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 a broad spectrum of titles, featuring hard science fiction, space opera, military science fiction (lots of all three, in fact), Steampunk, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, grimdark fantasy, historical fantasy, young adult fantasy, fairytales, aliens, werewolves (straight, lesbian and in Renaissance Europe), were-reindeer (really), body snatchers, arm thieves (yes, really) as well as quite a few books about gay and lesbian characters.
So whether you're looking for something to read during the holiday season or for a gift for a friend or loved one, you're sure to find something here.
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:
Mate by Andrew Ashling
Anaxantis, Prince of Ximerion…
In the aftermath of the fall of their city, the fortunes of several Naodymans are turned upside down. If the insurrection of Trachia against the Lorsanthian occupation is to succeed, Prince Phrademys needs to be its focal point. However, he first wants to find out what happened to Thenoclon. There is hope he may still be alive, since Commander-General Meri is selling off the entire Naodyman population into slavery.
Antybion has concluded his mission with success, but before he can be offered a new challenge, an unexpected death occurs.
While the Rhonoman general, Hirmon Marradar, confidently continues his march to meet Lorsanthia’s largest army yet, Anaxantis seems to tarry and steer his small force away from all possible confrontations with a far stronger enemy. That is, until he explains his plans to his officers.
In the Highlands of Great Renuvia the patience of the hardliners of the Mahpodah is running out. While Lady Brynda tries to play for time, several of the rebel lords entertain their own ambitions. Even some of Ehandar’s squires are involved in this dangerous game. But Count Cynbenor will have none of it and he means to force a decision. For the Highlands to be free again, Anaxantis must never return home, in his opinion. If the warlord doesn’t fall in battle, he and his brother, must be killed.
Ehandar is unaware of how dangerous the situation has become. He learns that some of his squires are involved, and as a result he is about to sink into a depression. Once again he feels he is at the mercy of circumstances he can’t control, and his old demons resurface. When a mortally wounded squire tells him Anaxantis’s life is in danger, he snaps out of his morose mood…
This is book 7 of the Dark Tales of Randamor the Recluse series.
Defiance by Lucas Bale
The darkness in the human heart is infinite.
At a time when power means everything, the ultimate power, the imperium, rests with the Consulate Magistratus. The murder of a man in the lowest caste may be inconsequential, but one man, one of the Caesteri lawmen who still believes in justice, refuses to ignore it.
The woman he hunts is violent and unstable, and haunted by her own callous ghosts. She will drag him to the furthest reaches of space, where the abyss which awaits them hides an unspeakable truth.
When faced with their own mortality, there is no limit to what human beings will do to protect themselves, their family, their property. The human mind changes when exposed to relentless horror. It becomes dehumanised. The grotesque becomes mundane.There is no pity, no remorse – only instinct. An instinct which cannot be controlled.
The imperium belongs only to those who are strong enough to wield it.
The war to control humanity’s future is about to begin…
Defiance is the second book in the Beyond the Wall series, following The Heretic.
Wrathlight: Son of Azelkur by Chris Barrieau
Scott Shaw, hero of the arena, finds himself on the frontlines of a war against the evil Bathel. An Alliance of liberated races and Humanity has formed, and guided by the mighty Warlord, is driving back The Bathel toward their homeworld.
But as the Alliance wins victory after victory, Scott finds himself in a different kind of arena – of clashing personalities and corrupt allies, of exotic cultures and lethal taboos.
And when Warlord departs, Scott finds himself facing down a deadly, vengeful enemy and a hideous Son of the dark god Azelkur. If he should fail, it means death for an entire world, his mentor Felix, his men, and himself.
Wrathlight: Son of Azelkur is 43,000 words and is the sequel to Wrathlight.
The Heart Thief by S. Lee Benedict
Ezra Keene is an artistic sixteen year-old who wants nothing more than to settle in at his new school and put the tragedy of his brother’s death behind him. He awakens one night, reeling from a hazy dream, to find his fingers blackened with pencil lead and a new drawing in his sketchbook—a drawing that depicts the grisly murder of someone he knows. The next morning he is shocked to learn the picture has become a reality.
Ezra has reason to believe the father of a classmate, an eccentric German scientist, is somehow involved in the slaying, but he needs something tangible to bring to the police. He sets out to discover the truth, but what he finds instead is that something much more sinister than murder lies at the heart of this mystery. Monsters exist, magic is real, and sometimes there are worse things than death.
Fool’s Sacrifice by Geronimo Bosch
DOMINION: A lawless city of ten million desperate souls. The State ignores the struggles of the dispossessed, but crushes any who challenge its rule.
G-Boy is a delinquent graffiti artist and ace pilot working the airborne auto theft trade who finds his life threatened when he teams up with a slick newcomer, a girl named Spider. She’s tech savvy and scopes all the angles, but comes wrapped in a web of secrecy and bad luck. After they lift a haul of booby-trapped vehicles and their partners in crime are blown from the skies, they find themselves under suspicion from their gangland boss and painted as terrorists by the authorities who govern Dominion City.
As the net tightens around them, G-Boy is presented with a dilemma. Face punishment for his crimes or accept a fool’s sacrifice by taking the hand of a mysterious stranger offering escape. But, at a price.
Sun Dragon by Michael Brookes
2012: NASA’s Curiosity Rover lands on Mars to search for signs of whether microbial life existed on the planet.
2018: The first alien lifeform, a simple wormlike creature is discovered, gripping the world’s imagination.
2022: The first manned mission to Mars begins the longest and most dangerous journey ever undertaken by humankind.
From hundreds of potential candidates, six astronauts from countries around the world are selected to crew the historic mission. Led by Commander Samantha Collins, they must travel across the gulf of interplanetary space, over 150 million miles from home and help. Their mission is to investigate alien life, but what they discover is far beyond what anyone ever imagined…
Wraithblade by K.M. Carroll
Revi is an assassin on her first assignment–and she’s not willing to kill a child.
When she goes on the run from her assassin brotherhood with a knife that opens doors between worlds, she runs afoul of three factions: inter-world police, the other assassins, and a shrewd bounty hunter named Jacob Argent. And he’s the only one interested in keeping her alive.
Now unwillingly allied with Jake, Revi flees across the war-torn world of Tyrona. Against a backdrop of warring factions on floating continents battling via zeppelins, robot suits, and flying monsters, she tries to survive being both pawn and prize in a cosmic chess game between two mega-chronomancers. But worst of all, she’s developing feelings for Jake–her enemy.
Jacob Argent is a lonely bounty hunter on an assignment–locate the missing person known as Revenant. But when he locates her, he must protect her from the assassins and police–and the growing attraction of his own heart.
Now Jake must work through his grief over his dead fiance, before Revi is lost to him forever. Because his actions have earned him the personal hatred of a super-mage called the Oracle, who means to kill Jake any way he can.
This is book 3 of the Spacetime Legacy series, following Storm Chase and Chronocrime.
The Immortality Game by Ted Cross
Moscow, 2138. With the world only beginning to recover from the complete societal collapse of the late 21st Century, Zoya scrapes by prepping corpses for funerals and dreams of saving enough money to have a child.
When her brother forces her to bring him a mysterious package, she witnesses his murder and finds herself on the run from ruthless mobsters. Frantically trying to stay alive and save her loved ones, Zoya opens the package and discovers two unusual data cards, one that allows her to fight back against the mafia and another which may hold the key to everlasting life.
The Brigadoon Boondoggle by Robert Dahlen
“I have to help them. All of them. It’s why I do this.”
Michiko, the hero known as the Monkey Queen, and geek girl Beth McGill thought it would be easy. They’ve become good friends since they started working together to save the world, why not become roommates? Of course, that was before the kitchen fire. And the broken bedroom door. Not to mention the cranky guinea pig.
But they have bigger problems ahead. A shady real estate deal has left two new groups of Emigres arguing over a meadow. Other Emigres are vanishing without a trace. And enemies old and new lurk in the woods, in the shadows, even in dreams.
Can Michiko and Beth stop the darkness…or will they be the next victims?
The is book two of the Monkey Queen series, following Of Introductions And Abductions
Iron City Uprising by John Donlan
Trapped in the sprawling ruins of the Warren, the rebel fighters of the Fist, led by Abigail Cunningham, are slowly being hunted down by Lucian and his brutish Iron Hand thugs. If they are to survive to see their rebellion, the Fist must devise a plan that is both daring, and dangerous.
Meanwhile, Abel, determined to find out the truth about his past, returns to the Skein, where he uncovers something that will not only shake the foundations of his world, but will bring the city closer to the brink of chaos.
With time running out, and a horrific plan about to be enacted, a chance meeting in the Heights will spell the difference between destruction, and the hope of a new beginning.
This is the sequel to Iron City Rebels.
Sworn to Ascension by Terah Edun
Ciardis Weathervane is officially engaged to one man and bonded to a second. She should be planning the wedding ceremony, bearding the nobles of the imperial court in their dens, and exposing an imposter emperor. Instead she’s spending her engagement on the lawless road to the western lands.
Now with the help of a guide from a tribe of seers, Ciardis is traveling to the ancient city of Kifar. Rumored to hold the only device capable of stopping the blutgott, Ciardis, Sebastian and Thanar must break a half-century’s old quarantine in order to enter the fabled city.
But the collar of Diamis is not the only thing they seek. The princess heir’s pet wyvern lurks in wait for them and the emperor, who has done everything short of challenging the new triad of Algardis outright, wants its head on a platter upon their return.
If the unscrupulous bandits don’t make short work of them, Ciardis knows that she and Sebastian will have to a face and unmask the man who has stolen the imperial throne. The only question that remains…will that be before or after they’re forced to battle a god?
The sixth novel in the Courtlight series continues the story of Ciardis Weathervane from Sworn To Defiance.
Journey of the Hunted by Tracy Falbe
Facing uncertain destinies, Thal and Altea must escape Bohemia. The Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand himself has signed the warrant for Thal’s capture on charges of shape shifting and the killing of Jesuits.
A hefty reward attracts countless bounty hunters into the heart of this 16th century Christian empire. Thal emerges from hiding with his young wife Altea who is barely recovered from torture at the hands of witch hunters. With his werewolf powers, he battles the bounty hunters and begins a daring journey across the Holy Roman Empire.
But more than men stalk him. Servants of Tekax, sorcerer to the Turks, have been unleashed upon his trail.
The werewolf Rotfeng covets the enchanted fur that lets Thal change form at will, regardless of the phase of the moon.
Worse yet comes Janfelter, an undying fext created in the dark fortress of Tekax.
These heartless killers are tasked with stopping Thal from reaching his father Sarputeen, the arch nemesis of Tekax. Thal’s only refuge awaits him in what is left of the Kingdom of Hungary after a Turkish conquest. In the remote castle Vlkbohveza the ancient sorcerer Sarputeen lives untouched despite widespread persecution of magic users and pagans.
Although Thal longs to be with his own kind, he worries about the reunion with his father. It was Sarputeen’s magic that made Thal a werelord, a master of wolves. But what shall the sorcerer require of his creation now that Tekax aims to settle an old score?
This is book two of the Werewolves in the Renaissance series, following Werelord Thal.
Alpha by Allison Goh
Kate has escaped from the facility. She reaches out to Max and reveals the secret she has been protecting for years, the secret that Orion so desperately wants to contain. Friendships and relationships are tested as they pit themselves against an army of genetically modified super soldiers controlled by the most powerful man in Egalia. But a greater truth is yet to be revealed. One that ties all their fates together. Will it all come crashing down?
This is book 2 of the Egalia series, following The Genetic Lottery.
To Make a Witch by Heather Hamilton-Senter
On December 17th, 2013, a vandal painted the tomb of Marie Laveau—the famed Voodoo Queen of New Orleans — bright pink. It is believed that the vandal’s intent was to cover the X marks that had been scratched into the tomb. This story takes place just after that event.
At her old high school, Lacey found herself on the wrong side of a conflict between Celtic gods. Making a new start in an exclusive boarding school in New Orleans, she hopes to forget that she was once on the verge of becoming a powerful witch—and everything she’s lost both since and before then.
When a gruesome murder occurs in the very heart of Westover Academy, Lacey discovers a connection between it and the desecration of the tomb of Marie Laveau, the famed Voodoo Queen. Haunted by a trauma in her past, Lacey must solve the mystery before she becomes the killer’s next target.
Circumstances beyond her control may once again make Lacey McInnis — cheerleader, scholar, and all-around good girl — a witch.
To Make A Witch is a novella featuring the enigmatic Lacey McInnis from Bound In Blue: Book One of the Sword of Elements series.
Terminus by Kevin Hardman
Master Sergeant Gant Maker was a highly-decorated and well-respected Marine – until his last mission left him as the sole survivor of an encounter with a vicious race called the Vacra. Served up as a scapegoat and drummed out of the military, he has since lived a life of seclusion with only an adopted alien as a companion.
Now the Vacra have returned. As the only person to have ever faced them and survived, Maker is reinstated in the Corps and given the onerous task of finding this enemy on a world located at the edge of known space. Assisting him is an unlikely band of military rejects, including a blind sharpshooter, an unstable psychic, and a genetically-engineered killing machine who refuses to fight.
Given that the Vacra have superior weapons and technology, Maker recognizes that his team is at a distinct disadvantage. But Marines are nothing if not resourceful, and Maker has an audacious plan that just may level the playing field – if it doesn’t get them all killed.
Second Star: Breaking Through by Josh Hayes
Sixty-six days is all pilot John McNeal has left on his service contract, after that his combat days will be over for good — if he survives that long.
After a mysterious rift in the fabric of spacetime strands him on an alien world, John must join forces with some unlikely childhood heroes to have any chance of surviving and soon discovers that this strange new world isn’t that alien after all.
Someone has been here before and found a way back to tell about it. There is hope, but this is not the fairy tale he knows and John will have to fight if he wants to get home.
A Town Called No Hope by Izzy Hunter
Mona Miller would agree that her life is not too shabby. Sheriff of a prosperous mid-west settlement and with her mute lover Henry by her side, it’s a far cry from her wild antics back in England.
But after an ill-advised bank robbery goes wrong, Mona pursues the thief, via airship, to the city of New Moray. There she catches the culprit and plans to bring him back to face the music. So far, so easy.
But what isn’t so easy is dealing with a criminal mastermind who spends his time controlling his illegal activities in an underground labyrinth. Nor with a handsome stranger who just wont leave her side.
And when she finally returns to No Hope, what she finds there could destroy the very life she has carefully built for herself and those that she loves.
The Scientist’s Son by SB James
Ethan Stanwood may have prevailed over dangerous foes before, but his troubles are just beginning.
Ethan arrives in Rome, but a number of his enemies appear there as well, Professor Colbourne being among them. Colbourne is still intent on getting the prototype that Ethan has been tasked with protecting and returning to his father. But his father’s actions and secrets catch up to Ethan, causing chaos and danger wherever he goes.
It is not only Ethan’s father whose life has been shrouded in secrecy, but his deceased mother as well. A man who is a friend of his mother’s side of the family has returned to help Ethan, presumably at the behest of the Order of the Crystal Star. He says his intentions are pure, but his actions may just prove otherwise, with terrible consequences.
And in the shadows, Aloysius Hardwick, who seeks to turn Ethan to the darkness, discovers that he is not the only one of his kind with the same intentions. To protect his claim on the Stanwood family, Hardwick will go to any lengths, and kill anyone necessary, to keep Ethan in his eventual control.
The Scientist’s Son is Book 2 of the paranormal Steampunk series started with The Inventor’s Son.
Also, don’t miss The Inventor’s Son: The Beginning, an introduction to a Victorian London that could have been.
Fool’s Ride by John L. Monk
Dan Jenkins is back, body hopping a scumbag at a time in his quest for the perfect ride. He doesn’t need much. Premium cable TV, good books, a well-stocked pantry, and he’s set. But the Great Whomever has other plans.
After six months waiting in limbo, Dan catches a ride as a horror novelist whose gruesome stories aren’t just fiction. Later, he hunts a man who’s escaped justice for far too long. Then, in his greatest challenge yet, he strays too deeply into the lives of the people he loves: his most foolish ride of all.
This is the sequel to Kick.
Give Me Back My God Damn Arm by Phronk
When Ford wakes up to find his favorite arm missing, he knows he doesn’t have long before years of progress slip through his fingers. Can he get it back? On one hand, the old cop in charge of the investigation doesn’t believe Ford had a third arm in the first place. On the other hand, his young partner has a good grasp on the latest digital tracking technology. All they need to gain the upper hand is to point out who would want to steal Ford’s God damn arm in the first place.
Give Me Back My God Damn Arm is a weird 4000 word (16 page) short story.
The Titan Trap by Christine Pope
Cassidy Evans inherited the Titan run when her father died and left her a broken-down cargo transport and a regular gig hauling supplies to the maximum-security prison located on Jupiter’s moon. When convicted murderer Derek Tagawa hijacks her ship and demands her help in clearing his name, Cass can’t help but wonder if there aren’t easier ways to make a living. But Derek has those amazing…eyes…and she begins to believe there may be more to his story than she originally thought.
Running from the authorities, they head to the heart of Gaia to unearth a conspiracy so far-reaching that exposing it could rock the Consortium to its very foundation… and change the future course of both their lives.
Bridge of Seven Stones by Becca Price, illustrated by Sara Anderson
“I’m not a baby!”
A child leaves the safety of the Garden of the Morning and begins exploring the Gardens of Growing Up.
The Bridge of Seven Stones is a story about losing teeth, and growing up. An alternative to the Tooth Fairy story, it recognizes the losses of familiar ways and things, and shows how each new stage leads to new and wonderful discoveries.
This book was was designed to give parents an idea, an alternative to the tooth-fairy story, a way to celebrate the loss of a baby tooth and to prepare the child for the transitions that come with growing up. This story was designed to be read to help a child proclaim:
“I’m not a baby anymore.”
Elves 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
Heat level: very low
Union by Brian Spangler
For centuries, Phil Stark has been the keeper of the machine that changed the world–a lighthouse keeper–guilt-ridden, impossibly alone and losing his mind, the machine is his penance for what he had done centuries before.
When Phil meets Isla, he finds a kinship that he didn’t think could be possible. And when he crosses paths with Sammi and Declan, he believes that his life, and the fate of the world, might just change forever.
Union is the final book in the Gray Series. In this installment, Declan finds the answers he’s sought since first seeing the chalky letters spelling out the words: End of Gray Skies. With Sammi and his father and Ms. Gilly, they team up with an unlikely partner in one final attempt to rescue the sunlight and bring it back to their world.
Hunting in Bruges by E.J. Stevens
The only thing worse than being a Hunter in the fae-ridden city of Harborsmouth, is hunting vamps in Bruges.
Being shipped off to Belgium sucks. The medieval city of Bruges is quaint, but the local Hunters’ Guild is understaffed, the canals are choked with dead bodies, and there’s no shortage of supernatural predators as likely suspects.
On second thought, maybe Bruges isn’t so bad after all.
With a desire to prove herself, protect the innocent, and advance within the ranks of the Hunters’ Guild, Jenna Lehane hits the cobbled streets of Bruges with blades at the ready. Someone, or something, is murdering tourists and dumping their bodies in the city’s scenic canals. With the help of a mysterious stranger, Jenna begins to piece together clues that are dotted throughout the city like blood spatter.
Determined to stop the killings, Jenna delves into a bloody local history that only raises more questions–but some secrets are best left buried. Jenna must put her combat training to the test as she struggles to unearth the truth about an ancient enemy.
Hunting in Bruges is the first novel in the Hunters’ Guild urban fantasy series set in the world of Ivy Granger.
Into the Dark by J.A. Sutherland
At fifteen, Alexis Carew has to face an age old problem – she’s a girl, and only a boy can inherit the family’s vast holdings. Her options are few. She must marry and watch a stranger run the lands, or become a penniless tenant and see the lands she so dearly loves sold off. Yet there may be another option, one that involves becoming a midshipman on a shorthanded spaceship with no other women.
Wielder: Apprentice by Mark Tyson
The making of a legend…
Sheyna Namear believes she has been left to fend for herself on the streets of the notoriously corrupt city of Symbor. She has very little memory of her life prior, and she is forced to steal what she can to survive. When her natural ability to enchant everyday items eventually catches the eye of a powerful magic wielder, Sheyna is taken into the woman’s tower as an apprentice. But something is not quite right. Sheyna constantly feels like she is being watched, her roommate hates her, and a mysterious shadow hides in the darkness outside her window.
Book One of The Wielder Cycle.
Full Dark by Kenneth Ward
Bramen Hold triumphantly survived the city of Hyll’s grimy underworld. But the victory was short-lived. Now Bramen finds himself in the custody of the High Command who’s taken notice of his abilities.
Convinced he may be cut out for a secretive special mission, an official with the High Command throws Bramen into a horrific gauntlet and proving ground known as The Grim. With the lives of his family and friends hanging in the balance, Bramen is forced to face his greatest fears until a secret is revealed that changes everything.
This is part 2 of the Cannibal Collapse series, following The Clone Rules.
Alpha’s Heart Part 1 and Part 2 by Skye Winters
Surrendering her heart to the woman she loves could cost the pack their lives.
The laws within the boundary are painstakingly clear. Alphas mate with alphas to keep peace between the packs and the veil hiding their existence in place.
Anna’s determined to pass pack leadership to her brothers in order to share her bond with Rowan—the she-wolf who effortlessly stole her heart. But with her mother’s health and their population in decline, staying true to her bond might just be the biggest challenge of all.
These are the first two parts of a lesbian shifter serial and contains scenes not suitable for those under the age of eighteen.