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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: The Best American Noir of the Century and Learning to Draw is Fun

The Best American Noir of the CenturyIf you like horrors you should look up at today’s offer from Amazon: The Best American Noir of the Century written by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler. The today’s price is only $1.99 If you compare with yesterday’s price $16.95 you will see that it is real good deal.

James Ellroy and Otto Penzler mined the past century to find this treasure trove of thirty-nine stories. From noir’s twenties-era infancy come gems like James M. Cain’s “Pastorale,” and its postwar heyday boasts giants like Mickey Spillane and Evan Hunter. Packing an undeniable punch, diverse contemporary incarnations include Elmore Leonard, Patricia Highsmith, Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane, and William Gay, with many page-turners appearing from the past decade.

Some words about the Authors

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels—The Black DahliaThe Big NowhereL.A. Confidential, and White Jazz—were international bestsellers. His most recent book is Blood’s a Rover.
Otto Penzler is the founder of the Mysterious Bookshop and Mysterious Press.

Also we would like to quote only one review: “Well worth its impressive weight in gold, it would be a crime not to have his seminal masterpiece in your collection.” –New York Journal of Books

 

Learning to Draw is Fun

“Learning to Draw is Fun” is a name for a game for your kids which you can get today only for free.

If Rembrandt and Picasso had smartphones as kids, Learning to Draw is Fun would have been their favorite app. If you want to teach your kids how to draw, try this easy and fun app. Learning to Draw is Fun allows kids to try their hand at 20 different pictures, and then gives them a full color palette to finish their masterpiece.

Art School on Your Android Device

First, the budding artist chooses which design to draw. Learning to Draw is Fun features twenty cute pictures including a butterfly, snowman, pig, flower, and birthday cake. The artist then follows four easy steps to reproduce the picture. You can erase the picture at any time.

Artsy Tools

Once the picture is done, the child can go to a full color palette to finish the picture. Choose from 15 different colors with six different brush stroke sizes.

Share the picture through e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter, or set it as a wallpaper. You can also get the details of the picture’s file size and resolution within the app.

Warning: This app may inspire your child to become an art major. But at least your kid won’t be drawing on the living room wall.

In One Person by John Irving

Good news for John Irving fans.  He is coming out with a new book on May 8 called In One Person.  His novels: The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany have been adapted into award winning movies.  The movie adaptation for A Prayer for Owen Meany is called Simon Birch, and it is one of my favorite movies.  In One Person is currently available for pre order on the Kindle.  The only other Irving novel available for download on the Kindle is Last Night in Twisted River.  More to come soon.

Irving touches on major issues like abortion, love, AIDS, death, gender, sexuality, and disability with a great deal of candor.  In One Person is no exception.  It is set in the 80′s when AIDS was rampant.  So, it is sure to deal with the emotions and heartbreak that came along with dealing with that disease  during that era.

I have read three of Irving’s novels.  A Prayer for Owen Meany has stuck with me the longest.  It is about a dwarf named Owen, but the story is told from the point of view of his best friend.  Owen Meany has a lot to show the world, and has some psychic powers that shape the way he lives his life.

The World According to Garp is a very gender and sexuality focused book.  This book is best for the mature audience.  All of Irving’s books include issues that only adults can fully grasp, but I stress that fact for this one in particular.

The Last Night in Twisted River is Irving’s latest book currently available.  It features father-son protagonists who start off as cooks in a logging town.  An unexpected turn of events forces them to skip town.  The son later becomes a novelist, but fate catches up to both of them in the long run.  It took me a really long time to get through this book.  It moved too slowly for me.  Out of the three books I’ve read by Irving, this one is my least favorite.  It does have good reviews though, and others give high marks, so it is just a matter of preference.

Irving’s novels work your brain.  If you want a book that has depth, includes a well defined and complex plot, and steamrolls through controversial issues, this if your type of book.  On top of that, Irving has been a highly successful author for many, many years.  So, I am eager to read what he has to say in his newest novel when it comes out in May.

Daily Deals: The Land of Later On and Money

The Land of Later OnToday Amazon allow you to get The Land of Later On by Anthony Weller just for $0.99

Kip—a New York jazz pianist whose career was cut short by a neurological disease—returns from a failed suicide attempt with a vivid, detailed memory of his journey through the afterlife. Resembling the world as he knows it, but unlimited in space and time, it’s unlike any eternity he has contemplated. Its residents are those who choose not to reincarnate, which would erase all memory of who they once were. Kip has a quest: to find his beloved Lucy, a yoga teacher who shared his apartment for years but died of leukemia before he took his own life. Is she still here? Has she waited for him, or “gone back” to become someone else? In his odyssey across centuries and locales (Istanbul to the Marquesas Islands, India to Oklahoma and New Guinea) to find her, Kip is guided by Walt Whitman—who urges him to write this memoir on his return.

Some words about the Author

Anthony Weller was born in 1957. His books include novels—The Garden of the Peacocks, The Polish Lover, and The Siege of Salt Cove—and a travel memoir of India and Pakistan, Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road. He is also well known as a musician. His poems and stories have appeared widely. As a journalist he traveled through Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific, Central America and the Caribbean, for National Geographic, G.Q., Forbes, GEO, the Paris Review, the New York Times Magazine, etc. He recently edited two books of his father’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting. First into Nagasaki:The Censored Eyewitness Dispatches on Post-Atomic Japan and Its Prisoners of War (introduction by Walter Cronkite) was named by Kirkus one of the best books of 2006, followed by Weller’s War: A Legendary Foreign Correspondent’s Saga of WWII on Five Continents.

Money

 

Manage your personal finances in the most comprehensive manner with Money for Android devices. Track different accounts (wallets), record your transactions, budget your income and expenses, and keep full control of your personal finances.

Financial Planning in Three Easy Steps

Manage all your bills and arrange them via a calendar with bill reminders included in the application, and catch up with any deadline.

Do you have several credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts plus cash? The Transaction Register is included in the application together with a list of all your accounts. OFX import is supported, so you can import your bank records to the Money app easily and instantly review your accounts, all on the same screen.

Plan all your income and expenses, and check with the available reports to determine whether your plans are accurate. Create reports for each item or category, or check a full report over time.

Elegant Organization
iBear’s Money offers 13 expense categories including car, miscellaneous, taxes, entertainment, and more. When you are ready to analyze your assets and liabilities, Money has four main tabs for reporting: Transactions, Balance, Budget, and Reports.

Money uses a beautiful, realistic design reminiscent of a leather organizer, creating a more personal user experience. Everything works as closely as possible to a real-world organizer with paper reports, making your finance management more intuitive and enjoyable.

Kindle Fire Tips & Tricks

I’ve recently gotten a series of emails, and seen a small number of comments around the site here, from people confused or misinformed about what is and is not possible for the Kindle Fire at this point.  Mostly, as I mentioned previously, the result of misinformation still floating around the net from the state of things when it first launched.  Regardless of the reason, however, it seems worth going into some tips for getting the most out of your new Kindle Fire‘s potential.

 Remove Apps From The Kindle Fire

It has always been possible to just delete the local data that an app installs on your Kindle.  Just press and hold on the app’s icon and choose “Remove From Device”.  What if you want it gone entirely though, even from the Cloud tab of your App selection?

  • Go to Amazon.com
  • Go to Kindle > Manage Your Kindle
  • Sign in now if prompted
  • Select Manage Your Apps from the menu bar on the left
  • Find the App or Apps that you want gone in this list
    • Select “Delete This App” from the drop down menu next to each one
    • When prompted, choose “Delete”

Now, don’t be too upset when it does not disappear from the device’s menus immediately.  I found that it usually takes an overnight wait to get results right now.  Not sure why Syncing and such don’t do it immediately, but they don’t.  Regardless, now that Kindle Fire app is gone.

Return Library Book

I’ll start this out by mentioning that this advice may not complete the whole process.  Consult with your librarian in case it doesn’t, as some libraries have their own individual proceedures.

  • Go to Amazon.com
  • Go to Kindle > Manage your Kindle
  • Sign in now if Prompted
  • In your Kindle Library, find the book you want to return
    • From the drop down menu next to it, choose “Return This Book”
    • Do NOT choose “Delete”, as that will not return the book to the library system early

For the most part that is all that’s required.  Since all of the OverDrive software seems to be routed through the Amazon.com page when dealing with Kindle Book borrowing, it makes sense that this is the way you have to return.

Access All Magazine Issues

While the Kindle Fire might appear to only allow you to read the most recent edition of a magazine, but fear not!  All of your subscription should still be hanging around.  Simply navigate to the most recent issue, press and hold.  An option will appear to view back issues.

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Obviously these are far from all of the useful things that one needs to be aware of when using a Kindle Fire, but there’s only so much room to work with here.  Let me know either here or in my email what you are interested in finding out and I will do the research and follow up!  No point in waiting and wondering how things work.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is a must read.  It has depth that only a select set of authors can truly capture.  The novel has been translated in multiple languages and is an international bestseller.

The paperback version is kind of heavy and has really small print.  So for a more comfortable reading experience, I recommend getting the Kindle edition.  The prices for each are about the same.

Abraham Verghese is a doctor and professor of medicine at Stanford School of Medicine.  He also has a degree in creative writing and has written two other nonfiction books.  You can see his expertise reflected in the medical descriptions in Cutting for Stone.

Cutting for Stone follows twins Marion and Shiva, born to a nun and skilled surgeon in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The delivery is a difficult one to say the least, and changes the lives of Missing Hospital’s staff forever.  The story is told in the past and a much older, present day Marion is the narrator.  Throughout the book, the reader will find various themes such as love, family, medicine and politics all woven together to form an intricate storyline.  Despite the rifts and hardships that each character faces, it all works out in the end.

I have to warn you.  Cutting for Stone is very detailed.  It can really suck you in, but it can also wear you out keeping up with the story’s progression.  So, take breaks!  I love the writing style and the characters’ personalities.  Even though the majority of the book was set in another country 50 years ago, I could still relate to the characters as if they lived in America today.

Kris

“Cutting for Stone is a coming of age novel which emphasizes the way in which we are shaped by the forces and intricacies of our past. Verghese pays particular attention to themes around loss. He writes about the desperation to fill voids and the struggle of letting go. Verghese also writes about freedom, both psychological and physical. He writes about love as a terror and as a savior. He writes about sacrifice and passion. He writes of the importance of perspective in order to foster empathy. The themes are plentiful, profound, and woven together throughout each of the characters’ stories.”

 

Daily Deals: Black Like Me: The Definitive Griffin Estate and Galactic Striker

Black Like Me: The Definitive Griffin EstateToday Amazon, as usual, offers Kindle Daily Deals: “Black Like Me: The Definitive Griffin Estate Edition” written by John Howard Griffin (Author), Robert Bonazzi (Author, Afterword), Studs Terkel (Author, Foreword), Don Rutledge (Photographer) and sold for $1.99 This American classic has been corrected from the original manuscripts and indexed, featuring historic photographs and an extensive biographical afterword.

Here are some reviews of this book:

It was a wonderful story that really opened my eyes to what life used to be like, and made me thankful that life has changed so much since then. — Aaron

I picked this up completely on a whim after hearing someone mention it online. It is absolutely an amazing work. To really get a feel for how far this country has come in 50 short years, and to really understand how far we have left to go, you need to read this.

As a white male, I’ve always been offended by the term ‘white privilege’, because it implies that I somehow didn’t work for what I have. But having read this, I can finally appreciate it. My ‘white privilege’ has nothing to do with me not working hard and not deserving the things that I have accomplished. I have worked hard, and I do deserve those things.
But these are things that blacks never had the opportunity to do. No matter how smart they were, no matter how well dressed, or well spoken, no matter how *white* they tried to appear to blend in, they would never be given the opportunity to prove themselves on their own merits. Their opportunities were taken away before they ever had a chance to even attempt to do grab them.

And while I can definitely appreciate how far we have come in a relatively short time, I am now able to see with a fresh new perspective the things that are still wrong with our thinking today. – Alex Malinovich

 

Galactic Striker

Galactic Striker is a game for your Kindle Fire which you can get for free, but only today.

Blast aliens into space dust, save your own skin, and make smart-alecky comments–all at once–in Galactic Striker, an arcade-style, accelerometer-based Android game. This exciting shoot-em-up adventure boasts 3D graphics and even comes with a fully developed comic-book style backstory.

Find Your Way Home, Jack

In Galactic Striker, you’re Jack Panic, the world’s greatest (and cockiest) astronaut and hero. As the story begins, you’re called upon to protect Earth once again–this time from a renegade asteroid. But during this routine mission, you accidentally damage an alien mothership (oops) and insult their leader (double-oops), who subsequently teleports you to the other side of the galaxy (not cool, bro).

To get home again, you’ll have to shoot your way through waves of alien attacks and other deep-space obstacles. Tilt your phone to navigate your spaceship, and choose from an ever-expanding list of futuristic weapons as you fight your way through space. You’ll need your strongest firepower, steeliest nerves, and sharpest wisecracks to make it back to Earth.

Are you up to this massive challenge? Of course you are–you’re Jack Panic! (Let’s assume that “Don’t” is your middle name.)

A free, ad-supported version of this game is also available.

Daily Deals: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Dream Journal Pro

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleEven in holidays Amazon offers to come back to our workings days and thinking about our effectiveness and what we can do to improve it with The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People written by Stephen R. Covey and sold for $0.99.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity — principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change was a groundbreaker when it was first published in 1990, and it continues to be a business bestseller with more than 15 million copies sold. Stephen Covey, an internationally respected leadership authority, realizes that true success encompasses a balance of personal and professional effectiveness, so this book is a manual for performing better in both arenas. His anecdotes are as frequently from family situations as from business challenges. Before you can adopt the seven habits, you’ll need to accomplish what Covey calls a “paradigm shift”–a change in perception and interpretation of how the world works. Covey takes you through this change, which affects how you perceive and act regarding productivity, time management, positive thinking, developing your “proactive muscles” (acting with initiative rather than reacting), and much more. This isn’t a quick-tips-start-tomorrow kind of book. The concepts are sometimes intricate, and you’ll want to study this book, not skim it. When you finish, you’ll probably have Post-it notes or hand-written annotations in every chapter, and you’ll feel like you’ve taken a powerful seminar by Covey. –Joan Price

 

Dream Journal Pro

Dreams are, as Freud said, the “royal road to the unconscious.” Now you can map these roads with Dream Journal Pro, a dream journaling app for Android.

The Stuff of Dreams

Dream Journal Pro allows you to record your dreams for convenient reference and analysis. Adding a new dream is as easy as tapping the button and then filling out the Dream Form. Highly detailed, this form prompts you to analyze your dreams guided by Jungian Dream Theory. You’ll enter information such as title, date, type (Lucid, Nightmare, Premonitory, Anxiety, Initial, and others), dream text, general notes, setting, age, feelings, and much more. You may gain considerable insight into your dream as you record this information. As time passes, your journal can become a valuable reference tool for interpreting new dreams.

Features and Other Stuff

Dream Journal Pro is packed with useful features. Night Mode darkens the screen to avoid disrupting your sleep but remains active so you can access your Dream Journal as soon as you wake. Backup and restore your dreams from your device’s SD card, and backup your dream database through e-mail. Find a particular dream with the convenient search feature and enjoy the security of keeping your dreams private with password protection.

Embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Journey into the landscape of your unconscious with Dream Journal Pro.

Kids Videos for Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire and other tablets currently out in the market are full of great videos and offer unprecedented portability.  You can curl up on the couch with your Kindle Fire and watch YouTube or Netflix.  This is great for adults who have the ability to use discretion on what they can or want to watch.

For kids, the the portability and easy video access can cause issues.  Content meant for mature audiences are everywhere.  Controlling what kids watch and the constant worry over whether they might stumble over something inappropriate can be exhausting.  You can check what they’re watching on a TV or computer, but a tablet can be easily concealed.

The good news is that MeFeedia has developed an app called Kids Videos for the Kindle Fire and iPad.  The app includes family friendly videos from YouTube, Vimeo and DailyMotion.  So parents can get peace of mind knowing what they kids are watching is appropriate and even educational.

Kids Videos allows you to search by genre, “like” your favorite videos and save for later.  The videos are pulled from all over the web so there is a huge library to choose from.  Watching educational videos on the Kindle Fire makes learning so much more fun and interesting.

At the time of writing this app was available for free in the Amazon Appstore.  There are other kid video apps available for the Kindle Fire, but this is the first one that has shown real promise with highly favorable reviews.  For the most part the reviewers echo what the product description says.  So it appears to do what it set out to do.

The age range for tablet users has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few months.  The Kindle Fire is inexpensive enough for the average consumer to justify.  It also offers a lot more kid friendly content thanks to apps like Kids Videos, games, and e-books written for children.  What used to be a niche market is fast becoming the norm.

 

 

Daily Deals: City of Masks and Router

City of Masks (Cree Black)

Today Amazon offer to your attention the following book: City of Masks (Cree Black) by Daniel Hecht just for $1.99.

Superb…A thoroughly satisfying, disturbing novel. -Cleveland Plain Dealer 
In City of Masks, the first Cree Black novel, parapsychologist Cree and her partner take a case in New Orleans’s Garden District that leaves them fearing for their own lives. The 150-year-old Beauforte House has long stood empty, until Lila Beauforte resumes residence and starts to see some of the house’s secrets literally come to life. Tormented by an insidious and violent presence, Lila finds herself trapped in a life increasingly filled with childhood terrors. It takes Cree’s unconventional take on psychology and her powerful natural empathy with Lila to navigate the dangerous worlds of spirit and memory, as they clash in a terrifying tale of mistaken identity and murder.

If it’s New Orleans and the novel’s main characters have been dead for years but are still walking around terrorizing people, it must be an Anne Rice adventure. But it isn’t–it’s the first in a new series starring a fascinating heroine, Seattle parapsychologist Cree Black, whose own murky past and special gifts make her the perfect choice to investigate a haunted house in the Garden District and the family that’s slowly being scared to death. Lila Beauforte has moved back into her ancestral home, now inhabited by ghosts who seem bent on driving her out. Cree, her senses more attuned to the presence of revenants than flesh-and-blood bad guys, shakes enough closets in Beauforte House to bring the skeletons out, solve mysteries of the past as well as the present, and fall in love with an equally appealing if more traditional investigator of the unconscious who may be able to help her free herself from her own emotional prison. She’s a smart, vulnerable, and attractive character in an unearthly and unusual thriller that starts off a promising new series with a howl and presages a long run on the bestseller list–Jane Adams

 

Router

Also you can download into your Kindle Fire Router. It is free for you, but only today.

Test your mental might with Router, a circuit puzzle game that’s fun for the whole family. Your goal is to connect identically colored points with continuous lines without any of the lines overlapping each other. Game controls are easy to master, but some of the puzzles will have you quite perplexed until you find the right solution to connect the dots. With multiple challenging chapters to solve and engaging game-play features, Router is a winner for puzzle lovers.

Nine Challenging Chapters

Router features nine different chapters, each full of more than a dozen puzzles that increase in difficulty as you progress. In each puzzle, you will connect the similarly colored dots with continuous lines by tracing your finger on the screen. More advanced levels will present you with more dots in new and unique positions. You will earn more points for making shorter connections. An undo button is provided if you make a mistake.

As you would expect, Chapter 1 starts off easy enough, but the difficulty soon picks up. Each subsequent chapter will require increased intellectual dexterity. Once you hit Chapter 3, you will be required to earn enough points in prior chapters to unlock more.

Earn Bonus Points; Get Hints

If your mental acuity is up to the task, you’ll be able to solve each puzzle with a perfect five-star score. For your efforts, you will be rewarded with a Star Point, which you can spend to gain Hints if you find yourself stuck in subsequent puzzles. With a worldwide leaderboard, you can see how your scores stack up with other players from around the globe.

Electrifying Graphics and Smooth Controls

Router brings you hours of brain-teasing fun along with smooth touch controls, which makes for a completely satisfying puzzling experience. Depending on your device, you can adjust the quality of the graphics as well as the sound volume and other game settings to ensure it suits your preferences.

What are you waiting for? Get puzzling!

Amazon Kindle Fire Profits May Exceed Initial Estimations

It comes as no real surprise that Amazon’s bestselling Kindle Fire tablet is going to make the company some money despite estimates that say the hardware is being sold at, or even slightly below, the cost of manufacturing.  They basically brought eReading to the mainstream at a time when people barely understood what the idea meant, after which I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to identifying profitable ways to create content sales.  What has come as a surprise to many is exactly how much average profit the company many stand to make on each unit.

Ross Sandler, an analyst from RBC Capital, has managed to estimate that your average Kindle Fire will be the source of around $136 of income for the company during its lifetime.  Naturally this is speculative to a certain extent, but it was based on an independently conducted survey of over 200 Kindle Fire owners regarding their spending habits thus far.  The findings are actually somewhat surprising to me and I have to wonder if they don’t reflect a certain amount of skewing due to early adopters with narrow expectations of the tablet’s potential.

Personally, despite having had the Kindle Fire since the day it came out, I can’t imagine sitting through so much as a single book on it.  It works for the occasional article or academic publication when needed, and I couldn’t be much happier with the PDF functionality for my own purposes, but owning E INK eReaders has left me with higher expectations.  It was therefore interesting to find that the most popular use for the Kindle Fire among those surveys was eBook reading by a wide margin (71% citing this as among their most frequent uses.

Also interesting is the fact that video streaming, which has seemed to be Amazon’s primary focus with the Fire so far, is relatively unpopular with only 13% of those surveyed reporting it as a frequently used feature.  That seems to include all video streaming, including things like Hulu Plus and Netflix, which works against Amazon even further given their efforts to built the Instant Video service into something impressive.

So where is all of this money that the Kindle Fire will supposedly earn coming from?  It looks like the current numbers support an estimation of around 5 eBooks per quarter, 3 apps per quarter, and a noticeable but unaccounted for increase in the number of general Amazon purchases each quarter.  My inclination would be to say that this is an overestimation of eBook purchasing and an underestimation of app appeal that will turn around once people get more comfortable with the capabilities of the tablet, but that is admittedly a matter of personal observation with no backing in numerical research.

The problem with any survey of this sort is that it the recent surge in Kindle Fire owner numbers has led to potential inaccuracies.  This is especially the case since all those surveyed came to own the Fire during 4th quarter 2011, nearly half of them as gift recipients.  It is hard to know for sure if things will change once the primary pool of new owners is made up of people buying for themselves.  Even so, chances are good that the numbers will level out somewhere along these lines.  Amazon clearly made a smart move here, and the Kindle Fire is going to pay off big in the long run.

Daily deals: A Drowned Maiden’s Hair and Reversi

A Drowned Maiden's Hair

New offer from Amazon: A Drowned Maiden’s Hair written by Laura Amy Schlitz just for $0.99

Maud Flynn is known at the orphanage for her impertinence. So when the charming Miss Hyacinth chooses her to take home, the girl is pleased but baffled, until she learns of her new role: helping to stage elaborate séances for bereaved patrons. As Maud is drawn deeper into the deception, playing the “secret child,” she is torn between her need to please and her growing conscience. It takes a shocking betrayal to make clear just how heartless her so-called guardians are. Filled with fascinating details of turn-of-the-century spiritualism and page-turning suspense, this novel from Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz features a feisty heroine whom readers will not soon forget.

Some details about the Author

Laura Amy Schlitz, the author of THE HERO SCHLIEMANN: THE DREAMER WHO DUG FOR TROY, has spent most of her life working as a librarian and professional storyteller. She has also written plays for young people that have been performed in professional theaters all over the country. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

 

ReversiReversi is a classic Game of wits for your Kindle Fire and other Android devices.

AI Factory’s Reversi brings the classic board game to your Android phone. Reversi sports a clean and intuitive interface, features 10 levels of difficulty, and provides an Undo button if you want to make a different move. Play against the AI or a human opponent.

Reversi is played on an 8×8 grid. The game begins with four tokens: two light tokens for the first opponent and two dark tokens for the second opponent. The tokens are placed next to each other at the center of the board.

Reverse Psychology

You must place your token so that two of your tokens are on two sides of your opponent’s single token or line of tokens. The tokens between your two tokens are then flipped over to your color. Conversely, your opponent flips your tokens to his color in the same manner.

The object of the game, of course, is to end up with more tokens by the time game board is filled up. Reversi, much like chess and go, is a duel of cunning strategy and cold logic. The corners and edges of the board are crucial to the game. You should do your best not to give up these positions.

Full of Options

This Reversi app comes loaded with options. Choose from two different boards and tokens, and toggle the sound, screen transitions, and legal moves. Get suggestions from the AI on your next move, and keep track of your games against the AI at all 10 levels. Reversi also comes with the full rules.

Apple Attacks Kindle Publishing With iBooks Author, Drama Ensues

We are well aware now what the big Apple announcement for January was: their new iBooks Author program.  It is a program that allows for easy creation of books, most notably textbooks, for free.  iBooks might have failed to kill the Kindle platform, even given the whole Agency Model collusion with publishers (the legality of which we’ll have to wait and see about), but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to give up.  After some experimentation with the new program I find myself conflicted.  I wanted it to be mediocre, but it’s not.  And therein lies the problem.

You see, there is a bit of a problem with the program’s EULA.  It won’t be a deal breaker for just anybody, but there is definitely important information to be aware of.  By using the iBooks Author program, you are agreeing that not only will anything you sell be available in Apple’s eBook store but also will never never be sold for the Kindle, Nook, or any other non-Apple device.

Before going into the subtleties of the wording, and there are a few arguments with varying degrees of merit that have been made toward the harmlessness of this clause, consider that this can definitely be read as a response to the recent Amazon effort to gain author exclusivity.  The only difference is that Amazon brings in authors with a chance at more money while Apple just quietly restricts their distribution rights with a clause that users not only never explicitly accept, but don’t even see unless they go out of their way.

That said, there are a few situations where I think this will be an extremely valuable thing to have.  If you are planning to create and distribute your work permanently free of charge, I have yet to find a more intuitive, affordable tool for making textbooks or manuals.  If your book was always intended to be marketed primarily to users of the iBooks store, this probably won’t have much of an impact on you.

Now, let’s acknowledge some ambiguities in the wording and clarify some of the many common points of contention:

Restrictions Only Apply To iBook Format:  FALSE

The definition of “Work” used in the EULA clearly indicates that anything generated using the software counts.  It does not matter if you export to PDF, for example.

Apple Is Stealing Author Copyrights:  FALSE

Anything you create is yours from the moment you create it unless you explicitly hand over permission.  What Apple is doing is telling you where you can sell it.  Using iBooks Author allows them to restrict distribution of your work, but otherwise seems to offer them no rights to it.

All This Applies To Is The Formatted Product, Not The Content:  AMBIGUOUS

Leaving aside the textbook for a moment and assuming we are talking about a book that is completely text based.  If you want to release a Kindle version, it would seem possible to just copy the text and reformat.  The wording of the EULA describes “Work” recursively as “any book or other work you generate using this software”.  This can, and hopefully would be, read to mean that only the final, fully formatted output is affected, but the ambiguity is troubling.

It Is Free Software, They Have A Right To Expect A Return:  TRUE-ISH

Nobody is forcing you to use this program.  It is being provided free of charge by Apple and provides far greater functionality than any other free program out there for the same purposes.  Most such restrictions are aimed toward restriction the active use of the software rather than restricting how a creator can manage their own work, though.  Neither illegal nor unprecedented, but odd and somewhat troubling.

Not A Consumer Targeted Software Anyway:  FALSE

This one comes up a lot.  Despite the large number of advertisements being done involving the cooperation of such publishers as Pearson and McGraw Hill in the iBooks Textbook initiative, there has been no indication that they are contributing work under the same agreement.  This is free software pointed at teachers and authors in the advertising (particularly the promo video).  It has bundled templates to simplify the work, a simple drag and drop interface, and tons of automation.  There is depth for those who need it, but definitely not aimed solely at experienced professional textbook publishers.

Apple Can Prevent A Finished Book From Ever Being Sold:  TRUE

All that is required for a book to be covered by these restrictions is that it be a product of iBooks Author.  Publication is neither automated nor guaranteed, and just because Apple turns you down does not mean that you are free to market your work through another platform or sell through your own means.

Apple Offers Better/Worse Royalties Than The Competition Anyway:  FALSE

Apple is effectively offering the same cut of all sales to authors as the vast majority of authors receive when selling for the Kindle and nearly the same (within 5%) as that offered to Nook sellers.

Now, I’m not about to claim that this is the most horrible thing ever done to authors or even that it is deliberately malicious.  Some have claimed that just as this is a 1.0 software, so is the EULA in early versions too and ambiguity will inevitably be removed.  If so, and there was no intent to deceive or control, so be it.  It is already a complicated enough process to get anything out of your eBooks that authors should be aware of what they are getting into, though.  I, for one, wouldn’t want to be locked out of the Kindle platform by accident when that’s where all the readers are.

This is good software.  Possibly great software.  But the limitations aren’t the same as you get when publishing a Kindle Edition, where all you need to worry about is not selling things cheaper elsewhere.  Under the current wording it seems to literally stop you from reaching an audience.  That’s just unpleasant, and something that people need to be aware of when deciding whether or not iBooks Author is for them.

Daily Deals: The Copper Sign and Twist n’Catch

The Copper SignToday Amazon offers to your attention a novel about a girl who will stop at nothing to achieve her dream of working as a swordsmith. The name of novel is The Copper Sign and it was written by Katia Fox. And the price is $0.99 compared with yesterday’s $7.99.

England 1161: Ellen, a blacksmith’s daughter, wants to become a swordsmith, but for a girl this profession is unimaginable. Forced to run away from home, she disguises herself as a boy and wins the opportunity to travel with a famous swordsmith to Normandy, where the sons of the greatest barons are trained to be knights. Under the assumed identity of Alan, Ellen is able to learn the trade and become familiar with court life. But when she falls in love with Guillaume, a brilliant knight, her secret is threatened and Ellen must run for her life. Across countries and time, Ellen struggles to achieve her dream of working as a swordsmith and eventually forging a sword for the king. It is a quest rich in intrigue, betrayal, and treachery. As epic as it is intimate, The Copper Sign is a passionate tour de force that will leave you breathlessly awaiting book two, The Silver Falcon.

Some words about the Author

Katia Fox, born in 1964, grew up in Germany and southern France, and started her career as an interpreter and translator. After the birth of her third child, she turned her attention to the English Middle Ages and started to research blacksmithing. That research directly inspired the first installment in her captivating trilogy set in medieval England, The Copper Sign. Katia Fox lives with two of her three children splitting her time between a small town near Frankfurt and Provence. She also visits England as often as possible to continue her research.

Translator Lee Chadeayne is a former classical musician, college professor, and owner of a language translation company in Massachusetts. He was a charter member of the American Literary Translators Association and has been an active member of the American Translators Association since 1970. His translated works are primarily in the areas of music, art, language, history, and general literature. Most recently this includes the bestselling The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch and The Copper Sign by Katia Fox.

 

Twist n'Catch

Test your adventuring skills in Twist n’Catch, an action-packed game of puzzles and dexterity for your Android device. You’re the intrepid explorer Emmet Black, and your gig is treasure hunting. Travel the world over, discover exotic places, and bring back riches galore!

Accompanied by your faithful companion, Sergeant Cookie, you drop yourself into dangerous realms in search of diamonds and sapphires. Held in mid-air by nothing but a rope and your own self-confidence, your task is to find a way to collect gems while avoiding innumerable obstacles and traps.

To the Victor (and Sergeant Cookie) Go the Spoils

There’s no shortage of fun in this test of skill and prowess. Solve more than 120 levels as you explore three full universes of adventure.

You’ll swashbuckle your way through Aztec temples, ancient Egyptian tombs, deadly pirates’ lairs, and much more, marveling at the exotic sights and steeling yourself against unknown terrors you have yet to face.

Do you have the courage to forge ahead where other adventurers have turned back? Will your rope twist at just the wrong moment? Will Sergeant Cookie toss his cookies? There’s only one way to find out. Good luck!

OverDrive Gets a Huge Membership Boost after Launching Kindle Library Lending

The Kindle Library Lending service launched in the fall of 2011 started with 11.000 libraries.  The number has grown to about 15,000 libraries and counting in the US, and 18,000 worldwide.  This new service offered via a partnership between Amazon and OverDrive has been very instrumental in facilitating this big jump in membership. more

Kindle Library Lending is available to anyone who has an e-ink Kindle, Kindle Fire, or Kindle reading app.  The books can be downloaded via Wi-Fi or USB.  Loan periods vary by library.

So it looks like a win win situation for both parties.  Customers who want to keep a book can purchase them on Amazon.  Amazon has the broad customer base and selection of books to bring to the table.  I do hope that they can eliminate some of the steps to downloading a book.  In some cases it takes a lot of digging to even find the e-book collection on the library’s website.

OverDrive is the repository that is used for holding digital book collections.  This includes both e-books and audiobooks.  The e-book collections are available on the Kindle, Nook, and any other e-reader that supports ePub format.  E-books can also be accessed on the computer.  If the service is offered at your local library, a link to it should be fairly prominent on the library’s website.

Most states have a digital library account with OverDrive.  North Carolina’s is called the NC Digital Library.  From there, select libraries subscribe to the account and offer e-books.  If your library doesn’t currently offer them, keep checking back.  More libraries are constantly being added to the service.  I see articles about individual libraries launching e-book lending all the time.

Between Kindle Library Lending from my local library and the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, I’ve been able to find a lot of good reading material for free.  There are also a lot of reduced priced Kindle books available as well.  Each month features 100 Kindle Books under $3.99.  The major bestsellers aren’t available on either yet unfortunately, but they do offer a chance to explore new authors and catch up on older bestsellers.

 

Kindle Fire 6.2.2 Details Released

While we knew that the 6.2.2 update to the Kindle Fire tablet was mainly going to be a matter of performance upgrades and behind the scenes stuff, a few things were noticed as the roll-out quietly began that were worth drawing attention to immediately.  As noted, the upgrade to this newest firmware did break root access for user who went that route.  This was addressed quite quickly, however, and initial doubts about whether or not BurritoRoot 2 would do the job seem to have been based on people failing to follow instructions correctly.  Aside from that, all we could see was the admittedly convenient full screen option for the Silk browser.

Things have settled in a little bit better now and Amazon was kind enough to let us in on what the entirety of the patch was meant to accomplish.  There are a couple perks:

Kindle Fire Silk Browser Customization

Users are now able to set their browser to disable Flash.  This was possible previously, but through the setting for “Enable Plugins”, which some users found confusing and overly broad.  By default, Flash will be disabled.  Check Silk’s Settings menu under the Behavior heading to turn it back on.

It is also now possible to disable the constant encrypted data shuffle through Amazon’s servers.  While you are still able to turn it on in settings by clicking on “Enable Optional Encryption”, users should find significantly improved performance now that it is non-mandatory.  This will not have any effect on encrypted connections to web pages.

Also, to access the previously mentioned full screen browsing, simply click on the square of four outward facing arrows in the lower-right corner of the Silk browser’s menu bar, next to the bookmark button.

Performance Improvements

There has been some small but noticable improvement made to the speed and smoothness of rendering on the Kindle Fire.  Scrolling, panning, and pinch to zoom all seem to work more fluidly and without the occasional stutter than previously occurred during fast movements.  Hard to say how impressive this is for most things at the moment, but there’s never anything wrong with optimization.

Email Control

It is now simpler, and in some cases possible where it was not before, to get email addresses set up manually.  Doesn’t fix all gmail complaints, but for the most part that has to do with the gmail end of things being updated so often (for the record, my own gmail account works fine with IMAP enabled, but other experiences may vary).

Many users have been somewhat disappointed to note that this update did not include the addition of finer control over the carousel or Kindle library collection management.  Presumably, however, a project this large has more than one feature being worked on at any given time and so we can probably assume that something is being done to address the vocal complaints of the user base even if it is not quite ready for release yet.  Personally I found it beyond tedious to manually delete my entire Kindle library from the carousel when the feature was introduced and would love a Mass-Remove type of option as soon as possible.

Daily Deals: Rebels of Mindanao and KeepTrack Pro

Rebels of Mindanao: A Novel

Today Amazon offer to your attention Tom Anthony’s high-octane military thriller follows a covert operation designed to take down terrorist insurgencies before their mission to create civil unrest in the tropical Pacific can be realized. The name of the book is Rebels of Mindanao. It is cost $0.99 but only today.

Al Qaeda terrorists are spreading silently throughout the globe wreaking violence on all who oppose them. Their newest target: the remote Philippine island of Mindanao. On the brink of civil war, success in Mindanao would trigger a chain reaction across the Pacific, threatening democracy and peace around the world.

Haunted by the failure of his last mission and the lost lives of his team, Thomas Thornton had hoped to escape his former life as a military operative, seeking the calm beauty of tropical Mindanao. When two West Point friends, now high ranking officials in the government and military, ask him to run one last op, he finds himself in the fray once more. Thornton recruits a hunter-killer team of Manobo tribesmen to begin covert actions against the insurgency. The mission: eliminate a Turkish warrior carrying millions in cash into Mindanao to finance an Islamic revolution. The deal: make the Turk and the cash disappear, no questions asked.

Some words about the Author

Tom Anthony is a West Point Graduate and combat veteran who spent his professional civilian career in global business all over the world. He has lived and worked in Austria, Italy, Spain, England, Iraq, Israel, and throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Anthony also lived in Mindanao for three years. He currently lives in California with his family.

 

KeepTrack Pro

Also you can get KeepTrack Pro for free today only.

Organizing and tracking different areas of your life couldn’t be easier with KeepTrack Pro. Turn your Android device into a personal assistant that can help you stay on-time, meet your goals, and track what is important to you. KeepTrack Pro helps you get a handle on aspects of your life that require careful attention.

Track What’s Important to You

KeepTrack Pro lets you track any details you wish over time. Keep tabs on serious details, such as the medication you’re taking, and more whimsical details, such as how many buses you see each day. You decide what you wish to track, how often, and what to do with the information. The app’s clean interface makes it easy to create new fields and enter data into existing ones. Keep Track Pro also provides helpful graphs and statistics if you wish to examine what you’re tracking in greater detail.

Easy, Intelligent Interface

To start, add a new task by identifying it with a name, selecting the values data type, setting a default value, name the value units, choose the increment/decrement amount, and identify the goal, if any. Choose from the following data values:

• Numeric: Decimal numbers are great for entering weight, distance, etc.

• Text: Free text, which is ideal for reminders, ideas, and more

• Boolean: Yes or No option to track simple questions, e.g., ‘did I work out today?’

• Marker: Includes a specific time so you can track occurrences

• Group: Perfect for using multiple data values to track your task

Make the Most of Your Efforts

Once you’ve been tracking the items that are important to you, use the data to make improvements, adjustments, or to simply keep yourself informed. Click on a specific task to see the data breakdown. View a pie chart, statistics, and calendar. For those difficult to remember tasks, KeepTrack Pro features an alarm setting to remind you.

KeepTrack Pro makes it easier than ever to track information that is important to you in a way that works for you.

Kindle Touch 5.0.3 Update Available for Manual Download

Kindle Touch

Kindle Touch

Along with the Kindle Fire update, the Kindle Touch also got one as well.  It is currently only available for manual download at the moment.  If you want to download it see Amazon’s instructions on how to transfer it via USB here.

I don’t really see anything major in this update that is worth racing to the computer to download, so I’d sit tight and wait for it to be available via Wi-Fi.  The automatic update does all of the work for you.  But, it is a matter of preference, and the option is there if you want to take advantage of it.

I think it is worth pointing out how to check for updates.  I learned my lesson first hand when I realized my battery was draining really quickly on my older Kindle.  If you need assistance with the process, Amazon’s support is excellent.  It is good to do this periodically because it can affect security, battery life, and the content on your e-reader.

So here’s how:

Tap “Menu’.  Select “Device Info”  If it says “5.0.3″ then you’re good.  Most likely it will say “5.0.”  That will be greyed out until the automatic update is available.  For the manual download, you will need your USB cord.

Amazon is really vague about what is in this update, but one thing I’d like to see if smother page transitioning.  My Kindle Touch has frozen before after being incredibly slow.  This has only happened once, but there have been other reports of freezes.  Touch screen technology is not quite up to speed with physical button transitions from what I can tell.  You can’t turn pages as quickly as you can with the buttons.

Another good improvement that goes along with smoother transitions would be to erase the previous page shadowing that seems to linger when I move on to the next page.

Other than those two issues, I have really enjoyed my Kindle Touch.  I especially like the grip on the back and sides, and the compact size.  It fits much more easily in my purse than my Kindle 2 did.

Stay tuned for the automatic update announcement.  As I mentioned earlier in the post, until then the manual download with instructions is fully available on Amazon’s website.

 

Daily Deals: The Fall of the Roman Empire and Cubicle Golf

The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians

You can use your opportunity to get historical book about Roman Empire last days for $1.99. The name of the book is The Fall of the Roman Empire : A New History of Rome and the Barbarians and the book is written by Peter Heather.

The death of the Roman Empire is one of the perennial mysteries of world history. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Peter Heather proposes a stunning new solution: Rome generated its own nemesis. Centuries of imperialism turned the neighbors it called barbarians into an enemy capable of dismantling the Empire that had dominated their lives for so long. Heather is a leading authority on the late Roman Empire and on the barbarians. In The Fall of the Roman Empire, he explores the extraordinary success story that was the Roman Empire and uses a new understanding of its continued strength and enduring limitations to show how Europe’s barbarians, transformed by centuries of contact with Rome on every possible level, eventually pulled it apart. He shows first how the Huns overturned the existing strategic balance of power on Rome’s European frontiers, to force the Goths and others to seek refuge inside the Empire. This prompted two generations of struggle, during which new barbarian coalitions, formed in response to Roman hostility, brought the Roman west to its knees. The Goths first destroyed a Roman army at the battle of Hadrianople in 378, and went on to sack Rome in 410. The Vandals spread devastation in Gaul and Spain, before conquering North Africa, the breadbasket of the Western Empire, in 439. We then meet Attila the Hun, whose reign of terror swept from Constantinople to Paris, but whose death in 453 ironically precipitated a final desperate phase of Roman collapse culminating in the Vandals’ defeat of the massive Byzantine Armada: the west’s last chance for survival. Peter Heather convincingly argues that the Roman Empire was not on the brink of social or moral collapse. What brought it to an end were the barbarians.

Cubicle Golf

Cubicle Golf is a game which can help you to spend some free time with a fun.

Tee Up at the Office
Golf is a great way to get a break from less important things–like work! But we all know it’s a long way from the office to the golf course.

Luckily, there’s Cubicle Golf. This fun and challenging game for your Android device provides an easy way to get a few rounds in without leaving your desk.

Beware the Water Cooler Hazard

Cubicle Golf features a full, 18-hole course that will test even the hardiest office golfer’s skills. Choose from two control options to suit your playing style. It’s easy to track scores at each hole, and you’ll even hear fun shot-by-shot commentary as you play.

Build team unity by playing the always-challenging Office Links. Take advantage of your co-workers’ strengths as you navigate the course: one colleague wields the driver, another the iron, another the putter, and one possesses the hallowed Secret Weapon.

But keep a wary eye out as you work on that handicap. Make sure you avoid Mr. Hazard (also known as your boss) if you want to keep playing!

No Golf Cart Required

Unlike the outdoor version, this golf game progresses quickly and is easy to learn. Also, and most important, it’s fun. Play through all 18 holes, improve your score, and blow off some steam. (Just make sure the boss isn’t looking.)

“Send to Kindle” First Hand Review

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) just released a new software program called Send to Kindle that makes it easier to send most printable documents to both the e-ink Kindles and the Kindle Fire.

I downloaded the new “Send to Kindle” app on to my Kindle Touch with ease using the detailed instructions that Amazon provides and the prompts from my browser.

Right now this program is only available on Windows, but a Mac version is coming soon.  Once downloaded, you can access the application in two ways.  Through Windows Explorer, you can right click on the document and select “Send to Kindle”.  You can also go into a program such as Microsoft Word that supports printing and select “Send to Kindle” from the list of printer options.

To test it out, I sent my resume to my Kindle.  It appeared on my home screen within seconds, and formatted nicely to fit the screen.  Just make sure the Wi-Fi or 3G access is enabled.  Something like this is much more useful for sending documents like articles set up as a PDF that would be easier to read on the Kindle than the computer.  I could have used this during graduate school when all of my classes required reading a lot of PDF articles.

The Send to Kindle program is also great for storing documents and can be used to email the documents to contacts on your pre approved contact list.  Instructions on how to manage your Kindle’s email address are available as a link from the Send to Kindle page.  Just search for send to kindle in the AMazon search box.

Send to Kindle works on all Kindles and devices that support it such as the iPad, iPhone, and iPod.  There’s no mention of Blackberry or even Android yet.

As with all of your other Kindle content, any documents you send to your Kindle is stored in the archives for retrieval from your Amazon account anytime.   Send to Kindle also saves your last page read, bookmarks, and highlights and includes the ability to sync across devices.

With such easy access to portable storage and unlimited cloud storage, there should be no more excuses for losing a document again.  So much for the “the dog ate my homework” excuse.

 

Apple Launches E-Textbook Service

Apple launched a new e-textbook service last week that is claiming to “revolutionize the textbook industry.”  With major partners as McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton-Mifflin on board, the service is poised to offer a robust collection of e-textbooks in the updated iBook store.  In addition to purchasing textbooks educators can create their own textbooks using iBook Author.  The lure of lighter backpacks is a pretty good one.

My initial question is, how are schools going to be able to afford an iPad for every student?  Will this be an expense put on parents?  If Amazon starts a competing service with the Kindle Fire, price would not be as much of an issue.  The Kindle Fire is less than half the price of an iPad 2.

Prior attempts at using the Kindle for textbooks have been somewhat successful with a few schools here and there using it for pilot programs.  There were also attempts at using the Kindle DX to hold college textbooks because it has a bigger screen.  Despite positive reviews on the programs, they never really took off.

Right now, the new e-textbook service seems to be focusing on the K-12 market with high school textbooks going for $14.99 or less.  What about college textbooks?  They’re the ones that students have to fork over the money for themselves.  They can also be expensive.  Professors have a lot more leeway on what they can teach so they will probably benefit more from iBook Author than K-12 teachers will.

I think that e-textbooks are going to play a larger role in the future, but I don’t see it taking off just yet.  Aside from the price still being steep for the iPad, there is still a learning curve and adjustment period for both teachers and students.  Tablets are already being  used as valuable tools in education through apps.  It just takes time figuring out how to utilize them the most effectively.

Will Amazon launch an e-textbook service to compete with Apple, or will it continue to appeal to the “masses” with the vast collection of books available in the Kindle Store?  I would say the latter for now, because Amazon’s strategy is to reach out to everyone, not a niche market like Apple does.  As e-textbooks become more mainstream and in higher demand, it will be more in Amazon’s best interest to provide them for the Kindle platform.

 

Daily Deals: Bound and FishPop

Bound

Today Amazon offer to buy Bound by Antonya Nelson for $1.99

Antonya Nelson is known for her razor-sharp depictions of contemporary family life in all of its sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious complexity. Her latest novel has roots in her own youth in Wichita, in the neighborhood stalked by the serial killer known as BTK (Bind, Torture, and Kill). A story of wayward love and lost memory, of public and private lives twisting out of control, Bound is Nelson’s most accomplished and emotionally riveting work. Catherine and Oliver, young wife and older entrepreneurial husband, are negotiating their difference in age and a plethora of well-concealed secrets. Oliver, now in his sixties, is a serial adulterer and has just fallen giddily in love yet again. Catherine, seemingly placid and content, has ghosts of a past she scarcely remembers. When Catherine’s long-forgotten high school friend dies and leaves Catherine the guardian of her teenage daughter, that past comes rushing back. As Oliver manages his new love, and Catherine her new charge and darker past, local news reports turn up the volume on a serial killer who has reappeared after years of quiet. In a time of hauntings and new revelations, Nelson’s characters grapple with their public and private obligations, continually choosing between the suppression or indulgence of wild desires. Which way they turn, and what balance they find, may only be determined by those who love them most.

 

FishPop

FishPop is a fun fast-paced game with fish that pop when you touch them. It’s fun for all ages.

If you like to let your kids play with your expensive mobile devices then this is the game for you. Guaranteed to provide endless minutes of near silence interrupted only by the sound of giggles and popping fish.

Survival Mode

How many fish can you pop before all the fish escape? Tens? Hundreds? thousands? Hit the Chum Can when it drops to lure in more fish. Pop the Jellyfish to slow everyone down. Don’t pop the Octopus unless you want a giant ink blot the fish will hide behind.

Timed Pop

How many can you pop in 60 seconds? Keep popping the same type of fish for bonus.

Aquarium Mode

This is nice calm mode where you can see all the fish and pop them or not. Great for toddlers trying to develop touchscreen skills. Before you know it, they’ll be texting Grandma.

Kindle Fire January Re-Review

Over the past several weeks several people have informed me that the most up to date reviews they were able to find regarding the Kindle Fire were a bit outdated, to say the least.  Looking over the links I was provided, it definitely seems like there is still some misinformation floating around.  This is mostly a result of failure to update after the performance patch, which did a great job of addressing complaints and ensures that new users won’t have nearly as many annoyances as they might have on launch day.  In the interest of clarifying, here’s what I would say is worth knowing if trying to decide on a Kindle Fire purchase today:

Pros:

  • Highly portable (noticeably lighter than any hardcover book I own)
  • Durable (Check out Andrei’s scratch/drop test)
  • Powerful for the $200 price
  • ~8 Hour battery life (I average 7 hours with WiFi on and brightness at a comfortable level)
  • Amazing video quality through Amazon Instant Video
  • Seamless integration with Amazon Cloud Storage for Amazon Purchases
  • Large, well-moderated App Store
  • Access to Amazon’s Customer Service
  • Easy WiFi Setup

Cons

  • Only 8GB onboard storage (6GB or so available, with just over 1GB reserved for Apps)
  • 2 Finger Touch screen not perfect for extended typing (not a netbook replacement)
  • Back-lit screen not great for reading
  • Some Kindle eReader functionality missing (collections, real page numbers, X-Ray)
  • No Text to Speech (in Kindle Edition eBooks, though some apps may make up for this)
  • No access to Android Marketplace by default
  • Netflix video currently only allows SD streaming
  • Limited Codec selection

Common Kindle Fire Software Complaints (Including Those Addressed)

  • Choppy navigation
  • WiFi connectivity limited
  • Overly fast browsing/scrolling
  • Unresponsive page turning
  • No Parental Controls
  • No way to choose favoring of mobile sites
  • Unintuitive cloud integration for personal documents
  • Caroussel Logs Every Activity
  • Purchased Apps always present in Cloud view
  • Silk Browser doesn’t live up to the hype

At this point, if you are interested in getting a Kindle Fire, I strongly recommend it.  This isn’t exactly a surprise coming from me given earlier similar declarations even before the big patch that dealt with so many complaints, but it remains true.

This is not an iPad killer.  It might have an effect on Apple, and will almost certainly spur Amazon to more direct competition, but they’re devices intended for different purposes.  If you want to watch movies, play Android games, access a wide variety of streaming content, and just generally consume media of various sorts, the Kindle Fire is the way to go.  I certainly wouldn’t replace my Kindle eReader with one, nor would it work as even a basic netbook substitute in the way that an iPad could once you get used to it, but what it does do is well done.

This is just a short overview, of course, and I would be happy to elaborate on any and all of these points should you be interested.  Let me know here or by email and I will either comment here or throw up an in-depth explanation as the situation demands. 

Daily Deals: Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure and Lame Castle

Alone: The Classic Polar AdventureToday Amazon offer to get Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure by Richard E. Byrd for $1.99

When Admiral Richard E. Byrd set out on his second Antarctic expedition in 1934, he was already an international hero for having piloted the first flights over the North and South Poles. His plan for this latest adventure was to spend six months alone near the bottom of the world, gathering weather data and indulging his desire ?to taste peace and quiet long enough to know how good they really are.? But early on things went terribly wrong. Isolated in the pervasive polar night with no hope of release until spring, Byrd began suffering inexplicable symptoms of mental and physical illness. By the time he discovered that carbon monoxide from a defective stovepipe was poisoning him, Byrd was already engaged in a monumental struggle to save his life and preserve his sanity.

When Alone was first published in 1938, it became an enormous bestseller. This edition keeps alive Byrd?s unforgettable narrative for new generations of readers.

Some words about the Author

Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd (1888-1957) was among the twentieth century’s most heroic public figures and one of history’s foremost explorers. Expeditions under his command mapped half of the Antarctic continent and three-quarters of its coast — more unknown territory than any other explorer since Captain James Cook in the eighteenth century.

Lame Castle

Lame Castle is a game for your Kindle Fire. You can get this app for free today only.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a knight in possession of a toy horse must smash a bunch of lame-o castles.

The Lame Game

Lame Castle is a fast-paced dash-and-run game with a lighthearted medieval theme. Mount your steed, grab your helmet, and dash and jump through tons of danger-strewn levels.

Gallop through 24 levels filled with deadly pits and obnoxious boulders. Try unique bonus objectives for each level, and shoot for a high score. At the end of each level, smash the lame castle of Wizzy the evil wizard, and garner the adoration of a generic pink princess.

Lame Difference

Get lost in four endless modes, and enter a nightmare maze of poor castle architecture.

Use a simple touchscreen interface to control your knight. Jump, double jump, and long jump with the left side of your screen, or press the right side to attack. Hit both for a jump-attack!

Lame-Faced

Get ready to punt chickens, loot treasure chests, and smash rocks. Don’t stand idly by while lame castles remain intact!

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller

If you have hiked, or considered hiking the Appalachian Trail, or just want to know more about the experience, then I highly recommend reading David Miller’s AWOL on the Appalachian Trail.  It is free from Amazon Prime members via the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.

Technology is so ingrained in our daily lives, that we have to physically escape from it.  Hiking the Appalachian Trail provides a chance to get away, face an unknown adventure, and to get to know other hikers and their experiences.

The AT can be hiked by section, or it can be hiked all the way through.  Hikers who make it all the way from Georgia to Maine are called “thru hikers.”  Some thru hikers go the purist route and hike the trail all the way through, and others skip sections and come back later.  To me, I’d just barrel through it and get it over with.  The sense of accomplishment at the end is much sweeter when you don’t have to worry about going back to other parts.

I love Miller’s easy, familiar writing style.  All of the hikers have trail names.  Miller encounters the same ones throughout his journey, and mentions their names like they’re old friends.  I chuckled a time or two at the more colorful characters.

Miller also gives advice on what to bring and things not to do.  Carry the lightest load possible.  there are stops along the way.  I was surprised to read that that there were so many shelters along the trail.

In short, AWOL on the Appalachian Trail isn’t the greatest book ever written, but I think it is worth a read.  There are some good books in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library collection.

Robert Merivel

“Strong writing and accounting from all of the parts of the trail make it a great book for those armchair AT Hikers like myself. It is a nice mix of everyday life and what it takes on the trail, trail relationships (some good, some bad), and various observations on life and the trail. What makes it all that more surprising is it is a Self-Published book. It is definitely worthy of a more tangible publishing house.”

Wayne A. Robinson

“Just happened upon this book in the Kindle store on my new Kindle Fire and decided to give it a try. Really glad I did. I’m not particularly interested in hiking, but the author is a fine writer and the level of detail about his day-to-day journey made it feel more like a diary rather than a retrospective on his experience. Most adults with a family and a desk job can also identify with his motivation for doing the hike. I finished this quickly. Really liked Miller’s honesty and self-deprecating style too. I recommend! “

Daily Deals: Breathless and EasyMoney

Breathless

Amazon offer Breathless by Jessica Warman for $0.99 within Kindle daily deals.

 

When Katie Kitrell is shipped off to boarding school by her distant father and overbearing mother, it doesn’t take her long to become part of the It Crowd. She’s smart, she’s cute, and she’s an Olympic-bound swimmer who has a first class ticket to any Ivy League school of her choice. But what her new friends, roommate, and boyfriend don’t know is that Katie is swimming away from her past, and from the schizophrenic older brother, Will, who won’t let her go. As Katie’s star rises, her brother descends deeper into insanity. And when he does the unthinkable, it’s all Katie can do to keep her head above water.

Amazon accompanies this book with following review:

Says 15-year-old Katie, “The only thing I really love is swimming. Sometimes I feel like I don’t really exist outside of the water.” When her parents send her to boarding school after her schizophrenic brother, Will, attempts suicide, Katie loves the escape that Woodsdale offers from her family: institutionalized and increasingly violent Will; her emotionally distant dad; and her alcoholic mom. She also loves the intensity of the school’s swim team, with its motto that “practice isn’t over until someone pukes,” and she begins a tender relationship with a gorgeous fellow swimmer, Drew, a devout Christian who, unlike most of their classmates, is still a virgin. After a misunderstanding leads to a lie, Katie tells her new friends that Will is dead. Only Katie’s roommate, Mazzie, knows the truth, and that shared secret begins the deep friendship at the core of this heartbreaking debut. Stretched over three years, the episodic novel, narrated in Katie’s raw voice, meanders occasionally in its focus. But Warman’s achingly realistic scenes and characters transcend cliché, and with rare, refreshing honesty and flashes of wry humor, she writes about the intimacy of boarding school, the anguish of family illness, finding a sense of self in sports and in life, and the small, mysterious, imperfect moments that add up to love in all its forms— Booklist, starred review

 

EasyMoney

EasyMoney is a personal finance app that combines an expense tracker, a checkbook register, a budget manager, and a bills reminder. EasyMoney provides a rich, detailed window into your finances. A simple and intuitive data entry system is combined with a wealth of easily accessible financial information. Input your bills and never lose track of payments. Analyze how and where your money is being spent. Set spending limits on a variety of customizable categories.

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Analyze the Present, Plan for the Future

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Whether you’re looking to make sense of your finances, or you just want to make sure you’re never late with a payment, EasyMoney is an ideal financial tracking tool.