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#BookTok books I've read - Hit or Miss, prt 1



A sign that says books


Have you read books recommended on #BookTok? I have. Some are great and others are more…well, meh.


#BookTok books I've read

The Hit

The cover for legends and lattes

Legends and Lattes is a book I first encountered being recommended in a Facebook fantasy and science fiction book group. Soon, I discovered the novel is considered a #BookTok phenomenon. At the time, I knew zilch about  #BookTok or TikTok other than if you went viral there, you could sell scads of books. So I did what any scribe would do. I got a copy to discover precisely what made the yarn astounding.


First off, I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the author. Travis Baldree is an audiobook narrator by profession and an excellent one. His narration is easy to follow, and he adds just enough inflection to differentiate between the characters without overdoing it.


But enough about narration, what did I think about the story? I was intrigued how a book described as a cozy, low-stakes fantasy could be entertaining. When I think of fantasy, I think of action and adventure with plenty of swordplay, diabolical monsters, and fantastical magic. Legends and Lattes doesn't deliver any of these, at least not the way you might expect. There are monsters, but they're not monstrous. Really, they're ordinary people who might be extraordinary in appearance and have a special ability or two. No, this book is more a slice of life story about Viv, an orc who wants to hang up her sword and trade in her life as an adventurer for a café serving lattes and baked goods.


I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. Baldree is a skilled wordsmith and efficiently creates an engrossing secondary fantasy world. Viv is a wonderful character, as are the supporting characters. Ultimately, the fact that they're serving coffee and scones instead of slaying monsters is immaterial.


This book is a winner, and I highly recommend it. I've even had a guest blogger review it on the blog. However, as I have written before, I wondered how much staying power low-stakes fantasy would have in a genre that usually features battles and dragons. I was suspicious that the novelty of the tale added to my enjoyment.


The Miss

The cover for book shops in bone dust

I looked forward to reading Bookshops and Bonedust after the pleasantness of Baldree's first novel. At first, I was charmed by this yarn. It has all the attributes that made the precursor a hit: excellent characters, nice pacing, an engrossing secondary world, and a good dollop of humor. Despite all that, I nearly DNF'd this book. Why? Because for large sections of it, I found it downright boring. While opening a café was enough to keep me reading Legends and Lattes, Viv helping out at a bookshop while recovering from a battle wound couldn't keep the doldrums at bay in this one. For me, the novelty of the cozy, low-stakes fantasy had worn off.


Having said that, if slice of life/cozy/low-stakes fantasy is your jam, you'll love this book. It has everything the predecessor had: a bit of romance, good-natured humor, a tidbit of action, and spectacular characters. In fact, it was Viv who kept me reading. I could DNF the story, but I couldn't DNF Viv.

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