Must-Have Monday #70

Posted 24th January 2022 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

This week we have SIX epic-sounding new SFF releases, and two bonus books that aren’t SFF, but that I’m so excited for I had to feature them!

The Hunters and the Hunted (Rise of the Alliance, #3) by Sherwood Smith
Genres: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Published on: 25th January 2022

Meet Detlev’s boys.

In volume one, A Sword Named Truth, a shaky alliance made among young rulers brought too early to their thrones survived an enchantment, commanded by Siamis, the handsome young Norsundrian. Siamis was defeated, and the world celebrated, believing peace had come!

At the start of volume two, The Blood Mage Texts, the alliance seems to be a thing of the past as two quests reveal long-hidden secrets. Meanwhile Siamis has gone renegade, hunted by both sides.

As the Rise of the Alliance saga continues, Siamis is not the only one being hunted. The sinister and elusive Norsundrian commander Detlev has been seen more often in the past five years than he has in the past five hundred. The young allies to reform the alliance—meeting unexpected difficulties when no one can agree on what form it should take.

That is before a series of murders leads to the shocking news that the alliance has been infiltrated by a mirror alliance of Norsundrian boys.

Trained by Detlev.

Which leads inexorably to the deadliest of stalking games . . .

I am massively impressed with Smith’s output – the previous installment in this series came out in December, and we already have a new, 700+ page follow-up! I’m in awe. I’m also utterly in love with this world of Smith’s; the worldbuilding is phenomenal and the characters always end up laying claim to my heart. I’m not up to date on this series yet, but that isn’t stopping me from making grabby-hands at this latest book!

Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Black achillean MC
Published on: 25th January 2022

In the 2050s, Earth has begun to empty. Those with the means and the privilege have departed the great cities of the United States for the more comfortable confines of space colonies. Those left behind salvage what they can from the collapsing infrastructure. As they eke out an existence, their neighborhoods are being cannibalized. Brick by brick, their houses are sent to the colonies, what was once a home now a quaint reminder for the colonists of the world that they wrecked.

A primal biblical epic flung into the future, Goliath weaves together disparate narratives—a space-dweller looking at New Haven, Connecticut as a chance to reconnect with his spiraling lover; a group of laborers attempting to renew the promises of Earth’s crumbling cities; a journalist attempting to capture the violence of the streets; a marshal trying to solve a kidnapping—into a richly urgent mosaic about race, class, gentrification, and who is allowed to be the hero of any history.

This sounds like it’s going to be powerful and painful and poignant, and judging from Onyebuchi’s other works, probably ridiculously brilliant! Definitely a must-read.

Some by Virtue Fall (The Seven Gods, #1) by Alexandra Rowland
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: All-queer cast incl lesbian, trans, and achillean rep
Published on: 25th January 2022

By the King’s Edict, men have been banned from performing on stage. Everyone else is still out for blood.

Sabajan Hollant, director and co-founder of the celebrated Lord Chancellor’s Players, has one resolution: This time they’re going to do it right. If they want to keep their noble patron—hell, if they want to stay in the theater business at all—they’re going to have to keep their hands clean. No accidents, no rising to other troupes’ provocations and taunts, and certainly no more duelling in the streets.

But their arch-rivals have different plans, and soon enough, Saba and her troupe are caught up once again in an escalating drama of revenge, betrayal, and outright sabotage.

The men may have started this war—but Saba and her remaining players are going to end it.

It’s a new Rowland book! One where the main character is described as a chaos goblin and the only cishet character is a man called Leony Token who is only mentioned once! Even with that aside, I love the sound of theatre drama and competing troupes. This sounds like it’s going to be a RIDICULOUS amount of fun!

Obsidian by Sarah J. Daley
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 25th January 2022

Shade Nox is a fiend, a rogue, and a wanted murderer, though her only true crime is that she chooses to dress like a man. Proud and defiant, she wears her tattoos openly as any bloodwizard would, and carries obsidian blades at her hips. Those who laughingly call her a witch to her face soon learn an unfortunate lesson: Shade Nox might be an abomination, but she wields her blades with devastating precision, gleefully shedding blood for elemental magic that matches any man’s.

Shade scratches out a dangerous living in the broken Wastes, but now that they are growing more unstable and dangerous, Shade and her people need their own Veil to protect them. She vows to raise one—a feat not accomplished in over a hundred years. But the Veils are controlled by the Brotherhood, who consider them sacred creations. They would sooner see all the Veils collapse into dust than allow a witch to raise one.

With the help of her friends and allies, and her own indomitable will, Shade stays one step ahead of her enemies. Her zeal is only tempered when she learns the true sacrifice required to raise a Veil—a secret even the centuries-old Brotherhood has forgotten. It is too high a price to pay. Nevertheless, she must pay it, or she will lose everything and everyone she loves…

I’m always here for sorceresses against the patriarchy! And as an excellent bonus, early readers have said a lot about how intricate and well-thought-out the worldbuilding is – and we all know worldbuilding is my catnip! Definitely going to be checking this one out.

Light Years from Home by Mike Chen
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Sapphic MC
Published on: 25th January 2022

Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.

Evie Shao and her sister, Kass, aren’t on speaking terms. Fifteen years ago on a family camping trip, their father and brother vanished. Their dad turned up days later, dehydrated and confused—and convinced he'd been abducted by aliens. Their brother, Jakob, remained missing. The women dealt with it very differently. Kass, suspecting her college-dropout twin simply ran off, became the rock of the family. Evie traded academics to pursue alien conspiracy theories, always looking for Jakob.

When Evie's UFO network uncovers a new event, she goes to investigate. And discovers Jakob is back. He's different—older, stranger, and talking of an intergalactic war—but the tensions between the siblings haven't changed at all. If the family is going to come together to help Jakob, then Kass and Evie are going to have to fix their issues, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and if their brother is telling the truth, possibly an entire space armada, too.

The perfect combination of action, imagination and heart, Light Years From Home is a touching drama about a challenge as difficult as saving the galaxy: making peace with your family…and yourself.

I adore the blurb for this; ‘Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.’ That line alone is enough to put this on on my tbr!

The Temperature of Me and You by Brian Zepka
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: M/M
Published on: 25th January 2022

Sixteen-year-old Dylan Highmark thought his winter was going to be full of boring shifts at the Dairy Queen, until he finds himself in love with a boy who's literally too hot to handle.

Dylan has always wanted a boyfriend, but the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia do not have a lot in the way of options. Then, in walks Jordan, a completely normal (and undeniably cute) boy who also happens to run at a cool 110 degrees Fahrenheit. When the boys start spending time together, Dylan begins feeling all kinds of ways, and when he spikes a fever for two weeks and is suddenly coughing flames, he thinks he might be suffering from something more than just a crush. Jordan forces Dylan to keep his symptoms a secret. But as the pressure mounts and Dylan becomes distant with his closest friends and family, he pushes Jordan for answers. Jordan's revelations of why he's like this, where he came from, and who's after him leaves Dylan realizing how much first love is truly out of this world. And if Earth supports life that breathes oxygen, then love can only keep Jordan and Dylan together for so long.

I’m getting an ‘alien from Krypton’ vibe here, which does not displease me! This is another one I’m definitely going to be reading; that blurb leaves me with so many questions, and I’m so curious. Contagious superpowers??? I have to know more!

Something Fabulous (Something Fabulous, #1) by Alexis Hall
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 25th January 2022

From the acclaimed author of Boyfriend Material comes a delightfully witty romance featuring a reserved duke who’s betrothed to one twin and hopelessly enamoured of the other.

Valentine Layton, the Duke of Malvern, has twin problems: literally.

It was always his father’s hope that Valentine would marry Miss Arabella Tarleton. But, unfortunately, too many novels at an impressionable age have caused her to grow up…romantic. So romantic that a marriage of convenience will not do and after Valentine’s proposal she flees into the night determined never to set eyes on him again.

Arabella’s twin brother, Mr. Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, has also grown up…romantic. And fully expects Valentine to ride out after Arabella and prove to her that he’s not the cold-hearted cad he seems to be.

Despite copious misgivings, Valentine finds himself on a pell-mell chase to Dover with Bonny by his side. Bonny is unreasonable, overdramatic, annoying, and…beautiful? And being with him makes Valentine question everything he thought he knew. About himself. About love. Even about which Tarleton he should be pursuing.

Anything by Hall goes on my preorder list by default – he’s one of the few non-SFF authors I absolutely adore. Something Fabulous sounds – well, like something fabulous. Can’t wait to dive into this one!

And the Category Is...: Inside New York's Vogue, House, and Ballroom Community by Ricky Tucker
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Published on: 25th January 2022

An Electric Literature "Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Book of 2022" Selection

A love letter to the legendary Black and Latinx LGBTQ underground subculture, uncovering its abundant legacy and influence in popular culture.

What is Ballroom? Not a song, a documentary, a catchphrase, a TV show, or an individual pop star. It is an underground subculture founded over a century ago by LGBTQ African American and Latino men and women of Harlem. Arts-based and intersectional, it transcends identity, acting as a fearless response to the systemic marginalization of minority populations.

Ricky Tucker pulls from his years as a close friend of the community to reveal the complex cultural makeup and ongoing relevance of house and Ballroom, a space where trans lives are respected and applauded, and queer youth are able to find family and acceptance. With each chapter framed as a "category" (Vogue, Realness, Body, et al.), And the Category Is . . . offers an impressionistic point of entry into this subculture, its deeply integrated history, and how it's been appropriated for mainstream audiences. Each category features an exclusive interview with fierce LGBTQ/POC Ballroom members--Lee Soulja, Benjamin Ninja, Twiggy Pucci Garçon, and more--whose life, work, and activism drive home that very category.

At the height of public intrigue and awareness about Ballroom, thanks to TV shows like FX's Pose, Tucker's compelling narratives help us understand its relevance in pop culture, dance, public policy with regard to queer communities, and so much more. Welcome to the norm-defying realness of Ballroom.

I can’t be the only one to have fallen head-over-heels with ballroom culture after discovering Pose, right? I’ve been pining for books about it, and haven’t found many (recs are welcome!) so I’ve been so excited since I heard about this one! Another book I can’t wait to start reading!

Will you be reading any of these? Did I miss a book I should know about? Let me know!


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