Discover the Most-Talked About Books in America with CoverCake Books

Price: Free    Score: 9/10    By S. Campbellbadge appstore sm Discover the Most Talked About Books in America with CoverCake Books

CoverCake Books is an innovative new app for iPad which allows avid ebook readers to keep up to date with the latest and most-talked about releases in America.

Developed by Node51 LLC, CoverCake Books is akin to a kind of viral video chart for eBooks. The app digs through mentions of books featured on leading TV Shows, radio and blogs to create a “Most Featured” list of books that lets you easily see what’s hot right now.

Tapping on any of the books in the list takes you to a page with a brief synopsis, author info and a list of places that particular title was featured at. Along the top of the app is a bar with a number of options for purchasing the book, in either hardcopy or digital, via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Books or your local library.

If you enjoy watching a particular TV show such as the Daily Show, Colbert Report or Oprah – and commonly enjoy their recommendations – CoverCake Books provides you with a list of recently featured books from that show so you don’t have to worry about remembering an authors name or title while watching the show, and gives you quick access to the latest books if you miss an episode.

There are 7 TV Shows tracked in CoverCake Books (Charlie Rose Show, Colbert Report, Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Oprah Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, Tavis Smiley Show, The View), 18 different radio stations, 4 prizes (including Pulitzer and Man Booker Awards), the NY Times Best Sellers fiction list and two blogs (Huffington Post and Daily Kos Books) – so you’ll never be short of quality recommendations to choose from. CoverCake Books also features a search function so you can hunt down a book if you know the title or author name.

If you enjoy reading on your iPad and want to keep up to date with the latest in featured books then CoverCake Books is a must-have.

CoverCake Books [iTunes Link] is compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Show Off Your Superior Survival Skills, Save the Girl with Parachute Xtreme

Price: $.99*    Score: 9/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Show Off Your Superior Survival Skills, Save the Girl with Parachute Xtreme

In a world where so many things are the same, finding something different can be as difficult as it is exciting.  With Parachute Xtreme by Spiel Studios, we not only find a new concept, but also a fun back story as well.

You see, Parachute Xtreme tells the story of Nick and Jenny, two talented skydivers simply enjoying a ride one day.  However, Drek and his bad guy goons hate seeing this happy couple together, setting out to kidnap Jenny and take her away from Nick forever.  Luckily, just as Jenny has been snatched, Zapper comes along to save Nick and recruit him in order to teach Drek a lesson he’ll never forget.  As the best skydiver around, you must take Parachute Xtreme to the next level and destroy Drek’s minions with your talent in this “survival comedy” game.

To begin, you must first create a player profile by entering your name.  Once you reach the main screen, take a moment to explore the buttons at the bottom of the screen.  The Help button plots out the basics of the game, explaining its base jump nature.  Users will explore eight worlds, each with eight levels (64 levels total) that unlock as you proceed and succeed while facing six different opponents throughout.  The more levels you beat, the more freedom you will have when it comes to choosing the world and level you wish to play.

The Score button allows users to view their achievements, connect to Game Center and more games by the developer, while the About button presents the credits.  Users may even post their score to Facebook and Twitter.  The Shop button, however, shall certainly prove to be useful as you move forward in the game, for you may buy power-ups here.  As you progress, the power-ups will automatically unlock, allowing you to redeem your game score for these helpful upgrades that allow you to buy extra health packs, accelerate your speed, shoot your opponents down, reduce your landing impact and other such handy improvements.

When you start an actual game, you will be greeted with a lovely tutorial that will help guide you through the first level of the first world (as all the others are still locked at this point).  Learn about the score and health meter, as well as the altimeter, which will help you judge the height of any jump.  The basic maneuvers are really quite simple, as all you must do is tap the screen once to jump from your platform, then again when you wish to deploy your parachute.  The last to land on the ground will then be eliminated in a crushing manner.  (Literally, the loser gets crushed.)  The trick is to perfect your sense of timing.  As suggested, you will most likely succeed if you release your parachute last, after your opponent.  So once you have jumped after the “Get Set GO!” prompt, wait until your opponent(s) deploy their chutes, then release yours before hitting the ground to ensure your win.  In fact, once you master your tendency for timing, beating your opponents to the bottom can become quite addictive, so don’t be surprised if you plow right through these worlds at super speed.

*Price shown reflects Launch Sale price and is subject to change.

Parachute Xtreme [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 4.1 or later and is compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch.

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Fit for Rhythm Unlocked Provides Easy and Efficient Exercise Routines

Price: $2.99     Score: 8/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Fit for Rhythm Unlocked Provides Easy and Efficient Exercise Routines

With the holiday season in full swing, we find ourselves gathering around the table with friends and family, eating much more than our waistlines prefer.  And while this time of year always proves to be quite busy, we tend to neglect the exercise regimen we promise we’ll stick to after the New Year begins.  But, with Fit for Rhythm Unlocked by Prodigy Co., Ltd, users can quickly and easily maintain a simple exercise routine with the help of the four virtual instructors.  Guiding you through 80 different exercises, these instructors are much cheaper than a real trainer and fit in the palm of your hand, allowing you to take your workout with you anywhere.

When you begin, you will be greeted by a warning that explains that Fit for Rhythm Unlocked was intended to assist with simple fitness exercises in the area of Stretch, Balance, Aerobic and Muscular workouts.  Each of these categories then comes with four levels of intensity, of which the first level is free.  They also make sure to highlight the fact that results are not guaranteed, nor do they claim any responsibility for accidents, injuries or other physical disorders one may experience or acquire while using this application.

Once you move past this daunting (yet necessary) disclaimer, you will find the main screen, with numerous icons to lead you anywhere you want to go.  The notebook icon, for instance, takes you to the Records.  Here, simply choose a date on the provided calendar, tap Total and see the number of workouts completed and calories burnt that day.  The gear icon brings you to a page where you must enter your personal information, such as height, weight, age and gender.  (This button will also lead you to a page that allows you to connect with you Facebook and Twitter accounts.)  The question mark icon explains the basic actions of the application, while the ‘i’ icon displays the credits.

The Start button, however, is where it all truly begins.  Initially, Fit for Rhythm Unlocked begins by explaining that five exercises count as a set and that you must hold your iPhone or iPod Touch tightly as you move.  Once you arrive at the main exercise menu, choose from Stretch, Balance, Aerobics, and Muscle or simply tap Recommend for five suggested exercises.  Choose your category, choose what level you wish to pursue, and then pick an exercise.  Just follow your virtual instructor’s motions and directions and press start to begin you repetition.  If you’re unsure of how to proceed despite the visual demonstration, tap the question mark under the Start button for a written explanation of the moves.  However, with such basic exercises, users shouldn’t have any issues with their instructors.  In fact, Fit for Rhythm Unlocked seems easy enough that maintaining you exercise regimen will no longer seem all that discouraging.

Fit for Rhythm Unlocked [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.1.3 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Find the Right Love Using Your iPhone

Price: $9.99     Score: 8/10     By M. Schustermanbadge appstore sm Find the Right Love Using Your iPhone

Finding love can be difficult, and goodness knows there’s no shortage of advice and “how-tos” and other materials out there on the subject. Right Love, an app designed by Right Relationships, is a book with just such advice from former matchmaker Nancy Pina.

The app is set up nicely, with a table of contents in the beginning you can use to skip to any chapter you’d like. Within each chapter, you’ll find an overview of the topics covered – topics like “Abandonment” and “Creating a Relationship Plan” – and in several cases, issues and common problems are accompanied with links to examples, stories of real people that may be in a similar situation to your own.

Navigating is easy; any time you tap a link within a chapter, there is a back button to take you back. At the bottom of each chapter is a link to take you to the next chapter as well.

As for the advice; as with any tips on love and life, it depends on your situation and what you are ready to hear. I found that some sections really rang true – in particular, the chapter on perfectionism and the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality that stops so many people from feeling content despite all they have. Many of the chapters come with specific questions to address in a journal, which Ms. Pina suggests readers keep as a method of therapy.

I also want to mention that, as it states in their description in the App Store, that the advice here is more spiritual in nature and “requires” a belief in God in order to achieve a successful relationship. Many chapters are also interspersed with Bible quotes, and the plan outlined at the end relies heavily on developing a Christian belief system. I point this out because those interested in relationship advice who are not religious, or who practice a different religion, should find a different book.

Overall, it’s a nicely put-together book of advice that may indeed be able to help some people. I do find the price to be a bit high when I consider the size of the book, which is not very large. But overall, I believe it is something to consider if you are in need of love advice.

Right Love [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

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Cash IQ: A Game for Consumers

Price: FREE     Score: 9/10     By M. Schustermanbadge appstore sm Cash IQ: A Game for Consumers

The fiscally minded like to have fun too…right? If counting cash and honing your consumer skills sound like a good time, the brain-teasing games featured on Cash IQ might be perfect for you. For more right-brained folks like me, it’s more like an exercise in working out the sadly neglected left side.

Created by FISHLABS Advertainment (and American Express), this free app offers four games with several levels, each of which has you counting, balancing, shopping and earning “cashback bonuses.” The graphics are great, and the music is actually nice, although you can opt to listen to your iPod music in Settings if you prefer.

From the main menu, you can select either “Classic” or “Brain Strain” mode. Classic gives you three of the four mini-games, randomly selected, with the goal of scoring as much as you can within the time limit. In “Brain Strain” mode, you’ll play all four. If you fail a level you move on to the next game, but you must complete all four before given your total score.

“Flip & Pin” might be my favorite of the games – the concept is pretty unique. Your screen becomes a grid with a highlighted area, and a few tetris-looking shapes lying around. Flip the shapes around the grid by tilting your phone with the goal of perfectly covering the highlighted area. You can use pins to pin down a shape once it’s covering a portion of the area. This one is fun to play when trying to beat the clock.

“Shopping List” takes me back to my memory card days of elementary school. Watch items move down a conveyor belt, then try and remember which order you saw them.

“Check Your Balance” and “Beat the Bank” are the more mathematical games. With “Check Your Balance,” you have a seesaw and a collection of grocery bags, each with a different number. Balance the seesaw by splitting the bags on either end, creating an equal numerical “weight.” And “Beat the Bank” is straight up money counting – watching a selection of numbers fall into your piggy banks and add them up, then subtract whatever falls out. Enter in the remaining total before the clock runs out.

Cash IQ has a live leaderboard and is compatible with Facebook, so you can get competitive with others. Considering the quality of the games and the unarguably great price, I’d recommend this one for brain teaser fans.

Cash IQ [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.1.2 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Jewel Craft Presents Thought-Provoking Puzzles That Keep You on Your Toes

Price: $2.99     Score: 9/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Jewel Craft Presents Thought Provoking Puzzles That Keep You on Your Toes

Puzzle games are beautiful.  Not only do they feature some of those most colorful graphics, but they also feature some of the most mind-boggling challenges a game can offer, putting those typical first person shooter games to shame.  Jewel Craft by Blue Onion Soft, Inc is no exception.  Jewel Craft offers multiple differentiations of the same concept, allowing users to choose their favorite puzzle experience and excel at what they do best on the Game Center leaderboards.

When you begin, the main menu displays all the game types available: Classic, Crazy, Battle (all with links to their Game Center leaderboards) and Puzzle (with a link to its list of Game Center achievements).  The buttons at the bottom of the page allow you to adjust the sound and vibrate controls, while the Help button teaches you how to play.

The basic idea of the game is to simply switch adjacent jewels to make a set of three so they will clear, earning you points and making room for other jewels to fall into place, possibly making new sets when they appear.  Classic mode revolves around this simple task, and if you attempt to move a jewel that will not lead to the creation of a set, it will automatically be rolled back to its original position.  Also, be aware, for these levels are timed.  If you do not reach the goal score for the level in the allotted time frame, you will lose and have to start over.  Crazy mode is similar to Classic, except your jewels will not roll back if they don’t make a set, allowing you more freedom and potentially more chances to create sets.  Puzzle mode, my personal favorite, requires you to break all the jewels on the board – an exceptional challenge that I simply adore!  And Battle mode allows users to play versus an opponent via Game Center, allowing for 60-second game play on a 6×6 board to see who can beat the other.

Users will also find some of the jewel placement tricks helpful.  When a four jewel set forms, this creates a bomb, which will also break its neighboring jewels.  Two crossing sets creates lightning, which will break jewels all along that row and column.  Five jewels together will break all the jewels of the color of a switched jewel throughout the entire board.

Also available in HD, users will immediately notice Jewel Craft’s vivid array of colors and sparkling graphics.  Both visually and mentally appealing, you can be sure to get a lot of entertaining play time out of this single application.

For a preview of what Jewel Craft has to offer, click here for a video demonstration.

Jewel Craft [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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