Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

I wanted to like this book so much more than I did! I honestly thought I was going to love it! Based on the cover alone (lol), but also because of its strong focus on food and cooking and family. But despite the fact that Roselle Lim's writing is absolutely gorgeous, I just couldn't get into the plot of this book.

I truly believe food as the power to heal and so I loved that that was a focus of this book. When Natalie's estranged mother dies, Natalie moves back to San Francisco for the funeral and decides to stay and re-open the restaurant her grandmother once ran. Her grandmother left behind a book filled with her recipes with descriptions of the powers they hold (i.e. some foods bring comfort, some love, some courage, etc.).  The problem for me was that the book was more "fantasy" in this way. The food she makes doesn't heal in a subtle way; it heals in a "one minute you hate your spouse and the next minute you're madly in love," which just felt so unrealistic to me. Perhaps I just went into the book with the wrong idea of it and wasn't expecting so much legit magic and thought it would be more realistic.

The book also felt like it needed a heavier handed edit. Like I said, Lim is a truly talented writer and her prose is beautiful. She also writes great characters and clearly knows how to build a story. But everything put together needed a little "sprucing" up and as someone who's worked in editorial positions before, this was so immediately clear to me. Parts of the story were underdeveloped, especially Natalie's "relationship" with Daniel. It felt so rushed and I was weirded out by how Natalie was talking about him after meeting once. Also, the fact that Natalie's mom had journals with so much literally spelled out felt like a total cop out to me. Not only was this an easy way to tie up some loose ends, but even the way they were written felt a bit fake to me.

Clearly, there were many things in this book that really bugged me. But I really would read another book from Lim and think she has so much potential. Also, she is wonderful at writing descriptions of food and I want to make so many of the recipes in the book! And obviously that book cover belongs in a frame.
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Natalie is devastated when her estranged mother passes away. But with her grief comes a big opportunity: With her grandmother's old restaurant and cookbook, she can finally achieve her dream of being a chef. But as she works through the cookbook, she realizes her grandmother's recipes have mystical power to do more than just fill your stomach. 

I really enjoyed this foodie fiction with magical elements! Natalie is a great character with a lot of learning and growing to do, and I appreciated her journey. I love any book with recipes included, and the descriptions of food definitely made my stomach growl. There's also a really interesting discussion of gentrification in Natalie's efforts to revitalize San Francisco's Chinatown. The dialogue was a little rough and some of the magical elements didn't quite work for me, but overall, there's a lot to love about this book.
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The news that her agoraphobic mother has passed away sends Natalie Tan back to San Francisco at the beginning of Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, in Roselle Lim. Her return to the city of her childhood not only brings up troubled memories of her relationship with her mother, but also puts her on a quest to reopen her grandmother’s legendary restaurant in an effort to restore the rapidly gentrifying Chinatown she loves. To make things even more interesting, Natalie receives a book of magical recipes written by her grandmother and can see the effects of those recipes in colors and sounds around the people she feeds. Lim’s book strikes just the right note between magic and reality.

Natalie has been on the run from her past, in a low-key kind of way, since she left home and failed out of culinary school. Even though Natalie is a very good cook, she hasn’t been successful financially. After she returns to San Francisco for her mother’s funeral, an old family friend gives Natalie a copy of her grandmother’s recipe book and a prophecy. Natalie can only successfully open a restaurant if she prepares three meals for three people in the neighborhood and helps them with their problems. The pacing of the book faked me out at first. I thought things were going a little too well, a little too quickly, at first. But then things go really pear-shaped and Natalie has to do some serious re-thinking about her meddling.

I liked Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune a lot. The plot is interesting, but what really made this book for me are the descriptions of the food Natalie prepares. They often made me want to run out and go find a really good Chinese restaurant that might serve me fresh-made noodles in broth or dumplings. I also loved Natalie’s memories about what her neighborhood used to be and the lessons she learns about the differences between meddling and truly helping people. This would be a great comfort read for many readers and, I think, would also make a fun book club book.
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When Natalie Tan’s estranged mother dies Natalie returns to the home she left seven years ago. Home is a Chinatown neighborhood in San Francisco and the people who knew her before her departure are not exactly pleased to see her. She must make amends and hope that they will warm to her once again. She also hopes to find answers to life-long questions concerning her family. She will meet new people, renew old acquaintances and, along the way, create possibilities where there once we’re none. This is a magical story that is filled with yummy recipes and charming characters – and left me smiling as I turned the last page.
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"You must cook three recipes from the book to help three of your neighbors, as your laolao did in the past. Your success is tied to them, their businesses, and the community. You are one of them. If they fail, you will fail. If you save them, the restaurant will once again be the jewel of Chinatown, and the vitality will return to the neighborhood."

Brilliant and magical, "Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune" is a delightful cacophony of food, faith, and family both lost and found.

Natalie Tan hasn't stepped foot in her deteriorating Chinatown neighborhood for seven years, not after she left on bad terms with her mother for not supporting her culinary dreams. Now, she is returning after her mother's sudden and strange passing, asking herself this question: Why did her agoraphobic, depressed mother decide that day--of all days--to finally take a step outside of the apartment? Natalie finds a sliver of hope in the ruins of her relationship with her mother and her grief: a written blessing to re-open the downstairs restaurant that belonged to Natalie's formidable Laolao, Qiao, whose book of recipes she has also unexpectedly inherited. But before she can open the restaurant, she must fulfill a task given to her by the neighborhood physic: she must use food to solve the problems of three people in the neighborhood. Natalie eagerly goes to work, cooking up a storm to bring luck, courage, and love to the neighborhood. But when everything goes up in flames--almost quite literally--can Natalie and her food still save the day--and her neighborhood?

Lim's writing is breathtaking and astounding; her characters are so alive, and her descriptions so vivid and magical, such as the "dragon hiss of a tour bus's air brakes" and a sigh that transforms into "a thick, glowing strand of yarn". And then there is the food. Oh, the food! Do not read on an empty stomach! (Recipes are--to the reader's "fortune"--included!) Step into Chinatown and smell the magic, mystery, and dumplings in the air as Natalie sets out to change her luck, make her fortune, and realize that everything she's been searching for was right where she least expected it.

Also, Hallmark Channel? This book would make an excellent movie...
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Reading this book brought such good feelings and warmth. The writing style is somewhat melancholy, starting off with someone's death already sets this book apart from the rest. Also, the writing style is different from what I'm anticipating, and it's in a good way. It reminds me of Amy Tan's writing style.

The characters were all very important and plays important roles in the book, they all had their own background story as part of the neighbourhood. This is what I love about the book, the story it tells, the people, the food, each component and shops in the neighbourhood is part of a big family. It really brings joy and happiness reading this book.

Even though the plot keeps moving up and down, like there are conflicts here and there and then it's fixed and then it reappears. It could be a bit messy and there was this one part where the change from a really low point to a rekindled spirit is just too fast for me. I'd love to see things slow down a bit, maybe it would make more sense.

The food is just too good, it makes me crave for the Asian dishes gosh! I also love the element of how those recipes sorta have magic effects on the people who eat them. I think that's brilliant! Besides that, I love the relationship between Natalie and Daniel. It is just a side thing that is going on in the book, it did not take away the spotlight of the main essence of the story yet it is not totally unimportant. 

The plot twist got me in tears. Like I did have my suspicion, but oh damn the backstory to that plot twist really GOT ME GEWDDDD. Love it! The ending is really nice, I think the whole story is wrapped up nicely, I'm a happy kid. Would I recommend this book? Hell YEAHHH!
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I thought I would love this book, and it was good, but it fell a little flat. The details just weren't there for me like I hoped for and the main character was not relateable.
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Warning: do not read this book when hungry. Lim’s descriptions and recipes for all the amazing foods that Natalie cooks and eats will make you want to try to eat the book itself. A bittersweet, graceful novel with traces of magical realism that are occasionally a bit heavy handed, but mostly add to the otherworldly feeling of the story. I really, really wish I could go to Chinatown in San Francisco and have Natalie feed me.
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It isn’t until her mother,s death, did Natalie start to learn about her family. She learns all her perceptions were false starting with the shuttered restaurant on the ground floor of her home. Her love of cooking, inherited from her grandmother helps Natalie to piece her life back together.
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I have heard this is going to be a movie and I think I will enjoy that more than the book. I couldn’t finish it. While the story is sweet and presents as a feel good book including some recipes and the healing power of food, it just couldn’t keep my attention but others may enjoy it. The characters were not very developed and I had a hard time finding connection. 

I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Natalie returns home after her mother's death never having the chance to mend fences that were broken seven years ago.  Seeing how rundown her childhood neighborhood had become, it became incumbent on Natalie to change the area.  Supposedly it was her grandmother's cooking that had kept the neighborhood going.  Full of recipes, Chinese  culture, and beliefs, this book is an absolute joy for the senses.
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Can't quite pinpoint what was lacking for me but I think the writing was the main culprit. Dialogue didn't feel realistic, plot moved really quickly as though something was missing between sections, and the magical realism felt tossed in rather than a part of the story. I found myself skimming to get to the end.
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cw: death of a loved one; grief; agoraphobia

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!
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So lovely! 
In this charming novel, a woman loses her mother but gains a new perspective on the sorrows of the past as she recommits to her old neighborhood while opening a local restaurant & helping her community at the same time. The cast of characters are delightful, the romance is sweet and believable, and Natalie's ties to her heritage and her respect for her Chinatown neighborhood make for a well rounded and heart-warming read
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Any book dealing with food as comfort is one I am going to pick up and ~devour~ right away. However, the food might have drawn me in, but the story of discovering one's family is what kept me turning page after page up until the end.
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A daughter's return to Chinatown following her mother's death could be bogged down in sadness.  Instead, it is a lyrical, magical journey through the streets, the small shops and the shopkeepers who struggle to keep them viable.  From the heritage foods to new flavors, the elusive street magician, the tea house with it's hidden garden of serenity and wonder...even the descriptions of the clothing being worn, Roselle Lim paints pictures with her words.  There is just enough magic to delight, and this book is a gem I can't wait to recommend and read again. I loved it!!!
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Too cliched, bad overly dramatic writing. The characters were not compelling or believable. Did not finish.
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Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune is a lyrical sweeping masterpiece. Its descriptions of food will make your mouth water. Its portrayal of grief and the power of community will enchant your soul. And its portrayal of perseverance, forgiveness, grief will lift your heart. Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune is an enchanting debut which will leave you breathless.

There is magic in these pages. Whether it be the magic in Natalie's food, or the effects of watching Natalie's character growth, Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune will enchant you. It is a story of grief, a community falling apart, and lacking the power of food as connection. But it's also a story about mending these cracks, honoring our ghosts, and repairing the damage.
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This is the kind of book I absolutely love in between reading true crime stories and thrillers! Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim is so charming, fun, and merges magic with reality which worked well to make this book delightful!

Here’s what you need to know:

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 love the themes of healing and food, plus the author’s beautiful writing style.

Due June 11.
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