Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Review: Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

by Travis Baldree
Release Date: November 8, 2022
2022 Tor
Kindle Edition; 296 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250886088
ASIN: B0B3755RV9
Audiobook: B0B3G97QY1
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.

The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success — not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won't be able to go it alone.

But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.
My Thoughts
Legends & Lattes is one of those fantasy novels I really needed to read at this time. A lot of fantasy that I usually read tends to be dark, vicious, emotional, bordering on grimdark, the type of fantasy that takes a toll on you after a while, so reading this was a breath of fresh air and I enjoyed it tremendously, realizing how much I really missed the more lighthearted and fun fantasy. 

Viv is the main character and I thoroughly enjoyed her development as she retired from her work as a bounty hunter and decided to open up a coffee shop. Just the thought of a warrior wanting to do this type of job made me giggle throughout the book and as the gems kept pouring in, I enjoyed her transformation from battle-orc to coffee-orc.  Due to a lifetime of bloodshed though, trusting people didn't come easily, and watching Viv learn to navigate friendships was interesting and it made me think a lot about retirement, especially as that is in the near future for myself.  Viv is joined by a multitude of interesting secondary characters, Cal, Thandri, and Thimble, all of whom I developed a fondness for, and I was glad to see the lightness continue throughout the book, with the various characters having to overcome trust issues and learn what it really means to be a family. And oh my, the descriptions of the food Thimble cooked up! All I wanted was a latte and a cinnamon roll as I read, and not just a cinnamon roll, but a big, gooey one, like they talked about in the book. How can you not smile when you read those descriptions?

That being said, it is really easy to overlook the themes in this book. The book comes across as light and fun, but there were some very deep themes underlying everything; friendship, loyalty, deception, trust, self-confidence, family, etc... The author definitely focused on family and community, but he also subtly included the idea of growing out of your comfort zone, to try something new. Even when Viv had to deal with the harsher realities of owning a business, she showed us that there was another way to do business than the traditional way if you are willing to try, but you have to realize there are risks and there are hardships as nothing comes easy.  And while I am a huge epic fantasy reader, and I like by battle scenes, it is easy to dismiss a lighter fantasy novel thinking it lacks tension, but there was conflict and the author never really lets up on the action; it's just a different type of suspense and action, something I enjoyed. 

Legends & Lattes was a treat to read. I knew very little about it when I started the book, so I was pleasantly surprised as the story progressed, pretty much reading it in one session.  A feel good novel about a warrior who decides to take a chance on trying something new with her life, and I enjoyed every step of her development.  For readers looking for something a bit lighter than your usual fare, I highly recommend this one.



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