For What It's Worth

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Review: Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler


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. ~ goodreads

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review

Review: Mrs. Nash's Ashes was a fun opposites attract (grumpy/sunshine), road trip, story interwoven with a bittersweet LGBQT (lesbian) romance from the past. 

Former child star, Millie Watts-Cohen is coming off a tough break-up from a boyfriend who was using her former star status to try to launch his own writing career, followed by the loss of her unlikely best friend and roommate - the elderly Rose Nash.

Before her death, Rose had confided in Millie that her true love was not her husband but, Elsie Brown - a woman she had met while serving in the military in the 40's. 

Millie makes it her mission to reunite Rose & Elsie (well, Rose's ashes at least) and prove that true love exists to her broken, jaded heart. She buys a ticket from DC to Key West to hopefully get to Elsie - who is in hospice - in time to tell her how much Rose loved and still thought of her. 

But fate has something else in store.

Millie is being harassed by a fan at the airport and is saved by her former bf's friend - more of a frenemy/acquaintance really, and author, Hollis Hollenback. She's immediately drawn to his gruff exterior, convinced he's a secret cinnamon roll - yet he remains aloof.

When all flights out of DC are cancelled from a software glitch, the two are forced to share a car to FL - her to see Elsie - him for a yearly sex hook up with his f-buddy. 

The story is told in the two timelines - Millie/Hollis's hilarious road trip and Rose/Elsie's blossoming romance and eventual separation. 

Honestly, I loved getting swept away in Rose's memories more. You could feel the love, fear (of being found out and trying to make a same sex romance work in that time) and eventual heartache. That story, while not always the *feel good* story I long for was still really beautiful and touching. 

Millie and Hollis are both scarred from past relationships (family and romantic) and are easily triggered by events that seem to be following the same course and react, in not so great ways, but I did enjoy seeing them fall for each other and break down those walls.

The humor is of the madcap variety - having sex in a B&B with 20-ish paint by number Jesus paintings overlooking you. Millie becomes the Broccoli Queen - complete with crown at a local festival but everyone is sweet and sincere so it works. 

One nitpick was a plot point about Hollis. He has writers block - hence the sexcapades to clear his mind - but finds inspiration in Rose and Elsie's story, as well as his own developing romance with Millie. Writers find inspiration from everything so no issue there - but I felt he crossed a big line. It's addressed, but not in a satisfactory way for me but not a deal breaker. 

SPOILER -> He basically steals the Rose/Elsie story to sell to his publisher and writes about he and Millie's romance without her input or consent. He even looks in her backpack to read more about Rose/Elsie. He apologizes later saying this was before he knew he was falling for Millie. Once he knew her better - he felt guilty. Ex-squueze-me??? That was never ok. Whether you like her or not. <- END SPOILER

Overall: Fun, madcap, bittersweet at times. If you can handle the mix of sadness and humor in your romance then this would make a great beach read. 

Monday, May 29, 2023

In the Garden: Electric Blue Penstemon

 In the garden...

I love Penstemon - or I should say - hummingbirds love Penstemon and I want more hummingbirds so I try to plant more Penstemon. Most varieties are some range of pink, purple, reds - so I was excited to find "Electric Blue" Penstemon.

It's such a beautiful pop of color. I've had it three years but never in the right place I guess, for maximum flowering. I moved it last fall and I think I hit the jackpot this year. I got a bit of a surprise being able to see the buds before the bloom and I  have to say that I think the rainbow/hombre effect might be even prettier than the actual bloom!

I had a huge butterfly garden in FL but only get one or two out here (in WA) so I'm always trying to lure some in. Hopefully, this plant will help. But in the meantime, the hummers are happy!

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Update: Life, Reading, Watching...

I am happily enjoying my spring weather (other than a freak 5 day heatwave a few weeks ago) watching my flowers bloom, being able to get back outside to eat dinner and take the dogs on long walks. I LOVE it!

We finally caved and hired landscapers to mow our yard. I've always mowed my own yard. I don't mind. I even managed 3/4 lot in FL through sweltering heat. But we have a very hilly yard out here and the grass just grows like crazy. I'd have to mow at least twice a week to keep up and it cuts into time we could be doing other things. We got quotes for just the front yard years ago and it was more than we wanted to pay but now they'll do my whole yard (front, back, edging and clean up) for $50 - the same as what the said for just the front. Sold lol

I have something going on with my eye. It's slightly swollen and I have no idea why. I'm hoping it's allergies and I'm flushing it, followed by antihistamine drops. Fingers crossed that's all it is. 

Other than that - life has been fairly uneventful! So here's what I've been up to!


Elatsoe ~ Goodreads I think I mentioned I was listening tot his one in my last update. I'm already slow with audiobooks but I just haven't been in the right mood for this one so it's even slower going. It is good though and once I'm in the right frame of mind, Ill get through it. 

Unf*ck Your Brain by Faith Harper ~ Goodreads

The Worry Trick by David A. Carbonell ~ Goodreads (not pictured)

I mentioned in my last update that I had nodules on my lung and need to repeat my CT scan in 6 months. That's a long time away to find out of the nodules mean anything bad and mind was starting spiral a little.

I was in therapy (CBT) for anxiety a few years back, so these books were just a good reminder to get back to what I need to do to keep worry in check. 

I liked Unf*ck Your Brain more because she explained (in very simple terms) the science of what happens to your brain on anxiety and why it's so hard to get out of that loop. She also looks at trauma informed anxiety - which is quite different from general anxiousness. If really bad things have happened to you (like abuse/trauma) - then telling yourself  it won't happen - like statistically a plane won't crash if you are afraid of flying - isn't going to cut the fear. Anyway - I just liked how she framed the fears and came at them in a logical, compassionate way. And she used humor a lot which I liked.

The Worry Trick had great information and a slightly different way of approaching it, but I felt like he didn't take true trauma/past experiences or valid worries into account - even though he was still right about the worry spiral and how to stop it from controlling you. 

I should mention the audio for Unf*ck Your Brain is awful. It sounds like she recorded it in her basement. It didn't really bother me but I wanted to let you know. 

Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler ~ Goodreads

I need to write a review for this one as it was a Netgalley review read but...I haven't yet and the release date was the 23rd. Oops. I did read it on time though so go me! 

Super cute - opposites attract, road trip, finding yourself, grief and loads of humorous situations abound.

Optimistic and trusting to a fault, always glass half full, Millie, is forced to carpool with grumpy Hollis from DC to Key West, FL  after mass flight cancellations. 

Her mission? Bring the ashes of her recently deceased, best friend and elderly neighbor, Mrs. Nash, to her long lost love - Elsie, to reunite them one last time before Elsie also passes. 

The story is told in dual timelines - Millie and Hollis int he present and Rosie (Mrs. Nash) and Elsie in the past. 


The Silo - Apple+  A dystopian world where everyone lives in the underground Silo because the world outside is toxic. Or is it??? Dun...dun...dun... lol I wish it took a few more risks instead of being predictable but it's still pretty good. 

Queen Charlotte - Netflix This is the Bridgerton spinoff limited series about how Charlotte met King George and became queen. It also shows Lady Danbury and Violet Bridgerton as younger women. I really enjoyed this! It's much darker than the Bridgerton series but still has romance. I would say more bittersweet though. I thought the actors did a great job capturing the mannerisms of the the older versions of the characters. 

It's quite sad though. What happens to King George and his "treatments" for his mental illness. What Lady Danbury had to endure with an arranged marriage with a much older man (& I HATED that it was played for laughs) There were also a few surprise revelations that tie into the current series. The show flips back and forth between the timelines as well.

I ended up bawling over the final scenes though. The historical accuracy is spotty - at best. So don't go into it with any expectations on that part. It even warns you at the start.

The Great - Hulu  Speaking of spotty historical accuracy lol  This raunchy, hilarious, take on the origin of Catherine the Great starring Elle Fanning and Nicolaus Hoult is so underrated IMO. There are 3 seasons on Hulu right now and perfect for a binge watch. 

What have you all been reading, watching?