Black Shield Maiden

May 2024 Must Haves

BP Note: Greetings and salutations. Apologies for this post going up late. Work travel requirement along with arranging things to bring my mom back home where she belongs after 6 weeks took its toll. She is home, yay, so all worth it. Interesting assortment of titles for you this month. Hopefully you find something to peak your reading curiosity. Let us know what you think we should take a look at. I always need more authors and titles to explore.
Happy reading!

Contemporary Romance

Still Mine (Lasker Brothers #6)Still Mine (Lasker Brothers #6) by Nadia Lee – 5 May (Four Isles Press)

How can something so bad for you be so delicious?

A popular baker and cake decorator, Bobbi Bright should know better than anyone that not all sweet things are good for you. Still, she can’t quit her first love, Noah Lasker—a completely unserious billionaire adventurer who makes her feel like the only woman in the universe…when he’s around. He bails on her constantly, and she’s tired of being his second choice.

So she makes a plan to quit Noah and get her life back on track. She’s going to get married and have children like she always wanted. And to help things along, she heads to a famous local jeweler to pick out a dream ring and manifest herself a dream husband.

Noah has been in love with Bobbi since the moment he laid eyes on her, but a huge secret is keeping him from being completely honest. When he sees her at a jewelry store buying a diamond ring to propose to another man, he realizes he can’t let her get married and have babies with anyone else. He embarks on a campaign to win her back, including wooing her cat, who hates everyone.

But when she discovers her late father’s papers, she realizes Noah isn’t who she thought he was. Hell, she’s not even who she thought she was. And the secrets change everything between them…

Love, Lies, and Cherry PieLove, Lies, and Cherry Pie by Jackie Lau – 7 May (Atria/Emily Bestler Books)

Mark Chan this. Mark Chan that.

Writer and barista Emily Hung is tired of hearing about the great Mark Chan, the son of her parents’ friends. You’d think he single-handedly stopped climate change and ended child poverty from the way her mother raves about him. But in reality, he’s just a boring, sweater-vest-wearing engineer, and when they’re forced together at Emily’s sister’s wedding, it’s obvious he thinks he’s too good for her.

But now that Emily is her family’s last single daughter, her mother is fixated on getting her married and she has her sights on Mark. There’s only one solution, clearly: convince Mark to be in a fake relationship with her long enough to put an end to her mom’s meddling. He reluctantly agrees.

Unfortunately, lying isn’t enough. Family friends keep popping up at their supposed dates—including a bubble tea shop and cake-decorating class—so they’ll have to spend more time together to make their relationship look real. With each fake date, though, Emily realizes that Mark’s not quite what she assumed and maybe that argyle sweater isn’t so ugly after all…

The Summer SwapThe Summer Swap by Sarah Morgan – 7 May (Canary Street Press)

Cecilia Lapthorne always vowed she’d never go back to Dune Cottage. So no one is more surprised than Cecilia to find herself escaping her own seventieth birthday party to return to the remote but beautiful cottage on Cape Cod—a place filled with memories. Some are good—especially memories of the early days with her husband, volatile artist Cameron, before his fame eclipsed their marriage. But then there are the memories she has revealed to no one. Especially not her daughter, Kristen, who hero-worshipped her father.

For aspiring artist Lily, Dune Cottage has been a refuge, albeit an illicit one. After dropping out of medical school, she’s cleaning houses on the Cape to get by, guilt-ridden for disappointing her parents. Unoccupied for years, the cottage seemed the perfect place to hide away and lick her wounds—until Cecilia unexpectedly arrives. Despite an awkward beginning, Lily accepts Cecilia’s invitation to stay on as her guest, and a flicker of kinship ignites.

Then Cecilia’s grandson, Todd—and Lily’s unrequited crush—shows up, sending a shock wave through their unlikely friendship. Will it inspire Lily to find the courage to live the life she wants? Can Cecilia finally let go of the past to find a new future? Because as surely as the tide erases past footprints, this summer is offering both Cecilia and Lily the chance to swap old dreams for new…

The Best Life Book ClubThe Best Life Book Club by Sheila Roberts – 7 May (MIRA)

Karissa Newcomb is ready for a new start in a new neighborhood, as far away as she can get from Seattle, where her husband cheated on her with the neighbor who was supposed to be her best friend. She and her nine-year-old daughter are moving on to the city of Gig Harbor on the bay in Puget Sound. She even has a new job as an assistant at a small publishing company right in Gig Harbor. Her new boss seems like a bit of a curmudgeon, but a job is a job, she loves to read, and the idea of possibly meeting writers sounds fabulous.

Soon she finds she’s not the only one in need of a refresh. Her new neighbors, Alice and Margot, are dealing with their own crises. Alice is still grieving her late husband and hasn’t been able to get behind the wheel of a car since a close call after his death. Margot is floundering after getting divorced and laid off in quick succession. They could all use a distraction, and a book club seems like just the ticket. Together, the three women, along with Alice’s grumpy older sister, Josie, embark on a literary journey that just might be the kick start they need to begin building their best lives yet.

A Little Kissing Between FriendsA Little Kissing Between Friends by Chencia Higgins – 28 May (Carina Press)

Music producer on the rise Cyn Tha Starr knows what she likes, from her sickening beats in the studio to the flirty femmes she fools around with. Her ever-rotating roster has never been a problem until her latest fling clashes with Jucee, her best friend and the most popular dancer at strip club Sanity.

It makes Cyn see Jucee in a different light. One with far fewer boundaries and a lot more kissing.

Juleesa Jones makes great money dancing the early shift and spends most evenings with her son, her Sanity family or at Cyn’s house. Relationships are not high on the priority list—until she’s forced to admit that maybe friendship isn’t the only thing she wants from her bestie.

But hooking up with your ride-or-die is risky. Jucee isn’t just Cyn’s best friend—Jucee is her muse. When Cyn lays down her bars, it’s Jucee she imagines in the club throwing it back to every note. If they aren’t careful, this could crash and burn…but isn’t real love worth it?


The Brides of High Hill (Singing Hills Cycle #5)The Brides of High Hill (Singing Hills Cycle #5) by Nghi Vo – 7 May (Tordotcom)

The Cleric Chih accompanies a beautiful young bride to her wedding to the aging ruler of a crumbling estate situated at the crossroads of dead empires. The bride’s party is welcomed with elaborate courtesies and extravagant banquets, but between the frightened servants and the cryptic warnings of the lord’s mad son, they quickly realize that something is haunting the shadowed halls.

As Chih and the bride-to-be explore empty rooms and desolate courtyards, they are drawn into the mystery of what became of Lord Guo’s previous wives and the dark history of Doi Cao itself. But as the wedding night draws to its close, Chih will learn at their peril that not all monsters are to be found in the shadows; some monsters hide in plain sight.

Black Shield MaidenBlack Shield Maiden by Willow Smith and Jess Hendel – 7 May (Del Rey)

Lore, legend, and history tell us of the Vikings: of warrior-kings on epic journeys of conquest and plunder. But the stories we know are not the only stories to tell. There is another story, one that has been lost to the mists of time: the saga of the dark queen.

That saga begins with Yafeu, a defiant yet fiercely compassionate young warrior who is stolen from her home in the flourishing Ghanaian Empire and taken as a slave to a distant kingdom in the North. There she is thrust into a strange, cold world of savage shield maidens, tyrannical rulers, and mysterious gods.

And there she also finds something unexpected: a kindred spirit. She comes to serve Freydis, a shy princess who couldn’t be more different than the confident and self-possessed Yafeu.

But they both want the same thing: to forge their own fate. Yafeu inspires Freydis to dream of a future greater than the one that the king and queen have forced upon her. And with the princess at her side, Yafeu learns to navigate this new world and grows increasingly determined to become one of the legendary shield maidens.

For Yafeu may have lost her home, but she still knows who she is, and she’s not afraid to be the flame that burns a city to the ground so a new world can rise from the ashes. She will alter the course of history—and become the revolutionary heroine of her own myth.

How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying (Dark Lord Davi #1)How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying (Dark Lord Davi #1) by Django Wexler – 21 May (Orbit)

Davi has done this all before. She’s tried to be the hero and take down the all-powerful Dark Lord. A hundred times she’s rallied humanity and made the final charge. But the time loop always gets her in the end. Sometimes she’s killed quickly. Sometimes it takes a while. But she’s been defeated every time.

This time? She’s done being the hero and done being stuck in this endless time loop. If the Dark Lord always wins, then maybe that’s who she needs to be. It’s Davi’s turn to play on the winning side.

The Fireborne BladeThe Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bone – 28 May (Tordotcom)

Kill the dragon. Find the blade. Reclaim her honor.

It’s that, or end up like countless knights before her, as a puddle of gore and molten armor.

Maddileh is a knight. There aren’t many women in her line of work, and it often feels like the sneering and contempt from her peers is harder to stomach than the actual dragon slaying. But she’s a knight, and made of sterner stuff.

A minor infraction forces her to redeem her honor in the most dramatic way possible, she must retrieve the fabled Fireborne Blade from its keeper, legendary dragon the White Lady, or die trying. If history tells us anything, it’s that “die trying” is where to wager your coin.

Historical Fiction

Every Time We Say GoodbyeEvery Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie Jenner – 14 May (St. Martins)

vn 1955, Vivien Lowry is facing the greatest challenge of her life. Her latest play, the only female-authored play on the London stage that season, has opened in the West End to rapturous applause from the audience. The reviewers, however, are not as impressed as the playgoers and their savage notices not only shut down the play but ruin Lowry’s last chance for a dramatic career.
With her future in London not looking bright, at the suggestion of her friend, Peggy Guggenheim, Vivien takes a job in as a script doctor on a major film shooting in Rome’s Cinecitta Studios. There she finds a vibrant movie making scene filled with rising stars, acclaimed directors, and famous actors in a country that is torn between its past and its potentially bright future, between the liberation of the post-war cinema and the restrictions of the Catholic Church that permeates the very soul of Italy.

Paranormal Midde Grade

The Magic of Four (Land Mysteries #7)The Magic of Four (Land Mysteries #7) by Celia Lake – 3 May (Celia Lake)

In 1946, four second year students at Schola have challenges to face. Leo, Ros, Avigail, and Jasper need to make some key decisions about their lives. Being at the most elite of the schools of magic in Great Britain has advantages, but that doesn’t mean everything comes easily. First, they have to figure out what they want to do and be when they grow up. It’s a hard choice to make at fourteen. Next, second year is when Schola’s secret societies pick new members, a decision that can change the course of a life. Third, there are all the ordinary challenges and joys of a school, ranging from dealing with other students to sports matches. Finally, it’s 1946, with all the lingering effects of the Second World War, the changes it’s brought, and the changes to come. These four friends come from different backgrounds, sharing some skills but not others. None of them want what society assumes they do. It’s a new world and they have some ideas of their own.
The Magic of Four is full of friendship, surprises, commitments, and a great deal of magic. It takes place in the magical community of Great Britain in the wake of the Second World War, from the perspective of young adults who have a good idea what their parents did during the war years and what that cost. The last book in the Land Mysteries series, The Magic of Four includes a number of characters who have appeared in other Celia Lake books, but can be read in any order. Unlike most Albion books, this is not a romance – after all, they’re all fourteen.

Paranormal Romance

People in Glass Houses (Harmony #17)People in Glass Houses (Harmony #17) by Jayne Castle – 7 May (Berkley)

His name is Joshua Knight. Once a respected explorer, the press now calls him the Tarnished Knight. He took the fall for a disaster in the Underworld that destroyed his career. The devastating event occurred in the newly discovered sector known as Glass House—a maze of crystal that is rumored to conceal powerful Alien antiquities. The rest of the Hollister Expedition team disappeared and are presumed dead.

Whatever happened down in the tunnels scrambled Josh’s psychic senses and his memories, but he’s determined to uncover the truth. Labeled delusional and paranoid, he retreats to an abandoned mansion in the desert, a house filled with mirrors. Now a recluse, Josh spends his days trying to discover the secrets in the looking glasses that cover the walls. He knows he is running out of time.

Talented, ambitious crystal artist Molly Griffin is shocked to learn that the Tarnished Knight has been located. She drops everything and heads for the mansion to find Josh, confident she can help him regain control of his shattered senses. She has no choice—he is the key to finding her sister, Leona, a member of the vanished expedition team. Josh reluctantly allows her to stay one night but there are two rules: she must not go down into the basement, and she must not uncover the mirrors that have been draped.

But her only hope for finding her sister is to break the rules…

Blood RemainsBlood Remains by Cathy Pegau – 14 May (Bywater Books)

Butcher and Blood Mage, Callie Payne, once left a city behind for a different life. But when she is forced to return to the streets of Seattle, the woman and the things she thought she left behind come to reclaim her.
Callie Payne once ran with the Jackson Street Roses, but she left Seattle—left the Roses—to marry a rancher. After his death, she returns to take over the family butcher shop; a fitting career for an out-of-practice blood mage. When the leader of the Roses, Eileen “EJ” Jordan, stops by, Callie knows it isn’t just to buy T-bone steaks. What does the suave gangster really want after all these years?
EJ needs Callie’s magic against rival gangster Paul Underwood, who is horning in on Rose territory. Callie refuses to get involved; she won’t risk violating the Laws of the Covenant forbidding intentional harm. Then EJ tells her Underwood was responsible for the death of one of the Roses years ago. Callie is compelled to get revenge however she can.
A three-day incantation to repel Underwood re-establishes and strengthens Callie’s connection to the Roses, particularly EJ. Old feelings return, but EJ worries a personal relationship will endanger Callie. Their desire, however, proves impossible to ignore.
Days after Underwood threatens them, he’s found dead in an area awash in magic residue. The cops and the Covenant Investigation Office are eyeing EJ and Callie for the crime. Whoever is responsible knows magic well enough to be a step ahead, and they’re setting up EJ and Callie to take the fall.
EJ is determined to find the culprit, no matter the cost, and Callie is willing to bend the Laws for her. Can they catch the killer before more blood is spilled?

Hell over Heels (Infernal Covenant #3)Hell over Heels (Infernal Covenant #3) by Nadine Mutas – 24 May (Self)

**This is the third, but not the final book in the Infernal Covenant series. Note: There will be a fourth book that concludes the series.**

Being an angel sucks.

Well, a low-ranking angel, that is. Who’d have thought that one of the tasks in Heaven assigned to those not blessed with brain-melting power is shoveling unicorn poop?

Not me, that’s for sure, although I don’t even remember who I was as a human before being turned into an angel, let alone what I was thinking.

So, here I am, living my best, most boring angel life, trying to climb up a rank in the hierarchy so I can ditch my annoying roommate and get a suite of my own, not to mention that if I get promoted, I won’t have to clean up unicorn crap anymore–which, by the way, is not made of sparkly rainbows. Much to my chagrin.

And then he shows up.

Looking all Tall, Dark, and Handsomely Mysterious, like he just strolled right out of a dream…and my world tilts sideways when I realize that might actually be true. I think I’ve been dreaming of him ever since I woke up as an angel.

His power feels so familiar. The things he does and says cause an echo of knowing deep within me.

Could I have seen visions of him before he ever stepped into my life? Or is there another reason I feel like I’ve known him for years?

While I’m falling for him…I can’t shake the feeling that he could cost me more than my heart.

**This book ends in a cliffhanger.**

Science Fiction

Ghostdrift (Finder #4)Ghostdrift (Finder #4) by Suzanne Palmer – 28 May (DAW)

Fergus Ferguson, professional finder, always knew his semi-voluntary exile wouldn’t last, but he isn’t expecting a friend to betray him. One of the galaxy’s most dangerous space pirates, Bas Belos, wants him, and what Belos wants, he gets. Belos needs help finding out what happened to his twin sister, who mysteriously disappeared at the edges of space years ago, and he makes Fergus an offer he can’t refuse.

Mysterious disappearances and impossible answers are Fergus’ specialties. After he reluctantly joins Belos and his crew aboard the pirate ship Sidewider, he discovers that Belos is being tracked by the Alliance. Seeking to stay one step ahead of the Alliance, Fergus and Belos find themselves marooned in the middle of the Gap between spiral arms of our galaxy, dangerously near hostile alien territory, and with an Alliance ship in hot pursuit.

That’s just the beginning of the complications for Fergus’ newest—and possibly last—job. The puzzle is much bigger than just Belos’s lost sister, and the question of his future, retirement or not, depends on his ability to negotiate a path between aliens, criminals, and the most powerful military force he’s ever encountered. The future of entire planets hangs in the balance, and it remains to be seen if it’s too big for one determined man and his cranky cat.

Space Opera

Ava Greasemonkey (Planet Xai #1)Ava Greasemonkey (Planet Xai #1) by Alissa Lace – 18 May (Self)

Ava is human servant aboard an alien Phor transport spaceship. The ship specializes in transporting cargo and Ava tends to the engine. An alien Vorbax is brought on board to be transported to an enemy planet for a war crimes trial. But is he really a helpless prisoner? Why does Ava feel drawn to him? Will she become part of his plans? Now Ava is caught in the middle of something bigger than her heart and certainly bigger than what the ship she’s on can handle.

Urban Fantasy

Grave Affairs (Grave Affairs #1)Grave Affairs (Grave Affairs #1) by Lilith Daniels – 1 May (Pen & Page Publishing)

Following an accusation of being a necromancer with no way to prove her innocence, Detective Kirani Kinsley Ramons turns in her badge and flees to Dragon Heights, Wyoming for a fresh start.

In Miami, few understand the difference between a necromancer and the descendant of dragons.

In Dragon Heights, nobody cares.

With weekly rains of unusual composition, dragon-kin and human alike vying for the right to become the next dragon in town, and magic lurking around every turn, there is no better place for Kinsley to hide her skills and history.

But when the local brothel workers are attacked and the bodies of would-be dragons begin showing up with alarming frequency, Kinsley revisits her past and makes the painful decision to hunt the hunter for the sake of her neighbors and new friends.

With her trusty carbunclo kitten at her side, she delves into the dark world of dragons and the city they call home to catch those behind the attacks before they can strike again.

What she doesn’t know may awaken the sleeping beast, forever changing her destiny.

The monthly Must Have list is a compilation of the upcoming release titles that we, The Book Pushers, just can’t wait to get our hands on. Don’t see a title you’re excited about listed here? Add it to the comments section below. Let us know what you’re looking forward to!

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