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Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge: A Novel Paperback – June 7, 2016
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From the Publisher
“Krueger’s enjoyable light contemporary fantasy novel will satisfy fans of bars and bartenders…the winning main characters and the occasional histories of the drinks provide plenty of fun.”—Publishers Weekly
“…one of the most fun urban fantasies that I have ever read, with a sharp, kick-ass heroine who faces demons, a pushy mom, a possibly unrequited love interest and a plot to take over the world. You know you should be reading this with a tall, cool glass of your favorite libation close at hand.” –San Diego Union Tribune
“The main character makes this book great, as the voice and insight are believable and fun. This book will appeal to a wide range of sf fans as the rest of the cast is believable and the hidden world of tremens (demonlike creatures) is great.”—Booklist
“…[Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge] also features an appealingly sharp-yet-vulnerable heroine in recent college grad Bailey Chen, an effortlessly inclusive cast of fun supporting characters, and plenty of awesome snark. But as with the best humorous fantasies, the snark never gets in the way of the book’s big, earnest heart, which it wears proudly on its (occasionally tipsy) sleeve.”—Sarah Kuhn, author of Heroine Complex
“Krueger’s human cast is quirky and diverse, and…[he] keeps the story grounded in such a way that the reader easily forgets that they are reading fantasy and starts to feel as if Bailey’s adventures could easily be their own.”—Tor.com
“Hooked immediately. . . a fresh and unique premise.”—Geeks of Doom
“For a novel that does double duty as an entertaining read AND a recipe book for your holiday cocktails, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge…is the way to go.” –Geeks of Doom
“If you are looking for a fun summer book to read while sipping a Long Island Ice Tea this is the book for you! Cocktails, magic, demons and a conspiracy fill the pages of a book which I found to be a lively read, making me laugh about a time of life (finishing school and trying to figure out what to do next) when many mistakes are made and everything is in transition and awkward…”—J.B. Dickey, owner, Seattle Mystery Bookshop
“…a fast-paced thrill ride…[w]ith shades of Buffy and Harry Dresden….when you throw in the cocktail recipes, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge may just be the quintessential summer read.”—Paper Blog
“An unexpected treat - effortlessly blending the supernatural and cocktails with the effortless skill of a master mixologist.”—Helen Marquis, bookseller at Google Play
“I was pulled in and found it hard to put this book down…I wasn't ready for this fantastic world that Paul Krueger created to be over.”—Reading is Better with Cupcakes
“With Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, Paul Krueger bursts onto the urban fantasy scene with a premise so amazing it’s a wonder no one’s done it before.”—Light speed
“This was a fun, fast-paced book. Who doesn't want to read about magical cocktails?”—Charity Park, librarian at Pope County Library System
“…magical booze, nasty demons and a whole lot of witty and quirky dialogue.” –Creatyvebooks.com
“A fun read that will be highly recommended.”—Joshua Fox, librarian at Orange County Library System
“…fast-paced, fun urban fantasy…”—Fantasy Literature
“What a very different and interesting concept!”—Penny Noble, librarian at The Hayner Public Library District
“Unique…”—Della McNamara, bookseller at Read It Again
“Excellent Story...now somebody get me a drink!”—Carolyn Harnick, librarian at Enoch Pratt Free Library
About the Author
Paul Krueger is a fantasy writer and cocktail connoisseur whose work has appeared in the Sword & Laser anthology. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Top customer reviews
The main character, Bailey Chen, was possibly the most relatable character I’ve read in quite a while: totally driven and great at school all the way through college only to graduate and have to figure out how the hell to make money in the real world. Stuck moving home to her old bedroom and getting a job at a bar thanks to an old high school friend while still trying desperately to get interviews somewhere with a dress code and dental. Replace “bar” with “receptionist” and good lord I LIVED that part of this book. I felt so so much for Bailey throughout all of that, and can I just say that if anyone deserves to stumble onto a secret society of super heroes tied to alcohol, a struggling recent college grad definitely would be it LOL.
As I said before, the magical/superpower system was fantastic here, but my fave part was all the different, delightfully diverse characters from Bailey’s Chinese American heritage, to dark-skinned, dreadlocked Mora, to trans man Bucket, to Vincent, the badass, blind older bartender with a boyfriend not much older than Bailey. It was a rich world of a book without feeling like a diversity checklist and I loved that so much, y’all.
As much as I enjoyed this book, I will say that there were two things that annoyed me a bit. First off, the romance was the only part of the book that felt forced and out of place. Honestly, the love interest was the character I cared about the least in the main group of friends, and I would have loved to see Bailey remain single and badass while she finishes figuring out who she is and settling into her bartending role, or hell, even end up with Bucket instead. I can understand where the author was coming from with the eventual romance, but it just didn’t feel satisfying for me.
The other thing that hit one of my pet peeves pretty hard was the way Bailey being legitimately uncomfortable with her high school stalker showing up and her friends basically laughing it off/thinking it wasn’t a big deal, and later even LEAVING HER ALONE AND UNCONSCIOUS WITH HIM. I get that he was supposed to be harmless as a character, but as someone who had a “harmless” stalker for a while, that just wasn’t fun to read. That was the one part of the book where my skin started to crawl and I almost put the book down. I kept reading and it was still a blast of a book, but yeah, not a great thing to be treated as a non-issue.
Overall still a fun read, probably a 4 star for me. I will definitely be on the lookout for Krueger’s next book – I just figured I’d give a little bit of a warning in case someone had some of the same issues I did.
Last Call is a fun, lighthearted read that I felt took itself just seriously enough. In between narrative chapters, we are treated to chapters of The Devil’s Water Dictionary, the guidebook our alechemists use to make the magic happen. These entries provide us with humorous world building details as well as real life cocktail recipes. I adored the premise and these chapters were a wonderful way to make that premise work.
I also, for the most part, liked the cast of main characters. It’s always refreshing to see diversity, especially when the things that make these characters unique aren’t treated like a gimmick or a big deal.
On the other hand, I did not like the romantic subplot. The romantic rival, Mona, struck me as a fascinating character, and I was more interested in her mysterious backstory than how often she was glaring daggers at Bailey. On top of that, I didn’t find the love interest, Zane, to be particularly likable any time romance was involved. He’s the classic dorky best friend who’s been in love with the protagonist, but when the going gets tough, he’s not a /good/ friend.
With all that said, I really liked the book, and I look forward to seeing more of this universe.
Obviously there's also lots of booze and demons involved :). The magic system is well fleshed out and has intuitive rules.
The one aspect that I was kinda "meh" on was Bailey's relationship with Zane. It wasn't particularly well developed (but I also mainly read romance so I like lots of relationship development :P). I also want to know more about Bucket and Mona, bc they're super cool characters.
I hope there's a sequel.
In terms of the magic system, Krueger has made the rather ingenious connection between alchemy and bartending. A lot of thought has been given to various drinks and their effects. The plot itself is rather conventional, but I found the themes - very relatable ones of finding yourself technically an adult with a degree that has not really prepared you for life - to give it a boost many similar urban fantasy books lack. I would definitely like to see a sequel.
Is it odd that I thought an urban fantasy about bartenders who protect Chicago from roving monsters was also the most realistic depiction I've read of millennial malaise? I'm not sure how Krueger did it, but he pulled it off. Well worth a read, and I hope to read more about the Alechemists in the future.