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TBR Mix ‘n’ Mingle – What I’m Reading in January

A new year means new books! And, though I had a great bookish 2018, I couldn’t be more excited to start fresh. Together with the ladies over at Literary Quicksand, I set a couple of bookish goals for 2019, and a few of the books on my TBR list this month are sure to help me get off to the right start.  

Without further ado, here’s a look at what’s on my radar for January:

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

I have heard amazing things about this novel, so I’m excited to read it for both my upcoming book club as well as one of my picks for the 10th edition of Book Challenge by Erin (and my third time participating). As a bonus: I own a Kindle copy, so it counts towards my 2019 goal of reading my shelves. 🙂

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Sugar Run by Mesha Maren

This should hopefully be coming in from the library soon (I’m first on the waitlist when it releases next week). It will fulfill one of the categories for the Reading Women Challenge, which I’m excited to participate in for the first time this year.

In 1989, Jodi McCarty is seventeen years old when she’s sentenced to life in prison for manslaughter. She’s released eighteen years later and finds herself at a Greyhound bus stop, reeling from the shock of unexpected freedom. Not yet able to return to her lost home in the Appalachian mountains, she goes searching for someone she left behind, but on the way, she meets and falls in love with Miranda, a troubled young mother. Together, they try to make a fresh start, but is that even possible in a town that refuses to change? Set within the charged insularity of rural West Virginia, Sugar Run is a searing and gritty debut about making a run for another life.

Sugar Run by Mesha Maren

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

I have super high hopes for this novel, which is part of my favorite super-specific-genre of feminist dystopias. I’m second in line for this at the library (after getting denied an ARC from NetGalley — boo!), so I hope it comes in quickly!

The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Virgin Suicides in this dystopic feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters on an isolated island, raised to fear men.

King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters, Grace, Lia, and Sky. He has lain the barbed wire; he has anchored the buoys in the water; he has marked out a clear message: Do not enter. Or viewed from another angle: Not safe to leave. Here women are protected from the chaos and violence of men on the mainland. The cult-like rituals and therapies they endure fortify them from the spreading toxicity of a degrading world.

But when their father, the only man they’ve ever seen, disappears, they retreat further inward until the day three strange men wash ashore. Over the span of one blistering hot week, a psychological cat-and-mouse game plays out. Sexual tensions and sibling rivalries flare as the sisters confront the amorphous threat the strangers represent. Can they survive the men?

A haunting, riveting debut about the capacity for violence and the potency of female desire, The Water Cure both devastates and astonishes as it reflects our own world back at us.

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

I’m obsessed with this movie but have yet to read the book. I do own a copy — thanks to a book gift exchange — and I didn’t hesitate to pick it for the Book Challenge by Erin for the book that became a movie category.

With the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs, Julie Powell recounts how she conquered every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and saved her soul.

Julie Powell is 30-years-old, living in a rundown apartment in Queens and working at a soul-sucking secretarial job that’s going nowhere. She needs something to break the monotony of her life, and she invents a deranged assignment. She will take her mother’s dog-eared copy of Julia Child’s 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she will cook all 524 recipes. In the span of one year.

At first she thinks it will be easy. But as she moves from the simple Potage Parmentier (potato soup) into the more complicated realm of aspics and crépes, she realizes there’s more to Mastering the Art of French Cooking than meets the eye. With Julia’s stern warble always in her ear, Julie haunts the local butcher, buying kidneys and sweetbreads. She sends her husband on late-night runs for yet more butter and rarely serves dinner before midnight. She discovers how to mold the perfect Orange Bavarian, the trick to extracting marrow from bone, and the intense pleasure of eating liver.

And somewhere along the line she realizes she has turned her kitchen into a miracle of creation and cuisine. She has eclipsed her life’s ordinariness through spectacular humor, hysteria, and perseverance.

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

I picked this as my Book of the Month back in August and have yet to pick it up. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews, so I’ve been pushing it aside in favor of other books. But, as I’m trying to read my shelves, I decided to choose it as my freebie for the Book Challenge by Erin and just get it over with. I’m hoping for the best! 🙂

We’ve been waiting for an hour. That’s what Audrey says. She states it with a little bit of an edge, her words just bordering on cursive. That’s the thing I think first. Not: Audrey Hepburn is at my birthday dinner, but Audrey Hepburn is annoyed.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends within her utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You.

When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.

Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a romance for our times. Bon appetit.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

Which books are you reading to kick off 2019? Share your lists in our linkup, or in the comments below!


TBR Mix ‘n’ Mingle is hosted by Rachel at Never Enough Novels, Allison at My Novel Life, the other wonderful bloggers at Literary Quicksand, and myself. In the bookish community, TBR stands for “To Be Read,” but it can mean different things to different people; in fact, Book Riot has a wonderful post exploring all the possible definitions. To me, it just means a book I haven’t read but want to read eventually. We share our TBR Lists on the 1st of every month. We’d love for you to join us!

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  • Reply Rachel January 2, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    I just love Julie and Julia! If you end up enjoying that story, you probably would like Julia Child’s book My Life in France. Her memories and experiences are delightful.

    • Reply Megan January 2, 2019 at 1:37 pm

      I have read Julia Child’s book and loved it 🙂 but no surprise there! She’s amazing

  • Reply withcurlsandcocktailsblog January 2, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Becoming and Wife Between Us are on my list but also whatever comes in from the library will be read!

  • Reply Pat January 2, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    I read News of the World and loved it!

  • Reply Anne Sonshine January 7, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Megan – News of the World – sounds like a book I would like to read. I will reserve this on my kindle. Thanks for the information. Anne

  • Reply Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku January 8, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    Wow! I’m impressed by tihs TBR; it’s ambitious, Megan! News of the World is one I recently picked up from the library in audiobook form. I hope we’ll both have interesting thoughts to share come the end of this month. Also, I didn’t realize Julie & Julia was based on a book! I hope it lives up to your love for the film.

    • Reply Megan January 8, 2019 at 3:16 pm

      Ha, perhaps it is? I always pick 5 books I’d like to read that month… I do always read at least 5 per month, I just don’t always read the ones I plan to!

      • Reply Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku January 8, 2019 at 3:22 pm

        It’s not the number of books which comes across to me as ambitious — it’s the subject matters! You have some heavy content and dense books listed here. It intimidates me a bit — but I’m certain you’ve picked winners.

        I’m excited to see how your month goes. I wish you all the best!

        • Reply Megan January 9, 2019 at 9:06 am

          Ah, well that’s fair. I do tend to gravitate towards more serious books with the occasional rom-com or whimsical storyline tossed in. Some months are more serious than others!

          • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku January 9, 2019 at 1:30 pm

            To each their own! I tend to read mostly memoirs, science fiction, fantasy, and kid’s lit. So, very different. XD

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