National Puzzle Day
Today is National Puzzle Day! One of many unofficial holidays, it is always celebrated on January 29th. Crossword puzzles are the most common however, Sudoku is the most recent puzzle rage.
The good news is that there are puzzles that fit into the needs of every person and every skill level, for the young and the not so young.
Recent studies show that solving puzzles and practicing a second language every day can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, improve cognitive function, and ward off memory loss.
Below are free puzzle apps for the Kindle Fire and Android devices that have high reader reviews. Some are rather simple, but are designed for fun. Some of the graphics are not descriptive of the app, click on each one to learn more
Puzzles for E-Readers
Haven’t purchased a Kindle Fire yet? Here are a few puzzle books and puzzles that can be purchased and downloaded to e-readers. The webpage will tell you what devices are available to accept the download.
KenKen Vol. 2 : 20 All-Level Puzzles (99 cents) KenKen is a numeric logic puzzle that makes you smarter. Presented by New York Times puzzle editor and NPR puzzlemaster, Will Shortz, KenKen is the successful follow-up to Sudoku. Available for early e-readers only: Kindle 2, DX, Touch and others.
Sudoku Works (99 cents) Sudoku Works can create puzzles in four grid sizes (4×4, 6×6, 8×8 and 9×9) with five difficulty levels, so it can make puzzles for everyone from beginner to expert. And with over 50 million possible puzzles, it’s unlikely you’ll ever run out of puzzles to play. Available for PaperWhite and early e-readers only such as: Kindle 2, DX, Touch and others.
Word Search (99 cents) Locate and mark off words in the grid using the 5 way controller or the touch screen. Available for PaperWhite and early e-readers only such as: Kindle 2, DX, Touch and others.
More puzzle fun!
These books can be downloaded to any Kindle device for hours of entertainment:
100 Puzzle Quizzes (99 cents) In this puzzle collection you will find 100 pictorial, hand-crafted puzzle quizzes in different themes: logic, visual, spatial, counting, geometry, matchstick, coins, searching, and much more.
Brain Teasers For Dummies®, Mini Edition (99 cents) Flex your memory muscle with a variety of puzzles in varying degrees of difficulty.
Cheap Reads – Conundrums in fiction
What better puzzle to solve than a good mystery! These cozy mysteries are only 99 cents each today.
Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction (99 cents) When Tess Tremaine starts a new life in the colorful town of Goose Pimple Junction, curiosity leads her to look into a seventy-five-year-old murder. Suddenly she’s learning the foreign language of southern speak, resisting her attraction to local celebrity Jackson Wright, and dealing with more mayhem than she can handle.
Murder on the Hill (99 cents) Look out London, there’s a new investigator in town! Harley Hill is a twenty-five year old woman in need of a new identity. Until now she’s been know as many things: Baker, Crazy Cat Lady, Thief, Bandit, The girl dressed like a ninja…
The Wedding Caper (99 cents) Join Annie Peterson, mother of the bride, as she solve crimes on her way to the wedding. A $25,000 night deposit mysteriously disappears from the Clark County Savings and Loan, and Annie Peterson takes on the role of amateur sleuth to solve the mystery. Inspirational fiction.
Looking for more puzzles?
If you are looking for more ways to exercise your brain, follow this link for many more puzzles offered by Amazon. Jigsaw puzzles, brain teasers, 3-D puzzles and many more.
If you prefer print books for your puzzles, check out all that Amazon offers.
Just do a puzzle or two today!
Paula’s Top Four Reads in 2014
I enjoyed many more books than the four featured here and will post additional top four lists in the weeks ahead. The books in this post were purchased when prices were below $5 each.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand ($4.99). Every American should read this thoroughly researched, very well-written biography of Louis Zamperini – a young soldier who survived more than 40 days at sea only to be captured by the Japanese as a prisoner of war and forced to endure extraordinarily harsh treatment.
Unbroken is an absolutely stunning story of a true American hero, complete with his imperfections and weaknesses. The narrative is smooth and engaging.
Even if the movie is the best you have ever seen, I do not believe it can be as moving as the book.
The Book Thief by Markas Zusak ($7.99). Billed as a young adult novel, this popular WWII story has many more layers than most teen readers will appreciate. The honest portrayal of war-torn Germany and the innocent families torn apart by the war is vivid and touching. The young protagonist amplifies the heartbreak.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson ($8.89). I laughed and laughed and laughed more. Aaron Karlsson’s life story is far-fetched, but a fun read none-the-less. Think of this novel as Monty Python’s History of the Twentieth Century starring an ordinary Swede.
Compromising Positions ($3.99) Yes, it’s a romance, but perhaps not what you are thinking. Mary Whitney’s novel in two voices stars freshmen members of the United States House of Representatives. The guy is a conservative elected to Congress on his Republican family history; the gal is a spitfire Democrat. This well-written novel has tension, humor and a hard-fought happily-ever-after.
Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In by Louis Zamperini and David Rensin
If you have read Unbroken or seen the movie, you will want to read this biography of Louis Zamperini, too.
Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In ($3.99) Champion. Survivor. Hero. Legend.
Completed just two days before Louis Zamperini’s death at age 97, Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In shares a lifetime of wisdom, insight, and humor from one of America’s most inspiring lives. Zamperini’s story has touched millions through Laura Hillenbrand’s biography Unbroken, a major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie. Now, in his own words, Louis Zamperini reveals, with warmth and great charm, the essential values and lessons that sustained him throughout his remarkable journey.
Cowritten with longtime collaborator David Rensin, Louis Zamperini’s Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In is an extraordinary last testament that captures the wisdom of a life lived to the fullest.
Reaching my reading goal
Last year (2014) was a banner reading year for me (Paula). In January I set the bar at 150 books. On December 31, the numbers were tallied:
• 153 Books – each with more than 200 pages
• 90 Novellas – 80 – 200 pages each
• 77 Short stories – less than 80 pages
How I met the goal:
• Just stop it! If a book wasn’t holding my attention, entertaining or well-written, I stopped reading. I now refuse to slog through a book just to finish it.
• Audiobooks! Nearly half of the books I read were the audiobook version. Using the Fire and setting the speed on 3X means that a 12-hour book is completed in 6 hours. I took the device with me everywhere – a trip to the store meant 40 minutes completed in a book.
• Sleep! Who needs it? When I cannot sleep, I read. When a book is that good, I cannot sleep.
Next week we will post our top reads of 2014.
Use It or Lose It
Remember that credit you received from the settlement with major publishers for anti-trust violations? It is a faint memory for me as I quickly spent mine on wish-list selections.
However, if you haven’t cashed in all of your credit, you must redeem it by March 31 or it is gone. No idea where it goes, but please don’t let it slip away.
These two Agatha Christie mysteries were priced at $1.99 each at the time of the post. However, the prices are moving upward quickly. Hope you get them at this great price.
Personally, reading is usually more of a pleasure than a challenge, but it seems there are some people who only enjoy something if they can make it work. And some of these people have created a reading challenge for 2015.
This list challenges readers to tackle 50 different types of books this year.
Some of the challenges are a little strange – such as “a book with antonyms in the title.” Other suggestions are a fun way to add a little variety to your reading diet – a book written by someone under 30, a book of short stories.
Here are some other challenges and some cheap reads to help you meet them:
Book originally written in a foreign language: Don Quixote - $1.99
A book more than 100 years old – Sense and Sensibility – 99 cents
A popular author’s first book – John Grisham’s A Time to Kill – $2.99
Speaking of meeting a challenge, I (Susan) achieved my Goodreads goal for 2014 by finishing 65 books. Technicallly, I was an overachiever because I read 66. I also counted a collection of three novellas as three separate books. Is that legal? I’m never quite sure how to do that.
One of the books I really enjoyed while in the crunch was My Heart Remembers, selling now for $3.99.
Description: Orphaned in a tenement fire, three Irish-immigrant children are sent to Missouri to be adopted. Despite eight-year-old Maelle’s desperate attempts to keep her siblings together, each child is taken by a different family. Yet Maelle vows that she will never stop searching for her brother and sister…and that they will be together one day in the future.
Seventeen years later, Maelle is still searching. But the years have washed away her hope… and her memories. What are Mattie and Molly doing now? Where has life taken them? Will she ever see her brother and sister again? Inspirational fiction.
Cheap Reads – Contemporary women’s fiction for only 99 cents each
NOTE: HarperCollins lowered prices yesterday and raised most back overnight. These prices may not hold for long.
Bed Rest (99 cents) The story of a busy career woman who finds her pregnancy a breeze — until she’s ordered off her feet for complete and total bed rest.
This Is How It Happened (99 cents) He lied, he cheated. He destroyed her life. How difficult could killing him be?
Alphabet Weekends (99 cents) Natalie and Tom have been best friends forever, but Tom wants them to be much more.
The Case of the Missing Paperwhite
I first became aware of the Paperwhite’s disappearance at 8:57 p.m. last Wednesday night. I was preparing to make progress on my Goodreads goal to finish 65 books this year. The past few days had been slow going. Out-of-town company had visited on Monday. The weekend immediately preceding, I had put up the Christmas tree, rearranging some furniture in the process, and put up other decorations.
In this time period, I read a paperback I’d been wanting to tackle for some time, so the Paperwhite had not been used for the time period extending approximately from Saturday morning to Wednesday evening.
I traced the Paperwhite back to the location where it had last been positively identified. However, that location had since been occupied by the aforementioned guest, so there was no evidence. Further investigation revealed that every possible room the Paperwhite may have been in had been disturbed in a rare frenzy of housekeeping associated only with visiting guests and the annual Christmas decorating.
The Paperwhite had picked the perfect weekend to vanish.
A canine in the vicinity was held for questioning. It was obvious he knew something, but it was impossible to get any useful information out of him.
For further assitance, I turned to the Daily Cheap Reads Facebook page and enlisted the advice of seasoned readers. A consistent theme emerged – Kindle’s gravitate toward couch cushions and bed frames.
Thursday evening, the manhunt resumed with intensity. The couch, recliner and nightstand were searched. I’d already poked around the bed, but some clue suggested it was worth reopening. Crouching down, I lifted the comforter and there facedown, nearly half way under the bed was a flat black piece of plastic. A flashlight reflected off the letters “Amazon.” A positive identification was quickly made.
Reconstructing the crime scene, it was determined the Paperwhite fell off the nightstand, then was kicked under the bed.
The Paperwhite was charged. And as soon as the battery was back to full power, regular reading resumed.
Have you ever lost your Kindle e-reader or tablet? Ever find your Kindle in an unexpected place? Tell us about your experience.
Holiday Ordering Deadlines
For delivery by Christmas, visit amazon.com/amazonholidayshipping for details. The following ordering deadlines apply:
Cozy Christmas Capers: Holiday Short Story Collection ($1.99) Nineteen holiday short stories by nineteen New York Times, USA Today and award winning authors! Enjoy these tales of mystery, romance, and laughter amid the backdrop of pine tress, gingerbread men, and Santas galore!
The perfect short bites for cozying up by the fire with a cup of cocoa…or waiting in line at gift wrapping!
**Holiday Recipes Included!**
Building a Holiday Reading List
Yesterday we posted the then-free book Remembering Christmas, now $3.99. Carol commented that she was currently reading the novel which is set during the 1980s. She laughed at the main characters outrage that gas was over a $1.00 per gallon.
I replied back that I had enjoyed The Unfinished Gift ($3.99) written by the same author, Dan Walsh.
Carol asked if I had other recommendations, even ones including the “big man in red” were welcome. Here’s my list of Christmas reads recently enjoyed:
Christmas with Tucker by Greg Kincaid – $9.99
A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid- $7.99
The Christmas Pony by Melody Carlson – $1.99 (short read)
The Perfect Gift by Dani-Lyn Alexander – 99 cents (short story)
A Gift from Tiffany’s by Melissa Hill – $8.89
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci – $4.04
What books are your holiday favorites? Price isn’t an issue for building this reading list. All genre are welcome – mystery, romance, fiction, fantasy, whatever you have enjoyed. Leave a comment and tell us!
Holiday Reads – Gone before you know it
Publishers are reducing prices on holiday reads faster than a 9-year-old adds to her Christmas wish list. Many of our posts in the coming days will feature great seasonal reads at great prices. We also want to be sensitive to site visitors who are searching for books that aren’t knee deep in tinsel and sugarplums. The goal is to keep our posts balanced. Some days it’s hard work!
Stick with us because the holiday flurry will end in a few weeks. There will be a short respite before the romances flood the site in the weeks before Valentine’s Day. Sigh….
Cheap Holiday Reads
No doubt you are sensing a theme in this week’s Housekeeping. If you are looking for a cheap holiday read, the books below are only 99 cents each – SuperCheap!
The Christmas Violin (99 cents) A widower, a grieving mother and a homeless woman have one thing in common – a cemetery.
Willow, a concert violinist, begins each morning by playing her son the lullaby she wrote for him at his tomb. The melody enchants Peter during his daily visit to his wife’s grave. The homeless woman, who finds refuge in the cemetery, is equally drawn to the haunting music.
Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe (99 cents) Issy Randall, proud owner of The Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn’t be happier. But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance. And when the Christmas rush at the cafe begins to take its toll, Issy has to decide what she holds most dear.
When Elves Attack (99 cents) It’s ho, ho, ho time in this hilarious and wacky Florida holiday tale, featuring bighearted psychopath Serge Storms and his sidekick, Coleman. Like Santa, Serge knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Few can give with the generosity and creativity of Serge, and as December 24 rolls around, he is filling up the Serge sleigh with an unforgettable bag of presents.
Reading and Meeting My Goal
I (Susan) entered October ahead of schedule. According to Goodreads, I was more than on track to meet my 2014 goal to read 65 books this year. But by the end of October, I had slipped to a precarious position. The root cause can be traced to two factors: I hooked up cable TV after a 10-year hiatus. And the Kansas City Royals made a thrilling post-season all the way to Game 7 of the World Series.
Last week, I realized I had six weeks to read 12 books. Doable, but not easy. I charted out a plan to finish two books a week for the rest of the year. This means my Township may be neglected. This is where reading on the Kindle has a disadvantage. It’s not so easy to look at the shelf and pick out the skinniest books to tackle. A little more research is required to plow through to the goal. I’m stacking up a few sweet Christmas stories and adding some by favorite authors.
Any other tips to get through to the goal? How is your progress going with your reading goal?
Prime Christmas Music
It’s beginning to SOUND a lot like Christmas thanks to a new feature introduced in Amazon Music. Amazon invites site visitors to “listen while you shop.” Click the music note icon at the top of the page to hear the selected playlist. It’s even more fun if you’re a Prime members, which offers free access to playlists loaded with Christmas music.
Lots to like about these playlists: You can put them in your Amazon Music Player to listen on just any device. I’ve already had them on my Kindle Fire and the television. Mix and match options allow you to throw out particular songs you don’t like (Nutcracker Suite, anyone?). Plus, you can upload music from your computer to get true Christmas harmony. Amazon has put together a wonderful blend of classics and contemporary hits. Playlists like “Holiday Movie Favorites,” “Christmas Morning” and “Christmas Road Rage” (don’t worry, it’s a soothing blend of instrumentals) add some great tunes.
Black Friday Deals
Amazon and publishers have dropped hints that Black Friday Deals will be forthcoming. We’ll be here checking for the best deals and posting them on Daily Cheap Reads. Check the site throughout the day to see the updates we post.
These three cheap shorter reads (only 99 cents each) are a great way to start your holiday reading.
Bruno and the Carol Singers (99 cents) St. Denis is experiencing its coldest winter in years and Bruno is occupied with his Christmastime duties. From organizing carolers to playing Father Christmas for the local schoolchildren, Bruno has his hands full . . . at least until some funds raised for charity go missing.
Can’t Wait (99 cents) Though she is the woman of his dreams, Caleb Bowden knows his best friend’s sister, Summer Turner, is off-limits. Summer shares a connection with Caleb she’s never felt with anyone else. Summer will have to take matters into her own hands if she wants her cowboy for Christmas.
Merry Christmas from . . . (99 cents) Karen Robert has spent the last several years tracking down the wonderful and wacky Christmas cards represented in this book—the best out of tens of thousands she has reviewed.
Exciting Kindle Updates
Last week Amazon announced a software update for some Kindle e-readers that includes exclusive features such as Word Wise and Family Library.
• Word Wise–For readers learning English and children learning to read, Word Wise makes it easier to understand more challenging books more quickly. Short and simple definitions automatically appear above difficult words, so you can keep reading without having to stop and look up a word. To see the various meanings the same word can have in different contexts, just tap on the word to quickly bring up a card with definitions, synonyms, and more. You can adjust the number of definitions you see with a slider, dialing them up or down as you learn and grow your vocabulary. Word Wise is already available on thousands of titles, including these young adult novels: The Hunger Games and Wonder. See a screenshot here.
The snippet on the left shows where you can look for books with the Word Wise feature. See the designation on the last line of the graphic?
• Family Library–For the first time, you can access not only your own Kindle books, but also books from the Amazon account of a spouse or partner. See a screenshot here.
• Expanded X-Ray for Books–X-Ray now makes it easier to explore as you read–quickly flip through all the images in a book, and use the new timeline view to easily browse the most notable passages. See a screenshot here.
• Deeper Goodreads Integration–Goodreads on Kindle now allows you to easily share your reading progress updates, add books from your Kindle library to your Goodreads shelves, and see your friends’ updates, ratings and reviews when looking at a book on Goodreads. See a screenshot here.
• Enhanced Search–Makes it even easier to find what you are looking for by combining and previewing results from your Library, Goodreads and the Kindle Store on the same page. See a screenshot here.
• About This Book–See information about the book as you start to read, including its place in a series and author information, plus mark it as “Currently Reading” on Goodreads. See a screenshot here.
The free, over-the-air software update will be delivered automatically in the coming weeks to the newly announced $79 Kindle and Kindle Voyage, as well as the most recent version of Kindle Paperwhite. If you want the update now, visit this page to download the it.
Black Friday Countdown Deals begin tomorrow
Black Friday deals will start even earlier this year at Amazon, beginning on Friday, November 21, and adding new deals as often as every ten minutes for eight straight days. Plus, Amazon will introduce three coveted Deals of the Day starting on Thanksgiving at midnight, as well as three more on BlackFriday – this is in addition to thousands of limited-time Lightning Deals. You can catch all the deals at Black Friday. You might want to bookmark the webpage.
The Big Deal Sale ends Sunday, November 23. More than 400 books are included in the sale. Three popular books are:
Silk Road ($1.99) The Holy Land, 1260. Josseran Sarrazini is chosen to escort the Pope’s emissary on an embassy to the all conquering Mongol horde in an effort to save all Christendom form destruction. But although he serves as a Templar warrior, Josseran is not all that he appears to be – and he despises the Pope’s man on sight.
Critical Dawn ($1.99) Critical Dawn is an apocalyptic ride to the very edge of human existence. Factions will battle for control of the Earth—if they can avoid the threat of extinction.
See Her Die ($1.99) Elizabeth Young is FBI agent Collin MacBride’s prime suspect in the murder of a prominent Manhattan psychiatrist—the one and only lead in an ongoing investigation. But when female patients of the late doctor start being murdered one by one, Elizabeth understands that she is on that same murder list and MacBride is the only man who can save her…
Amazon’s Best Books of 2014
Amazon.com recently announced its selections for the Best Books of 2014.
Each year Amazon’s editors choose the Top 100 Books of the Year and Top 20 lists in more than two dozen categories. To see all the Best Books of 2014 visit here.
Here’s a look at the Top 10 editors’ picks for the year (all books are priced $5.99 or more):
1. Everything I Never Told You ($10.99) by Celeste Ng: Quiet and beautiful, this novel about an unknowable teenage girl in a mixed-race family in the 1970s Midwest will make you cry.
2. All the Light We Cannot See ($6.99) by Anthony Doerr: A beautiful, atmospheric story about two young people, one French, one German, growing up on the eve of World War II.
3. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette ($10.99) by Hampton Sides: The ultimate adventure story, but with a touch of romance and intrigue. A historical The Perfect Storm.
4. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League ($10.99) by Jeff Hobbs: At once extremely personal and culturally wise, this reported memoir will change the way you think about race, class and the meaning of friendship.
5. Redeployment ($10.99) by Phil Klay: Strong, brilliant stories about survival of something almost as dangerous as war itself–its aftermath.
6. Revival ($12.74) by Stephen King: The best kind of King book: a little horror, but mostly pitch-perfect details about youth and faith and family.
7. Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art ($9.99) by Carl Hoffman: The Rockefeller clan might not have wanted to believe it, but author Hoffman is convincing about what led to the scion’s death. It’s not pretty…but it IS fascinating.
8. The Book of Unknown Americans ($10.99) by Cristina Henríquez: Told in the many voices of the Latin American tenants of one apartment complex in Delaware, this novel illuminates several different kinds of immigrant experience.
9. Big Little Lies ($10.99) by Liane Moriarty: Moriarty dazzles with another novel about “ordinary” Australian families and the secrets they keep.
10. Station Eleven ($5.99) by Emily St. John Mandel: Set in the not-so-distant future, this apocalyptic novel is surprisingly hopeful in its depiction of a culture that both mocks and mourns its disappeared past.
Big Deal Sale Most Popular
Another Big Deal Sale is underway and runs through November 23. The three books below are the most popular books in the sale as of Wednesday evening. Pay $1.99 each for these sci-fi novels.
Amazon and Simon & Schuster reach agreement
Last month Amazon and Simon & Schuster reached an agreement on print and digital book pricing that S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy called “a return to a version of agency pricing.”
Reidy sent a letter to authors and agents that said the deal gives S&S control over the price of its books “with some limited exceptions.” She also stated that S&S has the “flexibility to deliver great prices for readers.”
This means is that Amazon cannot discount books without permission from S&S. The agreement should not be a return to high-priced books as Amazon stated that the agreement provides financial incentives for S&S to “deliver lower prices for readers.”
Let’s hope that S&S does price popular authors and books at reasonable prices and offers great deals for readers to try an author or a series. A deep discount on a book with five total reviews, three of which are 3 stars or below is not what readers want.
In an earnings announcement this week, S&S’s total sales are down 11% in the third quarter (July – September 2014) compared to the same period in 2013. Digital sales were flat. This news might motivate S&S to move prices downward.
S&S imprints include: S&S, Atria, Free Press, Scribner, Gallery, Pocket, Touchstone, Howard and nine imprints for children.
The three novels below are all from S&S imprints and are selling for $1.99 each.
Small Dog, Big Life: Memoirs of a Furry Genius ($1.99) Genevieve, a brilliant seven-pound papillon who dares to break the canine code of silence, invites you into the inner sanctum of dogdom in this hilarious exposé about what dogs really think of their people. In her bitingly funny memoir, Genevieve reveals canine secrets never before shared with humans while also passing on her devious tricks-of-the-trade to her legions of furry pupils.
Good Harbor ($1.99) Fifty-nine-year-old Kathleen Levine, a longtime resident of the seaside town of Gloucester, on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, is graceful, maternal, and steady, a devoted children’s librarian, a convert to Judaism, the mother of two grown sons. But when she is diagnosed with breast cancer, her life is thrown into turmoil.
The Master Quilter: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel ($1.99) The Master Quilter opens with the sound of wedding bells ringing in the ears of the Elm Creek Quilters. Their own Sylvia Compson planned her holiday wedding to sweetheart Andrew in complete secrecy. Eager to honor the newlyweds, the Elm Creek Quilters hasten to stitch a bridal quilt for their favorite Master Quilter. As the quilt blocks accumulate, the Elm Creek Quilters celebrate the joy of new beginnings and the ongoing success of their business — until forces conspire to threaten their happiness and prosperity.