Must-Have Monday #79

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

ELEVEN incredible-sounding SFF releases this week!!!

Sweep of Stars (Astra Black #1) by Maurice Broaddus
Genres: Sci Fi
Representation: Black cast
Published on: 29th March 2022

Maurice Broaddus's Sweep of Stars is the first in a trilogy that explores the struggles of an empire. Epic in scope and intimate in voice, it follows members of the Muungano empire – a far-reaching coalition of city-states that stretches from O.E. (original earth) to Titan – as it faces an escalating series of threats.

"The beauty in blackness is its ability to transform. Like energy we are neither created nor destroyed, though many try." - West African Proverb

The Muungano empire strived and struggled to form a utopia when they split away from old earth. Freeing themselves from the endless wars and oppression of their home planet in order to shape their own futures and create a far-reaching coalition of city-states that stretched from Earth and Mars to Titan.

With the wisdom of their ancestors, the leadership of their elders, the power and vision of their scientists and warriors they charted a course to a better future. But the old powers could not allow them to thrive and have now set in motion new plots to destroy all that they've built.

In the fire to come they will face down their greatest struggle yet.

Amachi Adisa and other young leaders will contend with each other for the power to galvanize their people and chart the next course for the empire.

Fela Buhari and her elite unit will take the fight to regions not seen by human eyes, but no training will be enough to bring them all home.

Stacia Chikeke, captain of the starship Cypher, will face down enemies across the stars, and within her own vessel, as she searches for the answers that could save them all.

The only way is forward.

After reading the free excerpt, I’m so excited for this one! Basically, Wakanda in space. which is really all I need to hear. Eee!

Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: F/F
Published on: 29th March 2022

In the aftermath of World War I, a naive woman is swept into a glittering world filled with dark magic, romance, and murder in this lush and decadent debut.

On Crow Island, people whisper, real magic lurks just below the surface. 

Neither real magic nor faux magic interests Annie Mason. Not after it stole her future. She’s only on the island to settle her late father’s estate and, hopefully, reconnect with her long-absent best friend, Beatrice, who fled their dreary lives for a more glamorous one. 

Yet Crow Island is brimming with temptation, and the biggest one may be her enigmatic new neighbor. 

Mysterious and alluring, Emmeline Delacroix is a figure shadowed by rumors of witchcraft. And when Annie witnesses a confrontation between Bea and Emmeline at one of the island's extravagant parties, she is drawn into a glittering, haunted world. A world where the boundaries of wickedness are tested, and the cost of illicit magic might be death.

There has been so much hype for this, and I have definitely been won over by said hype! (And fell in love with the first few pages, which you can read on Amaz*n!) I’m so tickled by the fact that I’ve never, and probably will never, read Great Gatsby, only Nghi Vo’s The Chosen and the Beautiful (flawless) and (soon) Wild and Wicked Things, both of which are queer and magic. Gatsby can’t possibly hold a candle to either of them.

Pennyblade by J.L. Worrad
Genres: Fantasy, Secondary World Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Lesbian MC, bi/pansexual love interest, F/F, secondary gay character, tertiary trans character, extremely minor asexual character
PoV: 1st Person, past tense
Published on: 29th March 2022

A sharp-tongued disgraced-noble-turned-mercenary has to stop the world collapsing into chaos in this gripping, savagely funny epic fantasy packed with unforgettable characters, for fans of Joe Abercrombie.

Exile. Mercenary. Lover. Monster. Pennyblade.

Kyra Cal’Adra has spent the last four years on the Main, living in exile from her home, her people, her lover and her past. A highblood commrach—the ancient race of the Isle, dedicated to tradition and the perfection of the blood—she’s welcome among the humans of the Main only for the skill of her rapier, her preternatural bladework. They don't care which of the gleaming towers she came from, nor that her grandmother is matriarch of one of Corso’s most powerful families.

But on the main, women loving women is a sin punishable by death. Kyra is haunted by the ghost of Shen, the love of her life, a lowblood servant woman whom Kyra left behind as she fled the Isle.
When a simple contract goes awry, and her fellow pennyblades betray her, Kyra is set onto a collision course with her old life, and the age-old conflict between the Main and the Isle threatens to erupt once more.

I ADORED Pennyblade, and said as much in my review, but head’s up: most early readers consider this grimdark. (I don’t, quite. Grimdark-adjacent, sure, but not quite grimdark.) Eugenicist elves, a sapphic womanizer MC, and a surprisingly badass nun all come together in what might be one of my favourites of the year.

My Dearest Darkest by Kayla Cottingham
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: F/F
Published on: 29th March 2022

WILDER GIRLS meets THE CRAFT in this Sapphic horror debut that asks: What price would you be willing to pay to achieve your deepest desires?

Finch Chamberlin is the newest transfer student to the ultra-competitive Ulalume Academy... but she's also not what she seems. Months before school started, Finch and her parents got into an accident that should have left her dead at the bottom of a river. But something monstrous, and ancient, and terrifying, wouldn't let her drown. Finch doesn't know why she woke up after her heart stopped, but since dying she's felt a constant pull from the school and the surrounding town of Rainwater, like something on the island is calling to her.

Selena St. Clair sees right through Finch, and she knows something is seriously wrong with her. But despite Selena's suspicion, she feels drawn to Finch and has a sinking feeling that from now on the two will be inexplicably linked to one another.

One night Finch, Selena, and her friends accidentally summon a carnivorous creature of immense power in the depths of the school. It promises to grant every desire the girls have kept locked away in their insecure hearts―beauty, power, adoration―in exchange for a price: human body parts. But as the cost of their wanting becomes more deadly, Finch and Selena must learn to work together to stop the horror they unleashed, before it consumes the entire island.

There’s something about teenage girls + the occult that always makes me starry-eyed! And this one gets bonus points for being sapphic! Plus it sounds like it might be genuinely dark, not the softcore dark we often get. (Which there’s nothing wrong with, but is disappointing when you go in looking for horror.)

The Book of Queer Saints by Mae Murray, Eric LaRocca, Hailey Piper, Joe Koch, Sam Richard
Genres: Horror, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MCs
Published on: 29th March 2022

In this debut horror anthology by editor Mae Murray, queer villains reign supreme. The Book of Queer Saints features 13 short stories and a lineup that includes renowned authors Eric LaRocca, Hailey Piper, and Joe Koch. Joining them are the innovative visions of Briar Ripley Page, Nikki R. Leigh, Joshua R. Pangborn, Eric Raglin, Belle Tolls, Perry Ruhland, James Bennett, LC von Hessen, K.S. Walker, and George Daniel Lea. A fresh blend of transformative body horror, crimson-coated romance, and monstrous eroticism, this anthology is sure to satisfy your every depraved itch. Foreword by Sam Richard of Weirdpunk Books.

Honestly, the title alone sold me on this collection, but that freaking premise?! HI I’LL TAKE TEN.

A Magic Steeped in Poison (The Book of Tea, #1) by Judy I. Lin
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Asian-coded cast and setting
Published on: 29th March 2022

I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, "These are the hands that buried my mother."

For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it's her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu.

When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom's greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning's only chance to save her sister's life.

But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.

I’m here for exactly two things: magic tea and that cover!

So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 29th March 2022

Carry On meets Arthurian legend in this funny, subversive young adult fantasy about what happens after the chosen one wins the kingdom and has to get married to keep it…and to stay alive.

Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.

With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.

Another seriously beautiful cover! Also, this sounds very sweet with the potential for much Feels.

Our Child of Two Worlds by Stephen Cox
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 31st March 2022

Cory is the child of two worlds: when his birth-people come, they will break his mother's heart . . . but they may also be this world's only salvation.

Molly and Gene Myers rescued Cory and kept him safe from those who wanted to use his remarkable knowledge and power for their own ends . . . and in doing so, they rediscovered themselves and fell in love with a remarkable child.

In this gripping sequel to Our Child of the Stars, Cory and his new family are having to deal with the consequences of fame - but Molly is more concerned about the future, for Cory's people are on their way.

This is the time of Woodstock and the moon landings; war is raging in Vietnam and the superpowers are threatening each other with annihilation - but the Myers know there is a far greater threat approaching from the stars, and only Cory's people possess the knowledge to fight off the invaders.

A Child of Two Worlds
is a remarkable story of family and the power of love, set against the backdrop of a fast-changing, terrifying decade and an interstellar threat almost beyond imagining.

This is the sequel to Our Child of the Stars, and since I haven’t finished that yet I am studiously avoiding reading the blurb of this one. I know I’ll dive into it once I finish Stars, though!

(Also, this seems to be the ebook release – by all accounts the hardcover won’t be out until June.)

Prince of the Sorrows (Rowan Blood, #1) by Kellen Graves
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 31st March 2022

Without an academic endorsement to make him valuable to the high fey, Saffron will be sent back through the veil to the human world. The place he was born, but not where he grew up. A place he is terrified of. And while getting an endorsement shouldn't be impossible, it's hindered by the fact he's edging on literate, having spent his life teaching himself to read using books stolen off of Morrígan Academy's campus of high fey students.

When mistaken identity leads to Saffron learning the true name of brooding, self-centered, high fey Prince Cylvan, what begins as a risk of losing his life (or his tongue) becomes an opportunity to earn the life Saffron wants. In exchange for an endorsement, he and Cylvan form a geis where Saffron agrees to find a spell to strip power from Cylvan's true name. While Prince Cylvan doesn't know Saffron's literacy is self-taught, and his knowledge of magic is nonexistent, Saffron is determined to meet his end of the agreement in order to remain in Alfidel-- or, maybe, to remain by Cylvan's side, as affections grow stronger every night they spend alone in the library together.

But when other human servants on campus are suddenly and inexplicably killed by an animal, Saffron realizes he may have inadvertently embroiled himself in the middle of a manipulative reach for power like he never anticipated. Not only is his future endorsement at risk, but also Cylvan's livelihood and ability to think for himself-- and Saffron will have to choose which is more important to him.

Prince of the Sorrows is a queer fantasy romance for New Adults.

Dark Academia…with Fae?! Oh hell yes!

Undergrounder by J.E. Glass
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: F/F
Published on: 1st April 2022

Drowned by men. Saved by a monster.

The last place Alexandra Bailey expects her routine life of domestic journalism to lead is being sucked into icy floodwaters below New York City with a knife in her ribs. Headlines like this happen to other people, but it's real, and she knows she's dead. Which makes the circumstances of her survival as impossible as the woman who drags her from the water.

Saved but hardly safe, Alex wakes in the Underground, a world of misfits and monsters thriving below the streets. It's a journalism goldmine. One Alex can't resist digging into after learning her beastly savior is Leanna Farrow, adopted daughter of an infamous and "presumed dead" scientist. But Alex's curiosity, coupled with her rapidly developing feelings for Leanna, put both women in danger when Alex’s inquiries pique the interest of a powerful family with bloody secrets connected to the Underground.

If Alex wants to unravel the mystery of the world below she'll have to walk the razor's edge, but some mysteries are better left buried.

This was pitched to me as a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but scifi and sapphic. What more could I ask for?

Crudrat: The Tinkered Stars by Gail Carriger
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 1st April 2022

Maura is doomed to starve. Her space station has no further use for her.

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger brings you a fast-paced young adult scifi adventure featuring a capable heroine, her adorable pet, and the alien they accidentally rescue.




With only her crud-eating murmel and a fuzzy alien stranger to help, Maura must find a way to survive, before they catch her and blow what’s left of her life into space.

In the far future, on a space-port the size of a city, crudrats scrape out a meager living cleaning the great machines that generate usable power. Only children can safely traverse the cramped tunnels and the massive blades that harvest crud. But one misstep and a crudrat gets caught on a blade edge and killed. Like rats, they scurry through the bulkheads, duty-bound to clean the air ducts so everyone else can breathe.

But, when they grow too big to be useful, they become outcasts. Now one of the forgotten, Maura might just be able to turn rejection into escape – if she’s resourceful enough.

"Of course, as with much YA fiction these days, the book's appeal crosses generations; Carriger's whimsical sense of humor and lightness of touch is entertaining regardless of age." ~ (Etiquette & Espionage)

In this classic YA adventure about finding one’s place in the universe, Gail Carriger brings golden age-style science fiction into the 21st century, stuffs it full of heart, and gives it a finely polished, gleaming edge.

One of the first books I ever reviewed on this blog was The Fifth Gender, a book set in the same Tinkered Stars verse as Crudrat – and since I loved Fifth Gender, of course I want to read Crudrat! This seems to be more YA, but it’s Carriger, so I know it’s going to be fun for adults too!

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


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