Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune

Author: Roselle Lim

Published: June 6, 2019

Publisher: Berkley Publishing 

Where I picked up my book:  Publisher (#partner) THANK YOU!

Key Words: food lover, community, family dynamics, magical realism, heritage

My Rating: 3.5

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My Thoughts:

I enjoyed Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune and after I sat with it for a bit, I enjoyed it even more. I originally went into this book wanting to read an easy, fluffier read, but this one had some depth that left me pleasantly surprised-so keep that in mind when you pick it up!

First, the writing is lyrical and lovely. Lim’s words and descriptions are full of detail and metaphors and create an atmosphere that I could literally feel myself taking part in. I could smell the smells, hear the words, touch the walls of the restaurant and walk the streets, all from the couch in my living room. Lim has a talent that she describes as, “painting with words” and that is literally how her writing feels. It’s beautiful.

Second, there is magical realism involved in the plot and I’m always here for that! I’m not sure what it is, but somehow, Lim made me feel like this is the reason to read fiction. Fiction doesn’t always have to make perfect sense-that’s the luxury of writing magical realism…and when it’s there in a book, it can add something beautiful to a story. That’s how I felt when while reading.

Third, family and friend dynamics are front and center. Sometimes reading about perfect families that love each other and are there for each other can be tough for me because of personal reasons, but this story was relatable, truthful and felt uniquely honest to some of what I deal with in my own family. It was a breath of fresh air. And the friend and community aspect-that was golden and almost made me cry happy tears. There is nothing that I value more than friends and community, so reading about these dynamics in this story was fantastic and right up my alley.

Fourth, Chinatown in San Francisco is almost like a character in this book and I couldn’t have loved that more. I used to live in San Francisco and a friend and I used to take the bus to Chinatown sometimes after work. We would buy dumplings from a window and look for cool pens in a stationery store. We’d walk by shops just to smell the smells, talk to friends that lived there as their aunt yelled for them out of a window above us to grab the mail, and I’d watch little kids play on the stoop next door. We’d go to the grocery store where you can buy authentic Asian ingredients and even though I knew nothing about most of them, I touched each one as if I was going home to make the most delicious meal I’ve ever made. It’s a beautifully unique place and always made me feel like I had left the hustle of the city when we went there. I felt that feeling again while reading this book and it made me the happiest.

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune made me think long and hard about family, where we come from, mental illness, small business and what it means to support small and local shops, how important neighborhood and community can be, and how gentrification affects all aspects of a city. This isn’t necessarily a deep look at any of these themes, but if you let your mind go and do some work, I think you’ll close this book and still think about it days later. I know I have been. Oh, and also…this book is for all of my fellow food lovers out there too. I found myself feeling hungry through the majority of it. Good thing recipes are involved 🙂 Than you @berkleypub for the copy! #partner

P.S. THAT COVER!!

Summary (via Goodreads):

At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant.

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around–she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.

bookishfolk…read instead.

Fall Reads

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Who else is ready for sweaters, cozy blankets, crisp walks outside, leaves changing colors and pumpkin spice everything?! ME ME ME! It can’t possibly be just me, right? According to every social media outlet I am a part of, the feeling is pretty mutual. At least for those of us that have season changes where we live. Here in Colorado, it’s still slightly warmer than I’d like. And by slightly warmer, I mean it’s been hot as hell. Spoiler alert, I do not like summer. Granted, come the end of winter, I’ll probably be writing a post about summer reads and how I’m craving river fun, short sleeve shirts and sandals, but for now…bring on pumpkin spice everything with a cup of hot chocolate on the side. With a quick rainstorm and cooler temps last night… the summer seems to be slightly switching towards Fall. The enormous maple tree’s leaves in our front yard are showing their golden edges, I’m reaching for a light blanket at night, and pumpkin everything has hit all the coffee shops from east to west coast (according to Instagram at least). So I woke up this morning all excited for Fall and all the loads of books I seem to dig into when the weather changes from hot as Hades into a sweater-wearing love fest. Here’s a list of some of my favorites, and some I’m looking forward to digging into soon!

PRACTICAL MAGIC by Alice Hoffman

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 11.59.27 AM If you’re looking for a feel-good, witchy drama with family, love, spells and fantasy-grab this book immediately! I was sucked in from the very first pages to the Owen’s world. This was one of those books where I’d look up from the pages and wonder where I was. Perfect book for Fall feels! After you read it, check out the movie! It’s perfection 🙂

THE RULES OF MAGIC by Alice Hoffman

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 12.04.33 PM Immediately after reading Practical Magic, go and get The Rules of Magic! I suppose you could read either book first, but this is the order that they were released (with a very large gap) and just how I enjoyed them. This book gives us the background information on the aunts (that I NEEDED to know) and how the Owen family was established. It’s a witchy, Fall-ish book that I promise…you won’t want it to end. I cried when it ended and still need to write Hoffman a note begging for more Owen family drama.

BECOMING by Michelle Obama

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 12.12.34 PM I have been “patiently” waiting for this book to come out. It’s about how Michelle Obama became who she is, what makes her tick, where she came from, what life is like for her now, what is was like for her being the first lady and so much more. I haven’t read it yet, but I am psyched to dig in and Fall just seems like a perfect time to settle into reading about one of my most favorite people on this planet. Please come back to the White House Michelle?! Also…she’ll be traveling around the US on a book tour, so check                            to see if she’ll be at an event near you!

THE GREAT BELIEVERS by Rebecca Makkai

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 12.17.32 PM This was one of my most favorite books of 2018 (and possibly of all time) and it would make an excellent book to snuggle hard into and read well into a Fall evening. It would make a great Fall weekend read too, under a blanket, with a cup of tea by your side. It’s a book about survival, heartbreak,  loss, betrayal, love, and what it’s like to be a part of something that has shaped out history. I read it months ago and I literally think about it once a day. It’s a heart wrenching, beautiful story and one you won’t                                    easily forget.

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 1.18.59 PM This book was one I couldn’t put down…which coincidentally, makes for great Fall reading. It’s perfect for those of us that like quirky characters who tear at your heartstrings. If you haven’t read this book, give it try! I think you’ll love it and think of Eleanor as a friend. Also…I bought it on my first trip to England and one of our days there it was drizzly outside and perfectly England-esk. I should probably move to a place where I can find Fall all year round.

THE MINIATURIST by Jessie Burton

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 1.22.32 PM I haven’t read this one yet, but anything that takes place in 17th century Europe always gives me that Fall-ish feeling. It deals with love, betrayal, retribution, truth…and will be sure to take you for a ride. Plus, it’s a mini series on PBS right that I am OBSESSED with right now.

 

There ya have it. Now get those cozy socks, warm tea, sweaters, candles and pumpkin spice muffins and get to reading this Fall!

bookishfolk…read instead.

The Dinner List

Author: Rebecca Serle

Published: September 11, 2018

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Where I picked up my book: Free from publisher (THANK YOU)

Key Words: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Romance

My Rating: 4 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

For fans of Me Before You and ONE DAY comes a wondrous novel of first love, loss, and the dinner of a lifetime.

When Sabrina Nielsen arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also her favorite professor from college, her father, her ex-fiance, Tobias, and Audrey Hepburn.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Sabrina contends with in Rebecca Serle’s utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as Sliding Doors, and The Rosie Project.

As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together, and as Rebecca Serle masterfully traces Sabrina’s love affair with Tobias and her coming of age in New York City, The Dinner List grapples with the definition of romance, the expectations of love, and how we navigate our way through it to happiness. Oh, and of course, wisdom from Audrey Hepburn.

Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a modern romance for our times. Bon appetit.

My Thoughts:

This is a magical book that left me thinking long after I read the last sentence. What 5 people would you invite to a dinner party, dead or alive? What would you want to talk about? Would you make it an exciting, fun party full of laughter, good times, joking around and just a purely enjoyable time? Or would you get serious here and try to make some changes, either in the world at large, or in your own world? Or would it be a mix of both? I’ve been putting together my list and surprisingly, it’s bringing up a lot of emotions that I wasn’t expecting would happen after reading this book. First, I’d have Oprah, because duh. And I’d definitely have Obama because also…duh. I’d probably have my parents (we haven’t spoken in almost 9 years. Long story short-I’m gay. They are uber Christian. It’s painful and sad, but I want to definitely be a part of the conversation that my parents, Oprah and Obama would have.) And then I think I’d have my wife there. She’s my rock, a stable person in my life (the most stable), and my grounding force when I get crazy, erratic and hysterical. (shhh…that never happens 😉 ). I could just imagine this scenario and all the feels I’d be feeling. I think I’d want/need her as a grounding force. So there you have it-my 5 people. But can Michelle come too? I feel like her and Barack should count as one. So…Oprah, my parents, the Obama’s, and my wife. Done 🙂 Oprah, Obama’s…if you’re listening, let’s make it happen.

The book looks at various relationships throughout the plot and all are important to Sabrina (the main character) and all are important to us as the reader. The one relationship that I kept holding onto most was the friendship between Sabrina and her best friend, Jessica. Maybe I’m at the stage in my life where friendships are getting harder and harder to maintain as some of us move away, live in different cities in Colorado, get married, start having children, buy houses, get into the meat of our jobs, etc. but it just had me thinking long after I finished the book about my personal friendships. My friends mean a lot to me. As I stated earlier, I do not have family in my life anymore, and my friends have truly become my family. They are my support system and my people I go to for all sorts of things in my life. If you’re close to your mom…picture all the times you go to her to talk, for advice, to pass something by her, to go shopping with, to have a cup of coffee with, etc. This is what I do with my best friends. But similar to Sabrina and Jessica, I feel like it’s becoming progressively harder to maintain those tight friendships like I once did.  Life is busy and the days of hanging with my friends for days a time, talking, laughing (and probably drinking) are over and it sort of feels like adulthood is settling in and we are being forced to find a new normal as we settle into life . It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I just want to make sure to be vigilant of these changes and ensure we don’t lose them altogether. All this to say, I miss my friends, I look at my younger self and good times fondly, and could 100% relate to Sabrina and Jessica in the book.

If you like your fiction with a side of magic, grab this book-you won’t be disappointed. And the best part is…it’s out today for all to enjoy! Let me know what you think after reading it!

HERE is the link to get yourself a copy!

bookishfolk…read instead.