Sunday 16 January 2022

CBR14 Book 1: "A Very Beery New Year" by Jackie Lau

Page count: 56 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Encouraged by his mother to socialise more, introverted software developer Gerald Nakamura goes to his local craft beer bar to sit by the bar, reading a book, not really interacting with anyone except the serving staff. He especially likes exchanging a few words with the pretty and vivacious bartender Kelsey. 

Kelsey lives with her rather exasperating grandmother (who just discovered Tik Tok and is determined to become a viral sensation) and works at the bar until she can find something more suitable to her skillsets. She notices the silent, scowling man and begins to ask him the occasional question about the books he reads. As the weeks and months pass, they interact more and eventually even exchange phone number to continue to conversations via text.

While both Gerald and Kelsey find the other attractive, neither wants to ruin a good friendship by assuming anything more. While he's clearly shy, Gerald nevertheless shows up to Kelsey's second job, selling d*ck-shaped donuts at a popup stand in the park. He also politely interacts with her matchmaking grandmother - but does that mean he LIKES likes her, or just that he's a perfectly nice guy? When she recieves an invitation from Gerald to spend New Year's Eve together, she hopes she hasn't misread the situation, and that he wants to be more than just friends.

A Very Beery New Year was a free novella for subscibers of Jackie Lau's newsletter and one of the protagonists, Kelsey, already appeared occasionally in book 3 of The Cider Bar Sisters, as Nicole's cousin in The Professor Next Door. The novella features pretty much everything you want in a Jackie Lau story, except in smaller doses, since this is a novella. There's likeable, dedicated professionals who find a spark and have excellent banter with one another. There's mention of lots of food and drink, in this story, the afore-mentioned d*ick-shaped donuts (with a creamy filling) play an important part. There's also mentions of various craft beers for those who care about that stuff, I don't drink, and even when I did, beer was NOT something I enjoyed. 

Jackie Lau's stories continue to be comforting reads that I know will amuse and entertain me, and I'm looking forward to the next books in the Cider Bar Sisters, out later this year. 

Judging a book by its cover: I know for a fact that Jackie Lau doesn't have an easy time of it, finding decent-looking cover models for her books when going through stock photos. There's just not as many photos of hunky-looking Asian guys out there, but I think she manages pretty well. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.