Must-Have Monday #80

Posted 4th April 2022 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

TEN wonderful new SFF releases, and two bonus contemporary books I’m making grabby-hands at!

In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bisexual MC
PoV: 3rd person past tense, multiple PoVs
Published on: 5th April 2022
Goodreads

Twins imbued with incredible magic and near-immortality will do anything to keep their family safe—even if it tears the siblings apart—in the first book of a mythic epic fantasy from the New York Times bestselling author of Wilder Girls.

Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity helping their father rule their small, unstable country, using their control over the seasons, tides, and stars to keep the people in line. For a hundred years, they've been each other's only ally, defending each other and their younger siblings against their father's increasingly unpredictable anger.

Now, with an independence movement gaining ground and their father's rule weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep their family—and their entire world—from crashing down around them. But other nations are jockeying for power, ready to cross and double cross, and if Rhea and Lexos aren't careful, they'll end up facing each other across the battlefield.

This one didn’t quite work for me, but if you like your Fantasy as a YA/Adult mash-up I’d recommend it!

Aspects by John M. Ford
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Published on: 5th April 2022
Goodreads

"The best writer in America, bar none."—Robert Jordan

At last, the final work of John M. Ford—one of the greatest SF and fantasy authors of his time.

Enter the halls of Parliament with Varic, Coron of the Corvaric Coast.

Visit Strange House with the Archmage Birch.

Explore the mountains of Lady Longlight alongside the Palion Silvern, Sorcerer.
In the years before his unexpected death, John M. Ford wrote a novel of fantasy and magic unlike any other. Politics and abdicated kings, swords and sorcerous machine guns, divination and ancient empires—finally, Aspects is here.

“A great writer who is really fucking brilliant.”—Neil Gaiman

I’ve never read any of Ford’s worm before, but I’m curious about this one – not just because it’s being published posthumously, but because it makes one think of Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell, except more serious in tone. There’s an excerpt up on Tor.com if you want to see what I mean!

Scout's Honor by Lily Anderson
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Published on: 5th April 2022
Goodreads

Prudence Perry is a third-generation Ladybird Scout who must battle literal (and figurative) monsters and the weight of her legacy in this YA paranormal perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Sixteen-year-old Prudence Perry is a legacy Ladybird Scout, born to a family of hunters sworn to protect humans from mulligrubs―interdimensional parasites who feast on human emotions like sadness and anger. Masquerading as a prim and proper ladies' social organization, the Ladybirds brew poisons masked as teas and use knitting needles as daggers, at least until they graduate to axes and swords.
Three years ago, Prue’s best friend was killed during a hunt, so she kissed the Scouts goodbye, preferring the company of her punkish friends lovingly dubbed the Criminal Element much to her mother and Tía Lo’s disappointment. However, unable to move on from her guilt and trauma, Prue devises a risky plan to infiltrate the Ladybirds in order to swipe the Tea of Forgetting, a restricted tincture laced with a powerful amnesia spell.

But old monster-slaying habits die hard and Prue finds herself falling back into the fold, growing close with the junior scouts that she trains to fight the creatures she can’t face. When her town is hit with a mysterious wave of demons, Prue knows it’s time to confront the most powerful monster of all: her past.

This is from the author of Undead Girl Gang, which I loved when it came out back in 2018! This sounds like it’ll be just as, if not more, amazing to read!

Queen of Clouds by Neil Williamson
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 5th April 2022
Goodreads

Queen of Clouds is a sumptuous fantasy from the mind of Glasgow-based author and musician Neil Williamson. Neil's debut novel The Moon King was described by Jeff VanderMeer as "one of the best debuts of this or any other year" and went on to be shortlisted for both the BSFA Award and British Fantasy Award for best novel.

Billy Braid has been raised in an idyllic mountain backwater, aiding Master Kim to craft strangely sentient sylvans from carefully cultivated trees. Then the outside world impinges, and Billy is tasked with delivering a sylvan to the Sunshine City of Karpentine. Upon his arrival, Billy falls in with a young Weathermaker, Paraphernalia, who proves to be fascinating and infuriating in equal measure. But all is not well in the Sunshine City, and Billy is soon embroiled in Machiavellian intrigues he is ill-equipped to deal with, as the city's ruling Guilds – the Constructors, Inksmiths, Weathermakers and more – jostle for status and power, seeing him as the key.

Billy gets co-opted by the Weathermakers who have troubles of their own. The weather is behaving badly. Can Billy help Paraphernalia, heir to the Queen of Clouds, understand what is happening and restore order to the Sunshine City? And if this strange new phenomenon gets out of control, will it usher in a new chapter for humankind… or the end of everything.

Queen of Clouds is a delight; a fast-paced tale set in a richly imagined world. Wooden automata, sentient weather, talking cats, compellant inks, a tower of hands built from the casts provided by the city's many visitors, and a host of vividly realised characters provide the backdrop as the drama rushes to its stunning climax.

“A truly unique and powerful work, intricate and ingenious.” – Adrian Tchaikovsky, Arthur C. Clarke Award winning author

“Superb characterization and fascinating worldbuilding. There’s plenty to enjoy.” – Publishers Weekly

“A book with a lot of charm. Queen of Clouds brings together a resourceful protagonist, a pacey narrative, and a lovingly imagined setting. Moving between a mountainous forest and a teeming and fantastical city, the book's feel is part adult fairy tale, part steampunk, with a dash of satire thrown in.” – Chris Beckett, Arthur C. Clarke Award winning author

“The best fantasy I’ve read in a long time, written with a deep love of language and a quirky inventiveness that charms and fascinates in equal measure. Highly recommended.” – Keith Brooke, Philip K. Dick Award shortlisted author.

This sounds extremely odd but also extremely delightful??? For some reason it doesn’t seem to have a Goodreads page, (:edit: I made one) but it’s available to order in all the usual places, and I really can’t wait to dive in and see how its premise works out!

The Bladed Faith (The Vagrant Gods, #1) by David Dalglish
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Representation: Sapphic PoV character
Published on: 5th April 2022
Goodreads

A usurped prince prepares to take up the mantel of a deadly assassin and reclaim his kingdom, his people, and his slain gods in this epic fantasy from a USA Today bestselling author.

Cyrus was only twelve years old when his gods were slain, his country invaded, and his parents—the king and queen—beheaded in front of him. Held prisoner in the invader's court for years, Cyrus is suddenly given a chance to escape and claim his revenge when a mysterious group of revolutionaries comes looking for a figurehead. They need a hero to strike fear into the hearts of the imperial and to inspire and unite the people. They need someone to take up the skull mask and swords and to become the legendary "Vagrant"—an unparalleled hero and assassin of otherworldly skill. 

But all is not as it seems. Creating the illusion of a hero is the work of many, and Cyrus will soon discover the true price of his vengeance. 

I’ll admit, I haven’t had good luck with Dalglish in the past, but I’m very willing to try again – I like this premise a lot, and I want to meet the queer character I’ve heard quite a bit about. Especially after reading this excerpt over at Civilian Reader!

The Blood Trials (The Blood Gift Duology, #1) by N.E. Davenport
Genres: Science Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 5th April 2022
Goodreads

Blending fantasy and science fiction, N. E. Davenport's fast-paced, action-packed debut kicks off a duology of loyalty and rebellion, in which a young Black woman must survive deadly trials in a racist and misogynistic society to become an elite warrior.

It's all about blood.

The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen's deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive.

The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered.

For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her.

Who trained her to keep that a secret.

But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order.

Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials--a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that--if found out--would subject her to execution...or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather...and then she needs to kill them.

Mareen has been at peace for a long time...

Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that.

Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself--and one's blood--is more important than anything.

I DNF-ed this the first time I read it, but I really want to give it another go. The premise is just that awesome.

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T.L. Huchu
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
PoV: 1st person past tense
Published on: 5th April 2022
Goodreads

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T. L. Huchu is the second spellbinding book in the Edinburgh Nights series.

"Stupendously engaging." – Ben Aaronovitch, bestselling author of Rivers of London

Some secrets are meant to stay buried

When Ropa Moyo discovered an occult underground library, she expected great things. She’s really into Edinburgh’s secret societies – but turns out they are less into her. So instead of getting paid to work magic, she’s had to accept a crummy unpaid internship. And her with bills to pay and a pet fox to feed.

Then her friend Priya offers her a job on the side. Priya works at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies, a very specialized hospital, where a new illness is resisting magical and medical remedies alike. The first patient was a teenage boy, Max Wu, and his healers are baffled. If Ropa can solve the case, she might earn as she learns – and impress her mentor, Sir Callander.

Her sleuthing will lead her to a lost fortune, an avenging spirit and a secret buried deep in Scotland’s past. But how are they connected? Lives are at stake and Ropa is running out of time.

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments finally releases in the US this week! (The UK got it a little earlier.) The first book made it clear this is going to be one of my favourite series, and if you like fantasy is an urban setting I strongly recommend it!

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li
Representation: Chinese-American cast
Published on: 5th April 2022
Goodreads

Ocean’s Eleven meets The Farewell in Portrait of a Thief, a lush, lyrical heist novel inspired by the true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums; about diaspora, the colonization of art, and the complexity of the Chinese American identity.

History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now.

Will Chen plans to steal them back.

A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son who has always been his parents’ American Dream. But when a mysterious Chinese benefactor reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.

His crew is every heist archetype one can imag­ine—or at least, the closest he can get. A con artist: Irene Chen, a public policy major at Duke who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering major who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.

Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars—and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted at­tempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.

Equal parts beautiful, thoughtful, and thrilling, Portrait of a Thief is a cultural heist and an examination of Chinese American identity, as well as a necessary cri­tique of the lingering effects of colonialism.

Not SFF, but even with early reviews being quite mixed, I just can’t resist that premise. I’ve got to read it!

Love from Scratch by Kaitlyn Hill
Published on: 5th April 2022
Goodreads

This summer, Reese Camden is trading sweet tea and Southern hospitality for cold brew and crisp coastal air. She's landed her dream marketing internship at Friends of Flavor, a wildly popular cooking channel in Seattle. The only problem? Benny Beneventi, the relentlessly charming, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing culinary intern--and her main competition for the fall job.
Reese's plan to keep work a No Feelings Zone crumbles like a day-old muffin when she and Benny are thrown together for a video shoot that goes viral, making them the internet's newest ship. Audiences are hungry for more, and their bosses at Friends of Flavor are happy to deliver. Soon Reese and Benny are in an all-out food war, churning homemade ice cream, twisting soft pretzels, breaking eggs in an omelet showdown--while hundreds of thousands of viewers watch.
Reese can't deny the chemistry between her and Benny. But the more their rivalry heats up, the harder it is to keep love on the back burner...

No, as far as I can tell this isn’t SFF in the least either. However, I have a major sweet tooth for baking-related love stories, so this is another one I’ll definitely be checking out!

We Who Hunt The Hollow by Kate Murray
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bisexual MC
Published on: 6th April 2022
Goodreads

A firecracker urban fantasy about the youngest daughter of a family of women warriors, and the power she wishes she had …

Seventeen-year-old Priscilla Daalman’s entire family are Hollow Warriors – legendary monster hunters charged with killing evil beasts from beyond our universe. She’s desperate to live up to that legacy, but she’s convinced neither she, nor her superpower – the ability to sense Hollow energy – is up to the task.

But when Priscilla attempts a desperate ritual to enhance her abilities, she accidentally triggers a frightening new power: the power to summon monsters from the Hollow itself. Now, Priscilla must protect her loved ones – her heartbroken ex-girlfriend, her mysterious new boyfriend, even her fierce warrior family – from supernatural monsters, and also from herself. Because if her power gets out, all hell will break loose … and Priscilla will risk losing everything.

Shortlisted for the Ampersand Prize, Kate Murray’s breathtaking debut YA novel is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Lynette Noni.

This is an Australia-only release, but it sounds so amazing I’ve jumped through half a dozen hoops to get my hands on a copy! I mean, this is how the author describes it on her website;

  • bi protag 
  • loads of sisters
  • rebels
  • animal companions
  • kickass warrior grandmother
  • family with 2 mums
  • secret monsters
  • secret superpowers
  • cactus with googly eyes
  • very snarky mouse

What more could you possibly want?!

Amongst Our Weapons (Rivers of London, #9) by Ben Aaronovitch
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 7th April 2022
Goodreads

The ninth novel of the bestselling Rivers of London urban fantasy series returns to the adventures of Peter Grant, detective and apprentice wizard, as he solves magical crimes in the city of London.
There is a world hidden underneath this great city.

The London Silver Vaults–for well over a century, the largest collection of silver for sale in the world. It has more locks than the Bank of England and more cameras than a celebrity punch-up. Not somewhere you can murder someone and vanish without a trace–only that’s what happened.

The disappearing act, the reports of a blinding flash of light and memory loss amongst the witnesses all make this a case for Detective Constable Peter Grant and the Special Assessment Unit.
Alongside their boss DCI Thomas Nightingale, the SAU find themselves embroiled in a mystery that encompasses London’s tangled history, foreign lands and, most terrifying of all, the North!

And Peter must solve this case soon because back home his partner Beverley is expecting twins any day now. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s about to encounter something–and somebody–that nobody ever expects…

Effortlessly original, endlessly inventive and hugely entertaining–step into the world of the much-loved, Number One bestselling Rivers of London series.

The US needs to wait another week, but the latest Rivers of London book is out in the UK this Thursday! I’ve loved this series for years and years and can’t wait to see what happens next!

The Last Gifts of the Universe by Rory August
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 7th April 2022
Goodreads

A dying universe.

When the Home worlds finally achieved the technology to venture out into the stars, they found a graveyard of dead civilizations, a sea of lifeless gray planets and their ruins. What befell them is unknown. All Home knows is that they are the last civilization left in the universe, and whatever came for the others will come for them next.

A search for answers.

Scout is an Archivist tasked with scouring the dead worlds of the cosmos for their last gifts: interesting technology, cultural rituals—anything left behind that might be useful to the Home worlds and their survival. During an excavation on a lifeless planet, Scout unearths something unbelievable: a surviving message from an alien who witnessed the world-ending entity thousands of years ago.

A past unraveled.

Blyreena was once a friend, a soul mate, and a respected leader of her people, the Stelhari. At the end of her world, she was the last one left. She survived to give one last message, one final hope to the future: instructions on how to save the universe.
An adventure at the end of a trillion lifetimes.

With the fate of everything at stake, Scout must overcome the dangers of the Stelhari’s ruined civilization while following Blyreena’s leads to collect its artifacts. If Scout can’t deliver these groundbreaking discoveries back to the Archivists, Home might not only be the last civilization to exist, but the last to finally fall.

This has been very positively reviewed by early readers as very human-focussed scifi, and that combined with the premise has me really looking forward to it!

Will you be reading any of these? Did I miss any books I should know about? Let me know!

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