There are SEVEN marvelous spec-fic releases to feature today, ranging from boarding schools on Mars to Greek myths and sky-island mysteries!Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
Representation: Black albino MC, Indigenous characters, intersex, lesbian, bi/pan rep
on 4th May 2021
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Vern - seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised - flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.
But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.
To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future - outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.
I’ve heard nothing but praise for this one, and after how incredible An Unkindness of Ghosts and The Deep both were, there’s no way you’re keeping me away from it.Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace
Representation: Asexual aromantic MC
on 4th May 2021
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Like everyone else she knows, Mallory is an orphan of the corporate war. As a child, she lost her parents, her home, and her entire building in an airstrike. As an adult, she lives in a cramped hotel room with eight other people, all of them working multiple jobs to try to afford water and make ends meet. And the job she’s best at is streaming a popular VR war game. The best part of the game isn’t killing enemy combatants, though—it’s catching in-game glimpses of SpecOps operatives, celebrity supersoldiers grown and owned by Stellaxis, the corporation that runs the America she lives in.
Until a chance encounter with a SpecOps operative in the game leads Mal to a horrifying discovery: the real-life operatives weren’t created by Stellaxis. They were kids, just like her, who lost everything in the war, and were stolen and augmented and tortured into becoming supersoldiers. The world worships them, but the world believes a lie.
The company controls every part of their lives, and defying them puts everything at risk—her water ration, her livelihood, her connectivity, her friends, her life—but she can’t just sit on the knowledge. She has to do something—even if doing something will bring the wrath of the most powerful company in the world down upon her.
I’ll be honest, this doesn’t sound like my thing, but I really loved Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp and Latchkey, so I’m very willing to give her sci fi a try!The Ones We're Meant to Find by Joan He
on 4th May 2021
Genres: Sci Fi
Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay. Determined to find her, Cee devotes her days to building a boat from junk parts scavenged inland, doing everything in her power to survive until the day she gets off the island and reunites with her sister.
In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara is also living a life of isolation. The eco-city she calls home is one of eight levitating around the world, built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.
Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But as the public decries her stance, she starts to second guess herself and decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.
One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli.
This sounds out of my typical comfort-zone, but in a really good way? So many reviewers and bloggers I trust have adored this, so I’m definitely going to be giving it a go!The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, #3) by K.S. Villoso
Representation: Cast of colour
on 4th May 2021
Genres: High Fantasy
The stunning finale to the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy where the queen of a divided land must unite her people against the enemies who threaten to tear her country apart. K. S. Villoso is a "powerful new voice in fantasy." (Kameron Hurley)
Queen Talyien is finally home, but dangers she never imagined await her in the shadowed halls of her father's castle.
War is on the horizon. Her son has been stolen from her, her warlords despise her, and across the sea, a cursed prince threatens her nation with invasion in order to win her hand.
Worse yet, her father's ancient secrets are dangerous enough to bring Jin Sayeng to ruin. Dark magic tears rifts in the sky, preparing to rain down madness, chaos, and the possibility of setting her nation aflame.
Bearing the brunt of the past and uncertain about her future, Talyien will need to decide between fleeing her shadows or embracing them before the whole world becomes an inferno.
I have not yet made my way through the second book in this trilogy, but it would be so remiss to exclude the finale from this list! Villoso’s writing has always been addictive as hell, setting a high fantasy story in a Phillipines-inspired setting, and it’s so hard to avoid spoilers as I rush to finish the second book!Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
on 4th May 2021
As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur - Minos's greatest shame and Ariadne's brother - demands blood every year.
When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods - drawing their attention can cost you everything.
In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne's decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover's ambition?
Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.
A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.
I am very, very tired of Greek mythology, but I have heard good things about the prose here, and I’m very interested to see how Saint concludes Ariadne’s story, since it can go a few ways depending on which version of the myth someone is telling.Three Twins at the Crater School by Chaz Brenchley
on 6th May 2021
Genres: Sci Fi
Mars, the Red Planet, farthest flung outpost of the British Empire. Under the benevolent reign of the Empress Eternal, commerce and culture are flourishing along the banks of the great canals, and around the shores of the crater lakes. But this brave new world is not as safe as it might seem. The Russians, unhappy that Venus has proved far less hospitable, covet Britain’s colony. And the Martian creatures, while not as intelligent and malevolent as HG Wells had predicted, are certainly dangerous to the unwary.
What, then, of the young girls of the Martian colony? Their brothers might be sent to Earth for education at Eton and Oxbridge, but girls are made of sterner stuff. Be it unreasonable parents, Russian spies, or the deadly Martian wildlife, no challenge is beyond the resourceful girls of the Crater School.
I first heard about this book years ago, when Chaz Brenchley began writing it on his Patreon, and I’ve been keeping an eye out for it ever since. I’m so excited that it’s finally available as a whole novel! It’s earned high praise from the likes of Ellen Kushner and Sherwood Smith, and it sounds like a ridiculous amount of fun. I can’t wait to finally get to read it!Unwritten (The Zweeshen Chronicles, #1) by Alicia J. Novo
on 8th May 2021
Genres: Portal Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Books whisper to Beatrix Alba. But they aren’t the reason she has never fit in. Bullied at home and school, she keeps a secret—a power of violence and darkness.
When the spell that keeps her hidden fails, she’s catapulted into the Zweeshen, a realm where all tales live, and her dream of meeting her favorite characters comes true. But wishes are tricky, and behind its wonder and whimsy, the Zweeshen is under attack. A character is burning bookworlds in pursuit of a weapon to rule both stories and storytellers. To succeed, he needs a riddle in Beatrix's keeping.
Now he’s hunting her down.
Joining forces with William, a cursed conjurer, Beatrix must face an enemy who knows her every weakness in a realm where witches play with time, Egyptian gods roam, and Regency heroines lead covert operations. And with her darkness as the only weapon, she may have to sacrifice everything to save a world that rejects her.
Praise for UNWRITTEN
“Fascinating and magic-filled, the fantasy novel Unwritten promises adventure right up to its final page.” — Foreword Reviews.
“Novo’s well-crafted story will delight and engage readers ... A satisfying and socially relevant story about acceptance and sacrifice.” — Kirkus Reviews.
“Wholly original and wondrously imaginative...” — Reader’s Favorite Reviews (5 Stars).
"Its surprising confluence of fantasy and its unexpected twists and turns, supported by strong characters, draws readers into a story that is satisfyingly unpredictable and hard to put down." — Midwest Book Review
I tentatively have high hopes for this one, mostly because which of us doesn’t have a tiny part of us still hoping we can fall into our favourite stories? The premise sounds fantastic, so it’s going to come down to the prose for me. We’ll see!
That’s it for this week! Will you be reading any of these? Let me know!