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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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Daily Deals: History Books by Stephen E. Ambrose and Mahjong Solitaire

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West Today only Amazon offer three top-rated American history books from the inimitable historian Stephen E. Ambrose are just $1.99 each.

A biography of Meriwether Lewis that relies heavily on the journals of both Lewis and Clark, this book is also backed up by the author’s personal travels along Lewis and Clark’s route to the Pacific. Ambrose is not content to simply chronicle the events of the “Corps of Discovery” as the explorers called their ventures. He often pauses to assess the military leadership of Lewis and Clark, how they negotiated with various native peoples and what they reported to Jefferson. Though the expedition failed to find Jefferson’s hoped for water route to the Pacific, it fired interest among fur traders and other Americans, changing the face of the West forever.

Review:

Ambrose has written prolifically about men who were larger than life: Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Colonel Custer. Here he takes on half of the two-headed hero of American exploration: Meriwether Lewis. Ambrose, his wife and five children have followed the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark expedition for 20 summers, in the course of which the explorer has become a friend of the Ambrose family; the author’s affection shines through this narrative. Meriwether Lewis, as secretary to Thomas Jefferson and living in the White House for two years, got his education by being apprenticed to a great man. Their friendship is at the center of this account. Jefferson hand-picked Lewis for the great cross-country trek, and Lewis in turn picked William Clark to accompany him. The two men shook hands in Clarksville, Ohio, on October 14, 1803, then launched their expedition. The journals of the expedition, most written by Clark, are one of the treasures of American history. Here we learn that the vital boat is behind schedule; the boat builder is always drunk, but he’s the only one available. Lewis acts as surveyor, builder and temperance officer in his effort to get his boat into the river. Alcohol continues to cause him problems both with the men of his expedition and later, after his triumphant return, in his own life, which ended in suicide at the age of 35. Without adding a great deal to existing accounts, Ambrose uses his skill with detail and atmosphere to dust off an icon and put him back on the trail west. History Book Club main selection; BOMC split selection; QPB alternate; author tour.  —-Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of GermanyStephen E. Ambrose combines history and journalism to describe how American GIs battled their way to the Rhineland. He focuses on the combat experiences of ordinary soldiers, as opposed to the generals who led them, and offers a series of compelling vignettes that read like an enterprising reporter’s dispatches from the front lines. The book presents just enough contextual material to help readers understand the big picture, and includes memorable accounts of the Battle of the Bulge and other events as seen through the weary eyes of the men who fought in the foxholes. Highly recommended for fans of Ambrose, as well as all readers interested in understanding the life of a 1940s army grunt. A sort of sequel to Ambrose’s bestselling 1994 book D-DayCitizen Soldiers is more than capable of standing on its own.

Review:

Military historian and author Ambrose offers a sequel to his best seller, D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II (LJ 5/1/94). A skillful blending of eyewitness accounts (gathered mostly from the oral history collection at the Univ. of New Orleans’s Eisenhower Center and from personal interviews) gives the reader an intimate feel of what war was like for infantrymen in the European theater of operations?from the beaches of France to victory at the Elbe River. Additional chapters on the air war, medics, and prisoners of war offer firsthand accounts on topics rarely described in traditional histories. The book complements Paul Fussell’s Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic (LJ 8/96) and Michael Daubler’s Closing with the Enemy: How G.I.’s Fought the War in Europe, 1944-45 (Univ. of Kansas, 1994). This well-written oral history would also make an excellent general text. Highly recommended for all library collections. —-Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American WarriorsMilitary historian Ambrose examines the connections between the Indian chief and the cavalry officer who fought at Little Bighorn. —-Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review:

“Movingly told and well written . . . a fine  contribution, one that will be read with pleasure and  admiration by general reader, student and scholar  alike. Ambrose has breathed new life into the  familiar facts.”–Library  Journal
“An epic and accurate retelling  of one of our country’s most tragic  periods.”–Baltimore Sun

Product Description

On the sparkling morning of June 25, 1876, 611 men of the United States 7th Cavalry rode toward the banks of the Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory, where 3,000 Indians stood waiting for battle. The lives of two great warriors would soon be forever linked throughout history: Crazy Horse, leader of the Oglala Sioux, and General George Armstrong Custer. Both were men of aggression and supreme courage. Both became leaders in their societies at very early ages; both were stripped of power, in disgrace, and worked to earn back the respect of  their people. And to both of them, the unspoiled grandeur of the Great Plains of North America was an irresistible challenge. Their parallel lives would pave the way, in a manner unknown to either, for an inevitable clash between two nations fighting for possession of the open prairie.

From the Publisher

On the sparkling morning of June 25, 1876, 611 men of the United States 7th Cavalry rode toward the banks of the Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory, where 3,000 Indians stood waiting for battle. The lives of two great warriors would soon be forever linked throughout history: Crazy Horse, leader of the Oglala Sioux, and General George Armstrong Custer. Both were men of aggression and supreme courage. Both became leaders in their societies at very early ages; both were stripped of power, in disgrace, and worked to earn back the respect of their people. And to both of them, the unspoiled grandeur of the Great Plains of North America was an irresistible challenge. Their parallel lives would pave the way, in a manner unknown to either, for an inevitable clash between two nations fighting for possession of the open prairie. “Movingly told and well written . . . a fine contribution, one that will be read with pleasure and admiration by general reader, student and scholar alike. Ambrose has breathed new life into the familiar facts.”–Library Journal
“An epic and accurate retelling of one of our country’s most tragic periods.”–Baltimore Sun

From the Inside Flap

On the sparkling morning of June 25, 1876, 611  men of the United States 7th Cavalry rode toward the  banks of the Little Bighorn in the Montana  Territory, where 3,000 Indians stood waiting for battle.  The lives of two great warriors would soon be  forever linked throughout history: Crazy Horse, leader  of the Oglala Sioux, and General George Armstrong  Custer. Both were men of aggression and supreme  courage. Both became leaders in their societies at  very early ages; both were stripped of power, in  disgrace, and worked to earn back the respect of  their people. And to both of them, the unspoiled  grandeur of the Great Plains of North America was an  irresistible challenge. Their parallel lives would  pave the way, in a manner unknown to either, for  an inevitable clash between two nations fighting  for possession of the open  prairie.From the Back Cover
“Movingly told and well written . . . a fine contribution, one that will be read with pleasure and admiration by general reader, student and scholar alike. Ambrose has breathed new life into the familiar facts.”–Library Journal
“An epic and accurate retelling of one of our country’s most tragic periods.”–Baltimore Sun

About the Author

Stephen E. Ambrose, leading World War II historian, was the author of numerous books on history including the Number 1 bestselling BAND OF BROTHERS, D-DAY (on which SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was based) PEGASUS BRIDGE and WILD BLUE. He is founder of the Eisenhower Center and the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. He died in 2002.
Mahjong Solitaire - Classic Mahjong Strategy Puzzle Game
Mahjong Solitaire  is the Classic Mahjong Strategy Puzzle Game
Immerse yourself in the classic puzzle game of Mahjong Solitaire. Challenge yourself to clear the board as fast as possible and see if you can resist the addictive lure to play again and again.

Mahjong Matching Madness

Mahjong Solitaire is a matching game played with 144 Mahjong tiles arranged in layered patterns. Mahjong Solitaire – Classic Mahjong Strategy Puzzle Game includes more than 20 levels of complexity and five levels of difficulty: Easy, Medium, Hard, Crazy, and Insane.
Your goal is to clear all the tiles from the board as quickly as possible. To clear tiles, tap the first tile in the pair you want to remove and then tap the second tile. If the pair is a match, it will be cleared from the board. Only tiles that are not covered by other tiles and are free on either side can be cleared. Each successful match awards you 25 points. You can see your score, time, and moves left as you play.

Shuffles, Undos, and Stars

If no matching pairs are available, the board is automatically shuffled. If you make a mistake, simply tap the Undo button. Every shuffle and every undo will lower your score by 50 points.
In Career mode, try to get three stars by completing boards quickly and without using any shuffles or undos. The faster you clear a board, the more likely you are to be awarded the coveted three stars.

Wild Tiles: Seasons and Flowers

Season and flower tiles (four each) are unique in that they do not require an exact match; rather, they can be matched with any other tile of their same type. In other words, season tiles can be matched with season tiles and flower tiles with flower tiles. You can see what these tiles look like in the app’s Help section.
Mahjong Solitaire – Classic Mahjong Strategy Puzzle Game provides hours of challenging entertainment for the whole family.

Kindle Fire UK Coming This January

One of the biggest obstacles that Amazon is going to have to overcome in order to continue expanding its Kindle line at a decent rate is the complicated international release process.  That hasn’t stopped them so far, of course.  Some analysts are anticipating, for example, that the Kindle Fire will control as much as 50% of the Android Tablet market in 2012.  A great start, but it still doesn’t really make an impact against the market dominating iPad which is already around in over a dozen countries.

The first step in improving their new tablet’s presence is coming in January 2012 when according to supposed insider sources speaking to tech blog Know Your Mobile the UK will be the first country outside the United States to get the Kindle Fire.  It isn’t exactly a surprise, given the history of Kindle releases and the ease of localization, but it is a step in the right direction.  What’s important will be what comes next, which could end up being somewhat unpredictable given the peculiarities of the device.

Obviously the first instinct is to look to Anglophone countries that require minimal modification of the user interface.  Amazon has spent a lot of effort on getting things working properly, after all, and the need for redesign may at times be significant when dealing with alternate languages.  I would guess that this will not be the primary factor in determining who comes next, though.  Given the Kindle Fire’s emphasis on consuming a variety of media (especially video) via data streaming, chances are good that they will go where the content rights are most easily acquired.

This will likely sync up somewhat with the Anglophone list, I’m sure, but there’s definitely the chance of unexpected choices given the increasing general wariness being expressed in many of Amazon’s more established markets over their huge influence.  The one thing that Amazon has to know that they can’t do with the Kindle Fire is release it like the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet. While the Netflix streaming is nice, as are most of the content apps that are currently available, the device itself is completely built around Amazon.com integration and would be crippled by the lack of their servers.

Regardless of the less immediate future, UK customers can look forward to a great experience.  The Kindle Fire has become a hit in America for good reasons and will have had time in the interim to be polished even further.  The video streaming is wonderful and likely to be tied to Amazon’s LOVEFiLM brand rather than the Amazon.co.uk Prime service.  Music and cloud storage in general seem to work wonderfully for almost everybody, and indications are good that the vast majority of WiFi connectivity issues will have been addressed prior to this launch.  Even the reading experience isn’t precisely bad, however much better the Kindle E INK eReaders might be.  Expect official announcement early on as we enter 2012.

Daily Deals: The Giver and Warp Dash

The Giver

Today Amazon offer you to get The Giver by Lois Lowry just for $0.99.

 

In Lois Lowry’s Newbery Award-winning novel, twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

Here are some reviews on this book:

Grade 6-9– In a complete departure from her other novels, Lowry has written an intriguing story set in a society that is uniformly run by a Committee of Elders. Twelve-year-old Jonas’s confidence in his comfortable “normal” existence as a member of this well-ordered community is shaken when he is assigned his life’s work as the Receiver. The Giver, who passes on to Jonas the burden of being the holder for the community of all memory “back and back and back,” teaches him the cost of living in an environment that is “without color, pain, or past.” The tension leading up to the Ceremony, in which children are promoted not to another grade but to another stage in their life, and the drama and responsibility of the sessions with The Giver are gripping. The final flight for survival is as riveting as it is inevitable. The author makes real abstract concepts, such as the meaning of a life in which there are virtually no choices to be made and no experiences with deep feelings. This tightly plotted story and its believable characters will stay with readers for a long time. –Amy Kellman, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility. As Jonas approaches the “Ceremony of Twelve,” he wonders what his adult “Assignment” will be. Father, a “Nurturer,” cares for “newchildren”; Mother works in the “Department of Justice”; but Jonas’s admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named “Receiver,” to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community’s memories–painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder (“The Giver”) now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as “release” is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to “Elsewhere,” a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing. Wrought with admirable skill–the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12+) – Kirkus Associates, LP. 

Warp Dash

Warp Dash is a game for your Kindle Fire. You can get this application for free today.

Speed into the future with Warp Dash, a challenging arcade endurance racer game for Android. Once you enter the super-cool landscape of Warp Dash, you won’t want to leave. Power up your navigation skills and see how long you can survive.

Mission Gameplay

Select your ship and tune into the techno-dubstep soundtrack to get psyched for your mission. Tilt your device and grab as many triangles as possible to earn points and speed. Multiply your score with warp jumps. Be careful to avoid the obstacles – if you don’t, your ship will disappear in a blaze of fire.

No Boundaries

Race through a never-ending game grid that is limited only by your gaming skills. Navigate an always-changing environment; no two racing experiences will ever be the same. Unlock Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert leagues for faster play, more points, and bigger air as you defy a relentless onslaught of obstacles.

Achievements and Leaderboards

After each run, you can see how long you played, how many triangles you delivered, the number of jumps you made, your top speed, and more. Try for achievements like double jumps and aim for the top of the leaderboards. Collect and deploy powerful boosters to become the grand champion, including Phase, Slowdown, Radar, Shrink, and Score boost.

Biography of Steve Jobs

I am currently reading Steve Jobs, a biography of the late CEO of Apple by Walter Isaacson.  It hit the bestseller’s list pretty quickly after Jobs’ death earlier this fall.  The hardcover edition is really heavy, so if you can get the Kindle edition, your arms will probably thank you.  On another note, you also wouldn’t have to worry about being startled by the creepy book cover on the Kindle version either.

This book really gets into the nitty gritty of daily life with Jobs, his life, and Apple.  Jobs started Apple with his engineer friend Steve Wozniak.  Wozniak was the one that put the products together, while Jobs was the one who handled the marketing and sales aspect.

Jobs’ most talked about quality in this book was how focused and driven he was.  He did not stop anywhere short of perfection, and that is putting it mildly.  That is certainly reflected in the quality of Apple’s products like the Mac, iPad, iPhone, etc.

The biography definitely points out the quirky aspects of Jobs’ personality, like his obsession with dieting and other extremes.  He practiced Zen, and was interested in the Buddhist philosophy.  It all goes back to how driven he was about things he wanted.  If you’re familiar with Apple at all, you’ll know that as a culture, it is very private, and Jobs himself is a very private man. This biography is the chance to get a glimpse into what really went on behind that mask of privacy.

Isaacson did over 40 interviews with Jobs over a course of two years, and also interviewed over 100 of his family, friends and peers.  So, that demonstrates how much thought and detail went into writing this biography.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.   – Amazon

I am in awe at how much has changed as far as technology goes.  But, if you look at the Apple II versus all Apple products now, they still remain products of Jobs’ vision of perfection.  They also are very user focused.  Apple has opened up technology to so many people who otherwise would not be able to use it.

Steve Jobs will keep me occupied for awhile, but so far I’ve really enjoyed it.  I think it also helps having some technical knowledge. But even for those who aren’t technical, they can still appreciate reading about one of the most influential men in the technology world.

Daily Deals: The Handmaid’s Tale and Hot Donut

The Handmaid's Tale

Today Amazon offer The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood just for $1.49

A radical and brilliant departure for Margaret Atwood, this story is told with such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest by reverting to a society of repressive intolerance.

THE HANDMAID’S TALE is a frightening look at a not too distant future where sterility is the norm, and fertile woman are treated as cattle, to produce children for the upper class who cannot have any. The narrator Offred, as she is called in her new life, is the Handmaid for a top Commander in the new government. Once a month she is tested by a gynecologist to ensure that she is healthy, and then is taken to the Commander and his wife in the hopes of becoming pregnant.

Offred, along with the other handmaid’s, are not allowed to look directly at anyone else. They all wear the same outfits; red long dresses and headgear that cover their bodies. They live together, spend most of their time together, and are taken care of, in the hopes that they will produce children for this barren society. In this society, most women are not allowed to read, and are treated as if they have no minds. The government dictates their role in society. If they disobey, they are punished severely.

Offred’s memories often go back to a time when she was happily married to Luke, and with their daughter they were looking forward to a long and happy life together. Things changed when a military group took over the government, and immediately their lives as they knew it were over. Women lost all rights to ownership; bank accounts were frozen, land was taken away; fertile women were taken away from their husbands and families. A handful of older women were made into `Aunts’, and their duties were to instruct and guide the handmaids, reminding them of their role on this earth, which is to procreate.

I have to say that my feelings during this book were of shock. In some sense, what has happened in this book has already happened in other parts of the world and can happen again. The control over women is very much like that of the women in Afghanistan. The control over religious choice brings to mind Nazi Germany, as one of the issues in the Handmaid’s Tale is the elimination of anyone that refuses to be as one with the new government – religious persecution is justified and encouraged.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a horrifying story of a government fully in control of each person’s life and totally out of control. The book was so riveting that it took me only one day to read. I highly recommend this novel. —- Ratmammy “The Ratmammy” (Ratmammy’s Town, CA USA)

Hot Donut

Hot Donut is a game for your Kindle. Today you can get it for free. But only today.

How hot are you, little donut? Are you sizzling hot, just warmish, or downright soggy? Find out when you roll, jump, and dash your way through four awe-inspiring worlds in the fun Android game, Hot Donut.

This pastry-turned-action-hero obviously means business. He’s dressed for success in his purple cape, red gloves, and Superman stance. He also has large eyes meant for spying … fireflies, which, if you’re lucky enough to catch, give you extra points.

Colorful Worlds and One-Touch Controls

The fun begins in an idyllic mountain scene with plenty of hills and valleys to traverse, chasms to jump, clear skies to fly through, and shimmering fireflies to catch. Simple one-touch controls are easy to learn. Just touch anywhere on the screen to increase gravity and roll down hills; let go at the top of a hill to fly. Touch two thumbs to dash and float over those big gaps.

Hints, Power-Ups, and Gifts

Great for kids, the app also provides written hints as you play, which will save you from getting fried or otherwise spinning to your death.

You can also earn free power-ups that allow you to dash upward, float in mid-air, or get a spontaneous boost of speed. Gather gifts too and enjoy upbeat music as you play. See how many dozens of levels you can polish off and watch as your score heats up.

Kindle Fire vs Nook Tablet: Amazon Winning, Sales Looking Great All Around

It’s undeniable that the release of the Kindle Fire, and along with it the competing Nook Tablet, has shaken up the Tablet PC market.  Since launch Amazon has already firmly taken second place next to the Apple iPad, selling as many as 5 million units in the 4th quarter of 2011 alone.  Barnes & Noble is also doing pretty well, having moved more than a million of their own tablet in the same time period.  The way things are going with these two, there has even been some speculation that there is no room for dedicated hardware manufacturers with this kind of competition.

Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are selling their tablets at near, or possibly even below, the cost of production.  The goal is to get people hooked into the platform and make ongoing profits based on media sales.  Effectively, the hardware has become secondary now that it can be treated as a conduit for consumption rather than an end in and of itself. Amazon is doing a better job on this side of things than Barnes & Noble so far.

The Nook Tablet has the technically superior hardware, with double the RAM and double the storage space among other things, but doesn’t make very good use of it.  The storage is restricted and the interface doesn’t seem to run significantly smoother than the Kindle Fire‘s.  There is an SD slot to expand the available memory of the device, but to get a sufficiently large one to make a difference you can expect to add a significant percentage onto the already comparatively more expensive price.  None of this means that it is a bad tablet, it’s actually quite excellent and highly recommended, but it is worth noting that B&N has a way to go before they are really making the best use out of their device’s potential.

The Kindle Fire, on the other hand, lacks some of the power of the Nook.  What it does have is a deeper integration with Amazon.com’s storefront and content.  Unlike B&N, Amazon has their own source of video and music for customers to take advantage of, as well as a robust cloud storage service that makes up for a lot of the seeming shortcomings of the hardware.  The lower price certainly doesn’t hurt sales numbers either, especially given the inevitable comparison of both products to each other and the iPad.

We can expect sales for both tablets to be improving even more through the next year.  The Kindle line, and the Kindle Fire in particular, is one of Amazon’s biggest marketing priorities, while the Nook line is pretty much the only thing B&N has going for it right now in terms of profitability.  What remains to be seen is what effect the next iteration of the Kindle tablet line brings.  A larger tablet could cement Amazon’s place on top of tablets for the foreseeable future, second only to Apple, but it could also severely damage the company’s reputation if something goes wrong and open the door to a big push by Barnes & Noble.

Either way we have good products to work with, but both Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are built for content consumption and that means active ongoing support.  The more popular each one becomes, the more incentive the associated company has to expand the platform, and the more valuable the tablet in question becomes for owners.  It will be interesting to see the back and forth as the competition heats up in months to come.

Daily Deals: Pictures of You and Monopoly

Pictures of You

You can gel Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt  just for $0.99. Award-winning author Caroline Leavitt’s novel of redemption and self-discovery begins with a fatal car crash and ends with a question: “How well do we really know those we love—and how do we forgive the unforgivable?”

Here are some reviews:

The Boston Globe describes Pictures of You “as part literary mystery, part domestic drama, and part psychological examination,” and, indeed, the novel kept most critics on their toes the entire time. A novel of loss, redemption, forgiveness, and self-discovery, the intertwining stories grapple not only with the tragedy but also with the mystery of April’s hasty departure from her family. Reviewers commented that what could have been a maudlin, predictable storyline instead becomes fresh with Leavitt’s direct, unsentimental writing; her you-are-here details; and her fully convincing characters. Readers who enjoy both fine storytelling and writing will be sure to savor this novel. – Bookmarks Magazine

In Leavitt’s (Girls in Trouble, 2005) compelling new novel, a car crash provides the catalyst for an examination of how well we know the people we love. April and Isabelle, both fleeing their marriages, collide on a foggy, deserted stretch of road. Only Isabelle survives, and though blameless, she is haunted by guilt. In search of healing, she finds herself drawn to Charlie and Sam, April’s grief-stricken husband and son. Complicated relationships develop, and Leavitt thoughtfully handles friendship and romance in scenes of emotional resonance. She understands the ache of loss, the elusiveness of forgiveness, and the triteness of words like “closure.” An expert storyteller, Leavitt alternates perspective among her three leading characters, providing insight into the thoughts, secrets, and dreams that they withhold from each other. Whether these individuals will arrive at happiness separately or together is the question that drives the narrative, and the reader, forward as Leavitt teases suspense out of the greatest mystery of all—the workings of the human heart. –Patty Wetli

MONOPOLYMonopoly is a game for your Kindle Fire or any other Android device.

Legend has it that the modern version of the MONOPOLY board game was invented during the Depression by an unemployed man named Charles Darrow. Rebuffed by the major game companies of the time, he published it himself–and it went on to become perhaps the world’s most popular board game.

Now, in the 21st century, you can play the same classic game of MONOPOLY on your Kindle Fire. And it’s a ton of fun.

Amass Your Fortune

So, do you like to buy Boardwalk and Park Place and hope to make it big on a few unlucky rolls by your opponent? Or is your strategy to go with the Green, Red, or Yellow properties and slowly bleed your adversaries dry? However you like to play MONOPOLY, you’ll love playing the Android version.

Single-Player Fun

One of the great things about playing the digital version of MONOPOLY is that you don’t have to track down someone willing to take you on–you can match your business acumen against the computer any time you feel like it. Set the AI opponent at three levels of difficulty, so you’ll always get a challenge (or if you prefer, an easy win). Of course, it’s much more fun to switch to Pass ‘N Play mode, just so you can see your rivals’ faces when you crush them.

Smooth, Intuitive Interface

This is quite simply a great-looking, well-designed app. Just pick your favorite piece, shake your device to roll the dice, and you’re off. Tap the screen to zoom in and examine the details of any space or property. Turn the board with a quick swipe. Your money and properties are automatically tracked for you. All you need to do is scheme your way to economic domination.

The Game You Know and Love

There are also many options regarding your money, how many houses you need to buy to create a MONOPOLY, theme music, and more. Just set up the type of game you like to play and get to it.

Are you ready to become a real-estate tycoon? Aiming to be the next Bill Gates or Warren Buffett? Show everyone your true financial genius with MONOPOLY for Android.

Could The Kindle Fire vs Nook Tablet Fight Really Hinge On Magazines?

Since the launch of the very first Kindle eReader, the persistent and constantly repeated complaint has been that it lacks color.  Everything else that began problematically, from screen refresh time to clunky controls, has been addressed in later iterations of the Kindle line.  Sadly, you just can’t do much yet in terms of color without sacrificing the E Ink screen.  Barnes & Noble managed to effectively market their Nook Color for over a year on nothing more than the ability to overcome this limitation (regardless of the resultant shortcomings of their device) and it was inevitable that it be a big issue in terms of Kindle Fire reviewing, no matter how much Amazon might prefer to focus on other things.

How big a deal could this possibly be, though?  Upon closer inspection, more than I thought.  The obvious example that most people jump to for their color reading needs is the magazine.  Let’s simply disregard that one for the time being, though.  It involves a slightly different pricing model since only the newest issue of a given publication is likely to be in demand, shortening the life of each installment to a month or so in many cases.  I would love to comment but, without a better understanding of how the advertising model generally makes the transition to the sort of device that has the potential to simply block out images with a few tweaks, I simply don’t feel qualified at the moment.

We can definitely consider general book sales, though.  Assume that the majority of book sales are fiction.  Particularly Romance novels, I’m told.  Not too much need for color illustration in those, for the most part.  That does not mean that non-fiction is a negligible area, however.  Self Help and History are two of the most impressive genres of the past few years in terms of sales.  Both of them, in their own way can benefit from the inclusion of color.

While this is definitely important, though, it’s difficult to believe that it will really be a major factor moving into the next round of Kindle vs Nook competition.  Barnes & Noble’s book focus is completely understandable.  It only makes sense to do what you know best and they simply don’t have the structure in place to handle much else.  Amazon has already moved past that, adding competing capabilities and book selections almost in passing, and brought the emphasis around to video.

The Kindle Fire might not be a match for the iPad when it comes to hardware, but Amazon is building up their whole digital presence to the point of rivaling Apple’s more established one.  The book emphasis only made sense as long as the limitations of the device being sold restricted use to that media.  The future will be an overall digital experience.  Sure magazines and color reading will be a part of it, but on their own the effect just doesn’t seem likely to be big enough to matter.  There are rumors of a Nook Tablet video store on the horizon, as well as a push to increase the app content for that line of devices.  That’s likely to make a far bigger difference.

Daily Deals: The Detachment and Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots

The Detachment

Today Amazon offer The Detachment (John Rain) by Barry Eisler only for $0.99

John Rain is back. And “the most charismatic assassin since James Bond” (San Francisco Chronicle) is up against his most formidable enemy yet: the nexus of political, military, media, and corporate factions known only as the Oligarchy. 

When legendary black ops veteran Colonel Scott “Hort” Horton tracks Rain down in Tokyo, Rain can’t resist the offer: a multi-million dollar payday for the “natural causes” demise of three ultra-high-profile targets who are dangerously close to launching a coup in America.

But the opposition on this job is going to be too much for even Rain to pull it off alone. He’ll need a detachment of other deniable irregulars: his partner, the former Marine sniper, Dox. Ben Treven, a covert operator with ambivalent motives and conflicted loyalties. And Larison, a man with a hair trigger and a secret he’ll kill to protect.

From the shadowy backstreets of Tokyo and Vienna, to the deceptive glitz and glamour of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and finally to a Washington, D.C. in a permanent state of war, these four lone wolf killers will have to survive presidential hit teams, secret CIA prisons, and a national security state as obsessed with guarding its own secrets as it is with invading the privacy of the populace.

But first, they’ll have to survive each other.

The Detachment is what fans of Eisler, “one of the most talented and literary writers in the thriller genre” (Chicago Sun-Times), have been waiting for: the worlds of the award-winning Rain series, and of the bestselling Fault Line and Inside Out, colliding in one explosive thriller as real as today’s headlines and as frightening as tomorrow’s.

Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots

Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots is an application for your Kindle. 

En Garde!

Fruit meets fairytales in Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots.

The suave, fruit-slashing swashbuckler, Puss in Boots, faces a challenge that would make Sensei proud. Prepare for a journey of familiar fruit-slicing action as Puss encounters a wealth of new and exciting challenges in his search for the Magic Beans.

Puss in Fruits

Slice through a series of increasingly exciting challenges in the all-new Bandito Mode, and become the greatest Fruit Ninja warrior of all time. Each stage thrusts you into never-before-seen fruit frenzy adventure. Face massive fruit from the Giant’s castle, precision and timing challenges, and all-out fruit onslaughts with new obstacles. Plus, for the first time ever, throw down against the much-requested tomato!

Real Banditos must put their best blade forward, because scoring is based on the number of fruits sliced, ninja reflexes, and slicing efficiency. A true produce warrior can upload their massive high scores to global leaderboards, and rank among the best players online.
If Kitty-Looks Could Kill

Bring your blade to Desperado Mode–an enhanced and re-mastered version of the Classic Fruit Ninja game. But this time, you will face even more fruit, unique waves, and Puss in Boots’ elusive Magic Beans from the DreamWorks Animation feature film.

Finally, bask in the fruit-stained glory of Puss in Boots’ own exclusive Ninja Stash, featuring a whole range of unique customizable content, including new backgrounds and blades.

Stay juicy, amigos!

Kobo Launches Book Club Against Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

It was recently announced that Kobo, Amazon’s leading competitor against the Kindle outside the United States, is offering a fun new perk for anybody who picks up one of their eReaders between now and May 2012.  The new Kobo Book Club, as they are referring to it, will offer each person a book of their choice from a limited selection once each month through the end of 2012.  As with what seems to be the competing program, Amazon’s new lending library, the available books will not necessarily be off the bestseller list, but they will be permanent acquisitions instead of just rentals.

Amazon made a bold move when they launched the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.  It took long enough to even get the public library system compatible with the Kindle in the first place, thanks to the break from EPUB early on in Amazon’s eReading endeavor.  Even that comes in the middle of the long fight publishers have put up against eBooks being in any way cheaper or more convenient than their paper counterparts, but that’s another story entirely.  What’s most relevant, especially if we’re talking about somebody like Kobo trying to come up with a similar program is the reaction.

In a lot of ways that program is Amazon flexing their muscles.  Yes, the lending library benefits Kindle owners and is something that I totally support, but starting it up without general publisher or author support and working around that problem by taking advantage of wholesale discount arrangements has led to a bit of drama.  The Big 6 are upset, since it means that eBooks are yet again in danger of being found more convenient and less expensive than print books.  The Author’s Guild has lent support to that side of things as well.  It’s doubtful that any of this will cause Amazon to back off, but not many other companies would be in a position to get away with a similar move.

Kobo has avoided the problem entirely with their choice of titles.  January’s titles, for example, will be:

Glancing at Amazon these seem to be well-rated titles, but you have to admit that the audience likely to get excited about them will be limited.  If this marks the beginning of an ongoing trend, it’s hard to see this as a major draw for new customers despite its being available in Canada as well as the US.

This is especially true since buyers who go for the new Kobo Vox aren’t included.  Many people are expecting the Vox to make a big splash by beating the Kindle Fire to new markets, and Kobo clearly rushed to get something out there in time to compete, so this exclusion is rather hard to understand.

While I wouldn’t exactly say that this should be a huge factor in any eReading platform choices, it’s nice if you were planning to go that route anyway.  Kobo is currently the third most popular eReader platform around, so clearly the demand is there.  An occasional extra can’t hurt, even if it doesn’t really provide exactly the same value as the Kindle counterpart.

Kindle Content Reviews: Reading, Writing, and Understanding Their Impact

There is always going to be a certain amount of skepticism that has to be exercised toward online reviews of any sort.  Those who are least satisfied will also always be the most motivated to post something, and there isn’t necessarily any way to confirm whether the problem being experienced was in any way the related to the product experience that another customer might get.  With something like the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, or the Amazon Appstore for Android now that the Kindle Fire is around, this can be especially problematic for a provider.

These authors and developers often have no other major avenue through which to sell the product of their labor, which means that a misinformed negative review can have a major impact.  However much we might wish it weren’t so, the first thing many people look at when considering a new book, app, toy, etc., is the overall review.  Particularly the number of truly negative ones.  Now, Amazon has done some good by adding in a product review rating system that allows users to tag particularly helpful or unhelpful contributions, but that only matters if you actually go so far as to read them.

If you are considering a purchase, especially with regard to digital content from the Appstore, it might be particularly helpful to read carefully.  Right now, as the attempt to cater to an impressively diverse selection of Android devices can be problematic, many apps are overrun by 1-Star reviews for being incompatible with specific phones or tablets.  It is not unknown for this to be the case even when owners of these devices could clearly see that their device was not listed as compatible.  Don’t let this sort of behavior dissuade you from picking up an otherwise excellent piece of software.

If you are writing the review of an eBook or App, there are a couple things to keep in mind:

First, unlike what you might expect, anything 3-Star and below is considered a negative review.  If you rate a product below 4-Stars, you are essentially telling Amazon that this is not a product that you would recommend to anybody.  If the average product rating drops to 3-Star, that is exactly how the site will treat it and potential customers will rarely, if ever, be directed to it based on their interests.  This can have a devastating effect on the income of the creator.

Second, it is bad form to judge a product based on what you wish it did rather than how well it does what it claimed.  If a book presents itself as a romance but is actually about corporate espionage, then there’s plenty of room for complaint.  If you felt that the calendar app you downloaded would have been better if it had the ability to import the Smurfs theme as an event reminder, that would generally be considered outside the realm of what you are meant to review unless sound file importing was specifically advertised.  5-Stars means that the purchase is a good example of exactly what it claimed to be.  4-Stars means that it generally met expectations, but probably could have been more successful.  Anything 3-Star and below means something was significantly wrong with it.

Please try not to penalize authors or developers who choose to make content for the Kindle and Kindle Fire due to things out of their control.  If Amazon takes longer than you would like to deliver your files, it isn’t their fault.  If you had hoped that despite being advertised for Honeycomb an App would work on your Android 2.1 device, the failure is not the developer’s fault.  Negative reviews on individual products that Amazon.com provides will generally not have any effect on the company as a whole, and often it is likely that they never see these complaints at all unless representatives are specifically directed to them.  Keep in mind who might be affected by your criticisms.

Daily Deal: Five Holiday Romance Novels and Atari’s Greatest Hits PRO

Bring Me Home for Christmas (Virgin River)Today only, five holiday romance novels–from authors Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, Susan Wiggs, Robyn Carr, and Linda Lael Miller–are just $0.99 each.

Reviews on Bring Me Home for Christmas: 

“This book is an utter delight.” -RT Book Reviews on Moonlight Road
“Strong conflict, humor and well-written characters are Carr’s calling cards, and they’re all present here…. You won’t want to put this one down.” -RT Book Reviews on Angel’s Peak
“This story has everything: a courageous, outspoken heroine; a to-die-for hero; and a plot that will touch readers’ hearts on several different levels. Truly excellent.” -RT Book Reviews on Forbidden Falls
“An intensely satisfying read. By turns humorous and gut-wrenchingly emotional, it won’t soon be forgotten.”-RT Book Reviews on Paradise Valley
“Carr has hit her stride with this captivating series.”-Library Journal on the Virgin River series
“The Virgin River books are so compelling-I connected instantly with the characters and just wanted more and more and more.”-#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber

Short description of the book:

This year, Becca Timm knows the number one item on her Christmas wish list—getting over Denny Cutler. Three years ago, Denny broke her heart before heading off to war. It’s time she got over her silly college relationship and moved on.

So she takes matters into her own hands and heads up to Virgin River, the rugged little mountain town that Denny calls home, as an uninvited guest on her brother’s men-only hunting weekend. But when an accident turns her impromptu visit into an extended stay, Becca finds herself stranded in Virgin River. With Denny. In very close quarters.
As the power of Christmas envelops the little town, Becca discovers that the boy she once loved has become a strong and confident man. And the most delicious Christmas present she can imagine.
Call Me Mrs. Miracle

Short description of Call Me Mrs. Miracle:

This Christmas, Emily Merkle (call her Mrs. Miracle!) is working in the toy department at Finley’s, the last family-owned department store in New York City. And her boss is none other than…Jake Finley, the owner’s son.

For Jake, holiday memories of brightly wrapped gifts, decorated trees and family were destroyed in a Christmas Eve tragedy years before. Now Christmas means just one thing to him—and to his father. Profit. Because they need a Christmas miracle to keep the business afloat.

Holly Larson needs a miracle, too. She wants to give her eight-year-old nephew, Gabe, the holiday he deserves. Holly’s widowed brother is in the army and won’t be home for Christmas, but at least she can get Gabe that toy robot from Finley’s, the one gift he desperately wants. If she can figure out how to afford it…

Fortunately, it’s Mrs. Miracle to the rescue. Next to making children happy, she likes nothing better than helping others—and that includes doing a bit of matchmaking!

This Christmas will be different. For all of them.

 

That Holiday Feeling

Short description of That Holiday Feeling

Silver Bells by Debbie Macomber

In this classic story, Debbie brings those Manning men and Manning sisters home for a mistletoe marriage when a single dad finally says “I do.”

The Perfect Holiday by Sherryl Woods

Will bachelor Trace Franklin become a groom-to-be by Christmastime? He sure will…if Savannah Holiday’s aunt Mae has anything to do with it.

Under the Christmas Tree by Robyn Carr

When the folks of Virgin River discover a box of adorable puppies under the town’s Christmas tree they call on local vet Nathaniel Jensen for help. But it’s his budding romance with Annie McCarty that really has tongues and tails wagging!

 

 
Holiday in Stone Creek: A Stone Creek Christmas\At Home in Stone Creek (Hqn)

Short description of Holiday in Stone Creek

A Stone Creek Christmas

Stone Creek veterinarian Olivia O’Ballivan communicates easily with animals, but men are another story. Especially rugged architect-turned-rancher Tanner Quinn. Olivia’s uncanny bond with his daughter Sophie’s pony has him questioning her sanity, while she wonders if he’s not just a drugstore cowboy. Then twelve-year-old Sophie conspires with Olivia to get Tanner into the spirit of Christmas. But will a holiday miracle transform the globe-trotting Tanner into a rancher—and family man—for all seasons?

At Home In Stone Creek

Everyone in Ashley O’Ballivan’s life is marrying and starting families—except her. But why bother dating when no one can compare to Jack McCall, the man who left her heartbroken years ago? Now he’s back in town —and maybe he isn’t who she thinks he is.

While recovering from a dangerous mission for the DEA, security expert Jack rents a room in Ashley’s bed-and-breakfast. For both their sakes, he tries to keep his distance, though neither can deny the growing spark between them. But when his past catches up with him, he’ll have to leave again…just as he realizes where he’s always belonged—in Stone Creek.

Lakeshore Christmas (The Lakeshore Chronicles)

Short description of Lakeshore Christmas

Maureen Davenport finally gets to direct Avalon’s annual holiday pageant, and she’s determined to make it truly spectacular. But former child star Eddie Haven is turning out to be a tattooed lump of coal in her stocking. Eddie can’t stand Christmas, but a judge’s court order has landed him right in the middle of the merrymaking. He and Maureen spar over every detail of the pagent, from casting troubled kids to Eddie’s original—and distinctly untraditional—music.

Is he sabotaging the performance to spite her, or is she foricng the show into her storybook-perfect notion of Christmas? And is it possible that they’re falling in love?

Some words about the Author

When Susan Wiggs’s recent novel, Fireside, landed at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, the author responded by jumping fully clothed into her swimming pool. In February. In the Pacific Northwest. After thawing herself out, the author put on her lipstick and vacuumed the living room. Why? Because on the tiny island where she lives, news travels fast. She knew her girlfriends would show up momentarily – which they did – with the customary champagne and bags of Cheetos. She toasted her loyal readers, whose unflagging interest in her books propelled her sales upward. She toasted her friends and family as well, since they have always been the source of her inspiration. From the very start, her writings have illuminated the everyday dramas of ordinary people. At the age of eight, she self-published her first novel, entitled A Book About Some Bad Kids. Today, she is an international best-selling author, with millions of copies of her books in print in numerous countries. Her Lakeshore Chronicles novels celebrate the power of love, the timeless bonds of family and the nuances of human nature that make headlines every day. She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest and is perpetually working on her next novel.

Atari's Greatest Hits PRO

Atari’s Greatest Hits PRO (9 games included)

Relive the Golden Age of Gaming

Do you remember playing Centipede or Asteroids at the arcade in the 1980s? Wouldn’t it be great to relive these and other games from your childhood? With Atari’s Greatest Hits PRO, you get a collection of the most popular retro games from the ’70s and ’80s–including nine free games. Now you don’t need a time machine to get the classic gaming experience of yesterday. You just need this app and an Android device.

Atari’s Greatest Hits PRO gives you access to 100 classic Atari 2600 and arcade games. This extensive catalog pays homage to each of the originals, with controls designed to mimic what Atari fans remember from 30 years ago. You can buy games like Pong, Tempest, Crystal Castles, and many more. For those who love the classic gaming experience, this handheld breakthrough is sure to guarantee hours of fun.

What’s more, Atari’s Greatest Hits PRO includes nine free games with your purchase of the app. That’s eight more games than the free version of the app, in which Missile Command is the only game included.

So Many Ways to Play

When you download Atari’s Greatest Hits PRO, you’ll get nine games for free: Pong, Missile Command, Missile Command 2600, Centipede, Millipede, Centipede 2600 and Millipede 2600, Basic Math, and Flag Capture. You’ll also get the original gaming cabinet and box art–a great way to complete the retro experience.

You can also purchase additional Atari games quickly and easily from within this app. Choose from 25 separate packs, each of which contains three to four individual Atari games. (For example, the Adventure 4-pack contains the well-loved game Adventure, as well as Haunted House, Return to Haunted House, and Save Mary.) These packs are priced quite affordably.

This app contains these 9 free games:
  • Missile Command
  • Missile Command 2600
  • Pong
  • Centipede
  • Centipede 2600
  • Millipede
  • Millipede 2600
  • Basic Math
  • Flag Capture
What Others Are Saying about Atari’s Greatest Hits

Atari’s Greatest Hits is absolutely one of the very best buys in the Amazon Appstore.” – TouchArcade

“Overall, the scope of Atari’s Greatest Hits is amazing. It’s certainly the best emulator … for content and presentation.” – AppGamer

Atari’s Greatest Hits features a mesmerizing amount of nostalgia in one app.” – CNET

PLEASE NOTE: This app lets you purchase digital content using actual money. You can configure parental controls for in-app purchases, which will require your Amazon account password or a 4-digit PIN, by going to the Settings menu from within the Amazon Appstore.

Kindle Fire Apps: Game Recommendations

Tablet PCs are neat devices and the Kindle Fire is no exception.  While they’re great for watching videos on, and even pretty good for reading and listening to music in a pinch, I’ve not found games to be all that functional before now.  Maybe it was just the fact that my iPad is a bit too large and heavy for comfort, but anything more complex than Angry Birds gets old pretty quick.  In this respect, the smaller form of the Fire makes a huge difference.  It’s been a lot of fun to play with the past couple weeks, so I thought I would share some of my new favorites.

Plants vs. Zombies (Kindle Fire Edition)

Plant flowers quickly and strategically in order to protect your house from a zombie invasion.  You get a variety of stages, loads of seeds, and hordes of zombies who just can’t wait to pick your brain for a minute or two.

I’m sure this one doesn’t surprise many people.  It’s available on pretty much every platform in existence, yet it always manages to impress.  The Kindle Fire edition is particularly well done, in my opinion, and will provide hours of fun to new players and old fans alike.

Dabble HD

A while back I picked this one up for the heck of it when Amazon offered it up as a daily freebie.  Word games are neat and it looked essentially like a Boggle clone, so why not?  It turned out to be incredibly addictive.

You are given five rows of what are basically Scrabble tiles, each row slightly larger than the one above it (ranging from 2-6 letters from top to bottom).  From these, the goal is to use all your letters.  Rather than simply finding all possible combinations, you need to find the one combination that will allow all lines to be filled.  There are elements of strategy that enter into it, particularly if you’re having a very good game and can be picky about which row gets your highest scoring tiles, but even when you can’t figure out that last piece in the puzzle it is hard to put down.

Quell

Quite possibly the most highly rated game in the Amazon Appstore at the time of my writing this.  It’s a fun little puzzle game that’s so simple to learn how to play that you almost don’t realize how complex it can become.

The controls are simple, and the concept is likely to be familiar.  You swipe in the direction that you want to go and then move in a straight line until you hit a wall.  The idea is to achieve the highest possible efficiency while achieving your goals.  Definitely not as flashy or fast paced as many other options you’ll find in the store, but sometimes a simple, elegant option will be more appealing.  Supposedly a sequel is right on the horizon as well, just in case the 80 or so boards you have to solve in this version don’t do enough for you.

 

Daily Deals: The Immortalists and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Immortalists

Looking what to read next? Use your opportunity to get The Immortalists by Kyle Mills just for $0.99.

Question: The Immortalists is the story of a billionaire’s desire to stop aging. What was your inspiration for this unique take on the age-old fountain of youth tale?

Kyle Mills: The myth of the fountain of youth is one of the oldest and most widespread in history, with writing on the subject dating back before Christ. The one thing that all those stories and elaborate quests had in common was that they were nonsense–just another example of our superstitious nature. With all the recent advances in genetics, though, the myth is quickly becoming a reality. Not many people know it, but not all animals get old. Lobsters, for instance, just seem to keep going until they get sick or something eats them. The idea that we could identify the portion of their genome that provides longevity and splice it into our own becomes less far-fetched every day.

This brings up a lot of interesting issues. Our history isn’t exactly one of equality and benevolence, and death is hard-wired into our minds and societies. Will the people who discover this therapy pass it along to everyone, or will they try to keep it for themselves? Would our population explode if life expectancy suddenly rose to 500 years or more? Would advancement grind to a halt if scientists and politicians consolidated their positions, then stagnated in them for centuries? Would our existence become less life and more a tedious, endless avoidance of death? All this is perfect fodder for a thriller because change can very easily turn into chaos, and chaos makes for great stories.

Q: What kind of research goes into writing an in-depth medical thriller?

KM: I spent a number of months on research before putting pen to paper. The main character’s daughter suffers from a rare genetic disease that causes her to age at a wildly accelerated rate. The disease, a real syndrome called progeria, generates some fascinating questions about the causes of aging and whether it can simply be “cured.” Unfortunately for my friends and family, I am now a fount of useless information about genetics and aging, but I think that extra effort gave The Immortalists its realism and the sense that it could actually be happening right now. In truth, it probably could.

Q: You recently stepped into Robert Ludlum’s Covert-One series by writing The Ares Decision. What is it like to become part of such a rich canon with a devoted readership?

KM: A bit frightening. I have to admit I almost didn’t accept the job–those are pretty big shoes to fill. But in the end, I’m glad I did. It was a really fun project, and I found that I still could learn a thing or two by studying the works of one of the genre’s masters. Even better, Ludlum’s fans have been really enthusiastic about The Ares Decision, and I think I came out of the project a stronger writer.

Q: Your father was an FBI agent. How much does that background find its way into your writing?

KM: A great deal. Spending so many years hanging around FBI and CIA agents, soldiers, and diplomats gave me an inherent sense of what makes them tick. It also gave me a long list of people I can contact when I need the final word on how that world works.

Q: What are you working on now?

KM: A new installment of Robert Ludlum’s Covert-One series. It’s a novel about a new technology that I think will be the next step in human evolution. Of course, the question becomes whether that step will save us or destroy us.

Q: Which books do you like to read over and over again?

KM: George Orwell’s 1984 for its incredibly dark take on human nature. Rian Malan’s My Traitor’s Heart, a book about Apartheid-era South Africa that has a more hopeful view of our species. And Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, an entertaining and enlightening book about why we are who we are and how much of our destiny is already written on the day we’re born.

From Publishers Weekly
Crisp writing and plotting lift this medical thriller from bestseller Mills (Darkness Falls). Brilliant microbiologist Richard Draman has the most personal of reasons to find a cure for the rare disease progeria. The ailment, which radically accelerates the aging process, has afflicted his eight-year-old daughter, Susie. Given the extremely modest numbers of its victims, research funding is always at a premium, but Draman has managed to hold things together at his lab near Baltimore. The precariousness of the Dramans’ lives is exacerbated when Troy Chevalier, the widower of a scientific colleague, asks for help investigating his wife’s death, officially ruled a suicide. Chevalier gives Draman a thumb drive with data she was working on, but Draman’s first step to understand what’s on it leads to his arrest for industrial espionage. Things only get worse from there as the threats escalate to violence aimed at Draman and his loved ones. The plot may lack originality, but the ingenuity of the beleaguered protagonist, plus booster shots of realism, make this an enjoyable read.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Poor Rudolph! All the other reindeer make fun of his bright red nose and won’t let him play in their reindeer games. But when Christmas is almost cancelled because of a huge snowstorm, Rudolph comes to Santa’s rescue!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the classic Christmas story made famous in a 1964 TV special, is now available as an omBook for your Android device. Like Rudolph himself, this digital book is special. It includes custom music, delightful background audio, enlarged artwork for each scene, and authentic audio clips from the timeless TV special. The app also includes special effects for Rudolph’s glowing nose and falling snow.

This deluxe, interactive omBook from Oceanhouse Media is a pleasure for kids and grownups alike. It can also help build your child’s reading skills in exciting and fun new ways.

Listen, Read, Laugh, and Learn

Choose one of three ways to enjoy the story: Read to Me, Read it Myself, or Auto Play. The Read to Me option allows your child to listen to the narrated story, highlighting the words as they are read. The Read it Myself option allows your child to read each page in the traditional form and turn each page with a swipe. Auto Play will play the story like a movie, automatically reading and turning the pages; this is the best option for very young children.

From page to page, your child can touch anywhere on the screen and learn a new word. Individual words are highlighted as the story is read, making it simple for children to follow along and recognize words. Touch the words or long-press any paragraph to have them repeated. To enhance learning by picture and word association, your child can touch any image on the screen and the word will pop up, identifying the object in bright, bold letters.

Delightful Details, Unexpected Fun

Unique background music and surprising audio elements add unexpected fun to the storytime experience. A jolly narrator tells the familiar holiday tale with gusto, and nicely-placed sound effects make each page full of sweet fun.

Audio clips from the original TV special mean that familiar voices–like those of Rudolph, Hermey, Yukon Cornelius, and many more–come to life in a new way.

Add art that enlarges to reveal delightful details (based closely on the the TV special’s original stop-motion animation scenes), and this omBook is sure to make your little one giggle!

Best of 2011 Editors’ Picks for Kindle Games

2011 is drawing to a close, and it certainly has been a great year for Kindle games and applications.  To celebrate the success of top rated Kindle games, there is a $.99 sale going on under the name Best of 2011 Editors Picks.  In the list of 25 games, the ones that were picked mostly didn’t come as a surprise, however there were some not on there that I thought should be.

Electronic Arts games such as Scrabble, Sudoku, and Monopoly are usually around $4 or $5, so this is a pretty steep discount for them.  All of these games are adaptations of the traditional board games and puzzles.  You should catch on to the way they work pretty easily if you are familiar with how to navigate Kindle games in general.

Other hit games up for grabs at a discounted price are Jewels, Slingo and Strimko.  All of these have great reviews and are easy to learn.  Jewels is a Kindle version of the popular game Bejeweled. All you have to do is match up different shaped jewels before the time runs out or before you run out of matches.  Slingo is a combination of Bingo and Slots.  Strimko is Sudoku with an added element called streams.

The list of Kindle games for kids has grown tremendously this year, and a couple of the best ones are Hangman 4 Kids and Spongebob’s Treasure Quest.  There are a number of games and interactive fiction for kids that are good, but they are not on the list.  Interactive fiction is a genre that is continuing to grow, and includes books that are great for both kids and adults.

In addition to games, there are also applications that can aid in productivity like Notepad, Calendar, and Easy Calculator.  These aren’t really much of a sale because they are usually around $.99 anyway, but they serve their purpose well.

Lastly, for those who are looking for an inexpensive exercise program, check out My Yoga Studio.  It includes several yoga routines that cover most parts of the body.

I was really surprised that Futoshiki and Blossom were not on the list.  Those two games have shown some of the best reviews of all of the Kindle games.  Futoshiki is Sudoku with < and > signs mixed in, and Blossom is a pipe irrigation puzzle game.

For more detailed reviews on each of these games and apps, visit the Kindle-Apps review blog.  Again, as far as the sale goes, I think it that this is the best time to get the more expensive EA games.  They are good quality, and are all games that have been around for a long time in some form or another.

Most games are compatible with Kindles up to the 4th generation. There are not many games for the Kindle Touch yet, just because the interface is so different.  But, with time, that will change.

Daily Deals: The Dead Man and A Charlie Brown Christmas

Face Of EvilOnly today you have the chance to buy 5 books with price $0.99 for each. Usually Amazon makes discount only for 1 book per day. It is really good chance to add 5 books into your collection of horror written by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin.

Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin on The Dead Man series

We grew up loving those “men’s action adventure” paperback novels of the 60s, 70s, and 80s…series like The DestroyerThe Ninja MasterNick Carter, and The Death Merchant. You could find them in finer supermarkets, gas stations, 7-11s and bookstores everywhere. They were the male equivalent of Harlequin romances,though the only romance was often between a man and his AK-47.

The books were short and tightly-written, with hard-boiled heroes, outrageously sexy women, and gleefully over-the-top plots. Nobody would ever mistake them for great literature, but they were enormous fun to read…and to write (we know, because Lee broke into publishing in the mid-1980s writing one of those series—.357 Vigilante aka The Jury Series under the pen name “Ian Ludlow”–while he was still in college).

Sadly, the “men’s action adventure” series novels are virtually extinct now, early victims of the narrowing of the paperback marketplace.

But the Kindle offers the perfect medium for the revival of the genre, which is why we’ve teamed up with over a dozen other writers on The Dead Man, an original series that we hope recaptures the spirit and pure escapism of the thousands of books written during the heyday of “men’s action adventure.”

Ring of Knives

The series is about Matthew Cahill, an ordinary man leading a simple life…until a shocking accident changes everything. Now he can see a nightmarish netherworld that nobody else does, making each day a journey…and an adventure.

New books in The Dead Man series will appear every month or so, just like they used to in paperback in the old days. Our other experienced Dead Man authors come from a wide cross-section of genres – mystery, westerns, horror, science fiction, thrillers, and cozies. And some of them also lead double-lives as Emmy award winning writer/producers of hit network TV series.

The Dead Man gives us the thrilling opportunity to indulge our great affection for the genre and hopefully get you hooked on it, too.  – Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin

Question: How did The Dead Man series come about?

William Rabkin: It started with a TV pilot script and 12 storylines that Lee and I wrote twenty years ago. The TV series didn’t sell, but we never stopped thinking about Matt Cahill… about what happened to him and what sorts of adventures he’d face. Finally we got sick of thinking about it and decided we’d write it ourselves as a series of books. Shortly after that, we had the idea of inviting some of the wildly creative, brilliant authors and screenwriters that we know to write books in the series as well…

Question: You are both avid fans of the “men’s action adventure” genre. What made you think The Dead Man could revive the genre?

Hell In HeavenLee Goldberg: It has all the elements of the classic men’s action-adventure series….a rugged hero, an open-ended mission, a clear enemy and the potential for lots of violence … but with an occult edge that allows us to imbue a dated genre with more surprising twists and darker humor. We felt by embracing the supernatural, and the traditional elements of the men’s action adventure genre, we opened the door to story- telling that would push the envelope a bit. More importantly, though, we adopted a voice, and an approach to the material, that we think is more character-based, more self-aware, and perhaps more wise-ass than most of those series were back in the day (with the possible exception of “The Destroyer”).

Question: You both love horror novels. Is there an author that you particularly admire?

William Rabkin: Stephen King, of course. He marries the human and the horrible so brilliantly that he transformed the genre forever.  In terms of writers who can carry a single character over a long and constantly exciting set of adventures, I’d love to see us compared to Lee Child.

Question: How do you two write your books together?

Lee Goldberg:  So far, the way we’ve done it is that one of us writes the first draft and the other one does the revisions (or suggests revisions that the other writer does). But we talk to one another throughout the process. I won’t tell you who wrote the first draft of which book…you’ll have to figure that one out for yourselves. But it won’t be easy. Bill and I have written together in television for so many years that we’re very good at creating and maintaining a shared voice, though this is the first time we’ve collaborated on books.

The Dead Woman

Here are some reviews:

Hell in Heaven is the best so far in an already splendid series and is super rush of a read with plenty of sharp twists and turns and some truly smashing lines. –Paul D. BrazillIf you haven’t read The Dead Man books you are certainly missing out on some terrific reads –Man-Eating Bookworm

This series has kept me rapt from the first page [...]these authors are the Jamaican sprint team doing the 4x100m relay, each stage just gets better and better. –Right What You No

Hell in Heaven is a direct spiritual descendant of the sorts of awesome pulp action adventure tales that the greats like Robert E. Howard loved to write. –Post-Modern Pulps

For anyone who has not taken up the world of Matt Cahill yet, you are missing out on some truly crowd-pleasing fun. –Bookgasm

The story races by at a brisk rate of knots, each twist and turn, and shift in time providing another revelation [...] I was enjoying it so much, I didn’t want it to end. –Permission to Kill Blog

The Blood MesaThe Dead Man: Face of Evil is a tight, well written, supernatural thriller [that] satisfies all on it’s own, while being a terrific opener that promises an epic tale to come. I’m excited for the next book. –Man Eating  Bookworm Blog
The Dead Man Face of Evil reminds me of Stephen King and Dean Koontz.[...]a fascinating horror story that leaves you wanting more, more, more! –Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine
“I’m hopeful they continue with this character since it’s set up so well. I’ve not seen a writing tandem like this since
 the glory days of Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy” –Bookgasm”Buckle up! The Dead Man: Face of Evil starts at full-speed and never lets up. This is big-ticket horror with characters you care about who are driven to the very edge. Highly recommended!” -New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry, author of Dead of Night

“….new series that perfectly recaptures the golden days of paperback fiction; The Dead Man series created by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin.” ScarryMotherF….com

“I finished The Dead Man: Face of Evil last night and really enjoyed it. And admired it as a piece of work. The structure is ingenious, the large cast of characters (third person omniscient works here) are variously strong, weak, weird, funny, sad, scary and unique and the storytelling is sleek and relentless. I recommend it big time.” Warren Murphy author of The Destroyer Series

You can get Face Of Evil here, Ring of Knives here, Hell In Heaven here, The Dead Woman here and The Blood Mesa here. Also you can click at any picture of the book to get to Amazon site to buy it.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas, the beloved Peanuts classic by Charles M. Schulz, is now available as a spectacular interactive storybook optimized for your Android device. Sit back and enjoy original dialogue, digitally remastered illustrations, animation, music, and narration by Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown.

“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!”

Only Charlie Brown can turn the magic of Christmas into a problem. Even though the snowflakes are falling softly, carols are ringing sweetly, and people are gathering merrily, Charlie Brown is feeling down. He just doesn’t understand Christmas. Join him, along with Snoopy and the entire Peanuts gang as they struggle to find the true meaning of Christmas. It’s all accompanied by a charming soundtrack featuring music and sound effects from the original show.

Reading is Wonder-Full

This version of A Charlie Brown Christmas is bursting with fun interactivities that will delight children and adults alike. Go caroling with the Peanuts choir, finger-paint with the gang, and participate in the Spectacular Super-Colossal Neighborhood Christmas Lights and Display Contest to unlock decorations for your very own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. You can even play Schroeder’s piano (to the tune of “Linus and Lucy”, of course). Note highlighting helps to introduce and improve musical skills.

Little readers will love turning pages with the swipe of a finger. They can also watch text highlighting as they listen to the story narration, hear individual words spoken with a single tap, touch and drag objects to make them spring to life or tilt to watch them slide and move, and much more. With something to discover on every page, this is one interactive Peanuts adventure you won’t want to miss this holiday season!

“A beautifully designed app, and one that will tug at the heartstrings of anyone with fond memories of the animated specials.” – Wired

“Pitch-perfect app tribute to the holiday TV classic.” – Common Sense Media

“Well conceived, well executed, charming, fun, and educational.” – MacObserver

Kindle vs Kobo: Can Amazon’s Fire Win Against The Vox Internationally?

The Kindle Fire has made a big splash in the Tablet PC marketplace, driving prices down across the board and seemingly speeding along the release of direct competition from Amazon’s fellow eBook vendors.  Sadly, at the moment the Kindle Fire is only available in the US.  Chances are good, in fact, that there is going to be an extremely long wait before device is released anywhere else.  It is simply too reliant on the integration with Amazon’s Cloud Servers, Video Streaming, Android Appstore, and other such things that have not been prepared for other markets yet.

That doesn’t mean that people outside the US will want to overlook the Kindle Fire, of course.  Combine the $200 price tag with the almost complete lack of security measures to prevent Rooting of the device and you have a decent 7″ Android Tablet even if the quality of the custom OS is lost.  It does the job, if you’re willing to put up with all of the related complications of buying, shipping, rooting, etc.

The Kindle Fire isn’t the only option in this price range, though.  In fact the Kobo Vox, a similar competing tablet from an eBook vendor, is already available in the UK.  Even if it had nothing else going for it, and it does, the Vox’s availability would be enough to make it a major player in the new $200 tablet niche.  In addition to that, there is no need to root the device to get full functionality just about anywhere.  It comes with full access to the Android Marketplace already enabled, unlike either its Kindle or Nook competitors.

Admittedly the hardware isn’t as nice as the competition.  Neither the screen nor the processor is as nice as in the Kindle, which is itself criticized as lacking power by many.  They have made next to no effort to make the Kobo specifically ready for anything aside from the reading, which will already have some shortcomings given the backlit screen.  Since the primary competition will be rooted devices from the US, at least at first, this shouldn’t be too big a deal but it isn’t necessarily a recipe for long-term success.

As much as I’m a big fan of my Kindle Fire, neither option here thrills.  The Fire is amazing in many ways, but a big part of that is the seamless integration with Amazon’s services.  You lose that the second you take it out of the country.  The Vox, on the other hand, has no really exciting features.  When your tablet’s big claim to fame is extensive Facebook integration for a reading app, it is a stretch to see success in the future.  Either way you’re getting a 7″ tablet that runs Android 2.3 for around $200 (depending on local taxes and the cost of importing) but not much else.

As such, it seems unlikely that the Kindle Fire has much to fear from the Vox at the moment.  What will decide things is not where the two devices stand right this minute, but where they go from here on.  If Kobo can come around and start offering some really impressive incentives to use their tablet before Amazon extends their web service line sufficiently, there will be some real problems.  For now, the Kindle Fire wins ever so slightly based on narrowly superior hardware and nothing else.  Firm footing this is not.

Daily Deals: High Heels Mysteries Boxed Set (Books 1-5) and Word Pops

High Heels Mysteries Boxed Set (Books 1-5)

Amazon make the offer: you can buy a package of High Heels Mysteries Boxed Set (Books 1-5) written by Gemma Halliday just for $1.99. Boxed set of five award winning High Heels Mystery novels featuring fashion designer turned amateur sleuth, Maddie Springer, including:

SPYING IN HIGH HEELS
L.A. shoe designer, Maddie Springer, lives her life by three rules: Fashion. Fashion. Fashion. But when she stumbles upon the work of a brutal killer, her life takes an unexpected turn from Manolos to murder.

KILLER IN HIGH HEELS
Maddie straps on her stilettos and, along with her trigger-happy best friend, makes tracks for Sin City in search of her MIA dad.
Maddie finds not only her dad, but also a handful of aging drag queens, an organized crime ring smuggling fake Prada pumps, and one relentless killer. Plus, it seems the LAPD’s sexiest cop is doing a little Vegas moonlighting of his own. In a town where odds are everything, Maddie bets it all on her ability to out-step a vicious murderer.

UNDERCOVER IN HIGH HEELS
Secret affairs, hunky gardeners, and housewives desperate enough to bare it all… welcome to Magnolia Lane, TV’s hottest new prime time show… where a rising young starlet is found dead on the show’s set. Now it’s up to Maddie to sift through a leading lady with a secret, an actor on the verge of a nervous breakdown, a sexy cyber scandal, and one tabloid reporter who’ll stop at nothing to get the story of the century. Not to mention Maddie’s hot-cold relationship with the case’s familiar lead detective, Jack Ramirez. In a world where secrets, lies, and deception can earn you an Oscar, Maddie plays the role of a lifetime to catch Hollywood’s hottest killer. But if she doesn’t watch her step, Maddie’s fifteen minutes of fame just may be her last.

ALIBI IN HIGH HEELS
Baguettes, bodies, and haute couture galore! Shoe designer turned amateur sleuth, Maddie Springer, is at it again, this time in fabulously fashionable Paris. When Europe’s designer de jour, Jean Luc LeCroix, invites Maddie to show her creations at Paris Fashion Week, Maddie’s sure she’s died and gone to heaven. That is until Jean Luc’s top model is found dead on the runway, stabbed with a familiar stiletto heel. Sure someone is trying to frame her, Maddie enlists the help of her friends, including the sexy Detective Jack Ramirez, to uncover a daring jewel heist, a devious blackmailer, and even a few skeletons lurking in the closets of those closest to her. But as the evidence mounts, Maddie becomes the prime suspect and Ramirez is stuck between a badge and a cute blonde with a tendency for trouble. Will he stand by her as she attempts to track down an international killer, or will this be the case that finally comes between them? One thing’s for sure, if Maddie doesn’t uncover the real killer soon, she may be saying her final adieu.

MAYHEM IN HIGH HEELS
Maddie Springer is finally walking down the aisle with the man of her dreams. And she’s got the perfect wedding planner to pull it all off in style. Well, perfect, that is, until the woman winds up dead – murdered in buttercream icing. With the help of her fellow fashionista friends, Maddie vows to unveil the cold-blooded killer, but as the wedding day grows closer, tempers flare, old flames return, and Maddie’s race to the altar turns into a race against time.

REVIEWS:
“A saucy combination of romance and suspense that is simply irresistible.”  - Chicago Tribune

“Stylish… nonstop action…guaranteed to keep chick lit and mystery fans happy!”  - Publishers’ Weekly, starred review

“Maddie Springer is like a cross between Paris Hilton and Stephanie Plum, only better. The dialogue is snappy and the suspense beautifully interwoven with Ms. Halliday’s unique humor. This is one HIGH HEEL you’ll want to try on again and again ”  - Romance Junkies

“It’s rare to find a romantic mystery that’s so funny, but this is certainly one of them. Maddie Springer (is) a ‘Versace’ Nancy Drew everyone can appreciate.”  - Press & Sun Bulletin

Word Pops

Word Pops – if you love a good word challenge, check out Word Pops. This game for your Android device combines Scrabble-style spelling with Tetris-esque movement, resulting in an addictive and fun play experience.

Bubble Up Some Fun

Your job is to spell words with your finger to stop bubbles from filling the screen. Just touch a letter bubble and slide your finger onto adjacent letters to form a word. As you spell words, new bubbles continually rise to the top of the board. Keep finding new words or you’ll be overrun by bubbles and the game will end!

As you play, you’ll encounter special bubbles that can help (and sometimes hinder) you. Go for bonuses that earn up to five times the normal amount. Watch for special bubbles like Freeze, Explosion, and Mutate–they’ll give you a leg up at crucial moments, but they can mess you up, too.

Choose between scored and relaxed modes, depending on how intense you’re feeling. Scored mode features Scrabble-style scoring, with more points awarded for less common letters, and increases the pace of the game as you go along. Relaxed mode simply lets you play–there’s no scorekeeping and the speed remains constant throughout. You can adjust the speed in this mode, as well, in case you want to hone your chops.

The game’s natural touch interface, which is remarkably smooth and graceful, makes it easy to play this game for hours. Challenge your friends to see who can get the highest score or create the most valuable word. Good luck!

Updating Kindle DX or Kindle 2 to Kindle 3.x Firmware

Having discovered an already functional jailbreak for the Kindle Touch recently thanks to independent developer Yifan Lu, I was also pleased to note that there is a way to get your older Kindle devices somewhat more up to date.  It turns out that the hardware improvements in the Kindle 3 as compared to the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX, particularly the processors, were not significant enough to make it impossible to run the newer version.

To get this update installed, you will need a few things.  The most important, and possibly the hardest to get in some cases, is a working Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard) that has been jailbroken.  Assuming you have a spare Kindle 3 laying around, the same site linked in the instructions to follow contains detailed instructions on the jailbreaking process under the “Projects” tab.  You will also need a minimum of 900mb free on your Kindle 2/Kindle DX and 720mb free on your Kindle 3.  Naturally a USB transfer cable will be important as well.

Assuming you have all of these things, check out this page on Yifan Lu’s site.  The included instructions are simple to follow and while it will probably take you anywhere from one to three hours to complete the entire process, there is little room for error if you follow the order of operations correctly.

There are several things that you must be aware of before starting in on this:

  • Should you allow either of your Kindles to lose power while they are in use, it is likely to cause some major problems.  Charge them before you begin.
  • Once completed, you will have to repeat the process for any future firmware updates.  The Kindle 2 or Kindle DX will not be able to automatically access the files released for the Kindle 3.
  • While the hardware difference between these Kindles is not large enough to make the process inadvisable, as it would be if going from the Kindle 4 to the Kindle 3, there is a difference.  You will experience slight lag as the downside of your improved functionality.
  • Active content such as Kindle games will not work as a result of the update.  The developer of this update process doesn’t know exactly why, nor does there seem to be any major fix for this.  Be aware.
  • Sound/Music playback on the newly updated device will be flawed.  Since it will have been jailbroken it is possible to install an alternate music player to fix this, but it is an additional step for people who make much use of the eReader’s audio playback abilities.
  • There have been some unconfirmed reports that extremely large PDF files have issues on devices updated in this fashion.  This is likely the result of slightly inferior hardware and will probably not be an issue compared to the greatly improved PDF handling, but it is worth noting.

We can’t quite say why Amazon chose not to update these older Kindles, although it has been speculated that they were consciously abandoned to drum up business for the Kindle 3.  Also possible is the idea that faster processing simply opens more doors to new features that couldn’t be productively implemented otherwise.  Either way, at least now it is possible for owners of older Kindles to get the most out of their devices.

While the newer Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch are great, eReaders are made to last and there is no reason for a satisfied owner to throw away their perfectly good Kindle 2.  With the Kindle DX it’s an even more obvious choice, since there is yet to be a hardware update to the larger form and it looks increasingly like there never will be.  This update makes it even more desirable for those who need the 9.7″ screen.

Daily Deals: Graceling and Gift Shopper Pro

Graceling

Today Amazon offer you to buy Graceling written by Kristin Cashore for $0.99.

If you had the power to kill with your bare hands, what would you do with it?

Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents—swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa’s Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.

Combining elements of fantasy and romance, Cashore skillfully portrays the confusion, discovery, and angst that smart, strong-willed girls experience as they creep toward adulthood. Katsa wrestles with questions of freedom, truth, and knowing when to rely on a friend for help. This is no small task for an angry girl who had eschewed friendships (with the exception of one cousin that she trusts) for her more ready skills of self-reliance, hunting, and fighting. Katsa also comes to know the real power of her Grace and the nature of Graces in general: they are not always what they appear to be.

Graceling is the first book in a series, and Kristin Cashore’s first work of fiction. It sets up a vivid world with engaging characters that readers will certainly look forward to following beyond the last chapter of this book. (Ages 14 and up) –Heidi Broadhead

 

Gift Shopper Pro

Gift Shopper Pro is application for your Kindle Fire. Only today you can get this application for free.

‘Tis better to give than receive–and ’tis better to tackle your holiday shopping with Gift Shopper Pro than without. Track everyone on your Naughty and Nice lists and make sure you don’t leave anybody out with this helpful app for your Android device.

Never Lose Your List

Shopping for presents can be a chaotic process, especially during the holidays, but Gift Shopper Pro is here to help ease the insanity. With this app you can create detailed, customized shopping lists that take the pain and disorganization out of gift giving.

Simplicity Itself

The last thing you need when trying to get a handle on your holiday shopping is complexity and confusion. Thankfully, Gift Shopper Pro is simple and intuitive. There are three main ways of organizing your shopping: People, Shopping List, and Occasions.

In People view, simply create a list of individuals you need to shop for by entering their names or pulling them from your Contacts list. Each person has their own record in the app, where you can enter their birthday, anniversary, likes and dislikes, clothing sizes, and any other notes you might want to add.

In Shopping List view, the app allows you to create entries for all the gifts you need to purchase. For each gift you can fill in the recipient, occasion, price, store name, and other information. As you buy the items on your list you can check them off right in the app. There’s even a field to note if the gift has been wrapped or not.

Under the Occasions tab view, you can list major gift-giving occurrences (birthdays, anniversaries) and holidays (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc.). One click shows, for example, a list of birthdays for all your friends and family. There’s even a feature noting how many shopping days you have left until the big day is here.

Scan to Add

An even easier way to create your gift list in Gift Shopper Pro is by scanning bar codes for the items you want to purchase. This automatically creates a record in your list that you can then assign to a person or occasion.

For Santa’s Eyes Only

Keep your list away from prying eyes by setting up customized password protection. If you do want to share your list with helpers, you can e-mail or text it right from the app. Use Gift Shopper Pro to ensure that no one in your life ends up with an empty stocking over the fireplace.

Audible Promo Makes Kindle Touch & Kindle Fire Even More Affordable

Amazon’s audiobook subsidiary, Audible, has a long standing promotion for new subscribers that could make your next Kindle upgrade significantly more affordable than expected.  It is not a new thing, in fact I am pretty sure that I’ve mentioned it here before from time to time, but since Amazon hasn’t been spending a lot of time advertising it recently I thought it would be worth another mention.  The way it works is simple enough to summarize here.

We’re making the assumption here that you enjoy the occasional audiobook.  Many people do, for a wide variety of reasons.  If you haven’t had a chance to check out the quality and usefulness of Audible’s selection, but you would like to consider making use of this promotional credit, do not succumb to the instinct to try out the service with a 30-Day Free Trial.  Yes, this is available, but you are only able to make use of one promo every 2 years according to the present terms & conditions and doing so would make you ineligible.  your best bet is to ask around for somebody who is already a member and try out something they have picked up.  It shouldn’t be hard to find someone, in my experience.

That addressed, it’s a simple enough arrangement.  By making the commitment of a 12 month membership plan at $14.95 per month, you get one book each month and $100 any qualifying product.  This includes any number of electronics from MP3 players and headphones to GPS devices.  There are even some tablets and laptops in the selection.  Most importantly, as far as I’m concerned, is that every Kindle product currently available is included in the promo.  This means that your Kindle Fire could be picked up for just $99, assuming you wouldn’t rather just have a free Kindle Touch.

To take advantage, head over to this Amazon promo page.  Under the heading “How to get your $100 promotional code” there is a link to sign up.  Your new audible membership will be tied directly into your Amazon.com account as soon as the transaction is complete.  This offer should be good until at least January 31, 2012.  It may be extended beyond that point, and has been in the past with no notice or fanfare, but you never know for sure.

There’s little risk in this if you are an audiobook fan.  Signing up for 12 books at $15 each isn’t exactly a ripoff on Amazon’s part, and they do not insist that you remain an active member to listen to them.  These days you can download your Audible selection to practically anything, up to 3 devices at a time, and take it to go.  The readings are above average, for the most part, and the service has been around long enough that reviews are plentiful and often highly informative.

Should you find yourself regretting the decision shortly after signing up, have no worries.  The program can be cancelled at any point in the first 30 days.  In that case you would be given the option to either pay the difference on your Kindle Fire (or whatever device you purchased with the $100 discount) or send it back unopened.

Limited Time Offer: Free 2-Day Kindle Shipping On All Models

In order to make sure that the maximum number of people are able to get their new Kindle purchases in time for Christmas, Amazon has decided to offer Free Two Day Shipping to anybody who completes their transaction before 8pm Pacific Time (UTC-8) on December 21st.  This offer extends to every model currently available, from the $79 Kindle 4 to the $199 Kindle Fire tablet, and will cover shipping to any location in the continental United States.

The Kindle line, and eReaders in general at this point really, make excellent gifts.  The price has come down to the point of being practically large-scale impulse purchases, and the fact that you can expect ongoing support and content updates for the indefinite future makes a strong case or the practicality of ownership. Owning a Kindle eReader provides access to practically any title on the market today at the touch of a button with no need to worry about shipping, travel, or retail crowds.  This last one is likely to be a welcome benefit for people doing their holiday shopping this late in the year.

Additionally, according to Amazon the Kindle Fire is the most gifted, most wished for, bestselling item on the entire site and has been since before it was even released.  Like the eReader counterparts, it provides users with access to a huge library of content.  In addition to eBooks, you can also draw on a large App Store, all of Amazon Instant Video, and basically any digital content Amazon handles.  Top that off with access to services like Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, and other content streaming services and you have a media consumption experience it is hard to argue against.  Keep in mind that each Kindle Fire comes with a month of free Amazon Prime membership and the access to all the benefits that that entails (free Instant Video selections, free 2-Day Shipping, etc), which means that anybody who gets one as a gift will have a chance to most of its more enjoyable features even without any post-purchase investment.

Keep in mind when considering Kindles as gifts that you can also include eBooks to go with them.  At present, all US customers have the option of choosing to gift a Kindle Edition eBook to anybody with an email address.  This will work as a cheaper gift option for anybody who might already be using a Kindle app for iOS or Android, incidentally.  Also, while I have no personal experience with the feature, you can also apparently also schedule your purchase’s delivery for exactly when you want them to get it.  This could help a lot when it comes to scheduling since, even with instant delivery and a smartphone, it is annoying to be making last second gift acquisitions.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of Amazon’s offer, keep an eye on the clock.  This will certainly not be extended, given their lack of direct control over shipping matters.

Enjoy your holidays!

Daily Deals: Forget Me Not: A Memoir and Sound Sleep Deluxe Edition (Music Therapy)

Forget Me Not: A Memoir

Today Amazon offer Forget Me Not: A Memoir by Jennifer Lowe-anker for $1.99. This book has positive feedback from readers. Average evaluation is 4.7 from 44 reviews. It is really good result.

Here are shot description of the book

In 1999 Jennifer Lowe’s husband Alex Lowe died tragically in an avalanche on the Himalayan mountain Shishapangma, leaving her alone to raise three sons. Alex was widely considered one of the greatest modern climbers and the world mourned his loss–Tom Brokaw did a one-hour special for Dateline, and Sting narrated and composed music for a tribute film.

While Jenni and her sons faced the absence of the most important man in their lives, Alex’s best friend and longtime climbing partner, Conrad Anker, was dealing with the terrible loss as well as feelings of survivor’s guilt. Jenni and Conrad gradually, and unexpectedly, found solace in one another and married in 2001–Conrad is now the adoptive father of the three Lowe children.

Through letters and expedition notes from Alex, Forget Me Not spans continents and tells the story of three people whose lives intertwine to a degree they could never have imagined. Jenni’s account takes readers inside a woman’s heart and mind as she navigates her shattered life and survives, ultimately finding transformative love through her great loss. From the valleys of Montana to the peaks of the Himalayas, this never-before told story exposes the controversial yet ultimately redemptive power of love.

From the Publisher

Forget Me Not won the award for best outdoor literature presented by NOBA (National Outdoor Book Awards). About the Author

Jennifer Lowe-Anker was born Jennifer Daly in Missoula, Montana. She spent parts of her childhood riding horseback around the Missoula Valley and across the fields of her great grandparents homestead in Grasshopper Valley. A well-known artist, her paintings are rendered in the vivid color and rich texture of livestock markers, depicting whimsical images of a Western upbringing. Lowe-Anker began using the oily paintsticks while a student at Montana State University in 1984. Her work has been featured in gallery shows and exhibits throughout the West and hangs in private and corporate collections worldwide. Lowe-Anker is founder of the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation and resides in Montana with her husband Conrad Anker and their sons, Max, Sam, and Isaac. This is her first book.

Sound Sleep Deluxe Edition (Music Therapy)

Sound Sleep Deluxe Edition (Music Therapy) is an Android music app that is designed to help you unwind and relax, so you can sleep more soundly. With low-speed alpha waves, the sounds will comfort your mind and help you to naturally and smoothly fall asleep. The app is easy to use, so you can simply let the soothing sounds carry you off into a deep and restorative slumber.

Ambient Sound Mixer

There are plenty of natural noises to select from in Sound Sleep Deluxe Edition, such as ocean waves, gentle rain, and other pleasant ambient sounds. The Deluxe Edition of Sound Sleep (Music Therapy) features a sound mixer that allows you to customize each track. You can include one or several ambient noises, and adjust the volume of each for the perfect mix.

Creative and Enriching Sounds

The tracks offered in Sound Sleep Deluxe Edition are far from so-called leisure music. Rather, you’ll experience relaxing natural sounds with embedded alpha waves, which are delicately set to a rhythm of a specific frequency. Certain sound effects also have the potential to awaken the subconscious to soothe you as well as spark your imagination and creativity.

How It Works

The low-speed alpha waves in Sound Sleep Deluxe Edition have a frequency of 8 Hz to 9 Hz, which stimulates a brain state that is close to sleep. To generate such a frequency in the listener’s brain, binaural beats are applied. For example, if the left ear is presented with a steady tone of 500 Hz and the right ear with a steady tone of 508Hz, the difference, 8 Hz, is perceived by the brain and is a very effective stimulus for brainwave entrainment.

You will also enjoy the app’s elegant interface, varied music themes, and options to specify listening time and set an alarm. Let the sounds in Sound Sleep Deluxe Edition help you to feel more relaxed and sleep more soundly.

Simple Kindle Touch Jailbreak Released Using MP3

The Kindle Touch may not be running Android like its tablet counterpart, but it also doesn’t run the operating system found in previous models of the Kindle eReader line.  The focus is now on HTML5 and Javascript interfaces rather than the previous Java implementations.  This means that pretty much none of the old hacks and mods that have been released for the Kindle line will be of any use to customers this time.  Of course that was bound to be addressed fairly quickly.

Yifan Lu, a freelance developer, has found an exploit in the way the Kindle Touch handles MP3s which will allow people to easily jailbreak their new eReader.  Along with that discovery, he revealed that the majority of the device’s interface is simply HTML pages in disguise.  This alone means that coming up with interesting mods will be significantly easier than was previously the case, unless I miss my guess.  It implies a greater degree of system control through Javascript than is normally possible.  For now there isn’t much for an end-user to work with, but there is every reason to believe that you will find modules for adding EPUB support and any number of other fun extra functions in the months to come.

In order to attempt this Jailbreak (Which neither I nor this site recommend or take any responsibility for as it voids the warranty and may render your Kindle unusable if something goes wrong), head to this site and follow the instructions included in the Zip Archive’s README file.  This involves nothing more than connecting your Kindle to a computer, copying a .mp3 file to your music folder, disconnecting from the computer, and running the music player.  A button pops up labeled “Press to Jailbreak!” and you’re done.

My trial of this process went smoothly and did pretty much nothing.  It is definitely anything but an urgent need or an inherently beneficial act for most people.  All you are doing is enabling root access to your device, which means that among other things installing third party software will be possible. Chances are good that even with this it will not be possible to open up general 3G internet access, use of neglected hardware like the internal mic, or removal of advertising, but other than that there shouldn’t be many limits.

If you are interested in the potential that the process opens up, I would recommend both acquiring your Kindle Touch in the near future and making sure not to allow any software updates on the device until it is certain that the changes will be kept around.  While Amazon has been incredibly open in their lack of interest in securing the Kindle Fire in any significant way, they have a history of being somewhat more closed with their eReaders.  Not the least important reason for this is the heavy investment the company has made in their proprietary format, the evasion of which would likely be the first thing that customers use their new found freedom to achieve.

Daily Deals: From This Moment On and Little Piano (pro)

From This Moment On: The Sullivans, Book 2Today’s Amazon Kindle Daily Deal: From This Moment On: The Sullivans, Book 2 by Bella Andre for $0.99

Watch another Sullivan fall in love in the second book of Bella Andre’s new contemporary romance series! With FROM THIS MOMENT ON, bestselling author Bella Andre introduces you to Marcus, the second Sullivan bad boy, whose life will never be the same from the moment he meets Nicola…

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

For thirty-six years, Marcus Sullivan has been the responsible older brother, stepping in to take care of his seven siblings after their father died when they were children. But when the perfectly ordered future he’s planned for himself turns out to be nothing but a lie, Marcus needs one reckless night to shake free from it all. Nicola Harding is known throughout the world by only one name – Nico – for her catchy, sensual pop songs. Only, what no one knows about the twenty-five year old singer is that her sex-kitten image is totally false. After a terrible betrayal by a man who loved fame far more than he ever loved her, she vows not to let anyone else get close enough to find out who she really is…or hurt her again. Especially not the gorgeous stranger she meets at a nightclub, even though the hunger – and the sinful promises – in his dark eyes make her want to spill all her secrets. One night is all Nicola and Marcus agree to share with each other. But nothing goes as they plan when instead of simply tangling limbs, they find a deeper connection than either of them could have anticipated. And even though they both try to fight it, growing emotions – and sizzling attraction – keep drawing them closer together. Close enough for them to wonder if stealing one more secret moment together can ever be enough?

REVIEWS…

“A heartwarming addition to Bella Andre’s wonderful Sullivan family series.” Barbara Freethy, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

“From This Moment On is full of loveable characters, sizzling chemistry, and poignant emotion.” Christie Ridgway, USA Today Bestselling Author

“Bella Andre’s fabulous series continues with Marcus Sullivan finding love when he least expects it. Marcus and Nicola’s romance sizzles from the first page to the last.” Marie Force, Bestselling Author

“I can’t wait for more Sullivan brothers!” Carly Phillips, New York Times Bestselling

Author Little Piano (pro) Little Piano (pro) allows you to tinkle a few ivories and pass a little musical time while on the go. With this app, you’ll always have a piano right in your pocket. Play a tune or two while you’re waiting for an appointment, standing in line, or sitting through a long flight. Transform your Android into a mini piano

Perfect for Little Fingers

Little Piano (pro) is perfect for kids’ little fingers and makes a great introduction to piano-playing for those who don’t read music. The Follow Me Guide leads you through a variety of simple melodies by highlighting which keys to touch. Many familiar favorites are included in the app, from “Jingle Bells,” “Yankee Doodle,” and “Oh Susanna!” to “Happy Birthday,” “Frere Jacques,” “Ode To Joy,” and many more. You can even practice a Major Scale and a C Major Passage. If you’d like to play a selection again, simply tap the Replay button.

Little Piano Notes

Little Piano (pro) includes 13 keys, or one octave, and supports multi-touch so you can play chords and sliding scales with ease. You can also switch instruments to play on the trumpet, guitar, bells, or percussion. If your friends and family also download the app, you could almost have a band.

Little Piano is a fun little app, whether you’re just starting to learn piano, have been playing for years, have small children, or just wish to enjoy some musical diversion every now and then.

…and a final note: The quality of multi-touch varies with device model.