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Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge – Paul Krueger

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge – Paul KruegerTitle: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
Publishing Info: June 7, 201 by Quirk Books
Genres: Adult, New Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 23, 2016

A sharp and funny urban fantasy for “new adults” about a secret society of bartenders who fight monsters with alcohol fueled magic.
College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.

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I immediately jumped on the chance to read LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE after seeing it in Shelf Awareness and at BEA 2016. Quirk Books asked me to be a part of the blog tour and with a description that calls it “Harry Potter for adults,” naturally I couldn’t refuse. I was also anxious to check out the new adult/adult feel of the book and watch magic and mixology collide!

What I loved the most about this book was the magic of mixology. There’s a magical underground where bartenders are the keepers of the paranormal and mixing just the perfect drink provides them with special powers in the form of some sort of physical or mental strength. I really, really loved this concept because it was something that I’ve truly never seen before. I loved the unique magical system and how there was a real structure for each power that the drink endowed. The type of liquor determined whether an ability was mental or physical and the various ingredients affected, enhanced, or shaped that overall idea. It was so neat and really well done! The only thing was that it was so well structured that I would loved to have had more details on each drink like maybe some sort of chart, or even just spent more time really getting into what each cocktail did. Most of them were mentioned as the characters were using them but I would have loved a little lesson within the book breaking things down even more. It’s the fantasy-nerd and school-nerd in me! If there happened to be a sequel (which I’d totally read), I’d love for even more detail!

I really enjoyed the tone of the book as well! It was quite entertaining and maintained a lighter tone with characters who made bad jokes, silly puns, fun atmosphere, and a just a really great cast. The terrors were dark but the feeling was light and I really love that sort of feel in an urban fantasy sort of setting. The book wasn’t terribly long but it was easy reading that also made it breeze by!

I think overall, LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE could have used a little “more” — a little more background, a little more detail, a little more plot, a little more romance — but despite that, I really did enjoy it! It was still a solid read but if there’s ever a sequel for some random reason, I’d love to see more development come in book two. I guess that means I just have to check out future works from Paul Krueger, which I am definitely interested in doing! 
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mixology. I’m not a cocktail girl (I’m a beer girl)  but I loved the involvement of alcohol as a magical element in this book. It was just so much fun and so original!
Left Me Wanting More: Magical details. When it comes down to it, I just really wanted more details on the magic system. I’m nerdy like that and would have loved some sort of chart or a more detailed lesson in the book because it was so cool and I thought it totally deserved some more page time!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This book was just a lot of fun and if you’re up for something not YA and pretty original, you should really check this one out!

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BOOKS LIKE LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

WHITE CAT    HOLD ME CLOSER NECROMANCER

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 3, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Audible, Amazon
Genres: New Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 25, 2016
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

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** Warning: This is NOT a spoiler-free review like I usually write. I won’t give away twists from the very end but I WILL be discussing things that happened throughout the beginning and middle of the book! **

I was pleasantly surprised when I read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES last year because going into it, I knew it was a story with a strong fae presence. By this point in time in my reading career, I wasn’t new to fantasy but I was still a bit picky about what sort of fantasy I liked and fae did not fall into that category of selected themes… But knowing how much I loved Sarah’s Throne of Glass series and the fae presence there, I dove into ACOTAR and loved it! It had a bit of a BREAKING DAWN ending so I wasn’t quite sure where the second book would go but naturally I had very, very high hopes for it since I hadn’t been let down by a Maas book yet!

I won’t sugar coat it — it actually took me a really long time to get into the swing of this book. I was enjoying the plot but the beginning felt so incredibly dramatic and I just didn’t feel like things were moving forward. There was a lot of time spent on Feyre’s PTSD from her time Under the Mountain and I absolutely understand and don’t think that her traumatic experience should be just brushed over. I do felt like there was too much time dwelling on it though. ACOMAF isn’t a short book and I think some pages could have been saved and still gotten the point across throughout a few sections in the beginning. If the book were more character-based instead of plot-driven, it might have been more appropriate but the plot really seemed to suffer because of this and this isn’t the first time I felt this way in a Maas book either. I understand that these characters have gone through something that truly does change them but I felt like I was reading about totally different characters when I started ACOMAF. Feyre and Tamlin were just not themselves and I think had ACOTAR ended with a bit more of this shadow or if it had slowly creeped in throughout ACOMAF, it wouldn’t have been as much of a surprise. I just really felt like I was thrown into a totally new environment and it was really hard for me to adjust to, especially since I had read ACOTAR over a year before I got to start ACOMAF.

I continued to have issues with Feyre throughout the book. I don’t know why but she was just really bothering me. Instead of snarky, witty comebacks, I felt like everything with her was taken as an insult and she was constantly being defensive and kind of hated everyone. It was really hard to watch her interact with characters and I started to latch onto new (or new-to-the-spotlight) characters like Rhysand and his gang. It did make me extra thankful for Rhys coming onto the scene and shaking things up, though! The interactions between Feyre and Tamlin were just unbearable and painful to read. Then I ended up on the flip side where although I didn’t want Feyre and Tamlin to still be together, I also felt really weird that Tamlin was almost totally absent from this book. He was there in the beginning and I won’t speak of the ending but this book was straight up about Feyre and Rhysand and it almost felt like a waste that we spent all that time building up a romance between Feyre and Tamlin in ACOTAR to have it totally change. I absolutely love where it went but it’s confusing to understand why the Feyre/Tamlin romance was so important and developed in ACOTAR and why Rhysand wasn’t more of a main character throughout that courtship to really get his foot even more in the door.

I’ve followed the romances in Sarah J. Maas’ books quite well, I think, considering they’re not always simple and straightforward. I know some people who have issues with love triangles or already have their OTPs with the first love interest really have trouble moving with the characters as they fall out of love or move from one interest to realize that their true match is someone else and I feel like I’ve followed along with that fairly easily. I can see where people feel like the romance in ACOMAF is a love triangle and I guess to a certain extent it is, but Feyre also does not have interest in both men at the same time. It is quite complicated though so if you’re sensitive about triangles, you almost definitely won’t like the romance.

I personally loved the development of Rhysand as a love interest, especially once Feyre really started to struggle with Tamlin. I found it telling that at the hardest points in their lives, Feyre and Tamlin drifted apart and just couldn’t find a way to even communicate instead of being able to rely on one another and get through a hard time together. That doesn’t always mean that you shouldn’t be with someone but in the case of story telling, it’s a pretty big sign that the main character isn’t where they should be. I’ve heard this complaint from other Maas readers but this is the first of her books where I really felt like the romance started to take over the book. While I did love the new Rhysand/Feyre development, I felt like there was a lot of back and forth between them before anything major (finally) happened and that could have been cut down to some more meaningful interactions instead of repetitive, similar situations that happened more than a few times throughout the course of the story. Their romance actually is a very important part of the plot so it’s not like I wanted it to be downplayed but I just felt like so many points of the large general story were pushed aside to develop the romantic moments and it started to turn more romance story than epic fantasy — and yes, there are some cheesy romance book-worthy moments. Let’s just say this is NOT A YOUNG ADULT BOOK, friends. There are some very explicit scenes so if you have teens or are directing/teaching teens who are reading this series, you may not want to put this book directly into their hands. (Not that I’m saying censor them but. Ya know. Read it first so you know what you’re giving them.)

The sections where the plot progressed were really quite delightful. Sarah J. Maas is still a master at layering stories and it’s so interesting to see how much of a previous book comes back in a different light in a subsequent book. There were so many moments that the reader is able to recognize from ACOMAF and see from a different character’s perspective or reassess it with more information and it makes the story that much deeper! Once things started to really take off around halfway through and a little thereafter, the book was simply addicting and I couldn’t wait to see where the entire plot of the series was going! Sarah really does have an amazing ability to craft an overall series arc and it’s so fun to watch that develop. The ending positively floored me and it was hard to remember why I had been so frustrated for a while throughout earlier sections of the book. So many things were revealed, actions taken, and trusts betrayed that I just really didn’t know what was coming. The twists and surprises were epic and once again, I was left in utter anticipation of the next book!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Performance: Very good! I might not seek out more narrations from her but I did like her narrator of ACOMAF.

Jennifer Ikeda was a great narrator for Feyre! I think her demeanor really worked well with the character (or she adapted her demeanor very well to Feyre’s tone) and she was great with the quips and sass and rudeness. There were times I wasn’t totally into her narration but overall she was very good. I’m not sure if I’d seek her out but if there was another book I wanted to listen to, I’d definitely listen to her again.
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Feyre // Character obsessions: Freedom, Rhysand, independence.
Feyre was just so hard to get along with throughout the beginning of the book. I remember significantly noting that I liked how she was strong and fierce but her character did NOT feel like Celaena from Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Once Feyre started to heal and move past her PTSD, she was understandably hardened from it but then she absolutely started to feel like the same character as Celaena and I was a bit disappointed. That essence that made her feel different was gone and I loved the badassery but and took that over the weird, rough Feyre that I couldn’t get a hold on.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New Adult non-contemporary. Most of the New Adult books I read (when I do read them) are of the contemporary romance variety due to that being the main market for NA. It’s interesting to read New Adult as a fantasy! I guess it’s not really that much different than YA or Adult fantasy but it feels so much different when actually classifying it as such!
Left Me Wanting More: Focus on the plot. I’ll tell ya. I was really missing the plot in the beginning. The beginning and middle were quite character-focused which I don’t have an issue with… when I’m not expecting the book to be plot-driven. It really took me a while to adjust.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

The ending was just fantastic and really kind of made up for the rocky times I had in the beginning. If we have similar reading tastes, just beware of possibly having the same issues here!

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BOOKS LIKE A COURT OF MIST AND FURY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE WINNER'S KISS    shadow and bone

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 5, 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 25, 2014
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

     When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
    As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
.

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2014 was the year I became a Sarah J. Maas fan. Yes, I was a bit late to the game but I devoured the first three books in her debut Throne of Glass series and that made me even more excited for her new series releasing in the spring of 2015, A Court of Thorns and Roses. Thankfully, I got to read the first book in the series (of the same name) early. VERY early. In December, in fact, which I’m almost positive is the earliest I’ve ever read a book before it was published but I just knew I had to read it as soon as possible and I was definitely not wrong about this! A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES is a book you will want to read as soon as you can get your hands on it because it certainly did not disappoint!

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES is described as “a blending of Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore” and that’s a pretty accurate description — but what I loved the most about the book is that the Beauty and the Beast hints are very subtle. There are moments that definitely reminded me of the fairy tale (and even other fairy tales as well) but ACOTAR was very much its own story. Blending is absolutely the perfect word. It’s not a retelling and I suppose it could be described as a loose adaptation or interpretation but ACOTAR is absolutely unique, thrilling, and  mysterious.

For those of you who have known me for a long time, you know I NEVER used to like faerie stories. In fact, I actively avoided them, convinced faeries were just one thing I would never get along with as far as my fiction went but Sarah J. Maas not only made me excited about picking up a book about fae but absolutely had me falling in love with it. I think for me, part of the reason why it stuck was that Feyre — the heroine of the book — was not fae herself. After crossing the High Fae that rule the lands to the north, she avoids punishment by death by going to live with with the Prince of the Spring Court (see the subtle Beauty and the Beast feel there?) and the readers along with Feyre discover the mysteries and politics of the fae little by little. I really feel like the human aspect really kept me linked to the story whereas if there had been no human characters and only fae, I might not have had the same reaction.

The characters in this book were just phenomenal and the dynamic between each and every one of them was fantastic. Each character is so carefully crafted and it was fascinating to see just how entwined all of their stories were. I loved watching those connections unfold and how each new piece of the puzzle affected the friendships and relationships between each character and Feyre as well as amongst the rest of the cast. Each relationship is utterly unique, special, and important and these characters really just brought the book to life.

The overall plot of the book was just wonderful as well. The action picked up and slowed down at just the right times. There was plenty of time for world building while we were learning about characters and even throughout action scenes. Sarah J. Maas is a master at layering plots and outlining an overall series (as I’ve learned from her Throne of Glass series which is only on book three out of six and I’m already incredibly impressed) so with what I’ve already learned from one volume of A Court of Thorns and Roses, I’m already highly anticipating what else we will get to learn and what else will be built upon the things we’ve learned from the first book.

Every reveal feels perfectly timed. Every action scene feels perfectly choreographed. Every character feels utterly real. The romance aspects just made me melt and the struggle felt REAL. The forbidden romance aspect really heats things up and also brings tension levels too an all-time high. It stressed me out but also those moments where things finally fall into place — even if only for a second — give you just the best feeling in the world.

I just love how Sarah’s writing grows with each book she writes and I look forward to reading every single one of her works in the future. A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES was absolutely delightful to read (agony and all) and I’m so glad I didn’t wait as long as I had to start Throne of Glass. I won’t make that mistake any more! This book deserves all of the praise and hype that it’s getting and I think it appeals to a wide range of readers — from YA to adult, fantasy to romance — A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES really has it all.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

A Court of Thorns and Roses updates

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Feyre // Character Obsessions: Her family, her vow, duty, love, freedom.
Feyre is another fantastically strong character from Sarah J. Maas and it’s wonderful to see the same confidence and strength that Celaena possesses but to be able to see the two heroines from each series as totally separate characters. I feel like too often it’s easy to compare characters from different series when they possess some of the same traits, but Feyre was definitely not Celaena 2.0 — she definitely had the strength and attitude to rival Celaena but she always felt 100% unique.
Lucien // Character Obsessions: Friendship, loyalty, bravery, passion.
I know that Tamlin is the main interest here but I absolutely LOVED Lucien. Tamlin was definitely a bit more broody and serious (which don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed) but I immediately latched on to Lucien’s snark and attitude. He was SO much fun and I loved how protective he was of Tamlin too. It was totally a great bromance between these two men and I really, really loved their friendship. I also loved Lucien’s character development throughout the book and how his interactions with each character evolved. Gah. I just loved him.
Rhysand // Character Obsessions: Amarantha, the Night Court, tricks, secrets.
Okay, Rhysand HAS to be mentioned because I actually kind of loved him too. I definitely had a love/hate relationship with him… except for that fact that I didn’t really hate him and actually loved him. But you WANT to kind of hate him. He’s a very complicated and complex character and along with Rhysand himself toying with Feyre, the pondering about his character and his actual place in the story sort of messes with you too. There was just something about him that was so appealing but also kind of made you want to hate him… So naturally I loved the conflict!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Faeries. I am NOT a fae person like at all… But I just totally click with Sarah’s stories and actually get EXCITED for books about faeries and THAT is something pretty magical.
Left Me Wanting More: X factor. Okay, I don’t even know what that means. But I don’t know how else to describe it! I LOVED everything about this book but there was just a teeny tiny bit of something that wasn’t quite five stars but it was honestly 4.5 stars to 4.75!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

This is definitely a book and series that you want to start! I absolutely loved it and I cannot wait to read more of this series. I’m so impressed by Sarah J. Maas’ writing and I am totally a big, big fan. Definitely an auto-buy author for me!

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BOOKS LIKE A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        SHADOW AND BONE   daughter of smoke and bone