Must-Have Monday #151

Posted 28th August 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.

A big week this week, with SIXTEEN new releases to be excited for!

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

The Phoenix King (The Ravence Trilogy, #1) by Aparna Verma
Genres: Science Fantasy
Representation: Desi-coded cast and setting
Published on: 29th August 2023

In a kingdom where flames hold magic and the desert hides secrets, an ancient prophecy comes for an assassin, a princess, and a king. But none are ready to face destiny—and the choices they make could burn the world. 

“If we carry the burdens of our fathers, we’ll never know what it means to be free.” 

For Elena Aadya Ravence, fire is yearning. She longs to feel worthy of her Phoenix god, of her ancestors who transformed the barren dunes of Sayon into a thriving kingdom. But though she knows the ways and wiles of the desert better than she knows her own skin, the secrets of the Eternal Flame elude her. And without them, she’ll never be accepted as queen. 

For Leo Malhari Ravence, fire is control. He is not ready to give up his crown—there’s still too much work to be done to ensure his legacy remains untarnished, his family protected. But power comes with a price, and he’ll wage war with the heavens themselves to keep from paying it. 

For Yassen Knight, fire is redemption. He dreams of shedding his past as one of Sayon’s most deadly assassins, of laying to rest the ghosts of those he has lost. If joining the court of flame and serving the royal Ravence family—the very people he once swore to eliminate—will earn him that, he’ll do it no matter what they ask of him. 

But the Phoenix watches over all and the fire has a will of its own. It will come for all three, will come for Sayon itself….and they must either find a way to withstand the blaze or burn to ash. 

The first in an action–packed debut epic fantasy trilogy, The Phoenix King is "a captivating adventure from a gifted new voice” (Peter V. Brett).

The Phoenix King is the final book of this year’s Desi Trinity (the other books being The Surviving Sky and Sons of Darkness)! Apparently there’s actually quite a lot of sci fi elements – making this science fantasy rather than simply fantasy – and the author has warned that it gets quite dark, with a morally grey cast who don’t always choose Good. But Verma also promised us phoenix magic, and I absolutely have to know more about that!

Devout: An Anthology of Angels by Quinton Li, Freydís Moon, Dorian Yosef Weber, Angela Sun, Ian Haramaki, Tyler Battaglia, Daniel Marie James, Morgan Dante, Cas Trudeau, Aurélio Loren, Rae Novotny, rafael nicolás, Emily Hoffman
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Sci Fi
Published on: 29th August 2023

Featuring work by Freydís Moon, Dorian Yosef Weber, Angela Sun, Ian Haramaki, Tyler Battaglia, Daniel Marie James, Morgan Dante, Cas Trudeau, Aurélio Loren, Rae Novotny, Rafael Nicolás & Emily Hoffman.

A collection of stories, poetry, and art dedicated to the angelic.

Here you will find the strange, the creepy, the funky, slightly silly, pieces with feeling. An experience buried deep inside, it might be from another dimension. Something questionable that makes you wonder if your first impression of the world is accurate enough to trust.

Or maybe something human — too human.

How about a feeling between a feeling? Longing, yearning. Conflict between moral and love. World between worlds.

Above all — angelic.

Are we what angels make of us, or are angels what we make of them?

This anthology is for mature audiences due to themes and explicit content. Our genres include, but are not limited to: Contemporary Fantasy Romance, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Horror, Historical Fantasy Romance, Mythological, Gothic Fiction, Science Fiction, Horror Drama

Angels are very much one of my Things, and this collection features some of my favourite self-published authors! This is another book I’ve been looking forward to since I first heard about it, and it’s almost here!!!

A Second Chance for Yesterday by R.A. Sinn
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Queer MC, nonbinary love interest
Published on: 29th August 2023

Created by historian and futurist sibling authors, {::}   A Second Chance for Yesterday is a time-twisting story of family, redemption and queer love, for fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife .

Nev Bourne is a hotshot programmer for the latest and greatest tech invention out SavePoint, the brain implant that rewinds the seconds of all our most embarrassing moments. She’s been working non-stop on the next rollout, even blowing off her boyfriend, her best friend and her family to make SavePoint 2.0. But when she hits go on the test-run, she wakes up the next day only to discover it's yesterday. She's falling backwards in time, one day at a time.

As things spiral out of control, a long-lost friend from college reappears in her life claiming they know how to save her. Airin is charming and mysterious, and somehow knows Nev intimately well. Desperate and intrigued, Nev takes a leap of faith. A friendship born of fear slowly becomes a bond of deepest trust, and possibly love. With time running out, and the whole world of SavePoint users at stake, Nev must learn what it will take to set things right, and what it will cost.

This didn’t quite work for me, but only because I was led to believe it’s something it’s not. Objectively, it’s bloody brilliant, with really tight, electric prose and a scarily believable future. If you like the sound of someone being stuck time-travelling backwards one day at a time, then you’ll probably massively enjoy this!

Where Peace Is Lost by Valerie Valdes
Genres: Science Fantasy
Published on: 29th August 2023

A brand-new space fantasy novel from master world-builder Valerie Valdes! A refugee with a secret, a dangerous foe, and a road trip that could either save a planet or start a war. 

Where peace is lost, may we find it.

Five years ago, Kelana Gardavros lost everything in the war against the Pale empire. Now Kel Garda is just another refugee living on the edge of an isolated star system. No one knows she was once a member of an Order whose military arm was disbanded and scattered across the galaxy. And no one knows that if her enemies found her, they might destroy the entire world to get rid of her.

Where peace is broken, may we mend it.

Kel’s past intrudes in the form of a long-dormant Pale war machine, suddenly reactivated. If the massive automaton isn’t stopped, at best it will carve a swath of devastation that displaces thousands of people. At worst, it will kill every sentient creature on the planet.

Where we go, may peace follow.

When two strangers offer to deactivate the machine for a price, Kel and a young friend agree to serve as their guides. The journey through swamps infested with predators and bandits is bad enough, but can they survive more nefarious dangers along the way? And will Kel’s fear of revealing her secrets doom the very people she’s trying to protect?

Where we fall, may peace rise.

I love, love, love science fantasy, and this one sounds pretty promising. Also, I am loving that winged-fairy space armour!!!

Kit & Basie (Tales from Long Lily, 1) by Tess Carletta
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 29th August 2023

Immortality is a dangerous affair when it isn’t done right.

Basie Yeats knows he’s doing immortality all wrong, spending endless days in the same place, but he doesn’t see a reason to leave the home he loves in Long Lily, Pennsylvania. Once the impossible death of his mother leaves him the only immortal person he knows, Basie decides that the only thing he wants to do is get out of Long Lily and start doing immortality the right way—alone.

Kit Elliot has wandered the world looking for the right place to call home, so when a church-turned-cottage suddenly goes up for sale in a quaint Pennsylvania town, it feels like it was meant to be. It takes only a few days at Wellhead Cottage for Kit to decide that the man who sold it to him is frustrating, awkward, and terribly handsome. He offers to help Basie find a new home away from Long Lily—but as days turn to months, Kit finds himself wishing he could make Basie stay.

This sounds immensely sweet and cosy, which is exactly what I’m in the mood for right now! And I’m curious about this idea of doing immortality right or wrong – surely there isn’t really a wrong way to do it, any more than there’s a wrong way to Life? (Yes, that’s a verb now.)

Beast Mom by Kim Imas
Genres: Speculative Fiction
Published on: 29th August 2023

An Oregon mom is about to lose her $#!t.

It might be what the government’s been waiting for.

On the outside, Harriet “Harry” Lime is a typical American mom. But after years of packing all the lunches and picking up all the socks, she’s become a bit…off on the inside. And after stumbling upon the offensive new statue at her daughter’s school, she gets unusually angry and turns into a gigantic monster.

Now she’ll have to figure out why that keeps happening—and why some mysterious uniformed men have begun lurking around town—all while keeping up with the grocery shopping, the carpool, and all those %@#!-€*&ing socks.

As soon as Harriet discovers that other local women are undergoing their own amazing transformations, she faces the sudden danger of being ripped away from everyone and everything she loves. Still, she’s begun to wonder: How much of her old life—with its surplus of cleaning, cooking, and monthly cramping—does she want to hold on to, anyway?

Not gonna lie, this sounds like a lot of fun, and potentially very indulgent. Who hasn’t wanted to turn into a rage monster at some point???

The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 29th August 2023

As first contact transforms the Earth, a group of gifted visionaries race to create a new future in this wondrous science fiction novel from the award-winning author of The Best of All Possible Worlds.

The world is changing, and humanity must change with it. Rising seas and soaring temperatures have radically transformed the face of the Earth. Meanwhile, Earth is being observed from afar by other civilizations ... and now they are ready to make contact.

Vying to prepare humanity for first contact are a group of dreamers and changemakers, including Peter Hendrix, the genius inventor behind the most advanced VR tech; Charyssa, a beloved celebrity icon with a passion for humanitarian work; and Kanoa, a member of a council of young people from around the globe drafted to reimagine the relationship between humankind and alien societies.

And they may have an unexpected secret weapon: Owen, a pop megastar whose ability to connect with his adoring fans is more than charisma. He has a hidden talent that may be the key to uniting Earth as it looks towards the stars.

But Owen's abilities are so unique that no-one can control him, and so seductive that he cannot help but use them. Can he transcend his human limitations and find the freedom he has always dreamed of? Or is he doomed to become the dictator of his nightmares?

Although this has been billed as a standalone, it’s apparently the third book in a loosely connected series? Several reviewers have said they’d have gotten much more out of Blue Beautiful World if they’d known that going in, so…now you know?

The Mystery at Dunvegan Castle (Edinburgh Nights, #3) by T.L. Huchu
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 29th August 2023

Duels, magic, and plenty of ghosts await in The Mystery at Dunvegan Castle, the third book of T. L. Huchu's USA Today bestselling Edinburgh Nights series.

Everyone’s favorite fifteen-year-old ghosttalker, Ropa, arrives at the worldwide Society of Skeptical Enquirers’ biennial conference just in time to be tied into a mystery—a locked room mystery, if an entire creepy haunted castle on lockdown counts. One of the magical attendees has stolen a valuable magical scroll.

Caught between Qozmos, the high wizard of Ethiopian magic, the larger-than-life Lord Sashvindu Samarasinghe, England’s Sorcerer Royal, and Scotland’s own Hamish Manas MacLeod, it’s up to Ropa (and Jomo and Priya) to sort through the dangerous secret politics and alliances to figure out what really happened. But she has a special tool—the many ghosts tied to the ancient, powerful castle.

Already released in the UK, Mystery at Dunvegan Castle arrives in the US this week! This is a ridiculously amazing urban fantasy series that you should definitely be reading, if you aren’t yet!

I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me by Jamison Shea
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bi/pansexual Black MC, past F/F
Published on: 29th August 2023

There will be blood.

Ace of Spades meets House of Hollow in this villain origin story.

Laure Mesny is a perfectionist with an axe to grind. Despite being constantly overlooked in the elite and cutthroat world of the Parisian ballet, she will do anything to prove that a Black girl can take center stage. To level the playing field, Laure ventures deep into the depths of the Catacombs and strikes a deal with a pulsating river of blood.

The primordial power Laure gains promises influence and adoration, everything she’s dreamed of and worked toward. With retribution on her mind, she surpasses her bitter and privileged peers, leaving broken bodies behind her on her climb to stardom.

But even as undeniable as she is, Laure is not the only monster around. And her vicious desires make her a perfect target for slaughter. As she descends into madness and the mystifying underworld beneath her, she is faced with the ultimate choice: continue to break herself for scraps of validation or succumb to the darkness that wants her exactly as she is—monstrous heart and all. That is, if the god-killer doesn’t catch her first.

From debut author Jamison Shea comes I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me, a slow-burn horror that lifts a veil on the institutions that profit on exclusion and the toll of giving everything to a world that will never love you back.

I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast is Me is exactly as epic and delicious as it sounds, though imo Laure isn’t at all a villain – she’s just not ‘nice’ in the way girls, especially Black girls, are ‘supposed’ to be. I love her for making no apologies for that, for reveling in it. But dear gods is the world of professional ballet horrifying!!! Seriously, brace yourselves for that.

My review!

Neverwraith by Shakir Rashaan
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 29th August 2023

Bel-Air meets Cloak & Dagger in this explosive and innovative paranormal debut…

Being the new kid is always gonna land you in it.

Yasir Salah isn’t like the other guys in his new suburban Georgia high school. Lately, he can feel something shifting in his body. Raw. Edgy. Volatile . Like his eyes changing colors and heat on his skin when some alpha bro comes for him…or how just a grin from the gorgeous, untouchable girl at school sends vibrations shooting through his entire body.

Only it’s not just being at a new school. It’s a new town. New rules. New flow . And everything feels way smaller than his ex-life in Atlanta. All he can do is what he’s been keep a low profile and try to not be noticed…and keep his anger under control.

But they never warned him.
They never told him what he is.
And they sure as hell didn’t tell him that the world is gonna need him.

The cover looks vaguely superhero-ish to me, but every source I’ve checked calls Neverwraith fantasy, which is much more interesting to me! And has me really curious about what the big secret is…

House of Marionne by J. Elle
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 29th August 2023

Rich is the blood of the chosen

17 year-old Quell has lived her entire life on the run. She and her mother have fled from city to city, in order to hide the deadly magic that flows through Quell’s veins.

Until someone discovers her dark secret.

To hide from the assassin hunting her, and keep her mother out of harm’s way, Quell reluctantly inducts into a debutante society of magical social elites called the Order that she never knew existed. If she can pass their three rites of membership, mastering their proper form of magic, she’ll be able to secretly bury her forbidden magic forever.
If caught, she will be killed.

But becoming the perfect debutante is a lot harder than Quell imagined, especially when there’s more than tutoring happening with Jordan, her brooding mentor and— assassin in training.

When Quell uncovers the deadly lengths the Order will go to defend its wealth and power, she’s forced to choose: embrace the dark magic she’s been running from her entire life or risk losing everything, and everyone, she’s grown to love.

Still, she fears the most formidable monster she’ll have to face is the one inside.

What is it about the whole debutante thing that’s so fascinating??? I can’t put my finger on it, but I definitely feel it. And magical debutantes are even better!

A Tall Dark Trouble by Vanessa Montalban
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Cuban-American MCs
Published on: 29th August 2023

Practical Magic meets Erika L. Sanchez in this dazzling YA fantasy about a Cuban American family of brujas who get entangled in love, magic, and murder, alternating between 1980s Cuba and present-day Miami.

Twin sisters Ofelia and Delfi know better than to get involved with magic. Their Mami has seen to that. After all, it was magic that cursed their family, turning love into a poison. Romance is off the table for the Sanchez women. They’ve seen the curse take hold enough times to know how that road ends. And yet. Sometimes a girl catches feelings and just can’t help herself.

When Ofelia and Delfi begin having premonitions of a series of murders, the sisters know it is time to embrace their magical inheritance to get to the bottom of the mystery and save innocent lives. Teaming up with their best friend Ethan and with brooding detective-in-training Andres, the sisters set out to learn the truth. They just need to make sure Mami doesn’t find out what they’re up to.

Meanwhile, in 1980 Cuba, Anita struggles with a different magical conflict. Her mother, Mama Orti, is a bruja who belongs to a secret coven of elders and Anita knows she will be forced to join the coven herself one day. She sees no escape, though the thought of staying and letting this future claim her is terrifying. Ofelia, Delfi, and Anita’s stories collide as each woman steps into her power and embraces who she truly is, refusing to be subdued by any person, coven, or curse.

In this stunning YA contemporary fantasy, debut author Vanessa Montalban explores the interlocking struggles of three generations of women in one family. An unputdownable debut for anyone who roots for magic, sisterhood, and love.

I admit to being kinda tired of the whole ‘women cursed for their love to turn to poison’ thing, but the rest of this sounds potentially interesting.

Sky Heart (Ridderden Riders #1) by Sierra J. Meril
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 30th August 2023

What will win; love or revenge?

The people of Ridderden have always been at war with the dragons that has gone on and off for thousands of years. Losses heavy on both sides haven't deterred the ruling Families who continue to push the conflict despite it bleeding the land dry.

Lay Scáth, caster and the only scholar of dragons, has fled after his family were all killed. He is determined to stay out of the fight until Damen, a half dragon and the country's only hope for peace, crashes into his life. The only issue is Damen is a Skyborn, the Family responsible for ruining Lay's life.

A journey across Ridderden to reach the Home of the Dragons shows both enemies and friends and Lay is forced to make a choice. Follow through with his plan to get revenge or put them aside for the handsome man whose honesty starts to break him from his armor.

Dragons AND queerness??? Oh, I’m so hoping this will be great – fingers crossed!

Herc by Phoenicia Rogerson
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Queer MC
Published on: 31st August 2023

This should be the story of Hercules: his twelve labours, his endless adventures…everyone’s favourite hero, right?

Well, it’s not.

This is the story of everyone else:

Alcmene: Herc’s mother (She has knives everywhere)
Hylas: Herc’s first friend (They were more than friends)
Megara: Herc’s wife (She’ll tell you about their marriage)
Eurystheus: Oversaw Herc’s labours (Definitely did not hide in a jar)

His friends, his enemies, his wives, his children, his lovers, his rivals, his gods, his victims.

It’s time to hear their stories.

Told with humour and heart, Herc gives voice to the silenced characters, in this feminist, queer (and sometimes shocking) retelling of classic Hercules myth.

Perfect for fans of Madeline Miller and Joanne M. Harris.

I think this is out in another few weeks in the US, but Herc releases this week in the UK! I’ve seen mixed reviews, but I’m more curious than not, so I’ll probably be taking a look at it.

The Teras Trials (The Teras Threat Book 1) by Lucien Burr
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 31st August 2023

Teras ravage England. Only London is safe.

In an England where monsters have spilled into the world out of myth, only London is magically protected from the monstrous threat. The University runs the city, allowing family of graduate Hunters, Healers, Scholars, and Artificers to live behind the wards.

Cassius Jones is nineteen and ready for the University. But when a bad year for the teras threat is projected, the University opens its admissions to anyone in England, behind the wards or otherwise, and suddenly the Jones' place in London is no longer secure. Cassius must contend with every other student vying for a place, and the darkest secrets of his society, whilst also balancing a tenuous interest in another boy.

Burr's debut is the first book in a dark fantasy series that challenges the nature of academia and the integrity of morality.

This sounds like it’s going for (queer) dark academia + monsters? That’s a mix I can definitely get behind!

Forget I Told You This: A Novel by Hilary Zaid
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Speculative Fiction
Representation: Queer MC
Published on: 1st September 2023

Winner of the Barbara DiBernard Prize in Fiction

Amy Black, a queer single mother and an aspiring artist in love with calligraphy, dreams of a coveted artist’s residency at the world’s largest social media company, Q. One ink-black October night, when the power is out in the hills of Oakland, California, a stranger asks Amy to transcribe a love letter for him. When the stranger suddenly disappears, Amy’s search for the letter’s recipient leads her straight to Q and the most beautiful illuminated manuscript she has ever seen, the Codex Argentus , hidden away in Q’s Library of Books That Don’t Exist—and to a group of data privacy vigilantes who want her to burn Q to the ground.

Amy’s curiosity becomes her salvation, as she’s drawn closer and closer to the secret societies and crackpot philosophers that haunt the city’s abandoned warehouses and defunct train depots. All of it leads to an opportunity of a an artist’s residency deep in the holographic halls of Q headquarters. It’s a dream come true—so long as she follows Q’s rules.

I have no idea what to make of this, which is WILDLY exciting to me! Love letters, illuminated manuscripts, and…data privacy vigilantes?! Yeah, I’m definitely checking this one out; it sounds so unlike my usual reads, but in a great way!

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


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