GeekMom’s List of Educational Apps to Survive the Summer Slide

Do you need educational apps for the summer? GeekMom is here with a list!
Do you need educational apps for the summer? GeekMom is here with a list!

The countdown to summer vacation has started for my daughter and almost every kid I know. The parents and educators of many of these kids have been asking for Kindle and iPad app recommendations to help their kids get through the educational lull of summer.

The writers at GeekMom have compiled a list of educational apps for you to try this summer on your phone or tablet. Since it seems like preschool apps are a dime-a-dozen, we have come up with a list that will be more appropriate for first through fourth grade. I have not included prices in the descriptions below because some apps have a free and paid version. Also, depending on what tablet you own, the price of the app can vary. It is a safe bet that most of the apps will be in the range of free to $3.

Continue reading GeekMom’s List of Educational Apps to Survive the Summer Slide

Ebook Piracy and the Libraries of the Future

Image: Sarah Pinault. Toby’s first visit to the library.

My husband has been lucky since acquiring his iPhone. He was looking for a book to read to test out the reader function, saw a commercial for A Game of Thrones, decided to read the book and it was being given away as a free ebook that month in preparation for the show. After that, several people recommended that he read The Pillars of the Earth, lo and behold, a quick Google search and it too was a free ebook that month from a national retailer. Then it got trickier.

After deciding to read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever following the directions for picking a Sci/Fi Fantasy book, he could not find a copy anywhere. He was now hooked on finding them for free. He found a hard copy at a library of which he is a member, he also found it illegally as an ebook. Surmising that since a library book was reading it for free, and he wanted to read it on the iPhone, downloading it made it just like reading the copy at his local library. He lasted about an hour with that logic, before deleting the file and becoming grumpy, in a holier than thou kind of way. My husband is a very honest man, it’s been two weeks and he still hasn’t bought or read the book. With Amazon’s addition of the Kindle Lending Library last week, the dilemmas facing my husband seem to be the wave of the future. A few overdue fines at the library pale in comparison with the fact that e-readers may be taking literature the way of Napster and iTunes, as far as morality and public ownership go. As the music industry continues to debate its own standards of ownership, I wonder where e-readers are taking us, and if recent court rulings will have any affect on how we view books that are still covered by their copyright. If I lose my hard copy of a book, am I entitled to an e-copy for free?

Behind the scenes at GeekMom the Kindle Lending Library raised some minor discussion. I am hesitant to accept anything for free from a company that possesses my credit card information, but I am quite happy with a world that accommodates both my love of paper, and my husband’s love of the convenience of his e-reader. Otherwise we have a split between those of us happy to forgo paper for .doc, and those who relish wandering around the local library. Would this new policy have any effect on libraries or e-readership figures since it is limited to one book a month? With the grassroots library movement, that GeekMom Melissa talked about this week, I have great hope in the future of the library.

So my question is, am I reading too much into my husband’s one-time moral dilemma, or should author’s fear for the sanctity of their work?

The Postmortal by Drew Magary – A Pre-Apocalypse Tale

Image: us.penguingroup.com

The Postmortal by Drew Magary is a cautionary tale of what could be in store for the world if some clever scientist is able to create a cure for aging and it becomes readily available to everyone.

The story is a collection of posts and tidbits posted by John Farrell in a blog type format, who starts off the story as a divorce lawyer and opts to get the cure when he is 29 years old. The book follow John through 60 years of life in a world where most people just don’t age anymore, and where there are some heavy consequences to this brave, new world.

I don’t want to give anything away, but this book was captivating, totally frightening and hard to put it down. Stories like these always fascinate me because the events in this book could really happen the way that science and technology is progressing.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading cautionary tales of science gone wrong, along with anyone who is interested in pre-apocalyptic stories. It really was very excellent.

The Postmortal will be available in paperback and for the Kindle and Nook on August 30, 2011.

Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

Burden of Blood by Wenona Hulsey – A Modern Fantasy Tale

Image: Goodreads.com

Burden of Blood by Wenona Hulsey is a fast paced modern fantasy. Police officer Nicole Keenan is just trying to lead a normal life in a small southern town despite the fact that she can hear other people’s thoughts. But events sweep her into a dangerous adventure that puts her loved one’s in harms way along with revealing her true identity.

I’m a big fan of modern fantasy, which is what I would consider this book to be. Magical things happening right in our world along with magical creatures such as faeries. So I was pretty excited to be able to read this book.

It did take me a little to get into it, but once the action picked up it was a very easy and entertaining read. The end surprised me a little, but it wasn’t really a bad one. The character of Nicole is really well written, as she is pulled in different directions and makes discoveries about her past and her powers.

All in all, I really enjoyed Burden of Blood and would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of fantasy. This book is available in eBook format for the Kindle and the Nook.

Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

The End of Borders

Image: Borders.com

It has been buzzing all over the web that Borders is going to be closing the rest of their stores and liquidating all of their assets. I’ve read that the reasoning for the closing Borders not being able to enter into the eReader market and the downswing in the economy. The market for books is changing because of eBooks and Borders Kobo eReader hasn’t gotten nearly as much press as the Kindle or Nook. Honestly, I didn’t even know that Borders had an eReader until I was looking at their website to write this post.

For me, this news makes me a little sad. When I was younger, I’d spend hours in Borders browsing all the shelves upon shelves of books. I’ve always adored reading, so I’ve been a fan of the big book stores because their selection of fantasy and sci-fi books were always much better than smaller bookstores I frequented. This made me very happy, and I would always have a hard time deciding what book to bring home with me.

I do enjoy eBooks, but the move from traditional books to eBooks feels like the end of an era. When I was growing up, my dad had many bookshelves in our basement with lovely, geeky books. When I was in high school, I literally read my way all the way through his library. While I do have a lot of paper books, I’ve found that I’m buying more and more books for my Kindle. I like the idea of always having a portable, little library with me. But I do still love my built in bookshelves (a big reason I wanted to buy our house) filled to the brim with well loved books.

The closing down of Borders feels almost like the closing down of traditional books. I know there will be more stories to read, but the book industry is really changing right now. I wonder if any of the other big book retailers will have the same fate as Borders.

How do you all feel about the demise of Borders?

Caution! Get All the Facts Before You Get Your eReader!

Photo: Amazon

As the holiday season approaches, and you make the list of all the new tech gadgets you’d like to find under the tree, let me offer one suggestion. Do the research on that iPad, play around with the Sony Reader and that amazing new Kindle, but then do one more thing: Go to the website for your local library and do a different kind of research.

I work at a fairly large library, that is connected to 29 other libraries in our area. That means we share books, videos and music. We also share audio books and ebooks. The selection is amazing. On our library website alone, patrons have access to thousands of ebooks and audio books, free of charge. It’s easier and quicker than driving to a brick and mortar building to check out the hard copy.

But there’s one catch. You can only use this amazing variety of resources if you’re using certain devices.

The audio books seem to be the most versatile in our collection. From iPods to PC laptops,  compatibility is rarely an issue. The main snag appears in the category of ebooks.

In our large library system you can check out (down load) hundreds of current titles, but only if you own an ereader besides an iPad or a Kindle. If you have a Nook, Kobo, Pandigital Novel, or just about any kind of Sony Reader, you’ll have no problem accessing our huge ebook collection.  Anything Apple, and you’re out of luck.

It pains our Information Technology  person. She’d love to have everything available to everybody. But that’s not possible for now. So in the meantime she warns our patrons to choose wisely when purchasing new devices. She refuses to endorse a certain product but wants our patrons to know there’s one more thing to consider when making out your wish list.

If you plan to use the resources your local library has to offer, make sure your dream device is compatible.

Nook Color: Reading Goodness for the Whole Family

Nook Color from Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble recently announced the new Nook Color, a 7″ lightweight touchscreen reader in gorgeous color. Color! Imagine the possibilities, as you probably already have since the first time you held an eReader. Newspapers and magazines are going to look great, as will books full of photography and illustration… like, for instance, kids’ books. I’ll get my bias out of the way right up front: I’ve been working on Barnes & Noble’s new picture book line, Nook Kids.

The Nook Kids line is more than simply viewing picture books on the electronic screen. A tap on any text enlarges it for easy reading, and you can also zoom the page and move it around to get a closer look. For books that include narration, kids can either choose from two modes: “Read by Myself” and “Read to Me”. And coming soon will be books with story-related interactive activities and games. You can get a sneak peek of these on the Nook Kids website.

Go, Dog! Go! on Nook Kids

Will this replace all printed books in your life? I hope not, because that’s a reading experience that kids should still have – great big illustrations, page turns, the feel of a book in their little hands. But it’s a great option if there’s a Nook Color in the house. Last night we did story time completely on the Nook Color (yes, I might have been testing books while trying to parent), and it was still cozy laptime. Quite handily, when the plea came for one more book, we just popped open the digital library and had a new one going in short order.

While others have done great one-off eBooks for kids, Nook Kids has an advantage of a gigantic library that will continue to grow. Books in the library will include a mix of classics, new, and licensed books like Olivia, Splat the Cat, Go, Dog! Go!, Skippyjon Jones, Berenstain Bears, Little Golden Books, and Thomas the Tank Engine. Plus, there’s already a library of chapter books available.

Oh, and the Nook Color itself? So beautiful. The screen quality is fabulous, and it’s slim and lightweight – something super easy to slip into your purse and not feel the crushing weight of it. Imagine always having some picture books at the ready when you’re out and about. The Nook Color will let you lend and borrow books, and has built-in Wi-Fi. It will be a great web surfing device.

I have an iPad. I love my iPad. But at a fraction of the size and a fraction of the price, I think there’s a place in my life (and my bag) for the Nook Color, too. (The Nook Color retails for $249, and currently has an expected ship date of November 26.)