comScore

Mary Sue Book Club, March Edition: Since We’re All Afraid to Go Outside Anyway

With one holdover from February.

Docile, The City We Became, The Mirror & the Light

(Tor.com, Orbit, Henry Holt and Co.)

A small change you might notice to this newest edition to the Mary Sue Book Club post is that I have added my thoughts about why I picked each book to the bottom of the description. I wanted to add some more transparency to the process and show my work as to why I have chosen the books below. I have been looking forward to a bunch of the ones listed, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Happy reading!

Doclie K.M. Szpara

(Tor.com)

Docile by K.M. Szpara

K. M. Szpara’s Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.

There is no consent under capitalism.

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents’ debts and buy your children’s future.

Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile, so when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him.

Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects―and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.

Content warning: Docile contains forthright depictions and discussions of rape and sexual abuse.

As soon as this book came across my desk, I devoured it. I got multiple ARCs and shared them with all of my friends. Plus, at an event, another queer friend of mine was also reading it. Docile is the perfect balance between thoughtful and deliciously smutty. It handles a lot of the problematic content thoughtfully and is very much aware of the issues that the book could have, but always tries to carefully work to create a thoughtful narrative.

The City We Became N.K. Jemisin

(Orbit)

The City We Became: A Novel (The Great Cities Trilogy (1)) by N.K. Jemisin

Five New Yorkers must come together to defend their city from an ancient evil in this stunning new novel by Hugo Award-winner and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every great city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got six.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

From now until the end of time, I will never miss an N.K. Jemisin novel. Her series are always so thought-provoking, and her worldbuilding ability constantly humbles me as a writer and a reader. As a New Yorker, I’m especially interested in seeing how this book mixed the urban fantasy element, with her usual sharp plotting and storytelling.

House of Earth and Blood Sarah J Maas

(Bloomsbury Publishing)

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City) by Sarah J. Maas

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life-working hard all day and partying all night-until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose-to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion-one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom-and the power of love.

Despite some issues with the series, I did devour Maas’ Throne of Glass series. The books were really readable, and I enjoyed how messy the characters are. I hope she has evolved more when it comes to race (justice for Nehemia always), but I still enjoy her books because it genuinely feels like she is growing as a writer. Although, I do miss the earlier books’ page counts, sometimes.

Wow, No Thank You Samantha Irby

(Vintage)

Wow, No Thank You.: Essays by Samantha Irby

Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and has been friendzoned by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife in a Blue town in the middle of a Red state where she now hosts book clubs and makes mason jar salads. This is the bourgeois life of a Hallmark Channel dream. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with “tv executives slash amateur astrologers” while being a “cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person,” “with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees,” who still hides past due bills under her pillow.

The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby’s new life. Wow, No Thank You is Irby at her most unflinching, riotous, and relatable.

In my opinion, the best collection of essays aren’t ones where you love every single essay, but where each essay makes you feel just close enough to the author to see them as a friend, but also be wowed by how they have managed to be so vulnerable in a highly edited format. Samantha Irby has always nailed that for me, as a writer, so even though essays aren’t always my jam, hers are always worth checking out.

When you were everything ashley

(Delacorte Press)

When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk

You can’t rewrite the past, but you can always choose to start again.

It’s been twenty-seven days since Cleo and Layla’s friendship imploded.

Nearly a month since Cleo realized they’ll never be besties again.

Now Cleo wants to erase every memory, good or bad, that tethers her to her ex-best friend. But pretending Layla doesn’t exist isn’t as easy as Cleo hoped, especially after she’s assigned to be Layla’s tutor. Despite budding friendships with other classmates–and a raging crush on a gorgeous boy named Dom–Cleo’s turbulent past with Layla comes back to haunt them both.

Alternating between time lines of Then and Now, When You Were Everything blends past and present into an emotional story about the beauty of self-forgiveness, the promise of new beginnings, and the courage it takes to remain open to love.

Ending a relationship with a partner sucks, but ending a friendship with someone who used to be your literal emotional pillar is crushing in a completely different way. I remember every serious fight I ever had with a friend, and the premise of this story makes me want to see what happened and hope these two find each other.

The Mirror & the Light Hilary Mantel

(Henry Holt and Co.)

The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel

With The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with her peerless, Booker Prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.

The story begins in May 1536: Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.

Cromwell, a man with only his wits to rely on, has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to the breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. All of England lies at his feet, ripe for innovation and religious reform. But as fortune’s wheel turns, Cromwell’s enemies are gathering in the shadows. The inevitable question remains: how long can anyone survive under Henry’s cruel and capricious gaze?

Eagerly awaited and eight years in the making, The Mirror & the Light completes Cromwell’s journey from self-made man to one of the most feared, influential figures of his time. Portrayed by Mantel with pathos and terrific energy, Cromwell is as complex as he is unforgettable: a politician and a fixer, a husband and a father, a man who both defied and defined his age.

I have been waiting so so so long for this. It took me a while to “get” Wolf Hall, but the second time I read it, I became enveloped by the whole thing (the miniseries is trash). Waiting for the finale has been so intense, which is strange considering we all know what happens to Thomas Cromwell. Still, every time these characters are adapted, even though there are multiple templates, none feel exactly the same. I enjoy the historical biases that Mantel brings to the work, and I look forward to her depiction of Anna of Cleves and Katherine Howard.

Plus, since this series is responsible for her becoming the first woman to win the Booker Prize twice, here’s hoping for number three.

The King of Crows Libba Bray

(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

The King of Crows by Libba Bray

After the horrifying explosion that claimed one of their own, the Diviners find themselves wanted by the US government, and on the brink of war with the King of Crows.

While Memphis and Isaiah run for their lives from the mysterious Shadow Men, Isaiah receives a startling vision of a girl, Sarah Beth Olson, who could shift the balance in their struggle for peace. Sarah Beth says she knows how to stop the King of Crows-but, she will need the Diviners’ help to do it.

Elsewhere, Jericho has returned after his escape from Jake Marlowe’s estate, where he has learned the shocking truth behind the King of Crow’s plans. Now, the Diviners must travel to Bountiful, Nebraska, in hopes of joining forces with Sarah Beth and to stop the King of Crows and his army of the dead forever.

But as rumors of towns becoming ghost towns and the dead developing unprecedented powers begin to surface, all hope seems to be lost.

In this sweeping finale, The Diviners will be forced to confront their greatest fears and learn to rely on one another if they hope to save the nation, and world from catastrophe…

For this one, I cheated. It technically came out last month, but that was Black History Month, so it had to wait just a wee bit. I adore Libba Bray. She has written some of my favorite series of all time, and The Diviners is one of her finest works. I’m both really sad to see it end, and enjoying the idea of where Bray will go next as an author.

The Mary Sue may have advertising relationships with some of the publishers or titles on this list, but they were not a factor in book selection.

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? tips@themarysue.com

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.