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The Mary Sue Book Club, December 2021: Talking Cats, Cozy Murder Mysteries, and Cyber Mages

Cozy readers and epic adventures.

Books for the book club. (Image: Harpervia, Graphic Mundi, and Unnamed Press.)

With November (for Diwali and, this year, the beginning of Hanukkah) as a close second, December is one of the most festive months of the year. Several cultural and religious holidays result in much-needed moments to catch up with family and breathe. However, for readers, this is time to catch up on all of those pages we put off the last few months—a subset of us probably using books as a not-so-subtle shield and last line of defense against seeing certain family members.

For the final Mary Sue Book Club post of 2021, we have an urban fantasy, a collection of secret love stories, and books about books.

Innate Magic by Shannon Fay

Innate Magic by Shannon Fay (Image: 47north.)

(Image: 47north)

Set in a post-WW2 London where “lower” magic is more common, Paul Gallagher calculates the best way to climb the social ladder using his secret (and much more powerful, and super-duper illegal) innate power. After confiding in a crush about this power, Paul is betrayed and launched into a political battle that risks another large war. Tailing the story is an American gossip columnist who believes a coverup is happening from the top and is linked to Paul’s former crush-turned-worst nightmare.

The first book of the Marrowbone Spells releases today (December 1.)

The Haunted Quill edited by Kate Francia

The Haunted Quill edited by Kate Francia (Image: Megara Publishing.)

(Image: Megara Publishing)

This paranormal anthology features works of historical speculative fiction. In addition to the stories featuring ghosts, witches, spooky plants, and more, there are beautiful, eerie illustrations from artist Mira Singer. Some of the new and established authors joining include Jordan Taylor, Laura Hennessey DeSena, Stephen K. Pettersson, Henry Herz, L.H. Moore, Jane Nightshade, Colleen Ennen, and Caren Gussoff Sumption.

The Haunted Quill releases today (December 1).

The Cat Who Saves Books by Sosuke Natsukawa, translated by Louise Heal Kawai

The Cat Who Saves Books by Sosuke Natsukawa and translated by Louise Heal Kawai (Image: Harpervia.)

(Image: Harpervia)

On the cusp of closing a secondhand bookstore inherited from his grandfather, Rintaro Natsuki is visited by a magical, talking cat. The cat asks (like a parent “asks”) for Rinataro’s help in saving lonely, unread, and unloved books from neglectful owners. Their fantastical journey leads them to confront various people who interact with books, such as speed reader assistants and gatekeepers in publishing.

The English translation of The Cat Who Saves Books releases December 7.

How to Book a Murder by Cynthia Kuhn

How to Book a Murder by Cynthia Kuhn (Image: Crooked Lane Books.)

(Image: Crooked Lane Books)

There is something about reading a cozy murder mystery in December with a warm drink that is just right, and Kuhn’s latest book could scratch that itch.

To save her family’s indie bookstore, Dr. Emma Starrs hosts a mystery-themed dinner party (where they dress up as different characters from literature) to raise funds. When one of the guests winds up murdered, Emma and her aunt Nora (an established mystery writer) immediately become prime suspects. They must clear their names and recover the now stained image of the family store they were trying to save.

How to Book a Murder releases December 7.

Iranian Love Stories by Jane Deusart, illustrated by Deloupy

Iranian Love Stories by Jane Deuxard and illustrated by Deloupy (Image: Graphic Mundi.)

(Image: Graphic Mundi.)

Told from the perspective of ten young people in Iran, this award-winning graphic novel serves as an intimate look at the love lives and politics of different people within the country. The non-fiction collection of stories shows the way people still look for connections in a segregated country by defying tradition and (in some cases) escaping police.

The name “Jane Deusart” is a pseudonym of a journalist couple to protect themselves and their sources. Iranian Love Stories releases December 14.

Cyber Mage by Saad Z. Hossain

Cyber Mage by Saad Z. Hossain (Image: Unnamed Press.)

(Image: Unnamed Press.)

Set in 2089, Dhaka, Bangladesh, the highly populated city, has found a way to thrive during climate apocalypse by using biological nanotech that has also left some people able to survive without food, water, or functioning organs. This has made Djibrel’s career as a mercenary much more hands-on.

In addition to adjusting to a new way of working, Djibrel is being tracked by the infamous Cyber Mage (an elite teenage hacker). When the Cyber Mage discovers a brand new type of AI on the dark web, he and Djibrel face more significant threats in the already complicated and inconceivable world.

Author Saad Hossain’s approach to SFF both imagines our shared future in new ways and critiques corporate greed (including so-called “visionaries” like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, etc.). Cyber Mage releases December 7.

(featured image: Harpervia, Graphic Mundi, and Unnamed Press)

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(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time watching movies, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Balder's Gate 3, Apex Legends, and CS:GO.