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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader 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 e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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October 2012
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Daily Deals: The Spy Lover, The One and Only Ivan and Magic Coral

The Spy LoverToday Amazon offers The Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport just for $1.99.

Thrust into the savagery of the Civil War, a Chinese immigrant serving in the Union Army, a nurse doubling as a spy for the North, and a one-armed Confederate cavalryman find their lives inextricably entwined.

Fleeing drought and famine in China, Johnny Tom arrives in America with dreams of becoming a citizen. Having survived vigilantes hunting “yellow dogs” and slave auction-blocks, Johnny is kidnapped from his Mississippi village by Confederate soldiers, taken from his wife and daughter, and forced to fight for the South. Eventually defecting to the Union side, he is promised American citizenship in exchange for his loyal services. But first Johnny must survive the butchery of battles and the cruelties inflicted on non-white soldiers.

Desperate to find Johnny, his daughter, Era, is enlisted as a spy. She agrees to work as a nurse at Confederate camps while scouting for the North. Amidst the unspeakable carnage of wounded soldiers, she finds solace in Warren Petticomb, a cavalryman who lost an arm at Shiloh. As devastation mounts in both armies, Era must choose where her loyalties lie—with her beloved father in the North, or with the man who passionately sustains her in the South.

A novel of extraordinary scope that will stand as a defining work on the Chinese immigrant experience, The Spy Lover is a paean to the transcendence of love and the resilience of the human spirit.

Some words about the Author

Kiana Davenport is the author of the best-selling novels House of Many Gods, Song of the Exile, and Shark Dialogues, and two story collections, House of Skin and Cannibal Nights. A Native Hawaiian, her novels and stories have won numerous awards and have been translated into twenty languages.

 

The One and Only IvanThe One and Only Ivan written by Katherine Applegate is also offered today by Amazon.

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

Some words about the Author

Katherine Applegate’s many books include the Roscoe Riley Rules chapter book series, the picture book The Buffalo Storm, and the award-winning novel Home of the Brave. With her husband, Michael Grant, she wrote the hugely popular series Animorphs, which has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.

Katherine was inspired to write The One and Only Ivan after reading about the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, the Shopping Mall Gorilla. The real Ivan lived alone in a tiny cage for twenty-seven years at a shopping mall before being moved to Zoo Atlanta after a public outcry. He is now a beloved celebrity at the zoo, which houses the nation’s largest collection of western lowland gorillas. Ivan is well known for his paintings, which he “signs” with a thumb-print.

Katherine lives in California with her husband and two children.

 

Magic CoralMagic Coral is a free application today only.

Swim your fish through the the coral filled ocean and gather magic coral to help free your fish friends in MAGIC CORAL! Smash through obstacles with upgrades or swim as your favorite sea creature. Watch out for sharks, or other underwater hazards! How far can YOU swim?

Product Features:

  • Beautiful 3D graphics in a colorful underwater world
  • Intense game play as you swim through vibrant coral reefs gaining speed all the way
  • Plenty of power-ups, upgrades and other fish to buy in the shop with the coral you gather or purchase
  • Level up by completing goals
  • Show off to your friends with Facebook leaderboards and achievements

Be careful: this application can eat your money from your pocket.

 

Kindle Paperwhite First Impressions

The Kindle Paperwhite has finally shipped out and reactions are coming in quite rapidly.  While there are many customers who will be unable to get their orders until later this month due to the overwhelming demand for the new Kindle, it’s clear that the eReader side of Kindle products is hardly a thing of the past.

Since this was essentially Amazon’s big move to catch up with Barnes & Noble when it comes to front-lit eReading, it was somewhat difficult to see how things would go.  Once you’ve established a way to light up the screen without major problems or backlighting you’re basically set.  It turns out that I wasn’t the only one wondering and some of the reviews that have gone up so far make the comparison explicit:

“I cannot emphasize enough how brilliant the screen is and encourage you to find a display model to look at if you’re on the fence about it. I’ve used the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight and the Paperwhite display blows it out of the water.” – Scott

That isn’t to say that there are no problems.  While the majority of users report a nearly perfect experience with the lighting so far, some of these Kindles appear to be flawed:

“After all the raves about how invisible the LED light sources were, it was disappointing to spot them immediately out of the box at the bottom of screen. And then, as others have noted, the lower screen is also marred by shadowy areas between the LEDs that might be described as smudges or banding. This was definitely NOT the beautifully even glow of light across the screen that Amazon product photos have shown and which I was expecting.” – charlesn

If you have a similar experience, I strongly recommend getting in touch with Amazon’s customer service.  While it is possible that these flaws fall within acceptable ranges as far as the production is concerned, Amazon has spent a lot of time talking up the evenness of their new lighting and is likely to replace as needed should the problem on a particular unit be unusually bad.

In terms of general screen quality, the consensus seems to be that the blacks are blacker, whites are whiter, and everything is both crisper and faster.  Not unexpected to be hearing such things, but it doesn’t hurt to get some confirmation that this is a noticeable improvement for most people over the E Ink Pearl display that has been the standard for some time now.

The lack of speakers has not gone unnoticed (and who really thought it would be?) but it hasn’t come up much so far as a major problem.  Those reviewers who comment on it at all, however, are quite unhappy:

“The Paperwhite has no sound whatsoever. That means no text-to-speech, no blind-accessible menu options, no playing your audiobooks from Audible. I am incredibly disappointed that these features have been gutted” – Joan

It’s likely that Amazon is making an effort to get their accessibility features set up on the Kindle Fire in order to take advantage of the more powerful device’s ability to handle such things.  Does that excuse removing these standard features after once having tried to define the whole eReader line with things like Read-to-Me?  Nope.  The decision might make sense in some ways, but it’s not a good thing for customers.

Fortunately for Kindle fans, since that particular feature removal is unlikely to be reconsidered any time soon, there are enough positive impressions to indicate that an upgrade is worth the money.

Things like the progress bar enhancement seem to be going over really well, for example.  It’s gotten an overall better response, based on these first couple days’ worth of impressions, than X-Ray did when the Kindle Touch was announced:

“My favorite new feature is the “Time Left” calculation at the bottom left of the page. While you are reading, the Kindle calculates how long it will take you to finish the book or the current chapter based on the speed with which you have been turning pages. You just touch the bottom left of the page to toggle the different selections (also shows which location you are on).” – R. Toro “Tech Junkie”

The only real software-based complaints, in fact, seem to center around the inclusion of book recommendations on Kindle Paperwhite models with the Special Offers disabled.  Despite the toggle being off, only paid advertising is removed.  This means that book recommendations are still showing up on the home screen.  For some people that will be a valuable asset while others will find it obnoxious.  Personal preference will be the deciding factor since it’s a relatively unintrusive feature, but excluding that from the advertising opt-out on the Kindle Paperwhite is somehow more obnoxious than the similar recommendation section on the Kindle Fire HD.  Possibly just because the Kindle Fires cover a wider range of content and can genuinely offer you something you might not have thought of while the book recommendations are unlikely to surprise and impress with any regularity.

All told, I have yet to find a review on Amazon or any other site that claims the Kindle Paperwhite is second-best compared to the competing Nook Simple Touch w/ Glowlight.  That puts Amazon back on top in terms of hardware again.  Since they already had the best content selection, that’s going to be a huge advantage when it comes to holiday sales.

Is this upgrade enough to be worth buying a new Kindle if you already own an eReader?  For once, it just might be.  While E Ink screens have largely offered fairly small changes from generation to generation, the Paperwhite is the most extreme improvement we’ve seen since the first Kindle and the front-lit reading capabilities are amazing.  Assuming that there is an interest, it’s hard to argue against this upgrade.