Tag Archives: Lethe Press

17Apr/17

Review of Sacred Band by Joseph D. Carriker Jr.

I have been gifted an Advanced Reading Copy of Sacred Band in exchange for an honest review. Sacred Band is to be published by Lethe Press in April 2017.

The author is an experienced gamer, which definitely comes through in the book. There’s quite a lot to take in. For starters, at least four of the main characters had two different names. For a non-gamer, this has the potential for confusion, but for any hardened D&D, ComicCon or Marvel fans, this is familiar territory.

Once I had figured out who was who, and had learned their superhero names, it was much easier. And it made total sense. After all, when your superpower is being able to create lethal metal ballbearings and use them as bullets, then “Rusty” probably isn’t the first name you’d choose.

The author has brought the “supers trying to save the world’ theme bang up-to-date, starting with the disappearance of one of Rusty’s gay friends from the internet. Rusty suspects he has been kidnapped, along with others. There were obvious nods to the horrific problems LGBT people are suffering in Russia and other closeted countries, and he soon realises that the problem is far deeper, and far more world-threatening than he could have imagined. It’s a problem that needs extraordinary people to tackle it, and the government just aren’t up-to-scratch. He then has to pull together a super-team, and deal with all the issues those characters bring to the table. There are politics at play, some with familiar overtones, and complex diplomatic delicacies worthy of The West Wing. It gives the superhero genre a grown-up, satirical edge that makes it stand out.

Chock-full of superhero shenanigans

As I said before, I’m a non-gamer, so I thought that at times, all the mini-conflicts got in the way of central story. I had to pick through them to find the core of the book. Sometimes, it read a little busy and IMO the editing could have been tightened up in places, yet I liked the characters immensely, my favourite being Deosil (I just want that girl in my life right now!) I did get the sense that they were family, rather than friends, and Sentinel, the super who was exiled after the scandal that outed him, was more of a father figure than a love interest for Rusty. The sexual tension between them wasn’t convincing at first, but I kind of got it as the story went on. Personally, I would have matched Sentinel and Optic, but there you go.

I felt that the author was far more comfortable when choreographing the fight scenes, as they were fantastically drawn, and the political power play, than with the personal relationships, which seemed awkward in places. Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and it grew on me as it went on. At a generous 400 or so pages, Sacred Band is chock-full of superhero shenanigans to delight the most hardened of fantasy readers.

BLURB

The golden age of heroes is decades past. The government could not condone vigilantism and now metahumans are just citizens, albeit citizens with incredible talent, who are assisted in achieving normal lives (including finding good fits for their talents employment-wise) by a federal agency.

Rusty may have been a kid during that glorious age but he remembers his idol, Sentinel, saving lives and righting wrongs — until he was outed in an incredible scandal that forced him into isolation. When a gay friend of Rusty living in the Czech Republic goes missing, Rusty is forced to acknowledge that while the world’s governments claim that super teams are outdated and replaced by legal law enforcement, there are simply some places where the law doesn’t protect everyone — so he manages to find and recruit Sentinel to help him find his friend. But the disappearance of the friend is merely one move in a terrible plot against queer youth. A team of supers may be old-fashioned, but this may be a battle requiring some incredible reinforcements.

05Apr/17

An Asian Minor: The True Story of Ganymede (Audiobook) by Felice Picano

REVIEW

This book was originally written in 1981 by Felice Picano, and details the early life and career of Ganymede, as told by the alluring boy in his own words. It is extremely well-written, a colourful, ribald account of his escapades as he fights off the attentions of men of all rank and age. His beauty also captures the attention of various Immortals, who will go to great lengths to seduce him. It probably should be noted to those unfamiliar with Ancient history that Ganymede is 12 at the beginning of the book, so 21st century sensibilities do not apply.

The book hasn’t been in print for a long while, but now it has been republished as an audiobook, narrated in a salacious drawl by Jason Frazier. This is the first audiobook I have listened to all the way through. The delivery is everything, especially with a book that could be dismissed as being either too highbrow by some or too lightweight by others. This would be a shame. In fact, it is a witty, sexy, sometimes humorous account of Ganymede’s life. The reader gets a peephole view into the lusty world of Troy and its inhabitants, where beauty is highly prized and judged at every turn. Ganymede is the most beautiful of all boys, gaining sexual experience with a variety of Immortal lovers, before being disgraced and shunned for rejecting the top man, Zeus; probably not his greatest career move.

Jason Frazier’s voice should have an R rating. He could read a telephone directory and make it ooze with sexual promise. The book itself is not explicit, but the theme of lust runs through it in a pulsing thread. Ganymede learns humility, but still retains an arrogance that only truly beautiful people can get away with. He isn’t particularly likeable, but that doesn’t matter. His story is told in such rich and gorgeous detail, one cannot help but be captivated. This is a book to be savoured at home, rather than driving, or in a public place, as it would be a crime to miss a single word.

I was given a copy of this Audiobook in return for an honest review.

Audible Audio Edition (2017)

Listening Length: 1 hour and 46 minutes

Version: Unabridged

Publisher: Lethe Press

Language: English

ASIN: B06XCGDZN4

 

Long out-of-print, this novella is Ganymede’s life story – unapologetic in its ribald details of Greek gods in disguise, trying to seduce the most beautiful youth in the Ancient world. When a prince of Troy is born with perfect proportions, not only does every man he meets desire him, but the Immortals want him as their lover. Ganymede loses his virginity to Hermes at 12, at 14 he captures the attention of Ares and Apollo…can Zeus be next? This risqué tale, narrated by acclaimed storyteller Jason Frazier, will appeal to all who have wondered how one boy stepped out of myth to become a gay icon.

06Mar/17

Review of Angels Fall by N.S. Beranek

We recently had the gal from Chicago, Nancy Beranek, join us for a vibrant chat on our show! To find out more about Nancy and get links to her work, check out Episode 101: Look At The Fridge Magnets!

REVIEW

This book is like walking through a Mardi Gras festival; colourful, confusing and fantastical, laced with horror and throbbing with erotic promise.

It is worth noting that the book is written in the present tense, which puts the reader right in the heart of Beranek’s world from the get go.

The blurb assumes a lot when it says “when a member of the created family he’s focused on instead comes under threat from a mysterious illness, Ehrichto strikes a deal with his own sire, to return to the sire’s bed in exchange for his help.” I get that this is vampire-speak, but I was left thinking “huh?”

If it puts some people off, that would be a shame, because although the book isn’t that long, it is packed so full of beautiful details and lavish descriptions, it feels like an all-round sensory experience. The smell of blood and sun-tan oil, fresh bodies and sexual promise, all drip from the page. The author has built this incredible, colourful, savage world, filled with family drama, vampire politics, and sexual undertones. There isn’t a lot of actual sex, but despite that, it is a very erotically-charged book. Very clever and not easily accomplished.

An all-round sensory experience

There are a lot of characters, and a lot of different dynamics at play, so much so it seemed confusing at times. I’m still not sure what the relevance of Dorjan’s character is. I feel I have to read the book again to fully grasp all the delicate nuances. Again, this would delight some readers, but I wasn’t wholly gripped enough to do so. As a book reviewer, I don’t have time to read the same book twice. This is a shame, but it’s the author’s job to explain it through the story, not my job to rummage through the book until I finally get it.

Having said that, I believe there is scope for a series. There are some great personalities here, all of which are colourfully described and given their own distinctive voice. I loved Michael’s family, and the way the author dealt with his coming out, the confusion of his parents, his horrendous social-climbing mother. The setting of scenes is first class, and consistent throughout the book. I really wish I loved it more than I did, but the chaotic story-line was a little too distracting for my taste.

No doubt about it though. This is a clever and literary addition to the vampire genre.

 

Print Length: 265 pages

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

Publisher: Lethe Press

Publication Date: November 13, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

ASIN: B01N407YT5

 

BLURB

Tired of being told—by straight and gay alike—that he loves “incorrectly,” vampire Ehrichto Salvatolle gave up on the idea of having romantic love long ago. When a member of the created family he’s focused on instead comes under threat from a mysterious illness, Ehrichto strikes a deal with his own sire, to return to the sire’s bed in exchange for his help. But when he meets the great-grandson of the first man to break his heart, Ehrichto spies a chance to have the one thing he’s always wanted: true love.

25Nov/16

Steve Berman

November 25, 2016

It gives us great pleasure to announce Steve Berman as the guest on episode 086: Unconvicted Criminal Accomplice!

This week Steve Berman joins the podcast to talk about his writing, establishing and running Lethe Press, gay publishing, and he shares a special holiday coupon code for listeners!

SPECIAL BLACK FRIDAY PROMO

Go to Lethepressbooks.com and use “WROTEPODCAST” (all caps, sans quotes) and receive 33% off your purchases from the Lethe Press online bookstore now (11.25) to 12.10.16!

Follow and support Steve’s work:

Bio:

Steve is a writer. He mostly writes queer speculative fiction (fantasy, horror, surreal and quirky) for teens and adults.
He’s also an editor. He adores short stories and has edited a fair number of acclaimed anthologies.
He established and owns Lethe Press, one of the larger LGBT presses in the nation.
He lives in New Jersey, the only part of the United States that has an official devil.

 

This Podcast Episode is
AVAILABLE NOW!
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Or on Soundcloud:

19Aug/16

The Biggest Lover (Big-Boned Mens’ Erotica) edited by R. Jackson

TheBiggestLover

It was a privilege to talk to Ron Suresha earlier this year. To hear our frank conversation with him and find out more about his work, listen to Episode 045 – The Deliciousness

REVIEW

A confession: I had this book on my Kindle for a while before I gathered up the balls to read it. Why? Because I knew it wasn’t aimed at middle-class English ladies, and quite frankly, I was a bit nervous. Not sure what to expect. I didn’t want any previously undiscovered, deeply-buried prejudices to mar my enjoyment of the book. Thank goodness I found out two things. I don’t have deeply-buried prejudices concerning larger than life people, and this book is a glorious celebration of a culture I knew nothing about, and which I now have a great respect for.

This is a  wonderful, quality anthology by several authors, packed full of erotic, tender, funny stories, thoughtfully and skilfully chosen by R. Jackson. A couple are downright disturbing, involving food and eating (though I’m not the target readership, so maybe they are not.) It would be hard to pick a favourite. It is a big, meaty read on all levels. The reader is not pandered to, but embraced and welcomed into a great big bear hug. “This is our world. Welcome, friend, but do not judge.”

People come in all shapes and sizes, but the fact that Chubs, Chasers and Bears are marginalised by literature, as well as overall society, gives this anthology an edge.  It is rare to have a collection that is so evenly paced in quality, but it is clear each story has been carefully chosen to give sub-genres of the Bear community a voice. I’m glad that I was able to read it, because it gave me a privileged glimpse into a private world of men who feel left on the side-lines because of their size. In these stories, the overall feeling is acceptance and love for who they are, rather than being obliged to squeeze into the roles that society feels able to cope with.

These stories celebrate big men, and show that their size doesn’t have to be a barrier to having the same needs and aspirations as anyone of a “normal” size. One of the cancers of our society is to judge others simply for the way they look, whether they are too slim or of size, ugly or beautiful, forgetting that people have souls. To not appreciate people for who they are is to rob oneself.

So this book is a celebration, a humorous, beautiful, melancholy and ultimately uplifting collection from some fine authors, including Suresha himself. If I had to choose a standout, it would be …. no, I can’t choose. This is a book to be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys buying in bulk. Anyone who reads it will get something out of it. A beautiful and inspirational read.

And did I say the sex was hot too….?