“Did you like it?” He asked her.
“Am I supposed to?”
“I don’t know.” Mike said.
“Well, I did like it. I like it fine.”

This bit of dialogue comes from writer Ivan Infante’s new e-book, False Ransom: The First Mike Chance Novel, and takes place between the lead character, conman and bruiser Mike Chance, and the fugitive daughter of a local mob boss immediately after she has shot a man to death . . . an experience that is a first for her. While this smidge of Infante’s story may not seem like much on its own, it perfectly captures the dark tone, moral ambiguity and subtle sexiness of False Ransom, while also conveying the emotional turmoil readers will experience in this tight and suspenseful page turner. At first, it’s an acquired taste, perhaps a little more harsh and cynical than most are used to, but once you get accustomed to the flavor, trust me, you’ll like it. You’ll like it fine.

MINOR SPOILERS BELOW

I've read a lot of of fantasy books based off of roleplaying games. The quality of their plots often leaves much to be desired, and they're all over the place as far as deciding what rules and complexities from the game to follow and which to blatantly ignore. This is all to say that those aren't really concerns here. James L. Sutter knows his stuff.

The first Watt O’Hugh novel, The Ghosts of Watt O’Hugh, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2011 and also won Best Fantasy Novel in The Indie Excellence Awards 2012.  Now, the acclaimed novel is being re-released, along with the second part of the tale of mysterious shootist and time roamer Watt O’Hugh, Watt Underground, which both clarifies some of the mysteries from Ghosts and continues revealing pieces of Watt’s story for curious readers.  With so much fanfare about the original novel, I was uncertain whether it would live up the hype, and, sadly, for me, while Ghosts is a well-crafted, unique piece, I was left mostly unmoved and slightly baffled. I personally found Watt Underground a more enjoyable read, and it almost felt like a decoder ring for some of my confusion from the first book.

Emily Monroe is a highly effective personal investigator with a hidden secret; her psychic abilities give her an edge in finding things invisible to the more traditional senses.  She’s successfully concealed her talents from the non-gifted humans around her, but a chance encounter with another psychic turns Emily into a dark obsession for a man enamored of control and pain. Now, she’s working against the clock with the Wichita police force to find this man before he kills one more woman in the name of drawing Emily to him.  Simultaneously, the young woman finds hope in a male psychic named Jake who offers warmth, safety, and light.  Can the two of them protect the connection between them while preventing the killer from flooding Emily with his darkness and death?

Being up front, the Fear the Boot podcast has been part of my lineup of regularly listened to podcasts for a long time. If you're a fan of tabletop RPGs, it and its massive backlog of 330+ episodes are one of the first I would recommend. Many of the hosts of the show - Dan Repperger, Wayne Cole, Chris Hussey, and more - have demonstrated their creativity time and time again on the show, and it kills me that we don't have more stuff out from them.

If your only reason for picking up The Detainee by Peter Liney is the publishing buzz about it being a Hunger Games for adults, don’t; however, if you want to read a novel with a dystopian look at ageism, an examination of an extreme example of a police state, and a dose of The Lord of the Flies blended into a unique vision of the future, this may be exactly what you’ve been looking for. Liney’s characters and world manage to get under the reader’s skin even when the exact details are a little off-putting.

One hundred and sixty-three years ago, a starship called Defiant tried to leave Earth’s orbit as a police vehicle desperately pursued it.  The police vessel was taken on board the larger ship as Defiant fell through a wormhole or other space anomaly and launched across space to a strange planet where life had developed despite the lack of a large light giving star.  Three members of Defiant’s marginally volunteer crew opted to leave this new place and return to Earth for rescue aid; however, Angela and Tommy chose to stay behind on this new planet and try to make a life while they wait for help.  The new home is dubbed Eden, and from this one couple, an inbred and primitive society is born. The Family is content to stay near the Circle of Stones created by their Mother, Angela, and wait for Earth until a young man named John Redlantern dares to believe that there could be life beyond the frozen wastes north of their settlement and becomes a catalyst for change in a stagnant world order.

How much would you be willing to risk for freedom? Seventeen-year-old Yulia has been on the run with her mother and younger brother ever since her father disappeared five years ago, destroying their comfortable life as high-ranking Party scientists; however, the KGB doesn’t want Yulia because of her parents’ previous positions. They want her ability to read memories from inanimate objects. When she is captured and taken to the hidden KGB school for young psychics, Yulia is faced with a harsh choice: should she fight to live her life as freely even at the expense of her mother and brother or accept the life the Party dictates for people with her special abilities? Set in Soviet Moscow in 1963 and 1964, author Lindsay Smith explores the nature of true choice on a backdrop of the Cold War and Space Race.

In a world where Demons previously roamed, a new species arose from the sexual assault of human women by the demon hoards. These demon-human hybrids combine the strength, ruthlessness, and rage of their Demon fathers with the soul and heart of their human mothers, but they can easily sink into the cruel nature of their Demon sides. They are known as Reapers, and those with only one-quarter demon blood have chosen to use their superior strength to defend humanity against all forces. Aella is the youngest Reaper and the result of the latest Teller Witch’s rape by the Demon Ganesh. With her Demon and magic user blood, she is predicted to be the last of the Reapers, the final hope for human kind, the powerful Red Reaper; however, Aella bears deep emotional scars from childhood abuse at the hands of her Demon father and his minions, and the Reapers do not fully trust her. When she flees their stronghold of Raggenborg in search of a mysterious boy from her past, Aella never suspects she may find what she craves most of all: a human who loves and accepts her even after seeing her dark side.

Labyrinth of Stars is the fifth installment in Marjorie M. Liu’s urban fantasy series, Hunter Kiss. Maxine and Grant are expecting their daughter, the child who should inherit Maxine’s mantle as hunter, but Grant is also losing his strength after becoming a demon lord to four clans. The pair must balance their relationship, caring for flesh-eating non-humans on modern Earth, and Maxine’s natural drive to eradicate demons to keep their fragile world intact; however, powerful forces fear the birth of Maxine and Grant’s gifted daughter and seek to fulfill the prophecy of Maxine being the last Hunter Kiss by killing the child in the womb. How far will this mother go to protect her child, and will a mysterious plague that threatens all life on Earth tip the scales?

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