Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for December 2018

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 November 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 Amazon.com, 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, cozy fantasy, grimdark fantasy, military fantasy, children’s fantasy, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction romance, science fantasy, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, LitRPG, sword and sorcery, horror, non-fiction, time travel, a lot of holiday stories, vampires, witches, ghosts, dragons, robots, asteroid miners, space pirates, alien invasions, airships, enchanted swords, Krampuses, mermaids, tech mages, enslaved princes, valkyries and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

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:

Minimum Wage Magic by Rachel AaaronMinimum Wage Magic by Rachel Aaron:

The DFZ, the metropolis formerly known as Detroit, is the world’s most magical city with a population of nine million and zero public safety laws. That’s a lot of mages, cybernetically enhanced chrome heads, and mythical beasties who die, get into debt, and otherwise fail to pay their rent. When they can’t pay their bills, their stuff gets sold to the highest bidder to cover the tab.

That’s when they call me. My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m a Cleaner: a freelance mage with an art history degree who’s employed by the DFZ to sort through the mountains of magical junk people leave behind. It’s not a pretty job, or a safe one–there’s a reason I wear bite-proof gloves–but when you’re deep in debt in a city where gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own, you don’t get to be picky about where your money comes from. You just have to make it work, even when the only thing of value in your latest repossessed apartment is the dead body of the mage who used to live there.

Fringe Legacy by Rachel AukesFringe Legacy by Rachel Aukes:

It’s a new age of heroes and sacrifices.

The colonies won their independence.
But they are not at peace.

New enemies come at the fragile Alliance of Free Colonies. Assassination attempts. Kidnappings. Murder.
When Aramis Reyne is nearly killed, he turns the tables and hunts the hunters. He learns things are not as they seem. When Critch disappears, he must make an impossible rescue.

If Reyne fails, the Alliance will fall. War will claim the colonies once again.
The race is on and time is running out.

Flights of Fancy: The Great Atlantic Run by Cameron Jon BernhardFlights of Fancy: The Great Atlantic Run by Cameron Jon Bernhard:

Join Captain Fancy and the crew of the Persephone as they take to the clouds in this riveting steampunk adventure.

The Great Atlantic Run is more than a passport to high-flying thrills and excitement; it’s a perilous two-day marathon over the ocean, where only the fast and strong survive. In a journey fraught with air pirates, rough weather and international spies, the risks are sky-high. The rewards, fame and fortune.

Take off on the voyage of a lifetime as you explore a grand world of flying ships, steam-powered machines, and incredible characters. Flights of Fancy is a fast-paced, unforgettable yarn as limitless and unpredictable as imagination itself.

The Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora BuhlertThe Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora Buhlert:

A legendary monster threatens Christmas…

It’s Christmas time in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, which is also known as the “Harbour of the Weird”.

Rachel Hammersmith is new to Hallowind Cove and has recently taken over the bakery on Gloomland Street, after Marie Percht, the previous owner, retired.

However, Marie Percht didn’t tell Rachel everything, when she retired. She didn’t mention the fog, for starters, and she also didn’t mention that her bakery plays a vital role during the Christmas season and not just as a provider of holiday cookies either.

For the Krampus, a yuletide monster from alpine folklore, is coming to Hallowind Cove. And the only thing that can keep him from wrecking the town and ruining Christmas are pastries baked according to a secret recipe. Unfortunately, Rachel has no idea what the recipe is.

However, with the help of fellow newcomer Paul MacQuarie, Rachel will bake up a storm to pacify Krampus and save Christmas.

The Mermaid of Foghorn Point by Cora BuhlertThe Mermaid of Foghorn Point by Cora Buhlert:

The catch of the day at the Croaking Foghorn is not at all as expected…

Strange things keep happening in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

Paul and Rachel’s date at The Croaking Foghorn pub is derailed, when it turns out that local fisherman Eddie Bramwell brought home no fish, but one hell of a story.

But Paul has one hell of a story of his own to tell and he’s not at all sure how Rachel will react.

This is a short story of 3400 words or approximately 12 pages in the Hallowind Cove series, but may be read as a standalone.

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens by Cora BuhlertThe Standarounds of Twilight Gardens by Cora Buhlert:

Sinister shadows menace a family…

Strange things keep happening in the quirky little seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

When the Hutchinson family buy the beautiful Beauregard mansion on Gloomland Street, they believe they’ve made the deal of a lifetime.

But unfortunately, no one told them about the fog that envelops Hallowind Cove for three hundred and forty days a year. Or about the mysterious shadows that stand around Twilight Gardens, staring at random houses…

This is a short story of 3300 words or approximately 14 pages in the Hallowind Cove series, but may be read as a standalone.

Dragon Tear by Lindsay BurokerDragon Tear by Lindsay Buroker:

Now that Jev is no longer obligated to marry a manipulative noblewoman, Zenia can finally pursue a relationship with him. But there’s something else she must deal with first. She’s learned that the magical dragon-tear gem she wears around her neck is linked to a living dragon, one that is being held prisoner and tortured.

Zenia owes her life several times over to the creature. She must set aside personal desires and lead a team to the distant and dangerous continent where the dragon is imprisoned.

But it took someone—or something—very powerful to capture such a great creature in the first place. Zenia, Jev, and their friends may not have the magic or might necessary to free their scaled ally. If they fail, the dragon will be enslaved forever by a cruel master, and Zenia and Jev may never see their homeland again.

Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction by Kenneth W. CainDarker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction by Kenneth W. Cain:

This collection of dark speculative tales will lead the reader on a roller coaster ride through the unknown, where things aren’t always what they seem.

Now that you’ve warmed by the embers, submerse in darker days.

The author of the short story collections These Old Tales, Fresh Cut Tales, and Embers presents Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing.

There’s a little something for every reader within this collection. These 26 short speculative stories arise from a void, escaping shadows that ebb and weave through minds like worms, planting the larvae that live just under the skin, thriving upon fear. These are Cain’s darker days.

In this collection, Cain features stories from the Old West, of past lives and future days, the living and the dead, new and unique monsters as well as fresh takes on those of lore. Once more he tackles themes of loss and grief and the afterlife, always exploring the greater unknown. In “The Sanguine Wars,” Cain takes us to a future war where soldiers are made to endure the horrors of war. He explores the complexities of global warming and what lengths men and women alike sink to in “The Reassignment Project.” And, as often is the case, he ends on a lighter note, with “Lenny’s New Eyes” and “A Very Different Sort of Apocalypse.”

When the darkness comes, embrace it. Let it wrap you up in cold. Don’t worry, it’s not your time…yet.

Lasso by Mike CovilleLasso by Mike Coville:

A suspicious accident, a prized asteroid, and a game of politics to decide who rules the galaxy. Someone’s making a power play, but who?

Captain Greg Daniels of the DSM Boone is a handful of asteroids away from retiring when his plans are threatened by an explosion on his ship. With the risk of another more lethal attack, Greg must locate the source of the explosion or he’ll lose more than the priceless rock he just obtained – he’ll lose his life.

On the Lunar Community, Final Frontier Mining Director David Rivera has his sights set on become Prime Minister of the ISC. His hopes rest on ace miner, Daniels, bringing in the most profitable asteroid in the company’s history to keep himself in the spotlight. But when he discovers a conspiracy to destroy his company and put a stop to his political aspirations, David must hunt down his mysterious hacker while trying to save Greg, DSM Boone, and the asteroid it has secured.

One man fights for survival in deep space, another on the moon, but is there someone else pulling the strings of both? Only if they can work together, will they find the answers they need to survive.

Hunter's Terminus by Timothy EllisHunter’s Terminus by Timothy Ellis:

Tech and Magic must come together to survive!

Jon Hunter thinks he’s done enough. But since when did he get any say in the matter?

15,000 people, 4 main stations, and 15 large ships, somewhere in the galaxy, unexpectedly looking for a new start.

Jon sees himself as their protector, at least until his people build their own new society, without him in charge.

Thorn has been waiting for Jon Hunter for 82 years.

3100 years ago, Thorn had to save humanity. One week ago, Jon did save humanity. Just different groups.
Both have done the impossible. Both are tired. Both want out.

But in a galaxy newly restored to an older and much more dangerous configuration, just how much rest can either of these men get?

Especially when the three powers in the galaxy don’t want a fourth.

Is the galaxy’s crossroad, Hunter’s Terminus?

Krox Rises by Chris FoxKrox Rises by Chris Fox:

The Godswar Has Come Again

Nebiat has seized godhood, and now controls Krox, the most powerful elder god in the sector. Both Ternus and Shaya know she is coming, but their preparations cannot save them. She launches a strike at Ternus that cripples their home world, and shatters their fleets.

Voria desperately struggles to find a way to raise Shaya, or to rise as a goddess herself. She will do anything to oppose Nebiat, but fears it will not be enough.

Aran must confront the awful truth about the Skull of Xal, and make a deal with demons in order to gain the strength they so desperately need to overcome Krox.

And Nara must face the most awful choice of all. Will she murder the woman she most respects, or let the sector burn?

Possibilities narrow. Krox Rises. Shaya will fall.

Prince for Sale by Caroline GibsonPrince for Sale by Caroline Gibson:

Sold into slavery, saved by love

Vell once was a powerful sorcerer and a prince of Otharn. With his father and brother at his side, worlds fell at his feet. Now, he is a slave, cast out by his father, sold, used and abused. His rebellious brother’s desperate attempt to save him is his only hope for freedom, but first, he must go to Earth in chains.

David Thomen, scientist, inventor, defender of Earth, is living a lonely life with his inventions. Responsible for opening the gateway from Earth to Otharn, he must come to terms with his role as Vell’s newest owner and navigate the powerful forces of the joined worlds, who all seem to have an interest in Vell’s fate.

Joined by a magical binding which forces them into an intimate relationship against both their wills, can Vell and David learn to trust each other, find a way to break their bonds, and preserve the alliance of the worlds?

Note to readers: This is an MM Romance book for a mature audience, it contains dubious consent, memories of past rape, as well as consensual sex scenes. No graphic violence, mild descriptions of injuries.

The Scythian Crisis by J.J. GreenThe Scythian Crisis by J.J. Green:

Humanity’s last stand.

An attack by unknown aliens has devastated the Nova Fortuna colony. Its long-term survival seems impossible. But the colonists aren’t going down without a fight.

Ethan must prepare the Gens for their final battle. Geneticist Cariad must decide whether to reactivate the sinister Guardians to aid in the colony’s defense.

Earth is lost. The new world settlers are without hope. When the moment to decide humanity’s fate arrives, will they be ready?

The Scythian Crisis is book three in the compelling, provocative space colonization epic adventure, Space Colony One.

Ruby Heart by Donna Maree HansonRuby Heart by Donna Maree Hanson:

A book of manners, magic and mayhem.

Jemima Hardcastle has a sad history. After her father was murdered by a secret society of magicians, her guardian and new heir to Willow Park, Edward Huntington, packed her off to boarding school. In the four years she was there, she never saw him again until she escaped from school to a house party and there he was. He did not recognise her and he even flirted with her.

A disastrous kiss, a murder and a stolen jewel herald dire happenings. Jemima is shipped off to Willow Park in the care of Fulton, Edward’s man, to be under the chaperonage of the odious Aunt Prudence and the meek cousin, Milly. While avoiding stitching in the evenings, she discovers Edward’s scientific genius and the artificial leg he made for Fulton. Her esteem for Edward rises and she is actually looking forward to seeing him again when he does not arrive as planned.

When they realise Edward is abducted, Jemima schemes to go in rescue. She has cunning and she has money and with these she plunges herself and her companions into the world of dark sorcery and London shopping.

In London, Jemima and Fulton lead a double life as they search for Edward in the slums, manufactureys and even a bawdy house. When she final discovers Edward, her life is on the line.

While a vicious and bloody fight for survival is going on around him, Edward has to choose between saving her life or unleashing the unholy, vampiric beast Geneck on an unsuspecting London.

The Starfighter Invitation by Andrea K. HöstThe Starfighter Invitation by Andrea K. Höst:

The only thing bigger than the world’s first full virtual reality game is the mystery surrounding its origins. Who is behind Ryzonart Games? How was such a huge advance in technology achieved? Taia de Haas loves having her own virtual spaceship, and wants nothing more than to visit every planet in the solar system. But she cannot ignore the question of whether such a magnificent gift comes with strings attached. Is the game a trick, a trap, a subtle invasion? Or an opportunity to step up and fight for her own planet? Caught in a tangle of riddles and lies, Taia can’t resist trying to win answers from Ryzonart’s mysterious administrators. But will finding the truth cost her the Singularity Game?

Eternal Darkness by Marc JohnsonEternal Darkness by Marc Johnson:

The wizard Hellsfire is dead. Hellsfire is now an ordinary mortal, weakened and powerless. But two people are seeking him out: one wants to save him and one wants revenge.

Bryce is seeking retribution for the slaughter of his family. Running his blade through Hellsfire is the only way to fill the empty hole in his heart. He failed before. He won’t fail again.

Eager to explore her blossoming powers, Alyssa receives a vision from the gods telling her to go to Hellsfire. He may be the only one who can teach her to harness her magic. With no family ties, she’s ready to leave the only home she’s ever known to rescue a man she barely knows.

Hellsfire still has a crucial role to play in the fate of the realm—if he survives and remembers who he is. Will he regain his powers and his sense of purpose before it’s too late?

Swordheart by T. KingfisherSwordheart by T. Kingfisher:

Return to the world of Clockwork Boys in this all-new novel from T. Kingfisher!

Halla is a housekeeper who has suddenly inherited her great-uncle’s estate… and, unfortunately, his relatives. Sarkis is an immortal swordsman trapped in a prison of enchanted steel. When Halla draws the sword that imprisons him, Sarkis finds himself attempting to defend his new wielder against everything from bandits and roving inquisitors to her own in-laws… and the sword itself may prove to be the greatest threat of all…

The Megalodon Mix-Up by Amanda M. LeeThe Megalodon Mix-Up by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes’ life has taken a turn.

Not only is she working her dream job, but she’s also taken on a dreamy co-worker and is officially dating the office security chief.
Yeah, she’s still trying to wrap her head around it, too.

She doesn’t have much time because a high-profile incident in Florida means the team is on the hunt, and this time the likely culprit is none other than a prehistoric shark that’s been extinct for millions of years.

For Jack Hanson, the mere thought that a Megalodon is hunting the Gulf of Mexico waters is too much to bear. He’s on edge and irritated, and that’s on top of the fact that Legacy Foundation co-workers are starting to find out about his relationship with Charlie.

For her part, Charlie is enjoying herself. Not only is she looking for a giant shark, but she’s investigating in the middle of an author conference and the victim was the one person hated by absolutely everyone. She’s learning on the job … and it’s a tangled web of lies and intrigue to wade through.

There are suspects at every turn, blood in the water, and hungry sharks looking for a meal. It’s another fun-filled adventure, and the stakes in this one are graver than anybody anticipated.

Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), edited by Catherine LundoffScourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), edited by Catherine Lundoff:

Think pirates are all about the rum and the pieces of eight? Let these fifteen tales draw you into the adventures of a new kind of pirate. Sail with them as they seek treasure, redemption, love, revenge and more. Raise the Jolly Roger and sharpen your cutlass (or recharge your raygun) and climb aboard for some unforgettable voyages. Featuring stories by Ginn Hale, A.J. Fitzwater, Geonn Cannon, Joyce Chng, Elliott Dunstan, Ashley Deng, Su Haddrell, Ed Grabianowski, Mharie West, Matisse Mozer, Soumya Sundar Mukherjee, Megan Arkenberg, Peter Golubock, Michael Merriam and Caroline Sciriha.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

Phyllis Wong and the Vanishing Emeralds by Geoffrey McSkimmingPhyllis Wong and the Vanishing Emeralds by Geoffrey McSkimming:

When Phyllis Wong—that brilliant young magician and clever sleuth—happens upon a mystery from the past that has proved unsolvable, she knows she has to try to get to the bottom of it.

More than sixty years ago an astonishing emerald necklace owned by the famous pianist Isabella Beaufort seemingly vanished off the face of the earth! Ever since, the disappearance has stumped the police, detectives and those associated with the missing priceless jewels. How did the prized Flurtis Emeralds vanish? Where are they today? Is there any way they can be traced, after so many cobwebs have covered the case?

Another mysterious intrigue right up the alleyway of our favourite conjuring Transiter!

The sixth Phyllis Wong: Time Detective mystery.

Christmas in Silver Birch Valley by Lorri MoultonChristmas in Silver Birch Valley by Lorri Moulton:

A man spends the holidays in a small Northwestern town that may not be exactly what it seems…and rediscovers the true meaning of Christmas.

 

 

 

 

It's Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life, edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene JohnsonIt’s Alive: Bringing You Nightmares to Life, edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson:

Nightmares come to life in this comprehensive how-to guide for new and established authors…

Book two in Crystal Lake Publishing’s The Dream Weaver series picks up where the Bram Stoker Award-nominated Where Nightmares Come From: The Art Of Storytelling In The Horror Genre left off.

It’s Alive: Bringing your Nightmares to Life focuses on learning the craft in order to take your story from concept to completion.

With an introduction by Richard Chizmar and cover art by Luke Spooner. Featuring interior artwork from horror master Clive Barker!

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction by Richard Chizmar
  • Confessions of a Professional Day Dreamer by Jonathan Maberry
  • What is Writing and Why Write Horror by John Skipp
  • Tribal Layers by Gene O’Neill
  • Bake That Cake: One Writer’s Method by Joe R. Lansdale and Kasey Lansdale
  • Ah-Ha: Beginning to End with Chuck Palahniuk and Michael Bailey (Discussing the Spark of Creativity)
  • They Grow in the Shadows: Exploring the Roots of a Horror Story by Todd Keisling
  • Sell Your Script, Keep Your Soul and Beware of Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing by Paul Moore
  • The Cult of Constraint (or To Outline or Not) by Yvonne Navarro
  • Zombies, Ghosts and Vampires?Oh My! by Kelli Owen
  • The Many Faces of Horror: Craft Techniques by Richard Thomas
  • Giving Meaning to the Macabre by Rachel Autumn Deering
  • The Horror Writer’s Ultimate Toolbox by Tim Waggoner
  • Sarah Pinborough Interview by Marie O’Regan
  • Conveying Character by F. Paul Wilson
  • Sympathetic Characters Taste Better: Creating Empathy in Horror Fiction by Brian Kirk
  • Virtue & Villainy: The Importance of Character by Kealan Patrick Burke
  • How to write Descriptions in a story by Mercedes Yardley
  • “Don’t Look Now, There’s a Head in That Box!” She Ejaculated Loudly (or Creating Effective Dialogue in Horror Fiction) by Elizabeth Massie
  • Point of View by Lisa Mannetti
  • What Came First the Monster or the Plot? In Conversation with Stephen Graham Jones by Vince A. Liaguno
  • Building Suspense by David Wellington
  • Conveying Horror by Ramsey Campbell
  • Unveiling Theme Through Plot: An Analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” by Stephanie M. Wytovich
  • Interview with Clive Barker by Tim Chizmar
  • World Building (Building a terrifying world) by Kevin J. Anderson
  • Speak Up: The Writer’s Voice by Robert Ford
  • Writing for a Better World by Christopher Golden
  • Shaping the Ideas: Getting Things from Your Head to the Paper or on Screen. Interview with Steve Niles, Mick Garris, Heather Graham, Mark Savage, and Maria Alexander by Del Howison
  • On Research by Bev Vincent
  • Editing Through Fear: Cutting and Stitching Stories by Jessica Marie Baumgartner
  • Leaping into the Abyss by Greg Chapman
  • Edit Your Anthology in Your Basement for Fun and Profit! . . . or Not by Tom Monteleone
  • When It’s Their World: Writing for the Themed Anthology by Lisa Morton
  • Roundtable Interview by John Palisano
  • The Tale of the Perfect Submissions by Jess Landry
  • Turning the Next Page: Getting Started with the Business of Writing by James Chambers

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Merry Happy Valkyrie by Tansy Rayner RobertsMerry Happy Valkyrie by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Norse myth and magic collides with a small town Tasmanian Christmas in this festive romantic fantasy!

Lief Fraser has mixed feelings about returning home to Matilda, the only Australian town where it always snows at Christmas. As a TV weather presenter, it’s her job to report on the strange holiday phenomenon… but as a local, it’s her duty to preserve Matilda’s many magical secrets.

Then pretty Audrey Astor rolls into town to shoot the ultimate romantic Australian Christmas movie with her film crew. Sparks fly, secrets unravel… and soon everyone will know exactly how Mt Valkyrie got its name.

“A sparkling holiday fantasy story full of deliciously fun characters and fabulous magic.” – Stephanie Burgis

Created for Christmas by Joynell SchultzCreated for Christmas by Joynell Schultz:

Need the perfect man? No problem—simply create him!

Ivy wanted nothing more for Christmas than to have someone to come home to…to have a companion to chat about her day with, and someone to show off at her family holiday celebrations.

This Christmas, she’s not going to be alone! Ivy decides to create her perfect companion at Dream Droids, the premier robotics company specializing in sentient humanoids. Ivy spends weeks with Dr. Pierce, creating her dream man, from his appearance, personality, and even his knowledge of her life.

There’s just a few problems: when a special gift she purchased for her father goes missing, and Dr. Pierce agrees to help her find it, she finds herself falling for him. After getting her heart stomped on by her ex-fiancé, there’s no way she can open it up again…besides, she just created the perfect man.

Finders by Melissa ScottFinders by Melissa Scott:

Cassilde Sam is a barely solvent salvage operator, hunting for relics in the ruins left by the mysterious Ancestors—particularly the color-coded Elements that power most of humanity’s current technology, including the ability to navigate through hyperspace. Cassilde is also steadily fading under the onslaught of Lightman’s, an incurable, inevitably fatal disease. She needs one last find big enough to leave a legacy for her partner and fellow salvor Dai Winter.

When their lover and former colleague Summerlad Ashe reappears, offering them a chance to salvage part of an orbiting palace that he claims contains potentially immense riches, Cassilde is desperate enough to take the gamble, even though Ashe had left them both to fight on the opposite side of the interplanetary war that only ended seven years ago. The find is everything Ashe promised. But when pirates attack the claim, Cassilde receives the rarest of the Ancestors’ Gifts: a change to her biochemistry that confers near-instant healing and seems to promise immortality.

But the change also drags her into an underworld where Gifts are traded in blood, and powerful Gifts bring equally powerful enemies. Hunted for her Gift and determined to find Gifts for her lovers, Cassilde discovers that an old enemy is searching for the greatest of the Ancestral artifacts: the power that the Ancestors created and were able to barely contain after it almost destroyed them, plunging humanity into the first Long Dark. Haunted by dream-visions of this power whispering its own version of what happened, Cassilde must find it first, before her enemy frees it to destroy her own civilization.

Death by Rosie ScottDeath by Rosie Scott:

Over the years of waging the War of Necromancers, Kai Sera has become known by many names. Mage of the Six Elements. Necromancer. God-Killer. Rebellion Leader. Liberator. War General. Goddess of Magic. Living Legend. Most importantly, Kai is the greatest asset of war that exists, and now her war is nearing its end.

Chairel is on the horizon. Kai’s home country has massive armies prepared to defend itself from her rebellion. Mortals and gods alike team up to put a stop to her intimidating advance, but Kai is not fazed. News of the final showdown brings unlikely supporters to Kai’s doorstep willing to bend their knee to her superior power, and her Seran Renegades collect the allies they’ve made over years of globe-trotting and war to face their foes head-on.

The greatest military in the world will come to a final bloody clash with the largest rebellion ever built. Both sides will suffer losses and heartbreak. The world and its occupants will be forever scarred. Kai started this war for political change and vengeance, and she will not relent until it is finished.

UnArcana Stars by Chris FoxUnarcana Stars by Glynn Stewart:

A humanitarian mission into unfriendly stars
A training cruise under the watch of a fortified fleet base
The closing jaws of a trap years in the making

It has been over a year since the UnArcana Worlds of the Protectorate of the Mage-King of Mars seceded, shattering the unity of the human race. The new Republic of Faith and Reason has raised new banners in defiance of the power of the Protectorate’s Mage aristocracy.

Now, Hand Damien Montgomery commands a relief mission to a Republic world ravaged by famine. His humanitarian mission collides with a newborn military beginning to flex its muscles–and a newborn nation prepared to accept no violations of its sovereignty, regardless of their needs.

Elsewhere, disaster strikes the Nia Kriti Fleet Base as an earthquake shatters their only communication with the rest of the Protectorate. Officer-in-training Roslyn Chambers is in the middle of the recovery effort when she realizes Nia Kriti is under attack.

The Republic is done with peace. They are coming for the Protectorate–and they will see the fleets of Mars break!

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for December 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some November 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 Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, holiday mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Medieval mysteries, paranormal mysteries, YA mysteries, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, spy thrillers, political thrillers, horror thrillers, police procedurals, romantic suspense, private investigators, amateur sleuths, hackers, human trafficking, serial killers, cannibals, spies, troubled boxers, suburban moms, missing children, crime-busting witches, crime-busting dogs, crime-busting bakers, crime-busting historians, murder in ski resorts and seaside towns, in coffee shops and country inns, in Russia, Denmark, Scotland and the Cotswolds and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

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:

The Season for Slaying by Hillary AvisThe Season for Slaying by Hillary Avis:

All is quiet at the Pines and Needles Christmas Tree Farm. Too quiet.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Darla Cooper is merrily preparing for a family holiday when she witnesses a shocking murder in the woods.

Luckily, her son is a police detective. The problem? He doesn’t believe her—and the body is missing.

Darla must prove that a murder occurred, but she has no body, no witnesses, and no evidence except her own memory—which, to be honest, isn’t that great these days. Plus, she didn’t have her glasses on.

Join Darla as she hunts down a killer…just in time for Christmas.

The Season for Slaying is a short holiday cozy mystery story full of suspense, snowflakes, and sleighbells.

A Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy BellA Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy Bell:

A pet-loving sleuth. A perplexing murder. Will the murder be solved before the clues are buried forever?

Nikki Green is taking a break from walking and pet-sitting her loyal companions. She is going to a ski resort for the holidays for some quiet time with her family. To her delight her solo journey turns into a group excursion. However, the trip doesn’t go according to plan when Nikki lands up in the middle of a snowstorm.

Then things go from bad to worse when someone is murdered, and her brother is the prime suspect. With the roads impassable, and two inexperienced officers on the case, Nikki decides to take matters into her own hands and clear her brother’s name. She plows through a mountain of clues to reveal the truth before the snow melts and the murderer disappears forever.

It’s a slippery slope of suspects and danger as she goes hurtling towards the truth.

The Best Friend by Shalini BolandThe Best Friend by Shalini Boland:
‘I can tell we’re going to be the best of friends…’

When Louisa Sullivan takes her little boy to his first playdate at a new friend’s house she doesn’t realise life is about to change for her family. Because she’s about to meet Darcy Lane.

Darcy is a woman who has everything – a dream house, a powerful husband and enviable wealth.

She’s the perfect wife.

The perfect friend.

The perfect liar.

The Secrets of Palmerston House by Philippa Nefri ClarkThe Secrets of Palmerston House by Philippa Nefri Clark:

1853. A fateful game of poker changed the fortunes of two families forever. A home was lost. But what was left behind?

2018. The wedding of Christie Ryan and Martin Blake is only weeks away and River’s End is buzzing with excitement.

But when a stranger arrives at Palmerston House, a new mystery arises. How does he know so much about the Ryan family, and what do a nineteenth century diary, a grandfather clock, and an old key have in common?

As a dangerous plot unfolds, long hidden secrets threaten to change everything held dear to the town.

The Secrets of Palmerston House will sweep you on a journey to the past and back, where enduring friendships warm the heart, a sad goodbye brings a new start, and the power of true love shines.

Jingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber CreweJingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber Crewe:

“Each of the Sandy Bay mysteries are great! I think they just keep getting better.”

Christmas is that season…that season of pleasant surprises…delicious smells…and family and friends to share the holidays with.

This Christmas, Sandy Bay’s lovable bakery owner, Meghan Truman, gets a whole lot more than she bargained for…plus a dead body at the door of her favorite restaurant. Some people would rather sweep this murder under the carpet but something smells awfully fishy about the events surrounding it.

Will Meghan join Detective Irvin to find the murderer or will this event serve to etch unpleasant memories of this most wonderful time of the year?

Shamrock by Janie CrouchShamrock by Janie Crouch:

Every mission has a price.
He never meant for her to pay it.

Aiden has never left anyone behind. Not a comrade and certainly not an innocent. But when an undercover mission goes wrong, he’s forced to abandon a woman trapped in a human trafficking ring.

Violet learned brutally that no one is promised a happy ending. She knows Aiden blames himself for his part, but she refuses to let her abduction define the rest of her life.

She won’t be a victim again. And she’s going after what she wants: Aiden.

Watching Violet transform herself into a fierce warrior is the sexiest thing Aiden has ever seen. The honorable plan would be to stay away from her—let her heal and grow without the shadow of his mistakes clouding her progress—even though every instinct tells him to claim her for his own.

But when they discover the danger they thought they’d left behind is closer than ever, they’ll have to confront their fears and fight side-by-side in order to survive.

Twelve Days by Mark DawsonTwelve Days by Mark Dawson:

John Milton hasn’t seen Elijah Warriner for three years. The last time they met, Milton’s efforts to keep the boy safe didn’t go exactly to plan. Now Elijah is a promising boxer, preparing for the bout that will take him to the big time. Milton decides that he will spend the week before Christmas in London so that he can watch the fight.

But Elijah’s burgeoning fame has brought him to the attention of old acquaintances with long memories and grudges to bear. They have noticed Elijah, too, and decide that now is the time to settle old scores.

Can Milton keep the young man and his mother safe, or will Elijah’s old running mates get to him first?

Dead in the Shop by Dahlia DonovanDead in the Shop by Dahlia Donovan:

With love, wit, and a murder to solve, Valor and Bishan really need to stop life being so bloody complicated in this sweet gay romance.

Deadly fire? Check.

Fear-induced heart attack imminent? Check.

Time running out on them? Not good.

Valor Scott wants nothing more than to enjoy life in his little cottage with his boyfriend. The shadows of a serial killer continue to haunt him, though. He only wants the living nightmare to end. He battles one catastrophic event after the other, intent on bringing his loved ones through to the other side safely.

As their killer finally comes out into the open, Valor finds himself face-to-face with an obsessed murderer intent on destroying everyone in their path.

Trepalli's Christmas by Marcelle DubéTrepalli’s Christmas by Marcelle Dubé:

It’s Christmas eve day and Constable Marco Trepalli of the Mendenhall Police Department can’t wait to be off shift. He’s planning a big surprise for his girlfriend, Amanda. Something special. Something romantic.

Then a kid doesn’t return home after sledding and Trepalli forgets all about his plans in the mad scramble to mobilize search parties and interview the kid’s friends. And as hour after hour slips by with no sign of the boy, Trepalli braces himself for what could turn into the worst Christmas ever… for him and the kid’s family.

A Strange Twist of Fate by Debra ErfertA Strange Twist of Fate by Debra Erfert:

Gutsy, grieving Julianna is determined to find who murdered her husband. Hampered by agonizing loneliness, her obsessive-compulsive mother and her over-controlling father, she defies convention and the law to investigate on her own. When she runs up against a handsome police detective who’s determined to save Julianna from herself, she has to step up her rogue search for the killer before time, and dwindling leads, run out.

 

 

AntiAmerica by T.K. FalcoAntiAmerica by T.K. Falco:

AntiAmerica stands at the center of the largest US anarchist uprising in 100 years.

When hacktivist group AntiAmerica hacks the nation’s largest banks, the financial industry is left teetering on the brink of collapse. Hacker and teen runaway Alanna Blake is forcefully recruited by the government to track down the only link to AntiAmerica, her missing ex-boyfriend Javier. She relies on every bit of her social engineering cunning to navigate a conspiracy of lies and deceit, which imperils both the lives of everyone closest to her and the secrets to a past she longs to remain locked away forever.

This book contains content surrounding drug abuse, mental illness, physical abuse, and suicide.

Spirit of the Season by Cynthia E. HurstSpirit of the Season by Cynthia E. Hurst:

In a season of peace and goodwill, it was shocking for residents of the Cotswold town to learn a stranger had been murdered in their midst. It was even more shocking that he died on the doorstep of the town’s police inspector’s home as he was entertaining guests on Christmas Eve. It appeared Daniel Keegan’s only failing had been to fall in love with the wrong person, something that sends a chilling message to two of the inspector’s guests. Newlyweds Jacob Silver and Sarah Simm are used to criticism, but does Keegan’s death mean their own lives may be in danger?

‘Spirit of the Season’ is the eighth book in the Silver and Simm Victorian Mysteries series.

Retrieval by Ethan JonesRetrieval by Ethan Jones:

Can a lethal assassin have a soft side?

After a botched operation in Geneva, Javin Pierce and his partner are offered the chance to return to the CIS if they eliminate two senior ISIS leaders hiding in Iraq. Dispatched to the lawless lands, Javin and Claudia start to gather intel, and soon find themselves immersed in a sinister corruption scheme that reaches top-level Iraqi officials. Javin isn’t about to walk away.

Now, being hunted down by ruthless ISIS fighters, the team fights to survive and navigate crooked, ever-shifting allegiances. As Javin and Claudia forge bonds with unlikely local allies from a refugee camp, Javin gets more than he bargained for. The evidence leads to Europe and an elaborate retrieval that, if successful, will tear down the entire corruption scheme and bring desperate relief to the camp workers.

Javin now realizes his ticket back into the agency might be his most dangerous but satisfying mission yet. How will Javin clean up the targets, get back into the agency, and execute the seemingly impossible retrieval, all without leaving a trace?

Kinfolk by Matt KurtzKinfolk by Matt Kurtz:

Criminal brothers Ray and Eric Kuttner pulled off what they thought was a seemingly simple score, until Ray’s innocent wife, Rachel, was brutally murdered in retaliation. Hell-bent on revenge, the brothers delivered their own merciless payback.

Three years later, something sheds new light on Rachel’s murder and it requires the brothers to drive across Texas to Oklahoma on a new mission of vengeance that’ll finally bring them closure.

After an incident forces them to take back roads to elude the cops, they get stranded along a hunting ground patrolled by a family looking for fresh meat to feed their hunger for flesh.

In a race against the clock, Ray and Eric must fight their way out of the backwoods of Texas and still make it across state lines to accomplish their plan of revenge …all before one very large—and pissed off—family secret is unleashed to stop them.

The Megalodon Mix-Up by Amanda M. LeeThe Megalodon Mix-Up by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes’ life has taken a turn.

Not only is she working her dream job, but she’s also taken on a dreamy co-worker and is officially dating the office security chief.
Yeah, she’s still trying to wrap her head around it, too.

She doesn’t have much time because a high-profile incident in Florida means the team is on the hunt, and this time the likely culprit is none other than a prehistoric shark that’s been extinct for millions of years.

For Jack Hanson, the mere thought that a Megalodon is hunting the Gulf of Mexico waters is too much to bear. He’s on edge and irritated, and that’s on top of the fact that Legacy Foundation co-workers are starting to find out about his relationship with Charlie.

For her part, Charlie is enjoying herself. Not only is she looking for a giant shark, but she’s investigating in the middle of an author conference and the victim was the one person hated by absolutely everyone. She’s learning on the job … and it’s a tangled web of lies and intrigue to wade through.

There are suspects at every turn, blood in the water, and hungry sharks looking for a meal. It’s another fun-filled adventure, and the stakes in this one are graver than anybody anticipated.

Death Over Divorce by Jerri Kay LincolnDeath Over Divorce by Jerri Kay Lincoln:

This is the second book in the Rutledge Historical Society Cozy Mystery Series.

When a dead man that she knows falls out of Lorry Lockharte’s new car right in front of the sheriff, it doesn’t look good. Still, being hauled into the sheriff’s station isn’t what Lorry had expected. After a lawyer comes out of nowhere to get her released, Lorry struggles to prove her innocence and find the real killer.

 

Kousins Kan't Kill by Jerri Kay LincolnKousins Kan’t Kill by Jerri Kay Lincoln:

This is the third book in the Rutledge Historical Society Cozy Mystery Series.

When Lorry Lockharte’s cousin, Kasey, is accused of murder, Lorry feels like once again she must work to find the murderer. Did Kasey do it, or is she truly innocent as she claims? Lorry isn’t so sure about this one. Not only did Kasey have the opportunity and the motive, but she picked up the murder weapon. Will Lorry find the murderer only to discover that it really is Kasey?

 

Iced Inn by Karen MacInerneyIced Inn by Karen MacInerney:

It’s Christmastime at the Gray Whale Inn. The inn’s kitchen smells like ginger and spice, the ground is frosted with snow, and wedding bells are about to ring out for innkeeper Natalie’s favorite niece, Gwen. It’s a joyous time… until the families of the bride and groom descend on the island, bringing nasty tempers and a wicked winter storm with them. Add a baffling rash of thefts, a dash of romantic intrigue, and an unexpected power shutdown, and Natalie’s plans for a magical season are looking more like a recipe for disaster. Can Natalie find the missing gifts before the big holiday? And will the happy couple make it to the altar… or will the wedding go up in flames?

Shame on Me by Margaret MalShame on Me by Margaret Mal:

Everything in 17-year-old Julia’s life was boring and monotonous until she came across a real corpse. Since it happened near her best friend Kate’s cabin, Julia and Kate feel the urge to find the killer, as does the dead man’s best friend Nick, for whom Julia falls as soon as they meet. At first glance, the murder seems to be connected to the victim’s business, but what if it has to do with a serial killer on the loose in the same area?

‘Shame on Me’ is the first novel in the series.
The series revolves around two young friends from Russia, Julia and Kate, who love to take on the role of amateur sleuths. The novels are written in the form of email letters to their mutual American friend. Each book is written in first person, each from the point of view of one of the girls. The first book in the series is written from Julia’s point of view, the second from Kate’s, and so on. In addition to the mysteries and love stories, the series highlights interesting cultural differences between Russians and Americans and describes the life of a girl from a poor Russian family.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

Phyllis Wong and the Vanishing Emeralds by Geoffrey McSkimmingPhyllis Wong and the Vanishing Emeralds by Geoffrey McSkimming:

When Phyllis Wong—that brilliant young magician and clever sleuth—happens upon a mystery from the past that has proved unsolvable, she knows she has to try to get to the bottom of it.

More than sixty years ago an astonishing emerald necklace owned by the famous pianist Isabella Beaufort seemingly vanished off the face of the earth! Ever since, the disappearance has stumped the police, detectives and those associated with the missing priceless jewels. How did the prized Flurtis Emeralds vanish? Where are they today? Is there any way they can be traced, after so many cobwebs have covered the case?

Another mysterious intrigue right up the alleyway of our favourite conjuring Transiter!

The sixth Phyllis Wong: Time Detective mystery.

Punitive Damages by Marti TalbottPunitive Damages by Marti Talbott:

A deathbed phone call made Private Detective Jackie Harlan’s heart skip a beat. Her agency specialized in finding missing people, yet the one person she couldn’t find was her own son, Brian, who disappeared at the age of two. Was what the caller said the truth, or was it a sinister ploy to take her off the trail of an important case she was working?

 

 

 

The King's Coroner by J-R- TomlinThe King’s Coroner by J.R. Tomlin:

A game of spies is afoot. The king’s new coroner, Sir Law Kintour, investigates the death of a mysterious stranger in fifteenth-century Perth, Scotland. The investigation is complicated by the civil war brewing as the king raises his army against a rebellious duke. Sir Law is pitched further into intrigue and betrayal when he discovers a hired assassin is lurking in Perth. No one knows who will be the next victim. Now Law must call on every resource he has to stop the killer.

 

Pineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy VansantPineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy Vansant:

Sheriff Frank asks newly-minted private detective Charlotte to help him crack the case, but she has no idea those darn gingerbread men will start showing up everywhere. What did Santa do that made them so angry? And what’s the secret in his colorful Christmas-themed bureau?

Charlotte is forced to split her time between searching for Santa’s killer and helping Declan’s crazy ex-Stephanie stop a corrupt district attorney in exchange for a book that could help solve more crimes in the future. She never thought she’d help calculating Stephanie with anything…but as this story comes to it’s shocking ending, you’ll find it could be Stephanie who’s finally bitten off more cookie than she can chew…

Tangled Destiny by Jenny WheelerTangled Destiny by Jenny Wheeler:

A promising proposal. A life-changing secret. Will she live out a lie or follow her heart?

New York, 1847. Elanora dreams of marrying her childhood sweetheart Eustace. The proposal on her 21st birthday is everything she hoped for, until her fiancé’s father dispatches him to the West Indies. After the promise of a white Christmas with the man she loves evaporates, she stumbles upon a secret that could tear Eustace’s family apart…

After a sudden death further sends Elanora reeling, she’s as vulnerable as ever until a gifted photographer comes to her rescue. With the tragic love triangle forming before her eyes and the secret burning within her, she has an impossible Christmas choice. Will Elanora obey the powerful men who want to control her or will she trigger generations of consequences by exposing the truth?

Tangled Destiny is a prequel novella to the Of Gold & Blood historical mystery series.

Songbird by Inger WolfSongbird by Inger Wolf, translated by Mark Kline:

On an early morning in May, the police find the heavily beaten body of Maja Nielsen in a public park in central Aarhus in Denmark.

She has fallen from a great height and her right arm has been cut repeatedly. Everything points to a suicide, and as the police dig deeper into the world of Maja, they discover a young woman plagued by paranoia and violent nightmares.

Something was tormenting her.

The investigation leads Daniel Trokic and his team to a distinct blood profile with traces of an unknown drug, a tattooed Colombian, and a particularly uncompromising animal rights activist who has been run over in a hit-and-run accident.

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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Three New Hallowind Cove Stories and a Facelift for the Whole Series

This is the final new release announcement for 2018 and it’s a big one, for I have not one or two but three new Hallowind Cove stories to announce as well as a quasi relaunch for the series.

The origin of the Hallowind Cove series lies in a shared world anthology which fell through. So I took my story for that anthology, changed the names and filed off the serial numbers and published the story as The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock.

I didn’t intend to revisit Hallowind Cove. But then during the 2016 July short story challenge, I had an idea for a story that would be perfect for Hallowind Cove, a story which eventually was published as The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach. And so Hallowind Cove became a series.

During the 2017 and 2018 July short story challenge, I wrote two more Hallowind Cove stories. However, they languished on my harddrive, because Hallowind Cove series just doesn’t sell very well. And though I usually ignore conventional indie wisdom about marketing and cover design, it eventually became clear to me that the Hallowind Cove series was branded wrong and marketed at the wrong audience. The original monochrome covers (which you can still see here and here) had a horror vibe, but Hallowind Cove isn’t really a horror series, even though the town of Hallowind Cove is nigh permanently shrouded in fog and plagued by ghosts, monsters and vengeful zombies. However, the tone of the stories is humorous rather than scary and the attraction of the series lies in the quirky town and its equally quirky inhabitants.

In short, the problem with Hallowind Cove was that I was marketing the series to the wrong audience and had the two existing books in the wrong categories. Because Hallowind Cove is not horror, it’s cozy fantasy, a category which unfortunately does not exist on Amazon or any other online bookstore. However, the stores do have a cozy mystery category full of stories set in quirky small towns with equally quirky inhabitants, which are a large part of the attraction. Amazon even has a subcategory of paranormal cozy mysteries featuring witches, ghosts, etc… I’ve featured these books at the Indie Crime Scene (and they usually are crossposted to Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month as well) and know that they are massively popular. And the Hallowind Cove stories are certainly closer to those paranormal cozy mysteries than they are to straight horror. So I decided to aim them at the readership for paranormal cozy mysteries instead.

However, that left the problem of the covers. Because the existing monochrome photo covers were completely unsuitable for the cozy paranormal market, where candy-coloured cartoon covers and vector graphics rule surpreme. So I would have to rebrand the series and redo the covers as well and I would have to come up with a unified cover style that could be easily adapted for future books in the series. The new covers needed a cartoony look in keeping with genre conventions and I also wanted the covers to stress the maritime background of the Hallowind Cove series. Which was a problem, because the overwhelming majority of seaside related vector graphics available on the usual stock art sites were summery images of sunny beaches and palm trees. Whereas Hallowind Cove is permanently shrouded in fog and doesn’t have a single palm tree. So I put the two already finished Hallowind Cove stories on the backburner until I could figure out how to rebrand the series.

As longterm readers will know, I usually publish at least one holiday story every year. I initially planned for the 2018 holiday story to be an In Love and War novella, which is already partially written. However, the novella focusses on a character who hasn’t been introduced in the series proper yet due to a novel that has been giving me problems for two years now. Hence I set it aside (you’ll get it in 2019) and looked for another holiday story to write and came across a story start called A Hallowind Cove Christmas. So I got to work on the story and decided to use the opportunity to redo the covers and relaunch the whole series.

I also came up with an idea for the covers that was viable, doable with my skills, could be adapted for new stories in the series and also had a certain maritime flair that matched the series. The new Hallowind Cove covers are basically a vector graphic of a ship’s porthole. Inside that porthole, there is an image that fits the story in question, e.g. a zombie pirate for The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock and a tattooed arm for The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach. You can see the new covers for both stories below:

The Revenant of Wrecker's Dock by Cora Buhlert The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach by Cora Buhlert

Meanwhile, the Hallowind Cove Christmas story or rather the beginning thereof focussed on Rachel Hammersmith, a character who briefly shows up in The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach, where we learn that Rachel is a newcomer to Hallowind Cove who took over the local bakery. Now baking and Christmas go together, which makes Rachel the perfect protagonist for a Hallowind Cove holiday story. And indeed, the abandoned story start I pick up chronicled how Rachel came to Hallowind Cove and how she came to take over the bakery. Next came a scene where several notable citizens of Hallowind Cove show up in Rachel’s bakery and tell her that only she can save Christmas. And that was as far as I’d written. Why can only Rachel of all people save Christmas and from what is she supposed to save it? If I ever came up with an answer to those questions, I sure as hell didn’t remember. And in fact I suspect that’s the reason I abandoned the story back in the day.

So I brainstormed potential Christmas related dangers, preferably of a supernatural kind, and quickly hit upon a holiday threat straight from German folklore, namely the Krampus, a scary devil-like monster that is a companion of Saint Nicholas in South Germany and Austria and punished the bad kids with his birch rod. The Krampus is certainly a suitably scary Christmas threat. There was only one problem. I didn’t actually know much about Krampus, because German folklore is very regional and Krampus just isn’t a thing in my part of Germany. In my part of Germany, Saint Nicholas travels with Knecht Ruprecht, a man with a bushy black beard who gives the bad kids a thrashing with a birch rod. And across the border in the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas travels with the Zwarte Piet, a black man in faux orientalist garb who doesn’t really thrash anybody, but manages to be controversial nonetheless. And since the Krampus isn’t really part of the culture I grew up with, I had to do some research.

Since the Krampus is a monster that thrashes the bad kids with a birch rod or kidnaps them and – in those parts of the German speaking world, where Krampus is a thing – people dressed up as Krampus run wild in the street on the night of December 5 (i.e. the night before St. Nicholas Day), it was obvious why the Krampus would be a threat to the peace of Hallowind Cove or what passes for it at Christmas time. Now the next question was, how exactly could Rachel of all people save the town from the Krampus’ wrath?

Now Rachel is a baker and therefore, it was obvious that the solution should be bakery related. So I researched whether there were any pastries associated with Krampus and found that there were. Even better, it was a type of pastry I was familiar with, namely figures of sweet leavened dough that are known as Stutenkerl or Weckenmann in my region and as Krampus elsewhere. What is more, it turns out that in addition of the “dough man with pipe” Stutenkerl that I was familiar with, there were also Krampus shaped dough figures in the respective parts of Germany and Austria. According to legend, the Stutenkerl with his pipe represents Saint Nicholas with his bishop’s crosier, while the Krampus shaped figures represent the Krampus. And indeed, the Krampus that visits Rachel’s bakery picks up a Stutenkerl for Saint Nicholas.

If you want to make your own Stutenkerl or Krampus, here is a recipe. Meanwhile, inspired by the story I was writing, I bought a ready made Stutenkerl at Janssen‘s excellent bakery in Oldenburg

Stutenkerl

A Stutenkerl from Janssen’s bakery in Oldenburg, surrounded by some of their delicious cookies.

Since Krampus is traditionally the companion of Saint Nicholas, Santa himself show up near the end as well. And because Hallowind Cove is persistently fog-shrouded, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer appears as well, even though he has nothing whatsoever to do with the Krampus and the traditional Saint Nicholas legend and is instead a 20th century American invention. I even managed to sneak in another legendary winter figure occasionally associated with Krampus, namely the winter witch known in South Germany and Austria as Frau Perchta or Frau Percht. In my region, she is called Frau Holle.

Established Hallowind Cove characters such as Hugo the talking raven and Ian, the landlord of The Croaking Foghorn pub (who even aquires a surname in this story) also appear. And Paul MacQuarie, the other newcomer to Hallowind Cove who is the protagonist of The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock, shows up as well, first to buy a muffin at the bakery and later to help Rachel deal with the Krampus problem. The two of them quickly bond over their shared experiences and there’s even a kiss under the mistletoe.

Intrigued? Then read…

The Bakery on Gloomland Street
The Bakery on Gloomland StreetA legendary monster threatens Christmas…

It’s Christmas time in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, which is also known as the “Harbour of the Weird”.

Rachel Hammersmith is new to Hallowind Cove and has recently taken over the bakery on Gloomland Street, after Marie Percht, the previous owner, retired.

However, Marie Percht didn’t tell Rachel everything, when she retired. She didn’t mention the fog, for starters, and she also didn’t mention that her bakery plays a vital role during the Christmas season and not just as a provider of holiday cookies either.

For the Krampus, a yuletide monster from alpine folklore, is coming to Hallowind Cove. And the only thing that can keep him from wrecking the town and ruining Christmas are pastries baked according to a secret recipe. Unfortunately, Rachel has no idea what the recipe is.

However, with the help of fellow newcomer Paul MacQuarie, Rachel will bake up a storm to pacify Krampus and save Christmas.

More information.
Length: 9300 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

Though it was written earlier (yes, I write series out of order), the next Hallowind Cove story is a direct sequel to The Bakery on Gloomland Street. For The Mermaid of Foghorn Point follows the newly minted couple Paul and Rachel on their first date to The Croaking Foghorn pub. But this is Hallowind Cove and so their date does not at all go as expected.

The Mermaid of Foghorn Point is one of three Hallowind Cove stories to date to come out of the July short story challenge, where the idea is to write a short story per day during the month of July. Like several of the July short story challenge stories, The Mermaid of Foghorn Point was inspired by an image, namely this piece of fantasy art by Axel Sauerwald, where some fishermen make a most unexpected catch.

Inspired by the image, I started writing a story about a fisherman returning to harbour and explaining to a customer why he came back empty-handed. After a few paragraphs, I realised that this was the perfect Hallowind Cove story. And so Eddie Bramwell, fisherman and captain of the ominously named The Doomed Privateer, regals Paul, Rachel, Ian and Old Hank with a marvelous bit of sailor’s yarn – or is it?

To find out, read…

The Mermaid of Foghorn Point
The Mermaid of Foghorn PointThe catch of the day at the Croaking Foghorn is not at all as expected…

Strange things keep happening in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

Paul and Rachel’s date at The Croaking Foghorn pub is derailed, when it turns out that local fisherman Eddie Bramwell brought home no fish, but one hell of a story.

But Paul has one hell of a story of his own to tell and he’s not at all sure how Rachel will react.

More information.
Length: 3400 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens, the third new Hallowind Cove story is more of a standalone (not to mention a standaround) and focusses on another crop of newcomers to Hallowind Cove, the Hutchinson family who visit the town on one of the rare non-foggy days and wind up buying a mansion that’s for sale for a ridiculously low price (and of course, none of the locals mention the fog or the many weird things happening in Hallowind Cove with the exception of Hugo the talking raven. And no one ever listens to Hugo). But this is Hallowind Cove, after all, so it’s clear that the Hutchinsons are in for an unpleasant surprise.

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens is another story to come out of the July short story challenge, the 2017 edition in this case. The inspiration for the story was watching a trailer for what looked like a very bad low-budget horror movie. A little more than a year on, I can’t even recall the title of the movie, which shows how forgettable it was. I had to comb through the weekly link roundups at the Speculative Fiction Showcase from July 2017 to find it again (and it turns out that a lot of bad trailers for forgettable horror movies came out in July 2017). That movie had the usual set-up of a group of people trapped in an isolated house and menaced by sinister shadowy figures. At one point in the trailer, someone freaks out about the figures out there and someone else asks what the figures are doing, whereupon the first person replies, “Nothing”, which made me break in laughter. And so the standarounds – shadowy figures who literally just stand around and stare at random houses – were born. The standarounds themselves are also briefly mentioned in The Bakery on Gloomland Street, which was written after this story. Sheriff Alastair Angus Aberdeen also appears in The Bakery on Gloomland Street, by the way.

So prepare to meet The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens. And don’t worry, they’re harmless.

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens
The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens by Cora BuhlertSinister shadows menace a family…

Strange things keep happening in the quirky little seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

When the Hutchinson family buy the beautiful Beauregard mansion on Gloomland Street, they believe they’ve made the deal of a lifetime.

But unfortunately, no one told them about the fog that envelops Hallowind Cove for three hundred and forty days a year. Or about the mysterious shadows that stand around Twilight Gardens, staring at random houses…

This is a short story of 3300 words or approximately 14 pages in the Hallowind Cove series, but may be read as a standalone.

More information.
Length: 3300 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

If you want to read the whole series, there is also a series bundle available at DriveThruFiction at a reduced price.

And that’s it for the year. Next year, there will be more In Love and War stories, including at least one novel, more The Day The Saucers Came… stories, a new sword and sorcery series , After the End 2: More Stories about Life After the Apocalypse, Murder in the Family 2 and much more.

Happy holidays, whichever one you celebrate!

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Magic under the Mistletoe 2018 – A Round-up of the Best Indie Holiday Speculative Fiction

Magic under the Mistletoe banner

Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite holiday science fiction, fantasy and horror by indie authors.

These holiday stories cover the broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, paranormal mysteries, science fiction, space opera, time travel, post-apocalyptic fiction, plenty of dragons, werewolves, were-reindeer, elves, Krampuses, telepathic detectives, crime-fighting witches, orphans in danger, troubled marriages, musketeers in space, alien invasions, Christmas in space and after the apocalypse, robots, sentient starships playing Santa and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set around the holidays.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

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:

A Dark Root Christmas by April AasheimA Dark Root Christmas: Merry’s Gift by April Aasheim

When ten-year-old Merry Maddock makes a holiday wish on a shooting star, she has no idea how her life will change.
Suddenly, she’s become the parent to a strange baby owl, and the caretaker of what appears to be an enchanted tree.
But will her wish for a family Christmas be granted? Or will her mother’s desire for a year without a holiday win out?
Magick, mystery, and family take center stage in this charming witchy novella featuring the Maddock girls when they are young.
This 20k word novella is a prequel story to the popular Daughters of Dark Root series and can be read as a stand alone novel.

A Very Mercy Christmas by M.Z. AndrewsA Very Mercy Christmas: A Witch Squad Holiday Special by M.Z. Andrews:

It’s Christmas time at the Paranormal Institute for Witches. Excited to go home for the holidays and be reunited with their families, Mercy, Jax, Holly, Sweets, and Alba say their goodbyes. However, when an unpredicted snowstorm ravages Aspen Falls, the girls must scramble to figure out their next move. Tempers flare as blame is placed and feelings are hurt. By the looks of it, Christmas will surely be ruined.

But when a surprise visitor arrives, the girls are forced to find out what friendship really means and decide whether or not it’s worth saving. Visited by some blasts from the past, the girls are given glimpses into each other’s pasts and find out what life would have been like if they’d never met and formed the Witch Squad on the first day of classes.

A Very Mercy Christmas is the 5th book in the Witch Squad Cozy Mystery series – there is no mystery to solve, instead sit back and enjoy a Christmas story about what went down over the Witch Squad’s first winter break and get a glimpse into the lives of each of the girls before they met.

The Journey of Joseph Winter by John AnthonyThe Journey of Joseph Winter: A Christmas Fairy Tale by John Anthony:

A heartwarming Christmas story in the tradition of the holiday classics It’s a Wonderful Life and A Miracle on 34th Street.

Take a personal journey to discover the true magic of Christmas.

Joseph Winter is a good and gentle man, but he carries with him the pain and regret of a childhood mistake.

When a package mysteriously arrives on his doorstep, he is invited on a path to redemption.

Traveling far from his cozy little home in St. Paul, Minnesota, into the snowy landscapes of the Arctic, his touching Christmas journey takes him in search of the one man who may be able to help him find peace—Santa Claus.

An inspirational family Christmas tale in the style of the classic Christmas stories shared by families every holiday season, The Journey of Joseph Winter: A Christmas Fairy Tale is the inspiring story of a man in search of Santa Claus, his childhood, and ultimately—himself.

A Tale of Christmas Past by Katelyn A. BrownA Tale of Christmas Past by Katelyn A. Brown

A woman from the future, trapped in the past…

Avery Lawson expects to spend another holiday alone, with only memories of her parents and her abandoned faith for company. One chilly day, she reads an old journal that once belonged to a pioneer named Kathleen. Avery is captivated by the story, but she never imagined how much her own life would be turned upside down after reading it. In a strange twist of fate, she finds herself transported to a Kansas homestead in the year 1880, with no conceivable way to get home to the future.

Widower Jacob Cole is in desperate need of a housekeeper and nanny for his three young children. When the mysterious Miss Lawson shows up at his farm, his instincts tell him to trust her, despite the bizarre circumstances surrounding her arrival. She quickly becomes an important part of his world. Could she be just what his hurting family needs?

But being from the future, Avery has a dreadful secret. With Christmas fast approaching, can she stop another terrible tragedy from befalling the family? Will she ever make it home to the future? Or–with the Cole children and Jacob steadily breaking down the walls around her heart–does she even want to anymore?

Christmas on Iago Prime by Cora BuhlertChristmas on Iago Prime by Cora Buhlert

Eight-year-old Libby has come with her parents to spend a year at the newly established colony on the planet Iago Prime. Libby’s parents believe that this is a great opportunity for all of them, but Libby is unhappy on Iago Prime. There are no other children on Iago Prime and Libby can’t go anywhere, because she doesn’t even have a space suit. Worst of all, they will spend Christmas on Iago Prime, where there aren’t even any Christmas trees.

However, Libby’s parents, with a little help from Santa Claus himself, conspire to give Libby an unforgettable Christmas on Iago Prime.

This is a science fictional Christmas story of 6600 words or approx. 22 print pages.

The Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora BuhlertThe Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora Buhlert:

A legendary monster threatens Christmas…

It’s Christmas time in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, which is also known as the “Harbour of the Weird”.

Rachel Hammersmith is new to Hallowind Cove and has recently taken over the bakery on Gloomland Street, after Marie Percht, the previous owner, retired.

However, Marie Percht didn’t tell Rachel everything, when she retired. She didn’t mention the fog, for starters, and she also didn’t mention that her bakery plays a vital role during the Christmas season and not just as a provider of holiday cookies either.

For the Krampus, a yuletide monster from alpine folklore, is coming to Hallowind Cove. And the only thing that can keep him from wrecking the town and ruining Christmas are pastries baked according to a secret recipe. Unfortunately, Rachel has no idea what the recipe is.

However, with the help of fellow newcomer Paul MacQuarie, Rachel will bake up a storm to pacify Krampus and save Christmas.

The Tinsel-Free Christmas Tree by Cora BuhlertThe Tinsel-Free Christmas Tree: A Not Really SF Short Story by Cora Buhlert

Bertha and Alfred, married for twenty years, enjoy a truly science fictional life in the twenty-first century. But in spite of all the technological marvels surrounding them, an argument about how to decorate the Christmas tree escalates and threatens their marriage.

This parodistic piece is a mundane short story of 2900 words or approximately 12 print pages, written in the style of science fiction’s “golden age” of the 1940s and 1950s.

 

Merry Chris Witch by C.K. DawnMerry Chris Witch by C.K. Dawn:

Magic is real and dreams do come true. Be careful what you WITCH for.

Chris Heron is a witch who loathes the holiday season. What’s even worse is getting expelled from private coven school on Halloween and having to attend public magic school, where Santa’s son is visiting and has all the girls in a frenzy. Fairies, mermaids, elves, even the trolls are swooning over Kris Kringle Jr. All except for one girl, and she’s a North Pole mystery that has Chris intrigued. Will he be able to put his prejudices aside in time to see the true magic all around him?

I Wtich You a Merry Christmas by Snow EdenI Witch You a Merry Christmas by Snow Eden:

A heart-warming story about Christmas, elves, Santa Claus…and a really mad witch.

There are many things Cinnamon Mercy Claus is struggling with this holiday season: the memories of long forgotten holidays when the Christmas season was about family; that she’s just found out her grandfather is Santa Claus; and that her grandmother is a witch—who is bent on destroying Christmas for them all.

This is a 30,000-word novella with a dose of Hallmark warmth and crazy witch mayhem!

It is a ‘clean’ read with no cursing. Situations should be appropriate for all ages.

Carrie Hatchett's Christmas by J.J. GreenCarrie Hatchett’s Christmas by J.J. Green:

It’s Christmas! The alien invasion has begun.

Carrie Hatchett’s hoping for a quiet Christmas. She’s got five times as much food as she needs, and she’s made a catnip surprise and a dogfood cake for her pets.

But there’s no rest for Carrie.

An ancient race seems intent on invading Earth. As a Transgalactic Intercultural Community Crisis Liaison Officer, Carrie’s duty-bound to respond to the threat.

The aliens have been spotted at Santa’s Grotto and in a pantomime. Will Carrie find them in time and send them packing before they ruin everyone’s Christmas?

Carrie Hatchett’s Christmas is a standalone novelette in the comedy sci-fi romp Carrie Hatchett, Space Adventurer.

Follow Carrie on her adventures today.

Bringing Christmas to the Dragons by Rinelle GreyBringing Christmas to the Dragons by Rinelle Grey:

She may not be a dragon, but it was her humanity they needed right now.

With time running out before his clan’s prince is discovered by mining or killed by enemy dragons, dragon shifter Jayrian needs to convince the elders to accept help from the humans. He hopes that the clever librarian, Gretchen, might be able to help him with that. He didn’t count on falling for her—that wasn’t part of his plan at all.

Gretchen longs for adventure outside of the books she reads in her job as a small town librarian. But not the kind that involves her moving to the big city to take the promotion her Aunt Mary offers. The cute guy who’s been hanging around the library seems far more exciting—there’s just something about him that draws her—so on impulse, she invites him to her family’s Christmas celebration. When a dragon lands on the front of her car on the way there, she wonders if she’s gotten more than she bargained for.

Together they must find a way to save his prince and clan, without sacrificing who they are, or their budding relationship.

Meet Douglas Fir by Kyndra HatchMeet Douglas Fir by Kyndra Hatch:

People put objects on trees? As a holiday tradition? The singing tree creature is a threat that needs to be eradicated.

Being human isn’t easy with robotic alien residents misunderstanding the simple stuff. Alex can’t imagine his family life without Bazin and Miaxa, though. Time to show them Christmas holiday traditions, preferably without space aliens blowing things up.

 

 

How Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. LeeHow Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Fourteen years ago, Christmas hit Walkerville with a bang. Or, rather, a big ball of fire.
When a local group home for orphaned children goes up in smoke right before the holidays, Tillie Winchester volunteers her family to take in some kids – even though her arch nemesis Margaret Little is dead-set against it. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for Tillie so she’s considering it a win.

Three boys – all of them with a little attitude – have no idea what to expect from the Winchester household. No matter what, Tillie is sure they’re about to get more than they bargained for. In short order, they’re welcomed into the family at the same time the town is on edge due to a second fire.

Tillie is determined to prove the boys are innocent while also finding them a forever home … even if she has to take on a local judge and declare all out war to do it.

So, hang your stockings by the fire and sit back for another Christmas with the Winchesters. You’ll never be the same again.

Note: This is a 28,000-word novella set in the Wicked Witches of the Midwest world. It’s set back in the past so it can be read in any order.

A Mind Reader's Christmas by Al MacyA Mind Reader’s Christmas by Al Macy:

Eric Beckman, a mind-reading private investigator, is spending Christmas in snowy Vermont with his wife and daughter. He needs a break from solving cases, but the townspeople convince him to look into the village mystery: Every holiday season, someone switches the baby Jesus with one of the other figures in the town’s Nativity scene.

With the help of his ten-year-old daughter, also a mind reader, he soon learns that some of the residents of the small town are not who–or even what–they seem to be. There’s something supernatural going on in Newburn, Vermont.

His investigation causes an escalation of strange happenings, and soon, swapped manger figures are the least of the town’s worries. If Beckman can’t adjust his view of the world–force himself to believe in things he never thought possible–the Christmas vacation could turn out to be his family’s last.

A Mind Reader’s Christmas may be read as a standalone book or as Book Four in the Eric Beckman series.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

In Time for Christmas by Monique MartinIn Time for Christmas by Monique Martin:

At a time when interest in the Christmas holiday was waning, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol and inspired the world.

But now, history is changing, and the book is never written. When the Council for Temporal Studies asks time travelers Simon and Elizabeth Cross to “save Christmas,” they think he’s joking.

But it’s anything but a laughing matter. Simon and Elizabeth must go back to 1843 London and convince Dickens to write his endearing story, or the Christmas holiday we all know and love will cease to be–forever.

Christmas in New York by Monique MartinChristmas in New York by Monique Martin:

Time-Traveling adventurers Simon and Elizabeth Cross return in an all-new Christmas novella!

Along with their young daughter, Charlotte, the Crosses travel back to 1937 New York City to visit an old friend, Charlie Blue. But Charlie’s in trouble — holiday-sized trouble — and their plans for a pleasant little Christmas vacation soon fly out the window.

Christmas in New York is the fast-paced and heartwarming tale of the true meaning of Christmas — and the importance of the people we share it with.

Not His Christmas by Annie NicholasNot His Christmas by Annie Nicholas:

It’s Eoin and Angie’s first Christmas together and he wants to make it special. But his dragoness is lacking holiday spirit and doesn’t want anything to do with celebrating. Does Angie think Eoin is the type of dragon who could ignore her unhappiness? Clipping on his jingle bells and grabbing the mistletoe, Eoin is on a mission.

 

 

 

Snowed in with the Alien Dragon by Sonia NovaSnowed in with the Alien Dragon by Sonia Nova

A Christmas without warmth…
Rachel hates her life in Alaska. She hates the weather, but even more, she hates her job which requires her to stay in the sodden state even for the holidays! Instead of going to visit her family in sunny California, she will be spending the holidays alone in the cold north. But when she encounters an unconscious, golden alien on the way home from work – amidst a massive snowstorm to top it all off – it looks like the holidays might not end up as boring as she’d thought after all!

A dragon paralyzed by cold…
Captain Erro of Traag never thought to go down in a battle. Even less did he think to find his mate on the surface of the planet he crashes on! Trapped in the planet’s frozen wasteland, Erro can hardly function in the cold climate. He’s a dragon, for heaven’s sake! He needs some heat! And yet, despite the icy weather seeping into his bones, every time the strangely beautiful alien female smiles at him, his inner flame burns stronger than ever. She is his mate, there is no question about that.

Now, if only he could understand what the hell she was saying…

Snowed in with the Alien Dragon is a standalone sci-fi romance novella with a scorching hot dragon, a HEA and no cliffhangers. Intended for mature audiences only.

When Birdie Babysat Spider by Kristen PainterWhen Birdie Babysat Spider: A Jayne Frost Short Story by Kristen Painter:

Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town that celebrates Halloween 365 days a year.

Jayne Frost is a lot of things. Winter elf, Jack Frost’s daughter, Santa Claus’s niece, heir to the Winter Throne and now…private investigator. Sort of.

But none of that matters at the moment, because Jayne is headed back to the North Pole to visit her family, and leaving everyone’s favorite werewolf, Birdie Caruthers, to watch her cat, Spider.

With the heartfelt promise that all will be well, Birdie follows Jayne’s instructions to the letter. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop Spider from getting into trouble.

It takes the help of a gentlemen friend (and a few others), for Birdie to make things right again. But not before her love life takes a very interesting turn…

The Krampus Hunters by J.P. ReedmanThe Krampus Hunters by J.P. Reedman:

Krampus, haunter of the dark winter’s nights before Yule, comes bearing a switch to beat ‘bad children’…

Young Snoefrith, daughter of the Erl-King, leaves her homeland on a quest to find her lost mother…and a life. As she travels in wild, unfamiliar lands, she is accosted by Old Nickor, a red-robed goblin who flies the wintry skies in a sleigh pulled by coal-black deer, and his bestial companion, Krampus. Nickor sets Krampus upon Snowfrith, seeking to capture her to sell to the Kobold King who dwells under the mountains.
Rescued by Red Roo, a feisty girl who is the best archer in the Wandron tribe, Snoefrith believes she is now safe.
But Krampus is determined to capture his prey and please his master, Nickor. Under cover of darkness, he destroys the Wandron’s caravans and sends Snoefrith and Red Roo fleeing into the forest and beyond.
Soon they learn that they cannot flee forever.
The hunted must become the hunters….

KRAMPUS HUNTERS

A short fantasy novelette for all ages, 15,000 words.

Joyeux by Tansy Rayner RobertsJoyeux: A Musketeer Space Novella by Tansy Rayner Roberts

There’s mistletoe growing out of the walls, it’s snowing inside the space station, and a sex scandal is brewing that could bring down the monarchy. Must be Joyeux!

Joyeux on Paris Satellite is a seven day festival of drunken bets, poor decision-making, religious contemplation and tinsel. But mostly, poor decision-making. Athos and Porthos aren’t going to sleep together. Aramis is breaking up with her girlfriend because it’s that or marry her. Athos is not ready to deal with the ghost of his ex-husband. Oh, and no one wants Prince Alek to break his marriage contract by hooking up with a sexy Ambassador…

It’s down to the Musketeers and the Red Guard to save the space station and the solar system from disaster. So… that’s not going to end well.

This novella is a festive prequel to Musketeer Space, a genderflipped space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

Created for Christmas by Joynell SchultzCreated for Christmas by Joynell Schultz:

Need the perfect man? No problem—simply create him!

Ivy wanted nothing more for Christmas than to have someone to come home to…to have a companion to chat about her day with, and someone to show off at her family holiday celebrations.

This Christmas, she’s not going to be alone! Ivy decides to create her perfect companion at Dream Droids, the premier robotics company specializing in sentient humanoids. Ivy spends weeks with Dr. Pierce, creating her dream man, from his appearance, personality, and even his knowledge of her life.

There’s just a few problems: when a special gift she purchased for her father goes missing, and Dr. Pierce agrees to help her find it, she finds herself falling for him. After getting her heart stomped on by her ex-fiancé, there’s no way she can open it up again…besides, she just created the perfect man.

Jingle Stars by Jenny SchwartzJingle Starr by Jenny Schwartz:

When a starship decides to play Santa Claus…

Ahab is a mLa’an artificial intelligence embedded in the starship, Orion.

The campaign for AIs to be recognized as full citizens of Galaxy Proper is within reach of its extraordinary goal. The only thing that could stop it now is if an AI did something foolish…like take a space station hostage to save eight orphaned children.

***
And this is the letter to Santa that starts it all:

Dear Santa

I don’t know if yourreindeers work in space. But if you have room in your sleigh after you finishdelivering presents to the lucky kids with parents and homes, can you come and getme and my friends? Please?

We’ve been good. Well,we haven’t been really bad. We’re on Station Elphame, in the junkyard, and Zoeis sick. She’s bad sick. I think she’d be better on a planet. We don’t needpresents. We just need a way out of here. Ollie tried to sneak onto atrampship…he died.

Please, Santa, I don’twant any more of my friends to die.

Aiden.

Elves and Deer by Hollis ShilohElves and Deer by Hollis Shiloh:

Greer is a reindeer shifter working at a magical shipping hub up North. He has little use for or understanding of elves—such delicate, short-lived creatures—but he tries to do his best by the ones in his life. And it seems like more and more are coming into his life, confusing and frustrating him, needing help, needing rescued.

Since Greer is always busy, it’s easy to overlook the things he doesn’t want to acknowledge—until a terrible danger gives him unwanted time to think…and to realize there’s just one elf who means more to him than he’s ever wanted to admit.

A Christmas tale
38,000 words
Heat level: very low

Blood and Mistletoe by E.J. StevensBlood and Mistletoe by E.J. Stevens:

Holidays are worse than a full moon for making people crazy. In Harborsmouth, where many of the residents are undead vampires or monstrous fae, the combination may prove deadly.

Ivy Granger, psychic private investigator, returns to the streets of Harborsmouth in this addition to the bestselling urban fantasy series.

Holidays are Hell, a point driven home when a certain demon attorney returns with information regarding a series of bloody murders. Five Harborsmouth residents have been killed and every victim has one thing in common–they are fae. Whoever is killing faeries must be stopped, but they only leave one clue behind–a piece of mistletoe floating in a pool of the victim’s blood.

The holidays just got interesting. Too bad this case may drive Ivy mad before the New Year. Heck, she’ll be lucky to survive Christmas.

Cloaked in Christmas by T.F. WalshCloaked in Christmas by T.F. Walsh:

After fleeing her abusive ex, wulfkin Cacey Varg and her daughter settle happily with a new pack in Finland. As Christmas approaches, Cacey learns her ex has found them and is on his way to take their daughter back. But a massive snowstorm prevents her from packing up and leaving town – and instead delivers a sexy stranger to her doorstep. Can she trust that he isn’t one of her ex’s henchmen?

Second-in-command to Europe’s most powerful wulfkin, hunter Vincent Lyall’s spur-of-the-moment decision to check on his ailing mother soon finds him marooned at a cabin in the woods by the blizzard of the century. Trapped with this spirited vixen, resisting temptation is easier said than done . . . But she refuses to believe he is who he says he is.

Is love powerful enough to win when two sexy wolf shifters, an unwelcome past, and animalistic urges wreak havoc on the holiday season?
Sensuality Level: Sensual

A Most Apocalyptic Christmas by Phil WilliamsA Most Apocalyptic Christmas by Phil Williams:

On the night before Christmas, mercenary Scullion’s ride home is ambushed halfway between the last surviving cities in America. Concerned only with getting drunk for the holiday, his attempts to abandon his fellow passengers to bandits lead him on a collision course with a barbaric community who have utterly distorted the seasonal spirit. This is one madcap night he cannot survive alone, challenging his perceptions of the meaning of Christmas.

A Most Apocalyptic Christmas is a near-future dystopian novella, set in a war-ravaged land where chaotic city states are all that are left of once powerful countries. Born fighters like the thug Scullion are the predominant survivors in this desolate world devoid of resources, comforts and hope.

This is a Faergrowe Free State novella, set in the same world of the screenplay The Faergrowe Principle.

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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Murder under the Mistletoe 2018 – A Round-up of the Best Indie Holiday Mysteries and Crime Fiction

Murder under the Mistletoe banner

Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite holiday mysteries by indie authors.

The holiday mysteries cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, WWII mysteries, romantic suspense, police procedurals, crime thrillers, pulp thrillers, men’s adventure, private eyes, masked crime fighters, telepathic detectives, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting bakers, crime-fighting watchmakers, crime-fighting dogs, murder in circusses and aboard cruise ships, in ski resorts and cupcake shops, in small towns and the big city, missing children, missing presents, orphans in danger and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set around the holidays.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

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:

A Very Mercy Christmas by M.Z. AndrewsA Very Mercy Christmas: A Witch Squad Holiday Special by M.Z. Andrews:

It’s Christmas time at the Paranormal Institute for Witches. Excited to go home for the holidays and be reunited with their families, Mercy, Jax, Holly, Sweets, and Alba say their goodbyes. However, when an unpredicted snowstorm ravages Aspen Falls, the girls must scramble to figure out their next move. Tempers flare as blame is placed and feelings are hurt. By the looks of it, Christmas will surely be ruined.

But when a surprise visitor arrives, the girls are forced to find out what friendship really means and decide whether or not it’s worth saving. Visited by some blasts from the past, the girls are given glimpses into each other’s pasts and find out what life would have been like if they’d never met and formed the Witch Squad on the first day of classes.

A Very Mercy Christmas is the 5th book in the Witch Squad Cozy Mystery series – there is no mystery to solve, instead sit back and enjoy a Christmas story about what went down over the Witch Squad’s first winter break and get a glimpse into the lives of each of the girls before they met.

The Season for Slaying by Hillary AvisThe Season for Slaying by Hillary Avis:

All is quiet at the Pines and Needles Christmas Tree Farm. Too quiet.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Darla Cooper is merrily preparing for a family holiday when she witnesses a shocking murder in the woods.

Luckily, her son is a police detective. The problem? He doesn’t believe her—and the body is missing.

Darla must prove that a murder occurred, but she has no body, no witnesses, and no evidence except her own memory—which, to be honest, isn’t that great these days. Plus, she didn’t have her glasses on.

Join Darla as she hunts down a killer…just in time for Christmas.

The Season for Slaying is a short holiday cozy mystery story full of suspense, snowflakes, and sleighbells.

Fatal Festive Donuts by Cindy BellFatal Festive Donuts by Cindy Bell:

Christmastime at the holiday market means mistletoe, colorful lights and…a dead body.

It is almost Christmas and Joyce and Brenda are excited to get a coveted spot at the local holiday market. Business is thriving and they are looking forward to celebrating the holidays.

But Christmas becomes the last thing on their minds when a dead body is found on ‘Donuts on the Move’. Not only is their truck shut down, but they become the prime suspects. With the evidence stacking up against them and a detective who thinks they’re guilty, they decide to take things into their own hands and find the murderer.

Joyce and Brenda’s investigations lead them straight towards danger. Will they find the killer before they land up in handcuffs or even become victims themselves?

Recipe Included: Baked Gingerbread Donuts with Ginger Glaze

A Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy BellA Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy Bell:

A pet-loving sleuth. A perplexing murder. Will the murder be solved before the clues are buried forever?

Nikki Green is taking a break from walking and pet-sitting her loyal companions. She is going to a ski resort for the holidays for some quiet time with her family. To her delight her solo journey turns into a group excursion. However, the trip doesn’t go according to plan when Nikki lands up in the middle of a snowstorm.

Then things go from bad to worse when someone is murdered, and her brother is the prime suspect. With the roads impassable, and two inexperienced officers on the case, Nikki decides to take matters into her own hands and clear her brother’s name. She plows through a mountain of clues to reveal the truth before the snow melts and the murderer disappears forever.

It’s a slippery slope of suspects and danger as she goes hurtling towards the truth.

A Bullet for Father Christmas by Cora BuhlertA Bullet for Father Christmas by Cora Buhlert:

When two men dressed up as Father Christmas rob a London jewellery store and one of them ends up dead on the floor, shot by his own accomplice, it’s certainly one of the more unusual cases for Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team. But as Helen begins to investigate, it turns out that the case is even more bizarre than she suspected.

This is a mystery novelette of 9300 words or approx. 30 print pages.

 

St. Nicholas of Hell's KitchenSt. Nicholas of Hell’s Kitchen by Cora Buhlert:

Christmas time in 1930s New York. After escaping through the chimney of an orphanage in Hell’s Kitchen, Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer is mistaken for Santa Claus by one of the children and learns that the orphanage is under siege by both a gang of brutal racketeers and an unscrupulous landlord.

Richard vows to help the children and their guardians. However, it turns out that the attacks on the orphanage are only part of a much larger plot, when Richard’s quest for justice leads him into the upper echelons of Manhattan’s high society.

Soon, the Silencer finds himself face to face with one of the most powerful men in the city, while Richard and Constance struggle to save the orphanage and give the children of Hell’s Kitchen an unforgettable Christmas.

This is a novella of 30000 words or approximately 100 pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.

Merry Masquerade in Savannah by Hope CallaghanMerry Masquerade in Savannah by Hope Callaghan

Carlita, Mercedes, and Tony are gearing up to celebrate their first Thanksgiving at their new home in historic Savannah, Georgia. Along with the excitement of the upcoming holiday season, there’s a lingering sadness because part of their family won’t be there to celebrate.

When Carlita’s friend, Victoria “Tori” Montgomery, invites the Garlucci family to her “Merry Masquerade” party at Montgomery Hall, Carlita is thrilled to have something to take her mind off the approaching holiday.

Despite a recent theft and an assault on her butler, Tori moves forward with her party plans, a grand affair and a gathering of Savannah’s elite. The Merry Masquerade turns out to be everything it was billed to be and more, when one of Tori’s employees is found murdered inside the pool house.

Is the murder linked to the recent break-in and the butler’s attack at Montgomery Hall? Could the killer be living under Tori’s roof? Or was it a masked party guest trying to make it look like an inside job?

Join the Garlucci women as they help one of Savannah’s most prominent residents track down a killer!

Reindeer and Robberies by Hope CallaghanReindeers and Robberies by Hope Callaghan:

The Christmas Season is in full swing on board the cruise ship, Siren of the Seas thanks to Andy Walker, the ship’s cruise director who is all in on his new holiday theme, “The Reindeer Games.”

Millie and her co-worker, Danielle, are tasked with taking charge of the holiday theme and everything is running smoothly until one of the reindeer comes up missing. But the missing reindeer is the least of the security staff’s worries after a string of thefts are reported.

Millie jumps in with an investigation of her own that soon turns south when a stalker surfaces, determined to make her life miserable or worse yet.

Despite escalating incidents from the deranged stalker, Millie sorts the clues and discovers a possible link between the mysterious thefts and her stalker that hits close to home.

Can Millie survive the holiday season…or even more terrifying…make it out alive?

The Christmas Key by Philippa Nefri ClarkThe Christmas Key by Philippa Nefri Clark

A hot summer Christmas Day is just around the corner in the Australian seaside town of River’s End. Beachside BBQs and sumptuous dinners are on the menu.

But Martha Blake is like a dog with a bone, determined to solve the last of the cottage mysteries. She and great-niece Christie begin a secret investigation.

Meanwhile, Thomas is busy with his own clues and enlists the help of his reluctant grandson, Martin.

At Palmerston House, loving new couple Elizabeth and Angus face their greatest obstacle, throwing their happy future into doubt.

With everyone working at cross-purposes, who will find themselves in the middle, cast decades back into memories of a terrible mistake?

Is love enough this time, as the beloved residents of River’s End deal with the fallout of the old mystery? Who, or what, will bring them all together in time for Christmas?

The Christmas Key is a heartwarming novella rounding off the Christie Ryan Romantic Mystery series with the last of the secrets revealed, and delightful Christmas magic to touch the favourite residents of River’s End. Read as a standalone, or start the series with The Stationmaster’s Cottage.

Merry Buried Christmas by Lyndsey ColeMerry Buried Christmas by Lyndsey Cole:

Murder always ruins the best baked plans . . .

Annie Hunter has a lot on her plate just before Christmas, but it’s not all sugar and spice and everything nice! With an open house at her aunt’s new Blackbird Bed and Breakfast, all Annie hopes for is a drama-free day.

Of course, events never go as planned.

On top of preparing a whirlwind of food, holiday decorating, and keeping to a tight schedule, a surprise visitor is also on the menu. When that visitor turns up dead, Annie must search for the killer to keep everything from crumbling like a stale Christmas cookie.

Annie’s plan to flush out the murderer includes one tasty bribe, a pinch of needling, and a heaping tablespoon of accusation. When she is threatened, it’s time to put it all on the back burner.

But the killer has other ideas.

While the snowflakes fly, Annie finds herself caught between a cookie and a crazy person. This time, it looks like she bit off more than she can chew.

***Merry Buried Christmas is volume 12 in the Black Cat Cafe Cozy Mystery Series. Lyndsey’s books can be read and enjoyed in any order.

The Cop Who Stole Christmas by Christie CraigThe Cop Who Stole Christmas by Christie Craig:

It’ll take a tall, hot Texan and a little holiday spirit to mend a broken heart and catch a Christmas killer . . .

Savanna Edwards is feeling downright Scrooge-like. Who can blame her? A truly unjolly Santa—suit, beard and all—just repossessed her car because of her ex’s shady business dealings. She’d like to murder the no-good lying cheat, but somebody already did that for her—and left him right in the middle of her kitchen, wrapped up with a bow.

Detective Mark Donaldson has a rule against getting involved with his neighbors. He can look—and he’s studied every sweet curve of Savanna from across the street—but he can’t touch. So when she lands on his doorstep in need of help, he finds himself torn between being naughty or nice, and fights every urge to unwrap her like a shiny new Christmas present.

Trouble is, even Mark can’t resist a little holiday magic . . . and there’s definitely something magical happening between him and the girl next door.

Jingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber CreweJingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber Crewe:

“Each of the Sandy Bay mysteries are great! I think they just keep getting better.”

Christmas is that season…that season of pleasant surprises…delicious smells…and family and friends to share the holidays with.

This Christmas, Sandy Bay’s lovable bakery owner, Meghan Truman, gets a whole lot more than she bargained for…plus a dead body at the door of her favorite restaurant. Some people would rather sweep this murder under the carpet but something smells awfully fishy about the events surrounding it.

Will Meghan join Detective Irvin to find the murderer or will this event serve to etch unpleasant memories of this most wonderful time of the year?

Twelve Days by Mark DawsonTwelve Days by Mark Dawson:

John Milton hasn’t seen Elijah Warriner for three years. The last time they met, Milton’s efforts to keep the boy safe didn’t go exactly to plan. Now Elijah is a promising boxer, preparing for the bout that will take him to the big time. Milton decides that he will spend the week before Christmas in London so that he can watch the fight.

But Elijah’s burgeoning fame has brought him to the attention of old acquaintances with long memories and grudges to bear. They have noticed Elijah, too, and decide that now is the time to settle old scores.

Can Milton keep the young man and his mother safe, or will Elijah’s old running mates get to him first?

Trepalli's Christmas by Marcelle DubéTrepalli’s Christmas by Marcelle Dubé:

It’s Christmas eve day and Constable Marco Trepalli of the Mendenhall Police Department can’t wait to be off shift. He’s planning a big surprise for his girlfriend, Amanda. Something special. Something romantic.

Then a kid doesn’t return home after sledding and Trepalli forgets all about his plans in the mad scramble to mobilize search parties and interview the kid’s friends. And as hour after hour slips by with no sign of the boy, Trepalli braces himself for what could turn into the worst Christmas ever… for him and the kid’s family.

Winter Downs by Jan EdwardsWinter Downs by Jan Edwards:

Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?

In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.

 

Spirit of the Season by Cynthia E. HurstSpirit of the Season by Cynthia E. Hurst:

In a season of peace and goodwill, it was shocking for residents of the Cotswold town to learn a stranger had been murdered in their midst. It was even more shocking that he died on the doorstep of the town’s police inspector’s home as he was entertaining guests on Christmas Eve. It appeared Daniel Keegan’s only failing had been to fall in love with the wrong person, something that sends a chilling message to two of the inspector’s guests. Newlyweds Jacob Silver and Sarah Simm are used to criticism, but does Keegan’s death mean their own lives may be in danger?

‘Spirit of the Season’ is the eighth book in the Silver and Simm Victorian Mysteries series.

Potluck by Cynthia E. HurstPotluck by Cynthia E. Hurst:

The R&P Labs staff members are planning their Christmas potluck lunch when a stranger arrives on the doorstep with an announcement that threatens to turn several lives upside down. ’Tis the season to be wary, and in this short story, the five scientific sleuths have to do some rapid research to discover whether one of them will be getting a very unusual Christmas present.

 

 

Zukie's Gift by Cynthia E. HurstZukie’s Gift by Cynthia E. Hurst:

All sorts of things were donated for St Augustine’s Christmas bazaar — books, second-hand clothes, cookies, murder weapons …

Zukie’s Gift is a short story and part of the Zukie Merlino Mysteries series.

 

 

 

Big Top Treachery by CeeCee JamesBig Top Treachery by CeeCee James:

Christmas at the Circus!

What if the holly berry meant more than a cozy Christmas tradition? When Trixie, billed by the Concello circus as the world’s smallest Lady Godiva, finds a large ruby on the circus grounds, she thinks she’s one of the luckiest people on earth. Until she learns the stone’s past is stained as holly-red as the jewel itself. ??

When the police get involved, suspicion is cast not just on Trixie, but on her other friends at the circus. ??The pressure is on with Trixie getting threats from an anonymous source. When the calliope player is murdered, Trixie knows the threats she has been receiving aren’t just to scare her… she’ll be the next to die if she can’t find out the truth about the stone and unmask the murderer?

How Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. LeeHow Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Fourteen years ago, Christmas hit Walkerville with a bang. Or, rather, a big ball of fire.
When a local group home for orphaned children goes up in smoke right before the holidays, Tillie Winchester volunteers her family to take in some kids – even though her arch nemesis Margaret Little is dead-set against it. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for Tillie so she’s considering it a win.

Three boys – all of them with a little attitude – have no idea what to expect from the Winchester household. No matter what, Tillie is sure they’re about to get more than they bargained for. In short order, they’re welcomed into the family at the same time the town is on edge due to a second fire.

Tillie is determined to prove the boys are innocent while also finding them a forever home … even if she has to take on a local judge and declare all out war to do it.

So, hang your stockings by the fire and sit back for another Christmas with the Winchesters. You’ll never be the same again.

Note: This is a 28,000-word novella set in the Wicked Witches of the Midwest world. It’s set back in the past so it can be read in any order.

Cremas, Christmas Cookies and Crroks by Harper LinCremas, Christmas Cookies and Crooks by Harper Lin:

It’s almost Christmastime in Cape Bay, and another murder has everyone in town talking. A despised new drama teacher at the local high school is killed in the school’s parking lot. The police arrest a beloved teacher, Mrs. Crowsdale, but everyone else thinks she is too nice to murder anyone. Mike, however, says they have solid evidence that proves she did it.

Sammy is particularly devastated. Mrs. Crowsdale was her favorite teacher and still her hero. Sammy begs Fran to find the real culprit. Fran isn’t so sure. Mike would be angry with her for butting in on another case. And what if more danger befalls her? After all, there are some pretty dangerous people in town…

Includes 3 special recipes!

Pilfered Promises by M. Louisa LockePilfered Promises by M. Louisa Locke:

Holiday cover edition: It is November, 1880, and the future looks promising for Annie and Nate Dawson. Nate’s law practice is taking off. Annie has made the transition from pretend clairvoyant to a successful financial consultant. And they are looking forward to spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together.

For Robert Livingston, the owner San Francisco’s newest grand emporium, the holidays don’t look so promising. Not if he can’t figure out how to stop whoever is stealing from his department store, the Silver Strike Bazaar. However, when he hires the Dawsons to investigate, they discover that behind the doors of his “Palace of Plenty,” nothing is quite what it seems.

Pilfered Promises, a sweet cozy historical mystery, is the fifth novel in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series featuring Annie and Nate Dawson and their friends and family in the O’Farrell Street boarding house and it comes right before the newest novella, Kathleen Catches a Killer

Kathleen Catches a Killer by M. Louisa LockeKathleen Catches a Killer by M. Louisa Locke:

It’s the very end of December, 1880, and the servant Kathleen Hennessey expects to spend a quiet week taking care of the O’Farrell Street boarding house while her employers, Annie and Nate Dawson, are off spending the Christmas holidays with Nate’s family. However, when she agrees to help out one of her friends, Kathleen discovers that a simple case of a servant being dismissed without notice has turned into a complicated puzzle that she is determined to solve.

While featuring minor characters from Locke’s Victorian San Francisco mystery series, Kathleen Catches a Killer contains all the light romance, humor, and suspense of the longer works. Chronologically, this novella comes right after the events in Pilfered Promises, but it can be read as a stand-alone and an excellent introduction to this mystery series about the gas-lit world of the late 19th century.

'Tis the Season by Jean Louise and Michael Yaworsky‘Tis the Season: Two short holiday stories by Jean Louise and Michael Yaworsky:

Heartwarming stories of comfort and joy….

In Stealing Christmas, two modern-day Robin Hoods use a little fa-la-la-la-larceny to bring cheer to those who could use it most.

Tipping Point is the story of a single act of generosity that sets a series of acts into motion, touching a surprising number of people with the holiday spirit.

 

Iced Inn by Karen MacInerneyIced Inn by Karen MacInerney:

It’s Christmastime at the Gray Whale Inn. The inn’s kitchen smells like ginger and spice, the ground is frosted with snow, and wedding bells are about to ring out for innkeeper Natalie’s favorite niece, Gwen. It’s a joyous time… until the families of the bride and groom descend on the island, bringing nasty tempers and a wicked winter storm with them. Add a baffling rash of thefts, a dash of romantic intrigue, and an unexpected power shutdown, and Natalie’s plans for a magical season are looking more like a recipe for disaster. Can Natalie find the missing gifts before the big holiday? And will the happy couple make it to the altar… or will the wedding go up in flames?

A Mind Reader's Christmas by Al MacyA Mind Reader’s Christmas by Al Macy:

Eric Beckman, a mind-reading private investigator, is spending Christmas in snowy Vermont with his wife and daughter. He needs a break from solving cases, but the townspeople convince him to look into the village mystery: Every holiday season, someone switches the baby Jesus with one of the other figures in the town’s Nativity scene.

With the help of his ten-year-old daughter, also a mind reader, he soon learns that some of the residents of the small town are not who–or even what–they seem to be. There’s something supernatural going on in Newburn, Vermont.

His investigation causes an escalation of strange happenings, and soon, swapped manger figures are the least of the town’s worries. If Beckman can’t adjust his view of the world–force himself to believe in things he never thought possible–the Christmas vacation could turn out to be his family’s last.

A Mind Reader’s Christmas may be read as a standalone book or as Book Four in the Eric Beckman series.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

Frostycake Murder by Summer PrescottFrostycake Murder by Summer Prescott:

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MISSY AND CHAS!!!

Life is full of surprises in the sleepy beachside town of Calgon, Florida, and the holiday season proves to be no exception. Echo faces a new reality that could change her life forever, Missy and Chas wrestle with the pain of facing their own limitations and uncertainties, while Spencer finds himself in a sticky situation relationally.

In the midst of all of the personal turmoil, a gruesome murder is discovered, and Chas once again has to take charge and hope that he finds the ruthless killer, before tragedy strikes a bit closer to home.

North Pole Unlimited by Elle RushNorth Pole Unlimited: Decker and Joy by Elle Rush:
Jaded P.I. Decker Harkness must track down a missing prototype if he wants a shot at a corporate security contract. Sexy cat-lady Joy McCall has her own investigation running after someone breaks into her animal shelter. When they cross paths during a triple kitten-napping, they’ll have to work together to close their cases. Will everyone make it home to celebrate a merry Christmas together?

Only Santa knows.

 

Blood and Mistletoe by E.J. StevensBlood and Mistletoe by E.J. Stevens:

Holidays are worse than a full moon for making people crazy. In Harborsmouth, where many of the residents are undead vampires or monstrous fae, the combination may prove deadly.

Ivy Granger, psychic private investigator, returns to the streets of Harborsmouth in this addition to the bestselling urban fantasy series.

Holidays are Hell, a point driven home when a certain demon attorney returns with information regarding a series of bloody murders. Five Harborsmouth residents have been killed and every victim has one thing in common–they are fae. Whoever is killing faeries must be stopped, but they only leave one clue behind–a piece of mistletoe floating in a pool of the victim’s blood.

The holidays just got interesting. Too bad this case may drive Ivy mad before the New Year. Heck, she’ll be lucky to survive Christmas.

Gusty Lovers and Cadavers by Anne R. TanGusty Lovers and Cadavers by Anne R. Tan:

Gusty winds…and a trail of destruction.

Graduate student Raina Sun is in for a season of mayhem and murder. When she volunteered to take the new foreign exchange student shopping on the last weekend before Christmas, she ended up in a riot for the last hot toy of the season and an abandoned baby. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be a Good Samaritan.

But calling the mysterious phone number in the diaper bag leads to more questions than answers. A strange man claims to be the child’s father, and his alleged mother turns up dead. The local police are more interested in keeping the town’s good name out of international news than considering if there’s foul play. And to make matters worse, she has less than a week to find his birth parents before the FBI takes over the case.

Raina summons her sleuthing skills to protect this baby and soon discovers everyone has a few skeletons in their closets. With her pimp-cane-toting grandma, she must track down a hidden killer before she becomes the next victim. There’s no place for an amateur when it comes to murder…

Don’t miss out on Raina’s new adventure–get your copy of “Gusty Lovers and Cadavers” today!

Pineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy VansantPineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy Vansant:

Sheriff Frank asks newly-minted private detective Charlotte to help him crack the case, but she has no idea those darn gingerbread men will start showing up everywhere. What did Santa do that made them so angry? And what’s the secret in his colorful Christmas-themed bureau?

Charlotte is forced to split her time between searching for Santa’s killer and helping Declan’s crazy ex-Stephanie stop a corrupt district attorney in exchange for a book that could help solve more crimes in the future. She never thought she’d help calculating Stephanie with anything…but as this story comes to it’s shocking ending, you’ll find it could be Stephanie who’s finally bitten off more cookie than she can chew…

Tangled Destiny by Jenny WheelerTangled Destiny by Jenny Wheeler:

A promising proposal. A life-changing secret. Will she live out a lie or follow her heart?

New York, 1847. Elanora dreams of marrying her childhood sweetheart Eustace. The proposal on her 21st birthday is everything she hoped for, until her fiancé’s father dispatches him to the West Indies. After the promise of a white Christmas with the man she loves evaporates, she stumbles upon a secret that could tear Eustace’s family apart…

After a sudden death further sends Elanora reeling, she’s as vulnerable as ever until a gifted photographer comes to her rescue. With the tragic love triangle forming before her eyes and the secret burning within her, she has an impossible Christmas choice. Will Elanora obey the powerful men who want to control her or will she trigger generations of consequences by exposing the truth?

Tangled Destiny is a prequel novella to the Of Gold & Blood historical mystery series.

Run-A-Way for Christmas by Victoria L.K. WilliamsRun-A-Way for Christmas by Victoria L.K. Williams:

Christmas is all about children, but usually not all the children at once.

Megan and her faithful beagle Barney meet a gang of runaway children at the beach. Soon the investigative duo learn of exploitation, injury, and murder and with the help of FBI consultant Aiden and his dog, Gypsy, begin to investigate.

Megan’s family and friends rally round and share the joy of Christmas with the children who need it most, while Megan finds that Christmas is truly a time of love.

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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Just a Couple of Links

I’ve been planning to write a long blogpost about science fiction and originality, but I’ve been busy with writing, publishing, day job work, holiday related stuff, etc…, so I shelved that post for now. However, I have also been busy elsewhere on the web, so here are a couple of links:

For starters, I have a guest post up at File 770, a review of the anthology Terror at the Crossroads – Tales of Horror, Delusion, and the Unknown, edited by Emily Hockaday and Jackie Sherbow. As the title indicates, it’s a cross genre anthology, featuring stories that mix crime and mystery fiction with science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Furthermore, I’ve been interviewed for the Thrills and Mystery podcast by J. David Core. The direct link to the interview is here. And in case you’re wondering about the new release I’m talking about on the podcast, there’ll be a massive new release announcement in the next few days. At the moment, I’m just waiting for some of the slower retailers to get the books up.

Finally, the good folks at Magic Book Deals have organised a book fair for holiday and winter-themed books. Lots of holiday stories in different genres, including some of mine, all available for only 99 cents. For a full list of the books, go here.

Christmas Book Fair banner

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for November 2018

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 October 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 Amazon.com, 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, YA fantasy, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, dystopian fiction, horror, biopunk, weird western, time travel, vampires, witches, demons, ghosts, superheroes, robots, renegades, gunslingers, space marines, space rangers, space pirates, alien invasions, space prisons, supernatural prisons, shadow ships, cybernetic dogs, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting vampire madams, crime-fighting cockroaches (yes, really) and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

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:

Nightfall by Jay AllanNightfall by Jay Allan:

Night is falling.

The unstoppable Hegemony invasion has reached the very heart of the Confederation. Battle after desperate battle has been fought, and each time, the Confeds have been pushed back, columns of battered and blasted ship retreating from system to system. Now, they prepare to grimly defend the capital world of Megara, the very center of the Confederation.

Tyler Barron prepares for what could be his final battle, a final desperate defense, one last chance to stem the tide of Hegemony conquest and subjugation. The fleet is ready, its exhausted crews prepared to fight with all the strength that remains to them. Still, the enemy is overpoweringly strong, and the odds of victory are slipping quickly away.

But, there is still hope. From unexpected allies. From the grit and determination of the defending fleets and their spacers. And, from a plan so daring it borders on the impossible…a wild and desperate gamble to stem the tide of conquest and halt the enemy.

It is night, and everywhere there is darkness, but the Confederation is not beaten yet. Barron and his comrades will stand, and they will struggle to somehow endure the darkness and fight through to the dawn.

The Colliding Worlds Trilogy by Rachel AukesThe Colliding Worlds Trilogy by Rachel Aukes:

First contact may be our last.

Beyond our world lies the unknown, countless planets with endless possibilities. On a dark world far from our home, an epic war started a chain reaction, sending two alien races on a collision course with Earth. Secret battles wage on our soil, brewing a cataclysmic war that could change the face of humanity forever. If we can’t prevent an alien armageddon, we’ll find ourselves fighting against forces with technology thousands of years more advanced than ours. The war is on, and time is running out. . .

COLLISION
Sienna Wolfe’s life changes when a strange craft crashes near her cabin, and she finds herself in the middle of a bitter battle between two warring alien races, the likes of which could wipe out mankind. As she races to align her new allies with the U.S. military, she may soon learn that her new friends may not be as noble as they seem. Can Sienna prevent an interstellar war from claiming Earth, or will she become the harbinger of an alien apocalypse?

IMPLOSION
As Sephian forces peck at the Draeken defenses, we soon learn that things are never as simple as right and wrong. Draeken Commander Roden Zyll has spilled plenty of blood in his time, and he cares little for humans. But when he realizes his leader’s plan could lead to his people’s extinction, he plans a coup. Only one problem: he has to work with the Sephians to succeed. If he fails, every Earth nation will be yanked into a war that no one has a chance of winning.

EXPLOSION
When a deadly virus is released across the planet, all aliens are quickly blamed. When a mass execution is planned, Captain Jax Jerrick becomes a traitor to the military in order to save the Sephians and the Draeken. After bloody battle, he escapes and joins the resistance committed to holding off the world’s military forces while searching for an antivirus. With enemies coming at them from everywhere, can the resistance stop the war before humanity becomes extinct?

Infernal Fire by Joseph J. BaileyInfernal Fire by Joseph J. Bailey:

No one should ever come between a man’s family and his guns.
Not if they want to live.
Not even a demon.
Or a demonic horde.
Especially when those guns belong to a spellslinger.
The demons who killed his father had a death wish, for Koren D’uene is a ja’lel, a gun knight, and his is the job of granting wishes.
His guns spoke, and demons fell.

Infernal Fire is a weird western, a Wild West-inspired fantasy adventure novel of roughly 50,000 words.

Kaleen Rae and Other Weird Tales by David BrianKaleen Rae and Other Weird Tales by David Brian:

Take a walk into darkness with nine tales of the weird and macabre…

Just how far would you go to win someone’s heart? Would you gamble with your soul?

Jonathon is a good man, but he struggles with body issues and bad skin. When he meets the beautiful Belinda he realizes he would do anything to be with her. With no other options, he turns to the mysterious Kaleen Rae in the solitary Gothic house on the far side of the meadows.

In the Welsh countryside, a werewolf is spurred into action by an alluring scent. But is it ever wise to hunt in daylight?

For Pvt. Eddie Coates, surviving Afghanistan is looking increasingly unlikely. The few remaining members of his unit are pinned down under heavy fire. All seems lost, and then they hear wings beating in the darkness…

A troubled youth plots his revenge. But what price would you pay for retribution?

Hellish demons, haunted houses, shape-shifting monsters, and genetic mutations, make up this unsettling collection, which also includes the original short story version of The Strange Case at Misty Ridge.

Tales From The Lake, Vol. 5, edited by Kenneth W. CainTales From The Lake Vol. 5: The Horror Anthology, edited by Kenneth W. Cain:

The Legend Continues…

In the spirit of popular Dark Fiction and Horror anthologies such as Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, and the best of Stephen King’s short fiction, comes the Tales from The Lake anthologies.

This 5th volume includes:

  • “Always After Three” by Gemma Files – A young couple discovers that in a downtown condo you almost never know who your neighbours are, or what they might be doing.
  • “In the Family” by Lucy A. Snyder – A former child actress reveals dark family secrets to her long-lost niece.
  • “Voices Like Barbed Wire” by Tim Waggoner – Sometimes forgetting is more painful than remembering.
  • “The Flutter of Silent Wings” by Gene O’Neill – A heartbreaking tribute to a Shirley Jackson classic.
  • “Guardian” by Paul Michael Anderson – Even creatures beyond time and space need friendship.
  • “Farewell Valencia” by Craig Wallwork – When you’ve got no reason to live, there’s a hotel that can give you every reason to die. So book in, unpack, and prepare to be checked out, forever.
  • “A Dream Most Ancient and Alone” by Allison Pang – A lake mermaid with a penchant for eating children forms a tenuous friendship with an abused girl trying to escape her past.
  • “The Monster Told Me To” by Stephanie M. Wytovich – In order for Bria to deal with her past, she must confront the ghosts of her present.
  • “Dead Bodies Don’t Scream” by Michelle Ann King – If the universe won’t give her a miracle, Allie will make one for herself. But dark magic has a price.
  • “The Boy” by Cory Cone – Grief-stricken from the loss of her husband, a young woman fears she may lose her son as well, if she hasn’t already.
  • “Starve a Fever” by Jonah Buck – Fleeing down a bayou highway with a sick criminal in the backseat, a getaway driver must sate his passenger’s horrifying needs while evading the police.
  • “Umbilicus” by Lucy Taylor – A father becomes involved in a scheme to rescue a friend’s lost son—with terrifying results.
  • “Nonpareil” by Laura Blackwell – Maisie’s wedding cake business needs every client it can get—but between the groom’s unpleasant family and the mysterious bride’s strange requests, Maisie has a tough job baking a cake that will please everyone.
  • “The Weeds and the Wildness Yet” by Robert Stahl – Reeling over the death of his wife, Charlie stumbles across a mysterious object—the legendary monkey’s paw. Despite the terrible events that befall that fictional family, he can’t help but give it a try.
  • “The Color of Loss and Love” by Jason Sizemore – A couple set out to rescue an unfamiliar couple, only to face an airborne disease.
  • “A Bathtub at the End of the World” by Lane Waldman – A little girl plays with her toys in a locked bathroom. Everything is fine, except for the zombies outside.
  • “Twelve by Noon” by Joanna Parypinski – A farmer goes about his routine tending to the scarecrows that preside over his field, when three college students show up and cause a strange disturbance.
  • “Hollow Skulls” by Samuel Marzioli – When Orson’s son is born, the memory of a tragedy creeps back into his life, threatening his very sanity.
  • And much more.

Edited by Kenneth W. Cain and represented by Crystal Lake Publishing – Tales from The Darkest Depths.

Renegade Children by J.N. ChaneyRenegade Children by J.N. Chaney:

People are dying.

Shortly after Captain Jace Hughes and his team recover hundreds of surviving Eternal refugees, disaster strikes. A recently unearthed fauna dome, one of many biological arks on Earth, is destroyed and several people are killed.

All proof points to the Eternals.

Meanwhile, shortly after the slip tunnel at the center of the planet is shut down for good, a strange distress signal is detected. It appears to be coming from somewhere on the planet, but the exact coordinates are unknown.

Two investigations are launched. One for the saboteur; the other for the source of the signal. With rising tensions between the colonists and the Eternals, Jace must do everything he can to prevent a bloody confrontation.

Mr. Smith and the Roach by J.J. DiBenedettoMr. Smith and the Roach by J.J. DiBenedetto:

John Smith has a problem. He’s a retired cop whose pension just got wiped out, and he doesn’t know why or how. Now he needs to find a roommate to help pay the bills.

Sam has a problem. He’s a six-foot-tall talking cockroach and he doesn’t know who created him, or why, or how. Now he needs a place to live.

Thrown together as roommates and amateur detectives, Mr. Smith and the Roach realize their problems might be related.

But those problems are far more complicated than they imagined, and before all is said and done, they’ll run afoul of a Russian gangster, an imprisoned Mafia don, a crooked Wall Street banker, a mad scientist and, maybe worst of all, Mr. Smith’s baby sister.

Can they get to the bottom of an unbelievable plot before someone exterminates the Roach – and Mr. Smith – for good?

Out for Blood by Zen DiPietroOut for Blood by Zen DiPietro:

The members of Avian Unit have experienced love, loss, and things they can’t even tell each other about.

Their new assignment is to take out a cell of identity brokers who leave a trail of bodies in their wake. They’ll come face to face with the darkest aspects of becoming members of Blackout.

Avian Unit will find out what they’re really made of as they finally become what they were always meant to be.

 

Mercury by Emerald DodgeMercury by Emerald Dodge:

Brother against brother. Superhero against superhero. His wife has been kidnapped, and now he must decide how far down the road of vengeance he can go.

Benjamin, codename Mercury, is a member of an elite superhero team. Jillian, his wife, has been kidnapped by his soulless brother, Beau. With her life hanging in the balance, now it’s fight or die. Beau believes Jillian knows the whereabouts of JM-104, a compound that renders superpowers worthless, and to weaken his enemies he’s determined to make her talk by any means necessary. Benjamin must risk his life to save her, and then he must destroy what’s left of the JM-104.

But it won’t be so easy. When Benjamin’s team heads after the JM-104 with a ticking clock hanging over their heads, a team of superheroes who specialize in killing other superheroes will be right there waiting for them, just as brother goes against brother with Jillian caught in the middle. In the face of overwhelming odds, will they save Jillian and destroy the biggest threat to their existence? Or will the long arm of hate reach into Benjamin’s heart and destroy everything he holds dear?

Fans of Jessica Jones and Arrow will love Emerald Dodge’s Mercury, a fast-paced thrill ride across the world of superheroes and supervillains.

Pick up your copy today and enjoy the shocking finale of the Battlecry series!

The Strange by Masha du ToitThe Strange by Masha du Toit:

Constable Elke Veraart and her cyber-dog Meisje are peace keepers, patrolling the Babylon Eye. It’s a good job, but there must be more to life than chasing smugglers and settling domestic disputes.

Then three children ask Elke to find their mother, who’s been missing for more than a year. The search attracts the wrong kind of attention. Elke and her young friends are in desperate danger.

Unable to resist the powers that have been unleashed against her, Elke is swept out of the Babylon Eye and into another world. While she struggles to regain her freedom, the children are unprotected. They must face, all alone, a new danger that stalks the corridors of the Babylon Eye.

“The Strange” is the third and final book in the Linked Worlds series.

Deliverance by M.R. ForbesDeliverance by M.R. Forbes:

The war is over. Earth is lost. Running is the only option.
It may already be too late.

Caleb is a former Marine Raider and commander of the Vultures, an elite search and rescue team that’s spent the last two years pulling high-value targets out of alien-ravaged cities and shipping them off-world.

Now he’s on the last starship out, under orders to join forty-thousand survivors on their journey to a new home. It’s not the mission he wants, but it’s a mission he’s doing his best to accomplish. When Caleb meets the colony’s head sheriff, she represents an opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to leave his old life behind for good…

Only the mission will be harder to complete than either of them realize.

And the colonists will need the old Caleb more than he ever imagined…

Max Damage by Simon HaynesMax Damage by Simon Haynes:

Hal Spacejock and Clunk return in an all-new novel!

Hal and Clunk answer a distress call, and they discover a fellow pilot stranded deep inside an asteroid field. Clunk is busy at the controls, dodging incoming rocks, so Hal dons a spacesuit, takes the jetbike and sets off on a heroic rescue mission.

If he’d only known the trouble he was getting himself into, he wouldn’t have bothered…

Max Damage is the ninth book in the Hal Spacejock series.

All Hal Spacejock novels are stand-alones, not sequels. You’ll get the most out of them if you read them in order, but it’s not required.

Beatrice Beecham's Ship of Shadows by Dave JefferyBeatrice Beecham’s Ship of Shadows by Dave Jeffery:

Beatrice is back to face her greatest threat since. . .well, the last time!

In Cooper’s Cove a hapless team of archaeologists unleash the vengeful spirit of a 16th Century witch on the sleepy seaside town of Dorsal Finn. Hexes and curses fly as Beatrice and her friends must find out what links the appearance of this incredible foe and The Spirit of the Ocean, a super-yacht hosting the biggest celebrity charity event the town has ever seen.

As the population of Dorsal Finn succumbs to witchcraft, so Beatrice must gate-crash the party with her motley-crew of friends and allies in the hope of stopping the witch’s sinister plan, and save everyone from endless oblivion. . . Again.

This novel is great for those who like their supernatural adventures laced with humour, sinister action and mystery. Fans of Stranger Things, The Goonies, The Librarians, The Monster Squad, Ghostbusters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Nancy Drew will delight in the antics and adventures of Beatrice and her off-the-wall friends.

Murder. Mystery. Monsters. Welcome to the world of Beatrice Beecham!

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Zena: Soldier by Edward LakeZena: Soldier by Edward Lake:

A war without end. The woman who began a revolution.

All Zena wants is a life beyond her home planet, the North Star. A life full of adventure and danger. The life of a soldier.

When her brother is drafted into the Holy Army, Zena impersonates him to save his life. But women are forbidden from fighting in the army, and she will be killed if she’s caught. Her love affair with the High Priest’s daughter only makes matters worse.

 

Witch Interrupted by Amanda M. LeeWitch Interrupted by Amanda M. Lee:

Things have been quiet in Hemlock Cove. That means the Winchesters are due to find trouble.

This time, the trouble comes in the form of a dead radio doctor who calls himself Dr. Lovelorn and fixes relationships in distress. Unfortunately for the Winchesters, if he can’t help his normal patients, he’s going to help them … whether they want it or not.

Love seems to be the topic of discussion, because in addition to searching for a murderer, Bay Winchester has her hands full dealing with another surprise. It seems Chief Terry, her favorite father figure, is dating … and he’s not opening his heart to her mother as she expected.

Bay is trying to be mature, but she always thought Terry would officially become part of her family once the barriers were lifted. To make matters worse, Terry’s new girlfriend wants to be friends … something Bay can’t quite wrap her head around.

Thankfully for Bay, she has a murder to focus on. Since Dr. Lovelorn had his fair share of enemies – and a rather unattractive habit of getting too involved with his patients – there are numerous suspects to focus on.

Her expanding magic is also an issue, because she can’t quite get a handle on the ghosts that keep popping up … mostly because they’re mouthy and prone to fighting her efforts.

Basically, it’s going to be a busy week … if everyone survives to see the end of another convoluted case, that is.

It’s all witches on deck for this one, and things are about to get weirder than normal.

Golden Crown by M. LynnGolden Crown by M. Lynn:

No longer only a warrior. Not just a queen.

Persinette Basile has a new purpose. The chains she’s carried since the curse began are gone, replaced by a crown. But freedom can’t exist while enemies surround Bela on all sides.

La Dame lurks on the border in Dracon, waiting for her revenge.

In Gaule, magic folk are hunted and punished for their Belaen heritage.

A journey into Gaule brings her face to face with the one person who can destroy her with one simple act: dying.

No longer tied to Alex by magic, his death should mean nothing to her.

As she learns more about who she truly is and the legacy of her family, she’s forced to answer three questions.

Can she save the king of Gaule?

Can he be trusted if she does?

And what will it mean for her people if she finds herself unable to let go of him again?

A rebellion. A dying king. And a magical war that could end everything.

Victoria Marmot and the Shadow of Death by Virginia McClainVictoria Marmot and the Shadow of Death by Virginia McClain:

Vic is about to die. At best, she’ll die when the Ministry of Magical Entities finally puts on their sham of a trial and convicts her of a crime she only sort-of committed… but most likely she’ll die in the next flash flood here in this hellhole they’re using as a prison, or maybe whenever that shrieking-squirrel-demon-thing comes back.

Then again, maybe she’ll live just long enough to find out what MOME is really up to, and die along with everyone else if she fails to stop them.

The Passing of Pascal by Annette MoncheriThe Passing of Pascal by Annette Moncheri:

Running a high-class brothel in 1920s Paris would be challenging enough even if Madame weren’t also a vampire. But to make matters far worse, a young man has the audacity to try to kill Melodie – one of the brothel’s ladies – and then fall over dead.

At first the police rule the death an accident, but then they find poison in the body. And Madame also finds a note that implicates a jealous wife in the attack on Melodie – but then who poisoned the attacker? It’s all very confusing… And worse yet, is Melodie still in danger?

Of course, Madame is determined to find out what has happened in her maison and set it straight – without revealing her powers or upsetting the very attractive Monsieur Inspector Thibauld Baudet who is appointed to the case.

This is the first story in Madame’s Murder Mysteries, a historical cozy series with a sense of humor, a taste of the paranormal, and a touch of romance. Perfect for fans of Posie Parker, Ginger Gold, or Lady Katherine.

Tainted by Vanessa NelsonTainted by Vanessa Nelson:

Peace at breaking point. A dark and ambitious conspiracy. A lethal adversary.

Woken from sleep by intruders, Arrow is shocked to realise that humans have managed to break through her wards. This was no simple break-in. It quickly becomes clear this was just part of a series, and the Erith’s ancient enemies may be involved.

Worse than that, the peace treaty that holds shape-changers, humans and Erith from all-out war is on the brink of collapse.

Arrow is once more in the middle of a deadly power struggle.

The Kind by Jule OwenThe Kind by Jule Owen:

Outcast, liberator of the non-people, a mystery to herself.

In a world so desperate that people trade their children for food, a girl, cast out from her city for an unknown crime becomes an unlikely hero.

It is 2472. The British Isles have been transformed by climate change into a desert archipelago. The wealthy and privileged have retreated to high-tech walled cities. Those beyond the walls are known as the Non-Grata. They live a precarious, hand-to-mouth existence, surviving on the “charity” of the cities. In return, these non-people must pay a Quota, a tax paid in human life. Specifically, they give the rich something their money cannot buy: children.

Isobel Twelvetrees has been put outside the walls of her city and left to die in the lethal heat for a crime she cannot remember committing. She was saved by someone or something, but when she wakes, the only companion she has is a dog with odd coloured eyes. When she learns the terrible truth about the plight of the Non Grata, she turns into a new kind of warrior. As she crosses continents with the threadbare armies of the Non Grata, in a deadly race against time to destroy the Quota and right historic wrongs, she starts to uncover the truth about herself and what she left behind.

The Other Side of the Door by Rhonda ParrishThe Other Side of the Door by Rhonda Parrish:

A collection of ghost stories that will touch you, thrill you and send chills down your spine.

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty Measly Bucks (To Save a Witch) by Juli D. RevezzoFifty Measly Bucks (To Save a Witch) by Juli D. Revezzo:

Denver’s one goal in life is to become a fashion designer. Unfortunately, she needs rent money. Why not volunteer for an outlandish time travel experiment? It could be fun and spark new fashion ideas.

But the experiment takes her places she never expected, cutting her off from her dreams and dropping her into the world of a woman accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch trials. No promised stipend is worth a death sentence and bargaining for her life.

Darkness Beyond by Glynn StewartDarkness Beyond by Glynn Stewart

A newly-founded human colony world burned from orbit
A warship squadron of the galaxy’s oldest race ambushed and destroyed
An ancient enemy reborn in the darkness beyond the known stars

The A!Tol Imperium and their new human subjects have had fifteen years of relative peace. New colonies have been founded, new worlds explored, new ships built. Formal and informal alliances have been built with the ancient powers of the Core, leaving humanity and the Imperium seemingly on the brink of a new dawn.

The devastation of one of the newly-founded human colonies sends ripples of shock through the Imperium, and a battle fleet under Fleet Lord Harriet Tanaka is dispatched to the edge of the Imperium to find the culprits and bring them to justice.

Meanwhile, the destruction of a Mesharom Frontier Fleet squadron calls the Duchy of Terra’s newest warship, Bellerophon, into action and combat with a strange new power that bears all the signs of the Imperium’s age-old enemy, the Kanzi.

Aboard Bellerophon is Annette Bond’s stepdaughter, Morgan Casimir. The recently promoted junior officer will be thrust into the crucible of war and challenged to rise to her mother’s example in the face of this both new and ancient enemy…

Alysha by Stephen J. SweeneyAlysha by Stephen J. Sweeney:

When her village is attacked and her friends and family are taken away to be sold as slaves, Alysha Tanner sets out on a quest across the world to track them down and return them home. Along the way, she is aided by the most unlikely of allies – the world’s last remaining dragon. But as Alysha searches for her family, others are hunting for both her and her companion, and Alysha will soon find herself swept up into a decades-old conflict, one that could decide the fate of the world itself …

 

The Cerulean Mines by Vincent TrigiliThe Cerulean Mines by Vincent Trigili:

There is a region of space that is so hostile to life and magic that anyone sent there dies from exposure alone and yet it holds a valuable resource that must be mined by hand. Cory was sent to these mines to die, and yet he must survive in order to rescue his best friend’s widow. He just has to live long enough to make it happen…

The Cerulean Mines is a Lost Tales of Power novella.

 

 

Parallax by James David VictorParallax by James David Victor:

In the deep black of space, there are no rules. Only pirates. And Rangers.

Captain Drummond Bayne is a Navy Ranger tasked with bringing order to the lawless reaches of space. When a simple mission turns deadly, Bayne and his crew must embrace a rogue mentality if they want to make it out alive. Can they escape the pirates with their lives and their convictions?

Parallax is the first book in the exciting Deep Black space opera. If you like fast paced space adventure, rogue pirates, and stories more complex than good vs. evil, you are going to love your visit to the Deep Black.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for November 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some October 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 Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, historical mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, Gold Rush mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, spy thrillers, legal thrillers, noir thrillers, police procedurals, private investigators, amateur sleuths, lawyers, corporate spies, strippers, serial killers, kidnapped heiresses, missing children, missing reindeer, dark family secrets, wrongful convictions, crime-busting witches, crime-busting vampire madams, crime-busting cockroaches (yes, really), Sherlockians, artisanal bakers, opera singers in danger, murders in Hawaii, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Las Vegas, Paris, Philadelphia, Hollywood, the Jersey Shore and the Caribbean, the Deep South and the Midwest, murders in circusses, at wedding receptions, in brothels and cupcake shops, in veterinary clinics, on college campuses, aboard cruise ships and luxury trains and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

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:

No Police Like Holmes by Dan AndriaccoNo Police Like Holmes by Dan Andriacco:

The Investigating Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes Colloquium and donation of the third largest private collection of Sherlockiana in the world were supposed to produce a weekend of great publicity for tiny St. Benignus College in Erin, Ohio. But when theft and murder come to campus, college public relations director Jeff Cody finds himself knee-deep in Sherlockian suspects, besieged by an aggressive reporter he loves but no longer dates, and competing with his eccentric brother-in-law, Sebastian McCabe, to solve the crimes first. The mess worsens when Jeff and his ex-girlfriend, Lynda Teal, themselves fall under suspicion of murder – and with good reason, for they have something to hide. This satirical romp takes Sherlock Holmes seriously, but not Holmesians. A witty and engaging spoof sure to delight not only the deerstalker set but mystery fans in general.

The Assistant by Cheri BakerThe Assistant by Cheri Baker:

How far would you go to get the life you’ve always dreamed of?

High up in Seattle’s most luxurious office tower, a powerful woman conceals a dangerous secret. As the CEO of a prestigious staffing firm, Dana Duke offers exquisitely trained executive assistants to the city’s business elite.

In corporate America, where the winner takes all, talent isn’t enough to guarantee a victory. That’s why Dana offers a unique set of services to her most ambitious clients: corporate espionage, psychological manipulation, and blackmail.

Meet Jessica Warne, a recent college grad determined to succeed on her own terms. Stuck in a dead-end job and drowning in student loan debt, she’s eager to climb the corporate ladder. When Dana offers her a chance at a better life, it seems her troubles might be over. But are they?

The Baker by Nicholas BurrowsThe Baker by Nicholas Burrows:

That artisan bread roll you’re having for lunch? How fresh do you think it really is?

The Food Standards Agency’s most unfortunate inspector, Emily Underwood, is finally doing okay at work. Apart from finding the odd dead customer in a kebab shop that is. When she has an expected brush with a Bishop, things start to go downhill fast.

Rupert Graves is the leader of the smallest cult in East Anglia. Although his motley crew of militant vegetarians are primarily focused on sex and drugs, they’re also determined to highlight the suffering of animals — by fair means or fowl. They’re just not very good at it.

Amateur baker Hannah’s attempts to fund her boyfriend’s cult by selling her produce start off well, and her artisan bread rolls made from organic flour are soon in demand. The only problem is that Hannah’s kitchen will need to pass a Food Standards Agency inspection or be closed down. And there’s something rather nasty in the flour…

Reindeer and Robberies by Hope CallaghanReindeers and Robberies by Hope Callaghan:

The Christmas Season is in full swing on board the cruise ship, Siren of the Seas thanks to Andy Walker, the ship’s cruise director who is all in on his new holiday theme, “The Reindeer Games.”

Millie and her co-worker, Danielle, are tasked with taking charge of the holiday theme and everything is running smoothly until one of the reindeer comes up missing. But the missing reindeer is the least of the security staff’s worries after a string of thefts are reported.

Millie jumps in with an investigation of her own that soon turns south when a stalker surfaces, determined to make her life miserable or worse yet.

Despite escalating incidents from the deranged stalker, Millie sorts the clues and discovers a possible link between the mysterious thefts and her stalker that hits close to home.

Can Millie survive the holiday season…or even more terrifying…make it out alive?

Toxic Tech by Sam CheeverToxic Tech by Sam Cheever:

For Blaise Runa, a job working the front desk at the local veterinary clinic is a fun but temporary diversion…a chance to spend every day with Miss Ivy, her adorable fur baby, while she continues to search for a career.

Unfortunately, the fun is soon sucked right out of the job when Blaise discovers one of the veterinary technicians poisoned in the kennel. The attack is quickly labeled the work of an activist group that resents the medical and financial resources “squandered” on pets.

But is there something less obvious…and possibly more sinister…at work?

Working alone and swimming against the tide of general opinion, Blaise soon suspects that she and her yummy fiancée, Dolfe Honeybun, might be fighting for more than justice for the vet tech. They might actually be battling to save a whole clinic full of beloved pets from someone who would be happy to see them dead. And if they’re not very careful, sweet little Miss Ivy might take her place at the top of a killer’s list.

Tina and the Big Bad Wolf and Other Stories by Jason Ryan DaleTina and the Big Bad Wolf and Other Stories by Jason Ryan Dale:

Just past the Philadelphia city limits there are a cluster of neighborhoods no one on the outside pays much attention to. It’s a nice place to live, with ballfields and takeout joints around every corner. The people who’ve raised their families for generations in the rowhomes and brick houses teach their kids to work hard and keep out of trouble.

But some people aren’t interested in staying out of trouble. There are fortunes to be made in the backstreets and shady barrooms, if you can stay alive long enough to get your hands on it. Here are four stories about the restless souls who have struck out from the safe path and traveled down a long, dark road.

The Devil’s Run
Gaetan was one of the kids that neighborhood parents warned their children to stay away from. He and his friends hung out in the woods by the little creek that cut through town, the one they called the Devil’s Run. Away from prying eyes, they had the fun that only bad boys can know.

But Gaetan isn’t a kid anymore. He’s a veteran of a hundred shady deals, a gangster with skills you only learn from years on the streets. He should be off somewhere enjoying his easy money, but instead he’s back in the old neighborhood. Of all the dark secrets in Gaetan’s past, the one that may destroy him is the one that began when four friends went into the woods for some fun.

The Dead Pond
Sunshine Sam’s was the hottest joint on the Jersey Shore. The rich and powerful partied side by side with bus drivers and soda jerks, all of them moving to the outlaw music called “rock and roll.” To Marty, a poor kid from a farm town, Sunshine Sam’s was more than just a playground. It was the only school he would ever need.

Then one day, Sunshine Sam’s closed it’s doors. Nobody knew why.

Fifty years later, Marty has returned to the Jersey Shore. Now an old man, he is the only one left who knows the secrets of Sunshine Sam’s. The spilled blood and broken dreams follow him around like ghosts. Gorgeous women. Jealous boyfriends. Mafia bosses. The skinny kid survived them all, and today is the day Marty tells the story. (This story was originally published as a standalone.)

Tina and the Big Bad Wolf
Tina is a good stripper, but she has plans. Taking sports bets off her regulars seemed like the perfect way to make some real money. Of course, a petite young woman in a g-string just isn’t intimidating enough to make the troublesome customers cough up the cash, so Tina gets her ex-boyfriend, Joshua, to help her out. In one night, the two of them will try to collect on Tina’s debts without driving one another crazy. (This story was originally published as a standalone.)

The Tarleton Way
Alexander has noticed strange things occurring in the park near his house. Odd people are going in and out of the woods at all hours, driving big trucks and acting in ways Alexander doesn’t understand. That park is the scene of his favorite memories, when his young family had their happiest days. It is also, Alexander hopes, a gift to the future of Tarleton, his struggling hometown.

Things get stranger when Alexander gets a knock on the door from Bobby, a kid from the neighborhood who has returned from an absence of almost thirty years. Now a grown man, Bobby assures Alexander that everything is fine. It’s all being done “the Tarleton way,” under the code of conduct which Alexander and the old folks taught the kids when they were young.

But Alexander is right to worry. In fact, the old man is about to learn that the park, and the past, contain more than he could ever guess. (This story was originally published on the author’s website.)

Swamp Spook by Jana DeLeonSwamp Spook by Jana DeLeon:

When black cats roam, and spooks are seen,
Come celebrate, it’s Halloween.

Sinful, Louisiana, really knows how to throw a party, and it goes all out for Halloween. The weeklong celebration kicks off with a maze of horror in the park built of hay bales. And Fortune has the perfect assignment—the executioner. Her scene comes complete with a head block, a hatchet, and a fake body with removable head. It’s the perfect setup…for a crime.

When Fortune returns from break and realizes the body in her scene is a real one and not the prop, she knows trouble is coming. Before she can shake a broomstick, Celia Arceneaux has raised the alarm and the state police show up to take over the investigation. With Carter on the sidelines and Fortune the prime suspect, Swamp Team 3 sets out to catch a real monster.

Mr. Smith and the Roach by J.J. DiBenedettoMr. Smith and the Roach by J.J. DiBenedetto:

John Smith has a problem. He’s a retired cop whose pension just got wiped out, and he doesn’t know why or how. Now he needs to find a roommate to help pay the bills.

Sam has a problem. He’s a six-foot-tall talking cockroach and he doesn’t know who created him, or why, or how. Now he needs a place to live.

Thrown together as roommates and amateur detectives, Mr. Smith and the Roach realize their problems might be related.

But those problems are far more complicated than they imagined, and before all is said and done, they’ll run afoul of a Russian gangster, an imprisoned Mafia don, a crooked Wall Street banker, a mad scientist and, maybe worst of all, Mr. Smith’s baby sister.

Can they get to the bottom of an unbelievable plot before someone exterminates the Roach – and Mr. Smith – for good?

The Shoeless Kid by Marcelle DubeThe Shoeless Kid by Marcelle Dube:

Kate Williams hopes her new job as a small-town police chief will be a welcome change from the nasty internal politics she dealt with in Toronto. She should have known better. Even after a few months, she’s still dealing with a police department angry that an outsider was picked over their local candidate.

When a homeless man turns up at the department claiming he witnessed a six-year-old boy’s abduction, she has to decide if the child really is missing, or if the homeless man imagined the whole thing. But even as the evidence suggests his story may not be true, the case triggers Kate’s own nightmare past.

Then she discovers that a boy really is missing.

Now Kate must investigate the disappearance while transforming a station full of deeply resentful police officers into a solid unit. When the boy’s mother also disappears, Kate will have to put the pieces of the puzzle together—with her team—in time to save the boy and his mother.

Flagstaff Station by John EllsworthFlagstaff Station by John Ellsworth:

Climb aboard the justice train and let Thaddeus keep you up all night in Flagstaff Station

An FBI chase through the streets of Phoenix leads to an epic firefight and the fatal shooting of an important member of the Vittini mob. As a result, Special Agent Donnie Francisco faces an enraged crime family bent on payback. They come for Donnie, they come for his family.

Donnie seeks out Flagstaff attorney Thaddeus Murfee. The young lawyer agrees to defend and exonerate the agent, but he runs afoul of the mob himself. The body count rises as warfare erupts in the court and in the dark streets and back alleys and small towns of Arizona.

A young Indian boy seeks out Thaddeus for help. The boy, Thaddeus and Donnie travel to reservation lands and meet with the elders of the Indian Court. Watch from the front row of the jury box as Thaddeus and Christine, his wife, tangle with Indian culture and twenty-first century technology. Then, Turquoise Murfee, Thaddeus’s police detective daughter, makes a discovery at Flagstaff Station that could trigger sudden death–but she doesn’t know what she has and could inadvertently kill hundreds of innocent men, women, and children if Thaddeus doesn’t stop her in time.

Here is the book many have clamored for. Thaddeus, Christine, Turquoise, and Henry Landers are back. Come meet the man Thaddeus calls “brother,” Donnie Francisco, the FBI agent you will never forget.

Wedding Cake and Woes by Agatha FrostWedding Cake and Woes by Agatha Frost:

Julia and Barker’s wedding day is finally here, but will everything go to plan? There’s murder afoot once again in Peridale, and this time all fingers seem to be pointing to members of the church choir!

 

 

 

 

Secrets of the South by B.M. HardinSecrets of the South by B.M. Hardin:

Who are you pretending to be?
Savannah thought that running away from her past would change her life. And for about fifteen years, she was right. Until her happy marriage goes down the drain and she’s left with no one but herself to blame. On a quest to become the world’s next best-selling author, to find her voice, Savannah makes a difficult choice.
She has to run—again.
She quits her job and packs a bag. And then she sets out to find the inspiration that she’s never had. Only she finds herself in the one place she never expected to be. Home—in the South; reminded of pain and secrecy. A sin is still a sin, even if no one knows. And a secret is still a secret even if no one told. Bonds are broken, truths are spoken, and no one around her can be trusted.
Who killed her mother?
Who is her father?
Who knows the truth about the small-town barber?
Savannah discovers that ‘Southern Charm’ is just for show. What really matters in the South are the lies you tell and the secrets you know!

Big Top Treachery by CeeCee JamesBig Top Treachery by CeeCee James:

Christmas at the Circus!

What if the holly berry meant more than a cozy Christmas tradition? When Trixie, billed by the Concello circus as the world’s smallest Lady Godiva, finds a large ruby on the circus grounds, she thinks she’s one of the luckiest people on earth. Until she learns the stone’s past is stained as holly-red as the jewel itself. ??

When the police get involved, suspicion is cast not just on Trixie, but on her other friends at the circus. ??The pressure is on with Trixie getting threats from an anonymous source. When the calliope player is murdered, Trixie knows the threats she has been receiving aren’t just to scare her… she’ll be the next to die if she can’t find out the truth about the stone and unmask the murderer?

Doubt in the 2nd Degree by Marc KrulewitchDoubt in the 2nd Degree by Marc Krulewitch:

In Chicago, some neighborhoods explode in gunfire and others in gentrification—but the real money built the skyline alongside sparkling blue Lake Michigan. In one such luxury high-rise, auto-parts heiress Jackie Whitney has been bludgeoned to death, her body found neatly wrapped and tucked away on a closet shelf. Jules Landau has been hired by the public defender to get her client off the hook. The police are convinced they’ve got their killer, but Jules isn’t so sure. The lawyer doesn’t care who killed Jackie Whitney. She just wants to stir up a reasonable doubt . . . but there’s nothing reasonable about this case.

While balancing a relationship with a sexy baker who keeps unholy hours—and dodging a crooked cop who wants to break his bones—Jules digs deeper into Jackie’s final days. Soon he unravels a web of friendships, affairs, and money, all connected to an unlikely site for a murderous conspiracy. How can a single building hide so many secrets? For Jules, justice isn’t only about the presumption of innocence. It’s about the truth, and stopping a killer who will no doubt strike again.

Witch Interrupted by Amanda M. LeeWitch Interrupted by Amanda M. Lee:

Things have been quiet in Hemlock Cove. That means the Winchesters are due to find trouble.

This time, the trouble comes in the form of a dead radio doctor who calls himself Dr. Lovelorn and fixes relationships in distress. Unfortunately for the Winchesters, if he can’t help his normal patients, he’s going to help them … whether they want it or not.

Love seems to be the topic of discussion, because in addition to searching for a murderer, Bay Winchester has her hands full dealing with another surprise. It seems Chief Terry, her favorite father figure, is dating … and he’s not opening his heart to her mother as she expected.

Bay is trying to be mature, but she always thought Terry would officially become part of her family once the barriers were lifted. To make matters worse, Terry’s new girlfriend wants to be friends … something Bay can’t quite wrap her head around.

Thankfully for Bay, she has a murder to focus on. Since Dr. Lovelorn had his fair share of enemies – and a rather unattractive habit of getting too involved with his patients – there are numerous suspects to focus on.

Her expanding magic is also an issue, because she can’t quite get a handle on the ghosts that keep popping up … mostly because they’re mouthy and prone to fighting her efforts.

Basically, it’s going to be a busy week … if everyone survives to see the end of another convoluted case, that is.

It’s all witches on deck for this one, and things are about to get weirder than normal.

The Girl Who Cried Too Much by Susan LundThe Girl Who Cried Too Much by Susan Lund:

THREE COLD CASES CLOSED

With the closure of the oldest cold case in Paradise Hill, and the potential closure of two more, amateur sleuth and crime reporter Tess McClintock continues to work with FBI Special Agent Michael Carter. When doubts about the killer’s identity arise, Tess and Michael to dig deeper into the cases, with help from members of The Missing – the internet sleuth group Tess belongs to.

A KILLER ENJOYING THE MAYHEM

While they get closer to the truth, Tess and Michael also grow closer, and their budding romance complicating the investigation. The real killer continues to target Tess, toying with her and Michael while he plots his next move.

NEW EVIDENCE POINTS TO A NEW SUSPECT

New evidence suggests another suspect may have been involved and police and FBI Agents rush to investigate, struggling to separate fact from fiction.

THE GIRL WHO CRIED TOO MUCH, the second book in the McClintock-Carter Crime Thriller Series, follows Tess and Michael as they fight to stop a ruthless killer before he strikes again.

The Abducted Heiress by Al MacyThe Abducted Heiress by Al Macy:

Alex Booker is sixty going on sixteen. Literally. A genetic experiment de-aged his body and turned him into a teenager. Because of his wise old mind, he’s cautious and thoughtful. But adolescent hormones don’t do “cautious.”

Although he’d been an accountant in his “former life,” impetuous young Alex has chosen to become a private investigator. Bad idea. Business is slow—who would hire a detective who looks like he belongs in high school?

When heiress teen Misty Langwell disappears, the police wait for a ransom demand that never comes. Desperate, Misty’s parents turn to Booker and Associates for help. Alex is perfect for the job. He’s just the man—or kid—to go undercover.

Her disappearance turns out to be much more sinister than a simple kidnapping, and Alex soon finds himself stuck in a prison camp deep in the Amazon jungle. Is he in over his young head?

If he can’t find a good balance between wisdom and impulsiveness, Misty will never be seen again. And neither will Alex.

The Abducted Heiress may be read as a standalone book or as Book Two in the Alex Booker series.

The Passing of Pascal by Annette MoncheriThe Passing of Pascal by Annette Moncheri:

Running a high-class brothel in 1920s Paris would be challenging enough even if Madame weren’t also a vampire. But to make matters far worse, a young man has the audacity to try to kill Melodie – one of the brothel’s ladies – and then fall over dead.

At first the police rule the death an accident, but then they find poison in the body. And Madame also finds a note that implicates a jealous wife in the attack on Melodie – but then who poisoned the attacker? It’s all very confusing… And worse yet, is Melodie still in danger?

Of course, Madame is determined to find out what has happened in her maison and set it straight – without revealing her powers or upsetting the very attractive Monsieur Inspector Thibauld Baudet who is appointed to the case.

This is the first story in Madame’s Murder Mysteries, a historical cozy series with a sense of humor, a taste of the paranormal, and a touch of romance. Perfect for fans of Posie Parker, Ginger Gold, or Lady Katherine.

Wired Courage by Toby NealWired Courage by Toby Neal:

Paradise is stalked by a relentless evil.

What would you do if your family was threatened?

Sophie just wants to settle down with her unusual family—but a powerful presence sweeps in to steal her joy. At her most vulnerable physically and emotionally, Sophie must rise up to hunt down those who would take what’s most precious to her. The boundaries of love and friendship are tested as the men in her life grapple with their roles, each trying to help—but in the end, it’s Sophie who must face the darkness from her past and vanquish it.

Her Final Word by Willow RoseHer Final Word by Willow Rose:

Rather be the hunter than the prey.

Inspired by a true story.

Ella Maria Chauncey walks home after a night out with her friends, hurrying to get back before her parents realize she’s been out with the boy they don’t want her to date. Living in the gated community of Lyford Cay, in one of the world’s wealthiest neighborhoods, she believes it is safe.

Ella Maria never makes it home. She is found the next day floating in her family’s pool, her tongue cut out.

Seven months later Jack Ryder is visiting the Bahamas with his adopted daughter Emily. They’re trying to find Emily’s relatives, but it turns out to be easier said than done.

The only living relative they can track down is a woman…in jail. She’s doing time for murdering Ella Maria Chauncey, but as Jack digs into the case, he starts to wonder if she was wrongfully convicted and the murderer is still out there, hunting for his next prey.

As the shocking investigation unfolds, and secrets are revealed, no one in in the lucrative Lyford Cay can be trusted.

Dark Justice by Rachel SinclairDark Justice by Rachel Sinclair:

An A-List actress murdered. An innocent boy accused. A shocking discovery that changes everything…

Emerson Justice’s topsy-turvy Los Angeles life is about to become even crazier when she’s assigned to defend Carter Dixon for the murder of Addison Wentworth. Addison was one of the top actresses in Hollywood – two Oscars, a $40 million mansion and a $20 million asking price for films. When she’s murdered, Carter is fingered for the crime, plunging him into the middle of the story of the century and turning his life into an inescapable media fishbowl. He insists he didn’t do it, yet his hair was found at the murder scene and it was discovered that he had written threatening and profane messages about Addison on an Incel community message board.

As Emerson gets into the case, she discovers many things that don’t add up, and she’s unable to put the pieces of the puzzle together in time. She’s convinced that her client is innocent, but there just is no way to prove it. Everything seems to be against Carter, and it’s inevitable that he’s going to spend the rest of his life in prison for a murder that he didn’t commit.

Then a shocking discovery changes everything and throws the entire case into a chaos that Emerson could not have anticipated.

Murder Aboard the Flying Scotsman by Lee StraussMurder Aboard the Flying Scotsman by Lee Strauss:

Mayhem All Aboard!

One blustery day in October of 1924, newlyweds Mr. and Mrs. Basil Reed travel aboard the recently christened Flying Scotsman, a high-speed steam engine train that travels from London to Edinburgh, for their honeymoon. With only one short stop at York, Ginger anticipates time with her new husband will fly by.

She’s wrong. Something terrible has happened in the Royal Mail carriage, which forces the train to stop dead in its tracks. There’s been a death and Chief Inspector Reed has been asked to investigate.

It’s a uniquely disturbing murder and Ginger and Basil are eager to puzzle it out together. What do the first class passengers have to do with the dead man? With another crime shortly discovered, Ginger and Basil soon realize they’re not dealing with a run-of-the-mill killer—they’re dealing with a mastermind who’s not done playing with them yet.

Smoldering Flames and Secrets by Anne R. TanSmoldering Flames and Secrets by Anne R. Tan:

Smoldering flames are still deadly.

Raina Sun is in San Francisco, preparing for her cousin’s upcoming wedding…to her ex-boyfriend. Even though she is a reluctant bridesmaid, she understands duty to her family. When the bridegroom shows an unusual interest in her fiancé, and a dead body drops in during the rehearsal dinner, Raina is drawn into another murder investigation.

She must prove the bridegroom’s innocence, or he will reveal a secret that could change her beloved fiancé’s life…and not for the better. As things heat up, she learns all families have skeletons, and some are more deadly than others. Among the hundreds of guests, could she find this heartless killer before she becomes the next victim? And will this secret stay hidden?

Double Jeopardy by Jenny WheelerDouble Jeopardy by Jenny Wheeler:

He’s haunted by war. She’s searching for her twin. When a mysterious murder brings them together, can solving the case heal their broken hearts?

California, 1868. Isabella Wilmington’s dream of taking center stage feels empty without her long-lost twin brother cheering her on. When a bullet cuts through the crowd, she’s convinced the murderous act is a warning shot against her search for her missing sibling. Determined to crack the case, she tags along with a rugged ex-soldier who’d rather keep her out of harm’s way than put her on the frontlines of a dangerous investigation.

Union vet Sebastian Russell longs to put the bloody memories of war far behind him. But his plan to mend his heart in sunny California goes up in gun smoke when his employer tasks him with solving a murder and guarding his feisty daughter from a second strike. Along the trail of clues, his feelings for the young actress grow stronger the closer they come to untangling the twisted truth within the shadow of dark memories.

Before the next victim falls, can Isabella and Sebastian solve the mystery of their painful pasts or will the next bullet shatter their chance at a new future?

Las Vegas Crime by Leslie WolfeLas Vegas Crime by Leslie Wolfe:

Detectives Laura Baxter and Jack Holt are members of the elite: Las Vegas Metro PD, one of the toughest and most respected law enforcement agencies in the United States. In the middle of a city with two million residents and 43 million annual visitors, they’re searching for a missing girl and the ruthless killers who snatched her.

The girl: gone

When a teenage girl is daringly kidnapped from her school, minutes after being dropped off, a frenzied search begins, involving the entire police force of a city that never sleeps. But for Detectives Baxter and Holt this isn’t a crime like any other; it is personal.

The crimes: terrifying

A bold and merciless serial killer preys on young girls and leaves them out to die in the cold and dreadful expanse of the Mojave Desert, unable to move, to scream, to fight for their lives.

The choice: impossible

Now Detective Holt is faced with an agonizing decision: he can sacrifice all that he holds dear or jeopardize the life of an innocent girl, his own flesh and blood. The man holding all the cards in this game of life and death isn’t willing to negotiate; he’s only willing to kill.

In Las Vegas, few things end well.

Two mavericks form an intriguing team. Baxter and Holt trust each other with their lives, just not with their secret plans.

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Of Time Travel, JFK and Cheap e-Books

Yes, I know that it’s been a while since I blogged here, but the past month was very busy. Plus, I’ve been writing, so expect a couple of new releases in the run-up to the holidays.

Besides, I’ve been blogging elsewhere. For as some of you may know, I occasionally contribute to Galactic Journey, a science fiction fanzine with a twist. Namely Galactic Journey takes place fifty-five years in the past, which means that as far as Galactic Journey is concerned, today is November 25, 1963.

Now if you know a bit about history, you’ll know that late November 1963 was a very significant time in history. For on November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Both C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley also died on November 22, 1963, and probably got far less attention than either of them deserved. And for a bright spark, Doctor Who premiered on November 23, 1963.

Since Galactic Journey is right in the middle of these events, they are of course covering it. My piece about (West) German reactions to the Kennedy assasination ran today. You can also follow the full timeline of the events of late November 1963 on Galactic Journey in the contributions of Gideon Marcus, Victoria Lucas, David Rome, Erica Frank, Jason Sacks, Lorelei Marcus, Gwyn Conaway and Jessica Holmes. No Doctor Who yet, but we’re getting to that.

I also just realised that I forgot to link to my last post for Galactic Journey in late October, where I introduced a beloved classic of German children’s fantasy, the Jim Knopf duology by Michael Ende, who will go on to pen Momo and The Neverending Story, to American readers.

Meanwhile, back in 2018, it’s Thanksgiving weekend, which normally doesn’t impact us in this side of the Atlantic all this much, beyond the fact that the Internet is less busy than usual, since most Americans are busily cooking and eating turkey, not to mention shopping. Though in recent years, plenty of German stores have started holding Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, not to mention absurdities like “Black Week” or “Cyber Monday Week”. Apparently, there’s also “Small Business Saturday”, but that one hasn’t made it to our shores so far. Not that I mind sales, but Black Friday and Cyber Monday only make sense in a US context, where this weekend is a long holiday weekend. It doesn’t make sense in Germany, where today is Eternity Sunday and the Christmas season officially starts tomorrow.

Of course, there are also a lot of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the e-book world. And today, I want to direct your attention to two of them:

J. David Core of the Thrills and Mystery podcast has organised “Cheap Quickies”, a 99 cent/pence sale of short fiction collections in various genres. There are more than forty short fiction collections for sale from November 22 to November 26, so check it out. And listen to the podcast, while you’re at it.

Cheap Quickies banner

Meanwhile, the good folks at Drive Thru Fiction are also holding a Black Friday to Cyber Monday sale, where you can get 30% off on lots of e-books, including all of mine.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for October 2018

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 September 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 Amazon.com, 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, YA fantasy, cozy fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, science fantasy, space exploration and colonisation, dystopian fiction, LitRPG, horror, Steampunk, weird western, time travel, alternate history, writing advice, dragons, robots, dragons versus robots, alien invasions, galactic empires, cities on the moon, restaurants in space, waking starships, intergalactic crime lords, bounty hunters, superheroes, myth seekers, gnomes, elves, crime-fighting ghosts, wild west mages and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

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:

Invasion by Jay AllenInvasion by Jay Allen:

War…like none that has come before.

The Hegemony has launched the invasion Tyler Barron and his Confederation comrades have feared, and all the Rim is ablaze with the fires of war and destruction.

The Hegemony has brought its vast fleets, its advanced technology, and its endless legions of grim cyborg warriors to impose its system of rigid genetic hierarchy over all humanity on the Rim.

The Confederation fleet is outnumbered and outmatched, but they will fight nevertheless, struggling and dying to hold back the onslaught any way they can, even as the Marines they leave behind dig in and prepare to defend worlds swallowed up by the advancing battle lines.

Barron and his people will fight, they will fight like demons unleashed, and Jake ‘Raptor’ Stockton will lead his wings of strikefighters in one desperate attack after another into the teeth of the enemy armada, but time is running out…even as the enemy pushes relentlessly toward the Confederation’s Core and final victory.

The Myth Seeker by Cora BarclayThe Myth Seeker by Cory Barclay:

A banshee who just wants to sing.
A leprechaun with a gambling problem.
A sex-addicted succubus in recovery.
Vampires who want a sunny day at the beach.
And then there’s Steve, the regular Joe who inadvertently brought these flawed mythical beings to our world. But he has no idea how he did it, which is a problem, because it’s his job to bring them home.
All this responsibility is putting a serious damper on Steve’s directionless lifestyle. Then he finds out a dark force is trying to kill him and his friends. And he might be falling in love with one of his charges…
Steve realizes he must get his act together, before it’s too late…

No Kitten Around by R.J. BlaineNo Kitten Around by R.J. Blain:

Warning: This novel contains excessive humor, action, excitement, adventure, magic, romance, and bodies. Proceed with caution.

The last thing Reed Matthews needs in his life is a kitten, but when an orphaned tabby suckers him into becoming her caretaker, he’s in for the ride of his life. Add in an angel determined to meddle in his affairs, a devil with an agenda, and a bucketful of bad omens, and he’ll count himself fortunate if he survives the clash between heaven, hell, and his ex.

In this anything goes romp, there’s no kitten around: if Reed wants to survive and regain control of his life, his only hope lies in the hands of an elf and his ex, a woman he’s sworn to never see again.

Rookie by S.J. BryantRookie by S.J. Bryant:

Freedom has a price.

Thugs, thieves, urchins – and they’re the good guys.

Nova is tough as steel and as sharp as a switchblade. She thought she’d finally found freedom when she bought a ship and flew away from her home planet, but she soon realizes that freedom doesn’t come cheap.

With crime lords, gangs, and rival bounty hunters chasing her, Nova has to fight just to keep what little she has.

But there’s more at stake than her beat-up ship.

Nova has never needed anyone; she’s a loner, a maverick, a renegade. But now she has to make the ultimate choice; fight in a team, or die alone?

Life is hard, but Nova is harder.

You’ll love this space adventure, because everyone enjoys a gritty hero with a plasma pistol who’s trying to save the Universe.

The Taste of Home by Cora BuhlertThe Taste of Home by Cora Buhlert:

Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

Mikhail is on his way home, an anniversary present for Anjali in his pocket, when he suddenly finds himself irresistibly drawn towards an unremarkable storefront and comes face to face with his past.

Meanwhile, Anjali is preparing a special anniversary dinner for Mikhail, only to find that he is late to come home.

This is a novelette of 9300 words or approximately 32 print pages in the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Fractured Stars by Lindsay BurokerFractured Stars by Lindsay Buroker:

McCall Richter finds criminals, con men, and deadbeats better than anyone else in the empire.

She’s proud of her success and that she owns her own spaceship, especially since she struggles to understand human motivations, can’t tell when people are lying to her, and is horrible at recognizing faces. Being autistic in the empire is frowned upon—and there’s a handy normalization surgery to correct it—but she’s managed to prove her worth and avoid irking the tyrannical regime.

Except for one thing.

Two years ago, she liberated the android, Scipio, from an imperial research facility where he was treated worse than a slave. He’s become her business partner and best friend, but if the empire finds out she has him, a “normalization” surgery will be the least of her worries.

When her ship is confiscated by a cyborg law enforcer needing to transport prisoners, McCall knows she and Scipio are in trouble. Worse, the enforcer’s pilot is a former bounty hunter and business competitor she beat to the prize many times in the past.

Soon, he’s snooping all over her ship and questioning her about her past.

And there’s something strange about him. He knows far more about what she’s thinking than any human should.

It’ll only be a matter of time before he discovers her secret. And then what?

Elven Fury by Lindsay BurokerElven Fury by Lindsay Buroker:

Jev Dharrow is trying to convince his father to cancel his arranged marriage so he can wed Zenia, the woman he loves. But when elven assassins arrive in the city, all his personal problems must be set aside.

They are after his good friend, Lornysh, an elf who has saved Jev’s life a dozen times over the years. The assassins consider Lornysh to be a traitor to their people, and they’ll kill anyone who stands at his side. They wield great magic as well as their swords, and they have the power to destroy half the city as they chase after their target.

With the arranged marriage looming and elven assassins on the warpath, Jev is running out of time to save his friend—and his own future.

The Kingfisher's Debt by Kura CarpenterThe Kingfisher’s Debt by Kura Carpenter:

Magic isn’t real, right?

Within the small coastal city of Dunedin, local translator, Tamsin Fairchild has a reputation she hates. People think she’s psychic…

Always hovering around and interfering in Tamsin’s life, part father-figure, part thorn in her side, Detective Jackson, is an old-school cop. Childhood friend to her deceased mother, Tamsin wonders could her mother have let an outsider in on the truth?

Newcomer, rookie cop Scott Gale is forced to team-up with Tamsin when they investigate the disappearance of a newborn baby and a bizarre crime scene–satanic ritual or hoax?

More and more the blame starts to point towards Tamsin…

Tamsin must uncover who’s framing her, find the baby before it’s too late, unravel the mystery behind her elder brother’s disappearance, and stop Scott from entering a world not meant for human eyes.

But Scott has family secrets of his own and Tamsin doesn’t know who to trust.

But can you trust Tamsin? What if the person who saved your life is about to frame you for murder?

Enter the Shroud by Killian CarterEnter the Shroud by Killian Carter:

When Captain Grimshaw and Lieutenant Evans go renegade, the crew of the North Star must enter the Shroud. Vessels that dare travel into the infamous nebula never return to tell about it, but Taza Arkona claims to possess a key that will grant them safe passage.

With the Galactic Alliance coming undone at the seams and a long forgotten enemy looming on the horizon, Grimshaw, Evans, and Arkona must learn the secrets hidden behind the Shroud. If they fail, invaders will ravage the Galaxy unimpeded while it burns from within.

Defiance by H.G. ChambersDefiance by H.G. Chambers:

The void gathers, and shadows deepen.

The terrifying truth has finally been revealed—New Arcadia is a city-sized weapon, poised to destroy the entire planet. Now Oren, Clementine, Anzien, and Ryland must join forces and fight, if they hope to rescue the millions of civilians within New Arcadia, and stop the apocalyptic weapon from activating. But to do so, they must overcome not only their enemies, but also the demons within themselves.

Oren’s memories of Clementine have been burned away, leaving an empty chasm between them. Determined to melt his cold despondence, Clementine returns a precious gift he gave her long ago. Will it be enough to bring them together, or will the contradiction in his memories divide them further?

As the Ko’jin rebels prepare to march on New Arcadia, Anzien discovers that General Graves has been feeding her lies and cannot be trusted. With millions of lives in the balance, Anzien must make a choice—subvert the general’s plans and face charges of treason, or follow orders and risk trading one tyrant for another.

Ryland has finally begun to accept his role as the voice of the resistance. There’s just one problem: after his encounter with the Patriarch, he’s no longer sure that his mind is his own. Now, not even he can say with surety whether he will aid in the evacuation efforts, or sabotage them completely.

Humanity’s final hour approaches, and it appears all may be lost. Those who would fight must now band together in defiance if they hope to beat back the darkness, and save humanity from oblivion.

Defiance is the final book in the award winning Aeternum Chronicles sci-fi fantasy trilogy. If you like heart-pounding adventure, compelling characters, and expert world building, then you’ll love H.G. Chambers’ epic series.

Yesterday's Tears by Sam CheeverYesterday’s Tears by Sam Cheever:

It might be a murder from decades ago, but it still has its claws in the present…and someone seems determined to drag Anna into it.

It’s never a good idea to spend too much time in a haunted mansion, and Anna’s favorite cowboy ghost does his best to talk her out of it. But the opportunity to pick from the beautiful antiques left to her in a Crocker resident’s will is just too tempting for Anna and Pratt to pass up. So they’re going in…

They’re prepared to deal with a few cold spots. Maybe the occasional flickering light. But what Anna and the boys weren’t counting on was bumping up against the ghost of Josiah Baumgartner, a contemporary of Joss’ from the 1800s. And when Josiah claims the old woman who lived in the house hid his bones around the place, Anna agrees to help him find them. But something much darker is at work there. And, unfortunately for our happy little gang of antique hunters…Anna seems to have unwittingly stepped right into the middle of it.

Plato Crater by Carleton ChinnerPlato Crater by Carleton Chinner:

The independent European base at Plato Crater is the Earth’s only hope for an end to the Helium-3 crisis if they can’t persuade Yesha Chen, Empress of the Moon, to trade. Every other Earth power will stop at nothing to seize control of the Moon’s lucrative energy supply.

Jonah Barnes would rather have stayed on the Moon with Yesha, the love of his life, than be back on Earth negotiating a Helium-3 deal that might leave him being something other than human.

Yesha thought it was hard to lead a rebellion. Now she must subdue one, but her stolen battle droids have other ideas. To survive, she will need to choose between the man she loves and the woman she must become before it is too late.

Tales of Peavley Manor by Robert DahlenTales of Peavley Manor (Or, Macalley Gets It Together) by Robert Dahlen:

Alice Peavley, young heiress, had hoped life would be simple once everything surrounded her inheritance had been settled. However, life had other ideas, and Alice keeps running into touchy situations and absurd adventures! From book thievery to motorcar mayhem, riding flightless birds to outwitting mad scientists, Alice must face them all…and will hopefully triumph with the help of her eccentric and loyal friends, her brainy gnome valet Macalley, and a good cup of tea. Blending comedy, steampunk, and fantasy, Tales of Peavley Manor is an entertaining and delightful collection!

(The material in this book has been previously published in e-book format as the novelettes “Book Fair Frenzy (Or, Macalley Turns The Page)”, “The Thorn Harbour Road Rally (Or, Macalley Takes The Wheel)”, “The Missing Mallard (Or, “Duck, Macalley! Duck!”)”, and “The Rebellious Rooster (Or, Macalley Gets Cocky)”.

In the Vanishers' Palace by Aliette de BodardIn the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard:

From the award-winning author of the Dominion of the Fallen series comes a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land…

A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village’s debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.

A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn’s amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets…

Crossover by Timothy EllisCrossover by Timothy Ellis:

Jon Hunter is back. Whether he likes it or not!

Be careful what you ask for. A higher being might be listening.

It’s been 2 days since Jon Hunter reset the timeline, by locking the Darkness away forever.

2 days of grateful rest. For him.

For the rest of the team, it feels like a year has passed, and they’re stuck in a limbo they cannot escape.

Jane wants Jon to get back to work, and a higher power seems to want the same thing.

But Jon isn’t ready yet, and Jane thinks he only needs a wakeup call.

But when has anything Jon Hunter related ever been as simple as a wakeup call?

Weird is normal for this team, but this is Crossover, and all you can say is…

…It’s a Jon Hunter thing!

Belief's Horizon by I.W. FergusonBelief’s Horizon by I.W. Ferguson:

Treachery at home. Otherwordly visitors. What else lies beyond belief’s horizon?

Happen Fell lives on an isolated farm deep in the rainy woods on the magical planet Grith. It’s past time for him to go to the annual trade fair to begin his rites of passage, but one untimely trouble after another keeps him from exploring further than his home and the tiny school he attends with his cousin.And one person seems to lurk behind every trouble: Osgar.

Once Happen finally leaves on his journey, he fears his father’s loyal employee will turn up any moment. But when a stranger claims that Grith could be facing a threat from beyond the stars, Happen’s coming-of-age journey becomes much more treacherous—and mysterious.

That looming threat is the Lightfeeder Menace, and it could destroy everything. Almost no one on Grith—Happen included—believes it could be real. But what they don’t believe might kill them.

Belief’s Horizon is the first book in The Lightfeeder Menace series, introducing the world of Grith, where every river deep enough has its naiad, and every sea worth its salt has its dragon.

Pecan Pies and Dead Guys by Angie FoxPecan Pies and Dead Guys by Angie Fox:

Sometimes Verity Long would like to forget that she lives with the ghost of a 1920s gangster. But the reluctant housemates must once again work together when a dead detective blackmails Frankie into helping him solve a Great Gatsby-era cold case. Before she can say “bathtub gin,” Verity is dragged straight into a raging, otherworldly house party. Worse, every guest is hiding something.

Meanwhile, Ellis Wydell, Verity’s living, breathing boyfriend needs Verity’s help with a police case of his own. After a dead body is discovered near the pecan orchard, Verity gives her insights, thinking her job is done. But when mysterious pecan pies start arriving at her house, she wonders who might be thanking her…or stalking her.

Between hard-living ghosts and sugar-laden desserts, Verity has her work cut out for her. But will she uncover the secrets behind the pecan pies and dead guys? Or has she stumbled upon a recipe for disaster?

A warm and witty paranormal cozy mystery!

Starship Waking by C. GockelStarship Waking by C. Gockel:

On an icy, barren world, a starship dreams of doom…?

Throughout the galaxy, the reclusive alien race known as The One are incapacitated by terror.

On the planet Luddeccea, wolf-human hybrid Volka harbors a terrible secret…a secret that must explain her nightmares.?

Trapped on a luxurious asteroid, pleasure ‘bot 6T9 struggles to find purpose–until he receives a message from an Unidentified Caller.

The worlds of The One, Volka, and 6T9 are about to collide.

The galaxy will be shaken to its core.

The starship is waking.

The Concordia Deception by J.J. GreenThe Concordia Deception by J.J. Green:

Sabotage at Homecoming

After a hundred and eighty years in deep space, the colony starship Nova Fortuna has reached its destination and long-awaited Arrival Day.

Many have sacrificed everything for this moment. Leaving her life and family on Earth, genetic specialist Cariad has spent the trip in cryonic suspension, while colonist Ethan carries the hopes of six generations of volunteers who knew they would never see their final goal.

A devastating attack on the new settlement forced Cariad and Ethan together, and now they must locate and defeat a deadly foe determined to sabotage humanity’s first deep space colony.

Isolated and alone, a fractured crew of colonists struggle for survival on a planet where the enemy could be anyone.

The Concordia Deception is book one in the compelling, provocative space colonization series, Space Colony One.

Mages' Home by Kyra HallandMages’ Home by Kyra Halland:

Once, they were hated and hunted by mage hunters and Plain folk alike. Now, former bounty hunters turned renegade mages Silas and Lainie Vendine finally have the life they dreamed of – a home and ranch of their own where they can live in peace and raise their family, and the friendship and respect of their non-magical neighbors.

When a company from across the western sea comes to Prairie Wells, bringing marvelous new inventions, Silas and Lainie figure it only means more prosperous times ahead for the town and for them – until an old and vicious hatred of mages rears its head.

As troubles stirred by unseen enemies divide the town, many of Silas and Lainie’s neighbors turn on them. When danger strikes at the heart of their home and family, Silas and Lainie must fight to protect everything they love, everything they’ve worked for, before it’s all destroyed.

If you love fantasy filled with romance and adventure in a unique setting, come join Silas and Lainie Vendine in this new tale from the Wildings.

A Butt of Heads by Simon HaynesA Butt of Heads by Simon Haynes:

Events are unfolding at a breakneck pace in the Old Kingdom!

Laugh as your favourite characters spit in the face of danger … then run for the hills.
Admire the verbal jousting and witty wordplay … or is it the other way round?
Gasp as kings and queens lose their heads.
‘Enjoy’ the groanworthy puns and suffer the slings and arrows of poorly-trained archers.

But that’s not all …
Prepare to be amazed as you learn exactly what Clunk’s building in his makeshift workshop!

A Butt of Heads is book two in the Robot vs Dragons trilogy. A Portion of Dragon and Chips is book one, and it must be read first to maximise your enjoyment and my royalties.

Orbit by Leigh HellmanOrbit by Leigh Hellman:

Ciaan Gennett isn’t green, despite the brand of light hair that betrays her heritage: an Earth mother. A mother she remembers but doesn’t know, who left one day and never came back. Ciaan’s as metal as her home planet—cold and hard and full of so many cracks she’s trying to ignore that she doesn’t have time to wonder about questions that don’t get answers.

After one too many run-ins with the law, Ciaan finds herself sentenced to probation at a port facility and given an ultimatum: Prove that your potential is worth believing in. With help from her best friend Tidoris, Ciaan stays away from trouble—and trouble stays away from her. But when a routine refueling turns into a revelation, Ciaan and Tidoris find themselves forced into an alliance with an Earth captain of questionable morality and his stoic, artificially-grown first officer. Their escalating resistance against bureaucratic cover-ups begins unraveling a history of human monstrosity and an ugly truth that Ciaan isn’t so sure she wants to discover.

Now they all must decide how far they are willing to dig into humanity’s dark desperation—and what they are willing to do about what digs back.

RiftWorlds Online: Space Opera Insertion by Brian D. HowardRiftWorlds Online: Space Opera Insertion by Brian D. Howard:

In 2028 RiftWorlds Online is the most popular virtual reality MMORPG game ever. A week after its release, millions are playing in a game that spans seven unique universes. But now people can’t log out. And when they die in the game, they die in real life.

In prison for manipulating real-world currency through VR-MMORPGs, gamer Rick Danburg just wants to serve out his sentence in peace. But the President’s daughter is trapped in the game. Secret Service agents drag Rick before the President who offers him a deal: a full pardon for finding her and keeping her alive until people on the outside get RiftWorlds back under control.

That will be much harder than he is prepared for.

Warrior's Touch by Deb E. HowellWarrior’s Touch by Deb E. Howell:

Once upon a time, the last Immortal lost his powers to an Aenuk Healer and her tree. Nine hundred years later, he learns that an Immortal child is going to be born, and with it, the chance to regain his lost magic…

The Kara and Aenuk races have been enemies for centuries, but for Llew and Jonas, love won out. Now Llew faces an uncertain future: one nation wants her to breed their future army, and the other wants her dead. Her Healing talent also means she is feared – and the child she carries makes her a target.

Jonas has returned to his people, but he is torn. The woman he loves is being kept away from him, his superiors want him to carry on his bloodline with an appropriate mate, and he’s being expected to fit back into a role he doesn’t want. He is meant to be a hero, but the only champion he wants to be is Llew’s and their child – a child who might change everything.

But for their enemy to regain his powers, Llew’s child must die; and in order to retain them, every Aenuk must be destroyed.

In Warrior’s Touch, loyalties will be tested, lives torn apart and magics rejoined.

Fantastic Tales of Terror, edited by Eugene JohnsonFantastic Tales of Terror: History’s Darkest Secrets, edited by Eugene Johnson:

Discover the lost supernatural stories behind some of the most famous people and events in history.

These Fantastic Tales explore the secret history that has been hidden in the shadows of the world, and even alternative histories from other worlds. Tales such as a young man seeking the secret of immortality from none other than Bela Lugosi. The tragic story of how the Titanic really sank. The horrifying lengths the people of New York city would go to raise above the Great Depression, rather in seeking fame or trying to feed the city. And many more Fantastic Tales of Terror.

Lineup:

Introduction by Tony Todd
“The Deep Delight of Blood” by Tim Waggoner
“Unpretty Monster” by Mercedes Yardley
“The Tell-Tale Mind” by Kevin J. Anderson
“Topsy-Turvy” by Elizabeth Massie
“Ray and the Martian” by Bev Vincent
“The Girl with the Death Mask” by Stephanie M. Wytovich
“On a Train Bound for Home” by Christopher Golden
“The Custer Files” by Richard Chizmar
“Red Moon” by Michael Paul Gonzalez
“The Prince of Darkness and the Showgirl” by John Palisano
“The Secret Engravings” by Lisa Morton
“Mutter” by Jess Landry
“La Llorona” by Cullen Bunn
“The London Encounter” by Vince Liaguno
“Bubba Ho-Tep” by Joe R. Lansdale
“Gorilla my Dreams” by Jonathan Maberry
“Articles of Teleforce” by Michael Bailey
“Sic Olim Tyrannis” by David Wellington
“The Washingtonians” by Bentley Little
“Scent of Flesh” by Jessica Marie Baumgartner
“Rotoscoping Toodies” by Mort Castle
“Lone Wolves” by Paul Moore
“The Great Stone Face vs. the Gargoyles” by Jeff Strand
“The Return of the Thin White Duke” by Neil Gaiman

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

HYPO: Appetence by D.L. JonesHYPO: Appetence by D.L. Jones:

Chauncy was introduced to the experimental drug called HYPO when trying to escape from abduction. This drug gives him extraordinary physical abilities. He decides to use those abilities to catch the burglars that has robbed his store. What he doesn’t know, there are mind altering side affects. Those side effects come into play in a bad way once he finds out about a secret his wife, Becca, has been keeping from him. Tre, his childhood friend once again shows up to lend a helping hand and and try solve the problem.

This is the second book in the HYPO Series. Make sure you read HYPO: Exordium first, as this is a continuation of that story – Part 2 in a 3 part series.

Only the Lonely by Amanda M. LeeOnly the Lonely by Amanda M. Lee:

Isabella “Izzy” Sage spent her formative years on Belle Isle in Detroit, playing next to the gate that separates the living from the dead as her parents drew a paycheck from the grim reaper council.

Then the impossible happened, tragedy struck, and Izzy found herself an orphan. Her grandfather took her away and raised her among the Bruja in New Orleans, although her heart always longed to return to the gate … which felt so much like a part of her.

Now, as an adult, Izzy has worked her way up to gatekeeper status and she’s back in the place her childhood ended. She’s the one in charge now … although things don’t go how she hoped. On her very first day, the gate is breached, and the wraith that crosses over is not only murderous but enhanced.
Izzy wants to be in charge, but the local reaper council needs help so they send back-up in the form of a magical reaping family.

The Grimlocks are loud, boisterous and used to a good fight. The men are also handsome, something Izzy doesn’t want to acknowledge, even when the flirting gets out of control. In addition to all that, they’re also protective, and whether Izzy wants it or not, they’re going to infringe on her territory if they think they can keep her safe.

The past might be haunting Izzy, but she can’t look forward to the future until the danger is behind her. Those around her know more than they’re letting on, and the magic she’s been trying to hide is about to take over.

The fight is on … and Izzy is loaded for bear.

Machineries of Mercy by Tim MajorMachineries of Mercy by Tim Major:

It’s a beautiful day in the village of Touchstone.

The birds are singing. Everyone is happy.

Everyone except Ethan.

The England he knows is broken and dangerous.

But perhaps Touchstone is more dangerous still.

 

Blaze by Monique MartinBlaze by Monique Martin:

London, 1904 – All Artemis wants for her 16th birthday is a fancy new dress and maybe a few stolen sips of champagne. What she gets is a fiery sword and an inescapable destiny. She’s the Blaze—fated to protect the city from Darkness. With all of two days training, she must strike back against a rising evil. But her new powers come at a cost, and the truth behind them is more terrifying than any monster.

Cinch your corset and strap in for a wild ride through turn-of-the-century London. Don’t miss the next books in the Blaze Series.

Victoria Marmot and the Meddling Goddess by Virginia McClainVictoria Marmot and the Meddling Goddess by Virginia McClain:

Victoria Marmot is just an average teenage girl… if by “average” you mean an orphaned, multi-lingual, martial arts expert who owns her own home may or may not have magical abilities.

When Vic is told her parents didn’t die the way she thinks they did, her world is turned upside down and she’s left with the task of finding out what really happened to them. But when her quest to uncover the truth reveals a massive conspiracy by a corrupt magical government, will her efforts save the world or take the whole universe down with her?

Rick or Treat by Jaxon ReedRick or Treat by Jaxon Reed:

Rick Strickland hasn’t flown a plane since he died over three centuries ago. But after being sucked into the vortex during a fae attack on Headquarters, he lands in the back of a doomed airliner bound for London crowded with helpless passengers and a poisoned crew.

He soon discovers this world is strangely different from the one he’s used to. The American Revolution failed and territory east of the Mississippi remains colonized. The Republic of Texas controls land to the west and is the dominant hemispheric power. Nazi Germany controls most of Europe, but despite the date there has been no Second World War . . . yet.

Now, a plot by the Nazis on All Hallows’ Eve appears imminent. Rick is alone with no outside help, and fae influence on this alternate is increasingly obvious. The Texans are locked and loaded, but they’ve never faced a fae before. Then, a coded message from their rarely used embassy in New York City arrives . . . and it’s addressed to Rick. Can he foil the Nazi plot and turn their Halloween trick against them?

The Queen's Pardon by J.A. SutherlandThe Queen’s Pardon by J.A. Sutherland:

Allies and enemies are not always what they seem.

Trapped on a hostile world, hunted by pirate bands and abandoned by her fellow captains, Alexis Carew must lead her small band to safety, even though it seems every hand is set against her. Stalked by pirates in the skies above and shadowy, alien figures on the planet below, Alexis must convince former enemies to trust her even as she discovers where the tendrils of her true enemies lead.

 

Heist by James David VictorHeist by James David Victor:

It was supposed to be an easy job, but it just might take the heist of the century to get out of this one alive.

The Mercury Blade and its crew are always looking for an easy profit. When presented with a simple heist, they are all-in for easy profit. When things go south, they are faced with a dilemma that could mean life or death. Can Eliard, Val, and Irie pull of the heist of the century or will the crew of the Mercury Blade lose everything?

 

The Dead Stage by Dan WeathererThe Dead Stage: A Journey From Page to Stage by Dan Weatherer:

“The Dead Stage – the period of time between completing the working draft of a stage play and placing it with an interested party.” – Dan Weatherer

Dan Weatherer, an author turned playwright, learned quickly that there are practices playwrights can implement to dramatically increase the appeal of their work.

Inside, you’ll find advice that will enable you to better tailor your work to the needs of the theatre industry, without having to compromise on style, content or subject matter. Dan discusses his early mistakes, and presents the advice of notable theatre professionals including the award-winning playwright, Deborah McAndrew, noted actor Matthew Spence, and London Horror Festival producer, Kate Danbury (along with many, many more!).

You’ll also be able to read several of Dan’s completed stage plays, which are presented in a preferred industry format, and often contain side-notes detailing the success (and failures) of said pieces.

From budgets to set design, run-time to cast size, if you ever felt the desire to write for the stage, following the advice presented in this book will help improve your chances of pairing your script with an interested party, hopefully making The Dead Stage pass almost unnoticed.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Past Lives by R.J. WolfPast Lives by R.J. Wolf:

THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH…

What would you do to save the one you love? Would you go to Hell…twice?

Eric Strange was once a psychic detective that solved cases normal humans wouldn’t dare touch. Supplanted firmly between two worlds, he kept one foot in the shadows and one in the sun. After uncovering a dangerous conspiracy, that reached the highest levels of government and intertwined the magic and non-magic world together, Eric was possessed by an ancient demon and dragged to hell.

When Eric wakes up four years later inside of a grave, everything he loves is gone. But even worse, he has no memory of who he is or the people he’s lost. Fate takes him to a police station, where an old friend finds him and sets out to help restore his memory. The secrets behind his murky past are tearing him apart, but the truth cuts much deeper.

Possessed by Demons, touched by Angels and surrounded by darkness and a powerful magic, Eric doesn’t even know what he is. But as the fog clears, his memories slowly start to seep through the shadows and a path to even darker places is illuminated.

Welcome to Hotel California…We’ve been waiting for you

Chaos in the Countryside by Astoria WrightChaos in the Countryside by Astoria Wright:

Looking for a unique paranormal cozy mystery series that’s lighthearted and fun?

Settle into the cozy countryside of Moss Hill, where house-elves rent rooms, sprites live in gardens, a leprechaun is the best tailor in town, and a half-elf/half human named Carissa Shea owns a pharmacy known as The Seelie Tree Apothecary shop. Life couldn’t be more idyllic for Cari, but healing humans and fae folk proves challenging at times, especially when secrets unfold in The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries.

About Chaos in the Countryside
The quiet town of Moss Hill would be in trouble if not for one daring nature faerie: a sprite known as Chaos. Though she is little, she is…fierce isn’t the right word. Spirited is more accurate. She’s traveled far and wide to warn the half-human, half-elf Carissa Shae about a danger that’s coming to the countryside. Carissa’s Seelie Tree Apothecary shop is no stranger to faeries, but with this new arrival, its owner, and Moss Hill, will never be the same. Is this cozy town ready for a little Chaos?

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