Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

This book is an exploration of grief and growth as Natalie Tan tries to live the life she wants. Personally, I don't think I'm enough of a food person to have gotten enough enjoyment out of this, but I think it will be popular with the public and will definitely be adding it to my library's collection.
Was this review helpful?
Let me start this off by saying that I don't usually read novels in this genre, but this was both an adorable and a surreal novel. As a Chinese-Filipino girl, I'm always excited to read books written by authors coming from the same background as myself, and I'm really happy this did not disappoint! 

When Natalie finds out her mom has passed, she's hesitant to return to her old neighborhood. After all, she and her mom haven't spoken in over seven years, and she also hasn't kept in touch with anyone in the old neighborhood. But Natalie's encouraged by the letter she receives, and she returns to try to revive the old Chinatown by reopening her grandmother's Chinese restaurant and finally following her dream of becoming a professional chef. Along the way, she realizes many secrets within her own family, the neighborhood, and her own life. 

There are so much culture and beauty in all the recipes and little details within the novel, and I adored reading Natalie's character growth as someone who runs from her problems to a woman who knows what she wants to do. There's a lot of magical realism in this, and though unexpected, I welcomed with open arms. Towards the end though, it felt cliche and a little bit too much. I personally couldn't believe Natalie was about to leave everything behind again.

It reminded me a little bit of one of the old anime shows I used to watch, called Shokugeki no Souma. Filled with mouth-watering descriptions and food porn scenes, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune was a vibrant read that I never knew I needed in my life. It's such an original book that is sure to keep readers delighted with its vivid settings and mouthwatering recipes. I even asked my mom to cook me three of the dishes mentioned when I closed the book!
Was this review helpful?
First, I LOVED every minute of this book.

This book went on my radar at the end of 2018. I was drawn by the cover, and mostly symbols of San Francisco. Also? Food. I’m 100% drawn to this story because of food.

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune by Roselle Lim is about family that you were born into and the family you make. After her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns to San Francisco’s Chinatown. She relives her past while healing in the present, and dreams of what her future may become.

Natalie Tan’s story had the familiarity of your friend telling you a story about her life, all with the anticipation of the next page. I loved her from the beginning, and I was so invested in how her story played out. Death in the family isn’t always easy, and Lim’s words held my hand as Natalie relived every story with her Ma-Ma. I also adored every supporting character in this book, and I feel that they contributed to how beautiful this story was written.

Guys, I cried. I cried because I was able to feel the emotions jumping off the page. I laughed at the silly anecdotes. And mostly? I was invested in these characters that built up this community. I enjoyed the recipes and their descriptions. It felt familiar to me, like I was in this family. And I think when an author can place me in the middle of their world and make me feel that I’ve always been a part of it? It’s the highest praise that I can give.

Roselle Lim writes so effortlessly and lyrically, that the time I spent reading this story slipped away from me. I enjoyed my time with Natalie Tan. I cannot wait to read more from Lim. I am forever a fan.

*Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.*
Was this review helpful?
After her mother's death, Natalie Tan moves back home to San Francisco's Chinatown and decides to reopen her grandmother's restaurant.  I normally love books about cooking and also books with a touch of the magical ... but this book didn't work for me for so many reasons.

Probably the biggest reason I disliked this book was because of the amazingly selfish and self-centered main character who is supposedly trying to help revitalize her old neighborhood, but really is just trying to help herself. 

When the man shows up to eat her cooking and the restaurant hasn't even opened, she accepts without question large sums of money. That was just creepy--both the offering and accepting of it. 

The restaurant has been abandoned for years and years and yet it is fully equipped and ready to go--no mention of pests, dirt, decay, etc.  

Then there were the recipes which take up a large part of the book, but all we get are an extensive list of the ingredients and details on how they are cooked, but no measurements for anything so what's the use.

 I also didn't feel like the magical elements really worked--it just seemed odd and out of place. Add to that plenty of cliches and some really bad dialogue. Very disappointed with this book.
Was this review helpful?
Delicious and delightful! From the opening pages to the final chapter, I loved the magic, the romance, and, above all, the food.
Was this review helpful?
Natalie Tan has been running from her agoraphobic Chinese mother and her past for the past seven years. And she probably would have kept running if the news of her mother’s death did not force her to return to her old neighborhood to settle her mother’s affairs.

She slinks back with her tail between her legs, only to be called out by all those around her–her mother’s friends, shop owners and the community who felt she had committed the worst sin a daughter can–abandoning her mother, leaving her to die alone.

But as Natalie starts to delve deep into her mother’s and grandmother’s pasts, a lot of her childhood takes on a new meaning. And she starts to understand the importance of community as she works to restore her grandmother’s old restaurant and re-build and strengthen the Chinese community.

This one was so charming and compulsively readable. And the recipes!!! I’m going to have to try quite a few of these, although it seems that my cooking will probably not do justice to Natalie’s cooking.

I can see the movie already, I really hope one is in the works or will be soon! There were a couple things that didn’t gel for me in the book, but I passed them off to Chinese mysticism. Overall it was just delightful!

Special thanks to Berkeley Publishing Group and Netgalley for an e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out June 11, 2019. This review will be published on my blog, Women in Trouble Book Blog on May 13, 2019.
Was this review helpful?
I will be honest and say this is not a genre I usually enjoy reading. However, as a Filipino-Canadian I am always excited to read contemporary novels by Filipino/Asian authors (and I am looking for more!) and try to promote these works when I can as a librarian. This book was a very easy read—warmhearted and with all the ingredients for a Hallmark movie. I enjoyed reading about Chinatown in San Francisco. I was unsure about the story until my nostalgic heart was won over by the inclusion of a version of a congee recipe my mom used to make for me when I was sick. I reflected many times about the role of food and cooking in my family, and about the women before me who made the hard decision to come to North America and begin again.
Was this review helpful?
This reminds me of the  Joy Luck Club but of course it stands on its own. 
I'm looking  forward to more from this Author and  the recipes  where a great  addition.  The description of food and cultures are almost  edible themselves, and the way the characters  interact with each other is frustrating and satisfying at the same time. If you're  looking for a new read for spring, or like novels about  cooking,  food, and family, add this to your list.
Was this review helpful?
This was a solid 3.5 star read for me. I think it has wide appeal with some great elements that are really unique. As someone who loves to cook I loved the addition of recipes, however, it couldn’t really save the plot for me. The book was a little slower paced than I like my contemporary fiction and I found it a bit hard to keep invested. I did love the writing and I think this is a book that many will love.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars for me. I enjoyed many aspects of this book. I loved the recipes and found the author's writing quite beautiful at times unfortunately I found myself bored of the plot about half way through. That being said I know many of my library patrons will enjoy this and I will recommend it.
Was this review helpful?
It is a shame that Netgalley doesn't allow a "half point system", but I'd definitely give Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune a solid 3.5 stars.

Roselle Lim gives us a really compelling story but I have to admit, I had some difficulty getting over the chinese cookies writings at first. I found the imagery very cliché , needing to re-read the sentences a few times before understanding what the author was trying to say.
But - and it is a big one - after some getting used to, I find myself half drooling over the recipes, half engaged in the magical storyline. It's a beautiful story about love and complicated family matters. The author really captured and represented the Chinese culture truthfully, may it be the food, the egos or the regards of mental sickness.

All in all, I'd really like to invite you to read Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune , as it will not only make you crave chinese food, but it'll let you explore the enchanted world that Roselle Lim has created.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Predictable but satisfying novel on complicated mother-daughter relationships and dreams.  I really enjoyed the book.
Was this review helpful?
In the world of "Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune," a flock of ceramic bird figurines bursts into song; harsh words draw real blood; and tears crystallize, forming glittering piles, proving that "there was beauty to be found everywhere—even in sadness." There's more than a little magic in the San Francisco Chinatown setting of Roselle Lim's novel. (As someone who lives in the area, perhaps the only thing that I totally couldn't buy was the delicious smell of dumplings carrying all the way from Chinatown to the Mission; I only wish SOMA and the Tenderloin smelled that good.)

Natalie has been estranged from her agoraphobic mother for seven years, traveling the world and trying to pursue her dream of becoming a chef. Her mother had refused to support that dream, leading to their split. Natalie returns to Chinatown after her mother's death—strangely, she died right after stepping outside for the first time in ages, and none of her friends and neighbors know why she finally chose to leave her apartment. One of the things Natalie inherits is her laolao's (grandmother) book of recipes, which seem to have mystical properties. Natalie wonders if she can bring the fractured, decaying neighborhood together again with her food, perhaps even opening the long-abandoned, decrepit restaurant where her laolao once cooked.

"Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune" is a delightfully original book with a wonderfully vivid Chinatown setting and lots of descriptions of food that will surely make your mouth water. I did find some of the plot twists a little too convenient (for instance, the discovery of her mother's journals which pretty much answer every question Natalie had ever had), but overall, this is a fresh and fanciful novel.
Was this review helpful?
Natalie returns to San Francisco's Chinatown, a much changed neighborhood, after learning of the death of her estranged mother.  Determined to carry on her grandmother's legacy, Natalie wants to reopen the Chinese restaurant in the building her Mother owned.  Much like the use of magic by Sarah Addison Allen, there is a touch of magic to the recipes she finds written down by her grandmother, but it adds to the story line.  Well written and an enjoyable read.  A bonus for those who like recipes in their books.
Was this review helpful?
This was a stunning debut! NATALIE TAN’S BOOK OF LUCK AND FORTUNE is tale of food and family and a little magic, filled with lush descriptions (including the food, which made my mouth water!), gorgeous language, and a lot of heart. Natalie is a wonderful protagonist and I adored being in her head. You don’t want to miss this one!
Was this review helpful?
I truly wanted to like this one as someone dying for Asian voices in women's fiction. However, other than the delicious sounding food, I found the plot uneven-It tries to be both a simple plot and also explain things over and over and her excessive blaming of the neighbors tiresome.
Was this review helpful?
I honestly couldnt get into this one, I dont know if it was the writing or just the characters where I couldnt connect with the story.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the concept of this book, and especially adored the many references to Chinese culture and all of the incredibly delectable descriptions of food (with the inclusivon of recipes!) but I was sadly drawn out of the atmospheric world the author was trying to create because I had a few issues with the writing. Mainly, I sadly felt like this book read like a first draft — one that had such wonderful potential but was bogged down by continuous repetition (seriously, count how many time Natalie says "I left before I could get left" or mentioned how she may have misjudged her neighbors as a child, or talked about how her father abandoned her as a child and her mother had agoraphobia... it's A LOT of times), overwrought similies and an overly simplistic plot. I think if you can look past my negatives, this book has a lot to offer, but I wish this book had been edited a bit more to truly let the beauty I *know* Roselle Lim had in her head to really shine through.
Was this review helpful?
Natalie fled home and her agoraphobic mother years ago after a fight but now is heading home to bury her mother. What she finds is a neighborhood that has changed and an unexpected legacy, her grandmother's restaurant. Can Natalie work through the past, quit running, and unite the neighborhood? Are her grandmother's recipes truly magic? A story of secrets and hope and finding the strength to love your dreams.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book! The characters were so vibrant and had so much potential and life in them. The stories throughout were marvelous and I enjoyed all the recipes too. Anyone who doesn't really like magical realism may not really like this book. 
I love imagining that magical things like these could happen. And that food could cure or help in different ways. And in some ways it truly does.
I liked the progression of the story and relationships blossoming. 
A lovely, fun, read.
Was this review helpful?