Thursday, September 29, 2011

Which E-Reader App Is The Best?

So… you finally got an iPad?  And you love to read.  With all of the reading apps out there you might be wondering which one is the best?  With everyone throwing their hat in the publishing arena, there is an unlimited universe out there for reading apps.  Well I’m not going to waste time with the scrubs.  Instead I’m going to sell out and stick with the five big boys.  Amazon Kindle App, Barnes & Noble Nook App, Kobo App, iBooks, and Google Books App. 

Reading in itself is pretty simple.  You choose a book, open it, and turn the page.  Can’t really mess that up.  So you would think that when making an app for the iPad, the software nerds would have a pretty easy go of it.  Nope.  It seems that in this world of trying to “one up” the next guy, they have made the simple act of turning a page into an applied science.  With robots that can mimic humans, simulating a turned page shouldn’t be that difficult.  Right?
I’ve had my iPad for about six months now and have used it for pretty much everything.  Although what I use it the most for is reading.  Well that and ‘Words With Friends’ (sn: rubiconreader).  I have purchased a book for each of these apps to see which one I like best.  The results below wouldn’t fly in any boardroom but they are real world results and that will trump any graph or chart created in a lab.

  1. Kindle’ Reading App – My favorite.
With much reluctance I must pick this one as the best.  Setting aside their mafia tactics with publishers, their mafia tactics with their devices, and their mafia tactics with the US government, Amazon has created a pretty flawless reading app.  When you purchase your book from Amazon and sync it to your iPad, the process is fast and painless.  Bookmarking your page is easy and visible.  If there is a webpage in the book it opens within the app and exiting is easy as clicking “done” in the upper right corner.  Flipping through the pages is fast and extremely responsive, and you stay on the same page whether you are in ‘landscape’ or ‘profile’ mode. 

With a tap you can bring up the options and another tap will get rid of them.  You easily change the font size, move to a completely different chapter, check out your notes and bookmarks, switch between white, black, or sepia colors, and easily see how far you are in a book.  I will admit that seeing that I was “x-percentage” done with a book took some getting used to and trying to figure out the “location” algorithm made me teeth hurt.  But that is extremely small potatoes when compared to how perfect this app is.  You can search pretty much anything when reading a book and when you highlight a word it will give the definition and links to ‘Google’ and ‘ Wikipedia’. 

You can share your highlight on ‘FaceBook’ or ‘Twitter’ so others can get just as excited as you about your book.  One other slight issue is that when showing your library, the books aren’t all a uniform size and that makes for a weird look.  But again, small pickles when compared with everything else.  BEST reading app on the (free) market bar none!

  1. Google Books’ App
I’m glad Google has an app for reading because their ‘iriver Story HD’ e-reader is about as ugly as the elephant man and as useless as hooker with no mouth.  One of the things that I like about the Google reading App is that it will let you choose between 8 different fonts from which to read.  Very nice.  I can’t stand reading ‘Arial’ all the time and it is easily the most boring font on the planet. 

The Google reading app isn’t as fast as the Kindle either.  When you click on a book in your library it bring up the title, sits for about half a second then moves on to the book.  Why?  I don’t know and I don’t care for it.  This is definitely one of those “let’s invent something stupid to be different” moves.  It also has this annoying “loading” circle that pops up that I don’t see on my Kindle app.  I could not look up a word or search for that word within the app, nor could I access any of the links within the app.  There are no bookmarks either.  That is strange because I thought that would be a standard item with everyone.  So wherever you stop, that’s where you begin.  The good part is, that even after your turn your iPad off or even hard restart it, you don’t lose your place.  The progress bar at the bottom is pretty straight forward with numbers and no percentages. 

So what this turns out to be is a pure reading app.  No bells, no whistles, no dancing lady to celebrate you finishing a book.  If you want a barebones reading app that is that and that ONLY then this one is for you.  Buying books from Google is simple and they easily sync to your iPad.  You can also support your local bookstore when your purchase Google e-books through their site. 

  1. iBooks
This is the only reading app that you can use to buy books directly from your iPad.  Thanks to the controlling anal retentive boys in Cupertino for that.  This app is very eye pleasing, and the bookshelf is beautiful.  You click the title and the book actually opens so you can start reading.  The pages turn like a book, but it’s still not as fast as the Kindle.  You are able to highlight a word, search using Google and Wikipedia, look up the definition, write notes, and even see how many times a word shows up in the story. 

When you bookmark a page it saves it so that, as long as you don’t un-bookmark it, it will give you a list of all the places you chose to bookmark.  The bookmark itself is small and red.  The other apps have larger ones that stand out a little better.  But I guess with a digital book you don’t really need a large bookmarker since you can just search, click, and go straight to your spot. 

You have a choice of 6 different fonts from which to read and the choice of black, white, or Sepia backgrounds.  The progress bar at the bottom is stoically numerical so you know exactly how far you have to go.  No percentages here.  Purchasing a book is as easy as those commercials with the annoying music make it.  What I really like about this app is the ability to read PDF files.  And how easy it makes it to read PDF files.  Yes, I am very aware that you can read PDF’s on the Kindle but it’s not easy (especially on the Kindle app).  Here I can just drag and drop within iTunes.  I’m like Charlie Sheen; I want it easy and fast.  Having to convert a file doesn’t appeal to me, especially when I don’t have to.  I do a lot of reading and a lot of authors send me books to review.  99% of them send PDF files and being able to drag and drop saves me a ton of time.  Overall a very good multi-use reading app.

  1. Kobo App
I got a bad feeling about this app as soon as I installed it.  Good lord!!  I haven’t seen this many pop-ups since using Internet Explorer with America Online 4.0!  That got annoying REAL FAST!!  I don’t want to join your reading community, I don’t want to connect with my FaceBook friends, and I don’t want to know how to do some stupid mundane thing.  It was REALLY bad y’all!  OK, case in point: I just opened one of the free books (‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker) and at the bottom it asked me “you just started a new book, do you want to share it with your FaceBook friends”?  HELLLLLLL NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Leave me alone geez!!!!  OK, I just turned a page and on the lower left it tells me that I have a new “Faces and Places” feature.  OK, seriously?  I want to read the damn book not your pop-ups. 

That was the main reason this pushed this reading app down on my list.  I don’t want to be harassed when I read.  And yeah, that’s what I sincerely felt like.  Like I was being harassed.  You CAN turn that junk off but it shouldn’t be the default setting.  This app is like the FaceBook of reading apps.  The progress bar at the bottom is strange.  There are actually two, one superimposed on the other.  The darker one is the entire book.  The highlighted pink/Fuchsia is how far you’ve gone in the current chapter.  Interesting.  Swiping the pages is faster than Google, but slower than the Kindle.  You are able to choose between three fonts from which to read as well as the size of text.

Highlighting, notes, dictionary, and sharing are all there as well as a very cool “set status” feature.  If you’re reading a passage and you like it, you can post it to FaceBook.  Now… this reading app has one of the coolest features I have seen on ANY app!  Why the others don’t have something like it is beyond me.  Under the “Reading Life” tab they have something called ‘reading stats’.  THIS is cool!  Here is what it tracks:  hours read, pages turned, total hours reading, hours spent per book, pages per hour, and pages per session.  There are others but those are the “big” ones.  This is really neat because I’ve always wondered how long it takes me to finish a book.  I haven’t been a one-sitting book reader in a long time and I read my books over days.  It’s really interesting to see how those numbers stack up.  That makes this app worth having but not as one of my favorites because of all the exceedingly annoying pop-ups, reminders, and “check this out”.

  1. Barnes & Noble Nook App
Despite what Vanessa Williams sings in that song, this time I save the WORST for last.  What pissed me off about this app is when you go from ‘portrait’ to ‘landscape’ it puts you back on the previous page!  What the hell!?!  Talk about super-ginornmour-spectacularly annoying!!  Who was the geek that missed this?  Just to make sure I’m not making stuff up I tried it again just now.  Yep, it puts you back on the previous page when you switch orientations.  The only time this app would be useful is if you were reading a book while you were dead and stuck in rigor mortis.  This is a serious flaw in this app. 

The Nook app has the usual search, dictionary, and bookmark features.  But that matters for naught because I won’t be reading any books on this app.  I tried to click on the links inside the e-book and they didn’t work with this app.  Since I’m not going to be using this app I won’t waste too much time on it.  Just take my advice and avoid it.

So that is my .02 cents on the best reading app.  I will mention that I also use ‘GoodReader’ from time to time when I want to immediately read a PDF I receive in an e-mail.  It’s actually very good but I wouldn’t use it as my main reading app.  Besides, ‘GoodReader’ is a full functioning app that EVERY iPad user should have. 

I hope this blog was of some help to you.  If you have anything to add, please share.  If you’re reading a good book or know of a good author, PLEASE share that as well.  I’m always looking for something else to read. 

'The Cartel 2' by Ashley & JaQuavis

*SPOILERS*  I thought about trying to sum up my feelings about this book without spoiling it, but I can’t.  So if you read beyond here and you haven’t read this book yet, it’s your fault.

Unless you’ve been under a rock (or living in Adell, WI) you know how much of a fan of ‘The Cartel, Pt.1 I was).  With this one, not so much.  Not sure how to explain it because all of the dirt, grime, murder, and sexual assault was in this one, but it had a different… feel.  I couldn’t figure out until I reached the end.  Then I was like WHAT. THA. F*CK.!  There are times where endings like this work, but it most certainly didn’t this time.  I think the best way to sum up my feelings about this ending was… hmmmmmm… cheated, robbed, misled.

But let me back up for a minute:  ‘The Cartel 2’ picks up exactly where ‘The Cartel’ left off.  Miamor is being held captive my Mecca and THIS brotha’ is living out his Taliban torture fantasy.  Unfortunately, Miamor is the unwilling participant in this murderous nightmare.  One of the things I do like about Ashley and JaQuavis is their need to NOT shy away from the brutality of the story they tell.  Be warned that you will cringe… and it will not be the only time.  Trust me. 

‘The Cartel’ is a far cry from what it once was and Young Carter is trying his best to keep the family and the business together.  We start to see how the ‘Murder Mama’ came to be and all of the intertwining stories that keep you wondering who will be killed, who will do the killing, and who will be the next rape.  I told you this story is brutal.  I had to cringe through the part with the stepfather.  Oh my goodness!  Whoever wrote that part had to have nightmares for days!  Why?  Because of how they wrote it.  It’s hurts to read it.  It’s painful to imagine it.

Ma’tee, the insane Haitian plays his part in the decimation of the family, and of Breeze.  And once again Ashley & Jaquavis prove that no one is invulnerable in their books.  What really pissed me off was the ending.  I’ve been reading books since the womb (not really) and I haven’t felt this gyped in a LONG, LONG time.  The first thing that popped into my head was that series ‘Lost’.  They did something like this and pissed off an entire nation!  Why, why, why, why, would you do the stupid dream sequence?  I truly felt like I wasted my time reading this story seeing as it never happened!  I could have just skipped straight to book 3.  There are times where the dream sequence works but it must be done in a way that doesn’t make the reader feel bitter once it has been revealed. 

Will I read part 3?  Yeah.  But the fire that I had has been diminished a bit because of how this one ended.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

'The Cartel' by Ashley & JaQuavis

I’ve heard about Ashley & JaQuavis for a while now but, as most book lovers will tell you,  in the never ending universe of books there are stories and authors that just get lost in book space.  You hear about it, you hear good things about it, you put it on your list… and then you keep adding to the list… then something happens that gets your attention.  That something was hearing JaQuavis on “On The Air With Trice and Brian”.  (Ashley unfortunately was sick).

Hearing him talk about the craft, meeting Ashley, his love for other authors (I’ll get to that in a minute), the new book coming out, and the real way in which he spoke… THAT’S what pushed them from my “authors to be read” pile, to my “next book to read immediately” pile.  And that is exactly what I did. 

In my professional opinion ‘The Cartel’ was completely and totally BAD ASS!  That’s it.  I enjoyed everything about this book.  This book started off with violence, fed us with violence, and (somehow) “ended” with us wanting more violence.  Ashley & JaQuavis have that talent to build up a story then completely explode the foundation, and yet keep the story flowing like a busted hydrant in Harlem.  The Cartel is run by a very strong figure in Carter Diamond.  Unfortunately he meets his demise in the violence that I was telling you about earlier.  He has two sons who are will take over… maybe. 

When Carter’s other son makes himself known, the family isn’t sure what to think.  But they better make up their minds fast because the Haitians want the drug business and they will stop at nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing to take over.  What I loved about this book was no one was safe.  I’m reading one chapter where the main character (or so I thought) was doing their thing, and in the next chapter… BAM!!  They chillin’ at the crossroads.  Florida hasn’t seen this much blood since Andrew Jackson stopped by to say hello. 
While this book if rife with blood, violence, murder, and sexuality, it’s the story that will keep you turning the pages.  I usually don’t read books in order and the rare times I do read a series I take a break in between books.  That’s just how I am.  But guess what I’m reading now?  Yep, ‘The Cartel 2’.  Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE has told me that this series only gets better.  I’ve started book 2 and… wow.  I can’t wait until I finish this review so I can get back to that book.  Seriously y’all, I’m not exaggerating in the least.

Back to the top for a minute… one of the things that impressed me with JaQuavis was at the end of the interview when Brian asked him about their new book, ‘Murder Mamas’.  He steered the conversation around to another author, K’wan.  Classy and real.  I was already impressed but this just cemented it.  Now… there’s a book waiting on me so I’m out like Ellen.  Peace!!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

'Aphrodisiacs: Erotic Short Stories' by Karen Williams

This is a short erotic story collection that is a little different.  What’s different is that… these here aint sweet.  It’s erotica with a mean twist.  The sex is hot, hot, hot, hot, hot but the endings are mean, mean, mean, mean, mean.  Karen starts us off with “Best Served Cold”, an erotic story of revenge on a cheating husband.  For some reason that old school ‘Doublemint’ commercial kept playing in my head.  Next up is ‘Jail Bait’.  Forbidden sex, oral sex, butt sex, rough sex, forced sex… just another day in the life of a CO.  One of the first stories that caused me to go… “what in the sam-hill…”!?

‘My Daddy’s Friend’ was a fantasy story about a man’s best friend and his young daughter.  His young, sexy daughter.  His young, sexy, virgin daughter.  Introducing a girl to her first taste of sex is a fruit so deliciously sweet… just make sure you don’t do anything stupid afterwards.  The fool in this story didn’t get that memo.  ‘Thug Loving’ was good but not as good as the others.  ‘Bitch! What Goes Around Comes Back Around…” was another story of revenge with a different twist.  All I could think of was “lucky, lucky, lucky”.  ‘London Bridge’ was a hot story about our hidden sexual past.  And umm… “London Bridge” has nothing to with England or the Black Eyed Peas. 

‘Mrs. Parker’
is another story about a young girl’s sexual tryst with an older man.  Something about the sexuality in this story was just…. wonton.  Tia just wants to please and pleases she does.  And as par for the course, Karen throws in a curve that leaves you with an aftertaste of confusion,  until you get to that  “ah ha” moment.  Kinda gives a new spin on “who’s your daddy”.  While the endings in these short stories are not what you would expect, I hope Karen keeps it up because it is kinda nice not to have stories end as a fairy tale.

Friday, September 9, 2011

As far as informative sex videos go, this one is very good!  Calling it a blow job documentary wouldn’t be a stretch at all.  Jessica Drake is the producer and she interviews her fellow porn stars for their perspective.  She made me laugh a few times because one of her recurring lines in this video was, “I interviewed hundreds of guys and this is what they said”.  Then she goes back to the same six actors.  Nothing major, but just a bit of comedy relief in the middle of a blow job how-to. 

Jessica interviews sex actors (men and women) about what they love about giving/receiving oral sex.  What their favorite techniques are, how it makes them feel, how they like to make their partner feel, and everything in between.  One guy on this video is a jerk but the others are pretty cool and the women are awesome.  Why?  Because they have absolutely no inhibitions whatsoever!  Well… except for not liking men who are not clean “down there”.  Other than that they give you great insight on how they go about giving a BJ.  Now these women are porn stars so they will NOT be like your average women when it comes to oral sex.   They are a bit more cavalier about sucking a dick but the rest is 100% real. 

What I liked about this video was getting to hear other people’s perspective about oral sex.  True, it is their job but still hearing about what they love about BJ’s was a lot of fun.  This video is for anyone who wants to know how to give a better blow job.  Since you have six different people you have (at minimum) six different ways to make your man come.  You have the men who tell you what they like and you have the women who tell you what they like.  If you don’t pick up a few pointers from this video then you aren’t paying attention. 

At the end of the documentary section the actors put their words to action.  Jessica gives us play by play (or rather, blow by blow) on what to do with your man’s dick.  Kissing, French kissing, licking, blowing, sucking, and hand movements.  All shown in full color glory and action.  She even tells you the best position for deep-throating.  She even goes as far as to get into the science of deep-throating with Bobbi Starr. 

The three videos:

After you listen to the interview part of this DVD you’ll move on to the movies.  Now, when I first got this DVD I skipped the interview session and went straight to this section.  (what?)  The movies are SUPER hot because the women actually worship the cock.  This isn’t some thirty second internet sex video, oh no.  This is a full on “this is what you do, this is what you do next, and this is how you finish” instructional video.  You can have it with Jessica commentating or without.  I did it without because I don’t need a freaking play by play when watching sex.  After I watched this video a few times I did check out the commentary.  It was OK but unnecessary. 

Video #1: this is the basic blow job.  Although… there was nothing basic about it.  The man and woman are professional but they don’t go all “professional” and give us a good demonstration of a good beginning BJ.  It’s almost like porn for women because it’s very sensual, very slow, lots of deep kissing, lot of touching and caressing before getting to the main course.  It takes place in a bathtub with candles and that great porn music.  It’s slow, methodical, and highly erotic. 

Video#2: this is a more advanced blow job.  Again it starts off with a lot of kissing, both actors are fully clothed to start, and again a lot of touching and working toward the BJ.  In this one you have the actors in different positions, using different techniques.

Video #3: is the anatomy of a hand job.  To me it was sexy but not as stimulating as the two BJ videos.  I know there are couples who swear by this and I’m sure it will be useful to that college prude who has a horny boyfriend but doesn’t want him to penetrate her pussy or ass.  But for me it was just OK.

In case you still aren’t sure, I’m a fan of this video.  This DVD needs to be a requirement for every woman getting married.  Yeah, I know, I know, I know… but there would be a lot less fighting and a lot more happier men if women knew even the basics shown in this video.  Guys, don’t buy this video for your woman (or women) but do leave it lying around in a very non conspicuous place.  All jokes aside, this is a GREAT “how to give a BJ” video and one I hope you check out.

Miscellaneous notes:

Bobbi Starr is my new favorite “flavor of the month”.  She has the classic “innocent girl from next door” look but it EXXX-TREMELY cute!  And the fact that she is an expert at sucking dick only adds to the fantasy.  Out of all the interviewers I enjoyed listening to her the best because you could tell that there is a brewing sea of sexuality just waiting to erupt.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

'Secret Obsession' by Kimberla Lawson Roby

As I was reading this book one question kept popping into my head; “how can such a beautiful woman like Kimberla compose such a devious character like Paige”?  Talent.  Has to be, cause I don’t want to think that Kimberla is this crazed on her own.  Paige is a young lady who is as crazy as a Amish preacher listening to Black Sabbath played backwards while jogging on one foot through Harlem wearing a Confederate Flag jumpsuit .  She wants her sister’s life, her sister’s house, her sister’s money, and her sister’s husband.  And she will (literally) stop and plan at nothing to get it.  Unhinged is the best word to describe her because she is convinced that “no” means “yes”, and she can twist even the most blatant obvious negative into a Paige-Positive.

Example/Negative: Paige steals your car and you call the police.  Paige Positive: She thinks you’re calling the police because you want to borrow their handcuffs to spice up your night of lovemaking.  Yeah, you think I’m kidding… read the book.  Paige did have a less than stellar childhood but I was waiting for something to drop that would help explain what the hell was wrong with her.  And it drops… oh does it drop!  That part is very emotional and Kimberla writes it like she lived it. 

This is a very fast read about an extremely delusional woman who is obsessed with her sister’s life, and especially her man.  She executes a couple of very devious plans to help facilitate this, and if you aren’t convinced that Paige is insane by page three… reading about plan #1 will be your Rosetta Stone.  While this is one of Kimberla’s shorter books, it doesn’t read like it.  Kimberla is a gem and so are her books.  Do yourself a favor and bask in the glow.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

'AFTER, Taras and Theron: Beyond Jerusalem' by David McAfee

This is a short story “collection” that fits in between ’33 A.D.’ and ’61 A.D.’  I have not read this series in order (I still have to read ‘Saying Goodbye To The Sun’) but I didn’t read this story until after ’61 A.D’.  The first short story deals with the struggle of a newly turned vampire named Taras.  Taras was one of the elite Roman assassins who must now deal with the fact that he must kill and drink blood to survive.  Since he’s a newbie he still struggles with his human morals.  He doesn’t WANT to kill but he MUST kill or he will cease to survive. 

Having never been through the process myself, I will assume that being turned into a vampire is somewhat traumatic.  But in ’33 A.D.’ Jesus (yes, THAT Jesus) tells Taras that he has a choice: live as a vampire or die in peace.  Taras makes his choice, but if you ask me he sounds like a little bee-otch after he makes it.  Oh I know like must suck for him now as a new member of the undead.  No more sunrises or sunsets, an insatiable hunger for human blood, growing fangs and claws at the first hint of danger, blah blah blah! 

Taras struggles back and forth with what he needs to do vs. what he doesn’t want to do.  His decision is (almost) made for him and the scene in which it shows up is pretty brutal and animalistic.  I loved it!

Short story number 2 deals with the vampire that I wish would get a 6AM wake-up call: Theron.  He’s the thousand year old vampire that screwed up and now must pay the price.  He was tasked with killing Jesus and failed.  So now, the Council of Thirteen would like to give him a very special employee evaluation.  Theron is wicked and suffers his own maligned adventures in his story.  He’s very powerful with a history that is as intriguing as it is evil.  I expect him to reek much hell in the future.  I did not read story #3.

I usually don’t read series in order because that’s just how I am.  In this case however, I do suggest you read the books in order so that you’ll understand everything.  Especially the background.  Now, having said that I shall now go and read the ‘Saying Goodbye To The Sun’.