…and here are four of them:

Death Becomes Them (Harper Collins)
By Alix Strauss
For whatever reason, I’m deeply interested in the darkly morbid. Luckily, this book fits that bill perfectly! Author Alix Strauss dishes the dirt on the dearly departed, focusing on twenty celebrities who took their own lives before old age or an accident could do it for them. Some of the subjects were obvious picks (Kurt Cobain, Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway, for example), while others were a bit more surprising. As odd as this may sound, it was nice to see photographer Diane Arbus make the book, just as it was to see author Hunter S. Thompson and painter Mark Rothko. Beyond the grim and gory details lies interesting character studies, digging deeper into the “whys” of each situation than the “hows.” (Although, admittedly, that’s the first thing we want to know when we hear someone committed suicide, isn’t it?) Death Becomes Them is an odd choice for a summer read (which is when I received my galley copy), but with fall and Halloween just around the corner, what better topic to read about as you drift off to sleep at night?

Malice (Scholastic)
By Chris Wooding
Illustrated by Dan Chernett
An interesting hybrid book that marries the worlds of young-adult storytelling and the comic book format. The first in a two-part series, Malice tells the tale of two friends, Seth and Kady, who have heard the urban myth of “Tall Jake” told time and again. Much like the tales of Bloody Mary and Candyman, the legend states that if you call Tall Jake six times in a row, you will disappear into the world of Malice, a deadly and dangerous land that exists only within the pages of a comic book. Of course, Seth and Kady don’t actually believe in the legend of Tall Jake until their friend Luke goes missing, only to show up in the pages of a comic. The story is clever and the writing is solid; it’s a little too young for my tastes, but the story isn’t written for thirty-something, balding Hungarians. Chernett’s artwork is appropriate for the story, but falls a bit flat in certain parts where I think more detail could have been offered. Still, Malice is, overall, an interesting concept with a solid execution.

Bone: Rose (Scholastic)
By Jeff Smith
Illustrated by Charles Vess
One of my all-time favorite comic book creators, Jeff Smith, returns to Scholastic in this, a prequel story to his epic Bone saga. With Princess Rose’s character as the lead, this book collects the comic books of “Rose” which were originally published from 2000 to 2002. Only written by Smith, the book tells the story of a series of dragon attacks that befell on the Northern Valley, but the more interesting storyline is the sibling rivalry that is going on between Rose and her elder sister, Princess Briar. I have to admit that I would’ve rather seen Smith illustrate the book than Vess, even though I think Vess’ more painterly style lends itself nicely to the fairy tale aspect of the story. I’m just somewhat of a Smith purist, and seeing these characters done by someone else–especially when illustrating a Smith storyline–is a little off-putting for me. Still, if you’re a Bonehead and already own the nine other books in this series, this will make a welcomed tenth installment to your set.

Great Discoveries: Explorations That Changed History (Time Books)
When we were kids, my sister and I used to go through our grandparents Time/Life books every time we’d visit them. Most of the books they owned were either about World War II-era airplanes or mysteries of the unknown. Never really being a war buff myself, I instead found myself being attracted to the mystery books. (Oddly enough, I became the owner of that collection of books when my grandfather passed away in 2001.) So how appropriate is it that Time would send me a similarly themed book for review. Great Discoveries explores many of the world’s greatest explorations, from the abandoned city of Machu Picchu in Peru, to the depths of the Atlantic and the Titanic treasures that litter the ocean floor. Filled with colorful photographs, illustrations and diagrams, this book can be both enjoyed and learned from. I have to admit, when I receive books for review I, more often than not, pass them along to a friend or family member once I’m done with them. But I plan on keeping this one in my own personal collection with the hopes that someday my grandchildren will take it off the shelf, crack it open, and begin to build similar memories.

Reading is fun and mental,

-Shady

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