June 19, 2019

Mini-reviews: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune + Storm and Fury

pub 6/11/19 by Berkley Books
Adult - Contemporary/Magical Realism
Received ARC from pub for review
I went into Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune with a certain understanding of the book based on how it was marketed and when I finally read it, it was something completely different from what I expected. I do think that played a role in how I ultimately felt so let me just get those things out of the way now: this is not a romance and while it is contemporary, it's also magical realism. Natalie Tan returns home to San Francisco for the first time in seven years when she find outs her mother has passed away. The last time they spoke, they fought over Natalie's decision to leave and pursue a career as a chef. So you can imagine her surprise to come home and find out that she's inherited her grandmother's restaurant in Chinatown, a community she's belonged to since childhood and whose businesses are now failing. But Natalie doesn't know anything about the history of said restaurant or how to even run one. She turns to the neighborhood seer who tells her that she must cook three recipes from her grandmother's cookbook to help struggling neighbors and only then will her restaurant succeed. As she does this we learn a lot about Natalie, her childhood, what it was like to grow up with an agoraphobic mother and the neighbors who turn out to be friends. I enjoyed a lot of the themes and concepts throughout the book such as a good meal being a balm for the soul, the importance of community, and the representation of Asian culture. What I didn't like was the writing which I found kind of juvenile, a "romance" that was very instant and way under-developed to the point where it didn't make sense and certain reveals were so jarringly done that I had to re-read passages to understand what just happened. As much as I loved what the book was trying to do and be, I wasn't a fan of the execution.

Do I recommend? It's not something I would personally recommend but I know people who enjoyed far more than I did. My favorite thing ended up being the recipe inserts (are they real because I'd like to cook them!) and the inclusion of Filipino food. If you're genuinely interested in this though, I'd recommend borrowing from the library.


pub 6/11/19 by Inkyard Press
Young Adult - Paranormal
Received e-ARC from pub for review
Jennifer L. Armentrout is seriously my queen of paranormal romance. And you can tell how much she loves the genre because it shines through in her writing. She does an incredible job of placing out-of-this-world creatures in reality and doesn't take the usual route with angels, fairies or vampires either (which I enjoy too!) but instead has brought to life aliens, what happens when gods and mortals mix, and gargoyles. I swear only this woman could make gargoyles sexy! She first introduced gargoyle-shapeshifters, better known as Wardens, in The Dark Elements and Storm and Fury is the first novel in the spin-off, The Harbinger. This time we're following  heroine Trinity Marrow who is slowly going blind but can see and communicate with ghosts and kick some major butt. Her gifts are a part of her secret identity which is why the Warden have kept her heavily guarded since she was a child. When Warden from another clan unexpectedly arrive with news of something killing both demons and Wardens, it changes life for Trinity as she knows it and introduces her to Zayne, a Warden from the original series. I always liked him and it was great to see his perspective on the aftermath of the previous books and how he's trying to live his life now. Together, Trinity and Zayne have to try and save the world (no pressure!) but of course there are a lot of obstacles along the way. Of Armentrout's heroines, Katy and Alex have consistently remained my favorites but I think I may add Trinity to the list. She's determined, impulsive and kind so of course, I adore her. Trinity and Zayne also have my favorite kind of romance aka they start off on the wrong foot but they're obviously attracted to each other from the start. I thoroughly enjoyed the build-up of their relationship and can't wait to see more of it. And lastly, I'm enjoying the overarching story of this series much more than its predecessor. This is a really strong series starter and I have a feeling it's only going to get better.

Do I recommend? I do! JLA wrote the series in a way that you don't have to read the original if you don't want to but I recommend that you do. Lots of characters make an appearance (and will continue to) so knowing the history provides a lot of insight to their current interactions.

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