Must-have Monday #37!

Posted 31st May 2021 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

Tomorrow is the beginning of Pride Month, and the week’s releases definitely reflect that! I’m so excited. AREN’T YOU EXCITED? We have ELEVEN SFF releases to blow our book budgets on this week, ranging from trans witches to tea dragons to ghosts in Edinburgh!

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Historical Fantasy
Representation: Asian-American queer MC
Published on: 1st June 2021

Immigrant. Socialite. Magician.

Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.

But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.

Vo needs no introduction after her exquisite Singing Hills novellas, and I am still SCREAMING about the fact that we’re getting a full novel from her!!! WHY ISN’T IT TOMORROW YET?

Water Horse by Melissa Scott
Genres: Queer Protagonists, High Fantasy
Representation: Bisexual MC

For the last twenty years, Esclin Aubrinos, arros of the Hundred Hills, has acted jointly with Alcis Mirielos, the kyra of the Westwood, and the rivermaster of Riverholme to defend their land of Allanoth against the Riders who invade from Manan across the Narrow Sea. He has long been a master of the shifting politics of his own people and his independently-minded allies, but this year the omens turn against him. The Riders have elected a new lord paramount, hallowed servant of the Blazing One, a man chosen and fated for victory.

The omens agree that Nen Elin, Esclin’s stronghold and the heart of Allanoth, will fall when a priest of the Blazing One enters its gates. Esclin needs a spirit-bonded royal sword, a talismanic weapon made of star-fallen iron, to unite the hillfolk behind him. But the same vision that called for the sword proclaimed that Esclin will then betray it, and every step he takes to twist free of the prophecies brings him closer to that doom.

I’m still grumpy that I only found out practically at the last minute that Melissa Scott, aka one of my favourite authors OF ALL TIME, was releasing a new book! My usual channels keeping me up to date with new releases failed me, clearly. But not too badly, because now I DO know about it, AND you now know about it too, which means you have absolutely no excuse for not picking up a copy!

The Witch King (The Witch King, #1) by H.E. Edgmon
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Trans MC, M/M or mlm
Published on: 1st June 2021

To save a fae kingdom, a trans witch must face his traumatic past and the royal fiancé he left behind. This debut YA fantasy will leave you spellbound.

Wyatt would give anything to forget where he came from—but a kingdom demands its king.

In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.

Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.

I’ve been looking forward to this for such a long time; I can’t believe I finally get to start reading it tomorrow!!! Trans witches being courted by the prince of Faerie; hi, ALL THE YES, THANK YOU KINDLY.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bisexual MC, Chinese-American lesbian love interest, F/F or wlw, trans secondary character, secondary M/M or mlm
Published on: 1st June 2021

From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that will stop readers in their tracks...

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.

You couldn’t have paid me not to snatch this one up after the pure fizzing delight that was Red, White, & Royal Blue, but in fact I was honoured with an advanced reading copy so I can tell you, hand-on-heart, that this is even better than it sounds. It is hysterically funny and queer as hell and is all about the found-family trope, okay? My review will be up tomorrow, but seriously, if you haven’t preordered this one already, PLEASE DO SO IMMEDIATELY.

The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: M/M or mlm, brown MC
Published on: 1st June 2021

Two boys, alone in space.

After the first settler on Titan trips her distress signal, neither remaining country on Earth can afford to scramble a rescue of its own, and so two sworn enemies are installed in the same spaceship.

Ambrose wakes up on the Coordinated Endeavor, with no memory of a launch. There’s more that doesn’t add up: Evidence indicates strangers have been on board, the ship’s operating system is voiced by his mother, and his handsome, brooding shipmate has barricaded himself away. But nothing will stop Ambrose from making his mission succeed—not when he’s rescuing his own sister.

In order to survive the ship’s secrets, Ambrose and Kodiak will need to work together and learn to trust one another… especially once they discover what they are truly up against. Love might be the only way to survive.

I wasn’t super interested in this one – until I saw a number of reviews saying that calling it YA was a serious case of mislabeling, and that it’s actually very Adult in theme and story-structure. Which had me snapping to attention immediately! Apparently it’s a lot more sci-fi than romance and I must admit, that’s a mix that appeals to me much more. I guess we’ll see how it goes tomorrow!

The Nichan Smile (The Lost Faces, #1) by C.J. Merwild
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Secondary World Fantasy
Representation: M/M
Published on: 1st June 2021

The Gods smiled upon their offsprings from the skies, loving, generous. But that was before. For the sky is now tainted, and the people deprived of their creators overnight have been orphans for nearly two centuries.

Since that fateful day, the Corruption has reigned over the world. It defiled the clouds, covered the lands with a veil of darkness. The first conflicts arose in the east of the Coroman continent, some under the impulse of beliefs calling for blood and flames. As hatred continues to spread, the vanished Gods no longer answering any prayers, some fight for a peaceful life.

In the midst of this madness, two children meet each other. One of them is human.The other is nichan.The boys are two opposite minds and fates, yet connected irrevocably. The days, then the passing years bring them together. But life reminds them of their differences and works to crush the remnants of their innocence. Between joys and sorrows, friendship and savagery, a smile is sometimes enough to change everything…

Trigger Warning: this novel contains graphic violence, violence against children and animals, explicit sexual content (including sexual violence and underage sex), and explicit language. Reader discretion is advised.

I’d been following this author on instagram for quite a while before I realised they were writing a book about some of the gorgeous characters they kept drawing! I feel like such a dope for taking so long to catch that, but I’m really excited to get to learn more about the characters who’ve been appearing on my insta feed for months!

Future Feeling by Joss Lake
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Trans cast
Published on: 1st June 2021

An embittered dog walker obsessed with a social media influencer inadvertently puts a curse a young man—and must adventure into mysterious dimension in order to save him—in this wildly inventive, delightfully subversive, genre-nonconforming debut novel about illusion, magic, technology, kinship, and the emergent future.

The year is 20__, and Penfield R. Henderson is in a rut. When he’s not walking dogs for cash or responding to booty calls from his B-list celebrity hookup, he’s holed up in his dingy Bushwick apartment obsessing over holograms of Aiden Chase, a fellow trans man and influencer documenting his much smoother transition into picture-perfect masculinity on the Gram. After an IRL encounter with Aiden leaves Pen feeling especially resentful, Pen enlists his roommates, the Witch and the Stoner-Hacker, to put their respective talents to use in hexing Aiden. Together, they gain access to Aiden’s social media account and post a picture of Pen’s aloe plant, Alice, tied to a curse:

Whosoever beholds the aloe will be pushed into the Shadowlands.

When the hex accidentally bypasses Aiden, sending another young trans man named Blithe to the Shadowlands (the dreaded emotional landscape through which every trans person must journey to achieve true self-actualization), the Rhiz (the quasi-benevolent big brother agency overseeing all trans matters) orders Pen and Aiden to team up and retrieve him. The two trace Blithe to a dilapidated motel in California and bring him back to New York, where they try to coax Blithe to stop speaking only in code and awkwardly try to pass on what little trans wisdom they possess. As the trio makes its way in a world that includes pitless avocados and subway cars that change color based on occupants’ collective moods but still casts judgment on anyone not perfectly straight, Pen starts to learn that sometimes a family isn’t just the people who birthed you.

Magnificently imagined, linguistically dazzling, and riotously fun, Future Feeling presents an alternate future in which advanced technology still can’t replace human connection but may give the trans community new ways to care for its own.

This sounds utterly bonkers in the best of ways, and I can’t wait to finally dive into it! Seriously, I’ve been doing grabby-hands for MONTHS!

The Library of the Dead (Edinburgh Nights, #1) by T.L. Huchu
Representation: Black MC, disabled secondary character
Published on: 1st June 2021

Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things in T. L. Huchu's The Library of the Dead, a sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.

When a child goes missing in Edinburgh's darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She'll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

When ghosts talk, she will listen...

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh's dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl's gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone's bewitching children--leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It's on Ropa's patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She'll dice with death (not part of her life plan...), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She'll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa's gonna hunt them all down.

Library of the Dead is finally getting its US release! I read it when it came out in the UK a while ago, and I love it; Ropa is a bloody amazing character, the balance of magic to mundane was perfect, and when I realised I’d completely misunderstood a very basic aspect of the worldbuilding, my mind was blown. I’ve already got the sequel preordered!

(And yes, Ropa’s a teenager, but no, it’s not YA!)

The Tea Dragon Tapestry (Tea Dragon, #3) by Kay O'Neill
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Secondary World Fantasy
Representation: Brown MC, F/F, secondary M/M, secondary disabled character
Published on: 1st June 2021

Join Greta and Minette once more for the heartwarming conclusion of the award-winning Tea Dragon series!

Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng's care, Greta still can't chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief. Meanwhile, Minette receives a surprise package from the monastery where she was once training to be a prophetess. Thrown into confusion about her path in life, the shy and reserved Minette finds that the more she opens her heart to others, the more clearly she can see what was always inside.

Told with the same care and charm as the previous installments of the Tea Dragon series, The Tea Dragon Tapestry welcomes old friends and new into a heartfelt story of purpose, love, and growth.

If you haven’t heard of the Tea Dragons, then you’ve got to get yourself copies of these beautiful, ridiculously heart-warming graphic novels! The whole trilogy is quietly diverse, with brown, queer and disabled characters throughout, all revolving around the wonderful tea dragons. I’m a little sad that the series is ending, but I know it’ll be a wonderful goodbye to these incredible characters and creatures!

Bacchanal by Veronica Henry
Genres: Historical Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 25th May 2021

Evil lives in a traveling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival’s newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come.

Abandoned by her family, alone on the wrong side of the color line with little to call her own, Eliza Meeks is coming to terms with what she does have. It’s a gift for communicating with animals. To some, she’s a magical tender. To others, a she-devil. To a talent prospector, she’s a crowd-drawing oddity. And the Bacchanal Carnival is Eliza’s ticket out of the swamp trap of Baton Rouge.

Among fortune-tellers, carnies, barkers, and folks even stranger than herself, Eliza finds a new home. But the Bacchanal is no ordinary carnival. An ancient demon has a home there too. She hides behind an iridescent disguise. She feeds on innocent souls. And she’s met her match in Eliza, who’s only beginning to understand the purpose of her own burgeoning powers.

Only then can Eliza save her friends, find her family, and fight the sway of a primordial demon preying upon the human world. Rolling across a consuming dust bowl landscape, Eliza may have found her destiny.

This seems to be either a love-it-or-hate-it book; all the reviews I’ve seen are either strongly in one direction or the other. I love magical abilities that are tied to animals, and I think that’s what the description is maybe hinting at? But honestly, I have no real idea what to expect from this at all.

Girl One by Sara Flannery Murphy
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 1st June 2021

Orphan Black meets Margaret Atwood in this twisty supernatural thriller about female power and the bonds of sisterhood.

Josephine Morrow is Girl One, the first of nine “Miracle Babies” conceived without male DNA, raised on an experimental commune known as the Homestead. When a suspicious fire destroys the commune and claims the lives of two of the Homesteaders, the remaining Girls and their Mothers scatter across the United States and lose touch.

Years later, Margaret Morrow goes missing, and Josie sets off on a desperate road trip, tracking down her estranged sisters who seem to hold the keys to her mother’s disappearance. Tracing the clues Margaret left behind, Josie joins forces with the other Girls, facing down those who seek to eradicate their very existence while uncovering secrets about their origins and unlocking devastating abilities they never knew they had.

For someone who has no intention of ever having biological children, I am extremely interested in the idea of conception that has no need of a sperm cell. Add in superpowers (it sounds like that’s what the blurb’s talking about?) and I am in. You can read an excerpt from the book over here at to see if it might appeal to you too!

That’s this week’s list! Will you be reading any of these? Did I miss a book I should know about? Let me know!


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