★Waiting for Tom Hanks
In this charmingly sweet romance from Kerry Winfrey, a lovable aspiring screenwriter named Annie Cassidy is obsessed with Nora Ephron movies and finding her own Tom Hanks. To Annie, Tom Hanks—the star of several of Ephron’s most beloved romantic comedies—represents her dream man. He’s an everyman who believes in love at first sight and maybe even lives on a houseboat à la Sleepless in Seattle. In contrast, Annie lives with her Dungeons & Dragons-loving uncle, and her dating prospects are looking grim. When a movie production takes over her neighborhood, it brings with it several men who vie for her attention. Will she end up with the grip who checks all her boxes, or with the handsome movie star she keeps bumping into but couldn’t possibly have a chance with? With fun, engaging narration from Rachel L. Jacobs, Waiting for Tom Hanks is a pure delight from beginning to end.
Out East is a memoir about one summer in the Long Island beach town of Montauk, where John Glynn, his friends and some loose acquaintances go in together on a summer home. Glynn feels like the odd man out in a group mostly populated by women, gay men and Wall Street bros. But as feelings develop for one of his new friends, it turns out he might fit in better than he thought. Glynn has a knack for details, is skilled at place-setting and displays a true love of language, which he deploys effortlessly. It’s a small, personal story about Glynn figuring out who he truly is over one wild summer of weekends away from the city. Michael Crouch lends an earnestness to the narration. As focused as the story is, he makes everything feel big and new.
A strong debut from Cadwell Turnbull, The Lesson does what all the best science fiction does: It uses the supernatural to reveal something true about our world. The book is set in the U.S. Virgin Islands five years after the Ynaa, an advanced alien race, arrived to study humans. The Ynaa live mostly peacefully with humans, at least for the time being. Most people are willing to put up with the occasional killing at the hands of the Ynaa in exchange for their science and medicine, but eventually enough is enough. Narrators Janina Edwards and Ron Butler do a fantastic job setting us in the islands, and their accents draw extra attention to the colonial elements of alien invasion that mirror our own history. It’s worth a listen for anyone with an interest in sci-fi.