Legends and Lattes Book Review
By now, I'm sure you've seen Legends and Lattes somewhere on the internet. This cozy novel is gaining popularity in the bookish community, and for good reason: it's precious! Travis Baldree's NaNoWriMo success ended up being one of my favorite reads of 2022.
Category: Cozy Read
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RATING: 5/5 Stars
Plot: 5/5 stars
Characters: 5/5 stars
World: 5/5 stars
Pairings: Thimblets + your favorite latte
"Things don't have to stay as what they started out as."
This is exactly what Viv is trying to prove when she trades in her life as a barbarian for that of a barista/business owner. But living a quiet life by opening the first-ever coffee shop in Thune has its own dangers.
For one thing, no one has the faintest idea what coffee even is. For another, Viv has no clue how to run a brick-and-mortar. Not to mention the new and old rivals lining up to sabotage her endeavor, and the secret she fears will do it for them. Luckily, Viv makes friends who help bring her vision to fruition—and customers to the door.
There's also a cute short story after the acknowledgements that recounts Viv's first encounter with coffee and how it sparked the idea for her dream.
Like many in the bookish community, I've dreamt of moving elsewhere and opening a little café/bookstore, so I enjoyed living vicariously through Viv. It was nice to see her get a fresh start, build a community, learn from others, and grow her menu and customer base.
Legends and Lattes is marketed as "a novel of high stakes and low fantasy," and that's exactly what it is. While Viv encounters numerous bumps along the way, her story makes for a laid-back, easy read that is so cozy! From the moment I saw this book on the shelf at my local bookstore, I knew I had to have it. At the time, I was fighting burnout and craving a simple, easy comfort read. And this book is exactly that.
"I told you I came across it in Azimuth, and I remember following the smell to the shop. They called it a café. People just sat around drinking it from these little ceramic cups, and I had to try it, and...it was like drinking the feeling of being peaceful. Being peaceful in your mind. Well, not if you have too much, then it's something else."
One thing that makes this book so cute is the characters. Viv is a battle-weary orc who's found something she's passionate about and gives all she has to make a new life for herself. Her occasionally awkward social skills and big heart are a nice contrast to her intimidating frame. Her experience as a sword for hire has given her a take-no-shit attitude that serves her well when others try to cause problems. Not only does she make her dream come true, but she also betters her community. What's not to admire?
Viv's old friends consist of characters who are rough-edged yet lovable. There's Gallina, an aging gnome who's all too happy to get stabby; Roon, a dwarf who's hilarious, helpful, loyal, and fiercely protective; and Taivus, a quiet, mysterious stone-fey.
Then there are the allies she makes along the way: Calamity (AKA Cal), a cantankerous handyman hob with a secret soft center; Tandri, an artsy succubus and marketing extraordinaire; Thimble, a soft-spoken rattkin/baking genius who develops a caffeine addiction; Pendry, a shy bard whose sound is ahead of his time; and Hemington, a local scholar who begins as a purchase-averse loiterer and ends up being a big help. And of course every cozy business needs a shop pet—enter Amity the dire-cat.
Each character comes into her life at different times and helps grow her business as well as her friend circle. In turn, she helps them see their potential and encourages them to do the things they love. The symbiosis is *chef's kiss*.
I honestly don't have much to say in this section. While this is a relatively short novel, and the world of Legends and Lattes isn't exactly huge, it was easy to envision the cities and get lost in the environment. And Baldree's detailed descriptions of ingredients and treats make the story even cozier—and me hungrier!
Legends and Lattes is a book that you will either love or hate, depending on what you're looking for. The plot isn't complex, and there aren't high stakes, so if you're looking for an epic journey, Viv's story isn't for you.
But if you're in the market for a cozy atmosphere, lovable characters with adorable relationships, and a heart-warming story about fresh starts, community, and passion, then Legends and Lattes is a must-read. Viv's journey encourages readers to do what makes them happy, even if it’s radically different from anything they’ve ever known, and to chase their dreams even when others do not believe in their vision.
Readers may also appreciate the representation of multiple body types, as well as queer romance.
While I flew through this story, I enjoyed every moment. It became one of my favorite reads of 2022, as well as one of my all-time favorite comfort reads. I will one-hundred percent be rereading and recommending it to others.