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Review: Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree


Given that I’ve been keeping a slice of life list since at least 2018, me reading Legends & Lattes, the most hyped slice of life fantasy book of 2022, was only a question of time. I simply had to see what’s it all about and one more book to add is never a bad thing. Did I enjoy it? Sure. It made for a perfect light, fun beach read. Hell, coffee- or teashop based books are something I generally wish there was more of. But I did have some issues with the worldbuilding and immersion as well.

The premise is simple: Viv, an orc, is tired of adventuring life and after one last quest for a luck-bringing artifact, retires to open a coffee shop in the city of Thune. With the help of her new friends, her business soon starts to thrive.

Despite my love of slice of life, I hesitated a little with this one. It was self-pub, with which I do not have a great track record (yes, it has been picked up by Tor since, but my ebook is the original version), the author is a narrator for mostly litRPG and progression books (genres I detest), and it’s inspired by D&D, which I have approximately zero interest in. Mostly due to the clichés. In the end, neither really mattered – it was a smooth, easy read I could not put down. Nothing groundbreaking or unique or mindblowing, but as comfortable as it gets.

However, smooth and easy does not mean without hiccups. I was pretty annoyed by how the author seemed intent on putting in modern world inventions – AC, an electric guitar(?), an espresso machine, cinnamon rolls, chocolate croissants – with serial numbers filed off into the book one after the other. And as the title signals, being intent on calling coffee with milk a latte. Is it a D&D influence? I can’t say. Handwaving them as gnomish or no, the sheer amount of it broke my immersion and really wasn’t my cup of…coffee. One or two things I could have taken, and at least it was not as heinously offensive as straight-up putting jeans and diners in your fantasy book without renaming or signalling that it’s modern world (something I’ve actually seen and DNF’d a book for, by the way), but this felt lazy and not especially well-integrated. I can easily see how it could be a dealbreaker for more pedantic readers.

This makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy it, and I did but there’s only so many words for “it was fine.” If you want a book where you can turn your brain off and just chill, I highly recommend it. If you’re a serial worldbuilding overthinker, though, well. Maybe stay clear.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 3/5

Recommended to: fellow fans of slice of life SFF, those who like coffee shop AUs or are looking for something fluffy and cozy, if you want a casual f/f romance subplot
Not recommended to: pedants, those who don’t like strong D&D influences

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