Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for August 2017

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’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 July 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, historical fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, gothic romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, young adult science fiction, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, superheroes, ghosts, haunted valentines, alien invasions, FBI dark fae, magical circusses, galactic outlaws, space pirates, girl scientists 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:

Rotten Magic by Jeffrey BardwellRotten Magic by Jeffrey Barwell:

Devin will do anything to win. Even resort to magic.

Devin competes to become the best artificer in the mage phobic Iron Empire. Who needs magic when you can master the art of machinery? The other apprentices envy his genius and skills . . . especially Benson. Every apprentice hones their craft building and fighting in crude prototypes of powered armor. Some add frills, others barbs or horns. When Devin transforms himself into a mechanical dragon to slaughter the competition, Benson steps into the role of dragon slayer.

But Devin harbors a secret as he claws his way to the top of the Artificer’s Guild: he’s a mage. These new abilities are thrilling and frightening, and the voices more so. How long can Devin be content wearing a steel dragon mask when the seductive promise of true arcane power whispers in his ear?

Experience the novella prequel to the Artifice Mage Saga: a fantasy steampunk brawl of metal vs. magic where sorcery is bloody, science is greasy, and nobody’s hands are clean.

Resistance by Max CarverResistance by Max Carver:

DISCOVERY…INVASION…WAR…

On a rocky, desolate planet, a small band of gold prospectors find themselves making a discovery they never expected–valuable and powerful relics of the galaxy’s deep past.

They also discover a hostile alien species: gigantic, hideous, ruthless monsters who wipe out all humans on sight.

Humanity’s first contact with intelligent aliens becomes a war for survival. The invasion has begun…but the beginning of the invasion is also the beginning of the resistance.

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

Jace Hughes is a Renegade.

That means taking almost any job that comes his way, no matter the situation. So long as he can keep his ship floating, he’s free to live the life he wants.

But that all changes when he meets Abigail Pryar, a nun looking for safe passage out of the system.

Too bad there’s something off about the cargo she’s carrying.

Jace knows he shouldn’t ask too many questions, but when strange sounds start coming from inside the large, metal box, he can’t help but check it out.

Big mistake.

To make matters worse, he’s being pursued by unknown ships–people who want that cargo. Does Jace give up the goods and hand over the nun…or does he risk it all for an even bigger payout?

The Contending by Cynthia Joyce ClayThe Contending by Cynthia Joyce Clay:

“If I survive this, I must make amends to Princess Royal Tristabe-airta. If don’t, when I become her liege, she be too powerful of an enemy.”

Royal swords possess the unhuman strength and temperament of their ancestors, dragons. Burta, a young royal sword, resents that she must always defer to Tristabé-airta, Princess Royal of Allsongs, a poet. But Burta is so skilled in arms she expects to win the Allsongs’ Contending and that will make her Tristabé-airta’s liege. The problem is, though, she is trapped between the monster that hunts her and the deadly drop down the cliff to the turbulent sea. In Book Two of the Saga of the Dragon Born, all the poets of Allsongs, including Tristabé-airta, must unite their power to rescue Burta. Once rescued, will she unwisely keep a secret close to her heart that will be a rending betrayal to Allsongs’ best hope and defense, Tristabé-airta?

The Dance on the Moons of Serenity by M.D. CooperThe Dance on the Moons of Serenity by M.D. Cooper:

Everyone deserves a day off, right?

That’s just what Jessica and Cheeky are enjoying when a pair of old “friends” show up and force them to smuggle weapons into the Serenity System.

On their own with just a small interstellar pinnace at their disposal, Jessica and Cheeky aren’t going to let someone else force them to smuggle weapons (especially when there’s no profit in it for them) and they take control of their ship and escape.

Unfortunately, they still end up in the Serenity system…with the weapons. Now they must unravel a tangled web of deception in a highly stratified aristocratic society to learn the intended recipient of the weapons.

Attending a series of gala events, Jessica will have to use a particular set of skills she’s acquired over the years (as a TBI Agent, seriously, people) to start a war between two aristocratic families.

What could go wrong?

Agent of Darkness by C.N. Crawford and Alex RiversAgent of Darkness by C.N. Crawford and Alex Rivers:

There’s a dark power growing within me. And I’m not sure I can control it.

The fae king wants me dead. His assassins tracked me down and nearly killed me— now they’re the ones lying lifeless in a pool of blood. But the price I’ve paid is too high. They hurt someone I love, and I burn for revenge.

I’m done watching from the sidelines. Following the seductive fae Roan, I join the rebels but find myself surrounded by suspicion at every turn. But with the strange new magic in my blood, no one trusts me anymore.

It’s the magic of fear, of terror, of nightmares. The king’s minions have given me another name: Mistress of Dread. My power is unstable and deadly, and to get my vengeance, I must learn to control it. Yet with fury boiling in my blood and desire for Roan kindling my heart, it seems like an impossible task.

FBI Agent, Pixie, Terror Leech, Mistress of Dread. Will I become a King Killer as well?

Brave New Girls, edited by Paige Daniels and Mary FanBrave New Girls: Stories of Girls Who Science and Scheme, edited by Paige Daniels and Mary Fan:

Dive into a universe of sci-fi wonders.

This collection of sci-fi shorts features a variety of brainy young heroines—girls who engineer, tinker, experiment, and more. Voyage to far-off galaxies with girls who use their science savvy to fix rovers, rescue friends, and protect alien critters. Visit steampunk realms where young ladies put their skills to the test building mechanical wonders and solving mysteries. Trek across sci-fi landscapes with girls who save androids and repair robots. Journey to post-apocalyptic futures where heroines use their tech know-how to bring down overlords and spread the most dangerous thing of all… knowledge. And drop in on a few near-future heroines who use their smarts to take down supervillains and bring a little more understanding into the world.

Proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to a scholarship fund through the Society of Women Engineers. Let’s show today’s girls that they, too, can be tomorrow’s inventors, programmers, scientists, and more.

STORIES BY:
T. Eric Bakutis, Elisha Betts, Steph Bennion, Bryna Butler, Margaret Curelas, Paige Daniels, Kay Dominguez, Brandon Draga, George Ebey, Mary Fan, A.A. Jankiewicz, Evangeline Jennings, Jamie Krakover, Jeanne Kramer-Smyth, Stephen Landry, Karissa Laurel, Michelle Leonard, Meg Merriet, Jelani-Akin Parham, Josh Pritchett, Holly Schofield, and Lisa Toohey.

Harkworth Hall by L.S. JohnsonHarkworth Hall by L.S. Johnson:

Caroline Daniels must marry, and marry well. But in her remote corner of England eligible suitors are few and far between, and none hold a candle to her closest friend, Diana Fitzroy.

When Sir Edward Masterson arrives, he seems the answer to Caroline’s financial worries, though she instinctively dislikes the reticent, older merchant. Soon Sir Edward has set his sights on acquiring both Caroline and the decaying Harkworth Hall.

Caroline’s future seems secure, save that Sir Edward’s enigmatic secretary hints at a dark secret, and Sir Edward shows an unusual interest in the nearby bay. To discover Sir Edward’s true purpose, Caroline will have to face the horror beneath Harkworth Hall—and the woman who will change her life.

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

Look out Sin City, here comes the Mystic Caravan Circus.
The city that never sleeps has something lurking in the darkness and Poet Parker can’t decide if it’s friend or foe. The rich history of the area comes into play when research uncovers a mine disaster more than a hundred years in the past … and a tragic outcome that still haunts the locale to this day.
Between dust storms bringing forth a creature with glowing red eyes, screams in the desert and Poet’s increasing conviction that they’re not alone, the team has their hands full. That’s on top of the fact that Max decides now is the time to make his move and get to know his son – who also happens to be Poet’s boyfriend – in a new light and the unwelcome realization that Luke has seemingly become obsessed with gambling.
Poet’s attention is split in numerous directions, although Luke’s quagmire is closest to her heart. She wants to help her best friend, even as he spirals out of control. He’s not the same best friend she’s spent the past few years loving, but she’s determined to get him back … even if it means facing off with some of Las Vegas’ most perilous residents.
The mystical world of the circus is due to collide with the dangerous underbelly of the gambling world and the two sides might not be as far apart as they initially assume.
When the dust storm settles – and the final battle is upon them – more than one person will be in danger … and Poet will have to make a hard choice to protect those she loves while sacrificing someone else to the unending darkness.
It’s the ultimate game, but money isn’t the only thing at risk.

The Fiasco in News by Stephan MorseThe Fiasco in News by Stephan Morse:

When you’ve seen as many catastrophes as I have, “disaster” becomes a relative term. But when disaster hits, feel free to do what I do—hang your head while waiting for the tight-wearing crowd to arrive. That only works if your super power is the same one I have though. I’m an immortal walking magnet for superpowered problems.

This new guy, Ted—a fake part-time villain who’s in it for the ratings and excitement—wants me to be a field correspondent for his news blog, and his offer sounds good. If I can’t beat ’em, expose ’em. The problem is he has no idea what my daily life is like.

No one really does—but they’ll learn.

The Black by Neil MossparkThe Black with Neil Mosspark

Five years ago, when the anomaly arrived, it wiped out eight thousand square kilometers of Toronto Ontario, taking with it over seven million souls. It remains now as a looming impervious black dome.

Dave Thompson, a hard rock miner, was hired as the lead engineer on tunnel 18. The job is simple: Get the crews to dig fast, and dig deep, avoid the lethal energy discharges and try not to die in a tunnel collapse.

Recently the energy releases are happening more and more frequently, the miners are refusing to dig, and the government is becoming desperate. Making things worse, there’s something they’re not telling him.

With time running out, he suspects that if he can’t get the scientists inside, there’s little hope for humanity’s survival.

Heart of Vengeance by Glynn Stewart and Terry MixonHeart of Vengeance by Glenn Stewart and Terry Mixon:

A pirate attack with only one survivor
A conspiracy woven across the planets
A vengeance that will not be denied

When pirates seize the inter-planetary freighter owned by Brad Mantruso’s family, he is dumped into space. Saved from death by a passing Fleet ship, he is left with nothing but his skills, a gun, and a burning desire for vengeance.

Acquiring a ship, he reinvents himself as the mercenary Captain Brad Madrid. Before he can pursue his enemies, however, he finds himself dragged into an unexpected conflict when his ship’s history draws new enemies to him.

Beset by pirates, slavers, and a woman who might be his savior—but definitely is a spy—it will take all of his skill, cunning, and new friends to claim his revenge!

Privateer by J.A. SutherlandPrivateer by J.A. Sutherland:

Even with no war on, there are always battles to fight.

A cease-fire in the war with Hanover leaves Lieutenant Alexis Carew on half-pay, in-atmosphere, and with her ship laid up in ordinary until called upon once more for the “needs of the Service.” She was, at least, lucky enough to be in her home star system when here last ship, HMS Nightingale, paid off, unlike much of her former crew.

She’s left to help manage her family lands, though still with no certainty she’ll be allowed to inherit them. It would be a tranquil, peaceful life, if not for the influx of asteroid miners seeking their fortunes, the uncertainties of her inheritance, and the nagging certainty that her current life is not what she really wants.

She’d give anything to command a ship again.

As We Rise: Rogue by Donielle TynerAs We Rise: Rogue by Donielle Tyner:

It’s been 48 days since Jo Cygni’s father died, leaving her the CS Kismet and its crew of space-born misfits. Despite a lifetime of preparation, Jo never thought she would captain her own ship before her 21st birthday.

Broke and determined to prove she is worthy of command, Jo pushes aside her political concerns and accepts a commission from the Galactic Consulate.

The job? Launch a load of sealed crates into a nearby star.

The catch? Don’t open the containers.

 

The Haunted Valentine by J.A. WhitingThe Haunted Valentine by J.A. Whiting:

Lin and her cousin, Viv, stop into a gift shop in Nantucket town and while browsing, Lin sees an antique Sailor’s Valentine.

The valentine, made of tiny beautiful shells, pulls at Lin and she decides to buy it and bring it home.

At times, the object feels hot to the touch and sometimes the shells illuminate and dim in a sequenced pattern. Once in a while, the valentine makes appearances outside the house in places Lin happens to be. A ghost pays a visit, but Lin has no idea what he wants from her or what his link might be to the sailor’s valentine. With the help of her boyfriend and her cousin, Lin works to solve the mystery of the haunted valentine.

This is book 7 in the Lin Coffin Mystery series from USA TODAY Bestselling Author J A Whiting. Although the main mystery is solved in each story, the books should be read in order for the most enjoyment as story threads run from book to book. This story has ghosts and some mild paranormal elements.

Restless Spectres by A. WoodleyRestless Spectres by A. Woodley:

Clara was comfortable around ghosts, she’d been aware of them for as long as she could remember and for the most part, she liked having them around.
She had been thinking of leaving Dan for a while and the ideal opportunity presented itself by way of an inheritance from an aunt that she had no previous knowledge of.

Leaving her job, Dan, and her old life behind, Clara heads for her new home and her new life but she soon finds out that she’s forced to share her home with an unseen, evil presence that clearly doesn’t want her there.

Needing to confront the vicious malevolent spirit or leave her precious new home, Clara tries to carve out a new life, while attempting to rid her castle of the evil presence that threatens to destroy her planned livelihood or her life.

Dead Weapons by Simon Paul WoodwardDead Weapons by Simon Paul Woodward:

Ciaran Richards’ father was a soldier. A hero. But now he’s dead. Or is he?

Ciaran has lost his way. He’s forgotten the boy he was and the man he wanted to become. Worst of all, he’s betrayed his only true friend, Isobel, leading her to a tragic accident.

His estranged brother, Patrick, forces him to carry out one last job for his crew: collecting a stolen gun and delivering it to the gangster Eliza Frost. In return, Patrick reveals a startling secret: somebody faked their father’s death.

When the gun malfunctions, fastening itself to Ciaran’s hand, he’s framed for the murder of two policemen and forced to go on the run. He searches for a way to remove the weapon and find his father, but the police, Eliza Frost and a black ops team of frighteningly modified soldiers are all hunting him and Isobel may be the only person who can help.

Dead Weapons is a young adult, urban fantasy; a story of father figures fair and foul, broken friendships and the fleeting possibility of redemption.

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