Must-Have Monday #162

Posted 13th November 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.

TEN books this week!

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

System Collapse (The Murderbot Diaries, #7) by Martha Wells
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Asexual agender MC, queernorm world
Published on: 14th November 2023

Everyone's favorite lethal SecUnit is back in the next installment in Martha Wells's New York Times bestselling Murderbot Diaries series.

Am I making it worse? I think I'm making it worse.

Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize.

But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!

Yeah, this plan is... not going to work.

The Murderbot Diaries
All Systems Red
Artificial Condition
Rogue Protocol
Exit Strategy
Network Effect
Fugitive Telemetry
System Collapse

AT LAST! Wells confused a lot of us by setting the sixth instalment of her Murderbot series before the fifth – meaning that System Collapse is the actual sequel to the plot begun in Network Effect, aka book 5. WHICH HAD A PRETTY INTENSE CLIFFHANGER. So I know I’m not the only one dying to get my hands on this and finally learn how that part of Murderbot’s story goes!

Shadow Baron (Burnished City Trilogy) by Davinia Evans
Genres: Fantasy, Secondary World Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MC
Published on: 14th November 2023

'A firework of a fantasy vibrant, explosive, deliciously dangerous and impossibly fun. A must-read debut' Tasha Suri, author of The Jasmine Throne

Siyon Velo might be acknowledged as the Alchemist. He may have even stabilized the planes and stopped Bezim from ever shaking into the sea again. But that doesn't mean he has any idea what's he doing-and it won't be long before everyone knows it.

Then mythical creatures once confined to operas and myths are spotted around Bezim. A djinn invades one of Zagiri's garden parties, and whispers of a naga slithering through the Flower District are all Anahid hears at the card table.

Magic is waking up in the Mundane. It's up to Siyon to figure out a way to stop it, or everything he's worked hard to save will come crashing down.

Praise for this
'From the razor-sharp social climbing to the glimmering alchemist's library to the hidden realms beneath it all, I loved getting lost in this dazzling debut' S. A. Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass

'Notorious Sorcerer 's unique magic system adds to this delightful fantasy setting, leaving readers eagerly anticipating the next book in the Burnished City series' Booklist

'Notorious Sorcerer feels like a dream you don't want to wake from . . . I devoured it and want more!' Melissa Caruso, author of The Obsidian Tower

'A delightful and fast-paced ride full of flashy swordplay, high society, and thrilling magic. . . Sheer, glorious fun!' Freya Marske, author of A Marvellous Light

'Notorious Sorcerer is a real delight, with compelling characters and wonderful worldbuilding that sucks the reader in and keeps them engaged from beginning to end' Mike Brooks, author of The Black Coast

'A brilliant alchemical recipe! Notorious Sorcerer is a delicious melange of my favourite things, remixing historical magic with class consciousness. I couldn't put it down' Olivia Atwater, author of Half a Soul

'If you like a healthy dollop of rollicking fun with your epic fantasy, this is the book for you' Megan Bannen, author of The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy

I adored the first book in this series, Notorious Sorcerer – and as someone who just finished the arc of this one, I can confidently announce that Shadow Baron is every bit as excellent! Maybe even better??? I AM SO IN LOVE WITH THIS SERIES, FOLX, I CANNOT EVEN!

The Lost Cause by Cory Doctorow
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Queer MC
Published on: 14th November 2023

It’s thirty years from now. We’re making progress, mitigating climate change, slowly but surely. But what about all the angry old people who can’t let go?

For young Americans a generation from now, climate change isn't controversial. It's just an overwhelming fact of life. And so are the great efforts to contain and mitigate it. Entire cities are being moved inland from the rising seas. Vast clean-energy projects are springing up everywhere. Disaster relief, the mitigation of floods and superstorms, has become a skill for which tens of millions of people are trained every year. The effort is global. It employs everyone who wants to work. Even when national politics oscillates back to right-wing leaders, the momentum is too great; these vast programs cannot be stopped in their tracks.

But there are still those Americans, mostly elderly, who cling to their red baseball caps, their grievances, their huge vehicles, their anger. To their "alternative" news sources that reassure them that their resentment is right and pure and that "climate change" is just a giant scam.

And they're your grandfather, your uncle, your great-aunt. And they're not going anywhere. And they’re armed to the teeth.

The Lost Cause What do we do about people who cling to the belief that their own children are the enemy? When, in fact, they're often the elders that we love?

Doctorow is probably the only author I’d trust with this premise, and I’m halfway through the arc and enjoying the hell out of it! Although I have to admit I still don’t see how he’s going to pull off the reconciliation Mentioned in the tagline…

The Mischievous Letters of the Marquise de Q by Felicia Davin
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MCs, polyamory
Published on: 14th November 2023

Paris, 1825 . Losing her husband is the best thing to happen to Delphine in ages. After he used magic to control her, Delphine’s only regret is that she didn’t kill that petty tyrant herself. Widowed, Delphine can pursue her dashing rescuer, the androgynous novelist Camille Dupin—and solve the mystery of her first love, a man called Ari who disappeared before Delphine could tell him she was pregnant with his child. Ari isn’t dead. Three years ago, he stole a magical weapon from a powerful man and was exiled to a distant prison. When a stroke of luck allows him to escape, he sets out to confront the man who ruined his life and reunite with Delphine. He never expected to find her in bed with Camille, or to find himself falling in love with both of them.

Camille loves Delphine and was almost ready to let her guard down. Ari’s reappearance stirs up old hurts and threatens them all—Ari’s enemy will stop at nothing to get his stolen artifact back. Camille’s conscience won’t let her abandon Delphine and Ari in danger, but she won’t stay to have her heart broken once they’re safe. Before Delphine, Camille, and Ari can imagine a happy future, they’ll have to reckon with the past.

This is the standalone sequel to Davin’s The Scandalous Letters of V and J, which came out earlier this year. You don’t need to have read it to read this one, although at least some of the main characters in this one were secondary characters in the previous book, I think. Myself, I’ll definitely be pouncing on it!

The Ruin of Beasts (Those Who Break Chains) by Maria Ying
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: East Asian sapphic cast, F/F, polyamory
Published on: 14th November 2023

The conclusion to the long hunt of centuries, the fulfillment of an ancient family pact: what awaits, at the end of all things.

The House of Hua made a binding promise with a demon—in exchange for strength and a lasting legacy, the family's descendants must work to seal away the eldritch being known only as Nuawa, a creature that's long chafed against its captivity and has at last broken free. It will not rest until the Huas are scorched, the family name cast into oblivion.

Viveca, Olesya, and all their retainers must marshal their every resource if they want to destroy Nuawa for good. But it has grown arrogant and potent, and at its side stands a mage far more powerful than any other the Huas have ever faced.

Now, more than ever, both sisters stand to lose everything.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve adored the lush, gorgeous prose of this series – and its immensely delicious queerness! I’m kind of heartbroken that the trilogy is coming to an end – I don’t want it to be over! – but at the same time, I’m breathless with anticipation for the final showdown. EEE!

In the Pines by Mariah Stillbrook
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MC
Published on: 14th November 2023

Two witches, two secrets, and a curse that could tear a family apart.

Olivia and Ellie have lived their lives knowing a dark entity is stalking their family, determined to kill them all. After the death of Olivia’s son, she abandons her magic and her family, leaving Ellie in a nightmare of heartbreak, her marriage crumbling and her sister gone. Determined to save their mother Arianna from a spell that left her comatose, the two sisters must come together to unravel the riddle of the curse that has haunted their family for generations.

But as they delve into the past, the truth they uncover is more twisted and treacherous than they ever could have imagined. Will they be able to break the curse, or will it consume them all?

In the Pines showed up unexpectedly on my feed, and I haven’t been able to get exact details on the queer rep. But it sounds plenty interesting, and the early reviews seem very happy with it! (I can never understand characters who abandon magic, though. If you had it, why would you ever give it up???)

Merciless Waters by Rae Knowles
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MCs
Published on: 14th November 2023

The sea never changes. Neither do Lily and Jaq.

Aboard the ship Scylla, there is no future or past. Jaq, her fickle lover Lily, and their all-female crew exist in an endless present. It’s better this way. At least it keeps Lily by Jaq’s side, where she belongs. But the meddling gods care little for Jaq’s longing, and despite her protective rituals, their punishment arrives all the same:

A man, adrift on the open ocean. Delivered to snatch Lily from Jaq’s arms forever.

Jaq knows what to do. She’s lost Lily before. Her lover will return—when this interloper, this distraction, is snuffed out. But Jaq’s murderous schemes may not be enough. The intruder’s presence infects her crew with a plague her spells cannot cure: memory. And as the women recall how they came to Scylla, their minds bend one by one towards revenge.

Including Lily’s. Especially Lily’s.

Now Scylla draws closer to shore, leaving Jaq with an impossible choice. Deny Lily and evoke her ire. Or join her—and possibly lose her for good.

Whereas Merciless Waters has been on my feed for months, making me very impatient indeed to get my hands on it! A crew of all-lady pirates? Memory curses? Murderous sapphics? Um, ALL THE HELLS YES!

Splinter by Jasper Hyde
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 16th November 2023

This Is The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow Reborn…

In a small town hidden behind the hills of New York, things are far from ordinary. As Sleepy Hollow’s youngest Medical Examiner, the pressure intensifies for Dr. Drusilla Van Tassel when the headless bodies of her sister Katrina’s friends start surfacing. Meanwhile, Drusilla’s ex-lover Ichabod Crane returns to town, dredging up feelings better left buried.

Things take a turn for the worst when Drusilla comes face-to-face with the Headless Horseman, who is back to settle old scores – and she and her sister are the perfect targets. Drusilla can repel the horseman with an unknown power, but her sister isn’t so lucky, and she goes missing.

However, when Drusilla discovers Ichabod is a monster hunter, she has no other choice but to turn to him for help. Even if that means working with a man she feels an inexplicable attraction to. Will they find Katrina and banish the headless horseman once and for all?

I’ve never cared about Sleepy Hollow and the whole Headless Horseman thing very much, but maybe this will help change that???

Render to Silver by Catherine Labadie
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MCs
Published on: 17th November 2023

The Founts of Silver are holy women blessed by the favor of their God...or they are cursed vessels meant to be shattered. Given no other choice, Fount Marzanna clawed her way up their ranks until she was able to begin planning her escape with one of her fellow Founts from Aebbenary, the prosperous island ruled by Silver's decadent church.

Instead, the accidental working of a Miracle sets her apart and attracts the notice of the High Priest. He intends to use her to spark a revival in the city, and eventually the world, which has begun to turn away from a religion that rewards greed and ambition as piety. He's not forthcoming with how, and while tensions in the city rise, while two rival houses contemplate war, Marzanna realizes the role she resents with all her heart won't let her walk away without untold sacrifice.

Render to Silver was initially published way back in March, but this week is the ebook release! Which is very important to me, because my messed-up hands can’t hold paper books any more, so I needs my ebooks!!! And I’ve been PINING for this one – I’m so so so glad the author decided to release it digitally too after all!

Princess of the Pomegranate Moon by Emily Wynne
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Trans bi/pansexual MC
Published on: 17th November 2023

In this late age, seasons have lost their steady cadence, and the Pomegranate Moon rises over the Mountain.

In the Season of Shadows, a silver light is cast by a moon crowned with an ominous rainbow mist—the Pomegranate Moon. A small, fearful village crouches below, hidden in the shadow of a forbidden sacred mountain rumored to be the gate to Faerie.

Out of the darkness emerges Elsinore—a dancer in a brightly colored dress and rainbow shawls. While she drums a hypnotic beat and dances with floating flames, the townsfolk watch and wonder over her origin and identity—mysteries Elsinore herself seeks the key to.

A hallowed priestess and sorceress, Elsinore has spent a lifetime embracing the woman she has always known herself to be. But deep within, the painful enigma of her youth keeps her shackled to the past, haunted by guilt and grief. Disregarding the whispers and ancient warnings, Elsinore descends into the heart of the Mountain, seeking the final truths of her identity.

Will Elsinore uncover what she needs to become whole, or will she lose herself to the Mountain?

I heard about this gorgeous-sounding book last week over on Before We Go, whose review completely sold me! I want to dive into Elsinore’s story so bad! Can you blame me???

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


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