Must-Have Monday #11

Posted 20th July 2020 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

It’s been a while since I did one of these (the last one was back in October!) but a recent conversation with the hubby made me realise it’s actually a lot of work to keep up to date on new releases. I’ve lost count of the number of blogs, journals, and newsletters I’m subscribed to, to say nothing of the authors I follow on Twitter. I even have a Google Calendar going back from March 2019 and extending to July 2021, marking all the releases of books I’m interested in – and I update it religiously as publication dates get pushed back or new books appear.

That’s more work than most people are willing (or able) to put in, right?

So I’m going to try and make these posts a regular thing again, so anyone following THIS blog can have the benefit of my calendar without having to make one yourself 🙂 Because I find that kind of thing a weird kind of fun, but many others probably don’t!

Without further ado, then;

Epic-sounding fantasy and sci-fi books releasing this week (20th July- 26th July)!

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
Published on: 21st July 2020

Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance.

But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona’s worries…

Listen, T. Kingfisher is right up there on my auto-buy list – her books are always hysterically funny, emotional, and wickedly unique and clever. A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking sounds like it’s going to be an utter delight!

The Sin in the Steel (The Fall of the Gods, #1) by Ryan Van Loan
Published on: 21st July 2020

A sparkling debut fantasy set in a diverse world, featuring dead gods, a pirate queen, shapeshifting mages, and a Sherlockian teenager determined to upend her society.Buc and Eld: She’s a brilliant former street-rat, with a mind that leaps from clues to conclusions in the blink of an eye. He’s an ex-soldier, her champion and partner-in-crime. No…not in crime—in crime-solving.

In this fast-paced, action-driven, second world fantasy, the teenager and the veteran are the Holmes and Watson of a world where pirates roam the seas, mechanical engines can change the tide of battle, mages speak to each other across oceans, and earthly wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few.

The Kanados Trading Company hires Buc and Eld to restore the flow of sugar—a source of power and wealth in Venice-like Servenza—from the Shattered Coast. Buc swiftly discovers that the trade routes have become the domain of a sharp-eyed pirate queen. All Buc has to do now is sink the Widowmaker's ship.

Unfortunately for Buc, the gods have other plans.

Unfortunately for them, so does Buc.

This sounds hella interesting, and after reading the free sneak peak (you can download it free on Amazon) I’m definitely hooked. A young genius in love with books, hired/blackmailed into solving some kind of international sugar heist…and pirates and gods and shapeshifters are involved? Gimme!

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
Published on: 21st July 2020

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness.

And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

I admit, I wasn’t super interested in this one – I’m a witch myself, and really don’t like reading about the persecution of witches, puritans, or this general historical period – until on a whim I read the excerpt posted over on Tor’s website. Now it’s neck-and-neck with A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking for my most anticipated release this week!

I Come with Knives (Malus Domestica #2) by S.A. Hunt
Representation: BI MC, side Black gay character, side trans character
Published on: 21st July 2020

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets Joe Hill in S. A. Hunt’s I Come with Knives, a horror-tinged action-adventure about a punk YouTuber on a mission to hunt witches, one vid at a time

Robin – now armed with new knowledge about mysterious demon terrorizing her around town, the support of her friends, and the assistance of her old witch-hunter mentor – plots to confront the Lazenbury coven and destroy them once and for all.

Meanwhile, a dangerous serial killer only known as The Serpent is abducting and killing Blackfield residents. An elusive order of magicians known as the Dogs of Odysseus also show up with Robin in their sights.

Robin must handle these new threats on top of the menace from the Lazenbury coven, but a secret about Robin's past may throw all of her plans into jeopardy.

The Malus Domestica series#1: Burn the Dark#2: I Come with Knives

I’ll admit, I probably won’t be reading I Come With Knives – I read and reviewed the first book in this series, and it edged just a little too far into horror territory for me. (I’m a total horror wimp!) This installment is apparently even scarier, so if you’re into that, you’re probably going to enjoy this a lot!

Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Published on: 21st July 2020

The dangerous magic of The Night Circus meets the powerful historical exploration of The Underground Railroad in this timely and unsettling novel, set against the darkly glamorous backdrop of New York City at the dawn of WWII.

Amidst the whir of city life, a girl from Harlem is drawn into the glittering underworld of Manhattan, where she’s hired to use her knives to strike fear amongst its most dangerous denizens.

But the ghosts from her past are always by her side—and history has appeared on her doorstep to threaten the people she loves most.

Can one woman ever sacrifice enough to save an entire community?

Trouble the Saints is a dazzling, daring novel—a magical love story, a compelling chronicle of interracial tension, and an altogether brilliant and deeply American saga.

I loved Johnson’s The Summer Prince as a teenager and have been following her work ever since. I have to admit, I have no idea what a cross between Night Circus and Underground Railroad is supposed to look like in practice, but I really want to find out!

Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis
Published on: 21st July 2020

Truth is a human right.

It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.

Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.

Sci-fi has to be Very Special Indeed to get my attention (and preferably queer, at that). I have not heard that this has any queer rep, but I’m…intrigued by the premise. Not sure if I’ll actually end up finishing it, but I’m willing to give it a try.

Ashes of the Sun (Burningblade & Silvereye, #1) by Django Wexler
Representation: F/F
Published on: 21st July 2020

Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world, in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy.

Gyre hasn't seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre's sole focus is revenge, and he's willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.

Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn't who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order's cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.

I’ve seen this described as ‘Star Wars, but fantasy’, which doesn’t excite me since I am (gasp!) not a Star Wars fan, buuuut… It is Wexler. I’ll probably end up giving this one a go too, and I know a lot of other early readers have been really enthusiastic about it. It definitely merits a mention on this list, anyway!

Will you be reading any of these? Did I miss any of this week’s releases? Let me know!


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