January TBR + weekly recipe ideas

January TBR and Kale Lentil Stew

January TBR and Kale Lentil Stew

If you saw my very first #booktube video, you know that I’m not buying books this year. What that means is that essentially, my entire 2019 is going to be one big TBR Challenge. Except for this month. If you want to hear more about, check out my next video! It’s all about my January TBR pile and why I’m not actually reading down my TBR this month by very much.

Since I know not everyone is big on videos, I didn’t want to leave you folks out of the fun. What I figured out is that if I want to read 200 book off my TBR this year, I have to read 13 books a month. So here’s a brief run-down of all the books on my TBR this month. I go into a little more detail in the video if you want to hop over there to hear more about any of these books.

Gail’s Family by Ruby Dixon
This is just where I happened to be in the various Ice Planet Barbarians series when I started my No Book Buying Year. I actually already finished this one. It was fine. However, I have noticed myself not being as engaged with these books as I once was. Had you asked me before I read it, I would have said I was feeling sad and anxious about no Ruby Dixon for the year, but after reading this one, I’m feeling content.

Caveman Alien’s Trap by Calista Skye
Another SFR series that I’d been slowly working my way through with similar tropes to IPB. Equally, I find myself maybe not feeling like I’m going to be missing out on a lot once I finish this one.

Beastly Desires by Nikki Winter
A lion shifter and a tiger shifter are members of rival shapeshifting clans, I believe? I was mostly interested in this one because the heroine is a woman of color. I think this book is own voices.

Lady in Waiting by Jea Hawkins
Lesbian romance where the meet-cute is at a Renaissance Faire. I was more excited about this one before I started reading it because it turns out most of the book is not Faire-set.

To Wed His Christmas Lady by Christi Caldwell
Already finished this one. It was SPECTACULARLY good. I’ll write or film a real review of this one and link it at my monthly check-in at the end of January.

The Mermaid’s Curse by Alexa Rowan
If you’re currently Aquaman-obsessed, check out this book. It’s only 7800 words, basically a short story, and giving a bunch of information about it would spoil it, but I already finished it and liked it.

Acute Reactions by Ruby Lang
I read Hard Knocks by Ruby Lang several years ago and adored it, but never read the others in the series. Why not? I can only claim distraction by new shinies, which is part of what this year is about reclaiming: amazing books that I already own and am sad that I’ve let languish this long.

The Earl of Brass by Kara Jorgensen
Steampunk romance. I don’t know what it is about because it was in KU and I just downloaded it without looking too closely at it. I mean, it’s basically free, right?

Damaged Goods by Ainslie Paton
Ainslie Paton is a new favorite of mine. I loved her Confidence Games series and also the first book in this series, Offensive Behavior. Since she’s indie and unlikely to be in my library, I’m going to miss her this year since this is the only one of hers I have on my TBR. I’m part-way through this book and enjoying it more than I anticipated.

The Pirate O’Keefe by Helen R. Myers
A Silhouette Desire about a mmodern-day pirate who washes up on a tropical beach and is rescued by the doctor heroine. Yes.

Whose Bed Is It Anyway? by Natalie Anderson
A Notting Hill-esque Harlequin Kiss about a celebrity heroine being pursued by the paparazzi who breaks into the hero’s apartment. He comes home to find her there and then the power goes out. It’s a potentially hilarious confluence of tropes I enjoy.

Adam and Eva by Sandra Kitt
The first Harlequin category romance about a black couple by a black author. I bought this last summer after I read and loved Entwined Destinies and then never read it because even though I have 569 paperbacks in my collection, I am mildly paperback-averse.

The Secret by Julie Garwood
I think this book was the first romance I ever read. It was either this or The Bride and I have both on my TBR for this year. Hopefully I can remember which it was.

I’ve always considered myself a “mood reader” to an extent and this is the first time I’ve ever planned out what I’d be reading in a whole month like this. It’s already January 6th and I’ve actually been doing pretty well with this. In fact, it’s sort of a nice feeling to have a plan in place. I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to read next when I finish a book, which I’m realizing is kind of weirdly stressful for me? Will it be the right thing? Will it be good? Will it be what I’m in the mood for? Paradoxically, having a set list has been rather freeing. I know that I’m going to read all these books this month and so it’s taken the anxiety of choice out of the process. Do you ever set a monthly TBR list? Tell me in the comments how it worked for you or didn’t.

And now for some recipes! I haven’t been making up a lot of recipes or cooking very complicated things lately because when I get home from baking all day, I’m really not feeling inspired to spend a ton of time in the kitchen. But after years of sharing inspirational and aspirational food content on Cooking Up Romance, I figured some folks might appreciate some “let’s just get some dinner on the table” type stuff. I know I have been lately! I’ll be sharing some recipes I’ve been enjoying in my Sunday posts from now on.

Vegan Curried Kale and Lentil Stew
This is the photo accompanying this post. I had half a bag of brown lentils to use up (the recipe calls for green) and a couple cups of chicken stock so I liked this one from an anti food waste perspective. Plus with all the spices, it’s really darn tasty. It’s on the spicier side so if that’s not your thing, leave out the red pepper flakes and pick a milder curry powder. Fast, easy and vegetarian.

Pear, Pomegranate and Spinach Salad
I made this for Christmas and then made it again when we had a dinner party recently because it was THAT GOOD. Throw some grilled salmon or sliced grilled chicken on top and that’s dinner.

Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail
I had a little bit of champagne left over from New Year’s so I threw together this champagne cocktail from my review of The King’s Man by Elizabeth Kingston. Great book, by the way, if you haven’t read it. The cocktail recipe couldn’t be simpler: 1/4 ounce of Grand Marnier, 1 ounce pomegranate juice, top with champagne. I threw in some pomegranate seeds because I had tons left from the salad above.

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