Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Great Potato!

What’s a novelist whose mind runs to the 18th century—A Case of Curiosities and The Grand Complication—to do when his nine-year-old son challenges him to pick a subject that’s “important”? In Allen Kurzweil’s case, after rejecting the Red Sox as a topic, he acquiesced to Max’s number two pick, “potato chips.” After all, the popular snack food had already crept into Kurzweil’s first two children’s books, Leon and the Spitting Image and Leon and the Champion Chip. In fact, it was during Kurzweil’s tour for the Leon books when he learned that educators just assumed that the experiments the teacher conducts in Champion Chip weren’t possible, that he decided to work with his son to create a science kit for kids and teachers based on chips: Potato Chip Science Book & Stuff (Workman, Sept.).

Author Kurzweil and his son, Max.To get started, says Kurzweil, “we transformed our basement into a research facility. Much to the consternation of my wife, it became a junk food paradise.” Kurzweil and Max taste-tested a variety of chips and then created experiments using them, as well as the containers—potato chip bags, lids, and tubes. Not every experiment, like the ant colony, made it into the finished kit. Some were rejected because they were too complicated to replicate or to obtain the materials. But the shrunken potato head, the pocket-sized propulsion pipe, and the CSI Detective Kit all made the cut.

While Kurzweil and Max researched the book, they faced a more difficult problem: how to manufacture the kit so that the book and all the other pieces would fit into a potato chip bag. Plus Kurzweil and Max wanted to make Potato Chip Science here in the U.S. with eco-friendly components, unlike other science kits, which are primarily produced in Asia. In fact the manufacturing issue was so knotty that the book was ready a full year before the rest of the kit, despite father and son putting in annual visits to SNAXPO, the trade show for snack food professionals, where Kurzweil and Max asked lots of manufacturing questions.

Max at age 10, conducting 'market research' for their idea.For Kurzweil, the manufacturing conundrum was one of the most pleasurable parts of the project because it enabled him, he says, to tap into a previously unknown desire to make things. His father was an industrial designer and inventor; his cousin Ray Kurzweil was called “the rightful heir to Thomas Edison” by Inc. magazine.

Kurzweil jokes that his address book now has almost as many names of snack food manufacturers as novelists and editors. In the end, Bryce Corporation, which won a Greener Package Award for its one-third compostable, polylactic acid Sun Chips bag, created the bag. Although the bag itself is not biodegradable, it and every piece of the packaging is repurposed for the experiments. Kurzweil sourced most of the components, although Max made a connection with a manufacturer in Rhode Island for the electrodes. With the exception of the sound chip and the clock, everything was sourced in the U.S.

Max at age 16, with the finished product.Despite the necessity—for the sake of research—of eating a lot of chips, Kurzweil, who is currently a fellow at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, was forced to cut back. The research threw his triglyceride count off the charts. Nor does he have a favorite chip. Like novels, he says, “I can’t see living with just one.” Max, who is now 16 and will be a junior at The Wheeler School in Providence, R.I., continues to munch at will.

As for Potato Chip Science, it proved to be a popular giveaway at this spring’s SNAXPO. It’s also been a hit with booksellers. After an initial print-run of 35,000 copies, Workman is planning to go back to press next week, according to senior publicist Oleg Lyubner. And that’s before Kurzweil embarks on a two-month book tour starting in mid-September at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. He will also visit Nashville, St. Louis, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Phoenix.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Children's Publishers v.s the Rainforest....

Are Children's Publishers Destroying Rainforests?
By Karen Springen
Jun 24, 2010

Do children’s publishers deserve to wear green hats—or black ones? After all, it’s tricky to make good-looking four-color picture books from recycled paper, or affordable ones from virgin paper that is certified as eco-friendly. The cost issue sends publishers to Asia, where paper and materials are cheaper. The problem: printers there may use fiber from Indonesian rainforests.

In a recent report, the Rainforest Action Network said most of the top 10 children’s publishers have released at least one picture book containing paper fiber linked to the destruction of Indonesian rainforests. Of the 18 children’s books in RAN’s test, all 18 included materials from existing tropical forests or from plantations run on razed rainforest land. “Our end game for our campaign is to get overseas printers to eliminate Indonesian suppliers and Indonesia fiber from the papers they buy for their printing,” said Lafcadio Cortesi, forest campaign director for RAN. “We’re asking publishers to specify in their contracts with their printers that they cannot use paper from endangered forest fiber.” About half of all glossy four-color children’s books are printed overseas, Cortesi said.

For their part, children’s book publishers say they are making great strides to be green. This coming winter, the Book Industry Environmental Council plans to introduce a book jacket eco-label (similar to the Good Housekeeping seal of approval). Books will only carry the “certified green publisher” seal if they contain no endangered forest fiber. Similar to the LEED green building certification program, the new system would contain three tiers, which would depend on 22 different environmental metrics, including ink, distribution, and return rate.

Some environmentalists and publishers think RAN focuses too narrowly (and too negatively) on rainforest fibers rather than considering other social and environmental factors. “Responsibility is the measure,” said Joshua Martin, director of the Environmental Paper Network, which represents more than 100 groups working together to accelerate social end environmental change in the pulp and paper industry.

Still, he agrees with RAN’s basic message that publishers should not use rainforest materials. “I don’t think anyone should be using controversial fiber from controversial sources because there are so many alternatives out there,” he said. For example, it’s possible to make paper from agricultural residues, such as sugar cane.

“There are a lot of nuances to this issue,” said Tyson Miller, director of the Green Press Initiative. U.S. publishers are making greater strides than the RAN report might indicate, he believes. Miller estimated that about 15 to 20 percent of fibers in all U.S. books today are recycled—up from 13.3 percent in 2007 and just 2.5 percent in 2004. He also noted that whereas nearly half of German publishers use tropical hardwood fiber in their books, only about 5 percent of U.S. publishers do. “That’s a sign of progress that wasn’t talked about,” said Miller. “I see all that the industry has been doing.”

In its report, RAN doesn’t distinguish between Indonesia fiber from rainforests vs. Indonesian fiber from old vs. new plantations. (Plantations tend to just grow acacia trees.) “They’re simplifying the message now and saying, ‘Nothing from Indonesia,’ ” said Miller. “The hard part is do you know when that plantation was established? If U.S. publishers are getting that fiber from plantations established 10 years ago and nothing new was established, that’s completely in line with what the Rainforest Action Network was promoting [in the past].”

RAN’s Cortesi is upset that companies continue to convert natural forests—with 90 to 200 different species of tree every couple of acres—into one-crop plantations. “The plantation fiber is helping to drive the destruction of the natural forests,” he said. “The plantation fiber is part of a system of overall rainforest destruction.” It also leaves a huge carbon footprint, he contends, because of massive carbon releases when peet lands are destroyed.

Publishers note that being rainforest-friendly is only one component of being green. Houses such as Scholastic are trying to use less paper, to use recycled paper and to use more paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which ensures that paper comes companies that manage their lands responsibly and pay attention to biodiversity and worker rights. By 2012, Scholastic, already considered to be a green publisher, plans to make sure that 30 percent of its paper purchases are FSC certified and that 25 percent of its fiber is “recovered.” Also, it works with its mills to create lighter grades of paper that look the same as heavier ones. For example, a 50-pound paper might go down to 45 pounds. It also makes its summer catalog on smaller, thinner paper. It recycles some of its returns into donation programs. And it uses only nontoxic inks.

Technology has made recycled paper look surprisingly good. “They’ve come a long way in the last 20 years,” said Lisa Serra, director of paper procurement for Scholastic, co-chair of the eco-label committee of the Book Industry Environmental Council and chair of the BIEC committee that is coming up with the eco-label. “It looks a lot better than when you used to have paper with lots of flecks in it, and you couldn’t tell if it was a period or the paper.” (Back then, proofreaders circled those dots, said Francine Colaneri, v-p of manufacturing and corporate purchasing for Scholastic.)

The degradation and destruction of tropical rainforests—mostly to get palm oil and wood for publishing—is responsible for 15 percent of annual greenhouse emissions, according to RAN. The group also noted that the resulting carbon footprint has turned Indonesia into the third-largest global greenhouse gas emitter, behind the United States and China. “They’re not coming from transportation or burning of energy. They’re coming from deforestation,” said RAN’s Cortesi. It releases carbon trapped in the soil. “Plantations don’t absorb the carbon from the atmosphere as quickly or efficiently as natural forests,” he said.

In a separate release, RAN suggested 25 rainforest-friendly titles, including H.A. Rey’s Curious George Plants a Tree (printed on paper certified by the FSC with soy ink) and Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax (printed on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper).

Why not 100 percent FSC, or 100 percent recycled paper? “There’s not enough FSC capacity for every single publisher to have every single paper printed on it,” said Serra. And despite improvements in quality, it’s still difficult to make high-end, four-color books out of recycled paper. “You could use 10 percent recycled, possibly 20 percent recycled, but when you get any higher, most mills cannot make that fancy sheet with more recycled fiber,” Serra added. “It can lessen the strength.”

Buyers can look for books printed in the United States since—unlike books printed in China—they never use Indonesian fibers. “If you look for books manufactured in North America, you know you’re not going to be impacting Indonesian forests,” said Miller. “You can be sure it’s a much greener book. It’s also not traveling all of those miles.”

But some books published in Asia are environmentally correct, too. “Even though we may do some manufacturing overseas, we are still requiring our vendors to provide paper that meets controlled wood standards,” said Colaneri. “You couldn’t just look and say, ‘This is printed in China or Singapore, and therefore it does not meet the standard.’”

Scholastic already told its vendors it would prohibit sourcing from Indonesia and tropical forests and from Asian Pulp & Paper Co. and Asia Pacific Resources International Limited. In the future, Scholastic also plans to randomly test books to verify the paper source. (Despite a moratorium on all new logging in tropical forests in Indonesia, illegal logging is common, Miller said.)

Will readers be willing to pay extra for books with green seals? Maybe. “You have to somehow marry consumer awareness with elevation of price,” said Kenny Brechner, owner of DDG Booksellers in Farmington, Maine. He applauds publishers for “trying to do something about this low-priced paper that’s bad for the environment.” Many consumers will shell out an extra dollar for a book, he said, “because it’s on paper that’s not destroying the rain forest.”

Children's book publishers say they are hardly ignoring the environment. In the fall of 2008, Simon & Schuster launched Little Green Books. The 20-book collection uses soy and vegetable inks, mostly FSC-certified paper and 100 percent recyclable paper. The titles are especially popular with mom bloggers, says Julie Christopher, senior marketing manager, licensed and novelty publishing at S&S Children’s Publishing.

Hachette Book Group, which began working on sustainability issues more than two years ago, prints most of its books in North America. As it increases its amount of recycled and FSC-certified paper, the company is controlling costs in other ways, such as reducing the number of paper types it uses. How will it make customers aware of its eco-friendliness? "There are lots of options to consider, from calling out the specific percentage of recycled paper in a book to prominent placement of an FSC logo," says Pete Datos, v-p of the Hachette Book Group and chair of the Book Industry Environmental Council. "We are also looking forward to the launch of the Book Industry Environmental Council's eco-label, which will hopefully standardize some of the consumer communication across the whole book industry.

Still to be determined: whether paper books or electronic ones are better for the environment. After all, books are made from trees—but they biodegrade. The Green Press Initiative takes no formal position on which is more environmental—paper books or e-books. “There hasn’t been a really comprehensive lifecycle analysis where we feel the right comparison has been established,” said Miller. With e-books, “where have the heavy metals been mined from?” he asked. “Do they have an after use?” Many heavy metals are mined in the Congo basin, he said. How long will the electronic devices last? “Environmental issues can’t just boil down to climate,” said Miller. It’s bad news, he added, “if you’ve got a device where the materials are mined from areas with social conflict or no infrastructure to recycle it except sending it to China.” Paper books can be surprisingly green. “If you have a high degree of recycled paper, then you are supporting jobs, recovering materials.”

Like the Green Press Initiative, RAN is “agnostic” on e-books vs. paper books, Cortesi said. “We do not understand the environmental footprint of Kindles and iPads yet. They’re very complicated. They’re made of many different materials. We don’t know how quickly they break down.” What he does know: “If they’re going to read on paper, it should be good paper.”

That’s easier to do with text-only books than with picture books. In 2007, Scholastic announced that all 12 million copies of the U.S. edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be printed on paper containing a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer waste fiber and 65 percent of the paper used in the first U.S. printing would be certified by the FSC. It was the largest purchase of FSC-certified book for the printing of a single book title.

Other publishers are making positive strides. Candlewick Press’s parent company, Walker Books, belongs to the Publishers’ Dabase for Responsible Environmental Paper Sourcing. This database, set up by 19 U.K. publishers, will award a grade of one to five stars based on the Egmont Grading System—which considers whether material has been legally harvested or recycled and how the forest sources have been managed. Disney Publishing Worldwide now mandates that all of its suppliers use only material certified by the FSC, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.

Despite RAN’s negative report, Cortesi isn’t condemning publishers. “Most of the publishers have come out and said they care about these issues,” he said. “What we want to see is that they all act on it quickly and decisively.”

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Manga Going Strong......

Down, but Not Out: Manga Holds On in a Tough Market
By Kai-Ming Cha Jun 22, 2010

Despite a serious downturn in the U.S. economy and a 20% drop in sales last year, manga, or Japanese comics, still represents more than $140 million in sales and continues to be a significant niche in the American comics market. Yen Press, Hachette's manga/graphic novel imprint, dominates the New York Times manga bestseller list with such works as Black Butler and the Twilight and Maximum Ride manga adaptations, and independent comics publisher Dark Horse reports sales of its manga have grown 13% this year.Still, it's clear that the American manga market is in the midst of a shakeout. Last month, Viz Media, one of the largest U.S. manga publishers, laid off 40% of its staff; DC Comics shut down its manga imprint, CMX; and indie manga publishers Go! Comi and Aurora Publishing quietly shut their doors as well. Clearly, the market is not what it was during the boom years of 2000–2006, and manga publishers have been forced to become creative in finding ways to survive a tough economy.
Indeed, the launch of a coalition of Japanese and U.S.-based manga publishers focused on fighting "scanlations," or scanned and translated copies of manga illegally posted online without the permission of copyright holders, shows an industry determined to survive and fight a growing threat. Scanlations were originally placed online by fans at a time when it was difficult to find manga outside Japan, and many publishers believed they seeded the U.S. market and attracted new readers. But in recent years, the practice has been dominated by "scanlation aggregators," sites that host thousands of illegally scanned manga editions, offering them to read for free. These sites attract millions of readers and generate revenue for the sites through advertising."Our fundamental stance is that scanlations are hurting our industry, not just North American localization but the global manga industry," said Alvin Lu, v-p, book publishing, at Viz Media, a member of the new anti-scanlation coalition along with such major Japanese houses as Kodansha, Square Enix, Shueisha and Shogakukan. Other members include U.S. manga houses Yen Press, Vertical Inc. and Tokyopop. The announcement is also an acknowledgment of the growing digital revolution in book publishing and publisher plans for legal digital distribution in a category crowded with digital bootlegs. "We're dipping our toe in the water," Lu said. Viz Media distributes a select list of manga over two Web sites: Shonen Sunday for teen readers, and SigIkki for mature and experimental manga. Lu said that the company is looking into the various e-reader devices, and also has a Web site, Viz Anime, that offers whole episodes of anime series. Viz will also start streaming anime from Japan—a model that Lu said the company is exploring for manga as well. "We're beginning various efforts for simultaneous English/Japanese publishing on our Shonen Sunday and Ikki sites." Two years ago, independent Los Angeles manga publisher Digital Manga Publishing launched its eManga Web site, where visitors could rent or buy digital versions of its manga. DMP's president and CEO, Hikaru Sasahara, said revenue is still small, but has been gradually increasing. "We took a very aggressive approach," he said.
But Japanese publishers—the majority of U.S. manga is licensed from Japanese houses—have been very slow to address digital publishing, quite possibly because of the pirated scans. Add to that the tough negotiations required by licensees to get digital rights, which are not included in Japanese print publishing contracts, a process Sasahara described as "tedious." He said "big [publishing] companies in Japan are very conservative about new media. They always want to do it on their own, and they are very, very slow."However, Sasahara is not a part of the anti-manga piracy alliance, and he does not believe that piracy is the problem. He thinks the licensing process has become prohibitively expensive and overly restrictive for U.S. licensees, and that the U.S. manga market is so small—manga is a $5 billion industry in Japan—that scanlations help bring in new readers. He's quick to add that he is not endorsing scanlation but he also believes publishers need to find a way to exploit the huge traffic on scanlation sites. "There's one million people visiting those sites," Sasahara said, "that's a big demand." Likewise, Dark Horse, publisher of American and Japanese comics, doesn't see scanlation as a problem. "I don't think scanlations can account for such a precipitous drop [in manga sales]," said Michael Martens, v-p, new business development at Dark Horse. On the other hand, Vertical Inc., a small U.S. publisher responsible for bringing manga's founding father, Osamu Tezuka, to the U.S., is adamant about piracy. "It's obvious to us," said Vertical marketing director Ed Chavez. "We've noticed that when [Tezuka's] Black Jack was on the aggregator site, our numbers have taken a bit of a dip." Conversely, Chavez said, when the aggregator has removed the books (after numerous requests from the publisher) "the numbers go back up." Indeed, Yen Press publishing director Kurt Hassler is also convinced that scanlation aggregators are hurting his book sales and also noted that sales of Yen Press titles found on scanlation sites go back up when they can get them removed from these sites. "It's quite a coincidence," Hassler said.If there is any consolation for publishers during the downturn, it's that manga is now a permanent part of the American publishing marketplace. "No one can read what direction this market is moving in," Lu told PW. "We've gone through one tremendous cycle. Anyone with historical perspective on this knows that the manga market is better off now than we were five years ago. We're far from moribund."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jaws Tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Jaws tomorrow at 1 for teens 12 and older! We will provide soda and popcorn! Remember to wear your scuba gear for a door prize!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Book Reviews by Young Adults

Book Reviews by Young Adults

McArthur Public Library, home of the Biddeford Book Ninjas, has enjoyed a lively teen book group since it was created in 2004 by librarians Sally Leahey, Vicky Smith, and Margaret McNamee. It was established to encourage outspoken, voracious teen readers to share their feedback with the Best Books for Young Adults committee and has continued on as a vibrant, opinionated, and thoughtful group. It has served for two terms as one of YALSA's YA galley groups and our teens are very excited to begin writing reviews for SLJTeen.-Brooke Faulkner, teen services librarian, McArthur Public Library
Hart, Alison. Whirlwind. Laurel Leaf. May 2010. ISBN: 978-0375860058. Gr 5-9.
This book is not just another classic story on the power of the bond between horses and humans. Although those themes are touching and amazing, the way this book intertwines Jas's personal story with her quest to find her horse, Whirlwind, gives the tale a refreshing twist. All of the characters are very real, including the background ones, which I feel are often left transparent. I would recommend this book to any horse lover who also desires a splash of down-to-earth human compassion, and, of course, a touch of sweet teen love. For me, this was a quick read, but I think it would be suitable for anywhere around a fifth-grade reading level or above.-Marissa H., age 13

Nomura, Mizuki. Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime. Yen Press. July 2010. ISBN: 978-0-316-07690-6. Gr 7-12.
Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime tells the story of second-year high school student Konoha Inoue, who just happens to be in a book club with Touko Amano, a self-proclaimed "book girl," though not for reasons you might think. In truth, Touko likes to eat books, the only thing ever to grace her esophagus walls. Repulsed by anything we call food, she employs Konoha to write short stories for her to snack on each day. However, a mysterious request from a fellow student who is in need of a little relationship help turns their book club into a detective's retreat when they start to discover details of their school's past that have gone undiscovered. At this point, Konoha's history somehow finds itself intertwined with the puzzling case. Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime isn't just a mystery. The second part of the title hints at some of the personal issues that are discovered about the characters as you read further. I'm guessing that Book Girl takes place in Japan. I usually dislike Japan-based books because of their wild and crazy plot lines. But I found this one to be a little mellower, which resulted in me loving it. If you're like me, definitely give this book a chance. If you're not, then you probably would have read Book Girl anyway! Also note the wonderful manga illustrated pictures that occasionally appear through the pages. This book has a mix of comedy and suspense that makes it one of my favorite books in a long time.-Elyse O., age 15

Williams, Carol Lynch. Glimpse. S & S. June 2010. ISBN: 978-1-416-99730-6. Gr 7-12.
Glimpse is about one girl's struggle to survive in her inadequate home and to find out what drove her sister to suicidal thoughts. The story is told in blank verse and it reads much like an Ellen Hopkins novel, although it's not nearly as startling. I liked the fact that it was not the narrator that was having the problems in her home but a secondary character. This fact made it different than most of the other books in blank verse that I've read. Although I liked Glimpse when it was compared to other books of its type, I still wish that it wasn't so much of a "teen problem" book. Young adult readers repeat: we do not all like reading about problems. It's depressing. Even though I still don't understand exactly why the book is entitled Glimpse, I would still recommend it. It's interesting to see teen problems from an outside source instead of directly within. It's a fast-paced story that will keep young adult readers engaged. The concept of Glimpse was so interesting that I had a difficult time putting it down.-Hilary L., age 17

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Little Brown to start a "Glee" Publishing Program.....

Calling all gleeks: this fall Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will launch a publishing program based on the hit Fox TV show about a high school glee club, starting with The Beginning, a paperback original prequel that delves into the backstories of various characters on the show. The Beginning will be published by Little, Brown’s Poppy imprint in August with a 150,000-copy first printing.
Senior executive editor Erin Stein and editor Elizabeth Bewley acquired five Glee books from Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising. The books will be developed in collaboration with the show’s producers and writers.

“Viewers may have shed a few tears during Tuesday’s season finale, but we’re so excited to be able to give “gleeks” something to smile about in August,” said Andrew Smith, v-p and deputy publisher of LBYR. “A few of us were lucky enough to attend the sold-out show at Radio City Music Hall and got to see first-hand what a huge and dedicated tween/teen following the show has. There is a huge Glee fan-base at Little, Brown—so much so that several of us took part in a Glee-inspired music video of Somebody to Love that was used to launch the program at sales conference this past February. We’re thrilled to be working with Fox and have the involvement of the show’s brilliant producers to introduce original and exclusive content that fans won’t be able to get anywhere else—not even on the show.”

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two Different takes On the Vampire for Summer...

Well, it's summer of 2010 and the vampire crazy looks like it's still here, so I thought I'd share two new books with you that NPR is touting as being great vampire-like fiction. These books are technically adult, but I'm sure many of you have the desire and intelligence (!) to read them anyway. Enjoy!

The Passage
The Passage by Justin Cronin, hardcover, 784 pages, Ballantine Books, list price: $27
Much of the buzz is about The Passage — a nearly 800-page brick with a blurb from Stephen King. The Passage is not really a vampire novel in the traditional sense, but it's definitely in the blood and horror genre; it's more like Stephen King's The Stand. A secret military experiment goes awry. The disease gets out of the lab, creates monsters, and the Earth is practically destroyed. The monsters are vampire-like in that they feed on blood, but they don't speak, and only a tiny spark of their old self remains.
Like The Stand, what makes The Passage gripping is the adventures of a group of survivors who are determined to find the source of the plague destroying their world. Protected by lights that may soon fail, they venture out into the destroyed world, fighting the monsters. They encounter small groups of survivors and a mysterious voiceless girl who may hold the key to the origins of the disaster.
The plot rarely lets you down, and some of the writing is so lyrical that you find yourself in the dystopian, ravaged world. The survivors have little knowledge of the world's history, but they create new culture, new language and new social structures. This is the first book in a trilogy, and ends with the threat still out there. The Passage may be almost 800 pages, but you will turn them quickly. It comes out Tuesday.

Blood Oath
Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth, hardcover, 400 pages, Ballantine Books, list price: $24.95
Blood Oath is also the first of a trilogy, and it combines, in a unique way, a vampire novel and a presidential thriller — sounds crazy, but stick with me.
In 1867, in the time of President Andrew Johnson, a young man named Nathaniel Cade is attacked by a vampire while working on a whaling ship. Overwhelmed by hunger — and to his own diminishing horror — he feeds on his best friend. He is imprisoned and later pardoned from a death sentence by the president, who binds him with a blood oath, compelling Cade to be a secret agent and protect all U.S. presidents.
Nathaniel Cade is taciturn and cold — a hunter and killer who believes himself damned, but still a Christian. He wears a cross, even though it hurts; he objects to words of blasphemy, and even goes to AA meetings to deal with his own blood lust. Like Spock in Star Trek, he seems emotionally dead if fascinating.
The novel begins when Cade's old handler is retiring, and Zach Barrows is hired to replace him. Young, ambitious and a Washington insider, Barrows dreams of being chief of staff. He is given this new assignment and told of a hidden world. Barrows' relationship with Cade — and his growing maturity in what is clearly a bizarre and dangerous job — is the most compelling aspect of the novel.
The various evils — a former Nazi scientist who wants to create Frankenstein monsters, a jihadist group; a shadow CIA — all seem a bit predictable, but there is pure fun here as well: a whole bunch of pseudo-documents, including a hilarious explanation for the missing 18 minutes in the Nixon tapes.
Cade has no love for humanity — his long life makes him view human foibles with some disdain. The best vampire novels struggle with moral questions: What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to use power wisely? Cade struggles with his vanishing humanity, and author Farnsworth has the potential to create an even more interesting character in Book 2.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Al Roker's Tween & Teen Book Club....

Al Roker, the face of the Today Show, has been covering Teen and Tween reads for the last year or so. I've gotten around to checking out the website :, which is filled with book excerpts, interviews, real-time video players, and much more. It is definitely worth checking out and if you are interested in joining a book club, this would be a great one to start with. His choices would appeal mostly to tweens and teens in the 12-15 age group, but there are some exceptions.

His next choice, Middleworld, is set to be the first book in a new series and is already getting a lot of press. Here's a brief description:

fourteen-year-old Max Murphy is looking forward to a family vacation. But his parents, both archaeologists and Maya experts, announce a change in plan. They must leave immediately for a dig in the tiny Central American country of San Xavier. Max will go to summer camp. Max is furious. When he's mysteriously summoned to San Xavier, he thinks they've had a change of heart.

Upon his arrival, Max's wild adventure in the tropical rainforests of San Xavier begins. During his journey, he will unlock ancient secrets and meet strangers who are connected to him in ways he could never have imagined. For fate has delivered a challenge of epic proportions to this pampered teenager. Can Max rescue his parents from the Maya Underworld and save the world from the Lords of Death, who now control the power of the Jaguar Stones in their villainous hands? The scene is set for a roller-coaster ride of suspense and terror, as the good guys and the bad guys face off against a background of haunted temples, zombie armies, and even human sacrifice! (Excerpt from Publishers Weekly

Sounds good, doesn't it?? I just my copy on hold today and I'm hoping you'll do the same!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ha, ha! Funny take on the new Stephanie Meyer book....

I found this on Publishers Weekly website and thought it was a really good opinion piece and thought I'd share it with you----enjoy!

The Very Short Retail Life of Bree Tanner
Josie Leavitt

Well, the release of the novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, the latest missive from Stephenie Meyer, has been a bookstore dud. I read the listservs for ABC and NECBA and according to booksellers on those lists, sales have been pretty disappointing.
One bookseller even had a midnight release party with bands, pizza and giveaways, only to end the night having sold two, count ‘em two, books. Other bookstores reported sales of no greater than four. We’ve only sold three. Why is this, I wondered.
Well, it seems that the book, all 192 pages of it, has been available as a FREE download since noon yesterday. So let’s do some math here. Buy the book for $12.95 at your local indie or wait a mere day and a half after the on-sale date and read it for FREE. Let’s guess what the kids are going to do. However, I totally understand and applaud Stephenie Meyer’s impulse to reward her readers. But if she wants to help actually sell the book and ensure the Red Cross gets its a dollar for every book sold as promised, maybe waiting for a month after the release date would have been a nice compromise. I know there was a push to have folks read the book before the movie, but some sort of distance between the book’s release and the free download would have been great. Maybe, just maybe, this novella would have been better as a web-only read — think of the money the publisher could have saved on not producing a book that doesn’t stand a chance competing against a free download.
What really irritates me is that I was not told when I placed my order for 50 books that it would be available FREE fewer than 36 hours after my strict on-sale date. This kind of competition, directly from the publisher, is frustrating and disheartening. It’s hard enough to compete with the steep discounts of Target, Walmart and Amazon, but to have free downloads available to anyone with a computer fewer than two days after I get the book makes me want to weep.
My only consolation is the book isn’t too heavy, so our five boxes of returns won’t strain my back.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Paper Towns by John Green

I'm a big fan of John Green and think his book Looking for Alaska is one of my favorites of all time. I found this blurp on and thought I'd pass it along. It talks a bit about Paper Towns, another one of his works, and also includes some neat bookmarks and posters that you can download and enjoy.

Paper Towns by John Green
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows.After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Quentin arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Quentin soon learns that there are clues - and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Quentin sees of the girl he thought he knew.
Download this month's poster and bookmark.