2 out of 4 stars
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The Champagne Tales is a collection of short stories that only link together because each story has a reference to champagne. The champagne link was obvious in all of the tales but it consistently came in different forms, such as the story setting being a champagne vineyard or a character betting on a horse called Champagne in a race. Each story was very unique, and I didn’t feel as if there was any repetition of characters or plot lines.
One of my favourite stories in the collection was The Treasure of House LeClerc. It was a lovely, cute read with a nice message about the journey being more important than the end result. The positive feelings definitely contrasted with the tough topics in the rest of the book so I think this was needed to provide some balance. Reading Aurora Borealis Rising felt like reading an exaggerated version of Tana Mongeau and Jake Paul’s wedding, and I loved it. It made me laugh and roll my eyes numerous times at the ridiculousness of the characters. I also loved reading The Review because it was so sarcastic and funny. I can completely relate to the main character; I know almost nothing about champagne except that it’s a fancy occasion drink for us regular folk, or an everyday drink for the rich. My favourite quote from the whole book was in this story:
“For actual volume of food: one star. For consistency of champagne taste: three stars. For getting me aggressively laid by a woman who knows I just spent eighteen hundred bucks on her: seven stars”
Two stories that I found quite powerful were numbers six (Prey the Gay Away) and seven (Reach for the Stars). Aversion therapy is something I was aware of but had never read about, especially not in such a detailed way. It was a tough read but a powerful story. Reach for the Stars was similar in the sense that it wasn’t a likeable story per se but it was very interesting and covered another hard topic: abuse.
While most of the stories were either enjoyable or insightful, one that I didn’t like at all was Life in the Fast Lane. I found many elements of this story to be very problematic, including the excessive (and unnecessary) use of a racial slur and strong profanity. There was also a lot of negative stereotyping of ethic minorities, which meant that the characters didn’t feel like real people but caricatures.
Despite the majority of the tales being good, the problematic content, along with two editing mistakes, means I cannot give this book a rating higher than 2 out of 4 stars. I would still recommend people read the other stories in this collection but I cannot recommend the book as a whole while it includes Life in the Fast Lane.
The Champagne Tales
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