Spock is still missing, but Star Trek Discovery offers the return of other familiar faces in “Saints of Imperfection”

Nomen certainly est omen with the latest episode of Star Trek Discovery, because “Saints of Imperfection” very much highlights the many flaws of the show, all of them carry overs from the mess that was season 1. Furthermore, season 2 also seems to establish the pattern of one good episode alternating with a not so good one. So after last week’s excellent “An Obol for Charon”, we now get the very messy and imperfect “Saints of Imperfection”. For my takes on previous episodes, go here BTW.

Warning: Spoilers behind the cut! Continue reading

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Love Through Space and Time – A Round-up of Indie Valentine’s Day Speculative Fiction

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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 Valentine’s Day science fiction, fantasy and horror by indie authors.

These Valentine’s Day stories cover the broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have urban fantasy, a lot of paranormal romance, paranormal mysteries, science fiction mysteries, science fiction romance, space opera, space colonisation, horror, alternate history, time travel, dragons, werewolves, wizards, ghosts, aliens, robots. magical greeting card writers, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting ghosts, grumpy cupids, Valentine’s Day in space and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Valentine’s Day.

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:

Roses & Tails by Barbara BeRoses & Tails by Barbara Be:

She is an alien with silver-blue skin and a sexy tail, he is human and sometimes she doesn’t quite understand his customs. Like that strange human event of Valentine’s Day. He has something special planned for that day and it involves Zero G. But maybe he hasn’t quite thought this through. Sex in Zero G has some unique challenges.

This short story has previously been published in 2017 as part of the “Red Hots” anthology, which has been unpublished.

 

Valentine's Day by Zack BrooksValentine’s Day: A Charlie The Cupid Short Story by Zack Brooks:

Meet Charles Vefflin. A cupid stuck as a drone within a corporate company run by the Fates in Boston, he is doomed to cause people to fall in love with their soulmates for all of eternity. He hates his job and most people of the world. But a job is a job, and he isn’t going to let a little thing like people ruin the few pleasures in his life.

Join Charlie on the worst day of the year, Valentine’s Day, where he must make a young couple fall in love at a most unconventional party. See him deal with the idiocy of his co-workers, the lunacy of humans, and even run into a perverted old god. But, one thing’s for sure, he’ll see the job through. Even if it takes some liquid courage just to get through the night.

Valentine’s day is short story, about 6,500 words or 22 printed pages

Valentine's Day on Iago Prime by Cora BuhlertValentine’s Day on Iago Prime by Cora Buhlert:

Kai and Maisie are about the celebrate their first Valentine’s Day on the planet Iago Prime. However, the holiday traditions they established back on Earth such as celebrating Valentine’s Day with a picnic on the beach are impossible to maintain in the hostile environment of their new home. But in spite of the many limitations imposed by living on Iago Prime, Kai pulls out all the stops to give Maisie an unforgettable Valentine’s Day.

This is a science fictional Valentine’s Day story of 2200 words or approx. 10 print pages.

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

What if the words you wrote came true?

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

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

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

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

A Werewolf's Valentine by Zoe ChantA Werewolf’s Valentine by Zoe Chant:

Curvy cat shifter McKenzi Enkel gave up on love after one too many heartbreaks. What’s more, she declared war on Valentine’s Day. But then a handsome, whiskey-voiced stranger comes to town.

Sexy singer West, a lone wolf who lost his pack as a child, never stopped searching for his missing family. He sings when he can, fights when he must, and always moves on—until he meets the scorching hot McKenzi in the diner she reluctantly decorated for Valentine’s Day.

In a small town of shifters where anyone can find a refuge, West and McKenzi still feel alone. But as they begin to open their hearts to each other, he can’t make himself leave… and she can’t let him go. With Valentine’s Day approaching, can West and McKenzi forge a new pack… and find a love even they can’t deny?

My Maggie Valentine by Kate DanleyMy Maggie Valentine by Kate Danley:

Valentine’s Day is terrible. Especially when you’re Maggie MacKay and tasked with chaperoning the local high school Valentine’s dance. Join Maggie and Killian on a holiday, short story adventure. Sometimes you wrestle with demons. And sometimes they just want to cuddle…

A part of the Maggie MacKay: Holiday Special short story series. This stands independently from the main Magical Tracker series and can be read at any time and in any order.

WARNING: This adventure contains cussing, brawling, and unladylike behavior. Proceed with caution.

Vintage Valentine by Cat GardinerVintage Valentine by Cat Gardiner:

Romance and time-travel meet Pride and Prejudice in this utterly romantic modern story. Step back in time to WWII-era for a sweet Valentine’s Day.

What begins as a begrudging visit to Time & Again antique shop turns into so much more than discovering trinkets from the past. The unexpected happens! Love and lessons await Lizzy Bennet when she leaves her mobile device in the future. Travel with her through a portal to timeless romance back in 1943 where she’s looking up into the eyes of one dashing G.I. at U.S.O dance.

An 8,500 word sweet paranormal romance.

A Dragon's Valentine by C.D. GorriThe Dragon’s Valentine by C.D. Gorri:

“She’s given up on love, but he’s just begun…”

After five hundred years of servitude, Dragon Shifter, Callius Falk and his three brothers are finally freed from their bonds. Callius has one mission, to find his true mate.

Winifred Castillo spends her nights tending bar at The Thirsty Dog, a local favorite in Maccon City, New Jersey. After her boyfriend skips town with her rent money, she’s sworn off men. For good!

But what’s a Werewolf to do when a dark-haired stranger with golden eyes and rippling muscles claims her as his mate?

The Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi HolmesThe Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi Holmes:

A romantic weekend at Marlow House Bed and Breakfast turns deadly when Earthbound Spirits founder, Peter Morris, is murdered. Plenty of people had a reason to want the man dead—especially Danielle’s current guests.

But it isn’t Morris’ ghost distracting Danielle on this deadly Valentine’s Day weekend, it’s her late husband Lucas. She has her hands full with suitors coming from all directions—both living and dead—while she tries to figure out if there’s a killer in Marlow House.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Bear Valley Valentine by T.S. JoyceBear Valley Valentine by T.S. Joyce:

Colin Cross is a lone bear shifter living on the outskirts of Bear Valley. He likes his reclusive lifestyle, but when he musters the nerve to talk to the woman he has feelings for, being alone just doesn’t seem like enough anymore. When he finds Hadley on an online dating site, it’s the perfect way to build a relationship with her without dragging her into his dark past. Hadley is human, and humans don’t belong in his world, but a little online flirting never hurt anyone.

Hadley Bennett has had it with dating local townies. Determined to cast her net a little wider, she enters the chaotic world of online dating. When she finally secures a face-to-face date with the elusive Bearman28, it’ll be a Valentine’s Day to remember.

And if Hadley can handle his real identity, they just might find what they’ve both been searching for.

Bear Valley Valentine is a 20,000 word story with heart pounding romance, a thoughtful alpha bear, and spicy Valentine’s Day surprises.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moonshine Valetnine by Tegan MaherMoonshine Valentine by Tegan Maher:

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Noelle has no idea what to get for Hunter. While she’s getting her hair cut and tossing around gift ideas, Coralee’s long-term boyfriend pops in and declares his undying love via a marriage proposal, breaking rule numero uno of their relationship clause.

He’s only the first to fall, though. When the men of Keyhole Lake start acting like lovesick lunatics, Noelle and Rae have to put their heads together to figure out what happened before the whole town goes loopy in love, or someone ends up in jail.

This story falls in between book 4, Murder and Mayhem, and Book 5, Murder and Marinade, in the Witches of Keyhole Lake Mystery Series.

Heart Attack by Terri MainHeart Attack by Terri Main:

When Smelling Roses, Watch Out for the Thorns

Strange things are happening in Armstrong City right before St. Valentine’s Day. Several women who found roses on their doorstep passed out inexplicably. Carolyn and Mike must figure out how this happened, who is doing it, and why?

A fun little mystery for the holiday of love.

 

Valentines Day Time Patrol by Bob MayerValentines Day: Time Patrol by Bob Mayer:

“The point in history at which we stand is full of promise and danger. The world will either move forward toward unity and widely shared prosperity—or it will move apart.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

What does it take to change history and destroy our reality? Change events on the same date, 14 February, in six different years. The Time Patrol must send an agent back to each day, with just 24 hours for each to defeat the Shadow’s plan to disrupt our time-line, creating a time tsunami and wiping our present out.

Ivar: 1929. Gunmen massacre seven people in the infamous St. Valentines Day Massacre. Al Capone is consolidating his grip on the Outfit in Chicago. But what if it turns out very differently?

Eagle: 1945. President Roosevelt, heading home from the Yalta Conference, stops on the Great Bitter Lake to meet King Idn Saud of Saudi Arabia to discuss a relatively new topic: Arab oil. And a Jewish homeland.

Roland: 1779. Captain Cook, famed explorer of the Pacific, meets his fate in Hawaii.

Scout: 278. Saint Valentine is beheaded near the Milvian Bridge.

Doc: 1945. The Dresden Firebombing. Kurt Vonnegut is in a slaughterhouse as the first bombers appear overheard.

Moms: 1946. The ENIAC computer, programmed by six women, is unveiled to the public. The press thinks the women are simply models.

The mission, as always for the Time Patrol, seems straight-forward: keep history intact. No matter the cost.

But this time, things go very differently than in previous missions and one of the team members must make the ultimate sacrifice.

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

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

 

 

My Bloodiest Valentine, edited by K.A. MorseMy Bloodiest Valentine, edited by K.A. Morse:

Roses are red. So is your blood. It’s Valentine’s Day, and we’ve brought you something good. Abandon the chocolates, forget flowers and wine. Because these authors stories are bloody divine. Demons from Hell or a vampires kiss, this collection of stories you don’t want to miss.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Validated by Valentine's by Joynll SchultzValidated by Valentine’s by Joynell Schultz:

Ivory has the perfect man, from his microchip processor to his flesh-like exterior.

Ivory hated that she loved her Christmas gift this year. Her sister gave her the perfect humanoid companion, but there’s just one problem: he’ll never be able to say he loves her, no matter how much Ivory falls in love with him.

Was her dream man a present or a curse?

But when Ethan (Ivory’s Dream Droid) looks at her with those sweet blue eyes and secretly earns enough money to enter her in the city-wide bake-off, she realizes she doesn’t care. He’s hers. And that’s the best gift of all.

Ivory’s perfect world falls apart the closer she gets to the bake-off. It starts with a lost entry and Ethan having a few programming malfunctions, then she discovers someone’s deliberately sabotaging her. What started out to be a dream Valentine’s day, begins to turn into a nightmare. A large supportive family, a caring artificial companion, and the best cupcake recipe in the world might not be enough to uncover who’s setting Ivory up to fail.

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

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

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

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

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

Dragon's First Valentine by Emily Martha SorensenDragon’s First Valentine by Emily Martha Sorensen:

There’s a new dragon visiting from Chicago, and she’s green, like Virgil! Unfortunately, this might cause a few small problems nobody anticipated.

As well as a few revelations and surprises.

And all while Rose is trying to figure out what to give her husband for Valentine’s Day.

 

The Draed Arrow by Grigor WeeksThe Dread Arrow by Grigor Weeks:

Dark Space is strange, and so are the hitmen who live there. Strap in sweetheart. Love never hurt so good.

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Love and Crime – A Round-up of Indie Valentine’s Day Mysteries and Crime Fiction

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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 Valentine’s Day mysteries by indie and small press 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, jazz age mysteries, police procedurals, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, amateur sleuths, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting bakers, crime-fighting ghosts, crime-fighting dogs, masked vigilantes, missing children, kidnappings, sleazy lawyers, serial killers, assassins and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Valentine’s Day.

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:

Valentine's Day is Murder by Carolyn ArnoldValentine’s Day is Murder by Carolyn Arnold:

Cupid’s arrow may have missed its mark…

Jimmy finally takes a vacation–and a chance on love–only to be abducted. His female companion originally thinks he had cold feet about their relationship, but Sean and Sara know there’s more to it. Jimmy isn’t the type to just up and disappear, let alone leave a lady stranded.

Setting out on their private jet, Sean and Sara reach the tropical paradise of Ocho Rios, Jamaica with sightseeing as the last thing on their minds.

With a gold coin being their initial tie to Jimmy’s kidnapper, Sean and Sara even speculate about the involvement of pirates. Yet as the hours pass, and there’s no word from Jimmy’s captors, Sean and Sara will need to figure out the real motive before it’s too late.

With help from their friend, Adam, back in Albany, the pieces come together and not a moment too soon.

A Valentine for the Silencer by Cora BuhlertA Valentine for the Silencer by Cora Buhlert:

Valentine’s Day 1938: All Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer wants is to have a romantic dinner with his beautiful fiancée Constance Allen.

But on his way to his date, Richard happens upon a mugging in progress. Can he save the victim and make sure that young Thomas Walden has the chance to propose to his girlfriend? And will he make it to dinner with Constance on time?

This is a short Valentine’s Day story of 7200 words or approx. 24 print pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.

He never brings me flowers...He never brings me flowers… by Cora Buhlert

He never brings me flowers…

Waiting for your boyfriend to finally come home from work can be hell, especially if it’s your anniversary and you suspect he forgot – again. But does the ringing of the doorbell promise roses and sex and the long overdue proposal or something far more sinister?

Lovers’ Ridge

A foundling, a newborn, abandoned and left to die. But tonight, he will have his revenge on the parents who deserted him. Tonight, they will pay, at the very place where the story once began, at Lovers’ Ridge…

This is a bumper edition containing two short crime stories of 3200 words altogether. Both stories are also available as part of the collection Murder in the Family.

Valentine's Madness, edited by Beth ByersValentine’s Madness: A 1920s Historical Mystery Anthology, edited by Beth Byers:

Welcome to a very flapper Valentine’s Day!

Are you ready for the roaring twenties? For spunky young women crafting their own lives? If so, you’ll love Violet, Julia, Abigail, Evelyn, and Rosemary.

Inside, you’ll find four short Valentine’s day adventures, 1920s style including roses, chocolates, kisses, and cocktails. With stories from The Violet Carlyle Mysteries, the Piccadilly Ladies Club Mysteries, the Abigail Dutcher Mysteries, the Jazz & Gin Cozy Mysteries, and The Lillywhite Mysteries.

Murder on Valentine's Day by P. CreedenMurder on Valentine’s Day by P. Creeden:

It’s Valentine’s Day and 20-year-old Emma Wright just wants her crush to take notice of her. But Colby Davidson, the K9 search and rescue deputy only thinks of her as a kid sister. How will she get him to take her seriously?

When her veterinarian boss calls her to pick up a cat at a potential crime scene, she finds herself at the house of the richest woman in Ridgeway. Her father—the sheriff—and Colby are there. They both dismiss the untimely death as a heart attack, but Emma finds clues that it might be something more. Did the software billionaire die of natural causes, or was it murder?

The Valentine Mystery by Kathi DaleyThe Valentine Mystery by Kathi Daley:

If you love small towns, endearing relationships, food, animals, and a touch of murder, you will love this new mystery series by Kathi Daley, author of the popular Zoe Donovan Cozy Mystery Series.

It is Valentine’s Day in White Eagle Montana and Tess and Tilly are busier than ever delivering Valentine Cards along with the daily mail. Of course it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day in White Eagle without a mystery to solve or a holiday adoption party to prepare for.

When Tess happens upon a vehicle accident where one man dies, she gets pulled into a mystery with roots into the past. With Tony’s help she not only tracks down a killer but she looks into the occurrence of a missing person as well.

Tony is still looking into the case of Tess’s father’s disappearance, meanwhile Tess and Tilly team up with Brady to make sure that every animal shelter resident finds their perfect match in time for Valentine’s Day.

A Valentine Murder by Steven DemareeA Valentine Murder by Steven Demaree

In this delightful combination of a whodunit mixed with humor, a woman, who has been celebrating her birthday and Valentine’s Day, is rushed to the hospital complaining of stomach pains and nausea. She grabs the doctor and tells him she has been poisoned, but before she can tell him any more, she dies. When Lt. Dekker and Sgt. Murdock investigate, they find out that no one liked her, with the possible exception of her husband.

 

 

Corridor Man: Valentine by Mark FaricyCorridor Man: Valentine by Mark Faricy:

BETTER CHANGE THE LOCKS. BOBBY DID.

Disbarred attorney Bobby Custer continues to use his main skill set; murder, treachery and perversion in an ongoing effort to increase his personal gains.

Ever the charmer, Bobby provides Emily with an unforgettable valentine that up until now she could only dream about . . . or maybe it was a nightmare. Together they forever mark the day with a memorable secret. Psychotic, sociopathic, always charming– and you thought he was here to help.

Valentine by Celina GraceValentine by Celina Grace:

A respectable, middle-aged housewife. An ambitious young lawyer. A student burlesque dancer. Three women with nothing in common – except for the fact that someone has sent them a macabre Valentine’s Day gift; a pig’s heart pierced by an arrow.

Is this a case of serious harm intended? Or just a malicious prank? Detective Inspector Olbeck thinks there might be something more sinister behind it but his colleague Detective Sergeant Kate Redman is too busy mourning the departure of her partner Tin to New York to worry too much about the case. Until one of the women receives a death threat…

Valentine is a novella in the best-selling Kate Redman Mystery series by crime writer Celina Grace.

The Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi HolmesThe Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi Holmes:

A romantic weekend at Marlow House Bed and Breakfast turns deadly when Earthbound Spirits founder, Peter Morris, is murdered. Plenty of people had a reason to want the man dead—especially Danielle’s current guests.

But it isn’t Morris’ ghost distracting Danielle on this deadly Valentine’s Day weekend, it’s her late husband Lucas. She has her hands full with suitors coming from all directions—both living and dead—while she tries to figure out if there’s a killer in Marlow House.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Lady Rample and Cupid's Kiss by Shéa MacLeodLady Rample and Cupid’s Kiss by Shéa MacLeod:

Just when Lady Rample has given up on love, a former flame reappears, bringing with him all sorts of emotions she thought buried. Unfortunately, that flame comes with one very aggressive and rather angry almost-ex-wife. The ensuing catfight is almost worth the price of admission.

When the ex-wife is found dead in Hyde Park, stabbed with a hatpin in the shape of a heart, the police naturally assume the killer is the husband. Our intrepid heroine is not about to allow her love to go down for a crime he didn’t commit. Unfortunately, proving him innocent may put her own neck on the line.

Never one to shirk from danger, Lady R—with the help of her eccentric Aunt Butty—will need all her wits about her if she’s to solve the crimes of the Cupid Killer.

Enjoy the glitz and glamor of the 1930s with the sixth book in the popular 1930s historical mystery series, Lady Rample Mysteries.

Moonshine Valetnine by Tegan MaherMoonshine Valentine by Tegan Maher:

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Noelle has no idea what to get for Hunter. While she’s getting her hair cut and tossing around gift ideas, Coralee’s long-term boyfriend pops in and declares his undying love via a marriage proposal, breaking rule numero uno of their relationship clause.

He’s only the first to fall, though. When the men of Keyhole Lake start acting like lovesick lunatics, Noelle and Rae have to put their heads together to figure out what happened before the whole town goes loopy in love, or someone ends up in jail.

This story falls in between book 4, Murder and Mayhem, and Book 5, Murder and Marinade, in the Witches of Keyhole Lake Mystery Series.

Heart Attack by Terri MainHeart Attack by Terri Main:

When Smelling Roses, Watch Out for the Thorns

Strange things are happening in Armstrong City right before St. Valentine’s Day. Several women who found roses on their doorstep passed out inexplicably. Carolyn and Mike must figure out how this happened, who is doing it, and why?

A fun little mystery for the holiday of love.

 

Sweet Hearts by Connie SheltonSweet Heart by Connie Shelton:

Will there be Valentine wedding bells for Samantha Sweet and Beau Cardwell? (introduced in this mystery series opener Sweet Masterpiece) Sam’s bakery, Sweet’s Sweets is busier than ever this Valentine week, as she struggles to replicate the magical chocolate-making techniques of the enigmatic chocolatier who boosted her winter holiday sales into the stratosphere. However, candy classes take second place to a new mystery, when Sam meets a woman whose missing son’s case seems to have been dropped by the authorities. Marla Fresques learns that she is dying and needs for her son to come home and raise the daughter he left behind. Sam agrees to help, hoping that Sheriff Beau’s inside connections will bring about a quick and happy resolution.

But what about Sam’s and Beau’s own wedding plans? They may be in jeopardy when an entirely new development appears in the form of Beau’s ex-girlfriend who is determined to win him back.

With the familiar mix of mystery, romance and a touch of magic that has enchanted readers of this series, Sweet Hearts draws the reader even further into the captivating world of Samantha Sweet.

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

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

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

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

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

The Draed Arrow by Grigor WeeksThe Dread Arrow by Grigor Weeks:

Dark Space is strange, and so are the hitmen who live there. Strap in sweetheart. Love never hurt so good.

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine's Blizzard Murder by Linnea WestValentine’s Bizzard Mystery by Linnea West:

When a minor celebrity staying at the Shady Lake Bed and Breakfast dies of an allergic reaction during a blizzard, it doesn’t seem like it could get much worse. But was it really an accident?

Jake Crawford is a D list celebrity who loves to come back to Shady Lake to be the big fish in a small pond. This time, he brought his new wife back to Shady Lake for his honeymoon and they are staying at the bed and breakfast that Tessa Schmidt helps her family run. Jake is kind of a jerk, but then a blizzard hits and he dies of an allergic reaction. It seems like things couldn’t get any worse for a Valentine’s Day weekend. But Tessa is starting to suspect that the allergic reaction isn’t the horrible accident she had assumed.

As the blizzard stretches on and on, secrets keep coming out. It seems like almost everyone has a motive to kill Jake. Can Tessa figure out who wanted to kill Jake Crawford before the killer strikes again?

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Star Trek Discovery pays “An Obol to Charon” and gets back on form

After last week’s messy return to much of what made season 1 so annoying, Star Trek Discovery comes roaring back with “An Obol to Charon”. For my take on previous Star Trek Discovery episodes, go here.

“An Obol to Charon” features yet another reiteration of two classic Star Trek tropes, namely the encounter with a threatening cosmic phenomenon (or is it?) and “everything on the entire ship is breaking down and the crew must make do without tech”. However, though the basic tropes are well worn, “An Obol to Charon” manages to do something original with them and also uses them to develop and illuminate the relationships between the characters.

Warning! Spoilers behind the cut!
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In Memoriam Václav Vorlíček

Czech film director Václav Vorlíček died today aged 88.

You may never have heard Václav Vorlíček’s name until today, but if you were a kid in Eastern and/or Western Europe in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, you have almost certainly watched his films at some point. Because Václav Vorlíček was the man behind many of those Czech fairytale movies that were afternoon television staples for children all over Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. Because – uncommon for the time – Vorlíček’s films crossed the iron curtain and entertained children on both sides.

His best known movie is Tři oříšky pro Popelku a.k.a. Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel a.k.a. Three Wishes for Cinderella from 1973. Forty-five years later it’s a beloved classic that is on Czech and German TV every Christmas, even though Three Wishes for Cinderella was never intended as a holiday movie and the snowy Saxonian landscapes around Moritzburg castle near Dresden (my grandmother hailed from there) were just a lucky coincidence, because it started to snow as Vorlíček and his team were shooting. Nonetheless, it’s a truly magical movie and a surprisingly feminist take on the Cinderella story, featuring a crossdressing Cinderella.

If Three Wishes for Cinderella were the only movie Václav Vorlíček had made, he would still be remembered. But he did so much more. Fairytale films were his forte and his oevre includes such classics of the genre as Das Mädchen auf dem Besenstiel (The Girl on the Broomstick)*, an early take on the magical school trope and the film that first introduced me to the trope, Wie man Dornröschen wachküsst (How to Kiss Sleeping Beauty Awake) and Der Prinz und der Abendstern (The Prince and the Evening Star). But he also made a lot of comedies, often with fantasy and science fiction elements, and even a James Bond parody called The End of Agent W4C.

Václav Vorlíček particularly liked stories in which the world of stories and fairytales collides with the “real world”, i.e. Communist Czecheslovakia of the 1970s, usually with hilarious results. In Who Wants to Kill Jessie?, a comic book character invades the real world, while in How To Drown Dr. Mracek, the Lawyer the last seven watermen of Bohemia try to survive in 1970s Czecheslovakia. In The Girl on the Broomstick, a sassy young witch flunks magic school and finds herself banished to the world of humans, as the clip below of Saxana the witch trying to impress her human teachers with magic spells shows. And who never dreamed of turning their teachers into rabbits?

But my favourite among Vorlíček’s works and one of the most delightful things you’ll ever see is the 1979 TV series Arabela a.k.a. Die Märchenbraut a.k.a. The Fairytale Bride. Once again it’s a story where the real world and the fairytale world collide into utter chaos, when the evil wizard Rumburak takes on the appearance of Karl Majer, a typical everyman who tells fairytales on Czech TV. Rumburak as Majer thoroughly messes up the fairytales, which in turn plunges the fairytale realm into utter chaos. The king of the fairytale realm sends his two daughters as emissaries to set Majer (who still has no idea what is happening) straight, only for the younger daughter Arabela promptly to fall in love with Majer’s son Peter. Things get even more chaotic from there on, as Karl Majer gets turned into a dachhound, the exiled king of fairyland is forced to work in a factory, Arabela’s older sister Xenia decides to inject a bit of Socialist realism (trash, factory jobs for everyone, housing estates) into fairyland and the seven dwarves discover what a flush toilet is good for. Unfortunately, they mistake it for a waterslide. We also encounter adult fairyland, which is inhabited by fictional heroes such as Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes and ruled over by Fantomas, the classic villain/antihero of French literature. A highlight is Peter and Arabela’s wedding, where the bride has unfortunately been turned into a goat and the groom into a grandfather clock by Rumburak. The registrar refuses to perform the ceremony, but is then forced by Fantomas at gunpoint to marry them anyway, because “if they love each other, what does it matter.”

I’m not sure if the wedding scene is intended as an argument for same sex marriage, though I have always taken it as one and have been known to quote Fantomas’ line from Arabela to opponents. Though rewatching Arabela as an adult, it’s striking how much satire and sly criticism Vorlíček managed to slip into this and his other works and that barely ten years after the suppression of the so-called Prague spring and around the time of the Charter 77. I suspect that Vorlíček got away with so much, because he made films and TV shows for children, so the censors didn’t pay close attention.

If you want to see Arabela, the whole series is online, but only in Czech alas. Unlike other Czech fairytale films of the era, Arabela never had an English language release, likely because of rights issues. Vorlíček’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves not only look like Disney’s, they even sing “Hi Ho, Hi Ho”, though Disney’s dwarves never mistook a toilet for a waterslide. And characters like Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes and Fantomas (who looks eerily like Jean Marais’ 1960s take on the character) were still trademarked as well. But if you want to catch a glimpse of what the show was like, here is a clip featuring a messed up version of Sleeping Beauty where the prince robs the sleeping princess instead of waking her up with a kiss.

Indeed, Vorlíček’s fairytale films pretty much ruined the ongoing renaissance of fairytale retellings in the English speaking world for me, because whenever I try to read the latest updated, feminist fairytale retelling, I realise that Václav Vorlíček did something similar forty years ago and that he did it better.

Václav Vorlíček’s genius was recognised in his native country and the Karlovy Vary film festival gave him a lifetime achievement award only last year and his wonderful films will continue to entertain children all over Europe. Unfortunately, Vorlíček is not nearly as well known in the English speaking world, which is why I had to write this piece about his passing, since the only English language obituary I could find was the brief article from Radio Prague’s English language site. This is a true pity, because he was one of the great fantasy directors of all time and deserves to be remembered.

So rest in peace, Václav Vorlíček, and thanks for all the stories that brightened up mine and so many other childhoods.

*I’m not listing the original Czech titles from here on, because the Czech language has too many characters that require HTML handcoding – sorry.

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A Science Fiction Promo and Richard Blakemore blogs

Blast Off with Sci Fi promo image

Today, I have two brief announcements to make. The first is an announcement for a science fiction cross promo at StoryOrigins.

What is StoryOrigins, you ask. StoryOrigins is a new service for free e-book giveaways. One of those is the Blast off with Sci Fi giveaway organised by C. Gockel.

You can get 18 science fiction e-books for free, including one of mine, if you enter your e-mail address and sign up for the respective authors’ newsletters. Just click the link below:

Blast off with Sci Fi
February 1 to March 17, 2019

***

In other news, Richard Blakemore, protagonist of the Silencer series, has started blogging.

How can he blog, when he’s fictional and lives in the 1930s, long before computers and blogs were a thing? Well, that’s the magic of the Internet.

You can find Richard’s blog here. So far, there isn’t a lot of content over there, just a brief introductory post as well as a repost of a “Meet My Character” feature about Richard I did in 2015, with some asides and comments from Richard himself (he wishes to make it very clear that he is not the Silencer). But there is more coming, since Richard just dipped his toes into the sword and sorcery waters.

Coincidentally, Richard Blakemore has also acquired an Amazon Author Central page, which was a lot more difficult to set up than I assumed, as well as a Books2Read page, which was a bit easier to set up.

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Star Trek Discovery suddenly remembers that season 1 existed with “Point of Light”

“Point of Light”, the latest episode of Star Trek Discovery, aired on Thursday (if you can call “running on a streaming service” airing). For my comments on previous episodes of Star Trek Discovery, go here.

“Point of Light” feels more like a continuation of season 1 than the previous two episodes (as Camestros Felapton and James Whitbrook point out in their respective reviews), which tried very hard to forget that season 1 ever happened (not that I can blame them). I also found it weaker than the other season 2 episodes to date (which were a tad slight, but otherwise enjoyable mid-range Star Trek), because “Point of Light” not just hearkens back to season 1, it also indulges in some of its most annoying features such as “everything that ever went wrong in the history of the universe is Michael Burnham’s fault”, “dystopian Federation”, “psychedelic magic mushroom drive idiocy”, “shocking plot twists (TM)” and “stupid shenangigans featuring the Mirror Universe, Klingons and the Starfleet black ops group Section 31 in various combinations”. “Point of Light” also brings back a lot of season 1 supporting characters such as L’Rell, Ash Tyler, Philippa Georgiou (the evil Mirror Universe version) and Amanda Grayson (I actually had to look up the character’s surname), wife of Sarek and mother of Spock and Michael. The only one missing is Gabriel Lorca, who apparently is really and truly dead. Either that or they’re keeping him in reserve.

The many call backs to season 1 are probably also why I didn’t much care for this episode, even though I liked the previous two quite a bit. Another reason might be that “Point of Light” is pretty much all story arc – there is no self-contained “rescue of the week” B-plot. And I’m famously not a big fan of over-serialisation, especially when series stop telling self-contained stories and it’s all story arc all the time. Interestingly, I have never liked this, unless I was massively invested in the arc plot and its mysteries such as during the heyday of The X-Files.

Case in point: Moonlighting, the massively successful 1980s romantic detective show, which I should have liked, because it has so many ingredients I normally like – a mismatched “will they? won’t they?” couple solving crimes, oodles of unresolved sexual tension, Bruce Willis at the very start of his action hero career, etc… And indeed I loved many of the “mismatched couple solves crimes” shows of the 1980s such as Remington Steel, Scarecrow and Mrs. King (which seems to have fallen off the face of the Earth) and Heart to Heart. But for some reason, I never liked Moonlighting. My teen self considered it stupid and silly and full of people talking all the time. At the time, I didn’t much wonder about it – it was just a not very good TV show – but years later, when I learned how highly acclaimed Moonlighting was in its heyday, I always wondered why I never clicked with it. And so, when a German TV station started rerunning the show in a late night slot, I decided to watch a few episodes to see if I liked Moonlighting better the second time around. Instead, I found out just why the show never worked for me. Because while Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd are fabulous in their roles and the sparks between really do light up the screen, Moonlighting is all banter and no substance. Cases and plots were perfunctory at best, sometimes forgotten halfway through the episode and eventually vanished altogether, as it became the Bruce and Cybil show. And then Cybil Shepherd became pregnant and Bruce Willis took time off to make Die Hard (and aren’t we grateful that he did?) and the focus shifted to supporting characters such as the annoying secretary, but the episodes still had barely a plot. As an adult, I could appreciate it for what it was (while it was good, that is), but my teen self had signed on for a detective show with banter and instead got a lot of banter with barely any detecting going on.

Tonewise, Star Trek Discovery couldn’t be further from Moonlighting, but in many ways “Point of Light” has the same problem. “Point of Light” spends so much time gazing at its own navel that it forgets to tell an actual story.

Warning! Spoilers under the cut!
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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for January 2019

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

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some 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, historical fantasy, Asian fantasy, military fantasy, fantasy romance, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction romance, science fantasy, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, horror, witches, ghosts, dragons, demons, elves, mages, robots, necromancers, alien invasions, cosmic junkyards, space marines, alien warlords, prison planets, rogue AIs 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 Flood Dragon's Sacrifice by Sarah AshThe Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice by Sarah Ash:

Two rival clans. Two sacred pearls, the Tide Jewels, that can summon the Tide Dragons to protect the empire.

Two young men, Kaito and Naoki, one a Black Crane healer, the other a Red Kite shinobi, are sucked into an ancient, unresolved conflict between the gods of land and sea, when the exiled Red Kites steal the Tide Jewels and re-ignite a bitter clan war. Kaito must find a way to restore the emperor’s jewels – but how can it be done without betraying his own clan or angering the gods?

 

Bramble and Blood by Ashley BeasleyBramble and Blood by Ashley Beasley:

Welcome to St. Louis, home to mythological creatures, magic beings, and necromancer Eve Williams -expert on death and disappointment.

Especially disappointment since being fired from a prestigious job a with the Druid Brotherhood – the elite law enforcement of the magical community and the only family she’s ever known.

Now Eve’s left the magic community behind – except for her pain in the ass best friend who happens to be a witch – and she spends her time working for humans answering questions the faithfully departed left unanswered and avoiding the druids at all costs.

When a client asks for help to find a missing sister, Eve doesn’t see the harm in taking the unusual case – until her investigation uncovers the ritualistic murders of her fellow necromancers tied to the missing woman. Eve is reluctant to ask the druids for help but when an attempt is made on her own life, it forces her to work with the Druid’s Enforcer – a man who most in the magical community see as an assassin.

As onetime antagonists become hesitant allies while trying to find the killer, Eve finds herself knee-deep in sword-wielding druids, death magic, and psychotic witches.

Junkyard by Lindsay BurokerJunkyard by Lindsay Buroker:

McCall Richter works as a skip tracer, tracking down criminals, con men, and people who stop making payments on their fancy new spaceships.

Her job description says nothing about locating vast quantities of stolen maple syrup, but thanks to her helpful new android employee, she finds herself tramping through a “sugar house” on a frosty moon full of suspicious characters. The only witness to the crime? The junkyard dog next door.

Junkyard is a stand-alone novella set two years before Fractured Stars.

Shattered Prisons by D. Glenn CaseyShattered Prisons by D. Glenn Casey:

Julie is just an easy-going artist, who loves to paint pretty pictures and go for walks in the woods. Then, her grandmother dies and leaves her the house and she finds out there are secrets buried behind its walls.

Ripped out of a quiet life of art, she finds she is the centerpiece in a war that’s been going on since the beginning of time and like it or not, she is going to have to follow in her grandmother’s and mother’s footsteps. Whether or not she believes in other-worldly demons and evil, they believe in her and they will use any weapon they can to draw her out, including threatening those she loves.

Jump into the battle between good and evil with both feet and hold on. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Voice of Command by Melanie CellierVoice of Command by Melanie Cellier:

Elena has found the power in her voice—now she must decide how to use it

Finally accepted as a mage, Elena struggles with her commonborn roots. And when disaster strikes the kingdom, she can’t shrug off the death toll as the mageborn have always done. Yet the limitations of her spoken magic hold her back—both in saving lives among the people and in competitions in the Academy’s arena.

In desperation she turns to an unlikely source of assistance—Prince Lucas. But just as she begins to master her powers, she finds herself the pawn of stronger forces.

With everything she’s struggled for almost within her grasp, she must decide what—and who—is worth sacrificing to come into her full power and take her place among the mages.

Marine by Joshua DalzelleMarine by Joshua Dalzelle:

Aliens exist… and, as it turns out, most of them aren’t that friendly.

Jacob Brown wasn’t even born yet the first time they attacked Earth.
He was only fourteen the second time it happened.

When Earth finally came together and fielded its first spaceborne military, Jacob didn’t hesitate to volunteer. Serving aboard a mighty starship, he’d be able to defend his planet—and his family—when, inevitably, they came again.

Just as he’s about to graduate training, however, Jacob is approached by an officer from Naval Special Operation Command and given a choice: volunteer for a risky mission to a dangerous, lawless world, or give up his dream of serving in the military and go home. He has no idea why he’s being singled out in such an unusual manner, but now it’s either agree to their demands or give up his dream of being on a starship.

Soon, getting his career back on the right track will be the least of his concerns when it seems like everyone—and everything—he meets is trying to kill him. When he stumbles upon a secret most people on Earth are blissfully unaware of he realizes it’s not just the aliens he needs to be worried about.

Mindspace Infiltration by A.K. DuBoffMindspace: Infiltration by A.K. DuBoff

Prevent a stellar civil war… or die trying.

When Captain Kira Elsar comes face-to-face with a military assault mech inside a civilian research lab, it’s abundantly clear that MTech is up to no good.

Illegal alien nanotech experimentation. Clandestine political dealings. Disappearances. Connections all trace back to MTech’s newest research lab on Kira’s homeworld.

As the Tararian Guard’s sole telepath, Kira goes undercover to get to the bottom of the mystery. Hints point to a brewing stellar civil war, but she needs to gather proof. Except, the mysterious forces behind the conflict already have their own plans for Kira that will change her life forever.

Set in the internationally bestselling Cadicle space opera universe, the standalone Mindspace series is perfect for fans of sci-fi with superhuman abilities, political intrigue, military action, and devious aliens.

Destruction by M.R. ForbesDestruction by M.R. Forbes:

The Deliverance isn’t alone.

That’s not a surprise. The planet was chosen for a reason.

But the situation is more dire than Caleb ever imagined. The enemy he’s encountered isn’t the enemy he was seeking, and the conflict is expanding in ways he can barely conceive.

Taken prisoner by an opponent both familiar and foreign, he’ll have to prove himself one more time…

Or watch everything he’s fought so hard to protect be destroyed.

Destruction is the fourth book in the Forgotten Colony series.

The Demon Soul Invasion by C. GoldThe Demon Soul Invasion by C. Gold:

A summons gone very wrong, a demon lord bent on worldwide destruction, and a hated enemy turned temporary ally make this necromancer’s day a complete nightmare.

When a warlock calls asking for help, Marcus Blackmoor hangs up. After all, everyone knows the only good warlock is one who was never born. They murdered his parents, so this one can rot in prison where he belongs. But Marcus gets dragged into the investigation anyway since a soul needs interrogating and he’s the right necromancer for the job.

Except, all the souls have gone missing and there’s a terrible evil invading the spirit realm. It will take the combined help of his ghostly best friend, the warlock, and a kick butt fire mage to find the vengeful demon lord and banish him before he raises an army the likes of which has never been seen.

Touch of Eon by Anna HackettTouch of Eon by Anna Hackett:

She’ll do anything to free her sister and save the Earth from invasion, even if she’s blackmailed into stealing sacred alien artifacts…and becomes the prey of the dark, deadly warrior sent to hunt her down.

Special Forces Space Marine Lara Traynor wants to save her sister and her planet from annihilation by the deadly insectoid Kantos. Earth’s Space Corps give her one option: steal three gems sacred to the Eon Warriors. Lara has never failed a mission and she doesn’t plan to start now. What she doesn’t expect is the big, hard-bodied warrior the Eon sent to stop her.

Security Commander Caze Vann-Jad was born and raised to be the best Eon warrior in the empire. Honed by the military academy, his years as a stealth agent, and by his hard warrior father, he has never failed. He knows one weak, inferior Terran is no match for him. But when he finds himself face to face with the tough, skilled Lara, he realizes he’s underestimated the female warrior.

When they are attacked by a Kantos kill squad, it soon becomes clear that the Kantos are planning something far darker and dangerous. Caze and Lara are forced to change their dangerous battle of wits and skill into a fierce battle for survival. Neither of these fighters believe in love, but on the trail of a stolen gem, they will ignite an unstoppable desire, and discover that not only are their lives at stake, but their hearts as well.

The Serpent Waits by Bill HiattThe Serpent Waits by Bill Hiatt:

Amy Monroe’s journalistic instincts told her something was wrong in Santa Brígida. The town had too many strange disappearances, mental breakdowns, and bizarre weather patterns. Yet none of these anomalies got much press coverage, let alone serious investigation.

Planning to write a career-making expose, Amy goes to Santa Brígida undercover to find out the truth. She suspects clandestine scientific experiments, but from the moment a key source disappears—together with the motel in which she met him—she realizes that what’s really happening may be stranger than she could ever imagine.

Striving relentlessly to uncover secrets, Amy runs the risk of discovering the truth—that some secrets should stay buried.

No Man Can Tame by Miranda HonfleurNo Man Can Tame by Miranda Honfleur:

A human princess. A dark-elf prince. A kiss of fire and powder.

After a failed courtship in an ally kingdom, twenty-one-year-old Princess Alessandra returns home to a land torn apart by mutual hatred between the humans and the dark-elves. The “Beast Princess,” as Aless is known by courtiers, confidently sets her mind to ways of making peace, but her father has already decided for her: she is to marry one of the mysterious and monstrous dark-elves to forge a treaty, and go on a Royal Progress across the kingdom to flaunt their harmonious union. While she intends to preserve the peace, the Beast Princess has plans of her own.

Prince Veron has been raised knowing his life is not his own, but to be bargained away by his mother, the queen of Nozva Rozkveta, to strengthen the dark-elf queendom. When his mother tells him he is to marry a self-absorbed, vile human, he is determined to do his duty regardless of his personal feelings. After arriving at the human capital, he finds the “Beast Princess” rebellious and untamed—and not to be trusted.

Aless and Veron face opposition at every turn, with humans and dark-elves alike opposing the union violently, as well as their own feelings of dissonance toward each other. Can two people from cultures that despise one another fall in love? Can a marriage between them bond two opposing worlds together, or will it tear them apart for good?

Peace Maker by Isaac HookePeace Maker by Isaac Hooke:

Jain, a former SEAL whose mind is now the AI core of an advanced alien warship, has agreed to broker peace between humanity and the extraterrestrial race known as the Mimics.

Unfortunately, a new breed of alien has decided to crash the party. These newcomers, part of the hostile Link empire, aren’t very happy humanity is trying to coax a former member species into signing a treaty.

Jain and the Void Warriors have to fight off this new threat while struggling to salvage the smoldering ruins of the peace talks. Things certainly don’t look good, not just for themselves, but humanity: if they can’t secure allies against the Link, Earth will eventually be crushed.

Some days, having your mind stored in the AI core of a starship just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Rift by Nathan HystadRift by Nathan Hystad:

They’ve watched us for centuries through the Rift.

They’ve prepared.

Invasion is inevitable.

The Earth Fleet has known of the Watchers for years, unwilling to share the knowledge with humanity. Now it might be too late.

Hidden away from the Fleet, one man is creating a new colony ship destined for the other side of the Rift, but he’s missing a few pieces.

Three other people have varied paths to get there. Ace goes from the streets of Earth to the Fleet training facility on the moon. Flint, an ex-Fleet pilot, must decide if a job is worth his life, and Wren, imprisoned for a secret project years ago, is given hope as an unlikely ally whispers words of escape in her ear.

Their journeys lead to Councilman Jarden Fairbanks, who knows of the impending invasion, and has prepared. All they can do is wait for the Rift to open once again, and see what’s on the other side.

Rift joins an ensemble cast facing immeasurable obstacles. If you enjoy space battles, prison breaks, androids, and aliens, buried under a shroud of mystery, this book is for you. Try it today!

Not an Elf by Madeline KirbyNot an Elf by Madeline Kirby:

It’s Jake and Boo’s first Christmas together, and they’re heading to Waxahachie to spend it with Petreski’s family. As if meeting your boyfriend’s parents isn’t nerve-wracking enough, there’s also a mob of siblings, a town full of gossips, trouble with a holiday display, and someone’s been sending poison pen letters to the local priest. Oh, and the pie is a bit of a disappointment.

In a house full of Cats, the nights are anything but silent, and it’s not long before Jake is convinced the Petreski family home is haunted. The truth, though, may be even stranger.

Who said small town life was boring?

Now with extra chocolate and nuts! And an elf.

Game Changers of the ApocalypseGame Changers of the Apocalypse by Mark Kirkbride:

It’s always the end of the world when you break up with someone. This time it really is… Everyone on the planet has mysteriously disappeared, leaving exes Greg and Polly. They’ve survived the apocalypse, yet shouldn’t have. Battling each other and a malevolent entity that teases them with their fate, how long can they remain ahead? Even more terrifying than everyone else on the planet disappearing is what’s about to take their place…

 

Kragyn by Clarissa LakeKragyn by Clarissa Lake:

The war was over, yet the Sargans came and bombed his world to ruin…

They stole his life by making him a slave, but Kragyn Vermaktu was no slave!
He was a Farseek Warrior. His rebellion landed him on Julconi Prison Planet…
No guards, no rules…

A place where strength meant survival…

Stolen from Earth, sold as a slave Reanne Winter is forced to kill or be killed…
Earning her a one-way trip to Julconi…
Terrified by a mob of males outside the gate, she was sure she would be raped and killed before the day ended…

Enter Kragyn…

He calls her solmatu and offers to get her to safety.
A shock of attraction flashes between them as soon as they touch…

She knows she won’t get a better offer.

Can the passion that burns between them grow into the legendary solmatu bond?

Or is it just a symbiotic relationship born of the need to survive?

Freaky Deaky Tiki by Amanda M. LeeFreaky Deaky Tiki by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is learning about life, love … and being a witch.She has a hot and hunky boyfriend, new friends, and family she didn’t know existed until recently.Her plate is full.Life gets even busier when a Detroit grim reaper named Aisling Grimlock hits Moonstone Bay for her honeymoon. Aisling is loud, brash … and pregnant. Unfortunately, she’s not one of those women who gets happy and develops a glow at the notion of a new baby.When a body turns up on the docks, Hadley decides to help her boyfriend Galen investigate. All she knows for certain is that the murder looks ritual thanks to the tiki mask left behind … and the gaping wound in his chest.Since she’s bored and limited, Aisling latches on to Hadley and volunteers to help. That means zipping around the island and investigating the local cult that lives in the forest.Aisling has specific ideas about what should be done. Hadley has her own ideas. And Galen wants them both to steer clear of his investigation.Things are bound to collide … and they do in spectacular fashion.What happens when Detroit’s mouthiest reaper and Moonstone Bay’s newest witch collide? You’re about to find out.The stakes are high, death is in the air … and a few more secrets are about to be unveiled. Strap in, because things are about to get freaky.

Company of Strangers by Melissa McShaneCompany of Strangers by Melissa McShane:

The wizard Sienne hopes to make a name for herself as a scrapper—someone who scours the ruins of the Empty Lands for treasure and lost magical artifacts. But first she must find someone willing to take a chance on a desperate beginner.

When Sienne finally catches a break, she becomes part of a ragtag group of adventurers—a desperate scrapper named Dianthe, her wizard-hating partner Alaric, the drunk priest Perrin, and a young fighter named Kalanath.

But finding the treasure proves only the beginning. They must learn to work together as a team. Their very survival may depend on it.

An epic adventure of daring quests, second chances, and the power of friendship.

Realm Source by Vincent B. MoneymakerRealm Source by Vincent B. Moneymaker:

Are there places beyond heaven and depths below hell? Explore the boundaries of existence by travelling worlds beyond measure in a story beyond belief where universes are born and die but a father’s love for his child lasts forever.

 

 

 

 

War-Sworn by Aaaron D. SchneiderWar-Sworn by Aaron D. Schneider:

Broken people with sharp edges can carve their own destiny.

Luce isn’t just hurt, he’s broken and he’s not alone.

The Twilit Kingdom is in flames as the Gythraul Legions play out their death throes across the vulnerable countryside, while Queen Meabh turns her attentions to dissidents at Mount Falchrreg. An ancient and long-absent power returns––shaken and confused––while an elder evil seeks to realize an apocalyptic vision.

Luce still hasn’t picked up all the pieces, but Armageddon waits for no man, so its back into the meat-grinder with his ragtag crew. They’ve got gambits to dare, prophecies to fulfill, and sacrifices to make, with nothing but blood and fire ahead.

The fate of more than just the Twilit Kingdom hangs in the the balance, and Lieutenant Bollham is still grasping at the veil that hides the most terrible truths which underpin the erupting conflict. The truth, so long hidden, is about to ignite a fire that could burn all of Other-Realm to cinders and holocaust shadows. Times are desperate like never before and Luce is going to have to make some unlikely friends and even that might not be enough to save a world that isn’t even his own.

But you know what they say: what doesn’t kill you, only delays the inevitable.

Validated by Valentine's by Joynll SchultzValidated by Valentine’s by Joynell Schultz:

Ivory has the perfect man, from his microchip processor to his flesh-like exterior.

Ivory hated that she loved her Christmas gift this year. Her sister gave her the perfect humanoid companion, but there’s just one problem: he’ll never be able to say he loves her, no matter how much Ivory falls in love with him.

Was her dream man a present or a curse?

But when Ethan (Ivory’s Dream Droid) looks at her with those sweet blue eyes and secretly earns enough money to enter her in the city-wide bake-off, she realizes she doesn’t care. He’s hers. And that’s the best gift of all.

Ivory’s perfect world falls apart the closer she gets to the bake-off. It starts with a lost entry and Ethan having a few programming malfunctions, then she discovers someone’s deliberately sabotaging her. What started out to be a dream Valentine’s day, begins to turn into a nightmare. A large supportive family, a caring artificial companion, and the best cupcake recipe in the world might not be enough to uncover who’s setting Ivory up to fail.

Barriers by Patrick SkeltonBarriers by Patrick Skelton:

Nathan Gallagher’s life on post-solar-flare Earth just took a turn for the worse.

Barrier Administration has ordered his quadriplegic son to be euthanized at a hospital deep in the solar badlands. Nathan’s only hope is his father, a brilliant aerospace engineer working on an experimental device that would enable Ian to walk again. Only healthy individuals can remain citizens of Barrier cities, and his father’s invention would grant Ian the right to live and re-enter the safe confines of the Barriers.

There’s just one problem: Nathan’s father is missing.
Can Nathan locate him even while the government watches his every step? And if he does find his father in time, can he really help?

BARRIERS is a sci-fi thriller set in a dystopian future where Earth is under siege by the sun. The powers that be decide who gets protection under the Barriers…and who doesn’t.

Jane Bond by V.R. TapscottJane Bond by V.R. Tapscott:

Jane Bond was just a simple elementary school librarian.

But then her life got sidetracked by digging up the AI Pilot of a 140 million year old spacecraft.

Now, she’s running all over the world looking for spaceship parts, falling in and out of love and trying to keep her friends from thinking she’s crazy. Not only that, but the ship she’s helping to recover starts sounding more like the Death Star than the Millennium Falcon.

When did life get so complicated?

A fun read with Bond-style gadgets, action, adventure, an alien intelligence for a sidekick and a little romance thrown in for good measure.

Neron Skies by Kerry TaylorNeron Skies by Kerry Taylor:

Dominion has Nova’s face and Reena’s name—Cyrillius will use and kill them if they’re caught. But being on the run in space isn’t so bad, Nova’s always wanted a different life, and she’s got it now.

It started with a rumor, that the Bahiri still exist—peaceful worshipers of the Nero and Neron. After what happened on Korpillion, Valen told Nova to find them, and to stay away from him. So that’s where the wanted crew aboard The Corsair is headed, across the entire galaxy to the G sector. Nova wants answers about what she did and how it’s possible.

She’s in denial. About what she might be. About where her heart lies. She knows Valen Nero is a bad man, so why is he the only one who fills the hollowness in her chest? Why does she ask him to keep his promise: I will come for you, Nova. And when he does, she’ll learn the truth about him, and what happened to shape him into the man he is today.

A.I. Apocalypse by James David VictorA.I. Apocalypse by James David Victor:

One rogue Artificial Intelligence to rule us all

Captain Eliard Martin has found himself in an alternate universe ruled by Armcore’s rogue artificial intelligence. Eliard and his alternate crew must take back the galaxy and return things to normal or humanity will never be the same. Can he change the past to save the future?

A. I. Apocalypse is the eighth book in the exciting Valyien series. If you like fast-paced space adventure, the rogue crew of the Mercury Blade will keep you entertained for hours.

Imperius Wrecks by A.E. WilliamsImperius Wrecks by A.E. Williams:

A Satirical Peek at the Future

What does our future hold?

If the recent turmoil in the United States is any indication, the outlook is possibly grim.

This short-story by acclaimed science fiction author and raconteur A.E. Williams explores one possible outcome.

Williams puts his redoubtable wit to the task of describing just what we’re up against, from a potential oligarchy, to the devastation of Earth from global warming, surgical nuclear strikes and the sheer ego of one man.

This modern parable of political will drags you kicking and screaming into your worst nightmare – or, perhaps, your ultimate fantasy.

You will be stunned, then shocked, then awestruck at how possible this scenario seems.

Qunatum Contingency by R.K. YoungQuantum Contingency by R.K. Young:

Few possessions are worth risking your life over, but she’ll roll the dice for her space freighter.

Andromeda “Mia” Spire lost her late father’s ship—and her home—in a dirty game of pulsar poker, and now she’s pulling out all the stops to get it back. But her pay sucks, and there’s no way in all the stinking swamps of Mandoorum that she’ll have the money in time to save it. The loan sharks will tear it apart for scrap. And she’ll be next.

Enter Toras Zaru, an eccentric hermit with too much money and a unique collection that’s missing an important element. He’s paying big bucks for someone to fly across the galaxy and face almost-certain death to get it. The payout would solve all her problems—except another crew has beaten her to the punch.

Luckily for Mia, Zaru thinks she’s got the skills they need to get the job done. If she’s willing to help the crew, they’re willing to give her a lift and a share in the profits. But after years of fending for herself, Mia isn’t much of a team player. If she wants her father’s ship back, she’ll have to learn to trust the crew, or risk being thrown out of the nearest airlock.

And that’s just the beginning of her troubles.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for January 2019

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 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.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, craft mysteries, animal mysteries, historical mysteries, 1920s mysteries, Civil War mysteries, Medieval mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, action thrillers, historical thrillers, horror thrillers, police procedurals, romantic suspense, private investigators, amateur sleuths, stalkers, serial killers, axe murderers, assassins, vigilantes, forgers, lawyers, blackmailers, troubled priests, slaves and those who hunt them, crime-busting witches, crime-busting cats, crime-busting geneologists, crime-busting literary agents, missing mistresses, overweight detectives, murder on the seaside, in country manors and in small towns, in Chicago, New Orleans, Upstate New York, Paris 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:

Murder in the Shallows by Beth ByersMurder in the Shallows by Beth Byers:

Violet and Jack go for a simple day on the water. They little expect their day of sun and fun to end with finding a body in the water.

The mystery of what happened to the young man in the shallows posses them both, and they unite in their desire to find out more. Will they be able to discover why Jack’s one-time friend was killed? Who would have done this and why?

 

 

North Country Girl by Anthony DeCastroNorth Country Girl by Anthony DeCastro:

Voices from the past are best left there.

Myrtle Beach PI Fuzzy Koella knows this better than anyone.

But when his old teammate Jo Jo Bigtree calls about a young vagabond accused of murdering a nun, Fuzzy doesn’t heed that advice.

In the frigid landscape of Upstate New York, Fuzzy finds a town with a penchant for violence and dark secrets. An abusive high school hockey coach. A Voodoo doctor. A corrupt Tribal Sheriff. Even his own friend and the good Sister, herself.

As the temperature drops and the body count rises, Fuzzy questions the wisdom of sticking around to catch another bullet. Or worse, freezing to death. But a scared kid sits in jail that nobody seems to care about except Fuzzy.

Fuzzy Koella returns in his second, exciting adventure. If you love witty detective novels with a dose of hard-boiled action, you won’t want to miss North Country Girl.

Damned by Jana DeLeonDamned by Jana DeLeon:

When young priest Nicolas Chatry took his vows, he thought the hardest thing he’d have to deal with was accomplishing his duties from a wheelchair. Until a murderer steps into the confessional. Unable to recognize the voice or maneuver quickly enough to get a look at the killer, Nicolas has no way of identifying who admitted to such a horrific deed. And even if he did, his vows prevent him from telling anyone about it.

Unable to live with the knowledge that a predator is walking the streets of New Orleans, Nicolas breaks his vows and hires Shaye to do the impossible—find the killer before he strikes again.

The Missing Mistress by Thomas FinchamThe Missing Mistress by Thomas Fincham:

What happened to Lana Anderson?

One beautiful morning, David Becker, a respected lawyer, jumps off an overpass and onto incoming traffic. Detective Dana Fisher and Detective Greg Holt are tasked to find out why Becker decided to kill himself in such a public manner. Before they could begin their investigation, Fisher is pulled away from the case. Her brother, Casey, is in trouble and he needs her help.

Private Investigator Lee Callaway will finally get to spend the entire day with his daughter, Nina. But when Callaway finds out who the jumper is, he has no choice but to begin his own investigation.

To solve the mystery of Becker’s death, Callaway must find someone who has seemingly vanished into thin air.

I Blackmailed Her Brother by Jessica FrancesI Blackmailed Her Brother by Jessica Frances:

I blackmailed her brother, so she took my heart and held it ransom.

I made a mistake.
I did something unforgiveable.
I broke her trust.
I shattered the life we were building together.
And I hate myself for the pain I caused her.
But then someone thought they could threaten her,
Thought they could come after the woman I love.
They need to think again.
I am stronger than I have ever been before.
I am determined to win her back,
And no one is getting in my way.
Not our friends.
Not her family.
And definitely not the crazy maniac who is after her.
I will protect her.
I will salvage what we had,
And I will make us stronger because of it.
Not every relationship can be built on solid ground,
And maybe betrayal and blackmail might not make for a great foundation,
But then again, as some people say: there is nothing quite like love at first … crime.

The Asylum by Nathan Dylan GoodwinThe Asylum by Nathan Dylan Goodwin:

The job presented to forensic genealogist, Morton Farrier, ought to have been simple and easy. But the surprise discovery of an additional marriage to his client’s father leads Morton on an enquiry, revolving around a mysterious death in the county asylum. Requiring his various investigative genealogical skills, Morton must work to unravel this complex eighty-year-old secret and finally reveal the truth to his client.

This is the first story in the Morton Farrier genealogical crime mystery series.

The Fat Detective by Christian HayesThe Fat Detective by Christian Hayes:

Private Detective For Hire. No Previous Experience.

Eugene Blake’s quit his job to become an old-fashioned private eye. He’s got everything he needs: a 1940s raincoat, a detective’s notebook and a little clicky pen.

When he meets the mysterious Melissa White she takes his breath away. Tasked with finding her missing husband, Eugene is drawn into the shadowy underworld of London and has to solve the dangerous puzzle of his very first case.

Once he’s been chased, punched and shot at, he wonders whether he should have stuck to his day job.

If you like your novels hardboiled you will love this funny, thrilling and very British twist on the private detective genre. The Fat Detective is the first book in the Eugene Blake trilogy by London novelist Christian Hayes.

Lie Like a Rug by Donna Huston MurrayLie Like a Rug by Donna Huston Murray:

While escorting Bryn Derwyn Academy’s most infamous student downtown to be scared straight by a Federal judge, Ginger Barnes is shocked to find her childhood babysitter, textile professor Charlie Finnemeyer, on trial for fraudulently aging an Oriental rug. Even more alarming, Gin learns that two witnesses against her beloved “Uncle Wunk” suffered suspiciously convenient heart attacks.

Eager to assist the professor’s attorney, the veteran amateur sleuth pries secret information from a university president and uncovers past transgressions of a TV craft show host—all while acquiring an overnight education in early American textiles from experts at Winterthur and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Others guilty of questionable behavior: two antique dealers, and Charlie’s overprotective wife.

Still, damning evidence can’t be swept under a rug. Before Gin can persuade anyone else that Charlie is innocent, she must first convince herself.

A Dead Market by CeeCee JamesA Dead Market by CeeCee James:

Stella O’Neil finally has her first listing! A cute cabin with a gorgeous lake on eighty acres of breathtaking land. There’s just one tiny problem: the body floating in the lake.

If that weren’t unsettling enough, her phone rings off the hook with hundreds of potential buyers. In fact, the property is overrun with them! Stella digs out the truth that the lake is the obscure clue in an old legend that has been solved on the Internet.

But if only her troubles stopped there. She runs into one buyer who won’t take no for an answer. He seems to have way too much personal information about Stella herself, but the police refuse to take the threat seriously. As mishaps continue to develop, she is certain that she being hunted by someone with some sort of grudge against her.

Stella has to solve the murder and figure out the riddle so she can untangle herself from this legal and personal mess… before things go too far.

Billette Hall by D.L. JonesBillette Hall by D.L. Jones:

Southern United States of America, 1858.

A slave auction goes wrong leaving a group of slaves, that were meant to be sold to Billette Hall, in the hands of a cruel slave master. That sale left slaves separated from their loved ones and family members. Marion’s life changes when Master Jesse of Billette Hall Plantation summons her into his quarters for an important task. She must sneak into the auction grounds and help the displaced slaves escape. Those slaves are to be brought safely to Billette Hall.

Armed with a Revolver and a single shot, Marion, the 15-year-old slave girl, must lead the displaced slaves on a 4-day trek through the wilderness to safety. The trek is harrowing and filled with danger as they are forced to avoid bounty hunters, slave catchers and their dogs.

Making matters worse, Marion and the rest of the escaped slaves soon discover that there are nightmares more frightening than the slavers. They are being hunted! A strange unknown man, covered in mud and wielding an axe, stalks them. Everyone who has crossed his path is dead. Marion and her tiny group of frightened men and women will suffer the same fate unless they can rise above their fear.

Billette Hall is the horrifyingly new American Slavery thriller by DL Jones

A Literal Mess by J.C. KenneyA Literal Mess by J.C. Kenney:

The first book in a new series featuring Allie Cobb brings the New York literary agent back to her Hoosier home town where a mysterious death keeps everyone on spoiler alert . . .

Allie Cobb left home for the literary circles of Manhattan to make her name out from under the shadow of her legendary father. Now his death brings her and her rescue cat Ursula back to the southern Indiana town of Rushing Creek, population: 3,216. But a tragic new chapter hits the presses when the body of her father’s hard-drinking, #1 bestselling client is found under the historic town bridge. The local police suspect foul play and their prime candidate for murder is the author’s daughter—Allie’s longtime friend.

Determined to clear her bestie, Allie goes into fact-checking amateur detective mode while trying to ignore the usual rumormongers. Those with means, motive, and opportunity include the vic’s ex-wife, his rejected girlfriend, the mayor, and a rival agent trying to mooch clients. With a rugged genealogist distracting her and the imminent Fall Festival about to send tourists descending on their once-peaceful hamlet, Allie needs to stay alive long enough to get a read on a killer ready to close the book on a new victim: Allie . . .

Not an Elf by Madeline KirbyNot an Elf by Madeline Kirby:

It’s Jake and Boo’s first Christmas together, and they’re heading to Waxahachie to spend it with Petreski’s family. As if meeting your boyfriend’s parents isn’t nerve-wracking enough, there’s also a mob of siblings, a town full of gossips, trouble with a holiday display, and someone’s been sending poison pen letters to the local priest. Oh, and the pie is a bit of a disappointment.

In a house full of Cats, the nights are anything but silent, and it’s not long before Jake is convinced the Petreski family home is haunted. The truth, though, may be even stranger.

Who said small town life was boring?

Now with extra chocolate and nuts! And an elf.

Freaky Deaky Tiki by Amanda M. LeeFreaky Deaky Tiki by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is learning about life, love … and being a witch.She has a hot and hunky boyfriend, new friends, and family she didn’t know existed until recently.Her plate is full.Life gets even busier when a Detroit grim reaper named Aisling Grimlock hits Moonstone Bay for her honeymoon. Aisling is loud, brash … and pregnant. Unfortunately, she’s not one of those women who gets happy and develops a glow at the notion of a new baby.When a body turns up on the docks, Hadley decides to help her boyfriend Galen investigate. All she knows for certain is that the murder looks ritual thanks to the tiki mask left behind … and the gaping wound in his chest.Since she’s bored and limited, Aisling latches on to Hadley and volunteers to help. That means zipping around the island and investigating the local cult that lives in the forest.Aisling has specific ideas about what should be done. Hadley has her own ideas. And Galen wants them both to steer clear of his investigation.Things are bound to collide … and they do in spectacular fashion.What happens when Detroit’s mouthiest reaper and Moonstone Bay’s newest witch collide? You’re about to find out.The stakes are high, death is in the air … and a few more secrets are about to be unveiled. Strap in, because things are about to get freaky.

The Charming Man by Lisa M. LillyThe Charming Man by Lisa M. Lilly:

A blizzard rages. A young woman goes missing. A killer hides in the dark corners of an aging apartment complex.

As Chicago’s worst blizzard on record rages, a close friend asks Quille to help find a missing young woman.

The search takes Quille to River City, an aging apartment complex once seen as the cutting edge of Chicago architecture. When a well-known former resident is killed, downed power lines and multi-car pileups block police from reaching the building.

To prevent more deaths and find the missing woman before it’s too late, Quille must track the killer herself….

Assassin by Eugene Lloyd MacRaeAssassin by Eugene Lloyd MacRae:

When those close to Merlin Arthur Dragon become targets of an assassin, he immediately springs into action, throwing caution to the wind to hunt down the perpetrator. But Interpol’s Stopper soon finds himself the target of a massive manhunt by his own organization. How did things become twisted so quickly? And why? What – and who – is behind the French Gendarmerie Nationale threatening to hunt him down and kill him? Unless Merlin can find the truth to those questions, death will be the final answer.

 

Until Proven Guilty by Rachel SinclairUntil Proven Guilty by Rachel Sinclair:

Damien’s back! And this time, the murder case hits way too close to home.

Damien’s mother, Olivia, is being charged with murder. At first glance, Damien thinks that the murder charge is flimsy at best. Olivia’s friend, Dr. Tracy Dunham, died at her home of an apparent drug overdose. Olivia insists that she was simply sitting in her home, minding her own business, when Dr. Dunham came over to crash on her couch. She found him dead the next day.

The prosecutor’s office, however, charges Olivia with murder. Their accusation is that Olivia gave Dr. Dunham a deadly dose of pure heroin, which is what killed him.

As Damien gets further into the case, he finds that nothing is what it seems. Somebody apparently wanted Dr. Dunham dead – but who? And why? Damien discovers the shocking conspiracy that is truly behind the man’s death, but he finds himself in a race against time to find the evidence to prove his mother’s innocence. If he can’t get to bottom of who wanted Dr. Dunham dead, then his mother will go to prison for the rest of her life.

True, he doesn’t get along with his foul-mouthed, drunk mother, but she’s still his mother.

In the meantime, he also has to deal with a son, Nate, who is on the brink. Nate is slipping away, and Damien feels helpless to stop his son’s destruction. Can he save him in time?

Murder in Broadstowe Manor by Jason VailMurder at Broadstowe Manor by Jason Vail:

The adherents of Simon de Montfort from Herefordshire gather at Hereford Castle to select the county’s delegates to a Parliament Montfort has summoned in order to solidify his control of the kingdom. But the celebrations are interrupted when one of those put forward as a delegate, Sir Rogier FitzHerbert, is found hanged in his locked bedchamber alongside the body of a young man.The new coroner for the county rules the deaths a murder-suicide.But there are those who doubt that FitzHerbert could have murdered the young man and then hanged himself. And one of those faithful to the dead lord engages Stephen Attebrook to prove this was no suicide, but the cold-blooded murder of both.What looks like a routine murder inquiry, however, draws Stephen and his friends Gilbert Wistwode and Harry the carver into the game of shadows, for Montfort had sent the dead lord on a mission to the Welsh, bearing a letter with Montfort’s proposals for a secret alliance. Men would kill to get that letter, which went missing upon FitzHerbert’s death. Stephen finds himself in pursuit of that letter, for it seems to hold the key to the mystery.Stephen’s troubles pile up by leaps and bounds for he must dodge deputies sent after him by Sheriff Percival FitzAllan, who accuses Stephen of murder himself, and he delves deeply into Hereford’s underworld where death lurks in every alley and byway in his search for the truth. Murder at Broadstowe Manor is Stephen Attebrook’s most desperate adventure yet, for his life and fortune are at stake with his every step.

Louisa's Legacy by Rachel WrightLouisa’s Legacy by Rachel Wright:

When Maja Larsson learns that her father was murdered on a remote Pacific island eight years earlier, she embarks on a journey with lawyer Will Brownlie to find out what happened. It soon becomes clear that someone is trying to cover up the real story and as Will investigates, he realises their lives are in immediate danger. Jack Clayman, a skilled black-hat hacker, will stop at nothing to protect his secret, including killing anyone who gets too close.

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Star Trek Discovery Visits “New Eden” and Still Feels Like Star Trek

Welcome to my ongoing coverage of Star Trek Discovery. For my takes on previous episodes, go here.

“New Eden”, Star Trek Discovery‘s second episode of the second season just aired and the show actually feels like Star Trek for two episodes in a row now, which has to be some kind of new record. Not that Discovery didn’t manage to be consistent for two episodes in a row even during season 1, it certainly did. But for some reason, it never felt like Star Trek for two episodes in a row.

So Alex Kurtzman and the new production team have finally figured out how to make something that feels like Star Trek. That’s a generally positive development. There’s only one problem.

“New Eden” is a rather mediocre example of Star Trek.

Warning: Spoilers under the cut!

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