Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why you should store your farts in a jar and other oddball or gross maladies, afflictions, remedies, and cures: By David Haviland

Why you should store your farts in a jar and other oddball or gross maladies, afflictions, remedies, and cures


The national bestseller Why You Shouldn't Eat Your Boogers & Other Useless or Gross Information About Your Body uncovered everything one might want to know (and a few things one might not) about the human body. The follow-up bestseller Why Fish Fart & Other Useless or Gross Information About the Worldcontained an artful selection of odd and/or unsavory facts about the world. Why Dogs Eat Poop scoured the animal kingdom for gross and or off-color facts about animals. In this delightfully disgusting new book in the series, David Haviland plumbs the world of medicine to uncover the answers to such vitally important questions as:

*What exactly is urine therapy?

*Is it safe to fly with breast implants?

*How did a nine-and-a-half-inch spatula find its way into a surgery patient's body?


Have you every wondered what exactly is urine therapy?

Is it safe to fly with breast implants?

How did a nine-and-a-half-inch spatula find its way into a surgery patient's body?

Why do some boxers drink their own pee?

What is cyclic vomiting syndrome and how can one avoid it?

Why you should store your farts in a jar and other oddball or gross maladies, afflictions, remedies, and cures by David Haviland is not only one of the longest titles I have seen in awhile, it is also a great book to pick up and peruse at odd times. This is the type of book that you want to read while waiting in the carpool line, or waiting in the reception area of a doctor’s office, or in the bathroom.

The title presents the book like a carnival sideshow, but the book is actually a series of interesting short history lessons about medicine and disease that are put together in a digestible question answer format. I loved reading those factoids that will be of use someday in a trivial pursuit game. Small stories about why we keep vials of small pox, what is the difference between a moron and an imbecile, and was Julius Caesar delivered by cesarean section are presented in conversational easy to read tidbits. This is the type of book that you want to read to a friend as he drives you on a two-hour road trip, full of knowledge and answering questions you always wondered about but never thought to look up. Questions such as: does urine take the pain out of a jellyfish sting? For these and other answers turn to Haviland’s book, which will entertain you and educate you and your friends.


Publisher: J P Tarcher

Published: December 30, 2010

Price: $12.95

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Spirit Eater: By Rachel Aaron



With the pressure on after his success in Gaol, Eli Monpress, professional thief and degenerate, decides it's time to lie low for a bit. Taking up residence in a tiny seaside village, Eli and his companions seize the chance for some fun and relaxation.

Nico, however, is finding it a bit hard. Plagued by a demon's voice in her head and feeling powerless, she only sees herself as a burden. Everyone's holiday comes to an untimely close, though, when Pele arrives to beg Eli's help for finding her missing father.

But there are larger plans afoot than even Eli can see, and the real danger, and the solution, may lie with one of his own and her forgotten past.

If only Nico could remember whose side she's on.

I’ve been watching White Collar lately and I have to say Eli Monpress is exactly like Neal Caffrey from the show. He is charismatic, driven, and the best thief in the world. And these are just a few of the reasons why the Legend of Eli Monpress series is now one of my favorite series out there.

The Spirit Eater opens with Nico’s past as the Daughter of the Demon Mountain a few years before, and then quickly turns to the present with Nico focused on fighting back against the demon inside of her as it’s suddenly grown more powerful in the last few months.

Of course like The Spirit Rebellion, The Spirit Eater seems to focus on pieces of the characters pasts as it revolves around the present. In this case it happens to revolve around Nico’s past. Readers learn more about demons in this book and Eli’s mysterious powers, but most interesting is that readers will get a taste of the greater mystery of the book, the overarching plot point that will become the motivation for books to come.

All in all, like the rest of the Legend of Eli Monpress series The Spirit Eater is not a book to be missed. The characters are fun and well written, the plot is exciting and full of surprises and action, and the mystery only gets deeper and darker as readers are sucked into the deeper questions surrounding the series. While some of the issues such as some of the new characters introduced seem a little less developed, the older more reliable characters more than make up for the flaws. All in all a great book and I personally can’t wait for the next book, The Spirit War, to come out.

9 out of 10


Publisher: Orbit

Published: December 1, 2010

Price: $7.99

Sapphique: By Catherine Fisher



The only one who escaped . . . And the one who could destroy them all.

Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn’s escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison’s warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn’s and Claudia’s very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn’t fully believe.

Meanwhile, Finn’s oathbrother Keiro and his friend Attia are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says Sapphique used to escape. To find it, they must battle the prison itself, because Incarceron wants the glove too.


When I first read Incarceron I was shaking with anticipation for its sequel Sapphique. Now after reading it I’m happy to admit Sapphique is a good end to an excellent series.

Unlike most books published as of late Incareron and Sappique do not comprise two of the three pieces of a trilogy. Instead these two books comprise the entire series. And personally I found that a little refreshing. Yes, authors are better able to strut their plots and better develop their characters in a trilogy, but Fisher does a great job developing the characters in this two book series that I don’t think a third book would have improved it to any great degree.

Fans of The Maze Runner will instantly like Sapphique and Incarceron as like Dahsner’s New York Time’s bestselling series the setting acts as an interesting and significant character to the series, setting it apart from the rest of current YA trends of dystopian futures, vampires, zombies, and angels. Not only that but Incaceron, the prison, not only acts as a character, but evolves like a character. This is an interesting development that really moves the story forward and sets Fisher’s duology apart from the rest of current YA books.

That said, I was disappointed in some of the characters in this book, such as Keiro. Fisher really built Keiro up in Incarceron and I felt like there wasn’t any evolution of his character nor was there any real reason for the level of importance attributed to him. Not only that but I was a tad disappointed with the way Sapphique ended. I felt like while it wasn’t an abrupt ending, it did seem to end just a little to cleanly, and felt like a lot of the excitement and tension that had been built up was just lost.

That said I really liked both Incarceron and Sappique. They were well written, full of action, and had interesting and unique plot lines. Not only that but they didn’t drag on a lot of unimportant plot points in extra books. All in all this was a good series and I can’t wait to read some of Fisher’s other works as well.

8 out of 10


Publisher: Dial

Published: December 28, 2010

Price: $17.99

Friday, December 17, 2010

Blank Confession: By Pete Hautman



Shayne Blank is the new kid in town--but that doesn't stop him from getting into a lot of trouble very quickly. The other kids don't understand him. He's not afraid of anything. He seems too smart. And his background doesn't add up. But when he walks into the police department to confess to a murder, it quickly becomes apparent that nothing is as it seems. There's more to Shayne--and his story--than meets the eye. As the details begin to fill in, the only thing that becomes clear is that nothing about Shayne's story is clear at all.


I’ve been looking forward to this book since I read about it a few months ago. Blank Confession looked exciting, suspenseful, and well written (I’m assuming the last thing from Hautman’s previous books and level of writing in general.)

I wasn’t wrong.

Blank Confession tells a sensational story detailing the trials and troubles of drug use in schools today. But Hautman doesn’t just leave the story as a simple drugs are bad and look at what they do, instead he interlays it with a suspenseful murder mystery, a courageous yet dishonest hero, and a telling of the story from the end, allowing the reader to sit and wonder what just went on. But while the story is fantastic and the craftsmanship superb, the most impressive aspect were the characters.

In a short period of time (and words) Hautman slices to the core of each of his characters. They are interesting, unique, and humanistic, but most importantly they are well written. Mikey has obvious issues being short, but the real crux of his character flaw deals with his family issues with his father. Shayne is the complex and heroic protagonist who has unresolved issues that are not mentioned until the end of the book. And even the officer who Shayne confesses to has unresolved issues that Hautman ties into the story.

But what I found interesting about these characters is that Hautman seamlessly connects all these characters in a very realistic manner. He doesn’t have Mikey suddenly get a backbone, he doesn’t have Mikey’s sister suddenly get over big bad boys, and he doesn’t have Shayne suddenly change his personality. Instead they all remain just as they are but perhaps alter 15% over the course of the book. A very realistic change.

All in all Blank Confession is an intricate, well written book. The characters are well developed, the plot interesting, and the style masterful. While the book is short it’s defiantly worth the read, and weather readers choose to get it from the library to save money or buy it for Christmas, Blank Confession is a good read.

8.5 out of 10


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Published: November 16, 2010

Price: $16.99

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Spirit Rebellion: By Rachel Aaron



Eli Monpress is brilliant. He's incorrigible. And he's a thief.

He's also still at large, which drives Miranda Lyonette crazy. While she's been kicked out of the Spirit Court, Eli's had plenty of time to plan his next adventure. But now the tables have turned, because Miranda has a new job -- and an opportunity to capture a certain thief.

Things are about to get exciting for Eli. He's picked a winner for his newest heist. His target: the Duke of Gaol's famous "thief-proof" citadel. Eli knows Gaol is a trap, but what's life without challenges? Except the Duke is one of the wealthiest men in the world, a wizard who rules his duchy with an iron fist, and an obsessive perfectionist with only one hobby: Eli.

It seems that everyone is hunting for Eli Monpress.


It’s often hard to keep the same level of action and mystery in the second book of a series. This has to do with the author having to create a new situation to capture the reader’s attention while at the same time stringing the reader along in the central mystery to the series arc without giving away to much. It’s hard and it’s complicated, but if you can get it just right it can put the series just in the right spot to really take off.

In The Spirit Rebellion, Rachel Aaron does a terrific job of introducing readers to an exciting new situation that brings back all your favorite characters. Miranda gets put into a pickle when political action starts playing against her and she soon finds herself tossed out of the organization she’s given her life to protect. Nico is forced to confront the realities of her situation as a demonseed. Josef must face his connection with the Heart of War. And Eli walks into a blatant trap he may not be able to get out of this time.

Like The Spirit Thief, Aaron does a great job maintaining both fun dialog and complex characters, but what I found most interesting about The Spirit Rebellion was the back story and cliffhanger like ending that Aaron introduces in this sensational sequel. Readers really get to see a new side to Eli, as we get a glimpse into his past, but most intriguing is the relationship with Benehime, who plays a fascinating yet small character in this book. It’s obvious to readers she is going to play a much bigger role in books to come, but it’s very exciting to watch her story and relationship with Eli unfold.

Of course, while I wont say what the cliffhanger like ending entails, I will say that it sets up an engaging plot for the next book in the series, The Spirit Eater, that I’m pretty sure I wont be able to put down.

All in all The Spirit Rebellion is a great book. The characters are witty and robust, the plot is intricate and just starting to bloom, and the book as a whole contains action, suspense, and magic in just the right proportions to allow the book to move at an exhilarating pace. Making The Spirit Rebellion a fantastic second book in the Legend of Eli Monpress series.

9.5 out of 10


Publisher: Orbit

Published: November 1, 2010

Price: $7.99

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Spirit Thief: By Rachel Aaron



Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief.

But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while.

Like a king.


Magic, mystery, and a little bit of good old thievery. All in all Rachel Aaron’s first book in her The Legend of Eli Monpress series is a truly fantastic book.

I’m a little embarrassed to say I didn’t initially recognize this book as the fantastic piece of literature it is. In fact I probably would have missed it, if not for the fact that Orbit produced it.

What I mean by this is that since starting this blog I’ve learned a lot more about the publishing industry, such as, who produces the best urban fantasy/ fantasy/science fiction, who releases books at a speed that can keep a reader happy, and who is the most consistent with the level of production they put out. And from all of this I have to say Orbit is one fine imprint. They release great books in time periods to keep readers happy, they are one of the most consistent imprints in the level of high quality material that they publish, and they’re constantly trying to make things cheaper and more affordable for the reader. But anyway enough about how fantastic Orbit is, the real crux of the matter is that I would have passed by this fantastic book without even knowing it, and that would have been the real crime.

The Spirit Thief is fun, well written, and full of well developed characters. Aaron does a fantastic job creating a story around this first chapter of the Eli Monpress series. She introduces just enough mystery to reel the reader into the next book, while maintaining an engaging action packed plot that will keep you up late into the night.

Not only is the plot well developed and intricate enough to entice readers to the next in the series, but the characters are all interesting and robust. None of the characters are bland or black and white, and even the minor characters are given enough great dialog to keep the story moving and entertaining. My personal favorite characters thus far in the series are Josef and Gin who are both strong, slightly sarcastic, interesting characters, who like almost all the characters in this series are filled with just a little bit of suspense and mystery about their back stories.

Of course besides being a fun exciting book, The Spirit Thief also happens to be dirt cheap ($7.99). So if you enjoy good books that are not expensive, then The Spirit Thief and the entire Legend of Eli Monpress series just might be for you. And if you've already read it then I'm sure it'll make the perfect stocking stuffer for the holidays.

9.5 out of 10


Publisher: Orbit

Published: October 1, 2010

Price: $7.99

Right Hand Magic: By Nancy Collins



Like most Manhattanites, aspiring artist Tate can't resist a good rental deal-even if it's in the city's strangest neighborhood, Golgotham, where for centuries werewolves, centaurs, and countless other creatures have roamed the streets.

Her new landlord is a sorcerer name Hexe, who is determined to build his reputation without using dark, left-hand magic. As Tate is drawn into Hexe's fascinating world, they both find that the right hand does not always know what the left hand is doing-and avoiding darkness is no easy trick...


While this book is called Right Hand Magic there certainly wasn’t that much “Right” about it (yes I do know how corny that sounds, I’m ok with it, considering how corny the actual book is).

While the premise of the book sounds like it could have been interesting (creature centered area in Manhattan, landlord who wants to try to only use right “good” hand magic, filled with an abundance of different creatures and magic), it wasn’t enough to make up for the lack of presence in the main characters.

Tate is a flat, poorly written, un-redeeming protagonist who is both boring and painful to read. It feels like there were sentences that could have been easily cut that would have made the character/book much better. Another character that was a disappointment was Hex. While Hex’s lines weren’t as choppy as Tate’s Hex’s story just never really grabbed me like it needed to take the book to a dynamic level.

Of course Collins, the author, does a great job creating a world of interesting and unique magic that if the characters were a little stronger, would mark this book as fun and interesting. There are normal were-animals, and whatnot, but there’s also strange new magics such as Hex’s.

All in all while the premise and magics were interesting they can’t make up for the characters and general plot line/annoyingly predictable nature of the book. Because of this I hope that Collins is able to give it another shot, because she really did create a fun exciting world, just maybe possibly go through a few more rounds of edits to make the dialog and characters better crafted next time.

4 out of 10


Publisher: Roc

Published: December 7, 2010

Price: $6.99