Cost: Free (with in-app purchase options)
Imagine yourself in a dark hallway. You don’t know the shape of the room, or which way you need to go. The only way to navigate is by playing Scrabble with round tiles that light the way. As you place each word, more of the space becomes visible. Welcome to QatQi.
Named for two words that use Q without U, qat an evergreen plant whose leaves are chewed as a stimulant and qi, life energy in Chinese philosphy, QatQi provides a puzzle for every day, ranging from easy to excruciating. You might have one small room and 11 letters, or several rooms and over a hundred letters. All the while, you try to structure your words to branch from each other in ways that will let you build into each new room, and place letters on spaces containing coins to collect extra points. Like many word games, longer words are worth more points, and being mindful of word spacing will give you opportunities to get rid of your letters by building off of words you have already played. (more…)
Title: Plants vs. Zombies 2
Cost: Free, with in-app purchase options
Platform: iOS (so far)
The original Plants vs. Zombies was one of my first app reviews for this blog. Over the past couple of years the game has gained popularity; it has plush toys, cosplayers, and tons of accolades. The strength of this franchise is in its world building. All of the details of design, music, and comical backstory, come together to create a consistent look and feel. In the world of this game, an army of plants is obviously the best way to defend your home from zombies. A sequel was only a matter of time.
Time, as it turns out, is the theme of the sequel, the full title of which reads: Plants vs. Zombies 2 “It’s about time.” Crazy Dave, your neighbor and zombie fighting mentor, has found himself a time machine and gotten you lost in time and space in pursuit of the experience of eating a recently consumed taco again. You find yourself traveling through Ancient Egypt, Pirate Seas, and the Wild West, each decorated in typical Plants vs. Zombies style and populated by thematically appropriate zombies with thematically appropriate powers of destruction. But not to worry, you have plants: some old some new, and all with exciting power-ups.
Platform: iPad only, iOS 6.0 or later
Cost: Free download/ optional paid upgrades
How many flamingos are as tall as a dinosaur? How many 2×4 Lego bricks are as long as a yoga mat? These amusing questions are sure to pique teen interest and engage some math skills. With Questimate! you make the questions. Choose from such options as: “how long…” or “how tall…,” paired with animals or household objects, or test your historical estimation skills by creating questions with “in what year…” You can play solo, or challenge a friend. If you are baffled by an answer, you can tap the “Really?” button for details.
Title: Cainsville Files
Cost: 3.99 (introductory price)
What do you get when you cross a graphic novel with a choose-your-own-adventure book and play the whole thing as video game? You get an interactive story app. Add a best-selling author, a World Fantasy and Hugo nominated artist, and a soundtrack that recalls Twin Peaks and you get Cainsville Files.
The app’s story was written by Kelley Armstrong, author of the Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series, as well as co-author with Melissa Marr, of middle grade series The Blackwell Pages, and several novels for adults. Armstrong also designed the gameplay, working with creative design company Inkle. The story focuses on young private eye, Jenn McCoy, who is searching for her missing high-school sweetheart, a possible victim of the Valentine Killer. Her search brings her to the mysterious town of Cainsville. As a player, you navigate through the choices of Jenn’s investigation, brining her closer to answers, a possible romance, and ultimately justice. Navigate correctly, and you’ll solve the case, make a wrong move, and you might bring about the protagonist’s demise. Illustrations by Julie Dillon give the app a cohesive visual theme, while speech bubbles and text boxes make the reading experience feel like a graphic novel. (more…)
Title: Color Zen
Platform: iOS and Android
Color Zen occupies a special place in my gaming heart right near games like Flow (which I reviewed for the YALSAblog App of the Week here), Boomshine (which you can download for iOS or play online here) and my favorite game that is for some reason not available as an app, Alchemy (from the people who brought us Plants vs. Zombies). These games are colorful, easy to learn, and relaxing on the early levels. By the later levels, they cause your brain to wrench, twist, and try to flip itself over as you attempt to develop increasingly sophisticated strategies to solve increasingly difficult puzzles. (more…)
Platform: iOS, Android, Web
This week’s app comes to you from Kayla, a teen who works as a page at my library. The other day she came to tell me about the easy way she was doing biology homework on her phone. Since she was using the app, and if I downloaded it I would not have a class to practice with, I asked Kayla to tell us about how it works:
“Your teacher can upload multiple choice questions for you to answer for homework. They can limit how many times you can answer them, so it can give you a challenge by only having you do it once, or you can re-do it a few times and fix your mistakes. It’s a good learning site, because it’s hands on. It’s a good way to review for big tests because the multiple choice questions reflect what you’ve done in class. Teachers and students can post notes on it, and can comments on each other’s notes. You can look at the schedule for future assignments. You can put photos, vidoes, and files from drop box to share with the class. Students might upload their notes.”
cc licensed photo by David Spender via Flickr
Youth Librarians are wearers of many hats. For a lot of us, I think that is part of the appeal. It certainly is for me. I hate being bored. I recently had a long crazy day. This is not unusual, you’ve probably had one recently, too. But what struck me at the end of this day was the variety of things I did – the hats I wore, if you will. It reminded me of various blogs and initiatives I’ve seen around the Internet detailing our days in order to show a wider audience what it is that youth librarians do.
I’m saying Youth Librarian as opposed to Teen Librarian because I was promoted earlier this year to Youth Services Coordinator, supervising the whole youth department- services to children and teens- at my library. It has increased the levels of metaphorical, and occasionally literal hat wearing in my work life. I have also found, as you’ll see later in this post, it has provided some different opportunities to get teens involved.
I’m going to tell you about my day, and perhaps it will inspire you, YALSA bloggers, to share your own long crazy day. (more…)
Platform: iOS and Android
This game is really pretty. It’s also really hard. NightSky begins with the premise of a mysterious glowing orb found on a beach. The nameless narrator’s text tells us that upon bringing it home he or she began to have strange dreams. This, combined with a soundtrack that is quirky bordering on eerie, sets the tone for a strange dream of a game.
Do you re-read? I love to re-read. I do it all the time.
Some books are comfortable, familiar and relaxing (Harry Potter, Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere). Sometimes a particular character feels like a friend I want to spend more time with (Q from Paper Towns) or the world of a book is a place I wish I could go (Cabeswater in The Raven Boys). Lately, I end up reading books by favorite authors or new books in a series too fast to savor them properly on the first go (The Fault in Our Stars, Clockwork Princess), so I like to go back and spend a more leisurely time with them later to notice details and moon over sentences. I also spend a lot of time commuting by car and have decided the best books to listen to while driving are books where I already know what happens. That way I’m not distracted from driving by a suspenseful twist of plot. And it’s fun to hear someone else read a book, especially when they sound like the characters (The Scorpio Races was great for this). I am currently in the midst of a Shadowhunter audiobook marathon, in part because I am excited about the City of Bones movie, and in part to refresh my memory before the final book in the Mortal Instruments, even though it doesn’t come out until next year.
Title: Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters
Platform: iOS and Android
Happy Teen Tech Week! This week’s app is a great example of technology and books coming together.
Cassandra Clare writes books about a race of demon hunters called Shadowhunters. She currently has two series with equally compelling ensemble casts: The Mortal Instruments which takes place in a contemporary urban fantasy setting, and The Infernal Devices which is set in a slightly steampunky nineteenth century. I’m getting pretty excited about her upcoming releases. Clockwork Princess, the third and final installment of The Infernal Devices trilogy is coming to a library or bookstore near you this Tuesday, March 19. The City of Bones movie opens in theaters this summer, on August 23. And City of Heavenly Fire, the sixth and final book in The Mortal Instruments is due to be released next year. Clare will continue to write about Shadowhunters in forthcoming series The Dark Artifices.