Tuesday, March 18, 2014
The Fortune Cafe: A Tangerine Street Romance
Rating: PG-13 (one minor swear words)
What happens when you put an awesome premise together with three amazing authors? You get an incredible little book named the The Fortune Cafe: A Tangerine Street Romance! It's no secret that I love Melanie Jacobsen... Pretty much anything that has this ladies name on it is gold to me. And Julie Wright? She's another one of my favorites, but combine those two with Heather B. Moore and you have one serious writing powerhouse.
Here's what you need to know: This book is divided into three stories. Part one is Misfortune by Julie Wright, next comes, Love, Not Luck by Melanie Jacobsen, and last is Takeout by Heather B. Moore. The premise that ties these stories together (as explained at the beginning of the book) is that A Chinese Restaurant on Tangerine street has Fortune Cookies where the fortunes come true (at least the first one does). Super cute right?!
Now here's my confession... Are you ready? I've never read a short story (anthology) book before...ever. It's not that I had anything against them, I didnt', it's just that I didn't necessarily see enough appeal to actually pick one up (I know tragic, right?). I mean how was an author ever going to get all the information from one story jammed a book 1/3 the size and make me fall in love with characters? I just didn't think it could be done. Well... That was yesterday, before I read The Fortune Cafe. Today, I understand why "short story" format is so appealing...and just as satisfying.
What I liked about the book as a whole: When I find a book that I like, I'm always sad to see it end. I just want a little bit more...The same story, but different ya know? What I really want is to replicate how the story made me feel. What's cool about this book is that it does exactly that. You get to fall in love with the Tangerine Street World and then you get to revisit that same world, but from a different person in the next story. I love that. (I'm kind of a sucker for alternative points of view.) And don't even get me started on the the premise, just so dang cute. I'm also impressed with the subtle overlap of the books, just enough to make you go "Ah! Look at what they did there." It's clever, without going so far as to be gimmicky and cheesy.
Part One: Mis-fortune by Julie Wright.
I've read a few books by Wright and I've always enjoyed her writing style. And this is no exception. Wright does a fantastic job of introducing us to Tangerine street. Part One introduces us to the cafe, it's owner Cai (who is expertly personified) and most importantly to Emma. Emma is a waitress at the Cafe by day and writer/caretaker for her mother by night. She is opposed to opening a fortune cookie if for no other reason than she just hasn't. Well, that and she doesn't believe in the fortune cookie "voodoo". Well, fate or luck smiles on her and she ends up opening one on the same day her high school crush sits in her cafe.
Wright does a great job at creating a well-rounded character and world very quickly. Really she is very talented. In a 1/3 of the overall book, I not only was introduced to her world, her hopes, dreams, fears and love interest, but wayyy more important I actually cared. I won't give away much more than that though... You'll have to read it.
Part Two: Love, Not Luck by Melanie Jacobsen
It's no secret that Melanie's name on the book is the whole reason I picked this little diamond in the first place. And she didn't disappoint. This part of the book is Lucy's story. She is visiting the cafe with her parents and her fiancé parents to finalize wedding plans. When she breaks her lucky Jade necklace, Lucky Lucy isn't so lucky anymore, in fact she's quite the opposite. I love the banter between the characters. Really, Jacobsen is a master at writing Dialogue; Snarky, flirty and fast-paced=awesome sauce. The love interest (name withheld to prevent spoilers) was my favorite of the three love interests. Witty without being annoying, Cute without being "too cute" and just the right amount of Mmm-mmm. I also loved Lucy's relationship with her mother, it felt real and added something special to the book. Especially after reading Emma's story in part one, I think this helped to round out the overall balance of the book as a whole. Loved this section!
Part Three: Takeout by Heather B. Moore
Okay I'm embarrassed to admit this. But this is my first time reading anything by Heather... Please lower your weapons, I see now what a huge oversight that was and I will now be reading everything Ms. Moore writes. Right from the first sentence, Stella Novak's and Evan Rockham's story draws you in. It's kinda of like a can of Pringles in that way, once you've had one sentence you just want to gobble the whole thing up. Stella works at Spyglass Jewelry a few doors down from Tangerine Cafe and Evan is a chef/culinary teacher at the new Mariposa Hotel. I wasn't sure who the last story in this book would be about and I'm glad it was about Stella and her cute little jewelry store on Tangerine Street. Can I just say I loved the run in right at the beginning with the two men... Fantastic story. Can't wait to read more by this author.
Have I got your interest piqued now right? Great! Job done... Now go read the book. You'll be happy you did. You can buy it HERE.