Must-Have Monday #145

Posted 17th July 2023 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

Must-Have Monday is a feature highlighting which of the coming week’s new releases I’m excited for. It is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all books being published that week; only those I’m interested in out of those I’m aware of! The focus is diverse SFF, but other genres sneak in occasionally too.

FOURTEEN books this week!

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

The Crane Moon Cycle: An LGBTQ Epic Fantasy Duology by J.C. Snow
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MCs
Published on: 17th July 2023

Across wars and worlds, through death and life, in mortal and immortal hearts, the binding holds.

Aili Fallon is determined to escape her past, and won't let anything get in the way of her training as a combat nurse. But when the woman she loves binds her with blood and disappears in flames, she gambles with her own existence to find her again.

Crossing into a forgotten life and death, Aili is bound by a curse a thousand years in the making. As human wars rage and demons hunt the immortal and defenseless phoenix, Aili and her beloved Liu Chenguang fight to heal the wounds of two lives, with their own hearts and millions of mortal souls at stake.

The Crane Moon Cycle Duology contains the full books of The Phoenix and the Sword and The Shoreless River, a complete epic fantasy of love, loss, and redemption, set in a world of spiritual powers, past lives, and beings of myth and legend.

I’d not heard of this series until I came across the omnibus, but it sounds – kind of amazing??? The reviews I’ve read have me VERY excited!

Be Sure (Wayward Children, #1-3) by Seanan McGuire
Genres: Fantasy, Portal Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Asexual MC, sapphic MC, F/F, fat MC, trans secondary character, BIPOC secondary characters
Published on: 18th July 2023

2022 Hugo Award for Best Series

Where it all began―the first three books in Seanan McGuire's multi-Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Wayward Children series.

Join the students of Eleanor West, and jump through doors into worlds both dangerous and extraordinary.

Book 1: Every Heart a Doorway
Book 2: Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Book 3: Beneath the Sugar Sky

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Meet Nancy, cast out of her world by the Lord of the Dead; Jack and Jill, each adopted by a monster of the Moors; Sumi and her impossible daughter, Rini.

Three worlds, three adventures, three sets of lives destined to intersect.

Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations / No Visitors / No Quests

But quests are what these children do best...

Another omnibus it’s hard not to be excited about, even if I’ve already read the three novellas it contains – Be Sure combines the first three books of the Wayward Children series into one volume! With a gorgeous cover by the inestimable Rovina Cai!

If you haven’t read this series yet, this is a wonderful place to start – and I wouldn’t be surprised if many already-fans, like me, end up with a copy for their bookshelves!

The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei
Genres: Sci Fi
Representation: Biracial Japanese MC
Published on: 18th July 2023

Yume Kitasei's The Deep Sky is an enthralling sci fi thriller debut about a mission into deep space that begins with a lethal explosion that leaves the survivors questioning the loyalty of the crew.

They left Earth to save humanity. They’ll have to save themselves first.

It is the eve of Earth’s environmental collapse. A single ship carries humanity’s last hope: eighty elite graduates of a competitive program, who will give birth to a generation of children in deep space. But halfway to a distant but livable planet, a lethal bomb kills three of the crew and knocks The Phoenix off course. Asuka, the only surviving witness, is an immediate suspect.

Asuka already felt like an impostor before the explosion. She was the last picked for the mission, she struggled during training back on Earth, and she was chosen to represent Japan, a country she only partly knows as a half-Japanese girl raised in America. But estranged from her mother back home, The Phoenix is all she has left.

With the crew turning on each other, Asuka is determined to find the culprit before they all lose faith in the mission—or worse, the bomber strikes again.
CW: miscarriage, fertility issues, terrorism, death of a child, racism, gore, strong language

I’ll admit, this is a premise that wouldn’t normally interest me – I generally don’t enjoy generation ships or investigative plotlines – but I’ve heard so many excellent things about Deep Sky that I’m deeply curious about it! So I’ll be giving it a go, for sure.

Blade of Dream (Kithamar, #2) by Daniel Abraham
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 18th July 2023

From New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed author Daniel Abraham, co-author of The Expanse, comes the second novel in a monumental epic fantasy trilogy that unfolds within the walls of a single great city, over the course of one tumultuous year.

“An atmospheric and fascinating tapestry, woven with skill and patience.” – Joe Abercrombie, New York Times bestselling author of A Little Hatred

  Kithamar is a center of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories endure.

This is Garreth’s.   Garreth Left is heir to one of Kithamar’s most prominent merchant families. The path of his life was paved long before he was born. Learn the family trade, marry to secure wealthy in-laws, and inherit the business when the time is right. But to Garreth, a life chosen for him is no life at all.   In one night, a chance meeting with an enigmatic stranger changes everything. He falls in love with a woman whose name he doesn’t even know, and he will do anything to find her again. His search leads him down corridors and alleys that are best left unexplored, where ancient gods hide in the shadows, and every deal made has a dangerous edge.   The path that Garreth chooses will change the course of not only those he loves, but the entire future of Kithamar’s citizens.

 In Kithamar, every story matters -- and the fate of the city is woven from them all.

I am endlessly heart-eyes for Daniel Abraham, and I really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy – though I’ve since learned that each book in the series is actually a standalone in the same setting? I’m fine with that; it would be pretty hard, I think, for Abraham to write something I didn’t want to read!

Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle
Genres: Horror, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Autistic sapphic MC
Published on: 18th July 2023

A searing and earnest horror debut about the demons the queer community faces in America, the price of keeping secrets, and finding the courage to burn it all down.

They’ll scare you straight to hell.

Welcome to Neverton, Montana: home to a God-fearing community with a heart of gold.

Nestled high up in the mountains is Camp Damascus, the self-proclaimed “most effective” gay conversion camp in the country. Here, a life free from sin awaits. But the secret behind that success is anything but holy.

I did DNF this one, but it was really an it’s-not-you-it’s-me thing – it still very much deserves a feature!

The Jasad Heir (The Scorched Throne, #1) by Sara Hashem
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Egyptian-coded setting and cast
Published on: 18th July 2023

Ten years ago, the kingdom of Jasad burned. Its magic outlawed; its royal family murdered down to the last child. At least, that’s what Sylvia wants people to believe.

The lost Heir of Jasad, Sylvia never wants to be found. She can’t think about how Nizahl’s armies laid waste to her kingdom and continue to hunt its people—not if she wants to stay alive. But when Arin, the Nizahl Heir, tracks a group of Jasadi rebels to her village, staying one step ahead of death gets trickier.

In a moment of anger Sylvia’s magic is exposed, capturing Arin’s attention. Now, to save her life, Sylvia will have to make a deal with her greatest enemy. If she helps him lure the rebels, she’ll escape persecution.

A deadly game begins. Sylvia can’t let Arin discover her identity even as hatred shifts into something more. Soon, Sylvia will have to choose between the life she wants and the one she left behind. The scorched kingdom is rising, and it needs a queen.

In this Egyptian-inspired debut fantasy, a fugitive queen strikes a deadly bargain with her greatest enemy and finds herself embroiled in a complex game that could resurrect her scorched kingdom or leave it in ashes forever.

I’m quite wary of Jasad Heir – it sounds potentially too romance-heavy for me, and I’m really not a fan of tournament stories. But I’ve seen so many glowing reviews from readers I trust, so I’ll probably at least give it a try!

Ethera Grave (The Graven, 3) by Essa Hansen
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Science Fantasy
Representation: Asexual MC
Published on: 18th July 2023

In the final book of this genre-breaking, roller coaster of a space opera trilogy, bold new voice Essa Hansen will stretch the limits of your imagination in this adventure perfect for fans of The Expanse and A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

Caiden has finally been reunited with his sister Leta after ten years on the run with his unique starship and managed to convince his longtime enemy—Threi—to join his side. But the multiverse isn’t safe yet. Threi’s sister Abriss is still the most powerful being in existence. And she still wants to collapse their beautiful, diverse, constellation of multiverses down to one, growing more powerful and more ruthless with each unique universe she destroys.   As Abriss’s strength grows, her sanity wanes under the burden of the universe’s whispers. And Caiden must weigh his final choices against a new risk: if he finally unlocks the ancient Graven abilities lying dormant in his genetics and saves the multiverse, he risks losing himself to the whispers just as Abriss has. For the last time, Caiden and his makeshift family must carry the fate of all the worlds in their hands.  

This is the finale of the Graven trilogy! I didn’t make it through book two, but I will almost certainly be trying it again, because Hansen’s imagination is incredible and I do genuinely want to know how everything wraps up.

The Third Daughter by Adrienne Tooley
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: F/F
Published on: 18th July 2023

A sweeping YA fantasy about legacy, betrayal, sisterhood, and politicizing emotion in the quest for power—all balanced by a slow-burn LGBTQ romance.

  For centuries, the citizens of Velle have waited for their New Maiden to return. The prophecy states she will appear as the third daughter of a third daughter. When the fabled child is finally born to Velle’s reigning queen all rejoice except for Elodie, the queen’s eldest child, who has lost her claim to the crown. The only way for Elodie to protect Velle is to retake the throne. To do so, she must debilitate the Third Daughter—her youngest sister, Brianne.

Desperate, Elodie purchases a sleeping potion from Sabine, who sells sadness. But the apothecary mistakenly sends the princess away with a vial of tears instead of a harmless sleeping brew. Sabine’s sadness is dangerously powerful, and Brianne slips into a slumber from which she will not wake. With the fates of their families and country hanging in the balance, Sabine and Elodie hurry to revive the Third Daughter while a slow-burning attraction between the two girls erupts in full force.

A must-read for fans of the BookTok sensations ​Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson, and These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong.

Tooley’s books always get such beautiful covers! I admit to some eyebrow-raising at the whole third daughter of a third daughter thing – unless there’s some special restrictions in the worldbuilding, it doesn’t seem like a difficult thing to arrange; three is a pretty common number of children to have! But Tooley’s prose is usually right up my alley, so I’ll be picking this up nonetheless.

The Chaos Monster (Secrets of the Sky, #1) by Sayantani DasGupta
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Indian-American MCs
Published on: 18th July 2023

From New York Times bestselling author Sayantani DasGupta comes a new series in which everything is connected to everything, and it’s up to twins Kiya and Kinjal to save it all.

When 10-year-old Kinjal hears a strange noise in the middle of the night, he grabs his twin sister, Kiya, and the two go searching in the forest at the edge of their new house. There, they find Snowy and Midnight, two winged pakkhiraj horses from the Kingdom Beyond Seven Oceans and Thirteen Rivers who have come to this dimension to seek help -- bees are disappearing, along with the nectar the pakkhiraj horses need to survive.

Whisked away to a magical realm, the twins must use Kiya’s scientific skills and Kinjal’s love of books and language. But then they discover that the disappearance of the bees is more nefarious than they thought, and the plot goes all the way to the top.

This sounds utterly enchanting, and I am a huge fan of flying horses. And look at that cover – even the dog has wings!

The Pomegranate Gate (The Mirror Realm Cycle, #1) by Ariel Kaplan
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Portal Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Jewish cast, major bi/pansexual character, queer MC
Published on: 20th July 2023

Two worlds bound by a pomegranate gate...

Toba Peres can speak but she can’t shout; she can walk but she can’t run; and she can write in five languages… with both hands at the same time.

Naftaly Cresques dreams every night of an orange-eyed stranger; when awake, he sees things that aren’t real; and he carries a book he can never lose and never read.

When the Queen of Sefarad orders all the nation’s Jews to leave or convert, Toba and Naftaly are forced to flee, but an unlucky encounter leaves them both separated from their caravan. Lost in the wilderness, Toba follows an orange-eyed stranger through a mysterious gate in a pomegranate grove, leaving Naftaly behind.

With a single step, Toba enters an ancient world that mirrors her own. There, she finds that her fate—and Naftaly’s—are bound to an ancient conflict threatening to destroy both realms.

This is the UK release – Pomegranate Gate won’t be out until September in the US, alas! – but as someone who recently finished the arc, I URGE you to grab a copy if you can! This is officially one of my new all-time favourites, and I’m determined to write an extra-beautiful review for it. If you get your books from the UK, go get it; if you buy in or from the US, preorder it!!!

The Night Field by Donna Glee Williams
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 20th July 2023

A magnificent, moving ecological fable: welcome to The Real, where Pyn-Poi's people live in harmony with nature - until a brown fog threatens their whole world.

Pyn-Poi's mother Marak wants her to grow up to be the matriarch of the tribe, learning how to cook, to make medicines, how to care for everyone, but Pyn-Poi would rather be out among the trees like her father Sook-Sook, learning how persuade tree roots into bridges, to feel when shoots are too crowded, when drooping leaves need attention.

'A moving ecological fable, written with her signature grace and compassion' Elaine Isaak, author of The Singer's Legacy

Then something starts going wrong in The Real: when the rains come, instead of nourishment, they bring a stinking brown fog that's poisoning people and plants alike. Pyn-Poi is the treewoman now: it's her job. Their only chance is for her to climb to the land beyond the Wall, where the Ancestors live, to plead for their intercession
Pyn-Poi never expected to find a whole new world up there, with people who are very different from her own family and friends - a land where they are killing nature, and that's killing The Real.

The trees have a job for Pyn-Poi, and to succeed, she is going to have to be brave and strong and true - no matter what.

This sounds very odd, but promisingly odd, which is exactly the kind of odd we like around here!

Storming Heaven (The Age of Bronze #2) by Miles Cameron
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 20th July 2023

Before iron helmets and steel swords, when dragons roamed the world, was an age of bronze and stone, when the Gods walked the earth, and people lived in terror.

A scribe, a warlord, a dancer, a mute insect and a child should have no chance against the might of the bickering gods and their cruel games. But the gods themselves are old, addicted to their own games of power, and now their fates may lie in the hands of mere mortals . . .

By divine plan a plague of cannibals has been unleashed across the world, forming an armada which preys on all who cross their path. Meanwhile the people who allied against the gods have been divided, each taking their own path to attack the heavens - if they can survive the tide of war which has been sent against them.

All they need is the right distraction, and the right opportunity, to deal a blow against the gods themselves . . .

An original, visceral epic weaving together the mythologies of a dozen pantheons of gods and heroes to create something new and magical, this tale of the revolt against the tyranny which began in Against All Gods is a must read from a master of the fantasy genre.

While not my favourite of Cameron’s books, I did enjoy the first book in this series, Against All Gods, and will absolutely be reading this sequel! Though I may need to reread book one first.

The Chatelaine by Kate Heartfield
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Trans MC
Published on: 20th July 2023

Winner of the Aurora Award for Best Novel

Hell is empty and all the devils are here.

The Chatelaine has come.

The year is 1328 and Hell has overrun Bruges. Demons stalk the streets and revenants swarm the walls. The city’s men have fallen and only widows remain.

But Hell should fear them.

Margriet de Vos killed her first soldier when she was eleven. She has buried six children and will fight for the daughter left to her. Their only wealth is gone, taken into the inferno. And she will not be stolen from. The Devil be damned.

Together with a man-at-arms with unfinished business, a widow and her forgehammer, and a alderman's wife who escapes with her children, Margriet will raise a raiding party like Hell has never seen.

Originally published as Armed in Her Fashion.

I started reading the first version of this book – Armed In Her Fashion – but when I found out Heartfield was releasing a new edition that had been significantly edited, I decided to wait and read this one. What I read of Armed In Her Fashion was so interestingly WEIRD that I’m looking forward to diving back in!

Black Sails to Sunward by Sheila Jenné
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: F/F
Published on: 22nd July 2023

In a world of frock coats, solar sails, and rigid class boundaries, Lucy joins the Martian Imperial Navy as a midshipman. Mars and Earth are at war, and Lucy hopes for quick promotion. But when she arrives aboard ship, she finds her childhood ex-friend, Moira, already there. Class differences got in the way of their budding romance five years ago, and both of them are nursing grudges.

Those same class differences are threatening the ship, as the enlisted spacers threaten a mutiny and Lucy is forced to support the abusive officers. When Moira becomes a pirate, taking Lucy captive, the tables are turned. Lucy now has to rely on her enemy for her life.

Her oath as an officer forbids her from helping the pirates, but it’s becoming obvious that the Martian Empire doesn’t deserve her loyalty. If she throws in her lot with the pirates, her family is doomed to poverty, but it could give her a chance to reconcile with Moira and claim the love she rejected so long ago.

I have a soft spot for sci fi with Regency aesthetics, which it sounds like this is! I’m also intrigued that it’s the start of a series, because when I first heard about it I thought it was a standalone.

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


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