Must-Have Monday #154

Posted 18th September 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.

NINE books this week!

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

Silver Helix by Xan van Rooyen
Genres: Science Fantasy
Representation: Nonbinary MC
Published on: 19th September 2023

On the surface, the city of HelsInc appears to have recovered from the war waged between humans and Ethereals, but beneath the scars, the city seethes. The remains of magic festers, causing mutations in human DNA which could give humans Ethereal power—not that the HelsInc government would ever let that happen. The Legion resists, ripping out their neurochips and protesting the mandatory gene therapy for humans with cryptomine in their DNA.

At only 19 years old, Omyn Talvinen isn’t ready to play parent to her kid brother, but with her mom in prison on trumped up charges and her deadbeat dad AWOL, she’s left with little choice. Forced to risk her freedom to pay the rent, Omyn finds herself at the mercy of a pair of cyborg soldiers when they catch her red-handed stealing nanites from a cyberware Salon. But the synths’ powers don’t work on Omyn, and they discover they all share a common memory that they must get to the root of.

Wanted dead by the government, Omyn and the renegade soldiers turn to a rebel Legion group with dreams of resuscitating dead magic for help. With the clock-ticking for the synths, Zee-Five and Omyn are forced to confront the secrets of their past and a dark conspiracy that’ll shake the blood-soaked foundations of the city.

Science Fantasy in future!Finland! I’ve enjoyed Rooyen’s YA, and I think this is their Adult debut. I’m a quarter of the way through it right now and can happily say it’s not quite like anything I’ve come across before.

Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology by Shane Hawk, Theodore C. Van Alst Jr., Stephen Graham Jones, Norris Black, Amber Blaeser-Wardzala, Phoenix Boudreau, Cherie Dimaline, Carson Faust, Kelli Jo Ford, Kate Hart, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Brandon Hobson, Darcie Little Badger, Conley Lyons, Nick Medina, Tiffany Morris, Tommy Orange, Mona Susan Power, Marcie R. Rendon, Waubgeshig Rice, Rebecca Roanhorse, Andrea L. Rogers, Morgan Talty, D.H. Trujillo, Richard Van Camp, Royce Young Wolf, Mathilda Zeller
Genres: Horror
Representation: Indigenous MCs
Published on: 19th September 2023

A bold, clever, and sublimely sinister collection that dares to ask the question: “Are you ready to be un-settled?”

Featuring stories by: Norris Black • Amber Blaeser-Wardzala • Phoenix Boudreau • Cherie Dimaline • Carson Faust • Kelli Jo Ford • Kate Hart • Shane Hawk • Brandon Hobson • Darcie Little Badger • Conley Lyons • Nick Medina • Tiffany Morris • Tommy Orange • Mona Susan Power • Marcie R. Rendon • Waubgeshig Rice • Rebecca Roanhorse • Andrea L. Rogers • Morgan Talty • D.H. Trujillo • Theodore C. Van Alst Jr. • Richard Van Camp • David Heska Wanbli Weiden • Royce Young Wolf • Mathilda Zeller

Many Indigenous people believe that one should never whistle at night. This belief takes many forms: for instance, Native Hawaiians believe it summons the Hukai’po, the spirits of ancient warriors, and Native Mexicans say it calls Lechuza, a witch that can transform into an owl. But what all these legends hold in common is the certainty that whistling at night can cause evil spirits to appear—and even follow you home.

These wholly original and shiver-inducing tales introduce readers to ghosts, curses, hauntings, monstrous creatures, complex family legacies, desperate deeds, and chilling acts of revenge. Introduced and contextualized by bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones, these stories are a celebration of Indigenous peoples’ survival and imagination, and a glorious reveling in all the things an ill-advised whistle might summon.

This sounds incredible, albeit definitely something I will be reading with the lights on!!! But I’m always excited for exposure to mythologies I know little about, and this sounds like it will give me that in spades!

Tea Leaves by Jacob Budenz
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi, Speculative Fiction
Representation: Queer MCs
Published on: 19th September 2023

Tea Leaves is an astonishing collection of fables for our time by a young writer of tremendous power and promise.

Tea Leaves presents 17 speculative short stories that place queer characters in larger-than-life situations to emphasize the surreal experience of marginalization. A queer romance spans multiple incarnations, but only in doomed cities. A gay medieval scholar must testify for his life to the otherworldly octopus who traps him in a cafe bathroom. Ignoring their better judgment, a witch brings their mortal partner on a hunt for a dangerous sorcerer and must cope with the dire consequences.

Each of the stories within Tea Leaves explores the urgency of modern queer life in encounters between the otherworldly and the queer other. In juxtaposing queer narratives with new, larger-than-life myths, Tea Leaves both exalts and lampoons the queer experience while examining the sometimes surreal obstacles of marginalization.

Beautiful queer weirdness is kind of my jam, so obviously I’ve been intrigued by Budenz’s Tea Leaves since I first heard about it! I mean, look at that blurb – can you blame me?!

Dark Park (Dark Factory) by Kathe Koja
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: M/M
Published on: 19th September 2023

The only thing wilder than a night at the club is the morning after, in Paradise...DARK FACTORY opened the doors to a reality-bending dance club, an online immersive portal, and the feeling that the whole world is on the brink of something new. DARK PARK takes you there.

DARK PARK follows documentary filmmaker Sergey Kendricks as he tracks Ari Regon and Felix the DJ through the fever and chaos of stardom and celebrity culture, while Max Caspar quests deeper into the unstable gaming landscape of Birds of pursued and idolized by fans, acolytes, haters, and schemers, all dazed by beauty and searching for the end of the end of the world. Immerse yourself at DARKFACTORY club.

This is the sequel to Koja’s Dark Factory, which I adored – speculative fiction set in a near-future Germany, where a small handful of artists are learning how to…I don’t know how to properly describe it: reshape reality??? Kinda??? Like the first book, Dark Park is a mixed media experiment – which doesn’t mean it’s written in letters and dialogue scripts, but that video, music, and pictures are woven into the reading experience. You’re definitely going to need to read Dark Factory first, but this is going to be another you won’t want to miss!

A Nobleman's Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel (The Doomsday Books, #2) by K.J. Charles
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 19th September 2023

Major Rufus d'Aumesty has unexpectedly become the Earl of Oxney, master of a remote Norman manor on the edge of the infamous Romney Marsh. There he's beset on all sides, his position contested both by his greedy uncle and by Luke Doomsday, son of a notorious smuggling clan.

The earl and the smuggler should be natural enemies, but cocksure, enragingly competent Luke is a trained secretary and expert schemer—exactly the sort of man Rufus needs by his side. Before long, Luke becomes an unexpected ally...and the lover Rufus had never hoped to find.

But Luke came to Stone Manor with an ulterior motive, one he's desperate to keep hidden even from the lord he can't resist. As the lies accumulate and family secrets threaten to destroy everything they hold dear, master and man find themselves forced to decide whose side they're really on...and what they're willing to do for love.

I am far from the only one who was completely charmed by everything KJ Charles has ever written The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen, the first book in the Doomsday Books series. (Which has nothing to do with the apocalypse; the Doomsday or Domesday Book is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘a comprehensive record of the extent, value, ownership, and liabilities of land in England, made in 1086 by order of William I.’ It’s a historical reference, not an end-of-the-world situation!) I suspect you can read Seducing a Scoundrel as a standalone if you wish – one of the main characters was a very minor character in the previous book, but the events of each book sound very separate – but why would you deny yourself the joys of Country Gentlemen, if you haven’t read that yet???

Either way, I’m willing to bet this will be another extremely delightful, extremely fun historical romance from Charles!

A Crown So Cursed (The Nightmare-Verse, #3) by L.L. McKinney
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Black bi/pansexual MC, secondary F/F
Published on: 19th September 2023

Alice is doing her best to recover from her last boss battle, but members of her crew start having these... dreams. And they’re all the same dream: visions of a dark past―and an even darker future. It seems the evil in Wonderland may not be as defeated as they’d hoped.

When word spreads of an encroaching army of Nightmares unlike any ever seen, Alice finds she may have to step between the coming darkness and the mortal world once more. But this time is different. This time, the monsters aren’t waiting for her on the other side of the Veil.
They're in her own back yard.

The third book in McKinney’s much-praised Alice in Wonderland-retold series! Making it an excellent time to dive in if you’ve not read these yet.

A Prayer for Vengeance by Leanne Schwartz
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Autistic MC, fat MC

An orphan out to find the truth within a warped religion turns his poetry into prayer―a prayer that awakens a cursed girl hungry for revenge.

Centuries after a miracle vanquished Tresttato’s monsters and turned the soldiers fighting them to stone, Milo lovingly tends to the statues of those who protected the city. Raised with devout templars and scholars, autistic temple ward Milo wants nothing more than to be accepted into their ranks. When his prayers admiring her heroic sacrifice accidentally free Gia from stone, she wakes with a fury to kill the man Milo owes his life to, Primo Sanct Ennio.

Gia claims that the immortal holy leader Milo lives to serve is the same man who betrayed her and transformed her into a statue―and what Milo always believed was a miracle was actually a curse that Gia will stop at nothing to break. Even if she has to kill his followers to do it. Even if she must kill the boy who woke her.

There is nothing about this premise that I do not adore. Plus-sized girls out to kill? Autistic sweetheart boys?? Horrific history buried under lying religions??? Um, HELLS YES! Really hoping this one pulls absolutely none of its punches!

Shadow Coven (The Witchery, #2) by S. Isabelle
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Black MCs, Black sapphic MC, minor nonbinary character
Published on: 19th September 2023

The Haunting Season has ended, but dark magic lingers in the shadows.

After defeating the Wolves, Jailah, Logan, Iris, and Thalia want nothing more than a summer of fun and relaxation. But there is no rest for the wicked, especially when Death comes for Iris. She is to become a Reaper, tasked with banishing souls who refuse to cross over. But Iris suspects there’s something more ominous going on when Mathew’s role as her tether grows sinister.

Logan and Thalia are ready to prove themselves as witches. Except Logan still hears the howling Wolves and realizes that the Haunting Season may have awakened more than just her magic. And while Thalia wants to spend her days cleansing the Swamp for good, she finds herself heading to a place she swore she’d never go again: home. Witches have started going missing near Annex, and Thalia is convinced that her father is behind the disappearances. With the help of Logan and Trent, Thalia returns to stop him.

Meanwhile, Jailah is focused on her internship with the Haelsford Witchery Council until she discovers a treacherous magic hidden beneath Mesmortes, and there are those who will go to great lengths to keep it buried. So, she turns to the only person who understands, even if it’s the one witch who hates her most.

Separated by distance, the coven is surrounded by magical and mundane threats that must be defeated before they lose their witchery--and each other--forever...

Another sequel, and a witchy book just in time for spooky season! I’m curious about where this is going to go, after how the first book went down…

Angels Before Man by rafael nicolás
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer cast
Published on: 24th September 2023

Angels Before Man: Revised and Extended

A Queer Retelling of Satan's Fall

In an eternal paradise, the most beautiful angel, Lucifer, struggles with shame, identity, and timidity, with little more than the desire to worship his creator.

It isn't until the strongest angel, Michael, comes into his life that Lucifer learns to love himself. Along the way, their friendship begins to bloom into something else. Maybe the first romance in the history of everything.

But this God is a jealous one, and maybe paradise is not paradise.

This is the revised and expanded new edition of nicolás’ Angels Before Man, with a brand-new (freaking gorgeous!) cover by Hyde Nikolaev! Also, we now know that this is going to be a trilogy, which is just brilliant news. MORE QUEER ANGELS PLEASE AND THANK YOU!

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


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