Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Q Sutanto

Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Q Sutanto

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Bruh. This is somehow even worse.

After killing a guy and covering it up at the last wedding they worked, Meddy is now marrying her own man, Nathan, in London – and the aunties are up to their usual antics. Having hired a Chinese-Indonesian family of wedding vendors they are somehow related to, the Chans now face down the fact that they have hired the mafia, and they’re looking to kill someone at Meddy’s wedding. Trying to salvage the day, they identify the target and dedicate themselves to protecting her. And, you know…craziness ensues.

I just hate that these books have so much genuine potential and it is WASTED by how cringey the writing style is – I really thought in my last review that the problem must be the narrator, but I think it was a combination of her and the writer herself. There are just *unnecessarily placed sentences* here and there that just reiterate previously made points that were cringey the first time, and continue to be cringey a second time around. Not to repeat myself, but if this was written with more of Finlay Donovan‘s humorous situational irony, with regard and self-awareness for how ridiculous it is, I think it would be much better. Instead, Sutanto leans into it, and makes the book borderline uncomfortable.

The plot in this one was also lacking substantially in comparison to the first one. I thought the storyline in book one was far more well-developed; this book felt much like running in circles and repeating the same “issues” over and over (like we’re worried about Nathan, we’re worried about the uncles, we’re worried about Nathan, just over and over again in circles like that the whole book with no real plot developments). I think it lacked originality and dragged on too long.

I like Meddy, but she made some poor decisions in this book. Like, worse than accidentally killing a guy, I guess – since that is the standard here. Her relationship with Nathan is unbelievable because it’s built on far too many lies. She treats him like garbage this whole book, and yet he’s kind and polite and patient with her. No one is that patient! Wild.

The aunties remain funny and witty and enjoyable – even if you are crying a little every time they use a British accent or insist on komodo dragon fascinators. They just make the book a bit more warm and a bit less forced. I think this is what Sutanto draws from real life; the aunties of this book are based off her own family and you can feel a better sense of authenticity from them than from the rest of the characters. I know this isn’t supposed to be a wildly realistic story; they’re meant to be humorous and a bit ridiculous and I get that. But when you’ve read humor that still jibes and makes sense without being over the top, it’s hard not to compare the two. This one just falls short in that department.

I don’t think I feel the need to continue this series at this rate. I wish I was enjoying it more, but it’s not a good fit for me I guess. Have a fabulous weekend!

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This one was kind of a letdown from my expectations and at least half of that was the narrator’s fault. I made the mistake of *listening* to Dial A for Aunties instead of just reading it, and the narrator’s bubbly, over-hyped voice made things that could’ve been humorous, even if a little weird, sound just plain cringey.

Meddy works for the family wedding business as their photographer, with her three aunties and mom. The family is apparently cursed to be left by every man in their lives, so it’s just the five of them remaining in California and working many of the Chinese-Indonesian weddings in the area. Leading up to a huge and fancy wedding they’re working, Meddy is convinced by her mother to go on a blind date, and *accidentally* kills the guy. Literally. And she looks pretty guilty, so instead of going to the police, the aunties help her cover it up…

But dragging a body around a luxury wedding in a hotel owned by your ex is kind of a lot.

I know you all know I’m going to say this, but I picked this book up because I was told it’s like Only Murders in the Building and it’s not. Story of my life. I never watch television, leave it to me to find the one show I adore and yet cannot replicate the vibe of in my reading habits. I’ve liked most of the picks I got from that list, but they are really not the same. Dial A for Aunties was pretty cute and pretty hilarious, but yea, not Only Murders. Nothing ever will be, lol.

I do have to give credit where credit is due, I loved the antics and the hilarity of this book. Like Finlay Donovan, you need to maintain that suspended disbelief, but if you can, it’s a laugh out loud riot. The aunties were hysterical. The situational irony, totally on point. And Meddy was both real and likeable, so that said, I really enjoyed this book.

I absolutely should have been reading my paperback, and not listening to the audiobook. The narrator made this book sound really childish and immature, which I guess it was, but she just made it so much worse. Read in the correct tone, I think this could’ve landed closer to a Finlay Donovan, but I don’t even know what I would call this. Romance plays a larger role in this story, and it’s not exactly a mystery who killed the guy…so it’s more of a comedy with a romantic element. Suffice to say this is not a genre I would typically pick up.

I think I will definitely be reading the sequel, Four Aunties and a Wedding, and hopefully I will settle into that story a bit better. I’ll keep you posted. 😉

Have a fabulous weekend.

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead by Elle Cosimano

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead by Elle Cosimano

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 4. Title starting with the letter “F”, 9. A book that sparks joy, 22. An unlikely detective, 43. Author who’s published in more than one genre, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

This series is just too good! I wish I had picked it up earlier, because it is just such a joy to read. I love a good mystery, but these hilarious and light-hearted books make my day.

Finlay Donovan is back! After receiving a tip that her own ex-husband Steven has a bounty on his head, Finlay and Vero closely monitor the online chatroom of organized crime, as well as Steven himself. The only trouble is that they can’t tell anyone why they know Steven has a bounty on his head…because it’s in the very same chatroom they were hired to kill several other men from the Russian mob.

Sound interesting yet? These stories are so wild.

Now, Finlay juggles her writing career, mom life, a love triangle, and of course, protecting her ex-husband from a hitman, as she tracks the progress of a killer-for-hire named EasyClean.

I read Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead in a single day. I couldn’t put it down. The story never pulls punches and you’ll probably find you never want to leave the wildly insane plot! I love all the characters, and I love this hilarious next installment. I’m 100% invested in the Russian mob, and a divorced mom and her college-age accountant’s ties to it.

Vero remains my absolute favorite character. I love her standoffishness yet her softness with the kiddos. She’s a great supporting character, but she’s still kind of suspicious. I remember loving her in the first novel but being like “why is a college student helping her bury a body right now” and yeah, that feeling does not dissipate. I really hope the next book holds even more of Vero’s backstory, because she’s awesome. Additionally, I still ship Finlay and Vero.

Finlay Donovan would make an excellent streaming show. Each book would make an awesome season, and since there’s so much action, I think it’d be hard not to binge the whole series in a day. I wanted to see if the incredible internet had already made a dream cast, and yes, Xochitl Gomez should definitely play Vero. I don’t have any ideas for Finlay, though… thoughts?

This book gets five stars from me because I literally cannot think of a way to make it better. The characters are awesome, the plot really adds to the overall story, it stays true to the first book, and it just makes me laugh out loud. The twist ending to this one was something I could only guess in the last fifty pages or so, and it’s such a good one. Makes you laugh at the same time that you’re gasping with surprise. This is a series I will keep on following for many more installments, for sure.

Naturally, I recommend! I hope you all have an awesome week.

Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 4. Title starting with the letter “F”

Other Possible Prompts: 22. An unlikely detective, 43. Author who’s published in more than one genre, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover

I knew, reading the back of this book after I picked it up at Gibson’s last week, that this one was going to be a wild ride. I seemed to have hit the nail on the head with that one. This book may just be one of the most ridiculous I’ve read as of late, and I absolutely loved it. It’s more like 4.75 stars to me – this just really exceeded my expectations!

Finlay is a recently single mom with a long-overdue deadline on her new romantic suspense book, and now apparently, an overdue electric bill. All in one morning, her daughter cuts off her hair, her ex fires her nanny, the electric gets turned off, and she gets mistaken for a hitwoman at her local Panera. In her attempt to explain the mistake to the stressed-out woman who hires her to kill her husband, she accidentally accepts the job – and gets swept into a world of crime and a real-life murder investigation.

And yes, this book really is just as ridiculous as it sounds. AND I LOVED IT. I laughed, I cringed, I even teared up a bit. The writing is witty and smart. The story, this crazy plot, is still masterful for all that it makes me giggle. And the characters are fantastic.

Of course, Finlay is the star of this show, and I really loved her character. She has so much growth from start to finish. She’s smart and relatable. I think her dire situation in the start of the book makes her more susceptible to all that’s to come after, but it also makes her better to think on her feet. She’s an unlikely heroine, but a heroine all the same.

Funny as this whole narrative is, it made me think of an article I recently saw comparing motherhood to the hero’s journey. We exclude mothers from the narrative of the hero for a multitude of reasons, as listed in that incredible excerpt, including: “we’ve all just internalized that the word “mommy” automatically diminishes whatever noun comes after it” (From Jessi Klein’s I’ll Show Myself Out, which the article above is an excerpt of). Our heroine, Finlay, is a single mom, a writer, a divorcee – quite a few nouns we don’t give much weight to, and further, she’s not exactly exceeding at these endeavours when we start the story. But by some perfect storm, some complete accident, she ends up on a whirlwind that brings her first stress, pain, and confusion, but then success, money, stability – and the respect of those around her. Fundamentally, nothing changed, but Finlay’s confidence blooms. Her comfort in not being a perfect version of someone else brings the character to another level. I’ll leave you to make your own connections on what that means, and what it means to you.

My absolute favorite character was Finlay’s nanny, Vero. She comes back into the story after that original firing, and she is hysterical and naive, but really on top of her shit. At first I was a little suspicious of her, but as the story went on, she really grew on me. I really hope the sequel brings her in a lot more! Vero and Finlay’s easygoing friendship was warm and sisterly, and I loved the effect on both of them, even if it was for weird reasons! I think the two play off each other nicely and bring the story to life even more.

Pro tip for reading: don’t read the last page in this one! I always store my bookmark on the very last page, not just in the back of the book, while I’m reading – and this ending pretty glaringly gives away a good twist/cliffhanger for the sequel.

Suffice to say, I can’t wait to pick up Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead. I have a Barnes & Noble gift card in my wallet calling my name, telling me forty-five minutes really isn’t that long to drive if I can have the sequel right this second…

Have an excellent week, friends!

Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was my very first Jenny Lawson novel, and I was not disappointed. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what I ended up with was the literary equivalent of hearing my ADD friends talk (and it was absolutely glorious).

In Broken, Jenny Lawson discusses her mental health and autoimmune disorders with humor and heart. Through hilarious stories and heartfelt reflections, Jenny will have you laughing out loud and struggling to hold back tears, sometimes all at the same time. From the six ways she lost a shoe right off her foot in public to the 33 things she said to strangers that now gets her out of parties, I could hardly contain my giggles. Her poignant reflections on even the most random things make this book worth the read.

This is one of those books I’m so glad I listened to on audio. I looked like a maniac cackling in my car on my way to work, or sitting in the office doing menial tasks listening to Jenny tell me about her lawn rats and live catching a skunk barely able to contain myself. She delivers her stories in a complete deadpan, and while it sounds absolutely bizarre to readers and listeners, it’s her truth and you can tell this is really how she thinks. I can’t help but feel Jenny would make an excellent friend. The only downside to listening instead of reading right off the page is that I couldn’t make notes on some of my favorite quotes, both hilarious and inspiring.

My favorite parts of the book came from the humor, because that was more or less what I was expecting from her. Even having never read a book by her, I’m familiar with Jenny and all her antics, especially because so many of my friends are already big fans. And like I said, her voice and the things she says remind me exactly of them. The unexpected parts of this book, and admittedly not so much my favorite, was her deeper reflections on mental health and that journey for her. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely relatable: there’s something truly validating about listening to someone as successful as Lawson tell you about a deep, internal tired preventing her from living life, or an absolutely crippling anxiety that keeps her from enjoying the world, even when she’s been afforded every opportunity. Because there’s a guilt that comes with that, with not experiencing things even when those you love most don’t understand it, and I’m so glad she says, you shouldn’t feel guilty about the things you can’t do right now; put yourself first.

I did love hearing her experiences and following her “of course you have Hashimoto’s disease” narrative; Lawson’s been through a lot, but she has a good humor about it even when the days are hard. She’s real, raw, and honest. As a narrative, this is great and relatable, but once she becomes more abstract is when she loses me. The way she looks at the world is beautiful and imaginative, but sometimes I’m just too much of a realist to take that perspective. It’s extremely well written, and like I said, full of heart, but at times feels more like an inspirational self-help than the memoir portion that I enjoyed most.

100%, hands down, read this book. Even better, listen to it. It’s just too damn funny to pass up on. Especially if you or a friend has anxiety, ADD, or depression…you’ll find yourself in these pages, or you’ll better understand the ones you love.

Have a wonderful week, pals. ❤