Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for May 2015

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

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some April 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. We have science fiction, space opera, paranormal romance, post-apocalyptic fiction, epic fantasy, YA fantasy, time travel romance, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, horror, werewolves, wizards, fairytale princesses, monkey queens, pearl divers, heroic thieves, dwarves in love, alien invasions, conspiracies, ghosts, lots of LGBT characters 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 Time Slip Girl by Elizabeth AndreThe Time Slip Girl by Elizabeth Andre

What if the woman you loved was more than a century away? Dara, a computer programmer from Chicago, is visiting London when she opens a door in an Edwardian house and slips into Edwardian England. Agnes, a beautiful London shop girl, takes in the bewildered 21st century American lesbian, but, as Dara begins to accept that she is stuck in 1908, she also begins to accept that she has feelings for Agnes that go beyond gratitude. And the longer Dara stays, the harder Agnes finds it to hide her growing love for the accidental time traveller from the future. Will they overcome grief and prejudice to acknowledge their true feelings for one another? Or will Dara be snatched back to the 21st century before they can express their love?

The Pearl Diver by S. Elliot BrandisThe Pearl Diver by S. Elliot Brandis

I’m Elsie, from the planet Caelum.

It’s 96% ocean, but that’s okay. Out of all six planets (or seven, if you believe the myths), we’re the only people with gills. I can breathe underwater for minutes at a time, discovering the secrets of the deep-sea. Diving is my first love.

But not everybody understands.

Each year they run a competition—a single black pearl is dropped into the ocean, and graduating students dive to find it. It sounds easy, but it’s not. The ocean is a dark and dangerous place, with caves, crevices, and flesh-eating creatures. Some years, not everybody survives.

It’s how my brother died.

My parents won’t let me compete. At times it seems like the whole island is against me. I don’t care. I will enroll, win, and gain the ultimate prize—a job diving on the head planet of the entire system. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll fight for a better life, out there in the stars.

I will be the Pearl Diver.

Or die trying.

A Tiding of Magpies by Robert DahlenA Tiding of Magpies by Robert Dahlen

“One for sorrow, two for joy.”

When Jiao, a princess from Faerie’s Far Lands, comes to the Wonderland Diner and Tavern looking for help, it’s showtime for the Monkey Queen! Michiko and her best friend, Beth McGill, have to rescue the princess’ boyfriend from the minions of a scheming warlord, and then race against time and fend off goblins, ogres and monsters to fulfill a prophecy.

But Michiko has been hiding something from everyone, even Beth, and no secret is forever. And when that secret is revealed…

Everything will change for Michiko and Beth.

This is book 4 of the Monkey Queen series.

81hhX7nJQ1L._SL1500_Inoculated by Scott Michael Decker

Orphaned on a muddy planet and reared by giant paramecia, Lydia observes with inoculated indifference as the nearby Gaean Empire crowns its new, ugly Empress. Suddenly, her life goes haywire. Pursued across the galaxy, she tries to discover why her fellow Homo sapiens have taken such a sudden dislike to her, and why her adoptive Paramecia are going to such lengths to protect her.

 

 

The Initiative by Bruce FottlerThe Initiative: In Harm’s Way by Bruce Fottler

Sam Maxwell hates his bland, dead-end job at a company that’s little more than a labyrinth of cubicles. Seeking a better position, the Blanchard Corporation quickly extends him a surprisingly generous job offer. But something mysterious is lurking beneath the prestigious veneer of this multi-billion dollar technology giant. After accepting the offer, Sam’s life is surreptitiously evaluated by a board of directors who are anxious to recruit candidates for their clandestine consortium. To those already part of this consortium, it’s simply known as The Initiative. To Sam, it’s the start of a perilous venture to help protect one of the most closely guarded secrets in modern history.

Lady in Blue by Kimberly G. GiarrantanoThe Lady in Blue by Kimberly G. Giarrantano

The Lady in Blue stole a car and fled Ash.
Out on Devlin Road she emerged from a crash.
She wandered the woods with her head dripping blood.
Then drowned in the river in water and mud.

All her life criminology student Liz Bloom has heard this rhyme, meant to scare young campers. When she’s about to take on her first cold case, Liz learns the eerie song is about her great aunt Lana. Liz isn’t big on studying, but she does have one advantage most criminologists don’t — she can speak to the dead.

In 1955, Lana Bloom was an eighteen-year-old beauty with Hollywood dreams who fell in love with a stranger. When Lana died in a bloody car crash, all signs pointed to the mysterious man who was never seen again.

As Lana unravels the details surrounding her last week of life, the tale she weaves for Liz is one of desire, betrayal, and murder. If Lana can’t identify her killer, not only will a murderer escape punishment, but her ghostly form will cease to exist. And Liz will have failed the most important assignment of all – family.

Twisted Cogs by Malcolm HemmingsTwisted Cogs by Malcolm Hemmings

It is the turn of the 16th Century, and the world has entered a golden age of art, invention, and architecture. This renaissance of literature and learning in Europa is suddenly thrown into overdrive when a chosen few “Stormtouched” begin displaying supernatural abilities. Torn between the age’s burgeoning love of science and the dark promises of magic, Europa has become a powder-keg of clockwork and sorcery.

Elena Lucciano doesn’t care about increasing mankind’s knowledge or exploring the mysterious workings of magic. Even though she herself is Stormtouched, Elena doesn’t have high ambitions. All she wants is for her mother to be proud of her, for her teacher to accept her, and to become one of the best artists in all of Italoza, content to ignore all thoughts of science and magic.

Unfortunately for Elena, the tides of invention and magic are sometimes not content to ignore those who ignore them…

Emergence-2500x1563-Amazon-Smashwords-Kobo-AppleEmergence by Michael Patrick Hicks

Still recovering from the events that befell her in Los Angeles, Mesa Everitt is learning how to rebuild her life.

The murder of a memorialist enclave changes all of that and sets into motion a series of violence that forces her into hiding. Hunted by a squad of corporate mercenaries, with the lives of her friends and family in danger, Mesa has no one to turn to, but she holds a dark secret inside her skull. She has no knowledge of that secret, but it is worth killing for.

The ghosts of her haunted, forgotten past are about to emerge.

The thrilling sequel to Convergence!

The Sentience Sentence by Ian JaymesThe Sentience Sentence by Ian Jaymes

What if your housemate was trying to take over the world?

Chris Kelton decides to stick it out one last summer in his college town after graduating, and takes on a housemate for few months to help with the rent. Why? He’s not sure. His new boarder, faculty at the university, wasn’t what Chris was looking for, but he takes him in anyway. Before Chris knows it, he’s helping with research, neglecting his cat, making big lifestyle changes and ignoring his friends. Even though he knows his summer guest is strange, Chris doesn’t seem to mind the mystery. Yet true intentions can only stay hidden for so long, and Chris soon discovers that his guest is not who he says he is. Has Chris inadvertently hastened the end of the world as he knows it? What will Chris do next? What can he do?

The Sentience Sentence is approximately 13,500 words in length.

Thea's Tale by Lisa ManifoldThea’s Tale by Lisa Manifold

Does true love really conquer all? The old fairy tales say yes.

Thea doesn’t believe in magic, witches, or fairy tales. They are merely stories for children. She’s not even sure about love, until she meets – again – the man of her dreams. When he tells her, “We do not see one another as we are. Love changes us, and we see one another through the eyes of love”, she’s lost. There’s no one else for her. All that remains is for him to speak to her father, and they will be able to live happily ever after.

Except Thea discovers that’s not quite how things work. Her father has his own agenda. There are handsome suitors vying for her hand. And her crown. Being next in line to the throne also means she’s got enemies. One is a powerful witch who places a curse upon her. Unfortunately, it’s doesn’t affect only Thea.

With many forces conspiring against them, the question is no longer will Thea and her love live happily ever after. It’s will they live at all?

The Sisters of the Curse series follows the twelve dancing princesses who found themselves cursed, and what happens afterwards. Thea’s Tale is the story of the eldest.

Naya's Invasion by Mia MitnsNaya’s Invasion by Mia Mitns

Falling for a human wasn’t part of the plan.
A Stand Alone Story

#29831 a.k.a. Naya is a fierce commander of the quiet alien invasion. Her tasks were minimal. Remain invisible. Direct the invasion. Reach the quota of humans. See how the other humans react.

Falling for a human wasn’t part of the plan.

Will Naya be loyal to her heart or her family?

Second story in the “Fallen Invasion” Series, following Fallen.

The Outsiders by Joe MynhardtThe Outsiders, edited by Joe Mynhardt

A Suspense Thriller / Horror featuring the gated community of Priory, with its cult leader Charles Erich and his followers, including those who want to overthrow him, and those who’ll do anything for him. Is that which they worship the true evil, or does evil reside in them?
Inside Priory awaits a lot more than meets the eye. The people might seem friendly, but only because their enigmatic leader Charles Erich accepts nothing less.

The cottages within this gated community seem simple enough, and even though what lurks beneath them is more ancient than mankind itself, can anything be more evil than the people worshipping it?

If you dare follow this UK invasion of five prime authors as they each tell their own story of the people living behind Priory’s steel gates and high walls, you’ll quickly find yourself an outsider, as well.

Featuring stories by Stephen Bacon, James Everington, Gary Fry, V.H. Leslie, and Rosanne Rabinowitz.

Nightfall by Shiriluna NottNightfall by Shiriluna Nott and SaJa H.

Gibben Nemesio thought his life was over the day he received a conscription notice demanding he train to be a soldier. When he left his home for Silver City, he never expected he’d thwart a terrible plot to murder the King and become an overnight hero—and he definitely hadn’t expected to find love in the form of a handsome mage trainee named Joel.

Three years later, Gib has fought his way from lowborn farmer to hold the coveted position as understudy to the seneschal. Despite heightening tensions between the King and High Council and the rumors of impending war still terrorizing the people of Arden, Gib finds solace in the company of his wise mentor, loyal friends, and beloved companion.

But with the arrival of an ominous message from a powerful enemy in the north, Gib quickly realizes peace is fleeting in a world where chaos lurks in every shadow, and treacherous forces—from both outside the country and within—threaten to destroy everything he holds dear.

This is book 2 in the Chronicles of Arden series, following A Call to Arms.

Forging Change by Alix NovarraForging Change by Alix Novarra

Ostracized and shunned, due to a mysterious illness that has left him in constant pain and with a limp, Elin, crown prince of the dwarven kingdom Quatnu doesn’t believe he has much of a future left.

When he’s ordered to attend a celebration for the safe return of the Diamond Warband, all he wants to do is catch a glimpse of Valodym, Captain of the warband and the dwarf he still loves. Just to make sure that Valodym has returned safely from the mission that many considered suicidal.

Valodym though? Is not the kind of dwarf who gives up so easily, especially not when there’s something worth fighting for. Like Elin, their happiness, and their future.

Jadia by Greg PippinJadia by Greg Pippin

If you slept one day and woke up in a grand palace – to which you had never been before – only to find yourself lying in a coffin, what would you do? What if you woke up in the body of someone else than yourself, or even worse yet if that person, of whom you supposedly took the body, had been long dead? Jadia, Secret of Sagebrush, steep in paranormal adventure and speculative mystery, is a middle grade fantasy about a girl, who embarks on a quest to find out the truth behind her impaired memory, which will trap her within a mazelike riddle.

 

As The Ash Fell by A.J. PowersAs the Ash Fell by A.J. Powers

Life in the frozen wastelands of Texas is anything but easy, but for Clay Whitaker there is always more at stake than mere survival.

Yellowstone, along with two other Super Volcanoes, exploded with a tremendous fury following months of heightened seismic activity worldwide. The devastating eruptions released unmeasurable quantities of ash into the atmosphere. Coastlines were changed. New canyons were formed. Temperatures plummeted, dragging economies down, too. With no real way to sustain order, governments around the world began to fold, societies collapsed.

It’s been seven years since the ash rained down from the sky. Populations are thinning. Food is scarce. Despair overwhelming. Clay and his sister Megan have taken a handful of orphaned children into their home—a home soaring 16 stories into the sky. Providing for his adopted family is a 24/7 job for Clay. And with roughly six short months a year to gather enough food and supplies to last the long, brutal winter, Clay is forced to spend much of his time away from home—scavenging, hunting, and bartering.

Despite the vicious, unforgiving world he lives in, Clay has grown accustomed to his new life. That is, until he meets Kelsey Lambert.

Now, with winter rolling in earlier than ever, Clay must swiftly adapt to the changes in his life to ensure the safety of those he cares about.

The Wizard and the WoodThe Wizard and the Wood by Becca Price

“I’m dying.” Only a special kind of wizard could hear the cry that was carried by the whispery winds. Only a special kind of wizard could answer it.

He followed the cry to the Wide Wild Wood, a place that should have been filled with magic and wonder. But the dryad, the guardian of the Wide Wild Wood, was gone. Without its Guardian, The Wood had sunk into sadness. Its waters sat dark and stagnate, its creatures hid, its plants grew unhealthy. Not even a very special wizard could dispel the sadness by himself. But if the wildfolk came to his aid, he might just have a chance.

The Mages of Bennamore by Pauline M. RossThe Mages of Bennamore by Pauline M. Ross

A fragile peace. A clash of magic. A woman with secrets.

The war between Bennamore and the coastal region was over almost before it began. But the uniquely powerful mage who forged the alliance is dead, and the coastal folk are restless. Now the victors are bringing their spellcraft to the Port Holdings, unaware that the locals have their own less conspicuous magical ability.

Fen’s new job with the mages of Bennamore seems pleasant enough, but their powers threaten to expose her shady little habits. And then she can’t shake off the attentions of the flirtatious and uneducated guard, Mal. Nothing, it seems, will deter him.

The mysterious disappearance of a mage uncovers a dragon’s nest of deceit. Mal needs Fen’s help to figure it out, but she has divided loyalties and her past drags everyone into the middle of a violent conspiracy. Yet she may be the only one who can stand between the two countries, and stop them plunging back into a war which, this time, would destroy all of them.

The Sea Calls My Name by Hollis ShilohThe Sea Calls My Name by Hollis Shiloh

He lost his magic. How?

Returning to the bookstore by the sea, Daniel worries about how to tell his father that the money he saved to send his gifted son to magic school was a waste.

Daniel buries his secret under the pretense of coming home for a vacation. Then he meets Leaf Springfield, a beautiful young man who’s been systematically beaten down by his uncle.

Irresistibly drawn to one another, they learn they share more than a love for raw fish and the ocean—both have lost a mother, and their ties to the ocean may be more fantastic than they can imagine.

Passion explodes between the two. It terrifies Daniel how quickly his feelings for Leaf grow. There may be more here than meets the eye—about both of them.

My Sahil by Hollis ShilohMy Sahil by Hollis Shiloh

Grant Ralstead has loved Sahil Singh for years, working with him and being his friend but knowing all the time that the angry, fierce human is his mate.

Singh doesn’t believe in mates or love, and doesn’t trust anyone. But he worries every time Grant has to go away on a mission, endangering himself. Even though he pushes Ralstead away, his feelings about the wolf shifter are clearly complicated.

Is there any hope for a happily-ever-after between a wounded human and the wolf shifter who loves him?

A Ralstead and Singh short novella. Fits in the Shifters and Partners universe.

Relationship-centered, very low heat, some angst.

Approx. 19,000 words

911fUqS1pLL._SL1500_Thief of Pailtar by Robyn Wideman

Kiana is a thief.

But to be a thief in Pailtar you either join the Thieves’ Guild or pay them to work in the city. Kiana wants to join the Guild.

Kiana’s adventures take her to places she never dreamed of. Deadly animals, vicious monsters, and angry armies all stand between her and survival…Nobody said being a thief was easy!

 

Lifemaker by Dean F. WilsonLifemaker by Dean F. Wilson

The Regime is on the hunt, forcing the Resistance to take refuge aboard the Lifemaker, an advanced submarine that houses a special cargo: a handful of women who can still give birth to human children.

To evade the Regime’s own submersibles, all parties must work together, but tensions are high, and not everyone on board is looking out for the greater good.

As they descend into the deeps, they quickly learn that not all monsters work for the Regime.

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