What to read in January

So first off a giant welcome to new and old members of the Fantastic Strangeling Book Club kicking off our fourth (FOURTH?!) year of reading. Check your packages well because this month we’re slipping in this fabulous pin as a thank you for keeping us in business:

(It’s not too late to join this month. Click here to claim your spot and get your own pin!)

This month’s book club pick is…Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett.

In other book related news, this Saturday the always-insane-but-exactly-in-the-way-you-want-her-to-be Maureen Johnson is actually at Nowhere in San Antonio, and I’ll be there with her to talk about her newest book, Nine Liars, which I LOVED. It’s a Stevie Bell mystery (and literally laugh-out-loud funny and dark) so it’s one in a series but this mystery stands alone so you could easily read this one and enjoy it and then go backward and read all of the ones that come before like I always do because I am forever reading our of order. Click here for a ticket to join us in real life at the store and that includes a signed copy of the book. (We’re going to try to have her sign extras so check back with Nowhere after Saturday if you can’t make it and want a signed copy.)

Need more than one book to get you through the month? ME TOO, SWEETNESS.

Luckily there were several very good ones that came out this month, not including Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries and Nine Liars and they are:

Bad Cree by Jessica Johns – a young Cree woman’s dreams lead her on a perilous journey of self-discover that ultimately forces her to confront the toll of a legacy of violence on her family, her community and the land they call home. If you liked White Horse you’ll love this.

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix – Once again, Grady knocks it out of the park. If you love horror you need this one.

All Hallows by Christopher Golden – A creepy trick-or-treat drama that I devoured.

A Thousand Miles to Graceland by Kristen Mei Chase – A sweet and charming novel about mothers, daughters, sequins and the surprising power of Elvis.

I’m going to open up discussion for last month’s book (Roses in the Mouth of a Lion by Bushra Rehman) on the FS facebook page but if you don’t do Facebook I’ll leave my thoughts in the comments here.

Happy reading!

PS. Have you started your 2023 Nowhere Reading Bingo Card?

19 thoughts on “What to read in January

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Love Maureen Johnson! Can’t wait to read Nine Liars and so wish I could see the two of you. Meanwhile, just started Roses…and I’ll be honest that I’m finding it a bit slow going so far.

  2. Thank you so much for the recommendations. The Stevie Bell series sounds like my kind of series. I love a good funny mystery or cozy mystery. I love the sofie Ryan Sofie Kelly cozy mysteries because they’re funny and have cats lol

  3. For Feb you should check out the upcoming release “The Magician’s Daughter” by HG Parry. Her other books have all been fantastic and I feel like any of them would be a good fit for Fantastic Stranglings.

    (I’ve already picked February – YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE IT – but that sounds really good so I’m going to see if I can find it. Thanks! ~ Jenny)

  4. I LOVE these recommendtions! How do you choose these books? Are they just your favorites? Do you discuss at the store? Do publishers submit? Is there a sneaky pay-o-la scheme of placement for taxidermy? I wouldn’t be surprised if some authors would readily sell their souls for placement and the cost of a permanently dancing ferret.

    I’ve been knee deep in the new Brandon Sanderson Cosmere installment. I’m recommending to everyone his Way of Kings series (still in progress) as well as Patrick Rothfuss’ elegant-as-all-get-fucked Kingkiller Chronicles, though I’m beginning to lose hope that the next in the series will ever come.

    The whole thing sounds like good, good fun! Is there a limit to membership? A deadline? I’ll suggest it to everyone in my workshops!

    (I love Rothfuss. The Fantastic Strangelings book pick has to be a brand new book released during the first half of that month that is $25-$29 and that we can order over 1k-2k copies of. I look at ARCs that come in the store and all of our team has a look-out for anything that is a good fit. I look for books that might not get enough eyes on them naturally and try to read a lot of debut authors, bipoc authors, themes that make me learn. I use book seller communities for advice on what to read that’s coming out and what’s exciting but isn’t the thing that’s going to get a ton of marketing. We have an electronic system so that we can read advance copies that publishers might not send ARCs for and the Nowhere team tags books that look like good contenders so I can always go through that system and see stuff I would have missed. And I have other bookseller and booklover friends who share ARCs if they see something that might be a good fit and that I might have missed. For the other book clubs there are different criteria and different people picking them. For example, our Happy Endings Club is very popular but I don’t super love romance so those are picked by Nowhere team members who love the genre. It’s a big team effort. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  5. I will definitely be reading Grady’s book. I can’t wait. I’d never really read Horror until I got an invitation to join a local book club and I was so flattered by the invitation that I just had to go. The first book was Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires. That was a complete cleanse from my usual “Romance-Shifter/Vampire/Paranormal/High Fantasy/Greek Mythology/Fairy Tale retellings”. I was like OH MY. Wait, that’s funny. That’s horrible. That’s so horrible it’s funny. Oh good LAWD!

    Anyways. I need to go complete my ARC that I’m reading. Todels.

  6. I would love if you started nonfiction/memoirs etc. book club! Pleeeeeeeaaaaaase?

    (There’s always the possibility as we’re starting new clubs this year. Watch out for a new announcement soon. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  7. I thought you might enjoy spotting the permanent location of You Are Here among the swell (mostly) graphic books on top of my bookshelf. You’re with the giants; below the Storyworth books my parents wrote as a gift for their children and grandchildren at Christmas 2021.


    You’re a great writer and a great source of comfort. Thank you.

  8. I thought you might enjoy spotting the permanent location of You Are Here among the swell (mostly) graphic books on top of my bookshelf. You’re with the giants; below the Storyworth books my parents wrote for their children and grandchildren at Christmas 2021.


    You’re a great writer and a great source of comfort. Thank you.

    (I love this! ~ Jenny)

  9. I LOVE all the Stevie Bell mysteries and can’t wait to read this one! Just FYI, though, I did read Truly Devious, The Vanishing Stair, and Hand on the Wall in that order. It’s one long mystery that isn’t solved until Hand on the Wall. The Box in the Woods happens after the action of the other three, but is definitely a stand alone.💕

    (Excellent points! ~ Jenny)

  10. My thoughts on Roses in the Mouth of a Lion:


    I can’t really explain why this book stuck with me any more than I can explain why A Tree Grows in Brooklyn stuck with me but they both managed to be about people so very different from me but who I loved immediately and felt like I’d been friends with forever.

    I’m sure some of it is nostalgia as I’m the same age as the main character and nodded in recognition at jelly sandals and George Michael and Tiffany and shopping at Goodwill and growing up poor and feeling like an outsider, but I really loved how without all of that I still related to so many of the characters and learned so much from them…even the ones I disliked.

    These characters are complicated in the best way, so much so that my biggest problem with the book was that I wanted more. I wanted to know more about each of the people and when the book ended I immediately missed the characters, which is the sign of a great book.

    I had to put my book down and google so much in this book, which makes me realize how little I knew about Muslim/Pakistani culture. How is it I read so much and still find out how little I know about the world? Some of it was fascinating, some beautiful, some infuriating and baffling…much like every culture, I suppose…but I loved how I felt invited in, as if I was a member of the family. I love a book that gives me context but also enough curiosity to keep leaning.

    The prose in this book was PHENOMENAL and my copy is filled with dog-ears on the bottom of the book because I so often wanted to come back to the words.

    My favorite parts: The way the author explored what it’s like to be a woman and how easily they can be oppressed and assaulted and scared but still be incredibly tough and be there for each other. And how easy it can be to be swept up into group-think or mob mentality.

    I thought it was really fascinating the way A Tree Grows in Brooklyn actually was reflected in the work. Both about immigration and poverty and class and trying to fit in in America and violence and celebration and victory. I especially thought it was interesting how in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Francie is assaulted and the policeman tells her to pretend it was just a dream, and how Saima said something similar about “the spider”…that you stop it by telling yourself it’s a dream. It’s heartbreaking but such a clear sign of how often we just ignore (or are told to ignore) the things that hurt the most and how they can follow us until we find a way to stop them and recognize that they exist and are not the fault of the victim.

    I loved how the author explored the idea of trying to be an American while already being an American and how well she explored the fragile threads that hold us all together.

    I both loved and hated the fact that the people Razia depended on and loved the most were her greatest protectors but also her greatest threats. For example, her mother protecting her from Peer Saab when he said Razia had to stop reading, and protecting her from the wild dogs, and protecting Shahnaaz from her terrible husband, but also wanting to send Razia off to an arranged marriage at such a young age when she found out she was queer. Such complicated and nuanced characters.

    I loved and hated the end. I loved that Angela and Taslima showed up for her and saved her and that another woman she’d never even met was willing to take her in. Girl power, y’all. But I also hated that it ended without me knowing if she was going to be okay. I wanted an immediate sequel so that I could see what happened to her parents and her sister and Saima and everyone else I loved in this book, but in some ways I think this ending works better because it really makes you feel the terror of stepping out into the world without a safety net and of the bravery that is required to walk into the unknown without knowing what will come.

    Also, as a weird aside, we also watched The Red Balloon over and over on a projector when I was in elementary school and I always thought a teacher had bought it because it was such a strange film to watch but then Razia talks about watching it over and over in school too. Was this a weird 80s thing that we all thought was just us?

  11. Love these suggestions!
    Have you read The Colony by Audrey Magee? I read it part week and can’t stop thinking about it.

  12. I discovered Maureen Johnson on Twitter — her tweets were so clever and fun. I’m not much into YA books, but I have read several of hers and they are excellent.

  13. Foodies will like playing Phoodle, a word-guessing game. In no more than six attempts, find a term with five letters that has something to do with eating. It functions similarly to Wordle, but solely in the culinary area.

  14. “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus – A funny and empowering novel about an independent female scientist in the 1960s. Great for fans of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”

  15. “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus – A funny and empowering novel about an independent female scientist in the 1960s. Great for fans of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”

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