Thursday, February 29, 2024

Mini Reviews: Quirky Debuts

Sometimes a quirky romance is just what you need, right? A novel that will keep you entertained and make you laugh-out-loud is always the perfect escape from the mundane and that is what I require in a good audio book. Mrs. Nash's Ashes and Dial A for Aunties is what these two novels have in common--there's a lot of hijinks, some romance, and funny moments that had me snickering.

Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler
Genre: Romance/Audio Book
Pub. Date: May 23, 2023
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Source: Library
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "A starry-eyed romantic, a cynical writer, and (the ashes of) an elderly woman take the road trip of a lifetime that just might upend everything they believe about true love. Millicent Watts-Cohen is on a mission. When she promised her elderly best friend that she’d reunite her with the woman she fell in love with nearly eighty years ago, she never imagined that would mean traveling from D.C. to Key West with three tablespoons of Mrs. Nash’s remains in her backpack. But Millie’s determined to give her friend a symbolic happily-ever-after, before it’s (really) too late—and hopefully reassure herself of love’s lasting power in the process. She just didn’t expect to have a living travel companion.

After a computer glitch grounds flights, Millie is forced to catch a ride with Hollis Hollenbeck, an also-stranded acquaintance from her ex’s MFA program. Hollis certainly does not believe in happily-ever-afters—symbolic or otherwise—and makes it quite clear that he can’t fathom Millie’s plan ending well for anyone.

But as they contend with peculiar bed-and-breakfasts, unusual small-town festivals, and deer with a death wish, Millie begins to suspect that her reluctant travel partner might enjoy her company more than he lets on. Because for someone who supposedly doesn’t share her views on romance, Hollis sure is becoming invested in the success of their journey. And the closer they get to their destination, the more Millie has to admit that maybe this trip isn’t just about Mrs. Nash’s love story after all—maybe it’s also about her own."
Millie Watts-Cohen was a childhood star and one of her closest friends was her elderly landlady, Rose. After Rose's death, she promised to reunite her remains with her long-lost love, Elsie. Elsie is on hospice in Florida, so Millie's time is limited. She needs to take Rose's remains to Elsie before it's too late. While en route to Florida, there's a mishap at the airport and flights are canceled. While there, she runs into Hollis, her ex-boyfriend's friend, who also was supposed to go to Florida. After some discussion and plans that don't pan out, they both agree to drive to Florida together. A road trip between grouchy Hollis and sunny Millie....what could go wrong? Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler is a delightful rom-com debut filled with laugh-out-loud moments, a lot of tropes, and some major spice.

I love a good road trip book, so 
Mrs. Nash's Ashes was a nice escape. Adler relies heavily on many tropes: opposites attract, forced proximity, one-bed, and more, but it was fun. I can't say the romance knocked my socks off, but it was a nice way to pass a few afternoons. It was filled with quirky road trip moments (there's a religious bed and breakfast, small town parades, etc) and a budding romance. I did think Hollis's grouchy behavior was grating after a while as I didn't think he was broody, but rather rude. To enhance the story, there were flashbacks to Rose and Elsie's relationship during WWII, which brought more seriousness to the romance. Overall, it's a romance filled with a lot of spice and road trip fun.

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Genre: Adult Fiction/Audio Book
Pub. Date: April 27, 2021
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Source: Library
Other Books By Author: Vera Wong's Unsolicited 
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family? You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue! When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It's the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—"Don't leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!"—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie's perfect buttercream flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy's great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?"

Meddy Chan fell for her college boyfriend, Nathan, but her overbearing Chinese-Indonesian family convinced her to dump him and work for their wedding catering business as a photographer. So years later, Meddy is now living near her family, working for her family, and listening to her meddling aunts as well as her mother, who sets her up on a date with Jake. Jake, while seems like a put-together businessman, is a real jerk and assaults Meddy on her date. In turn, she tases him, and he doesn't wake up. Cue the drama! Who does she call? Her aunts! Who, naturally, then put Jake's body in a cooler till they can figure out what to do. As luck would have it, the cooler gets mistakingly sent to their next catering event, a wedding at a big hotel, that is owned by none other than Nathan, Meddy's ex-boyfriend. Cue even more drama! They must keep this body hidden as they can't mess up this big event...what could go wrong? Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto is her debut novel that is filled with hijinks, slapstick comedy, and laugh-out-loud meddling aunts.  

Dial A for Aunties is filled with some unbelievable moments, but that's what makes it fun. It's absolute mayhem that's quirky and hilarious. More often than not, I was laughing out loud while listening to this story, especially the auntie's dialogue, which was the best part as they are the true stars of the novel. Do I believe any of this would actually happen? No. Was it fun? Yes. If you like dark comedy with some romance mixed in, look no further.

Have you read Mrs. Nash's Ashes or Dial A for Aunties? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 



  1. These both sound like they have a lot of fun moments!

    1. They were so much fun! I really needed something light. Thanks for visiting, Angela.


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