Thursday, March 31, 2016

Superweek Spotlight: Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews

Welcome to the first ever Superweek at Goldilox and the Three Weres, an entire week devoted to superheroes, supervillains, and superpowers! As part of our celebration of all things super, we're highlighting some of our favorite Super Reads that we've featured on the blog.

You all know that the ladies here at Goldilox and the Three Weres adore the husband and wife writing duo that makes up Ilona Andrews. So of course we were ecstatic when we got an Ilona Andrews book with SUPER POWERS! Burn for Me is not my favorite book of theirs but I still loved it and it set up a unique world that I want to explore more in future books.

This book has it all! I loved how the world is ruled by these magical families Houses and the powers were fascinating! I'm always up for more telekinetics, pyrokinetics, and others in literature. The characters were amazing and I instantly wanted more pages just to read more of their interactions. I could read a whole book about just the Baylor clan being together. It was a breath of fresh air to see a UF heroine with such awesome family dynamics. We need more of loving families in the genre. 

And like all Ilona Andrews books, the action started early and the plot just didn't quit. Nevada was an absolute delight and Mad Rogan was an interesting hero that I want to see more of even though I didn't like him at first. The romance is setting up to be a slow burn that gets hotter as the hero and heroine undergo some character development. I can't wait to get my hands on books two and three next year! Also, I'm excited for the upcoming cover change because this one does not represent the book at all!

For more on this book, check out this post:

Add Burn For Me on Goodreads.
Buy the book on Amazon.

Superweek Really Short Reviews: Gotham Academy, Vols. 1 and 2

Gotham Academy, Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy
(Gotham Academy #1-6)
Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher
Release: June 17, 2015
Goodreads Amazon
Welcome to Gotham Academy, the most prestigious school in Gotham City. Only the best and brightest students may enter its halls, study in its classrooms, explore its secret passages, summon its terrifying spirits...

Okay, so Gotham Academy isn't like other schools. But Olive Silverlock isn't like other students. After a mysterious incident over summer break, she's back at school with a bad case of amnesia, an even worse attitude...and an unexplained fear of bats.

Olive's supposed to show new student Maps Mizoguchi the ropes. Problem: Maps is the kid sister of Kyle, Olive's ex. Then there's the ghost haunting the campus...and the secret society conducting bizarre rituals.

Can Olive and Maps ace the biggest challenge of their lives? Or are they about to get schooled?

Collects Gotham Academy #1-6

I have several friends who have been raving about how awesome Gotham Academy is for several months now. I grew up reading all of the Batman comics and watching the old Adam West TV series with my grandfather so I've been a fan for years. After reading the trade of the first six issues, this comic series went immediately on my pull list. What I love the most about this comic series is that it breathes new life into the Batman mythos and gives us a new viewpoint in which to look at my beloved and corrupt Gotham City. This is comic is targeted towards younger readers but it has widespread appeal for readers of all ages. I loved the diversity and the focus on female characters as well as the gothic/Scooby Doo and the gang feel of the whole story line.

We are first introduced to the protagonist Olive Silverlock as she and new student Mia “Maps” Mizoguchi are waiting for a meeting with the Headmaster of Gotham Academy. Olive is directed to show Maps around the campus while avoiding the North Hall. Rumors start to circulate about how the North Hall is haunted and, of course, Olive and Maps get involved in checking it out and assemble quite the ragtag gang consisting of Olive's maybe boyfriend (and Maps's brother), the school's mean goth girl and her nice guy boyfriend, and that one guy at school who can get you anything. Maps is a major RPG nerd and is sometimes too curious for her own good. And she immediately became my favorite! I loved her so much! I actually became quite fond of the whole gang by the end of the trade and I had fun identifying some of the characters who popped up along the way. The surprise guest that appears halfway through is one of my favorite characters from the DC universe!

Gotham Academy Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy is a trade that does not disappoint and lives up to its predecessors in the Batman mythos. Karl Kerschl's manga art-style gave the comic an unique anime-esque feel and was easily the best part of the trade. It fit so well with story that features ghosts, mysterious stalkers, strange afflictions, hidden passages, and hilarious role-playing references all in one place. It is a fun story that has a little something for everyone. I highly recommend it!

  4.5 / 5 Stars

Gotham Academy, Vol. 2: Calamity
(Gotham Academy #7-12)
Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher
Release: March 22, 2016
Gotham Academy is haunted!

At the beginning of the term, Olive Silverlock returned to Gotham Academy a shadow of her former self. But thanks to her new friendships and their Detective Club sleuthing, Olive was finally starting to feel whole again.

Then, abruptly, Olive’s mother died—or, she seemed to. In the weeks after the funeral, Olive begins seeing her mother around the school. An Arkham Asylum patient with a deadly dark side, Sybil Silverlock was a powerful and complicated woman. Could her spirit be reaching out from beyond the grave? And if so, is it motherly Sybil who haunts Olive—or her deadly alter ego Calamity?

Plus, the kids hunt a werewolf on campus and Maps teams up with the Academy’s newest transfer, Damian Wayne!

Collects Gotham Academy #7-12.

Review by Rose Red:

I am so happy to say that this trade was just as good as the first volume! I loved it so much! Olive is still the main protagonist but this volume focused more on Maps! I love that she's bound and determined to figure out every secret Gotham Academy has. And I need more interactions between Maps and Damian Wayne like ASAP! I loved them together! I was also excited to see that Map's brother, Kyle, had more of a role. Unfortunately, Pomeline, Heathcliff, and Colton didn't have as much page time in this volume but what they did have, I loved.

This volume continues the story from volume one and the Detective Club encounters things from cursed pens to werewolves. I really enjoyed the different mysteries that the gang has to solve. In my opinion, the story line was more coherent and just better than in the first issues but the art is still the best part of this series beyond the excellent characters. Seriously. It's absolutely gorgeous and it fits the feel of the series perfectly. I found it interesting to learn more about Olive's family history and most importantly the truth about her mother. While I enjoyed that part of this volume, the Maps and Damien part was my favorite. I will say the cameos from established characters in the Batman universe are still on point. The writers also deserve an A+ with the literature references and I loved how the gang got involved in the school's production of Macbeth.

This comic series continues to be a breath of fresh air and I'm so excited to read more about the future adventures and shenanigans of the Detective Club! I just picked up the single issues to continue the series because I don't want to wait for the next trade.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  4.5 / 5 Stars!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Superweek TV Review: DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Welcome to the first ever Superweek at Goldilox and the Three Weres! It's an entire week devoted to superheroes, supervillains, and superpowers.

I've wanted to do some TV reviews for a while now and superhero week seemed like a good place to launch the idea. I decided to write about Legends of Tomorrow because I have thoughts. Lots of thoughts, actually. And because I feel like now, at the halfway point in the season (8 of 16 episodes have aired,) the show might actually be on the right track. Feel free to disagree in the comments.


 In case anyone isn't familiar, Legends of Tomorrow is about Rip Hunter, a Time Master from 2166 who collects characters from Arrow and The Flash to travel through time and fight Vandal Savage, an immortal bent on world domination. 

I almost stopped watching the show after the first two episodes. I think the only thing that saved it is that I didn't want to watch anything else that was on at the same time. Those early episodes were kind of a mess. They tried to to do too much at once, probably to give each of the nine characters equal screen time, which led to too many story lines in each show. 

If only one character had an emotional crisis each episode, it probably would have been fine. And over the course of a few shows, the screen time would balance out. Killing off some of the characters (I'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum) has at least cut down on the number of balls in the air, though I think it looks like they realized the cast was too big and had to backtrack. The writers really should have been able to balance the story lines before that.

It also bothers me how much time the show has spent in the 20th century U.S. Why is that the most logical place to find a 4000 year old Egyptian? Even the episodes set in Russia (eps. 4 and 5) had a decidedly American point of view. Everything is focused on the Cold War, without giving us any sense of what it was like to be in Russia in that time. It just feels like lazy script-writing to me. The writers didn't want to do a lot of research so they just wrote about what they knew. But there's so much potential in this premise!

I'm not arguing for overt history lessons in a superhero show, but subtle ones would be nice. The way episode 8 "Night of the Hawk" addresses racism, sexism and anti-LGBT sentiment in the 50's comes close, but it gives the impression that those issues are specific to that time. The characters act like they've never seen anything similar in their 21st century lives. I think that trivializes the issues, equating them to the sets and costumes as just aspects of the 50's. The show missed an opportunity to make a meaningful statement.

So why did I say the show might be on the right track? Mostly because of episode 6 "Star City 2046," which guest starred Stephen Amell as a disillusioned, 60 year old Oliver Queen. That episode is pretty much everything I wanted the show to be from the beginning. It tells a compelling story, debates the implications of changing time, and leaves that time having set history back on track as much as it could. 

I'm also hopeful because of episode 7 "Marooned" which features time-traveling pirates and tells Rip Hunter's backstory, and lots of Star Trek jokes. The characters also deal with new emotional issues, rather than rehashing old ones like they did in earlier episodes. The fact that the two best-written episodes take place in the future supports my assertion that no one wants to do historical research. But that episode is the first in which Hunter is at all likable, and it features lots of Snart and Sarah moments, and I love the two of them together. 

Those two episodes give me hope that the writers might have worked the kinks out now. One thing the show has had from the beginning are great action scenes, so if it starts to tell better stories, I'll be on board. Time travel just creates so many possibilities! I've also read that the next season might have an entirely new cast, so I'm curious about how many more deaths are in the works in the second half of the season. (If they could just kill off Ray Palmer, I'd be happy with that. Even on Arrow, I couldn't stand what a dork he is!) 

Have you seen the show?
What did you think?

Have you seen our Superweek Super Hero giveaway? Check it out here.

Waiting on Wednesday (76)

Welcome to the first ever Superweek at Goldilox and the Three Weres, an entire week devoted to superheroes, supervillains, and superpowers. Even our Waiting on Wednesday pick is getting in on the super action.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating. Here's this week's WoW pick:

I was a big fan of Sierra Dean's Secret McQueen series so I'm excited to see her take on superheroes. I've read that We Don't Need Another Hero was inspired in part by Agent Carter, though I can't tell from the blurb if it's set in that time period as well. Either way, I'm on board with the idea of the curmudgeonly former hero and the younger heroine with fire-y powers.

29524311We Don't Need Another Hero
Sierra Dean
Release: April 5, 2016
Goodreads Amazon
She'll Light His Fire. 

The city of Gold Bay once had a great champion in local superhero Apollo. But after his brutal defeat at the hands of The Scourge, the citizens have been left to the villainous whims of a madman. 

When young reporter Rebecca “Bex” Beckett returns home to care for her sick father, the last thing she expects is his request that she play caretaker to his shut-in employer, Camden Nash. Cam is not the same man Bex remembers from ten years earlier. Once a pinnacle of society, he is now a broken shell of his former self. Yet something is simmering between them. 

As Bex becomes interested in the elusive mayor of Gold Bay, Simon Nerezza, Cam must rally to become the hero he once was in order to protect Bex from Nerezza’s dark past. But Bex is no damsel in distress. She has a trick or two up her own sleeve, and things in the city on the bay around about to get super hot. 

Contains a grumpy has-been hero, a fiery heroine who is too hot to handle, and a villain who’d love nothing more than to have them both in the palm of his hand. 

What book are you waiting on?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Superweek Spotlight: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Welcome to the first ever Superweek at Goldilox and the Three Weres, an entire week devoted to superheroes, supervillains, and superpowers! As part of our celebration of all things super, we're highlighting some of our favorite Super Reads that we've featured on the blog.

Vicious is not your normal superhero story. In fact, it's more of a antihero story. It really explores the question about what kind of person you would become if you suddenly develop special abilities. It tells the tale of how two friends, Victor and Eli, become enemies after they develop superhero powers through a pursuit of science and knowledge. The book opens ten years after these experiments and follows a non-linear timeline through flashbacks that are so perfectly done that we can see how their pursuit of power progresses until they are no longer friends but archnemeses attempting to kill one another.

The characters are so complexly fantastic and messed up that you'll end up loving and hating them at the same time. In my mind, Victor and Eli are like Tony Stark and Bruce Banner from The Avengers but if they had had a falling out. They are the kind of friends that are so similar yet opposite in so many ways. They had me hooked from the first page. The truly great thing about this novel is that it makes you think. It makes you wonder about special abilities and what lengths humans would go to become ExtraOrdinary. There's a reason it's one of my favorite books of all-time.

For more on this book, check out this post:

Add Vicious on Goodreads.
Buy the book on Amazon.

Superweek Review: Fallout by Gwenda Bond

Welcome to the first ever Superweek at Goldilox and the Three Weres, an entire week devoted to superheroes, supervillains and superpowers.

(Lois Lane #1)
Gwenda Bond
Release: May 1, 2015
Goodreads Amazon
Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over—and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight. As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy.
We've seen a lot of superhero comics reimagined on TV recently, but Fallout is one of the first book adaptations I've seen. What interested me was that it's not a retelling of Superman's story, at least not primarily. That's something we've seen before. Instead, Lois Lane takes center stage and it turns out she's a smart, sassy heroine who doesn't need any superpowers to save the day.

On her first day at her new school, Lois overhears a girl complaining to the principal about being harassed by a group of students. When the principal refuses to help, Lois has her first news story. In order to investigate, she has to enter the virtual reality world of the game where the harassment began. The holoset game technology is something that could exist in the near future, but adds a little bit of sci-fi to the story. What Lois discovers is much more than bullying, and she'll need help from all of her friends to uncover the truth. I really liked the supporting cast, Lois's co-workers at the Daily Scoop. I think they're all new characters, though I keep looking for more familiar ones.

Fallout actually feels a lot like the Supergirl TV show to me. Not just because some of the characters overlap, but because it has a similar tone. Teen Lois shares some of Kara's youthful naivety, as well as her desire to help others even when it's not in her own best interest. Her tenacity as a journalist also reminds me of Cat Grant, which is funny since the show makes her Cat's nemesis.

It's actually Supergirl's cousin who appears in the book though. Bond's portrayal of Clark Kent, who is never named, is really interesting to me. One night, driving through Kansas, Lois spotted something unusual in a field. She got out of the car with her father to investigate and they were nearly crushed by falling rocks. As they fled, she thought she thought she saw someone flying. Later, Lois posted about her experience on an X-Files type message board, which is where she met SmallvilleGuy. He confirmed her story, but can't tell her his real name even though the two have become friends online.

I had to keep reminding myself that he'll grow up to be Superman and he's a good guy, which he seems to be since he helps Lois with her research. But it bothered me a little bit that Lois had so much faith in SmallvilleGuy when she was investigating stalking and cyber-bullying. I'm curious about how far the characters' relationship will develop in this series. Will Clark move to Metropolis to be with Lois? It's potentially an interesting twist on their story.

I like the way Lois, a character who first appeared more than fifty years ago, adapts so well to the twenty-first century. I've read a little bit about her history recently and it seems like Lois has been a victim of misogynistic times, and perhaps a misogynistic industry, for a long time. I think she deserves to be remembered as this determined young woman Gwenda Bond created and not just as Superman's girlfriend. I'm looking forward to more adventures with this updated Lois.

Recommended for fans of: online gaming, re-tellings, Supergirl on CBS


Monday, March 28, 2016

Superweek Spotlight: The Disillusionists Series by Carolyn Crane

Welcome to the first ever Superweek at Goldilox and the Three Weres, an entire week devoted to superheroes, supervillains, and superpowers! As part of our celebration of all things super, we're highlighting some of our favorite Super Reads that we've featured on the blog.

Mind Games (The Disillusionists, #1)Double Cross (The Disillusionists Trilogy, #2)Head Rush (The Disillusionists, #3)

Carolyn Crane's Disillusionist series features Justine Jones, a hypochondriac who learns to project her fears into other people's minds after she meets the mysterious Packard and his team of Highcaps, people with heightened mental abilities. Packard's Z-team "zings" criminals with their powers, disillusioning them to the point of mental breakdown and hopefully mending their criminal ways.

The characters in this series are fascinating and complex. The plot is twisty and full of surprises. And it has all of the sexy times you'd expect from Carolyn Crane. The Disillusionists are some of our all-time favorite superpowered characters.

For more on this series, check out these posts:
Read This F-ing Book: Disillusionist Trilogy
Goldilox's review of Mind Games
Goldilox's review of Head Rush

Add The Disillusionist series on Goodreads
Buy the series on Amazon

Superweek Show Me Yours and Giveaway

Welcome to the first ever Superweek at Goldilox and the Three Weres, an entire week devoted to superheroes, supervillains and superpowers.

We're kicking things off with a special edition of Show Me Yours and a Super Giveaway!

Normally, for Show Me Yours one of our bloggers describes a specific type of book we'd like to read and the others make recommendations. But the idea for Superweek came when I was listing all the books in my TBR pile and realized that I already own a lot of books about superheroes. So I don't exactly need book recommendations. Instead, this month we're going to tell you about some of our favorite superheroes, who may or may not be from a book, and we'd like you to share yours in the comments.

Show Me Your . . . Superheroes

A lot of people probably have Batman on their minds right now since the Batman vs. Superman movie was just released last weekend. But Batman has always been my favorite superhero. I think it's because I have a thing for gadgets. Between his utility belt and the Batmobile, Batman always has the best toys.

Batman the Animated Series logo.jpg

My favorite incarnation is the animated series from the 90's. Kevin Conroy will always Batman to me no matter how many other actors portray him. (Part of the reason I also liked the futuristic Batman Beyond was that Conroy reprized his role as the senior caped crusader.) Another thing that makes this version of Batman my favorite is that he had a great nemesis. Mark Hamill is a fabulous Joker. I loved how dark the show was, especially for an animated show, and how stylized. It felt kind of revolutionary for a cartoon at the time. 

I'm going to be weird and pick a whole team of superheroes as my favorite because there is no way I can pick just one member of the X-Men as a favorite. Although, Gambit is high up there on my list. I was an X-Men junkie when I was a kid. I watched the animated series religiously and read all of the comics I could get my hands on. I was in love! These were superheroes that were outcasts of society but they didn't let that stop them from being good or fighting the others of their kind who weren't. I spent countless hours on the playground with my friend pretending that we were the X-Men. The best part was that there were enough characters of both genders that everyone could play whichever character they wanted. One of my girlfriends could play Jubilee, while one of my guyfriends played Storm, and I could pretend to be Gambit or Rogue depending on the day to my hearts content.

When I heard they were coming out with movies, I was ecstatic! My childhood obsession was becoming a movie franchise. I went to the midnight showing of the first one and was so excited that I almost vibrated out of my seat. I will admit that I have loved each and every X-Men movie that has come out whether it's been well-received or not. Well, except for The Wolverine because I haven't seen that one yet. These movies are my crack and I will go see every single one they come out with. Although, I wish they would back off on the Jean Grey plots. I love her but they need to focus on some of the other mutants. I'm so excited for X-Men: Apocalypse because we're finally FINALLY going to get to see Jubilee in the films! When am I going to get to see more of Gambit, his brief screen time in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was not nearly enough for me. I'll just have to content myself with going back and rereading my X-Men comics.

To celebrate Superweek, we've got a superhero prize pack that includes a Batman notepad, pens and bookmarks, Supergirl socks, a Superman key chain and PEZ dispenser, Green Lantern sticky notes, and a copy of Jinx by Jennifer Estep.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Who are your favorite superheroes?

If you have a genre or topic you'd like to see in a Show Me Yours post, let us know in the comments or send us a Facebook message or email

Friday, March 25, 2016

Weres Wanna Know: Do you hunt for Easter Eggs in books?

Weres Wanna Know is a new discussion feature where we share a topic that's been on our minds and invite you to share your thoughts as well.

Since Easter is coming up this weekend, I've been thinking about Easter Eggs. If I've lost you already, Easter Eggs are hidden references or inside jokes, usually in movies, left by the creators for super fans to find.

 I first heard the term (many years ago) used to describe hidden extras on a DVD that you had to click on something other than the main menu to find. But according to Urban Dictionary, the term goes back even further, to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where the characters held an Easter Egg Hunt but didn't find all the eggs. If you look closely, you can see Easter Eggs in random places throughout the movie.

The best known examples are probably in Marvel movies, all of which are full of references to other films that you might not catch on the first viewing. Things like Howard the Duck in the Collector's menagerie in Guardians of the Galaxy, or Bob from Hydra in Deadpool. But I'm starting to find them more often in books too.

For example, in Molly Harper's Jane Jameson series, Jane ships some books on werewolf dating to a customer in Alaska. Then one of the characters in her Naked Werewolf series receives a package from Half Moon Hollow. 

Jennifer Estep's books are full of Easter Eggs, probably because she's a big fan of those superhero movies that made them popular. In Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2), they serve barbecue from The Pork Pit, the restaurant from her Elemental Assassin series. In that series, Finnegan Lane's suits are designed by Fiona Fine, a character from her Bigtime series. And the couple Gin Blanco meets in the opening of Bitter Bite honeymooned in Cloudburst Falls where the Black Blade series is set.

I've even started my own Easter Egg hunt in the Elemental Assassin series. I'm calling it the "name drop game." In each book, Estep mentions the title at least once. But last year I noticed that she also mentions the titles of other books in the series, so I started to look for them as I read. Biter Bite has three "bitter bites," two "poison promises," and eight "the Spiders." (I only count that last one when Gin refers to herself in the third person.) 

I think the term Easter Egg has become so popular that it's sometimes misused. Easter Eggs are supposed to be hidden references that not everyone will get. I saw someone on Twitter  refer to the Super Bowl Coke commercial featuring Ant Man and the Hulk as an Easter Egg, but there's nothing hidden about it. There could, however, be Easter Eggs in it. Though I didn't catch any when I re-watched it.

One that I missed until I saw people talking about it on social media is the appearance of George and Jack from Ilona Andrews' Edge series in Clean Sweep. Their names aren't used and they're all grown up, but I had a feeling I should know who they were and it just didn't click. That's what an Easter Egg is supposed to be and why it's so much fun to look for them.

Do you look for Easter Eggs in books?
What are some you've found?

If you have a topic you'd like to see discussed in a Weres Wanna Know post, let us know in the comments, send us a Facebook message, or email

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Really Short Reviews: Select Tor.Com Novellas

I have a special Really Short Reviews post today! I've been a fan of's short fiction for a while now and they've recently started publishing novella length stories ranging in length from 75 to 225 pages. I've been enjoying these short books almost as much as the short stories they post on their website! I got a couple of the novellas for review from Netgalley and thought that a Really Short Reviews post would be the best way to review them. What I've loved the most about these novellas so far is how different they are from each other! They've been so much fun to read! Out of the three I'm reviewing today, I really enjoyed two and thought the other one was pretty meh. Let's get on to the reviews, shall we?

The Devil You Know
K. J. Parker
Release: March 1, 2016
Goodreads Amazon
The greatest philosopher of all time is offering to sell his soul to the Devil. All he wants is twenty more years to complete his life’s work. After that, he really doesn’t care.

But the assistant demon assigned to the case has his suspicions, because the philosopher is Saloninus–the greatest philosopher, yes, but also the greatest liar, trickster and cheat the world has yet known; the sort of man even the Father of Lies can’t trust.

He’s almost certainly up to something; but what?

Review by Rose Red:

I've loved reading books with Faustian deals for years now and this novella was a great addition to the genre! Saloninus, a philosopher who sells his soul to the devil via one of the devil's minions for twenty more years to continue his life's work. The demon in charge of the philosopher's deal is a great admirer of his work and has been granting his every wish thinks Saloninus is up to something. Soon the demon gets paranoid and believes that Saloninus is trying to find a loophole out of the contract. How could he be so happy with selling his soul for a bit of gold and his youth back?

The author explores the concept about what is evil and how to identify evil and I found it fascinating and full of great one-liners. I called the ending early on but the philosophical questions about morality kept me reading. The trip to the end was fun, concise, and entertaining with definite layers that will have me thinking about them for a while. I have to admit towards the end I was rooting for the devil. Saloninus is kind of a sneaky guy. This novella was well-written and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It made for a fast and fun read. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

3.5 / 5 Stars

The Ballad of Black Tom
Victor LaValle
Release: February 16, 2016
Goodreads Amazon
People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn't there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father's head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?

Review by Rose Red:

I've had several friends rave to me about this novella and it convinced me to pick it up. And I'm so glad I did! It was a brilliant piece of storytelling like they said it was! I have a love-hate relationship with Lovecraftian stories. I enjoy the world of eldritch horrors that Lovecraft created but I dislike most of his writings. I definitely prefer to read stories that have been inspired by Lovecraft over the stories he actually wrote himself.

Victor LaValle took The Horror of Red Hook, one of my most disliked Lovecraft stories, and turned it on its head into an essay on racism, murder, and police brutality. I found it compelling how he explored real life horrors in the world of magic and supernatural evil. I couldn't put it down until there were no more pages to read. The 1920s alternate history setting lent itself to the narrative and the end result was a story that deals with the human capacity for evil and how that evil can exist just beneath the thin veneer of "civilized society". It was glorious tension-filled weirdness that scared the pants off of me by the end. I would highly recommend picking it up if you're looking for a compelling horror story to read.

4 / 5 Stars

Pieces of Hate
(Assassin #1-2)
Tim Lebbon
Release: March 15, 2016
Goodreads Amazon
During the Dark Ages, a thing named Temple slaughtered Gabriel's family. A man with snake eyes charged him to pursue the assassin wherever he may strike next, and destroy him. Gabriel never believed he’d still be following Temple almost a thousand years later.

Because Temple may be a demon, the man with snake eyes cursed Gabriel with a life long enough to hunt him down. Now he has picked up Temple's scent again. The Caribbean sea is awash with pirate blood, and in such turmoil the outcome of any fight is far from certain.

Free bonus novelette:

Dead Man’s Hand

In the wilderness of the American West, the assassin is set to strike again. Despite his centuries-long curse, Gabriel is still but a man, scarred and bitter. The town of Deadwood has seen many such men... though it’s never seen anything quite like the half-demon known as Temple.

Review by Rose Red:

Pieces of Hate is actually the collection of the first two stories in Tim Lebbon's Assassin series and out of the novellas I've read so far from, this one is my least favorite. The novelette Dead Man's Hand is a western whereas the second part, Pieces of Hate, is a Caribbean pirate story. The promise of pirates is what drew me to this novella but I couldn’t get into either of the stories. They were rather well written and the worldbuilding was good. It's brutal and dirty and very realistic, but the revenge plot wasn't compelling to me even though I understand why he wants it. I couldn't connect to Gabriel and his fight against Temple. Both stories felt like weirdly paced action scenes and just wasn't my cup of tea. While this didn't work for me, I think this one will appeal more to others. Unfortunately, I'm not interested enough to read the next one.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  2/ 5 Stars

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