Must-Have Monday #175

Posted 26th February 2024 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.)

Lore of the Wilds by Analeigh Sbrana
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Black MC, Black love interests
Published on: 27th February 2024

A stunning Romantasy debut about an enchanted library, two handsome Fae, and one human who brings them all together.

A library with a deadly enchantment.

A Fae lord who wants in.

A human woman willing to risk it all for a taste of power.

In a land ruled by ruthless Fae, twenty-one-year-old Lore Alemeyu’s village is trapped in a forested prison. Lore knows that any escape attempt is futile—her scars are a testament to her past failures. But when her village is threatened, Lore makes a desperate deal with a Fae lord. She will leave her home to catalog/organize an enchanted library that hasn’t been touched in a thousand years. No Fae may enter the library, but there is a chance a human might be able to breach the cursed doors.
She convinces him that she will risk her life for wealth, but really she’s after the one thing the Fae covet above all: magic of her own.

As Lore navigates the hostile world outside, she’s forced to rely on two Fae males to survive. Two very different, very dangerous, very attractive Fae males. When undeniable chemistry ignites, she’s not just in danger of losing her life, but her heart to the very creatures she can never trust.

I am HEART-EYES for that cover! The book itself seems to have mixed reviews – a lot of readers who think it reads more as YA than Adult, which makes me wary. But: magical library!!! There may be people who can resist a magical library, but I am not one of them!

Blackheart Knights by Laure Eve
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bi/pansexual MC, nonbinary secondary characters, sapphic secondary character, queernorm world
Published on: 27th February 2024

Power always wins.

Imagine Camelot but in Gotham: a city where knights are the celebrities of the day, riding on motorbikes instead of horses and competing in televised fights for fame and money.

Imagine a city where a young, magic-touched bastard astonishes everyone by becoming king - albeit with extreme reluctance - and a girl with a secret past trains to become a knight for the sole purpose of vengeance.

Imagine a city where magic is illegal but everywhere, in its underground bars, its back-alley soothsayers - and in the people who have to hide what they are for fear of being tattooed and persecuted.

Imagine a city where electricity is money, power the only game worth playing, and violence the most fervently worshipped religion.

Welcome to a dark, chaotic, alluring place with a tumultuous history, where dreams come true if you want them hard enough - and are prepared to do some very, very bad things to get them . . .

"A riveting tragedy of blood and desire - and the coolest thing you'll read this year" ― Samantha Shannon, author of The Bone Season and The Priory of the Orange Tree

"The boldest, smartest, most adventurous fantasy I've read in ages - and it's really f**ing fun" ― Krystal Sutherland, author of Our Chemical Hearts

"Arthurian legend meets urban fantasy in a brilliant, bloody wild ride" ― Jay Kristoff, No.1 New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author

This is the start of one of my favourite duologies, and it’s finally out in the US this week! You don’t have to know, or enjoy, King Arthur to enjoy this – if you’re paying attention, you can see how Blackheart Knights is a loose retelling, but it absolutely stands on its own as an incredible take on urban fantasy; by which I mean, this is an urban setting, but it’s not our world at all, with knights on motorbikes, legal disputes decided by televised combat, and magic-users registered and tattooed because no one trusts them. It’s SO GREAT!

My review!

Bored Gay Werewolf by Tony Santorella
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Gay MC, nonbinary secondary character
Published on: 27th February 2024

Juno Dawson's Her Majesty's Royal Coven meets a Jim Jarmusch movie. A directionless college-dropout deals with sexuality, minimum-wage jobs, lunar cycles, toxic masculinity and the everyday perils of life as a modern werewolf.

Brian, an aimless slacker, works doubles at his shift job, forgets to clean his room and lays about with his friends Nik and Darby. He's been struggling to manage his transition to adulthood almost as much as his monthly transitions to a werewolf. Really, he is not great at the whole werewolf thing, and his recent murderous slip-ups have caught the attention of Tyler, a Millennial were-mentor determined to take the mythological world by storm.

Tyler has got a plan, and weirdly his self-help punditry actually encourages Brian to shape up and to stop accidentally marking out guys who ghosted him on Grindr as potential monthly victims. But as Brian gets closer to Tyler's pack, and alienated from Nik and Darby, he realizes that Tyler's expansion plans are much more nefarious than a little lupine enlightenment...

Big-hearted, goofy, anarchic and funny, Bored Gay Werewolf is a smart take on the doomsday logic of late capitalism and the complicated meeting point of masculinity and sexuality. More than that, though, and like Scooby Doo with Grindr or Stranger Things with sex and ennui, it’s a buddy novel about finding your pack, the power of friendship, and learning how to be comfortable in your own, shaggy werewolf pelt.

I DELIGHTED with this when it came out in the UK last year, and it’s another that’s out in the US this week! Strongly recommended; this earned a spot on my favourites shelf EASILY! Snarky, incisive, surprisingly deep at times, and so much fun!

Snowglobe (The Snowglobe Duology) by Soyoung Park, Joungmin Lee Comfort
Genres: Sci Fi
Representation: Korean cast
Published on: 27th February 2024

In a world of constant winter, only the citizens of the climate-controlled city of Snowglobe can escape the bitter cold—but this perfect society is hiding dark and dangerous secrets within its frozen heart.

Enclosed under a vast dome, Snowglobe is the last place on Earth that’s warm. Outside Snowglobe is a frozen wasteland, and every day, citizens face the icy world to get to their jobs at the power plant, where they produce the energy Snowglobe needs. Their only solace comes in the form of twenty-four-hour television programming streamed directly from the domed city.

The residents of Snowglobe have fame, fortune, and above all, safety from the desolation outside their walls. In exchange, their lives are broadcast to the less fortunate outside, who watch eagerly, hoping for the chance to one day become actors themselves.

Chobahm lives for the time she spends watching the shows produced inside Snowglobe. Her favorite? Goh Around, starring Goh Haeri, Snowglobe’s biggest star—and, it turns out, the key to getting Chobahm her dream life.

Because Haeri is dead, and Chobahm has been chosen to take her place. Only, life inside Snowglobe is nothing like what you see on television. Reality is a lie, and truth seems to be forever out of reach.

Translated for the first time into English from the original Korean.

I feel like any dystopian story is going to have some special X factor when it’s coming from a country next door to the world’s worst real-world dystopia. You know? And it’s tied in with climate collapse and reality tv??? Sounds like it’ll pack a real punch.

Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury
Genres: Horror
Representation: Black MCs
Published on: 27th February 2024

After her private school is rocked by a gruesome murder, a teen tries to find the real killer and clear her brother’s name in this psychological thriller perfect for fans of The Taking of Jake Livingston and Ace of Spades.

Sunny Behre has four siblings, but only one is a murderer.

With the death of Sunny’s mother, matriarch of the wealthy Behre family, Sunny’s once picture-perfect life is thrown into turmoil. Her mother had groomed her to be the family’s next leader, so Sunny is confused when the only instructions her mother leaves is a mysterious note: “Take care of Dom.”

The problem is, her youngest brother, Dom, has always been a near-stranger to Sunny…and seemingly a dangerous one, if found guilty of his second-degree murder charge. Still, Sunny is determined to fulfill her mother’s dying wish. But when a classmate is gruesomely murdered, and Sunny finds her brother with blood on his hands, her mother’s simple request becomes a lot more complicated. Dom swears he’s innocent, and although Sunny isn’t sure she believes him, she takes it upon herself to look into the murder—made all the more urgent by the discovery of another body. And another.

As Sunny and Dom work together to track down the culprit, Sunny realizes her other siblings have their own dark secrets. Soon she may have to choose: preserve the family she’s always loved or protect the brother she barely knows—and risk losing everything her mother worked so hard to build.

It’s the hint of supernatural fuckery that has me intrigued by this one, as well as the all-importance of sibling bonds – siblings and friends and found family are generally all MUCH more interesting to me than romances!

Daughter of the Bone Forest (Witch Hall, #1) by Jasmine Skye
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MC
Published on: 27th February 2024

Two girls reluctantly bound by fate must weather a dangerous courtship as a prophesied war grows ever closer in Jasmine Skye's high-stakes, queernormative dark fantasy debut, Daughter of the Bone Forest.

Rosy is a bone familiar, gifted with the power to shift into animals marked with exposed bone. She spends most of her days in the magical Bone Forest, caring for her feral grandmother and hiding her powers to avoid conscription by the Witch King’s army. Until the day that Princess Shaw, a witch known as Death’s Heir, visits the Forest. When Rosy saves Shaw’s life, the princess offers her the chance to attend the prestigious school, Witch Hall, as payment. Though Rosy is wary of Shaw’s intentions, she cannot pass up the opportunity to find the cure for her grandmother’s affliction.

But at Witch Hall, Rosy finds herself embroiled in political games she doesn't understand. Shaw wants Rosy for her entourage, a partner to help lead the coming war. All Rosy wants is to stay out of trouble until she can graduate and save her grandmother, but she can't deny her attraction to Shaw or the comfort Shaw’s magic gives her. Will Rosy give in to her destiny, or will the Bone Forest call her home once and for all?

To be honest, I was sold the moment I heard ‘feral grandmother’! And it doesn’t hurt that the main setting is going to be a school for witches. Bonus: shapeshifting into bone-marked animals??? What??? I have questions!

Live for You, Die with You (Heaven #1) by Kalob Dàniel
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 29th February 2024

For fans of The First to Die at the End and Under the Whispering Door. Live For You, Die With You is an upper-young adult LGBTQ+ urban romantasy about Heaven and Hell lore, a second chance at life, first love, and family.

When Michael Archard accidentally dies on his nineteenth birthday, he soon discovers he doesn't have enough Life Points to make it into Heaven. So he gets sent to Hell until he's up for parole nearly one thousand earthly years later. It’s then a tall(er), sexy, and lavender-eyed angel offers Michael a second chance to relive his last year on Earth before he died. With his guardian angel’s help, Michael is on a time crunch to acquire the Life Points he desperately needs to stay the hell out of Hell.

Gabriel IV has one task: get Michael into Heaven. But he is in over his head since he’s never been a guardian angel before, and his close proximity to Michael is making his Heavenly duties...difficult. Gabriel soon finds himself torn between his job and his fast-developing feelings for his charge. They can't possibly be correlated, right?

Secrets are being kept, but Heaven's laws must be followed. Feelings are running rampant, and Earth time is running out. Can they even truly be together, or will the powers of Heaven keep them apart?

When the end comes, Gabriel will have to choose between his duty as a guardian angel or his soulmate. When the end comes, Michael will have to choose between his destiny, his family, or his own epic love story.

Content/trigger warnings: mentions of death and dying throughout, mention of slavery, passive suicidal ideation, mild homophobia and bullying, mental health confusion, on-page anxiety attack, mature sexual content (all on-page sexual content is between two consenting adults), and pop culture.

This is unlikely in the extreme to be featuring the kind of eldritch angels I prefer… But it still sounds very cute and sweet, and I’m definitely pouncing on it when I next need a fluffy (feathery?) love story!

Wayward Wings (Dragons of Sinuation) by S Slottje
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 29th February 2024

"A mighty book set in an amazing world."-Jarek Adams

Exploring the theme of identity, this compelling novel follows a bounty-hunting dragon who discovers that humans prove to be more challenging than she had thought. In this flintlock adventure, a shapeshifting dragon hunts a human, and along the way she learns to adapt to her changed body and her new relationship to humanity.

Dragon Caizhiu the Wayward relishes her life as monster hunter for hire. However, when she emerges from her latest iteration cocoon, her increased size makes it difficult to assume a human guise. Without that, humans consider her a monster.

Before she can adjust to her larger body, a Keeper of Sinuation hires her to bring a lowly human to justice. Caizhiu doesn't know why Ozcahar Nitt is wanted by the powerful being, and she doesn't care. Sinuation is the power that alters dragons, and if there is a chance the Keeper can direct it to restore her size, Caizhiu will take it. Besides, how hard can it be to catch one little human?

But finding her target is only the start of Caizhiu's trouble. Caught between humans and monsters, the lines between friend and foe blur. If she wants to save not just herself but also Ozcahar, she must accept that humans aren't as feeble as she believed. And life is not as simple.

Whether seeking refuge from the frigid winter or searching for a captivating beach read, this rural flintlock fantasy is an ideal choice for fans of the work of Robin Hobb, Naomi Novik and/or Jim Butcher's Cinder Spire series.

Shapeshifting dragons that are NOT paranormal romance??? Tell me more! Flintlock worldbuilding has surprised me before by being Very Interesting, and I like the sound of a dragon bounty-hunter – especially one who is going to find her views on humans challenged, it sounds like.

The Road Thieves by Harper A Burge
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Middle Eastern MCs and cast
Published on: 29th Feburary 2024

During the ongoing Sudanese-Akkadian war, two orphans discover they have magic in a nation where magic is illegal. Volya, a street urchin and thief, must rise to power to quench his thirst for revenge. Nassa, a reclusive orphan forced to serve her uncle, must deny her magic to preserve her life. When the two unexpectedly meet, they can no longer escape their pasts. They set off to discover their futures in a world of romance, vengeance, intrigue and adventure.

I haven’t been able to find any early reviews of this one, or any info beyond the not-super-detailed blurb – but that blurb IS damn cool. I want to know more, and it seems like the only way that’s gonna happen is if I read it myself!

Remember, Remember by Elle Machray
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Speculative Fiction
Representation: Black lesbian MC
Published on: 29th February 2024

Gunpowder, treason and a plot to destroy the British Empire…

1770. Delphine lives in the shadows of London: a secret, vibrant world of smugglers, courtesans and small rebellions. Four years ago, she escaped enslavement at great personal cost. Now, she must help her brother Vincent do the same.

While Britain’s highest court fails to administer justice for Vincent, little rebellions are no longer enough. What’s needed is a big, explosive plot – one that will strike at the heart of the transatlantic slave trade. But can one Black woman, one fuse and one match bring down an Empire?

An incendiary alternative history, Remember, Remember is a gripping story of conscience, conspiracy, queer identity and courage in the face of injustice.

I’m going to have to be in the right headspace when I pick this up – but damn, I want to pick it up! This sounds epic, and the early reviews seem to agree that it is in fact amazing, so I am definitely making room for it on my tbr!

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


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