Fantasy. Fiction. Romance. HTML: "Even nonfantasy listeners will enjoy hanging out at the intersection of coffeehouse culture and Dungeons & Dragons, and hope that Baldree fails to shake his new writing habit." - The Seattle Times This program is read by the author. The much-beloved BookTok sensation, Travis Baldree's Legends & Lattes is novel of high fantasy and low stakes. Come take a load off at Viv's cafe, the first & only coffee shop in Thune. Grand opening! Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv, the orc barbarian, cashes out of the warrior's life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen. However, her dreams of a fresh start filling mugs instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune's shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners, and a different kind of resolve. A hot cup of fantasy, slice-of-life with a dollop of romantic froth. A Macmillan Audio production from Tor Books..
It wasn't at all what I feared it would be - a former adventurer trying to retire but being forced out of retirement for reasons. Instead it's a very ... gentle book. Even sweet. There's very little plot in the obvious sense; the book is entirely about friendships and how they can often develop in the most unexpected ways.
On the surface this might make it sound like a dull book, but it's very readable and the characters all offer something interesting. There's a dire-cat named Amity that's fabulous, and I'd have liked more of her (him?), and there's a gnome whose cryptic comments about time left me wanting more explanation, or at least more information about him. But overall the characters are all well fleshed out and likeable. There's a low-key, back burner romance that would qualify this book as a diverse read.
Overall, a surprisingly enjoyable read. Yes, all the typical obstacles just melt away in a way that's usually catnip to a critic, but somehow, that's ok. It just works - and maybe I was just looking for the literary equivalent of a serotonin drip. If you enjoy fantasy and are looking for a happy read, you might enjoy this one.
Thoughts: I absolutely loved this book, it was everything I hoped it was going to be and then some. I was hoping for a fun, cozy, fantasy read and I got that plus some intriguing
The story follows Viv, an orc who is tired of battling things and wants to retire to something else. She decides to open up the first ever coffee shop in the small town of Thune. This is quite the endeavor since no one in Thune has even heard of coffee. The way she ends up drawing some quirky but passionate people together to make her dream a reality, is hilarious, heartwarming and just pure fun.
This book has it all; humor, friendship, love, mystery, magic, and some action. The characters in here are amazing and this was just such a feel good book. This is the definition of cozy fantasy and I enjoyed every second of reading this. At its heart this book is about everyone finding a place to belong, even if they don't follow society's expectations.
This was very well written and hard to put down. I ended up reading this very quickly. It's easy to relate to and engage with the characters. I definitely wanted to go and visit Viv's coffee shop by the time this was all done! There is a short story included at the end of the book as well that delves into Viv's life before she left fighting.
My Summary (5/5): Overall this was an incredibly fun fantasy read and I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved the characters here, the humor, the mystery, the magic, it was all such a wonderful story. This story leaves you feeling happy and hopeful. I would recommend it to anyone who's looking for a cute and fun cozy fantasy read. I am eager to see what Baldree comes up with next.
The reader can decide whether this happens due to a 'good fortune' stone or Viv's hard work. All the characters are interesting and not the usual fantasy favorites, so I liked that diversion to type. There's some conflict, but all and all, it's the kind of book one can enjoy if you like a simple but good story.
Viv opens her coffee shop... and basically encounters no problems that aren't resolved within about ten pages. There is almost no interpersonal conflict—everyone she meets is instantly helpful all the time—and very little internal conflict as well—having decided to do this thing, she does it. I couldn't help but keep thinking what Terry Pratchett would do with an orc running a coffee shop. It would be hilarious, of course (whereas I remember laughing about once here), but more importantly, there would be some kind of conflict from what the protagonist was expected to be (a violent orc) and what the protagonist wanted to be (a coffee shop owner), both internally and externally. There's none of that here, the rich potential of this idea goes completely unmined. You never have a sense that Viv could fail, even though most new restaurants in our world close within a year because they can't turn a profit. This is still true
There's just no depth of character here. I hate for a review to be "how I would have written it," but if I'd written it, the orc would have had to struggle to put away her old mindset, struggle to make connections, even struggle to do basic customer service. Because, who wants to read 250 pages of someone easily doing everything they want to do? (Apparently lots of people.) I love stories where groups of disparate people overcome their differences to accomplish something... but these people don't overcome anything, much less their differences!some kind of struggle. I had a friend in college would used to complain there weren't more "slice of life" stories. When quizzed, it turned out she meant a story where a woman met a man and lived happily ever after with no issues coming up. I thought it was pretty self-evident why stories like that didn't exist, but maybe I should send her a copy of Legends & Lattes.
If you've ever dreamed of opening your own coffee shop, you might get some ideas from Viv. If you haven't, this book might make you start dreaming about how you'd plan your own coffee shop! It might sound boring, but honestly, I was so invested in the development of this shop from start to finish - the building renovation, the space planning, the menu (drinks and treats!), and even the staff. I swear I could smell the lattes.
The characters are what make this book. The focus is on new beginnings, found family, community, and just a tad of slow-burn, queer romance. I was heavily invested in everyone, especially Viv. I was even surprised to find myself tearing up near the end when the sort of "major" plot point happens.
This is definitely a book I'll be coming back to. I pre-ordered the e-book and read it right away, but I'll definitely be buying a physical copy and I look forward to reading it while drinking coffee and having a pastry - maybe even ~in~ a coffee shop someday!
If you just need a quiet, cozy read, I urge you to check out this book!
So when I spied a post for the upcoming title Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree on my Twitter feed I immediately added it to my TBR, curious about how the combination of cosy mystery and D&D themed fantasy would work. Then the author announced he was looking for reviewers and I signed up with my fingers crossed.
In Legends and Lattes, Viv, an orc-barbarian, has had enough of murder and mayhem and after tearing a stone reputed to bring luck from the cleaved head of a Scalvert Queen, leaves her adventuring party and sets off to the town of Thune. Relying on the pull of a dowsing rod, Viv is led to a near derelict livery, and after haggling with its owner, finally has a place she can call her own. Viv plans to introduce coffee to Thune by establishing the city’s very first coffee shop and, hiring a taciturn hob named Calamity as her carpenter, sets about transforming the property.
The business gets off to a slow start, but with the help of Tandri, a savvy succubus looking to be taken seriously, and a ratkin, Mr Thimble, who produces the most divine pastries, ‘Legends and Lattes’ soon attracts regular customers. As the menu grows, so does the cafe’s popularity, but Viv can’t quite let go of the worry that she’ll lose it all.
There’s not a lot of subtlety when it comes to the story’s themes, but I was charmed by the way in which this group of disparate but delightful characters come together, accepting one another for who they are, and encouraging each other to be who they want to be. There’s also a sweet romance that develops between Viv and her assistant Tandri, with just a little angst stemming from their own insecurities as an obstacle.
There’s not a mystery per se in Legends & Lattes, but there is a little well paced, light suspense and drama when the neighbourhood gang insist Viv pay them for the privilege of operating in their territory, and a former party member decides he wants Viv’s reward from their last bounty. Though tempted, Viv is determined to not revert to her old ways of dealing with problems, even when it threatens to cost her everything.
As promised on the cover, Legends & Lattes is a novel of ‘high fantasy and low stakes’, a winsome, heart warming, feel good read to enjoy with your favourite brew and pastry.
Advanced Reader's Copy provided by Edelweiss.
It doesn’t go into much detail around the world-building–it seems very based on World of Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons. All the material is G-rated (no disembowelments). But it’s kinda neat how the author integrates fantasy elements into Starbucks (e.g. the cappuccino machine is a steam-powered gnome invention) and I personally like reading fantasy that’s not a doorstop epic. I hate how the publishing industry thinks they all have to be world-building bricks like Mistborn or Song of Ice and Fire. It taught me an important lesson on how important stakes are in a story.
Do I recommend it? I’m not sure. I’d say to try an excerpt–that’s what I did. I didn’t exactly fall in love, but I was intrigued, especially as someone who likes to write this kind of material.
I knew I would like this book the first time I heard about it, and guess what? I was right! It's a cozy fantasy read that never feels low stakes, despite the tagline. I was totally invested in Viv's venture -- and I don't even like coffee! It seems that this sort of gentle fantasy is having a moment, and I am here for it. I hope Baldree has more stories for us soon.
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Some of the "modern inventions in a classic fantasy setting" elements (e.g.
Opening a coffee shop has to be hard—period. Especially if you happen to be an ork, tired of the adventuring and killing, who wants to retire to a quiet
This is possibly the sweetest Fantasy story ever written. It's just pleasant—as pleasant as whiling away an hour or two in a comfy coffee shop chair with some great beverages. I've got nothing else to say, everything else would just be a rewording or unnecessary expansion on that.
Baldree's narration was as good as his text—sometimes I wonder about the ego involved in an author doing their own narration, when they just shouldn't. But Baldree absolutely should've.