Friday, December 31, 2010

My Favorite Books Of 2010!

The year is almost over and even though Life hasn't allowed me time to blog and review as I should (an issue I'm rectifying in January), I didn't want 2010 to end without one last post to cap off my first year of blogging and reviewing.  So hear is my list of my Top 10 Favorite reads of the year! 

I didn't want to call it a "Best Of..." since some of the books weren't published in 2010 but I still think that these books should be sought out by you and enjoyed, as I think that they are all well worth your time.  If some names are unfamiliar to you but my reviews pique your interest, please support these authors and check out these and their other works.  You won't be sorry!

So in no paticular order and without further ado...My Favorite Books Of 2010!

Sea, Swallow Me by Craig Laurance Gidney

12 Burning Wheels by Cesar Torres

Tales From The Sexual Underground  by Rick R Reed

...these three books are as different from each other as can be but each is also a terrific collection of short stories from very talented authors.  Craig Laurance Gidney reimagines old fairy tales and myth with his own unique vision; in his collection, Cesar Torres uses sensual, beautiful language to introduce us to the bizarre worlds that populate his mind; and speaking of bizarre, Rick R Reed explores an entire sexual landscape in his collection of fiction and non fiction pieces that range from erotic to laugh out loud funny. 

Contraband by Charlie Vazquez is a fast paced, gritty future earth tale where the protagonist literally becomes the contraband of the title.  Charlie Vazquez tells the tale of Volfango in a visual, poetic voice and I look forward to seeing more from this author soon.

A Demon Inside is a chilling haunted house story and the latest triumph from Rick R Reed that kept me on the edge of my seat til the last page.  Rick pulls no punches here with the chills and thrills and this is probably my favorite book from him.

So Fey, Queer Fairy Fiction and Wilde Stories 2010 are two amazing anthologies from Lethe Press, both edited by the esteemed Steve Berman.  I love stories that remix old ideas into something that honors the original work while also being fresh and contemporary and So Fey pulls this off beautifully.  Wilde Stories is a collection of queer SFF that Lethe Press releases annually and there are some brilliant stories to be found here as well.

Much was made of Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber when just the cover was posted on the internet and after I picked up the paperback, I could understand why.  It is simply a grand, gruesome story that is truly horrorific that just happens to take place in the Star Wars universe and IT TOTALLY WORKS!  I absolutely loved it! 

Slights by Kaaron Warren is probably on everyone's "Best Of..." lists and once you read it, you will see why.  It is brilliant,  a chilling, horrific work that chronicles a young woman's slow descent into madness.  It was a little long for me but the work as a whole is a must read for any and all horror afficionados.

The Clockwork Jungle Book from Shimmer was my introduction to Steampunk this year and it was such an amazing collection that with every story I became more and more of a fan of the genre.  (So much so that I want to start a weekly feature on Steampunk books and stories!  I'm very excited!)  Each story deserves its own review; the standouts for me, however, were The Jackdaw's Wife by Blake Hutchins, The Student And The Rats by Jess Nevins, Otto's Elephant by Vince Pendergast, The Fishbowl by Amal El-Mohtar and The Mechanical Aviary Of  Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar by Sweta Narayan.

So this is my first year end list of Must Read Books for Betwixt...and I hope that you seek out these books and keep checking this blog for more reviews and book news in 2011!  Happy New Year!

Monday, September 20, 2010

News From Angry Robot!

New author news this week from Angry Robot:

First up, Angry Robot welcomes Jo Anderton

Jo Anderton

New Australian author Jo Anderton has signed to Angry Robot for at least two novels in her Veiled Worlds series. The worldwide deal, covering physical books and eBooks, was done by agent Anni Haig-Smith and Angry Robot’s publishing director, Marc Gascoigne. Debris will be published in the autumn of 2011, with direct sequel Suited scheduled to follow in early-to-mid 2012.

Series opener Debris introduces us to Tanyana, leader of a matter-manipulating team. Following an accident, she’s dismayed to be demoted to little more than a garbage collector, but it soon becomes obvious she’s been manipulated into that role by the faceless faction she calls the Puppet Men, to uncover a world-shattering secret.

That man Marc Gascoigne said, “With the ever-increasing popularity of Japanese and Korean anime, manga and computer games, it’s been surprising that there hasn’t been more SF and fantasy showing its influence. Debris’s mix of SF and fantasy themes, exotic future-medieval settings, Dune-esque warring factions, and a fabulous kick-ass heroine is exactly the sort of on-trend science fiction Angry Robot was set up to publish. We’re damned pleased to have Jo on board.”

Jo added, “I’ve been reading Angry Robot books since their first giant, metallic steps and absolutely loving them. Debris started out as an idea about a magical version of the industrial revolution and a scarred garbage collector who saves the world, but still has to pay her rent. Add a few motley companions, a pinch of probably-misinterpreted quantum physics, and far too much time spent in front of various Final Fantasy video games. I’m thrilled my books have found a home at Angry Robot.”

Then, new announcement about Matthew Hughes:

With all the new author news around here recently and prepping/raising alcohol tolerances for Fantasycon, we’ve had to keep this under wraps for a few weeks. Which has been a struggle, because this is so damn cute.

Yes, it’s the cover for Matthew Hughes‘ first Angry Robot novel, The Damned Busters. The artist is the wonderful Tom Gauld, who you may know for his great editorial cartoons in, for example, The Guardian newspaper’s book review section. He’s only done a few book covers, most recently for the US edition of the Neil Gaiman- and Al Sarrantonio-curated Stories anthology, but maybe we can change that.

And as you can see, the cover pretty much tells you the set-up of the novel. Mild-manned insurance actuary Chesney Arnstruther accidentally summons a demon, and by hook or by crook ends up with his heart’s desire – to be a superhero. But as we all know, it’s not always wise to get what one wishes for…

Complete with lovely Angry Robot logo, the book, volume one of the To Hell and Back series, will be in stores and for download May/June next year. The sequels will also have covers by Tom, because, well, he’s bloody great.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Review: Kell's Legend by Andy Remic (Angry Robot)

Book One of The Clockwork Vampire Chronicles

"They came from the North,and the city fell.

It is a time for warriors, a time for heroes.

Kell's axe howls out for blood..."

KELL'S LEGEND is an action packed, fast paced read that takes hold of you from the very first page and then doesn't let go until the cliffhanger ending.  It is a brutal, dark fantasy and I LOVED IT!

Kell is an old soldier, trying to live a quiet life and forget his bloody past.  But an invader from the North, the Army of Iron, brings all that to an end and Kell is forced to take up his bloodbond battle axe Ilanna again when the city of Jalder is beseiged.  The Army of Iron, albino soldiers led by the sadistic General Graal and aided in their invasion by the alien Harvesters, take the city and Kell is forced to flee, taking with him a small group of survivors to warn the King...

Anukis is a vachine,  part of a race of clockwork vampires that live in the Silva Valley.  Anukis is a prisioner of the Engineer Priests, taken by them after her father, a Watchmaker, was killed.  But Anukis has a secret she's been hiding all her a life, a secret that could see her suffer the same fate as her father...

It is these two storylines that propel KELL'S LEGEND forward.  Remic knows how to keep his readers on the edge of their seats and all his tricks kept me turning page after page to find out what happened next.  In one chapter, I was on the run with Kell and his companions, fleeing the bloodthirsty Harvesters while in the next chilled at Anu's suffering at the hands of her captor.

The battle scenes come at you fast and brutal and bloody, and it's through these scenes that Remic drops little tidbits of Kell's past, his "Days of Blood", which he looks at with bitterness and regret but what the rest of the world calls legend.  It's just enough to fill out the character and makes me eager for more of Kell's history, including the secret behind his blood bond with his weapon, the battle axe Ilanna.

However, it is through Anukis's story that Remic does his world building.  We learn more of the vachine and their albino soldiers and the reason their invading the south.  There are glimpses into the vachine religion, the Oak Testament, that I'm sure will continue to be explored as the series progresses.  And there's the matter of the true nature of Anukis and the path it sets her on as the story closes...

In a genre that is saturated with vampire stories right now, I think Mr Remic has done something incredibly original with the creation of the vachine, bringing the vampire back in a more bloody light while placing them center stage in a Heroic Epic.  And Kell is truly a Hero in the grand tradition, a kill first-ask questions later warrior, stalking the world with his not so trusty weapon, leaving a trail of blood that the bards will glorify in song.

This is my introduction to Andy Remic and as I understand it, his first foray into fantasy.  I think he succeeded here; I thoroughly enjoyed KELL'S LEGEND and the way Remic has left each of the characters, I can't wait to dive into the next volume of the series, SOUL STEALERS.  Highly recommended to lovers of Heroic Fantasy and anyone who is looking for an action packed, satisfying read.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Here are some things I came across while reading my favorite blogs; enjoy!

From Speculative Horizons there comes a sneak peek and blurb of Alan Campbell's new book SEA OF GHOSTS, the first book in his The Gravediggers Chronicles.  Having really enjoyed Campbell's Deepgate Codex, I'm very excited about this new book!

On Mark Charan Newton's blog, ther's an excellent post about blogging and "genre diversity" that as a new blogger I found very insightful and will be trying to emulate as I grow...thanks, Mark!

On Pyr-o-mania, Lou Anders reveals FOUR steampunk titles coming out this season; a veritable treasure trove of steampunk goodness that sent me, a new lover of the genre, totally over the moon!  I now am planning a Steampunk Month on my blog for October/November just to bring these titles to the top of my To Be Read pile!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Robot Army Is Coming!

Angry Robot is FINALLY launching its line in the US and Canada next month in September and if you've been counting the days as I have, it's been a long wait!

The first titles to be released will be: SLIGHTS by Kaaron Warren, KELL'S LEGEND by Andy Remic, MOXYLAND by Lauren Beukes and SIXTY-ONE NAILS by Mike Shevdon.  Amazing reviews for all these books (indeed, for the whole imprint) have been all over the 'net for quite some time now,so if you're a fan of great speculative fiction, Angry Robot has it all!  Start checking into yout local bookstores now and visit the Angry Robot website here.

Prepare to meet your Robot Overlords!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Cover Art: Tented edited by Jerry L Wheeler (Lethe Press)

Here is new cover art for TENTED, the new circus themed erotic anthology coming from Lethe Press and I.  LOVE.  IT!  The theme itself is unique and I can't wait to see how the various authors took that theme and ran with it.  The ringmaster on the cover reminds me of the EmCee from CABARET; I'm sure these tales are delicious!

Lethe Press

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: A Demon Inside by Rick R Reed (MLR Press)

It's no secret that I admire author Rick R Reed.  I've been a fan of his work for over a decade now and his writing, like the man himself, keeps getting better.

A DEMON INSIDE continues Rick's foray into combining horror/thriller with m/m romance and it does it well.  Rick slowly but surely builds the suspence while also creating a budding romance that causes great internal conflict for the protagonist.

We meet Hunter Beaumont just before the death of his grandmother.  She has been the loving, protective center of his young life and her passing sets him adrift in a world he's ill equiped to deal with.  Since the age of 5 when his parents were brutally killed, he'd lived with his grandmother and to protect her grandson from such a terrible world, she had seen to it that he'd led a very sheltered life.  He'd never went to a public school nor had any friends; she was all he had.  With her dying breath she makes Hunter promise to destroy Beaumont House, a place Hunter has never heard of.

The mystery is solved when Hunter learns of the old, decrepit house his family hadn't visited in generations.  To try to make some sense of his life and to get away from the city where he is feeling increasingly alone, Hunter finally moves up to Wisconsin to Beaumont House and comes to realize just why his grandmother wanted him to destroy it.

In THE BLUE MOON CAFE, Rick ratcheted up the tension by giving the reader glimpses into the killer's mind and it really drove the action.  Here, the build up is slower and he uses Hunter's self imposed exile to great effect; all the incidents that start to occur in the house we only get to see  from Hunter's perspective. Hunter distrusts everyone so much and keeps himself so isolated that soon he's unable to tell reality from nightmare-and so are we.  Has someone been in his house?  Is his neighbor, also living alone in this remote area, watching him from afar?  Or can Beaumont House really be haunted?

Rick makes Hunter's descent into hysteria gripping and very chilling; there are passages here that literally made me stop to catch my breath.  He keeps us guessing until the end about whether or not everything is in Hunter's mind and when the climax comes, it is both terrifying and explosive. 

Rick R Reed is on a roll, turning out some excellent work lately and A DEMON INSIDE is the latest triumph by a prolific writer and a worthy addition to the haunted house canon of horror as well.

A DEMON INSIDE is available now from Amazon here or as an eBook from MLR Press

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: Wilde Stories 2010 edited by Steve Berman (Lethe Press)

I love anthologies!

I've loved reading them for as long as I can remember.  They're almost always a quick, enjoyable read and I often find an author I've never heard of, whose writing so impressed me that I immediately set out to read their other work.  Even better, if I'm lucky enough to come across a themed anthology, I'm able to lose myself in the different variations that the writers come up with, which when read together, make for a many faceted, beautiful picture.

WILDE STORIES is just such an anthology.  The "theme" here is stories featuring gay protagonists and Steve Berman has done an admirable job of collecting the best in gay specualtive fiction from the last year, "..tales of men haunted sometimes by ghosts and sometimes by handsome wolves on two legs-by outsider artists or strange neighbors."  This third edition of WILDE STORIES has several excellent stories that most readers may not have ever found if it wasn't for Mr. Berman gathering them here in one volume.  Here are my best of the best:

Laird Barron's "Strappado" opens the collection, a chilling piece about a pair of lovers and their participation in a deadly "guerilla" art exhibit.  Ben Francisco gives us the magic realism of "Tio Gilberto And The Twenty Seven Ghosts", one of my favorites in this volume.  It's the story of a young gay man who goes to live with his uncle who himself is haunted by ghosts of his past; simply beautiful!  Another favorite of mine is "Ne Que V'on Desir" by Tanith Lee (writing as Judas Garbah), a sensual wolf tale that takes place on a train in the winter..."Some Of Them Fell" by Joel Lane is a coming of age story about a pair of young boys and what happens to them in the woods and their reunion years later.  Jameson Currier's "Death In Amsterdam" is a thriller/horror story that does a great job of ratcheting up the suspence as it builds to its climax and is an excellent story but seems to me more mainstream than speculative.  And bringing the collection to a dramatic close is "The Far Shore" by Elizabeth Hand.   As always, Hand takes myth and fairy tale and twists them into something new, here a story of a man who becomes part of a fairy tale himself...

WILDE STORIES 2010 is a pleasure to read and I definitely recommend it to any reader, be they gay or straight, who is looking for good, memorable speculative fiction and would enjoy walking down the paths these amazing writers will lead them.

You can get your copy of WILDE STORIES  2010 here

Steve Berman, editor

Friday, August 6, 2010

Brit Mandelo Interviews Lethe Press Editor Steve Berman (via

As part of her series of posts "Queering SFF..." over at, Brit Mandelo was able to sit down with Steve Berman, writer,editor and publisher of LGBT imprint Lethe Press.  I absolutely enjoyed the interview and am sharing it with you here:

"...One of the things this series of posts has dealt with in the past is how hard it can be sometimes to find queer speculative fiction, especially when the big presses seem to actively avoid “outing” their books in flap copy. The endless search doesn’t have to be the default for readers seeking queer SFF, though, because there are other offerings. Several small presses are doing great work with queer SFF—and they aren’t interested in hiding it. For a reader who’s used to the difficult hunt for books they want, it’s a breath of fresh air to discover a press that will provide you with your LGBTQ spec-fic happily, openly, and with passion.

Steve Berman, who wears the hats of “writer,” “editor” and “publisher,” is here to talk about one of the best of these: Lethe Press. While Lethe Press doesn’t publish solely speculative fiction, it is a focus of the press, and they’ve published authors such as Melissa Scott and Tanith Lee. They also regularly have books nominated for the Lambda Award for science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Brit Mandelo: Hi, and thanks for letting me ask you questions today. For starters: what’s the “mission statement” or guiding vision of Lethe Press, for the readers who are new to you?

Steve Berman: No, I should be thanking you for being a passionate promoter of queer spec fic. Lethe Press’s aim is to ensure that the voices of queer authors are not forgotten. We rescue many books from obscurity as well as help ensure that writers have a home for new work that larger presses might not release because the content is too queer-focused. In the last decade several gay presses have folded and Lethe has expanded its line to meet the needs of the marketplace.

BM: Speaking of expanding your line, Lethe will be ten years old next year—did you anticipate when you started the press that it would not only live this long, but grow as much as it has?

SB: Does anyone anticipate what their life will be a decade later? No, I had no clue what Lethe might become. For the first couple of years, Lethe was more of a hobby than serious publishing pursuit. Now, more gay authors know of me as a publisher than as a colleague.

BM: Is that ever weird, being both a writer and a publisher? Or has running Lethe given you more insight into your own writing?

SB: Oh, it’s makes everything more complicated. I don’t have as much spare time to devote to writing, which is a real drawback. But without the press would I have been able to release two short story collections of my own? Probably not. And books like Sea, Swallow Me or Diana Comet and Other Improbable Tales would never have happened. So, Lethe is definitely a good thing for the field.

BM: I absolutely agree. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed from Lethe are the Wilde Stories collections —where did the idea to collect the “best gay speculative fiction” each year come from? How difficult is it to narrow down your choices and select the best stories?

SB: I conceived of Wilde Stories after a conversation with a friend asking for short fiction recommendations. Many readers aren’t aware just how many good quality gay spec fic stories release in a year. Those who are more invested in the traditional fantasy and sci-fi venues, such as Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction might be aware of a new Rick Bowes tale but might miss a piece by Tom Cardamone in small gay press anthology. And the reverse is true: patrons of a gay bookstore might never think that a horror anthology might feature an amazing gay-themed story by Laird Barron. Wilde Stories aims to bridge the schism and provide readers with the best tales published the prior year from a variety of print and online publications.

Choosing stories can be difficult. I’ve noticed a trend with the small gay presses to label fiction as spec fic when really only the “trappings” are—so we have a traditional romance aboard a starship or an erotic encounter with a vampire. I suppose this is gay paranormal romance. What I’m seeking for Wilde Stories, though, are stories that either refresh old themes, such as coming out or homophobia, or tales that are only incidentally gay. By the latter, I mean the character’s sexual identity is incidental to the plotline, but, because the protagonist is homosexual, gay readers are much more engaged with his story than if he happened to be hetero.

BM: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in running Lethe? And on the flip side of that—what are some of the best, most exciting moments you’ve had with the press?

SB: Cash flow problems are the detriment of all small presses. Nothing is more frustrating than emptying your coffers because a book is a success... and knowing it may be three to five months before you see any money from the increased sales. One that I did not anticipate: dealing with the demands of awards; sending out gratis books to jury members, who may number in the teens, can be very expensive. But you don’t want to ignore requests to submit for awards, because that is how authors and titles earn acclaim.

That said, when a Lethe title does reach the short-list of an award, I’m thrilled. For the last two years, we had three books among the Lambda Literary finalists, including Best Fantasy/Horror/Science Fiction. I have accepted the Gaylactic Spectrum Award on behalf of Joshua Lewis for his very first published short story, which was in a Lethe anthology.

Then there’s the pleasure in working with authors to nurture an idea. Peter Dube and I share a fondness for the surrealists; when I challenged him to write a spec fic story featuring Rene Crevel, a year later he turned in Subtle Bodies. When Jerry Wheeler told me he wanted to edit a book of strange circus-themed gay erotica, I encouraged him. Tented releases in September and it’s a wild ride to read.

BM: What new books do you have in the works at Lethe? Give us some “coming soon” highlights.

SB: Well, before I mention forthcoming titles, I want to say that recent release Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories by Sandra McDonald has been one of our bestselling titles this year; the fact that it received a starred review in Booklist helped, of course. If you like quirky fiction with a queer bent, I think you’ll adore McDonald’s stories. We also released a new collection of Tanith Lee tales, Discouraged by Her Song, which is very queer. Next month, Peter Dube’s novella, Subtle Bodies, a historical fantastique of Rene Crevel, the French surrealist poet, releases.

In 2011, we will be publishing a gay spec fic short story collection by Alex Jeffers. Stoker and Lambda Literary Award winner Lee Thomas has a new thriller in March, The German. A Study in Lavender is an anthology of queered Holmesian tales edited by Joseph DeMarco. And, of course, the next edition of Wilde Stories.

BM: “Queered Holmesian tales” is a phrase that makes me nearly giggle with joy, just so you know. (I believe I just revealed which side of the fandom I stand on. Ahem.)

How about you, on the writing side of your career? Any new stories coming soon?

SB: Yes, we’re trying to ascertain the rights issues with the Holmes canon; the book may have to be a UK & Canadian release only. Apparently many Holmes buffs are decidedly homophobic.

As for my own writing: this past spring, The Beastly Bride, edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, appeared and featured my lesbian retelling of the Swan Lake storyline; I have bit of humorous flash fiction in the autumn release, Blood Sacraments, edited by Todd Gregory, entitled “Five Gay Vampire Shows That Were Never Greenlit”; and next year’s YA vampire anthology Teeth, also edited by Ellen and Terri, features a gay story, “All Smiles.” That’s on the horizon. I’m currently finishing up a short story about a sister and her brother, who becomes afflicted with applianthropy—he becomes a were-oven. And then there’s the novel, a Victorian-era fey story. And a couple of short story collections, one illustrated and aimed at the YA market, the other involving lost gay cinematic characters like the poor pilot who shot down King Kong.

BM: Something from the panel you were moderating at Readercon comes back to me—you, and all of the panelists, seemed to agree that the field of queer spec-fic is expanding and becoming more mainstream, not less. Has the shift been recent, or have you noticed it for some time now?

SB: Well, queer rights are certainly becoming more widespread. And exposure to LGBTI and Q characters are more prevalent in mass media. Mainstream publishers can release books like Spaceman Blues or Boy Meets Boy. But these are still rare releases; like other minorities, we’re often relegated to secondary or tertiary roles in books. Supposedly, 10% of the populace is queer... then shouldn’t 1 out of 10 books be the same?

I know, there are a plethora of variables, but the dearth of good queer spec fic is troubling. Are there fewer queer readers (and writers) in the genre because they cannot identify with most protagonists? Or will this goad people? I write queer spec fic to tell the kind of story I have had trouble all my life finding in bookstores.

BM: How about we end with some sort of fun question? Like name 3 queer authors you’d want to have with while stranded on a deserted island.

SB: Can they be pulled from the time stream? If so, then Oscar Wilde, because without electricity I will need someone witty to survive the ennui. Tristram Burden (who wrote My Hero: A Wild Boy’s Tale) because he’s an amazing imagination and he’s so pretty (hey, a fellow can dream, right?). And Perrin 5, a cyborg from the 22nd century and slam lesbian poet because she’ll be the bold one that eventually figures out how to get us rescued. Plus, she’s WiFi-enabled and can turn palm fronds into ersatz coffee.

BM: Fine choices. Thanks again for doing this interview, it’s been fun!

SB: I loved it!"

Again, great interview Brit and Steve!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Movie: SUCKERPUNCH (03/2011)

Two blogs that I faithfully read, Temple Library Reviews and Muzophile, both posted items about SUCKERPUNCH, the upcoming movie from Zack Snyder.  Here is a quote from Snyder, which Harry (TLR) pulled from Wikipedia:

"Set in the 1950s, it tells the story of Baby Doll (Browning), who is trying to hide from the pain caused by her evil stepfather and lobotomy. She ends up in mental institution and while there she starts to imagine alternative reality. She plans to escape from that imaginary world but to do that she needs to steal five objects before she is caught by a vile man. She has 5 days to escape before being lobotomized. In order to cope with the situation, she enters the hyper-real world of her imagination, and the lines between reality and dream begin to blur. She is joined with friends who are inmates from the institution. Lessons learned in the said fantasy world could help the girls escape their real-world fate..."

Sounds good to me!  Now see the trailer:

WOW!  I don't know about you but I can't wait to see and hear more about this movie!  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Contest: Win a FREE, Signed Copy Of Rick R Reed's Gay Erotic Collection ON THE EDGE

From Rick R Reed's blog ( comes an exciting contest for a free, SIGNED copy of his new gay erotica collection, ON THE EDGE:

I'm proud to announce the release of my collection, ON THE EDGE from Amber Allure (the LGBT imprint of Amber Quill Press). This book is especially for you if you're one of those people who just doesn't cotton to the idea of an e-book and prefers the look, smell, and experience of a real print book. ON THE EDGE collects eight of my stories that were previously only available in electronic format before. Check out the descriptions of each story below.

To win a FREE, autographed copy of ON THE EDGE, all you need to do is the following:

1. Leave a comment below.

2. Be sure to leave an e-mail address so I can get in touch if you're a winner.

3. Bonus points for reposting news of this contest/release on your Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace. Even more bonus points if you click on the link at the right to subscribe by e-mail to this blog.

That's it. Good luck!


In Rick R. Reed’s haunting, mesmerizing, suspenseful, and romantic world, his gay male characters live on the edge, often literally as well as figuratively. In this new collection, you’ll take a wild ride with some of literature’s most unforgettable characters. Along the way, you’ll be moved—to tears, to laughter, to uneasiness, and sometimes, to arousal. As Bette Davis once said, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Previously available only in electronic format, these eight stories of Gay Erotica and Romance have now been combined for a paperback edition! Included are the tales...

A story about promises made, promises broken, and dreams unfulfilled. Yet ultimately, it’s about realizing that love can come along when one least expects it—and in the unlikeliest of places.

Through The Closet Door 
A tale that brings to painful life the consequences of coming out of the closet when you’re married. Gregory’s mask is slipping, pulled down by the allure of a handsome neighbor and the demands of a desire that only gets louder the more he tries to quiet it.

Riding The El At Midnight 
When the gorgeous and twisted Mark boards a northbound el train, he is looking for love in all the wrong places. Finding Julio aboard that same train, Mark thinks, is the answer to his dreams. But are his dreams nightmares?

Slip into the dungeon playroom of a master and his boy. But in the boy’s mind, a dream state takes him places the master could not imagine...places where the established order turns upside down.

Two men, one predator, and a violent crime equal a journey into hellish nightmare territory. This tale merges horror with a tragic love story and the result is...chilling.

I awoke one morning from uneasy dreams to find my penis had transformed itself into a vagina... Thus begins the story of a very unusual day...

No Place Like Home 
Trannies and Psychos and Bears...oh my! Burl discovers—in a hilariously bizarre quest—that there really is no place like home.

Pottery Peter 
One long hot summer. Three gorgeous men. And a burning triangle set down in the middle of a factory filled with sweaty men with bulging biceps.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Angry Robot and Lauren Beukes News

Today from Angry Robot:

A brief reminder – Lauren Beukes (author of the fantastic, critically-acclaimed MOXYLAND) is making a rare visit to the UK this month from her native South Africa, and we’ve lined up three events where you can meet her, and get your books signed.

Not only that, to celebrate her visit we’ve teamed up with Forbidden Planet to bring you an Angry Robot first – a limited edition hardcover of her forthcoming novel, ZOO CITY. It’s already attracted a lot of attention, and for very good reason!

You can order a copy of  ZOO CITY from Forbidden Planet, here. Better still, come along to her signing. There are just 100 copies being sold through Forbidden Planet, so you’re going to have to get one soon to avoid disappointment! This is a very limited limited edition.

Lauren will be signing ZOO CITY at the London Forbidden Planet Megastore from 6.00-7.00pm on Thursday July 29th. Come along and say “Hi” and pick up a copy of the book. I’ll also be there (Lee) despite my wife’s protestations (she doesn’t object to Lauren – the signing is halfway through our holiday, so I’ll be leaving our cottage in Wales to come along to the event).

British Science Fiction Association
The night before Lauren’s signing at Forbidden Planet she will be the special guest at the July meeting of the British Science Fiction Association, where she will be reading from ZOO CITY, prior to an interview. There will be a Q&A session at the end, and you don’t have to be a member of the BSFA to attend. There may be one or two other Angry Robot authors there, too, as well as Marc Gascoigne – Angry Robot’s Publishing Director.

The reading / interview will be at the upstairs bar of:

The Antelope Tavern, 22 Eaton Terrace, Belgravia, London SW1W 8EZ (nearest tube station is Sloane Square on the District and Circle lines).

The reading will commence around 7.00pm, but people usually start gathering in the downstairs bar from 5.00pm onwards.

British Fantasy Society
Lauren will also be the guest at the first BFS Open Night of the year. Well, not Open Night so much as Open Afternoon. For those of you who might find it hard to get to central London on a weekday evening, Lauren’s BFS event is on Saturday 31st July from 1.00pm until 5.00pm at The George pub on The Strand, WC2R 1AP (nearest tube station: Temple). And again, you don’t have to be a member to attend, though you can join on the day if you wish.

So, those dates again:

Wednesday 28th July: BSFA meeting - 7.00pm onwards (but any time from 5.00 for general chit-chat and beerage)

Thursday 29th July: Forbidden Planet signing – 6.00pm until 7.00pm (see here for details)

Saturday 31st July: BFS meeting – 1.00pm until 5.00pm

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Cover Art: Harbinger Of The Storm by Aliette de Bodard (Angry Robot)

Here is the cover for the next OBSIDIAN AND BLOOD novel, HARBINGER OF THE STORM.  It will be available from Angry Robot in the UK in January 2011 and February in the US and Canada.  I've been waiting to see what's been happening with Acatl, so definitely looking forward to this book!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: Ask The Fire by Dennis Paddie (Lethe Press)

ASK THE FIRE is the new novel by poet/playwright Dennis Paddie. It is an ambitious piece of myth making. Paddie blends a unique spiritual vision with the high octane action of a spy novel and reimagines the mysteries of the Knights Templar in a new, daring way.  Add to all this the free loving of the 60s, a secret history of homosexuality and the horrific 9/11 attacks and you get a fascinating book; I read it and then read it again (thus delaying this reviewer's post), it was that compelling. This is a new kind of thriller and I look forward to more of the same from Paddie. If you enjoy fast paced action, conspiracy theories and intrigue, this novel will definitely whet your appetite while it adds new dimensions to the thriller genre.

You can get ASK THE FIRE here:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Grant Bowler is Coot, the Biker Werewolf (via

From comes an article featuring new cast member Grant Bowler,the rebel werewolf from Mississippi; enjoy!

Maybe it’s the pull of the moon that has Grant Bowler going from playing Wolf West in Outrageous Fortune to playing a werewolf in this season’s True Blood. And speaking of fortune, his character is evidently sensitive about his name, Coot!

Grant told the New Zealand Herald that Coot is a biker werewolf that does pretty much what he wants. But in addition to obeying his employer, the vampire King of Mississippi (Denis O’Hare), he also has to watch out for traffic cops and dog catchers.

According to how things work in True Blood’s world, in order to be a were, both parents have to be weres. As such, they are pure blood. “They are at the top of the food chain in terms of any creature that can shift”.

“Every time someone does vampires or werewolves or ghosties or whatever, the trickiest part is figuring out the rules and sticking to them, I guess. On True Blood there are times when werewolvess really, really want to shift – you know like maybe a full moon or whatever, they have a really strong desire to shift. But they can also shift at will.”

When asked about his scenes where Coot shifts from human to wolf, Grant explained that because in the series you could be shifting 25 or 30 times, creator Alan Ball wants to focus on the story rather than the “bones popping, hair growing out of the face kind of thing”. So ”we shift quite simply and quickly”.

Does he enjoy playing roles like Coot? In response, Grant said “the older I got, the stranger I found it that the jobs I tend to get offered are jobs where I bash the guys and kiss girls – and that was fine with me.” And, as Coot, “Yep, I get to kiss girls, terrorize people and get into a bit of biffo”. In other words, he can be an ignorant jerk.

Grant was asked if he considers himself an Australian or a New Zealander, since he was born in Australia and raised in New Zealand.

“No, I wouldn’t say that I was one or the other. Whenever I have been asked that I say I am both. I’m an Australian and a Kiwi. I really do feel I have been influenced by two places for that very reason. I call myself an Oziwi.”

So he and fellow Kiwi co-star, Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse), have some things in common to talk about. “Although she likes to tease me that I’m an Aussie.”

With lots of work on TV shows and films, Grant is staying very busy. But he seemed pretty definite when he was asked if he would play another wolf. “No, I am done with wolves.” But let’s see what happens on the next full moon!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

News From Angry Robot!

More exciting news from Angry Robot:


We are delighted to announce our latest signing, bringing a stunning series of books set in the harassed police department of a city full of vampires and werewolves.

Angry Robot has signed urban fantasy author Justin Gustainis for a new series set in Scranton, Philadelphia, in a world where supernatural beings are part of everyday life. Stan Markowski is a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD's Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit. As Stan puts it in the first book, Hard Spell: "When a vampire puts the bite on an unwilling victim, or some witch casts the wrong kind of spell, that's when they call me. My name's Markowski. I carry a badge."

Justin Gustainis said, “I'm tremendously pleased to be associated with one of the most dynamic publishers in speculative fiction today, and I look forward to selling enough books to put a smile on that robot’s face.”

The first title in this sensational series, Hard Spell, will be published by Angry Robot in spring 2011, in both the UK and USA.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Review: So Fey, Queer Fairy Fiction edited by Steve Berman (Lethe Press)

I was so excited when this book came in the mail!  I've been a long time fan of the Fairy Tale anthologies put out by Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling, including their similar offerings in the Young Adult market.  The way those authors took the old fairy tales and reinvented them in each volume was always so satisfying to me, every story was a jewel.

Steve Berman's SO FEY reminds me very much of those anthologies and is now high on my list of fairy tale retellings.  For me, as a gay man, it was truly wonderful to see fairy stories and queer fiction woven together to create shining, new takes on the old familiar themes.  I thought this was an outstanding collection and want to congratulate Berman and all the authors on their beautiful work.

Here are some of my favorite stories from the collection:

"A Faun's Tale" by Tom Cardamone is a short but sensual story about a faun's romp in New York's Central Park...

"A Bird Of Ice" by Craig Laurance Gidney, where a spirit falls in love with a mortal...

"Three Letters From The Queen Of Elfland" by Sarah Monette, where a woman is torn between her duty to her husband and her attraction to Nyx, the Queen...

"Detox" by Elspeth Potter is a hilarious story where a brownie turns the tables on his mistress...

"The Coat Of Stars" by Holly Black has a gay, Latino man returning home to find his long lost love...

"Year Of The Fox" by Eugie Foster is a beautiful story of a princess in exile who turns hate into love...

and "Ever So Much More Than Twenty" by Joshua Lewis features a gay man who travels with his daughter back to the cabin of his youth, and the memories of his fairy lover...

Again, I thought this was a great collection of stories and I hope Mr. Berman will bring us another volume some day.  It is a must read for lovers of fairy stories and for fans of gay fiction.  You can pick up SO FEY here:

Lethe Press

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So You Want To Start A Book Blog? by Amanda Rutter (via Angry Robot)

I saw this post on the Angry Robot website and it really spoke to me as I am only 8 months into my own blogging experience.  Amanda has her own blog at Floor To Ceiling Books, which I am a fan of.  I'm enjoying writing my own blog very much and I found Ms. Rutter's advise very helpful.  Here is the post in its entirety:

So You Want To Start A Book Blog…..?
When I agreed to write a blog post for Angry Robot, Lee Harris suggested possibly writing about starting a book blog. Which I am going to do – but all prefaced by you realising that I TOTALLY fell into the whole affair and feel as though I am still groping my way to decent and regular content

First of all: why start a book blog?

On a personal level, I started my own book blog because I wanted to keep track of all the books I was reading, with a few comments alongside so that I could identify them in the future. Because I am afraid, people, that my memory is failing me as I get older and sometimes I have that terrifying moment when I get a couple of chapters into a book and I realise “I’VE READ THIS BEFORE!” I had been putting my reviews on Librarything up until that point, but I didn’t appreciate the fact that my well-written, thoughtful reviews (yes, I am that egotistic) were being overshadowed by such glorious critique as “This book is really good. I wish that I was Bella.” I’m being generous with the spelling in that quote as well. I complained to a friend about this, and he suggested I start a blog and put my reviews on there. I wasn’t lying when I said I fell into it!
For a person who sits down and decides that they want to start a book review site, I would urge you to let the idea bubble away for a week or so before taking the plunge. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. I say this because I didn’t realise the commitment involved if you want to run a successful book blog. Sure, if you are just planning to throw up the occasional review and pad out the rest of your blog with commentary about what is going on in your life, or political rants, or personal thoughts on life, the universe and everything then get you gone and started! If you want to provide thoughtful and in-depth content about books (reviews, articles, interviews) then this is going to become an extreme time sink – don’t say you haven’t been warned.

I also offer this stark admonition: do not start a book review site for the free books. Just do not. Publicists are very happy to send out books – once they realise that you are serious and committed and providing decent reviews. To start with, be prepared to write reviews on all the books you already own – because, seriously, as someone who wants to set up a book blog, you should have a fair number. You should be deeply enthused about all the books that you currently own and acquisitive about all the books you plan on buying. The free books come later. They are a wonderful perk – but a privilege, definitely not a right.
Part the second: Setting up said blog

You’ve made the decision to set up your blog. You have grand plans for stupendous content. You are prepared to read A LOT. Now what? You have some practicalities to decide on, such as what name to assign to your blog, whether to use a free platform or take the plunge and buy your own site, and what sort of regular posting schedule you will work towards.

I spent the longest time trying to think up a name for my blog. At first, I wanted something that would reflect my own name. Then I threw around a few ideas on the theme of fantasy and science fiction. It was a moment of desperation that had me thinking of just books! I glanced at my floor to ceiling bookshelves – and then had it! Floor To Ceiling Books. For me, it was important because it means I’m not limiting myself to any particular genre. It is also memorable, and suggests the enthusiasm inherent to any blogger – that of having far too many books to read. So, although it was a last ditch name, I am now extremely comfortable and confident with the name I ended up with.

I would warn you not to pick any name that is too long, or that you’d be embarrassed to have on a business card, or that is anything like the names already out there! Do your research, people! Do a search on the Internet to see if someone is already using your carefully-chosen name – no one likes their work or identity stolen!

Now, as to the platform for your blog – I will say straight up that I am virtually a technophobe when it comes to writing in code and developing a website. This means that a) if you’re looking for technological speak and a genuine analysis of whether Blogger or Wordpress is the better option, you’re best going elsewhere and b) if I have managed to use both Blogger (for Floor to Ceiling Books) and Wordpress (for Fantasy Literature) then, honestly, everyone can!
The point I want to make is that in your first burst of enthusiasm, you might decide to purchase your own domain name, hire a graphic designer to do your banner and create your identity, buy 100s of business cards ready for all those events you’ll be attending….. STOP! Don’t do this! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – blogging is a commitment and a time sink, if you want to build a successful blog. Until you know for sure that you are prepared to put in this work and effort, go for the free option – you can always make the change later! I chose Blogger, because I was more familiar with the name, but both Blogger and Wordpress have advantages and disadvantages so I’ll leave you to make up your own minds.

Lastly: the myth of the posting schedule…

Some bloggers I know have an absolutely dedicated and fixed posting schedule – see The Book Smugglers and Book Chick City for fantastic examples of this. Their readers are comfortable with what they will be seeing on certain days, and I’m sure it makes it easier on Ana, Thea and Carolyn to know what they are posting when. It really is an excellent idea to plan. I…don’t. I wish I did. I’ve tried. My method of posting is to do everything on the fly – I’d love to recommend this method to you, but the scattershot approach really does leave you panicking as to what you can possibly fill your blog with while you are neck deep in reading a 600-page epic that will take a good couple of days to finish and you can see all the other bloggers producing fabulous articles and reviews and interviews and… *breathe* Yes, there are definite advantages to planning!

What I will advise is that prior to starting your blog (I mean, you don’t have to start it immediately – what’s the hurry?) you build up a nice little backlog of reviews, all written and ready to go. This means that if you ever find yourself struggling through a long book, or stuck for content in general, you will have the option of posting one of these reviews instead. I wish someone had told me this before I started!

Third Point: Publicising your blog

This is actually the fun part! As far as I’m concerned, it has meant surrounding myself with like-minded people on Twitter, joining in with blog comments and going to conventions – chattering about books and joining the enthusiastic community makes publicising your blog incidental.

Twitter and Facebook remain great resources for reaching out to a diverse readership – but you have to be patient. People can’t be forced to follow you, and won’t appreciate it if you just use the social network for blatant pimping of your new blog. Rather, join conversations, get to know people and only once people are accustomed to your name and your existence should you ask for contacts to help spread the word about your wonderful book review site!

Use forums and messageboards sparingly: regular users will know when you are only there to try and get new readers for your blog. Again, become a part of the community. Post your reviews directly to the website, rather than just spamming links to your blog. Use a discreet little signature on your posts that will send people to visit.

If your content and your reviews are good, the publicists will come to you. Don’t chase too hard – it makes you look pushy.


Always remember the reason you start your blog, whether it is talking about books, reading new genres and authors, or sending the word out about criminally under-read subgenres (Paul Smith, I’m looking at you!) When the going gets tough, or you run into blog politics (which woefully do exist), remember that you are blogging for pleasure and for yourself first and foremost. If you are happy, your blog will be happy!

Have fun!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Cover Art: Kill The Dead by Richard Kadrey (EOS)

Eos just released the cover art for KILL THE DEAD, the second in Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim series.  While I've read Kadrey's BUTCHER BIRD and found it excellent, I have yet to start on this series, so I have some catching up to do!  Here are the blurb and the cover, which I really sets the mood and sells the book...

"What do you do after you’ve crawled out of Hell to wreak bloody revenge? If you’re Stark you turn to bounty hunting, tracking and decimating whatever rogue monsters you’re paid to kill. Stark hates the work, but he needs the money, especially the big bucks Lucifer is offering. In town as an advisor on a biopic of his life, Lucifer needs protection, and he wants Stark as his bodyguard. But the gig isn’t all bad; there is the very sexy, very hot French porn star Brigitte Bardo, a friend of Lucifer’s in LA to remake her reputation as a legit actress. While it isn’t love, it’s pretty damn good, and after 11 years of demonic chastity, it’s enough for now.

Stark has enough trouble juggling a diva devil and a scorching French bombshell without a zombie plague to complicate matters. And just what happens when a human-angel half-breed is bitten by the living dead? His human side begins to die, transforming him into an unstoppable angel of death—a killing machine devoid of emotion or thought, with no regrets or future to worry about. Not a bad way to be when you’re choices are limited. Now, Stark has to decide...if he does finds a cure for the zombie infection, will he take it?"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Review: 12 Burning Wheels by Cesar Torres (M-Brane SF)

12 BURNING WHEELS is the new collection by Cesar Torres.  It is the result of his challenging himself to write a short story a day for twelve days.  There was no common theme, no editor to work with; Torres just wrote to write.  I found it a beautiful, sensual collection with no two stories quite alike but read together, they provide a unique look into the bizarre landscape of Torres's mind.

Torres writes with a very sure hand and the tales in this collection is range from the erotic to the creepily horrorific.  The pace is very fast and because of the nature of the project some of the stories end abruptly, begging for further expansion, so I hope that Cesar revisits some of his worlds very soon!

All the stories are quite good but here are my favorites:

"The Broken Chest" is a story of of the relationship between a father anf daughter and immediately reminded me of the early works of Tanith Lee, beautiful!

"The Scryer" is weird and wonderful and the world of the Worm Queens needs to be explored further!

"Honey" is a retelling of the Greek Circe myth, from her point of view - beware her wrath!

"Mantis Love" is the most upbeat tale in the collection and was very touching as well.  There weren't a lot of kids out when I was in high school as there is today and I always applaud the young people that are proud of who they are at such a crucial age.

"Tincture DRK-01"...Cesar, LOVED IT!  Love potions always come with a price...

"We Merge" reads as if its from a larger work but it is still an action packed piece and compelling intoduction to Dax the Spider's world...

and "Lemonade..."; again, I believe part of a larger piece and another snapshot of a weird, colorful world...

I really enjoyed each of these short peeks into Cesar's mind and at the same time was sad there wasn't more to read to whet my appetite.  I definitely look forward to reading more of Cesar's work and recommend you do the same.  In the meantime, pick up a copy 12 BURNING WHEELS here  from Amazon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: The Blue Moon Cafe by Rick R. Reed (Amber Allure)

I am loving that werewolves are making a comeback in horror fiction!  So it was with huge excitement that I plunged into Rick R. Reed's new book, THE BLUE MOON CAFE.

Terror has struck the gay community of Seattle.  Someone (or something) is killing gay men right in the heart of the gay district of the city and the murders are so violent that the authorites have no clue as to who is committing the crimes...or if the killer is even human.

Thad is unemployeed and single and is becoming dissatisfied with the recent downturn his life is taking.  Then one day, he wanders into The Blue Moon Cafe, a new Italian bistro that's just opened.  Here he meets Sam Lupino, the restaurant's owner, who is everything that Thad wants in a man-handsome, dark and passionate.  The attraction is mutual and after a dinner that satisfies one appetite and whets another, Thad takes Sam home.  The sex is rough and incredible and Thad  finds himself falling for Sam...but Sam is full of secrets.

Thad also meets Jared who is blond and sexy, and while Thad finds Jared attractive, he is too hung up on Sam and getting to the bottom of where Sam disappears to during the full moon to give in to that attraction...and the violent killings are continuing, and striking closer to home.

This was a great read and that is due in large part to Rick's expert handling and blending of the two storylines he has going here; the romance building between Thad and Sam is fraught with passion but also mystery since Thad feels Sam has secrets he's not telling him.  Then there's also the snapshots we get into the killer's mind as it continues it's bloody attacks on the gay men of Seattle.  Rick early on creates a creepy suspense and builds on it throughout the tale; he also captures Thad's confusion and insecurity about Sam equally well and as the book races to it's conclusion, secrets are revealed and more lives are put in danger when  the two storylines converge in a bloody yet satisfying climax.

I believe there is more to the story then what Rick's revealed to us so far.  There is definitely room for a sequel and then there's the question of a certain character that comes to the rescue just in the nick of time.  Let's hope Rick doesn't leave us hanging for too long and we hear more from Thad, Sam and Jared very soon. 

I highly recommend this book for you horror and werewolf lovers out there.  It will be a great addition to your library.  You can buy THE BLUE MOON CAFE here .

And I also remind you to keep a lookout for ON THE EDGE, Rick's forthcoming collection due out this summer!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Press Release: Angry Robot Books To Join Osprey Publishing

On Tuesday May 11 Angry Robot Books issued this press release on its website, detailing its move from HarperCollins to Osprey:

Following an acclaimed first year of publishing, the revolutionary science fiction imprint Angry Robot Books has parted company with HarperCollins UK. It will now run as an independent publishing imprint, with the full backing of niche publishing experts, Osprey Publishing.

Angry Robot will continue to operate from its Nottingham base and with its existing team under Marc Gascoigne, its founder and publisher. Marc said: “With the support of HarperCollins UK, my team and I have worked very hard on Angry Robot since it was founded. We have a great publishing programme in place and a dedicated bunch of supporters, the Robot Army, as well as some excellent sales of our first titles in the UK and an imminent launch into the USA. We are very pleased to have become part of the burgeoning Osprey empire. They understand our business and the enthusiasts who drive it.”

Chris Michaels, HarperCollins Digital Publisher, Fiction/Non-Fiction, who helped set-up Angry Robot, said: “Having helped build the foundations for a successful future, we are delighted that the Angry Robot team has found a new publishing partner in Osprey. We believe this will help them develop their niche offering, supported by Osprey’s specialist sales and marketing teams. We wish them good luck for the future.”

Marc Gascoigne added, “Our publishing programme for 2010/11 will be basically unaffected by these changes. There will be a short break while the transition is sorted out, but we will be re-launching in September 2010 and then it will be business as usual.”
Osprey’s move is a reflection of the company’s continuing strategic drive into niche communities that share a deep enthusiasm for their interest or hobby, whether it be military history (Osprey Publishing), heritage (Shire Books), or science fiction and fantasy.

Richard Sullivan, Marketing Director at Osprey commented: “We have a great deal of experience of serving specialist niches with a very tight product focus. Angry Robot is a great fit with our existing businesses. We are very excited about the opportunity to enter into a new market and we are looking forward to helping Angry Robot, its authors and its readers go to some exciting places.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review: Contraband by Charlie Vazquez (Rebel Satori Press)


CONTRABAND is only the second novel by Charlie Vazquez and I look forward to many more from him.  He and I crossed paths on Twitter and after learning we shared interests, he was gracious enough to send me an ARC of his novel and allow me to review it.

Told in the first person, it is the story of Volfango Sanzo, a Latino man who is a government employee in a near-future America.  The country has turned in on itself because of civil war and revolution; government designed operating systems have rendered all other computers useless, communication satellites have been seized and media outlets restructured, all for the Revolution.  Curfews are mandated and public executions of dissidents have become popular entertainment.  It is in this America that Volfango works, as an employee for the Ministry of Technology.  But it wasn't always so.

Volfango remembers places and people seen with his father who was a sea-loving man, so much so that he left his children and wife behind to sail again on the sea, never to return.  Volfango remembers places full of color and music and people full of passion and life.  Now his life is working in the Ministry,always under the eye of the Republican Guard.  And Volfango also has secrets of his own, secrets that make him paranoid and fearful for his life.  Then he hears rumors of people "sinking down", defecting undeground to escape.  When his government mandated "gene test" is scheduled, he is so afraid of renegade genes in his DNA being discovered that he sinks down and tries to make a life underside, where everone he comes into contact with is a rebel and where he is also looked on with suspicion by them.

I read this book in one sitting.  Vazquez's colorful language is absolutely poetic and he also kept Volfango's adventures underside coming at me at a fast pace.  I found myself eagerly turning the pages to see what happened to Volfango next. And the other undersiders that Volfango meets on his journey are a gritty cast of characters indeed.  There are ex soldiers, thieves, prostitutes, high born citizens and even circus folk and for Volfango, they are all not to be trusted.

Vazquez was inspired by Latin American revolutionary struggles and this informs his near future, Big Brother setting.  There is no escaping the effects of the Revolution for Volfango.  He is never at peace and lives his life by doubting everything.  He becomes too bruised by the conflict raging topside and even within himself to express his emotions to those most close to him.

CONTRABAND is a fast paced, riveting tale that I enjoyed very much.  I am now going to seek out Vazquez's first novel as well.  Do yourself a favor get a copy of CONTRABAND today.  It is available on Amazon and at Rebel Satori Press as well.  You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Review: Tales From The Sexual Underground by Rick R. Reed (MLR Press)

This was the first collection of short pieces from Rick that I've had the pleasure to review; I dove into it immediately, eager to see to which dirty corners of the backrooms of his mind he would lead me.  And I wasn't disappointed.

I knew that Rick would excite and titallate me with this collection.  What I didn't expect was how uncomfortable some of the subject matter would make me.

Rick is very upfront in his introduction and tells us that he "wanted to write about people that were not just out, but out there, people who lived their sexual lives in ways most of us could only imagine...and for whom the flavor vanilla had absolutely no appeal."  And he covers this ground quite well, delving into topics like different sexual fetishes, the lure of the internet and thought provoking pieces that examine love,sex and monogomy in relationships.  Then there are the stories where he looks at gay men and drugs and bad judgement and HIV and it is here with these tales that I felt myself start to squirm a little.

To be sure, Rick isn't saying here that all gay men act as some of his characters have.  But the reality is those who haven't are in the minority.  Who among us hasn't seen a "sex god" and wanted to do whatever we had to to get into his pants?  Or been too high from a night of partying that we didn't think of the possible consequences of our actions?  Those consequences can be devastating as seen in "Negative. UB2", "Stranger Danger" and "Getting a Workout At The Health Club".  These stories made me shiver as I read them because the danger in them is very real.  The sexual underground indeed because we know the risks but ignore them for the more immediate gratification.

Equally chilling are "Meat Mallet" and "Craigslist", which had a cliff hanging ending that made me scream and then scream in frustration for wondering what happened next.  And there are the funny, laugh out loud tales as well: "The Truth-And The Myths-About Being A Slut", "Sick Day" and I am now waiting for Rick to collect all of the adventures of his friend Pete Thickwhistle ("Big And Sexy: A Late
Night Tale", "Glory Hole Grabber") into one volume, they are that hilarious.

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and the ride Rick took me on in its pages and would absolutely recommend it to readers of horror and gay lit.  It definitely isn't for everyone but if you proceed with caution, you will be titillated, amused, thrilled and chilled.  Open your mind (or your legs) and you will enjoy the ride, too.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Blue Moon Cafe/Tales From The Sexual Underground by Rick R Reed

Yay for me!  I've recently received review copies of Rick's two new books, THE BLUE MOON CAFE and TALES FROM THE SEXUAL UNDERGROUND!  He was generous enough to make sure I got them and I will be posting their reviews here shortly.

Thanks Rick!

The Dell/Abyss Reading Project

So for the last few months I've been slowly but steadily chipping away at organizing my storage space, or as it's more commonly known, my parent's garage.  As soon as the both stopped driving it became the catch all for all of our junk.  It's been quite full, to say the least.  Then last month my sister got married and started moving HER stuff out and suddenly I have all this space to work with!  So...

While I was consolidating and rearranging, sorting things to keep and things to donate, I came across this one box that contained books from that amazing old imprint Dell/Abyss.  I tore into the box and decided I was going to start rereading these books because I remembered them so fondly and I've been missing reading some REALLY GREAT horror.  Not that there isn't any really great horror being published now, there is; but I remember that these books were so cutting edge back in those days and now, some may be considered classics.  Some of these authors have turned to other genres, some still toll away in horror and some have stopped writing.  All I know is these books are great reads, scary and horrifying, just like I like my horror!  I may "review" some, maybe not,  but if you're interested in reading some really excellent horror try searching for these old title; you won't be disappointed!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Review: Superstar by Rick R.Reed

I have been a fan of Rick R. Reed's work since his Dell/Abyss releases PENANCE and OBSESSED and have followed his career ever since; yes, because he is a gay author but first and foremost because he's just a damn good writer!  Recently, thanks to social networking, I became a "friend" of his, first on Myspace and now on Facebook and Twitter.  And it was through Twitter that I really started a correspondence with him and,much to my excitement,  got the opprotunity to review his story "Superstar".

As I said, I've always loved Rick's work and this story was no different.  It's a beautifully written and beautifully sad love story.  Or maybe unrequited love story would be a better way to describe it.  It starts with the narrator, Leon, getting ready to jump from a "suicide bridge" in Seattle, Washington.  But before he jumps, he wants to relive what has brought him to this point of no return.

Told in flashbacks, he tells us the story of how one October night he met and made love with the lead singer of an up and coming band.  The sex was amazing and the unnamed singer,as he leaves in the morning,  tells Leon he loves him and that he will return.  Three years pass through which Leon has never been able to get over their one night stand and soon he finally comes to realize that for the singer it ended the night it began, "more a haiku than an epic." 

I really felt for Leon, especially as the story got closer to its climax; his memories of that night and what had  happened since are very emotional.  Who hasn't had that one lover that didn't return their affections, or phenomenal sex that didn't flower into a relationship?  Rick's writing made Leon's despair very real to me and made me want to be there for Leon as he stood there on the bridge, to hold out a hand and save him. 

If you get a chance to read this story, I can't recommend it enough; and I was excited to find out it's going to be included in a collection of Rick's due out Summer 2010 called ON THE EDGE.  This collection includes several of Rick's stories that have only been available in an electronic format, so don't miss out on this book, either; I know I will be hot on it's tail!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review: Sea, Swallow Me by Craig Laurance Gidney (Lethe Press)

I loved this book!  It is the first short story collection from Craig Laurance Gidney and reading it, and then re-reading it, made me wish it was a longer collection or a part of a series.  Gidney's voice is very assured and he expertly switches back and forth between first and third person narratives and different times and locals with ease.

Gidney's use of language is hauntingly beautiful and at once put me in mind of Tanith Lee or Storm Constantine.  I also loved the way that he would play with myth and folklore, putting his own unique signature on them; from an African seagod to Desire personified, I found them all hard to shake as I proceeded to the next story.

It's hard to pick a favorite out of all these perfect gems but both "Etiolate" and "Strange Alphabets" spring immeadiately to mind.  I loved the spin on the life of Arthur Rimbaud who is
"cursed by poetry."  And the story of Oliver, who must comes to terms with what he desires and his own need to be wanted was darkly erotic.  "Catch Him by the Toe" is straight up horror where a small town becomes a hunting ground for a creature bent on revenge, while "Circus-Boy Without a Safety Net" is a coming out story of a boy who follows his patron saint Lena Horne to New York.

 Each and every tale in this collection is a joy to read and I was very happy I sought this book out.  I hope you do the same!  And thanks to Mr. Gidney; I can't wait for what's coming next!