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“The best way to keep a secret is to make sure no one knows you’re keeping one.”
Last call at the Nightshade Lounge is a debut, ownvoices story, staring an Asian main character, who is forced to move back to her hometown after graduating college, and is in search for work, with or without her degree’s help. Her high school friend offers her a job as a bar hand, but she soon discovers an underground network comprised of magical cocktails made by bartenders who also keep the streets of Chicago safe from hidden monsters. And, friends, I really enjoyed this unique tale and captivating story.
I feel like I did enjoy this one more than most of the people I buddy read it with, but I was completely enthralled each time I went to pick this book up. I thought it was witty, and smart, and funny, and such a good balance of those three things.
And I loved the diverse cast! Bailey is a Chinese-American ivy league graduate. But this story also gives the reader a side character who is blind, a trans side character, Asian and Black side characters, and a sapphic side relationship. I really appreciated the author’s depiction of Bailey’s Asian family, too, because it was pretty relatable.
I also really loved how this was a New Adult novel, and it shows how badly we need stories in this age bracket, instead of just classifying college romances as them. And I loved how Bailey graduated college and then came back home to live with her parents while looking for a job with her degree, because that is such a reality for so many, but we are seriously lacking books with that representation. Coming back to your hometown after living and graduating in your college town for four(+) years is truly an experience that I think so many can relate to, and I think Bailey’s situation will truly resonate with so many. I mean, besides the whole magical cocktail bars and all that.
“Booze is universal, it brings people together, and a lot of times it results in the creation of more people. What could be more magical than something that does all that?”
Overall, I really did enjoy this and I can’t wait to see what Paul Krueger does next. Especially because his next book, Steel Crow Saga, looks like everything I’ve ever wanted in this life and the next. This was a short and unique tale that put a smile on my face throughout, and I’m so happy that I was able to read it. Also, the magical cocktail recipes throughout? I’m on a quest to make them all now.
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Content and Trigger Warnings for alcohol consumption, grey area cheating, and for racism (assuming all Asian cultures are the same, and this is always challenged).
This was the March pick for the Dragons and Tea Book Club! 🐉☕