the canvas, and it was thick enough to prevent quickly-cleaned liquid from making its way through.  The fleece lining is thick enough and soft enough that there is no reason to suspect anything has a chance of scratching through it.

The stitching holds up quite well and nothing seems to be glued together.  I tested a fair amount and honestly can’t tell whether the canvas itself wouldn’t give out before the seams.  It’s a well put together product.

The one concern I have is with fall damage.  As with most sleeves, the shock of an impact will translate directly through to the device.  This one is better than most in that regard, but the edge with the closure flap is particularly vulnerable.  You would have to be unlucky enough to drop it just right, but these things can happen.

Final Thoughts

I’m a fan of folio cases for eReaders and tablets.  To me they offer the least inconvenience during frequent use while still providing protection.  That said, if I were to switch to a sleeve for regular use I would definitely make it one of these.

The ColcaSac Uintah design is as utilitarian as I could hope for without being unattractive or bulky.  While it’s true that there could be some damage during falls, that’s going to depend on the situation and the device you’re holding in one.  The Kindle Fire has already proven itself fairly resistant to fall damage from under four feet or so.  The Kindle eReaders weigh less and would get even more benefit from the use of a sleeve with this kind of padding.  It seems like a pointless concern unless you’re really hard on your electronics.

Remember that it will take some time to break in.  I’m not exaggerating the tightness of a freshly shipped Uintah sleeve.  It took a good week and probably 20 insertions/removals before things finally stretched just enough to be comfortable.  Definitely worth it to avoid stretching to the point of looseness later, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

In addition to sleeves for the Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch, and Kindle Paperwhite, ColcaSac makes sleeves for the iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone, and Macbook.  I’m also told that a Kindle Fire HD design is on the way.

Check them out at http://www.colcasac.com/

Amazon Acquires Ivona Software

Amazon announced today that they will acquire Ivona Software.  Ivona is the company that currently supplies the Kindle Fire line of tablets with its speech recognition capabilities.  Although there is little in the way of details regarding the terms of purchase, we can be certain that this signals an increased emphasis on audio input in the future for these products.

The immediate assumption that has to be made after this acquisition is that Amazon has its eye on a Siri imitation or something with similar capabilities.  Now naturally there has been some disappointment over how poorly Siri has lived up to the hype for iPhone users, but that doesn’t change anything about the appeal of the concept or the possibility that this could be a big thing for the future.

That’s especially true if Amazon ever comes through with their frequently-rumored Kindle Phone.  While we haven’t exactly seen any details emerging so far, indicating that this is a long way off yet even if it will probably be a future focus for the company, building this sort of capability to establish feature parity with Apple and Google products only makes sense.  There wouldn’t be much room to undercut prices the way the Kindle Fire made its big first impression on the tablet scene, so being able to line up with other popular smartphones feature for feature could be particularly important.

On the tablet side of things, there are other ways that Ivona could help things improve. Since the Kindle Fire HD is a consumption-based media tablet, it’s only natural to assume that something along the line of the Microsoft Kinect’s voice controls could be in the works as well.  Hooking up a tablet to stream Amazon Instant Video to your HDTV and being able to control it with a word from across the room would be quite nice if they can pull it off properly.

The potential for improving accessibility is also worth noting.  Ivona already works in various ways to improve support for the blind and visually impaired.  That would probably be more useful on the eReader side of things.  Amazon’s initial attempts to get their eReading line made into a standard educational tool were hindered by its inability to accommodate the visually impaired.  They have come a long way since then in various products, but this could offer new directions for them to approach the problem from.

Perhaps most important, though less impressive in terms of new feature selections, is the possibility that this will lead to more expansive localization options.  The press release makes a point of noting that Ivona offers voice and language products in 44 voices across 17 languages with a number more still in development.  Given the international growth of the Kindle line as a whole, that’s not a bad resource to be able to draw on.

Daily Deals: a lot of books and a game

The Shadow HunterToday Amazon offers The Shadow Hunter by Michael Prescott just for $1.99.

Abby Sinclair deals in risk assessment—but it’s lives, not fortunes, that are at stake. The Los Angeles investigator goes undercover to figure out whether a client’s stalker is simply an overzealous fan or a dangerous psychopath. She’s learned the hard way that the difference isn’t always apparent until it’s too late. In Raymond Hickle’s case, however, Abby has no doubts.

The awkward loner’s fixation with gorgeous news anchor Kris Barwood has progressed from creepy to murderous. So Abby befriends Hickle, trying to gauge when and how he’ll strike. Yet her target is as wily as he is unhinged, and Abby has unwittingly made herself a madman’s latest obsession. With her reputation and life on the line, Abby races to save Kris before Hickle eliminates them both.

New York Times best-selling author Michael Prescott takes readers on an adrenaline-pumping thrill ride packed with ingenious twists and gut-churning suspense.

Some words about the Author

Michael Prescott was born and raised in New Jersey and attended Wesleyan University, majoring in film studies. After college, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a screenwriter. In 1986 he sold his first novel, and has gone on to pen six thrillers under the name Brian Harper and ten books as Michael Prescott. He has sold more than one million print copies and is finding a large new audience through e-books. Fan-favorite character Abby Sinclair, the “stalker’s stalker” first introduced in The Shadow Hunter, has since appeared in three more books.

 

Grand SophyFor those who loves to read Romance Amazon offers Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer for $1.99.

Sophy sets everything right for her desperate family in one of Georgette Heyer’s most popular Regency romances.

When Lady Ombersley agrees to take in her young niece, no one expects Sophy, who sweeps in and immediately takes the ton by storm. Sophy discovers that her aunt’s family is in desperate need of her talent for setting everything right: Ceclia is in love with a poet, Charles has tyrannical tendencies that are being aggravated by his grim fiancee, her uncle is of no use at all, and the younger children are in desperate need of some fun and freedom. By the time she’s done, Sophy has commandeered Charles’s horses, his household, and finally, his heart.

Some words about the Author

Georgette Heyer, who wrote over fifty novels died in 1974.

 

 

GenesisIn the section of Sci-Fi / Fantasy Amazon offers Genesis by Bernard Beckett just for $1.99.

Anax thinks she knows history. Her grueling all-day Examination has just begun, and if she passes, she’ll be admitted into the Academy—the elite governing institution of her utopian society. But Anax is about to discover that for all her learning, the history she’s been taught isn’t the whole story. And the Academy isn’t what she believes it to be. In this brilliant novel of dazzling ingenuity, Anax’s examination leads us into a future where we are confronted with unresolved questions raised by science and philosophy. Centuries old, these questions have gained new urgency in the face of rapidly developing technology. What is consciousness? What makes us human? If artificial intelligence were developed to a high enough capability, what special status could humanity still claim? Outstanding and original, Beckett’s dramatic narrative comes to a shocking conclusion.

Some words about the Author

Bernard Beckett, born in 1967, is a high school teacher based in Wellington, New Zealand, where he teaches drama, mathematics, and English. Genesis was written while he was on a Royal Society genetics research fellowship investigating DNA mutations. The book has already received international acclaim, including two literary prizes in Beckett’s native New Zealand. Rights to Genesis have been sold in twenty-one countries.

 

A Dress for Me!A Dress for Me! by Sue Fliess, Mike Laughead is a book from kids section just for $1.99 for today only.

Should we shop now? I say, Yes! Mom says I can choose a dress! Hippo is looking for a new dress There are so many choices! Dresses with beads and fringe, dresses with shiny sequins, dresses with stripes and checkers, and more! Watch me as I try them all! Will Hippo find the perfect dress? Sue Fliess’s rhyming text and Mike Laughead’s adorable digital illustrations bring to life Hippo’s exciting day at the mall.

Some words about the Author

Sue Fliess is the author of Tons of Trucks illustrated by Betsy Snyder, as well as a number of upcoming picture books. She lives in Mountain View, California, with her husband, two sons, and their guinea pig.

Mike Laughead is the illustrator of a number of children’s books, including a series of easy readers written by Anastasia Suen. He lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with his wife and two daughters.

 

 

Bubbles TouchBubbles Touch is a free game for today only.

“Classic Bubble Shooter + an addictive arcade mode! Shoot the bubbles!”

It’s classic Bubbles and Bubble Shooter game + an addictive arcade mode! Let’s start breaking bubbles! Play the beautiful classic mode or challenge yourself in the new addictive arcade mode! Can you break the bubbles before the descending stone trap gets you?

The idea is to create a group of at least three bubbles to explode them. Bubbles that are not attached to anything get dropped. Each dropped bubble gives you an extra bubble to shoot! Drop special balls to get extra features like the chainsaw ball!

Product features:

  • Enjoy a classic bubble shooter game
  • Drop special bubbles for extra weapons
  • Burst the bubbles before they get you

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited: New on the Kindle Fire and Fire HD

Amazon has launched a new service for Kindle Fire and Fire HD owners called Kindle FreeTime Unlimited.  This is an extension of the Kindle Fire feature, Kindle FreeTime, which allows parents to activate parental controls and set time limits on their child’s screen activity.

This service, designed for ages 3-8, provides a pre-sorted selection of TV shows and games from big names such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Marvel, Sesame Street, and more.  Amazon has built up a robust collection of apps and TV shows in their appstore and video library.

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited is a monthly service.  For Prime members it is $2.99 a month for one child, or $6.99 a month for the whole family.  For non Prime members it is just a few dollars more a month.  New Kindle Fire owners get one month for free.

Since the internet is so easily available these days, it is tough to monitor what kids watch or do online.  Kindle FreeTime Unlimited is age-appropriate from the get-go, so there’s no need to worry about your child coming across something they aren’t supposed to be watching.  Individual profiles can also be set up so that every member of the family can have their own content on the same device.

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited will download as part of an upcoming over-the-air Kindle Fire software update.  The best part about the unlimited service is that there’s no need to worry about accidental in-app downloads to run up the monthly bill.  But at the same time, the parents still have the ability to set time limits using the original Kindle FreeTime features.

So, if you have the new Kindle Fire or Fire HD, keep an eye out for this new feature coming out soon. This is something that can be both fun and educational for the whole family to enjoy.

 

Kindle Fire HD 8.9” First Impressions

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD 8.9” tablet is now shipping out to many of those who got their preorders in early.  While new customers will have to wait until at least December 3rd for their new devices to be mailed, it’s a good time to take a look at what Amazon has done here and what the chances are that they will be able to mark a success in the large tablet section of the market.

Mostly I’m looking at the actual experience of using the new tablet.  Now that it’s possible to play with, we can get a good idea of how it’s going to go over with customers throughout the holiday season.

Display

The visuals are nice.  We’re working with a much higher resolution now and it shows.  The colors are basically the same as you find on the smaller model.  Not much more to say than that there is absolutely nothing to complain about here, even when it comes to watching HD video content.

Sound

Maybe it’s just because of how impressive the last Kindle Fire I had in hand turned out to sound, but I was looking forward to hearing what this one could do. The quality is almost exactly the same.  There might be some small improvement over the 7” model when it comes to the effectiveness of the stereo speakers but if so it’s minimal.  Still, both Kindle Fire HD models stand above every other tablet on the market today when it comes to sound quality.

General User Experience

The 8.9” model is a bit harder to use one-handed but it’s still not bad in that respect.  In every other way I find it superior to the 7”.  The weight is little enough that long use isn’t a problem.  The larger screen makes for better browsing and app usage.  The size is about as large as it can get without becoming as unwieldy as an iPad.  Not bashing the iPad, this is just going to see a lot more regular use than mine by comparison because of the slight decrease in size.

Overall

This would make a good selection for anybody wanting a slightly more powerful consumption tablet.  It’s smaller than either the Nexus 10 or the iPad, but larger than the less expensive budget tablets that Amazon is known for dominating.  The price is right at $299, though I would recommend springing for the extra storage available at $369 if the option is available.

If you want a portable device to watch video on, this is likely to be the best thing on the market for a while.  The Kindle Fire HD 8.9” combines sound, video, and streaming quality to make a truly excellent experience.

If you’re looking for a functional tablet for productivity, it’s still ok?  The iPad (and now Microsoft’s Surface) is the leader in terms of tablet productivity for a reason.  Make no mistake, Amazon isn’t intruding there yet.  This should be viewed purely as a means to tap into their ecosystem and the media sources it can link you to.  What it tries to do, however, the new Kindle Fire does very well indeed.

Daily Deals: My Mother Was Nuts, Three “Horrid Henry” Books and Velocispider

My Mother Was NutsToday Amazon offers My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall just for $1.99

Most people know Penny Marshall as the director of Big and A League of Their Own. What they don’t know is her trailblazing career was a happy accident. In this funny and intimate memoir, Penny takes us from the stage of The Jackie Gleason Show in 1955 to Hollywood’s star-studded sets, offering up some hilarious detours along the way. My Mother Was Nuts is an intimate backstage pass to Penny’s personal life, her breakout role on The Odd Couple, her exploits with Cindy Williams and John Belushi, and her travels across Europe with Art Garfunkel on the back of a motorcycle. We see Penny get married. And divorced. And married again (the second time to Rob Reiner). We meet a young Carrie Fisher, whose close friendship with Penny has spanned decades. And we see Penny at work with Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert De Niro, and Whitney Houston.Throughout it all, from her childhood spent tap dancing in the Bronx, to her rise as the star of Laverne & Shirley, Penny lived by simple rules: “try hard, help your friends, don’t get too crazy, and have fun.” With humor and heart, My Mother Was Nuts reveals there’s no one else quite like Penny Marshall.

Some words about the Author

Penny Marshall is an actress, producer, and director. From 1976 until 1983, she starred as Laverne DeFazio in the classic TV sitcom Laverne & Shirley. She went on to direct films such as Big (1988), the first movie directed by a woman to gross in excess of $100 million at the U.S. box office, Awakenings (1990), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and A League of Their Own (1992), which also made over $100 million in the U.S. More recently, she has directed episodes of United States of Tara (2009) and guest-starred on Portlandia (2011).

Horrid HenryAlso Amazon offers 3 books written by Francesca Simon, who is one of the world’s best-loved children’s authors and winner of the Galaxy Book Award in the United Kingdom. Each book in her best-selling Horrid Henry chapter book series contains four easy-to-read stories with hilarious illustrations by Tony Ross, and today only they’re just $0.99 each (80% off). Here is the list of the set:

1. Horrid Henry

2. Horrid Henry Rocks

3. Horrid Henry’s Underpants

Some words about the Author

Francesca Simon spent her childhood on the beach in California, and then went to Yale and Oxford Universities to study medieval history and literature. She now lives in London with her family.

 

 

VelocispiderVelocispider is a free game for 1 day only.

Part Spider, Part Velociraptor, it’s Velocispider!!! Take control of a heavily armed araknasaur in this retro arcade shoot-em-up.

Your delicious endangered eggs have attracted the taste buds of the evil CEO of the Robot Seafood Corporation. He will stop at nothing to feast on your eggs, defend them from his relentless army of aquatic robot beasts.

Protect your eggs through 20 levels of awesome retro arcade style action. Many different types of enemies will attack from many different patterns, keeping you on your toes the whole time. It is simple to pick it up and play for a few minutes, but so engaging that you’ll want to play the whole thing straight through!

Be careful: this game can take your real money from your pocket.

Tablets Help Visually Impaired Readers Read More Quickly

Before e readers and tablets came around, blind and visually impaired readers had to rely on braille, large-print, or audiobooks.  Now, the visually impaired can use a Kindle or other e-reader or tablet to enlarge the font right in the screen.  I can attest first-hand that reading a Kindle is much less tiresome on the eyes than reading print books.

That is definitely a huge step up from lugging large books around.  No more bulky travel bags.

The font adjustments in the Kindle are very helpful for creating a less tiresome reading experience, not only for the visually impaired, but for people who don’t have any vision loss.  That in turn enables us to read for as long as we want to.  As long as time permits, of course.

The latest studies show that people who have central vision loss can benefit from reading on a tablet such as the iPad or Kindle Fire.  The level of contrast between the text and background helps speed up the reader’s reading levels.  The sharpness and clarity of the text on the background is important.  On tablets, you can use either black on white, or white on black.  There is also a more neutral setting that doesn’t create such sharp contrast.  So, the added customization can fit the needs of more readers.

Overall, e readers have a lot of potential for opening up a world of reading and literacy for people who otherwise wouldn’t have that opportunity.

With that said, the technology still has a ways to go to meet the needs of all readers.  Text-to-speech is currently a controversial service, and isn’t offered on some Kindles.  Including audio menu navigation and the ability to read books via audio on the Kindle go a long way for those who can’t read print at all.

 

Daily Deals: 14 Kurt Vonnegut Books, Stolen and ShisenSho

Welcome to the Monkey House (Kurt Vonnegut series)Kurt Vonnegut is one of the greats, and today’s Kindle Daily Deal features 14 of his books for just $1.99 each (75% off). From Vonnegut’s short-story collection “Welcome to the Monkey House” to his satirical novel “God Bless You Mr. Rosewater,” today’s deal is perfect for Vonnegut fans and those just discovering his work. Here is the list of the set:

1. Welcome to the Monkey House (Kurt Vonnegut series)

2. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (Kurt Vonnegut Series)

3. Bluebeard (Kurt Vonnegut Series)

4. Galapagos (Kurt Vonnegut Series)

5. Deadeye Dick (Kurt Vonnegut Series)

6. Jailbird (Kurt Vonnegut Series)

7. Mother Night (Kurt Vonnegut Series)

8. Player Piano (Kurt Vonnegut Series)

9. Slapstick (Kurt Vonnegut series)

10. Timequake (Kurt Vonnegut series)

11. Bagombo Snuff Box (Kurt Vonnegut Series)

12. Fates Worse Than Death (Kurt Vonnegut Series)

13. Hocus Pocus (Kurt Vonnegut Series)

14. Palm Sunday (Kurt Vonnegut Series)

Some words about the Author

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut’s audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels–Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan–were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut’s work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut’s work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut’s reputation (like Mark Twain’s) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.

 

StolenStolen is a book for young readers. It was written by Vivian Vande Velde and cost only $1.99.

The same day that the villagers of Thornstowe finally hunt down a witch with a reputation for stealing children, a 12-year-old appears in the woods with no memory of her past. Is there a connection between Isabelle, the girl who doesn’t know who she is, and the girl the witch stole six years earlier? One of the few things Isabelle remembers is a chant that keeps running through her head:

Old as dirt,
dirty as dirt.
Ugly as sin,
mean as sin.

Don’t let the old witch catch you!

Could Isabelle have been stolen by the old witch of the woods, or has she lost her memory as the result of an accident? And what about the baby the witch stole right before the villagers attacked? Did either the witch or the baby survive the fire the villagers set?

“Isabelle heard no sound beyond the faintest shivering of leaves in a gentle breeze. No sound of pursuit. But surely something was wrong, or she would know who and where she was. So she resumed running. But it wasn’t as effortless as before. Her worry weighed her down as she tried to list the things she knew—and found the list of things she didn’t know longer by far.”

Some words about the Author

Vivian Vande Velde’s books have won many awards, including the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Never Trust a Dead Man. She is also the author of Ghost of a Hanged Man. She lives in Rochester, New York.

 

ShisenShoAlso Amazon offers ShisenSho. It is a game and you can get it for free today only.

ShisenSho, sometimes known as “Four Rivers”, is a single-player, tile based board game, where the objective is to remove all tiles from the board.

Following a major update, ShisenSho now has many new features, including “pattern” layouts, “multi-layer” layouts and “blocking” wall tiles.

ShisenSho has 45+ challenging and varied layouts and has been designed to provide an appealing but challenging experience for the user. The user interface is clean and easy to use and, with a choice of tile-sets and the inclusion of high resolution backgrounds, the game is visually stunning.

Game Mode options are:

Standard – normal game, high scores are maintained by board layout;
Race – race against time to get on the high score board;
Chase – tiles reappear on the board as the game progresses;
Memory – match hidden tiles, seriously difficult..!

It is an excellent game for all age groups, providing stimulation and a mental challenge.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9” Takes on iPad But May Face Other, Unexpected Competition

We’ve recently talked about the release of the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9”.  It’s a solid device that gives every indication of being worth an investment.  While not quite as versatile as many Android tablets due to Amazon’s proprietary software configuration that prevents access to the Google Play service, there is little else to complain about and a lot to be excited for.  Some reports indicate that between this and the 7” model, Amazon’s tablets will outsell the iPad Mini 2 to 1 over the upcoming holiday season.

All that sounds great for Amazon and it’s definitely a sign that they will remain a major part of the Android tablet scene for some time to come.  They may be in trouble as time goes on, however.  The problem is not what many people have expected.  The iPad is hard to compete against, but the surge in video game consoles with touchscreen accessories may hit Amazon in a major way.

The Wii U just dropped, which is what brings this to mind.  Nintendo’s new console comes with a controller that doubles as a tablet.  It offers a supplementary second display that should come in handy in everything from game play to movie watching.  Sure, it requires a Wii U console to work, but that also allows the user to tap into a wide selection of content associated with that system.

Microsoft is also said to be working on a 7” tablet to supplement the Xbox 360 and the as-yet unannounced Xbox 720.  Their Smartglass software already allows anybody with a portable device (smartphone or tablet), or even a convenient PC, to tap into the console experience.  The Xbox Tablet, as it’s being called, will offer many of the same benefits that the Wii U controller boasts as well as serving the role of standalone portable.

Now, the main use of the Kindle Fire line is in consumption.  Amazon designed them for that purpose and there has been no real effort to make them into anything but a convenient gateway into Amazon’s digital content selection.  This means that in many ways the same customers they are looking at attracting are also likely to be interested in gaming and entertainment consoles, for obvious reasons.  If we’re looking at a class of devices that are exceedingly popular and tie into their own proprietary tablets, as in the case of these consoles, it may cut into Kindle Fire prospects.

While this is all speculation, I can’t help but feel that Amazon is going to have to come up with some special service that distinguishes their hardware offering in the next year or so.  The budget tablet market is still going strong, but there are a lot of big names that seem about as well equipped as Amazon who are set to enter the market.  Since all the digital content sold through the company is meant to be platform-agnostic, there’s going to need to be something special done.  Otherwise it’s only a matter of time before the iPad is just one of many strong competitors for the Kindle Fire HD.

Amazon Offers Unity Plugins to Kindle Fire Developers

Amazon has been making an effort to interest app developers, especially game developers, in their distribution platform lately.  As has been mentioned here in the past, their GameCircle will allow for all sorts of social features to be integrated into just about any game without much trouble.  Before this, many of the more popular Android games were unable to make use of their full feature set because of the Kindle Fire’s disconnection from Google services.

Moving forward along the same lines, Amazon has released plugins for the popular Unity game engine that should make it easier than ever for developers to add some in-app purchasing to their productions and build GameCircle into their games.

There are a number of reasons that this will be attractive.  According to the press release regarding these plugins, in-app purchasing averages more than twice the revenue generation of paid app sales per transaction.  Developers who can interest their users enough to encourage the occasional purchase will benefit from ongoing sales and therefore enjoy a fairly nice stream of income.

The GameCircle features help with this.  GameCircle’s main attractions are Leaderboards, Achievements, and Whispersync for Games.  The first two are easy ways to nudge players into spending more time immersed in the app.  More exposure and more personal time investment means more likelihood of making a casual purchase.  The latter feature, Whispersync for Games, encourages use of multiple devices and allows players to pick up where they left off even if they delete local data.  That means that there is a far lower bar to replay should somebody be interested in running through their favorites a second time.

This will be both good and bad for the players, but mostly good.

By bringing these features to the Kindle Fire, Amazon has finally provided all the tools that developers will need to properly prepare their apps for distribution via the Amazon Appstore for Android.  This will lead to more games, and apps in general, being made available for the Kindle Fire.

Whispersync for Games should go a long way to encourage quality game design as well.  Since there is reason to hope that users will keep coming back now that their progress and achievements can be saved even after deleting an app temporarily, there is more reason to provide ongoing support and updates.

Of course the ease with which in-app purchases can be offered also means a slew of new apps meant to do nothing more than milk microtransactions out of every user.  These types of lazy designs are a big presence on Google Play, but there’s been nothing keeping them away from Amazon aside from the extra effort it would take.  I’m not referring to the genuinely malicious software, of course, but even the merely bad can be obnoxious to watch out for.

Expect to see more games with more features springing up in the months to come thanks to these plugins.

Kindle Fire Accessory Review: Plantronics BackBeat 216 Stereo Headphones w/ Inline Mic

I was recently offered the chance to try out a pair of Plantronics BackBeat 216 headphones and figured they were worth a shot.  The Kindle Fire practically demanded good headphones to get good sound and while the Kindle Fire HD has more than made up for its predecessor’s shortcoming there are still plenty of times when you’re going to want to watch a movie on your portable device without filling a whole room, car, or train with the sound from it.

First Impressions

At a glance these seem to be a nice enough purchase.  For $37.99 they’re not going to break the bank compared to high end options, but the build quality seems high and the cloth-covered wire makes a nice aesthetic touch.  The silicone earbuds left me slightly nervous since those are not my preference, but it was worth a try.

Listening Sound Quality

As far as earbuds go, I’ve rarely found a set that offered better sound.  They seemed quite tinny at first, but after changing to a slightly smaller set of silicon tips and seating them more firmly in place I found the experience excellent.  My usual listening preference involves a fairly bulky set of Sennheisers, but these could easily stand in temporarily when more mobility is needed.

Skype Sound Quality

My experience with the conversation applications of the BackBeats has not been so positive.  As far as hearing a conversation goes, you get a mixed bag.  The silicone earbuds cancel out a lot of the noise that otherwise interferes with calls, but the cloth wire transmits every bit of friction straight to your ears.  Shifting slightly in your chair can result in enough wire on shirt contact to drown out the person you’re talking to.  The mic is also less than impressive.  Stick with the Kindle Fire HD’s built-in and you’ll get better recording.

Usability

As I mentioned, the comfort was better than expected.  For people with particularly small ears they will likely be uncomfortable, but other than that I would expect no complaints.  Using these for stretches of 3-4 hours at a time has caused no problems.

The in-line controls are useless.  I tried to use them on multiple occasions and got nothing.  Plugging in an iPhone, since that’s what Plantronics was designing for, didn’t improve things much.  I got erratic volume changes and track skipping on music but no reliability.  Overall it was actually better to use on anything but the iPhone it was designed for.

The Verdict

As far as listening to music or movies goes I don’t hesitate to recommend these headphones to any Kindle Fire user.  The experience is more than worth the money and they will be kept with my tablet for as long as they last.

If you’re looking for a headset with in-line mic for Skype then these probably aren’t the best.  There is too much noise transfer when listening to conversation and the mic is not very good.  The noise from cable friction doesn’t come through except in such quiet situations, so I don’t think it’s a factor for other applications.

If you’re interested in these, the Plantronics BackBeat 216 Stereo Headphones w/ Inline Mic can be found with a large selection of other Kindle Fire HD Accessories at:

http://www.mobilefun.com/29053/electronics/kindle-fire-accessories.htm

Kindle Black Friday Specials for 2012

Every year Black Friday sales get more hyped and involve more ridiculous deals.  In some cases that’s a bad thing, especially when it involves camping outside stores for silly amounts of time to get a chance at one of the only two units available in a particular sale.  In many others it’s just a great time to save some money.

Since we know that a sale is on the way let’s take a look at what to expect as far as discounts this week.

According to Buyer’s Review, we can expect the following deals in brick & mortal stores this Friday:

  • Best Buy: Amazon Kindle Fire – $159.99 bundled with free $30 Best Buy Gift Card
  • Office Depot: Amazon Kindle Fire – $159.99 bundled with $25 Visa Card
  • Staples: Amazon Kindle Fire – $159, bundled with $20 Staples Gift Card
  • Office Max: Amazon Kindle Fire – $159
  • Best Buy: 16GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD – $199.99 free $30 Best Buy Gift Card included
  • Office Max: 16GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD – $199, bundled with $25 Office Max Gift Card
  • Staples: 16GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD – $199, bundled with $20 Staples Gift Card
  • Staples: 32GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD – $249, bundled with $20 Staples Gift Card

We do have every reason to believe that Amazon will use this opportunity to further promote the Kindle line directly through their own storefront as well, though.

Sadly, we’re not going to be seeing a sale on the Kindle Paperwhite.  The eReader side of things has proven so popular since the Paperwhite was released that an order today will take over a month to get to its destination, just barely making it in time for Christmas if you spring for 2-day shipping.  In a matter of days it will likely be impossible to order a Kindle Paperwhite and have it before 2013.

We will certainly be seeing this sale day used as an opportunity to promote the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, however.  An effort was clearly made to get the Kindle Fire HD 8.9” out before Black Friday, which indicates that the larger tablet will be a part of the promotion as well.

Looking at the store offers above, nobody is actually discounting the Kindle Fires themselves.  All that is being added is a promo gift card.  Given all the blowback Amazon has been getting from these same retailers about showrooming, I expect that the online deal will go a bit further.  How much further is difficult to predict, but 10-20% off the price would create a huge surge of interest.

Remember that Amazon is using the Kindle Fire as a cheap option for content sales.  They’re not making much on the devices themselves.  As such I don’t think we can expect to see a $99 Kindle Fire, even using refurbished 1st Gen models.  Since recent teardowns point to there being a bit more profit than the earlier generation allowed for in a single unit, however, they have some leeway.

I know that I’ll be watching for a $160 Kindle Fire HD and I would be surprised if I don’t see one by the end of the week.

Daily Deals: The Charlestown Connection, Promise the Night and Cooking Conversions

The Charlestown ConnectionThe Charlestown Connection by Tom MacDonald is cost only $1.99 today only.

Dermot Sparhawk, a former All American Boston College football hero, is stacking cans in a parish food pantry in Boston’s Charlestown, when his godfather, Jeepster Hennessey, shows up with a knife in his back and dies at Dermot’s feet. Once slated for a professional football career, now a recovering alcoholic, with a torn-up knee, Dermot sets out to solve the murder of his godfather with the help of his Micmac Indian cousin, his paraplegic tenant, and a former teammate. Dermot’s investigation has him tangling with members of the IRA, FBI, and the Boston mob. He also is forced to contend with Charlestown’s code of silence and the norms of the neighborhood where he grew up. Feeling like he did at the height of his game, Dermot uses his Native American intuition and Irish good looks to help him uncover clues. Dermot stumbles upon bits and pieces of information that he cobbles together into an unlikely theory which leads him on an unexpected trail and to a new mystery that could cost him his life.

Some words about the Author

Tom MacDonald has Boston in his blood. Born, raised, and living in the Boston area, Tom knows of what he writes. As Director of Social Ministries at St. Mary’s-St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Charlestown, he brings his fictional work to the page of The Charlestown Connection. Tom has a B.A. in sociology from Stonehill College, a MBA.

 

Promise the NightPromise the Night by Michaela MacColl is offered by Amazon just for $1.99.

This fascinating story will capture any young reader with a thirst for adventure. Like MacColl s Prisoners in the Palace, Promise the Night propels the reader into an evocative story with an unforgettable protagonist, while bringing the setting and time period to life. Immediately compelling and action-packed, this work of historical fiction explores the life of Beryl Markham, the fist person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west from England to North America. From raising horses and hunting during her childhood in Africa to learning to fly as a young woman, Beryl s inspiring life and adventures will keep readers voraciously turning the pages.

Some words about the Author

Michaela MacColl studied multi-disciplinary history at Yale University, which turns out to be the perfect degree for writing historical fiction.

 

 

Cooking ConversionsCooking Conversions is a free and useful application for your Kindle Fire for everybody who deals with a kitchen.

Over 300 cooking conversions including
- 70 volume conversions found in the kitchen (cups, teaspoons, pints etc.),
- 5 temperature conversions,
- 22 weight conversions,
- over 200 ingredient conversions and even
- 10 butter conversions (convert between sticks of butter and grams, cups, tablespoons etc.),
- oven and yeast conversions

Amazon Kindle Turns 5

As of November 19th, the Kindle is five years old.  Since its first incarnation we have watched it go from a fairly clunky attempt at introducing something new into the market to an elegant piece of technology that continues to deserve its position at the top of the same market it helped popularize.  We’ve been watching this progression since the beginning (our first post here was less than a month after launch on December 15th 2007) and it’s been a great time.

Looking back at the first generation Kindle is a great way to help understand why it hasn’t been just the hardware keeping the line going.  Amazon made a fairly good eReader, but even at the time there were superior options.  The first Sony Readers to be released in the US were lighter, faster, and generally more pleasant to use.  Still, Amazon pulled off a “good enough” device and supported it with the best digital reading content anywhere.

The Gen 1 Kindle had a resolution of 800 x 600, less than a quarter gigabyte of storage space, was uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time (compared to newer models, though it was great at the time), and would run you around $400 without a case or any books included.  About the only thing it had going for it compared to future products was the SD card slot, which was eliminated in the second generation.

That’s not to say it was a bad device so much as to illustrate how far things have come.  When new, the first Kindle captured the attention of huge numbers of people despite the price and was often held up as a valid alternative to the iPad.  That comparison is nonsense, but it illustrates how interesting people found the idea.

For comparison, you can now get the Kindle Paperwhite (assuming you can find one since they are in short supply at the moment) for $119.  It has a 6”, 212PPI display running with a 758 x 1024 resolution.  Battery life will last you over a month at a time in many cases.  The internal storage us up to two gigabytes and you can download your books on your home WiFi.  There is lighting for the screen without any of the problems that E Ink was solving compared to lighted screens in the first place.  Five years has meant a lot of progress.

Most importantly, the Kindle Store and Amazon’s support for its associated features have expanded even more.  The whole publishing industry has been forced to take digital distribution seriously and nobody does it better.  Kindles now enjoy a presence in millions of homes around the country and we expect to see even more of them in organizational settings like libraries now that central management tools have been released.

What is still to come for the Kindle is open to debate.  Some people expect a move away from eReaders to concentrate on the Kindle Fire tablet line.  Personally, I doubt it.  The Kindle eReader is what put Amazon on the map in terms of computing devices and it will continue to be a major point of interest in the future.  The only real question is how much further they can take it and in what direction.

Daily Deals: Berlin Diary, Ginger Pye and Turkey Stuffin’

Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 by William Shirer L. is the first book in today’s daily deals set with price $1.99.

A radio broadcaster and journalist for Edward R. Murrow at CBS, William Shirer was new to the world of broadcast journalism when he began keeping a diary while in Europe during the 1930s. It was in 1940, still a virtual unknown, that Shirer wondered whether his reminiscences of the collapse of the world around Nazi Germany could be of any interest or value as a book.

Shirer’s Berlin Diary, which is considered the first full record of what was happening in Germany during the rise of the Third Reich, first appeared in 1941. The book was an instant success. But how did Shirer get such a valuable firsthand account? He had anonymous sources willing to speak with him, provided their identity remained protected and disguised so as to avoid retaliation from the Gestapo. Shirer recorded his and others’ eyewitness views to the horror that Hitler was inflicting on his people in his effort to conquer Europe. Shirer continued his job as a foreign correspondent and radio reporter for CBS until Nazi press censors made it virtually impossible for him to do his job with any real accuracy. He left Europe, taking with him the invaluable, unforgettable (and horrific) contents of his Berlin Diary.

Berlin Diary brings the reader as close as any reporter has ever been to Hitler and the rise of the Third Reich. Shirer’s honest, lucid and passionate reporting of the brutality with which Hitler came to power and the immediate reactions of those who witnessed these events is for all time.

Some words about the Author

William Shirer (1904-1993) was originally a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and was the first journalist hired by Edward R. Murrow for what would become a team of journalists for CBS radio. Shirer distinguished himself and quickly became known for his broadcasts from Berlin during the rise of the Nazi dictatorship through the first year of World War II. Shirer was the first of “Edward R. Murrow’s Boys” – broadcast journalists – who provided news coverage during World War II and afterward. It was Shirer who broadcast the first uncensored eyewitness account of the annexation of Austria. Shirer is best known for his books The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich which won the National Book Award and Berlin Diary.

 

Ginger Pye (Young Classic)Ginger Pye (Young Classic) written by Eleanor Estes is the second book. Today’s price is only $1.99.

Eleanor Estes’s Ginger Pye, a 1952 Newbery Medal winner, is a warm, witty mystery set in a small-town American community. Ginger Pye, the star of the show, is the very smart dog that ten-year-old Jerry Pye buys for a hard-earned dollar. The most famous pup in Cranbury (a town between Boston and New York), Ginger knows many tricks, is as loyal as he is smart, and steals the hearts of everyone he meets . . . until someone steals him! Will Jerry and his sister Rachel ever be able to find their beloved terrier?

Don’t miss the sequel, Pinky Pye!

Some words about the Auhtor

Eleanor Estes won the Newbery Honor for ‘Rufus M.’, ‘The Middle Moffat’ and ‘The Hundred Dresses’. She also won the prestigious Newbery Medal for ‘Ginger Pye’.

 

 

Turkey Stuffin'Turkey Stuffin’ is a game for your Kindle Fire. Today it is free. But only today.

Start stuffing stuff in a turkey in TURKEY STUFFIN’, a hilarious holiday warmup!

You’re on the clock to jam this fine foul full of tasty concoctions and prove your poultry stuffing prowess by creating the fattest, tastiest turkey in the world!

But Turkey Stuffin’ ain’t all rosemary and yams. Overstuff the bird and you’ll yield a massive mess that no Pilgrim should ever have to witness.

Use the correct combinations of items to mix secret foul fattening recipes including The Turdrunken, Fowl Language, Return to Sender and Butter Ball. You’ll even earn Game Center Achievements for getting your hands and elbows dirty.

Turkey Stuffin’ truly is a… load of fun!

Product features:

  • Purdy Pictures: A humorously illustrated turkey.
  • Tons o’ Stuff-ins: Scads of stuff-ins including finger foods, condiments, silverware, electronics and more!
  • Silly Sounds: An extensive soundtrack of silly and stupid turkey sounds.
  • Scores Galore: A pitiful excuse of a rating system that tells you exactly how tasty and fat you made your turkey.

Daily Deals: Against the Law, Ralph Tells a Story and F18 Carrier Landing

Against the Law (The Raines of Wind Canyon)Today Amazon offers Against the Law (The Raines of Wind Canyon) by Kat Martin just for $1.99

At thirty-two Dev is “mostly retired” from Raines Investigations, content to run operations from his sprawling Arizona home. But Dev has never been able to say no to a beautiful woman, so when Lark Delaney comes to him for help, the former U.S. Army Ranger from Wind Canyon gets back in the game.

Lark is sexy, successful and dedicated to tracking down the baby girl her sister gave up for adoption. It should be a straightforward case, but it’s not long before Dev uncovers a shady adoption ring and worse—the child’s parents have been murdered and the little girl has been taken.

As the case grows dangerous and Lark needs him more than ever, Dev can’t ignore his growing attraction for her. He also can’t trust his judgment with women or the emotions he’s long-since buried. But there’s a chance, if he gets this right and saves Lark’s niece, that he’ll end up saving himself, too.

Some words about the Author

Kat Martin began writing in 1985 and quickly became a New York Times bestselling author. She’s written over 50 romantic suspense, historical and contemporary novels, and is the author of over 11 trilogies that range from the historical to the paranormal. Her works have been published in 12 languages and more than 24 countries. She’s married to Larry Jay Martin, an author, screenplay writer and blogger. Fans can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and Squidoo.

 

Ralph Tells a StoryRalph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon costs only $1.99.

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut. Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers. An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8) Kirkus, September 2012

Some words about the Author

Abby Hanlon has a master’s degree in early childhood education from the City College of New York and bachelor’s from Barnard College, Columbia University. Abby has taught creative writing and first grade in the New York City public school system. Inspired by her students’ storytelling and drawings, Abby began to write her own stories for children. Determined to illustrate her stories, Abby taught herself to draw after not having drawn since childhood. Ralph Tells a Story is her first book. Abby lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and their two children.

 

F18 Carrier LandingF18 Carrier Landing is a free game for 1 day.

Mobile Aircraft Carrier Landing Simulator.

Landing on a flight deck is one of the most difficult things a navy pilot will ever do. The flight deck only has about 500 feet (about 150 meters) of runway space for landing planes, which isn’t nearly enough for the heavy, high-speed jets F/A-18 Hornet. Like a Top-Gun pilot enjoy afterburner, tonneau, loop.

You will be the pilot of F/A-18 Hornet, F-14 Tomcat and C-2A Greyhound aircraft flying in virtual environments with a stunning graphic. You will have the possibility to see again your performances with 30 seconds REPLAY function with the possibility of changing the point of view switching between several cameras and immediately share personal screenshots on Facebook and Twitter!
And when you will reach your best score let share it in the GameCenter. For a worldwide challenge!

Happy landing!

Product features:

  • Multi-camera replay function.
  • Carrier/Airbase landing with advanced weather conditions settings (wind, rain, fog) and different scenarios (day, dawn, overcast, night).
  • Free flight mode.
  • F/A-18 Hornet, F-14 Tomcat and C-2A Greyhound cockpit view mode.
  • I.F.L.O.L.S. approaching system.

Daily Deals: Silent Tears, Between and Word Stack

Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese OrphanageToday Amazon offers Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt just for $1.99

Irrepressible memories. Vacant eyes. A child being dangled from a third story window. A boy tied to a chair. Children sleeping in layers of clothing to fight off the bitter cold. An infant dying from starvation. Some things your mind will never allow you to forget.

Silent Tears is the true story of the adversity and triumphs one woman faced as she fought against the Chinese bureaucracy to help that country’s orphaned children.

In 2003, Kay Bratt’s life changed dramatically. A wife and mother of two girls in South Carolina, Bratt relocated her family to rural China to support her husband as he took on a new management position for his American employer. Seeking a way to fill her days and overcome the isolation she experienced upon arriving in a foreign country, Bratt began volunteering at the local orphanage. Within months, her simple desire to make use of her time transformed into a heroic crusade to improve the living conditions and minimize the unnecessary deaths of Chinese orphans.

Silent Tears traces the emotional hurdles and daily frustrations faced by Ms. Bratt as she tried to change the social conditions for these marginalized children. The memoir vividly illustrates how she was able to pull from reservoirs of inner strength to pursue her mission day after day, leaving the reader with the resounding message that everyone really can make a difference.

Some words about the Auhtor

Kay Bratt grew up in the Midwest as the child of a broken home and later, a survivor of abuse. Facing these obstacles in her own life instilled in Kay a passionate drive to fight for those that had been dealt an unfair hand. Upon arriving in China on an expatriate assignment with her husband in 2003, she was immediately drawn to the cause of China’s forgotten orphans. Moved beyond tears by the stories of these children, she promised to give them the voice they did not have. In 2008, she self-published her memoir Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage to do just that. With the help of her readers, Kay continues to raise awareness and advocate for at-risk children. In China, she was honored with the 2006 Pride of the City award for her humanitarian work. Now residing in the states, she is an active volunteer for An Orphans Wish (AOW). Kay currently resides in Georgia with her husband and her daughter.

 

BetweenBetween by Jessica WARMAN is the second book in the today’s daily deals set. It costs only $1.99.

Elizabeth Valchar-pretty, popular, and perfect-wakes up the morning after her eighteenth birthday party on her family’s yacht, where she’d been celebrating with her six closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, what she finds will change everything she thought she knew about her life, her friends, and everything in between. As Liz begins to unravel the circumstances surrounding her birthday night, she will find that no one around her, least of all Liz herself, was perfect-or innocent. Critically acclaimed author Jessica Warman brings readers along on a roller-coaster ride of a mystery, one that is also a heartbreaking character study, a touching romance, and ultimately a hopeful tale of redemption, love, and letting go.

Some words about the Author

Jessica Warman writes poetry and short stories, as well as young adult fiction. Between is her third novel for young adults. She lives in Pittsburgh, USA, with her husband and children and has a passion for long-distance running.

 

Word Stack - Fun and Addictive Word AssociationWord Stack – Fun and Addictive Word Association is a free game for today only.

Challenge your brain and have some fun with our new word association stacking game. Be careful, it’s addicting!

Laugh… Giggle.
Smile… Frown.
Key… Board.
King… Queen.

Stack and match words that are associated to each other!

Words can be synonyms.
Words can be antonyms.
Words can be compound words.
Words just have to be related!

Warning! Caveat! As stacks get harder, a word can be matched to multiple different words, so you’ll have to get the right combination to complete the stack correctly.

Word Stack comes with 7 stack packs! That’s 280 playable stacks.

Enjoy!

Daily Deals: Freeman, Promises to the Dead and Hidden Differences

FreemanToday Amazon offers Freeman by Leonard Pitts just for $1.99.

Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., takes place in the first few months following the Confederate surrender and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Upon learning of Lee’s surrender, Sam–a runaway slave who once worked for the Union Army–decides to leave his safe haven in Philadelphia and set out on foot to return to the war-torn South. What compels him on this almost-suicidal course is the desire to find his wife, the mother of his only child, whom he and their son left behind 15 years earlier on the Mississippi farm to which they all “belonged.”

At the same time, Sam’s wife, Tilda, is being forced to walk at gunpoint with her owner and two of his other slaves from the charred remains of his Mississippi farm into Arkansas, in search of an undefined place that would still respect his entitlements as slaveowner and Confederate officer.

The book’s third main character, Prudence, is a fearless, headstrong white woman of means who leaves her Boston home for Buford, Mississippi, to start a school for the former bondsmen, and thus honor her father’s dying wish.

At bottom, Freeman is a love story–sweeping, generous, brutal, compassionate, patient–about the feelings people were determined to honor, despite the enormous constraints of the times. It is this aspect of the book that should ensure it a strong, vocal, core audience of African-American women, who will help propel its likely critical acclaim to a wider audience. At the same time, this book addresses several themes that are still hotly debated today, some 145 years after the official end of the Civil War. Like Cold Mountain, Freeman illuminates the times and places it describes from a fresh perspective, with stunning results. It has the potential to become a classic addition to the literature dealing with this period. Few other novels so powerfully capture the pathos and possibility of the era particularly as it reflects the ordeal of the black slaves grappling with the promise–and the terror–of their new status as free men and women.

Some words about the Author

Leonard Pitts, Jr., is a columnist for the Miami Herald and the recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, in addition to many other awards. He is also the author of the novel Before I Forget; the collection Forward From this Moment: Selected Columns, 1994–2009, and Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood. Leonard lives in suburban Washington, D.C., with his wife and children. Sean Crisden is a multitalented actor who has narrated audiobooks in almost every genre, from science fiction to romance. He has also voiced characters in numerous video games, such as the award-winning ShadowGun, and appeared in many commercials and films, including The Last Airbender. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sean now resides in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

Promises to the DeadPromises to the Dead by Mary Downing Hahn is a book for kids and costs only $1.99

When Jesse went down to the marsh on that fateful day, he expected to find a turtle for terrapin soup. Instead, he comes across a dying slave woman who makes Jesse promise he’ll take her young son, Perry, to a relative in Baltimore. Aiding and abetting a slave is against the law, and it also goes against everything Jesse has been taught to believe. But he can’t break a promise to the dead, and, more important, he has to follow what he knows in his heart to be right.

The journey is more treacherous than Jesse ever imagined. At the crossroads of a country about to plunge into civil war, danger lurks around every corner. Will these boys on the run ever find a safe haven?

Some words about the Auhtor

Mary Downing Hahn, a former children’s librarian, is the award-winning author of many popular ghost stories, including Deep and Dark and Dangerous and The Old Willis Place. An avid reader, traveler, and all-around arts lover, Ms. Hahn lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her two cats, Oscar and Rufus.

 

Hidden Differences: Haunted MansionsHidden Differences: Haunted Mansions is a free game today only.

Hidden Differences: Haunted Mansions is a fun, traditional game of Spot the Difference or Photo Hunting where your object is to find all the differences in the various haunted, creepy, and scary mansions!

Explore various venues from around the world, with creepy houses, haunted stairwells, and mysterious clocktowers!

Play 2 different modes of play, either Free Play, or Timed Mode depending on your skill level! Timed Mode lets you rack up the highest score, whereas free play allows infinite time to find all the hidden differences in each photo!

Over 24 Gorgeous Photographs of various Haunting places, mansions, houses, clocktowers, stairwells, and more!

Some differences are easy to find, whereas others may be more difficult – very well balanced play for players of all ages!

Detailed and gorgeous photos along with addictive gameplay make this a must have game for kids and adults!

Curl up on the couch and play solo, or grab a friend and see if you can find all the differences!

Send to Kindle Becomes Browser Staple

For the most part Amazon’s “Send to Kindle” program has worked out extremely well for them.  It creates a convenient means to send just about any readable content you have on hand to your Kindle with no hassle.  Anybody with an internet connection can use it and there is absolutely no complexity to the interface.  You simply select your document and send it.

Apparently that wasn’t enough.  Now it is possible to pick up Send to Kindle for Firefox.  This takes a slightly different approach, though it delivers much the same functionality as the desktop integration we’ve had a chance to get used to.

Initial reviews have largely been positive.  There was some concern with compatibility as the browser plugin was not properly updated to account for one of Mozilla’s frequent software updates and that seems to have cost Amazon a large share of its overall rating in the Firefox Extensions rating system.  Since the last software update there have been few written complaints.

Rather than replicating the experience of the desktop app, Send to Kindle for Firefox takes on the likes of Instapaper.  It will allow the preservation of web pages for viewing at the reader’s convenience without the need for perpetually open tabs or being stuck in front of the computer at all.  Content can be read, preserved for reference, or even archived in the user’s Kindle documents.

The only real problem that seems to have come up so far, at least based on my own experience, is the inability of the new extension to push documents to the whole range of Kindle apps.  Kindle for Windows 8 is unable to retrieve these documents as is the Kindle Cloud Reader.  These are two of the most-used options available when a Kindle device is not on hand and neither will even acknowledge anything that isn’t purchased directly through the Kindle Store.

That’s a problem that has been needing attention for a number of reasons for quite some time now.  While it is a problem that these apps can’t access user content, it is hardly fair to let that color a review of an unrelated service beyond the obvious noting of such a problem.  If you need to have access to saved content in places beyond your mobile device or eReader, it might be best to avoid getting too excited about this one.

This will be of the most interest to people who truly despise ads in the web reading.  It allows you to conveniently read anything you want on your Kindle ad-free without recourse to tedious copy/paste options.  There are still some problems, especially in badly coded or complexly formatted sites, where you can end up with jumbles of code.  It isn’t a perfect application and you’re certainly not going to be able to consider it completely finished just yet.  As it stands, however, this is a valuable tool and adds a great new feature to the “Send to Kindle” application toolset.

Daily Deals: No Mark upon Her, Chalk and 9 Innings

No Mark upon Her (Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James)Today Amazon offers No Mark upon Her (Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James) by Deborah Crombie just for $1.99.

New York Times bestselling author Deborah Crombie makes her mark with this absorbing, finely hued tale of suspense—a deeply atmospheric and twisting mystery full of deadly secrets, salacious lies, and unexpected betrayals involving the mysterious drowning of a Met detective—an accomplished rower—on the Thames.

When a K9 search-and-rescue team discovers a woman’s body tangled up with debris in the river, Scotland Yard superintendent Duncan Kincaid finds himself heading an investigation fraught with complications. The victim, Rebecca Meredith, was a talented but difficult woman with many admirers—and just as many enemies. An Olympic contender on the verge of a controversial comeback, she was also a high-ranking detective with the Met—a fact that raises a host of political and ethical issues in an already sensitive case.

To further complicate the situation, a separate investigation, led by Detective Inspector Gemma James, Kincaid’s wife, soon reveals a disturbing—and possibly related—series of crimes, widening the field of suspects. But when someone tries to kill the search-and-rescue team member who found Rebecca’s body, the case becomes even more complex and dangerous, involving powerful interests with tentacles that reach deep into the heart of the Met itself.

Surrounded by enemies with friendly faces, pressured to find answers quickly while protecting the Yard at all costs, his career and reputation on the line, Kincaid must race to catch the killer before more innocent lives are lost—including his own.

Some words about the Author

A native Texan who has lived in both England and Scotland, Deborah Crombie is a three-time Macavity Award winner, an Edgar Award nominee, and a New York Times Notable author. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the recent Necessary as Blood and Dreaming of the Bones, which was selected as one of the 100 Best Crime Novels of the Century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. She lives in McKinney, Texas, sharing a house that is more than one hundred years old with her husband, three cats, and two German shepherds.

 

ChalkChalk by Bill Thomson is a book for kids with great discount. Today it costs only $1.99.

A rainy day. Three kids in a park. A dinosaur spring rider. A bag of chalk. The kids begin to draw. . . and then . . . magic! The children draw the sun, butterflies, and a dinosaur that amazingly come to life. Children will never feel the same about the playground after they experience this astounding wordless picture book and the power of the imagination. Bill Thomson embraced traditional painting techniques and meticulously painted each illustration by hand, using acrylic paint and colored pencils.

Some words about the Author

BILL THOMSON lives in Southington, Connecticut, with his wife, Diann, and their three sons. He is Associate Professor of Illustration at the University of Hartford.

 

 

 

9 Innings: 2013 Pro Baseball (Ad-free)9 Innings: 2013 Pro Baseball (Ad-free) is a free application for today only.

Uses real data and photos of 1,400 players in 30 teams through official license contract with Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA)! Only in 9 Innings: 2013 Pro Baseball!
9 Innings: 2013 Pro Baseball is the greatest reality baseball game presented by one of the global leaders of mobile games ‘Com2us’.

One of the greatest mobile baseball game, 9 Innings: 2013 Pro Baseball is finally here!
The only baseball game that uses names name, photos, data, and league schedule of real baseball players!

Com2uS’ very own player card system, dynamic and real game graphic, and controls optimized for smartphones
Meet the greatest baseball game ever made!

01. The only baseball game that reflects on reality!
- Uses real data, photos, and biorhythms of 1,400 players in 30 teams
- Provides latest player data and constant roaster updates!
- Standard player and the Monster Season players!
- You can meet them only in 9innings: Probaseball 2013!

02. Card development system created by Com2uS based on years of experience!
- More varieties in player/cheerleader/equipment cards and draw/combination/enhance system!
- The completion of the card system! Easy card exchange between the players through the network exchange market
- You can exchange cards and points with friends through inbox

03. Easy, fast, and Realistic!
- Real graphic, smooth motion and outstanding game engine!
- Quick gameplay through auto (supports attack and defense only)
- Play against 16 teams through friendly, league, home run derby and special mode!
- Carry out 100 challenges and go for card and point rewards!
- Rookie players can quickly adapt to the game through tutorial.