Book Review: Charming as a Verb by Philippe

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe My rating: 4 of 5 stars When I started this book I wasn’t sure how long I would continue reading. A teenage guy with a lot of swagger talking about “the hustle” and “the hunger” for making it – not really what I’m into. However, Ben Philippe’s charming novel and character are not what they seem on the surface – that’s the whole point of this enjoyable read. Charming as a Verb is about first-generation Haitian-American Henry Haltiwanger. He lives on the Upper West side of NYC where his dad is the building super and his mom is a firefighter. His family isn’t wealthy by any means, but he attends a prestigious private school called the FATE Academy and he has his sights set on Columbia University. Henry’s family isn’t rich by any means, and as the cover indicates Henry helps add to the family purse by walking dogs on behalf on one of those dog-walking company apps. One of the dogs he walks belongs to the family of the very “intense” Corinne Troy. The T

Book Review: The Last Colony by Scalzi

The Last Colony by John Scalzi My rating: 5 of 5 stars Reviewing books in the middle of a series is always tricky because, by definition, spoilers are inherent. The fact that the the cover of this book says it’s a sequel to Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades already gives away certain information about the plot, let alone the back cover summary. All that aside, I will try to just give the bare bones of this plot along with this statement of the trilogy – it’s a fun, entertaining, and satisfying series. Now, to The Last Colony. This novel comes in at over 300 pages but was a quick and entertaining read. The Colonial Union, in classic action movie fashion, brings some hardcore military legends out of retirement for One Last Mission. This time, though, the glory isn’t on the battlefield but in the soul-crushing and mundane monotony of civil service. The legends are charged with helping to install a new human colony on a hospitable planet out amongst the stars. Why the military leader

Book Review: James Bond in VARGR by Ellis

James Bond, Vol. 1: VARGR by Warren Ellis My rating: 4 of 5 stars My local library allows us to roam the shelves in thirty-minute increments, in limited numbers. It was recently my turn. For the first time in over a year I was able to take my time browsing the graphic novel collections (we have one in the general fiction section and one for teens). To my surprise, the library had acquired several new-to-me selections. The first one I grade was James Bond in VARGR. I’m a Bond fan and also a fan of spy comics; some of my favorites being Velvet, the fantastic Dark Horse Star Wars Agent of the Empire series. Ellis’ James Bond book is set in contemporary times, but Bond is still young(ish). However, he is something of a goofy and respected legend in the spy world. His colleagues make fun of his silly tiny gun, his smoking habits, and the general sauveness that doesn’t have much of a place in what is essentially a desk job these days. However, his very particular set of skills turns out t


 Jesus and Phoebe Bridgers will save us.

Book Review: A Gentleman in Moscow by Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles My rating: 5 of 5 stars This was an audiobook listen for me, narrated by the wonderful Nicholas Guy Smith. It was also something of a journey. It took me most of 2020 and a month of 2021 to finish this fine novel. It took me so long not because it was a chore to listen, but precisely because it was a great story. It takes time to make sense of those. It was a great read for last year because of both plot and theme. The plot’s connection to 2020 is immediately obvious – a man is sentenced to permanent house arrest in his own home. Many of us were also forced into isolation and removed from the freedom of movement that we took for granted. That’s relatable, but not necessarily compelling or desirable in a story right now. However, what the protagonist does with his situation is what inspires and emboldens the reader. Count Alexander Rostov is a Russian aristocrat and jovial fellow, found wanting by the Bolsheviks (hence the house arrest). He’s forc

Book Review: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’m not sneaking up on anybody by reading and reviewing Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. It was definitely one of the most talked-about books of 2020, it’s going to be a series, and it even made Goodreads’ Best of YA fiction finalist list. Even with all of the accolades it was one I missed - you just can’t get to everything, after all. Luckily for me, my wife short-listed this as one of my must-reads for 2021. (I’ve got five or six more on the list that I’ll be reading and reviewing over the coming months.) I am glad I got to read this one. It’s an exciting mix of modern dark suburban mystery flavored with a little bit of Veronica Mars. The characters aren’t as interesting as Rob Thomas’ V Mars characters (well, maybe the lackluster season three ones), but it’s got that teenagers-solving-real-crimes thing, weird family dynamics, and some occasionally witty characters. However, it’s definitely

Phoebe Bridgers + Arlo Parks perform Fake Plastic Trees