Must-Have Monday #110

Posted 31st October 2022 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

FOURTEEN fantabulous books this week – though I admit that two of them are not SFF!

(Books are listed in order of pub date, then Adult SFF, Adult Other, YA SFF, YA Other, MG SFF.)

The World We Make (Great Cities, #2) by N.K. Jemisin
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: QBIPOC cast
Published on: 1st November 2022

Three-time Hugo Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author N.K. Jemisin crafts "a glorious fantasy" (Neil Gaiman) -- a story of culture, identity, magic, and myths in contemporary New York City, in the final book of the Great Cities Duology.

Every great city has a soul. A human avatar that embodies their city's heart and wields its magic. New York? She's got six.

But all is not well in the city that never sleeps. Though Brooklyn, Manny, Bronca, Venezia, Padmini, and Neek have temporarily managed to stop the Woman in White from invading--and destroying the entire universe in the process--the mysterious capital "E" Enemy has more subtle powers at her disposal. A new candidate for mayor wielding the populist rhetoric of gentrification, xenophobia, and "law and order" may have what it takes to change the very nature of New York itself and take it down from the inside. In order to defeat him, and the Enemy who holds his purse strings, the avatars will have to join together with the other Great Cities of the world in order to bring her down for good and protect their world from complete destruction.

Personally, I think we should get an international holiday whenever a new N K Jemisin book drops. You know, so we can all dive straight into said book without having to deal with work or school or whatever.

You’d all sign that petition if I started one, right???

A Fractured Infinity by Nathan Tavares
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Gay Hispanic MC, gay Egyptian love interest, M/M
Published on: 1st November 2022

A thrilling race across the multiverse to save the infinite Earths – and the love of your life – from total destruction for fans of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, The Time Traveller's Wife and Rick and Morty.

Film-maker Hayes Figueiredo is struggling to finish the documentary of his heart when handsome physicist Yusuf Hassan shows up, claiming Hayes is the key to understanding the Envisioner – a mysterious device that can predict the future.
Hayes is taken to a top-secret research facility where he discovers his alternate self from an alternate universe created the Envisioner and sent it to his reality. Hayes studies footage of the other him, he discovers a self he doesn’t recognize, angry and obsessive, and footage of Yusuf… as his husband.

As Hayes finds himself falling for Yusuf, he studies the parallel universe and imagines the perfect life they will live together. But their lives are inextricably linked to the other reality, and when that couple's story ends in tragedy Hayes realises he must do anything he can to save Yusuf's life. Because there are infinite realities, but only one Yusuf.

With the fate of countless realities and his heart in his hands, Hayes leads Yusuf on the run, tumbling through a kaleidoscope of universes trying to save it all. But even escaping into infinity, Hayes is running out of space - soon he will have to decide how much he’s willing to pay to save the love of his life.

I’ve seen NO ONE talking about this book and frankly that is CRIMINAL. It’s fun and fast and messy and deep, and very brown and very queer – and the author really said “Not today” to literally everything you’d expect.

I love it so much. You can read my full review here, but the TL;DR version is GO BUY IT IT’S AWESOME!!!

Màgòdiz by Gabe Calderón
Genres: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Two-Spirit, LGBTQ+, BIPOC, neurodivergent, and disabled characters
Published on: 1st November 2022

Màgòdiz (Anishinabemowin, Algonquin dialect): a person who refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of their country.

Everything that was green and good is gone, scorched away by a war that no one living remembers. The small surviving human population scavenges to get by; they cannot read or write and lack the tools or knowledge to rebuild. The only ones with any power are the mindless Enforcers, controlled by the Madjideye, a faceless, formless spiritual entity that has infiltrated the world to subjugate the human population.

A’tugwewinu is the last survivor of the Andwànikàdjigan. On the run from the Madjideye with her lover, Bèl, a descendant of the Warrior Nation, they seek to share what the world has forgotten: stories.

In Pasakamate, both Shkitagen, the firekeeper of his generation, and his life’s heart, Nitàwesì, whose hands mend bones and cure sickness, attempt to find a home where they can raise children in peace, without fear of slavers or rising waters.

In Zhōng yang, Riordan wheels around just fine, leading xir gang of misfits in hopes of surviving until the next meal.

However, Elite Enforcer H-09761 (Yun Seo, who was abducted as a child, then tortured and brainwashed into servitude) is determined to arrest Riordan for theft of resources and will stop at nothing to bring xir to the Madjideye.

In a ruined world, six people collide, discovering family and foe, navigating friendship and love, and reclaiming the sacredness of the gifts they carry.

With themes of resistance, of ceremony as the conduit between realms, and of transcending gender, Màgòdiz is a powerful and visionary reclamation that Two-Spirit people always have and always will be vital to the cultural and spiritual legacy of their communities.

Besides The World We Make (obviously) Màgòdiz is probably the book I’m most excited for this week! It sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard of before, in the best way, and I plan on pouncing on it the moment I have it on my ereader!

The Alchemy of Sorrow by M.L. Wang, K.S. Villoso, Intisar Khanani, Sonya M. Black, Angela Boord, Levi Jacobs, Krystle Matar, Virginia McClain, Quenby Olson, Carol A. Park, Madolyn Rogers, Rachel Emma Shaw, Clayton Snyder
Genres: Fantasy, Sci Fi
Published on: 1st November 2022

Here be dragons and sorcery, time travel and sorrow.

Vicious garden gnomes. A grounded phoenix rider. A new mother consumed with vengeance. A dying god. Soul magic.

These stories wrestle with the experience of loss—of loved ones, of relationships, of a sense of self, of health—and forge a path to hope as characters fight their way forward.
From bestsellers and SPFBO finalists to rising voices, 13 exceptionally talented authors explore the many facets of grief and healing through the lens of fantasy and sci-fi.

I am utterly in love with this cover (who wouldn’t be?) and the theme of grief and hope. I’m not certain I’m up to reading it right now, but I’m looking forward to being in a headspace where I can give this a go.

A Restless Truth (The Last Binding, #2) by Freya Marske
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: F/F
Published on: 1st November 2022

Magic! Murder! Shipboard romance! The second entry in Freya Marske's beloved The Last Binding trilogy, the queer historical fantasy series that began with A Marvellous Light

The most interesting things in Maud Blyth's life have happened to her brother Robin, but she's ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she's ready for an adventure.

What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.

A Marvellous Light was, as promised, marvellous, so of course I’m going to be picking up the sequel! Especially since Maud was one of my favourite parts of the last book!

Dreams for a Broken World by Julie C. Day, Ellen Meeropol
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 1st November 2022

Patron saints and luchadores. Trickster gods. Freedom fighters. Infections of fire. Gated communities and glass castles. Hong Kong. Iran. NYC. The 1860s and the end of the world. The stories in this anthology reflect the authors’ varied creative interests along with their multitudinous backgrounds and experiences.

What does it mean to live in a fragmented and uncertain world? How do we find a better way forward? The anthology Dreams for a Broken World draws from both genre and literary traditions in attempt to answer these questions. Included here are original stories and reprints. The mix of genres, from literary to fantastical, from dark to playful, from speculative to activist, offers perspectives that are varied, imaginative, thoughtful, and provocative. The 24 contributors include such award-winning authors as Ava Homa, Aimee Liu, Usman T. Malik, Nisi Shawl, Sheree Renée Thomas, Vandana Singh, Andrew Altschul, Joy Baglio, Innocent Chizarama Ilo, Breena Clarke, Zig Zag Claybourne, Tina Egnoski, Cai Emmons, JoeAnn Hart, Céline Keating, Jan Maher, Benjamin Parzybok, Charles Payseur, Robert V.S. Redick, Veronica Schanoes, Lisa Taylor, Marie Vibbert, Cynthia Young, and Sabrina Vourvoulias

Dreams for a Broken World is the second charity anthology in the Dreams series published by Essential Dreams Press, an imprint of Reckoning Press; charity means that all the proceeds from sales are donated to a non-profit doing work to fix our broken world.

Ellen Meeropol joins series editor Julie C. Day as guest editor of this second book in the Dreams series, a fundraiser for the Rosenberg Fund for Children. The RFC is a non-profit, public foundations that aids children in the U.S. whose parents are targeted, progressive activists. They also assist youth who themselves have been targeted as a result of their progressive activities.

Can stories change the world? Not alone. But as poet Martín Espada wrote, "Any oppressive social condition, before it can be changed, must be named and condemned in words that persuade by stirring the emotions, awakening the senses."

Naming. Condemning. Stirring. Awakening. That's what we hope these stories will do for all of us.

The vibe I get from this is eerie softness, which I am very on board with!

When Franny Stands Up by Eden Robins
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Representation: Sapphic Jewish MC
Published on: 1st November 2022

Nothing is more dangerous than a woman with a showstopping joke.

Franny Steinberg knows there's powerful magic in laughter. She's witnessed it. With the men of Chicago off fighting WWII on distant shores, Franny has watched the women of the city taking charge of the war effort. But amidst the war bond sales and factory shifts, something surprising has emerged, something Franny could never have expected. A new marvel that has women flocking to comedy clubs across the nation: the Showstopper.

When Franny steps into Chicago's Blue Moon comedy club, she realizes the power of a Showstopper—that specific magic sparked when an audience laughs so hard, they are momentarily transformed. And while each comedian's Showstopper is different, they all have one thing in common: they only work on women.

After a traumatic flashback propels her onstage in a torn bridesmaid dress, Franny discovers her own Showstopper is something new. And suddenly she has the power to change everything...for herself, for her audience, and for the people who may need it most.

On the one hand, I love the idea of the Showstopper, but I always get wary when the central premise is ‘only {insert gender here}.’ You know? So I may wait for more reviews to come in before picking this up; I don’t want to get invested then find the story has no room for people like me in it.

Ocean's Echo by Everina Maxwell
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: M/M
Published on: 1st November 2022

Ocean's Echo is a stand-alone space adventure about a bond that will change the fate of worlds, set in the same universe as Everina Maxwell's hit debut, Winter's Orbit.

Rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster Tennalhin Halkana can read minds. Tennal, like all neuromodified “readers,” is a security threat on his own. But when controlled, readers are a rare asset. Not only can they read minds, but they can navigate chaotic space, the maelstroms surrounding the gateway to the wider universe.

Conscripted into the military under dubious circumstances, Tennal is placed into the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a duty-bound soldier, principled leader, and the son of a notorious traitor general. Whereas Tennal can read minds, Surit can influence them. Like all other neuromodified “architects,” he can impose his will onto others, and he’s under orders to control Tennal by merging their minds.

Surit accepted a suspicious promotion-track request out of desperation, but he refuses to go through with his illegal orders to sync and control an unconsenting Tennal. So they lie: They fake a sync bond and plan Tennal's escape.

Their best chance arrives with a salvage-retrieval mission into chaotic space—to the very neuromodifcation lab that Surit's traitor mother destroyed twenty years ago. And among the rubble is a treasure both terrible and unimaginably powerful, one that upends a decades-old power struggle, and begins a war.

Tennal and Surit can no longer abandon their unit or their world. The only way to avoid life under full military control is to complete the very sync they've been faking.
Can two unwilling weapons of war bring about peace?

Winter’s Orbit ended up being quite fun, and Ocean’s Echo is a standalone set in the same universe. I’m not sure yet if I’ll read it – the whole conscription and forced bonding thing makes me queasy – but I wanted to include it!

Keeper of Enchanted Rooms (Whimbrel House #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 1st November 2022

Rhode Island, 1846. Estranged from his family, writer Merritt Fernsby is surprised when he inherits a remote estate in the Narragansett Bay. Though the property has been uninhabited for more than a century, Merritt is ready to call it home—until he realizes he has no choice. With its doors slamming shut and locking behind him, Whimbrel House is not about to let Merritt leave. Ever.

Hulda Larkin of the Boston Institute for the Keeping of Enchanted Rooms has been trained in taming such structures in order to preserve their historical and magical significance. She understands the dangers of bespelled homes given to tantrums. She advises that it’s in Merritt’s best interest to make Whimbrel House their ally. To do that, she’ll need to move in, too.

Prepared as she is with augury, a set of magic tools, and a new staff trained in the uncanny, Hulda’s work still proves unexpectedly difficult. She and Merritt grow closer as the investigation progresses, but the house’s secrets run deeper than they anticipated. And the sentient walls aren’t their only concern—something outside is coming for the enchantments of Whimbrel House, and it could be more dangerous than what rattles within.

I love semi-sentient magical houses as a trope, so when I heard about Keeper my ears perked up. Very interested to see Holmberg’s take on a magic house!

Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: F/F
Published on: 1st November 2022

The author of The Charm Offensive returns with a festive romantic comedy about a woman who fakes an engagement with her landlord…only to fall for his sister.

One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.

Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.

Perfect for fans of Written in the Stars and One Day in December, Kiss Her Once for Me is the queer holiday rom-com that you’ll want to cozy up with next to the fire.

The Charm Offensive was one of my favourite books of last year, so I’m delighted we’re getting another novel from the same author so soon! I feel spoiled. Don’t you feel spoiled?

Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble (Winner Bakes All, #2) by Alexis Hall
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M, MC with clinical anxiety, Muslim love interest
Published on: 1st November 2022

From the bestselling author of Boyfriend Material comes a sweet and scrumptious romantic comedy about facing your insecurities, finding love, and baking it off, no matter what people say. 

Paris Daillencourt is a recipe for disaster. Despite his passion for baking, his cat, and his classics degree, constant self-doubt and second-guessing have left him a curdled, directionless mess. So when his roommate enters him in Bake Expectations, the nation’s favourite baking show, Paris is sure he’ll be the first one sent home.  

But not only does he win week one’s challenge—he meets fellow contestant Tariq Hassan. Sure, he’s the competition, but he’s also cute and kind, with more confidence than Paris could ever hope to have. Still, neither his growing romance with Tariq nor his own impressive bakes can keep Paris’s fear of failure from spoiling his happiness. And when the show’s vicious fanbase confirms his worst anxieties, Paris’s confidence is torn apart quicker than tear-and-share bread.   But if Paris can find the strength to face his past, his future, and the chorus of hecklers that live in his brain, he’ll realize it’s the sweet things in life that he really deserves.  

I am very much a fan of Alexis Hall, and I loved the first book in this series, so of course I’m picking up the (standalone) sequel!

Love in the Age of Dragons by Fatima Henson
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 1st November 2022

Two years ago, a wormhole opened and ushered vicious dragons into the world. The dragons burned Earth's cities to the ground and sent its inhabitants scattering for cover--and since then, Ayanna Grace, a seventeen-year-old Black girl, has been scratching out a life in an abandoned subway system, part of an extensive underground community.

Underground, medicine runs short and outbreaks of disease spread uncontrollably. The water supply is low, uprisings occur frequently, and dragon attacks are imminent. But those aren't the only challenges Ayanna is facing: she's also busy wrestling with her feelings, torn between Richard, who she's known all her life, and Jackson, a mysterious newcomer. Worse, her mentor, the community's only doctor, is dying from a failing heart. With no hope of rescue from aboveground, will Ayanna be able to save him before it's too late?

I’m wary of the potential love triangle hinted at in the blurb, but this is such a cool premise that I don’t think I’m going to be able to resist!

Silver in the Mist by Emily Victoria
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Asexual MC
Published on: 1st November 2022

Eight years ago, everything changed for Devlin: Her country was attacked. Her father was killed. And her mother became the Whisperer of Aris, the head of the spies, retreating into her position away from everyone… even her daughter. 

Joining the spy ranks herself, Dev sees her mother only when receiving assignments. She wants more, but she understands the peril their country, Aris, is in. The malevolent magic force of The Mists is swallowing Aris’s edges, their country is vulnerable to another attack from their wealthier neighbor, and the magic casters who protect them from both are burning out.

Dev has known strength and survival her whole life, but with a dangerous new assignment of infiltrating the royal court of their neighbor country Cerena to steal the magic they need, she learns that not all that glitters is weak. And not all stories are true. 

This is Emily Victoria’s second book, and her second with an asexual lead – two for two! And I have a soft spot for MCs with, let’s call them imperfect, mothers.

Anthesis by Lauren Elizabeth
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 3rd November 2022

Anthesis is the dark, alluring and tragic tale of the sirens who were cursed to kill for eternity.

As an immortal siren, Aglasia grapples with her body's desire to enchant, kill and feed on men, all while pretending to be human. When the chaotic and secretive siren Rossa forces herself into Aglasia's life, she reveals she needs help to transform a man into a siren. And though Aglasia has always craved solitude, she finds herself fascinated by this nomad and lends a hand.

But when the risks associated with creating such a powerful creature become life-threatening to Aglasia, Rossa and the innocent man who has become involved, Aglasia must uncover the truth of her past to save those she's grown to care for, all while resisting her darkest desires.

This is such an interesting premise to me – especially because it’s not, as I first assumed, an F/F romance. Instead, Anthesis features an F/F friendship! Which I feel like is EVEN RARER than queer romance (at least in SFF)! Seriously, when was the last time you read a spec fic book where the platonic love between two women was more important than the romantic plotline??? Because I’m pretty sure the last time I read one was 2015.

So intrigued!Sia is very intrigued indeed!

Will you be reading any of these? Let me know!


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