Category: Housekeeping
Housekeeping: Prime Day 2016; Throwback Thursday and Cheap Reads 6 comments

broom.panPrime Day 2016
Amazon has announced Prime Day 2016 is Tuesday, July 12. Mark your calendars so you don’t miss a minute of the deals. Or take a deep breath, remember last year’s Prime Day and keep your wits about you. I’ll be reading up on this year’s event and post more information on next week’s Housekeeping.
Amazon is promising Lightning Deals and all-day deals for a total of over 100,000 Deals.

 
Throwback Thursday: I write the stories for our 5,000th post
I’m on the road today and will have limited time to moderate comments. Below is a throwback post from November 2011. I’ll be posting another Housekeeping post tomorrow – Friday, July 1.
Hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed writing it!
 
As I’ve stated before, I’ve fallen in love with the short story. This literary form has been reborn with e-readers and hurried readers. Fifteen minutes and a story has gone from cradle to grave. A tidy gift in a small package.
I came upon The World’s Shortest Stories Of Love And Death in the Kindle Store. It’s not cheap at $8.99, but every story is only 55 words long and the idea of a 55-word story was fascinating. I purchased the story collection and quickly read through the pages.
The stories are about the general topics of love and death. Some were dark, others poignant, a few were funny, and some I didn’t understand, but that could be a reflection of my lack of life experiences. The story titled Late Charge by Jennifer Saylor is the most clever story. I still chuckle thinking about it.
The idea of a 55-word story so intrigued me that I grabbed a notebook and started penciling my thoughts. After numerous word counts, re-writes, and input from Tiger, here are my first four 55-word stories, one each in the adventure, suspense, contemporary fiction and true romance categories.
Man-to-Man
Young men. Face to face. Nearly nose to nose. Heavily drawn breath, but no retreats, no flinching. At the signal, they charge, each determined to be victorious. They struggle against each other, muscles bulging, teeth gritted. They stop, step back to do it all over again.
The referee’s whistle has blown. Second down and five.
 
Jim
Jim looked over his shoulder – again. He felt nervous, sweaty, pained in his stomach. Why had he behaved so recklessly? Someone would find out. His career could be over. He had to live with this for forever.
He looked over his shoulder, saw the Harley tattoo, smiled. “Let the congregation talk,” thought Reverend Jim.
 
In fairness, this story probably should have been labeled Christian fiction, but that would have given away the ending. I apologize for any offense.
 
Girl Crazy
“Twins.”
“You sure?”
“Yes, I’m a doctor.”
“Females?”
“Too early to tell. You hoping for two more girls?”
“Yeah. Emily and Anna are heading off to college in two and three years.”
“I understand,” the vet said as he pulled off his gloves and stepped out of the barn. “You will need the milk money.”
 
Newlyweds
“I do.”
“I will”
“Till death do us part.”
He held her hand, grinned at her. She smiled. Guests at the wedding, they had known poorer, now were comfortable. They had weathered sickness, enjoyed years of health.
“You may kiss your bride.”
He squeezed her hand. Newlyweds. They are still today, twenty some years later.
 
Preparing this post, I realized I had written nothing about the Kindle. Out came the notebook and the pencil. Here’s a Kindle story that I’m categorizing as chick lit:
Kindle + Me = Forever
I bought a Kindle, named it Jason. I love him. Free books? Cheap books? Games? More love for Jason.
Jason is always with me. I said to Mother, “Evenings and weekends, I’m with Jason.”
She misunderstood. She thinks I’m dating a nice young man. Mom’s happy. There’s no more nagging.
I love Jason even more.
 
Cheap Reads – Historical mysetries for just 99 cents each
Two John Shakespeare historical thrillers are selling supercheap today. He is The Elizabethan Bond.
The Heretics (99 cents) An exorcism … a siege … a stealthy killer … What else could go wrong?
John Shakespeare—intrepid private detective and brother to a rising young playwright in Elizabethan London—is approached by a condemned Jesuit priest with an unusual proposition: the Father is haunted by the memory of Thomasyn Jade, a teenage girl subjected to brutal exorcism rites a decade past. He wants Shakespeare to track her down and offer reparations for her treatment.
Traitor (99 cents) Under the threat of a second Spanish Armada, John Shakespeare is sent to Lancashire to guard over England’s secret weapon and its inventor, the maverick magician Dr. Dee.
But nothing is so simple when the country is a hotbed of secret loyalties and civil unrest. During his mission, Shakespeare stumbles upon Catholic priests in hiding, a mysterious Bohemian seductress, and—of course—murder.

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Housekeeping: All-New Kindle eReader, Tracking your Credit and Cheap Reads 24 comments

broom.panAll-New Kindle eReader
Exciting week in the world of Kindle – huge credits from the Apple Settlement and Amazon announced an All-New Kindle, 6″ eReader.
The new device is not remarkably different. It’s like most of us would like to be – thinner and lighter. The price is $79.99 with Special Offers; $99.99 without. Choose black or white. Pre-order today for delivery beginning July 7.
Amazon highlights these features:
• All-new design is thinner and lighter than the previous-generation Kindle, and available in your choice of black or white
• Touchscreen display that reads like real paper
• Unlike tablets, no screen glare, even in bright sunlight
• Battery lasts weeks, not hours
• Indulge your love of reading without e-mail alerts or push notifications
• Massive selection, low prices – over four million books including latest bestsellers, Kindle exclusives and more

 
Track your Kindle Credit
If you haven’t used all of your Apple Settement credit yet, you will want to bookmark this page. Amazon provides a succinct review of your remaining credit.

Available for use starting: June 21, 2016
Total Credit: $317.79
Unused Credit: $317.79
Expiry Date: June 24, 2017

Just below this information are several suggestions on how to use that credit including: Best Books of the Month; Select 25 (Amazon Editor’s Choices); NYTimes Bestseller List; Books to Read in a Lifetime List; sales and new releases. Most of these lists will change over the coming weeks to give you more options for how to use your credit.
 
Just for E-Books?
About that Apple credit, the e-mail I received from Amazon included this sentence:

We will automatically apply your available credit to your purchase of qualifying items through Amazon, an Amazon device or an Amazon app. [snip] In order to spend your credit, please visit the Kindle bookstore or Amazon.

From these sentences I assumed that the credit could only be used for Kindle books.
However, yesterday I purchased stationery, envelopes and refrigerator filters. When checking out I could choose to have the entire purchase of about $100 paid using my gift card balance which was $6 purchased previously + $317 Apple credit.
I did not want to use my credit to buy mundane items and put the charges on a debit card.
Has anyone used this credit for non-Kindle items? Please let us know.
UPDATE: Charleen left a comment that Amazon rep said credit could be used for anything except subscriptions and gift cards.

 
Cheap Bundle – Baseball-themed Mysteries
Alison Gordon Two-Book Bundle: The Dead Pull Hitter and Safe at Home (99 cents) Trouble has a way of finding sports journalist Kate Henry. And with her natural curiosity and nose for a good story, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Purchase this two-book bundle of the first two Kate Henry mysteries for only 99 cents today.
The Dead Pull Hitter: For the first time in their history, the Toronto Titans are on a winning streak and headed for the World Series—a dream come true for sports reporter and baseball fan Kate Henry. But when a pair of murders hits the team at its very heart, Kate finds herself in the middle of the investigation.
Safe at Home: As the baseball season heats up, a serial killer stalks young boys on the streets of Toronto. While her boyfriend, Sergeant Andy Munro is at the heart of the investigation, Kate herself is working on the scoop of a lifetime—one that will rock the baseball world to its core. Kate’s world collides violently with Andy’s as the killer suddenly threatens those closest to her. With time running out, can Kate save those she loves the most?

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Housekeeping: Carol has a question, Father’s Day reads and Cheap reads bundle 15 comments

broom.panCarol has a question
Amazon has cut the price on the Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, to just $39.99 through Saturday. You can choose the fun colors of magenta, tangerine and blue or basic black.
This very inexpensive Fire is feature-rich, but please remember it is will be slower than a $300 tablet.
For those of you who have been using this Fire, Carol has a question or two:

This has to do with the $40.00 Fire Tablets? Anyone have one? What do you think? Roughly, in example-terms, how much does the 8G hold? Thought about getting one to use with my piano students so I don’t have to use my tablet with the 4-5 music training apps. I have an HDX, just wondering how it compares to that?

If you have an opinion or advice to offer, please click on the READ MORE button below and leave a comment. Carol and I thank you!
 
Reads for and/or about Fathers
Sunday we will pause to honor the fathers and father-figures in our lives. These four books are published by faith-based publishers and are selling for $1.99 each today.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cheap romance bundle
Lose yourself in a great series when you buy this contemporary romance bundle for only 99 cents today. Hours of entertainment.
Footloose Bundle: Feet First\Underfoot (99 cents) Designing footwear is Jenny Prillaman’s life, so getting the plum assignment to create a socialite’s wedding shoes is a dream come true. Dealing with the heiress is another story. So is staying away from her dreamy new boss, a man too hot to deny for long, despite Jenny’s best intentions of keeping her business away from his pleasure.
Making Bellagio, Inc. an international success is executive Marc Waterson’s career ambition. But his life’s desire is to find the right woman and settle down. Too bad Jenny would rather follow in his corporate footsteps than try on the glass slippers of a company wife.
At least Marc’s got one thing going for him— the way to a woman’s heart is through a really great pair of shoes!

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Housekeeping: Cheap Fire in New Colors; Summer Reading for Tweens and Teens and Great Cheap Reads 0 comments

broom.panColorful World
Amazon had a sale recently on the $49.99 Fire Tablet. I bought a red and a blue one as they make great gifts and cost just a few dollars more than a nice card expressing birthday or graduation sentiments.
One of the most obvious hints that Amazon is going to introduce something new is a sale on the product that might be replaced. With the introduction of new colors of magenta and tangerine, the sale made sense. Out with the red, in with magenta and tangerine!
If you want to add a splash of color to your summer, pick up one of these Fire Tablet ($49.99) in a color to match your swimsuit, beach towel, deck chair or the island apparel you might be sporting this summer.
You might even want to purchase this Fire cover . Let summer begin!
 
Summer Reading for Tweens and Teens
June is the month that publishers of young adult fiction drop prices to entice tweens and teens to take time from their water sports, baseball/softball, hanging out at the mall with their friends, sleeping late and goodness knows what else to read great books. Our jr. site will be featuring great books in the next few weeks. Here are four popular books selling for only $1.99 each:
 

 
Great Cheap Mysteries
Enjoy a great novel this weekend when you buy these two murder mysteries for only $1.99 each today.
 
The Eagle Catcher ($1.99) When the Arapaho tribal chairman is found murdered in his tepee at the Ethete powwow, the evidence points to the chairman’s nephew, Anthony Castle. But Father John O’Malley, pastor of St. Francis Mission, and Vicky Holden, the Arapaho lawyer, do not believe the young man capable of murder. Together they set out to find the real murderer and clear Anthony’s name.
Remains of Innocence ($1.99) An old woman, a hoarder, is dying of emphysema in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Her daughter, Liza Machett, discovers a fortune in hundred dollar bills hidden in the tall stacks of books and magazines. Tracing the money’s origins will take Liza to Sheriff Joanna Brady who is embroiled in a personal mystery of her own. A man she considers a family friend is found dead at the bottom of a hole in a limestone cavern. Are the two disparate cases connected?

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Housekeeping: Amazon search problems; Audio outsells print; Mercy Street review and Cheap Reads 4 comments

broom.panAmazon search problems
Starting around 5:00a.m. Central time today, Amazon has experienced search problems. If something is typed into the search bar, an error message is given. For our site, direct links to books work just fine. But a link I have below to pull in the three dozen books on sale, the error appears.
The search failure appears to be occurring across all Amazon sites around the world. Hopefully things will be righted soon and we can access all the great deals today.
NOTE: As of 8:37a.m. Central time, the issue has been resolved.
 
Audio outsells print, sort of
MarketWatch, an on-line business site owned by Dow Jones & Co, posted an article earlier this year claiming that audiobooks are outselling print versions. On some books. But not all books. Some authors have experienced sales of their audiobook exceeding the print version by as much as four times.
Jeremy Ohshan, the author of the article offered his thoughts on why audio would be more popular than print. I have an idea, too. With the advent of the ereader, many authors have targeted that market for promoting their work. Audiobook popularity has risen with the immersion reading options of moving from audio-to-ebook-to-audiobook.
Authors can make their books available in print through Amazon’s print-on-demand option, but most give minimal effort in attracting print buyers. What is marketed is what sells and audiobooks and ebookssoon outsell print verions. On some books. But not all books.
 
Mercy Street – A Review
Last month I read Mercy Street (Just 99 cents), a contemporary tale set in Melbourne, Australia, written by Tess Evans.
Reminiscent of A Man Named Ove ($11.99), the book revolves around George, a lonely, widowed pensioner whose life is saved by Angie, a 19-year-old mother. Feeling indebted to her, George consents to Angie and her 5-year-old daughter Rory staying with him when they hit a rough patch.
George’s life takes on a new purpose when he assumes the roll of Rory’s Poppy, providing security that she has never had in her nomadic short life.
Throughout the story of George and Rory, we learn of George’s life with his wife Pen and the life he imagined they would have.
Ms. Evans’ novel is tender and touching, giving a vivid picture of the life many young children lead. Secondary characters give life to the book – a bossy sister; a sympathetic friend at the pub and neighbors on Mercy Street who support George and Rory.
I enjoyed this emotional story and recommend it for summer reading. I paid $1.99, but you can buy it for only 99 cents today.
 
Cheap Reference Books
McGraw-Hill has reduced the price of three dozen reference and education books to just $1.99 each. Choose from business, parenting, health and diet, science, psychology and more. Click here to check out all of the McGraw-Hill nonfiction titles selling for $1.99 each. NOTE: Link may not be working!
Four books with high reader reviews are:
 

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Housekeeping: Ten reasons a Kindle book may be better than a vacation and Cheap Reads 2 comments

broom.panTen reasons a Kindle book may be better than a vacation
1. After the book is loaded, you won’t have departure delays.
2. No personally-intrusive security screenings. Keep your shoes on or not.
3. Packing takes no time at all.
4. Weather will never spoil your plans to read.
5. You don’t have to tip Jeff Bezos for prompt service.
6. Your personal hygiene items don’t have to be in small bottles.
7. You don’t need a coupon to download free books.
8. Posting selfies on Facebook or SnapChat is optional.
9. Hotel staff won’t be interrupting you, wanting to clean the room.
10. Who needs the senior discount or early bird deals when you have Daily Cheap Reads?
 
Mini-vacation Reading
Take a mini-vacation this weekend and download a book you bought in 2012, but still haven’t read. I’ve chosen My Heart May Be Broken, but My Hair Still Looks Great ($6.99 Audiobook $3.99) which was purchased January 24, 2012. It’s a fun mystery-romance mash-up set in Salt Lick, Texas – home of big hair, big ranches, and two of the biggest busybodies ever to wield a blow-dryer.
 
Closing the Kindle
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wholesome Collections
Zonderkidz is selling three bundles for pre-teen girls for only $1.99 each. These inspirational, wholesome books are popular for ages 8-12.
The Boarding School Mysteries Collection ($1.99) In this four-eBook collection of Boarding School Mysteries, brought to you by Faithgirlz, readers meet super-sleuth Jeri McKane and her middle-school classmates at the Landmark School for Girls. Follow Jeri as she uses her head and heart and her trust in God to solve mysteries. Bundle includes: Vanished, Betrayed, Poisoned and Burned.
Finding Her Way: The Lucy Collection ($1.99) Lucy is a feisty, precocious tomboy who questions everything including God. Understandably, especially after an accident killed her mother, blinded her father, and turned her life upside down. Follow Lucy in this four-book Faithgirlz bind-up as she navigates life and learns about the young lady that God wants her to be. This eBook collection includes: Lucy Out of Bounds; Lucy’s Perfect Summer; Lucy Finds Her Way and Lucy Doesn’t Wear Pink.
The Sadie Sketchbook Collection ($1.99) In this four-eBook bind-up of the Faithgirlz Sadie’s Sketchbook series by Naomi Kinsman, readers meet twelve-year-old Sadie Douglas. Sadie is a regular girl struggling with everyday things like friendships, moving, family, and faith … and relying on that faith to survive. This eBook collection includes: Shades of Truth, Flickering Hope, Waves of Light and Brilliant Hues.

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Housekeeping: Charlotte’s Web 50 years later; A real deal and Cheap Reads 2 comments

broom.panCharlotte’s Web 50 Years Later
Amazon had a good Daily Deal on the Saturday of Easter weekend and I purchased the beloved children’s book Charlotte’s Web ($6.99 Audiobook $4.99). I read it the next week – nearly 50 years after the first time I opened the book.
E.B White has penned a charming tale of the bucolic life of Fern and Avery and their adventures on the farm. They lived large with Wilbur the pig, Tennyson the rat and Charlotte the spider, sheep, geese, and cows.
This time around I realized why this book wasn’t a favorite of my childhood – the story was too close to home. We had pigs on our farm, but we didn’t have a hired hand named Lurvy. We children carried the slop to the pigs. And, yes, we dumped it right on their heads because they wouldn’t move away from the trough.
Our barn had plenty of spiders and we often walked into the webs. Honestly, they were a nuisance. Even though we had great mouser cats, the mice still took refuge in the hay and the milking stanchions where the ground corn was dropped. Thankfully, we had no rats.
When I read the book way back in grade school, I knew the story was a stretch and I didn’t get into the spirit of talking animals and web-writing spiders. On the other hand, any story I read about the big city was the gospel truth because I wasn’t familiar with the setting.
Great fiction may just depend on your personal experiences and points of reference. Charlotte’s Web was better this time around. I haven’t slopped the pigs recently and I’ve romanticized the daily farm chores over years. Amazing how good a book becomes when your perspective changes.
 
A Real Deal: Free Kindle Version and Free Audiobook
AudioAdd ClipDownload this Kindle version of Pride and Prejudice free and click on the ADD AUDIBLE NARRATION to get it free, too.
In this classic historic romance by Jane Austen, young Elizabeth Bennet strives for love, independence and honesty in the vapid high society of 19th century England.
 
Cheap Reads – Military Non-Fiction
Prior to the Memorial Day holiday weekend publishers have reduced the price of military non-fiction titles. The four below are selling for $1.99 each today .
 

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Housekeeping: Lost Books, Booktrope Closing, Wonder Novella and Cheap Reads 2 comments

broom.panLost Books
Last week I told you about the update on my original 8.9” Kindle Fire that deregistered my device. I use this Fire every day to play 7 Little Words and Monkey Wrench (both free). Occasionally I will Amazon-Kindle-Fire-bookcaseread a children’s book or cookbook on the larger screen.
I had noticed that since the update new books were not appearing on the carousel. That happens every so often. I have always been able to go to the books tab and see recent purchases when on the cloud tab. The last update has caused something to go wrong because new books have not loaded for nearly two weeks.
Audiobooks continue to appear as does the daily Washington Post app refresh. I do not use the WP app, but Mr. Bezos keeps faithfully sending the update.
Has anyone else had a similar problem with your Kindle Fire? Any suggestions for kick-starting it?
 
Booktrope closing
Booktrope, a book-publishing software platform for authors, will close at the end of May. The company raised $1 million in investment in 2015 and provided authors easy access to editors, designers, marketers and support staff. The message posted on their website states that even with a collection of excellent books, sufficient revenues were not generated to make the business viable.
The good news is that those excellent books will still be available as Booktrope struck a deal with Amazon to reissue its titles via Amazon Publishing.
Many Booktrope authors have reduced the price on their books until the end of the month. Follow this link to Booktrope books priced from 99 cents to $2.99 each. I have included only books with 4-star or higher reviews in the link. However, I am unable to filter out offensive categories.
 
Shingaling – A Wonder Story
If you are an adult who fell in love with R. J. Palacio’s young adult novel Wonder ($9.99) and have read the follow-up stories, you will want to purchase Shingaling (99 cents Audiobook $2.99), a novella. The selection is a quick read and a great addition to the series.
Description: The third Wonder Story is about life as a fifth grader at Beecher Prep through the eyes of Charlotte, the girl who had been chosen to be Auggie’s “welcome” buddy.
Readers will not only learn more about Charlotte and her budding friendship with Summer (they solve a mystery together), but how the girls at Beecher Prep react to Auggie attending their school for the first time, and how Charlotte came to write the precept she used at the end of Wonder, “It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.”

 
Cheap Shorts for the Summer
Amazon publishes short stories written by popular authors under their Kindle Single imprint. Purchase these Vintage Short reads for only 99 cents each:

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Housekeeping: A reader’s story; My amazing de-registering Fire; Thank you and Cheap Reads 0 comments

broom.panKindle Reader to the Rescue
Pam sent a note to us a couple of weeks ago:

I’m old and handicapped so I enjoy audiobooks for many reasons. Last night I was about 5 chapters from the end of a very intense mystery when my audio stopped reading my book to me. I was so disappointed and frustrated.
Then this morning I remembered my older kindle and found that it had synchronized with my Fire so I was able to read the remaining chapters and put a period to the end of the book. Life is back to normal once again. Oh happy day!

 
Pam’s story just made us smile. Serious readers understand her feelings when she was unable to resolve the mystery of the book. Love that Pam’s life is back to normal once again. By the way: Pam’s Fire is working fine. We concluded there was a glitch during the download process that caused the book to stop abruptly.
 
My self-de-registering Fire
The month of April was a very busy time for us. In addition to our father’s rapidly failing health, a sister-in-law had several major surgeries and we helped the family with four children make all their school, sports and church activities; visit their mother in a hospital 50 miles from home and prepare for a move to a new house.
Kindle 89Paula’s husband Tiger had a small medical issue and spent four days in the hospital. He’s just fine now, but we didn’t get much sleep for several weeks.
While at the hospital I (Paula) pulled my original large (8.9″) Fire tablet out of my Kindle bag one evening and was surprised to find that it had de-registered. I had been using the hospital’s open wi-fi and didn’t really think much about it. I re-registered the device and all my content became available. I’m remembering that this happened on April 22.
On April 29, I received an e-mail from Amazon that included this:

We’re writing to let you know about an issue you may have encountered on your Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. If you’re having trouble finding your books, videos, or other content on your device, your device may have been deregistered from your Amazon account during a recent software update. [snip]
If you haven’t already, you should re-register your device to your Amazon account to access and download your content.

 
OOPS! That software update didn’t go smoothly. I was relieved that being on an open wi-fi network didn’t cause the issue. Why it took took Amazon a week to get the word out is a bit perplexing.
The good news is that Amazon gave me a $5 credit as an apology.
 
A Heartfelt Thank You
Many of you left words of sympathy, voiced prayers and wrapped us in your cyber arms this past week after we shared in our Housekeeping post telling of our father’s passing. Each note touched us deeply and helped us as we adjust to life without Dad’s presence.
 
Cheap Reads
Romances are selling cheap this week. Buy the three contemporary and three historical romances below for only 99 cents each.

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Housekeeping II – The Echo, the Tap and the Dot 7 comments

broom.panDonnaC sent a note asking us to share our impressions of the Amazon’s Echo ($179.99) after having the device for a few months. Echo is the hands-free speaker you control with your voice and is a grown-up version of Siri or Okay Google on Apple and Android phones. In addition to accessing the internet, Echo also connects to your Amazon music and audiobooks.
DonnaC asked this question:

Has Alexa (voice of the Echo) become a part of your household, or is she that visiting relative who won’t leave?

 
The answer is: It just depends. My husband and I often ask Alexa for the temperature and the weather forecast. We ask for sports scores and team schedules. We listened to local basketball games by asking Alexa to play the call letters of the station. We could listen to any radio station that is partnered with IHeartRadio. I ask her to spell words and she has helped us resolve a few crossword conundrums. When it comes to joke telling (which are really riddles) 50% are actually funny.
Alexa has the ability to search the internet to find answers to questions. The finesse in asking the question increases the probability of a reply. I have not spent enough time with her to have developed the art of asking the question correctly. I’ve read a few books about Alexa, however, the writers just slapped some basic facts on the page and didn’t give meaningful advice.
 
Alexa is used most at our house for music. With the huge Prime music library and play-lists, the selections are near limitless. Sitting on the loveseat and giving the voice commands to play, skip, pause, and increase or decrease volume is sweet. Christmas music filled our house during the holidays.
Over the last few weeks while we have contemplated our father’s life and his declining health, instrumental hymns played throughout our home were soothing to our tired souls.
One disadvantage is that the Echo must be connected to a power source. Alexa sits in the den where we spend the most time. Our house is large, but she responds to our voice from the rooms adjacent.
I have sent feedback to Amazon regarding the audiobook feature. I listen at 3x the speed of the narrator. I have not yet found a way to increase the reading speed.
I believe the Echo is worth the price even though we don’t use the full capabilities such as controlling our house lights or keeping our shopping list. Amazon is constantly working to improve the Echo and adds new features regularly. Each week I receive an email of new content, apps and uses. Another bonus with Echo is that the product continues to improve and expand, but I do not pay an additional monthly fee.
Voice-activated technology is the wave of the future and practicing with the Echo is putting me ahead of the average person.
 
My Alexa Tap ($129.99) arrived several weeks ago. This portable Alexa can be taken anywhere and needs only a wi-fi or hotspot connection. The big negative is that I must push a button and then speak to activate it. After the hands-free Echo, pushing a button seems old-school and awkward, even if it saves the battery life.
My husband had a recent 4-day stay in the hospital and I packed the Tap along. I connected to the open wi-fi using an app on my Fire. The instrumental music I chose from Prime provide white noise to mask the hospital sounds to allow him to rest. I worked from the small table shown in the picture. See the Tap?
Tap CropYounger users who gather in outdoor venues might enjoy the portability more. Simply set up a hot spot on a phone, connect the Tap via the app and then add a wireless speaker. Instant party music.
The Dot, which can only be purchased via voice shopping from the Echo, is a slimmed down version of the original. The little thing is only about 2” inches high. I have one in our kitchen where the Echo voice commands don’t reach. The Dot does all the things the Echo does and is voice activated. The speaker quality is less because of the small size.
Amazon made a limited supply and says that when the supply is gone, that’s it. I will admit that the Dot was a frivolous purchase but once I was in, why not go whole-hog? The Dot is in an upstairs bedroom to play music and listen to news and weather.
To answer DonnaC’s original question: Alexa is a part of our every-other or every-three day life. That’s our fault, not Alexa’s. We haven’t spent the time learning all that she can do. She’s welcome in our home anytime because we just don’t know when we might need her.

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