Reading Matters Blog

04/14/2014 - 3:01am
Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Troy Billings is about to kill himself. At 296 pounds, he's tired of being a joke. Every aspect of his life, the way he looks, moves, even the way he breathes, has become a punchline for his peers. If Troy had his way, Fat Kid Rules the World would be a pretty short read. Thank goodness Curt MacCrea enters the picture.

04/07/2014 - 8:46am
Star Wars Classic Comics: The Rebel Storm by Archie Goodwin

There was a considerable gap between the releases of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in the early 1980s.  During that time, the expanding Star Wars fan base began to wonder what was happening to the characters in the meantime.  What worlds did Luke, Leia, and Han visit?  What schemes did Darth Vader plot to destroy the rebellion?  Did Chewie ever get a decent flea bath? Two of these three questions are answered in Archie Goodwin’s The Rebel Storm (Classic Star Wars Volume Two), an anthology of comics originally published between 1981 and 1984.  Although sometimes marred by a sense of discontinuity with Lucas’ universe, the best stories in this anthology deserve a place in Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.

03/31/2014 - 3:00am
King Dork by Frank Portman

If King Dork's cover seems vaguely familiar, that's because it looks like a defaced copy of The Catcher in the Rye. The title and its author Frank Portman are scrawled in ballpoint pen with a blatant disregard for the granddaddy of all coming-of-age novels.

This sums up how Tom Henderson feels about Salinger's classic novel. He notices a Catcher cult amongst most adults, who sing the praises of the book changing their lives. Tom thinks all of this is, to borrow a phrase from Holden Caulfield, "phony," but a particular copy of the book is about to turn his world upside down and inside out.

03/24/2014 - 3:02am
How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg

How They Croaked begins with a clear warning: "If you don't have the guts for gore, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK." They are not kidding.

American icon Billy Joel once sang, "Only the good die young," but before modern medicine, almost everyone died young. The only difference was whether it was quick or slow and gruesome. Infections, malaria, gout, and tuberculosis were pretty common ways to go. King Tut, Christopher Columbus, Pocahontas, and Edgar Allan Poe were victims of such illnesses.

03/17/2014 - 3:03am
Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

Tales of the Madman Underground is not the feel-good read of this or any other year, and yet I am completely enchanted with its accuracy of teenage desperation. It fills me with hope to see how author John Barnes has so succinctly summed up the powerlessness and determination of youth.

03/10/2014 - 3:02am
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

The Vera Dietz of Please Ignore Vera Dietz is smart, hard-working, and haunted by the ghost of her best friend. Well...ex-best friend if you want to know the truth.

03/06/2014 - 10:37am
The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia by Martin Olson

The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia is an ancient and magical tome, or maybe it's just designed to look that way. The book explores the characters and situations that occupy the popular Cartoon Network series. There are few cartoons as imaginative or strange as Adventure Time, in which a boy and his dog fight evil in various forms, including an Ice King, monsters, demons, giants, and the hideous creature known as The Lich.

03/03/2014 - 4:03am
Spider-Man: New Ways to Die by Dan Slott

The graphic novel Spider-Man: New Ways to Die begins like many Spider-Man stories before it. There is a brief explanation of Peter Parker’s dual life as a superhero and a photographer stuck in perpetual poverty, quickly followed up by a battle between Spidey and the newest “Goblin” character, Menace.

However, it quickly becomes clear to the reader that the status quo has been greatly changed for this latest adventure. Parker works for a different newspaper, his former nemesis Eddie Brock is dying of cancer, and Norman Osborn, previously the Green Goblin, is in charge of the Thunderbolts, a team of “hero hunters” out to capture Spider-Man.

02/24/2014 - 7:45am
Shadows by Robin McKinley

Maggie’s new stepfather gives her the creeps. Not only is he short and hairy and definitely not her Dad, but he speaks with a strange accent and spends most of his time in a shed doing who-knows-what. True, it is not his fault that he cannot replace her dead father, and her mother seems to really, really love him, but somehow that only makes worse the Shadows that follow him everywhere—dozens of them that no one else seems to see.

02/17/2014 - 4:01am
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up is by Daniel Handler and features art by Maira Kalman, and both elements elevate it above your average high school romance novel.

Min has just left a box on Ed's doorstep. The box contains the pieces of evidence of their brief relationship, as well as letters explaining each piece's importance.