Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Book Review Club (December 2011)

It's hard to fathom, but today is our final book club meeting of 2011. There are, in fact, only 24 more days left in this year. Which means it's that holiday season, where you're casting about for gifts for friends and family. Cast about no more! Think of us as your book review elves! We've put together reviews of all sorts of books, sure to please the people on your gift list and, of course, you too. Read on!

HOW THEY CROAKED--THE AWFUL ENDS OF THE AWFULLY FAMOUS by Georgia Bragg, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley.

I love this book! I already purchased it for Child #3 for Christmas. (No gift spoiler for him, as I can't imagine he reads this blog.) Sure, he's a sophomore in high school, and HOW THEY CROAKED is rated for kids aged 10+. But I can just imagine him tossing out disgusting bits of info to impress the girls at lunch. Tidbits like: "So that Tut wouldn't rot on the trip to the next life, the embalmers scooped his insides out from top to bottom. To get his brains out, a long bronze needle with a hook on the end was shoved up his nose. His brain was broken up into teeny bits and pulled out one piece at a time." (pg. 2) Yes, Child #3 will love this book too! And I think Child #4, my girly 11 year old, will also get a kick out of this book.

HOW THEY CROAKED provides gruesome details of the deaths of 19 famous people, including Henry VIII, George Washington, Albert Einstein, Elizabeth I and more. You'll also pick up interesting facts about their personalities, their lives and the times they lived in. Get a load of the opening paragraph of the chapter on "Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Brains": " It was the best of times for Charles Dickens, the richest, most famous author in the 1800s. But it was the worst of times for anyone who knew him. Dickens was incredibly talented, but he was also a moody, dirt-phobic control freak." (pg. 117)

The writing style is breezy and fun. The illustrations are great and complement the text. The subject matter is gory, gross and gripping. I have three holiday parties coming up in short order. Think of the conversations I'll start!

Please scroll down and click through for more book reviews. You won't be sorry. Neither will the people you're buying for.

Happy Holidays! Happy Reading!


Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: HOW TO BE A GOOD CAT by Gail Page

Kaye of the Road Goes Ever Ever On: THE FATHER CHRISTMAS LETTERS by JRR Tolkien, compiled by Ballie Tolkien (ages 5+, letters + pictures)


Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: CIRCUS GALACTICUS by Deva Fagan (middle grade, sci fi/fantasy)

Jody Feldman: THE EMERALD ATLAS by John Stephens (middle grade, fantasy)

Sarah Laurence: STEALING BASES by Keri Mikulski (young adult)** Keri is one of our very own intrepid reviewers!

Linda McLaughlin: BEWITCHING SEASON by Marissa Doyle (young adult)

Stacy Nyikos: THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern (young adult/adult crossover)


Patti Abbott: MUDBOUND by Hillary Jordan

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: THERE'S CAKE IN MY FUTURE by Kim Gruenenfelder (women's fiction)

Kathy Holmes: LITTLE BLACK DRESS by Susan McBride (women's fiction)

Scott Parker: THE HOUSE OF SILK: A SHERLOCK HOLMES NOVEL by Anthony Horowitz (mystery)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG by Kate Atkinson (mystery)

Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips: GHOST STORY by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #13) (mystery/urban fantasy)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: A CRIMSON WARNING by Tasha Alexander (historical mystery)

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness (paranormal)

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: AS LONGS AS THE RIVERS FLOW by James Bartleman


Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: ALL MY DOGS: A LIFE by Bill Henderson (adult)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for a great year of reviews!


  1. I was up early, and wrote a book review. THings are hectic when you are retired. SIGH.

    As Long as the Rivers Flow, by James Bartleman
    Better late than never!
    It is adult historical fiction.

  2. That book sounds like fun! I’m smiling at the snippets you’ve posted.
    “Gory, gross and gripping…” Sounds perfect for a Christmas gift! ;)

  3. This book sounds like a winner for that I-don't-like-to-read age group! Just the kind of strange gross stuff middle-schoolers and teens would like.

  4. lol on Child #3, Barrie! But you know what? I might like to read this book. I love to know stuff like this!

  5. Barrie, thanks for hosting and this one is just at the right time for the holidays. How They Croaked might make a good stocking stuffer for my teenaged son. My husband has a theory that guys never mature past age 15. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. Oooh! Sounds cool.
    Happy Holidays![:

  7. Oh wow...the perfect Christmas book! Love this kind of thing...and kids do, too. Thanks, Barrie! (And child #3, of course.)

  8. Jenn: Thanks! Got it!

    Beth: I was over at your blog last night, catching up!

    Rose: Exactly!

  9. Kathy: I think you'd enjoy this book too.

    Stacy: And you so deserve it!

    Sarah: I agree with your husband (as one who lives with 4 males ages 16 and up)! And, you're welcome re the hosting. I love our little club.

    AbaGayleb: Happy Holidays and Happy Reading to you!

  10. Ellen: Thanks for all your reviews!

  11. OMG, this sounds perfect for my 11-year-old great nephew! Adding it to the list now! Thanks, Barrie. :)


  12. Linda, let me know what he thinks. I bet he's super happy! Not only is the subject matter right the alley of an 11 y.o. boy, but it's a nice gift--hardback, decent paper, great drawings, etc.

  13. well thanks for this wonderful review! I'm honored to be on your website, and happy that your kids are the right age to enjoy my book. Hopefully our paths will cross in 2012. Happy Holidays, Georgia

  14. This looks perfectly morbid enough for my crew!

  15. Georgia!!! Thanks for stopping by. And, yes, it would be great if our paths crossed next year.

    Green Girl: I suspect it is. ;)

  16. This one sounds perfect for my younger son, but I have to weigh the decision to buy against the question, "Do I want to hear about all this gross stuff during every interaction we have??" Not sure...

    But great review!

  17. I'm picturing family gatherings across America sharing these stories this year. Fabulous holiday book!

  18. That does sound good! Kind of makes me wish I were still a teen librarian. I know a few kids who would have liked this one - and not all boys, either!

  19. I will have to check out HOW THEY CROAKED. I enjoy these kinds of books. Thanks, Barrie. Lots of great suggestions.

  20. good stuff, thx barrie :)

    btw - i'm kinda/sorta back where i started from... southern ontario... the niagara area....


Comments are always welcome!