“How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous” by Georgia Bragg


A book that makes you contemplate death in a very different light.

There are a lot of a books about death. They tend to be sad, even tragic, and discuss the subject at hand with great emotion and sobriety. How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg (Illustrated by Kevin O’Malley) is not that kind of boring drivel. Instead, it casually tackles the deaths of 19 very famous, very dead individuals. And since most of the people mentioned in this book died before the age of modern medicine (like Cleopatra, King Henry VIII, Napoleon), Bragg discusses all the things that contributed to their death. Yes, true, King Tut died of malaria, but there were way more problems that could have killed him had he managed to get some Mosquirix. People died extremely young back then.


Unless you were Galileo. He lived over twice the average age(35ish), and then died because he enjoyed the flavor of lead in his wine.

In addition to the gory details leading up to and including death, Bragg includes interesting tidbits of information related to the person at hand. For instance, did you know that fans of Galileo took 5 bits of his body from his person when he was being moved to a larger tomb? Want to know which bits? You’ll have to read the book! (It’s on page 64).

Now, one of the most important parts of a nonfiction book is whether or not it cites its sources. After all, the information we’re learning we are assuming is true, and they have to have heard it was true from somewhere.

The Uncredible Hulk, on the other hand, is the worst liar. The worst.

The Uncredible Hulk, on the other hand, is the worst liar. The worst.

Well, Never, you fear, despite the book’s informal tone, there’s pages of source credits. And if you want to check up on the facts, they are conveniently categorized by person who died.  What’s that? What source name most amused me? I would have to say “The History of Beethoven’s Skull Fragments” by Meredith William. Now that’s a thesis paper for the books. In addition to an extensive source list, there’s also a “Further Reading and Surfing” section that gives books, articles, and websites for you to peruse if you are interested in learning about any of these famous historical figures.

Overall, this is an amazingly fun and interesting read. And you can tell your parents that you’re expanding your horizons and reading nonfiction. Historical nonfiction at that! Bragg writes very conversationally and it sounds more like someone talking to you than reading a history textbook. It’s also friendly to the casual reader, as each death description is generally only 10 pages long, and the book does not have to be read sequentially or even in its entirety.

Respect George Washington too much to read how he died? That's cool. Just know that it included highly poisonous beetles.

Respect George Washington too much to read how he died? That’s cool. Just know that it included highly poisonous beetles.

And the best part about this book? We have it at your local library! Click on the book below and it’ll take you to our catalog where you can put it on hold! Don’t have a library card? It’s super easy to get, you just need your legal guardian with a photo ID and proof of Texas residence. Bring those three things to our library and we can get you an awesome library card.

Read and marvel in our age of antibiotics!

Read it!

So what’s the worst/best death you’ve ever heard of?  (Credibility points if you cite a source!) Tell us in the comments below!

Works Cited

Jenkin, Stephen. Credible Hulk. Digital image. Twitter. TheClassicLibrary, 26 June 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

Sustermans, Giusto. Portrait of Galileo Galilei. Digital image. Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

Williamstown, Gilbert Stuart. Portrait of George Washington. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

tenIn this mystery, ten teens are invited to an island mansion for what they think will be a weekend full of eating, drinking, and merrying. Unfortunately for them, one of the guests has other plans which include seeking revenge for past crimes and, well…murder. When guests start dying one by one it doesn’t take long for the them to start pointing fingers at one another in a desperate attempt to discover the real killer. Do they succeed? You’ll have to read to find out!

Gretchen McNeil’s Ten reminded me a lot of the Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine books I read when I was a teenager. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sure, bookworm Meg does do a lot of longing for superjock and good friend TJ (and his dimples) and Minnie’s drama queen hysterics make you kinda’ hope that she’s next on the killer’s list tend can get a little tiresome, but I thought there was enough suspense and action to keep me around until the end. I must confess, I got a little edgy when they went to the neighbor’s house in search of help.It’s also not shy during the murder scenes–if you like your mysteries bloody, then give it a try.

Have YOU read it? What did you think? Leave us a comment and let us know!


The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

Imagine one of your co-workers disappeared during her shift. Imagine the chaos that ensues as everyone rushes to find her. Imagine the worry as you wonder whether or not she’s still alive. Imagine if you find out that the kidnapper may have wanted YOU instead.

That’s the scenario that Gabie faces in April Henry’s The Night She Disappeared. Quiet Gabie didn’t think it would be a big deal when she switched shifts at Pete’s Pizza with the boisterous Kayla. After Kayla disappears while making a delivery to a nonexistent address, Gabie learns from Drew (the only other person working that night) that the caller asked for her first. Gabie feels a connection to Kayla, not necessarily because they worked together, but because it should have been her. Convinced that Kayla is still alive, Gabie works with Drew to find the missing girl before it’s too late.

‘You know what the strangest thing is?” I whisper. ‘I feel like she’s alive. I’m not talking about her spirit. I’m talking about the real Kayla. It feels like she’s alive.

This book definitely had me sprinting to the end–I just had to know what happened! It’s told from multiple points of view as well as with police reports and other notes from the investigation which, while they didn’t necessarily help you piece together the mystery, was an interesting way of breaking up the story. I do admit for a minute there, things got a little farfetched, but all in all I thought this book was difficult to put down. If you like thrillers and/or mysteries, you may enjoy The Night She Disappeared. But…uhm…in real life you should probably leave chasing the bad guys down to the police. I’m just saying. :)

In the middle of it – Every day by David Levithan

Every day by David LevithanImagine if you woke up every morning in a different body. You would wake up with a kind of knowing–your name, your age, whether you’re a boy or girl–and all the other little details reveal themselves throughout the day. Until you wake up the next day. This is what A–the main character in David Levithan’s Every day faces each morning.

I’m just a few chapters into the book, but so far so wonderful. Passing from body to body for 5, 994 days at the start of the book, A awakes in the body of a boy named Justin. During the course of the day, A falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend. The smart thing to do would be to let all memories of the girl slowly fade away as A has done in times past. But A won’t let her go and instead takes any opportunity to see or speak to Rhiannon no matter the body or life.

Interesting, right? And so very well written! The book is just so bursting with good lines, I’m going to have to start writing them down. Here’s one that caught my eye:

What is it about the moment you fall in love? How can such a small measure of time contain such enormity? I suddenly realize why people believe in deja veu, why people believe they’ve lived past lives, because there is no way the years I’ve spent on this earth could possibly encapsulate what I’m feeling.

And I could go on and on, but then I might as well just write out the whole book and well, that would just be illegal. So far this book appears to be the perfect title for all you romantics out there. But, as I said, I’m just a few chapters in. There could still be heartbreak and sadness ahead but hey, I’m also an optimist.

In the middle of it – On the Day I Died by Candace Fleming

Book cover On the Day I Died

On the Day I Died by Candace Fleming

I’m in the middle of listening to On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming. Mike is in a panic because he’s about to miss curfew…again. He’s in such a hurry that he narrowly misses a hitchhiker standing in the middle of the road. Always a gentleman, he drives the girl home only to discover that his passenger drowned many years ago. In a search to discover the truth, he comes upon a cemetery of teenagers. He also discovers the ghosts of the teenagers themselves–all ready to share the stories of how they met their tragic ends.

I have a love-hate relationship with scary stories. I love the adrenaline rush I get when reading them. I hate that they make me paranoid that specters could be lurking in dark corners. That being said, I was bracing myself to be spooked out by this book. I’m not sure if it’s the different narrators or the stories themselves, but I’m just not feeling very terrified…or on edge even. It’s almost as if the stories are too short. Just when you start really getting into it, it’s over. I think I like my scary with a whole lot of suspense.

If you’re looking for a book you can pick up, read for a little bit, then pick up again much later, give On the Day I Died a try. It’s pretty good for stop and start listening too; although the different voices of the narrators can be kind of disconcerting. I think I’ll finish it. Mostly because I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s some kind of twist at the end and I really want to find out what it is.

In the middle of it – Rotters by Daniel Kraus

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

This is the first book I’m close to finishing since joining the Best of the Best Challenge and, to tell you the truth, it’s been rough. I have the audio version and, while the narration is amazing, I’m having a hard time getting into the story.

When his mother dies, Joey moves from his Chicago home to live with his father in Iowa. Iowa life isn’t easy for Joey and not just because he’s trying to deal with this loss of his mom. As it turns out, dear old Dad is the town’s weirdo which, in a small Iowa town, means Joey is a bullying target for classmates AND teachers. To top it all off, his father is barely home so Joey must fend for himself as well.

**Possible spoiler alert**

I’ll cut to the gist–Joey’s Dad is a grave robber, which explains why he disappears for long stretches of time, smells funky, and leaves his house in shambles. It isn’t long before Joey proves he’s destined to take up the family business and his Dad begins teaching him the tools of the trade. If you pick up this book to read of the graveyard treasures that this duo finds, you may be disappointed. Rotters is more a study of human nature, relationships, and decomposition. If you want a chiller that’s gross and gruesome, you may prefer Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist instead. While it has its suspenseful points, I thought it was more of an emotional story than an action-packed adventure.

Personally, I’m not really loving it myself. The characters disturb me and not in a good way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely well-written–the characters are well-developed and maybe you’d just love to hate them. I’m so close to being done with the book and I’m still not sure where the story is going. There seem to be a lot of side journeys towards the final outcome that are distracting rather than entertaining me. But I will soldier on! I’m determined to finish, especially since I’m SO CLOSE to the end.

Have YOU read Rotters? If so, we want to know what you think. Leave us a comment with your thoughts!

P.S. On the plus side, I now know what a rat king is. GROSS!

After the moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr

After the moment by Garret Freymannn-Weyr

After the moment by Garret Freymannn-Weyr

Read this book if you want to get: Emotional (Drama/angst)

This book is about:
A young girl who’s dad dies and has a wish for her stepbrother to come live with her. He comes to comfort her. Soon after he meets this girl in which they become very good friends. When she leaves he has a tough time adjusting his life.

On a scale of 1 (the lowest) to 5 (the highest) I give this book a: 4

Reviewer: Mahtob K.