What do you get when you mix one accidental murder with four Asian aunties? A review of Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

My phone sits on a wicker basket with the cover of Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto. Next to it is my Nikon DSLR camera and lens cap.

First off, thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. I really am not a romance reader by any means, but when I first heard of Dial A for Aunties, I just knew I had to pick it up! I was not only so excited for a chance to read a debut by Chinese-Indonesian author Jesse Q. Sutanto, but I was also so excited by its hilarious, outrageous description.

Quick synopsis: This story follows the misadventures of Meddy, a photographer who works with her mom and three aunts in their wedding service company. When she accidentally kills her date on a blind date gone wrong, the four aunties must figure out to help Meddy cover her tracks, all while working the biggest wedding of their careers at an upscale Californian hotel for a wildly rich family (think of the book/movie Crazy Rich Asians –that rich). Meanwhile, a run-in with Meddy’s old flame may put their chances at covering this crime at risk.

Part romance, and part contemporary fiction, this book had me quite literally laughing out loud! Meddy and her aunties had me cracking up, while also totally rooting for them despite an accidental murder. And while the story was often lighthearted and funny, it did touch on some more serious topics, such as Meddy’s mom and aunties’ immigration experience. The thing I probably connected with the most was Meddy’s identity struggles she faced growing up with her Chinese-Indonesian family who immigrated to the U.S., while she was raised there. While my family experience was definitely different than hers, I could empathize with her feelings of feeling on the outside at times when it comes to racial identity.

Additionally, I loved Meddy’s journey of self-discovery. She was such a relatable leading lady, and I definitely recognized a bit of myself in her as she tries to discover herself and do what makes her happiest, not just what makes her mom/aunties happy. But I so admired how she cares so deeply for her family, and they obviously feel the same about her — enough to cover up an accidental murder!

I thought the romance element to this book was so sweet (fans of steamy romances, beware — this one is definitely sweet, not steamy). It was a big part of the book, but not overwhelmingly so, as I think the themes of family and self acceptance were much more prominent. But the romance was a wonderful addition to this zany, wildly surprising adventure. It read like a rom-com and touched on coming into your own while recognizing the importance of family. And of course, it was so wonderful to see a lead who looks like me!

This book’s pub day is April 27th. I totally recommend giving this wonderful debut a read!

My monthly wrap-up — March 2021

A stack of books that I read in March sit next to a fish tank with my betta fish Reggie.

I’m a day late on my March wrap-up post AND it just snowed for the first time in a month — so that’s the April Fools Day joke, right?? But living in the Midwest, you just have to accept that Fake Spring is a real thing and you’ll inevitably get that last snow sometime in late March or even April. Hopefully it’s the last one of the season, however!

On a reading note, this month was a great month for me. Typically, I read around eight books, but this month I got through a whopping 11 books! There were many awesome reads, some of which I’ve already reviewed, some of which are to come. I’ve probably spent just a little too much time reading and not enough keeping up with reviews on here and Instagram. But I promise — they’re coming soon!!

Here are the books, in order, that I got the chance to read this month, plus a short summary. Also, check out my new Betta fish, Reggie! Sadly, Barry passed away (may he RIP) after nearly two years. But we’re excited to welcome Reggie to the family!

Watch Her by Edwin Hill. This suspense/mystery features Hester Thursby, Harvard librarian and master finder/researcher. I loved the whodunnit aspect, the alternating POVs, but mostly, I loved Hester. Check out my full review here. You better be sure I’ll be going back to read books 1 and 2 at some point! Also, thank you to Books Forward and Kensington Books for this free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner. This book follows two parallel storylines, that of modern day Caroline, who is on vacation alone after a shocking revelation from her husband, and that of Nella, an apothecary who sells her concoctions to women in need of help against the oppressive men in their lives and whose run-in with young Eliza will forever change their lives. My full review will be coming soon.

The Northern Reach by W. S. Winslow. This is a slow-burn collection of interrelated stories about the residents of a coastal Maine town and how throughout the 20th century, they intersect, intermarry, and intermingle. With a dash of magical realism and truly atmospheric writing, this one is great for fans of historical fiction. Thank you to Flatiron Books for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review, which you can read here.

The Push by Ashley Audrain. Living up to all the hype, this suspense novel unpacks the darkest side of motherhood and was truly a profound read. I was often disturbed and unsettled, but as a reader, I appreciated the way this book made me think hard about motherhood and womanhood. Check out my full review here.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan. This was a book club choice that I read with some college friend that was a thought-provoking dissection of how both media and the justice system often let those who commit heinous acts of sexual assault/rape get away and how victims are often to blame. This book is being turned into a Netflix series and I cannot wait.

My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee. So I’m not sure I’ve ever spent this long on a book! Like no joke, I was reading it for about a month. It’s a slow, arduous read, but also beautifully written, telling the story of how Tiller, a young, not-so-ambitious American, is taken under the wing of Pong, an enigmatic and charismatic businessman, and the events of their year abroad. Thank you to NetGalley and Riverhead for this free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto. Definitely the stand-out novel of the month, this story — part contemporary fiction and part romance — follows Chinese-Indonesian Meddy, whose aunties must come to the rescue after a blind date gone horribly wrong. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming tale of of five women trying to cover up an accidental murder, work the biggest wedding of their careers, and Meddy’s run-in with an old flame. What could possibly go wrong? Thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. This was a buddy read and a total “bookstagram made me do it.” The first book of the series, this story follows Feyre, a young girl cursed to live among faeries as punishment for a crime. A mix of Beauty and the Beast, Hunger Games, Spinning Silver, and a whole bunch of other fun fantasy tropes, this book was a fun, sexy read. I’m excited for the next ones to come!

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton. This Book of the Month selection and debut novel is an oral history of the famous (yet fictional) rock n’ roll duo, Opal and Nev, who rise to fame in the 70’s. While it is a thrilling biography of sorts, it is also an indictment of consequences of protesting injustices has on women of color, especially Black women, versus men. Another stand out of the month.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo. This book follows 17-year-old Lily Hu, growing up in San Francisco Chinatown in the 1950’s. She is struggling with her budding feelings for a female classmate, but throughout the story, must find the courage to be true to herself while falling in love for the first time. It’s a touching, heartbreaking, yet hopeful read.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. This fun, super steamy romance follows Chloe Brown, who after a near-death experience, makes a list of things to do that will help her “get a life” and step out of her comfort zone. Enter her superintendent, Red, who is the perfect person to help her cross off this list and perhaps fall in love with along the way.

What was your favorite read of the month? Let me know below or send me a message on Instagram!