Must-Have Monday #75

Posted 28th February 2022 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

Tomorrow is my birthday – I’ll be 29! – and we’re getting so many books this week! They all feel like presents. Just take a look – magical cooking and dream realms and a Muslim Robin Hood!

The Lost Dreamer by Lizz Huerta
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Mesoamerican cast + setting
Published on: 1st March 2022
Goodreads

A stunning YA fantasy inspired by ancient Mesoamerica, this gripping debut introduces us to a lineage of seers defiantly resisting the shifting patriarchal state that would see them destroyed—perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir.

Indir is a Dreamer, descended from a long line of seers; able to see beyond reality, she carries the rare gift of Dreaming truth. But when the beloved king dies, his son has no respect for this time-honored tradition. King Alcan wants an opportunity to bring the Dreamers to a permanent end—an opportunity Indir will give him if he discovers the two secrets she is struggling to keep. As violent change shakes Indir’s world to its core, she is forced to make an impossible choice: fight for her home or fight to survive.

Saya is a seer, but not a Dreamer—she has never been formally trained. Her mother exploits her daughter’s gift, passing it off as her own as they travel from village to village, never staying in one place too long. Almost as if they’re running from something. Almost as if they’re being hunted. When Saya loses the necklace she’s worn since birth, she discovers that seeing isn’t her only gift—and begins to suspect that everything she knows about her life has been a carefully-constructed lie. As she comes to distrust the only family she’s ever known, Saya will do what she’s never done before, go where she’s never been, and risk it all in the search of answers.

With a detailed, supernaturally-charged setting and topical themes of patriarchal power and female strength, Lizz Huerta's The Lost Dreamer brings an ancient world to life, mirroring the challenges of our modern one.

I got to read an ARC of this one, and I adored it! So much love for a gorgeously unique setting and magic, and I cheered at how hard it tossed white beauty standards out the window! Appealing and sympathetic main characters, lush prose, and immensely cool worldbuilding. Strongly recommended!

Travelers Along the Way: A Robin Hood Remix by Aminah Mae Safi
Representation: Muslim MC, sapphic brown characters
Published on: 1st March 2022
Goodreads

A ragtag band of misfits gets swept up in Holy Land politics in Travelers Along the Way by Aminah Mae Safi, a thrilling YA remix of the classic legend of Robin Hood.

Jerusalem, 1192. The Third Crusade rages on. Rahma al-Hud loyally followed her elder sister Zeena into the war over the Holy Land, but now that the Faranji invaders have gotten reinforcements from Richard the Lionheart, all she wants to do is get herself and her sister home alive.

But Zeena, a soldier of honor at heart, refuses to give up the fight while Jerusalem remains in danger of falling back into the hands of the false Queen Isabella. And so, Rahma has no choice but to take on one final mission with her sister.

On their journey to Jerusalem, Rahma and Zeena come across a motley collection of fellow travelers—including a kind-hearted Mongolian warrior, an eccentric Andalusian scientist, a frustratingly handsome spy with a connection to Rahma's childhood, and an unfortunate English chaplain abandoned behind enemy lines. The teens all find solace, purpose and camaraderie—as well as a healthy bit of mischief—in each other's company.

But their travels soon bring them into the orbit of Queen Isabella herself, whose plans to re-seize power in Jerusalem would only guarantee further war and strife in the Holy Land for years to come. And so it falls to the merry band of misfits to use every scrap of cunning and wit (and not a small amount of thievery) to foil the usurper queen and perhaps finally restore peace to the land.

Praise for Travelers Along the Way:
"Travelers Along the Way is the Robin Hood retelling I did not know I wanted. Deeply researched and masterfully written, here is a story that’s not only thrilling, but also delightfully clever!" —Tanaz Bhathena, author of A Girl Like That and Hunted by the Sky

"If you love heists, found family, and stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, then put Aminah Mae Safi's heartfelt and humorous take on Robin Hood at the very top of your TBR." —Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling co-author of My Lady Jane

Retelling Robin Hood with a Muslim MC, and setting it in Jerusalem??? HI, YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION!

Spelunking Through Hell: A Visitor's Guide to the Underworld by Seanan McGuire
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 1st March 2022
Goodreads

The eleventh book in the fast-paced InCryptid urban fantasy series returns to the mishaps of the Price family, eccentric cryptozoologists who safeguard the world of magical creatures living in secret among humans.

Love, noun:
1. An intense feeling of deep affection; may be romantic, filial or platonic.

Passion, noun:
1. A strong or barely controllable emotion.
2. Enthusiasm, interest, desire.
3. See also “obsession.”

It’s been fifty years since the crossroads caused the disappearance of Thomas Price, and his wife, Alice, has been trying to find him and bring him home ever since, despite the increasing probability that he’s no longer alive for her to find. Now that the crossroads have been destroyed, she’s redoubling her efforts. It’s time to bring him home, dead or alive.

Preferably alive, of course, but she’s tired, and at this point, she’s not that picky. It’s a pan-dimensional crash course in chaos, as Alice tries to find the rabbit hole she’s been missing for all these decades—the one that will take her to the man she loves.
Who are her allies? Who are her enemies? And if she manages to find him, will he even remember her at this point?

It’s a lot for one cryptozoologist to handle.

I’m massively behind on this series, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still following it! It’s Seanan McGuire, which makes it an auto-buy. I’ll get to it sooner or later!

The Quarter Storm (Mambo Reina #1) by Veronica Henry
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 1st March 2022
Goodreads

A practitioner of Vodou must test the boundaries of her powers to solve a ritual murder in New Orleans and protect everything she holds sacred.

Haitian-American Vodou priestess Mambo Reina Dumond runs a healing practice from her New Orleans home. Gifted with water magic since she was a child, Reina is devoted to the benevolent traditions of her ancestors.

After a ritual slaying in the French Quarter, police arrest a fellow vodouisant. Detective Roman Frost, Reina’s ex-boyfriend—a fierce nonbeliever—is eager to tie the crime, and half a dozen others, to the Vodou practitioners of New Orleans. Reina resolves to find the real killer and defend the Vodou practice and customs, but the motives behind the murder are deeper and darker than she imagines.

As Reina delves into the city’s shadows, she untangles more than just the truth behind a devious crime. It’s a conspiracy. As a killer wields dangerous magic to thwart Reina’s investigation, she must tap into the strength of her own power and faith to solve a mystery that threatens to destroy her entire way of life.

I’ve mentioned before that New Orleans is one of my favourite settings, and I’m extremely hopeful that this book will have a respectful (albeit fantasy-ised) portrayal of Vodou and its practicioners – something you generally can’t trust to white authors (which Henry is not) in my experience. I love the idea of a Vodou practicioner working to clear the name of another, and I always want to know more about the (fictional) magical communities of New Orleans. Been looking forward to this one for a while!

Awakenings: A Cute Mutants Anthology by S.J. Whitby, E.M. Anderson, Hsinju Chen, Astra Daye, Yves Donlon, Shannon Ives, Emma Jun, Monica Gribouski, Charlotte Hayward, Shelly Page, Andy Perez, Amanda M. Pierce, Melody Robinette, Hester Steel, Elle Tesch
Genres: Science Fantasy
Published on: 1st March 2022
Goodreads

The Cute Mutants Universe keeps getting bigger! AWAKENINGS brings fourteen incredible authors together to tell their stories of mutation.

Featuring all-new original stories from: Shelly Page, Elle Tesch, Andy Perez, Hsinju Chen, Shannon Ives, Melody Robinette, Astra Daye, Yves Donlon, E.M. Anderson, Hester Steel, Monica Gribouski, Charlotte Hayward, Amanda M. Pierce, and Emma Jun.

Something has changed. People around the world are being awakened and developing strange new powers.

In Texas, a girl gains the ability to know when someone will die. In Taiwan, a man discovers he’s become a radio antenna. The residents of Oak House are hiding a whole host of secrets, and in Dorset, even the countryside is mutating. And if you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise.

Meanwhile, on the secretive island of Mutopia, someone’s watching.

Another series I’m terribly behind on is the Cute Mutants series – which I believe is now finished! Awakenings is a collection of stories set in the Cute Mutants universe, written by other authors, and I’m definitely adding it to my shelf next to the rest of the Cute Mutants books!

Now I just need to sit down and read them all…!

A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Japanese-coded cast + setting
Published on: 1st March 2022
Goodreads

In the realm of Awara, where gods, monsters, and humans exist side by side, Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to a safe, if uneventful, existence as an innkeeper’s daughter. But when Miuko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and return to her normal life. Aided by a thieving magpie spirit and continuously thwarted by a demon prince, Miuko must outfox tricksters, escape demon hunters, and negotiate with feral gods if she wants to make it home again. But with her transformation comes power and freedom she never even dreamed of, and she’ll have to decide if saving her soul is worth trying to cram herself back into an ordinary life that no longer fits her… and perhaps never did.

From New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist, Traci Chee, comes a Japanese-influenced fantasy brimming with demons, adventure, and plans gone awry.

There’s an excerpt of this up at Tor.com, if you’re on the fence about whether you want to read it. Personally I love the premise and really want to give this one a go!

Ready When You Are by Gary Lonesborough
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer Aboriginal Australian MCs
Published on: 1st March 2022
Goodreads

A remarkable YA love story between two Aboriginal boys -- one who doesn’t want to accept he’s gay, and the boy who comes to live in his house who makes him realize who he is.

It's a hot summer, and life's going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish. It's almost Christmas, school's out, and he's hanging with his mates, teasing the visiting tourists, avoiding the racist boys in town. Just like every year, Jackson's Aunty and annoying little cousins visit from the city -- but this time a mysterious boy with a troubled past comes with them. As their friendship evolves, Jackson must confront the changing shapes of his relationships with his friends, family and community. And he must face his darkest secret -- a secret he thought he'd locked away for good.

As far as I’m aware there’s no speculative elements to Ready When You Are, but it sounds like a really beautiful book, and I loved the excerpt that was posted online. (Check the link on desktop, not mobile – for some reason I couldn’t get it to work on mobile.) Definitely snatching this one up!

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T.L. Huchu
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Black MC
Published on: 3rd March 2022
Goodreads

Some secrets are meant to stay buried.

When Ropa Moyo discovered an occult underground library, she expected great things. She’s really into Edinburgh’s secret societies – but turns out they are less into her. So instead of getting paid to work magic, she’s had to accept a crummy unpaid internship. And her with bills to pay and a pet fox to feed.

Then her friend Priya offers her a job on the side. Priya works at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies, a very specialized hospital, where a new illness is resisting magical and medical remedies alike. The first patient was a teenage boy, Max Wu, and his healers are baffled. If Ropa can solve the case, she might earn as she learns – and impress her mentor, Sir Callander.

Her sleuthing will lead her to a lost fortune, an avenging spirit and a secret buried deep in Scotland’s past. But how are they connected? Lives are at stake and Ropa is running out of time.

This is releasing next week in the USA, but the UK gets it this week! I adored the first book of this series (which, by the way, is one of the nominees in this year’s SCKA awards!) and I’ve been making grabby hands for book two since turning the last page of book one. Gimme!

The Book of Perilous Dishes by Doina Ruști, James Christian Brown
Genres: Fantasy
Published on: 3rd March 2022
Goodreads

1798: A magical, dark adventure. Fourteen-year-old Pâtca, initiated in the occult arts, comes to Bucharest, to her uncle, Cuviosu Zăval, to retrieve the Book of Perilous Dishes. The recipes in this magical book can bring about damaging sincerity, forgetfulness, the gift of prediction, or hysterical laughter. She finds her uncle murdered and the book missing. All that Zăval has left her is a strange map she must decipher. Travelling from Romania to France and on to Germany to do so, Patca’s family’s true past and powers are revealed, as is her connection to the famous and sublime chef, Silica.

I only found out about this one from Imyril’s Make Some Room post last week – I’m appalled I came so close to missing it! As stated above, I love food and cooking stories, and this one is unapologetically SFF! Plus, I need to read more books in translation. This ticks every box, and I’m honestly ridiculously excited to get my mitts on it!

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

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