Autodidact: self-taught


Plague Inc.

by V. L. Craven

Plague Inc

Have you ever wanted to destroy the world? Of course you have–it’s the holiday season. But who has the time, really? Well, with Plague Inc , you can do people in in a variety of ways without getting off of your sofa! Or whilst riding public transport! Or whilst hiding from your relatives during enforced get-to-gethers!

The goal is the kill the entire world (which has 7 billion people in it) by evolving transmission routes and improving symptoms, as well as evolving resistance to cures once the scientists are onto you.

You start off with bacteria being unlocked and can unlock the other types by beating the game on two levels– of which there are three:

Casual: No one washes their hands; Doctors don’t work; Sick people are given hugs,
Normal: 67.3% people wash their hands; doctors work three days a week; Sick people are ignored
Brutal: Compulsive handwashing; Doctors never go home; Sick people are locked in prison

Plague Types

Then you name your plague (my husband and I always go with Stupidity) then you choose where you want to kick off the fun by tapping on the world map. It’s always a good idea to start in a poor country because, let’s face it, rich countries cure their problems quickly.

There are a couple extra viruses–the Necroa Virus that turns the dead into zombies and the Neurax Worm that takes over the host. Those get their own graphics and are just a blast.

Necroa Virus

I don’t even care about zombies and this was great

There are also extra scenarios. Oh, the extra scenarios. One of which is Mirror World, which make currently hot countries cold and cold places hot, rich becomes poor, etc. Which meant I got to kick off my plague in the States for once.

Is anyone surprised?

You also get the Black Plague, which was interesting to re-release on the modern world. Other real world diseases are Swine Flu and Smallpox, neither of which I’ve played yet.

Other extra scenarios included a mini Ice Age and Global Warming, which effect world-wide temperatures, impacting your plague; Who Cares and Xenophobia make it where countries don’t give a toss about what’s going on in other countries, whereas Created Equal and Golden Age are the opposite–everyone has great healthcare and takes care of everyone else. There are also a couple that impact transmission routes–by sea and air, so you have to pay attention and plan accordingly.

You can play all of the viruses in all of the scenarios on all of the levels so it will be a very long time before you tire of the game.

Anyway, once you’ve made all of those decisions, you start trying to infect people by evolving your transmission rates using DNA points. You collect those by tapping on orange and red bubbles that pop up indicating infection rates.

Plague Inc Map

Plague Inc Transmission

You can also evolve your symptoms, though these will often mutate of their own accord, if you focus on transmission rates. Handy.

Plague Inc Symptoms

Finally, those damn do-gooder scientists will eventually start trying to find a cure and you’ll need to head them off my making your plague drug resistant or impervious to heat or cold or likely to mutate its own DNA.

Plague Inc Abilities

As you complete more levels, you unlock genes that you can apply to your beginning gene to give you an advantage, which is the only way I can imagine winning on a Brutal setting.

After a round ends, there are several graphs to view and see how things progressed. For example, once people contracted the Black Plague they pretty much died instantly. During gameplay it’s also interesting to see how air and water routes disperse difference types of plagues to different places.

Plague Inc is available from iTunes and Google Play for .99, which gets you Bacteria unlocked. The other main seven viruses shown above can be unlocked by beating two levels with bacteria. Other features can be unlocked for smaller amounts of money. But if you go for the $11 unlock, like I did, which gets you all of the plagues (including the Zombie and Neurax Worm), and the extra scenarios you get all future expansions for free.

One warning, this is one of those, ‘One more round… just one more… no really, one more…is that the sun coming up? How did that happen?’ games.

I would like to thank/curse Amelia Addams @batty_babe on Twitter for the recommendation. My productivity has dropped significantly since she’s recommended it. Cheers, darling!


Postmortem by Desura

by V. L. Craven


Thanks to the generosity of Paddy K , I had the opportunity to play Postmortem: Extended Scythe Cut , where you play an Agent of Death in and must reap one person attending a ritzy party in 1897 in a city torn by political strife. Your choice will impact various aspects of life in Galacia, so choose wisely. Explore your surroundings to learn about the various factions and engage in conversation to find out each character’s personal philosophy.

Or don’t. You’re Death, what do you care?

Postmortem Game Promo – Desura

One of my favourite parts is the post-reap conversation with the character you kill. The character asks why you chose them and other questions about the afterlife and, as Death, you choose how you’d like to answer. After reaping one particularly loathsome character I went with telling them they were going to hell, which was very satisfying.

Overall, the game was rather short, but it has replayability and with a choose-your-own-adventure feel to it it’s very much a game for readers.. The conversations can be quite involved and you can choose to agree or disagree or be indifferent to each character’s role in the goings-on of the city.

Currently only available for Windows, Postmortem is $9.99 USD on Desura or various prices on their website .


Arkham Horror

by V. L. Craven

[This week’s game review is from Michael Hibbard, author of the Waking Dream Series]

Arkham Horror – The Master of the Macabre Lives!

Video games have become a force to be reckoned with. Fewer and fewer board games are being created and this is a sad reality. Board games are generally not as involved as your average computer game. However, if you are looking for something to play with your friends around the table, like the good old pen-and-paper RPG days, look no further.


Arkham Horror is a very involved board game based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Chaosium Inc originally released the game in 1987 as a fusion between the classic board game mixed with role-playing elements. It was one of the first board games of its kind, and others have followed in its footsteps. The original Chaosium version of the game won “Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Board Game of 1987″ at the Origin Awards and was extremely popular through its final printing in the 1990s. Now, Fantasy Flights, Inc. has released the game with a complete revision to the original game play in 2005 and an additional revision in 2007.

Arkham Horror box

“The End is Near! The year is 1926. The place is Arkham, Massachusetts. Gateways to places horrible beyond imagination are opening up all over town, releasing hideous creatures into the streets to stalk the night. Worse yet, if enough of these gates open up, then a creature of unfathomable power will be unleashed on the world. Pitted against these overwhelming odds is a small band of investigators determined to beat back the uncaring forces of the universe. They’ll have to delve deep into the mysteries of the Mythos and use all of their skills, weapons, and spells if they want to have even a slim chance of success. The classic game of Lovecraftian adventure returns in a new edition after almost 20 years!” — From the publisher.

I am an avid fan of H.P. Lovecraft and have been reading him since I was nine. His works are deeply chilling, strange, horrifying and down-right weird. Arkham Horror captures all of the elements of his works in one glorious bundle. You can play alone or with up to eight people, I have been playing alone and find that the game is much more nerve-wracking with fewer players.

The game begins with a 30 minute set-up time, and requires a large space. Each of the players picks a random Investigator from the deck. Each investigator has different attributes and abilities unique to that Investigator. Weapons, spells, unique items and skills are also assigned according to the sheet the player has chosen.

Once the players have chosen their investigator, the Ancient One you will be battling, if you fail, is revealed. From Yig to Cthulhu, an Ancient One is stirring from its slumber, ready to strike the quaint New England town of Arkham, and consume the souls of your Investigator.

The board itself has many locations related to Arkham and the stories related to it. As an investigator, you take turns moving about the board from location to location. You have the opportunity to visit such famous locations as Arkham Asylum (Yes, where DC comics got the name), Mikatonic University, the home of the Unnamable and many more.

Arkham Horror

The game progresses in 5 distinct phases:

Upkeep Phase where you collect pay, make payments on bank loans, refresh your equipment and adjust your skills to meet imminent encounters.

Movement Phase is where you move your character along the streets of Arkham to locations. This is when the monsters also move, closing in on the investigators from the streets or the skies.

Arkham Encounters Phase is how you interact with the various locations on the board. Each location has a deck of cards that gives you a random encounter for your particular location.

Otherworld Encounters Phase is where you must draw a random encounter if you were unfortunate enough to fall into a portal, leading to the dark land of the Ancient Ones.

Finally, the Mythos Phase is where the currently acting player draws a card to expose where a portal opens, and a monster emerges.

The town of Arkham and its citizens are unstable. As more monsters emerge, a counter called the Terror Track advances, further adding to the chaos of the game. As the Terror Track progresses, much needed resources become unavailable, and inexorably send the town into a state of panic as more monsters roam the otherwise quiet Massachusetts streets.

As each portal opens, it further awakens the Ancient One. Once the Ancient One awakens, the investigators must do battle and defeat it, or they lose.

There are three ways to win. Close all the open gates, which is limited by the number of players. Seal at least six gates, in which case the Ancient One cannot come forth. Or Defeat the Ancient One.

But wait! The story doesn’t end there! There are expansions available that extend the map, add new Ancient Ones, weapons, items, and spells. It seems that Fantasy Flight Games has really taken over where Chaosium fell short.

If you are looking for something more rewarding than clicking a mouse or thumbing a joystick, Arkham Horror is well worth the time and money to send you into the macabre and terrifying mind of H.P. Lovecraft.


Theatre of the Absurd

by V. L. Craven

Theatre of the Absurd

Recently my back decided it had had enough of me being up and about and productive and it felt I should lie down with my Kindle for a good long time. Luckily, I had Big Fish Games’ Theatre of the Absurd (Collector’s Edition)  to keep me company.

You play as Scarlett Frost, a specialist in the dark arts. You’re called, by a Dr Corvis, to a castle in the Alps to authenticate an object that could possibly be the Hapsburg Cube. An ancient demon is supposed to live within the cube and, when it breaks, the demon rushes out and possesses the child of Dr Corvis.

Theatre of the Absurd 02

This is *not* what she looks like when you first arrive.

You’re tasked with solving a variety of puzzles (including a couple of types I hadn’t seen before) around the grounds in order to save the girl.

I’ve played quite a few hidden object games before, but this is the first I’ve tried on my Kindle Fire. And it was excellent. The graphics were highly-detailed, the story-telling was better than most, and there were several hours of game play. And it had something I hadn’t seen before–as you progress through the game you unlock certain magic powers that allow you to do things in the game like read hieroglyphics or clear demonic mist. The Egyptian and Gothic elements were big pluses, as well.

It was definitely worth the price, which was $3 USD on the Kindle.



iPoe on Your iPod

by V. L. Craven

Poe was old-school even in his own time, tending towards overly-elaborate language no matter the audience–but modern fans can rediscover some of his work in a modern way through the  iPoe apps for iOS.

iPoe Volume One They’re incredible, interactive versions of several of his stories and poems. The text is unedited, but there is music and artwork and elements controlled by the reader. Volume One ($1.99) contains ‘The Oval Portrait’, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ (which allows you to dismember the old man, whee!), ‘Annabel Lee’, and ‘The Masque of the Red Death’, as well as a brief biography and sketches from the making of the app.  All of these are excellently rendered, though I think Red Death is my favourite. Early on, you can make a Raven peck out a bit of a corpse, (which I had to do a few times, giggling every time) and the final arrival to the party is delightfully creepy.

iPoe Volume Two Volume Two ($2.99) contains ‘Hop-Frog’ and ‘The Black Cat’, with ‘The Raven’ being added at a later date. Bonus material includes The Edgar Allan Poe Route, featuring information about his haunts (apologies) and another sketchbook. The pages you read from are a bit more ornate in this one, but it felt like the illustrations were less interactive than the first volume. Part of that could be down to the fact that ‘Hop-Frog’ isn’t one of my favourite Poe stories, though the app brings it more alive to me than before. All of the selections in both collections are extremely well-done.

My only quibble is that you have to forward all the way to the end of the stories to loop back around to the beginning, rather than being able to access a menu after each tale. That aside, I’m looking forward to ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ though it’s quite long and don’t really expect it to appear.

Here is the tumblr account for the collections, which has illustrations both from the apps as well as other artists.

Dark Tales Rue Morgue

Other apps of interest to the Poe-ophile are hidden object games based on ‘ Murders in the Rue Morgue ‘, ‘ The Black Cat ‘, ‘ The Premature Burial ‘ and ‘ The Gold-Bug ‘. All four are made by ERS Games and distributed by Big Fish Games for the PC, though the first two are available for iPhone/iPod through iTunes.

I’m about halfway through ‘The Black Cat’ and it’s one of the best hidden object games I’ve played. Atmosphere, music, game play, story line, etc is outstanding. I have nothing bad to say about it. I’ve also started ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ which is similarly engrossing.

Dark Tales Black Cat

You can play free demos of all four and then purchase the full game, if you’re hooked. Prices are a few dollars for the apps and up to $15 for the PC versions, though Big Fish usually has some offer on that will bring that down a bit.

[Some people can get the PC-only games to work on Linux with WINE, but I’m having the devil of a time making that happen. If it works I’ll happily purchase both of the currently PC-locked games.]

I’ve looked at some other apps, none of which impressed, but if you find any with merit, please leave a comment.


Games of the Victorian Variety

by V. L. Craven

My current favourite distraction is Arcane Empires , a strategy game with a Steampunk feel. A pretty typical strategy game, the goal is to build a city and grow an army in order to continue building your city and growing your army. You mine and farm resources as well as learn magic in order to advance your goals. There are alliances (which are good) and a global chat feature, that takes up valuable screen real estate and cannot be shut off (which is bad). It’s free and would be fine for all ages if you could turn off the global chat. Currently I’m levelling up so I can train armoured mammoths. Very looking forward to that. Available for Android and iOS devices.

For those that prefer their Victorian a little less parallel-universe-y, I recommend Blackwood and Bell Mysteries & Gardens of Time . They’re by the same company and look extremely similar. The game play is the same, as well: you’ve just come on as a new detective and you earn coins and points by doing hidden object scenes in order to find clues. You then use those coins to buy things for your London street in Blackwood and Bell or garden in Gardens of Time. It’s the sort of game where you have to wait for your energy to refill so that can be frustrating. Also, you can’t really decorate your garden or block the way you’d like, as you have missions where you have to have a certain number of items before you can level up. So your screen winds up being cluttered with the multiples of the most high value items rather than a mix of what looks best. Still, they are a bit of fun. Both are free and can be played on Android and iOS devices, as well as on Facebook.

Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles
. I was really looking forward to this one, but there was a load screen between every scene and sometimes when trying to do something within a scene. The graphics were good, as were the hidden object scenes and minigames. The storytelling was fine from the preview I played, but the load screen issue gave me too much time to think, ‘Why am I doing this when I could be doing something productive?’ Really good hidden object games should make you regret wasting that five hours after you’ve done so, as you were too engaged at the time to notice. I opted not to purchase the full game, but it’s $2.99USD



Electronic Tools for the Autodidact

by V. L. Craven

I’ve had my iPod Touch eight months and would like to update and add information for this post.

($5 & worth every penny) I could wax lyrical about AwesomeNote all day. It’s a calendar, a to do list, a place to jot down ideas… I use it every day and it’s the sort of tool that helps you both  be more productive and feel more productive. Ticking things off during the day and at the end of the day is quite satisfying.

Here is a review from the Chronicle of Higher Education that lists the pros and cons (mostly pros) of Awesome Note.

($10)  Track and Share is great for those of us who love
graphs. Highly customisable, you can track anything you’d like (I keep up with migraines, time writing, number of words written, daily productivity, exercise info, etc.) It converts that information into graphs so it can be easily visually compared.

They also have an app to help track symptoms of people with autism, which is very useful for parents of autistic kids.

($6) Office2 (read Office Squared). Supports importing and exporting files to Dropbox. I only wanted to be able to access spreadsheets and text documents and most office apps are quite expensive. This is probably the best app for people who simply want access to their documents on their iOS device.  This  is a useful review.

Cons: Dropbox is better for just reading your documents–rather than editing them, as Office2 doesn’t display formatting the way it looks on your actual computer screen. Dropbox doesn’t allow you to edit files, but doesn’t give you a heart attack when you loko at a file and it looks completely different from how you expect it to do.

(free) Oh, Dropbox , how I love thee. The mobile app allows you to browse everything in your Dropbox folder that isn’t an OpenOffice or LibreOffice file. It also allows you to save photos in your Dropbox folder to your photos organiser. You can also save documents to your mobile device.

You can also download Project Gutenberg files directly to dropbox, though I’m not certain of the application of that, as you can directly open Kindle files from the Gutenberg site with your Kindle app.

(free) CloudReaders . This is the app I use for reading comics. It supports PDF, CBZ, ZIP, CBR and RAR format, though I use Adobe Reader (see next entry) for PDFs. Reading a comic book on an iPod screen takes some adjustment, but it’s nice to be able to carry all of the Sandman and Lucifer series in my pocket.

(free) Excellent for list-lovers, Springpad is great for to-do lists, shopping lists, to-watch/read/drink lists, etc. To add an item, put in a title and Springpad searches sites like Amazon and gives options from which to choose. You can even share lists. My husband and I can both add items to the grocery list. You can even access your lists online .

(free) Chrome. iOS comes with Safari and it’s fine, but I like having my tabs and bookmarks automatically on all of my devices (an Asus EEETop running Windows 7, an Asus netbook running Linux Mint Maya and an iPod Touch 4g running iOS6). Other than the bookmark usefulness thing, there isn’t an obvious difference. Except! Tapjoy , which I enjoy greatly, doesn’t work with Chrome.

(free) Adobe Reader . There are several apps that allow you to read PDFs, but the Adobe Reader app has mark-up capabilities. Sexy, sexy mark-up capabilities.


Apps for the Darkly Inclined (Part 2)

by V. L. Craven

More games for long lost Addams relatives:

Dark Meadow: The Pact
This is my first horror-action game.I’m not a huge fan of killing monsters–it’s repetitive and boring–but the graphics and atmosphere make up for that so it’s enjoyable thus far. We’ll see how it goes.


Dead Runner
You’re running through foggy woods from something scary by tilting your device. There are three modes–distance, points and chase, where you can also control your speed. It’s great for when you have a few free minutes. The atmosphere is top-notch, with trees, bushes, gravestones and other things I have yet to get to because I’m not great at the game yet.


This is a side-scrolling platform jobbie of which Edward Gorey would be. You’re guiding a Victorian pram across the rooftops of London, trying to avoid nefarious types. If you hit something, the baby comes flying out. It’s brilliant.


Run lil dude!

Nosferatu: Run from the Sun
Another 2-D side-scroller. This time you’re a little nosferatu trying to get home before sunrise. It’s ridiculously difficult to get enough coins to buy power-ups,but it’s a fun little game nonetheless.


Van Pershing Gothic
You’re Van Helsing (wait… I mean, Pershing) and you’re just trying to get through a cemetery without being done in by skeletons, vampires and Frankenstein’s monster. You know, the usual of a Saturday night. Luckily, you have an arsenal of weapons that would make John McClane weep. The ‘Gothic’ version of the game is heavier on the black, red and white, whereas the non-Gothic version is in colour, though the gameplay is the same.


200 Weird Death
What it says. A small collection of odd deaths throughout history. Many I’d heard of, but a few recent ones that I’d missed somehow. It’s free and provides perhaps an hour’s worth of macabre entertainment.


Spooky spooky spooky

I’ve only recently downloaded this one, but I’m thuper looking forward to it. I shall report back. It’s billed as being an interactive way of reading some of Poe’s work. I can only hope they wind up adding all of my favourite stories.


And a Bonus! For the Steampunk people!

Jump o’Clock

You’re a little robot, trying to make your way up the inside of a clockwork thing. The graphics are fun and the little sparks you make when sliding down the wall are cute.


Apps for the Darkly Inclined (Part 1)

by V. L. Craven

After receiving a Walkman for my twelfth birthday, I was never without it. Then came discmans, which were a pain to cart everywhere, but it had to be done.

And then came mp3 players. Sometimes I think about time travelling back to my younger self, showing her months’ worth of music on something smaller than a cassette player and blowing her mind.

At the same time, I’ve never cared for phones. People call and interrupt your thoughts and expect a response straightaway. My most recent mobile answered calls and that was it. I could also send texts, something I did roughly ten times a year at most.

Music players were supposed to play music. Phones answered calls.

Then my mp3 player finally died and the next in the line was one of those touch screen jobbies that does everything.

I scoffed. I would only be using mine to listen to music, thankyouverymuch.

So now I’d like to tell you about the best apps I’ve found for the darkly inclined among us.

This post is about hidden object games on Big Fish Games , which (if they’re good) combine interesting plot, characters, incredible artwork and atmosphere. Big Fish Games offer a trial period, then you can unlock the complete game. I’m not including the titles I tried and chose not to unlock. The majority of their hidden object games are wonderful, but occasionally a stinker gets through.

I have played and recommend:

  • Death at Fairing Point
  • Doors of the Mind: Inner Mysteries
  • Enigmatis: Ghosts of Maple Creek — This one was particularly immersive and is one of the best I’ve played thus far.
  • Haunted Hotel: Lonely Dream
  • Haunted Hotel II
  • Haunted Manor: Lord of Mirrors
  • Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker

  • Snark Busters & Snark Busters 2 — while not Goth, they’re very Alice-Through-the-Looking-Glass and quite well done.
  • Twisted Lands: Shadow Town
  • Weird Park: Broken Tune

These are only so-so:

  • Awakening: Moonfell Wood — The graphics were nice, but the controls could be needlessly fussy. Tapping on an object didn’t work so you had to work out where they wanted you to tap around the object.
  • Empress of the Deep — The map was far too sprawling and the hidden object scenes were nearly impossible. I didn’t hate it, but I won’t play the others in the series
  • Mirror Mysteries — This one didn’t have much in the way of narrative–it was pretty straight-up finding things. The atmosphere wasn’t as creepy as I’d’ve liked.

These had the potential to be great, but failed in one way or another:

  • Haunted Legends: Queen of Spades — I got stuck at one place and restarted the game, thinking I’d missed something out. When I got stuck at the same place, I used a walkthrough and did everything in the order prescribed. And still became stuck in the same place. Others didn’t seem to have this problem, so it’s up to you if you’d like to give it a go.
  • Redemption Cemetery: Curse of the Raven — This one wouldn’t load on my iPhone, but I’m playing it on my computer.
  • Stray Souls: Dollhouse Story — At what have must been the end of the main story the game crashed. This meant I could not play the bonus content included in the collector’s edition. Still, it was worth the money for the gameplay I did have.

I’m currently playing and enjoying:

  • Dark Dimensions: City of Fog
  • Dark Tales Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cat
  • Dark Tales Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder in the Rue Morgue — Enjoying the hell out of this one
  • Haunted Halls: Green Hills Sanitarium
  • Macabre Mysteries: Curse of the Nightingale
  • Maestro: Music of Death
  • Mystery Seekers: Secret of the Haunted Mansion
  • Nightmare Adventures: The Witch’s Prison — I’m not sure if I’m going to finish this one, as it’s ludicrously difficult. The storyline, artwork and atmosphere are excellent,though.
  • Shiver: Poltergeist

My To-Try List (I’d love to hear from people who’ve played any of these)

  • Gravely Silent: House of Deadlock
  • Mystery of the Ancients: Lockwood Manor
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Twisted Lands: Insomniac


Next up: Non-Big Fish Games!


1,001+ Books You Must Read

by V. L. Craven

In 2006, Peter Boxall compiled 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die . The book was beautifully executed, but, to my mind, there were some problems. First, the title should have been the 1,001 Novels You Must Read…, as there were no non-fiction titles. Secondly, there were far too many contemporary authors (I’m a classics snob, sue me). Thirdly, too many novels by specific novelists. More than one for any of the contemporary authors was too many. No one needs to read more than one Don Delillo novel (unless they want to).

I’d read 70 from the first book, 60 from the second book and 58 from the third book. I’ve read 53 from the Core–the books that haven’t changed through the series.

If you want to keep up with what you’ve read, want to read and want to buy, I recommend the excellent spreadsheet on this page. They also have an iPhone app that:

  • Has all of the lists from all of the books, as well as specific lists of books added and removed from each edition.
  • The ability to mark each book as read/unread/reading/to be read
  • A feature that takes your personal stats (age, gender, nationality) and how many books per month you read and tells you if you’re likely to finish the list in that time period. (One quibble with this is that it doesn’t take length of work into account. “The Fall of the House of Usher” is weighted the same as Remembrance of Things Past.)
  • You can make notes, rate books, add book covers, post straight to LibraryThing, WordPress, Twitter or Facebook
  • There’s a search feature, though it only works on authors and titles, and doesn’t include your notes
  • You can sort the list by Title, Author, Rating, whether you’ve read it, want to read it or are reading it, as well as if you’ve made a note or added a quote.

I’m currently only making a note if I have the book in my library, so if I’m in a bookshop I can look at the list to see if I already have a copy of a book I haven’t yet read.

The app is very new and the developer is planning to add some features, but even at this stage it’s worth the $1.99


Useful Apps for the iPod Touch

by V. L. Craven

Kindle [Free]
This one is great, because it syncs with your other devices with the Kindle app on so you can pick up reading where you left off on another device. This only works with books downloaded from Amazon, but you can get lots of free books from them, so it’s still a lot of content. You can also see your highlights and notes, as well as make notes and highlights* on your iPod/iPhone.
*A note about highlighting: After pressing the word with which you’d like to begin the highlight, you need to use your thumb to drag the highlighter over the text, as trying to do it with your forefinger doesn’t work.

Awesome Note [Very limited free version/full version $3.99 USD]
This combines the functionality of the pre-installed Calendar, Reminders an Notes, as well as has features those programs do not. It’s wonderful for people who like an uncluttered desktop or menu folder. It’s also quite customizable, with a variety of colours, note styles and fonts (including serif fonts, which I was beginning the think iPods were allergic to). You can create as many folders as you’d like, as well as choose between four note types–Normal, To Do, Diary, Anniversary. Notes can also have uploaded photos, drawings, locations or a photo taken from your onboard cameras. Yes, you can draw on the notes.

Photo Manager Pro [$2.99 USD]
I was a bit peeved to have to purchase this because it does everything the photo software that comes on your device should do. It, you know, allows you to organise your photos and videos into separate folders, rather than forcing you to have all of your photos in two folders if you’d like to put them in categories. With Photo Manager Pro, you can rename your photos, give them captions, rate them and mark your favourites, sort manually if you’d like and several other things. The only complaint I have is that if you’d like to set one of your photos as your wallpaper, you have to export it to the dreadful Photos folder. However, if the only time I have to go in there is to change the wallpaper, I’m happy.

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