Saturday, October 1, 2011

Halloween Reads: Steampunk/PNR/LGBT Spec-Fic

October is here and that means Halloween! From the books I've read lately and some read a while back, I have accumulated a few recommendations of books you might want to read: Paranormal Romance, LGBT Speculative Fiction, Horror, and well... things with fangs, claws or some that go bump in the night.

The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire #1) & The Rift Walker (Vampire #2) by Susan Griffith and Clay Griffith: (Steampunk Adventure/ Romance) See Leslie's review here.
The first book in the Vampire Empire trilogy has some of the scariest vampires I've seen around in a while. I really enjoyed the fact that they are Nosferatu-like vampires, parasitic, violent and portrayed as animalistic and clannish in nature. The humans are also portrayed quite differently in this world, and for the two main characters it's a learning experience as they venture into the world of vampires in the northern lands where they rule. There's a princess, a masked and caped hero, horrifying vampires and violent, often fast-paced battles, plus the beginning of a sweet romance that develops between two very different people. Along with the first book, I will recommend The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire #2), a book that I'm reading at the moment, and where the fun, chilling adventures continue. 
Demon Marked (Guardian Series #7) by Meljean Brook (Paranormal Romance): See review here.
Weather you begin this series from scratch or decide to pick up where you left off doesn't matter. This is a series that I highly recommend and that is appropriate for this month with it's angel-like Guardians and demons, hell hounds, heaven-like Caelum, and vampires. There's a lot to be said about Meljean Brook's world and it's all good... it's complex, tight, and fascinating. The romance and heat are off the charts and I can't recommend it enough. 
Supernatural with Larissa Ione, Alexandra Ivy, Jacquelyn Frank, G.A. Aiken (Paranormal Romance): See review here
And if you want something lighter, Supernatural is a paranormal romance collection of novellas where the writers feature characters set in worlds created for already popular series. A couple of the stories are a bit darker than the others, but all four are on the erotic side of the scale with lots of sexin' going on along with the fangs, claws, darkness, fire and brimstone. 
LGBT Speculative Fiction and Horror:

Wilde Stories 2011: The Years Best Gay Speculative Fiction edited by Steve Berman (Speculative Fiction): See review here
I just reviewed this collection of stories and highly recommend it. All the stories included are excellent: there are vampires, flesh eating zombies, stories about the occult, mermen, a mesmerizing psychic, a clown!, surfer dudes and dudettes, and well... romance and love along with all the hmm... weird fantasy.
Pumpkin Teeth by Tom Cardamone (LGBT Speculative Fiction): See mini here
Oh boy! Did I enjoy this collection by Cardamone or what? This is one fantastic collection of spec-fic stories where Cardamone includes both horror and fantasy. His stories are shocking and nightmarish, and if you love those ambiguous endings that leave you holding your breath at the end you'll love these. I read it last year and will be re-reading some of the stories again this October. :)
The StarCrossed Series by co-authors Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine (Speculative Fiction): See reviews here and here
Demon Tailz (Book 1), Opposite Ends of the Spectrum (Book 2), Sangria and Seraphim (Book 2.5), Objects in the Mirror (Book 3), Angel Tears (Book 3.5), In the Blink of an Eye (Book 4)
This is spec-fic of the horror, homo-erotic kind. The best kind. It's exciting and disturbing with demons, vampires, angels and witches equally doing their thing among humans and with each other. MacLeod and Valentine's series escalates and gets better and better as it goes along. But you don't have to believe me (I only wrote an ini-Mini), I've linked you above to Indigene's reviews of this series. She reviewed all four books when the series was first released a few years back and in my opinion, these are still the best reviews about this series out there. This series has had a resurgence in popularity recently after it was re-released by OmniLit.

There are many excellent Speculative Fiction books out there to read! I've slowly become an addict of this sub-genre, horror and fantasy in particular. For LGBT fans, Lethe Press' quarterly magazine, Icarus: The Magazine of Gay Speculative Fiction, is a great way to check out short stories by new or favorite writers, interviews, reviews, news about upcoming releases and of course networking information. So, I usually end up browsing through their book catalogue which has great choices. The upcoming fall issue has an interview with Ginn Hale who has the popular serial The Rifter out now. I've only read and reviewed the first episode from that series and am holding off on the rest. :)

So where do you look for new speculative fiction, horror, fantasy, new writers and upcoming books, LGBT or otherwise? What about books in general? What have you read lately that you would recommend as a great Halloween, October read?


  1. Thanks for the reviews! Coming back to read more. :)

  2. All right Cheryse! Glad you enjoyed them. Thanks for stopping by! ;P

  3. Hi Hils,

    Perfect post for his time of year. You know I love my fantasy, UF and horror (the scarier the better for the latter). This caught my attention right away:

    "The first book in the Vampire Empire trilogy has some of the scariest vampires I've seen around in a while."

    I will look into the Griffin series. Are there only two in the series to date? Does book 2 hold up to the first?

    2011 Wilde Stories is on my list (thanks to your review) as is the Hale Rifter Series. Believe it or not I've had Cardamone's Pumpkin Teeth for a while but haven't read it yet! I've also been checking out Icarus I think I may subscribe in the New Year.

    Thanks so much for the review mention of the MacLeod and Valentine StarCrossed Series it's one of my favourites and the author's are working on book 5 Panacea. I'm also a fan of their Messiah series, which is controvertial with some readers.

    I've been slowly making my way through Rick R. Reed's backlist and two of my favourite's are Bashed: A Love Story and Riding the El at Midnight. Although some characterize both stories as gay romance, in true Reed fashion both lean heavily in the horror/suspense/thriller category.

    I'm a fan of Stephen King, but of his early books (Carrie, Salem's Lot, The Shinning and Dead Zone), I haven't read him in a while though. Also, my favourite in the dytopian universe sub-genre is Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale. In terms of LGBT fantasy/UF, I loved Bryl R. Tyne's recent short story series The Zagzagel Diaries.

    Thanks again for the post, plenty of good recommendations.


  4. Hi Indie!

    To answer your question, Vampire Empire is a trilogy and the second book was just released. I'm in the middle of it and so far so good. :) I will let you know if it holds up by the end.

    "Pumpkin Teeth" by Cardamone! Indie, you would love that collection of stories... it's fabulous. The more I read it, the better I like it. Prepare yourself for a ride though dark waters. :D

    Thanks for the heads up on the 5th book for the "Star Crossed" series. That's great news! I've loved your reviews of that series ever since you posted them on your LJ and then on The Phade. I can't wait to see what you have to say about "Panacea."

    I STILL have "Sins of the Messiah" in my TBR and hope to read it! LOL, I should write up a post on books I want to read... because I also have Rick R. Reed's "Bashed," and "The Zagzagel Diaries." But at this point I think those books will be read either toward the end of the year, or next year.

    Thanks for recommending "The El at Midnight by Rick R. Reed." I had not heard of that one. RE: Stephen King, I've read some of his works, "The Stand" and "The Shining" are still favorites.

    PS: I just finished reading "The German" by Lee Thomas (LGBT), and in my opinion it qualifies. This is an AWESOME book! It's a thriller set during WWII with plenty of scary moments and a touch of the supernatural... but hmm... there's so much more to it too. Excellent read!

  5. Hils wrote: Thanks for recommending "The El at Midnight by Rick R. Reed." I had not heard of that one.


    Last year Reed put out a compilation of some (but not all) of his best short stories/novellas entitled On The Edge - Riding The El At Midnight is one of the stories in it. The compilation is a mix of gay romance/erotica, horror, suspense/ thrillers, fantasy and the literary absurd. It's actually a very good collection if a reader wants to sample his work. I have a the print verson, but believe it's available in ebook format as well. Here's the link to the publisher and mini-blurbs on each of the stories in the compilation:

    I have been eyeing The German. I love thrillers! So I guess this one goes on the list as well. Oh boy, my 2012 reading card is sure filling up fast!

    And if suspense/thrillers qualify then I'll add The Equinox Convergence by Erik Orrantia which I recently read and which is excellent.


  6. Thank you again for all your wonderful words and support of my little press.



  7. Indie, I checked out the Reed collection and it definitely looks great. You know I've only read one book by him. Excellent recommendation. Thanks for the link! I already have The Equinox Convergence by Orratia in my TBB list, thanks to your review. :) RE: Icarus, it's available in PDF format and you can get the single issues. I loved the Spring issue, and will be getting Fall.


    There are excellent selections availabe over at your "little" press. What's not to like? :) By the way, besides the great spec-fic, I'm loving the Tincture titles so far..., thanks for stopping by. :D

  8. Fun post, Hils :) It's true that with the abundance of urban fantasy and paranormal novels, it can feel like Halloween the whole year LOL.

  9. I really liked the Vampire Empire book too. Should finally be getting the second book this week. :)

  10. I had fun putting it together, Nath. And it's SO true! We read about fanged scary monsters all year long. *g*

    Leslie! Argh! Your review of The Greyfriar got me to read it... ugh... where's my head! Thank you SO much for the recommendation. I enjoyed it. I began reading the second book already, had to put it aside, but will finish it this weekend (hopefully) during my long day weekend. :)


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