Monthly Archives: May 2012

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The Adjusters by Andrew Taylor

They will make you perfect…
But first they will make you scream.

I have read and am a fan of Andrew Taylor’s Superhumans series. So when I opened the package containing my copy of the Adjusters I knew I had received something special*.

The cover illustration is eye-catching and resembles what I imagine a psychopath would have as a coat of arms. I found The Adjusters to be a departure in both style and content to his earlier books but just as tightly plotted and enjoyable.

The opening scenes of body horror promised so much and did not disappoint, what appeared to be the start of an excellent medical horror morphed into an brilliant blend of conspiracy and horror thriller.

We are introduced to Henry Ward the hero of the piece and his mother, on their way to her new job in a Newton, a perfect town in the middle of nowhere. The scene is set perfectly with an unsettling encounter with a runaway and the local police officer at a semi-rundown service station. This is an excellent piece of foreshadowing, setting Henry up against corrupt authority figures and people suspicious and fearful of teenagers.

It reads as a cross between The Stepford Wives and the Manchurian Candidate with a dash of big Brother thrown in to the mix!

The Adjusters also reminded me a bit of a movie from the late 1990’s called The Faculty, it was about a school where the teaching staff was taken over by a malevolent alien intelligence that then set about converting the students into their drones. I loved that film but The Adjusters is better, for one it is more believable. The scariest part of the book for me is that it is not outside the realms of possibility. I am paranoid enough to believe that there are organisations dedicated to making the general population more pliable through brain surgery and implants.

I devoured the book in a single sitting, it reads as a standalone novel but there are enough loose ends dangling that leave it open to a sequel.

*I was not wrong!

The Adjusters by Andrew Taylor Video Trailer

Andrew Taylor Virtual Visit

Andrew Taylor reading from his new novel The Adjusters live via Skype

On Sunday night 27th May I had nightmares about Skype not working and not having IT support to fix it, I woke up in a cold sweat and made sure that I tested everything on the Monday.

On Tuesday 29th May author Andrew Taylor spoke to the Farringtons School Year 7 Able, Gifted & Talented English group. They had all read the sample chapter available on the Usborne website and while they were waiting for the visit to begin they passed around my proof copy and stroked it enviously, before giving it back to me with great reluctance.

After an initial problem with Skype which seemed to make the nightmares of technology failure that I had on Sunday night come true our computers connected and Andrew Taylor appeared on the whiteboard to the cheers of the Year 7s.

Mr Taylor began by chatting about his writing career and the different places he had lived before launching into his first reading from the book, the students were entranced and once he had finished applauded loudly. He then asked them some questions about what they were afraid of and explained how he had used his fears in the book and gave them some tips on how to write using their own experiences and fears before encouraging them to ask their own questions.
The questions ranged from the odd “Are you afraid of clowns?” to “Are you afraid of beautiful people as the book is about making teenagers perfect?” and as an eagle-eyed member of the audience had spotted some toys in the background they started quizzing him about his family, if children influenced his writing and if he wanted his child to be a writer one day.

The entire event lasted just under an hour and Mr Taylor spoke with warmth and humour and totally won over his audience with his readings and answers to their questions. There was one student who was openly suspicious about the whole endeavour when it was announced weeks ago but even she was convinced by the end of the session. Several students have asked me to order copies of The Adjusters on their behalf to go with their signed book plates and three more have told me that their parents have ordered copies for them.

This was the first time I have been involved in organising a Skype author visit and I would like to thank Andrew Taylor, Liz Scott and Usborne Children’s Books for making this visit possible.

Organising Author Skype Visits

Hosting a virtual author Skype visit is a lot easier than you may think, all you need (apart from a willing author at the other end of the Internet) is an Internet-enabled computer, the Skype VOIP program, a webcam, a microphone and for best effect an interactive whiteboard to project the image onto.

Skype is freely available to download for all major operating systems, you can download it here and you can pick up a microphone, speakers and basic webcam for under £20. The biggest problem that colleagues that I have spoken to in the past have had was being able to access Skype through their work computers. The only way to get around this is to cultivate a good working relationship with your IT team, or, failing that, speak to your manager or senior leadership team and ask them to speak to teh IT peaople for you after making a really good case as to why you need it.

The Internet has made the world smaller than ever and with many authors now having embraced social media, more and more are willing to go on an international tour without leaving their home.

Finding an author willing to virtually visit your school or library is as easy as going to the Skype an Author website.


  • Make sure you have or can get Skype before booking an author
  • Test your Skype account the day before the event
  • If you have booked an author in a foreign country make sure you both know the times you are going to hold the virtual visit
  • Check that the webcam and microphone are working before the day
  • Have a member of teh IT team standing by just in case
  • MANGA JIMAN COMPETITION 2012 – extended

    Please Note: The closing date for the submission of entries has been extended. The deadline is now Monday 19 November 2012.

    The Embassy of Japan is once again launching the major manga-writing competition, MANGA JIMAN 2012, with fantastic prizes and open to anyone fourteen (14)* years of age or over.
    The amazing First Prize is two (2) return air tickets to Japan, courtesy of All Nippon Airways!**
    The Second Prize is a fabulous TOSHIBA laptop computer.
    Third Prize is a superb digital camera from RICOH UK Ltd
    Runners-up will receive and a selection of manga publications, available in the UK from various UK manga publishers amongst others prizes.
    The winners’ works will also be displayed in a special MANGA JIMAN EXHIBITION at the Embassy of Japan.

    This competition is open to all UK residents. All creations should be original and between six (6) to eight (8) A4-sized pages in length and drawn so that it reads from left to right. The manga should in some way make reference to ‘GANBARE!’.

    The closing date for the submission of entries is Thursday, 1 November 2012.

    Should you wish to enter, please read the full MANGA JIMAN COMPETITION 2012 RULES & REGULATIONS (pdf) and then carefully fill out and submit the official 2012 APPLICATION FORM (Word doc) along with your entry by post or in person to:

    Manga Jiman 2012 Competition
    Embassy of Japan
    101-104 Piccadilly
    W1J 7JT

    Please contact with any queries about the competition.

    * The competition is open to all legal residents of the United Kingdom who are, or will be, over the age of fourteen (14) by 1 January 2013.

    **Terms and conditions apply.

    Tips on Working with Teens: Do NOT Touch the Librarian

    This one is known as Mr Imrie’s first rule, and I put it in place for two reasons – firstly I am over 6 feet tall and fairly bulky, the last thing I want is to have someone scream “Oh my God! That monster what is he doing to the children?”

    I have had that particular phobia ever since the incident where I picked up my cousin’s daughter in Curry’s to prevent her from toppling an expensive television and she screamed the place down, fortunately I was able to find my cousin and give her back before anything happened which in my mind was being picked up by the police for attempted abduction and deported.


    It is the one boundary rule from which all others are established. As long as they follow the rule it shows they are actively thinking about engaging with you, it also building an almost subconscious level of respect. Eventually it becomes almost second nature and while they may recognize you as part of the library group they are also aware that you are apart from the group. In one of my previous libraries one of the teens introduced her friends to me by saying “This is Mr Imrie the Librarian, do not touch the Librarian, no-one is allowed to touch the Librarian!”

    Anyway, back to the tip. One of the things I have learned about teens is when they are in a group they can get very huggy – and they can be indiscriminate in their hugs. Glomping has been known to occur.

    I have only been hugged twice since starting working in the UK, the first was when one of my teens left the group to go to university, she hugged everybody and ambushed me and ignored my cries of “No touchy the librarian!” It was a bit embarrassing as I had some colleagues visiting the group from another local authority and I had been telling them about how I had been running the group. The second was after a group meeting and I was waiting at the bus stop and some of the kids were waiting nearby and started chatting to me about where they were going on their holidays when their bus arrived one of them hugged me to say goodbye then almost missed her bus as she started apologising for the hug and was worried about me getting into trouble at the library.

    A friend of mine set up his rule by establishing his personal bubble space through mime and then saying “This is my bubble you are not allowed through it!”

    Personally I prefer the Emperor’s New Groove approach

    I do that whenever anyone tries to hug me, or looks as if they may be heading that way. It helps avoids awkwardness and can sometimes get a laugh.

    There are a couple of exceptions to the no touch rule, these are either if someone wants to spud you (fist bump) or give you a high five. I can be persuaded to spud occasionally but never high five.

    EDIT: Barry Lyga has a good post on working with teens from an author’s perspective: Remember that they’re kids

    Six Years of Teen Librarian Monthly

    Today marks the sixth anniversary of Teen Librarian Monthly.

    The latest edition is now available to download here: TLM May 2012

    Find out why the Youth Libraries Group is worth joining! Learn about a new Teen Reading Group in Christchurch, New Zealand. Gasp in amazzement about the latest offering from TED and more*!

    * More includes but is not limited to: an interview with phenomenal YA author Tim Bowler, information on a Philippa Gregory event at the end of May, an exciting article about SisterSpooky: Book Fangirl and information about the Guardian Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize!

    Seattle Public Library Teen Summer Reading Programme

    Seattle Public Library will be running what looks like it is going to be an amazing summer reading program for their teen readers:

    Read and review books, enter to win a Kindle, attend free programs and catch and release books in a citywide scavenger hunt…

    More information will become available on 1st June.

    Tips on Working With Teens: Do not try to be cool! You are not cool – and never will be!

    If you were cool you may never have become a librarian, we are never cool but we ARE completely awesome in many other ways!

    Cool is by nature exclusionary – and the library is used largely (but not exclusively) by uncool kids – the geeks, outsiders and young people that want a place where their bullies may not think of looking for them. If you exude coolness it may scare them off as only cool kids mingle with cool people.

    If you target the in crowd first you will limit the growth of the group to those that are in their favour and the library group may become just another clique where the outsiders are marginalised.

    Be a geek, this is easy as almost everyone is a geek these days, be your natural slightly odd self – most of the best librarians I know and spend time with are painfully uncool in all the best ways; they are also magnificent when it comes to working with young people.

    Eventually the library teens will accept you as one of their own and start trusting you and your suggestions on what to read and do!

    Being uncool you will not be a threat to the cool kids and they will eventually take pity on you and talk to you. Once the first one starts talking the others will eventually come round and start engaging

    One of the perks of being uncool is that kids will feel secure enough to laugh with you and, at times at you but you will be their librarian and they will trust you and love you for as long as you are there!

    Once you have done this you will have started transcending the cool barrier, the kids you work with will eventually start saying that you are cool (it may take a year or so)but you must remind them that you are not cool – you are AWESOME – as is everybody that uses the library! When teens realise that they are awesome they will finally start realising that cool is not really that cool.

    Mockingjay Pin Winners

    The WINNERS of the Teen Librarian Mockingjay Pin Competition are:

    Inez Kinanthi



    Yay congratulations!

    Please e-mail me at editor(at) with your address details and I will send out your badges as soon as possible!