Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Special Non-Fiction Itty Bittie Feature!

We have a special 'Itty Bittie' feature today. Both books are non-fiction, which is a genre that I read very few and far in between. But these two books certainly sounded very interesting.  So sit back and enjoy my reviews for a shorty that features real zombie makers in nature, and a shorty on forensics.

Title: Zombie Makers
Author: Rebecca L. Johnson
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Source: Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/The Book Depository

Add to Goodreads
Are zombies real? Scientists know this for sure: dead people do not come back to live and start walking around, looking for trouble. But there are things that can take over the bodies and brains of innocent creatures, turning them into senseless slaves. Meet natures zombie makers--including a fly-enslaving fungus, a suicide worm, and a cockroach-taming waspand their victims.

Big, Fat 5 Stars!
I sometimes joke that I am a 6 year old boy living in an adult woman's body. And it could not be more true than when I started reading this book. 

Absolutely loved it! It was icky. It was gross. It was graphic and fascinating. And it had A TON of pictures!

At about 60 pages, this book gives you an insight into the weird and really fascinating world of real life zombie makers. From fungi, to insects, to parasitic worms, this book will leave your very own internal 6 year old self cringing and yelling "Cool!!!" at every turn of the page.

I actually read this book back to back TWICE! And brought it to work with me at the office, and showed some of the pics to a couple of the guys at work during our lunch..... Who also thought the pics were totally cool. And proceeded to google it and found more gross pictures of some of these things for us to gawk at. It was almost like being in grade 1 all over again. Pretty awesome!

Author Bio: Rebecca L. Johnson has always loved to read, and her tastes in books in grade school were quite a mix—adventure stories, animal stories, lots of nonfiction science, but also mysteries, science fiction, and some adult books, too. She remembers reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables when she was 10 years old. It was a challenge, but she became so engrossed in the story that she could hardly put it down.

Rebecca started writing books shortly after she graduated from college, first college biology textbooks and then special high-interest pieces on different science topics that went into middle school and high school science textbooks. Her first book for kids was about pheromones, chemicals that some types of animals use to communicate. Lerner published that book back in the late 1980s, and they have published quite a few more of Rebecca's books over the years.

Doing research for books has taken Rebecca to a lot of amazing places where she's had fantastic opportunities to work with real scientists and at times help them with their research. Over the years she's spent about 9 months in Antarctica and many weeks scuba diving with researchers on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. She has also traveled as deep as 2500 feet below the ocean’s surface in the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible, several times. The world is full of wonderful places, but visiting the deep sea was a life-changing experience, and Rebecca has never looked at anything in quite the same way since.

Most of her books so far have been nonfiction, but Rebecca is working on a young adult
novel at the moment. It’s quite a change, but she has to admit that it’s really fun to be able to make thi
ngs up!

Title: Forensic Identification: Putting a Name and Face on Death
Author: Elizabeth A. Murray
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group

Twenty-First Century Books
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Source: Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/The Book Depository

Add to Goodreads
About 4,000 unidentified deceased persons are discovered in the United States every year. But forensic experts are successful in identifying about 3,000 of those bodies within a year. In Human Identification: Putting a Name and Face on Death, forensic anthropologist Dr. Elizabeth A. Murray takes readers into the morgues and forensic labs where experts use advanced technology to determine the identities of dead bodies whose names are not known because the bodies are mutilated, decomposed beyond recognition, or cut into pieces. She also explores what happens to the cadavers and remains that belong to people who have been missing for so long that law enforcement and forensic files are no longer active. Through a wide range of fascinating scientific methodsincluding DNA testing, facial reconstruction, dental records, blood analysis, fingerprinting, and x rays--forensic specialists work to piece together the stories that will give names back to the unknown dead and missing. Come along to watch the experts do their amazing work.

Alright, so to be fair, when I requested this book I didn't realize it was a science title meant for higher grades. I thought it was for adults. After all, it speaks of forensic science and suspicious death. But it is in fact an introductory sort of book about forensics. Like a Forensics 101 book.

Though the subject matter was interesting, I was pretty bored some of the time. Since I have a College degree in Police Studies, I was familiar with a lot that was meticulously described in these pages.  I did skim a lot of the dry information (dry for me anyways) and focused more on the case studies in this book.

Not to mention some pretty graphic pics that were interesting to me, and hopefully not too graphic for kids, though I am not sure if "higher grades" means highschool age? In any case, the case studies earned the 3 star, because they kept me interested in reading this to the end. 

Very cool book though if you want to know a lot more about forensic sciences, and it is written quite well, with plenty of visual illustrations to keep you focused.

About the Author: Dr. Elizabeth Murray is a native Cincinnatian from a large family. When she was young, Elizabeth always thought she may grow up to be a writer, teacher, scientist, or explorer—now that she is a college professor and forensic scientist, she is active in all of those fields! Elizabeth always loved science; it was her favorite subject in school. In college, she studied biology and discovered that she found humans to be the most interesting animals, so she continued her studies in the field of anthropology. Being a very practical person, Elizabeth wanted her research focus to have tangible results and benefits that could aid society, and this led her to the forensic application of anthropology.  It took many years of college and lots of hard work to become a forensic scientist, but Elizabeth says that teaching is still the very best part of her job. She enjoys taking difficult concepts in science and explaining them in a way that is interesting and relevant to her students.


  1. Zombie Makers sounds awesome. I love learning about atrage creature you would think belong in a science fiction movie.

    1. It was a short one but illustrated which was great. I loved going through all the pictures of these creepy creatures. The worst was the 'guinea worm' which attaches to humans as well. The pictures will give you nightmares.

      ... you are googling it as we speak aren't you?




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