I actually like the Shimano brand V-brake pads too. they don't last a real long time, but they work quite well. they come in 2 grades, the ones that say 'wet operation' are a little harder on the rims. the normal ones are quite soft. I do find I need to clean my rims every few 100 miles to take off the black rubber accumulation, I use a clean rag with a bit of odorless thinner or isopropyl alcohol.
I find v-brakes with their long thin pads need very little toe-in, less than I've used with caliber or cantilever brakes, just barely a touch to keep them from squealing.
also reminds me, I want to get some better v-brake arms, the no-name ones that came on my cheap new bike are /not/ as rigid as the Shimano Alivio ones I've used on previous bikes. I can probably leach the alivios I put on my old cruiser as I'm not riding it, and put these cheap ones on there.