Talking (Coffee & Book) Shop
On shopping smaller, the coffee shop AU, and Travis Baldree's Legends & Lattes
I’ve been working on a different letter but it isn’t coming out just the way I want, so I figured I’d drop you a shorter note instead, to rave about a book I recently read.
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Legends & Lattes is one of the most delightful reads I’ve experienced in quite a while. I’d been hearing about it for ages—you can’t have been in the sff (that is, science fiction / fantasy) circles without hearing about the sweet coffee shop novel that raked in tons of awards last year. But I was a bit slow to pick it up. Despite my own coffee shop adventures (my very first published short story was in Add Magic to Taste, a fluffy queer magical coffee shop anthology, found here) I’m not generally a huge fan of this... genre? Trope? Combo? Whatever you want to call it, generally coffee shops don’t appeal to me. Blame it on the fact that I worked in one for three months and it was the worst job of my life.
(Kim, if you’re reading this, thanks again for saving me from that cruel fate in 2008.)
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Anyway, back to the books. Legends & Lattes has all the warm fuzzies that you’d expect from a coffee shop story, but where a lot of narratives I’ve read using this conceit have failed, it rises to the occasion by not focusing on the coffee shop as a setting so much as an objective. Our extremely lovable and relatable protagonist, Viv, has a goal: retire from adventuring, and open a coffee shop. Right away, I was swept up in her passion for her dream and her strength of resolve to stick with it, even when circumstances were not at all in her favor. Like any good story, the characters in Legends & Lattes are delightful, and—despite their fantasy races—realistic. Their struggles with identity and bigotry are set up against a believably grimy fantasy city, and their friendships have heart that immediately put me in mind of the best D&D player experiences I’ve had. It was a beautiful experience, beginning to end, and I can’t wait for Travis’s next installment!
I checked Legends & Lattes out from my local public library (give yours some love!) but I ordered a copy from bookshop.org before I even finished reading it. Speaking of bookshop.org, if you’re not already using them to order books, please check them out. Yes, Amazon is cheaper and faster and all that—sometimes—but for an average of about $4 more per book that I’ve bought from bookshop.org, I’ve given money back to local booksellers (my bookshop is Books & Greetings in Northvale, NJ!) and taken money out of the billionaire book baron’s pockets at the same time. Talk about multitasking. And it cost me, on average, less than a coffee treat.
I’m going to continue massaging my letter about the Nebula conference weekend. In the meantime, check out Legends & Lattes, support your local booksellers, and tell your favorite librarian hello for me. (Hi Sarah! <3)
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