Thursday, February 28, 2019

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for February 2019

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month

It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some January books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, portal fantasy, Asian fantasy, funny fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction romance, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, horror, steampunk, hopepunk (yes, I'm using that term. Get over it), satire, witches, wizards, ghosts, valkyries, goblins, dark lords, assassins, prison breaks, outcast marines, space pirates, superheroes, space battles, undead slaves, the second coming and much more.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

War Begins by Odette C. BellWar Begins by Odette C. Bell:

Diana had a troubled past. The kind where her family were brutally murdered right in front of her eyes. It’s changed the course of her future – but it will change more. An ancient race left a gift inside her mind, and it is time for it to rise.

Sampson is a psychic soldier – one of the Coalition’s best. When he’s sent to the Academy to spy on students, he has no clue he’ll be drawn toward Diana and into the final fight for the Milky Way.

War Begins is a four-part action adventure space opera sure to please fans of Odette C. Bell’s Axira. This series is complete, and all four books are currently available.

The Valley of the Man Vultures by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertThe Valley of the Man Vultures by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert

On his way to Krysh, a city of fabled riches, the sellsword Thurvok must first pass through the Valley of the Accursed Blood.

Traditionally, those travelling to Krysh make offerings at the temple at the entrance of the valley in exchange for protection on their journey. But Thurvok scoffs at such superstition and decides to continue his journey without any divine protection. His refusal to make an offering infuriates the temple priest Alberon who promptly curses Thurvok.

Thurvok is not much bothered by this – he does not believe in curses. However, the valley holds dangers that don't particularly care whether Thurvok believes in them or not.

This is a short story of 4400 words or 15 print pages in the Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

The Tomb of the Undead Slaves by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertThe Tomb of the Undead Slaves by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert

The sellsword Thurvok and his friend and companion Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, venture into the Rusted Desert to seek the tomb of the ancient king Chagurdai and the legendary treasure supposedly hidden there.

But once Thurvok and Meldom venture into the tomb, they find that a treasure is not all that's buried there.

This is a short story of 4100 words or 13 print pages in the Tales of Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

The Road of Skeletons by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertThe Road of Skeletons by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert

On their way to the northern city of Khon Orzad, Thurvok, the sellsword, and his friend Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, travel along a road lined with the skeletons of executed heretics.

It's a grim path that becomes even grimmer when Thurvok and Meldom come upon a blindfolded woman who is still very much alive tied to a stake by the side of the road.

Should they continue their journey or rescue the woman and risk the wrath of the priest kings of Khon Orzad…

This is a short story of 5500 words or 20 print pages in the Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

Insight by Teyla BrantonInsight by Teyla Branton:

Welcome to the CORE: Commonwealth Objective for Reform and Efficiency

Detective Reese Parker is a survivor. Having left behind a violent past in Welfare Colony 6, she is now a sketch artist and detective with the New York Enforcer Division. Her entire focus is maintaining peace and order among the CORE’s remaining two million residents, to make certain their society never faces another economic and nuclear Breakdown.

She must also keep her secret. Because she never wants to be sent back to Colony 6.

With constant Teev surveillance and rigid control in the CORE’s most heavily populated state, Reese’s job mostly consists of tracing small-time juke pushers or sending rebellious students to reconditioning. She doesn’t have to face demented fringers that encroach upon the Core like her counterparts in Dallastar do, or patrol the northern borders where radiation-crazed animals attack unwary travelers. She’s content with being the most accurate sketch artist in the CORE.

But when one of her sketches puts her up against a human monster bigger than anything else that threatens the CORE, it’s a fight she might not survive.

Collision: Stories by J.S. BreukelaarCollision: Stories by J.S. Breukelaar:

A collection of twelve of J.S. Breukelaar's darkest, finest stories with four new works, including the uncanny new novella "Ripples on a Blank Shore." Introduction by award-winning author, Angela Slatter. Relish the gothic strangeness of "Union Falls," the alien horror of "Rogues Bay 3013," the heartbreaking dystopia of "Glow," the weird mythos of "Ava Rune," and others. This collection from the author of American Monster and the internationally acclaimed and Aurealis Award finalist, Aletheia, announces a new and powerful voice in fantastical fiction.

Assassin's Bond by Lindsay BurokerAssassin's Bond by Lindsay Buroker:

Yanko and his friends must escape a Turgonian prison and find passage back home before their enemies claim an advantage that could change the world. And not for the good of the Nurian people.

But even more trouble awaits at home. Civil war has broken out, Yanko’s family is in danger, and the man who sent him on his mission has disappeared.

If Yanko can’t find Prince Zirabo, he’ll forever remain a criminal and be hunted down by his own people. Worse, his only chance to survive and redeem his honor may be to rely on the one person who’s been trying to kill him since his adventure began.

Quill Me Now by Jordan Castillo PriceQuill Me Now by Jordan Castillo Price:

What if the words you wrote came true?

Spellcraft isn’t exactly a respectable business, but it does pay the bills. At least, it should. Unfortunately, Dixon Penn failed his Spellcraft initiation. Instead of working in his family’s shop, he’s stuck delivering takeout orders in his uncle’s beat-up Buick.

Winning a Valentine’s Day contest at the largest greeting card company in the tri-state area would be just the thing to get his life back on track—but something at Precious Greetings just doesn’t add up. And despite numerous warnings to quit pestering them about his contest entry, he simply can’t stop himself from coming back again and again.

It doesn’t hurt that the head of security is such a hottie. If Dixon had any common sense, he’d be scared of the big, mysterious, tattooed Russian.

To be fair, no one ever accused him of being too smart….

Unleashed Valkyrie by Stacy ClaflinUnleashed Valkyrie by Stacy Claflin:

When two worlds collide, who will remain standing?

Soleil wants nothing more than to live with her family, free from the rules governing her kind. But with Valhalla on the brink of civil war, even retired valkyries are called back to service. Even though she’s a master at skirting the rules, there’s no avoiding her destiny this time. Especially since she’s accidentally volunteered to lead Valhalla’s opposition on Earth—and with two of her least favorite valkyries, no less.

As though a war with traditional valkyries isn’t enough, there’s been a resurgence of hunters. Even the help of the supernaturals on Earth may not be enough to assure victory. Not when she’s fighting a war on two fronts. There’s one supernatural who might be strong enough to turn the tide, but she’d never ask. She’s also not strong enough to keep him from entering the fray.

The fate of two worlds hang in the balance. Soleil wants nothing more than to flee with her family, but she’s honor-bound to stay and fight. The question is, how will the war end? With her people free? With two worlds destroyed? Or will she even survive to witness the outcome?

Murder in Downfell Manor by E.M. CooperMurder in Downfell Manor by E.M. Cooper:

Eleanor Blakely hails from a long line of talented witches, yet after failing to graduate from the Fanglewick School of Magic her prospects look grim. An apprenticeship at the Wandermere Observatory in the Department of Astronomical Predictions offers her a second chance to gain registration as a magic practitioner, but after falling asleep on the job, missing the planetary alignment in the newly discovered Merlin constellation and mistaking a dragon weyr flying over Wandermere for the Cazilla comet shower, she’s booted out. In the Old World, a magically unlicensed adult witch sits just above humans and troublesome teenage goblins on the scale of social worthiness, well below the most ordinary elves, witches and wizards. Unable to practise magic and in her mid-twenties, Eleanor endures work as a transfer officer, supervising humans on the wards of Silverwing Hospital. Her team transports witches and wizards suffering a fatal affliction, known as magic madness or magdolor, to St Blightus, an asylum in the south. In the midst of a transfer, a murder changes everything, forcing her to flee across dimensions to Earth with an amnesiac wizard. Pursued by ruthless elves, she takes refuge in Downfell Manor, where her grandmother, Lucinda and her strange cat, Bella reside. Murder and mayhem follow Eleanor and Artemis, their paths inevitably crossing those of a non-magical wizard, Detective Finley Quiveridge.

The Dark Lord Bert by Chris FoxThe Dark Lord Bert by Chris Fox:

How does a 1-hit-point goblin become the Dark Lord?

By accident. Bert is a tiny goblin with big dreams. He follows adventurers, and loots the copper they leave behind when they take the real loot. One day, Bert hopes, he'll have enough copper to buy a warg, and finally promote from a 1-HP critter to a Warg Rider.

Kit is a typical gamer hoping to enjoy a good story, but her friends are more interested in rules, loot and experience. Kit’s friends Crotchshot, Brakestuff, and the White Necromancer rampage their way across the land desperately seeking the Dark Lord trope, which gives the wielder the power to reshape the world.

When Bert accidentally steals the trope, Kit is forced to make a choice. Should she help her friends, or help a new Dark Lord rise to power?

The world will never be the same. Get ready for The Dark Lord Bert.

Emerald Fire by Donna Maree HansonEmerald Fire by Donna Maree Hanson:

A book of manners, magic and mayhem

After Edward and Jemima’s honeymoon is cut short by a severed head landing in their marriage bed, they must away to London to devise a way to defeat the ravenous beast, Geneck and Jemima must be the bait.

Newspaper headlines reveal carnage in London streets and the police and the secret brotherhood of magicians are pounding at the door, demanding answers from Edward.

Joined by Fulton, Edward and Jemima begin to scour the dark places of London: sewers and newly-constructed underground railway tunnels. Their only chance is to find Geneck’s lair and end him in daylight, when he is weak. But the monster’s minions protect him and the road to safety is not clear.

When Jemima is taken, Edward is beside himself. Who has taken her and how is he going to get her back? Deeper into magic he must go, and Milly and Aunt Prudence join in the fight to rid the world of Geneck. But will that be enough?

Replication by Kevin HardmanReplication by Kevin Hardman:

Having saved the distant world of Caeles and its interstellar empire – not to mention the life of its ruler, Queen Dornoccia – Jim (aka Kid Sensation), returns to Earth with two notable prizes. The first is his long-missing grandmother, the alien princess Indigo. The other is Queen Dornoccia’s great-great-granddaughter, Myshtal, who is a princess in her own right and a budding superhero. And thanks to the machinations of the queen, she’s also Jim’s titular fiancée, a fact that puts something of a damper on Jim’s relationship with his girlfriend, Electra. It also doesn’t help that Myshtal is breathtakingly beautiful, personable, and witty – and lives under the same roof as Jim.

As if his life wasn’t complicated enough, Jim suddenly finds his world invaded by a doppelganger – an unknown individual who looks so much like him that he is even able to fool those in Jim’s inner circle. Even more disturbing, he also mimics Jim’s incredible slate of super powers.

Framed for crimes he didn’t commit, Jim is forced to seek out his lookalike in order to prove his innocence. However, as the depth of his double’s malevolent plans are revealed, Jim realizes that there is far more at stake than simply clearing his name. Now Jim faces the formidable task of attempting to stop an adversary who not only looks and thinks as he does, but also seems to match him power for power.

Fahrenheit's Ghost by Trish HeinrichFahrenheit's Ghost by Trish Heinrich:

A weapon of mass destruction in the whisper of a child

When a savage crime boss attacks her family, Colleen vows to do whatever it takes to protect them. Even if it means stealing a superpowered person from a sadistic millionaire.

A top government agent, Karen has lied and killed in the name of justice. Kidnapping, then, isn’t a stretch. Especially if it’s someone who threatens the country she’s vowed to protect.

But when Colleen and Karen discover that the person they’ve been sent to capture is a child, they find themselves on the run from ruthless men who will stop at nothing to control the horrifying powers within the innocent girl.

Fahrenheit's Ghost is the first, thrilling book in the new superhero series, The Vigilantes: The Pandora Project. If you like powerful heroes, nonstop action and a touch of romance then you’ll love this superpowered story.

The Ghost Who Says I Do by Bobbi HolmesThe Ghost Who Says I Do by Bobbi Holmes:

A Valentine’s Day Wedding at Marlow House?

Love is in the air—along with secrets—some are deadlier than others.

Will secrets from Clint Marlow’s past come back to haunt Walt and Danielle?

Ghoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia JaymesGhoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia Jaymes:

It’s time for another Ravenmist Whodunnit! A tiny Midwestern town with charming covered bridges, quirky residents, delightful antique shops, and more than their share of haunted activity.

Tedi has another packed inn of people for the Ravenmist Valentine’s Day Ball. The evening was a complete success until she and Jack find a dead body on the back patio with a Cupid’s arrow through his heart. There’s no shortage of suspects for his murder either. Jack will have his hands full paring down the list.

And Tedi? She’s staying out of this. No way is she going to be pulled into it. Not after last time. She has her own investigation. She and her friend Missy are trying to find why the town has suddenly been infused with paranormal energy. Ghosts are literally getting up and dancing around. It’s all going well too. That is until the investigation starts to hit just a little bit too close to home.

Hop into your ghostmobile and take a ride with Tedi as she meets a spirit who doesn’t think he’s dead, two ghosts in love, and a hard partying specter who just might have witnessed the murder. It’s a hauntingly good time in the little town of Ravenmist and you’re invited to the party.

The Spoils of War by Ethan JohnsonThe Spoils of War by Ethan Johnson:

Be careful what you search for...

After a successful tactical strike against The Thirteen, Ana Lode searches the city for her fellow rookie officer Sloan, who languishes in a secret detention facility.

This causes friction between Ana and the mysterious Klark, who insists on her undivided attention in the struggle to free the city from the iron grip of The Thirteen.

When Diane Pembrook leads a strike team to their remote hideout, Ana is forced to choose between her loyalty to Klark and her vow to save Sloan. What -- and who -- is she willing to sacrifice in the name of justice?

For the Love of Cupidity by Raven KennedyFor the Love of Cupidity by Raven Kennedy:

First comes love, then comes mating, then comes the baby and some cupid training.

Cupidville is overrun with new cupid recruits, and it’s up to me to train them in time for Valentine’s Day. Too bad I have four mates who keep insisting that it’s time for me to take a break.

Juggling my role as the cupid boss, being a mate, and handling motherhood isn’t always easy, but it’s sure as hearts worth it. Let’s just hope I can get these cupid flunkies trained in time.

Author’s Note: This is a Heart Hassle novella just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Love Potion, edited by Graceley Knox and D.D. MiersLove Potion, edited by Graceley Knox and D.D. Miers:

A valentines day charity anthology featuring 8 exclusive stories from your favorite bestselling Paranormal and Fantasy romance authors! All proceeds will be donated to Room to Read!

How to Capture a Demon's Heart - Graceley Knox & D.D. Miers
A Demon's Plaything (The Elite Guards) - Amelia Hutchins
Deep Blue Sea - Pippa DaCosta
The Hellhound's Legion: A Kit Davenport Novella - Tate James
The Heart Cantrip: a Family Spells Novella - C.M. Stunich
Eternal Hearts - A Forsaken Gods Series Novella - G. Bailey & Coralee June
A Damsel and a Demigod (The Guild Codex: Spellbound) - Annette Marie
The Fox and the Wolf - Clara Hartley

Freaky Witches by Amanda M. LeeFreaky Witches by Amanda M. Lee:

Mystic Caravan Circus is heading for the Midwest … and their first stop is Michigan. Hemlock Cove to be exact.

Poet Parker is looking forward to what she believes will be a quiet time. Hemlock Cove isn’t big, after all, and Mystic Caravan is essentially serving as the centerpiece for a paranormal festival in a town where everyone pretends to be witches.

There’s just one problem … real witches are afoot, and they’re unbelievably powerful.

When a body drops close to the circus grounds, Poet finds herself facing off with local law enforcement, the town’s only reporter, and an elderly witch who is set in her ways … and knows exactly how she’s going to do things no matter who agrees with her or not.

Yes, Poet is about to interact with the Winchester witches, and who comes out on top is anybody’s guess. The only thing both factions know is that they have to work together to uncover a killer and keep their true natures under wraps. That’s easier said than done, especially when Nellie and Aunt Tillie join forces and decided to take control of the situation.

It’s a battle for supremacy, with Mystic Caravan in one corner and the Wicked Witches of the Midwest in the other. Both sides are going to come out swinging … and cursing.

Place your bets.

Two Witches and a Whiskey by Annette MarieTwo Witches and a Whiskey by Annette Marie:

Three months ago, I landed a job as a bartender. But not at a bar--at a guild. Yeah, the magic kind.
I'm not a badass mage like my three smokin' hot best friends. I'm not a sorcerer or an alchemist, or even a wussy witch. I'm just a human, slinging drinks like a pro and keeping my non-magical nose out of mythic business. Seriously, I know my limits.

So why am I currently standing in a black-magic ritual circle across from a fae lord?

Somewhere behind me, my three mage friends are battling for their lives. Somewhere near my feet is the rogue witch I just knocked out with a stolen spell. And I have about five seconds to convince this very angry sea god not to shmoosh me like a bug.

I'm pretty sure this wasn't in the job description.

Rainbow Bouquet, edited by Farah MendlesohnRainbow Bouquet, edited by Farah Mendlesohn:

Authors featured are Harry Robertson, Edward Ahern, Victoria Zammit, Erin Horáková, Cheryl Morgan, Sarah Ash, Kathleen Jowitt, Sean Robinson, Garrick Jones and MJ Logue, and the settings vary from a mediaeval monastery to the 'final frontier', give or take the odd supernatural realm along the way. Stories of love in the past, present and future - all as fascinating in their variety as love itself.
Liars Called by Ty HutchinsonLiars Called by Stephan Morse:

Abandoned by his father, too proud to ask his brother for help, and lured by the promise of money, Lance gets on a bus that mysteriously appears outside his house in the middle of the night.

It brings him and others to a dream-like land where anything can be bought and sold, even magic. When he returns home, he finds his family has changed, the world has moved on, and monsters from faerie tales overrun the town.

Survival is paramount—but everything has a price.

Revenge by Nathan HystadRevenge by Nathan Hystad:

The Rift has opened.
The aliens invaded.
The Eureka is on the other side.

Flint, Wren, and Ace, along with Charles, are now members of the Eureka, a state-of-the-art vessel heading for a world in the far reaches of a new galaxy. Sixty years ago a colony ship was sent there, along with someone close to their benefactor.

But when they arrive, they find getting to the surface isn’t as easy as they thought. With a crash landing, and news that shocks the entire crew, they must collectively find a way to get the Pilgrim off-planet, and into the fight against the Watchers.

One of the crew leaves from orbit, spelling betrayal, and the others know time is against them. They must create a virus and bring it to the enemy’s home world, but not everything is as it seems.
Join our heroes as they fight for the future, knowing an all-out war awaits them back home, on the other side of the Rift.

Ghostly Hunt by K.E. O'ConnorGhostly Hunt by K.E. O'Connor:

Murder by crossbow. A haunted house used for ghost hunting, and an unloved iguana waiting for his soul mate!

When Lorna Shadow takes on a short term job at Applebank Manor, she gets the shock of her life. It turns out she's in charge of setting up romantic weekends full of ghost hunting!

When a recent murder comes to light and the ghost asks for help, Lorna's drawn into the mystery, alongside Helen and Flipper.

As the mystery deepens, the house ghosts cause Lorna problems, while Helen has to get to grips with a broken stove and a giant iguana. Then another crossbow murder takes place.

With the police closing in on the wrong suspect, Lorna must move fast. Can she stop the killer before they strike again and save an innocent man? And will Helen help a lonely iguana find his forever home?

There will be ghosts, humor, romance, treats, and a murder (or two) to solve in this new cozy ghost mystery.

Dimension Thieves by Misty ProvencherDimension Thieves by Misty Provencher:

The world is a much smaller place since the President droned the lower classes, making them mindless servants. Free will, granted to the elite, is in jeopardy of extinction.

Force Steele, son of a high-ranking advisor, has dedicated himself to eradicating mass droning, but now that the President destroyed the machine that could reverse the program, there is no way in Force’s world to replace the one-of-a-kind gears.

In this gripping serial, Force partners with a shifty mechanic and a sketchy crew to retrieve the gears. They must travel across lateral dimensions, often stealing the materials they need—even from themselves—to fix their dwindling world.

Digital Assassin by Jaxon ReedDigital Assassin by Jaxon Reed:

New technology allowed humans to reach for the stars. Now technology has led to war.

Opposing AI systems battle in a monumental struggle for control of the galaxy. But one planet remains a refuge of independent thought. Lute is home to pirates, harboring ruthless companies of warships hunting for prey.

The pirates are offered the spoils of war, for a price. Captain Christopher Raleigh leads his crew in an effort to snag a lucrative transport on the opposing side. Along with the ship, he snares the Tetrarch’s daughter and several hundred indentured servants.

But not all are who they seem. As the bodies pile up, Raleigh has to figure out who is telling the truth and decide if the spoils of war are truly worth it.

Power and Majesty by Tansy Rayner RobertsPower and Majesty by Tansy Rayner Roberts:

Aufleur is a city of honey cakes, decadent ritual… and a secret war fought by an army of beautiful monsters. The Creature Court die and bleed to keep the daylight folk safe, but no one even knows they exist.

Who will be the new Power and Majesty of the Creature Court: a man who was broken and exiled from their world, or the woman who knows nothing of their ways? Neither of them wants to rule, but Ashiol is determined to train Velody to take his place, so that he can finally escape his destiny.

Drone by Kyle Alexander RominesDrone by Kyle Alexander Romines:

After the emergence of the destructive, godlike Titans, the world is more dangerous than ever.

When drone pilot David Hunter is recruited to join a top-secret military program, he learns the government has captured the Titan Prometheus. Once considered a hero by many, Prometheus is now an empty shell, retrofitted with technology to serve as a new kind of drone--and it's David's task to use the Titan's powers on the government's behalf.

David has his own reasons to distrust Titans, but when he discovers some vestiges of Prometheus' consciousness remain, it sets in motion a course of events that will cause him to learn what it means to be a hero.

Love Magic by Jesi Lea RyanLove Magic by Jesi Lea Ryan:

"The day I met Derrick while playing my violin in the park was magical. Unfortunately, magic and love together don’t always mix."

Oliver met Derrick while busking in the park, and they hit it off from the start. At first, Derrick’s “mysterious magician” vibe was intriguing, but after two botched dates, Oliver was ready to call it quits.

Fearing he lost his chance with Oliver, Derrick makes a last-ditch effort to win Oliver’s heart with a romantic Valentine’s date. But when love and magic collide, things tend to go awry. Will these two guys make it through the date unscathed?

Winterbloom by Jessica RydillWinterbloom by Jessica Rydill:

Sophie Vasilyevich is a teenager growing up in Anglond, the child of exiles. Sometimes grass springs up where she walks, and her future holds an unusual fate: she is going to be kidnapped when she is sixteen, and no one can stop it.

Taken between worlds to the city of Bath in 1920's England, Sophie meets a young man called James Carnwallis, once a pilot in the Great War. But even as she falls in love, she learns more about the forces at work - and her fate in their plans.

As an alliance of shamans, ghosts and gods assembles in a desperate attempt to recover Sophie and prevent the destruction of their worlds, they find that their only hope may lie in Sophie's gift, and in the Greenwood: a power older than time itself.

My Wicked Valentine by Lotta SmithMy Wicked Valentine by Lotta Smith:

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… Love is in the air and so are the ghosts!

When Rick’s old friend, up-and-coming celeb psychic Brian Powers is accused of murdering an esthetician at a luxe gentlemen-only spa, Mandy’s cozy afternoon at home goes from cookie-baking to crime solving.

With baby Sophie and ghost-pal Jackie in tow, Mandy and Rick take to haunting the spa where the facials are fab and the intrigue is high-end.

Every suspect has a secret, but who’s willing to kill to keep theirs under wraps? [Seaweed wraps, that is.] Find out in this dangerously funny installment of the Manhattan Mystery series.

Noble's Honor by Glynn StewartNoble's Honor by Glynn Stewart:

Vassal of the Queen of the Fae
Noble of the Wild Hunt
Child of the Horned King.

Jason Kilkenny has learned his full heritage and the nature of the bloodline that runs in his veins. One quarter mortal, he is also the child of a Power, the Horned King of the Wild Hunt of the Fae.

But his father is dead, murdered in a fae civil war that ended before Jason was born. It ended because of a powerful spell the Horned King cast, trading his life to deny the Masked Lords the weapon they needed to kill the Fae Powers.

Now, Jason gathers allies and resources in his new home of Calgary. The Fae Masked Lords are hunting him, but he has what they want and they have to come to him. The Fae Powers have prepared a trap for their long-hidden enemies, with Jason as both bait and ambush.It’s a clever plan—but no plan survives contact with the enemy!

Ruined Worlds by Jeff TanyardRuined Worlds by Jeff Tanyard:

Jerry Harper is back on Homestead recovering from his ordeal. The galactic political situation is deteriorating, and it looks like war between the Agrarian Commonwealth and the Reliant Mentarchy is inevitable. Jerry's ordered to report in, and the military puts him back into action. He's a spaceborne Rifleman once again.

The last hopes for peace are dashed. War is declared! Jerry and his men begin their first war patrol. But the Mentarch hits fast and hard, and its atrocities leave the Commonwealth reeling. Jerry's electrokinesis is Homestead's not-so-secret weapon, but he's still just one man. He can't be everywhere at once, and the defeats start to mount.

The Commonwealth desperately needs a victory, something to boost morale. Jerry knows his ability is powerful enough to swing a battle. But he still has orders to follow, and his options are limited. If he can't find a way to help turn the tide soon, it might never happen. Because the Mentarch is relentless, and it's determined to reduce the Commonwealth to a collection of ruined worlds.

Seeds of Change by Willow ThomsonSeeds of Change by Willow Thomson:

Jey is an introverted, intuitive healer with nothing left to lose. All her healing skill couldn’t save her mother from a virulent manmade virus. The heat index of 2071 Earth has reached crippling levels. Jey is barely coping—until she stumbles upon an opportunity to join the crew of Two by Two, the first colony ship set to launch from the ailing Earth.

The mission—to create an idealistic artisan colony on an unexplored exoplanet—fits right in with Jey’s dreams. Her friendship with a clairvoyant child onboard the ship, her growing empathic abilities, and her bumbling attempts at love bring her hope.

But when a rival corporation sabotages the ship, and their target planet is a blasted wasteland, Jey finds herself at the center of the conflict.

Can she set aside her old self destructive patterns? Can she take a leap into a new way of being—and seeing to save her colony? Join Jey and her shipmates on the journey to Aride to find out.

Seeds of Change is a soft science fiction novel with a splash of metaphysics and magic. It is a coming of age story with big themes, small pleasures, and an ensemble cast of characters living in a world you won’t want to leave.

Outcasts of the Earth by James David VictorOutcasts of the Earth by James David Victor:

Criminals. Murderers. Thieves. That’s what makes the Outcast Marines special. And expendable.

The Outcast Marines are the worst of the worst. If you’re conscripted, you will likely spend the rest of your days going on desperate missions that no one else can, or will, do. That’s an option Solomon, Jezzie, Malady, and the other Outcasts gladly took, though, because the alternative was certain death on a remote prison moon. And that’s a good thing, because sometimes it takes some truly bad guys to save the day.

Outcasts of Earth is the first book in the Outcast Marines series. If you like gritty science fiction with “heroes” who are anything but, the Outcast Marines will suck you into their battle to save humanity, from itself and the rest of the galaxy.

Download Outcasts of Earth and see how the “bad guys” save humanity in the 23rd century!

Sword of the Kaigen by M.L. WangThe Sword of the Kaigen by M.L. Wang

On a mountainside at the edge of the Kaigenese Empire live the most powerful warriors in the world, superhumans capable of raising the sea and wielding blades of ice. For hundreds of years, the fighters of the Kusanagi Peninsula have held the Empire's enemies at bay, earning their frozen spit of land the name 'The Sword of Kaigen.'

Born into Kusanagi's legendary Matsuda family, fourteen-year-old Mamoru has always known his purpose: to master his family's fighting techniques and defend his homeland. But when an outsider arrives and pulls back the curtain on Kaigen's alleged age of peace, Mamoru realizes that he might not have much time to become the fighter he was bred to be. Worse, the empire he was bred to defend may stand on a foundation of lies.

Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house. Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country. But with her growing son asking questions about the outside world, the threat of an impending invasion looming across the sea, and her frigid husband grating on her nerves, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface.

When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire? Or will they tear each other apart before the true enemies even reach their shores?

Second Coming by A.E. WilliamsSecond Coming by A.E. Williams

What Will Jesus Do?

After being crucified for Mankind's sins, Jesus Christ and his half-brother, Lucifer, pass the time before His Resurrection playing cards in Hades.

They discuss the Plan of God, which they realize is another scheme intended to push Judgement Day thousands of years into the future.

After a heated exchange, Jesus gambles a billion souls that, by repeating the wager that Lucifer and God undertook regarding Job several thousand years prior, Mankind will prove His argument.
Lucifer agrees, and the next day, Jesus rises.

But, as the years go by, Jesus realizes that Lucifer may have stacked the deck in his favor!

He publishes his parables and morality tales under various pseudonyms.

He uses His knowledge of The List, composed by His Father, to guide His readers to the Truth.

In the current day, He now lives on his yacht, the Virgin Mary, in the Red Sea.

As His wager with Lucifer draws to a close, Signs of the Apocalypse portend that the Time of Revelations is at hand!

What will He do to save the human race from itself?

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Digital Assassin (Pirates of the Milky Way, Book 1) by Jaxon Reed

Subgenre: Space Opera, Military Science Fiction
Release date: February 21, 2019

About Digital Assassin:


New technology allowed humans to reach for the stars. Now technology has led to war.

Opposing AI systems battle in a monumental struggle for control of the galaxy. But one planet remains a refuge of independent thought. Lute is home to pirates, harboring ruthless companies of warships hunting for prey.

The pirates are offered the spoils of war, for a price. Captain Christopher Raleigh leads his crew in an effort to snag a lucrative transport on the opposing side. Along with the ship, he snares the Tetrarch’s daughter and several hundred indentured servants.

But not all are who they seem. As the bodies pile up, Raleigh has to figure out who is telling the truth and decide if the spoils of war are truly worth it.





Light spiderwebbed across the holoscreen, making Rodrigo Diego-Rodriguez jump in the pilot’s seat. When it dissipated a ship remained, filling up the area in front of his command console. 

The vessel looked powerful and dark, with sleek gleaming metal glinting in the starlight. And it looked big, he thought. Much bigger than a typical spaceship.

He quickly relaxed and stretched happily, flexing muscular arms and clasping hands behind his head. His grin flashed bright white teeth. They matched the white t-shirt he wore above gray pants and brown combat boots. His dark hair was cut short, military style.

He touched the implant below his ear and mentally slid through the contact list. His eyes stopped on “Raleigh, Christopher.” Focusing, he made the connection.

He said, “We got one, Captain.” 

The reply came back instantly.

“I’ll be right there, Roddy.” 

Roddy smiled at the three-dimensional image displayed before him. The screen stretched three meters long, making it appear the front part of the bridge was transparent and open to space. The holoscreen looked as realistic as possible, but Roddy knew if he walked into it he’d bump into the wall instead of drifting off into space. 

But Roddy was not thinking about that. He was thinking about the Wu Drive incapacitation grid he and the other crewmembers had assembled in this sector. 

The Wu Drive, Roddy would be happy to tell anyone who listened, was developed by Elixabeth Wu, a researcher working for LSU back on Earth many years ago. Faster than light travel remained impossible, per se. But teleportation proved easier to accomplish. Researchers were able to port small items short distances in the lab, starting at the molecular level. They worked their way up until finally they could move large objects long distances. 

Wu had the brilliant idea of attaching a teleportation device to a space ship. It worked as an engine of sorts, porting the ship from point to point instantly. The engines could port ships out of the solar system in a matter of seconds. Computers were developed to plot courses so that ships would not pop into the middle of a star or other undesirable locations. 

All of a sudden, deep space travel became attainable, and humans spread out to explore the Milky Way. 

Roddy would be happy to share this, but it was common knowledge. He smiled, though, wondering what Elixabeth would think about the results of her invention. No doubt she’d be happy to know that people finally realized her name was spelled correctly, just the way her parents intended, with an ‘x’ instead of a ‘z’ in the middle . . .

The door to the bridge opened and Christopher Raleigh walked in. Taller than Roddy by a couple inches at six foot three, or 190 centimeters, he too looked young and fit. He had dirty blond hair and bright blue eyes allegedly able to steal the heart of any woman from Lute to Telluride Prime. 
Not that he cared. The captain was a famous bachelor, avoiding entangled relationships in favor of his ship. 

“What did we get, Roddy? Oh . . .”

Roddy grinned at him and said, “That’s right. ‘Oh.’ This, Captain, is a Mammoth-class, A-level transport ship. We got ourselves a real honey pot.” 

Raleigh nodded at the column of figures floating in the air next to the ship’s image. 

He said, “What are the numbers, Lootie?”

LuteNet responded, her voice seeming to originate out of thin air. 

She said, “Scans indicate 1,102 humans onboard, Captain. I sense an abundance of biocollars. I’m opening a line of communication with StarCen to determine if indeed all the biocollars represent indentured servants.” 

Raleigh said, “A hold full of indents, huh? That would explain why they need such a big ship. Humanitarian standards dictate size and living space requirements based on passenger volume.”

“Yes it does,” Roddy rubbed his hands in delight. “What do you figure? About ten thousand per indent?” 

Raleigh chuckled and said, “Probably double that. With the war going on, there’s not too many new servants coming online. These will likely fetch a premium. But don’t start counting your credits yet, Roddy. First, we’ve got to capture her.” 

He made a mental command and shifted his neural com to the ship’s public address channel. 

“Okay, people! We’ve got an A-level Mammoth-class transport in our net, with about 800 indents onboard plus a couple hundred other folks. This should be a very lucrative haul if we can reel her in. Kim and Pak, send out the drones!”

“Aye, Captain!” 

One of them had hailed back to him on the neural network, but he did not see which one. The two men often worked as a single unit.

Roddy and Raleigh watched as 200 attack drones sallied forth. They launched out of Ultima Mule’s transport bay, filling the bridge’s holoscreen as they screamed toward the giant ship.


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About Jaxon Reed:

Jaxon Reed is a science fiction and fantasy author. Amazon's digital imprint, Kindle Press, selected his book The Empathic Detective for publication through Kindle Scout. Recently the sequel, Ghostsuit, was also awarded a publishing contract through Kindle Scout. He is the author of Thieves & Wizards, an epic fantasy, and The Redwood Trilogy, a science fiction series. Jaxon is an Aggie, living in Texas on a ranch with his wife and boys, several cats, and one pound dog.



Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Liars Called by Stephan Morse

Release date: February 26, 2019
Subgenre: Dark fantasy, Portal fantasy

About Liars Called


Abandoned by his father, too proud to ask his brother for help, and lured by the promise of money, Lance gets on a bus that mysteriously appears outside his house in the middle of the night.

It brings him and others to a dream-like land where anything can be bought and sold, even magic. When he returns home, he finds his family has changed, the world has moved on, and monsters from faerie tales overrun the town.

Survival is paramount—but everything has a price.




Statement: Time had passed. Lots of time. More than I ever expected. On the ride home the storm overhead cast down lightning. In bouts of brief illumination a countryside, the city, and finally my neighborhood had clearly changed. I did not start questioning this until a few days later. Why?
At first I believed this all to be a dream. It might still be. Yet the entire event had been just familiar enough to make sense. Human seeming bus drivers. Human seeming store owners. Machines that resembled those from school. It was carefully designed, like a badly painted stage would represent some storyland. But unlike a theater event, this one kept right on going after the curtain close.
There was another line which led to a smaller bus. This hardly surprised me. I tucked the book into an inside pocket and limped into the much tinier group of people. We hadn’t all made it, but part of me hoped others had left on earlier rides home. Perhaps this single story tiny bus, which looked like my county supplied door-to-door service, served as a final take home.
The driver was not Leon or one of the green-eyed stewardesses. A large fat balding woman with a cigar thumbed me on. I limped back to a seat, feeling slightly better but still hungry. Twisting knots in my gut suppressed all other pains. There was no time for a bathroom. 
I felt thankful that my desire to eat had dropped since the accident. One bottle of water should be survivable for the bus trip. My vision shifted in and out of focus. My current goal was to go, wherever this bus went. Then once I landed it would be possible to evaluate how to survive.
Staying compartmentalized was not easy. My body shook and arms were unsteady. The only reassuring factor was a return to my town. I recognized the city. Distance between where we’d been and my hometown was too short. California had a lot of towns and a few major places that could have housed that stadium-sized shopping mall. 
Everything felt almost normal. A storm boiled overhead, rain poured down in thick waves, and lightning flashes illuminated an almost normal looking town. Bright lights along the street helped me feel comfortable. Signs were in the right spots.
The words were illegible through the water. I attempted to read them over and over to distract myself from stomach issues. The supermarket was lit up, but it looked less white and more yellow. It might have been a late night casting of the lights.
I suspected it wasn’t. This world was no more normal than the long line and vending machines. Or the barely human-looking stewardesses. There had been many slightly off items. Word choice, features, each one nagged me for attention. Debt cards, Wildlings, Underkin, Secret King, whatever the heck all those things meant was beyond me.


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About Stephan Morse: 

Stephan Morse was born the year 1983 in San Diego. The next fifteen years were spent slowly escaping California and surviving a public education system. Thus far he's made it to the Seattle (WA) region with little desire to go further. When not trying to shove words together into sentences Stephan spends time reading, catching up on sleep, and otherwise living a mundane life.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

The Tomb of the Undead Slaves (Thurvok, Book 2) by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert

Release date: February 4, 2019
Subgenre: Sword and Sorcery

About The Tomb of the Undead Slaves:


The sellsword Thurvok and his friend and companion Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, venture into the Rusted Desert to seek the tomb of the ancient king Chagurdai and the legendary treasure supposedly hidden there.

But once Thurvok and Meldom venture into the tomb, they find that a treasure is not all that's buried there.

This is a short story of 4100 words or 13 print pages in the Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.




Thurvok the sellsword and his friend and companion Meldom — cutpurse, thief and occasional assassin — had been trudging through the Rusted Desert for three days, when the Tomb of Chagurdai finally loomed before them.
Thurvok and Meldom came from Krysh, the wealthy oasis city, where the walls were studded with diamonds and the streets were paved with gold — or so the story went. For the truth was that Krysh was a city like any other with a criminal underbelly like any other and plenty of unscrupulous people willing to pay even more unscrupulous people to do the few things they had scruples about.
For two men of flexible morals like Thurvok and Meldom, Krysh was heaven. And so they’d earned a pretty coin doing the sort of jobs others would not do and spent it all in the taverns and whorehouses of Krysh. And now they were looking to earn even more coins to spend.
It was in one of those taverns that they’d first heard of the Tomb of Chagurdai, the mystery shrouded burial place of an ancient king that supposedly lay in the middle of the desert that stretched out from Krysh in all directions. The tomb was said to be bristling with traps and infested by monsters and demons, but if you managed to brave its myriad dangers, a great treasure was yours for the taking.
An aged adventurer had told the story to Thurvok and Meldom like he had probably told it to many others before them, if they bought him a jug of wine or a tankard of ale. And quite possibly, the story contained the same amount of truth that stories told by drunkards in taverns usually did, namely little to none.
Nonetheless, Meldom had been intrigued by the old man’s story.
“So what do you say?” he’d said to Thurvok after the old man had fallen asleep, his head dropping to the table, only narrowly missing a half-empty tankard of ale, “Do you want to give it a go?”
“Give what a go?” Thurvok, who’d been distracted by a buxom barmaid, asked.
“The tomb,” Meldom said, “Do you think we should give it a go and try to find the lost Tomb of Chagurdai?”
Thurvok took a swig of ale. “The tomb can’t be that lost, if even some old drunkard in a tavern knows where it is,” he pointed out.
Meldom rolled his eyes. “Okay, so maybe the tomb is not lost. But it’s still just lying there in the desert full of treasure for the taking. And I for one mean to grab my some of that treasure.”
“Don’t forget the monsters and demons,” Thurvok remarked, “The old man said the tomb was infested with monsters and demons.”
“I thought you didn’t believe in monsters and demons,” Meldom countered.
“I don’t,” Thurvok said, “But I also don’t believe that there is a tomb full of treasure just lying there in the desert.”
Meldom threw up his hands. “All right, all right. So maybe you’re satisfied with the meagre few coins we can earn as mercenaries, but I’m not. I’m gonna find that tomb and I’m gonna grab that treasure.” He looked straight at Thurvok. “So, are you in or out?”
“In,” Thurvok had grunted, “After all, it’s not as if I have anything better to do.”


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About Richard Blakemore:

Richard Blakemore (1900 – 1994) was a prolific writer of pulp fiction. Nowadays, he is best remembered for creating the Silencer, a masked vigilante in the vein of the Shadow or the Spider, during the hero pulp boom of the 1930s. But Richard Blakemore also wrote in many other genres, including an early sword and sorcery series about the adventures of a sellsword named Thurvok and his companions.
Richard Blakemore's private life was almost as exciting as his fiction. He was a veteran of World War I and II as well as a skilled sportsman and adventurer who travelled the world during the 1920s. He may also have been the person behind the mask of the real life Silencer who prowled New York City between 1933 and 1942, fighting crime, protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty, though nothing has ever been proven.
Richard Blakemore was married for more than fifty years to Constance Allen Blakemore and the couple had four children.


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About Cora Buhlert:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. 

Cora has been writing, since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. She is the author of the Silencer series of pulp style thrillers, the Shattered Empire space opera series, the In Love and War science fiction romance series, the Helen Shepherd Mysteries and plenty of standalone stories in multiple genres.

When Cora is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher. She also runs the Speculative Fiction Showcase and the Indie Crime Scene and contributes to the Hugo-nominated fanzine Galactic Journey.


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Friday, February 22, 2019

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for February 22, 2019

It's time for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with the 2018 Nebula Award finalists, Star Trek Discovery, The Orville, Doom Patrol, The Umbrella Academy, Alita: Battle Angel, Weird City, the cancellation of Jessica Jones and The Punisher, sexist attacks on Captain Marvel, plagiarism in the romance world, abuse in the RPG world, yet more convention harrassment and much more. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Discussion of the Christiane Serruya plagiarism scandal:

Film and TV:

Comments on Star Trek Discovery and Star Trek in general (spoilers):

Comments on The Orville

Comments on Doom Patrol

Comments on The Umbrella Academy:

Comments on the cancellation of Jessica Jones and The Punisher

Comments on the pre-release reaction to Captain Marvel

Comments on Alita: Battle Angel:

Comments on Weird City

Discussion of abuse in the RPG world:


Writing, publishing and promotion:



Classics reviews:


Con and event reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: