Romance Mini Reviews: Waiting for Tom Hanks and Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune

Posted May 24, 2019 by Madalyn || 2 Comments

Hi, everyone! Today, I’m here with mini reviews of two romance books coming out from Berkley on June 11th. Let me know if you like this format, and I’ll do more reviews in this format in the future! Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Romance Mini Reviews: Waiting for Tom Hanks and Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and FortuneNatalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim
Published by Berkley on June 11, 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Family & Relationships, Romance
Format: e-ARC
Source: Netgalley

Lush and visual, chock-full of delicious recipes, Roselle Lim’s magical debut novel is about food, heritage, and finding family in the most unexpected places.

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.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

cw: death of a loved one; grief; agorophobia

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune was such a lovely debut about culture, family, food, home, identity and how they all connect. First and foremost, I will warn you: this book will make you HUNGRY. The recipes Natalie cooks in attempt to heal her neighbors are described in such detail that it’s impossible to not want to order Chinese food while reading. The book is, in so many ways, a love letter to food and the power it has to connect unlikely people. I also loved the magical realism element of Natalie’s cooking, because good food truly can be kinda magical and healing. I also appreciated the way Roselle Lim brought Natalie’s Chinatown neighborhood and all of its eclectic residents to life. Another huge theme of Natalie Tan is the idea of community, and how a shared history and culture– including food, of course– creates ties that bind. There’s also a focus on family, and how you can honor your parents, grandparents, and ancestors while still acknowledging their flaws. The romance definitely took a backseat to Natalie’s trying to achieve her dream of opening a restaurant in the vacant spot where her grandmother once owned one, and though the love interest was sweet, I could have used a bit more development on the romance. Also, this is a debut that reads very much like a debut, if that makes sense— which isn’t a bad thing! Just something to know going in. Overall, though, Natalie Tan was charming and whimsical while still exploring complicated themes. I buddy read this with my dear friends Melanie and Alexa, and Alexa mentioned while we were reading how wonderfully this story would translate to an on-screen adaptation, and I could not agree more!

Romance Mini Reviews: Waiting for Tom Hanks and Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and FortuneWaiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
Published by Berkley on June 11, 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: e-ARC
Source: Edelweiss

Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey.

Annie is twenty-seven years old, single, and obsessed with romantic comedies (she and her mother watched them religiously, before her mom died). Her dating life is limited by the expectations she’s formed from these movies. She is not as open to new experiences as she might be, because she’s waiting for her Tom Hanks–i.e., a guy she’ll find in the perfect, meet-cute romantic comedy way. When Annie does finally meet her perfect match, it’s not quite in the way she expected, and she’s forced to reckon with the walls she’s built around herself over the years.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Going off the theme of cinematic books, Waiting for Tom Hanks is essentially a rom-com in book form. Or, at least… it tries to be. This book started out so strong, with a great setup and a bunch of chemistry between the MC and her love interest. It of course references lots of rom-coms, and the references, though appreciated, got a bit heavy-handed at times. I will say, I loved how much of this story was set in a coffee shop. As someone who worked in a coffee shop for three years, that setting always hooks me. The side characters were delightfully quirky, as is typical in these sorts of romances. My issues with Waiting for Tom Hanks began in the last third of the book, wherein the main character abruptly became insufferable. Annie makes a lot– A LOT– of selfish (and, frankly, flat-out bad) decisions toward the end that frustrated me to no end. I honestly was convinced by the end that she didn’t deserve Drew, which is very much the opposite of how you want to feel upon finishing a romance. I also didn’t get much chemistry between the two of them, because they interact with each other so rarely and so briefly throughout the book. Like, they both like Chopped… but who doesn’t, tbh? I buddy read this one with Melanie, Alexa, and Amy, and all of us also agreed that this book is trying too hard to be *~woke~* at times, to the point where any representation felt superficial and VERY much from a white author. Ex.: the one black character in the story, though she is the leading actress in the film the story revolves around, functions almost solely as a catalyst for the main character getting back together with her love interest. And as an object of the MC’s jealousy. Like I say, I was really into this, but the last part of the book left a very bad taste in my mouth, and I honestly feel nervous thinking about how the author is going to write a bisexual main character in book two. If you really love rom-coms, maybe still give this one a shot, but in general, I would tell most people to pass on it.

Have you read either of these books? If so, do we share similar thoughts?

Follow me!

2 responses to “Romance Mini Reviews: Waiting for Tom Hanks and Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune

  1. Great reviews! I’m super excited about reading Natalie Tan, and I’m so glad that there’s so much emphasis around community and culture. I definitely thought this was going to be more of a romance, so it’s good to know not to expect too much of that. I’m sorry Waiting for Tom Hanks didn’t work for you 🙁 I have an ARC of this so I’m still going to read it, but it’s super frustrating when white authors try too hard to be inclusive (and it definitely sounds like it didn’t work well here).

  2. I like this format! I’m a sucker for mini reviews in general, but it’s an added bonus that these two have the same release date, publisher, and similar genres. 😀 Bummer to hear bout Waiting for Tom Hanks, because that one has really interested me. I think I’m going to pick it up just because it’s been on my radar for so long, but I’ll be sure to lower my expectations. Also, I keep hearing wonderful things about Natalie Tan! I’m normally not for deeper contemps, but I might have to give it a shot. 🙂 Thanks for reviews Madalyn!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.