Daily Deals: Those Who Save Us and 6 Games: Hybrid Mind

Those Who Save UsToday Amazon offers Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum just for $1.99

For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy’s sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald. Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother’s life. Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame.

Some words about the Author

Jenna Blum is of German and Jewish descent. She worked for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation for four years, interviewing Holocaust survivors. She currently teaches at Boston University and runs fiction workshops for Grub Street Writers.


6 Games: Hybrid MindAlso you can download to your Kindle Fire 6 Games: Hybrid Mind.

Six great games from Hybrid Mind Studios all come together within one low-priced app.

Orange You Glad features 20 levels of citrus madness, ten special power effects, and 25 unique and humorous items to avoid. Can you gobble enough oranges with your tongue to advance to the next level? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Find out how to reach Orange Frenzy mode–it earns double points.

Power Vacuum is a fast-paced puzzle game. Help the atom recover its lost electrons on each level by carefully guiding the electrons around the white energy areas, but don’t let them touch. There are 20 levels available, and ten are picked at random each time you play. You have 60 seconds per level to get the electrons to your goal.

Avoidal offers a simple but exciting premise: use your enemies to destroy as many blue stars as you can. Activate red seekers and yellow spikes, then get out of the way as they plummet towards the blue stars. Earn bonus points by destroying the blue stars as quickly as possible.

Contentric gives you just 10 seconds to collect the blue squares, refill your time limit, and avoid the black squares and borders. How long can you last? Contentric is a fast-paced agility game in which you avoid obstacles and collect items in a race against the clock. The obstacles you avoid are indirectly controlled by you, which adds a zen-like quality despite the game’s frenzied pace.

See how many robots you can destroy in Robot Reaction, a fast-paced chain reaction game. The ten exciting levels with six different robot types support online leaderboards for high score competition. Each of the robots explodes in a different way, and you only get once chance in each round, so think quickly and choose carefully.

In For the Twin, a simple, fast-paced matching puzzle game, find your example’s identical twin from among the dancing aliens. A game that both kids and adults can enjoy, it features six unique challenges with ten levels each, 30 different dancing aliens, an offbeat electronica soundtrack with seven original songs, and online leaderboards for competition. Who knew that aliens were all twist-and-turn tango twins?

Is the Kindle a Good Choice for Early Education Classrooms?

We’ve been seeing a great deal of interest in the potential savings provided by the Kindle in educational settings lately.  Now that some of the initial antagonism is out of the way, people are coming to see eReaders as valuable tools.  It needs to be kept in mind, however, that as much as the Kindle can serve as a book analogue in the majority of situations it is still not a book and not suitable for every single situation where books are used.  How we decide which situations to use them in is something that still remains vague.

Perhaps the most interesting case is the early education classroom.  I’m thinking Primary School here (1st – 5th/6th grade).  On the surface it makes perfect sense.  Using a Kindle rather than buying books means that schools can potentially avoid everything from lost reading material to profanity scribbled in the margins of textbooks.  Students wouldn’t even need to worry about forgetting their books on the way to or from school.  For every positive, though, there is a negative.

The most obvious is probably also the most trivial to fix.  Kids break things.  Whether through overwhelming exuberance or deliberate malice, from time to time they just tend to do damage as a group even if the same isn’t necessarily true of any specific individual.  The Kindle, whatever else you might say about it, is not the most durable piece of electronics in the world.  Amazon has an amazing return policy and does great work in making sure that damaged E Ink screens are replaced when the occasion calls for it, sometimes even for customers long out of the warranty period, but we have to assume they would balk at 5-10 free service orders per classroom every six months.  Given the investment already being made in texts on a regular basis, it still might make sense to go with the Kindle.  At the very least, a good case can prevent all but the most destructive acts from doing damage in my experience.

More important would be the issue of efficacy.  While the Kindle is great for sequential reading, its limited navigational options and slow refresh rate can be a pain for referring to scattered parts of a book.  On top of that, until color screens come into fashion in the eReading world there will always be some question of whether enough is being done to hold student attention.  There is a reason that most textbooks for children are thoroughly illustrated and brightly colored.

Rather than just assuming a stance on this, I have to say that it feels like an issue best decided through trials.  There are surely ways to use the Kindle properly in these classrooms, just as there are obviously ways for it to be used poorly.  The only way to really figure out how to make it work is to throw the new technology into the mix and see how the kids take to it.  I do believe that exposing children to this sort of technology early in their lives can have positive effects on both their technical proficiency and their love of reading, but one person’s anecdotal evidence about a kid who loves their Kindle is hardly enough for me to argue for an educational policy even when the anecdote is mine.

I’m curious what you all think on this.  Do Kindles and kids make a productive combination?