Tag Archive | business

Year Zero, by Rob Reid (book review) – music downloads, alien invasion, legal loopholes?

book cover of Year Zero by Rob Reid published by Del Rey Books

Sharing music is an age-old tradition.
Downloading music is more recent.
But global annihilation to avoid copyright fees?

That’s what Earth faces when the rest of the universe realizes that their music downloads since the 1970s have run up a copyright bill bigger than…than…than the universe.

Author Rob Reid knows quite a lot about music licensing and copyright, since he founded the Rhapsody music service before he wrote this first novel. About those lawsuit-happy aliens… he’s not telling us his sources.

Grab this funny-alien-legal-music-thriller in hardcover, eBook, or audiobook now at your local library or independent bookstore; available in paperback April 30, 2013.

Wonder if aliens really prefer disco to 80s hair metal?

Book info: Year Zero / Rob Reid. Del Rey Books, 2012.  [author’s website] [author’s Facebook page] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Book Talk: Radio waves going from station to listener bounce out into space, too, and the aliens agree that Earth’s music is better than any other in the universe.
But once they realize how much money the entire Refined League owes in royalty and copyright fees to human musicians, some alien bad guys decide that wiping out Earth to erase the debt is the only way to go!
However, most aliens would rather find a more-peaceful solution, so a few drop in on New York attorney Nick Carter to have him fix it all. Alas, Nick is not the Backstreet Boys singer Nick (as the aliens had hoped) nor is he the world’s best music copyrights attorney who could possibly find a way to reverse-license a few decades of slightly-to-completely illegal music downloads many light years from Earth.
But he’s going to have to try, since the bad-aliens will blow up Earth in a few days’ time if he can’t find a way around or through this problem. Of course, his law firm will decide this week on whether he’ll finally be named a junior partner or get axed, his cute neighbor also acquires a stray pet who’s an alien spy, and the wrinkles of universe-travels get a little sweaty.
Did the aliens of the Refined League honestly decide that Earth’s musical domination of the universe ended with rap?
Are there truly jokes coded into human (or Perfuffinite) DNA, since our bodies only use 2% of the genome?
Is there really a loophole in US music copyright law that Nick can find in time?
This debut novel by the founder of Rhapsody online music service brings music-crazed aliens to Earth, whisks earnest-but-only-human humans into outer space battles, and sharply skewers the most restrictive music copyright system in the universe between all the laughs.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Difference Between You and Me, by Madeleine George (fiction) – love, be true to yourself

book cover of Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George published by Viking

Fisherman boots and rough-cut hair.
Sweet little flats and pearl buttons.
These two girls couldn’t be more different, yet more attracted to one another.

But fabulous kisses can hardly outweigh Emily’s go-go-go-business attitude when Jesse considers the damage that a large corporation could inflict on their charming small town. 

Beyond the complicated/simple attraction between Jesse and Emily in this story is the larger question of being true to your community. Whether observing the International Day of Peace Vigil every September 21st with millions or demonstrating weekly for peace like Jesse and friends, perhaps humankind can take more steps forward for community and peace in 2013.

Find this honest and enriching story in hardback or eBook today at your local library or independent bookstore.
What’s your most heartfelt wish for this new year?

Book info: The Difference Between You and Me / Madeleine George. Viking, 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: Her kisses are perfect, her pearl-button sweaters are adorable, but the way that Emily compartmentalizes her life bugs Jesse. Of course, it’s complicated because she’s always second-fiddle to Emily’s boyfriend, and Emily’s work as Student Council VP, and Emily’s upcoming internship with NorthStar…

Jesse’s parents accept her orientation, although they’re not so happy about her frequent detentions for plastering the high school with posters for NOLAW, the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos. They think she has a crush on earnest young activist Esther when the girls attend their town’s weekly peace vigil together. Honestly…
Her buddy Wyatt has to contend with his anti-gay father while trying to keep his homeschooling on track so that he doesn’t have to go back to their high school; he and Jesse keep each other real. So why hasn’t Jesse ever told him about her weekly rendezvous with Emily?
Emily cannot understand why the Student Council won’t let NorthStar be the sole sponsor of their dance. Just because the corporation might bring a huge StarMart to town, might endanger all the small businesses, might…might…might!
When should financial gain win out over doing the right thing? How far can you go to protect your community without resorting to violence? How do you decide when a relationship is over?
Alternating chapters by Jesse and Emily weave together a story that’s more than physical attraction and much more than your average StuCo meeting.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

On ARCs, review timing, and niches (reflective) – my blog = my choices & recommendations

sketch of black cat reading a sheet of paper
from OpenClipart.org

After I left my High School library 3 years ago, I seriously missed being able to connect the right books with the right readers. Thankfully, a shout-out from Barb Langridge on LM_NET (school librarians’ listserv) let me start writing recommendations of great books for babies, kids, tweens, and teens on her site www.abookandahug.com. (Try the “Which Reading Superhero Are You?” quiz – it’s spot on!)

Then on May 1, 2011, I started BooksYALove as part of the WordCount Blogathon so that I could add my own personal observations and relevant info links to my recommendations. Despite other bloggers’ urging, I have NOT ‘monetized’ this blog – no referral links to online book retailers or ads. I will often point readers to sites where they can search for local library or independent bookseller – sales taxes support essential services where we live, ya know.

I want BooksYALove to be a repository of recommendations for books that YA readers might miss – those great ones from first-time authors, small publishers, and smaller imprints of major publishing houses. The books must be available in a bricks-and-mortar store (even if by special order) and from more than one source online if in electronic formats = I won’t point YA readers toward any book that requires a credit card in order to obtain it, so I’m not accepting self-published works currently.

My TBR (to be read) stacks of printed ARCs and new books require additional bookshelves now, while my downloaded ARCs need some sort of pinging alarm system to remind me of their digital expiration dates.

BooksYALove is a niche blog, so I’m picky about the ARCs that I choose, whether it’s at Texas Library Conference or directly from publishers. And as for the ARCs themselves, I admit to having a love/hate relationship: 
I love being able to get ARCs so that I can read and recommend the best works from debut authors and smaller presses, but I hate the pile-up of non-sellable books (if print format) and the too-quick expiration of most digital ARCs.

Yes, I realize that publishers are wary of allowing digital-format ARCs to be “out in the wild” once the works are actually published, but I don’t want to be forced to write a recommendation during their preset publicity schedule! Yes, word-of-mouth publicity just prior to publication date helps create “buzz” for a new book, but you’d think that publishers would like to also build up a groundswell of sales during the months (or years) following a book’s birthday.

Best-case scenario for me is to read the book and write a recommendation during the digital ARC’s open-time, then publish it on my schedule. So thanks to the urging of Bekka at Pretty Deadly Reviews, I’m signing up for the Netgalley Knockdown in July, trying to read all of the digital ARCs currently in my queue with Netgalley, Edelweiss, and directly from publishers, write up at least the barebones of any recommendations (since not every interesting-sounding book makes the cut for BooksYALove, you know), then decide when I want to blog them.

I’ll keep choosing just the best ARCs to place on my real and virtual TBR shelves for books you won’t want to miss. Lots of great reading ahead, y’all!

All These Things I’ve Done, by Gabrielle Zevin = Z (fiction) – chocolate, crime, deadly

Payoffs keep New York City running.
Chocolate and caffeine are illegal drugs.
Paper is scarce and clean water even scarcer.
Welcome to 2083.

Anya has inherited her crime boss father’s business sense, his stake in the mafiya chocolate empire, and responsibility for her mentally disabled older brother, precocious younger sister, and dying grandmother.

What a time to fall in love! And with Win, of all people. Her lab partner for anatomy and physiology class is cute, smart, and the son of NYC’s newest assistant district attorney who is determined to make it to the top by shutting down illegal chocolate operations.

In the face of the frightening choices that she must make to keep her immediate family safe, Anya asks God’s forgiveness for All These Things I’ve Done, first in the Birthright series.

So this is the last A-to-Z Blog Challenge post for this year, 26 new book recommendations in April! On to the 2012 WordCount Blogathon for May and BooksYALove’s first birthday tomorrow.

Book info: All These Things I’ve Done (Birthright, book 1) / Gabrielle Zevin. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011 (hardback); Square Fish, 2012 (paperback). [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: Illegal or unwise – which choice is worse? Anya’s mafiya family makes chocolate, that forbidden drug, in crime-riddled New York City in 2083. The teen is trying to keep life normal for her grandmother, brother, and sister when someone is poisoned by tainted Balanchine chocolate. Now the police and the mafiya are trying to pin the blame on her.

The cute boy she’s falling for at school turns out to be son of the new DA who’s determined to prosecute chocolate and caffeine trafficking to the max, her older brother is incapable of caring for himself, and her grandmother’s health is failing. If Nana dies, the mafiya will gladly take over all the assets left to her by her dead crime boss father, and the city authorities will separate her from her brother and sister.

Surely Win knows who she is, knows what her extended family does – how can he start a relationship that’s guaranteed to anger his father? At least she’s finally broken up with that loser Gable, who was only after her chocolate connection.

When her brother Leo loses his cleaning job and starts hanging out with some of their more unsavory cousins, Anya warns him that they’re just trying to take advantage of him. No one could imagine that he’d get stuck in the middle of a big mafiya operation or that foreign racketeers might be trying to take over Balanchine’s territory.

Who’s really behind the chocolate poisonings? How can Anya keep juggling her siblings’ needs, her schoolwork, and her feelings for Win? How deep do family loyalties run and how far will their “protective” reach go? (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Whose Internet is this, anyway? (reflective)

If today (January 18, 2012) is “Internet Blackout Day” to protest SOPA/PIPA bills under consideration by the US Congress… then why am I still online? Why are you online, if you’re reading this post on the 18th?

Is it because we cannot go a single day or hour or minute without our entertainment and news and communication? Perhaps – but there are still movies and print newspapers and telephone calls that can fill those voids.

More likely, we’re online – now and any time – because we must share something. I mean that we are truly driven to share good news, bad news, cute kitten pictures, tidbits of information, and titles of books that someone else will just love; we are humans, and our culture of sharing is part of what makes us human.

To me, giving credit to the originator/creator/performer of a painting, a song, a book, a charming and witty sentence is a moral obligation, according to my upbringing and my education as a librarian. This was much easier when books and paintings were “one-off” and there was only one original with no easy way to copy it. Then along came the printing press, camera, tape recorder, photocopier and so on. Thank goodness for US copyright laws.

Yes, piracy of intellectual property is a real and growing problem. Yes, there do need to be legal ways to stop and punish intentional internet piracy. But I agree with many others that SOPA/PIPA is the wrong way to accomplish this.

This tweet today from Erin Bow (author of Plain Kate, which I recommend) puts it in perspective for me: “I’m an author; I make a living because of copyright, and piracy takes its toll. But SOPA would stop piracy by poisoning the ocean.” @ErinBowBooks

Google has started a petition to protest passage of SOPA (the House of Representatives version)/ PIPA (the Senate version); you can sign it here.

The bills are scheduled for Jan. 24th vote, so you have time to read them yourself (PIPA here, SOPA here) and contact your Representative and your Senators to help them understand that censoring the Internet through SOPA/PIPA will not stop piracy of intellectual property online.

If we do not speak out, how can we help our lawmakers decide?

50 Jobs in 50 States, by Daniel Seddiqui (book review) – 1 year to find perfect job

Months of fruitless job-searching left USC grad Daniel exhausted and his parents unhappy that he’d had to move back home. But he decided to act on a seemingly wild idea to work in each of the 50 states, meeting their people as he tried out one of the jobs unique to each place. This Fun Friday feature is an autobiography that roves across America, in search of more than just a job.

You’ll want to read for yourself how he persevered in his dream, rising above his parents’ disapproval, the logistics of finding the right job in the right area during the right time, and the immense difficulties of funding travel all over the USA. Yes, Daniel wanted to do this challenge on his own terms, not bound to a corporate sponsor‘s restrictions on which jobs he could try or how many times he had to tout their product in his blog.

Along the way, he met more supportive people than naysayers, tried his hand at skills that he never knew existed, and learned more about himself than he ever imagined.

Coal miner? Did it. Amish woodworker? Satisfying work. Baseball scout? Lots of dreams and talent out there – like our roving pal, who shares the high points and lowest lows of his adventure with us, in a conversational way. I guess “Inspirational” should be Daniel’s new middle name!

Book info: Fifty jobs in 50 states / Daniel Seddiqui. Berrett-Koehler, 2011 [author’s website] [publisher website] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After many interviews yield no job, Daniel decides to hit the road and work his way across the USA – one iconic job in each state – to find out what he truly wants to do with his life.

You’d think that good grades in college and a great resume would guarantee a job after graduation, but that’s not always true. But instead of giving into despair and taking a minimum-wage job, Daniel turns his back on the months-long, frustrating search for a position in economics and hatches the idea of traveling the United States to discover where he should really be and what career would use his talents best.

It took four months to set up his first short-term job and even longer to scrape together some funding to travel. His parents thought he was wasting his time; his on-again-off-again girlfriend thought he was crazy – Daniel knew that he had to do this to find his way in the work-world.

Rodeo announcer in South Dakota, corn farmer in Nebraska, landscape architect in New Mexico – he met helpful people, learned new skills, faced trials and setbacks. Meatpacker in Kansas winter (frozen fingers), bartender in New Orleans during Mardi Gras (lotsa kinds of crazy), peanut sheller in Georgia (allergic reaction) – Daniel never gave up.

Sharing his adventures through the media and his own blog, this young guy from California inspired many folks facing challenges and job losses to keep on trying. Enjoy this talking-to-your-buddy autobiographical travelogue through all 50 states as you root for Daniel to find his niche and to find someone to share his journey through life. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

For the Win (fiction)

Quick! Which of these is fictional (not real):
a) Online game playing as prison punishment?
b) online gamers forming a trade union?
c) Gold farming?

If you said (b), then you win! Cory Doctorow’s newest book delves into the world of gold farming, where some teens play online games to make a tiny bit of money to survive, not for fun. When they try to form a union so they can keep part of the “gold” that they win online instead of turning it all over to their bosses, both big business and their governments get angrily and mightily involved to protect their economic interests.

Make no mistake – in places where labor is cheaper than technology, real people are being forced into gold farming yet earning hardly anything, right this minute (like the Chinese prisoners noted above). And now scripted ‘bots can be set loose to play a low-level character on auto-pilot, earning a little gold, then repeating – lots of bots can equal a fair amount of pocket change, along with the risk of being discovered and banned from the game.

If you want to read the WHOLE book online, go here with Cory’s blessing. Yes, the author wants you to read his book online for FREE. That’s because Cory knows you’ll want to buy a copy so you can reread it, share it, and even remix it – yep, Creative Commons License. The guy is a genius! (seriously! I’ve read all his short stories and books online, then gone on to get the print books)

On World Wednesday, this fast-moving story takes you to China, India, Singapore, and the United States – who will really win?

Book info: For the Win / Cory Doctorow. Tor Teen, 2010. [author’s website] [author interview] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Playing games online all day, every day sounds like fun, doesn’t it? But for young people packed into smoky internet cafes in Singapore, Shenzen, and Mumbai, it’s a matter of survival.

People have discovered how to turn online “gold coins” and “magic gems” into real money, so the biggest online game worlds have larger economies than many nations, and youngsters in less-developed countries are recruited as “gold farmers,” playing online in teams and turning over their winnings to the bosses who hold their return-home tickets.

But what if the gold farmers organized, banded together for better working conditions? How does a kid from LA wind up in China to help the gold farmers unionize? And what happens when the big businesses who own the big online worlds strike back?

Meet young teens in China, India, and Malaysia who work as gold farmers to feed their families, who face violence from police and rival bosses when they’d rather go to school, who risk their lives to make a difference. This page-turner looks big, but reads fast, a techno-thriller that could happen tomorrow or might be happening today! 480 pages (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Start It Up, by Kenrya Rankin (book review) – your small-business guide

book cover of Start It Up by Kenrya Rankin published by Zest BooksIf you’re thinking about starting a business, I suggest you check out this book – Rankin has great checklists, quizzes, and advice, all in a well-crafted package.

New best friend for up-and-coming entrepreneurs, ask for it at your local library or independent bookstore.


Book Info: Start It Up: The Complete Teen Business Guide to Turning Your Passions Into Pay / Kenrya Rankin. Zest Books, 2011. http://www.zestbooks.net/ Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Your hobby or favorite activity could be a great way to make money, so use this business guide for teens to get started! Successful entrepreneurs (people who start their own business and work for themselves) work hard, communicate well, can multitask, are organized, and manage their time and money carefully – if you don’t have all these skills, you can learn them as you create your business.

Well-organized, with many checklists and questions to ask yourself, Start It Up helps you write a business plan, scope out your prospects, build a realistic budget, and keep track of all the paperwork entailed in owning your company. Quotes and notes from teen entrepreneurs who’ve succeeded in their chosen line of work are encouraging, yet realistic.

You’ll learn about hiring and managing employees, publicizing your business, providing great customer service, and using your business to make the world a better place. Lots of resources for each chapter point you to sources of further information.

Whether it’s gathering a board of advisors, raising start-up money, registering your business name, or filing your self-employment taxes (yes, you have to pay taxes even if you’re not an adult), you’ll find information and remember-this guides to help you avoid common new-business pitfalls as you follow your passions to a well-deserved payday.  (one of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)