Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for January 2018

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 December 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, dark fantasy, historical fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, post-apocalyptic romance, horror, Steampunk, weird western, reluctant witches, space vampires, dragons, djinns, crime-solving ghosts, aliens, rogue AIs, murderous androids, dead women revived, reincarnation, zombie-fighting sheriffs, imperiled hostages, remorseful executioners, Lovecraftian monsters, Frankenstein’s Bride, sentient office equipment 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:

The Legion and the Lioness by Robert D. ArmstrongThe Legion and the Lioness by Robert D. Armstrong:

They said I would never finish flight school. Never rank at the top of my class. Never fly with the top aces. Never return from combat against the Kelton androids. Never survive emergency surgery.

Here I am.

The year is 2151, Earth is gone. A hellscape. I’ve been unfrozen after 72 years of cryosleep on a medical facility on Saturn’s moon, Titan. I have nothing, no home, no friends, no concept of this new world, these Titans.

All that remains is the old conflict that has blackened my veins and memories of the ones I loved still fresh in my heart. Forgotten for decades.

But it seems war hasn’t forgotten me, no, even in my slumber. My name is Captain Victoria Ann Belic, I was a wife and an ace fighter pilot, and have been revived for one reason–to die again.

Zombie Wild West: Death Wals In by Eric BakerZombie Wild West: Death Walks In by Eric Baker:

“Is this the end? The apocalypse?”

The dead are coming back to life, and there’s going to be a showdown in the sleepy town of Dire.

Sheriff Eli Roberts has had more hardship in his life than one man should ever have. Now he’s started over: a new town, a new life, and as of this morning, new problems. A stranger has walked into town and fallen dead in the middle of the main street. Once again the wild west has earned its name.

As if zombies in town weren’t enough, the Sheriff also has to deal with an ornery Doctor, a saloon girl, and a corrupt Mayor. To make it even worse, they’ll have to work together if they want to make it through the night.

Sawyer by Theresa BeachmanSawyer by Theresa Beachman:

Surviving the invasion was only the beginning.

Ben Sawyer is a man of morals, driven by conflict and haunted by a dark past, where doing the right thing came at high personal cost.

Following an attack on her lab, he helps weapons engineer Julia Simmons across the alien infested landscape of London to the safety of the underground Command Base. Safe for the moment, Sawyer falls hard for her brilliant mind and dangerous curves.

Struggling to come to terms with Earth’s devastation, completing her newest weapon gives Julia hope and purpose. But, her decision leaves her no time for a relationship. She makes Sawyer promise they will not fall in love, because there’s no time for love in the apocalypse, right?

Still fighting his own demons and believing himself beyond redemption, Sawyer agrees to Julia’s terms–comfort without emotional entanglement.

But events escalate and an unexpected alien mutation threatens the very heart of the previously impenetrable base. Even if they can survive the dangers closing in on them, Julia and Sawyer may not survive each other’s dark secrets.

The question then becomes, who will be the first to admit to love?

Life Under the Noose by James BeeLife Under the Noose by James Bee:

Fifteen years ago, Rivers was stolen from his village, under the orders of a King. Forced to serve, Rivers’ life was safe as long as his village stayed loyal. Only now it seems that they have broken faith with the King, and the noose around his neck grows tight. His life is forfeit, unless he travels back to his home, and delivers the punishment himself. Now Rivers is faced with an impossible choice. If the life he has carved out for himself is to survive, he must destroy his old world. How far will he go to save his own life? How far can one man be pushed before he breaks?

Life Under the Noose is a fast paced, character driven novel for readers who love gritty action, and high stakes.

Vengeance by S.M. Schmidt and Lisa BlackwoodVengeance by Lisa Blackwood and S.M. Schmitz:

When rogue AIs steal everything that matters most, the only thing left is vengeance.

As the flagship of the Spire Empire, Vengeance is a legendary AI whose broken heart has proven his greatest battle yet. But his new telepathic link, a little girl named Hayley, finally teaches him to love again—until rogue AIs attack her planet and level her home in a storm of fire and destruction. Vengeance is left with only one hope in his potentially immortal existence: the chance to avenge his innocent link.

Twenty years later, a young engineer joins his crew, and he’s inextricably drawn to her. But the closer he tries to get to her, the harder she pushes him away. Olivia Hawthorne risks everything—her friendship with her telepathic sisters and even her life—to assume a new identity so she can serve aboard Vengeance. After suffering at the hands of rogue AIs, she should be wary of trusting one again, even her old friend. And yet, she can’t seem to stay away from him. But when rogues raid Spire colonies, Vengeance and Liv must learn to overcome the fears shackling them to the past. Because if they want to survive, they’ll have to seek vengeance together.

Beyond Night by Eric S. Brown and Steven L. ShrewsburyBeyond Night by Eric S. Brown and Steven L. Shrewsbury:

An Epic Fantasy tale of action, adventure, heroism, horror and sorcery…

Beyond Night is a Dark Fantasy Horror novel that pulls back the veil of nearly two thousand years of jaded history. Come trod in the bloody footprints left by monsters, soldiers and wizards and behold what lies hidden Beyond Night itself.

It’s Bigfoot War mixed with Lovecraftian horror on the edge of the Roman Empire.

How could Rome lose a Legion? What could’ve happened to blot out the existence of over five thousand men not only from history but the Earth itself?

As the Legion moves north to engage the forces of Pictdom, a dark horror emerges from the bowels of the Earth. Thought to be random attacks by hulking monsters, Decurion August soon learns a dire truth, that these bloody events are directed by opposing the wizards of the Picts. While one side assembles all tribes in a confederated army to battle the Legion, the other pulls these Greyman beasts from the depths of the Earth.

August fights not only these creatures and workers of magicks, but internal passions in the Legion itself.

Can he discover a way to survive the enormous bloodletting about to take place that will only serve to satisfy the wizards of Pictdom?

Origins by Lindsay BurokerOrigins by Lindsay Buroker:

Are you still human if your father was a dragon?

Even though Captain Trip always knew he was a little odd, he’s still shocked by the revelation that the elder gold dragon, Agarrenon Shivar, sired him. It’s time, however, to accept reality and learn to use his power, even if it alienates him from his magic-fearing friends—and the woman he’s come to care about. With enemy dragons threatening to kill or enslave everyone in his homeland, he has no choice.

But even if he becomes a great sorcerer, it won’t be enough to fight off all the dragons threatening Iskandia, so Trip suggests a mission to General Zirkander. He wants to lead a team, with the scholarly Lieutenant Ravenwood’s help, to locate his sire. Agarrenon Shivar, once respected and feared by his own kind, may be the perfect ally for Iskandia—if Trip can talk him into siding with humanity.

Just one problem: the ancient dragon hasn’t been seen for thousands of years, and Trip has no idea how his long-dead mother found him.

Banished by Cynthia Joyce ClayBanished by Cynthia Joyce Clay:

n this third book of The Saga of the Dragon Born, Tristabé-airta, banished from her father’s kingdom of Allsongs, must find a mentor so that she can advance in her training in magic. But no one wants to teach a miscreant, especially one who pulled from the ocean ten waterspouts and destroyed a village with them. On the road alone and prey to griffons, ruffians, and a frightening god who lusts for her, Tristabé-airta must find a way to improve her control over her magic.

And Allsongs? Allsongs must prepare for a truly terrible winter, having banished the one person with the magical ability to right the weather–Tristabé-airta. The poets have always said Tristabé-airta is Allsongs’s best defense, so having her driven her out, the new heirs of Allsongs must protect Allsongs from enemy kings and their own dragon natures on their own. Despite the king’s decree, Tristabé-airta’s milk sister Em keeps in touch with Tristabé-airta and gives her what help her magic can provide.

Copper Cove by Robert DahlenCopper Cove by Robert Dahlen:

Copper Cove, city of marvels powered by magic and steam, is abuzz over the coming of the new rail line. Crafter Tabitha Miles would love to be on the first trip of the Velessan Express, but there’s work to be done. Staying awake past midnight to make ends meet, difficult clients, runaway automatons, guild enforcers, all just another typical day for her.

Tabitha’s latest commission seems like just another job at first but then she meets newspaper reporter Sophie Haverford and falls into a web of conspiracy and murder. Can Tabitha unravel the mystery, prevent a disaster, and win Sophie’s heart in time for tea?

Rain Dance by D.N. EriksonRain Dance by D.N. Erikson:

Eden Hunter has a little secret that could get her killed. Again.

Paradise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Reaper Eden Hunter would know: she spends her days working for a local vampire warlord, harvesting the souls of the recently departed. But even bad situations can get worse. And when a body washes up on shore near Eden’s secluded beachfront villa, the former con artist finds herself under investigation by the FBI.

But Eden’s not concerned about being charged with murder. She’s got a bigger secret she needs to keep quiet. It’s why she’s living miles from anyone else, even on an island that appears on no map. If that secret gets out, the fate awaiting her is far worse than life in prison. Too bad the FBI won’t stop digging until it might be too late…

Rain Dance is the first book in the all-new Sunshine & Scythes urban fantasy series starring (semi) reformed con artist turned Reaper (and occasional FBI consultant) Eden Hunter. Each novel can be enjoyed on its own without reading the others, but there is an ongoing series arc.

Their Last Hope by Sarah EttrichTheir Last Hope by Sarah Ettrich:

AI specialist Liz Price is determined to see sentient androids in her lifetime, but then she’s diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hoping that her dream will be realized in the future, she arranges to be cryogenically frozen upon her death.

When Liz is revived years later, she expects to be cured. But sentient androids are taking humans and killing them for some unknown reason. They control the medical system, and they don’t treat serious illnesses.

A resistance group wants Liz to turn the androids back into mindless machines. They tell her that’s the only way to stop the androids, and the only way she’ll be cured.

Liz wants to live, so she agrees to work with the resistance. She secretly hopes she can reason with the androids, but then she finds out why they’re taking humans.

McEdifice Returns by Camestros FelaptonMcEdifice Returns by Timothy T. Cat and Straw Puppy with a little help by Camestros Felapton:

Veteran space marine Chiseled McEdifice wanted a peaceful life after decades of fighting evil but a cowardly attack sets him off on a bicycle ride of revenge and into an adventure across space and time.

From the pen of Timothy the Talking Cat and his surprisingly loud imaginary friend Straw Puppy, comes a space adventure like no other (except ones a bit like it). Featuring a chapter full of the word ‘I’, a dancing photocopier and guest appearances galore.

The City of Ashes by Robert I. KatzThe City of Ashes by Robert I. Katz:

Douglas survived the siege.

But will he survive the tournament?

The contest takes place every five years. The best and brightest fight for riches and glory. But the hidden battle isn’t with fists or weapons, it’s a game of words and diplomacy. Behind the scenes deals are being struck. Sides are being chosen. And betrayal is in the air.

Does this mean war?

Can Douglas uncover the truth?

And if he wins, can he survive long enough to enjoy his victory?

As the game unfolds, the Grand Tournament is just the opening gambit. What comes next will blow you away.

The Empire's Orphans by Robin KristoffThe Empire’s Orphans by Robin Kristoff:

In the space of three days, Rogan loses his royal privilege, his country, and his mother. Now knowing that his father, the King of Kanrine, orchestrated his mother’s execution, Rogan is left stranded in his mother’s homeland. Sickened by the idea of returning home, Rogan lowers himself to washing and sweeping for a local healer to survive. He’s now a drudge, a mongrel, a nobody with airs. His one friend is Bryna, the poverty-stricken daughter of the city’s former baron, who has her own reasons for skirting the notice of the city’s occupying soldiers.

Before Rogan can decide his next move, the mysterious death of a soldier pulls him and Bryna into a web of politics, murder, and magic. The two of them must race to separate truth from lies as the authorities’ investigations quickly turn personal…and deadly.

Told from the alternating perspectives of a conqueror’s son and a conquered lord’s daughter, THE EMPIRE’S ORPHANS follows two twelve-year-olds in a country simmering with national, racial, and class.

Witchin' USA by Amanda M. LeeWitchin’ USA by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter has lived a normal life, in a normal suburb, with a normal job and a normal father. All that changes when a grandmother she didn’t even know existed dies and leaves her a fabulous lighthouse on Moonstone Bay Island.

Hadley, ready for an adventure, decides to check things out and finds herself plunged into a world she never envisioned.
From the naked woman swimming in the ocean outside her back door, to the hot sheriff who seems to be hiding a secret, Hadley is intrigued from the start. That’s before magical things start happening – including to Hadley – and a body washes up on the beach.

It seems Moonstone Bay has a killer on the loose … and he may be stalking Hadley, although no one can figure out why.

Things are about to spiral for Moonstone Bay’s newest reluctant – and baffled – witch. She has to learn about the past, investigate the present and hold on to her future for dear life. Along the way she will meet a bevy of new friends who have a few particular abilities … and a lot of really odd quirks.

Set sail for adventure, because once you visit Moonstone Bay, you’ll never be the same again.

Three Wishes by Lisa ManifoldThree Wishes by Lisa Manifold:

To find out what might have been, she has to give up control over what will be.

After a long night of eating too much ice cream and lamenting her less than wise choices, Tibby Holloway wakes up to find a freelancing djinn sitting on her bed. He makes her the offer of a lifetime: three wishes – three chances to go back and change her life.

She can choose a different career, find the man she loved and lost – in short, she can go back and do everything right this time.

But there’s a catch.

Once she’s gone back three times, once she’s created three new—and hopefully better—realities, the djinn will decide where she ends up.

Maybe it would be better not to even know … but that’s a chance Tibby will have to take if she wants to have her THREE WISHES.

Gone with the Ghost by Erin McCarthyGone with the Ghost by Erin McCarthy:

Bailey Burke has had a rough six months—it’s not easy thinking your romantic overtures toward your best friend caused him to kill himself. Except that’s exactly what happened. Ryan is very much dead, having shot himself with his own police-issued gun. Guilt and grief shouldn’t cause hallucinations though, but six months after Ryan went into the ground, Bailey is freaking out and swearing his ghost is standing in her kitchen. Which he is…

Ryan claims he didn’t commit suicide, but was murdered, and he needs Bailey to help him find his killer so he can earn his ticket out of purgatory. Ryan’s counting on a stairway to heaven, as opposed to wings, since that might be a little unmanly for a cop, even a dead one.

An expert in home design, with her own staging business, Bailey can tell you where to place a couch to improve flow and comfort, but solving a crime? Not her area of expertise. But with help from Ryan’s former partner, Marner, she is unraveling the mystery of what happened to Ryan that day… and unwittingly putting herself in grave danger.

Bride by Kyle Alexander RominesBride by Kyle Alexander Romines:

The year is 1795. Frankenstein’s monster has given his creator an ultimatum: Victor must build the creature a mate, or watch as the monster destroys everything and everyone he has ever loved.

You know their story.

You don’t know hers.

She is born into darkness, her destiny entwined with an unspeakable evil. Her sole companion is her creator, the inscrutable Victor Frankenstein, gatekeeper to a life she has never experienced. As her understanding of humanity takes shape, she must contend with the horrific nature of her intended mate and conflicting feelings for her creator.

She wants more from life than to be the bride of Frankenstein’s monster, but will she seek freedom, vengeance, or something else entirely?

Smoke City by Keith RossonSmoke City by Keith Rosson

Marvin Deitz has some serious problems. His mob-connected landlord is strong-arming him out of his storefront. His therapist has concerns about his stability. He’s compelled to volunteer at the local Children’s Hospital even though it breaks his heart every week.

Oh, and he’s also the guilt-ridden reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431. He’s just seen a woman on a Los Angeles talk show claiming to be Joan, and absolution seems closer than it’s ever been . . . but how will he find her?

When Marvin heads to Los Angeles to locate the woman who may or may not be Joan, he’s picked up hitchhiking by Mike Vale, a self-destructive alcoholic painter traveling to his ex-wife’s funeral. As they move through a California landscape populated with “smokes” (ghostly apparitions that’ve inexplicably begun appearing throughout the southwestern US), each seeks absolution in his own way.

In Smoke City, Keith Rosson continues to blur genre and literary fiction in a way that is in turns surprising, heartfelt, brutal, relentlessly inventive, and entirely his own.

Lessons Learned by Alice SaboLessons Learned by Alice Sabo:

While a wildfire threatens High Meadow, an uninvited guest sows seeds of dissent.

The president arrives at High Meadow with his entourage of bureaucrats and faux-military. Tillie and Angus don’t have time for any distractions as a massive wildfire bears down on their settlement. It will take more than hard work and good intentions to get them through this catastrophe.

Martin is leery about sending all of his men to aid those in the path of the fire thereby leaving their borders unprotected. They are most vulnerable in their commitment to help others.

Wisp and Nick work the fire lines seeking out people fleeing the raging flames. Only Wisp can find those lost in the heavy smoke, risking his life to bring them to safety.

Behind their backs, certain people are questioning every decision. At a time when they most need to work together, the outsiders are creating divisiveness.

Ghosts of the Sea Moon by A.F. StewartGhosts of the Sea Moon by A.F. Stewart:

In the Outer Islands, gods and magic rule the ocean.
Under the command of Captain Rafe Morrow, the crew of the Celestial Jewel ferry souls to the After World and defend the seas from monsters. Rafe has dedicated his life to protecting the lost, but the tides have shifted and times have changed.
His sister, the Goddess of the Moon, is on a rampage and her creatures are terrorizing the islands. The survival of the living and dead hinge on the courage and cunning of a beleaguered captain and his motley crew of men and ghosts.
What he doesn’t know is that her threat is part of a larger game. That an ancient, black-winged malevolence is using them all as pawns…

Come set sail with ghosts, gods and sea monsters.

ONSET: Stay of Execution by Glynn StewartONSET: Stay of Execution by Glynn Stewart:

The Vampire War is over.
The United States is reeling.
The Masquerade is fragmenting.
The Apocalypse is here…

The long and bloody war with the vampires in the United States has finally ended, thanks to the efforts of the vampire Arbiter and ONSET Commander David White—and a nuclear explosion on American soil.
The final battle proves harder to conceal than hoped, however, and a series of high profile incidents end any chance of hiding the supernatural. Suddenly the world is faced with the fact that it is both more wonderful and more terrible than humanity ever realized.
But as the US Government struggles to adapt to this new reality, old enemies have set into motion plans that could render humanity’s struggles irrelevant. There are those beyond the Seal who were once Gods…and they want their planet back!

Fire Fight by Chris WardFire Fight by Chris Ward:

A gripping new space opera saga from acclaimed author Chris Ward …

On the fire planet of Abalon 3, an evil warlord threatens to unleash a wave of destruction in order to take control of the planet’s valuable source of trioxyglobin, a dangerous but valuable liquid used for starship fuel. The only person capable of stopping him is Lianetta Jansen, a disgraced former Galactic Military Policewoman now turned smuggler, who is haunted by a terrible tragedy in her past. Along with her ragtag, wisecracking crew—the one-armed pilot Caladan, and the malfunctioning droid, Harlan5—Lia must confront her own demons, while trying to stop another.

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