Must-Have Monday #96

Posted 1st August 2022 by Sia in Must-Have Mondays / 0 Comments

They’re not all SFF, but there are NINE books I have my eyes on this week!

(Books are listed in order of pub date, then Adult SFF, Adult Other, YA SFF, YA Other.)

With A Vengeance by Freydís Moon
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Autistic nonbinary MC, NB/M
Published on: 1st August 2022

Kye Lovato left their hometown in search of a better future, but when their estranged mother passes away, they return to their parish to settle her affairs. Even though Kye escaped their traumatic past, being back in swampy Madison, Louisiana only worsens their debilitating depression, increases their dissociative episodes, and intensifies the intrusive voice plaguing their every thought.

The moment Kye steps foot into their childhood home, they know something is wrong. That night, they come face to face with the shadowy presence driving them mad: the handsome demon duke, Eli, who offers them an irresistible deal. In exchange for their soul, Eli will give them pain, pleasure, and power.

Kye set a path for themself—live fast, die young—and Eli seems like the perfect exit route. With nothing to lose, they agree.

But after an impromptu visit from a local ICE agent, Kye forms an unlikely friendship with their mother’s bookkeeper and stumbles into an insidious mystery surrounding their family’s homegrown alebrije business. Met with ghosts, displaced employees, and a garage filled with unfinished artwork, Kye can’t help but wonder. . . What was their mother hiding? And why is a rogue officer interested in Lovato Alebrijes?

Kye is possessed, unkempt, and chasing death, but as stubborn as they are, they’re the only person left alive who can resurrect the family business and carry the Lovato legacy, and their only ally is the demon possessing them.

I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW EXCITED I AM FOR THIS BOOK! I loved Moon’s novella Exodus 20:3, and With a Vengeance promises so many of the things I love, in the hands of an author I know can do them justice! I’ve been swooning over the excerpts and making grabby hands at the aesthetic boards Moon’s shared on social media for weeks, and it’s out TODAY!

It’s on my ereader now, and I can’t wait to pounce on it!!!

Cute Mutants Deluxe: Vol 1 Mutant Pride by S.J. Whitby
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Queer and QBIPOC cast
Published on: 1st August 2022

Contains all-new content!

"My name is Dylan Taylor, human incarnation of the burning dumpster gif, and this is my life"

I always wanted to be an X-Man. Except people and me never got along, and apparently you need social skills to run a successful team.

Cue Emma Hall's party. One slightly awkward kiss, and now I can talk to objects like my pillow (who's far too invested in my love life) and my baseball bat (who was a pacifist before I got hold of him). And there's a whole group of us with strange abilities, including super hot ice queen Dani Kim who doesn't approve of how reckless I can be. The bigger problem is there's a mysterious mutant causing unnatural disasters, and we're the ones who have to stop him. But things blow up in my face, and the team's on the edge of falling apart. I've always been a disaster. How am I supposed to be a hero?

"Move over, Marvel, Cute Mutants is my new obsession. Hilarious and heartwarming, this pageturner delivers snark, action, and a queer found family you can't help but root for. SJ Whitby is a rare talent, and I'll read anything they write."
- Rosiee Thor, author of Fire Becomes Her

"A delightfully chaotic and queer spin on the awkward teen superhero experience."
- Xiran Jay Zhao, bestselling author of Iron Widow

"A queerer, wittier Riverdale with a side of superpowers, rolled in rainbow glitter. Whitby's dialogue sparkles from the page, layered with delightful snark and pop culture references. This squad of achingly relatable protagonists and their vividly imagined powers will capture the hearts of diehard superhero lovers and welcome new fans."
- Ren Hutchings, author of Under Fortunate Stars

"Equally heartwarming and hilarious, Cute Mutants has it all: breathless action, complex queer characters, swoon-worthy romance, and a chaotic ride-or-die superhero squad that will capture your heart. A must read!"
- Alicia Jasinska, author of The Midnight Girls

"An extremely hilarious punchy sci-fantasy that grabs you from the first line and never lets go, SJ Whitby and their Cute Mutants series, is the fresh voice we've all been waiting for."
- K Ancrum, author of Darling

"Cute Mutants is a wild electric joyride from start to finish. The superhero genre at its best, with thrilling, vivid fight scenes, voice-y high school angst, and queer found family that grabs you by the throat. This series is a rainbow-glitter explosion of subverted tropes and fast-paced action that leaps from the page straight into your heart."
- Jenna Voris, author of Made of Stars (forthcoming 2023)

"An irreverent, ultra-nerdy, and unapologetically queer exploration of found family, self-discovery, and smashing the patriarchy-all unfolding via a sharp character voice."
- Claire Winn, author of City of Shattered Light

"Gloriously flawed characters going hard in all their messy, big-hearted queer teen glory, as they navigate a wild ride of newfound powers, responsibility to themselves and others, and shifting relationships in a fantastically screwball world of unlikely superpowers. Deeply loveable in its relatability, I'm burning through this series a supersonic speeds."
- Ash van Otterloo, author of A Touch of Ruckus

"Filled with heart, hope and humor, SJ Whitby expertly immerses the reader in a world where queer kids get to be the heroes of their own universe. A masterclass in quality and imagination, and an essential addition to every YA bookshelf."
- Esme Symes-Smith, author Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston (forthcoming 2022)

If you haven’t hopped on the Cute Mutants bandwagon, now’s an excellent time: the first volume is being rereleased in a deluxe edition! This isn’t a graphic novel/comic series, it’s all prose – and super diverse, very funny, with delightfully offbeat superpowers!

Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Brook Tsai
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Queer biracial Chinese MC, queer biracial Indonesian MC, nonbinary MC
Published on: 2nd August 2022

A tale of doom and ambition, loss and revenge, love and murder.

Unwieldy Creatures, a biracial queer, gender-swapped retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, follows the story of three beings who all navigate life from the margins: Plum (she/her), a queer biracial Chinese intern at one of the world’s top embryology labs, who runs away from home to openly be with her girlfriend only to be left on her own; Dr. Frank (she/her), a queer biracial Indonesian scientist who compromises everything she claims to love in the name of science and ambition when she sets out to procreate without sperm or egg; and Dr. Frank’s nonbinary creation, painstakingly brought into the world due to complications at birth that result from a cruel twist of revenge, only to be abandoned. Plum struggles to determine the limits of her own ambition when Dr. Frank offers her a chance to assist with her next project. How far will Plum go in the name of scientific advancement and what is she willing to risk?

This is another super queer, super out-there book I’m heart-eyes for this week! I’ve never read Frankenstein, but I’m more than delighted for this to be my introduction to it!

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MC, asexual secondary character
Published on: 2nd August 2022

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book's content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.

Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairytales and cautionary stories.

But real life doesn't always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

You can read my review here, but honestly, The Book Eaters is incredible – so original, dark and clever and twisty. One of my faves of the year, hands down – and I suspect it’s going to be a lot of other people’s fave as well!

The Sleepless by Victor Manibo
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Gay MC
Published on: 2nd August 2022

In a near-future New York City where a minority of the population has lost the need for sleep, a journalist fights to uncover the truth behind his boss’s murder on the eve of a sinister corporate takeover—while his own Sleeplessness spirals out of control.

A mysterious pandemic causes a quarter of the world to permanently lose the ability to sleep—without any apparent health implications. The outbreak creates a new class of people who are both feared and ostracized, most of whom optimize their extra hours to earn more money.

Jamie Vega, a journalist at C+P Media, is one of the Sleepless. When his boss dies in a suicidal overdose, Jamie doesn’t buy this too-convenient explanation—especially given its suspicious timing during a controversial merger—and investigates.

As Jamie delves deeper into Simon’s final days, he tangles with extremist organizations and powerful corporate interests, and must confront past traumas and the unforeseen consequences of being Sleepless. But he soon faces the most dangerous decision of all, as he uncovers a terrifying truth about Sleeplessness that imperils him—and all of humanity.

A lot of bloggers and other readers I trust have really enjoyed Sleepless, and the premise sounds super interesting. Intrigued!

Face by Joma West
Genres: Sci Fi
Published on: 2nd August 2022

Life is competitive; all the best babies are designed now.

Schuyler and Madeline Burroughs have the perfect Face—rich and powerful enough to assure their dominance in society.

But in SchAddie’s household, cracks are beginning to appear. Schuyler is bored and taking risks. Maddie is becoming brittle, her happiness ever more fleeting. And their menial is fighting the most bizarre compulsions.

In Face, skin color is an aesthetic choice designed by professionals, consent is a pre-checked box on the path to social acceptance, and your online profile isn’t just the most important thing—it’s the only thing.

Face is a novel about the lies we allow ourselves to believe in order to make us feel whole.

This is another one that sounds really interesting, but early reviews haven’t been that enthusiastic. Guess I’ll have to see for myself!

Ben and Beatriz by Katalina Gamarra
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Plus-sized queer biracial Black MC
Published on: 2nd August 2022

There’s nothing like falling for your worst enemy.

Beatriz Herrera is a fierce woman who will take you down with her quick wit and keen intellect. And after the results of the 2016 election worked hard to erase her identity as a queer biracial woman, she’d be right to. Especially if you come for her sweet BFF cousin, Hero. Beatriz would do anything for her, a loyalty that lands Beatriz precisely where she doesn’t want to be: spending a week at the ridiculous Cape Cod mansion of stupid-hot playboy Ben Montgomery. The same Ben Montgomery she definitely shouldn’t have hooked up with that one time… The things we do for family.

White and wealthy, Ben talks the talk and walks the walk of privilege, but deep down, he’s wrestling with the politics and expectations of a conservative family he can’t relate to. Though Beatriz’s caustic tongue drives him wild in the very best way, he's the last person she'd want, because she has zero interest in compromising her identity. But as her and Ben’s assumptions begin to unravel and their hookups turn into something real, they start wondering if it’s still possible to hold space for one another and the inescapable love that unites them. 

This retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is both razor-sharp and swoon-worthy: the perfect love story for our time.

Not SFF, but I’ve seen a lot of love for this Much Ado About Nothing retelling, and I want to give it a go when I’ve got a chance.

Husband Material (London Calling, #2) by Alexis Hall
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: M/M
Published on: 2nd August 2022

Wanted: One (very real) husband
Nowhere near perfect but desperately trying his best

In BOYFRIEND MATERIAL, Luc and Oliver met, pretended to fall in love, fell in love for real, dealt with heartbreak and disappointment and family and friends…and somehow figured out a way to make it work. Now it seems like everyone around them is getting married, and Luc’s feeling the social pressure to propose. But it’ll take more than four weddings, a funeral, and a bowl full of special curry to get these two from I don’t know what I’m doing to I do.

Good thing Oliver is such perfect HUSBAND MATERIAL.

This Summer 2022, you’re invited to the event(s) of the season.

Alexis Hall is one of my favorite authors – one of the only writers who can consistently make me read contemporary fiction. I ADORED Boyfriend Material, and I’m so happy we get to see Luc and Oliver again! This is definitely going to be my not-so-guilty pleasure read this month!

Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Filipino-coded cast and setting, sapphic MC, bisexual love interest
Published on: 2nd August 2022

A teen girl must bring together two broken worlds in order to save her nation in this lush, Filipino-inspired young adult fantasy novel from debut author Elisa A. Bonnin.

“Be dauntless, for the hopes of the People rest in you.”

Seri's world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana.

Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts - a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she's ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.

Like a lot of other people, I’ve been grabby-hands for Dauntless since I first heard about it! Filipino mythology isn’t something I see very often, or even know much about, and I love unfamiliar influences in the fantasy I read. Gimme!

Will you be reading any of these? Let me know!


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