Must-Have Monday #48!

Posted 23rd August 2021 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

Galactic revolution and vampirism-as-medical-treatment are among this week’s SEVEN exciting SFF releases!

Light Chaser by Peter F. Hamilton, Gareth L. Powell
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 24th August 2021

In Peter F. Hamilton and Gareth L. Powell's action-packed sci-fi adventure Light Chaser, a love powerful enough to transcend death can bring down an entire empire.

Amahle is a Light Chaser - one of a number of explorers, who travel the universe alone (except for their onboard AI), trading trinkets for life stories.

But when she listens to the stories sent down through the ages she hears the same voice talking directly to her from different times and on different worlds. She comes to understand that something terrible is happening, and only she is in a position to do anything about it.

And it will cost everything to put it right.

This is definitely one of the books I’m most excited for this week – mostly because I think I’d love to bea Light Chaser myself! It’s such a beautiful concept, and I can’t wait to learn more about it. I don’t even need the big epic storyline, just give me all the story-collecting!

We're Here: The Best Queer Speculative Fiction of 2020 by Charles Payseur, John Wiswell, Brendan Williams-Childs, Carlie St. George, Waverly S.M., Gabriela Santiago, Nicasio Andres Reed, Lina Rather, R.B. Lemberg, Kristen Koopman, Gwen C. Katz, L.D. Lewis, Gem Isherwood, Chizaram Ilo, Anya Johanna DeNiro, Charlie Jane Anders, C.L. Clark
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Queer MCs

“This promising start to a new anthology series will appeal to any reader of contemporary short SFF, queer or otherwise, and reinforces Neon Hemlock’s spot at the apex of queer speculative fiction publishing.”
— Publishers Weekly

We’re Here 2020 includes the following stories from 2020:

"If You Take My Meaning" by Charlie Jane Anders (Tordotcom, February 26, 2020)

"A Voyage to Queensthroat" by Anya Johanna DeNiro (Strange Horizons, August 2020)

“Rat and Finch are Friends” by Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Strange Horizons, March 2020)

“Salt and Iron” by Gem Isherwood (Podcastle, May 2020)

"The Currant Dumas" by L.D. Lewis (Glitter + Ashes, edited by dave ring)

“Everquest” by Naomi Kanakia (Lightspeed, October 2020)

"Portrait of Three Women with an Owl" by Gwen C. Katz (The Future Fire, February 2020)

“The Ashes of Vivian Firestrike” by Kristen Koopman (Glittership, May 2020)

“To Balance the Weight of Khalem” by RB Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, March 2020)

“Thin Red Jellies” by Lina Rather (Gigonotosaurus, February 2020)

“Body, Remember” by Nicasio Andres Reed (Fireside, November 2020)

“Escaping Dr. Markoff” by Gabriela Santiago (The Dark, March 2020)

"The Last Good Time to Be Alive" by Waverly SM (Reckoning 4, edited by Danika Dinsmore and Arkady Martine)

“Monsters Never Leave You” by Carlie St. George (Strange Horizons, June 2020)

"The Wedding After The Bomb" by Brendan Williams-Childs (Catapult, April 2020)

"8-Bit Free Will" by John Wiswell (Podcastle, November 2020)

Our incredible cover is by Sajan Rai.

Neon Hemlock Press are rapidly getting a reputation for putting out weird, wonderful, and often queer works of spec fic – and I’m so excited for this anthology! I don’t often read short stories, so I’m always happy when someone collects all the great ones into one book for me – and I’m really interested to see what ‘the best of 2020’ looks like!

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 24th August 2021

For fans of Us and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comes a witchy story full of black girl magic as one girl’s dark ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, while revealing to her an even darker future.

Katrell doesn’t mind talking to the dead; she just wishes it made more money. Clients pay her to talk to their deceased loved ones, but it isn’t enough to support her unemployed mother and Mom’s deadbeat boyfriend-of-the-week. Things get worse, when a ghost warns her to stop the summonings or she’ll “burn everything down.” Katrell is willing to call them on their bluff, though. She has no choice. What do ghosts know about eating peanut butter for dinner?

However, when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go.

But magic doesn’t come for free, and soon dark forces are closing in on Katrell. The further she goes, the more she risks the lives of not only herself, but those she loves. Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late.

I’ve heard nothing but really good things about this book, even though I find it more than a little heartbreaking that Katrell’s approach to magic sounds like ‘this is how the bills get paid’ rather than any sense of wonder. I’m also already outraged at any prats who tell her she shouldn’t be using her magic like she does, when the other option is the bills not getting paid (and it does sound like there are going to be prats like that). I want to read this just to be sure her situation gets better and she ends up okay!

Which, you know. Kudos to getting me invested in this character before I’ve even opened the book!

Edie in Between by Laura Sibson
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MC, Black sapphic love interest
Published on: 24th August 2021

A modern-day Practical Magic about love, loss, and embracing the mystical.

It’s been one year since Edie’s mother died. But her ghost has never left.

According to her GG, it’s tradition that the dead of the Mitchell family linger with the living. It’s just as much a part of a Mitchell’s life as brewing cordials or talking to plants. But Edie, whose pain over losing her mother is still fresh, has no interest in her family’s legacy as local “witches.”

When her mother’s teenage journal tumbles into her life, her family’s mystical inheritance becomes once and for all too hard to ignore. It takes Edie on a scavenger hunt to find objects that once belonged to her mother, each one imbued with a different memory. Every time she touches one of these talismans, it whisks her to another entry inside the journal—where she watches her teenage mom mourn, love, and hope just as Edie herself is now doing. Maybe, just maybe, Edie hopes, if she finds every one of these objects, she can finally make peace with her loss and put the past to rest for good. But this journey to stake her independence from her family may actually show Edie who she truly is…and the beautiful gifts that come with being just a little different.

Tinged with a sweet romance with Rhia, who works at the local occult shop, Edie in Between delivers all the cozy magic a budding young witch finding her way in the world needs.

It doesn’t hurt that the cover reminds me of the Modern Witch Tarot, but I’m also here for all the queer witches!

The Second Rebel (The First Sister Trilogy, #2) by Linden A. Lewis
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Nonbinary MC, sapphic MC, queernorm world
Published on: 24th August 2021

Linden A. Lewis returns with this next installment of The First Sister Trilogy, perfect for fans of Red Rising, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Expanse.

Astrid has reclaimed her name and her voice, and now seeks to bring down the Sisterhood from within. Throwing herself into the lioness’ den, Astrid must confront and challenge the Aunts who run the Gean religious institution, but she quickly discovers that the business of politics is far deadlier than she ever expected.

Meanwhile, on an outlaw colony station deep in space, Hiro val Akira seeks to bring a dangerous ally into the rebellion. Whispers of a digital woman fuel Hiro’s search, but they are not the only person looking for this link to the mysterious race of Synthetics.

Lito sol Lucious continues to grow into his role as a lead revolutionary and is tasked with rescuing an Aster operative from deep within an Icarii prison. With danger around every corner, Lito, his partner Ofiera, and the newly freed operative must flee in order to keep dangerous secrets out of enemy hands.

Back on Venus, Lito’s sister Lucinia must carry on after her brother’s disappearance and accusation of treason by Icarii authorities. Despite being under the thumb of Souji val Akira, Lucinia manages to keep her nose clean…that is until an Aster revolutionary shows up with news about her brother’s fate, and an opportunity to join the fight.

This captivating, spellbinding second installment to The First Sister series picks up right where The First Sister left off and is a must-read for science fiction fans everywhere.

The first book in this series, First Sister, was a hard read (emotionally) but a good one, so obviously this sequel is on my radar. I’ve not let myself read the blurb to avoid spoilers, so I really have no idea where Lewis is going to take us after the events of the previous book.

Vampires, Hearts, & Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston
Published on: 24th August 2021

In this heart-wrenching debut YA novel that’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown meets They Both Die at the End, a teen girl takes a trip to New Orleans with her estranged best friend to find a vampire to save her dying father.

Victoria and her dad have shared a love of the undead since the first vampire revealed his existence on live TV. Public fear soon drove the vampires back into hiding, yet Victoria and her father still dream about finding a vampire together. But when her dad is diagnosed with terminal cancer, it’s clear that’s not going to happen. Instead, Victoria vows to find a vampire herself—so that she can become one and then save her father.

Armed with research, speculations, and desperation—and helped by her estranged best friend, Henry—Victoria travels to New Orleans in search of a miracle. There she meets Nicholas, a mysterious young man who might give her what she desires. But first, he needs Victoria to prove she loves life enough to live forever.

She agrees to complete a series of challenges, from scarfing sugar-drenched beignets to singing with a jazz band, all to show she has what it takes to be immortal. But truly living while her father is dying feels like a betrayal. Victoria must figure out how to experience joy and grief at once, trusting all the while that Nicholas will hold up his end of the bargain…because the alternative is too impossible to imagine.

This one is going to entirely hinge on execution – with that premise it could be a clichéd mess or a heart-warming masterpiece, and I don’t know which it’ll be, but I really want to give it a go. Although I might wait a while – I’m not sure I’m in the right headspace for dying fathers at the moment.

Feral Creatures (Hollow Kingdom, #2) by Kira Jane Buxton
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 24th August 2021

In this stunning follow-up to Hollow Kingdom, the animal kingdom's "favorite apocalyptic hero"is back with a renewed sense of hope for humanity, ready to take on a world ravaged by a viral pandemic (Helen Macdonald).

Once upon an apocalypse, there lived an obscenely handsome American crow named S.T. . . . When the world last checked-in with its favorite Cheeto addict, the planet had been overrun by flesh-hungry beasts, and nature had started re-claiming her territory from humankind. S.T., the intrepid crow, alongside his bloodhound-bestie Dennis, had set about saving pets that had become trapped in their homes after humanity went the way of the dodo. 

That is, dear reader, until S.T. stumbled upon something so rare—and so precious—that he vowed to do everything in his power to safeguard what could, quite literally, be humanity's last hope for survival. But in a wild world plagued by prejudiced animals, feather-raising environments, new threats so terrifying they make zombies look like baby bunnies, and a horrendous dearth of cheesy snacks, what's a crow to do? 

Why, wing it on another big-hearted, death-defying adventure, that's what! Joined by a fabulous new cast of animal characters, S.T. faces many new challenges plus his biggest one yet: parenthood.

I don’t usually include sequels to books I haven’t read in these posts, but this is a sequel to a book I really want to read, and which I’ve heard nothing but praise for. Both the first book and this one are meant to be mega feel-good, sweet stories – even with thezombies.

That’s it! Will you be reading any of these? Let me know!

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