Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Review: Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree

by Travis Baldree
Release Date: November 7, 2023
2023 Tor Trade
Ebook & Audiobook Editions; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250886101
Audiobook: B0BVKT64RG
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Cozy
Source: Review copy from publisher
4 / 5  Stars
Wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she's packed off against her will to recuperate in the sleepy beach town of Murk—so far from the action that she worries she'll never be able to return to it.

What's a thwarted soldier of fortune to do?

Spending her hours at a beleaguered bookshop in the company of its foul-mouthed proprietor is the last thing Viv would have predicted, but it may be both exactly what she needs and the seed of changes she couldn't possibly imagine.

My Thoughts
Bookshops & Bonedust is the prequel to Legends & Lattes and I loved the early exploration into Viv's life and where she may have gotten her inspiration to open a shop of her own.  I love cozy mystery novels and I enjoy fantasy, so reading a cozy fantasy is something that I find really intriguing. While I enjoy my grimdark, heavy as hell, pull no punches fantasy, there are times when I want something much light, but still is in the fantasy genre, and this one definitely meets my expectations of a fun, wholesome story that has fun characters and an intriguing story. 

This book is a prequel to Legends & Lattes, but it in no way influences that book and the choices Viv makes in that book. It is meant for the reader to understand Viv a bit more as she begins her career as a mercenary soldier, one who two-months into joining the Ravens, gets hurt and has to take some much-needed rest. At first, she is restless and doesn't know what to do with herself as she can't train and do the things she normally does, so she ends up in the local bookstore. Having the time to read, something she doesn't normally do, makes her scoff at those who do read, but when she starts to immerse herself into those worlds, something unexpected happens. Viv realizes there is whole other side to her personality that she has been neglecting and begins to explore that other side to her.
I loved the characters we meet in this story and enjoyed learning more about them. Diverse and interesting, I couldn't help but compare Viv's experiences to those of the sequel and how these experiences may have shaped her choices in the other book. And this time we are dealing with a book store, a dream for all book lovers.  And my heart just soared as Viv opened herself up to reading more and exploring books and began helping to reshape the book store into what it could be. Now, I would have liked to have seen a bit more with regards to that as that is why we read these books, but it was still fun to see everything develop and grow.  And Viv discovers there is much more to life than just fighting and battles and killing.  And I couldn't help but laugh when Viv discovered the 'spice' in some of those books and her reactions to it. Hilarious.  
Bookshops & Bonedust was like a breath of fresh air.  The characters were charming and fun, and I liked comparing them to the ones in Legends & Lattes and seeing how they impacted Viv's choices later in life.  I don't think it had all of the same charm as the first book, but it was still interesting and I think part of that is I knew she wasn't going to stay. We know it will twenty years or so before Viv finally leaves the Ravens and opens up her coffee shop, so the relationships she develops, while influential, won't follow her on the road.  I did wonder if the epilogue would have better served as the prologue.  Anyhow, I definitely enjoyed the bookshop element to the story and naturally loved how the community came together when there was a major threat due to Viv's influence in the town. Definitely a fun read. Looking forward to reading the next standalone in this series as the author has already said there will be at least three more.  Yeah!!



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