stories in and

Everything Is Wonderful Now by Shane Blackheart

When Dark is good and Light is evil... Ten-year-old Sera is isolated and depressed; bullied at school and at home by her father. Her mind gives her no respite, suffering from a panic disorder and a second voice in her head that forces violent, intrusive thoughts. She meets the fallen angel Byleth one night while wanting to end her life. He isn't a fan of kids and intends to leave immediately, but Sera's aura catches his eye. It's dark, and it isn't from her trauma that pulls at his heartstrings. It's also attracted a corrupt angel who wants to rid the world of another Hellspawn child. Sera has a lot on her plate, but as she ages and transitions to Sean, a disabled trans man with C-PTSD, he not only meets more spirit guides from Hell, he realizes that his biggest threat has always been the 'other' that dwells in his own head.


The Fall That Saved Us by Tamara Jerée

Nephilim—humans with direct lines to the angels—are natural demon hunters. All nephilim, it seems, except Cassiel. The weakest among a family touched by archangels, she’s abandoned her angelic inheritance for a mundane life as a bookseller. But even in the noise of the city, she remains burdened by the strict tenets of her old life. And recently, something far more sinister haunts her. Avitue is a succubus out for revenge—though she has little say in the matter. As part of the greater demons’ plan to ruin Cassiel’s family for slaying a duke of Hell, Avitue’s been sent to claim a particular nephilim soul, one she’s told will pose little challenge. It should be an easy seduction. Quick, fatal. But Avitue is surprised to find her own pain reflected in Cassiel, a nephilim deemed fallen by her own family’s standards. By choosing trust, they reveal the lies that bind them, but as unwilling participants in an eternal war, trusting each other is the most dangerous thing they can do.


The Thirteenth Key by Cara Nox

The chaotic crew of heisting misfits in Leigh Bardugo's SIX OF CROWS meets the familiar yet fantastical, modern landscape found in Robert Jackson Bennett's CITY OF STAIRS. “The thirteen emblems given to the original rulers weren’t just symbols. They’re keys to the Vault—one that no one’s ever opened.” Noa has lived her life as an unsuspecting, ID-burning, face in the crowd that disposes of “problems” for her miscellaneous, secretive employers. So, when Noa’s surrogate father—a Seer—hands her a long-lost emblem, telling her with his dying breath that it's her responsibility to reignite magic, she laughs at the idea that the fate of their world rests on the shoulders of a killer. Instead, she uses his words and the key he gave her as an excuse to go on one final suicide mission to seek out the power supposedly waiting for her to annihilate his murderer. Prince Glacier Caelius has lived his life trapped inside a gilded cage, pushed down by the ever-present threat of death as the bastard son of Amarais’s late king. But when the rebels attack during a nationalist party, Glacier’s rescued by none other than Noa and her merry band of thieves, who are scrambling to salvage a failed attempt at stealing his country’s emblem: the Soul of Amarais. When the dust settles, he’s the only person left alive to unlock the palace vault and give the Soul to Noa in exchange for saving his life. Well, once they’re able to formulate a plan to take the palace back. Struggling with their tentative, newfound freedom, Noa and Glacier must learn to work together to survive the urban landscape of Avaria’s greatest cities fortified by technology in the wake of dwindling magic. The goal: steal as many keys as they can before their pasts catch up. But the further they go, the more they realize that something worse may be lurking on the horizon, and they may very well be the only ones able to stop it.


The Kings of Nowhere by C.G. Drews

Avery Lou has given up stealing houses — now he’s meant to build them. Forced to stay with the De Lainey family until Sam’s return from juvie, Avery feels like he’s drowning. He hates that Sam chose the De Laineys instead of running away with him. And he hates working in their construction company while Vin, the thief who hurt Sam, still walks free. Avery wants revenge. Swapping the sharp-edged world of burglary and car theft for the homey chaos of big family life is a wild adjustment, and Avery’s determined to sabotage his time with the De Laineys and get locked up with Sam instead. Avery just has to stay immune to Jeremy’s charming shenanigans. Easy…sort of. But Avery’s war against Vin has brought trouble to the De Lainey door and he can’t survive this fight alone.


Starlight Jewel by E.L. Lyons

SPFBO9

Gifts of the Auldtree is a world of mythology, glamor, mud, blood, civilizations in conflict, and hints of distant powers. In the center of this is the mysterious Starlight Jewel of Minalav. Axly, the Starlight Company's premier seductress-thief and assassin, will do whatever it takes to keep her human brother hidden. The secrets of his origin could tear their world apart, and keeping them has driven her to lies and murder. Her people, the sprygan-human hybrids that live under the city of Minalav, aren't keen on allowing their most skilled asset to roam free. A job with a human offers a chance to get her brother out of danger, but it comes at a price. Divided loyalties, duty, romance, and the twisted hands of fate intertwine in this epic fantasy adventure.


FEVER by Shilo Niziolek

A memoir made up of essay fragments, Fever, examines what it is to desire throughout all phases and states of life and being. Niziolek mixes plain language with poetic prose to interrogate trauma from domestic violence and illness, sexuality, and the different ways we can and do love despite these things. All of this comes together to create a keen focus on the many ways one can experience desire and its intersection with love.


The Heretic's Guide to Homecoming, Book One: Theory by Sienna Tristen

“Life is transformation. You change or you die.” Ashamed of his past and overwhelmed by his future, Ronoah Genoveffa Elizzi-denna Pilanovani feels too small for his own name. After a graceless exit from his homeland in the Acharrioni desert, his anxiety has sabotaged every attempt at redemption. Asides from a fiery devotion to his godling, the one piece of home he brought with him, he has nothing. That is, until he meets Reilin. Beguiling, bewildering Reilin, who whisks Ronoah up into a cross-continental pilgrimage to the most sacred place on the planet. The people they encounter on the way—children of the sea, a priestess and her band of storytellers, the lonely ghosts of monsters—are grim and whimsical in equal measure. Each has their part to play in rewriting Ronoah’s personal narrative. One part fantasy travelogue, one part emotional underworld journey, The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming is a sumptuous, slow-burning story about stories and the way they shape our lives.


Daylight Chasers by Rue Sparks

"I wish this day would never end" - One heart's desire leads to a tumultuous journey for an unlikely pair. Keenan, a guide at Daylight Chasers, is hired to lead Isabella through a day that "nearly" never ends. As the top agent, he excels at calming the excitable and inspiring the timid, as they journey across the globe one time zone at a time. Despite his years of experience, Keenan soon realizes that he is going to need a lot more than his familiar script when it comes to Isabella's expedition. When the planned activities all start going south, Keenan finds himself struggling to respond to Isabella's mercurial moods. With each adventure sending them further from the planned path, Keenan begins to wonder how can he be the guide when even he is feeling lost? This short story is a modern fable on mortality, bravery, and acceptance. ---- Content Warning: This book covers the many nuanced emotions surrounding death and loss.


Chronicles of My Alien Invasion Life by Jes McCutchen

SPSFC 2022

Chuck and her friends lost a good one last summer, but none of them are convinced that Ghost is truly gone. Once she recovers from her accident, she's ready to find the truth behind where he went. With the help of her friends, Bailey, Corrin, and Pacey, Chuck will do what she can to track down Ghost, even if it means she maybe kinda gets abducted. It's complicated. Will Chuck be able to reunite her crew, and, more importantly, will she do it without embarrassing herself? Probably not, but she's gotta try.


Song of Phoenix and Ink by Margherita Scialla

[new adult fantasy novel with polyamory themes.] All Nadzia Kaminski wanted was to finish writing her novel. When she finally finished the manuscript for Crimson Mayhem, she did what any writer would: gave it to her best friend to read. Her friend’s reaction, however, wasn’t what she had expected and, upset by her criticism, Nadzia left her at the café where they had met. Waking up the next morning, Nadzia was no longer in her bedroom, finding herself in a world of her creation, surrounded by dangerous magic and vaguely familiar settings. With a country at war and no clear way home, time is running out and Nadzia has to find a way to gain the trust of the very people she created and figure out her confusing feelings for two of her own characters. She soon realizes stories aren’t perfect when there is no one left to write them.


Paper Forests by Tegan Anderson

“While your children and grandchildren are away, I like to think that they’re visiting a fantastic place, somewhere where they aren’t restrained by an illness or held back by their own emotions, a place where there is nothing but health and happiness to greet them.” Once upon a time, Oliver wakes up in a Forest full of magic and monsters, not quite dead, but not quite alive either. He wakes with three other people whose lives have been cut short, each more tragically than the last. Together, they embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the Forest, where they will have to face the ghosts of their pasts and their long-hidden secrets. Secrets that will force Oliver to choose between finding a new life in the trees and finding a way home. Welcome to the Paper Forest.


The Stars Will Guide Us Back by Rue Sparks

The special ability of a jellyfish may be one man's only hope to save his husband. In a world where the gods have returned, their only folly was not expecting humanity to fight back. When trauma disconnects someone's soul from their body, one person has the ability to reunite them. A family gift of reading the spirits in flames has taken everything from her, but can it give her everything she needs? In The Stars Will Guide Us Back, thirteen short stories encapsulating the elements of speculative fiction and magical realism travel the themes of mental health, loss, mortality, self-confidence, and finding hope through difficult circumstances. Explore the immersive worlds within, along with a range of peculiar, distinct, and queer characters. Sometimes confidence comes from knowing we have no other choice, and the ones who rescue us come from the strangest places. Dark and light collide in this collection that highlights the liminal spaces of the human experience. --- Content Warnings: Apocalypse/End of the World Scenario Brief Mentions of Toxic Masculinity Depression & Anxiety Cosmic Events Domestic Violence (Off-screen/Implied) Gaslighting Grief & Loss Homophobia (Verbal) Mentions of Unsupportive Parenting Terminal Illness


A Canticle of War by Steven Raaymakers

When the world is threatened with total destruction, can warchildren unite to save it? A grim story of trauma and power with a Sanderson-esque magic system. In this epic conclusion, all bets are off as Raziel and his rag-tag crew must finally come together against the rising dark power. If death doesn’t find them first. The city of Archehan lies in ruins, banshees circle the crumbling towers. Famine and violence spread across the fallen kingdom. An empire marches its armies to war. Ancient magics are stirring, woken by Raziel’s choices. With the fate of the world in their hands, will Raziel and his companions find the way forward through the darkness, or will they be the architects of their own doom? The ‘Aria of Steel Trilogy’ is a heavy-metal power ballad of clashing blades, blood-soaked betrayal, and sweet revenge. Join the fight today!


A Canticle for the Fallen by Steven Raaymakers

How far would you go to change the past? After four years in exile, Raziel is forced to return to his homeland, Renas. Meeting a companion who shares his abilities, he sets off to find the rumoured ‘Lady in White’, an enigmatic woman who promises an end to the persecution of their kind. Raziel is soon faced with a terrible choice over life and death. He bears serious wounds, and the path ahead grows ever more violent. Wracked with indecision, and with his soul in turmoil, he sets off on a bloody mission. Will his pain lead him to the light, or will the shadows claim his scarred soul? Set in a grim world of emotion-based magic and twisted fates, this is the second book in the Aria of Steel trilogy.


Nightfall by M.A. Vice

A bitter war with Raazenia has seized Sylva. Beaten-down revolutionaries fight for survival in the dark world. As the Order searches for a way forward in the face of rampant uncertainty, Mianna is forced to confront dark secrets about the Order she has served all her life that will shake the foundation of everything she has ever known. As Z'xolkuloth's iron grip increases on the dark world of Hatheg Kla, the last scraps of revolt may at last find the leader they have long searched for...


Birthright by M.A. Vice

When a young daemon becomes host to his father, the eons-old progenitor of his kind, it seems his only purpose is to kill and kill again, to build a new world fit for the dark to rule. Unseen by humans, the world has long been controlled by the strings of a shadowy secret society of immortal beings, the Order of Azoth. As the organization fractures and begins to unravel, he may be the last hope of the Order to quell the spread of corruption and change the path of the future. Just as they may be his only hope to discover his own humanity.


String of Stardust by James Margaret Rose

"It is a farce for a wildflower, so meek and common, rooted firmly in the Earth, to fall in love with the Moon..." Despite her status as a noblewoman, Suzette always dreamt of becoming a baker; however, she never had the courage to fly away from her gilded cage. But once an ill-arranged marriage pushes her to the brink, she escapes with the help of her dear friend Hikaru, a mysterious man who lonesomely wanders the Earth. By his side, Suzette discovers a magical world unlike any she believed could exist—and most surprising of all, that this is not the first time she has known Hikaru...nor the first time she has been in love with him. But that life ended long ago. Suzette is an entirely new person, and much has changed in their decades of absence. As much as she wishes to recreate the idyllic life of her new memories, there may be no choice but to also recreate its tragedy. Note: Contains mature content that may not be suitable for younger readers.


A Canticle of Two Souls by Steven Raaymakers

A magic sword forged of a demon. A broken boy seeking revenge. A grim coming-of-age tale with a Sanderson-esque magic system. Raziel watched the Rhotian Empire slaughter his family. When a sentient sword promises him the head of the emperor, Raziel carves a bloody path in an epic journey across a land filled with banshees and mercenaries in pursuit of his revenge. But forced to travel with a strange young woman with a dark past, will Raziel even reach his destination? Alicia has plans of her own. Gifted with a terrible magic that can bend others to her will, she also has revenge on her mind and Raziel in her sights. Can two enemies put aside their differences to seek a higher goal, or will mistrust and inner-demons condemn their fates? Magic is a dangerous thing. So is hope. The ‘Aria of Steel Trilogy’ is a heavy-metal power ballad of clashing blades, blood-soaked betrayal, and sweet revenge. Will you walk away or join the fight?


Structural Strain by Tabitha O'Connell

After realizing how badly he was failing his partner, Yaan promised to do better. Being open and vulnerable with Kel isn’t exactly easy, but it’s worth it for the closeness they now share. Kel, meanwhile, continues to combat his conflict-avoidant nature and be honest about his own wants and needs. The payoff includes not just an increase in affection from Yaan, but also Yaan getting to know his family, and even pledging to help get the old neighborhood theater—the catalyst for their reconciliation—open again. When Yaan begins noticing other ways the city government he works for has failed its working-class residents, his renewed commitment to Kel leads him to push back against his boss’s policies. Kel, however, is concerned Yaan might be taking on too much. When he’s proven right, their relationship will be tested anew, as Yaan is forced to decide what really matters to him and Kel must choose how far he’s willing to go for Yaan’s sake.


Structural Integrity by Tabitha O'Connell

Messenger boy Kel never expected to strike up a romance with a government official. But Yaan lacks the self-important snobbery of the others, seeing Kel as more than just a pretty face. Living with him in the city’s plush government complex is everything Kel could want: no more expenses, kitchen workers and resident animals to befriend, and of course seeing Yaan every day. Even if Yaan does spend most of his time working or worrying about work, and seems to have forgotten that they used to have actual conversations… When the city decides to tear down the iconic theater building in Kel’s old neighborhood, Yaan’s indifference toward his pleas to help save it forces Kel to confront his growing unhappiness. In the aftermath, both will have to decide whether their relationship is salvageable.


The Skeleton Key by Justine Manzano

Sword and Silk Books Teacup Dragon Coop

Sequel to the award-winning Order of the Key Kyp Franklin can't move on. One year after his mother officially declared war against him, Kyp is still struggling to find his feet as the Order of the Key's new leader. He's far too concerned about tracking her down before she causes even more damage than she already has. In fact, that's all he's been doing. Until one day, after a particularly reckless mission, he returns to find a surprising visitor on his doorstep... Jacklyn Madison can't move on. One year after she left the Order, she has a new team, and a new mission. She's determined to close all the interdimensional rifts between our world and the Dusk, before more people die trying to stop the creatures that pass through them. But a vision she had while on the edge of death leads her to the one place she never intended to return … Forced to work together, Jacklyn, Kyp, and their respective teams uncover Lavinia's next plan: an alarming mix of magic and science the likes of which has never been seen before. Jacklyn and Kyp must learn to work together again and confront the demons of their past if they're going to stop Lavinia and those assisting her before their larger plan is put into action--a plan that could bring the monsters of the Dusk to our world...forever.


Pretend to read this book to avoid talking to strangers by Cassie Bailey

Description ‘Pretend to read this book to avoid talking to strangers’ is the new e-book by Cassie Bailey. Six short stories explore love, loneliness, and the human search for connection. ABOUT THIS BOOK: We all seek to belong somewhere. But what does it mean to really feel that sense of belonging? To feel truly connected – to our Earth, and to each other? Wires doesn’t mind being alone when the world ends, but she’d rather be with the girl she loves. Sharon connects with others through her daydreams, even when she can’t talk to them in person. Kelly and Adam seek connection through their art, but is it at the expense of their relationship? And somewhere, deep at the bottom of the ocean, a woman speaks to the sea and stars, as they help her remember where she belongs. Each tale was written at a different point in the author’s 20s, and the scattered but reflective story structures explore the inner workings of her neurodiverse brain. At times humorous, other times devastating, this debut collection fuses poignant poetry and open dialogue. ‘Pretend to read…’ will leave you thinking a little deeper about how the human mind experiences and searches for connection. 24,968 words ADVANCED READER REVIEW: ‘From the moment I began reading dizzy & wires, I was awed by Cassie’s ability to turn her heartfelt thoughts into poetry. Her neurodiverse brain is an absolute gift and the magic, depth, and originality she produces within these pages is a thing to behold. Raw, vulnerable, at times quirky and at other times thought-provoking, these short stories are the kind you’ll want to come back to again and again and you’ll keep discovering fresh delights you missed the first time around.’


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