All posts by Paul G. Bens, Jr

Rot by Michele Lee

Rating: 7/10 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

Title: Rot
Author: Michele Lee
Genre: Horror, GLBT Interest
URL: Horror Mall
Price: Trade Softcover: US$14.95 – Mobi/Epub/PDF:  US$3.95
Warnings: Gore, Violence

Summary (from the publisher): Zombies Can Be Such a Burden. So you’ve raised your loved ones from the dead, but had no idea how difficult it would be to care for them. No problem! Silver Springs is a warm, peaceful facility equipped to handle all your zombie needs. Their friendly staff will ensure they have a safe environment with daily exercise and raw meat. Rest easy knowing they’re in good hands… as they rot. In Michele Lee’s Rot, you won’t find an apocalypse or Romero-style flesh-eaters.  This is far more disturbing. In a world where certain people can will others back from death, Silver Springs Specialty Care Community caters to the undead for those who aren’t quite ready to let go (zombie milk available by special arrangement at the home office). Dean, retired from the military and looking for an easier life, runs security at this zombie-herding farm, but he learns that dark injustice is not unique to war.  There’s a rotten core to Silver Springs.  Now, Dean and a quickly decaying corpse named Patrick are on the hunt for a woman they both love and lost to a lucrative business that specializes in greed, zombies and never having to say goodbye.

Disclaimer: This is a novella length work. I purchased the PDF version of the book and it should be noted that the PDF version is not formatted correctly for Sony e-reader’s enlarged text feature and the normal view text size is so small it was not readable for me.  Be aware that if you use a Sony e-reader and want to enlarge the text, nearly all formatting will be lost and paragraphs and dialog will run together.  I have not examined the other available e-formats to determine if the same problems exist.  I’d also recommend ignoring the tongue-in-cheek tone of the publisher’s blurb. While there is some dark humor in the novella, the blurb doesn’t really do justice to the work.

My Review: Continue reading Rot by Michele Lee

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Martyrs & Monsters by Robert Dunbar

Rating: 9/10 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 
Title:
Martyrs & Monsters
Author: Robert Dunbar
Genre: Horror/Dark Fiction, GLBT Fiction
URL: Amazon
Price: US$17.99 (list)
Warnings: Well, it’s horror, so violence, drug use, murder, and mayhem. The usual.

Summary (from the publisher): Robert Dunbar has been called one of the “saviors of contemporary dark fiction” and an “avatar of literary horror.” Martyrs & Monsters runs the gamut of this extraordinary author’s narrative range, embracing vampires and sea serpents, werewolves and swamp creatures . . . as well as a host of nightmares for which no names exist. Whether set on an orbiting space station or within a haunted tenement, these terrifying tales are steeped in a passionate intensity that renders them all but unique within the genre, and all boast a sophistication that qualifies them as that rarest of rare commodities: horror for adults.

My Review: If Alfred Hitchcock were alive today and desired to “re-imagine” his 1948 classic “Rope,” he’d want Robert Dunbar to write the screenplay. Guaranteed. Continue reading Martyrs & Monsters by Robert Dunbar

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The Literary Six by Vince A. Liaguno

Rating: 8.5/10 ★★★★★★★★½☆ 
Title:
The Literary Six
Author: Vince A. Liaguno
Genre: Horror/Dark Fiction, GLBT Fiction
URL: Amazon
Price: US$24.95

Summary (from the publisher): For the faculty, students, and alumni of Bendleton University, The Literary Six was the scourge of its collective existence for four long years. Notorious across the campus for its snobby witticisms and scathing critiques of the university, its faculty, its students, and its founders, this elite group of college literati fashioned itself in the likeness of Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table – an irreverent group of playwrights, theatre critics, and novelists who regularly lunched at the historic Algonquin Hotel in the 1920s. Indeed, graduation day for the members of The Literary Six brought a sigh of relief for many on the receiving end of the group’s caustic pen. As members of The Literary Six disbanded after graduation and went on to pursue careers as successful novelists, journalists, publishers, editors, and academics, they made a pact to reunite and celebrate the glory days of their scandalous collegiate association. This year, the six members of the infamous literary club are making their way to Shelter Rock Island, to the home of fellow member and bestselling authoress Taylor Miller and her television producer husband for a New Year’s Eve weekend of rekindled friendships, reminiscing, and unrequited love. But this year’s annual reunion will be like no other; a face from their collective past will be joining them. And as the island is cut off from the mainland in a winter storm that blankets the New England coastline, the members of The Literary Six will face retribution for the sins committed through their literary transgressions at the hands of a malevolence none of them could have conjured in the deepest recesses of their creative minds. And as the snow falls in silence around them, The Literary Six will begin to fall one by one and a desperate struggle for survival will unfold.

My Review: Continue reading The Literary Six by Vince A. Liaguno

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The Haunted Heart and Other Tales by Jameson Currier

Rating: 8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

Title: The Haunted Heart and Other Tales
Author: Jameson Currier
Genre: Dark fiction/horror, Single Author Anthology
URL: Amazon
Price: US$15.00

Summary (from the publisher): Haunted? Or blessed? Ghosts? Or guardian angels? Twelve new stories of gay men and the memories that haunt them. A circuit boy stays at a haunted hotel. An actor recounts a grisly murder in the English countryside. A gay parent unravels a mysterious souvenir. A journalist chases a story through the streets of Amsterdam. An artist grapples with his muse. A musician is inspired by the spirit of a sailor. Jameson Currier modernizes the traditional ghost story with gay lovers, loners, activists, and addicts, blending history and contemporary issues of the gay community with the unexpected of the supernatural.

My Review: Continue reading The Haunted Heart and Other Tales by Jameson Currier

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In the Closet, Under the Bed by Lee Thomas

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 
Title: In the Closet, Under the Bed
Author: Lee Thomas
Genre: Horror/Dark Fiction
URL: Amazon
Price: US$16.00
Other Information/warnings: Stoker Award Nominee, Lambda Literary Award Finalist

Summary (from the Publisher): A breathtaking collection of literary dark fiction that will force you to face the terror lurking…in the closet, under the bed… In this collection of fifteen tales, award-winning author Lee Thomas casts light on the shadows in our closets and explores the fear of boogeymen and beasts we sense lying in wait under our beds. Featuring nine original tales and six acclaimed short stories gathered together in one volume for the first time anywhere, In the Closet, Under the Bed reminds us that sometimes the most terrifying aspects of the human condition come from within.

My Review: Continue reading In the Closet, Under the Bed by Lee Thomas

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Mama Fish by Rio Youers

Rating: 8.5/10 ★★★★★★★★½☆ 
Title: Mama Fish
Author: Rio Youers
Genre: Dark Fiction (horror/speculative)
URL: Amazon
Price: $7.99 (note that this is a novella length work at 92 pages)

Summary (from the publisher): At Harlequin High School In 1986, Kelvin Fish was the oddball, the weird kid that no one would talk to, except for Patrick Beauchamp who was determined to learn more. When Patrick’s curiosity about Kelvin leads him into a bizarre and tragic series of events, Patrick gets much more than he bargained for.

My Review: Continue reading Mama Fish by Rio Youers

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The Silent Hustler by Sean Meriwether

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 

Title: The Silent Hustler
Author: Sean Meriwether
Genre: contemporary literary fiction, erotica, single author anthology
URL: Amazon
Price: US$15.00
Other information/warnings: Explicit content.
Summary (from the publisher): Best known for being the editor of edgy gay fiction of the Velvet Mafia website, Sean Meriwether has quietly been writing short fiction and building up a body of his own work. The Silent Hustler collects his short fiction published over the last decade. Meriwether’s fiction spans in range from the literary (“Things I Can’t Tell My Father”) to the revolutionary (“Burn the Rich”) to the downright raunchy (“Sneaker Queen”). Slip into bed with The Silent Hustler. You won’t feel guilty in the morning.

My Review: Continue reading The Silent Hustler by Sean Meriwether

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A Report From Winter by Wayne Courtois

Rating: 8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

Title: A Report from Winter
Author: Wayne Courtois
Genre: Memoir
URL: Amazon
Price: US$18.00

Summary (from the publisher): It’s January 1998, and the author is returning “home” after a ten-year absence to a Maine winter that’s even more brutal than usual. His mother, Jennie, is dying of cancer; she is well cared for, but unable to speak.  Needing support, Wayne calls on his longtime partner, Ralph, who heads northeast for his first exposure to the Maine cold. It’s also his first brush with Wayne’s family, including a feisty aunt and an emotionally distant brother. The contrast between a nurturing gay relationship and dysfunctional family bonds is as sharp as the wind sweeping in from the sea. Leavened with humor, A Report from Winter weaves childhood memories with the harsh realities of a family life that’s short on love. The memoir is a tribute to hard-won relationships in an uncaring world.

My Review: Continue reading A Report From Winter by Wayne Courtois

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Edinburgh by Alexander Chee

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 

Title: Edinburgh
Author: Alexander Chee
Genre: Contemporary literature
URL: Amazon
Price:  US$11.20
Other Information/Warnings: Possible sexual abuse triggers
Summary (from the publisher): As a child, Fee is a gifted Korean American soprano in a boys´ choir in Maine. Silent after being abused by the director, he is unable to warn the other boys or protect his best friend, Peter, from the director´s advances. Even after the director is imprisoned, Fee continues to believe he is responsible, and while he survives into adulthood, his friends do not. In the years that follow, he struggles to bury his guilt and grief, until he meets a beautiful young student who resembles Peter, and he is forced to confront the demons of his brutal past.

My Review: Continue reading Edinburgh by Alexander Chee

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