Cover Image: Of Literature and Lattes

Of Literature and Lattes

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is sort of a continuation of the Printed letter Bookshop, but it can definately stand alone.  I thought both Alyssa and Jeremy were interesting characters with interesting back stories, and tthey also had interesting secondary characters that moved around them that spiced up the story.  The reader got to see Janet in a different light and could understand her better--I wonder if Reay's next book will spotlight Claire from the bookshop a little more??  This book seemed to have a little more religion than the preious book, but the reader can absorb it or skp over it, whatever their preference.  So now that I have read two of her books, I believe I will triy to read more.
Was this review helpful?
This book was advertised as a romance that had to do with books and coffee, which was right up my alley. The plot sounded interesting and the cover is so cute, so I really thought this was gonna be a fun read.

However, the romance didn't start until around 70% of the book. Before that, it's a lot about the struggles of both main characters and how terrible their lives are, how they both have so many issues. It's very depressing, to be honest, and not something I want to read about so much in romance novels. Even when the two main characters came together, there were no fireworks or other things. They had barely any chemistry besides the fact that they could help each other out of their bad situations, which was kind of unfortunate.

I think the plot had a lot to offer but it was executed badly. I still liked it, but not enough to give it 3 stars.
Was this review helpful?
I have been a fan of Katherine Reay since high school as she often writes Jane Austen retellings set in modern times. With this said, I was still wary to read as I haven’t read a modern-era book in a while, but I am so glad I did! It was refreshing and a good splash of reality!

When the beloved company Alyssa Harrison works for falls under FBI investigation and she is out of work and money, she is forced to return to her hometown and all her painful memories of the past. Jeremy Mitchell moved from Seattle to Winsome to be near his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s been dreaming of for years. Problem is, the business is bleeding money—and he’s not quite sure why. Life in Winsome, Illinois is not all that it seems and the past even more so! 

Of Literature and Lattes is uniquely written in that Katherine Reay provides the reader with special insights into each of the characters; their inner thoughts, desires, fears, sadness. I often felt like I was on a ride at Disneyland where the riders slowly move through various scenes being played out before them. Although the book is primarily about Alyssa and Jeremy, there are others you have a vested interest in. This style of writing is more true to life. In our own minds, the world revolves around us. By nature we are ego-centric as we are only given our own perspective. BUT there are others in our “world” that are experiencing their own versions of life. Everyone is at their own stage. Some are young and enjoying the joys of childhood. Others are older and experiencing the pain of losing a beloved one. This is all apart of life and Katherine Reay writes it beautifully. 

I am not one to typically enjoy a “real life” story, whether in a book or on the screen as I often like to escape my own problems in the joys of a book. However, the way in which this book is presented is not to sadden the reader or to force them into the pit of despair, but rather to provide healing, understanding, and courage. 

And true to life, there is no true villain. As much as we may see one as pure evil, it simply isn’t true. Same as with the fact that there is no perfect person. Thus the need for Jesus, the only perfect person. As much as Alyssa may dislike and resent her mother, it is not as easy nor true to say the sole blame lays at her mother’s feet. 

On the romance side, I did enjoy Alyssa and Jeremy’s relationship. Both are at a unique stage of life in their own way, with their own fears and doubts, but through their budding friendship, they find peace and courage. They are low drama and more real to life characters. They support one another while also remaining true to each other. As I am a lover of romance novels, I wish there had been more written and not just implied. Meaning, the book although focused on Alyssa and Jeremy, it was not on their romance but on the hardships of their current predicament. So at times, the book would say something along the lines of, they went to the park together with Jeremy’s daughter and then it would move on to the next day. 

Of Literature and Lattes could be read as a standalone, but does contain characters from the first book, The Printed Letter. There were a few stories left unanswered and I hope more from the little town of Winsome in the future!

I was given a free copy of the book, but the opinions in this review are completely my own.

The Red Review: ❤️❤️❤️❤️
*** 4 Stars: Compelling Characters, Well-Written, Interesting Storyline, Unable to Stop
Was this review helpful?
Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay

Alyssa Harrison is back to her hometown, Winsome. She is broke and is wary because of a shaky relationship with her mom. She is willing to work any job and also help out those in need. Alyssa is great with numbers and believes they will tell you a story. 

This is a sweet small town story. Gossip runs fast but there will always be a sense of community. It also tells about family love and friendships. There are so many characters though, that it confuses me at times. I am not a fan of Alyssa. She is hung up on many things in her life. I do like her willingness to share her talent for numbers that eventually helped them to understand their business. Lexi and Alyssa’s friendship is amazing. Jeremy learned that being chosen is enough, especially to a child. I like how his character developed in the story. I am surprised at how engaging Ryan is when he talks about his favorite book, Of Mice and Men. The idea of Literature and Lattes book club is a great idea that builds friendship and businesses. 3 stars

Thank you #netgalley and Thomas Nelson--FICTION for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is the second book in a series I can't get enough of! I am loving the town of Winsome. I adored Alyssa and Jeremy and can't wait to read more from Katherine Reay.
Was this review helpful?
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

This book didn't do much for me.  Characters, plot, setting nothing drew me in.  It was an okay read, I was compelled to finish it but I can't go higher in the rating.
Was this review helpful?
Katherine Reay never disappoints for clean, compelling fiction.  This story was no different and I enjoyed returning to Winsome, IL after having read the prequel to this last year.  My only complaint was that the voices shifted frequently from the two main characters and also minor characters in the story.  This sometimes made it hard to track who was narrating.  While it did widen the story, I personally wish it had stuck with just the two main characters.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and NetGalley, however opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Was this review helpful?
Yay for a new Katherine Reay story! I anticipate the next one just as soon as I finish the last one and this time was no different. I love all the literary references she casually (and not so casually) weaves into her plot. I love how her writing flows along and draws me in immediately (especially when I’m “only going to read a couple chapters right now” and suddenly two hours have flown by ;). I love how her characters are always complex and real, they feel like friends by the end. In short? I just really love Katherine Reay books!

This one drew me in like her previous ones. I was intrigued by Alyssa’s problems and wanting so badly to make her relationship with her mother all better. After growing to know and love Janet dearly in The Printed Letter Bookshop, I was hoping for everyone else around her to be witness to her awesomeness and growth. However, it is perfectly understandable that a fraught relationship is rarely healed overnight. Thus no matter my impatience at times, I truly appreciated the nuanced and natural feel of how they began to slowly understand one another again. I do think their relationship was my favorite among all the possibilities within the story! I also rather enjoyed Jeremy’s relationship with his daughter, Becca. I was not expecting things to end up the way they did and my heart ached for all the emotions he had to process through. But what a beautiful lesson that came out of it! Seriously. Like I said, I love how Ms. Reay so skillfully handles complex characters and gives their story arcs such depth and feeling.

I will have to confess to feeling some slight disappointment, however. As much as I have adored all of Ms. Reay’s books thus far, this is the first one which I closed with a tinge of bittersweetness. This has nothing to do with her writing, more it has to do with where a couple plots ended up going. Ms. Reay has beautifully written a story in which choices were made which I did not enjoy as much as I wanted. Also, while I liked getting several different perspectives on scenes, the multiple points of view got a tad overwhelming at times, since I never knew when I'd jump into someone else's head suddenly. However! These choices are not enough to make me wish I hadn’t read it. To the contrary, I especially loved a certain conversation between Luke and Chris which just made me grin. The fact that they had this same basic conversation again at the end of the book only made my grin bigger! (On that note, Ms. Reay. I’d REALLY love to see the results of those convos played out in an epilogue of sorts! Pretty please? ;)

So! The bottom line? Katherine Reay is quite skilled with the pen and I think you should absolutely read her books! Though this one isn’t perfect, it still has some good lessons to be learned and imperfect characters with whom to fall in love. And! Did I mention all the literary references? You should be intrigued for those alone. What are you waiting for? Go read her books and be entranced as much as I!

**I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I really liked this book!  It was a great read about a small town with delightful people that make you want to be their friends.

There's a theme of family and finding one's self.  You get to visit the past and watch the characters grow.  There's some surprises that will make you surprised but it all turns out in the end.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Publishers for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.  This author has another book related to this one, The Printed Bookshop, that I hope to check out soon!
Was this review helpful?
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Okay so, I really wanted to love this book. I thought I was entering into a cute small town romance, and I’m not sure what this was, but it wasn’t that. It also had a lot more scripture than I was expecting...and I was expecting none, so..

First off, it’s my own personal preference - but I hate it when there’s no character description. The author throws like 15 characters at the reader with barely a mention of hair colour. It’s so difficult to visualize something if you don’t know what you’re seeing.

Second, I understand that the author had set a previous book in this little town with a few of the same characters - but if they’re going to advertise it as a stand alone it needs to stand on its own. Right off the bat I felt as if I had missed 6 chapters and was rushing to catch up.
There were too many characters and too many story lines and it was far too melodramatic in my opinion.
Maybe it’s because I was expecting something different, but the story just didn’t vibe with me. I had a very hard time connecting or caring about the characters or their stories. 

I'll definitely be recommending it to fans of Louise Penny or Jenny Colgan. It's definitely worth adding to our library even though it wasn't my style.
Was this review helpful?
I am not a huge romance fan.  But Katherine Reay's latest book was a wonderful visit in a small town with delightful characters.  I have not read the previous book, The Printed Letter Bookshop, but I will definitely resolve that soon!  However, this book worked well as a standalone.

The book has the theme of grace threaded throughout the pages.  You will walk along with the characters as they examine their past, present, and future; grow emotionally and spiritually; and develop or heal relationships.  I admit that Alyssa got on my nerves for a while, but it was not too distracting from the book.  Essentially you will have a thought provoking experience as you navigate the pages.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Publishers for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.  I love Katherine Reay's gift of words and look forward to future books.
Was this review helpful?
** “He knew a wounded soul thrashed as violent as a bitter or broken one. But once soothed and made safe, the soul healed well and was all the more beautiful for the hurt it once carried.” **

Katherine Reay delivers a story of new beginnings and healing the soul with “Of Literature & Lattes,” which takes place shortly after the ending of her prior novel, “The Printed Letter Bookshop.”

Alyssa finds herself returning home to Winsome, Illinois, after losing her plum job when a major scandal hits the company where she works. Even though their relationship is deeply strained, she must move back in with her mother, Janet — prominently featured in “The Printed Letter Bookshop.” Not only homeless, Alyssa finds herself jobless, penniless, and constantly popping Tums. 

Newcomer to Winsome, Jeremy is attempting to turn the beloved hometown coffee shop into a trendy business, but struggles to find his footing in town. He’s also striving to build a relationship with his 7-year-old daughter, Becca. He hopes to be the father he lost when he was young, while building a successful business.

As the paths of Alyssa and Jeremy cross, they find themselves not only developing feelings for each other, but finding ways they can help each other toward their goals.

“Of Literature & Lattes” is a delightful romance filled with not only love, but a little intrigue and mystery, as well as overcoming tragedies and misunderstandings. Reay develops incredibly relatable characters, as well as bringing back many of the beloved people from “The Printed Letter Bookshop.”

She also includes many great themes throughout this story, including everything is being made new; it’s hard to let go and let help in; we must love others just the way they are; we have to accept what we can’t change but have the courage to try; dwelling on the unknown gets us nowhere; and we all mess up, but there is grace to be had. 

Grace and forgiveness are both huge themes throughout Reay’s novel — what happens when we don’t forgive; finding grace and understanding for people’s weaknesses; and you can ask for forgiveness but you can’t control their response.

Even though this story takes place after “The Printed Letter Bookshop,” it could be read as a standalone, although I’d highly recommend reading the other novel. And some storylines in “Of Literature & Lattes” seemed to be left hanging, so I hope there’s another book coming.

Five stars out of five. 

Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy through NetGalley for my honest, unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
I love Katherine Reay!  And so I didn't even read the description before requesting Of Literature and Lattes.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I found it was a companion novel to The Printed-Letter Bookshop I gave five stars to last year.  

Of Literature and Lattes focuses on one of the characters from the first book, Janet, the fiery tempered book-shop employee, her daugher, Alyssa, as well as newcomer Jeremy.  Alyssa is completely down on her luck having been an innocent employee of a company that just experienced an Enron-level scandal.  It doesn't matter that she wasn't part of the scam, she can't get hired anywhere and gets told off in interviews by people needed to vent on her former employee. She has returned home to the small community in Illinois where her mother and father live, divorced but dating each other again.  Alyssa has been shaped by her mother's lack of approval her whole life and is bitter and angry at her over that AND over the fact she cheated on Alyssa's father.  Having lived across the country, she hasn't witnessed her mother's stunning growth and change and frankly finds it difficult to believe.  Her constant belligerence with Janet combined with Alyssa teaming up against Janet with Janet's own critical mother cause Janet's greatest stumbling block to her self-healing journey yet.

Jeremy is a dad whose ex-wife left him shortly after his daughter's birth to move from Seattle to Illinois to live with her parents.  Jeremy, wanting to be a significant role in his daughter's life has moved there where he has no roots or history, only to have his ex-wife make it difficult on him to be the kind of parent he hopes to be.   He bought the local coffee-shop from a beloved retiree and remodeled and revamped it....going broke in the process.  Even after all the changes he can't seem to get much business.  He's losing money as if through a sieve and he can't tell where it is going.  Through a mutual friend, Alyssa agrees to help him track down what might be causing his bad business.

Throughout these personal stories, Of Literature and Lattes continues the theme introduced in The Printed-Letter Bookshop, that of community helping each other.  I cried happy tears a few times.  I yelled at Alyssa several times.  I fell in love with Jeremy's little girl as she so reminded me of my little girl.  All in all, while I didn't QUITE love this one as much as its predecessor, I will still be recommending it to all my friends.  

Note: Though the publisher is a Christian publisher, the messages in Reay's books are never preachy.  Of Literature and Lattes implies many of the characters are churchgoers and Christians, but the messages in the books are universal: Forgiveness, Community, Self-Sacrifice, etc.
Was this review helpful?
I love small towns. Correction. I love reading books and watching TV shows set in small towns. Gilmore Girls forever. So, one can say the book Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay had me at ‘hello’…

The book had me at ‘hello’ and then lost me along the way.

I found it to be too much. Too thickly sweet. There were so many ‘right’ words about making choices, seeking the truth, seeking forgiveness, forgiving oneself, they were distracting from the story. Full stop.

Alyssa is one hell of a horrible child, if you ask me (I am mum to 18 year old. I would know). Her teenage ‘black and white’ attitude drove her crazy, sick and lonely. She barricaded herself away from everything and everyone. ‘I have to defend myself’. ‘I have to defend my principles’. Us, parents heard it so many times during teenage angst… Fortunately, all these lead nowhere. But in case with Alyssa it lead to very dire consequences.

Alyssa’s family is a bunch of long-suffering adults who have to dance around their daughter’s hysteronics.

Finding herself and finding forgivenes takes forever. Story goes on and on. It’s being filled with all fluffy stuff of modern and trendy ‘find yourself’… Where did my small town go?

I loved how the book started. A small town, a community, a set of shops and central square – a very picturesque setting. But Alyssa kept driving away… so did the story.

All other characters were not given enough chance to spread their wings. I would have loved to know more about them and their interactions. Secondary characters were brought in as an after thought almost…

All in all a cozy quick read that could have been so much better (even if it would have been made much shorter).

Quotes

The only stable thing in life is change…and no, you don’t get used to it.

After taking a wrong turn, travelling further down the (same) road doesn’t get you any closer to your destination. You have to go back in order to go on.
Was this review helpful?
I did it. I FINALLY finished Of Literature and Lattes. It took me two weeks, and I read three other books, but I persevered and made it all the way through. Finally.

There was a lot going on in this book. Maybe too much…???

Alyssa has fled Palo Alto, California for her childhood home in Winsome, Illinois after being investigated by the FBI for her part in a medical research company scam. She has an extremely tumultuous relationship with her mother, who she is forced to live with when her father won’t let her live with him.

Jeremy has moved to Winsome from Seattle to be closer to his seven year old daughter and recently opened a coffee shop, which he runs with a good friend - until that relationship becomes strained. He’s also having problems with his ex-wife, who wants to move to another state just a few months after he’d moved across the country so he could help raise their daughter.

There’s sweet, elderly George who is dealing with his wife’s terminal illness. Father Luke and his brother Chris, who quite frankly I’m not sure why they were even in the book (except to maybe set something up for another book)… And also Seth and Janet, Alyssa’s parents, who are rekindling their love after divorcing three years ago.

This is a “companion” book with The Printed Letter Bookshop - almost a sequel really, since it has a lot of the same characters, and the main storyline - with Alyssa, her mother, and her parents’ marriage - is a continuation of what happened in The Printed Letter Bookshop. The trouble with this book though is that all the different characters and all the different storylines are a bit of a jumbled mess this time. I think it was easier to keep the three main characters in The Printed Letter Bookshop straight because that book was told in first person narratives, whereas this one is third person (which is actually my preferred way to read a story, but this time that technique seemed to work against it).

I also had a hard time with Alyssa. She held an awful lot of animosity for her mother for the relationship they had while she was growing up, but mostly for the demise of her parents’ marriage. (Sidenote: I don’t even remember exactly what went down between Seth and Janet, and the author sadly didn’t do readers the favor of giving even a cursory recap, further solidifying my confusion as to why their daughter was so bitter). Were Alyssa a teenager, I’d get her anger and lashing out. But a woman in her 30s should know there’s two sides to a story, and it’s her parents’ business to wade through - which they are, since mom and dad are dating again - and not hers.

Mostly I had trouble getting through this book because the pacing in the first half of the book was glacially slllooooowww. I remembered The Printed Letter Bookshop starting off really slow as well, so I kept at it, trudging through page after page, hardly able to figure out why this book wasn’t working for me. Then Alyssa has coffee with Lexi, her childhood best friend, who tells her ”And once again, you’ve been in your head too long.” And I thought AHA! That’s exactly it. We’re too much in everyone’s heads and none of them is a great place to be hanging out.

I was about to call it quits on the book when a bit of a mystery with Jeremy’s coffee shop pulled me in by a hair, and by the time that situation was resolved (a bit too quickly if you ask me) things had started picking up and I was able to finish the book. That’s not to say I think the rest of the story was good...it was just readable. As I said, there was a lot going on and several of the mini-storylines introduced - such as an issue with Jeremy’s daughter potentially having dyslexia, and alluding to Father Luke having some kind of crisis of the “who am I and what is my purpose” type - aren’t fully developed or given resolution. And once again, for a book labeled as “romance” there’s not a whole lot of focus on the hero and heroine as a couple - their relationship seems more of a side-plot.

My husband always asks me about the book I’m reading. He asked what the point of the story was...and I couldn’t initially tell him. I was unable to pinpoint one overall theme in Of Literature and Lattes. Even the event the title of the book comes from is a mere blip in the story which, once again, reinforces my thought that this book is a jumbled mess of good ideas the author didn’t follow through with. I’d like to say this book is about complicated mother-daughter relationships and finding yourself when you find what you’re good at, but even that is a reach.

Will I read Katherine Reay again? Eh, I’m not sure. There were plenty of hints in this book that there’s more to come for the people in Winsome. I’m just not sure I’ll be there for it.

* thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
I always look forward to Katherine Reay’s unique story voice. The way she infuses literature with the journeys her characters take is second to none, and Of Literature and Lattes met every one of my expectations.

Reay excels in writing characters who form a community. In this particular book, that community is Winsome (which was introduced in The Printed Letter Bookshop). There are familiar faces and some new ones.

Alyssa has a lot going on between her work, her money issues, and her fractured family relations. Jeremy is an easy character to root for, especially when he interacts with his daughter.

 Of Literature and Lattes is about friendships—old and new—and family and community. It shines a spotlight into the space where we choose to lean on those who know us best.


Disclosure statement: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Reay's is revisiting the world of Winsome in this novel, she previously wrote about it in the Printed Letter Bookshop and while I admire her crafting of a quaint small town universe, Of Literature and Lattes fell a bit flat for me. The main focus of the book is Alyssa and Jeremy reshaping their lives and falling in love, but there are so many subplots involving the whole town that it gets a bit bogged down. I loved Reay's focus on the complexity of relationships and how they change over time. Most of the subplots bolster this theme but because they were so spread out over characters narrating their own experiences, they lost their impact. The book felt predictable and therefore very long at times. 

If you love quaint towns with lots of heart you'll love this book. If you're looking for a meet cute romance this is probably not the book for you. I do think Reay's has a knack for writing characters and I look forward to their future work.
Was this review helpful?
Cute small town romance, but didn't keep my interest. I really liked The Printed Letter Bookshop and was hoping I would enjoy this one just as much. 

Thank you NetGalley for this ARC.
Was this review helpful?
My Review:  I really liked the sound of the synopsis and of course the cover and title drew me in too. It really took me a while to get into this book, I felt really lost at first, some of it sounded familiar but I couldn't place it. I finally got on and found out that this book follows one that I read last year called Printed Letter Bookshop. You really need to read that one first before getting into this one, there are a lot of relationship backstories in that book. Once I figured that out and refreshed myself on the previous book's characters and story line, I was able to enjoy this one a bit more. There are still a lot of characters to keep track of throughout the book, many we only see once or twice. With that said I did enjoy the main character's stories, particularly Jeremy. There is a romantic undertone but it is not the focus and does not take over the story, it is more about finding your way home and learning to trust yourself and others. It was enjoyable story but it would have been better if I had read both books closer together or even known that they were connected.

My Rating: It took me a while get into this one, and a lot longer than usual to read it.  I did try the audio book as well, I was not thrilled with the narration, the narrator had an accent that didn't fit with the story setting or characters at all.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.  I honestly think if I had read the previous book closer to this one, or even knew they were connected, it would have gone much better.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed reading Of Literature and Lattes once I got about a third of the way through. There were so many characters and backstories it was confusing to me. Something compelled me to keep going, and I'm glad I did! Alyssa goes home, running from a scandal, while Jeremy is coming to his daughter to be part of her life. They meet in the middle with very different concerns and find strength in each other. Ms. Reay's earlier book about the town of Winsome, The Printed Letter Bookshop,  is now on my reading list!
Was this review helpful?