Must-Have Monday #71

Posted 31st January 2022 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

This week we have SIX books to feature – five SFF, and one collection of historical fiction short stories!

Base Notes by Lara Elena Donnelly
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Nonbinary MC
Published on: 1st February 2022

A lasting impression is worth killing for in this intoxicating novel about memories and murder by the author of the Amberlough Dossier series.

In New York City everybody needs a side hustle, and perfumer Vic Fowler has developed a delicate art that has proved to be very lucrative: creating bespoke scents that evoke immersive memories—memories that, for Vic’s clients, are worth killing for. But the city is expensive, and these days even artisanal murder doesn’t pay the bills. When Joseph Eisner, a former client with deep pockets, offers Vic an opportunity to expand the enterprise, the money is too good to turn down. But the job is too intricate—and too dangerous—to attempt alone.

Manipulating fellow struggling artists into acting as accomplices is easy. Like Vic, they too are on the verge of burnout and bankruptcy. But as relationships become more complicated, Vic’s careful plans start to unravel. Hounded by guilt and a tenacious private investigator, Vic grows increasingly desperate to complete Eisner’s commission. Is there anyone—friends, lovers, coconspirators—that Vic won’t sacrifice for art?

I loved the Amberlough Dossier, and even though this is by all accounts VERY different, it still made it onto my Unmissable SFF of 2022 list! Perfumes and scents have always interested me, and I’m not going to lie, I really love the idea of an amoral nonbinary perfumer being terrible. That’s exactly what I’m in the mood for right now! (It’s a weird mood. Sue me!)

This Woven Kingdom (This Woven Kingdom, #1) by Tahereh Mafi
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Persian-coded cast
Published on: 1st February 2022

Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir, this is the explosive first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-nominated author Tahereh Mafi.

Mafi’s debut Shatter Me was incredibly dear to teen!Sia, and I was dazzled by the gorgeous whimsy of her MG books. I can’t even begin to imagine how gorgeous a Persian-inspired fantasy from her is going to be!

Azura Ghost (The Graven, #2) by Essa Hansen
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Published on: 1st February 2022

Following Nophek Gloss comes the second book in this highly imaginative new space opera trilogy by debut author Essa Hansen - an action-packed adventure perfect for fans of Star Wars, Children of Time and A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

Caiden has been on the run for ten years with his unique starship in order to keep his adversary, Threi, imprisoned. But when an old friend he'd once thought dead reappears, he is lured into a game of cat and mouse with the one person whose powers rival Threi's: Threi's sister Abriss.

Now with both siblings on the hunt for Caiden and his ship, Caiden must rescue his long-lost friend from their clutches and uncover the source of both his ship's power and his own origins in order to stop Abriss's plan to collapse the multiverse.

This was another book on my Unmissable list…but then I DNF-ed the ARC. I’m still including it because I hope there are other readers who will love it – and maybe at some point I can try reading it again and will love it then??? I hope so.

The Wall by Sarah Jane Singer
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bisexual MC
Published on: 1st February 2022

Julia has lived her whole life inside the Wall, the shining fortress her father built. But she dreams of knowing the world, and one day, the world calls to her. She runs away from home with a false name, a magical gift from her ailing mother, and her lion companion. But leaving triggers a curse, and no matter how hard she tries to outrun it, it catches up with her—as curses often do.

Now, with only the help of a mysterious archer she meets along her journey, Julia must confront dark magic, uncover the secrets of her mother’s past and her own abilities, and discover who she is outside of the Wall, if she is ever to survive the curse and build a life of her own.

Fans of Naomi Novik and Laura E. Weymouth will love Sarah Jane Singer’s lyrical, adventurous debut novel.

I very nearly missed this! Which would have been a shame, since it sounds marvellous – a lion companion?! I would happily jump in for that alone, but all the early reviews have been delighted with The Wall too. Definitely giving it a go!

Althingi: The Crescent and the Northern Star by Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad, Josh Gillingham
Representation: Middle-Eastern MCs
Published on: 1st February 2022

In our increasingly polarized world there is an urgent need for cross-cultural conversations, bridges of understanding between people of different beliefs, and a recommitment to a common understanding of our shared history: the history not of any one particular group but of humanity itself. Althingi: The Crescent and the Northern Star, co-edited by Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad (A Mosque Among the Stars, Islamicates) and Joshua Gillingham (The Gatewatch, Old Norse for Modern Times), is an anthology of historical fiction which explores the intricate and often-overlooked interactions between intrepid Viking voyagers and inquisitive emissaries from the powerful Islamic kingdoms. Featuring stories by an incredible slate of authors writing in the historical Althingi universe, Althingi: The Crescent and the Northern Star offers a glimpse into a fascinating forgotten past and will prove a must-read for fans of both Viking and Islamic history.

In my opinion, historical fiction and spec-fic aren’t very distant cousins, and this one definitely caught my attention. I love the premise, and I’m really interested to see how all these authors present different takes on the interactions between Vikings and the ancient Islamic world!

Good Neighbors: The Full Collection by Stephanie Burgis
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 2nd February 2022

When a grumpy inventor meets her outrageous new neighbor in the big black castle down the road, more than one type of spark will fly!

Mia Brandt knows better than to ever again allow her true powers to be discovered. Ever since her last neighbors burned down her workshop in a night of terror and flame, she's been determined to stay solitary, safe, and - to all outside appearances - perfectly respectable...

But Leander Fabian, whose sinister castle looms over her cozy new cottage, has far more dangerous ideas in mind. When he persuades Mia into a reluctant alliance, she finds herself swept into an exhilarating world of midnight balls, interfering countesses, illicit opera house expeditions, necromantic duels, and a whole unnatural community of fellow magic-workers and outcasts, all of whom are facing a terrifying threat.

Luckily, Mia has unnatural powers of her own - but even her unique skills may not be enough to protect her new found family and help her resist the wickedly provoking neighbor who's seen through all of her shields from the beginning.

This novel-length collection includes all four stories and novellas originally published on Stephanie Burgis's Patreon in 2020-2021: Good Neighbors, Deadly Courtesies, Fine Deceptions, and Fierce Company.

Stephanie Burgis writes excellent ‘hot chocolate books’ – fantasies that are cozy-feeling even when they also include adventures and other shenanigans – and this one is a collection of short stories and novellas she’s been writing on her Patreon. I’m about halfway through at the moment, grinning a lot, and I’m hoping to have a review up for the whole thing later this week!

That’s all I’ve got! Did I miss any books I should know about? Will you be reading any of these? Let me know!

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)