The Next ‘Angry Birds’ Game Will Apparently Be a Turn-based Role-playing Game

Amazon Dealp>Rovio has lifted the lid off of the new Angry Birds game that they began teasing just a few days ago. It’s called Angry Birds Epic, and get ready for this: it’s a turn-based role-playing game. Seriously. The news comes courtesy of Kotaku, who also notes that the game will have an extensive crafting system, where players will make their own armor, potions and weapons. The not-so-bright side of that crafting system is that apparently you’ll use resources earned in-game or you could just, you know, buy them with real life money through IAP. imageimage

Here’s hoping that the whole IAP thing doesn’t hamper what otherwise sounds like a really interesting take on the world of Angry Birds. We should have a pretty good idea of what Angry Birds Epic will be like later this week, as it’s set to soft-launch in Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the previous teaser video detailed. Following that soft-launch period, however long it may be, Angry Birds Epic will launch worldwide on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. We’ll have more once Angry Birds Epic soft-launches, so stay tuned.

3 Reasons Amazon Is Itching to Stream Music

NASDAQ: NASDAQ: NASDAQ: Best Deals ( AMZN ) is reportedly in talks with record labels to license the rights to stream music. The web store, which includes the second-largest digital music store after Apple’s ( AAPL ) iTunes, could enter the music-streaming business as soon as this year. If it does, Amazon would compete against new entrants from tech giants Apple and Google ( GOOG ) , as well as Spotify.

Here are three main reasons a premium music-streaming service makes perfect sense for Amazon.

Digital downloads may have peaked
Digital music sales declined for the first time in history during 2013, as streaming cannibalized downloading. AmazonMP3 sold approximately $1.1 billion worth of digital music in 2012, accounting for 22% of the market.

Download sales had been steadily climbing, but this sudden stagnation is cause for concern. Apple invested in adding iTunes Radio to its iOS devices, and Google, which owns the most popular music-streaming site

'Devious Dungeon' From Ravenous Games Hits this Week, First Trailer Released

Best Dealsp>imageimageRavenous Games will always be one of my very favorite iOS developers for their excellent League of Evil trilogy, but some of their other releases have failed to reach that same high level for me. Not that I think they’ve ever released a bad game, but the League of Evil games clicked with me on so many different levels that the rest of their catalogue hasn’t quite lived up to that same mark. Well Devious Dungeon is their latest effort, and according to Ravenous it “gets back to our roots of solid action platforming.” Music to my ears.

Devious Dungeon is another action platformer, but with a focus on melee-based combat and RPG-style leveling and loot collecting. The levels, items and enemy placements are also randomly generated so it should feel different each time you play. It’s also got a medieval theme, which I’m really liking. Check out the brand new trailer to get a sense of what Devious Dungeon is all about.

The best part is that we aren’t going to have to wait long for Devious Dungeon, as it’s set to launch this Thursday for 99&;. I’m pretty excited for it, as are the folks in our forums, some of which took part in the beta test for Devious Dungeon and had pretty much nothing but positive things to say about it. If you’re a Ravenous fan or just a fan of action platformers, make sure Devious Dungeon is on your radar for when it launches later this week.

'Redeployment,' Iraq War Stories, by Phil Klay

"You can’t describe it to someone who wasn’t there," says a Marine who’s served in Iraq, "you can hardly remember how it was yourself because it makes so little sense. And to act like somebody could live and fight for months" there "and not go insane, well, that’s what’s really crazy."

In “Redeployment,” his searing debut collection of short stories, Phil Klay - a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, who served in Iraq during the surge - gives the civilian reader a visceral feeling for what it is like to be a soldier in a combat zone, and what it is like to return home, still reeling from the dislocations of war. Gritty, unsparing and fiercely observed, these stories leave us with a harrowing sense of the war in Iraq as it was experienced, day by day, by individual soldiers; it achieves through fiction something very similar to what David Finkel’s 2009 nonfiction book ” The Good Soldiers ” did through tough but empathetic reporting.

There are stories of heroism and kindness here: A sergeant is killed rushing to help three of his wounded men in a narrow Iraqi city alley (“Unless It’s a Sucking Chest Wound”); a lance corporal takes responsibility for a killing he didn’t commit so that his young buddy, a kid who still plays Pokemon, won’t have to (“After Action Report”).

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There are also tales of sadistic violence, demented machismo and hopelessness in the face of the surreal, “Groundhog Day”-like madness of fighting in places like Fallujah and Ramadi. “What are we doing?” a soldier asks a chaplain in “Prayer in the Furnace.” “We go down a street, get I.E.D.’d, the next day go down the same street and they’ve I.E.D.’d it again. It’s like, just keep going till you all die.”

Those who make it home face another set of challenges: coping with post-traumatic stress disorder; flashbacks of the violence they witnessed and inflicted; feelings of rage, guilt and anxiety; and problems fitting back in the civilian world.

Most people in the States, one Marine thinks in the title story, take for granted a certain level of safety - they spend “their whole lives at white” - and most will never even get close to orange. You don’t get to orange “until the first time you’re in a firefight, or the first time an I.E.D. goes off that you missed.”

Orange is knowing that at any moment you or a fellow soldier could be taken out of the furnace review or taken down - by an I.E.D., a sniper, a roadside bomb. Orange is having seen the bodies of your comrades shredded by explosives, and being on the constant lookout for another attack, another ambush or booby trap.

"You don’t see or hear like you used to," the narrator says. "Your brain chemistry changes. You take in every piece of the environment, everything. I could spot a dime in the street 20 yards away. I had antennae out that stretched down the block."

After his service in Iraq, Mr. Klay received an M.F.A. from Hunter College, and the tales in “Redeployment” demonstrate a keen awareness of language and storytelling craft. Mr. Klay has a radar-sharp ear for how soldiers talk - a potent mix of bravado, sarcastic humor, macho posturing and military jargon - and he’s adept, too, at delineating the deeper emotions that lie beneath the swagger. He conveys how war nurtures the animal in people - instinct and aggression in search of simple survival - and how all the human feelings of doubt, regret and loss can return in an overwhelming flood once the fighting has let up.

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Two entries in this volume, “Psychological Operations” and “War Stories,” feel overly focused on how and why people tell stories (to communicate, connect, manipulate, mislead, etc.), threatening to tip over into self-consciousness and solipsism. But the lapidary construction of the other stories here creates a perfect container for - and counterpoint to - Mr. Klay’s raw, distressing subject matter: not just the physical horrors of war (death, mutilation, shattered bodies) but also the cruelty it can bring out, and its ability to overturn every deeply held assumption about the rational workings of the world.

It is these tales, which do not directly try to address the nature of storytelling, that make the reader most aware of the tools that memory and art can provide in trying to make sense of the chaotic experience of war.

The stories in “Redeployment” are told in the first person, but from a variety of points of view, coming together to create a kind of choral portrait of the war. There’s a 19-year-old artilleryman, who had never killed anyone before (“Ten Kliks South”); a former Marine who has left the Corps to go to law school (“Unless It’s a Sucking Chest Wound”); a member of Mortuary Affairs, responsible for recovering the remains of the dead (“Bodies”); and a foreign service officer charged with leading a reconstruction team in Iraq (“Money as a Weapons System”). These very different stories attest to Mr. Klay’s ability to shift tone and mood with fluency, moving from ferocious realism to more meditative ruminations to “Catch-22”-like black humor.

"Money as a Weapons System" communicates the disastrous and absurd mismanagement involved in the American occupation of Iraq, reminding the reader of two revealing nonfiction books, Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s " Imperial Life in the Emerald City" and Thomas E. Ricks’s " Fiasco ” (in which a colonel assigned to the Coalition Provisional Authority memorably summarized his office’s work as “pasting feathers together, hoping for a duck”).

In Mr. Klay’s story, the narrator arrives in Iraq, a foreign service officer determined to get something substantial accomplished - like getting a much needed water treatment plant up and running. He is warned to think smaller, like a program to teach five Iraqi widows the art of beekeeping. “If you want to succeed, don’t do big, ambitious things,” a colleague says. “This is Iraq.”

Later the narrator must try to get a photo of Iraqi kids wearing donated baseball uniforms - because “the mattress king of northern Kansas,” an influential congressman’s key constituent, came up with the idea of baseball as the perfect way to promote Iraqi democracy.

In what is perhaps the most haunting story in this powerful collection, “Prayer in the Furnace,” a military chaplain reflects in a journal entry on what he’s learned from a Marine named Rodriguez, who came to him with a disturbing revelation about some of his compatriots. “I see mostly normal men,” the priest writes, “trying to do good, beaten down by horror, by their inability to quell their own rages, by their masculine posturing and their so-called hardness, their desire to be tougher, and therefore crueler, than their circumstance.

"And yet, I have this sense that this place is holier than back home. Gluttonous, fat, oversexed, overconsuming, materialist home, where we’re too lazy to see our own faults. At least here, Rodriguez has the decency to worry about hell."

REDEPLOYMENT

By Phil Klay

Is a coupon code costing you website sales?

There’s a really interesting article and discussion over on the EKMPowershop website right now about Coupon Codes and whether having a field to enter a code on your website checkout is a good thing or not?

As Anthony Chesworth says: “Want your customers to feel they are being ripped off or losing out on a deal? Then make sure your online shop has a “Enter Coupon/Discount code” box on your shopping cart or checkout.

Every time I go on to a site that asks if I have a Price Compare I do the same as 90% of other users and go to Google and start searching and alot of the time I end up buying the products elsewhere.”

You can follow the discussion here, including links to some more scientific research into the matter.

Personally I think it can be a problem, not least because when I see the field for a coupon I imagine that there must be coupons out there (even if that’s erroneous) and it does feel a bit rum to be paying full whack.

What do you think?

'That Awkward Moment,' movie review

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Dudes have their day in rom-com land in forgettable frolic starring Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller and Imogen Poots

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Zac Efron and Imogen Poots in ‘That Awkward Moment’

Desire drives “That Awkward Moment” - not the sexual kind, but the desire of studios to get young guys to the movies.

In this case, getting young men to accompany their girlfriends to a rom-com during Super Bowl weekend means plenty of dude ‘tude, raunch and a spunky, come-hither turn from British actress Imogen Poots.

The problem is that everything in that box office plan fails - except Poots.

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The plot in short: Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) learns that his wife wants a “time out” from their marriage, so he moves in with pals Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) - and the trio make a pact to remain unattached.

That seems easy, since Daniel and Mikey are so obnoxious. But Daniel’s friend, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), evolves from the guys’ wing-gal into Daniel’s sort-of significant other. Then Jason meets Ellie (Poots) and can’t stop thinking about her.

Secure in their “den of testosterone” - as they call their downtown apartment - the guys don’t reveal to each other how they’ve fallen for the women in their lives. Even Mikey winds up seeing his wife (Jessica Lucas, very hot) again on the sly.

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Played fast and furiously, with dialogue brought to you by Red Bull, “That Awkward Moment” is “Sex & the City” for bros. Writer-director Tom Gormican follows the rom-com blueprint so loyally, the main characters Daniel, Mikey and Jason could also have been “Danielle,” “Michaela” and “Jaycee” as they deal with feelings and the moment when you just can’t deny liking someone!

Jokes about Viagra (really?) and bathroom booty calls during a Thanksgiving family gathering seem dropped in.

Among the trio, Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”) does his best to bring depth to the conflicted Mikey. Meanwhile, Teller (great in “The Spectacular Now” and in the Sundance fave “Whiplash”) gives a nice approximation of young Bill Murray-style comic insouciance.

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Efron (“High School Musical”), however, is a gelled hairdo pretending to act. He’s tried to be more than that (“Me & Orson Welles,” “Parkland”), but this facile movie only needs him to be a walking Diesel ad.

Poots deserves better. With her smoky eye shadow and perceptive shadings, she’s reminiscent of a young Rosanna Arquette, and shines in a way she wasn’t able to during supporting turns in “A Late Quartet” and “Fright Night.”

Through it all - even a scene in which she is mistaken for a prostitute in the movie’s Big Dramatic Scene - Poots is believably, adorably charming.

So “That Awkward Moment” is eminently forgettable - but worth remembering as Poots’ moment.

Sprint Unleashes Easy Pay, Allows Customers to Upgrade Devices Anytime

We now know why sprint customer service-kills-off-one-up-plans-just-4-months-after-release/”>killed off its OneUp device upgrade program just a few days ago. The company has announced the successor to the OneUp program, Easy Pay. Much like OneUp, users who enroll in the plan will be able to purchase a device on a payment plan which spans 24 months, and upgrade their device once the balance of that device is paid off. Customers can then trade in the old device with Sprint’s Buyback program.

"Customers simply purchase an eligible wireless phone through the Sprint Easy Pay program, paying for it in 24 monthly payments. The only cost at purchase is the down payment and applicable sales taxes. Existing Easy Pay participants can also upgrade their phone whenever they want but must first pay off their balance to receive a new phone."

Sprint is pushing its Framily plan aggressively, which allows up to 10 Sprint customers to join one plan and be billed separately.

Press release follows below.

No More Waiting For a New Phone - Sprint Allows Eligible Customers to Upgrade Their Phone Anytime with Sprint Easy Pay Sprint customers can upgrade their phone immediately by using Sprint Easy Pay

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Jan.16, 2014 - Go ahead, Sprint customers - ask today for that shiny, just-launched, perfect-for-you phone you’ve been drooling over - and you’ll receive it -today. Sprint customers don’t have to be patient anymore when it comes to phone upgrades; on Sprint Easy Pay customers can upgrade whenever they want. For a limited time, Sprint (NYSE: S) is giving its customers the opportunity to upgrade their phone early with Sprint Easy Pay.

To participate, existing Sprint customers can go to www.sprint.com/upgrade to check their eligibility. Then, they simply purchase an eligible wireless phone through the Sprint Easy Pay program, paying for it in 24 monthly payments. The only cost at purchase is the down payment and applicable sales taxes. Existing Easy Pay participants can also upgrade their phone whenever they want but must first pay off their balance to receive a new phone.

Once they’ve upgraded and purchased their new phone through Sprint Easy Pay, Sprint customers have the option of keeping their old phone or selling it back through Sprint’s highly acclaimed Buyback program.

"With technology changing as quickly as it does, we know our customers don’t want to wait a certain amount of time before they can switch to the latest and greatest phone," said Tom Roberts, Sprint senior vice president for marketing. "Now, our customers can get what they want, when they want it - along with a won’t-break-the-bank way to pay."

With the advent of Sprint Framily Sprint customers (new and existing) can spend as little as $25 a month on their Sprint bill. When current customers move to the Sprint Framily Plan they can create a new group with any phone lines on their account and invite friends to join Sprint and be a part of their Framily plan.

More on Sprint Framily
As more people are added to the group, up to 10 phone lines, the savings increase for everyone on the plan. Because each account can be billed separately, customers can choose who is in their group.

For one line of service, new Sprint customers pay $55 per month per line for unlimited talk, text and 1GB of data. For each additional new Sprint customer who joins the Framily group, the cost per person goes down $5 a month up to a maximum monthly discount of $30 per line. When you build a group of at least seven people, everyone gets unlimited talk, text and 1GB of data for $25 per month per line (pricing excludes taxes and surcharges).

All members of the group can customize their plan to meet their unique needs. For only $20 per month per line, Framily members can buy up to unlimited data and get a new phone every year. Plan members can share the savings, without the hassle of sharing a bill. Each account can be billed separately. Unlimited features are while on the Sprint network.

About Sprint
Sprint (NYSE:S) offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint served more than 54 million customers at the end of the third quarter of 2013 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The 2013 American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Sprint as the most improved company in customer satisfaction, across all 47 industries, during the last five years. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.

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Amazon Local deal: 25 Kindle books for 99 cents each

imageDeal News-local-kindle-coupon-for-99-cent-boo-001/237/237x130”>

Amazon Local ()

Amazon Local is offering a free coupon good for 25 Kindle downloads for 99-cents each.

Some of the books normally cost $4.99 each.

Titles offered include Kurt Vonnegut’s previously unreleased “Sucker’s Portfolio” (which is what got me to grab this deal), “No Place to Die” by James Thame and the entertaining Chandler series “Flee,” “Three” and “Spree” by J.A. Konrath. There are cookbooks, novels and nonfiction as well. Plenty to keep you busy all winter.

Get the coupon from Amazon Local (at the link below) and the offer will automatically be applied to your Amazon account. After you get a confirmation email, download the Kindle books. Amazon says visible price will not change before purchase, but the sale price will be automatically applied to your order. (Confirm that your coupon was applied by checking your email order confirmation.)

Click here for the deal. The offer ends Feb. 8.

Like Doreen’s Deals on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.

Review: ‘Out of the Furnace’ gives Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson great acting opportunity

Christian Bale has become such a chameleon as an actor, it’s never safe to assume what guise he’ll take next.

Is he the suave killer in “American Psycho”? The all-American newsboy in “Newsies”? The introspective superhero in “The Dark Knight”? Or the steel mill worker who just wants a bit of happiness for his family?

The latest role