Waiting for Tom Hanks – Kerry Winfrey

Source: Goodreads

Annie grew up obsessed with rom-coms. After her dad passed, she and her mom watched them religiously, and she went to school for screen writing to write her own – featuring Tom Hanks of course. But after school she came back to Ohio, where she has lived with her uncle since her mom’s passing, and she can’t seem to move on with her life. She’s waiting for her Tom Hanks, her perfect match, but she’s not out there looking for him. Instead she’s sitting in her best friend’s coffee shop working remotely doing freelance article writing for everything from cold sore creams to gardening rakes.

Everything changes when a famous romantic-comedy director announces he’s shooting his new movie in Annie’s hometown. Annie’s best friend insists it’s fate, and it truly seems it could be when she finds a sudden connection to the director and ends up working on set. But instead of learning the ropes in the hopes of creating her own movie someday, Annie finds herself the unwitting heroine in her own Tom-Hanks-esque love story.


I rarely pick up books that have just been published, because I am always too busy working my way through a massive backlist TBR. Waiting for Tom Hanks kept popping up on my radar, though, and I finally decided that I just had to read it. Cut to visiting 3-5 different indie bookstores before finally finding it at Target by accident. The million-and-one references to rom-coms, Nora Ephron, and Tom Hanks are delightful, so long as you are just as obsessed with rom-coms as Annie and actually get all of the references, because there are many. Annie’s uncle also runs a weekly Dungeons & Dragons game, which I absolutely love with a singular purity, and honestly Uncle Don is just so pure over all. He is easily my favorite.

Annie as a character was slightly annoying because she couldn’t see what was going on, but that’s how rom-coms go, aren’t they? There was hardly any diversity of any shape or form (which is also mostly on par for rom-coms, though it’s a huge problem of the genre), and the ending was definitely rushed – I could have used another 25-50 pages for better pacing, please! Also, there were almost no physical descriptions in the entire book – so maybe there’s a lot more diversity than we think? That’s probably a pipe dream, but oh well. Overall it was a very cute book that I will be passing along to many friends.

HHC Rating: 4.5 Stars.

Other Reviews in this series:
Book 2 – Not Like The Movies (Book available in 2020)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews

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Source: Goodreads

Greg Gaines is not a hero. Neither are Earl or Rachel, the other main characters. There are no heroes in this story, and that’s the way Greg likes it. Told from his point of view in a sort of personal essay that includes certain scenes written out like a screenplay, Greg tells the story of his senior year of high school, and the friend he never wanted. As Greg will tell you, this isn’t one of those sappy cry-your-eyes-out cancer stories. That doesn’t make it any less real.

This book has been on my radar since the film trailer started popping up, but my TBR list was pretty packed and I didn’t own a copy. In July, at a friend’s birthday party, I noticed she had a copy, and she was foolish enough to lend it to me. — I don’t lend books. They never come back, even from the people you trust. If it’s a really, truly good book, they will pass it on to another one of their friends and so on and so forth. — Luckily for my friend, I am a meticulous book nut who puts sticky notes on books that are not mine so they are sure to make it back to their original (or at least previous) owners. So, she lent me the book, and I read it while I was babysitting (no small feat).

I’m not usually a fan of 1st-person, but Greg managed to move between scenes seamlessly (maybe because it’s essay style, so he possibly re-wrote until it flowed like a paper?). The characters are all comically crazy. Parts of it were amusing, even. But everyone I had spoken to about the book had hyped it as hilarious, and maybe it’s not my brand of humor, but I wasn’t that impressed. To me, it was funnier in an “oh no, this poor kid, everything happens to him” kind of way that’s really more saddening than hilarious. But the writing itself and the formatting of the book were very good.

The ending was not predictable, which was refreshing. Greg, for all the complaining that he does throughout the book about this not being a story of self-acceptance and growth, sure does a whole lot of growing and changing. I still have yet to watch the film, but I imagine it will be pretty good, though the voice-over may get a bit boring.

I think if I had read this book in high school, it would have had a rather large impact on me. It may even have made me take stock of my life and possibly prevented some of the stupid things I did in college. But reading it now, I feel that much of the meaning is lost on me, having works like The Fault in Our Stars, A Walk to Remember, Eat, Pray, Love, The Paris Wife*, and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald** under my belt already. So, would I recommend it? Yes. Of course. But for me, personally, it wasn’t a stellar read.

HHC Rating: 3 Stars

* See my review of The Paris Wife

** See my review of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Wicked Charms (Lizzy & Diesel, #3) – Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

wicked-charms-janet-evanovich

Source: Goodreads

Lizzy and Diesel’s third adventure takes to the high seas in search of the Avaritia Stone, the SALIGIA stone of greed. Besides boats and pirates and buried treasure, Lizzy is on the hunt for a publisher. Will she find everything she’s looking for?

After the second installment, I was very dubious going into this story, but the pirate theme had me pretty excited. There is so much historic potential in this series! However, I have a constant worry that she’s trying to build a love triangle by making Wulf more likable, the problem being that nobody likes him. Now, on top of all that, I’m worried about the series in general.Why has she brought in a co-author? Will Phoef Sutton be continuing on with the series? and HOW EXACTLY are you supposed to pronounce his name? Is it like loaf? or pho-eff? or is the pho like fuh?

Apparently, all of these are wrong according to Wikipedia, which says that it’s a nickname for Christopher, pronounced feef. How does that make sense? Also, you would think that the former executive producer of Cheers would be able to imbue the story with a bit more Boston/New England history, wouldn’t you? You would be wrong.

Some of my favorite things about Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series are the tidbits of New Jersey history that creep into the story. Since this series in based in Boston/Salem, and there is SO MUCH HISTORY TO WORK WITH THERE, why isn’t more of it included? We get maybe 3 pages of history per book and it’s always told in a super-quick and non-important seeming way. They are literally hunting stones that have been passed down through history, and they can’t spend more than 3/300 pages telling us about that history? Maybe some readers didn’t even notice, but it is quite possibly the most frustrating things about these books for a history lover like myself. Even the secret tunnels are rushed over, and they are SO IMPORTANT TO EVERYTHING.

The storyline itself felt extremely rushed, and the characters didn’t develop at all, except for Hatchett, who has suddenly gotten a lot nicer. Carl the monkey, thankfully, has gone back to his bird-flipping ways. But really, not a whole lot happens in this book. There are a whole bunch of new characters that may or may not be continuing on in the series, and it just all seemed like it was over in a day or two. I feel like in the other books it took them weeks to find everything. I’m just feeling really disappointed, okay? Not sure if I even want to give the next book a try or just give up on the series.

HHC Rating: 1.5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Wicked Appetite
Book #2 – Wicked Business

Wicked Business (Lizzy & Diesel, #2) – Janet Evanovich

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via Goodreads

Baking queen and magical item detector Lizzy Tucker is back on the case of the missing SALIGIA stones with her pals Deisel, Carl, and Cat 7143. This time, they’re searching for the Luxuria stone, the stone of lust, before it falls into the hands of one of the quickly multiplying number of bad guys and helps bring about hell on earth.

The sequel to Janet Evanovich’s Wicked Appetite Wicked Business takes place in and around Boston in October, seemingly making it a great fall read. I was so looking forward to Lizzy and Deisel’s next adventure, however, this story left me with mixed feelings and a lot of questions.

After the first book introduced the chemistry between Lizzy and Deisel and we were told they couldn’t act on it without one or both of them losing their powers, I, as a reader, assumed the stone of lust would probably be the last stone they would locate. Until then, we would enjoy the building of their relationship. When they find the stone, something would happen and the consequences of that would mean one of them would have to save the world alone. All of this would, of course, happen while avoiding Wulf, who was established in the first book as a very creepy and evil dude whom we should definitely fear.

All of this, of course, was proven wrong by this second book’s very existence. First of all, they’re searching for the luxuria (lust) stone now? Not in another five books? Second of all, they basically act on their feelings and there are no consequences? Third, every character in this book seems a little thin, if not straight up wimpy. Lizzy is afraid of everything, Deisel isn’t even half of his usual suave self from the first book and his guest appearances in the Stephanie Plum holiday stories, and Wulf basically became a crybaby? Even the monkey isn’t as rude to everyone. Fourth, going back to the Wulf problem, he’s been waiting to ruin Lizzy, yet in this book he meets a girl and now we’re supposed to feel bad about everything that’s happening to/around him?

Fifth and finally, this book punches a bunch of holes in the series. If the luxuria stone is “broken” can Wulf even bring about hell on earth? Aren’t we safe from that now that the stone can’t be used for nefarious means? Does this mean the entire mission is over already? If the luxuria stone can be “broken”, can they all be? And if they can, is it possible they could be “fixed”? And of course, if Wulf is no longer the ultimate evil character, what is his role now in the series? Mildly annoying kind of bad guy? Or are we headed for a dreaded and surely very awkward love triangle? (PLEASE NO.)

This book just left me with too many questions. Overall the story was light and fun when I expected it to be a little more dangerous and, especially since they were searching for the stone of lust, sexy. Evanovich knows how to do sexy, and if you’ve ever read the Stephanie Plum series, you know this. Which is why I’m at such a loss with this book. I’m going to have to read the third book to see where she’s taking the story, but right now things don’t look too hot for Lizzy and Deisel. I probably wouldn’t recommend reading this one unless the third one turns out to be better; because this one definitely suffers from a second book slump at the very least.

HHC Rating: 2.5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Wicked Appetite
Book #3 – Wicked Charms

Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel, #1) – Janet Evanovich

Wicked-Appetite-Janet-Evanovich.jpg

via Goodreads

Lizzy’s special talent is cupcakes. She can make anything well (with the exception of gravy), but her cupcakes are something magical. Literally. Or at least that’s what the big blond stranger standing on her doorstep keeps telling her. He also insists that it isn’t her only talent. Lizzy is a finder, one of only two in the known world, and Diesel needs her help to find and contain the SALIGIA stones before someone uses them to bring about Hell on Earth. Oh yeah, and magic is real, there’s a vampire-looking guy stalking her, some guy dressed in tights trying to maim her, a cat named Cat, and a very rude monkey named Carl. Together, Lizzy, Diesel, Cat, and Carl might just save the world. Maybe. If Lizzy doesn’t die or lose her magical powers first.

I’ve been a fan of Janet Evanovich’s work for a few years now, ever since someone convinced me to read the Stephanie Plum series set in Trenton and the surrounding parts of New Jersey, my home state. The Lizzy and Diesel series takes place in the same universe, with the addition of magic. In fact, Diesel even makes a few appearances in Stephanie’s life in the holiday novellas!

Wicked Appetite is set in the Boston metropolitan area. Lizzy has just inherited a house in Marblehead from her great aunt and started working at a bakery in Salem. Everything is hunky-dory until Grimwolfe Grimoire and Diesel (no last name) pop into her life and shake things up. Suddenly her life is in danger, spells are being cast, and people are acting very weird. The book moves pretty quickly, and Evanovich’s dialogue is always snappy and entertaining. Evanovich is a master at making the reader feel at home in her books. Her descriptions are so realistic that I often imagine being able to drive to Massachusettes and, using only this book, find every location at which something takes place within its pages.

Wicked Appetite is a great introduction to the series, in which each book describes the search for a SALIGIA stone, an ancient artifact said to contain great powers and represent one of the seven deadly sins: Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, and Sloth. Or, more precisely, Superbia, Avaritia, Luxuria, Invidia, Gula, Ira, and Acedia: SALIGIA. I would recommend Wicked Appetite to anyone excited to learn about a new city, looking for a little spontaneous romance in their life, or who enjoys witty banter. Wicked Appetite is right up your alley. Not recommended for anyone under the age of 12 or so, due to some adult themes.

HHC Rating: 4.5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – Wicked Business
Book #3 – Wicked Charms

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) – Felicia Day

Source: Goodreads

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is like a trip to Versailles – that famous French palace with a hall full of mirrors – where all the mirrors are windows into Felicia Day’s life. The widely proclaimed “Queen of the Geeks” – a title she tries not to lay claim to – is fantastically funny, and comes across as an old friend filling you in on life after a long time apart.

I’ve always been a big fan of memoirs – and this is one that I’ve been really excited about – so I pre-ordered it and read it in basically one sitting when it arrived. The little anecdotes from people’s childhood, teenage, and college years are usually hilarious, and the struggles that the authors face in their early adulthood are full of universal self-identification. For me, the self-identification goes back to Felicia’s childhood, growing up homeschooled. Although mine was not nearly as isolated as hers, the imagination growth and creativity flow were always at an all-time high.

The way Felicia bares it all about her early adulthood struggles really impressed and inspired me. At a time when no one was internet famous, she forged new paths and created a world no one else could have imagined. It was revolutionary to say the least: putting a show on the internet and then having it become this great big thing. When I discovered The Guild a couple years ago, it was (and is STILL!) a huge deal. And don’t worry; despite all the ‘geek talk’ in the book, Felicia really takes the time to make everything understandable to even the most un-geek reader.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is most definitely a home-run in the memoir category. Felicia Day’s personality just oozes out in the writing, and if you’ve ever seen one of her videos, you’ll probably even read the whole book in her voice like I did. Definitely a five star read.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars