Must-Have Monday #27!

Posted 8th March 2021 by Siavahda in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

We’re being spoiled with TEN releases this week!

Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley
Representation: F/F or wlw, queernorm world
on 9th March 2021
Genres: Secondary World Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Goodreads

In this charming debut fantasy perfect for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Girls of Paper and Fire, a witch cursed to never love meets a girl hiding her own dangerous magic, and the two strike a dangerous bargain to save their queendom.

Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she’s exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back—even for just a little while—is to steal love from others.

Wren is a source—a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself. Sources are required to train with the Coven as soon as they discover their abilities, but Wren—the only caretaker to her ailing father—has spent her life hiding her secret.

When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren’s father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father.

Of course, love bargains are a tricky thing, and these two have a long, perilous journey ahead of them—that is, if they don't kill each other first..

Between the stunning cover and the promise of beautiful prose, Sweet & Bitter Magic is probably the book I’m most excited for this week!

All the Murmuring Bones by A.G. Slatter, Angela Slatter
on 9th March 2021
Genres: Secondary World Fantasy
Goodreads

Long ago Miren O'Malley's family prospered due to a deal struck with the Mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. But for many years the family have been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren's grandmother is determined to restore their glory, even at the price of Miren's freedom.

A spellbinding tale of dark family secrets, magic and witches, and creatures of myth and the sea; of strong women and the men who seek to control them.

Although I thought the ending was a little weak, I still hugely enjoyed reading this one and think a lot of others will too – especially if you like your heroines ruthless and your magic a little dark.

We Shall Sing a Song into the Deep by Andrew Kelly Stewart
on 9th March 2021
Genres: Sci Fi
Goodreads

Remy is a Chorister, one of the chosen few rescued from the surface world and raised to sing the Hours in a choir of young boys. Remy lives with a devoted order of monks who control the Leviathan, an aging nuclear submarine that survives in the ocean’s depths. Their secret mission: to trigger the Second Coming when the time is right, ready to unleash its final, terrible weapon.

But Remy has a secret too— she’s the only girl onboard. It is because of this secret that the sub’s dying caplain gifts her with the missile’s launch key, saying that it is her duty to keep it safe. Safety, however, is not the sub’s priority, especially when the new caplain has his own ideas about the Leviathan’s mission. Remy’s own perspective is about to shift drastically when a surface-dweller is captured during a raid, and she learns the truth about the world.

At once lyrical and page-turning, We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep is a captivating debut from newcomer author Andrew Kelly Stewart.

I have heard very good things about this one, and I’m looking forward to getting to read it for myself. I’m usually wary about going near anything featuring some form of Christianity, but the premise is interesting enough that I’m willing to risk it!

The Queen's Weapons (The Black Jewels #11) by Anne Bishop
Representation: F/F or wlw, mental health
on 9th March 2021
Genres: Secondary World Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Goodreads

Enter the dark and sensual realms of the Black Jewels, a world where power always has a price, in this sweeping story in the New York Times bestselling fantasy saga.

They are Warlord Princes, men born to serve and protect. They are the Queen's Weapons, men born to destroy the Queen's enemies--no matter what face that enemy wears.

Daemonar Yaslana knows how to be bossy yet supportive--traits he shares with his father, the Demon Prince, and his uncle, the High Lord of Hell. Within his generation of the family, he assumes the role of protector, supporting his sister Titian’s artistic efforts and curbing his cousin Jaenelle Saetien’s more adventurous ideas. But when a young Eyrien Queen, someone Titian thought was a friend, inflicts an emotional wound, Daemonar's counterattack brings him under the tutelage of Witch, the Queen whose continued existence is known only to a select few.

As Daemonar is confronted by troubling changes within and around the family, he sees warnings that a taint in the Blood might be reappearing. Daemonar, along with his father and uncle, must uncover the source of a familiar evil--and Daemon Sadi, the High Lord of Hell, may be forced into making a terrible choice.

As I said in my review, I absolutely adored this latest (and perhaps last?) installment in my beloved Black Jewels series. I have no doubt whatsoever that other followers of these books will love it too. (Although if you haven’t read the earlier books, don’t start here!)

Fragile Remedy by Maria Ingrande Mora
Representation: M/M or mlm
on 9th March 2021
Genres: Sci Fi, Queer Protagonists
Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Nate is a GEM—Genetically Engineered Medi-tissue created by the scientists of Gathos City as a cure for the elite from the fatal lung rot ravaging the population. As a child, he was smuggled out of the laboratory where he was held captive and into the Withers—a quarantined, lawless region. Nate manages to survive by using his engineering skills to become a Tinker, fixing broken tech in exchange for food or a safe place to sleep. When he meets Reed, a kind and fiercely protective boy that makes his heart race, and his misfit gang of scavengers, Nate finds the family he’s always longed for—even if he can’t risk telling them what he is.

But Gathos created a genetic failsafe in their GEMs—a flaw that causes their health to rapidly deteriorate as they age unless they are regularly dosed with medication controlled by Gathos City. As Nate’s health declines, his hard-won freedom is put in jeopardy. Violence erupts across the Withers, his illegal supply of medicine is cut off, and a vicious attack on Reed threatens to expose his secret. With time running out, Nate is left with only two options: work for a shadowy terrorist organization that has the means to keep him alive, or stay — and die — with the boy he loves.

I’m rarely willing to dip my toes into the sci-fi side of spec fic, but again, I’ve heard nothing but praise for Fragile Remedy. I’m not 100% sure my head is in the right place to be able to handle a book about struggling to acquire life-saving meds right now, but it’s definitely going on my tbr.

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst
on 9th March 2021
Genres: Secondary World Fantasy
Goodreads

From award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst, a standalone epic fantasy set in a brand-new world of towering mountains and sparkling cities, in which a band of aging warriors have a second chance to defeat dark magic and avenge a haunting loss.

Twenty-five years ago, five heroes risked their lives to defeat the bone maker Eklor—a corrupt magician who created an inhuman army using animal bones. But victory came at a tragic price. Only four of the heroes survived. 

Since then, Kreya, the group’s leader, has exiled herself to a remote tower and devoted herself to one purpose: resurrecting her dead husband. But such a task requires both a cache of human bones and a sacrifice—for each day he lives, she will live one less.

She’d rather live one year with her husband than a hundred without him, but using human bones for magic is illegal in Vos. The dead are burned—as are any bone workers who violate the law. Yet Kreya knows where she can find the bones she needs: the battlefield where her husband and countless others lost their lives.
But defying the laws of the land exposes a terrible possibility. Maybe the dead don’t rest in peace after all.  

Five warriors—one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should be dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.”

I’ve loved Sarah Beth Durst’s books all the way back to her debut Enchanted Ivy, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon! I don’t know how she manages to fit such incredible stories into standalones, but she always does, and I’m excited for this one!

Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson
on 9th March 2021
Genres: Fantasy
Goodreads

Isda does not exist. At least not beyond the opulent walls of the opera house.

Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high—and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.

But Isda breaks Cyril’s cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she’s ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison.

Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.

I’m not particularly into Phantom of the Opera, or any of its retellings, but early reviews have praised Olson’s prose, so I might give it a try. Regardless, I knew I needed to include it!

Galactic Hellcats by Marie Vibbert
Representation: Gay character
on 9th March 2021
Genres: Sci Fi
Goodreads

Ki is a petty thief. Her best friend wills her his solo-flyer—call it a space motorcycle: temperamental, fast as hell, and expensive to maintain. Any reasonable person would sell it to get off the street, but Ki isn’t reasonable.

Margot is a military vet at loose ends. She blows her entire back pay on a solo-flyer, a decision she instantly regrets but can’t bring herself to undo. Margot meets Ki and thinks she’s the sympathetic friend she needs when she feels most alone. Ki thinks Margot is an easy mark for food money. They’re both right, but lunch leads to a joy ride to planet Ratana, where Margot is arrested by border control.

Ki enlists Ratanese local Zuleikah, a bored rich girl who can think of no stupider, and therefore better, way to spend her time than busting someone out of jail. Together they rescue Margot, but find themselves trapped on a hostile planet on the cusp of civil war.

When Zuleikah convinces them that their best bet for escape is to kidnap—er, rescue—Prince Thane from his dreary role in the crumbling monarchy, it results in a chase across the desert and into the farthest reaches of the universe.

If they can learn to trust each other, and if the repo men, cops, and three different galactic governments don’t catch them, the Galactic Hellcats might just use their solo-fliers to carve a place for themselves among the stars.

This sounds delightfully bonkers, and a lot of early readers have talked about how much fun it is, so if you’re looking for something a little lighter, maybe check it out!

The Second Bell by Gabriela Houston
on 9th March 2021
Genres: Secondary World Fantasy
Goodreads

In a world which believes her to be a monster, a young striga fights to harness the power of her second heart, while her mother sacrifices everything to stop her...

In an isolated mountain community, sometimes a child is born with two hearts. This child is called a striga and is considered a demon who must be abandoned on the edge of the forest. The child's mother must then decide to leave with her infant, or stay and try to forget.

Nineteen year-old striga, Salka, and her mother, Miriat, made the choice to leave and live a life of deprivation and squalor in an isolated village. The striga tribe share the human belief that to follow the impulses of their other hearts is dangerous, inviting unspoken horrors and bringing ruin onto them all.

Salka, a headstrong and independent young woman, finds herself in a life threatening situation that forces her to explore the depths of her true nature and test the bonds between mother and child...

I bounced hard off this one, which is a shame, because I think the premise is awesome. I think the problem is more me than not, though – if The Second Bell sounds interesting to you, do give it a try! Just because I didn’t get on with it doesn’t mean you won’t.

Magic Mutant Nightmare Girl (Magic Mutants, #1) by Erin Grammar
Representation: Bisexual MC
on 10th March 2021
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Goodreads

Fight like a magical girl in this paperback original contemporary fantasy in which a Harajuku fashionista battles mutants—and social anxiety—by teaming up with an elite group of outcasts. Perfect for those obsessed with the technicolor worlds of Sailor Moon, The Umbrella Academy, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Book One of the Magic Mutants Trilogy.

Holly Roads uses Harajuku fashion to distract herself from tragedy. Her magical girl aesthetic makes her feel beautiful—and it keeps the world at arm's length. She's an island of one, until advice from an amateur psychic expands her universe. A midnight detour ends with her vs. exploding mutants in the heart of San Francisco.
Brush with destiny? Check. Waking up with blue blood, emotions gone haywire, and terrifying strength that starts ripping her wardrobe to shreds? Totally not cute. Hunting monsters with a hot new partner and his unlikely family of mad scientists?
Way more than she bargained for.

This is another book I didn’t connect to, unfortunately, but I suspect it’s another case of me not meshing with the story rather than Grammar doing anything wrong. I think if you’re a fan of things like anime-style Magical Girls, or intrigued by the tagline ‘cute rules the Cosmos’, you should give it a go!

Those are all the ones I know about! Have I missed any? Will you be reading any of these? Let me know!

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