BOOKSHOPS AND BONEDUST by Travis Baldree – READ ALONG Chapters 1-12
Nils and I are excited to be taking part in Black Crow’s Read along for the upcoming BOOKSHOPS AND BONEDUST, the much-awaited sequel/prequel to Travis Baldree’s Legends and Lattes.
A standalone cosy fantasy about the power of good bookshops, great friends and the unexpected choices along the way from the bestselling author of BookTok sensation Legends & Lattes.
First loves. Second-hand books. Epic adventures.
Viv’s career with the renowned mercenary company Rackam’s Ravens isn’t going as planned. Wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she’s packed off against her will to recuperate in the sleepy beach town of Murk – so far from the action that she worries she’ll never be able to return to it. What’s a thwarted soldier of fortune to do?
Spending her hours at a struggling bookshop in the company of its foul-mouthed proprietor is the last thing Viv would have predicted. Even though it may be exactly what she needs. Still, adventure isn’t far away. A suspicious traveller in grey, a gnome with a chip on her shoulder, a summer fling and an improbable number of skeletons prove Murk to be more eventful than Viv could have ever expected.
Sometimes, right things happen at the wrong time. Sometimes, what we need isn’t what we seek. And sometimes, we find ourselves in the stories we experience together . . .
Chapters 1 – 12
Beth: Ok first impression, we have a young Viv! She’s so headstrong and reckless! I love how, by the end of the prologue, we get a really strong understanding of why the Viv we knew in L&L was the way she was – I always had the impression she’d learned some hard lessons and here was one of them straight off the bat!
Nils: I knew young Viv would be war-hungry and perhaps a touch of an overconfident warrior but I’m so glad Baldree doesn’t focus on this side of Viv for long.
Beth: Agreed! I was worried about this being a focus
Nils: Yes she grumbles at being left behind, yes she daydreams of being back with her crew, yet she also doesn’t mope about it, she gets up and explores the village and is fairly polite to everyone she meets. The only problem is that the villagers all have preconceived notions of orcs.
Beth: That’s such a good point actually Nils, like it would have been so easy to make her a very mopey character, but in fact that can-do attitude we know so well is present here too, just aimed at a different focus.
“The first few drops scattered dark coins across the sand as she mounted the three stairs to The Perch and reached the safety of its awning. Only seconds later, thunder growled like potatoes down a washboard and licks of lightning flashed through the mist.” – I really loved this description of thunder! So simple yet so evocative! – Beth
Nils: We clearly meet a very different Viv in Bookshops from her older self in L&L. In Bookshops you can see where Viv first became comfortable leading a slower paced life and becoming acquainted with villagers. It’s quite clever of Baldree as both books can be read in any order and you’ll still get a different experience reading either one.
Beth: I’d argue she’s not comfortable, by a long way, and the reason she’s getting involved with various things is because she can’t lead a slower paced life like the doctor insists she should!
Nils: I was sort of predicting that she will be comfortable with the slower paced life by the end of the book! Lol. Or maybe I’ll be wrong!
Beth: Oh fair enough! We’ll have to wait and see!
Moving on from the very start and our first impressions, let’s actually get to the bookshop, shall we? I love the way Baldree describes Viv’s losing herself in her book, he manages to encapsulate the sense of comfort she gets from being absorbed. At a difficult time when she’s feeling lost, this book transports her, and I think we can all relate to and understand that and he’s captured that moment of falling in love with a book perfectly
Nils: The way Baldree describes Viv being transported somewhere else when she’s reading was perfection! That’s exactly how books make me feel. Like just for a while I can escape to somewhere else, be someone else and have an adventure! Escapism is one of the most rewarding parts of reading and I appreciate seeing an author express the essence of this so accurately, it obviously shows they also have a deep love for books.
Beth: I think what was also so special about that moment was seeing Viv fall in love with reading for the first time, actually watching someone make that connection that at some point we’ve all felt. I thought it was a great moment between the protagonist and the reader.
Nils: And seeing Viv try to articulate what she liked about the book was great to see too, it gave Fern, the Rattkin bookseller an opportunity to connect with someone else and find something to both share, which again is something else books can do, bring people together.
Beth: That’s so true Nils! We can definitely appreciate the difficulty in articulating why you like a book!
Nils: I loved how Fern knew the perfect first book recommendation for Viv.
Reading Viv’s perspective on the state of the bookshop it’s clear Fern is overwhelmed to the point that she’s kind of given up on it, there’s so much to do that she can’t see where to start. A bookshop has to have an ambience and certain style to attract readers and that’s what Fern is missing. She needs a friend to bounce ideas off and help set her on her way and we know that’s going to be our Viv.
Beth: I feel for Fern so much! So firstly, I love that she turns on the head what you might have expected to find in a bookshop – a quiet, meek, bookish type, you know? Instead she’s there swearing and glaring Viv up and down and challenging her to buy something, I loved that. It’s fair to say I immediately fell for Fern. Secondly, the fact the shop was her father’s, and she feels like she’s letting him down, like she has to keep the shop a certain way because it’s how he kept it, but she can’t run it the way he did because she’s not him and so it’s failing… ah that really hit me.
And like you said Nils, Fern is great at recommending books, but I love the game she seems to be playing with Viv, I can’ wait to see where that goes!
Shall we talk about some of the other characters we’ve met at the start Nils? The three that made an impression on me were Iridia the Gatewarden, Pitts the Orc, and – surprise! – Gallina the Gnome! Firstly, I wasn’t keen on Iridia. This is the only negative I’ve experienced so far in this book; you always have to have a thorn in the protagonist’s side, but she was so obviously a thorn and for no apparent reason (or at least, I don’t accept the reasons she gives).
Nils: I agree with you there, I wasn’t keen on how we were introduced to Iridia either and she does feel a little too stereotypical to a bitter warden/sheriff who likes to let everyone know who is in charge. I’m hoping though we see more of a different personality to her character as the book progresses. I’d also love to see some character artwork on her because I can’t quite picture what she looks like other than having snake-like eyes!
Beth: I do hope she redeems herself. A character I did love though was Pitts. He’s a quiet and stoic character who I’m looking forward to seeing come out of his shell more. Finally, Gallina turned up, and I wasn’t actually expecting anyone from L&L to turn up in this, weirdly; if anything, this is the story of how these two meet. I wasn’t massively keen on Gallina for some reason in the first book, and even less so now. And I’m not even sure why. Again, I know she’s supposed to be loud and abrasive, in contrast to Viv, but I’m not a fan for some reason.
Nils: Loud and abrasive are just not traits we are drawn to and that makes Gallina fairly unlikeable. I do think it’s nice to see how they met though and adds another connection to L&L. One character we haven’t mentioned though is Potroast!! I love Potroast and how he always manages to get in the way and his distrust of Viv, which I hope he overcomes by the end.
Beth: Please don’t hate me Nils… but I’m not a fan of Potroast. He’s supposed to be a… a gryphlet? Part dog part… owl? But he seems mostly dog and I’m definitely more a cat person. Despite how many dogs we welcome into my own bookshop, I think cats are far more suited to bookshops than dogs.
Nils: Hey Beth what do we think of this pale man in grey? The bastard kicked Potroast!
Beth: Ooh yes! The Pale Man! So this section of the book ends with a tussle between Viv and this mysterious Pale Man who has turned up and is acting suspicious. Gallina proves her worth and rescues Viv, and all three of them get locked up in prison. My prediction is that the Pale Man has something to do with the necromancer from the prologue, either he is the necromancer, or he’s dead and has been sent by the necromancer?
Nils: I think you might be right Beth, my theory is this necromancer Biv’s crew are chasing after never actually left Murk.
Bookshops and Bonedust is out today! You can pick up your copy on Bookshop.org